- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015
Trolley bridge collapses in Superior; 2 hurt

SUPERIOR, Wis. (AP) - A century-old trolley bridge has collapsed at a Superior industrial site, slightly injuring two contractors.

The collapse happened at the Graymont plant along Superior Bay around 3:45 p.m. Thursday.

Plant manager Phil Marquis tells WDIO-TV (https://bit.ly/1Eb7hBN) that contractors were doing preparations for a controlled demolition of the 102-year-old bridge, which had been planned for Sunday.

Marquis says the contractors were able to walk away from the collapse and were then taken by ambulance to a hospital.

Graymont is a supplier of lime and lime-based products. The trolley bridge could be easily seen from U.S. Highway 53 in Superior and Park Point in Duluth, Minnesota.


Assembly Republicans taking new approach on school sanctions

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Assembly Republicans are backing off their plan to force failing public schools to be converted into independent charter schools in an effort to reach a deal with Gov. Scott Walker and state senators who opposed such a penalty.

The chief sponsor of the school accountability bill in the Assembly, Education Committee Chairman Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he’s now looking at requiring failing schools to choose from a variety of sanctions.

The Legislature has struggled for years to reach agreement on how to measure and report the performance of public, charter and private voucher schools. Some of the biggest areas of disagreement are whether all schools receiving public money should take the same test to measure student performance, how that material should be presented, and whether any should face sanctions.

Thiesfeldt said Thursday he’s going to propose that failing schools, after a period of years, be required to choose from three to five sanctions. Those could include forcing the school to convert into an independent charter, with the option of reverting back to a public school, and firing teachers and administrators, Thiesfeldt said. He said the particulars of the various options, including how many there will be, are still being discussed.

Any type of sanction for public schools has run into stiff opposition from public school advocates. Also, Walker and Senate Republicans have put forward alternate school accountability proposals that don’t have sanctions for failing public schools. Both the Senate and Assembly bills would stop public funding for failing private schools in the voucher program, but Walker is not proposing that penalty.

Thiesfeldt acknowledged that his latest approach may not be enough to sway those wary of imposing sanctions on public schools.

“I suspect we still may be at a stalemate, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to push forward,” Thiesfeldt said. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has reiterated several times that any accountability bill passed must include sanctions, saying taking action without penalties would be “political theater.”


‘Upskirting’ bill stalls in Wisconsin Senate committee

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A bill that would make upskirting - secretly taking a photo of someone’s genitals, buttocks or breasts - a stand-alone felony stalled in a state Senate committee.

Current state law doesn’t address upskirting. District attorneys, typically prosecute it as a misdemeanor invasion of privacy. The bill would make upskirting a felony punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison.

Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, the chairman of the Senate’s judiciary committee, said the bill stalled in a committee meeting Wednesday. He said committee members are concerned making upskirting a felony is too harsh.

Wanggaard said committee members plan to meet with bill authors to discuss the penalty before it moves to the Senate.

“We don’t want to have a floor fight,” Wanggaard said Wednesday. “We’d rather hash it out in committee.”

The bill’s author, Mequon Republican Rep. Jim Ott, on Thursday said the punishment fits the crime. He said upskirting can leave victims traumatized.

“We’re not trying to make more felons, we’re just trying to prevent an act that is a major invasion into someone’s life,” Ott said.


Republican hopes to have elections board bill by April

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Republican state lawmaker working on reorganizing the nonpartisan board that oversees elections and ethics laws in Wisconsin says he hopes to have a proposal ready for debate by April.

Rep. Dean Knudson (kuh-NOOD’-son), of Hudson, tells The Associated Press on Thursday that he’s still working with Republicans in the Senate on how to reconfigure the Government Accountability Board.

It currently consists of retired judges. Knudson says he supports including some partisan appointees.

He says he hopes to have a proposal ready to introduce “sometime soon,” hopefully by April.

Debate over the makeup of the board comes at the same time the Legislature is looking at updating Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws that the board enforces in light of a variety of rulings striking down key provisions.

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