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UPDATE: Walker signs school mascots bill

UPDATED Thursday, December 19, 2013 --- 3:44 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill making it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.

The Republican bill changes a 2010 state law that required Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction to hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if it received even one complaint.

The new bill requires people with a complaint to submit a petition with signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's student population to trigger a review. They must prove the nickname is discriminatory at a hearing. The Department of Administration, which is under the governor's control, decides whether to drop the name.

The law will go into effect Saturday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, December 19, 2013 --- 12:18 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker is telling Wisconsin's American Indian tribes he will sign a bill that will make it harder to force public schools to drop Indian nicknames.

Walker sent a letter to tribal leaders Thursday morning telling them he will sign the measure. He says he shares concerns about tribal mascots and nicknames in Wisconsin and across the country but is worried current state law infringes on free speech. He says a person's right to speak doesn't end just because what they say is offensive.

He says the best route is to educate people about how some phrases and symbols are offensive when used as nicknames and mascots.

Walker's deadline to sign or veto the bill is Thursday. If he were to take no action, the bill would become law.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, December 17, 2013 --- 6:01 p.m.

MAPLE BLUFF, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker says whether he signs or vetoes a bill making it harder to force public schools to remove race-based mascots comes down to concerns about whether current law tramples on free speech rights.

Walker's comments Tuesday are the strongest signal yet that he may sign the bill despite pressure from Wisconsin's tribal leaders and others to veto it.

Walker told The Associated Press in an interview he would announce his decision Thursday, the deadline for him to act.

The bill requires those who object to a school's mascot to circulate a petition and get 10 percent of the district's population to sign it in order to trigger a review. Current law requires a review based on a single complaint.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, December 5, 2013 --- 9:13 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker still isn't saying whether he will sign a Republican bill that would make it harder to strip schools of American Indian mascots.

Walker said Thursday that he isn't focused on the measure that passed in November. Walker says he will "look at it some point in the future."

Walker can sign it into law or veto it at any time. If he doesn't take any action by Dec. 12, he has six days to act before the bill becomes law automatically.

Opponents of the bill are pressuring Walker to veto it, saying it is racist. But supporters say the current system for forcing removal of race-based mascots is flawed.

Walker was asked about the bill following the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Sunday, November 17, 2013 --- 11:16 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Pressure is mounting on Gov. Scott Walker to veto a Republican bill that would make it harder to strip public schools of American Indian mascots, but the governor still isn't saying what he will do.

The leader of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission wrote to Walker on Nov. 8 urging him to kill the bill. Jim Zorn said using American Indians as mascots is stereotyping. Senate Democrats sent Walker a similar letter on Wednesday.

Walker has declined to say whether he supports the measure.

If Walker takes no action on the bill by Dec. 12 he'll trigger a six-day deadline to make a move. If he does nothing the bill would automatically become law at the end of that span.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, November 7, 2013 --- 1:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker still won't say whether he will sign a bill making it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.

Walker was asked about the measure Thursday, but he says it is "not on my radar."

The Senate passed the Republican-sponsored bill Tuesday after it cleared the Assembly last month.

Democrats have attacked the measure as a way to institutionalize racism in schools, while Republican supporters say it establishes a more fair system for deciding whether race-based nicknames are appropriate.

The bill requires anyone offended by a school mascot to gather signatures from 10 percent of people living in the school district before a complaint can be brought. It also changes the burden of proof from the district to the person bringing the complaint.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 5, 2013 --- 7:50 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican bill that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames has cleared the Wisconsin Legislature.

The state Senate approved the bill 17-16 Tuesday. The Assembly approved the proposal last month. It goes next to Republican Gov. Scott Walker

Under current state law the Department of Public Instruction must hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if the agency receives a single complaint. The school must prove the nickname doesn't promote discrimination at a hearing. DPI then decides whether the name must go.

The bill would require a complainant to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's population to trigger a review. The complainant would have to prove discrimination to the Department of Administration rather than DPI.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 5, 2013 --- 7:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Senate is debating a Republican bill that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames has cleared the Wisconsin Legislature.

Currently the Department of Public Instruction must hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if the agency receives a single complaint. The school must prove the nickname doesn't promote discrimination. DPI then decides whether the name must go.

