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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Gov. Walker wants revised Common Core standards

MILWAUKEE - Governor Scott Walker says Wisconsin should put its own mark on the Common Core education standards, by revising them.  

Walker told the State Education Convention in Milwaukee today that the three-year-old standards for math-and-English are not high enough, and they’re being dictated by people not from Wisconsin.  The Badger State was among the first to adopt the Common Core standards, which are now in place in 45 states.  Walker told school administrators and board members he’s drafting a bill to create a commission to revise the standards – and state public school superintendent Tony Evers would chair it.  Evers, however, said Walker gave him the impression that the standards could remain as they are – and the commission would bring a more formal process for dealing with changes in the future.  The panel would include state education officials, lawmakers, school leaders, teachers, and parents.  Its recommendations would go to the superintendent, and then be considered as revised standards.


 About 2,400 state government workers were given one-percent pay raises today.  Governor Scott Walker signed one-year contracts with five smaller employee unions.  The raises will be retroactive to June 30th.  They’ll be the same as the pay hikes given to non-union state workers back in July.  Most larger state unions decided not to re-certify after the Act-10 bargaining limits were adopted in 2011.  The Legislature recently approved the contracts – which cover state classified attorneys, economists, research analysts, nurses, and building-and-trade workers. 


 A first-term legislator says Wisconsin should join Colorado and Washington State in legalizing marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use.  State Assembly Democrat Melissa Sargent of Madison said today she's seeking co-sponsors for a bill she plans to introduce.  In a statement, Sargent pointed out that legalizing pot would provide health benefits, reduce racial disparities in drug arrests, and save money for the criminal justice system.  The proposed bill would not have much of a chance in the Legislature, after majorities in both parties have refused to consider more limited steps in recent years to legalize marijuana solely for medical use.


A southwest Wisconsin man will spend 10 years in prison for killing a woman in a drunk driving crash.  24-year-old Kyle Monahan of Shullsburg must spend 10 years under extended supervision when he gets out.  He also has to pay restitution to his victim's survivors, the amount of which will be determined on February 25th in Lafayette County Circuit Court.  Authorities said Monahan was driving at a high rate of speed when his vehicle hit a creek embankment and rolled over several times.  His passenger, 21-year-old Rebecca Cushman of Dixfield, Maine, was killed.  A jury convicted Monahan of homicide by drunk driving.  Two other charges were dropped, including negligent homicide.


There's a report that a 60-year-old man who died in Waukesha County apparently sought a restraining order, because he was afraid his son would kill him.  Summit Police were called yesterday morning to check on the man's welfare -- and they found him dead.  County sheriff's deputies called the death suspicious, and they're working with Summit Police on an investigation.  Neither agency has said much else.  The news Web site "Living Lake Country" said a man with the same age-and-address as the victim sought a restraining order against his son on Tuesday.  Police would not confirm that.  The Web site said the man accused his 27-year-old son of punching him in the head early Tuesday, after the father told him to get a job.  The man said he went to a hospital for head, hand, and shoulder injuries.  The father also told the court his son earlier attached electric wires to his head in an effort to kill him.  The son was later charged with battery and disorderly conduct.


How cold is it?  La Crosse has had more days below-zero in the past two months than it normally gets in a whole winter.  The National Weather Service said La Crosse averages 22 days of sub-zero temperatures each winter -- and they've already had 23 this season, including today.  It's a lot warmer than it was overnight, but it's also windier.  In Marshfield, the mercury jumped by 27 degrees in eight hours, as a low-pressure system spread southwesterly winds throughout the Badger State.  The strongest winds are close to Lake Michigan.  Milwaukee had gusts up to 42-miles-an-hour at mid-day, but the city's wind-chill factor was still a halfway tolerable 13-below at 10 a-m.  That was the coldest wind chill in the state.  Far northwest Wisconsin was the first to break of this week's cold snap early today.  The mercury hit 20 late this morning in Siren, Osceola, and New Richmond.  The warmer temperatures are only supposed to last for today, however.  Some light, blowing snow is in the forecast into tomorrow -- when highs will again drop to the single digits.  The deep freeze is scheduled to resume next week.


The only suspect who was still wanted for a gang-related murder in Madison has been found dead in his home country of Guatemala.  Police said 27-year-old Billy Werner-Say was found shot-to-death.  Four others were apprehended for the shooting death of 19-year-old Antonio Perez in April of 2010 outside a store in Madison where Perez was taking a break at work.  Previous testimony indicated that bad blood was created after Perez had earlier beaten the man who allegedly shot him, 25-year-old Arain Gutierrez.  Gutierrez was known at the time as Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo -- and he's scheduled to stand trial in May.  The other suspects have been convicted and sentenced for their roles in the incident.


Manitowoc County taxpayers are no longer picking up health insurance for the spouses of county employees who can get affordable coverage elsewhere. Under the county's budget for the New Year, working spouses are no longer covered under their spouses' government plans if they could get insured by their own companies for 249-dollars a month or less. The Manitowoc Herald-Times Reporter said 126 spouses lost their county coverage -- while 100 other spouses remained eligible.  County Executive Bob Ziegelbauer proposed the change.  He said the part of the Obama health reform law which required coverage for employees' dependents did not apply to working spouses.


Authorities in eastern Wisconsin are investigating a pair of traffic deaths from yesterday afternoon.  In Manitowoc County, investigators said a 78-year-old Cato woman died after her van was hit by a pick-up truck that failed to stop for a stop-sign.  It happened in the town of Cato at Hilltop and Hempton Lake roads.  The pick-up driver, a 49-year-old Cato man, was not hurt.  In Washington County, a 55-year-old Sheboygan man died after a car hit a trailer that was attached to a truck.  The truck was stopped on County Trunk "A" in the town of Farmington.  The driver was outside the truck when the car slammed into the trailer.  The car driver, a 28-year-old West Bend woman, was extricated and flown to a hospital.  The names of both people who died were not immediately released.