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Assembly plans vote today on cutting Planned Parenthood funds; Walker won't take Cabinet post, uncertain on third term as guv; Nine more state news briefs

MADISON -- The Wisconsin Assembly plans to vote this afternoon on whether to take away $3.5 million in federal money from Planned Parenthood.

The lower house will consider a bill in which the state would control its federal Title 10 money, all of which now goes to Planned Parenthood. It's part of the GOP's response to a recent video discovery that the group sells body parts from aborted fetuses for research.

The Wisconsin chapter says it does no such thing and the Title-Ten money has nothing to do with abortions. The money is required to be used for family planning and screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Under the Assembly bill, the state's Well Woman program would get first crack at the funds. That program provides cancer screenings for women ages 45 to 64.


Walker won't take Cabinet post, uncertain on third term as guv

MADISON -- Scott Walker confirmed he'll serve out his term as governor, but said he's not sure if he'll run for a third term in 2018.

Walker, a Republican, discussed his future yesterday in a conference call in which he thanked his White House campaign donors. He also said he would not take a Cabinet post if a Republican wins the presidency next November.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel listened in on the private call in which he confirmed that his campaign did not have enough money to weather his recent drop in the polls. Walker said he was not convinced that going into debt and reducing his campaign staff would have helped him recover.

The Smart Politics website says Walker had the third-shortest presidential campaign since 1972 -- just 70 days since his official announcement of his candidacy in July.

Yesterday, Walker met with state legislative leaders about their agenda for this fall. Tomorrow, he'll be in Beaver Dam to help a business celebrate an anniversary. It will be his first public appearance since dropping out of the presidential contest on Monday.


Walleye bag of 3 for Ceded Territory approved by WDNR board

BOWLER -- The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved a rule establishing a daily bag limit of three walleye with varying size limits on most waters of the Ceded Territory in northern Wisconsin.

The new rule, which won’t change from year to year, means less confusion about the number of walleye Wisconsin sport anglers can take each spring.

In past years, limits were adjusted according to the numbers of fish that Chippewa spearers were planning to take under their treaty rights. Those limits were later raised after many of the annual Chippewa harvests fell short.

Department of Natural Resources officials said the permanent three-fish limits will cause fewer headaches for sport anglers and the businesses they patronize while assuring sustainable fishing.

The rule covers walleye, sauger and hybrids with varying size limits and is designed to prevent a total harvest of more than 35% of the adult walleye population, which preserves a sustainable walleye fishery, officials said.

Under the rule, which takes effect for next spring's fishing season, walleye in most waters in the Ceded Territory will have a minimum size limit of 15 inches, except walleye between 20 and 24 inches may not be kept and only one walleye larger than 24 inches may be kept.

The department developed the rule to manage the walleye fishery after listening to citizens and stakeholders eager for more predictable and uniform angling regulations on lakes in the region.

In approving the rule, the board asked the department to keep monitoring the walleye populations in the Ceded Territory lakes and continue working with lake associations and the tribes on this matter.

Catch-and-release policies continue on the Minocqua and Tomahawk chains of lakes in Oneida County where walleye populations remain low.

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Walker White House campaign pays state $14,000 for security

MADISON -- Gov. Scott Walker's former White House campaign has paid the state $14,000 for his bodyguards, and more is on the way.

As governor, Walker gets 24/7 state-funded security from the State Patrol no matter where he goes, but his campaign team has promised to cover its security costs.

The latest payment includes expenses through Aug. 1. Final invoices are still being prepared.

The Walker political committee Our American Revival has paid $33,000 in security costs plus $5,800 for using a state vehicle.

Assembly Democrat Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point and Senate Democrat Dave Hansen of Green Bay say taxpayers should be reimbursed now from the $1 million the Walker camp had on hand earlier this week. Shankland and Hansen have a bill demanding strict time limits for state officials to report expenses for national campaigns and penalties if they're late.

Majority Republicans have not scheduled the measure for a public hearing.


