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Wisconsin statewide news roundup - Aug. 9

Polls open until 8 p.m. in Wisconsin

It's Election Day, but state officials expect only 16-percent of eligible voters to go to the polls. 

There's at least one primary in six of the eight Wisconsin U.S. House districts, and one contest has drawn national attention -- the First District GOP primary between House Speaker Paul Ryan and Williams Bay businessman Paul Nehlen. 

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Russ Feingold has a primary challenge from Scott Harbach of Kenosha, as Feingold focuses on Republican incumbent Ron Johnson. There are also a number of state legislative primaries -- including a highly fought contest in Milwaukee in which Senate Democrat Lena Taylor is challenged for her post by Assembly Democrat Mandela Barnes. Numerous county primaries are also on the ballot, plus school tax referenda in the Darlington and Gillett districts.

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Western Wisconsin man charged in St. Paul hotel standoff

ST. PAUL -- A northwest Wisconsin man has been charged after he allegedly pulled a gun on a hotel employee in Saint Paul and held police at bay for three hours. 

Minnesota prosecutors say 36-year-old Joshua Hacken of Dresser rushed into a vacant room at a Days Inn Sunday, when a worker asked for his pass and he showed his firearm. Police say the employee ran off. 

Prosecutors say Hacken later ran into another room when officers arrived, and he turned himself in following a three hour standoff. Hacken is charged with second degree assault, plus illegal firearm possession due to a felony drug conviction three years ago in Polk County.

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Drunk driving suspect blames state for his arrest

WEST BEND -- A 23-year-old suburban Milwaukee man blames the state and its drinking culture for his second drunk driving arrest. 

Washington County sheriff's deputies say the Germantown man's vehicle struck a utility pole about 3:25 a.m. Sunday on Highway 175 at Hubertus Road. Officers say he refused to take a breath test, so they obtained a search warrant to draw his blood. 

He was then sent to the county jail in West Bend. As he was being arrested, deputies say the man repeatedly blamed Wisconsin for both of his OWI arrests because as they put it, "The drinking culture in Wisconsin gives him no other choice but to drink."

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Vice presidential nominees returning to Wisconsin

Both major candidates for vice president will return to Wisconsin in the next week. 

Donald Trump's campaign says GOP running mate Mike Pence will hold a town hall forum Thursday afternoon in La Crosse at the Cartwright Center -- and Pence will speak at a rally Thursday night in downtown Milwaukee at the Hilton City Center. 

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's Democratic campaign says her VP nominee, Tim Kaine, will appear next Tuesday evening in Madison at the home of Democratic fundraiser Mary Lang Sollinger -- and the tickets will cost between $400 and $20,000. This will be Kaine's second Wisconsin appearance this month, after he campaigned in Milwaukee last Friday. 

Pence will make his third trip to the Badger State, after a recent solo appearance in Waukesha and one with Trump in Green Bay last Friday.

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Medal of Honor recipient severely injured in motorcycle crash

LA CROSSE -- An Oak Creek man who received the nation's highest military award for bravery had surgery Tuesday in La Crosse. 

His wife says 68-year-old Medal of Honor recipient Gary Wetzel was heading to the Sturgis motorcycle rally in South Dakota, when he lost control of his bike and he fell as the machine entered a ditch. It happened Sunday about 30 miles east of La Crosse, three days before he was to be inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame. 

His wife Kathy tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he suffered a broken pelvis, a broken left shoulder, fractured ribs, and cuts. Wetzel was in an Army helicopter that was shot down in 1968 during the Vietnam war -- but he kept shooting at the enemy after he was wounded, and he later had his left arm amputated.

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Good weather helps Wisconsin's early harvest

MADISON -- Wisconsin farmers are harvesting their initial crops faster than normal, thanks to generally good weather. 

The state Ag Statistics Service says there are good yields for potatoes and other vegetables, small grains, and hay. High temperatures hovered around 90 last week with high humidities, which put a stress on livestock and weed growth but also helped the state's two largest crops. 

Eighty-eight percent of the corn and soybeans are rated good to excellent, and all but 4 percent of the corn is almost two weeks ahead of its normal development. Ten percent of the Wisconsin potatoes have been harvested, six days slower than last year.

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State: Previous voter ID law remains in effect for primaries

MADISON -- Virtually all Wisconsin voters will have to show acceptable photo IDs to cast ballots in Tuesday's partisan primaries. 

The state Elections Commission says even some reporters have questions, despite the fact that federal Judge James Peterson said a few weeks ago there would be no changes in the ID law for Tuesday. He ruled on a lawsuit July 30 by ordering changes in photo ID and other voting laws -- but the state appealed that decision Monday, and Peterson earlier said the ruling would come too late to make changes for this day. 

Also, federal Judge Lynn Adelman has ruled that voters don't need to show IDs if they sign sworn affidavits about their identities -- but he made it clear it would not take effect until November. The state expects 712,000 people to vote today for a 16-percent turnout, and the polls are open until 8 p.m.

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Despite Walker freezes, UW could seek $42.5M budget hike

MADISON -- The UW System could seek a $42.5 million increase in state funding in its next two year budget, as well as ending a four year tuition freeze for Wisconsin residents. 

University System President Ray Cross gave the State Journal of Madison a partial sneak preview, and the full budget request will come out next week just before the Board of Regents acts on it Aug. 18-19. Republican Gov. Scott Walker has told the UW not to expect any additional state dollars in the next budget, and he wants the tuition freeze to continue for two more years. 

But he's leaving the door open to extra money based on how the university performs in certain areas. Cross says his funding request would help students obtain degrees faster, increase student advising, and create stronger connections between the university system and businesses.

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Electronics retailer to close 5 Wisconsin stores

The hhgregg appliance and electronics chain says it will close five stores in Wisconsin, and will leave the Milwaukee area completely. 

The firm did not say exactly when the closures will take place, but they'll occur in the Milwaukee suburbs of Brown Deer and Greenfield -- plus mall area stores near Racine, Green Bay, and Appleton. Company spokeswoman Beth Taylor says it will help the company remain profitable, as it plans to open up to 30 Fine Lines specialty stores during the next two years.

Taylor says the affected employees will have chances to work at one of 200 other hhgregg locations throughout the U.S.

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Sheboygan Falls woman accused of killing toddler

SHEBOYGAN FALLS -- A Sheboygan Falls woman is jailed under a $750,000 bond after being charged with suffocating her 2-year-old son and trying to hide his body from police. 

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Katlyn Kinateder called 911 last Thursday to say she killed her child -- and when officers entered her condo, she allegedly approached them with a large kitchen knife. She put the weapon down, and then reportedly scuffled with the officers -- and they say they used a Taser stun gun to subdue her. 

Police say they then searched the house and found the toddler wrapped in a blanket in a cardboard box, with no pulse -- and he later died at a hospital as Kinateder claimed she stopped taking mental health medicine a few months ago and wanted police to kill her. She's due back in court Aug. 17 for a preliminary hearing on counts of homicide and hiding a child's corpse.

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