Wisconsin roundup: Federal gun charges filed against Jakubowski; Dems renew 'Citizens United' effort; 7 more state news stories
MADISON — Joseph Jakubowski now faces both state and federal charges for allegedly stealing 18 guns and two silencers from a Janesville gun shop.
A complaint was filed in Madison Wednesday accusing the 32-year-old Jakubowski of the gun shop burglary earlier this month, and possessing the stolen weapons illegally as a convicted felon. Officials say Jakubowski planted a fake bomb at a Janesville gas station to draw police away from the gun shop — and he later sent a 161 page anti government manifesto to President Donald Trump.
According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the Janesville Gazette, Jakubowski told a rural landowner in Vernon County about a plan to rob the gun shop, hide the weapons, burn his truck, and go about what he called "the rest of the mission" — but the landowner could not say what the "mission" was.
Dems again seek statewide referendum on ending 'Citizens United'
MADISON — Minority Democrats will try again to get a statewide advisory referendum on ending the 7-year-old "Citizens United" U.S. Supreme Court decision.
State Senate Democrat Dave Hansen of Green Bay says outside spending on campaigns has more than doubled since the 2010 court ruling that let businesses spend unlimited money on candidates. A group that's been fighting to end business involvement in politics has gotten the repeal referendum on local ballots — and 105 Wisconsin places have passed those in recent years.
Now, Hansen and Madison Assembly Democrat Lisa Subeck want a statewide vote, saying all Wisconsinites should have equal voices on the issue. Majority Republicans have opposed such a vote.
State panel considers banning abortion coverage for public employees
MADISON — The Wisconsin Assembly's health committee heard mixed views Wednesday on a bill to prohibit most abortion coverage in public employee insurance plans.
The GOP dropped the measure three years ago after strong opposition. Assembly Republican Andre Jacque of De Pere is among those revisiting the issue. He says "governments should not be paying for abortions," and his bill would ban them from public employee insurance plans except in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of a mother. The ban would cover state government plans, plus local governments that get coverage from the state's Group Insurance Board.
Madison Democrat Chris Taylor says women who get severe complications late in their pregnancies could not get covered. She says public insurance already bans abortions unless doctors find them to be medically necessary.
Almost 15,000 without power after early morning storms
Nearly 15,000 homes and businesses in Wisconsin were without electricity as of 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
That's after strong thunderstorms rolled across southern Wisconsin during the night. Most of the outages were reported in the Milwaukee area, where We Energies had more than 13,000 customers out — and the Wisconsin Public Service utility had almost 1,200 in the dark. Burlington had wind speeds up to 59 mph, Manitowoc and Sheboygan Falls had 1 inch hail, and much of west central Wisconsin had rains of one point three to one point nine inches.
A flood warning continues on the Rock River at Afton, near Janesville — and the weather service has new flood advisories out for the Menominee River at Kingsford and Big Quinnesec Falls Dam, both on the far northeast Wisconsin border with Upper Michigan.
Court hearing for driver in Madison freeway deaths
MADISON — A judge in Madison is scheduled to decide Thursday whether a 25-year-old man should stand trial for pair of drug related freeway deaths.
Brandon Ballweg of Stoughton has a preliminary hearing in Dane County Circuit Court on seven felony charges that include reckless homicide and endangerment, and causing deaths and injuries with drugs in his system. Dane County prosecutors say Ballweg was driving up to 92 mph in a 45 mph zone with cocaine in his system, when he collided with an oncoming car on Feb. 12 — killing Kirk U'Ren and Jennifer Steiner of Cottage Grove. Officials say Ballweg claimed to speed up to avoid another vehicle that wanted to race him.
Tribe files lawsuit to stop competing casino
MADISON — A northeast Wisconsin Indian tribe has asked a federal judge in Madison to stop a competing tribe from expanding a small casino near Wittenberg.
The Stockbridge Munsee filed suit Wednesday against the Ho Chunk's expansion to a full fledged gaming house and hotel. The Stockbridge says it violates the Ho Chunk's gaming compact with the state — it violates a federal law that bars gambling on land placed in tribal trusts after 1988 — and it would take millions from the Stockbridge North Star Casino less than 20 miles away near Bowler. Also, the plaintiffs say the state has done nothing to stop the Wittenberg project — even though the state gaming agency says it meets the conditions of its state compact. The Stockbridge Munsee has said it would not pay $923,000 in gaming revenues to the state this summer, as spelled out in its compact.
Drug overdose may have killed 4-year-old boy
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County medical examiner is trying to determine if a 4-year-old boy died from a drug overdose.
Officials say they're still working to confirm a tentative cause of death for Tyranne Beckless — and it will take a few weeks for toxicology test results to come in. Tyranne was found dead in his north side Milwaukee home last Saturday. At least six other children younger than five have died from drug overdoses in Milwaukee County during the past 19 months.
Stepmother charged in toddler's death in Oneida County
RHINELANDER — The stepmother of a 1-year-old boy is charged in Oneida County with reckless homicide in the child's death.
Twenty-eight-year-old Ellen Tran is charged in the death of Avery Edward. Officials say the toddler died of blunt force trauma to his head. Investigators say Tran told Avery's father the boy fell in the shower. Avery was rushed to St. Mary's Hospital Friday and later flown to St. Joseph's in Marshfield where he died.
Tran is charged with second-degree reckless homicide. She appeared in Oneida County Circuit Court Tuesday. Tran's attorney told the judge they planned to file a motion seeking dismissal of the charge for lack of probable cause.
Eau Claire County Board OKs resolution for veterans park
EAU CLAIRE — Plans for a proposed veterans park are moving forward.
The Eau Claire County Board unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night in support of the Veterans Tribute Park. The park will be located next to the community gardens, north of Madison Street in Eau Claire. The $1 million price tag will be paid for through fundraisers.