Local Things You Need To Know


Barca to step down as Assembly Democratic leader  
10:36 p.m.

MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, who broke with the majority of his party in supporting a $3 billion tax incentive package for Foxconn Technology Group and has been in charge while Democratic seats dropped to their lowest levels in 60 years, announced Thursday he is leaving his leadership post at the end of the month.   
 Barca, of Kenosha, announced the move in a press release and he did not return a message left on his cellphone seeking comment.    
 Democratic Rep. Christine Sinicki of Milwaukee told Wisconsin Public Radio that Barca was forced out in a ‘‘coup’’ led by younger lawmakers unhappy with his leadership.   
 His announced departure came the day after the Republican-controlled budget committee passed a state budget that the Assembly is to debate on Wednesday. The Assembly is also scheduled next Thursday to vote for a second time on the bill giving tax breaks to Foxconn, which may build near Barca’s district.
For more on this story, see Friday’s Freeman.   

Window washer shot outside Journal Sentinel building
10:32 p.m.

 MILWAUKEE (AP) — A window washer was shot and wounded while working outside the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel building in downtown Milwaukee.   
 An Associated Press reporter heard several gunshots around 1:30 p.m. Thursday on the State Street side of the building, where a large window was shattered near the news cooperative’s office.   
 The 30-year-old man, who was shot in the chest, ran inside the building where employees gave first aid and called 911. The man was conscious as paramedics loaded him into the ambulance.   
 Police said their initial investigation suggested a vehicle not connected to the window washer or the newspaper building was the intended target. They said the window washer’s injury was serious but didn’t elaborate.  


State Sen. Vukmir launches US Senate bid, sets up primary
11:05 a.m.

MADISON (AP) — Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir is finally making it official that she’s running for the U.S. Senate.
The move announced Thursday guarantees a Republican primary in the race to take on Democratic incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Former Marine Kevin Nicholson is already running as a Republican and Madison businessman Eric Hovde is considering getting into the race.
Vukmir is a registered nurse an experienced state lawmaker from Brookfield, first elected to the Assembly in 2002 and then the Senate in 2010. She is a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and has been an outspoken supporter of repealing the prevailing wage law, supporting taxpayer funded vouchers for private school students and those with disabilities and crime victims’ rights.
The primary is in August and the election is November 2018.


Cold weather slows corn, soybean growth in Wisconsin
11:04 a.m.

MADISON (AP) — Cool weather has slowed corn and soybean growth in Wisconsin, but the rest of the state’s main crops are doing well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that most of the state saw overnight lows in the 40s last week, while some areas in the north had lows in the 30s.
Citing the USDA’s data, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that more than 70 percent of the corn crop was rated good or excellent. Almost 80 percent was in the dough stage or beyond, while and a third was in the fifth maturity stage, known as the dent stage.
About 75 percent of the soybean crop was in good to excellent range. 
About 95 percent of the crop had pods.


Committee approves $76 billion Wisconsin budget
10:24 p.m.

MADISON (AP) — Wisconsin’s $76 billion state budget cleared a legislative committee more than two months late Wednesday night, setting the stage for swift passage in the Republican-controlled Legislature.   
 The Joint Finance Committee made a host of significant changes in the final push to get the budget over its biggest hurdle. The process of dissecting Gov. Scott Walker’s two-year spending plan, introduced in February and due to be passed by the end of June, was the most difficult for any plan the Republican has introduced. His three previous budgets were all signed into law before or within days of the deadline.   
 But even with their largest legislative majorities in decades, Republicans found it difficult to reach agreement on several key areas — most significantly how to plug a $1 billion roads shortfall. Unable to reach a long-term funding solution, Republicans opted instead to borrow about $400 million, impose a new fee on electric and hybrid vehicles and delay construction projects to get by for another two years.   
 Republican Rep. John Nygren, co-chair of the committee, said the plan moved the state forward by prioritizing education funding and targeted tax cuts.