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Wisconsin Supreme Court justices Thursday will discuss when they and other state judges should recuse themselves from cases.(Photo: Rick Wood / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

MADISON - Conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court shot down a proposal Thursday to overhaul rules that determine when judges and justices must step aside from cases involving those who spent money in their elections.

The justices voted 5-2 to toss aside a rule change proposed in January by 54 retired jurists that would have forced judges off of cases involving those who helped get them on the bench. Conservatives who control the court said the proposal would interfere with the free speech rights of those who run ads and engage in other campaign-like activity.

"The petitioners here have asked us to do something that does not comport with the constitution as I view it," said Justice Annette Ziegler.

Justice Shirley Abrahamson disagreed, saying tighter rules were needed to boost the public's confidence that judges were acting impartially.

Andy Gronik is a Milwaukee businessman who might run as a Democrat against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.(Photo: Stage W)

So sparse is the field of possible Democratic challengers to Gov. Scott Walker next year that this is garnering attention in political circles:

Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik — a political neophyte with no statewide name recognition — recently paid for a lengthy poll to help him decide whether to take on the Republican governor in his 2018 re-election bid.

Two individuals contacted by the pollster earlier this month said they were asked to compare Gronik with two other Democrats, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who bowed out of the race this week. The poll did not ask about state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire or Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, two other Dems who might run.

Gronik's poll also asked a number of questions about Act 10, the Republican governor's signature piece of legislation that curtailed collective bargaining for most public employees, and Wisconsin's private school voucher program.

State Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere).(Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

MADISON - Public workers could not use their government-sponsored health insurance plans for abortions in most cases under a bill Republicans in the state Legislature are considering.

Republicans are seeking to advance the measure more than three years after abandoning an earlier version of the legislation that state Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said at the time would unleash "all out hell" in the Senate.

Assembly Bill 128 would prevent the state from providing insurance plans that cover abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to preserve the life of the mother. The provision would also apply to local governments that get their insurance through the state Group Insurance Board.

"Governments should not be paying for abortions," Rep. André Jacque (R-De Pere), one of the sponsors of the bill, said Wednesday during a hearing before the Assembly Health Committee.

Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) said the legislation would mean women who experience severe complications late in their pregnancies won't be able to get abortions through their insurance plans.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin operates the North Star Mohican Casino in Bowler.(Photo: File/Press-Gazette Media)

MADISON – An eight-month fight over a casino escalated into a lawsuit Wednesday, with one tribe asking a federal judge to block the Ho-Chunk Nation from adding slot machines to its Wittenberg gambling hall until the litigation is resolved.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community, which operates a casino nearby in Bowler, sued the state and the Ho-Chunk over the planned expansion in federal court in Madison.

"We don’t relish having to take this step, but do so to protect our sovereign right to self-determination," Stockbridge President Shannon Holsey said in a written statement.

The Stockbridge has signaled its plans for weeks and last month announced it would withhold a nearly $1 million payment to the state because it believed Wisconsin regulators were not holding the Ho-Chunk to the terms of its casino agreement with the state.

State and Ho-Chunk officials have said they are confident the Ho-Chunk's plans for its expanded casino can move forward.

Andy Gronik is a Milwaukee businessman who might run as a Democrat against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.(Photo: Stage W)

So sparse is the field of possible Democratic challengers to Gov. Scott Walker next year that this is garnering attention in political circles:

Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik — a political neophyte with no statewide name recognition — recently paid for a lengthy poll to help him decide whether to take on the Republican governor in his 2018 re-election bid.

Two individuals contacted by the pollster earlier this month said they were asked to compare Gronik with two other Democrats, state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout of Alma and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, who bowed out of the race this week. The poll did not ask about state Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire or Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ, two other Dems who might run.

Gronik's poll also asked a number of questions about Act 10, the Republican governor's signature piece of legislation that curtailed collective bargaining for public employees, and Wisconsin's private school voucher program.