2017 March

Monthly Archives: March 2017

 Rep. Hebl: Voices support for bill aimed at fighting for families across Wisconsin

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Contact: Rep. Gary Hebl, (608) 266-7678

(MADISON) – Today Gary Hebl (D- Sun Prairie) announced his support for LRB 2339, a bill that would provide tax relief for middle class families throughout Wisconsin and provide a much needed boost for Wisconsin’s economy.

“This bill would provide much-needed economic support for middle class families throughout the state,” Hebl said. “Families throughout the state continue to struggle to get by in Wisconsin’s economy, and this could be the jumpstart they need to get back on their feet.”

The bill provides savings to middle class Wisconsin families by repealing the Wisconsin manufacturing and agriculture credit, which provides eleven Wisconsinites $22 million in tax breaks. Each one of those eleven people makes at least $35 million dollars a year.

“By getting rid of this giveaway to multimillionaires, we can provide the median-income Wisconsin family with an extra $600 dollars in tax relief,” Hebl continued. “Imagine what an average household in Wisconsin could do with another $600 in their pockets. It could mean being able to pay for their children’s sports gear, or being able to buy the groceries that they need. Or it might be just enough needed for a business-minded individual to start the company they have been thinking about for years but never had enough extra money to pursue.”

In total, the revenue created by this bill totals $391 million annually.

“Putting this money in the hands of middle class families means that more money will be going into local economies,” Hebl finished. “That will lead to a stronger overall economy for Wisconsin. This is a win-win situation that will get more Wisconsin families on their feet.”

 Speaker Vos: Statement on Assembly Democrats’ tax and spend plan

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Contact: Speaker Robin Vos, (608) 266-3387
[email protected]

Madison…Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) made the following statement regarding the Assembly Democrats’ proposal to raise income taxes on Wisconsin families and job creators.

“Now is not the time to raise income taxes. Everyone in our state needs tax relief, especially the people who are growing the economy. Assembly Democrats want to raise income taxes by $400 million and hike taxes on farmers and business owners, when Republicans have reduced taxes by $4.7 billion since 2011 and with no support from Democrats.

“It seems Assembly Democrats need a lesson in economics. When you raise income taxes, you drive out the most successful employers and citizens, which will make the tax burden go up for the rest of the state.  We all know income taxes are still too high and Republicans are trying to fix the problem. Because of our real reforms, the average Wisconsin family is enjoying over a thousand dollars more in their pockets despite Democrats opposing our efforts at every turn.

“There is a reason why people call them tax and spend liberals. Their message and this policy hasn’t worked for Wisconsin in the past and won’t work for Wisconsin’s future.  Our state’s voters have confirmed over and over that they want the economy to grow, taxes to be cut, and Republicans to be in charge.

“If Democrats want to cut middle class taxes in the next state budget, I invite them to work with us on the two-year spending plan which will fund schools, the UW System and a significant tax cut.”

‘The Insiders’ debate the DNR magazine’s value

The WisOpinion.com Insiders, Chvala and Kanavas, debate the value of the DNR magazine slated to be shuttered under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

‘The Insiders’ debate the GOP’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare

 

The WisOpinion.com Insiders, Chvala and Kanavas, debate how the Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace Obamacare will play out over time.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

‘The Insiders’ take an early look at Baldwin’s re-election prospects

 

Will Tammy Baldwin need the luck of the Irish to win re-election next year? The Insiders do an early analysis this St. Patrick’s Day.

Sponsored by Michael Best Strategies and the Wisconsin Counties Association.

‘The Insiders’ talk Trump, Walker, Laning and Evers-Holtz

The WisOpinion.com Insiders, Chvala and Kanavas, debate Trump, Walker, Laning and Evers-Holtz in the lightning round.

Sponsored by Michael Best Strategies and the Wisconsin Counties Association.

‘UpFront’: Evers, Holtz clash over Common Core, Act 10

Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers, and his challenger Lowell Holtz clashed over the Common Core in a joint appearance on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Holtz, who once supported Common Core, said he favors repeal of the standards because they don’t promote local control of schools.

“It didn’t take long to realize that it was absolutely the federal government intruding on states’ rights, and the federal government is driving the curriculum right now,” Holtz said.

Evers rejected the idea that Common Core is a federal intrusion, and challenged Holtz on repeal.

“Over 400 school districts have adopted it,” Evers told Holtz. “As state superintendent, you have no authority to say no more Common Core.”

The candidates also disagreed on the effect of Act 10, Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s signature law that dramatically reduced the ability of public employee unions to collectively bargain.

“As a working superintendent, I found it to be a good thing,” Holtz said.

Before Act 10, Holtz said he had to lay off staff to meet the budget.

“Post Act 10, I didn’t have to lay anybody off. Period,” Holtz said.

Evers pointed out that he opposed Act 10 from the start.

“Did it save money? Absolutely. By taking money out of teachers’ pockets,” Evers said.

Evers said the “divisive rhetoric” surrounding the passage of Act 10 continues to hurt morale and teacher recruitment six years later.

“We’re losing a generation of teachers,” Evers said. “We need to change the rhetoric. That’s free.”

Evers and Holtz also discussed ideas for helping the Milwaukee Public Schools.

See more from the program: http://www.wisn.com/upfront

‘UpFront’: Johnson says Sessions right to recuse himself from Russia investigation

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he’s “highly concerned” about Russia and its interference in the election, but wants to let congressional committees handle the investigation at this time.

Johnson appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. The interview was taped Friday, before President Trump raised unsubstantiated allegations that President Obama the Trump phones during the closing months of the election.

Gousha asked Johnson if he was concerned about reports people associated with the Trump campaign had contacts with Russian officials.

“I really do believe the appropriate venue at this point in time are the Senate and House intelligence committees,” Johnson said. “Those are being run in bipartisan fashion. Let them do their oversight, let’s see if there is something that actually needs to be referred to the Justice Department for, potentially, prosecution, but we’re not there yet.”

“I’m going to reserve my judgment until their finish their report,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Attorney General Jeff Sessions did the right thing by recusing himself from any future investigation of the president’s campaign.

“I don’t think he has a dishonest bone in his body,” Johnson said about Sessions. “Just a person of integrity.”

Johnson also said a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could be ready “within the next month and a half.”

Johnson said Obamacare, as the ACA is also known, is close to 20 million words of rules and regulations that have “infiltrated every nook and cranny of our healthcare system.”

“It’s incredibly complex. There’s nothing easy about this,” he said.

In a year that has seen sometimes angry or chaotic town hall meetings for members of Congress, Johnson defended his recent use of telephone town hall meetings with constituents, saying it allowed him to reach more people.

But he said he will be holding future public town hall meetings, and noted one he just did in northwestern Wisconsin.

“Last weekend I was in Altoona, at an Islamic center up there and we had the basement filled. Not a whole lot of supporters. It was very respectful. I enjoy those exchanges,” he said, adding that he held 73 town halls during his first term.

“I’ll continue to do them,” he said.

Also on the program, newly elected Democratic National Committee Secretary Jason Rae of Milwaukee said the party needs to return to a “grassroots approach.”

Rae was elected, along with former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez as DNC chairman.

“I think the party right now really needs to focus and return to a real grassroots approach,” Rae said. “And really making sure that we’re energizing and organizing on the local level, particularly in rural communities, particularly with millennials.”

Rae said he ran for secretary with a goal to “open up the party and make the party more transparent and more engaging.”

“I think that will go a long way in bringing folks into the party and helping us win elections,” Rae said.

Rae also said he thinks the party is coming together after an election cycle that saw divisions between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

See more from the show:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

‘UpFront’: Ott hopes tougher penalties will deter drunken driving

State Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, said he is proposing a mandatory minimum sentence for homicide OWI because he hears of too many drunken drivers who serve little time after killing someone.

Ott discussed his legislation to toughen drunken driving penalties on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Ott is sponsoring a bill that would set a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for an impaired driver who causes a fatal crash.

“Homicide OWI we are not talking about mitigating circumstances, ” Ott said. “We’re talking about the drunk driver crosses the center line and hits an oncoming car head on, or goes through a red light and broadsides an automobile.”

Ott said maximum penalties, which can be 25 to 40 years depending on the circumstances, are not the problem and that judges are imposing long sentences. But Ott said there are still cases where a driver in a fatal crash gets a light sentence.

“I’ve heard testimony in the past that sometimes people get as little as a year or two incarceration for killing someone, devastating a family? I don’t think that’s right,” Ott said.

Ott also wants to increase mandatory minimum sentences for fifth and sixth offense OWI from sixth months to 18 months.

“Is six months in jail a sufficient deterrent to that kind of behavior? I think not,” Ott said.

Ott has another bill that he says would close what is known as the “ignition interlock loophole,” to make the law more enforceable.

Ott said he believes there will be a deterrent effect in making sentences tougher. He also said that “down the line,” he would like to make third offense OWI a felony in Wisconsin.

“Right now, it’s a criminal misdemeanor, and I think that would send a strong message to someone, that you offend once, then twice, next time it’s a felony. I think that would have a deterrent effect,” he said.

Also on the program, state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, discussed his personal experience with the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Anderson said he was in a 2010 car crash in California, caused by a drunken driver that killed his parents and younger brother, and left him paralyzed.

“It was, I don’t know how else to put it, the hardest thing I ever had to go through,” he said.

Anderson said the cost of his treatment, which included placing steel in his spine to allow him to hold his head upright, was huge.

“After that, my health insurance company told me I was nearing my lifetime maximums, and that I was going to have to handle the rest of my health care expenses,” he said.

“With hundreds of thousands of dollars still left to go, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was scared, terrified. I was just a student. I didn’t have that kind of money,” he said.

Soon after, Anderson said, provisions of the ACA took effect and eliminated lifetime maximums.

“My wife and I were incredibly relieved,” he said.

“It was, to be able to know that I was going to be able to get the care that I needed to kind of put my life back together, it was a glimmer of hope that I needed to keep going,” he said.

See more from the program:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

‘UpFront’: Racine Mayor Dickert says possible 97% cut to Great Lakes restoration funding would be devastating

Racine Mayor John Dickert says a possible 97 percent cut to Great Lakes restoration funding would be devastating to the lakes and the communities that depend upon them.

An early blueprint suggested the Trump administration was looking at cutting back funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative from $300 million to just $10 million. The administration’s budget could be released later this week.

Dickert, who appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com, said the GRLI funds provide “start-up money” for local programs that protect the lakes. The loss of the funds would “devastating from so many different levels.”

“Are beaches going to be as clean for their kids to swim in? No. Are we going to have more potential problems with invasive species? Yes. Are you going to have trouble with navigating waters? Yes. More trouble with algae blooms that affect water? Yes. All of these things are related, and all will be dramatically impacted,” Dickert said.

Dickert said he and other Great Lakes mayors will travel to Washington soon to meet with members of Congress about the importance of the Great Lakes funding.

Also on the program, former Wisconsin state Treasurer Jack Voight said constitutional office is part of the “checks and balances” the framers of the state constitution intended.

A constitutional amendment to eliminate the treasurer will go before voters next year. If it passes, the office would be eliminated in 2019.

Supporters of the amendment say the office has few duties and getting rid of it will save taxpayers money. Most of the duties of the treasurer have been transferred to other state agencies.

Voight, a Republican, said he handled over $6 billion in state investments when he served as treasurer from 1995-2007.

“I think the fix is in, that they want to control the money between the governor’s office and the Legislature, and to exempt the state treasurer from having any oversight, any financial voice for the citizens of this state,” Voight said.

He said current state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, who campaigned on eliminating the office, “doesn’t care about the constitution.”

“He doesn’t care about his oath of office. He doesn’t care about the checks and balances for the taxpayer. All he wants to be is the last state treasurer of this state,” Voight said, adding that he will work to educate voters about the importance of the office ahead of next year’s vote.

Also on the show, Mark Shapiro, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay, said he has been “amazed by the outpouring of support” from the community after a series of threats against the center.

The JCC has had four threats made against it since January, causing it to temporarily shut down every time. Nationwide, there have been at least 150 threats made against Jewish institutions in recent weeks.

“This is a really personal thing that’s happening,” Shapiro said. “Some people are nervous. I think some people are angry. Some people are saying I am going to come more often.”

Shapiro praised local and state officials, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Republican Gov. Scott Walker for their response and support after the series of threats.

“Gov. Walker was nothing short of astounding, in our conversations, of his pledge of support in every way,” Shapiro said. “We have been receiving the intelligence, personnel and support of the state.”

See more from the show:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

6th Annual “Wrap Around the Capitol” 🗓

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What: 6th Annual “Wrap Around the Capitol”

Who: WCASA with survivors, allies, advocates, and other community members

When and Where: Saturday, April 1, 2017, 2 p.m.

  • Madison, Capitol Building’s Rotunda (2nd Floor)

Why: For Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Day of Healing, recognizing Wisconsin’s at least 1.4 million survivors of sexual violence, and calling for an end to these terrible crimes.

Media Contact: Dominic Holt, 608-257-1516, x 113;[email protected]

8th annual Wisconsin Women’s Health Advocacy Summit 🗓

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What:  A day-long shared experience for women’s health stakeholders to be informed, involved and inspired to make a difference through advocacy.

When: Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Where: Monona Terrace – Madison, WI

Details: For the eighth year in a row, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health is hosting a unique convening of those interested in improving the health and lives of Wisconsin women and girls. Over 200 attendees are expected to attend for a day of education, engagement and empowerment opportunities.

This year’s Summit will feature a series of Wisconsin women providing their own advocacy success stories through a 10 minute S.H.E. Speak session, a ceremony to honor our 2017 WAWH Women’s Health Leader Awards, and a special closing keynote by Me Ra Koh. This year’s event will also feature a press event with Representative Sondy Pope and Senator Janis Ringhand introducing the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Insurance Act.  A copy of the full agenda can be found on our event website.

The Champion Sponsor of this year’s event is SafetyNet.  Additionally, 17 other organizations and agencies and have sponsored this year’s Summit.  Other major sponsors of the event include: BRAVA Magazine, the UW Department of OB/GYN, Community Shares of Wisconsin, Husch Blackwell and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.  Summit attendees will also be given the opportunity to network with over 45 exhibitors.

Tickets are still available for all of the events listed above.  Those interested can visit bit.ly/wiwomensummit for more information. A copy of the full agenda for the day is attached.  Media is welcome to attend any portion of these events and can RSVP to join us by emailing Sara at [email protected].

A reception with state Rep. Dale Kooyenga 🗓

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The Wisconsin Institute of CPAs and Ted Matkom of Gorman & Company invite you to attend a reception with State Rep. Dale Kooyenga

Historic Brewhouse Inn & Suites

1211 N. 10th Street

April 10, 2017

5 to 7 p.m.

Hosts: $500

Guests: $250

RSVP appreciated by April 9th

DaleKooyenga.com

 

AARP: Studies cost of retiring poor in Wisconsin

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Contact: Jim Flaherty, (608) 286-6308 (o), (608) 698-0928 (c)
[email protected]

The cost of retiring poor: Modest increases in workers’ retirement savings would save WI taxpayers $3.1 billion in 2030

Madison, Wisconsin – New research released today shows that even modest increases in the net worth of those who save the least for retirement would greatly improve retirement readiness and reduce government spending on public assistance programs.

Wisconsin’s growing elderly population is ahead of the national trend. Between 2015 and 2030 there is a projected 60% increase in the number of people age 65-plus. Due to these steady increases in life expectancies, older Wisconsinites will require income and resources to last a significant number of years in retirement.

Yet many near-retirees in Wisconsin are unprepared to fund their retirement for this extended period of time. Social Security will not provide sufficient income in retirement; many people have little or no savings; and a large number of Wisconsin workers do not have any way to save for retirement at work.

The report was commissioned by AARP Wisconsin and conducted by a team from the University of Wisconsin’s Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs*.

Older adults who are at-risk of retiring poor may increasingly rely on government programs for support. However, this new research shows that there could be a dramatic reduction in government outlays with a minimal increase in individual savings.

Here are some Key findings of the report:

  • If lower and moderate income households (up to $40,000/year) were to save 3 percent of their income through 2030, state expenditures in 2030 may decrease by more than $3.1 billion annually.
  • In 2015, State of Wisconsin spent $1.2 billion on the four main programs assisting seniors – Medicaid, Homestead Tax Credit, Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
  • In 2030 there will be 427,300 Wisconsin seniors at risk of retiring in poverty.
  • Projected state expenditures on senior programs in 2030 are estimated to be $4.7 billion annually.
  • Increased household savings delays eligibility for government assistance programs. Even a one-year delay saves the state of Wisconsin $966 million in 2030.
  • If those currently ages 50 to 55 save 3 percent of their income until they retire, they will have between $18,408 to $39,676 more in savings.

“We know that the majority of Wisconsinites are not confident about their retirement savings,” said AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson. “In 2015, AARP conducted a survey of Wisconsin voters age 45-plus found that nearly nine in 10 said they wished they had saved more for retirement. Nearly half of them said they don’t have any way to save through their workplace.

“The solution is to help people save for their retirement, and all evidence points to the most effective way to do this, which is through a save-at-work plan through a payroll deduction.”

Wilson said the State of Wisconsin can enact policies that encourage people to create their own private retirement accounts at work.

“Not only will that help people build their own nest eggs, but it will save taxpayer dollars in the not-too-distant future. All of this additional savings by workers would result in a significant decrease in state expenditures on elderly assistance programs because people would have retirement resources. That would be great news for them and for all of Wisconsin.”

View the full report online at: www.aarp.org/wi

*Findings from The Case for Reducing Poverty Among Seniors: Encouraging Savings for Retirement by People in WisconsinProjected Reductions in Wisconsin State Expenditures by Jordan Krieger, MPA*, Genevieve Carter, MPA*, Matthew Burr, MPA*, J. Michael Collins, PhD, January 2017.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment security and retirement planning. We advocate for consumers in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world’s largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www. aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP VIVA, a bilingual news source.  AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more at www.aarp.org

ABC for Health, Inc.: Repeal and Replace plan bad for patients, providers

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Contact:
Brynne McBride- (608) 261-6939 x 210
Bobby Peterson- (608) 444-7197

Madison, WI– Today the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its projected impact of the “American Health Care Act,” the latest in a series of “Repeal and Replace” bills to come out of the new Trump Administration. Bobby Peterson, Executive Director of ABC for Health says, “The [CBO] report sticks a large fork in the half-baked turkey called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The report identifies sharp increases in the uninsured rates which of course means more uncompensated care – the cost of which will be socialized and redistributed among everyone else.”

ABC for Health charted the CBO’s estimates for increased rates of additional uninsurance should the AHCA become law, along with its own projections of not only the increased rate of uncompensated care that hospitals can expect from having fewer patients covered by Medicaid or private insurance, but also a graphic they call a “Patient/Provider Misery Index.”

Earlier this week, Peterson gave the AHCA “two thumbs down,” for prioritizing care for the healthy and wealthy over lower income folks and those with disabilities. You can watch his comments here: http://mediasite.safetyweb.org/Mediasite/Play/29a91d1b534c4120874f69ae992738ac1d

ABC for Health staff and guests will discuss these issues and much more at the 2017 Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference, “The Health Care Coverage Pendulum Swings,” March 22-23 in Madison at the Madison Masonic Center (301 Wisconsin Ave). http://www.safetyweb.org/healthwatchwi/conference.html

Acting U.S. Attorney Anderson: Grand jury returns indictments

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Contact: AUSA assigned to case, (608) 264-5158, TTY: (608) 264-5006

MADISON, WIS. — A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments yesterday.  You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted, the sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Sauk City Man Charged in Fraud Scheme

James Kolf, 64, Sauk City, Wis., is charged with 16 counts of wire fraud, one count of mail fraud, and one count of money laundering.  The indictment alleges that from April 2011 to August 2016, Kolf engaged in a scheme to defraud investors by encouraging his brokerage customers to invest in SFN Financial Network, which was not a legitimate investment.  The indictment alleges that Kolf provided investors with fictitious account statements and with prospectuses and marketing material for a similarly named investment that was unrelated to SFN Financial Network.