Church exhumes 100 unmarked graves at building site

INDEPENDENCE -- More than 100 unmarked graves are being examined after they were exhumed at the site of a church expansion project in western Wisconsin.

An elevator was about to be installed when a couple of parishioners mentioned the nearby unmarked graves at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church at Independence in Trempealeau County.

Church restoration committee Chairman Bill Baxa said the bodies may have been the victims of a large flu outbreak close to 1900. He said a company from Jackson, Mich., is helping the church and local authorities with a month-long exhumation project that's due to be finished by the end of next week.

Only those graves which affect the church expansion project have been moved. The remains are being identified as completely as possible, and they'll be reburied near their previous spot.

The elevator installation is on hold for now. It's part of a $1.4 million renovation project. Baxa said the church is learning a lot about its past as a result of the exhumations.


Milwaukee man spends five in prison before being found not guilty of murder

A Milwaukee man has been cleared of a murder conviction after a jury found him not guilty in a second trial.

Brandon Burnside, 32, spent five years behind bars after his arrest and conviction in the 2010 shooting death of Bryan “Yoda” Drake, 29.

A state appeals court ordered a new trial last December. That panel says statements Burnside made to police before he was given his Miranda rights should not have been used against him.

Three witnesses in his retrial said they saw Burnside shoot Drake. But defense lawyer Anthony Cotton said all those witnesses had credibility problems.


Tree-trimming mishap kills St. Francis man

A 69-year-old man has died after a tree-trimming accident in suburban Milwaukee.

St. Francis police say the man was on a stepladder when a branch fell and struck him in the head and he fell to the ground.

Paramedics tried saving the man, but he died at the scene.

Police say he was helping his son with the tree trimming yesterday morning. The victim's name was not immediately released.


Enbridge Energy to test oil spill response plans

MACKINAW CITY, Mich. -- A company that moves crude oil through Wisconsin will test its response today to a simulated pipeline spill in neighboring Michigan.

Enbridge Energy will join federal, state and local personnel in a drill at the Straits of Mackinac. More than 300 people will be involved in responding to a simulated leak on Enbridge Line 5, one of two lines that carry 23 million gallons of crude oil each day from North Dakota to Sarnia, Ontario.

Environmental groups want the lines shut down, but Enbridge insists they're safe. The head of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Marie Therese Dominguez, will be among those watching the drill.


Justice Crooks’ funeral set for Saturday

ALLOUEZ -- A funeral will be held Saturday near Green Bay for State Supreme Court Justice Patrick Crooks, who died Monday.

Mass begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday morning at St. Matthew Parish in Allouez. Visitations are from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Newcomer Funeral Home in Green Bay and at the church Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until service time.

Crooks, 77, died in his chambers Monday from natural causes.

He was a Brown County circuit judge in Green Bay from 1977to 1996 when he began his nearly 20-year tenure on the state's highest court. Crooks said last week he would retire next summer.


Woman who saved child from drowning wins Carnegie Medal posthumously

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- A woman who died while saving a young swimmer in northern Wisconsin is among the latest to receive the Carnegie Medal for Heroism.

Karen Wessel, 47, of the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights was among 22 medal recipients announced yesterday.

She swam into Star Lake near Sayner in Vilas County to save three boys who struggled while trying to swim to an island in July of last year. Wessel went underwater and held an eight-year-old boy as high as she could so he wouldn't go under as well.

Wessel was rescued, but she died the same night at a Wausau hospital. The other two swimmers escaped unharmed.

The Carnegie commission honors heroes several times a year. It has given $37.5 million to almost 9,800 medal recipients since 1904.


Teen arrested in sexual assaults

WAUKESHA -- A 17-year-old boy has been arrested for the sexual assaults of three women near Carroll University in Waukesha.

Police say they're still investigating the incidents and they received a lot of tips which revealed the suspect's identity.

Authorities say he grabbed three women from behind and touched them inappropriately in separate incidents last Friday afternoon.