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Bill making it harder to drop Indian mascots clear Assembly committee

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - On another split-party vote Wednesday, a state Assembly committee endorsed a bill making it much harder to force schools to drop their Indian nicknames and mascots.

The full Assembly is expected to vote on the measure next week, after the government operations panel recommended it on a 7-4 vote. All Republicans voted yes. All Democrats voted no. 

The bill virtually guts a 2009 Democratic law in which the state's education agency takes complaints, then decides if school boards discriminate against Indians with their monikers. 

The Republican bill makes Indians prove they've been hurt by discrimination, rather than school boards proving it doesn't happen. 

The bill helps the Mukwonago School Board, which refuses to follow a state order to drop its Indians nickname. The measure wipes out the state's order for that district and others. 

Whitewater Republican Steve Nass said the current law lets only one person complain, and that person does not have to show a single instance in which he or she was offended. 

Milwaukee Democrat Christine Sinicki says the law will let big crowds at high school games yell things like "slaughter the Apaches." She calls that a step backward in race relations.