The indictment alleges that through this fraud scheme, Kolk received $905,077 in investor funds which he failed to invest and instead used for his own purposes.  The indictment alleges that Kolf used the investor funds to pay his personal living expenses, including the cash purchase of his residence in Sauk City, home improvements, credit card payments, an outstanding federal tax liability, property taxes, and the cash purchase of a car.  The money laundering count alleges that in May 2014, Kolf withdrew $280,534 from a business checking account he had set up in the name of SFN Financial Network and purchased a cashier’s check used to fund the purchase of his residence in Sauk City.

If convicted, Kolf faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each wire and mail fraud count, and 10 years on the money laundering count.  The charges against him are the result of an investigation by IRS Criminal Investigation.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.

Madison Man Charged with Drug and Gun Crimes

William D. Flowers, 26, Madison, Wis., is charged with two counts of distributing oxycodone, four counts of distributing heroin, and with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The indictment alleges that he distributed oxycodone and heroin in February and March 2017, and that he possessed a handgun on March 13, 2017.

If convicted, Flowers faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on each distribution charge and 10 years on the felon in possession charge.  The charges against him are the result of an investigation by the Dane County Narcotics Task Force, Madison Police Department, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

Madison Man Charged with Drug Crimes

Joseph Thigpen, 40, Madison, Wis., is charged with five counts of distributing heroin, one count of possessing heroin with intent to distribute, and one count of possessing 28 grams or more of crack cocaine with the intent to distribute.  The indictment alleges that he distributed heroin in February and March 2017, and that he possessed heroin and crack cocaine on March 8, 2017.

If convicted, Thigpen faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the heroin counts, and a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years on the crack cocaine charge.  The charges against him are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Columbia County Sheriff’s Office; Portage Police Department; and Dane County Narcotics Task Force.  The prosecution of this case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea.

Federal Prison Inmate Charged with Possessing Prohibited Object

Carlos Pena-Prado, 32, is charged with possessing a prohibited object designed to be used as a weapon, while an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at Oxford, Wis.  The indictment alleges that on January 17, 2017, he possessed a six-inch piece of metal sharpened to a point at one end.

If convicted, Pena-Prado faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.  The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Federal Bureau of Prisons.  The prosecution of this case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.

Mexican Citizen Charged with Illegally Reentering U.S.

Jose Amando Elias-Rios, 27, a citizen of Mexico found in Jackson County, Wis., is charged with illegally reentering the United States after previously being deported.  The indictment alleges that he was found in the United States on March 14, 2017.

If convicted, Elias-Rios faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.  The charge against him is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

Adam Jarchow: I screwed up and I’m sorry

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

I screwed up and I’m sorry. When’s the last time you heard that from a politician? Let me say it again. I screwed up and I’m sorry. Last session, in his budget, Governor Walker proposed adding 102 new auditors to the Department of Revenue. I didn’t like the proposal, nor did many of my colleagues in the Legislature. A number of us tried to remove it from the budget. When that failed, to our discredit, we went along with it. We shouldn’t have.

It didn’t take me long to recognize the mistake I had made, and when I did, I authored a bill to begin to reverse it. Unfortunately, the bill went nowhere. As a result of this mistake, a number of Wisconsin’s small businesses have been subjected to audits. For these small businesses, audits are terrifying, time consuming, and expensive. They are also the functional equivalent of a government shakedown. You see, most small businesses operate above-board. They do their best. But no one is perfect. This is particularly true when you have an awful tax code like ours. It’s riddled with exemptions, credits, inconsistencies, and ambiguities. Even CPAs make mistakes.

Nearly every time a business is audited, it’s no surprise the auditor finds something and when they do, it’s usually after wasting weeks of a small business’ time and resources. After being put through this, the business owners just want it over. So even if they believe the auditor is wrong, they are unlikely to spend the time and significant resources on attorneys and CPAs necessary to fight the government. Instead, they just pay.

Amazingly, this surrender is what the government is counting on. The state budget actually depends on each new auditor bringing in significant revenue each year. I suspect that’s part of the reason why the Governor’s current budget proposes adding another 46 new auditors (combined with last session, this would amount to 148 total new auditors). It’s estimated that each of the 46 new auditors would bring in around $695,000 each year of this biennium ($64M total). In my opinion, that’s the wrong way to balance the budget.

However, we can fix this. Instead of 46 new auditors at DOR to shake down hard-working small business owners, we should authorize 46 new auditors or inspectors general to audit every part of every state agency. As the DOT audit showed, incompetent agencies are wasting billions of dollars. So instead of harassing hard-working small business owners to generate revenue, we can find significantly more money by closely scrutinizing agency budgets.

I will not repeat my past mistake. I will not vote for any budget that authorizes even a single new auditor and would be hard pressed to vote for one that doesn’t begin to fix the mistake we made in the last budget.  In the next few days, I will offer a budget motion to (i) delete the 102 auditors authorized in the last budget; and (ii) amend the current proposal so that the 46 auditors are hired to examine state agencies instead of small businesses.

– Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, represents the 28th Assembly District.

Ag Day at the Capitol

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WHAT:
Ag Day at the Capitol

WHEN:
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Event Start: 12:10 p.m.

WHERE:
Monona Terrace
Madison Ballroom A-D
1 John Nolen Drive
Madison, WI 53703

NOTE:
Governor Walker will not be available for questions following the event.

AG Schimel disputes there’s a rape kit ‘backlog’ even though 6,000 untested

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AG Schimel: Files brief in Whitford v. Gill

Madison, Wis. – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Justice asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn a decision issued by a panel of three judges in Whitford v. Gill, which invalidated Wisconsin’s Assembly districts.

“I am proud to defend Wisconsin’s law and have asked the highest court in the land to take action to protect our legislative districts,” Attorney General Brad Schimel said. “Wisconsin’s redistricting plan is so reasonable that it would pass muster under any legal test ever proposed by any Justice of the Supreme Court.”

Wisconsin’s brief explains that the basis of the entire lawsuit—“partisan gerrymandering”—has never been adopted by the Supreme Court and cannot succeed if a legislative plan follows traditional redistricting principles, which Wisconsin did.

After briefing is complete, the Court will decide whether to “note probable jurisdiction,” in which case, the Court would hear arguments during October Term 2017.

The case is being handled by the Wisconsin Solicitor General’s Office.

See the court filings: https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/3.24.17_Whitford_Brief.pdf

AG Schimel: Trump’s executive order a major victory in Wisconsin’s fight against federal overreach

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Madison, Wis. – In December 2016, Attorney General Brad Schimel joined a 24-state coalition urging then President-elect Donald Trump and congressional leaders to withdraw President Obama’s so-called Clean Power Plan and take the necessary steps to ensure similar or more extreme proposals never again take shape. Today, President Trump signed an Executive Order rolling back the Clean Power Plan.

“It was estimated that if the Clean Power Plan had gone into effect, it would have cost tens of thousands of jobs in our state. Furthermore, all Wisconsinites would have seen sky-high energy prices if the Obama-era Clean Power Plan went into effect,” said Attorney General Schimel. “Last year’s stay won by the coalition of states before the U.S. Supreme Court was the first step in putting an end to this misguided policy. Today’s Executive Order was the next critical step. We look forward to working with President Trump and EPA Administrator Pruitt to complete the legal process necessary to eliminate this unconstitutional overreach once and for all.”

In October 2015, West Virginia and Texas led a 27-state coalition, which included Wisconsin, challenging the EPA’s Power Plan. That coalition then halted the rule’s enforcement by winning an unprecedented and historic stay of the regulation before the U.S. Supreme Court. In September 2016, Wisconsin Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin argued the merits of the case on behalf of the states in front of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The states argued the rule was unlawful because it allowed the EPA to set state energy policy by manipulating the electricity market and controlling the electric grid, a role previously reserved for state regulators. The rule was an illegal expansion of EPA’s authority, beyond what is permitted by the Clean Air Act.

Furthermore, it argued the Power Plan violated the U.S. Constitution by attempting to commandeer and coerce the states into carrying out federal energy policy.

Those who signed the December 2016 letter included Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, along with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and other state agencies.

Alice in Dairyland Top Candidate Announcement 🗓

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Contacts: Rick Hummell, (608)-224-5041 [email protected]
Bill Cosh, Communications Director, (608)-224-5020, [email protected]

GREEN BAY The 70th Alice in Dairyland top candidates will be announced by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) on Friday, March 17. Members of the media are invited to attend the press conference starting at 1:30 p.m. at the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay, site of the “Alice in Dairyland: Wisconsin’s Agricultural Ambassador” exhibit, which opened in January.

Following the official announcement, the current Alice in Dairyland, Ann O’Leary, and the candidates will be available for interviews and photos. The public and press are invited to join the candidates and Alice at a reception following the press conference.

Over the next eight weeks, the Alice in Dairyland candidates will be preparing for the three-day Alice in Dairyland Finals, which will be held May 11-13 in Brown County. The finals includes agribusiness tours, interviews, a discussion panel, and Finale Program. The 70th Alice in Dairyland will be selected at the conclusion of the Finale Program on May 13 at Lambeau Field. For more information, go to www.AliceInDairyland.com.

Alice in Dairyland is a full-time public relations employee of DATCP and serves a one-year term. As Wisconsin’s “agricultural ambassador,” Alice in Dairyland travels thousands of miles across the state presenting to students, completing media interviews and attending community events to promote the state’s $88 billion agriculture industry. Candidates for Alice in Dairyland completed an application and a preliminary interview.

WHEN:    Friday, March 17, 2017, 1:30 p.m.

WHERE:  Neville Public Museum Theater 210 Museum Place Green Bay, WI

Alliance Defending Freedom: Wisconsin photographer, blogger tied up by law that would also force writer to work for Trump

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Contact: (480) 444-0020
www.adfmedia.org/home/contact

ADF attorneys challenge city, state laws that force creative professionals
to promote messages, events they don’t agree with

MADISON, Wis. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing a photographer and blogger in Madison filed suit against city and state officials in a Wisconsin court Tuesday. The lawsuit challenges a sweeping local ordinance and a state law that force commissioned creative professionals to promote messages that violate their beliefs.

For example, a Madison-based speechwriter who opposes President Trump would be subject to severe punishment if she refused to write a speech for him. Under these same laws, Amy Lawson and her company, Amy Lynn Photography Studio, are required to create photographs and blog posts promoting pro-abortion groups and same-sex marriages if she creates content that promotes pro-life organizations or that celebrates the marriage of one man and one woman.

Combined, the laws also forbid creative professionals from posting a statement on their website explaining that the artist reserves discretion not to use their artistic talents to promote messages or causes that are inconsistent with their deepest convictions, even though business owners in these professions frequently decline projects for these reasons. The laws therefore bar Lawson from publishing a statement that says she cannot promote pro-abortion organizations or same-sex marriage because of her religious, political, and artistic beliefs.

Full news release, quotes, and related media resources available at the following link: http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/10189

Case Name: Amy Lynn Photography Studio v. City of Madison

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

American Family Insurance installing nearly 4,500 rooftop solar panels

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American Family Insurance is undertaking the largest solar panel rooftop installation ever in Wisconsin, putting in close to 4,500 solar panels at its national headquarters building in Madison.

A Madison-based commercial solar developer, SunPeak, is partnering with American Family on the project, which is expected to finish up in two or three months.

Once complete, the installation is estimated to produce 1.26 million kilowatts each year — enough to power about 122 homes for a single day. It would offset electricity use at the facility by up to 9 percent, saving around $191,000 in annual energy costs.

The insurer recently installed high-efficiency lighting in all its offices and redesigned its kitchen refrigeration systems to save over 4.5 million gallons of water a year.

“American Family Insurance has made a commitment to sustainability by implementing projects and initiatives that protect our environment and contribute to the well-being of our communities,” said Dan Rosetta, American Family Insurance facilities operations director.

See more at WisBusiness.com

American Federation of Teachers Local 212: Trump budget a job killer

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Contact:
Michael Rosen, Ph.D.
(414) 467-8908
[email protected]

The union representing faculty and academic staff at Milwaukee Area Technical College
(MATC) slammed President Trump’s budget for destroying jobs and contributing to the skilled worker shortage in Wisconsin.

“President Trump’s budget will harm tens of thousands of Milwaukee area students and workers who attend the MATC and undermine the ability of the Wisconsin economy to
create jobs and grow,” said Dr. Michael Rosen, Economics Instructor and President of
MATC’s faculty union, AFT Local 212.

“Trump’s proposal raids Pell Grants and slashes Work-Study and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) funding. These are programs to help Wisconsin’s low and middle income families access and succeed in higher education,” Rosen asserted.

“It is unconscionable to slash programs that create a pipeline of skilled and technical workers at the very time that Wisconsin’s employers are complaining that we have a shortage of these middle skill workers,” according to Rosen.

Rosen explained that 67% of MATC’s 40,000 students rely on Pell Grants to help pay for their education. By raiding Pell Grant funds, Trump eliminates the possibility of summer Pell, jeopardizes the programs’ long-term sustainability and harms the prospects of low-income students.

Assembly approves amendment eliminating state treasurer office

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Assembly bills would toughen OWI penalties

Legislation aimed to toughen penalties for drunken drivers received strong support in an Assembly hearing Thursday.

Rep. Jim Ott, co-author of the three bills, said the legislation would help make drunken driving laws “more consistent with the seriousness of the offense.”

Two of the three bills would create tougher consequences for driving drunk: AB 99 would increase the minimum incarceration for fifth and sixth OWI offenders; AB 97 would send a person convicted of killing someone while drunken driving to prison for at least five years. The third bill, AB 98, would make changes to ignition interlock device requirements.

Ott, R-Mequon, stressed his goal with the bills isn’t “to incarcerate more people or to impose higher fines, it’s simply to make our roads safer.”

Speaking in favor of the three bills included those whose family members were killed in OWI-related crashes, as well as Adam Rose of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol.

Paul Jenkins, a father of a woman killed by a drunken driver almost 10 years ago, commended the bills, but said the Legislature keeps “addressing the repeat offender” and has not done enough to deter the first or second drunken driving offenders.

“The people of this body haven’t proposed those bills and gotten them passed,” he said. “You need to do that.”

During the hearing, Rep. Evan Goyke drew attention to the fiscal estimates filed for AB 99, the bill increasing minimum sentences for fifth and sixth drunken driving offenders from six to 18 months.

The Milwaukee Dem raised questions about why the Department of Transportation was the only agency to submit a fiscal estimate for that bill, and why an estimate from the Department of Corrections wasn’t included.

“It was curious to me that DOC was not asked to do fiscal” when this would affect the department, he said.

Goyke then distributed his own fiscal estimate, which received a chilly reception from fellow committee members.

Basing the estimate off of 2015 data, which said there were 491 OWI fifth convictions and 223 sixth, Goyke assumed a six-month mandatory minimum sentence for each person. After tripling that value, reflecting the tripling of the mandatory minimum sentence from six to 18 months, he said the bill would raise costs by $20 million.

But committee members blasted the figure. Ott said it could be a “significant overestimate” because fifth and sixth offenders are likely already being sentenced to more time than the mandatory minimum of six months.

And Rep. Kathleen Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, said raising the minimum could create an unaccounted for deterrent effect, impacting the cost estimates. She also stressed that legislators “can’t put a number on lives.”

Before adjourning, Rep. André Jacque, R-De Pere, criticized Goyke for his “grandstanding,” saying he’d like to ask him “what value he places on human life.”

The bills will be taken up again April 6.

See the bills:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/ab97
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/ab98
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/ab99

Assembly holds hearings on three drunken driving bills

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Assembly in session today

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The Assembly is in session today to vote on an amendment nixing the state treasurer’s office.

Members also will vote on legislation to ban local governments from requiring that companies bidding on public projects enter into project labor agreements, as well as a bill that would change the expiration dates on concealed carry licenses that are renewed.

Should the PLA bill pass, it’ll head to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk. Meanwhile, if the Assembly passes the constitutional amendment eliminating the state treasurer’s office, it’ll go before voters in the April 2018 election.

The gavel will drop at 1 p.m.

See the Assembly calendar.

Briana Reilly is covering the Assembly today. In addition to checking Quorum Call for developments, follow her for updates via Twitter at @briana_reilly.

Assembly panel passes ‘right to try’ bill

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Assembly passes ‘right to try’ bill to help terminally ill patients

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The state Assembly today voted 85-13 to approve a “right to try” bill that would let terminally ill patients get treatments that have yet to win full FDA approval.

The bill, AB 69, would let eligible patients access a treatment that has yet to get approval from the FDA but has passed its phase 1 stage, which is aimed at figuring out side effects and safety concerns.

Rep. Pat Snyder, R-Wausau, said the bill gives those with terminal illness “a fighting chance at finding a cure.”

The bill has gotten pushback from the Wisconsin Medical Society. The society says doctors sympathize with those patients, but the legislation circumvents the typical process for ensuring treatments are safe and effective.

Rep. Debra Kolste said the bill offers “false hope” and that it’s pushed by a think tank, the Goldwater Institute, that has a “total disregard for science” and dislikes the FDA.

“I think this bill does harm and certainly is not good public policy,” the Janesville Dem said.

The FDA, she noted, already has a process in place to ensure people can have faster access to investigational drugs.

But Snyder said that process is overly cumbersome. The bill, he said, aims to help those who can’t participate in clinical trials on a drug or who don’t want to go through the “time consuming” FDA program Kolste mentioned.

“The last thing we as government should require them to do is wait,” Snyder said. “For these patients and their families, every day counts.”

The Assembly shot down several Dem amendments that would’ve, among other things, let people and their doctors know if any side effects pop up during further testing of a drug.

Assembly passes amendment to eliminate state treasurer’s office

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The Assembly today voted 68-31 on a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state treasurer’s office, putting the question before voters in an April 2018 referendum.

In addition to eliminating the office, the proposal would change the state constitution to replace the treasurer with the lieutenant governor on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

A Dem amendment that would have swapped out the state treasurer’s position on BCPL from the lieutenant governor to the state superintendent of public instruction was shot down.

Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, said the amendment would allow the state to be more “effective and efficient,” and responded to critics that have voiced concerns the amendment would eliminate potential checks and balances on the state government.

“There are 132 of us in this building” to be the check and balance, he said.

The Senate this week voted to pass the amendment 18-15. Both chambers passed the amendment last session, so it now needs to get voter approval next year to get adopted.

Assembly passes CBD oil bill 98-0

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The state Assembly today unanimously passed a CBD oil bill that lawmakers said would provide relief to families who use the marijuana extract to treat their children’s seizures.

The Assembly signed off 98-0 on SB 10, which passed the Senate last month. The bill, which now heads to the guv’s desk, would shield from state prosecution those who possess the marijuana extract. It also would set up a process to buy and sell CBD oil in Wisconsin if the feds decide it’s no longer a Schedule 1 drug.

Krug and co-author Sen. Van Wanggaard have acknowledged the real solution needs to come from the feds, though Krug noted the state’s congressional delegation is on board with re-scheduling CBD oil to ease access to it.

“We’re waiting for the federal government to catch up,” he said.

Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, said while she’d vote for the bill, it’s “not the fix that we are looking for” because it doesn’t establish a legal process to obtaining CBD oil in the state.

“This is not the relief that those families need,” Billings said. “This is false hope for those families.”

But Krug said while only two states have CBD oil dispensaries, many more have a process to help people possess CBD oil without fear of prosecution. Wisconsin would also be leading the country in having a process in place if the feds re-schedule CBD oil.

The bill, he said, would help the families who’ve come to the Legislature over the years on the issue.

“This bill is about those kids,” he said. “This bill is about those families.”

Assembly passes PLA bill

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Assembly passes project labor agreements bill, treasurer elimination amendment

A bill that would ban local governments from requiring that companies bidding on public projects enter into project labor agreements is heading to Gov. Scott Walker after a 64-35 party-line vote in the Assembly Thursday.

Dems slammed the bill, saying it would hurt the middle class and reduce the quality of completed projects. Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, said lawmakers should be “looking for ways to help Wisconsin workers” instead of ”limiting local control, despite their claims to support it.”

Meanwhile, GOP Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, countered PLAs are “unfair” and ultimately “drive up costs for the taxpayers.”

The Assembly also signed off 68-31 on a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state treasurer’s office, putting the question before voters in an April 2018 referendum.

