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Schaffhausen may plead guilty; man charged in cyber-attack on Koch companies; more state news

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The attorney for accused killer Aaron Schaffhausen said Tuesday his client might admit to the crimes yet still maintain an insanity claim.

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The Minot, North Dakota man is charged with killing his three daughters at their River Falls home last July.

He has a court hearing scheduled today in Hudson. Schaffhausen's lawyer, John Kusinski, says his client may change his plea and move on to the insanity phase of the trial.

The trial is currently scheduled to begin Monday.

Schaffhausen is charged with the deaths of 11-year-old Amara, eight-year-old Sophie and five-year-old Cecelia.

Study: Obamacare will cost insurers 80 percent more by 2017

A new report suggests higher costs to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act will be brought on by sicker customers and other high-cost groups who will gain coverage.

Insurance companies who sell medical coverage policies in Wisconsin will see an 80 percent increase in costs by the year 2017.

An estimated 24,000 thousand Wisconsin residents with serious medical conditions will be moving into the private market next Jan. 1st.

Medical claims are considered to be the biggest factor in the cost of health insurance premiums.

The White House disputes the study, saying it didn't take into account cost-relief components like tax credits.

Panel members question debt level of DNR Stewardship Fund

MADISON -- Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee want to know how much the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is spending on its land stewardship program.

The DNR uses the program funds to buy land for conservation.

Gov. Scott Walker's two-year spending plan cuts the agency's borrowing authority for land acquisition by almost one-third, or $21 million. Republicans on the JFC spent Tuesday asking DNR Budget Director Joe Polasek about how much debt the stewardship program has accumulated. The answer - a little over $500 million.

Lawmakers were told neighboring Minnesota and Michigan still have a greater percentage of land owned by counties, the state or the federal government.

Meanwhile, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp said the governor's decision to cut wolf permit fees from $100 to $47 for state residents brings them more in line with bear hunting permits, which cost $49.

Stepp was challenged by members of the Joint Finance Committee during a hearing Tuesday. She says the governor doesn't want to create an obstacles to hunting wolves and that's why the change was made in the executive budget.

Marinette Republican State Representative John Nygren told Stepp the Legislature had set the license fees in the original bill establishing Wisconsin's first wolf hunt. Nygren says lawmakers want to know they have been heard by the executive branch.

Green Bay area man charged in a cyber-attack

A Black Creek man has been charged with taking part in a cyber attack on Kansas-based Koch Industries carried out by the computer hacker group Anonymous.

Eric J. Rosol, 37, faces federal charges of damaging a computer and conspiracy to damage computer.

Anonymous allegedly asked conspirators in February 2011 to launch what it called a Low Orbit Ion Cannon that sent a high volume of repeated requests to a Koch Web site.

The company's site crashed under the onslaught. Rosol is also accused of sending a code which damaged Koch's computers.

Walleye-spearing quota hike prompts lawmaker to question tribal grant

MADISON -- State Representative Dean Kaufert is suggesting he might push reconsideration of a quarter-million dollar grant for a cultural center.

Kaufert said it appears the Lac du Flambeau and other Chippewa bands were retaliating for state agency decisions by increasing their planned walleye take so he might call for reconsideration of the grant for a new cultural center.

The Neenah Republican said the action by the bands would hurt Wisconsin's tourism, resulting in less revenue for restaurants, bars and lodging.

The Chippewa tribes in the northern part of the state have clashed with the DNR over last year's new wolf hunt and eased regulations on mining. Kaufert says when the state Building Commission meets next month he may push for reconsideration of the grant money approved last year.

Kewanee power plant layoffs will start in May

KEWANEE -- The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reports it has received notice that layoffs from the shutdown of the Kewaunee Power Station will start at the end of May.

About 633 workers at the eastern Wisconsin plant are going to lose their jobs.

Owner Dominion Resources says it will move forward with its plans to shut down and decommission the plant since it hasn't been able to find a buyer. State officials say they will work with the Bay Area Workforce Development Board on getting rapid response services to those workers who are losing their jobs.

Appeals court tosses judgment against former Menard counsel

WAUSAU -- The 3rd District Court of Appeals has reversed a judgment which required the home improvement company Menard's to pay a former executive almost $1.2 million dollars.

The appeals court ruled Tuesday that a circuit court made a mistake when it calculated attorney fees and said the judge didn't consider enough evidence in deciding the pay award for the company's former general counsel Dawn Sands.

She was fired in 2006 and sued on the basis of discrimination. The circuit court had determined she was entitled to more than $1.7 million in pay and punitive damages and she should get her job back.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled she shouldn't be rehired and returned the case to the lower court, where the amount of the award was lowered.

Friendship man wins new arson trial

FITCHBURG -- A Marquette County judge has granted a Friendship man a new arson trial, saying the state never determined how a fire in his bar started and that there was never any direct evidence against Joseph Awe.

He spent nearly three years in prison and has worked for six years to clear his name. Awe walked out of the Oregon Correction Center in Fitchburg Monday.

Awe, 42, was convicted of arson in 2007.

The fire had destroyed his bar, J.J.'s Pub, in Harrisville

The State Fire Marshal's office is said to be consulting with the Marquette County district attorney about a possible appeal of that judge's decision.

Arab Fest cancelled third year running

MILWAUKEE -- For the third year in a row Milwaukee's Arab World Fest has been canceled.

Organizers made the decision due to date conflicts with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The festival had been on hiatus the last two years for the same reason. Originally, festival officials had planned to hold the Arab World Fest in 2013.

They changed their minds, saying the closeness of the dates would have required many of the festival board members, vendors and entertainers to engage in preparations during the last week of Ramadan. Those same officials say they are still planning to have the lakefront festival back next year.

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