Wisconsin roundup: Gamesmanship ramps up in 2018 U.S. Senate race; polls open for races around the state; 9 more state news stories
MILWAUKEE — The political dirty tricks have started for a Wisconsin U.S. Senate election that's 19 months away.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the conservative American Majority has put out an anonymous document accusing Green Bay's Nicole Schneider of deleting old social media posts that criticized President Donald Trump and other Republicans, and favored Democrats.
Also, the state's largest news outlet says someone created a fake website with a speech that potential hopeful Kevin Nicholson gave at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, supporting abortion rights when he headed the College Democrats — something he says he no longer favors. No Republican has declared a candidacy yet for the Senate post held by Democrat Tammy Baldwin, but there are several looking into it.
State: Voter turnout expected at 13-18 percent
MADISON — State officials expect 13 to 18 percent of Wisconsin adults to vote in Tuesday's spring general election.
The only statewide contest has public school superintendent Tony Evers going for his third four year term against former Whitnall and Beloit Superintendent Lowell Holtz. The two have disagreed on virtually every major issue as Holtz supports expanding the private school voucher program and repealing the Common Core standards — while Evers supports the standards and opposes more vouchers.
Hundreds of local government and school board contests are also on today's ballots throughout the Badger State — along with 65 school referendums in 42 districts calling for more than $500 million in borrowing for building improvements and tax hikes to keep school programs going. All polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Survey: Wisconsin 10th-least stressful state
WASHINGTON — Relax, Wisconsinites: A new survey says you live in the nation's 10th least stressful state.
The Washington financial website Wallet Hub reviewed a number of factors involving safety, health, family, money, and work related stress — and Wisconsin ranked among the one third least stressful states in every category.
Alabama was rated the most stressful state, while neighboring Minnesota was the least stressful with Iowa the third lowest. The Gopher State was tied with North Dakota for the nation's highest credit scores — and it had the third lowest percentage of adults in fair to poor health, third most hours of sleep per night, and the fourth fewest psychologists per resident.
Proposed state constitutional amendment would help crime victims
MADISON — State Attorney General Brad Schimel will join crime victims Tuesday to push for a constitutional amendment to give more rights to those victims.
A group called "Marsy's Law for Wisconsin" is holding news conferences in Madison and Milwaukee, on a proposal to give crime victims the right to be notified about major developments in their assailants' court cases. Those victims would also get more privacy rights, and new chances to recover financial damages.
"Marsy's Law" has been passed in neighboring Illinois and several other states, and it would need approval in two consecutive Wisconsin legislative sessions and then by the voters in a statewide referendum. It's named for Marsy Nicholas, who was killed by a former boyfriend in California in 1983 — and her family was surprised to be confronted by him in a grocery store one week after she died.
La Crosse County voters to decide on seeking 'premier resort tax'
LA CROSSE — La Crosse County may not be the tourist mecca that Wisconsin Dells and Bayfield are, but business and county leaders hope voters will approve a referendum Tuesday that asks state lawmakers to designate it as a "Premier Resort Area."
The designation would allow an extra 0.50 percent sales tax to help maintain roads and utilities. Local leaders say there are almost no other viable options to raise revenue to fix bumpy roads, and they see the resort tax as a long term solution. It would generate about $6 million per year for local road work, and the county says about two thirds of it would be paid by La Crosse County residents. The governor's proposed state budget would increase funding for local roads.
Assembly to fight opioids, Senate taking up high-capacity wells
MADISON — Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature will be in session Tuesday.
The Assembly is expected to start acting on almost one dozen bills aimed at fighting opioid and heroin addiction — and they'll act on a request from Mineral Point fourth graders to name cheese as the state's official dairy product. The state Senate is scheduled to consider a measure to relax state rules on high capacity water wells.
Also, lawmakers will hear the annual "State of the Tribes" address, an update of how Wisconsin's 11 American Indian tribes are doing. It will be given by Stockbridge Munsee President Shannon Holsey, whose tribe plans to withhold an annual payment to the state of almost $1 million to try and stop the Ho Chunk tribe from opening a casino expansion close to the Stockbridge tribe at Wittenberg.
State upholds suspension of employee over 'Hillary for Prison' T-shirt
MADISON — A state employee suspended for three days after wearing a "Hillary for Prison" T-shirt to work has lost his second appeal.
Frank A. Wessely of Kewaunee was suspended after wearing the T-shirt under a sport coat. A Department of Transportation analyst, Wessely appealed the suspension twice, arguing the T-shirt was not "at all" offensive and he had received only positive comments while wearing the shirt around the state.
It's unclear when he wore the shirt to work. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission denied his second appeal in February, noting he was told multiple times not to wear inappropriate clothing to work and had acknowledged his shirt "might be offensive." The state earlier noted employees had been instructed not to reveal political affiliations at work.
Fatal fire victim identified
BLACK RIVER FALLS — A woman killed in an apartment fire in Black River Falls has been identified as 31-year-old Kathryn Montana.
Fire Chief Steve Schreiber says it might take a few weeks to determine Montana's cause of death, pending the results of toxicology tests. All others in the apartment complex escaped unharmed.
The state Fire Marshal is investigating the early Sunday fire, along with Black River Falls police and fire personnel. Officials say foul play is not suspected.
Marshfield clinic closer to buying hospital
MARSHFIELD — Wisconsin's largest home based multi-specialty clinic is one step closer to buying a hospital that's connected with the clinic's headquarters.
Marshfield Clinic and Ascension announced an agreement Monday on the purchase of St. Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield. Clinic CEO Susan Turney says terms will be disclosed later. She expects no major staffing changes among Ascension's 1,500 employees at St. Joseph's.
Turney says the hospital's operations could be handed to the clinic as early as June. Marshfield Clinic, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, was planning to build its own hospital on its Marshfield grounds but instead is buying the existing hospital, which just marked its 125th anniversary.
Search continues for missing boater
MENASHA — A search continued Monday afternoon for a boater from Neenah who disappeared Saturday on Little Lake Butte des Morts at Menasha.
Winnebago County rescue divers are leading the search for the man. The state DNR is helping with extra sonar equipment. The man's name was not immediately released. Sheriff's deputies were first notified about an empty boat going in circles on Little Butte des Morts.
EPA identifies new area of Milwaukee River contamination
MILWAUKEE — New areas of toxic contamination have been identified on the Milwaukee River.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the section of the river is a four-mile stretch from East North Avenue to the Estabrook Dam in Milwaukee. EPA officials say chemicals known as PCBs, likely the result of manufacturing from decades ago, were found in the area last fall. A public meeting to share more information on the findings has been scheduled by the Department of Natural Resources on April 18 at the Gordon Park Pavilion.