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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Walker tours storm damage in La Crosse County

LA CROSSE - Governor Scott Walker was planning to tour storm damage in La Crosse today.  Storms on Saturday caused damage in the city and surrounding La Crosse County.  

On his way to-or-from, Walker would have the ability to fly over the Dodgeville area which was hit with a tornado late last night.  The National Weather Service was inspecting damaged buildings and trees in that area today.  Parts of La Crosse County remain under a flash flood warning until tonight, along much of southwest Wisconsin.  The region had winds up to 60 miles an hour on Saturday.  The Oregon area in southern Dane County reportedly had a four-point-three mile swath of building and tree damage late last night.  Homes were also damaged in parts of Grant County.  There was other storm wreckage and flooding in parts of Richland, Sauk, and Columbia counties.


Governor Scott Walker said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling today reinforces the legality of the Act-10 provision in which most public employees no longer have to pay union dues.  Today's ruling applied to home-care workers in Illinois.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it was not immediately clear whether it would have a direct impact on Wisconsin unions dues requirements.  Walker signed a host of bargaining limits into law in 2011.  They've been held up in the federal courts.  The State Supreme Court has yet to decide whether the Act-10 provisions apply to local government and public school unions.  State Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) calls today's ruling "anti-worker."  He said it limits the freedom to organize for "fair wages and safe working conditions."  Larson said the ban on required union dues "negatively impacts" communities throughout Wisconsin and the nation.


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that at least some corporations can choose not to cover women's contraceptives if the owners have religious beliefs against it.  The Obama health reform law requires such coverage -- and today's 5-4 ruling marks the first time that for-profit businesses can hold religious views which grant them exemptions.  The court said the ruling only applies to firms controlled by just a few people who are running the businesses, such as the Hobby Lobby chain which sued for the religious exemption.  As of late morning, there had not been much Wisconsin reaction yet.  Sixth District GOP congressional candidate Glenn Grothman of West Bend called it a big ruling for Christians.  He said he would protect religious freedom both privately and publicly if he's elected.  A second Republican hopeful, Joe Leibham of Sheboygan, said the ruling supports his belief in religious liberty -- but it also points out another problem with Obama-care, which he says is an affront to individual responsibility.  Grothman and Leibham are among three state legislative Republicans in an August 12th GOP primary for the House seat to be given up by Fond du Lac Republican Tom Petri.


A judge in Milwaukee will apparently be asked this afternoon to accept a plea deal for the second of two men accused of robbing a conductor of a rare Stradivarius violin.  Online court records indicate that 42-year-old Salah Salashadyn had a plea hearing set at 1:30 in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.  He earlier pleaded innocent to a felony theft charge, but his lawyer asked last month for a new court proceeding.  The other defendant, 36-year-old Universal Allah, is scheduled to be sentenced July 24th after he negotiated a robbery conviction.  Both men were accused of stealing a 300-year-old Stradivarius from a concert meister after a night-time performance in January at Wisconsin Lutheran College.  Police recovered the violin nine days later, and it was found in good condition.


The Green Bay Symphony Orchestra did make a profit a couple times in recent years -- but its director said it was not enough to avoid shutting it down after the upcoming season.  The Green Bay Press-Gazette said the symphony made money in two of the last three seasons.  Director Dan Linssen calls that a "fluke," caused by the fact that donors had to be approached in desperation due to the orchestra's dire finances.  Linssen said "donor fatigue" set in.  He said the management was privately meeting with musicians who thought that not enough was done to raise funds.  The Press-Gazette cited tax recrods showing that the Green Bay Symphony made profits of five-thousand in 2011, and almost $12,000 last year.  It lost $32,000 in 2012.