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Wisconsin appeals court: Protest policy was unconstitutionalSubmitted: 01/29/2015
MADISON - A Wisconsin appeals court says a requirement that singers in the state Capitol obtain a permit was unconstitutional.

The case involves Michael Crute was cited for joining in a daily sing-along protest in the Capitol rotunda in July 2013. State rules then prohibited anyone from participating in an unpermitted event in state buildings.

Crute argued the regulations violated his free speech rights. A Madison judge tossed out his ticket in February. The 4th District Court of Appeals upheld that decision on Thursday, ruling the regulations didn't further a significant state interest.

The state and the American Civil Liberties Union reached a settlement in October 2013 allowing unpermitted events at the Capitol.

A state Justice Department spokeswoman says agency attorneys are reviewing the ruling with the state Department of Administration.

Story By: Associated Press

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 LOCAL NEWS

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CRANDON - The School District of Crandon needs a new superintendent midway through the school year.

Jim Asher told the school board Monday he was retiring, effective immediately.

Asher told us he had been wrestling with the decision since November.

He said he made the decision "for him," and that it had nothing to do with the district.

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - Children and adults at Lac du Flambeau Public School worked hard to construct a traditional Ojibwe Winter Lodge.

People worked together for nine months to build it.

The entire lodge is made from natural materials. Both the gathering of materials and the construction of the lodge were done in a spiritual way: acknowledging and thanking the earth.

"Native people, we look at the trees, we look at the animals, we look at the fish. We revere those things as our relatives. A lot of non-native people look at those things as a resource," said Ojibwe Language and Culture Instructor Wayne Valliere.

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RHINELANDER - Northwoods supermarkets want to be prepared for the Superbowl this Sunday. Some local stores have ordered a lot more food for this week to make sure they don't run out of Superbowl staples.

The assistant store director of Trig's in Rhinelander has ordered extra shipments of soda, pizza, and snack food. The store wants to be prepared but it doesn't expect food to sell as quickly as it does during other times of the year.

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MINOCQUA - People in Minocqua brought back a Northwoods tradition this year when they rebuilt the city's giant snowman.

For a few years, the giant snowman didn't get built, because of poor weather conditions.

"Who doesn't love to build a snowman?" asked Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Krystal Westfahl. "And to have the opportunity to build a 30-foot snowman brings out every kid in us."

Volunteers in Minocqua helped build the enormous snowman, named Snowmy Kromer, just outside of the Chamber of Commerce. He used to be built near the Island City Ice Cream store. But this year, they wanted to try a new spot.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

MADISON - Members of the Menominee Tribe, southeastern Wisconsin union workers and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are urging Gov. Scott Walker to reconsider his rejection of a new casino in Kenosha.

Walker rejected the tribe's proposal last week and reiterated on Wednesday that he would not change his mind.

But advocates for the project gathered at the Capitol Thursday to say Walker can still change his mind by the Feb. 19 deadline.

Walker says he can't reverse his decision even if he wanted to.

But Kenosha casino backers say the Bureau of Indian Affairs would be willing to let Walker change his mind. A spokeswoman for BIA did not immediately return a message asking if Walker could reverse course.


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MADISON - U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is asking that the lead investigator probing allegations of opiate over prescription and retaliatory practices at a VA hospital in Tomah take into account the testimony of whistleblowers.

In a letter Thursday, Baldwin asked that VA Under Secretary Carolyn Clancy consider concerns not addressed in an earlier report. Baldwin says an investigation published in March was not thorough in its reporting of opiate-prescribing practices.

Baldwin had recieved the report in 2014, but did not start advocating for the issue until an investigative journalism piece showed a 35-year-old Marine died of an overdose in the inpatient care unit.

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MADISON - The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate is renewing his call for passage of a right-to-work bill.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a statement Thursday saying debate of right-to-work needs to occur along with consideration of the state budget. Walker will release his budget plan on Tuesday.

Walker has repeatedly said he doesn't want the Legislature to act early in the session on right-to-work, but he also is a longtime supporter of the idea. Walker has also never said he would veto such a bill should it pass.

Right-to-work laws prevent private-sector employers from forcing workers to join a union or pay dues as a condition of employment.

Supporters say it's about worker freedom while opponents argue it will drive down wages and it's bad for the economy.

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BERLIN - Berlin Area School District officials have decided the high school mascot will remain the same amid criticism that it's racially insensitive.

The school board voted Monday night to retain the Indian mascot at Berlin High School after survey results were announced.

About 92 percent of more than 1,300 community members surveyed voted in favor of keeping the mascot.

One resident says the name honors a Native American tribe that no longer exists.

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