Vos says Republicans want veto-proof majority in Assembly
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he wants to grow the GOP majority to a veto-proof level following the 2020 election.
Vos said at a forum Tuesday organized by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce that his goal is to grow the number of Republicans from the current 63 to 67. That would be enough to override vetoes by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.
Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz conceded that Democrats will not be able to overtake the majority next year. He blames Republican-drawn maps with giving them a majority that Democrats can’t break.
But Vos says it’s the quality of candidates, not the maps, that benefit Republicans.
In the Senate, Republicans hold a 19-14 majority and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he expects that to hold or grow by one next year.
DNR spent nearly $10K to host wasting disease summit
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Department of Natural Resources spent nearly $10,000 to bring wildlife officials from around the Midwest to Madison for a conference on chronic wasting disease.
The Associated Press obtained receipts through an open records request that show the agency spent $9,567 on the conference, held July 24-25 at the Monona Terrace convention center.
Expenses included $3,103 for hotel rooms, $5,963 to use Monona Terrace and $690 for dinner at the Great Dane Pub. DNR spokeswoman Sarah Hoye says the agency paid the bills out of its donations account.
DNR Secretary Preston Cole hailed the conference as “unprecedented.” The meeting yielded no new strategies on how to fight the disease and only a couple attendees expressed interest in meeting again this year.
UW FREE SPEECH
Republicans resurrect UW campus free speech bill
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican legislators are re-introducing a bill that would punish students who interfere with campus speeches and presentations with suspension and expulsion.
The state Assembly passed a bill last session that would suspend University of Wisconsin System students twice accused of disrupting others’ free speech. Students who disrupt others’ free expression a third time would be expelled.
The measure died in the Senate but UW regents adopted the sanctions as policy in October.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Sen. Chris Kapenga and Reps. Cody Horlacher and Dave Murphy re-introduced the bill Tuesday. Passage would cement the sanctions in statute.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the bill’s prospects.
Melissa Baldauff, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers, also didn’t immediately respond to an email.
WISCONSIN STATE FAIR-ATTENDANCE
Wisconsin State Fair sets modern-day attendance record
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Wisconsin State Fair officials say this year’s fair set a modern-day attendance record.
Organizers say 1.1 million people visited the 11-day fair that ended Sunday in Milwaukee.
In all, 1,130,575 people went through the gates at State Fair Park. It was the seventh straight year attendance topped 1 million.
Officials say the only fair in the 168-year history of the event reporting higher attendance was in 1948, when the fair was 23 days long in celebration of Wisconsin’s Centennial.
That year, the fair drew 1.78 million with average daily attendance of 77,688.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports this year’s event had average daily attendance of 102,779, with five daily attendance records.
Before 2002, attendance was estimated. Now, attendance figures are compiled from tickets scanned at the gates.
Wisconsin Republicans push mental health bills
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Republican lawmakers are circulating a package of bills designed to improve access to mental health services in the state.
State Rep. Paul Tittl said Tuesday the proposals are not a reaction to recent mass shootings and he refused to say whether he would support universal background checks.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democrats are calling for the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass that as well as a “red flag” law to take guns away from people determined to be a risk to themselves or others.
The bills Tittl and other Republicans unveiled would make matching grant money available for mental health centers and non-profits across the state, provide a tax deduction for psychiatrists and update standards and practices for psychologists.
ELECTION SECURITY-THE LATEST
The Latest: Elections panel scales back clerk loaner program
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Elections Commission has scaled back a plan to loan local clerks secure computers.
Commission staff has warned the panel that scores of clerks are using outdated computer systems or aren’t installing security patches, leaving their local election data and Wisconsin’s election system vulnerable to potentially devastating cyberattacks.
The staff recommended buying software that can tests clerks’ vulnerabilities remotely, loaning clerks 250 up-to-date computers at a cost of up to $300,000 and creating a new position to provide technical support for the loaner program.
The commission voted Tuesday to purchase the software to test clerk vulnerabilities at a cost of up to $69,000 annually. The panel voted to spend only $30,000 on 25 loaner computers, however, amid concerns that the commission doesn’t have a firm grasp of how many clerks actually need them. The commission ordered staff to get the vulnerability-testing software in place and deliver findings from that effort at the panel’s Sept. 24 meeting.
The commission unanimously authorized staff to begin setting up the technical support position but to obtain commission permission before posting the position.
A federal grant will cover funding for all the initiatives.
Evers urges diversity in talk to state chamber of commerce
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is telling the state’s business leaders to embrace diversity and make all people feel welcome in order to help deal with worker shortages and an aging population.
Evers spoke Tuesday at a policy forum organized by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state chamber of commerce. An arm of the group spent more than $1 million in attack ads against Evers in last year’s governor’s race.
Evers urged business leaders to make the state attractive to younger workers, who he says are drawn to Wisconsin because of its natural resources and other things that contribute to a high quality of life like a strong educational system.
Evers says to welcome diversity because “when we bring in workers from out of state, the chance of them being 67-year-old white guys is pretty slim.”
Wisconsin mother accused of leaving children in hot car
MILWAUKEE (AP) — A suburban Milwaukee mother is charged with child neglect after her two young children were found alone in a hot car outside a store.
Police say they responded to the parking lot of the Target store Saturday in West Allis after a woman saw the children in the car with the windows rolled up, observed one of them playing with a shaving razor in the back seat and called police.
The children, ages 2 and 4, were not seriously hurt.
A criminal complaint says it was 78 degrees outside and the car was parked in the sunlight. Twenty-seven-year-old Allison Andrade, of West Allis, is charged with child neglect, obstructing police and bail jumping. The complaint says Andrade gave police a false name when officers questioned her.
Andrade’s attorney didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
This story has been corrected to show that police responded to the parking lot Saturday, not Sunday.