Wisconsin roundup: Two questioned in connection with Stout student's death; state to challenge Dassey's release order; 8 more state news stories
MENOMONIE – Police in Menomonie said they have identified and are questioning two women in connection with the death of UW-Stout student Hussain Ahnahdi.
The women, who were not identified in a Tuesday news release by Menomonie police, were being interviewed “to determine what information, if any, they may have had” in the death investigation. Authorities released photos of the women Monday and asked the public to help identify them.
Investigators have been stymied in their search for suspects and a motive in the Oct. 30 attack that killed the 24-year-old Alnahdi, a business major from Saudi Arabia. The FBI and the Saudi Consulate in Houston are helping local police with the probe. Police also said Monday that Alnahdi died from a traumatic brain injury -- but the final cause of death will not be determined until toxicology test results come in.
State to challenge order to free Dassey
MILWAUKEE -- Brendan Dassey is still behind bars, as the state challenges a federal judge's order to free the Manitowoc County man whose conviction was overturned after the Netflix series "Making a Murderer."
Milwaukee Magistrate Judge William Duffin says the 27-year-old Dassey must get a supervised release from prison with a number of conditions until the case is settled. Attorney General Brad Schimel says he's filing an emergency request to delay the judge's decision until the state can make its case for keeping Dassey imprisoned -- but a Dassey lawyer expects his client "home by Thanksgiving."
Duffin says Dassey is not likely to flee if he's let go, because his family is based in northeast Wisconsin and a detailed plan for his freedom includes time with an area social worker. Duffin ruled in August that Dassey's conviction be thrown out for the Halloween 2005 killing of Teresa Halbach -- and the state is appealing that ruling, as well as an effort by Dassey's uncle Steven Avery to have a new trial in his case.
UW to research voter ID's effect on election
MADISON – UW-Madison researchers will try to find out how the state's voter ID law affected the turnout in last Tuesday's elections.
Republicans say it had no effect whatsoever, while Democrats say the law might have helped reduce the turnout among young and black people in Milwaukee County where 60,000 fewer votes were cast than in the 2012 presidential contest. Milwaukee County will be studied along with Madison and Dane County.
Dane County will pick up most of the $44,000 cost. University researchers say the study will include a mailing to voters who cast ballots in the past but did not this time, and they'll ask why. Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell says his poll workers mentioned some voters showing up with improper IDs; some cast provisional ballots while others didn't bother.
Ryan vows to 'hit the ground running' if re-elected speaker
WASHINGTON -- Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville says he expects House Republicans to "hit the ground running" in the next session, with the help of the agenda his party unveiled in June.
The GOP is supposed to elect new leaders Tuesday, and Ryan has asked his colleagues to give him a full two year term as speaker after he was elected 13 months ago. In an email to colleagues, Ryan said the nation voted for change when it put Republicans in charge of both the White House and Capitol Hill.
He called on his fellow lawmakers to "deliver" with what the speaker calls a "go big and go bold" package that includes tax and health care reform, reducing poverty, and boosting national security and the economy. Although some Republicans complained about the timing of Tuesday's caucus elections, the Politico news website says Ryan is expected to win the GOP's majority -- but a tougher comes in January when the entire House votes on his candidacy.
Study: Occupational licenses should be curtailed
MADISON -- A conservative law firm says state licenses for certain professional jobs should be eliminated.
The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty released the results of a study Tuesday showing that licensing mandates raise consumer prices, reduces competition, and prevents jobs from being created. Assembly Republicans have included licensing reform in their agenda for the next two year session, saying licenses that don't protect public safety should be dropped.
The institute's report says Wisconsin has 440,000 professional license holders -- an increase of 34 percent during the past two decades. It claims that almost 32,000 jobs have been lost during those 20 years, and the licensing mandates have cost consumers an unnecessary $1.9 billion.
Triple ace fighter pilot to speak at EAA museum
OSHKOSH -- A military flying hero will appear in Oshkosh Thursday night.
Triple ace fighter pilot Clarence "Bud" Anderson will speak at 7 p.m. at the EAA's Air Venture Museum, as part of the organization's free "Aviation Adventure Speaker Series." Col. Anderson earned more than 16 air victories as a P-51 Mustang pilot with the 357th Fighter Group during World War II -- and he commanded a fighter jet squadron in post war Korea, and led two fighter wings during the Vietnam War.
During his career, Anderson also tested 130 types of aircraft for the military. One of those planes, a P-Q 14 target drone is now part of the collection at the EAA Museum.
GOP May Have To Tread Carefully On Dumping Obamacare
Republicans may have to tread more carefully than expected as they vow to end Obamacare.
That's because 59 of the state's 72 counties that President Elect Donald Trump carried last week generally have higher percentages of people who get their required insurance from the Affordable Care Act. Many are in rural areas, especially in the north where Vilas County has almost 10 percent of its residents on Obamacare -- much higher than the statewide average of 4 percent.
State Senate Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst says the big question is where people will get their catastrophic health care -- and he says it would help to cut regulations, and give incentives to smaller clinics for preventative care. Last week, Trump said he would consider keeping a mandate that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions -- but health advocates say it would put a squeeze on insurers' revenues, as younger people would no longer have to buy coverage and help pay to treat older and sicker residents.
More people will give thanks on the road
More drivers will hit the road next week for Thanksgiving.
The automotive group AAA says 48.7 million Americans will go at least 50 miles from home sometime during the Thanksgiving weekend -- a 1.9 percent increase from last year. The Triple-"A" no longer gives state travel estimates, as it examines a wider array of traffic trends -- but if Wisconsin follows the national increase, almost 979,000 state residents will go away for Thanksgiving, based on last year's numbers.
The auto club credits the national jump to stronger consumer confidence, rising wages, and higher spending. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel holiday of the year, but GasBuddy.com says it does not put a big strain on oil refineries -- and it's possible we'll see the lowest gas prices of the year in November and December, with Wisconsin's price Tuesday for regular unleaded at $2.03 per gallon.
Weather helps farmers get close to completing harvest
MADISON -- Wisconsin farmers are getting a lot closer to wrapping up their crop harvest, thanks to a recent dry spell.
According to the state Ag Statistics Service, 6 ½ days were suitable for fieldwork for the week ending Sunday -- and much of southern Wisconsin finally had killing frosts last Wednesday, the latest on record in La Crosse. Ninety-seven percent of the Wisconsin soybeans have been harvested, slightly ahead of the average for the past five years. Eighty-three percent of the state's corn for grain is in the bin, a little behind last year but four days ahead of the five year norm. All but 2 percent of the state's winter wheat has been planted, and 81 percent of it is rated good to excellent.
No change at the top for Wisconsin Assembly Republicans
MADISON -- Wisconsin Assembly Republicans are keeping their top leaders in place for the next two year session.
Speaker Robin Vos was re-elected Monday by his fellow Republicans, and Majority Leader Jim Steineke survived a challenge from Waupaca's Kevin Petersen. The Assembly gained one member in last week's elections, creating a sizable 64-35 majority.
Steineke says he expects states to have less federal interference and more control of its own policies with Donald Trump as president and Trump's fellow Republicans in charge of Congress. Assembly Democrats are scheduled to elect their new leaders Tuesday, and reports say Kenosha's Peter Barca is expected to be unopposed to stay on as the minority leader of the lower house.