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Wisconsin roundup: State agrees to halt pepper spray, solitary confinement at youth prisons; more state news stories

New protocols will be in place at Wisconsin's secure juvenile facilities -- Copper Lake and Lincoln Hills, pictured here. File photo

The Wisconsin Department of Correction has agreed to stop using pepper spray and solitary confinement at the state's youth prison.

The use of mechanical restraints and strip searches would be limited. A federal judge still has to approve the agreement between the state and several groups, including the ACLU. The suit was filed to challenge conditions at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities near Irma. A special monitor would be appointed to ensure compliance with the terms of the deal. The groups will ask the judge to order the state to pay about $1 million to cover their legal fees.


Madison woman arrested for OWI, kicking cop

A Madison woman is facing charges of operating while intoxicated and battery of a police officer after an incident Sunday night.

The woman's name hasn't been released. The first call to authorities came from her 11-year-old daughter. The girl told the dispatcher her mother was drunk, was causing a fight with another person, and was driving while intoxicated. Police say she kicked an officer in the chest and leg after she was taken into custody. Because a minor is involved and that child was in the car while the mother is accused of OWI, Dane County Human Services has been called in.


Western Wis. town considers appeal of PSC ruling

The town of Holland will consider an appeal of a court ruling when it meets next week.

A Wisconsin appeals court rejected the town's appeal of a prior circuit court ruling that backed the Public Service Commission approval for the Badger-Coulee transmission line. The town sued the commission three years ago, arguing it had failed to follow state laws when it evaluated the project. A spokesperson for American Transmission Company says it hopes the $580 million project will be complete by the end of the year.


U.S. Rep. Kind no fan of 2018 farm bill

Congressman Ron Kind says the 2018 Farm Bill — in its current form — is a bad bill.

The Wisconsin Democrat says he is working to "reshape" the legislation so it works for family farmers and "not special interests in Washington." Every Democrat and 30 Republicans voted against the $867 billion measure. Lawmakers in both parties are said to be working together on the bill which Kind calls "not fiscally responsible." Members of the House of Representatives have less than three weeks to make the changes and vote on it again. The current bill expires in September.


Prosecution: Truck driver was doped up when he hit school bus

Prosecutors in Columbia County say the truck driver who slammed his 18-wheeler into the back of a stopped school bus was on drugs at the time.

A judge set bail for 42-year-old Wayne Murphy at $35,000 during a court appearance late last week. He's been in the Columbia County Jail since May 23. Twenty-six people on that bus were hurt, with five suffering critical injuries. The eighth-graders were on a field trip to the Wisconsin Dells. The driver from Indiana was working for North Dakota-based Dahl Trucking when he caused the accident on Interstate 39 south of Coloma.


Police remove 400 animals from home

West Bend police say 160 snakes were among more than 400 animals removed from a home last week.

Officers were working with East Troy police on another case when they noticed a foul odor coming from the home's basement. The snakes ranged in length from 6 inches to 2 feet. There were also 250 mice, some dart frogs, and geckos. Investigators say many of the animals were in poor health and many others were already dead. A 42-year-old man was taken into custody. His name hasn't been released.


Dems target Ryan’s district in eyeing House takeover

Democrats say capturing the 1st District congressional seat being given up by Paul Ryan could be a key to taking majority control in the House of Representatives.

The party needs to flip two dozen Republican-held seats to accomplish that. Members attending the annual convention in Oshkosh called for party unity as they work toward the fall elections. Ryan's seat represents the only congressional race in Wisconsin where there is no incumbent on the ballot. Party members attending the convention were told momentum is in their favor. Former Ryan aide and University of Wisconsin Regent Bryan Steil is considered the front-runner -- based on his existing organization, funding and endorsements.


USDA seeking approval of plan to limit cranberry crop

The head of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association says its members had hoped the USDA would finalize any federal market order being considered before growing season started.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to limit the nation's cranberry crop to 75 percent of its normal size, but the decision isn’t final yet. The move would be aimed at decreasing supplies and raising prices. The federal government has done this in the past and prices did go up. If the order is approved, the extra cranberries can be sold as soil supplements or feed for cattle.


Dane County DA finds ‘no criminal liability’ for UW lifesaving staff

No charges will be filed against the occupants of a University of Wisconsin lifesaving boat that hit and killed a windsurfer on Lake Mendota last year.

The Dane County District Attorney found no criminal liability for the staff members onboard when 43-year-old Yu Chen was fatally injured. The boat was returning to its base after responding to a 911 call near Governor's Island. Chen was teaching a wind-surfing class when he was hit. When he was first seen, the experienced driver says Chen was about 3 feet off the bow of the boat as it crossed the lake.