- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A failed presidential bid, a new job for Rep. Paul Ryan and a capital city on edge were some of the most notable stories in Wisconsin in 2015. Here’s a look back at those stories and others:

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SCOTT WALKER: The Republican governor spent the first half of the year hop-scotching across the country, laying the foundation for his presidential run by visiting early primary states and courting Republican donors. He officially jumped into the race in July but floundered in a crowded field that included real estate mogul Donald Trump. Less than three months later, with poor poll numbers and the prospect of dwindling donor support, he dropped out of the race.

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PAUL RYAN: Wisconsin’s other national political figure found himself under pressure to take over as U.S. House speaker after John Boehner, a fellow Republican congressman, announced plans to quit the job. Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, initially appeared to want nothing to do with the job. But he later relented and was elected to the powerful post in October.

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MADISON UNREST: Wisconsin’s capital city was on edge for weeks after a white police officer fatally shot Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old biracial man, during a confrontation in an apartment building in March. Robinson’s death sparked waves of street protests, but District Attorney Ismael Ozanne ultimately decided that no charges were warranted against Officer Matt Kenny.

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WISCONSIN DRIVERS: The state’s drivers got the green light to hit the gas - on some roads, anyway - after Walker signed a bill giving state transportation officials the power to bump the speed limit from 65 mph to 70 in some places.

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JOHN DOE INVESTIGATION: The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered prosecutors in July to halt a secretive investigation into whether the governor’s 2012 recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups on issue ads. The court said such coordination was legal, marking a huge win for Walker, who had endured ugly headlines for nearly three years as Milwaukee prosecutors and the state Government Accountability Board pursued the John Doe probe. The process is similar to a grand jury proceeding where prosecutors can subpoena witnesses and tightly control information. Walker signed a bill in October prohibiting prosecutors from using such investigations against politicians.

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YOUTH PRISON INVESTIGATION: Word broke in December that the state Department of Justice has been investigating since January alleged misconduct at the state facilities housing youth prisoners in Irma. Allegations at Copper Lake/Lincoln Hills School included sexual assaults, physical confrontations and child neglect. The state Department of Corrections’ juvenile administrator and the Copper Lake/Lincoln Hills superintendent were relieved of their duties.

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MILWAUKEE ARCHDIOCESE BANKRUPTCY: A federal bankruptcy judge approved a reorganization plan for Milwaukee’s Roman Catholic archdiocese in November that called for distributing $21 million to hundreds of clergy sex abuse victims. The plan split most of the money among 355 people, while a group of 104 people were each slated to receive about $2,000. Archbishop Jerome Listecki apologized to victims in court shortly before Judge Susan Kelley approved the plan, saying he believed the archdiocese had turned a corner.

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TOMAH VA MEDICAL CENTER: Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Medical Center Chief of Staff David Houlihan was initially put on leave in January while the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs investigated allegations of overprescribing narcotic pain medications and retaliatory behavior at the Tomah facility. In August, the VA’s inspector general said deficiencies in care led to the 2014 death of 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski. Houlihan was fired in October, a month after the center’s director, Mario DeSanctis, was dismissed.

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UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM: A tough year for the UW system included a $250 million budget cut and a tuition freeze. State lawmakers also removed tenure protections for UW professors from state law, though system regents are considering restoring some protections in a process expected to continue into the spring.

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LABOR UNIONS: Walker signed a bill in March making Wisconsin a right-to-work state. That means workers can’t be required to join a union or pay union dues, a change that could erode union membership. The Wisconsin chapter of the AFL-CIO, a federation of labor unions, Machinists Local Lodge 1061 in Milwaukee and United Steelworkers District 2 in Menasha sued the state arguing the law is unconstitutional.

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MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Walker signed a bill in August committing taxpayers to covering half the cost of a new $500 million arena for Wisconsin’s NBA team. The new building is expected to open for the 2018-19 season.

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SUPREME COURT UPHEAVAL: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority stripped longtime Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of her title in April and named Pat Roggensack as the court’s new chief. The move came after voters approved a constitutional amendment that enabled justices to choose their chief justice, rather than the job automatically going to the most senior member of the court. In September, 77-year-old Justice Patrick Crooks died in his chambers days after announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election this spring. Walker appointed conservative-backed Rebecca Bradley to finish his term, meaning she will have the advantage of incumbency going into the election.

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MARTY BEIL: The often brusque leader of the Wisconsin state employee labor union died in October, at age 68. Beil was the face of the union for years and was at the center of the losing fight against Walker’s signature public union restrictions.

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RUSS FEINGOLD’S RETURN: After losing the U.S. Senate seat he’d held for 18 years to Republican Ron Johnson in 2010, the Democrat announced in May that he would run against Johnson in 2016.

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