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The Biden administration is urging U.S. meat processors to make sure children aren’t being hired illegally to perform dangerous jobs at their plants. The call comes after an investigation over the past year found more than 100 kids working overnight for a company that cleans slaughterhouses handling dangerous equipment like skull splitters and razor-sharp bone saws. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent a letter Wednesday to the 18 largest meat and poultry producers urging them to examine the hiring practices at their companies and suppliers. The letter is part of a broader effort by the administration to crack down on the use of child labor. The Labor Department has reported a 69% increase since 2018 in the number of children being employed illegally in the U.S.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources board has approved a resolution asking legislators for more money to maintain wildlife and amenities on public lands. The board voted unanimously Wednesday to ask the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee for “adequate funding,” without specifying how much. The legislative committee starts working on the budget in the coming weeks. One member of the natural resources board has said that funding to manage wildlife and maintain amenities on public lands isn't keeping pace with land purchases. Critics of the department say the purchases deprive the state of tax revenue.

Michigan researchers say they have found the wreckage of two ships that disappeared into Lake Superior in 1914 and hope the discovery will lead to a third vessel that sank at the same time. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society announced the discoveries this month. The steamship C.F. Curtis was towing the schooner barges Selden E. Marvin and Annie M. Peterson across Lake Superior when they sank on Nov. 18, 1914. All 28 people aboard were killed. The researchers found the wreck of the Curtis during the summer of 2021 and the Marvin a year later within a few miles of the first site.

Republican Wisconsin lawmakers are looking to create stricter rules for how long people can receive unemployment benefits and what they have to do to get them. The package of unemployment bills was introduced after more than three-quarters of voters in the statewide April election supported a non-binding ballot question asking whether people should be required to look for work to receive government assistance. Lawmakers were scheduled to consider the bills in a committee hearing on Wednesday. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed similar proposals in his last term, and it's likely he will do so again if the Republican-controlled Legislature passes the bills.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' leader says he plans to bring a finalized wolf management plan to the agency's board for a vote in October. The DNR in November released a draft of its first new wolf management plan in almost 25 years. The draft erases the current 350-animal population goal, recommending instead that the department work with local advisory committees on whether local packs should grow or be reduced. DNR Secretary Adam Payne told the board during a meeting Wednesday that agency officials will make revisions through early July. The final plan will be presented to stakeholders between July and mid-September. He plans to submit the plan to the board for final approval in October.

Cardinal Stritch University, a Catholic liberal arts college, is closing, a year after celebrating its 85th anniversary in Wisconsin. President Dan Scholz says it's devastating news. But he says Stritch is facing “fiscal realities” caused by lower student enrollment, the impact of the pandemic and other challenges. The university was known as St. Clare College when it was started in Milwaukee in 1937 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. It was renamed for Cardinal Samuel Stritch in 1946 and eventually relocated to northern Milwaukee County. All programs will end by May 22. The last graduation ceremony will be held on May 21.

A landlord has been ordered to pay $1.35 million for a fire that killed two people in Milwaukee in 2019. A judge says Will Sherard has shown a “reckless disregard” for the condition of his properties. The fire began in wiring behind walls, killing 60-year-old Clarence Murrell Jr. and 53-year-old Patricia Colston. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says the lawsuit was filed by Murrell’s adult children. The newspaper says the financial award was a rare step in a Milwaukee housing case. Sherard hasn’t talked publicly about the lawsuit. In 2021, the Journal Sentinel found electrical fires hit Black renters in distressed neighborhoods the hardest.

Authorities have identified the two Wisconsin police officers and a suspect who were killed in a shootout. The state Department of Justice said Monday Emily Breidenbach of the Chetek Police Department and Hunter Scheel of the Cameron Police Department were killed in the firefight Saturday in Cameron. According to the Justice Department, the officers conducted a traffic stop that ended in an exchange of gunfire with 50-year-old Glenn Douglas Perry. Both officers were pronounced at the scene. Perry died at a hospital. Cameron is a village of 1,700 people in northwestern Wisconsin. Chetek is a city located roughly 9 miles southeast of Cameron.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says “our hearts are heavy” a day after two police officers were killed in a shooting during a traffic stop. Evers posted on Twitter that "Our hearts are heavy for the Chetek and Cameron police officers who lost their lives in the line of duty yesterday. Kathy and I are praying for the officers’ families, colleagues, and the Barron County community mourning this tragic loss.” The Wisconsin Department of Justice said in a statement late Saturday that it was investigating the shooting in Cameron. The Chetek officer and another officer from Cameron were pronounced dead at the scene. The justice department says the suspect in the shooting was taken to a hospital and later died.

Wisconsin wildlife officials have released thousands of public comments on a new wolf management plan. The Department of Natural Resources posted about 3,500 comments on its website Friday. Among the comments, environmental groups praised the DNR's decision to remove the state's long-standing 350-animal population limit from the plan and hunting groups demanded that the limit be restored. DNR officials say they'll review the comments as they put together a final plan for the agency board to approve. The agency has not said when it will submit the final draft to the board.