Six Dems crossed party lines to support the amendment: Minority Leader Peter Barca, Reps. Gordon Hintz, Eric Genrich, Amanda Stuck, Don Vruwink and Josh Zepnick. Meanwhile, two Republicans, Reps. Joan Ballweg and Kathleen Bernier, voted against it.

In addition to eliminating the office, the proposal would change the state constitution to replace the treasurer with the lieutenant governor on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

A Dem amendment that would have had the state school superintendent take the place of the state treasurer’s position was defeated by the Republican majority.

The Senate this week voted to pass the amendment 18-15. Both chambers passed the amendment last session, so it now needs to get voter approval next year to get adopted.

See more at Quorum Call.

Assembly rejects Dem amendment on medical marijuana

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The state Assembly shot down a Dem amendment to a CBD oil bill that would’ve set up a process for letting people obtain medical marijuana.

The bill would shield from state prosecution those who possess the cannabidiol marijuana extract, which is used to treat seizures.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, sought to amend the bill to let people access medical marijuana if they’re registered with the Department of Health Services. The amendment also would have required DHS to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Taylor said her amendment calls for a “very specific, structured regulatory system” and noted some Republican-led states that now allow medical marijuana.

“It’s high time that Wisconsin join 28 other states and enter the 21st century,” she said.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, raised concerns that marijuana could be a gateway drug and that the amendment “substantially expands the scope of the bill.” The Assembly voted on party lines that the amendment wasn’t germane to the bill.

Speaker Robin Vos called it a “political stunt” and said the “silly” amendment would distract from a bipartisan effort on CBD oil.

The chamber’s debate on the CBD oil is going on right now.

Assembly Session 🗓

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Final Calendar for Thursday, March 9th

AR 5               Murphy

Relating to: celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day on March 17, 2017.

AJR 12            Spiros

Relating to: celebrating March 25, 2017, as the 196th anniversary of Greek Independence.

SJR 4               LeMahieu / Vorpagel

Relating to: designating the state of Wisconsin’s aviation heritage center.

AJR 2              Schraa

Relating to: deleting from the constitution the office of state treasurer (second consideration).

Committee on State Affairs: 8-4.

SJR 3              Feyen / Schraa
Relating to: deleting from the constitution the office of state treasurer (second consideration).
 
SJR 3 is the companion bill to AJR 2.
AB 24             Hutton

Relating to: project labor agreements and public contracts.

Committee on Labor: 6-3.

AB 28             Kuglitsch

Relating to: expiration dates of renewed licenses to carry a concealed weapon.

Committee on State Affairs: 14-0.

SB 7               LeMahieu / Kuglitsch

Relating to: expiration dates of renewed licenses to carry a concealed weapon.

SB 7 is the companion bill to AB 28.

SB 3                Vukmir

Relating to: project labor agreements and public contracts.

Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform: 3-2.  Passed Senate: 19-13.

Assembly to take up experimental treatment bill

A bill that would help those with terminal illnesses access treatments that haven’t received FDA approval will be taken up Tuesday, under calendars OK’d by the Assembly Committee on Rules.

The Assembly Committee on Health signed off on the “right to try” bill Wednesday.

The bill, authored by Rep. Pat Snyder, R-Wausau, would set up a process for eligible patients to access such drugs, devices or biological products. The committee voted 10-2 for an amended version of the bill, with two Dems voting for the bill and two voting against.

The bill has gotten pushback from the Wisconsin Medical Society. The society says doctors sympathize with those patients, but the legislation circumvents the typical process for ensuring treatments are safe and effective.

“This bill just goes against science,” said Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, who was joined by Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, in opposing it.

But other lawmakers detailed stories of friends and family who might have benefited or could benefit from that process.

Rep. Dave Murphy, for example, said his son’s best friend found out weeks ago that he had a brain tumor.

“If there’s a drug that he could take that would save his life, I would want him to have access to that,” the Greenville Republican said.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, is working on similar legislation at the federal level.

The state bill, AB 69, would let eligible patients access a treatment that has yet to get approval from the FDA but has passed its phase 1 stage, which is aimed at figuring out side effects and safety concerns.

Patients would be eligible for that process if they’ve considered all other options, give consent to the treatment and have a recommendation or prescription from a physician, among other things.

Lawmakers adopted a substitute amendment from Snyder that adds two additional eligibility requirements. These include one that says individuals would be able to access such treatments if they’re ineligible or unable to participate in a clinical trial within 100 miles of their home or if their physician says they’re unsuitable for a trial.

The bill also limits liabilities for anyone involved in manufacturing or dispensing the treatment.

Assembly, Senate in session today

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Both houses of the Legislature will be on the floor today, and the Assembly will take up “right to try” legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to get treatments that have yet to win full FDA approval.

The Assembly calendar also includes the CBD oil bill, which would shield from state prosecution those who possess the marijuana extract, which is used to treat seizures.

The chamber also plans to take up several resolutions, including one to honor former Rep. Tom Larson, who died earlier this year after a battle with cancer.

See the Assembly calendar.

The state Senate, meanwhile, plans to vote on a constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state treasurer’s office.

The Assembly is slated to take up the amendment on Thursday. If it passes both houses this week, it would go to voters in April 2018 for a referendum.

In addition to eliminating the office, the proposal would change the state constitution to replace the treasurer with the lieutenant governor on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

The Senate calendar also includes SB 35, which would add juvenile correctional officers to the list of professionals who must report suspected abuse of children. It was proposed following reports of mistreatment of juvenile offenders at a youth prison in northern Wisconsin.

See the Senate calendar.

Polo Rocha is covering the Assembly today, while JR Ross has the Senate. In addition to checking Quorum Call for developments, follow them for updates via Twitter at @polorocha18 and @jrrosswrites

Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions: Tourism’s Tom Diehl statement on I-39/90/94 transportation project delay

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Contacts: Tom Diehl, AWTA president: 608.254.2525, Jeffery Knight, AWTA governmental affairs representative: 920.728.0662

On behalf of the Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions (AWTA), President Tom Diehl reacted to the shortsighted Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) decision to cancel the study of widening Interstate 39-90-94 from Madison to Portage and the Interstate 90-94 of Portage to Wisconsin Dells as well as the replacement of several deteriorating bridges over the Wisconsin River. This along with all the other transportation projects either cut or delayed will have a major negative impact on the future of a growing tourism industry.

“The decision to cancel this study is extremely shortsighted,” Diehl stated. “To spend close to $3.5 million based on a clear need that has been long identified and then pull the plug can only be described as wasteful. The taxpayers of Wisconsin deserve a better explanation from the DOT as to why they would so dramatically change their direction.” Additionally, “We are very concerned that DOT has added ‘reliever routes’ into the discussion as we don’t see the need for this distraction as the Portage to Wisconsin Dells leg is only 16 miles.”

During the summer the road from Portage to Wisconsin Dells is easily one of the most congested in the state almost every weekend. These delays cause problems for the tourism industry in attracting visitors, plus it adds challenges to other businesses that need the highways to get their products to market.  The heavy congestion also presents safety concerns for motorists.

Tourism generates $19.3 billion in business sales and supports more than 190,000 direct and indirect jobs. The $1.5 billion in state and local taxes generated from tourist spending each year reduces tax burden by $640 for the average household.

“I am very concerned about tourism taking a serious hit as travelers change their habits because other options might have fewer travel constraints,” Diehl said. “None of this would even be necessary if the Governor and lawmakers could agree on a long-term funding solution to address our transportation needs.”

Wisconsin Dells has become a year-round tourism destination. The Dells businesses and the other tourism attractions along this vital corridor need the state to continue with their plan and finish this study. AWTA members need this study to be completed to move forward with the final expansion of I-39-90-94.

President Trump has discussed major investments in infrastructure and without this study completion it is unlikely that Wisconsin will be able to compete for new federal highway dollars related to this project.

AWTA members are asking the Governor and the Legislature to direct the DOT to finish the study and look at a long-term funding solution for the Wisconsin’s highway needs. Driver safety and long term business viability demand a strong sustainable solution.

Baez campaign: Announces endorsement from AFT Local 212

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Contact: Tony Baez, (414) 688-7000

AFT continues to be strong voice for public education in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE – Dr. Tony Baez, candidate for the 6th district of the Milwaukee Public School Board, today announced the endorsement from the American Federation of Teachers Local 212.

Luz Sosa, vice president of AFT Local 212, said, “Today more than ever we need to elect someone with experience, dedication, and a strong commitment to public education, bilingual education and the Latino community. Dr. Tony Baez is the best candidate that meets these needs.”

Baez said, “I’m excited to have the support of AFT Local 212 who have been the collective voice of the Milwaukee Area Technical College’s faculty. I look forward to working with everyone in the city to find solutions to our greatest educational challenges and AFT will continue to be a voice for public education alongside the MPS board in the coming years ahead.”

Dr. Tony Baez is currently an education consultant and national expert on many of the educational issues facing MPS. He holds a Ph.D. in urban education from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and resides on the city’s near south side. The general election is Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Barca, Shilling lay out priorities for session

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Ben Brancel: Governor Walker’s budget works for rural Wisconsin

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

As a 5th generation farmer living in Marquette County, I know firsthand the importance of having strong, vibrant rural communities when it comes to Wisconsin’s future. When speaking with farmers, business owners and consumers across rural Wisconsin, I consistently hear the need to address the same issues: broadband, education, transportation and water quality. Governor Walker’s budget makes it clear that he heard that message as well. Governor Walker’s recently introduced budget is good for Wisconsin’s farm families, our rural communities and our future.

Unfortunately, farmers do not all have internet access, or even if they have internet, it may not be fast enough or dependable enough to complete farm business. Our rural communities need broadband. Farms and businesses need to be able to advertise and sell products online. Students need internet to complete homework and seek information. Governor Walker’s budget will expand broadband funding, an increase of $34.5 million over the biennium. This is good for all of us.

In Wisconsin, our students’ success today is fundamental to our state’s future growth. Governor Walker’s budget increases Sparsity Aid by $20 million and provides 100% reimbursement for rural school districts in the High-Cost Transportation Aid program, increasing this support by $10.4 million. His budget allows school districts to enter into agreements to share or jointly provide services or specialists in areas such as attendance officers or lifesaving skill instruction, reducing the burdens on rural schools.

Farms and businesses depend on a solid transportation system to market its products across the region, state and country. Governor Walker’s budget also makes key investments when it comes to transportation in rural areas. His budget contains the most funding ever provided to local governments for local road aids. Local governments will receive a total increase of $76,966,700 in state aid and assistance over the 2015-17 biennium from the combined increases in general transportation aids, local road improvement program payments and state funded local bridge improvement assistance program payments.

Water quality is essential for the long-term success of agriculture and Wisconsin’s rural communities. Farmers care deeply about the land they work and rely upon to make a living. Governor Walker’s budget emphasizes his commitment to Wisconsin farmers. It includes a number of initiatives to address land and water resource management, including $7 million in cost sharing grants for farmers implementing conservation practices with the assistance of county land conservation departments. We continue to support county land and conservation staffing as we always have. Governor Walker’s budget also includes a 24% increase, an additional $825,000 each fiscal year (or $1.65 million over the biennium) in funding for nutrient management planning, which helps farmers determine when to apply manure and other nutrients at the proper rate and location. Continuation of the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants program in the budget will help farmers work together to develop solutions to prevent runoff. These producer-led efforts maintain or improve water quality through improved or new approaches to farming practices.

After a thorough review of the fees and surcharges on farmers and businesses that are used to manage the agriculture chemical program and the Agriculture Chemical Cleanup Program, Governor Walker included in his budget proposal a reduction of fees to farmers and businesses of $2 million per year. His proposal will still fully fund the cleanup efforts managed by the DATCP as well as oversight of product uses and regulations.

I am optimistic for the future of Wisconsin’s rural communities. I believe Governor Walker’s budget makes a strong investment in our rural communities and Wisconsin’s future. It is clear the Governor is investing in our state’s priorities and moving Wisconsin forward.

— Brancel is secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Bill affecting concealed carry license renewal passes Assembly 92-7

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The Assembly passed a bill that would change the expiration dates on concealed carry licenses that are renewed on a 92-7 vote, sending the bill to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

Under current law, a license is valid for five years after the date it’s issued. The bill would change that so a renewed license is valid for five years from the expiration date of the one it replaces. That change would ensure those who renew their licenses early aren’t penalized.

The bill passed without discussion. Seven Dems voted against it.

Bill Kaplan: GOP health care debacle

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

On Friday, Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan withdrew the so-called GOP replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because the bill did not have enough GOP votes to pass the House. “Repealing the Affordable Care Act was meant to be the first demonstration of the power and effectiveness of a unified Republican government. It has turned out to be a display of incompetence and cruelty” (New York Times). Why “incompetence”?

Trump early on proclaimed “I alone can fix it”. Conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin opined: “This is the talk of 1930s fascists, tin pot dictators and snake oil salesmen.” Trump seemed to think bullying and glittering generalities could make up for his total lack of knowledge about health care policy. In February, Trump said: “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated”. And, Ryan failed after 7 years to develop a consensus on a coherent GOP health care bill. Former Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Dave Obey said: “This shows what happens when you follow an ideologue (Ryan) who is mistaken as a legislator.” Then there is “cruelty”.

Trump tried to sell the GOP bill with lies: the ACA “covers very few people” (ACA covers over 20 million, including nearly 243,000 Wisconsinites) and “there will be no cuts to … Medicaid”, but the failed GOP bill would have ended Medicaid expansion and cut Medicaid by $880 billion, leading to a projected reduction in Medicaid enrollment of 14 million (Washington Post). Moreover, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the GOP bill would result in a total of 24 million more uninsured. However, Ryan pontificated that the GOP health care plan was a “rendezvous with destiny”. Regular folks saw through the GOP flimflam.

Nationally GOP legislators were confronted at town hall meetings by their constituents who benefited from the ACA. In Wisconsin, Citizen Action, Planned Parenthood and the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families did a superb job of explaining the ACA and building support for it. Regular folks turned out to challenge Wisconsin GOP members of Congress. Why? Many had ACA affordable quality private insurance: Green Bay / Appleton – 50,734; La Crosse / Eau Claire – 20,044; Madison – 36,958; Milwaukee – 95,195; and Wausau / Rhinelander – 22,576. They did not want to lose coverage (repeal of the ACA would result in 431,000 more uninsured in Wisconsin – Urban Institute).

While Wisconsin Republicans Governor Scott Walker and Senator Ron Johnson looked on detached, the Ryan-Trump health care bill went poof. Trump was no dealmaker and Ryan was Speaker in name only. A debacle for the GOP. Back in November, Wisconsin Democratic state Senator Fred Risser said of the national election results: “They’ve (GOP) got everything now, and so everything that happens they are responsible for and no one can blame the Democrats anymore ….”

There is another way. While Trump and Ryan were falling flat on their faces the GOP-led Kansas state legislature was moving to final passage of Medicaid expansion. Moderate Republicans and Democrats worked together for the common good. Are you listening Governor Walker?

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Bill Kaplan: Ryan and Trump, drop dead rural-urban folks

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

The Ryan-Trump health plan and federal budget have a clear message: drop dead rural and urban Wisconsinites. Their health plan uses repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to push through tax cuts for the top 2.5 percent of taxpayers (Washington Post), while increasing the uninsured by 24 million (Congressional Budget Office). “The biggest losses in tax credits (to pay for private insurance) in Wisconsin would occur in two mostly rural congressional districts, the northern seat held by (GOP Rep.) Sean Duffy and the western seat held by (Democratic Rep.) Ron Kind” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Duffy supports repeal of ACA, while Kind is opposed. It gets worse.

On Thursday, Trump released a budget plan to Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “I welcome the president’s blueprint for next year’s budget ….” The budget calls for a huge increase in military spending, with no tax earmarked to pay for it. Also absent is any reference to the vaunted Trump infrastructure plan (bridges, mass transit, roads and water systems). Just cut after cut of the 15 percent of the federal budget for domestic spending. The budget is a con job. Why?

“The United States already spends more on the military than the next seven countries combined, and maintains the most advanced fighting force in the world” (New York Times). The military buildup (to what end?) will be paid for on the backs of regular folks. America would be unrecognizable as it descends into a misery not seen since the 1930s.

“The rural voters who turned out in droves to elect President Donald Trump would be some of the biggest losers under the new White House budget. … Trump would slash programs that invest in rural infrastructure, target rural public radio and demolish food-aid programs that farmers rely on to buy their products. … The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps seniors and other low-income Americans with their heating bills, would be eliminated …” (Politico). Over 200,000 households in Wisconsin receive financial help from LIHEAP, averaging $336 per household (Campaign for Home Energy Assistance). There’s more.

Madison and Milwaukee would also suffer greatly. Madison Mayor Soglin said: “To welcome it as a blueprint for the future is not only nonsensical but extremely dangerous to the future of the country and our nation’s security”. Milwaukee Mayor Barrett was blunt: “It’s a direct frontal attack on programs that are critical not only to cities but to states, and most importantly to people who rely on the federal government to be there to help them at a time of need”. Both cities face draconian cuts with Trump’s call for the elimination of Community Development Block Grants (housing, community development and homeless programs) as well as funding for roads and mass transit.

The Trump budget is a calculated attack on rural and urban Wisconsinites, providing more influence for the well-heeled and avoiding any attempt to address our fiscal problems without more misery for regular folks.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Bill Kaplan: Ryan’s health plan, 24 million more uninsured

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is an Ayn Rand Republican. He has derisively referred to Social Security as a “collectivist program” and a “welfare transfer” system. Remember Ryan’s schemes to privatize Social Security or transform Medicare into a parsimonious voucher program? And, cutting taxes for the rich is central to all of Ryan’s so-called reforms, including repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

To pay for ACA’s expansion of health care coverage, the Medicare payroll tax was increased for married couples earning over $250,000 and for unmarried individuals with an income over $200,000. In addition, there was a new ACA tax on investment income of the same high-income earners. “Those two taxes hit fewer than four million households making up the top 2.5 percent of taxpayers, according to IRS data” (Washington Post). But over 20 million Americans, including 243,000 Wisconsinites, gained health care coverage through the revenue raised. And, the life of the Medicare trust fund was extended.

However, the taxes on the rich “may help to explain the intensity of the anger felt by some people campaigning to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act …” (New York Times). Ryan is listening to the rich – and not to regular folks. The so-called GOP repeal and replace health care plan is “a major shift in taxes for low-and-middle income people while delivering a $600 billion tax break, primarily to the rich” (Washington Post). Gone are the ACA taxes on the rich, with simultaneous draconian cuts in federal tax credits for regular folks to buy private health care insurance. And, ACA cost-sharing subsidies to pay for out-of-pocket costs (co-payments and deductibles) for middle and working class folks will be ended. Moreover, health insurers will be allowed to charge the elderly five times what younger enrollees pay. And, ACA-sponsored Medicaid expansion will be ended, with the traditional Medicaid program cut severely.

“The people who stand to lose the most in tax credits under the House Republican health plan tended to support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, according to a new Upshot analysis” (a New York Times feature). The Upshot said: “the Republican plan offers less assistance to older and lower-income Americans, especially in rural areas ….” GOP-leaning rural Wisconsin counties that voted for Trump will see many lose health care coverage.

On Sunday, Speaker Ryan confessed to CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he didn’t know how many Americans, including Wisconsinites, would lose coverage. However, on Monday, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a bombshell: the GOP health plan will increase the uninsured by 24 million! Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin is fighting Ryan’s plan. Senator Baldwin said: “The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take people’s health care away and I will not support repealing the guaranteed health insurance protections and care that people have today. I will not support higher costs, fewer people with health care coverage and more economic insecurity tor Wisconsin families”. Amen!

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Bill Kaplan: Trump and Ryan, pay attention to John Dean

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

What have Trump and the GOP-led Congress done for regular folks? Nothing. Just hot air on saving jobs, but little to show; press releases masquerading as executive orders; wrapping the flag around the Oval Office to mask chicanery, and declining polls and bare-bones budget and health care outlines. It got much worse on Wednesday.

The Washington Post revealed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied to Congress at his Senate confirmation hearing. Minnesota Democratic Senator Al Franken had asked Sessions about contacts between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Sessions, the first senator to endorse Trump and chair of the Trump campaign national security advisory committee, said: “I did not have communications with the Russians”. That was false. Sessions had spoken twice with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. First at the GOP convention, and in September in his senate office, the same time as the Russians sought to “help” Trump by “discrediting” Clinton.

