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Wisconsin roundup: Weather Service to survey site of fatal storms; more state news stories

Debris was scattered after a deadly storm cell that struck the Chetek area on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Ready Wisconsin

The National Weather Service will have survey teams in northwest Wisconsin Wednesday to determine the actual number of tornadoes that touched down during a deadly night Tuesday.

One twister killed one person, injured 25, and destroyed 40 mobile homes at a park near Chetek — and Weather Service reports listed three tornadoes in nearby Rusk County that damaged homes and took down trees and power lines, plus a funnel cloud in Price County. Barron had almost softball sized hail shortly before the nearby Chetek tornado came down.

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald says he saw "total destruction" of up to eight homes in a row, unlike anything he's seen in more than two decades of law enforcement — and Wisconsin Emergency Management says 40 mobile homes were destroyed along with a turkey barn in the same area.

Weather Service meteorologist Mike Greisiner says the storms began as a "supercell" that developed around 3:30 p.m. around St. Paul, two hours before the Chetek tornado — and it really gained strength in Washington County just west of the Wisconsin border as it headed into the Badger State.


Madison lawmaker looks to outlaw 'stealth' sex

A Wisconsin state lawmaker has proposed legislation that would make "stealthing" — removing a condom during sexual intercourse without permission — an act equivalent to sexual assault.

If passed, the bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Melissa Sargent, would change the definition of consent under Wisconsin law.

Sex cannot be categorized as consensual, according to the bill, if during intercourse one partner removes a "sexually protective device" without notifying the other partner. And if the intercourse is nonconsensual, then it would by law be sexual assault.

"This is clearly a sexual crime," Sargent told the Capitol Times. "There are victims and predators."

Sargent, whose district includes part of Madison, the state capital and home to the University of Wisconsin, has pitched the bill as a way to crack down on what she called "predatory and disturbing" behavior. It's part of a nationwide movement, particularly on college campuses, to enhance the punishments for sexual assault and make it easier for alleged victims to come forward.

What's unclear, though, is if Sargent's bill is a solution to a problem or a solution in search of a problem.

Local law enforcement, including the Madison Police Department and the University of Wisconsin Police Department, told NBC News that they have never received a report of "stealthing" in the area.

"'Stealthing' is a not a term we're familiar with, so thanks for the explanation," campus police spokesman Marc Lovicott wrote NBC News in an email. "We have not investigated a case like that before."

To that point, Sargent tweeted: "The issue isn't whether or not 'stealthing' is happening, it's whether or not we're going to do something about it."

Secretly removing a condom during sex isn't new. But it gained increased attention last month when Yale Law School graduate Alexandra Brodsky published an article on "stealthing" in the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

(Washington Post via Forum News Service)


Panel puts relaxed sex offender residential rules in state budget

MADISON — A state panel has voted to relax restrictions on where sex offenders can live, as part of the next state budget.

The Joint Finance Committee voted 13-3 on Tuesday in favor of making violent sex offenders live in their home counties — but they would no longer have to live within 1,500 feet of schools, parks, day care centers, and other places where kids congregate. GOP Rep. Mark Born of Beaver Dam said he proposed the measure because he wanted to stop judges from placing offenders far away from their home areas, and he wants local officials to take responsibility for placing them.

State workers have had problems for years placing offenders in halfway houses due to local residential restrictions. Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz of Oshkosh says the matter should be a separate bill because it's too serious to be buried in the budget.


Flood warnings issued in west-central Wis.

A flood warning was lifted Wednesday morning for parts of Trempealeau, Buffalo, and Jackson counties in west central Wisconsin after heavy rains drenched the region.

The National Weather Service says much of the region had 3-5 inches of rain Tuesday evening, with numerous roads closed — and the Trempealeau River at Dodge is expected to go above its banks Wednesday night. Power lines went down in Trempealeau County, and outages occurred in many places in the northern half of that county. Later Tuesday evening, small hail fell in parts of Clark, Marathon, Lincoln, and Oneida counties with wind gusts up to 50.

Meanwhile, more severe weather appears to be on the way for Wednesday afternoon and evening west central, southwest, and south central Wisconsin with more tornadoes, hail, strong winds, and heavy rains possible.


Gallagher seeks political truce to resolve intelligence issue

WASHINGTON — Congressman Mike Gallagher is seeking a political truce in this country to "get at the truth" about the classified data President Donald Trump reportedly gave Russian leaders.

The freshman Republican from Green Bay says "wild accusations" are "flying around from both sides" — and he wants people to "lay down their political weapons for a little bit" so the government can pursue the facts wherever they lead. Gallagher, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and a host of Democrats are asking the Trump White House to give transcripts of Trump's meeting with the Russians to the intelligence committees in both the House and Senate, and Gallagher calls for "complete transparency." He also tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the White House should clarify what he calls "our broader Russia policy."


Finance committee keeps elections staffers Walker wanted to cut

MADISON — The panel that's rewriting the new state budget has voted to keep all but one of the six Elections Commission staffers that Gov. Scott Walker wanted to cut.

The Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to allocate about $300,000 more to pay for five of the six posts, which are among 22 added by a federal grant that's due to run out. The committee's Assembly chairman, John Nygren, says the extra state funding will provide what he calls "certainty" that the state will have what it needs to assure fair elections. He also said the sixth post could be added later, if the commission can show a need for it.


Sheriff: Human remains found in fire belonged to 2 people

JEFFERSON — Jefferson County sheriff's officials now say that human remains found in an April 24th house fire near Ixonia were those of two people, not one.

One set of remains has been identified as 61-year-old Brion Downie, who lived on the site — and more DNA tests are being done to try and identify the other person. A shed and a house were on fire when Ixonia firefighters first arrived — and two dozen other units from various fire departments helped put the fire out. The human remains were found the next day, and the cause of the fire is still being investigated.