Wisconsin's probation and parole officers aren't responding quickly enough to violations or offering all the services required by law. According to a nonpartisan legislative audit published Friday, the state's community supervision program isn't meeting deadlines for investigations and risk assessments. Department of Corrections staff report feeling frustrated with new policies and unhappy with high workloads and low pay. The probation and parole program, tasked with overseeing more than 63,000 offenders who have been released from or were not sentenced to prison time, faces understaffing issues similar to those ongoing in state prisons as lawmakers decide whether to increase wages for criminal justice workers.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has pardoned almost 160 more people, extending his record number of pardons. Most of the pardons involved relatively low-level offenses, including drug dealing, possession or theft. The governor announced the 159 new pardons Friday. He has now granted 933 in just over four years in office, easily the most of any Wisconsin governor. Evers' predecessor, Republican Scott Walker, didn't issue a single pardon during his two terms. A pardon doesn’t erase or seal a conviction. But it does restore some key rights, such as the right to vote, be on a jury, hold public office, and own a gun, among others.

Police say a motorist who fled from an attempted traffic stop in Milwaukee crashed into a car blocks away, fatally injuring a man. Milwaukee police tried to make the traffic stop early Tuesday but the driver fled from the scene. The Milwaukee Police Department says its officers did not initiate a pursuit of the fleeing vehicle, which crashed into a car three blocks away. The 39-year-old motorist died of his injuries late Tuesday at a hospital. WTMJ-TV reports that the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Noe Barron Garcia of Milwaukee. A 28-year-old man who was driving the fleeing vehicle was arrested after a brief foot chase.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Wednesday repealing Michigan's abortion ban from 1931 that made it a crime to assist in an abortion. The abortion ban, which fueled one of the largest ballot drives in state history, had been unenforceable after voters enshrined abortion rights in the state constitution last November. Whitmer and other Democratic leaders stressed that it was important to strike the law from the state's books to ensure it could never be enforced again. Wednesday’s signing marked another victory for abortion rights supporters after voters in Wisconsin elected a Democratic-backed Milwaukee judge Tuesday to the state’s Supreme Court, ensuring liberals will take over majority control of the court with the fate of the state’s abortion ban on the line.


Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers signed a bill into law to clarify when a newly passed constitutional amendment will make it harder for people to get out of jail on bail. Voters signed off on the constitutional amendment in the statewide election Tuesday, with two-thirds of voters supporting a pair of ballot questions on bail. Together, the amendment and the bill Evers signed on Wednesday will let judges consider more factors and set stricter conditions when releasing people before trial. Evers says he signed the bill because it was the will of the people. But the governor called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to pass other criminal justice overhauls as well.

Republican state Rep. Dan Knodl has won an open Wisconsin Senate seat, creating a GOP supermajority in the chamber that could be used to impeach Gov. Tony Evers and other office holders. Knodl defeated Democrat Jodi Habush Sinykin in the 8th Senate District special election race on Tuesday. The seat came open after longtime Republican incumbent Alberta Darling retired in November. Knodl’s victory gives Senate Republicans 22 votes, enough to override a gubernatorial veto in that house. A successful override takes a two-thirds vote in both houses, however, and Assembly Republicans remain two seats shy of that. Knodl’s win also gives Senate Republicans enough votes to convict a civil officer in an impeachment trial.

Eds: The Wisconsin editorial roundup will not move this week due to a lack of editorials of state-wide interest. We will resume the roundup at its normal time on Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

A Democratic-backed Milwaukee judge has won the high stakes Wisconsin Supreme Court race, ensuring liberals will take over majority control of the court for the first time in 15 years with the fate of the state’s abortion ban pending. Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Janet Protasiewicz defeated former Justice Dan Kelly, who previously worked for Republicans and had support from the state’s leading anti-abortion groups. The new court controlled 4-3 by liberals is expected to decide a pending lawsuit challenging the state’s 1849 law banning abortion. Protasiewicz made the issue a focus of her campaign and won the support of Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups ahead of her victory Tuesday.

The outcome of the race for an open Wisconsin state Senate seat that’s been under Republican control for decades is too early to call, with only a few hundred votes separating the candidates in a contest that could put the GOP a step closer to being able to override Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes or even impeach him. Republican Rep. Dan Knodl held a narrow lead over Democratic attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin. The Associated Press will continue to track the vote count and consider declaring a winner as election officials confirm they have completed their tabulation of all outstanding ballots. The outcome could determine whether the GOP inches closer to a supermajority that could override Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoes.

A strong storm system brought hail and at least one confirmed tornado to the parts of the Midwest and South. The latest round of storms Tuesday prompted officials to warn people to have shelter ready. Friday storms that stretched into the weekend spawned tornadoes in 11 states in the South, Midwest and Northeast. Over 30 people were killed. The National Weather Service issued tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings Tuesday evening in Iowa and Illinois. Forecasters say severe weather is also likely Wednesday in eastern Illinois, lower Michigan and parts of the Ohio Valley. Fire danger remains high across portions of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado.

It will be harder to get out of jail on bail before trial in Wisconsin under an amendment to the state constitution approved by voters on Tuesday. The measure, which appeared as two ballot questions that were approved by wide margins, will let judges consider more factors when setting bail and the conditions of release before trial. Its Republican sponsors say the amendment will keep communities safe, but criminal justice advocates warn it will disproportionately keep poor defendants behind bars. A separate bill passed last month designated more than 100 offenses as violent crimes, raising concerns from opponents who say the amendment will apply too broadly if passed by voters.

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