Nothing wrong with talking to the Russians. However, one Trump official after another has not been straight with the American people. Fired national security adviser Michael Flynn was caught in secret contacts with the Kremlin during the 2016 campaign and after the election before Trump took office. Flynn lied to Vice President Pence about discussing sanctions imposed on Russia by President Obama. Then it was disclosed last week that Flynn and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, had met with Russia’s ambassador in December. More press revelations had Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and J.D. Gordon talking with the Russian ambassador. What’s going on?

John Dean, former White House counsel to Nixon, who plead guilty for his role in covering up Watergate, tweeted: “Hey, Donald (Trump), a tip: Cover-ups don’t get easier as they proceed. Russia tie leaks drown your joint session speech (Tuesday) in less than 24 hrs”. What is Trump’s relationship to the Kremlin? Why are Trump’s henchmen secretive about contacts with the Russians? Did Trump and his entourage know about Kremlin interference in the U.S. presidential election?

Wisconsin GOP members of Congress have their heads in the sand. House Speaker Paul Ryan refused to call for Sessions to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia-Trump campaign probe. And, Representative Sean Duffy had only excuses for Sessions, while Senator Ron Johnson does not “see the need for speed” in investigating these shenanigans. But Wisconsin Democratic members of Congress are speaking up.

Wisconsin Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan tried unsuccessfully to have the House vote to require Trump to release his tax returns for review (Russian financial connections?). All Wisconsin GOP representatives were opposed. At the same time Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin showed continued leadership, calling for Sessions “to recuse himself from Justice Department investigations” of Kremlin-Trump connections. Moreover, Baldwin called for an independent special counsel to be put in charge. To Trump’s disapproval, Sessions recused himself. Still waiting for Sessions to put country above party and appoint a special counsel. Dean predicts “it will end in calamity” for the Trump presidency.

— Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Birthday Celebration for Senator Tim Carpenter 🗓

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You’re Invited to a Birthday Celebration for Senator Tim Carpenter
5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Argus
123 E Main Street
Madison, WI
No suggested minimum provided.
Checks payable to: Friends of Tim Carpenter

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: $32.1 million for Wisconsin’s public school libraries

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Contact:
Jonathan Berry
(608) 266-8369

WISCONSIN DELLS – Wisconsin’s K-12 public school libraries will receive $32.1 million, thanks to earnings from Common School Fund investments, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) announced today.  Commissioner Doug La Follette, Secretary of State, presented Kurt Kiefer, Assistant State Superintendent of Public Instruction, with a ceremonial check at the Wisconsin Educational & Media Technology Association’s (WEMTA) annual conference at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.  Board Chair Brad Schimel, Attorney General, and Commissioner Matt Adamczyk, State Treasurer, were unable to attend.

To see funding for your school district, click here or visit http://bcpl.wisconsin.gov/docview.asp?docid=28101&locid=145.

“It is a joy to have the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands visit the WEMTA’s annual conference to deliver the ceremonial Common School Fund check to the Department of Public Instruction and, in turn, to our members.  For our members, it is a way to thank both organizations for their work in support of Wisconsin’s students.  WEMTA extends a special thanks to the BCPL and their staff for their sound management of the Common School Fund, which is as old as our state,” said Kim Bannigan, WEMTA President.

“School librarians use the funds to provide myriad learning opportunities for students.  It might be books, but it might also be technology.  For many WEMTA members and public school libraries, the Common School Fund is the sole source of funding, so a chance to connect with those who make it possible is an essential part of our conference.  We all share the goal of wanting the very best for Wisconsin’s students,” Ms. Bannigan said.

The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands was established in 1848 by Article X of the Wisconsin Constitution to manage assets of the Common School Fund.  This permanent endowment was created in the Constitution to benefit public education.  The BCPL generates earnings for the Common School Fund by investing in state and municipal bonds and State Trust Funds that finance community projects across the state.

Board Chair Schimel said, “BCPL investments provide support for community projects throughout Wisconsin including economic development, public infrastructure, school building and improvements, and the purchase of capital equipment and vehicles.  Many of these expenditures provide law enforcement personnel and first responders with the equipment needed to keep their communities safe.  Earnings from these investments continue to benefit public schools for many generations after the founding fathers of Wisconsin created this program.”

In an era of historically low interest rates, BCPL commissioners are proud to have maintained strong earnings distributions.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: Approves $6.4 Million for Community Projects

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CONTACT:  Jonathan Barry, Executive Secretary (608) 266-8369

MADISON – The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) today approved slightly more than $6.4 million in State Trust Fund Loans to support five community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

· City of Onalaska, La Crosse County / Improve buildings and purchase police cars and aerial photography / $242,355
· Village of Slinger, Washington County / Purchase municipal vehicles / $300,000
· St. Croix County / Finance capital improvements / $4,900,000
· Village of Winneconne, Winnebago County / Refinance BCPL loan #2014116 / $472,834.28
· Village of Winneconne, Winnebago County / Finance land acquisition / $507,500

The BCPL operates entirely on program revenue, without taxpayer money, and distributes more than 96 cents of every dollar of interest earned on BCPL State Trust Fund investments to Wisconsin’s public schools. The 2017 earnings of $32.1 million are sole source of state funding for K‑12 public school library materials.

A list of 2017 library aid received by each public school district is available at: (http://bcpl.wisconsin.gov/docview.asp?docid=28101&locid=145).

Established in 1848 by the State Constitution, the BCPL consists of the Secretary of State Doug La Follette, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, and Attorney General Brad Schimel. The BCPL manages the Common School Fund, which was created in Article X of Wisconsin’s Constitution, as a permanent endowment to benefit public education.

To learn more about the agency, visit http://bcpl.wisconsin.gov.

Budget provision impacting energy efficiency projects draws praise from GOP, concern from school advocates

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Building Commission signs off on Walker’s 2017-19 capital budget

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Buzz Davis: Wars do not beget peace — Trump throws another $54 billion at war

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

Americans how long will it take for us to understand we have been “had?”

It is family, school, faith and community members who help each generation learn it is better to talk to people than fight, kill and destroy. These are the great Americans.

I am repulsed by so many politicians like Mr. Trump who shovel praise upon our military but who, themselves, feel they are too good to serve our Nation.

Nearly all the wars since WWII have been illegal wars of aggression under our Constitution, United Nations Charter and treaties. Yet the military, CIA, presidents like Bush, Obama and Trump and individual Congressional members keep howling for blood.

Did the Romans stamp out Christianity by all their killing? Did the US win in Vietnam by killing a million Vietnamese? Are we winning the hearts and minds of Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians, or North Africans by killing their families, lovers, babies and friends by the hundreds of thousands?

I say no! You cannot kill ideas with a bullet. Thinking human beings know that.

When Democratic and Republican presidential candidates call out “We will hunt down and kill all Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc. members and their families” we know our Nation is being run by idiots.

Or, is it being run by lying actors who push wars for the benefit of the military/industrial/politician complex that makes big bucks off of continuous war?

On Nov. 6, 2018 we will elect a new Congress (all the House members and 33 senators will be up for election.) Is it time to throw the bums out, keep the few good ones and start turning America into a Nation of peace builders and turn our backs on war mongering?

Take your choice on Nov. 6th. And if you choose continuous war, get ready to donate your sons and daughters to war’s meat grinding machine – the draft will return because the American volunteer military is broken.

Trump and fools in Congress can throw another $54 billion on top of the $600 billion the Pentagon already gets for more tools of war. But the military system is broken and cannot be fixed with more dollars.

For the truth they do not know.

The US has been checkmated in all the wars from Vietnam onward. Why? Because one “enemy” after another learns NOT to fight Americans as Americans want to fight. Washington won the Revolutionary War because he did NOT fight the way the British wanted. Europeans fought marching into one another, firing as they marched. Washington avoided that sort of fight. He sniped, attacked small groups with overwhelming force and ran from the British to keep his army from being destroyed. In short he DID NOT FIGHT the war the British wanted to fight.

Ho Chi Min and his leaders learned history well.

Americans want to fight as in WWII and Korea – massive armies, tanks and artillery going at each other in large battles. Vietnamese learned Washington’s lesson: snipe, ambush, trail bombs, surprise night attacks and withdraw before the Americans can get organized to fight back. Al Qaeda and ISIS have learned how to fight back against overwhelming American firepower and maneuverability by making American troops fearful of even leaving their bases due to roadside bombs, sniping and suicide bombers.

We Americans know: When we try our best again and again and it does not work, it is time to change what we are doing.

The conflicts we have over raw materials like oil or markets cannot be resolved by force. We must improve our skills and abilities to make peace and create understanding in a rapidly changing world.

Today, just 1% of the world’s 7.3 billion people control half the world’s wealth. Children are starving while food is buried in landfills, babies die of cheaply cured diseases, many do not have clean water to drink. The inequality of wealth, healthcare, education, future and the cruel use of power creates hatreds. Hatreds cannot be dissolved by bullets.

So Mr. Trump you are so wrong. You are proving to the world that the super-rich and powerful can be smart and ignorant simultaneously and lead great nations toward their destruction.

Americans we must work together for the next two years to throw the bums out on Nov. 6, 2018 — or sooner via impeachment. For Trump, the man who admires law and order, does not follow the laws himself.

— Buzz Davis, formerly of Stoughton now of Tucson, is a long time progressive activist, a member of Veterans for Peace and a former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer, elected official, union organizer, impeachment organizer, Exec.VP of WI Alliance4Retired Americans and retired state government planner. [email protected]

CBO predicts House health care bill would lead to 24 million losing coverage, lower premiums, drop in deficit

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Chancellors cautious as Walker proposed performance-based funding for UW System

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Chandler defends manufacturing and ag credit

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Children’s Caucus meeting in Steven’s Point 🗓

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Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Legislative Children’s Caucus will be hosting the fourth of five informational hearings on community efforts to strengthen families this Monday, March 20th in

Stevens Point. Founded in 2015, the Legislative Children’s Caucus is a bi-partisan group with the purpose of cultivating a legislature dedicated to advancing promising, evidence-informed public policy that improves the life of every Wisconsin child. The caucus is co-chaired by Rep. Jill Billings (D-La Crosse), Rep. Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan), Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee).

The informational hearing will feature local invited speakers who focus on primary prevention of child abuse and neglect and serve at-risk families. These speakers will present information to the caucus co-chairs and local state legislators. The Legislative Children’s Caucus chose to hold hearings throughout Wisconsin to facilitate learning between state legislators and the local community partners who implement evidence-based practices to address child abuse and neglect. These hearings will be held throughout the month of March in La Crosse, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Stevens Point and Rice Lake.

 

WHAT: Wisconsin Legislative Children’s Caucus Informational Hearing on Community Effort to Strengthen Families

 

WHEN: Monday, March 20th from 9:30am-12:30pm

 

WHERE: Portage County UW-Extension, Courthouse Annex Building, 1462 Strongs Ave., Stevens Point, WI

 

WHO: Children’s Caucus Co-Chairs & Local Legislators

 

PANELISTS: Representatives from: Indianhead Community Action Agency, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services, Forest County Potawatomi, Marathon County Department of Social Services, Marquette County Department of Human Services, Waupaca County Department of Health and Human Services

 

For a full meeting agenda, details of the other meetings, or further information on the Wisconsin Legislative Children’s Caucus visit:www.wichildrenscaucus.org

This meeting is open to the public and press.

Circus World makes case for being managed by state

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Citizen Action of Wisconsin: As critical House vote nears, GOP pushes substandard health coverage that legalizes new pre-existing condition discrimination

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Contact:
Robert Kraig
(414) 322-5324
[email protected]org

Statewide:  As House Speaker Paul Ryan attempts to cobble together enough votes to pass the Republican health care plan later today, it has become clear in the late stages of negotiations that Ryan is seeking to hollow out the quality of coverage in order to moderate excessive increases in health premiums that would result from his plan. The result will be a back-door legalization of discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.

Here is Wisconsin, the emphasis on gutting the quality of insurance is evident in the GOP response to a Citizen Action of Wisconsin research brief released on Tuesday. The Citizen Action research shows a 64 year-old making a modest $26,500 per year would be asked to pay 650% more in health insurance premiums than under the Affordable Care Act. Under the Ryan plan it would cost a moderate income senior on average a completely unaffordable $11,359 per year for health insurance premiums alone in Wisconsin (excluding deductibles and co-pays), and even more in many Wisconsin cities. Read the full research brief here.

It was reported by Wisconsin Public Radio this morning in its story on the Citizen Action research findings that “Republican State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo said he doesn’t believe that older adults will have to forgo their health insurance because the new plan encourages the sale of insurance across state lines, which would boost competition and lower the cost of premiums. ‘That’s going give people an incentive to remain covered with insurance,’ Sanfelippo said.”

But what Sanfelippo did not make clear is that even if insurance companies rushed to sell more policies across state lines, the resulting cost savings would come from a race to the bottom: while substandard policies approved in states with fewer regulations might have lower premiums, it comes at the cost of much higher deductibles, co-pays, and fewer essential medical services covered. Such health policies would only be cheaper for consumers who did not have to use them. In addition, research has shown that this scheme has utterly failed in all the states that have tried it because of the difficulty of negotiating new deals with health providers in each state.

Similarly, media reports indicate that Paul Ryan is proposing to eliminate the Affordable Care Act requirement that all health insurance policies cover essential health benefits. The plan already eliminates the requirement that policies cover at least 60% of the cost of medical care. While these moves to lower the quality of health insurance might somewhat reduce the sticker shock of the GOP health plan, they will cost people even more when they try to use their health insurance to pay for medical care.

“The schemes by conservative politicians to legalize substandard health insurance policies which charge huge co-pays and fail to cover essential medical services is nothing but a shell game which will leave millions of Americans dangerously underinsured when they need health care the most,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “These substandard insurance schemes are especially dangerous for people with serious diseases and chronic conditions, who need quality health insurance which covers all necessary medical care and is affordable to use.”

In addition, repealing essential benefits in the Affordable Care Act or allowing health insurance policies approved by any state to be sold nationally make protections against pre-existing condition discrimination ineffective.

“If health insurance companies can exclude medical services, they will be in a position to game the system by making their policies ineffective for people with the most expensive pre-existing medical conditions,” said Kraig. “What conservative politicians are really doing is finding a backdoor way to re-legalize insurance discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.”

Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Research shows massive increase in health premiums in Wisconsin cities under House GOP replacement bill

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Contact:
Robert Kraig
(414) 322-5324
[email protected]

Statewide: On a media call this morning Citizen Action released a research brief showing dramatic increases ranging from 313% to 910% in health insurance premiums for older moderate income Wisconsinites under the House GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act.  Listen to the media call here.

The research brief, The Impact of House ACA Replacement Plan on Older Low Income Wisconsinites, analyzed the health insurance premiums that will be paid by consumers in 15 Wisconsin metro areas, and found huge  increases of between $5,900 and $12,900 per year for low income seniors too young to qualify for Medicare. Charts showing the premium increases in each Wisconsin metro area are available here.

The research brief found that the House GOP plan’s combination of allowing health insurance companies to charge senior 5 times more for coverage than young people, and tax credits that do not adjust for income or the actual cost of health insurance will have a devastating impact on the affordability of health insurance for older and moderate income Wisconsinites who buy insurance on the individual market. The impact is tremendous in every Wisconsin city, but is even worse in areas where health insurance is more expensive.

“It is clear from the shocking numbers in this report that this is a bait-and-switch and that the authors of the House Republican replacement plan have no intention of offering affordable health coverage to older adults who need it most,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Asking low income older adults to pay over $10,000 more each year for health coverage is a prescription for disaster which will leave people across Wisconsin with no choice but to go without insurance. ”

“This replacement plan is outrageous,” said Dr. Cynthia Haq, Professor of Family Medicine and Population Health Sciences, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.  “Its effects will be devastating to the people of Wisconsin. As a family doctor who has worked in Wisconsin for more than 30 years, both in rural Belleville and now in urban Milwaukee, I can see the results of this plan will absolutely result in people suffering and dying prematurely. People will have to forgo health insurance coverage. They will not seek care. They will not get preventive services. They will not be able to manage their chronic diseases. As result, they’ll show up in the emergency departments of hospitals in extreme crisis with strokes, heart attacks and so forth which will be much more expensive to treat and which will drive up health care costs for everyone,” said Dr. Haq. “This replacement plan is bad for Wisconsin, for people, for families, communities, for businesses. And health professionals will not be able to address this problem, this is a policy issue.”

“It’s undoubtable that this bill will hurt the seniors I see everyday,” said Tracey Schwerdtfeger, member of Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals who works at St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee.

“Under the Republican plan insurance companies can charge older adults 5 times more than young people,” stated Jane Benson a small business owner from Green Bay who with her husband buys insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace. “The Republican healthcare plan is poised to price us out of even having catastrophic health insurance.”

Web version of news release http://www.citizenactionwi.org/massive_increase_in_health_premiums

Citizen Action of Wisconsin: With repeal efforts on hold for now, deliberate sabotage threatens health coverage

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Contact: Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 [email protected]rg

 

Statewide: In the aftermath of the implosion of the Affordable Care Act replacement plan late Friday afternoon, the biggest immediate threat to affordable health coverage may be deliberate sabotage by the Trump Administration, Congress, and states like Wisconsin where conservative politicians are bitterly opposed to the health care law. With the legislative vehicle for radical restructuring the American health care system closed for the time being, State Innovations Waivers with states like Wisconsin may become the new method for achieving the goals of repeal.

After House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled his replacement bill on Friday President Donald Trump said: “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode. . . . It is exploding now.” But the Congressional Budget Office and independent researchers conclude that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as currently constituted will be stable for years to come. This assumes that the Trump Administration does not use its substantial administrative power to undermine the health care law.

The willingness of conservative politicians to play politics with the health coverage of the American people has been in evidence since the original passage of the ACA. As Citizen Action of Wisconsin has continuously documented, the Walker Administration has sought to sabotage the ACA by encouraging healthy people to buy substandard policies outside of the market; refusing to enact robust rate review; turning down Medicaid expansion; hamstringing health care navigators, rubber stamping health insurance industry mega mergers, and seeking waivers that would allow insurance companies to take larger profits. Taken together the Walker Administration has aided and abetted the on-going effort of the national for-profit insurance companies to continue to insure healthy people and find ways to avoid people with pre-existing health conditions.

The conservative majority in Congress has also played a major role in sabotaging the ACA. For example, they dramatically cut risk adjustment payments to insurance companies who insure more people with health conditions. This hit insurers that were doing the right thing with huge unexpected costs, driving many out of the the ACA marketplace and many new health care Co-ops out of business.

Before the failure of the latest legislative attack on the ACA last week, there were already indications of an intent to sabotage the health care law by not enforcing the individual mandate, pulling public promotion in the final weeks of open enrollment, not defending against a Congressional lawsuit that could pull tax subsidies from moderate income Americans, allowing substandard health insurance policies to be sold, and by cooperating with with states like Wisconsin that want to undermine the law. Trump’s selection of the vehemently ideological Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary is also evidence of an intent to disrupt the ACA. Major media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Politico are now reporting that the Trump Administration may double down on sabotaging the health care law.

If the Trump Administration adopts sabotage as the next front in it’s attack on the Affordable Care Act, the biggest opportunity for radically changing the health care law may be State Innovation Waivers which under the ACA can be negotiated starting this year. These waivers permit states to submit plans to dramatically restructure health coverage. The Walker Administration would be an ideal partner for Secretary Price to develop a State Innovation Waiver which undermined the purpose of the ACA.

“With conservatives in charge of the government they have a solemn moral obligation to uphold the laws of the land and to protect the welfare of the American people. It is stunning that conservative politicians are so bent on getting their way that they are willing to play politics with the lives of their own constituents by throwing sand into the gears of the American health care system,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The right of every American to have quality affordable health coverage ought not to be a partisan issue. Now that the American people have resoundingly rejected their disastrous replacement plan, it is time for conservatives to take on the responsibility of actually governing by working with Democrats to move beyond the divisive health care battle and improving and building on the Affordable Care Act.”

