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Wisconsin roundup: Wisconsinites sweat through Packers' upset; Obamacare repeal protests continue; 7 more state news stories

Green Bay fans were on pins and needles in the closing minutes of Sunday's playoff game against Dallas. (File photo)

Wisconsinites in homes and sports bars sweated through the Green Bay Packers 34-31 playoff victory at Dallas Sunday.

Many fans expressed their emotions on social media during the game, as the Cowboys came back from an early 18-point deficit to tie the contest before Mason Crosby made a 51-yard field goal as time expired. It gave Green Bay what some analysts call its biggest playoff upset since beating the 49ers in San Francisco as an 11 point underdog 21 years ago.

The Cowboys were a five point favorite in this one, but they continued a 21-year drought for not making the NFC Championship Game while the Packers will head to Atlanta for their fourth NFC title game in the last nine years -- and ticket prices skyrocketed Sunday night. The Falcons sold a number of seats during the weekend in which lower level seats at the Georgia Dome went $225 -- but Monday morning on the secondary market, nosebleed seats are as low as $318.


Obamacare repeal protests continue

MADISON — Wisconsin doctors and seniors plan to continue the protests against the repeal of Obamacare.

The state chapter of the Physicians for a National Health Program and the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups are among those sponsoring a rally in Madison, right after the state's official Martin Luther King Day program at the State Capitol. In a statement, the doctors' group quotes the late civil rights leader as saying, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane."

On Sunday, the Citizen Action group sponsored rallies in Milwaukee, Waukesha, Madison, Appleton, Wausau, Eau Claire, and La Crosse -- among 500 rallies where people urged incoming President Donald Trump not to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the first step of which the Republican Congress took late last week. At the Milwaukee rally, U.S. House Democrat Gwen Moore said "repealing and replacing means that it will rain on the just and unjust" -- while state GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Wisconsin voters spoke loudly and clearly to fix what he called a "broken health care system" the Democrats "helped create."


At least 1 state Dem to skip Trump inauguration

MADISON — At least one Wisconsin congressional Democrat plans to skip Donald Trump's presidential inauguration on Friday.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan of Madison says he'll stay away in part because of the Republican Trump's backlash at Georgia House Democrat and civil rights advocate John Lewis during the weekend. Lewis says he would try to cultivate a relationship with Trump but he did not consider the New York businessman a "legitimate president."

Pocan says he's also boycotting the inauguration because of the reported hacking of the election by Russia, and what Pocan called Trump's "conflicts of interest." Minnesota House Democrat Keith Ellison, a candidate to head the Democratic National Committee, called Trump the nation's "bully in chief," and Ellison and Pocan are among about two dozen House members planning to boycott the inauguration.


Wisconsin House members vote along party lines on Obamacare

WASHINGTON — Wisconsin's U.S. House members voted with their parties on Friday when they passed a budget resolution that begins the process of dismantling Obamacare.

Speaker Paul Ryan normally doesn't vote -- but he punched the "Yes" button this time on a proposal to have committees start writing bills to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The vote was 227-198 with all five Wisconsin House Republicans voting yes and all three Democrats voting no.

The GOP was not certain earlier in the week that the measure would pass, because a number of Republicans were wary of supporting the bill before the party decides the details of unraveling President Barack Obama's signature law as he walks out the door for good next Friday. That's expected this week at a retreat for GOP lawmakers in Philadelphia.


Foul play not suspected in missing man's death

BELOIT — Foul play is not suspected in the death of a missing Beloit man whose body was found in a cold wooded area in southwest Wisconsin.

An autopsy is scheduled to determine how 84-year-old Stuart Austin died. He was reported missing on Jan. 3, and police say a fisherman found his body Friday morning near the victim's vehicle in a remote area near the Wisconsin River in Grant County. Police say Austin's vehicle apparently got stuck on a roadway, and he succumbed to cold temperatures.


Feds to state: Finish stalled projects before starting new ones

MADISON — The federal government is telling Wisconsin to stop planning for new highway projects, and to finish the ones they've stalled.

Michael Davies, who heads the Federal Highway Administration's Wisconsin office says there are so many projects being developed that not all will get done in a reasonable period with the likely "funding scenarios." In a recent letter, Davies said one of the feds' top concerns is the state's delays on the expansion of Interstate 94 from Milwaukee to the Illinois line -- which was supposed to be done last year but may not be finished until 2028.

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the letter is more proof that the state may need to increase its tax and fee revenues to get current work done. But Gov. Scott Walker's office continues to fight any tax or fee hikes -- and spokesman Tom Evenson tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the federal stance might be different once Republican Donald Trump becomes the nation's new president on Friday.


Washington watchdog group sniffed out Merrill student's threats

MERRILL — It was a watchdog group out of Washington, D.C., that spotted a threatening tweet from a student at Merrill High School.

The Tactical Institute monitors social media posts from all over the country. The threatening tweet didn't have a name attached, but an associated picture showed the student wearing a Merrill shirt. When they tracked down his account, they saw dozens of angry tweets over a period of several months, along with threats about shooting, suicide and pictures of the boy with guns. Students were kept in their classrooms while police interviewed the student Friday.


Eau Claire holds $54K bill for Trump, Clinton campaign stops

EAU CLAIRE — City officials in western Wisconsin are trying to figure out how to get the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns to pay up.

The two presidential candidates made appearances in Eau Claire on the same day last April. Clinton's bill is almost $7,000, while Trump owes $47,000 for a rally at Memorial High School. The Trump event cost more because it required more preparation.

The situation facing the city is exactly why officials at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire say they require payments before an event can be held on campus -- and Trump and Bernie Sanders did just that last year, paying before they appeared.


Last chance for winner to claim $1M Powerball ticket

MADISON —An unclaimed $1 million Powerball ticket from last summer will expire if the winner doesn't come forward by Feb. 2.

The ticket was sold at Aberg Avenue Mobil in Madison for the Aug. 6 Powerball drawing, and it matched all the numbers but the Powerball to win the game's second prize. The winner must bring the winning ticket to the state lottery office in Madison by the end of Groundhog Day -- or else the prize will be given to homeowners as property tax relief. The Wisconsin Lottery requires all winning tickets to be cashed in within 180 days.


Neighbors concerned about upside-down flag display

LANNON — People living in a neighborhood in the village of Lannon say they understand First Amendment rights, but they're still concerned about an American flag that has been displayed upside down outside a condominium.

People who live nearby say they think it's a political statement protesting the incoming Trump administration. The condo residents haven't been identified because they haven't broken the law. One Air Force veteran says the upside down flag is causing tension. Others say it's just a case of a person exercising his freedom of speech.


State corrections captain suspected of OWI

(Milwaukee, WI) -- A state corrections' department captain is facing his first drunk driving case.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department says 36-year-old Matthew Kriska of Oak Creek was arrested after his vehicle got into a crash early Saturday in the southbound lanes of Interstate 43. Kriska works at the state's Secure Detention Facility in Milwaukee. Deputies say he was among 13 suspected drunk drivers arrested over the weekend in Milwaukee County.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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