- Associated Press - Thursday, January 8, 2015
Wisconsin records 1st child flu death of season

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Health officials say Wisconsin has recorded its first flu-related child death of the season.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1Fq4KGr) reports the 12-year-old Milwaukee girl died on Jan. 1. Although the Milwaukee Health Department would not disclose the age, gender or date of the death, the newspaper reports the information was obtained through the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan K. Baker urged all residents to reduce the spread of flu and to protect those most vulnerable, including infants and young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

Tom Haupt, influenza surveillance coordinator for the state Department of Health Services, says Wisconsin averages about two pediatric flu fatalities each season.

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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.comhttps://www.jsonline.com

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Groups ask US Supreme Court to hear Wisconsin voter ID case

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Civil rights advocates asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to reverse a decision upholding Wisconsin’s voter photo identification law, arguing the case raises questions of national importance about limits on a state’s ability to restrict voting.

The American Civil Liberties Union and allied groups argued in their filing that the Wisconsin case offers an “ideal vehicle” to settle the legal debate over voter ID laws.

They said 17 states have adopted voter identification laws since the high court upheld Indiana’s law in 2008. They contend that arguments by supporters of such laws that they help prevent voter fraud is a pretext. The measures don’t serve any legitimate state interest and curtail the rights of black and Hispanic voters who lack ID, opponents say. What’s more, legal challenges moving back and forth between state and federal courts have created confusion, they argued.

“Unless this court acts now, the court likely will continue to be put in the untenable position of refereeing voter ID disputes on an emergency basis on the eve of elections every two years,” the ACLU’s attorneys argued. “Given the stakes for so many voters across the country, and the uncertainty among lower courts … this court should grant (review).”

A spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, which is defending the law, didn’t immediately return an email message Wednesday evening.

Republican legislators passed Wisconsin’s law in 2011. It requires all voters to show photo identification at the polls. Voters who lack photo IDs can obtain them at a state Division of Motor Vehicles office for free but must supply documents such as birth certificate that verify their identity.

The ACLU and its allies filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law in December 2011. The case ended up before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in October the law was valid.

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Waukesha County sheriff’s deputy accused of drunken driving

WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) - A Waukesha County sheriff’s deputy has been reassigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of a drunken driving investigation.

The deputy was arrested by the Wisconsin State Patrol on suspicion of drunken driving after he crashed his personal vehicle in Genesee late Monday night. WISN-TV (https://bit.ly/1BC7yfshttps://bit.ly/1BC7yfs ) reports the deputy was heading home after attending a swearing-in ceremony and celebration for Sheriff Eric Severson.

Sheriff’s officials say he was off-duty when the incident occurred. They say he has worked with the department for more than 12 years.

The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department is conducting an internal investigation of the incident.

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Information from: WISN-TV, https://www.wisn.comhttps://www.wisn.com

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Bill would force closure of failing Wisconsin schools

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin public schools deemed to be failing would have to become charter schools under a bill introduced Wednesday that was the first of the 2015 legislative session and placed on the fast track for passage.

The Republican-backed proposal would also, for the first time, impose letter grades based on multiple performance measures for every public and independent charter school as well as private schools that accept taxpayer-funded voucher students.

Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans who control the Legislature have said they wanted to act quickly on a proposal after years of failure to reach agreement on the matter.

“This is the most important bill we have on our schedule right now,” said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, adding that he wants to pass it by the end of the month.

It’s unclear whether the version introduced Wednesday will get the support of Walker and Republicans who control the Senate. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick was noncommittal.

“We will review the bill,” Patrick said. “Gov. Walker looks forward to working with the Legislature on an accountability bill for all schools receiving state funds.”

Democrats and the head of the largest teachers union said the bill was designed to kill off public schools.

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