 

Web Link to News Release http://www.citizenactionwi.org/news_release_with_repeal_efforts_on_hold_for_now_deliberate_sabotage_threatens_health_coverage

Citizen Action slams GOP health care bill premium increases for older, lower-income adults

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City of Madison: Seeking applications for AASPIRE internship program

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Contact: Kirsten L. Nichols, (608) 267-8634, [email protected]

The City of Madison’s Affirmative Action Division, in concert with City Managers, sponsors paid internships to attract members of Affirmative Action target groups who are engaged in college level studies compatible with a Public Administration career track.  The Affirmative Action Student Professional in Residence Internships (AASPIRE) consideration will also be given for individuals who have experienced a period of long-term unemployment or underemployment.

AASPIRE Internships will be limited in number and will be for a temporary period of 8 to 9 weeks in duration.  Each placement will be made very carefully based on a match between an intern’s course work or career history and interests, and the operations of a City agency.

The selected interns will be guided and mentored by City management staff.  The internships will be heavily focused on exposure to divisional operating procedures and policies.  This exposure will include attendance at departmental management team and staff meetings.  Interns will also learn where a Department or Division fits into the City organizational structure and additionally learn about departmental funding and administrative guidelines.

Recruitment for AASPIRE Internship positions runs through Sunday, April 9, 2017.  All Applicants are strongly encouraged to set up their NEOGOV account at http://www.cityofmadison.com/HR/ and apply for future City of Madison positions.  The individuals that are selected will be hired as City employees in an hourly classification.

Additional information on the AASPIRE program may be found on the City of Madison website. http://www.cityofmadison.com/dcr/aaaaspire.cfm.

City of Milwaukee: First meeting tomorrow for City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force

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Ald. Michael J. Murphy, (414) 286-3763

The newly-created City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force will meet for the first time tomorrow (Friday, March 17) at City Hall.

According to task force member Alderman Michael J. Murphy, the meeting will take place at 1 p.m. in room 301-B at City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. The task force is charged with studying the problems of drug abuse in Milwaukee County and presenting policy recommendations to address the issue.

“The stark data shows that drug overdose deaths continue to climb in our community, and that the deaths are impacting all groups and all areas,” Alderman Murphy said.

“The important work of the City-County Heroin, Opioid and Cocaine Task Force will include analyzing the problem with the help of stakeholders from throughout the community and producing policy recommendations to help address this startling, deadly trend,” he said.

Alderman Murphy was the primary sponsor of the legislation creating the task force, which will build on the city’s partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin and data analysis by Alderman Murphy’s office. An early examination of overdose figures showed the county was on pace to endure a record number of heroin and opiate overdose deaths in 2016.

“Drug abuse and addiction affect nearly every citizen in our community,” Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said. “Instead of stigmatizing these individuals and their families and addressing addiction solely through the criminal justice system, it is imperative that we tackle this public health crisis with supportive, evidence-based resources. The county looks forward to working with the city, the medical community, law enforcement, the courts, faith-based and community organizations, and partners at every level of government in taking a proactive approach to preventing and treating addiction.”

When its work is completed the task force will issue a report of recommendations later this year that will be transmitted to the Common Council and to Milwaukee County officials.

City of Racine: To explore the creation of a new tax increment district

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CONTACTS

Gretchen Herrmann

Office of the Mayor

262.497.7339

[email protected]

Jordan Brown

Racine County EDC

(262) 898-7444

(414) 704-6651

 

Racine, WI –  The City of Racine, like many communities, is witnessing changes to the health and quality of its retail properties.  The City recognizes opportunity to reposition the area surrounding the Regency Mall for reinvestment and growth, and plans to create Tax Increment District (TID) No. 20 to assist in improving the corridor. The target area for TID No. 20 includes 24 parcels and totals approximately 133.9 acres. The area includes Regency Mall, the mall outlots, Target, and High Ridge Center, including Home Depot and Toys R Us.

The City of Racine’s largest commercial hub is centered at Green Bay Road and Durand Avenue. The area is anchored by the Regency Mall, which opened in 1981 as a major shopping destination for Racine County.  Other shopping and restaurant destinations in the Racine Retail Corridor include Target, Home Depot, Toys R Us, Kmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods (Mt. Pleasant), Michaels (Mt. Pleasant), Barnes and Noble (Mt. Pleasant), Hobby Lobby, Applebees, Starbucks, Olive Garden, and others.

While the corridor benefits from a strong cluster of nationally-branded retailers, the area faces challenges. The retail market place has become more competitive with more consumers buying online and alternative destinations within Southeast Wisconsin attracting Racine shoppers. As a result of conditions, a number of stores have left or have announced closings (JC Penney, Kmart, and Sears) in the Racine Corridor and sales volumes from some of the remaining stores are eroding.

“Limited property reinvestment, increasing vacancy, and eroding tax base is a significant cause for concern for the City,” notes Mayor John Dickert. “Without an intervention, the retail cluster could continue to erode and leave the area with more vacant properties. However, the community can help to turn the tide. With the recent purchase of Regency Mall by Hull Property Group, the City and the area property owners have an opportunity to come together and reposition the area as a vibrant retail destination.”   

The over 248,000 people and 95,000 households living within a 20 minute drive time of Green Bay Rd and Durand Avenue are a valuable and attractive demographic that existing and future retail operations are interested in serving.

To facilitate investment in the area, the City of Racine is proposing formation of TID No. 20. The primary purpose of the TID is to provide the necessary incentives and public infrastructure improvements needed to encourage economic development and increase property values. The Project Plan for the Creation of Tax Incremental District No. 20 (Regency Mall) 22-year expenditure period estimates total project expenditures of $15.7 million in several phases.

  • Adoption of the TID plan and formation of the TID will set the base value for all properties in the TID.
  • Any additional tax increment value across all taxing jurisdictions (Racine County, Racine Unified School District, Gateway Technical College and City of Racine) would be available to make identified expenditures in the TID plan including incentives and public improvements.
  • Any incentive provided would require a developer agreement between the developer and the City that includes agreed upon milestones and metrics to receive incentive assistance.
  • All developer agreements are approved by the City of Racine Common Council.  

The City of Racine will hold a public hearing on the proposed TID No. 20 on Wednesday, March 29 in conjunction with the City’s Plan Commission. Final consideration by the Racine Common Council is planned for April 18.

In addition to the formation of TID No.20, the creation of a business improvement district (BID) is being investigated with property owners and stakeholders. The BID will levy an additional tax on the businesses in the area to fund improvement projects within the district’s boundaries.
###

Clean Wisconsin: Blasts Trump’s attack on crucial climate protections 

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Contact: Keith Reopelle, (608) 251-7020 x11

Madison, WI — President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday undermining years of bipartisan progress aimed at protecting future generations from the most devastating impacts of climate change. Trump’s latest executive order marks the beginning of fossil fuel industry-backed efforts to rescind the federal Clean Power Plan — a common-sense blueprint for cutting carbon pollution from the largest fossil-fuel burning power plants.

Trump’s executive order rescinds at least six executive orders issued by President Barack Obama that address climate change. One of those orders dealt with national security, and another laid out Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which paved the way for the Clean Power Plan.

“President Trump is putting the financial interests of his fossil fuel industry cronies ahead of our children’s health and safety—no one is surprised, everyone is appalled,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director for Clean Wisconsin. “The Clean Power Plan is a common-sense standard on carbon pollution that gives states and the utility industry tremendous flexibility to cut carbon pollution at the lowest cost possible.”

Trump’s action on Tuesday will also roll back a number of other climate actions including Obma’s Climate Action Plan, which includes the Clean Power Plan.

When the Environmental Protection Agency adopted the Clean Power Plan in 2015, the agency estimated the pollution standards would save lives and increase American productivity by avoiding 3,600 premature deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks in children, and 300,000 missed work and school days by 2030.

“Climate change threatens public health in Wisconsin, particularly for children and seniors, but it also threatens some of our more important and iconic industries, including agriculture and tourism,” Reopelle said.

Today’s action by Trump flies in the face of numerous federal court rulings. On three separate occasions the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed EPA’s duty to protect Americans from carbon pollution.

The Clean Power Plan is a federal standard aimed at combating carbon pollution from electric generation. The Clean Power Plan works to significantly reduce carbon emissions from existing fossil fuel plants while maintaining stable energy costs for consumers. The Clean Power Plan’s flexible and fair standards encourage existing energy production to be more efficient and set a course for development of low- and zero-emission energy sources.

“Trump’s action is out of step with the courts, out of step with Americans, and out of step with the rest of the world which is moving ahead on efforts to reduce carbon pollution,” Reopelle said. “It’s just one more way in which Trump is threatening our national security.”

On behalf of its more than 30,000 members, supporters and its coalition partners, Clean Wisconsin protects and preserves Wisconsin’s clean air, water and natural heritage.

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups: How best to serve Wisconsin’s families who are caring for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s 

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Contact: A.J. Nino Amato, 608-514-3317

MADISON: Gov. Walker did not fund in his 2017-19 Biennial  State Budget sixteen full-time Dementia Care Specialists (DCS) for the ADRCs. The original DCS positions were temporary.

As a result, CWAG is working with the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Business Alliance to address this issue.
Since these important positions were not included in the Governor’s Budget and state government has never conducted a statewide “Alzheimer’s & Dementia Needs Assessment” to determine the most cost-effective way to assist families who are caring for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, CWAG and its coalition partners are encouraging members of Joint Finance to take the following actions:
(1) Add additional funding to the State Budget for an “independent, statewide dementia-Alzheimer’s needs assessment study,” in order to determine the actual needs of Wisconsin families, coping with dementia and Alzheimer’s and how best to serve this important population;
(2) Conduct a Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) Program and Financial Review of all ADRCs, which CWAG and its coalition partners -including several ADRCs – feel is necessary, if we hope to include the DCS positions in the State Budget at a future time.
Given the budget challenges facing our state lawmakers, a needs assessment and a review of the ADRCs will, in the long run, financially justify and determine if the 16 DCSs positions are in fact needed and if locating them in the ADRCs are most effective; and
(3) Conduct a LAB Compliance and Program Audit for GWAAR, to determine if their programs and services duplicate similar services that the ADRCs are providing, along with other government agencies and nonprofit aging, disability and dementia programs and services.
Since LAB has never conducted a comprehensive program and financial compliance audit of GWAAR, when it was created a decade ago under Governor Doyle’s Administration, it is needed to determine if there is “Mission Creep” and that GWAAR is cost-effectively providing non-duplicated programs and services.
Historically, CWAG has supported the creation of the ADRCs, Family Care and SeniorCare and will continue supporting these important programs and services that provide assistance and help to Wisconsin’s 1.3 million elderly and people with disabilities.
CWAG also intends to support financially and programmatically, a network of Dementia  Care Specialists, immediately following the results and recommendations that would come from a “needs assessment”. However, CWAG and our coalition partners cannot support funding those positions in the budget at this time.
Thank you for your consideration and in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Sincerely yours,
A.J. Nino Amato
CWAG President/CEO

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups: Response to GOP health care plan from AMA, hospital groups and APA

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Contact: A.J. Nino Amato, 608-514-3317
The American Medical Association, Hospital Groups and American College of Physicians Say “No” – to Paul Ryan’s Healthcare Plan – to Replacing the Affordable Care Act – to Ryan’s alternative health care disaster.
In Paul Ryan’s desire to sneak his new healthcare plan past the American people, he and his fellow Republicans did not get their American Health Care Act reviewed and scored by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). As a result, Ryan and the GOP-controlled Congress are getting nailed for their lack of public transparency and for not getting an independent, nonpartisan cost estimate and health care coverage assessment – of their already doomed health care plan.
The President for the American College of Physicians said it best. In their letter to members of Congress, ACP wrote that Ryan’s health plan “will have a tremendously negative impact on access, quality, and cost of care” for Americans.”
Another health care leader wrote:
“Any ability to evaluate The American Health Care Act [Ryan’s Health Care Plan], however, is severely hampered by the lack of coverage estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Lacking that level of analysis and needed transparency, we urge that Congress should wait until an estimate is available before proceeding with formal consideration.”
Turns out, Ryan’s Heath Care Plan ends up enriching insurance company executives and those who are wealthy. It isn’t so popular with physicians and other health care providers, whose lives are dedicated to actually helping people – the very same people Republicans are supposed to be dedicated to helping.
As political missteps go, this is a big one for Paul Ryan and his fellow Republicans. After CWAG reviewed all 1,400+ pages of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and engaged in consumer advocacy on behalf of the ACA, it is without a doubt that the so-called health care plan of Paul Ryan and his Republican-controlled Congress will unfortunately enrich the already wealthy Health Insurance Executives while failing to solve the increasing health care costs and the issue of providing all Americans affordable health care coverage.

Committee hears testimony on federal balanced budget amendment

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Concordia University: Business of Healthcare event 🗓

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As healthcare costs continue a precipitous climb, Americans burdened with unmanageable co-pays and deductibles deserve smart solutions. The healthcare marketplace is not a free market. Should it be? How might rethinking the business of healthcare improve access and affordability to more quality care for more Americans?

Lack of price transparency robs consumers of the choice to make smart value decisions about their healthcare and how to spend their money. It is a market dysfunction that must be fixed.
The Healthcare Economics Summit hosted by Concordia University Wisconsin will explore how the right mix of innovation in the business of healthcare, most critically transparent pricing and free market principles, can contain costs and improve the quality of services.

Join us for a high-impact morning of conversation and consideration of a better way forward.

PROGRAM OVERVIEW:

9:00 a.m.
Registration opens at the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship

9:30 a.m.
Welcome from Concordia University President Patrick Ferry

9:35 a.m.
Featured Keynote: Governor Scott Walker

10:45 a.m.
Keynote: John Torinus

11:10 a.m.
Case Example: Eric Haberichter

11:20 a.m.
Brief Case Example:
Valley Elliehausen (CUW Alumnus, and COO of West Bend School District)
Jeremy Normington-Slay (CUW alumnus and President of Mercy Medical Center)

11:35 a.m.
Recap: Dr. Dan Sem, Dean of the Batterman School of Business, Concordia University

Congressional Dems, Ryan respond to CBO score on House health care bill

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Congressional Dems are slamming the House GOP’s health care bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated 24 million people would lose coverage by 2026.

But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said the long-awaited CBO report shows premiums will be lower and the deficit will drop. He also said the report didn’t consider two other parts of the House GOP’s three-pronged approach, as it only looked at the American Health Care Act.

CBO predicted the bill would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion by 2026, largely due to decreased Medicaid spending and eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for the individual market.

It predicted 14 million people would become uninsured next year under the bill, largely due to the bill’s elimination of the individual mandate under the ACA. The uninsured number would go up in the following years as other changes kick in, such as the bill’s phasing out of the ACA Medicaid expansion.

The bill eliminates the ACA’s income-based tax credits and replaces them with tax credits based on age, though the credits are significantly less generous for elderly Americans than the ACA credits. Those tax credits go toward helping people pay premiums, but the House GOP bill also would eliminate ACA cost-sharing subsidies that help people pay for things like physician copays.

The CBO predicted premiums would go up in the individual market until 2020 but would decline after that due to other changes the House GOP bill makes. That includes, for instance, letting insurers charge older enrollees five times more than they charge younger ones; the ACA limited that ratio to three-to-one.

The report says by 2026, average premiums in the individual market would be 10 percent lower under the House GOP plan than they would be under the ACA.

“Even though the new tax credits would be structured differently from the current subsidies and would generally be less generous for those receiving subsidies under current law, the other changes would, in the agencies’ view, lower average premiums enough to attract a sufficient number of relatively healthy people to stabilize the market,” CBO wrote in the analysis, which it conducted with staff at the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Ryan said the report confirms the bill “will lower premiums and improve access to quality, affordable care.” He also highlighted the tax cuts under the bill and said that it would “dramatically reduce the deficit.”

“I recognize and appreciate concerns about making sure people have access to coverage,” Ryan said. “Under Obamacare, we have seen how government-mandated coverage does not equal access to care, and now the law is collapsing. Our plan is not about forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage. It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford.”

But U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said the House GOP bill is “putting millions of people at risk of losing health care coverage and forcing millions to pay more for less care.”

“The people of Wisconsin did not send me to Washington to take people’s health care away and I will not support repealing the guaranteed health insurance protections and care that people have today,” the Madison Dem said. “I will not support higher costs, fewer people with health care coverage and more economic insecurity for Wisconsin families.”

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, said the report “proves what we already knew — millions of Americans will lose coverage” under the bill, which he noted would ensure “the wealthiest few get a massive tax cut.”

U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Gwen Moore took to Facebook to blast the health care plan, with Kind,D-La Crosse, saying the report “raises serious red flags,” especially in terms of higher insurance premiums for older Wisconsin residents and the loss of health care coverage.

Moore, meanwhile, said the CBO’s projections are “far worse than we expected.”

“Put simply: President Donald J. Trump’s health care proposal is a major public health crisis waiting to happen,” the Milwaukee Dem wrote.

See the CBO report:
www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/costestimate/americanhealthcareact_0.pdf

Congressional Progressive Caucus: Calls for Attorney General Sessions to resign

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Contact: David Kolovson (Pocan), 202-225-2906

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Progressive Caucus First Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Co-Chairs Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) released the following statements today after new information came to light that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath concerning his meetings with Russian officials.

“Lying under oath about contacts with Russian officials supersedes recusal. Attorney General Jeff Sessions must resign and the American people deserve an independent investigation,” Rep. Pocan said.

 “Since it has now come to light that Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have lied under oath about meeting with Russian officials during the campaign, we must be entirely clear on one thing: perjury is a felony and may be punishable by prison for up to five years,” Rep. Ellison said.

“Jeff Sessions is unfit to serve the American people, and he should resign immediately. He lied at his Senate confirmation hearing about meeting with Russian authorities twice during the campaign,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Given the dark clouds surrounding this administration’s ties to Russia, and the aid Trump received from the kremlin during the election, these lies are clear grounds for dismissal. Moreover, the Department of Justice must put in place a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump administration and campaign’s connections to Russia.”

Congressman Duffy: Statement on Wausau area tragedy

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Sean Duffy (R-WI) today released the following statement on the tragedy that took place in the Wausau area on Wednesday. Four people were killed, including an Everest Metropolitan police officer.

“Our hearts are broken with the loss of four members of our community, including an Everest Metropolitan police officer who was killed in the line of duty. As we await details, Rachel and I pray for the victims’ families, and may our community stay strong together during this time of mourning.”

 

Constitution Party of Wisconsin: The politics of Lucy Van Pelt

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CONTACT: CONSTITUTION PARTY OF WISCONSIN

PHONE: 608-561-7996

EMAIL: [email protected]

By Riley J. Hood

Growing up, I read enough of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts cartoons to be familiar with the antics of Lucy Van Pelt.  Lucy was a one trick pony who always offered to hold the football for Charlie Brown and then pulled it away at the last moment: Every single time.  She never had to try something new because Charlie Brown never decided to stop listening to her.

Guess what Charlie Brown?  She did it again. More accurately, the Republican Party FAILED to repeal Obamacare.  I told you so!  It doesn’t take psychic powers to notice an active pattern of the Democrat Party introducing socialist measures, such as the Income Tax, SSI, Welfare, the US Department of Education and Obamacare; then having the Republicans fail to remove such evils after they made campaign promises to do so. Once again, the political football has been snatched away, and the effort to kick Obamacare into the ash heap of bad ideas has failed.

Guess what?  The Republicans won’t change as long as you keep listening to them.  They do the same thing over and over again because it works every single time.  We started the Constitution Party so that you could support candidates that won’t treat you like you are Charlie Brown.  It takes a lot of work to transform a “minor party” into a major political party, but America needs some political competition from the Right.

Join a political party who isn’t afraid to fight the Democrats. Learn more about the Constitution Party at www.constitutionparty.com.

Cooperative Network: Supports proposed agricultural producer protection legislation

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Contact: Sara Schoenborn, 608-258-4391
[email protected]

MADISON, Wis. [March 14, 2017] – Cooperative Network strongly supports proposed legislation (SB 76 and AB 105) related to the replacement, reconstruction and transfer of approved high capacity wells, recommendation of special groundwater measures by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and metering requirements and grants for certain high capacity wells.

“At the end of the day, producers with high capacity well permits are careful and conscientious caretakers of our water resources,” says Tom Liebe, Cooperative Network President and CEO. “Their livelihood depends on it and these bills recognize that fact.”

