Friday Morning Wisconsin News Headlines

Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 -- 5:37 a.m.

WISCONSIN ELECTION-TURNOUT

20 percent turnout expected for Tuesday elections

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Turnout is projected at 20 percent for Tuesday's elections across Wisconsin, which includes statewide races for Supreme Court justice and state education chief.

Wisconsin's voters will choose among more than 9,500 candidates for more than 6,700 state and local offices, as well vote in 76 different local referenda.

The turnout predication came Thursday from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board.

GAB director Kevin Kennedy says turnout for spring elections with contested Supreme Court races typically has ranged from 18 percent to 21 percent of eligible voters over the last decade, so they expect this year's turnout to be in that range, too.

An exception was in April 2011 at the height of the Capitol protests when turnout jumped to 34 percent. Turnout in last year's presidential election was 70 percent.

WISCONSIN UNEMPLOYMENT

Wisconsin unemployment unchanged in February

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- New figures from the state Department of Workforce Development show Wisconsin's unemployment rate remained unchanged in February.

Data the agency released Thursday show the state's unemployment rate was 7 percent, unchanged from January. The national unemployment rate for February was 7.9 percent.

The state added 8,800 government jobs last month, including 8,600 on the state level, but lost 1,000 private sector jobs.

The monthly numbers are based on a survey of only 3.5 percent of state employers and are subject to significant revision.

Governor Scott Walker says the more reliable measure is a quarterly survey of nearly every Wisconsin business. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released the latest quarterly survey Thursday. It showed Wisconsin ranked 44th nationwide in private-sector job creation for the year that ended in September.

SINGLE-SEX CLASSES

ACLU files complaint about Wis. single-sex classes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The American Civil Liberties Union has asked federal education officials to investigate whether three Wisconsin schools legally separated boys and girls into single-sex classes.

The ACLU filed complaints Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education's civil rights office in Chicago alleging a Barron middle school and two Beloit elementary schools violated state and federal law by forcing students into single-sex classes.

A message left with the Barron school district wasn't immediately returned. A Beloit school district spokeswoman says the curriculum is the same for single-sex classes and parents can choose to place their children in them.

The ACLU has targeted dozens of public schools across the country that offer same-sex classes, contending the classes conflict with the U.S. Constitution and Title IX, a federal law banning sex discrimination in education.

TEEN DEATH-AUTOPSY

Teen found dead in Wis. yard had been drinking

(Information in the following story is from: The Post-Crescent, http://www.postcrescent.com)

CHILTON, Wis. (AP) -- Authorities in eastern Wisconsin say a teen who was found dead in a backyard last month had been drinking and died from exposure to cold.

A Post-Crescent of Appleton report says the Calumet County medical examiner ruled the death of 18-year-old Monica Batts accidental.

Batts left a New Holstein home on February 11th around 4 a.m. She crossed a snow-covered field and hopped over a small fence into the backyard of a home. She apparently tried to get inside the home but wasn't able to enter.

An autopsy concluded that she died of hypothermia. Toxicology tests show she had an elevated blood-alcohol level.

SISTERS KILLED

Man pleads guilty but insane in daughters' deaths

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) -- A father has changed his pleas to guilty but insane in the killings of his three young daughters last summer in Wisconsin.

That means the defense at Aaron Schaffhausen's trial will have to prove he had a mental disease or defect so severe that he wasn't responsible for his actions. Prosecutors won't have to prove he killed his daughters at their River Falls home last July.

The 35-year-old Schaffhausen had pleaded not guilty, but switched his plea Thursday. It came after more than a day of delays and legal wrangling about what kind of evidence will be allowed at his trial, which starts next week.

Jury selection is to begin Monday in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

COLD CASE-SEXUAL ASSAULT

Okla. man could face 20 years for Wis. sex assault

WAUPACA, Wis. (AP) -- An Oklahoma man who pleaded guilty to a 1990 sexual assault in Wisconsin could face up to 20 years in prison.

Glendon Gouker is being held in Oklahoma, where he awaits trial on charges that he killed a 19-year-old man in 2010.

The 41-year-old pleaded guilty in Waupaca County earlier this month to sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman in 1992. Wisconsin online court records say he waived his right Thursday to appear in person for sentencing. Instead he'll appear by video-conference.

A sentencing date will be scheduled after Gouker's Oklahoma proceedings are over. Prosecutors say they'll request the maximum 20-year sentence.

A message left for Gouker's public defender Thursday wasn't immediately returned.

Gouker has also been named a "person of interest" in the stabbing deaths of two people in Weyauwega last month.

INVASIVE SPECIES-SHIPS

New requirements for ballast water dumped by ships

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency has issued new requirements for cleansing ballast water dumped from ships, which scientists believe has brought invasive species to U.S. waters that damage ecosystems and cost the economy billions of dollars.

A general permit released Thursday will apply to commercial vessels longer than 79 feet. It requires them to meet international standards for treating ballast water, which keeps ships stable in rough seas. The Coast Guard adopted similar requirements last year.

Ships could meet the standards by installing equipment that cleanses the water with chemicals or uses other methods to kill organisms.

The EPA says studies by its science advisory board endorsed the standards. But environmental groups say they're too weak to prevent more invasive species from slipping into the Great Lakes and coastal waterways.

Copyright Associated Press 2013


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