National briefs: Key rulings in Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wis. — The fight over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signature policy achievement, a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public employees, ended Thursday with the state Supreme Court declaring it to be constitutional.

Passage of the law in 2011 put Wisconsin at the center of a nationwide battle over union rights and fueled Mr. Walker’s rise to national prominence as he entered the mix of possible 2016 presidential candidates.

The law also requires public employees to contribute more toward their health insurance and pension costs, bars automatic withdrawals from members’ paychecks and requires annual elections to see if members want their unions to go on representing them.

The state’s highest court also upheld the state’s voter ID law and a 2009 law providing limited benefits to gay and lesbian couples.

GM told of Cobalt crash

DETROIT — More than seven years before General Motors began the biggest wave of auto recalls in history, an investigator for Vanguard Car Rental USA contacted the carmaker about a fatal rollover crash in California involving a new Chevrolet Cobalt.

A Vanguard claims adjuster wrote to GM and said even though the cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, “due to the serious nature of this accident we feel that it is imperative that you open a claim and inspect this vehicle for possible defects,” according to a review of documents obtained by Bloomberg News after a Freedom of Information Act request.

Obama donor probed

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers asked the Federal Communications Commission to explain its grant of a potentially money-saving waiver to a private-equity company owned by a major campaign donor to President Barack Obama.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee wants the FCC to turn over draft copies of the waiver granted to Grain Management LLC, a firm owned by David Grain. It’s also asking for all communications between the firm and the commission, committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan said in a letter Thursday to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat.

Executive shoots boss

CHICAGO — An executive of a Chicago company, upset that he was being demoted, walked into the CEO’s office downtown Thursday morning and shot him twice before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Tony DeFrances, 59, was found dead on the scene from a gunshot wound to the head. His friend and CEO of ArrowStream, Steven LaVoie, 54, was wounded in the head and stomach and was in critical condition at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, authorities said.

Silver Star awarded

HOLLAND, Mich. — A Michigan Marine who was killed in Afghanistan has been posthumously awarded the Silver Star for bravery. The award was bestowed on the family of Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Price on Wednesday in the western Michigan farmbelt community of Holland.

Sgt. Price, 27 and on his sixth combat tour, was killed July 29, 2012, as he led a successful effort to rescue Afghan commandos during a firefight.

Railroad tracks blamed

BALTIMORE — A worn and fractured rail along train tracks in historic Ellicott City, Md., caused the massive coal train derailment that killed two women in 2012, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The two 19-year-old college students were seated on a bridge that is part of CSX Transportation’s right-of-way.


— Compiled from wire services


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