The regulatory certainty aspect of these bills is critically important to producers and agricultural and finance cooperatives. Cooperative Network members approved language at their Annual General Meeting for a resolution on groundwater that advocates for permitting certainty for high capacity wells. We appreciate the leadership of Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Representative Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel). Cooperative Network believes that these bills will both help sustain a vital part of Wisconsin’s 88 billion dollar agriculture industry while also providing a mechanism to conduct important research in Central Wisconsin.

“Completely depleting water resources would effectively put these producers out of business,” Liebe says. “That is a powerful and practical incentive to be mindful about water use. In addition, their stewardship ethic is plain to see given that producers in this country are responsible for a massive but largely unknown productivity increase.

“Our producers generate two and a half times more products today while only using the same amount of inputs as they did in the 1930s. That’s not just a productivity story; it’s a remarkable conservation and sustainability story. Producers are in it for the long-haul and can be trusted to continue their safe and sound conservation practices.”

Cooperative Network serves approximately 400 Wisconsin and Minnesota member-cooperatives by providing advocacy, education, public awareness, and development services to a wide variety of cooperatives including agricultural marketing and processing, credit unions, dairy, electric, Farm Credit, farm supply, health care, mutual insurance, housing, service, telecommunications, worker-owned cooperatives, and more. For more information about Cooperative Network, visit www.cooperativenetwork.coop.

Cross says he supports audit on UW campus foundations

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Cross says Walker proposal best in a decade but needs some changes

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Cross, GOP lawmakers skeptical on several parts of Walker’s UW proposals

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Cullen prepares to fundraise for potential guv bid 

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Former Dem state Sen. Tim Cullen tells WisPolitics.com he is taking steps today to allow him to begin fundraising for an expected gubernatorial bid next year.

Cullen, D-Janesville, stopped short of saying he will run for guv no matter what. But he said changing his registration with the Ethics Commission and opening a bank account are in advance of a formal announcement of his intention.

“If I wasn’t serious about running, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Cullen said. “You don’t do this to announce you’re not going to run.”

Cullen said he plans to make a formal announcement next month. In the meantime, he plans to begin raising money, attend Dem district conventions and continue meeting with others as he works toward officially getting into the race.

Cullen said he does not have an immediate fundraising goal, and the money raised will go toward a formal announcement and rollout of the campaign. His first campaign finance report would be due in July.

“Filing this is a significant step towards going ahead and rolling out a campaign,” he said.

Cullen prepares to fundraise for potential guv bid

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Cullen says he won’t run for guv in 2018

Former Dem state Sen. Tim Cullen announced Wednesday he will not run for guv in 2018, saying the chase for contributions to fuel a bid would be “demeaning.”

Cullen, of Janesville, opened a bank account earlier this month to begin accepting donations and registered with the state to run. He then started calling friends for donation pledges.

Cullen said while he found support in those calls, the amount pledged wasn’t always as high as he would have liked. He also was told he would need to spend four hours a day calling potential donors, including strangers.

“I didn’t enjoy doing it with my friends,” Cullen said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to do it with complete strangers.”

Cullen’s decision leaves 25-year-old Bob Harlow, a Wisconsin native who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California last year, as the only Dem who has formally announced intentions to run next year.

Cullen said he has met with businessman Andy Gronik, Jefferson County DA Susan Happ, Dane County Exec Joe Parisi and state Rep. Dana Wachs about possible runs. He also noted he served in the Senate with Kathleen Vinehout and was Senate majority leader while attorney Matt Flynn was state Dem chair. Both have indicated an interest in running next year, while Madison businessman Mark Bakken also has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

Cullen noted Dem Burke raised $17 million for her challenge of Gov. Scott Walker in 2014, $4.6 million of that her own money. Walker, meanwhile, raised $34.4 million. Cullen said even if he could have raised $12 million for a bid, he suspects Walker will top $40 million for the 2018 race, meaning the former lawmaker would have been outspent better than 3-to-1.

In the end, Cullen believed he could have raised $1 million to $3 million.

“But that just wouldn’t be enough,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, earlier this year also opted against getting into the race.

“With the lowest unemployment rate since 2000, more people working than ever before, and a bright economic outlook for Wisconsin families, it’s not surprising that Democrats continue to think twice and not run against Governor Walker’s strong record of results and reform,” said Walker campaign spokesman Joe Fadness.

Listen to Cullen’s comments:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/170329Cullen.mp3

See Cullen’s announcement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/170329CullenAnnouncement.pdf

Cures for Tomorrow: Statement re: LRB-1754

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Contact: Rod Hise, 608-770-7850
rod[email protected]

MADISON, Wis.March 9, 2017 – The following is a statement by Rod Hise, spokesman for Cures for Tomorrow, a coalition of Wisconsin academic research institutions, bioscience-related trade groups and health care providers. The coalition supports and advocates for biomedical research in Wisconsin and is committed to educating the public about the value of biomedical research to patients and the state.

“LRB-1754 would ban lifesaving biomedical research in Wisconsin and criminalize the researchers who conduct it. The bill would reach into labs and end ongoing, pioneering research on heart disease, cancer, infectious disease, and neurological and developmental disorders.

“Research that uses fetal cells and tissue is already heavily regulated by federal law and the rigorous institutional policies of Cures for Tomorrow members. Profiting from the sale of fetal tissue, for example, has been a federal crime for more than two decades. Our members strongly oppose profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. Additional state regulation of fetal tissue research is not needed.

“We strongly urge the state Legislature to reject this ban on fetal tissue research in Wisconsin. The ban would be devastating to the remarkable opportunity we have to develop new, lifesaving vaccines, therapies and cures that will benefit patients across Wisconsin.”

Cures for Tomorrow’s members include BioForward, the member-driven voice of Wisconsin’s bioscience industry; the Medical College of Wisconsin; UW Health, the academic health care entities of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

Dan Kohl, former senator’s nephew, considering run against Grothman

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Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Announces county funding for affordable housing

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Contact: Stephanie Wilson Miller, 608.267.8823 (o), 920.470.4618 (c)

Today Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Dane County will be allocating $1 million for the Tree Lane affordable housing project in partnership with the city of Madison. The project, located at 7933 Tree Lane in the City of Madison, costs approximately $11.7 million. The City of Madison is contributing $1,615,000 toward these costs. Construction is expected to commence this spring. The building will include 19 two-bedroom units, 23 three-bedroom units and 3 four-bedroom units. Residents will also be offered supportive services at the site. A resolution approving the funding will be introduced tonight at the Dane County Board.

“We must continue to create more affordable housing in Dane County,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “One of the consequences of the tremendous growth and private sector job creation in our community has been a lack of affordable housing. I would like to thank the city of Madison for leadership on this project.”

Dane County has partnered with the City of Madison to support the expansion of affordable housing in the community. The City of Madison issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify a qualified developer for a supportive housing facility to serve families in the City of Madison. The City selected Heartland Development of Chicago, Illinois, to complete the project. Heartland made application to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) and was awarded a portion of the supportive housing tax credits available. Since that time, Heartland has completed the project development details and secured a tax credit investor to fund the project.

“Tree Lane is a critical element in our commitment to provide affordable family housing,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “ The Tree Lane project is another step in meeting our goal of 800 new units.”

Dane County has been working to create more affordable housing through many partnerships and through the Dane County Affordable Housing Development fund which allocates $2 million each year for four years. The purpose of the fund is to encourage the development of affordable housing in Dane County by using money from the fund to leverage additional funds.

This fund is one example of the County’s work on Affordable Housing. In 2015 the County teamed up with the City of Madison, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Heartland Housing, Heartland Health Outreach, U.S. Bank, BMO Harris, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, the Home Depot Foundation, and Enterprise Community Partners to fund a permanent supportive housing unit on Rethke avenue focused on chronic homelessness, including homeless veterans.

Located at 715 Rethke Avenue in Madison the $8.9 million, 60-unit building provides housing for individuals who are chronically homeless, with a unique focus on veterans, for whom 25 of the units are designated. Rethke is designed to serve those who would not be able to stay housed without a wide range of supportive services and who, conversely, need to be housed to be able to fully participate in these services.

 

Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Announces help for tax preparation

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Contact:
Stephanie Miller
(608) 267-8823

Today surrounded by citizens using the service and community partners, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi spoke with media highlighting free tax preparation help available through the UW-Extension. For the first time this year, Dane County is launching a new effort to make sure those living in poverty are aware of all available tax benefits for those with lower incomes.  Dane County’s Department for Equity and Inclusion, the Human Services Department and the UW- Extension are each teaming up to reach out to targeted neighborhoods to try to increase the amount of taxes filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Homestead Tax Credit.

“Helping people file for all the credits available can mean a few thousand extra dollars in their pockets,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This outreach effort will help neighborhoods that need it most and bring critical dollars to families who are struggling. I encourage all to stop by the Tax Center to get assistance preparing your taxes. We are here to help.”

Dane County UW-Extension has run the Financial Education Center since 2005 and is a primary partner for the free tax service. The free income tax assistance site, the Richard Dilley Tax Center,  prepares between 3,500 and 4,000 tax returns for free every year. This service alone brought $4.1 million in federal and state taxes back home to Dane County in 2015.

Families needing help getting their taxes done are being encouraged to take advantage of a free service being offered once again this tax season by Dane County and the UW-Extension. Under the free tax assistance program volunteers help low income, disabled and senior citizens prepare tax forms at no charge.

This year Dane County reached out to targeted areas to make sure citizens know by not filing tax returns they are potentially leaving thousands of dollars for their families on the table. Dane County Joining Forces for Families offices can help connect to many community services including tax preparation. Between the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Homestead Tax Credit there are thousands of dollars families will receive if they file.

Contact your local Joining Forces for Families office for more information on tax assistance. For more information about tax filing at the Richard Dilley Tax Center or volunteering you can call 608-283-1261.

Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Announces innovative program to clean up our lakes in partnership with family farms

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Contact: Stephanie Wilson Miller, 608.267.8823 (o), 920.470.4618 (c)

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced an innovative new program today to help clean up our lakes by assisting small and medium sized farms store manure in the winter.  $1.1 million will be available this spring for farmers to apply to help build community manure storage which will reduce the application of manure during critical times of the year when runoff is most likely to occur. Dane County and our partners spend over $8 million a year to support the implementation of conservation practices.

“Our farmers are our best partners when it comes to lakes clean-up efforts,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “The county is working to do our part to ensure we preserve our agriculture heritage while protecting one of our most valuable resources.”

UW-Scientists estimate that 40 percent of manure containing phosphorus runs off snow or frozen ground between January and March and ends up in the lakes. Funds will be allocated using two methods: traditional cost share agreements and requests for proposals. The traditional Dane County cost share will fund a cost share for community manure storage. The request for proposal will allow producers to submit project proposals describing innovative ideas and strategies for managing manure such as ultrafiltration or composting.

Proposals are due to Dane County early this summer, county staff will work with the top ranked proposals to develop full proposals. Projects that rank the highest will be contacted by Dane County to develop funding agreements for project implementation.

Dane County Executive Parisi has invested millions of dollars in lakes clean-up efforts. In his latest budget, Parisi allocated over $10 million to clean up our lakes. From urban storm water discharges to rural manure storage, Dane County has a full hands on deck approach to lakes clean-up efforts.

“Our quality of life is one of the main reasons people are moving to Dane County more than anywhere else in Wisconsin,” said Parisi. “We have everything from generational family farms to bustling cities and beautiful lakes. Dane County must work to protect all of our vital resources to continue our economic  growth.”

In addition to this effort which will prevent future runoff into our lakes, Dane County is working to remove phosphorous already in streams which feed into our lakes. Research done by our Dane County staff led to a 2017 budget proposal to fund an innovative effort to remove phosphorus-laden sediment from the bottoms of 33 miles of streams in the Lake Mendota watershed. In tandem with additional conservation efforts done in cooperation with farmers, it’s projected Parisi’s $12 million initiative will eliminate 870,000 pounds of algae-growing phosphorus. This work will lead to clean lakes decades sooner. The County Board’s Land Conservation Committee will need to approve the program and contracts.

Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Community stands to lose millions in President Trump’s budget

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Contact:
Stephanie Wilson Miller
608.267.8823

Dane County residents would see immediate and severe impacts under the President’s budget proposal, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. Parisi was joined by a number of local advocates for a news conference at Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, a local agency that provides help to victims of domestic abuse that received funding from a community development initiative the President is looking to eliminate.  In fact, since 2011 Dane County has allocated $7 million in federal funds to promote economic development and affordable housing under what’s known as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.

“These critical dollars train residents for jobs, keep people in their home, help people afford housing and is vital to countless community organizations,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “The President’s budget directly hurts those struggling to keep up financially, making it even harder for families to get ahead.”  Parisi noted community partners received over $1.3 million in CDBG support last year alone.

In addition to $2 million in Dane County funds, CDBG funds supported construction of the new Domestic Abuse Intervention Services shelter in Madison in 2014.  Numerous other local organizations like Movin’ Out, Habitat for Humanity, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, YWCA, Latino Chamber of Commerce and the Badger Prairie Needs Network have all benefited from the CDBG funding.

“We could not have made the Badger Prairie Needs Network what it is today without a block grant through CDBG,” Marcia Kasieta of the Needs Network said.  “The increased and more efficient space largely funded by CDBG allows us to provide food assistance to over 11,000 Fitchburg, Verona, and South Madison residents each year, almost half of which are children.  The block grant program allowed us to focus on our mission of fighting poverty and ending hunger rather than spending all our time on fundraising.”  She noted the facility has served over 7,000 meals when school and senior meal programs aren’t available.

Since 2011, Dane County has assisted 116 businesses, 6408 low-income citizens, and 3480 people with a public service with CDBG funds. Additionally, Dane County has helped 177 households receive repair, 48 households have received assistance to purchase affordable housing, 21 units of affordable owner-occupied housing have been created, 19 affordable rental housing units have been created, and 46 rental housing units have been rehabbed.

In addition to eliminating CDBG, Dane County is deeply concerned about the potential elimination of affordable housing tax credits that have helped make collaborative housing projects between the City of Madison and Dane County possible.  These major developments – the first on Rethke Avenue, the second of which is now proceeding on Tree Lane – have given homes to dozens of individuals and families who were previously homeless.

Federal officials continue to discuss cuts and drastic changes to Medicaid that would result in greater numbers of uninsured, making it harder for people to get mental health services or treatment for alcohol/drug problems.  These cuts would bring about longer wait lists for those needing help, and higher costs for local taxpayers should the federal government decide to no longer provide services that are currently available.

County staff continue to evaluate all of the potential impacts of the President’s budget. In recent days the county was notified that cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) could result in all Wisconsin counties losing over $4 million in Emergency Management Planning Grant funds.  Dane County’s share of this cut would be nearly a quarter of a million dollars, hurting the county’s ability to coordinate disaster preparedness and response efforts.

“As a caring, compassionate community, home to the fastest growing economy in the state, we need to be especially concerned about the impacts of these cuts on our neighbors, “ Parisi said.  “What we’re seeing come out of Washington D.C. stands in direct contrast to the values of our county.”

Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Dane County kicks off process to update the parks and open space plan

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Contact:  Stephanie Miller, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823

Dane County is requesting input from county residents to update a plan that helps determine how it manages outdoor resources, including what recreation activities are important to them and what may make people more likely to visit a park or participate in an outdoor activity.

“The Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan is our blueprint for future park, trail, recreation and conservation needs. We are excited to hear thoughts and ideas from residents about what they value most about our park system,” County Executive Joe Parisi said.

The Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan is a countywide comprehensive outdoor recreation and natural resource plan that must be updated every 5 years to maintain eligibility for State Stewardship grant funds.  Updates to the plan include identifying recreational needs and significant natural, cultural, and historical resources in the county to be considered for protection.  The planning process will seek input from Dane County residents that will help guide future park and trail development projects over the next 5 years.

“The vision statement of our Parks and Open Space Plan is timeless, ‘connect people to the land and water resources of Dane County,’” said Dane County Parks Commission Chair Bill Lunney.  “Our countywide network of parks, trails and open spaces are the places where this happens.”

Dane County Parks will facilitate two public information meetings to kick off the planning process to update the Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan and explain how citizens and stakeholders can participate in the planning process. The first meeting will be held at 7:00p.m. on March 30th at the Community Center/Town Hall of Cross Plains, 3734 County Road P, Cross Plains, WI  53528. The second meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on April 5th at the Village of Cottage Grove Village Hall, 221 E. Cottage Grove Road, Cottage Grove, WI 53527.

As an added outreach effort, Dane County Parks has prepared a survey to further explore the overall public awareness of the park system and any improvements that could be made to promote a larger and more diverse group of users.  The survey only takes about 5 minutes to complete and results can be monitored throughout the planning process.  The survey is available on line at:

http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07edx78f4aj02u6mqc/_tmp/greeting

More information about the County Parks and Open Space Plan can be found on the Dane County Parks Division website at:

https://parks-lwrd.countyofdane.com/Information/Planning-Development

 

For questions about the Parks and Open Space Plan contact:

 

Chris James, Senior Landscape Architect

Dane County Parks Division

5201 Fen Oak Drive, Room #208

Madison, WI  53718

Phone: 608-224-3763

Email: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Wilson Miller

Communications Director

Dane County

608.267.8823 o

920.470.4618 c

Facebook @DaneCoJoe

Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Presents 2017 art poster

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Contact: Stephanie Wilson Miller, 608-267-8823

 

‘Solitude’ Now Available Throughout County

Dane County Executive Parisi announced today the 2017 Art Poster from the Dane Arts now is available by voluntary donation at locations throughout Dane County. This year’s poster features, “Solitude” by Dane County resident and nationally recognized artist, John Ribble.

Dane Arts and the Cultural Affairs Commission will host a reception at Madison’s Central Public Library, downtown, Tuesday, March 28, 5:30 – 7:00 pm to unveil the calendar. The reception will honor the 2017 poster artist and recent Commission grant recipients and panelists.  Attendees will include Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, poster artist John Ribble, Cultural Affairs Commission members, grant advisory panel members, and grant recipient honorees supported by the Commission over the past two years. Music will be provided by John’s daughter Erin Ribble and her band, The Gadjo Players, a 4 piece acoustic ensemble who play mostly original compositions ranging from Jazz, Funk, Bluegrass and Gypsy Swing.

“Dane County has an incredibly vibrant arts culture,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Arts are one of the many reasons people love living in and are moving to Dane County more than any other county in Wisconsin. This year’s poster is another great example of an incredibly skilled artist that we are so fortunate to have in Dane county.”

Mr. Ribble is a pastel artist based in Madison, Wisconsin; he also teaches full time in the Graphic Design & Illustration program at MATC. John paints mostly landscapes, “en plein-air”, and focuses on rural scenes throughout the Southeastern Wisconsin area. His work in pastels has taken him all over Iowa, Dane, and Door Counties, as well as in the city of Madison. His pastel paintings illustrate a love and interconnection to the land and geography of Wisconsin.

An ongoing tradition, the Dane Art’s poster helps keep our community engaged with the arts. Commission Director Mark Fraire remarked, “The Dane County art poster is but one visible effort to showcase the arts on display in Dane County and I am so grateful to live in a County so rich with art. It is just this kind of private to public partnership that can help continue to drive the economic impact the arts generate.”

Distribution Locations

The 2017 art poster is available to the public by voluntary donation at locations throughout Dane County as follows:

Ø  Cultural Affairs Commission Office, Room 421, City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison, between the hours of 8:00am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday.

Ø  Four Dane County framing shops are serving as poster distribution sites and in partnership with the Commission offering custom framing discounts for this year’s art poster: Monroe Street Framing, Douglas Art & Framing, and Megan’s Custom Framing  in Madison,  and Meuer Art and Picture Frame Company in Middleton.

Ø  Starting on April 1, municipal poster distribution sites include the city and village halls of Cross Plains, Fitchburg, Middleton, Monona, Pleasant Springs, Shorewood Hills, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, and Verona; and town hall of Westport.

Dane Arts and the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission

The Dane Arts supports arts, culture and local history activities through projects and programs. Revenues from poster donations help support those programs: fostering public participation, increasing access, and forging alliances in support of arts, culture and local history. The poster was designed by Steve Wagner. More information on the Commission is available at danearts.com.

