Thursday, February 21st

State

Gov. Tony Evers speaks to reporters Monday in the Wisconsin State Capitol about his proposal to legalize marijuana use for medical reasons.(Photo11: Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON – Allowing Wisconsin residents to smoke and sell small amounts of marijuana would reduce the disproportionate rate at which the state's black residents are arrested, Gov. Tony Evers said Monday.

"People shouldn't be treated like criminals for accessing medicine that could change or maybe even save their lives," Evers said Monday at a press conference announcing his plan to legalize marijuana for medical reasons and decriminalize recreational use of small amounts of the plant. 

"But I also want to make this clear: This is not just about accessing health care," he said. "This is about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity."

Evers cited the state's distinction of having the nation's highest incarceration rate among black men, time in prison that can result from marijuana use.

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Kelli Thompson leads the State Public Defender office.(Photo11: Michael Sears / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - Republicans in the state Assembly came out Monday in support of raising the pay for attorneys representing poor defendants as the state faces a class-action lawsuit over the issue. 

Assembly Republicans said they also backed hiring 61 more assistant district attorneys and raising pay for prosecutors, public defenders and correctional officers.

Their plan would cost about $50 million over two years, according to Republican Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam, who sits on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee.

"These initiatives are tough but smart on crime," Born said at a news conference in the state Capitol. 

He did not make public certain details of the plan, such as how much of a raise correctional officers and others would get.

Wisconsin pays private attorneys $40 an hour to represent criminal defendants when the State Public Defender's office can't handle the work.

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Lincoln Hills School in Irma.(Photo11: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - Lawmakers are working on a plan to delay the closing of the problem-plagued Lincoln Hills School for Boys and might put the Department of Children and Families in charge of programming for new, smaller juvenile lockups.

Legislators from both parties said they were willing to push back the closure of Lincoln Hills by six to nine months, but not longer, as the administration of Gov. Tony Evers wants. 

In addition, Republican Rep. Michael Schraa of Oshkosh said he hopes to make the Department of Children and Families — instead of the Department of Corrections — responsible for programming at the facility or facilities that will replace Lincoln Hills. The Department of Corrections would still be responsible for providing security, he said. 

Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake School for Girls, which sits on the same campus 30 miles north of Wausau, have been under criminal investigation for four years for prisoner abuse and child neglect.

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Gov. Tony Evers delivers his State of the State address at the Capitol in Madison in January. Evers has proposed in his next two-year spending plan to legalize marijuana use for medical use and decriminalize possession and distribution of small amounts.(Photo11: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers wants to allow Wisconsin residents to carry or sell small amounts of marijuana and legalize its use for medical reasons, aides said Sunday.

Evers will propose in his first state budget proposal to decriminalize marijuana if its users, manufacturers and distributors handle 25 grams or fewer and create Wisconsin's first medical marijuana program that would be regulated by the state's health and agriculture departments. 

The plan, to be unveiled Monday in the state Capitol, also would expunge convictions of possessing, manufacturing or selling 25 or fewer grams of marijuana from criminal records of those found guilty of such crimes in the past.

I-90/94 at state Highway 23(Photo11: 511 Wisconsin)

A tractor-trailer submerged in Mirror Lake was recovered late Sunday afternoon, and authorities confirmed one death and one occupant presumed missing.

Because of poor visibility and weather conditions, recovery operations were suspended until Monday morning, the state Department of Transportation said in a news release.

All eastbound lanes of I-90/94 were closed Sunday morning and afternoon after authorities found a damaged guardrail on the interstate just north of the Mirror Lake bridge in Sauk County around 7:30 a.m. and discovered the tractor-trailer submerged in the lake, the release said. Emergency response crews worked throughout the day to recover the semi.

The state Department of Natural Resources was on the scene to handle a diesel spill caused by the crash, the DOT said. 

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