Wisconsin roundup: Walker signs bill on Lincoln Hills, deer feed bans, card skimming; 8 more state news stories
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker has signed the first bill that addresses alleged inmate abuse at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile institutions.
The Republican Walker approved a measure that adds juvenile correctional officers to the list of professionals who must report suspected child abuse and neglect to law enforcement. A federal probe into alleged abuses at the Lincoln County institutions is in its third year — and a judge recently ordered the state to create new policies to reduce the use of pepper spray and the length of solitary confinements for troubled teens.
The bill was among 20 Walker signed into law on Wednesday. He also approved new time limits for deer feeding bans in areas that don't get new cases of chronic wasting disease — and he approved penalties for those who use skimming machines to steal credit card data from places like gas pumps.
Mayor: New bridge lets Stillwater residents ‘use their city’
STILLWATER — The mayor of Stillwater, Minnesota, just across the Wisconsin border, says the opening of a new St. Croix River bridge will let residents "use their city."
Ted Kozlowski says the removal of traffic passing through his downtown area will provide more access to stores and attractions. About 4,000 Wisconsin commuters crossed an 86-year-old lift bridge and paraded through Stillwater each weekday to get to and from their Twin Cities jobs.
But that's about to end, after Wisconsin and Minnesota officials held a Wednesday ceremony for the four-lane bridge south of Stillwater that's due to open 24 hours after Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Mark Dayton of Minnesota led a ribbon cutting. Once it opens, the old bridge will shut down for two years of repairs. It will reopen in 2019 as a bicycle and walking trail.
Second Foxconn plant may be in the works for Madison area
MADISON — Foxconn is reportedly considering a second plant in Wisconsin, this one in the Madison area.
Gov. Scott Walker says such a project is a "ways off," talk of any additional sites is "premature," and Walker calls it "speculation" for now. A Madison area plant would be smaller than the LCD screen plant that Foxconn expects to build in Racine or Kenosha counties — and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says it could make medical imaging equipment or devices that track people's vital health numbers, or it could be a research and development site.
Reports last week said Foxconn founder Terry Gou wanted to work with UW-Madison on medical research after he lost his first wife and younger brother to cancer. Meanwhile, a state Assembly panel holds a public hearing Thursday afternoon on the state's proposed $3 billion incentive package for the original Foxconn facility.
Walker plans trade mission to South Korea
MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker will lead a trade mission to South Korea next month.
The country's ambassador to the United States, Ahn Ho Young, joined the Republican Walker at a news conference in Madison Wednesday to announce the trip. It will take place Sept. 8-16 and will include an appearance at the Midwest/United States/Japan conference in Tokyo.
Ho Young says South Korea and Wisconsin have been building a trade relationship ever since a foreign trade agreement between the two nations started five years ago. He says Wisconsin's exports to Korea have grown by 40 percent during that time, and South Korea's exports to the Badger State have grown by 30 percent.
Cullen to lead state’s Common Cause
JANESVILLE — One of Wisconsin's best known Democrats has been named the new board chairman for the state's Common Cause watchdog group.
Tim Cullen is a former state senator and health secretary, and he considered running for governor next year before deciding that he couldn't raise nearly as much money as Republican incumbent Scott Walker. Instead, Cullen says he'll help Common Cause recommit to reforms that unite state residents and re-establish open and accountable government. In six and a half years of Republican control, Cullen says special interest money has never been greater — voter suppression never more evident — and partisan gerrymandering never more deliberate.
Two arrests in 1 of 3 recent Madison murders
MADISON — Two people have been arrested for the second of three murders in Madison during the past week.
Thirty-four-year-old Jennifer Lovick and 33-year-old Korey Johnson were named as persons of interest in the shooting death of Ciara Philumalee. She was killed early last Friday in the parking lot of an apartment building on Madison's north side.
Dane County sheriff's deputies said a tip led to Johnson's arrest Wednesday morning near Windsor. Officers later arrested Lovick at Token Creek Park. Deputies turned the suspects over to Madison Police for questioning.
Owner of Wis. brewery sues 2 large brewing companies
MADISON — A company based in Canada that owns a brewery in southern Wisconsin has filed a federal lawsuit alleging antitrust violations by two of the world's largest brewing companies.
Mountain Crest says in the suit filed Tuesday that AB InBev of Belgium and Molson Coors Brewing Company in Denver, Colo., had an arrangement with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario from 2000 to 2015 that restricted the sale of other American beer in the Canadian province. The suit says the companies violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The company says the agreement limited Mountain Crest's growth and sales. The company seeks lost revenue and $200,000 in punitive damages. The Wisconsin State Journal reports the Alberta-based company owns Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe.
State Fair opens, U.S. agriculture secretary to appear
WEST ALLIS — The Wisconsin State Fair opens Thursday in West Allis, kicking off 11 days of agricultural judging, animal sales, music, rides, and food.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will join Gov. Scott Walker at the fair's opening ceremony at mid morning. Perdue will then join state Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel at the State Fair's youth center in a noontime discussion about next year's renewal of the federal Farm Bill. The fair has set attendance records the past four years, with total crowds surpassing one million each year. Thursday's main stage show features Retro Futura — an ensemble that salutes the stars and hits of the 1980s.
American Family vows to appeal $1B court judgment
MADISON — American Family Insurance of Madison says it will appeal a federal judge's ruling that the company's agents are employees and not independent contractors.
District Judge Donald Nugent of Northern Ohio agreed with a jury's verdict from April that American Family must pay its agents retirement benefits totaling up to $1 billion — a figure the company says is "grossly exaggerated." Nugent admits that previous cases have found insurance agents to be independent contractors.
But he said American Family treats agents in a way it would treat employees, like banning them from joining competing firms for one year after they leave. Four former American Family agents filed suit in 2013, and it was expanded to a class action suit last year which made seven-thousand present and former agents plaintiffs in the case.