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Dane County Board Supervisors Corrigan and Rusk: Judge Townsend is best suited to tackle Dane County Judicial Reform

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Judge Townsend for Circuit Court Committee is proud to announce the endorsements of Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Corrigan and Supervisor Paul Rusk.  Both have been leaders in taking on judicial reform here in Dane County and said in a recent letter to the editor that “Townsend’s work championing workers, protecting women against harassment in the workplace, and working with both victims and defendants give us a candidate with an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work in our criminal justice system.”

In their time on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, Corrigan and Rusk have spearheaded an initiative through the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee, which Rusk chairs, to address racial disparity in the County judicial system.  Key to their plan is to develop systems that offer alternatives to incarceration and provide more mental health treatment as part of the judicial process.  “We believe Judge Townsend is best suited and most qualified to tackle the most pressing challenges we face here in the Dane County Judicial system due to her successful record of standing up for those segments of our society whose voice are not always heard and long and wide ranging career working for justice through the practice of law.”  “She knows that progress is difficult to achieve and can only be attained through dogged hard work and cooperation between governmental and social entities.  We are confident Judge Townsend will be an eager and able partner on the bench in our drive for true and meaningful reform here in Dane County.”

Dane County Dem chair plans run for vacant DNC slot

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Dane County Executive Office: County Executive Parisi announces partnerships to improve University Avenue, other busy local roads

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Contact: Stephanie Wilson Miller, Communications Director
(608)-267-8823, Facebook, @DaneCoJoe

Today County Executive Parisi announced partnerships with three Dane County communities to improve a number of busy local roads including University Avenue (County Hwy MS) in Middleton, Jefferson Street in Oregon (County Hwy CC) and Main and Broadhead Streets (County Highway MN) in McFarland.  Under the agreements, the county and each local unit of government are sharing in the cost of re-doing the roads with the community agreeing to then take over the ongoing maintenance of the new and improved roadway.  A resolution approving funds for the projects will be introduced at tonight’s Dane County Board meeting.

The largest of the three projects includes the reconstruction of part of University Avenue in the City of Middleton.  Dane County and Middleton will each invest $1.5 million to reconstruct University Avenue from Allen Boulevard to 450 feet west of Park Street. Construction is set to begin this spring. As part of this project, bike lanes will be added from Allen Boulevard to Branch Street to improve safety for motorist and cyclists.  The City of Middleton will then take over snow removal and maintenance on this stretch of road beginning this November.

The county and the village of Oregon will both invest $200,000 to reconstruct CTH CC (Jefferson Street) from the railroad overhead to Ash Street.  Construction is set to begin this summer. As part of the agreement, CTH CC from CTH MM/Main street to Ash Street within the corporate limits of the Village will be transferred to the Village of Oregon on November 1, 2017 and will no longer be a County Trunk Highway.

In McFarland, the county and village will re-do a stretch of Highway MN which includes a portion of Main and Broadhead Streets.  The county’s share of this work costs $240,000 with the village picking up $370,000.  Construction will happen this summer.  As part of the agreement, CTH MN from Long Street to Marsh Road within the corporate limits of the Village will be transferred to the Village of McFarland this November as well.

In his 2017 budget Dane County Executive Parisi made the biggest investment in history into Dane County’s highways. In addition to road repairs, his budget added a total of five new positions to the Highway Department. This demonstrated commitment to safer, better maintained roads through all seasons will keep county roads clear in the winter and also help address rapidly spreading invasive weeds like wild parsnip sprout in roadside ditches next spring.

“As our county continues to grow, we must invest in our infrastructure,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  “These projects will help our thriving communities and aid in public safety. Thank you to the Village of Oregon, City of Middleton and Village of McFarland for the partnership.

Dane County Executive Parisi press conference honoring 75 years of Veterans Service Office 🗓

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will hold a media availability today to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Dane County Veteran Service Office. After the media availability there will be an open house at the CVSO office for veterans, their families and local officials. Veterans who have been helped by the office and CVSO staff will also be available for media.

WHO:             Dane County Executive Joe Parisi

WHERE:         Dane County Veterans Service Office, City County Building First Floor, Room 108

WHEN:           Wednesday, March 15 at 12:45 PM – 1:15 PM

Dane County Executive Parisi Press Conference on New Equity initiative 🗓

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MADISON- Today, County Executive Parisi and community partners will hold a press conference to highlight help available for preparing your taxes at the local UW Extension, a service offered free to Dane County Citizens. This year County Executive Parisi led an effort to reach out to neighborhoods in poverty to help more people apply for the tax credits they have earned. For a struggling family, a few thousand dollars can mean the difference between staying in their home next year or being homeless.

 

WHO:                    Dane County Executive Joe Parisi

WHEN:                 Monday March 20 at noon

WHERE:                Richard Dilley Tax Center 2300 S. Park Street, Suite 101

Dane County Parks: Prescribed burn at Prairie Moraine County Park planned for Monday April 3

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A prescribed burn is planned for Monday April 3, 2017 at Prairie Moraine County Park. Prairie Moraine is a popular destination for both hikers on the National Ice Age Scenic Trail and for dog walkers using the expansive dog park area located on CTH PB south of the City of Verona.  The park will be closed for public use on the day of the burn. Patrons should plan to an use alternative site on that day.

Sections of the property are burned annually to help maintain the native plant community and the oak savannah.  The burn schedule is weather-dependent and the actual date will depend on the conditions of the field. Dane County Parks Director Darren Marsh would like patrons to be aware of the blackened ash and soot that will remain from the burned grasses. “This soot will disappear with the first rain and the site will quickly green up again with lush vegetation,” stated Marsh. He went on to explain, “Fire is an important tool used to help control invasive plants and to reduce the risk of wildfires. Controlled burns are used by many agencies to manage natural resource sites”.

The public should be aware that smoke may be seen during the burns and if viewing a fire, do so from afar to allow agencies plenty of room to safely mange the burn.

Dane County Parks is currently planning for other prescribed burns throughout the county. For more information, call the Dane County Parks Department at (608) 224-3730.

For information on prescribed fires, please visit: The Wisconsin Prescribed Fire Council at http://prescribedfire.org/

Dave Considine: Medicaid reform would give states the flexibility to cut coverage

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

The federal government, in an effort to save nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, is pushing to alter its relationship with the states by capping the amount of money it matches for Medicaid. Rather than continuing to cover a fixed share of each state’s overall Medicaid costs – Wisconsin currently receives about 58 cents for every dollar spent on Medicaid, without limit – House Republicans are proposing to place a per capita cap on federal Medicaid funding.

Under this proposal the federal government would limit each state to a fixed amount of money per Medicaid enrollee, with the amount varying by the type of beneficiary (aged, blind, disabled, children, non-expansion adults, and expansion adults). Annual increases in the per capita amounts would be tied to the consumer price index for medical care which grows slower than the actual cost of health care, enabling the federal savings.

The premise of the argument for per capita caps from conservatives is that if states only had some flexibility to innovate and reform their Medicaid programs, everything would be, to quote our President, “tremendous”.

Keep the following in mind when you hear the word flexibility being offered as a rationale for Medicaid reform: States already have flexibility to innovate their Medicaid programs. State Plan Amendments, 1115 waivers, and 1332 waivers (actually titled State Innovation Waivers!) all exist as a method for states to experiment and improve their Medicaid offerings. SeniorCare, which was started and still exists as an 1115 demonstration waiver, is a perfect example of a Medicaid program innovation that has saved the state money and helped seniors receive discount prescription medications.

More recently, the state Medicaid Director said that Wisconsin will be requesting permission from the federal government to charge adults premiums and limit Medicaid coverage to four years. Sounds like flexibility to me.

In reality, the per capita cap system will freeze federal funding at a certain level and increases in the cost of services, drugs, or programming will be the responsibility of the states. With an aging population, Wisconsin will be in a bind to cover the high costs of increased nursing home and other long-term care in the coming years.

Wisconsin’s Medicaid program covers roughly 1.2 million people. It is the second largest state expenditure, even taking into account the amount shouldered by the federal government. Lessening the amount we receive from the feds does not put us in a better fiscal position. It will require the state to cut programs and services. The elderly, blind, and disabled populations currently make up 2/3rds of Medicaid spending in Wisconsin. These populations are the most expensive to cover and the ones least able to afford losing coverage. It is difficult to envision any scenario in which Medicaid reform would not negatively impact these groups.

Our conservative Congressional leadership should be honest with people. Medicaid reform is an effort to save money at the federal level which will in turn tighten the budgets of states. It is incentivizing states to limit enrollment, reduce benefits, or lower reimbursement in order to make up for the loss of federal revenue. The mystical flexibility that has been offered as the rationale will amount to a rationing of services for individuals, most specifically the elderly and disabled, currently relying on Medicaid for healthcare services.

— Considine, D-Baraboo, represents the 81st Assembly District and is the ranking Democrat on the Assembly Mental Health Committee.

 

Dave Considine: PSC appointment is concerning, but not the end of the road

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.

For many years, Wisconsin used to be a national leader in energy policy. Native Wisconsinites and early settlers recognized the potential of our environment and used it to provide energy. As a state with progressive roots, we have traditionally been recognized as a forward-thinking state. We have been known as the state that treats its environment with the respect it needs to be able to support generations to come.

In 1907, our state established the Public Service Commission (PSC), becoming the first state in the nation to do so. The PSC was created to supervise our public utilities and ensure “reasonable and just” rates for consumers. Throughout its 110 years, the PSC has served under governments run by both political parties. But in the last two years that I have served in the State Assembly, I’ve noticed a disappointing trend: transmission companies approach the PSC with proposals for high-capacity transmission lines, citizens try to make their voices heard, and their concerns go nowhere.

They attend public meetings, write letters, make phone calls, and send emails. When they approach me, I encourage them to also share their thoughts with the Commission directly. (After all, it is there to regulate these utilities on their behalf.) But even after they do, they see no changes in the plans for these transmission lines. They feel that the PSC simply says “Thanks, but no thanks” and moves ahead with what’s best for the transmission companies – not the people.

To be clear, I do not believe this is unique to a Republican administration, and I am not claiming that Democrats are innocent here. It would be fair and true to say that Democrats have also used the PSC to their advantage when they were in power. I’m sure there have been plenty of Republican Wisconsinites voicing similar concerns about the Commission under Democratic governors.

But that also doesn’t mean these concerns are invalid. Governor Walker’s recent appointment of Lon Roberts to the PSC is just one example. Mr. Roberts was the Secretary of the state’s Department of Financial Institutions before his appointment. The PSC is tasked with keeping public utilities in line and essentially balancing our energy needs with the resources we currently have. With that responsibility in mind, why not choose someone with experience in that field? Wisconsin is lucky to have plenty of experienced, professional environmental advocates that might have provided a more public-minded voice to the Commission. Instead, the Governor chose an appointee with a background in corporate finance law.

My constituents have told me over and over that they want the PSC to be more responsive and incorporate more of their feedback. I’m hopeful that we can continue to work with the PSC toward this goal, but I do not think the Governor’s appointment of the former DFI Secretary to the Commission will do that. I very much respect Mr. Roberts, but I do not believe the Governor made the right choice for an agency that is designed to act on Wisconsin consumers’ behalf.

This recent appointment also fits into a broader decline in respect for our environmental resources. We’ve seen this across Wisconsin and all over our country. In order to reverse this, we have to continue speaking up and doing our best to work together. It is not enough to complain when things are bad; we need to build genuine, respectful relationships with each other even if we disagree. I am disappointed in and concerned by the Governor’s decision to appoint Lon Roberts to the PSC. But I am always ready to continue working with the Commission to facilitate productive conversations with my district. I hope we can find creative solutions together to protect our environment in the face of our state’s increasing energy needs.

— Considine, D-Baraboo, represents the 81st District in the State Assembly. The 81st District includes Baraboo, Sauk City, Prairie du Sac, Portage, and many other communities. His office can be reached at (608) 266-7746 or via email at [email protected]

DC Wrap: Feb. 24-March 2

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This is the second sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

This week’s news

— U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin, first elected two years apart, are at near-opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to voting on key issues in line with President Trump.

That’s according to FiveThirtyEight’s Trump Score, a running tally showing how often national lawmakers’ votes align with Trump.

The site shows Johnson’s “Trump Score”’ is 100 percent, similar to most other GOP senators. Meanwhile, Baldwin sits at 23.8 percent, showing she’s more often aligned with Trump than seven other senators, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Logging the worst score, at 9.5 percent, is U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.

As a Dem senator in a state that went to a Republican for the first time since 1984, Baldwin has recently been made a target by conservatives and other GOP-backing groups hoping to knock her off in 2018.

Among the groups after Baldwin is the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which launched ad campaigns last month knocking the Madison Dem over her opposition to the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and her “nearly identical” voting record to Warren.

In the House, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher, Sean Duffy and Speaker Paul Ryan all logged a Trump Score of 100 percent, while U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore, among national lawmakers, registered a score of 0 percent. U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, on the other hand, sits at 7.1 percent.

— Baldwin joined U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman and Gwen Moore at the Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee on Monday to speak out against the bomb threats that Jewish schools and community centers have gotten.

See more in the headlines below.

— Baldwin has introduced a bill with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., aimed at helping Holocaust survivors and their families.

The bill would make the State Department report on whether European countries are progressing in returning or compensating people for items that were wrongfully confiscated or transferred during the Holocaust.

Also introducing the bill were Reps. Joe Crowley, D-New York, and Chris Smith, R-New Jersey.

US. Sen. Ron Johnson is co-sponsoring the bill.

See more on the bill: https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/just-act-2017

— Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson told the committee Johnson chairs that insecurity on the border helps drugs flow into his community and in some cases lead to death.

Severson testified yesterday at Johnson’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which had a hearing on the “effects of border insecurity and lax immigration enforcement on American communities.”

Severson, who’s on the board of the National Sheriffs Association, said Mexican-produced drugs make up “the lionshare of controlled substances” in the area. In the last 10 years, 387 people have died from overdoses in the county.

And people’s addictions can sometimes lead to more violence, such as home invasions or burglaries, he said.

“Our communities’ drug enforcement officers must face the dangerous realities of the drug trade in Wisconsin,” Severson said.

Watch the hearing: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/the-effects-of-border-insecurity-and-lax-immigration-enforcement-on-american-communities

See more in the headlines below.

— Eric Borgerding, CEO and president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association, says any replacement for the Affordable Care Act must fairly reflect Wisconsin’s health care improvements.

“Here we are again on the brink of upheaval in health care,” Borgerding told WisBusiness.com. “When that happens remains to be seen. What is certain is uncertainty.”

See more from the WisBusiness.com interview: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=385797

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Ryan calls Trump address a ‘home run,’ but Dems critical of speech https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/ryan-calls-trump-address-a-home-run-but-dems-critical-of-speech/

Grothman on ‘UpFront’: Trump should take the lead on federal budget https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/grothman-on-upfront-trump-should-take-the-lead-on-federal-budget/

Have Gavel, Will Travel: Wisconsin’s Jim Sensenbrenner has held the most town halls this year
http://www.rollcall.com/news/hoh/town-hall-record-holder-rep-sensenbrenner-knows-how-to-handle-them#sthash.Kyu9wXdL.dpuf

Wisconsin lawmakers visit Jewish Community Center following bomb threats http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2017/02/27/wisconsin-lawmakers-visit-jewish-community-center-following-bomb-threats/98481138/

Democratic Rep. Ron Kind leads from the center http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/democratic-rep.-ron-kind-leads-from-the-center/article/2615477

Waukesha County sheriff tells U.S. Senate of Mexico’s drug threat http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/waukesha/2017/03/01/waukesha-county-sheriff-tells-us-senate-mexicos-drug-threat/98546084/

Hundreds gather to support Planned Parenthood at Milwaukee rally http://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/hundreds-gather-to-support-planned-parenthood-at-milwaukee-rally

Duffy: Trump’s address gives Americans reason to be optimistic http://www.jsonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/03/01/duffy-trumps-address-gives-americans-reason-optimistic/98571378/

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin: Workers need Buy America commitment http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/column/u-s-sen-tammy-baldwin-workers-need-buy-america-commitment/article_c72fb59e-b667-5edf-a3ab-5547c82a854b.html

Trump says 100% tariffs hurt Harley-Davidson sales in other countries http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2017/03/01/trump-says-100-percent-tariffs-hurt-harley-davidson-sales-other-countries/98575588/

DC Wrap: March 10-16

0

This is the fourth sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

This week’s news

— House Speaker Paul Ryan’s continuing his media blitz today to push his caucus’ health care bill.

The bill picked up a few more opponents this week as a long-awaited CBO score projected 24 million people would lose coverage by 2026. But Ryan, R-Janesville, says the CBO didn’t consider the other two parts of Republicans’ three-pronged approach. He also points to CBO projections that it would reduce premiums after 2020 and cut the deficit by by $337 billion by 2026.

This morning, he’ll do his weekly press briefing. And in the afternoon, he’ll talk to NBC’s Chuck Todd and then CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

His office this week flagged other interviews Ryan’s done in recent days, including with CBS’ John Dickerson; Fox News’ Bret Baier, Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson; and conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

The bill has faced pushback from conservatives who say it doesn’t go far enough and moderates who flagged this week’s CBO projections as concerning. The bill cleared two House committees last week.

— The bill is up today before the House Budget Committee, and U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman says he’ll vote to move it out of committee.

Grothman spokeswoman Bernadette Green said the Glenbeulah Republican will vote for the bill “with the understanding that there will be changes made before the bill hits the House floor for a vote.”

— U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson joined on a letter to 18 federal agencies telling them it’s in their best interest to “openly recognize and wholeheartedly support the duty and value of whistleblowers.”

The letter, led by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, noted whistleblowers can face intimidation and retaliation from agency leaders when reporting misconduct. So the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus asked agency leaders to promote “an open culture for employees to make disclosures” and take “swift action” against any employee who violates a whistleblower’s rights.

The letter said whistleblowers are crucial for Congress to carry out its oversight duties and noted the country’s Founding Fathers recognized their value.

“We enthusiastically echo these historical precedents in our support for individuals who shine a light on waste, fraud, and abuse. … Whistleblowers are assets, and they can help us enhance government efficiency and transparency and save taxpayers billions of dollars,” they wrote.

See the letter and Baldwin release: https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/whistleblowers-protection-letters

— Gov. Scott Walker this week voiced support for the U.S. Senate’s passage of a bill that would give states more flexibility in administering drug tests for recipients of unemployment benefits.

The Senate this week passed 51-48 House Joint Resolution 42. U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson split on the vote, with Baldwin opposed and Johnson supporting it.

Walker, meanwhile, said its passage “will empower the people of our state to move from government dependence to true independence.”

“Here in Wisconsin, we want everyone who wants a job to find a job. We frequently hear from employers that they have available jobs but need their workers to be drug-free,” he said. “That’s why we want to expand drug testing for those seeking public assistance.”

Under the current law, states can only drug test unemployment benefit recipients if they were previously fired for drug use, or if they applied for an occupation outlined in a federal labor department list that requires regular drug tests.

The rule passed the House last month 236-189, with Dem U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Mark Pocan voting against it and GOP U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, Sean Duffy, Glenn Grothman and Jim Sensenbrenner backing it.

The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk.

See the Senate roll call vote: https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=1&vote=00087

— U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson split on two presidential nominations this week: former U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., to be director of national intelligence, and health care consultant Seema Verma to be the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Johnson voted with the majority to approve Coats’ nomination 85-12, and again in approving Verma’s nomination 55-43.

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman wants to suspend foreign aid to countries that refuse to accept criminals who are sent back to their countries after committing crimes.

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, said those countries are “actively putting Americans at risk by refusing to accept their criminal aliens.”

See the release: http://grothman.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=277

— Fox News contributor and conservative activist Rachel Campos-Duffy will be the keynote speaker for the Wisconsin Women in Government annual scholarship gala May 9.

She addressed the Republican National Convention last summer with her husband, GOP U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, and has been a recurring guest on NBC’s “Today Show” and ABC’s “The View.”

See more: http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=tgzykslab&oeidk=a07edxbq9sb6f36fa00&oseq=

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy says one of his top priorities this session is reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program that helps property owners in devastated areas.

