Members of the Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee have approved an additional $58 million in funding for the UW System.

Of that amount, $45 million would be available only if lawmakers approve what it's being spent on. The amount is less than half the $127 million requested by the governor. Lawmakers also voted to continue the University of Wisconsin tuition freeze for the next two years.


Reimbursement for private attorneys to work as public defenders increased

The Joint Finance Committee is increasing the hourly reimbursement for private attorneys who agree to work as public defenders.

There have long been complaints about the $40-an-hour rate. It's being bumped up to $70 an  hour. Lawmakers are trying to address a shortage of attorneys who have been willing to take the cases. The current rate is the lowest in the country.


Trial date set for man accused of killing 4 after huffing

The man charged with killing three Girl Scouts and an adult Scout leader has had his trial set for Jan 21.

Attorneys for Colton Treu lost their motion for a change of venue. The court ruled a jury will be picked based on a questionnaire and jury members could be brought in from another county. Treu faces 11 counts, including homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Prosecutors say he had been huffing an aerosol can shortly before he swerved off the road and hit the victims near Lake Hallie last winter


Middle school shooting threat leads to charges for students

Students involved in a possible shooting threat at a Wausau middle school say they started the rumor as a joke.

Wausau police say they were able to track down the author on the Snapchat comment, even though they tried to hide their identity. Three students are going to be referred for disorderly conduct-related offenses. They will also face consequences from the school district for the threat aimed at John Muir Middle School.


Angry crowd forces Madison police to call in backup

Two Madison police officers had to make a quick call for emergency backup when they were surrounded by an angry group of people Monday afternoon.

The officers were responding to a call about a disturbance. They arrived to find one woman punching another woman in the head. When she ignored commands to stop the assault, officers pulled out their tasers and ordered the crowd to stay back. Three women were eventually arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct.


Conservative Supreme Court justice Kelly seeking full 10-year term

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly is running for a full 10-year term next year.

Fifty-five-year-old Kelly was appointed in 2016 by ex-Gov. Scott Walker. Kelly is a member of the high court's conservative majority which will gain a 5-2 advantage when Justice-elect Brian Hagedorn joins the court in August. Kelly says he decided to seek a full term after hearing from enthusiastic voters following the April win Hagedorn. Kelly faces Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone in a February 2020 primary. The election is April 7 -- the same day as Wisconsin's presidential primary, which could boost Democratic voter turnout.


Democrats to choose new party leader at annual convention

Two people are running for chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party - with a vote to be taken this weekend.

Both party Vice Chair David Bowen and former leader Ben Wikler want the position being given up by Martha Lanning. She decided not to seek re-election. The new leader will be picked for a two-year term when more than one-thousand delegates to the annual party convention vote Saturday in Milwaukee.


Sex offender headed back to prison for 4 years

A 44-year-old Abbotsford man has been sentenced to four years in state prison for possession of child pornography and sexual assault.

Eau Claire police say they received five online tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in December. Their investigation singled out Garry James, who was living in Eau Claire. As he was interviewed James admitted he had sexually assaulted two young girls. He was sentenced in Eau Claire County Circuit Court last week.


Arkansas man killed, 4 children injured in UTV crash

The Trempealeau County Sheriff's Office reports the crash of a utility terrain vehicle last weekend has left a man from Arkansas dead and four children injured.

Fifty-seven-year-old James Fridell of Huntington was a passenger on the UTV when it went out of control Sunday night. The accident happened on private property near the Town of Albion. One of the children was airlifted to a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, but no names or medical conditions have been released by western Wisconsin authorities.