Gov. Walker signs wolf hunt, youth concussion bills

MADISON (AP) -- Wolves could be hunted in Wisconsin for the first time and schools would have to do more to prevent youth concussions under a pair of bills Gov. Scott Walker planned to sign into law Monday.

Walker scheduled three public bill signings across the state, the first at an elementary school in Wausau and the last at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. He signed the wolf hunt bill at a dock maker in Woodruff.

The new wolf hunting and trapping season will run from mid-October through the end of February. If applications exceed the number of licenses, the Department of Natural Resources would issue half of the licenses at random and the other half through a preference point system.

Wisconsin wolves came off the federal endangered species list last year, freeing state officials to manage them as they see fit.

Walker was scheduled to sign the youth concussion bill, which has the support of the National Football League, at Lambeau. The measure, which passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, requires that athletes who suffer apparent head injuries during games or practices be immediately removed and not allowed to resume playing without the written clearance of a health care provider who has examined them.

It also requires the state Department of Public Instruction, in conjunction with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association, to develop guidelines and other information to educate coaches, athletes and parents about the risks of concussions and other head injuries.

The NFL has been lobbying states to pass similar laws even as it is being sued by former players and others blaming the league for concussion-related dementia and brain disease.

Earlier this year, when the bill was stalled in the Senate, longtime Green Bay Packer offensive lineman Mark Tauscher came to the Capitol where he joined high school athletes, doctors and others to push for passage.

The Wisconsin bill was modeled after Washington state's 2009 "Zackery Lystedt Law," which was named for a middle school football player who sustained brain damage after he suffered a concussion and returned to play.

Other bills Walker signed included:

-- EDUCATION REFORM: Walker signed a measure that requires all new kindergartners starting next fall to be tested on how well they can read. It also requires prospective elementary and special-education teachers starting in 2014 to take a new reading instruction test before they can obtain their teaching licenses. The new law also requires students performance measures to account for half of a teacher or principal's evaluation.

State Superintendent Tony Evers joined Walker for the bill signing. He said the new law will help the state better identify incoming kindergartners struggling with reading and improve reading achievement for all students.

The law was developed following recommendations of two different bipartisan task forces that included teachers, administrators, Evers, the governor's office and others.

-- PIERS AND DOCKS: Walker signed a bill that would ease restrictions on pier and dock construction. Currently, the DNR issues general or individualized permits for such construction. General permits are broad, one-size-fits-all authorizations. Individual permits convey customized permission for specific projects.

The new law grants the DNR the authority to issue general permits for any activity that requires an individual permit, easing the regulatory path for shoreline property owners and developers.