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Wisconsin state news briefs: Assembly Speaker appeals ruling he must facing questioning about redistricting, and more state news

MADISON -- The speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly is appealing a ruling that would make him answer questions connected to a federal redistricting lawsuit.  

Robin Vos argues he can’t be deposed due to legislative privilege which protects lawmakers from being sued. He asked the ruling be put on hold, but a judicial panel rejected that request Monday.  

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will make the final determination. An attorney for Democratic voters sent a letter to Vos’ attorneys saying Vos will be in contempt of court if he doesn’t turn over some documents by next week and sit for a deposition the week after that.

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National Indian Gaming Commission proposes $5.5M fine for St. Croix Chippewa

WASHINGTON, DC -- The St. Croix Chippewa could have to pay a $5.5 million fine under a proposal issued last week. Leaders of the Wisconsin tribe are accused of stealing at least $1.5 million from a tribal casino.  

The National Indian Gaming Commission could have fined the tribe nearly $28 million. The commission has charged the tribe with more than 500 violations of federal and tribal rules. The Chippewa have the option of appealing the fine.

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MPD:  Police pursuits result in 11 arrests, seizures

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police were involved in nine pursuits last weekend, with seven of the drivers taken into custody. Police say there were a total of 11 arrests, with the seizure of three guns and some illegal drugs.  

Officers are still searching for one suspect. Four of the nine pursuits ended in traffic crashes, but no significant injuries have been reported and no names have been released.

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Study: Wisconsin’s older population is living longer

MADISON -- Wisconsin’s older population is living longer, but a study conducted by the state Department of Health shows there were more deaths in 2017.  

Statistics available from that year find a 14% increase in deaths compared to the average for the previous 10 years. The study shows the death rate among state residents over the age of 65 dropped by 10% during that same decade.  

The top three causes of death in the Badger State are heart disease, cancer and unintentional injuries.

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Republican party struggling to pay its bills

MADISON -- When members of the Wisconsin Republican Party gather for their state convention this weekend money is sure to be a big topic of conversation.  

The party has money problems. An internal review finds payments not made to insurers, the party has been paying $600 a month in interest on a maxed-out credit card and it spent more than a half-million dollars on consultants.  

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says the report shows the party was too reliant on outsiders and it needs to reconnect with its grassroots supporters.

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Bucks playoff games good for downtown Milwaukee businesses

MILWAUKEE -- A successful NBA team like the Milwaukee Bucks can do big things for a city’s bottom line.  

The tourism organization Visit Milwaukee estimates that each playoff game – like the one coming up Wednesday – has a $3 million economic impact. Thousands of people coming downtown to see a winning basketball team benefit hotels, transportation, food and beverage and many other businesses.  

Civic pride is shown by buses and streetcars with slogans on the side like “Fear the Deer.” The longer the Bucks are alive, the more the cash registers will ring.

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Man who stored explosives in his apartment sentenced to 2 years in prison

MADISON -- A Dane County judge has sentenced a Madison man to two years in prison for storing dangerous chemicals and explosives in his apartment.  

Thirty-one-year-old Brian Campbell had entered a guilty plea to charges of recklessly endangering safety and possession of improvised explosives. Judge Susan M. Crawford found the prosecution’s argument that he was planning an attack on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus too speculative. She also rejected Campbell’s explanation that he forgot about safety.

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Man dies in Superior house explosion

SUPERIOR-- There is no official finding yet, but Superior authorities say a fatal house explosion Sunday morning appears to be an accident.  

The body of the only person living in the house was found inside. His identity isn’t being released until his family members can be notified. Firefighters say they used drones to make sure embers from the burning house didn’t start a grass fire in nearby fields.

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Murder suspect said to have mental health issues

MILWAUKEE -- A 41-year-old murder suspect in Milwaukee is said to have mental health issues. Michael Harris will be evaluated before he goes on trial for charges of first-degree intentional homicide and arson.  

Investigators say Harris killed 74-year-old Robert Feldner last Thursday, then set his apartment building on fire. Harris made a Monday appearance in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Monday and the judge ordered a competency exam.

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3 students arrested for school threat

POYNETTE -- Three Poynette students could face charges after police say they made threats against their school. Officers got a tip about the threat Sunday and they quickly tracked down the students.

Poynette school leaders say the three were arrested because the school takes all threats seriously. There are no details to the threat, but police say there's no danger to the school or community. All three are under the age of 18, so their names won’t be released.

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Medical College of Wisconsin studies racial disparity in cancer cases

MILWAUKEE -- The Medical College of Wisconsin has started a program offering free prostate screenings for black men. Researchers at the Milwaukee school are working on ways to ease the disparity in cancer deaths.

Wisconsin’s black residents develop cancer at a rate of 22% higher than whites. The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is funding additional studies of breast and colorectal cancer and smoking. The work done so far suggests African Americans develop cancer at a higher rate due to stress, low income, lifestyle and poor diet.

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Foxconn ‘innovation centers’ remain empty

MADISON -- Foxconn still hasn’t done anything with the buildings it bought in Wisconsin. That's according to a report by online news outlet The Verge. It found that every innovation center in Wisconsin remains empty, according to public documents and sources involved with the innovation center process.

Property records show Foxconn has yet to purchase a Madison building, following an announcement last month.

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Packers' Rodgers makes Game Of Thrones cameo

Social media is buzzing after football met fantasy last night for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Green Bay star made a brief cameo in the epic final season of HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. Rodgers played the part of a soldier in the so-called "Golden Company" and can be seen running away from flaming rubble.