The bill would require a complainant to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's population to trigger a review. The complainant would have to prove discrimination to the Department of Administration, not DPI.

Republicans said during debate Tuesday the bill would create a fairer process for schools. Democrats contend the measure institutionalizes racism.

It's unclear when the body might vote.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, November 5, 2013 --- 9:47 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate is set to vote on a bill that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames and logos.

Right now the Department of Public Instruction must hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if the agency receives a single complaint. The school must prove the nickname doesn't promote discrimination at a hearing. DPI then decides whether the name must go.

The Republican bill would require a complainant to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's population to trigger a review. The complainant would have to prove discrimination to the Department of Administration, not DPI.

The Assembly passed the measure last month. The Senate is expected to take it up Tuesday afternoon.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, October 15, 2013 --- 6:37 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.

The Assembly passed the measure 52-41 Tuesday. The Senate was scheduled to take up the measure later Tuesday.

Currently, the state Department of Public Instruction must hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if the agency receives a complaint from one person. The school must prove the nickname doesn't promote discrimination. DPI then decides whether the name must go.

The bill under consideration requires a complainant to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's student population to trigger a review and would have to prove discrimination. The Department of Administration, not DPI, would make the final call.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, October 15, 2013 --- 8:52 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Legislature is scheduled to vote on a bill that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.

Both the Senate and Assembly are expected to vote on the Republican bill Tuesday.

Currently, the state Department of Public Instruction must hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if the agency receives a complaint from one person. The school must prove the nickname doesn't promote discrimination. DPI then decides whether the name must go.

The bill under consideration requires a complainant to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's student population to trigger a review and would have to prove discrimination. The Department of Administration, not DPI, would make the final call.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Sunday, October 13, 2013 --- 6:16 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to vote on a Republican bill that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames this week.

Right now the state Department of Public Instruction must hold a hearing on a school's race-based nickname if the agency receives a complaint from one person. The school must prove the nickname doesn't promote discrimination. DPI then decides whether the name must go.

The bill requires a complainant to collect signatures equal to 10 percent of the school district's students to trigger a review and would have to prove discrimination. The Department of Administration, not DPI, would make the final call.

The Assembly has scheduled a vote on the measure for Tuesday. Republican and Democratic leaders have allotted three hours for debate.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, October 9, 2013 --- 1:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee has approved a Republican bill that would make stripping public schools of race-based nicknames more difficult.

The Assembly government operations committee passed the bill on a 7-4 party-line vote Wednesday. The approval clears the way for a full Assembly vote. The chamber's Republican leaders have tentatively scheduled the vote for next week.

The proposal would require anyone who wants to change a nickname to get enough petition signatures from school district residents equal to at least a tenth of the number of students. The complainant would then have to prove the name promotes discrimination or stereotyping. The Department of Administration would make the final decision on whether the nickname must go. The bill also would erase all existing name-change orders from the state Department of Public Instruction.

Copyright Associated Press 2013

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UPDATED Tuesday, October 8, 2013 --- 3:30 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee is set to vote on a Republican bill that would make stripping public schools of race-based nicknames and mascots more difficult.

The proposal would require anyone who wants to change a nickname or mascot to get enough petition signatures from school district residents equal to at least a tenth of the number of students. The complainant would then have to prove the name promotes discrimination or stereotyping. The Department of Administration would make the final decision on whether the nickname or mascot must go. The bill also would erase all existing name-change orders from the state Department of Public Instruction.

The Assembly's government operations committee is expected to take up the bill Wednesday morning. Approval would clear the way for a vote on the Assembly floor.

Copyright Associated Press 2013

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Thursday September 26, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican-backed bill in the state Legislature would make it more difficult to force Wisconsin's public schools to remove race-based nicknames.

The proposal released Thursday by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and three others changes current law to place the burden of proof on the person complaining about the nickname, rather the district being challenged.

It also gives the Department of Administration, rather than the Department of Public Instruction, the authority to order removal of the nickname.

Current law passed in 2010 gives DPI the authority to force schools to drop race-based nicknames, logos and mascots if a single complaint is filed.

The proposal would require submission of a petition challenging the nickname signed by residents of the district totaling at least 10 percent of the student body.

Copyright Associated Press 2013


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