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Wisconsin roundup: Tardy budget now 1 Senate vote from Walker's desk; 7 more state news stories

MADISON — The Wisconsin Senate is scheduled to start debating the proposed state budget at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

After two and a half months of delays, Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald hopes to speed up the process by giving Gov. Scott Walker the same version of the two year package that was passed Wednesday night by the Assembly. But four Republicans are holding out for changes that would have to go back to the lower house, where Speaker Robin Vos calls the them a "ransom list" of what failed in earlier deliberations.

Senate Republicans Chris Kapenga, Steve Nass, Duey Strobel, and Dave Craig are all pushing, among other things, to require referendums for local wheel taxes — allowing local governments to keep regulating quarries — and moving up a repeal of the prevailing wage for state construction projects. If Fitzgerald could get one of those senators to change his mind and support the Assembly package, he'd have enough GOP votes to pass the budget in its current form.

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Attorney general announces human trafficking arrests

MADISON — Wisconsin's attorney general has announced arrests and charges against 25 people said to be involved in human trafficking.

Twenty law enforcement and prosecuting agencies from Madison to Marshfield to Eagle River joined state officers and U.S. Marshals in making the arrests in July and August. Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the sting operation Thursday.

He says the defendants were sex traffickers, their customers, and related child abusers — and those sought for sex business were as young as 14. Schimel says the arrests were part of the "National Johns Suppression Initiative, in which officers in 17 states arrested 15 alleged sex traffickers and more than one-thousand people who bought sex.

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Woman sentenced for embezzling from restaurant

CHIPPEWA FALLS — A 31-year-old Chippewa Falls woman has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for stealing up to $60,000 from an Arby's roast beef restaurant.

Natasha Weyenberg pleaded guilty Thursday to one felony count of theft from a business setting, and three similar counts were dropped in a plea deal. She was also told to pay back $6,000 of what she took, spend up to 50 days of electronic monitoring, and pay a $528 fine. Officials said the money was taken from the Chippewa Falls Arby's since 2015 — and surveillance video caught her ringing up cash sales as being free, and then taking the money.

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State unemployment rises for second straight month

MADISON — Wisconsin's unemployment rate has gone up for two months in a row.

The seasonally adjusted statewide rate for August was 3.4 percent, up 0.2 percent from July and up 0.3 percent from both June and May. Officials say the Badger State lost 5,200 private sector jobs during August — but the monthly job totals are based on very small survey samples and are often revised later. The national jobless rate also jumped slightly last month, and Wisconsin's rate is one full point behind the current national 4.4 percent figure.

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Walker could sign Foxconn bill as early as next week

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker could give his final approval to nearly three-billion dollars for Foxconn as early as next week. That's after the state Assembly gave final legislative approval to the incentive package Thursday on a nearly party line vote of 64-31. All Republicans voted yes except for Adam Jarchow of Balsam Lake and Todd Novak of Dodgeville — and southeast Wisconsin Democrats Peter Barca, Cory Mason, Tod Ohnstad, and Jason Fields all went against their party line by voting yes.

The Assembly ratified amendments to tighten job creation requirements for Foxconn to collect up to $1.3 billion state tax dollars for its new LCD screen plant in Racine County. And the State Supreme Court would have the option to reject consideration of lawsuit appeals for Foxconn and its litigants.

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Judge says no to having a say in Slender Man verdict

WAUKESHA — The judge in Waukesha's Slender Man sanity trial will not have a say on what happens to Anissa Weier.

Circuit Judge Michael Bohren said no Thursday to requests by both sides to make a directed verdict — and he said the jury can make a reasonable decision based on the evidence. Attorneys will make their closing arguments Friday morning before deliberations begin on whether the 15-year-old Weier was sane at the time she and Morgan Geyser allegedly stabbed fellow middle school classmate Payton Leutner in 2014 in allegiance to Slender Man.

Three defense witnesses said Weier was delusional at the time. Prosecutors did not have any witnesses testify, but they said Weier didn't know about the Slender Man angle until after the stabbing. Weier has pleaded guilty to a reduced homicide charge, and the jury will decide whether she goes to prison or to a mental institution.

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Dozens of rescued cats ready for adoption

STURGEON BAY — Dozens of cats rescued from an abandoned house in Door County are ready for adoption.

Carol Boudreau of the county's Humane Society says her agency rescued 40 cats in August from a house on Washington Island that was condemned and torn down. Boudreau says her rescue team was present when the house was demolished, and they were confident they saved as many of the cats as they could. She tells WLUK-TV that a few of the animals had to be put down due skin problems and other health complications — and the rest are now ready to have a second chance.

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Security for former Milwaukee sheriff eclipses $225K so far

MILWAUKEE — Round-the-clock security for former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke cost the county nearly $227,000 this year, and county officials haven't yet added up what it cost last year.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the security detail ended last week after Clarke's resignation to work for a super PAC supporting President Donald Trump. The county started stationing officers outside the former sheriff's home around the clock last year after he began to receive threats.

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