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Wisconsin roundup: U.S. Sen. Johnson calls committee’s projections a ‘joke’; more state news stories

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson isn't buying projections from the Joint Committee on Taxation about the impact of tax reform. File photo

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson isn't buying projections from the Joint Committee on Taxation about the impact of tax reform.

The Wisconsin Republican decided to support his party's bill. The committee estimated last week the Senate tax bill will increase the federal debt by more than $1 trillion over the next decade, but Johnson dismisses that as a "joke." The committee found tax cuts would trigger economic growth, but not enough to offset $1.6 trillion in lost revenue as the result of the cuts.

The bill would be the biggest tax code overhaul in the last 30 years. Democrats were complaining that they weren't being given enough time to read the bill before voting on it. Passage was final at about 2 a.m. Saturday. Now, it goes back to the House of Representatives.

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School employee arrested on sex assault charges

LA CROSSE — An employee of the La Crosse School District has been arrested for allegedly having sex with a student who was under the age of 16.

Thirty-three-year-old Dustin Bagstad faces 15 charges. Investigators say Bagstad started giving the student rides home after choir rehearsals during last school year. The relationship expanded into suggestive photos and kissing. The victim says the relationship turned sexual this school year, causing the student to feel "trapped." Police were told the two had sex 11 times. Detectives say Bagstad has admitted to having a sexual relationship with the underage victim.

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Iola man, 18, sentenced to prison for armed robbery

STEVENS POINT — A no contest plea to armed robbery charges results in a 2-and-a-half-year prison sentence for an Iola man.

David Schmies was involved in the April 16 incident at a Stevens Point apartment where cash and marijuana was stolen. Investigators say Schmies and Zachary Hendricks were wearing masks and carrying guns when they entered the apartment. Schmeis told police he fired the shotgun he was carrying by accident, hitting himself in the foot. Hendricks has also pleaded no contest and he is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 15.

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Hot air balloon crashes into power lines

CENTER — Two people were in a hot air balloon Sunday morning when it contacted power lines in Outagamie County.

Although one of the people in the basket said he felt tingling in his hands when they hit the power lines, no injuries were reported. A We Energies crew rushed to the scene and disconnected the power — and removed a propane tank on the balloon. A second boom truck came to the scene and separated that balloon from the power lines, with minimal damage. Fire officials in Center say the combination of live electrical lines and the propane tank on the balloon created a dangerous situation. Two other balloons were able to land safely.

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Home invaders injure resident near UW-Madison campus

MADISON — Madison police say a man suffered a significant cut and other facial injuries during a Saturday evening home invasion.

He had to go to a hospital for treatment. Witnesses say the intruders came in through an unlocked door shortly before 8 p.m. Police don't think the incident was a random crime. The victim was hit with a gun as he tried to push it away. A man outside started to chase one of the suspects, but he had his cell phone stolen when the suspect aimed a gun at him. No names have been released.

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Murder trial begins in La Crosse County

LA CROSSE — A man accused of faking an accident to cover up the murder of his wife goes on trial in La Crosse County Circuit Court Monday.

Todd Kendhammer told authorities he and his wife of 25 years were in their car when a pipe came flying through its windshield and hit her in the head. Police say her injuries aren't consistent with Kendhammer's story. The judge expects the trial to last 10 days, with jury selection first on the schedule. Barbara Kendhammer suffered extensive injuries Sept. 16. An autopsy conducted by Dane County Deputy Medical Examiner Kathleen McCubbin contradicted much of the husband's account.

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Car slams into side of state Capitol building

MADISON — Madison police say a Saturday evening accident appears to have been caused by a medical problem suffered by the driver.

A car ran into the side of the state Capitol building at about 7:30 p.m. Firefighters say the vehicle came from the east side of Capitol Square, hitting other vehicles before it rammed the building. A spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Administration says no damage was done to the building. The driver's name and condition weren't released. Police say it's possible the same vehicle was involved in an earlier crash a few blocks away.

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St. Francis tries to unseat its mayor — again

  1. FRANCIS — For the second time in two years, St. Francis is trying to oust its mayor.

Some residents claim Mayor CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls has ignored their complaints about a plant which reconditions industrial barrels. They say it represents a public health nuisance, so they have started a petition drive to recall the mayor. Formal paperwork has been completed and recall yard signs have been printed. Mid-Americ Steel Drum Company is being investigated for environmental and workplace safety violations. The St. Francis City Council called for St. Marie-Carls to resign last year.

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UW-Madison ranks sixth in research

MADISON — After a four-year decline in spending on research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison moved the needle in the other direction last year.

The National Science Foundation ranks the school sixth in its 2016 Higher Research and Development Survey. UW-Madison spent almost $1.16 billion in research, with half of the funding comes from federal awards. A six-point-three percent increase in federal support resulted in an additional $34 million for research in all areas.

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