Duffy, R-Wausau, is the chair of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance and held a hearing March 9 with top FEMA official Roy E. Wright. Duffy said people he met while visiting areas hit by Hurricane Katrina told him lapsing the program “would be irresponsible.”

But they’ve also told him the program could be strengthened, partly by encouraging private competition and addressing the program’s $24.6 billion debt.

“This is absolutely unsustainable,” he said.

See the release and Duffy’s opening remarks: https://duffy.house.gov/press-release/congressman-sean-duffy-holds-hearing-on-flood-insurance-reform

Posts of the week

Great turnout for my Sauk County Town Hall. Thanks to all who came out even in the snow. That's the Wisconsin spirit!

Posted by Mark Pocan on Monday, March 13, 2017

ICYMI

Congressional Dems, Ryan respond to CBO score on House health care bill
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/cbo-predicts-house-health-care-bill-would-lead-to-24-million-losing-coverage-lower-premiums-drop-in-deficit/

PPP poll: Ryan’s constituents oppose GOP health care bill
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/ppp-poll-ryans-constituents-oppose-gop-health-care-bill/

Kind passing on 2018 guv bid, will instead seek re-election to Congress
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/kind-passing-on-2018-guv-bid-and-will-instead-seek-re-election-in-congress/

Grothman seeks answers on bad IRS customer service, tax credit fraud
http://watchdog.org/290628/irs-glenn-grothman-tax-credit/

Baldwin speaks to MSNBC about the GOP health care bill
https://www.facebook.com/senatortammybaldwin/videos/10155132468822140/

Sen. Tammy Baldwin opposes GOP health care plan at friendly town hall in Milwaukee
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/12/sen-tammy-baldwin-opposes-gop-health-care-plan-friendly-town-hall-milwaukee/99097962/

Pocan: More to come on Russia
http://www.wiscnews.com/baraboonewsrepublic/news/local/article_4bd9d24e-35f8-55f1-b8ef-3d262d10ba17.html

Jim Sensenbrenner: Make Mexican cartels pay for the wall
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/jim-sensenbrenner-make-mexican-cartels-pay-for-the-wall/article/2617335

DC Wrap: March 17-23

This is the fifth sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

Quotes of the week

That’s not a serious health care alternative — that’s a tax cut for the wealthy disguised as health care, and you and I get to foot the bill. That’s what’s called a Trojan horse.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan speaking on the House floor Wednesday morning. He compared the GOP health care plan to a Trojan horse, warning House Speaker Paul Ryan that “you have to be especially careful these days because Trojans are a little different than they used to be and are only used when you get — well the same thing this bill will do to America, Mr. Speaker.”

So I am very optimistic. Paul Ryan and our whip have been counting folks and seeing what tweaks they need to make to get them to yes, and I think we’re going to get there.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy on Fox & Friends Monday, where he said he wasn’t certain at the time the House would have the votes to pass the American Health Care Act. But he said that thanks to President Trump, who’s “pretty good at this,” he’s hopeful enough of his fellow lawmakers will support the measure.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson criticized the House Republican health care bill as one that he has “a lot of problems with,” while pointing to Wisconsin as a model for taking care of people with pre-existing conditions.

The Oshkosh Republican’s comments came two days before House leaders said they’d vote on the GOP bill, the American Health Care Act. That vote is set for tonight.

Johnson told a WisPoltics.com breakfast in Washington, D.C. Tuesday morning that Republicans “do want to take care of pre-existing conditions,” and touted Wisconsin’s creation of higher risk pools that he said “worked beautifully” and should be emulated nationally.

“It’s true risk-saving without class and markets,” he said.

He added that part of the problem with the House bill is “politically as well as reality” because it’s taking the subsidies from the Affordable Care Act, reducing those and then making more people eligible for that reduced amount.

“So yeah, politically that looks really bad, because it’s not really good,” he said.

And he echoed comments President Trump made last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying that while the best thing to do politically is nothing and “let the markets collapse,” Republicans have “a great responsibility” and Johnson doesn’t want to take that route.

But he concluded there’s a long way to go on health care legislation.

“I got a lot of problems with the House bill as it’s written right now,” he said.

— Johnson on Tuesday also called Russia an “unfriendly adversary,” although he shied away from labeling the nation as an “enemy” to the U.S.

But he said he wished he could call the country a “friendly rival” a day after FBI Director James Comey testified to members of the House Intelligence Committee on investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Johnson also said “the only thing [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is interested in maintaining power.” To do so, Johnson said, Putin works to destabilize the “fledgling democracies” on Russia’s border out of fear his citizens would see the success of “free market, Western-leaning” democracies and try to emulate that within their own borders.

“This is all about Vladimir Putin maintaining power, and that’s unfortunately dangerous,” Johnson said. “So the only way you stand up to Vladimir Putin is also with power, with strength, resolve.”

See more on the luncheon in Friday’s REPORT.

— Following Comey’s testimony Monday, which included confirmation that the FBI is investigating President Trump’s Russia ties, some Dem lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, renewed their calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into links between Trump associates and Russia.

“Such revelations not only underscore the imperative for a thorough investigation conducted by a special prosecutor, but also emphasize the need for transparency in regards to the president’s foreign financial ties and business dealings,” the Milwaukee Dem said.

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-rep-moore-fbi-investigation-into-links-between-trumprussia-highlights-need-for-special-prosecutor/

— The latest Marquette University Law School Poll finds both of Wisconsin’s U.S. senators are viewed favorably by more registered voters than those that have a negative view of them.

GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who won re-election in November, was viewed favorably by 39 percent and unfavorably by 34 percent. In October, his split was 41-38.

Dem U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who is up for re-election next year, was viewed favorably by 40 percent, while 35 percent had a negative view for her. In October, her split was 37-37.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, meanwhile, was viewed favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 38 percent. In October, his split was 47-36.

The poll of 800 registered voters was conducted over landlines and cellphones March 13-16. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

See more from the poll:
https://law.marquette.edu/poll/category/poll-release/

— Baldwin is one of 12 Senate Dems the RNC is targeting with a package of digital video ads that call on the targets to allow an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court and to support the GOP health care bill.

The RNC said it is spending six figures on the total buy. Half of that will go toward the Gorsuch spots, which will run on Facebook in the targeted states. Meanwhile, a second digital ad says Dems have “made ‘affordable’ care unaffordable.”

See the Gorsuch ad:

See the Obamacare ad:

— A bill from U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan that would let student loan borrowers refinance their federal student loans whenever a lower interest rate is available is gaining bipartisan support.

U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Glenn Grothman are also cosponsors on the bill.

See more:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/rep-pocan-rep-pocan-introduces-bipartisan-bill-allowing-students-to-refinance-their-college-loans/

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy joined four other national legislators in penning a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, asking for updated information on the U.S. response to the Islamic State’s reported genocide of religious minorities, including Christians.

See the letter:
http://duffy.house.gov/sites/duffy.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/17.03.17%20ISIS%20Genocide%20Letter%20to%20Tillerson%20and%20Haley.pdf

— GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensebrenner joined U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., to reintroduce the Private Property Protection Act, which aims to curb states, municipalities and the federal government’s ability to use eminent domain powers.

See more:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-reps-sensenbrenner-waters-reintroduce-the-private-property-rights-protection-act/

— Baldwin introduced two separate bills this week: one, a bipartisan piece of legislation to improve training for those who care for people with serious illnesses and other physicians; a second bill, introduced with two other Dem senators, to create grants for clinics that offer preventative cancer screenings for women.   

See more:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-sen-baldwin-capito-champion-bipartisan-reform-to-improve-palliative-and-hospice-care/; https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/invest-in-womens-health-act-of-2017

 

Posts of the week

Magic turns political in U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan’s latest #MagicMonday trick:

ICYMI

Johnson not confident ACA replacement will pass this year
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/johnson-not-confident-aca-replacement-will-pass-this-year/

Walker: House GOP ‘moving in the right direction’ with proposed health care bill changes
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/walker-house-gop-moving-in-the-right-direction-with-proposed-health-care-bill-changes/

Pocan: Only the wealthiest would get $600 billion in tax breaks from ‘Trumpcare’ replacement for Obamacare?
http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/mar/21/mark-pocan/americas-wealthiest-get-600-billion-tax-breaks-rep/?hootPostID=5c47da21c8cac5b970c4a939d5f879b8

Tomah VA whistleblower: Taking out Tammy Baldwin ‘my unfinished business’
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/tomah-va-whistleblower-taking-out-tammy-baldwin-my-unfinished-business/article_6abf97dc-86fe-5d41-8258-abead06faeb1.html

Tammy Baldwin heads into re-election bid with 40 percent favorability rating
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/election-matters/tammy-baldwin-heads-into-re-election-bid-with-percent-favorability/article_c20d9eb0-1872-5e8e-a65f-6bbd586c2713.html

Mark Pocan: America needs a Trojan for the GOP’s ‘Trojan horse’ health care bill
http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/govt-and-politics/election-matters/mark-pocan-america-needs-a-trojan-for-the-gop-s/article_e56a7fc6-485c-5b8f-a51d-c494f7a76e1a.html

Rep. Sean Duffy: Trump will hopefully push GOP over the top on health care bill
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/mar/20/rep-sean-duffy-trump-will-hopefully-push-gop-over-/

Gallagher opposes Trump’s Great Lakes cuts
http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2017/03/17/gallagher-opposes-trumps-great-lakes-cuts/99278792/

Health care bill the hot topic at separate town hall events in West Allis, Milwaukee
http://fox6now.com/2017/03/18/health-care-bill-the-hot-topic-at-separate-town-hall-events-in-west-allis-milwaukee/

DC Wrap: March 24-30

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This is the sixth sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

Quotes of the week

This is a setback, no two ways about it.
– House Speaker Paul Ryan after he pulled his House GOP health care plan, saying Republicans “just didn’t quite get consensus today,” though they “came very close.”

In what other job would you grant yourself a two-week vacation if you failed to do that fundamental job?
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, saying Congress should cancel its recess and find a way to avoid shutting down the government

As this investigation continues, we urge you and your administration to follow a simple rule: tell the truth.
– Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan and Gwen Moore in a letter to President Trump on the FBI investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. The two also called on Trump to apologize for “false claims you made” about Obama wiretapping Trump Tower.

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, wants to ensure every state’s food stamps program has work requirements for able-bodied adults without kids.

Wisconsin and several other states added work requirements for that population after the Great Recession — and Gov. Scott Walker is now looking to expand that to adults with children.

But the Obama administration gave waivers to other states, giving them permission to delay on adding work requirements.

Grothman wants to make sure that practice ends, eliminating the authority of the secretary of Agriculture to grant those waivers.

Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Dems have slammed Walker on his version of Wisconsin’s work requirements, saying the state’s employment training program is ineffective and that people are getting kicked off FoodShare.

The state’s DHS said earlier this year that since July 2015, 21,000 people had found a job through the program, though 64,000 people were no longer eligible for food stamps because they didn’t meet the program’s requirements.

But Grothman said the work requirements “help free capable individuals from government dependence and empower them to achieve the American Dream.”

“I believe we should provide assistance to those who have fallen on hard times, but these work requirement waivers are part of an unfortunate trend of government laws and regulations that create disincentives for individuals to work,” he said.

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/u-s-rep-grothman-introduces-bill-to-eliminate-work-requirement-waivers-for-food-stamps/

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin could be seeing a new potential challenger for her seat next year in Nicole Schneider, daughter-in-law of former Schneider Trucking exec Don Schneider.

Schneider, who works as a research officer with Green Bay Area Catholic Education, did not directly address in an email talk that she is considering a run against Baldwin. But GOP sources have said she has had meetings about a possible bid and there is an expectation she could put personal resources into a campaign.

“Wisconsin needs a strong, conservative voice that truly represents the people living and working here. We need someone who will get things done,” Schneider wrote, adding, “My family and I are examining options to become more politically active and to champion the conservative causes we believe in.”

Others who have said they’re looking at a run against Baldwin, D-Madison, include Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Madison businessman Eric Hovde, state Rep. Dale Kooyenga, business consultant Kevin Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir.

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, is reintroducing a bill to improve the DOJ’s forfeiture practices after an Inspector General report highlighted some areas of concern.

The report found two-thirds of the cases in which DOJ seized cash from people didn’t involve an investigation or any “attempt to confirm that the money was related to criminal activity,” Sensenbrenner said in a release.

Sensenbrenner said his DUE PROCESS Act will “strengthen faith in law enforcement, tamper abuse, and protect citizens’ Constitutional rights.”

See the release:
http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398174

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says he met with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week and looks forward to supporting him because of his “fidelity to the Constitution.”

“Judge Gorsuch is the kind of mainstream jurist we need on the Supreme Court — someone who will apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives,” the Oshkosh Republican said.

See the release:
https://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/press-releases?ID=55E41F9C-8760-4D7B-8C9B-D261DBBCB4A4

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is once again asking Gov. Scott Walker to accept the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Walker declined the additional federal dollars for Medicaid, finding a different way that expanded the program for those under the poverty level. His health secretary told state lawmakers this week that decision has cut the state’s uninsured rate and there’s still “no guarantee” the feds will meet their promise of expanded funds.

But Kind, D-La Crosse, said the state has already missed out on $690 million in federal funding and noted the GOP-led state of Kansas is now looking at taking the Medicaid expansion.

“It is long past time for the Governor to end his ideological war on the Affordable Care Act and accept federal funding to expand BadgerCare for Wisconsin’s disabled, children, and seniors,” Kind said.

See the letter:
https://kind.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-kind-calls-governor-walker-put-wisconsinites-first-and-expand

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Ryan calls pulling the GOP health care bill a ‘setback,’ as Dems celebrate the decision
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/ryan-calls-pulling-the-gop-health-care-bill-a-setback-as-dems-celebrate-the-decision/

Tammy Baldwin reintroduces ‘Buy America’ legislation
http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/local/neenah-menasha/2017/03/24/tammy-baldwin-reintroduces-buy-america-legislation/99546862/

Rep. Kind looks to restore funding for COPS program
http://www.weau.com/content/news/Rep-Kind-looks-to-restore-funding-for-COPS-program-417369823.html

Congressman Grothman On Failed Obamacare Repeal
http://www.kfiz.com/local-news/congressman-grothman-on-failed-obamacare-repeal

GOP lawmaker calls for canceling recess ahead of shutdown deadline
https://origin-nyi.thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/326362-gop-lawmaker-calls-for-canceling-recess-ahead-of-shutdown-deadline

Tucker Battles Dem Who Claims He’s Seen ‘Damning’ Trump-Russia Evidence
http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/03/27/democrat-calls-independent-russia-probe-trump-election-jeff-session-lied

DC Wrap: March 3-9

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This is the third sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy says GOP skeptics of the House health care bill will turn around once President Trump starts weighing in heavily.

The Wausau Republican said those members will eventually “move towards where Mr. Trump is.”

“Trump can come at you with a hammer or a tweet that can be pretty powerful with your own constituents,” Duffy told CNBC.

No bill is perfect, he said, but opposing the proposal means keeping Obamacare in place despite wide agreement that it’s in a “death spiral.”

Duffy’s joined House Speaker Paul Ryan in pushing the American Health Care Act, but other GOP members in the state’s congressional delegation have been noncommittal.

Dems, meanwhile, say the Republican plan would raise costs and lead to a loss of health care coverage.

See our overview of the state congressional delegation’s reaction: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/wis-congressional-republicans-not-fully-on-board-with-health-care-bill/

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin stressed the need to support American manufacturing and “have our infrastructure built with American dollars” as she touted her support for a “Buy America” commitment Wednesday.

“We need to do more to move our manufacturing economy forward at a stronger pace and that means making a strong buy America commitment,” she told reporters in a telephone news conference.

“I have a strong commitment to buy America policies and one of the things I was heartened by in the last few months was Donald Trump’s commitment to buy America and hire America, but as we’re seeing in instance after instance, there’s no follow through,” she said.

Lawmakers, including Baldwin and fellow Dem U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, have slammed Trump for seeming to break his promise that only steel from American steelmakers could be used on Keystone XL Pipeline, as well as other U.S. oil pipelines.

Pocan in a news release last week blasted Trump for going back on his word about the pipeline project, which Pocan said “will not abide” by Trump’s “own Buy American plan.”

“If President Trump is concerned with livelihood of American workers, he should take steps to ensure the Buy America Act is strongly and meaningfully enforced,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, the President’s talk about ‘Buy America’ is proving to be just another broken promise to the American people.”

— Republicans and Dems alike took to Twitter to celebrate International Women’s Day Wednesday.

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is denouncing bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the country.

He specifically mentioned Whitefish Bay’s Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, which was subject to another bomb threat Tuesday — the third in six weeks, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Johnson said in a news release said the threats “are an affront to our free society,” and that “no American should endure a threat because of his or her religious beliefs.”

Also this week, all 100 U.S. senators wrote a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and FBI Director James Comey, requesting that help be offered to Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions to counter the threats.

— Johnson introduced a bill this week to reauthorize the agency that helps whistleblowers in the federal government.

The bill, which he introduced with GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley and Dem Sen. Claire McCaskill, would reauthorize the Office of Special Counsel through 2022. The three are also looking to expand the Whistleblower Protection Act to include those who refuse to obey an order that violates a rule or regulation.

Johnson said the bills will “empower whistleblowers,” including those at Veterans Affairs “who blow the whistle on corruption and life-threatening practices that endanger veterans.”

The Senate this week passed a Johnson resolution to roll back an Obama executive order adding certain requirements to federal government procurement. Johnson said the action will “reduce the regulatory burden plaguing our economy.”

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, wants to add an amendment to the Constitution setting term limits for members of Congress.

The bill from Gallagher, a freshman, would limit House members to six terms and senators to two terms. It offers exemptions for those who took office for only part of the term. Gallagher said in a news release it’s one of the measures he’s introducing within his first 100 days to “clean up Congress.”

Editor’s note: This item has been updated to clarify the bill doesn’t offer exemptions for current members.

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, wants to add the Ice Age Trail to the National Parks Service so it can get more funding.

The trail spans much of Wisconsin but doesn’t get equal funding from the agency, Sensenbrenner said in a news release. Co-sponsors include U.S. Reps. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee.

Posts of the week

Fun Fact of the Day: This week in 1872 Yellowstone National Park was established. Some of my favorite memories are the…

Posted by Rep. Ron Kind on Thursday, March 2, 2017

 

ICYMI

‘UpFront’: Johnson says Sessions right to recuse himself from Russia investigation
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/upfront-johnson-says-sessions-right-to-recuse-himself-from-russia-investigation/

Trump’s revised travel ban draws fire from Wisconsin Dems
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/trumps-revised-travel-ban-draws-fire-from-wisconsin-dems/

Pence: Trump ‘best friend Wisconsin businesses will ever have’
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/pence-trump-best-friend-wisconsin-businesses-will-ever-have/

House corporate tax shift leaves some Wisconsin Republicans, businesses uncertain
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/07/house-corporate-tax-shift-leaves-some-wisconsin-republicans-businesses-uncertain/98705324/

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner faces opposition at town hall gathering
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/u-s-rep-jim-sensenbrenner-faces-opposition-at-town-hall/article_72bc6c94-001a-54ba-a892-ccb85bf9e02b.html

Kind takes Trump to task
http://www.leadertelegram.com/News/Front-Page/2017/03/07/lt-div-class-libPageBodyLinebreak-gt-Democrat-takes-Trump-to-task-lt-div-gt.html

Congressman Sensenbrenner wants to make it harder for police to seize property
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/congressman-sensenbrenner-wants-to-make-it-harder-for-police-to-seize-property/article/2616150

Rep. Gwen Moore meets friendly Glendale town hall crowd
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2017/03/04/rep-gwen-moore-meets-friendly-glendale-town-hall-crowd/98739942/

Tammy Baldwin: Republicans are ‘organizing to take people’s health care away’
http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/feb/08/tammy-baldwin/tammy-baldwin-republicans-are-organizing-take-peop/

Did Russian officials go in back door of Trump Tower to meet Donald Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner? (Pocan)
http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/mar/08/mark-pocan/russian-officials-went-back-door-trump-tower-meet-/

 

DCF’s Anderson: No ‘short-term fixes’ to poverty

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Dem bill would boost tax exemptions for middle class, repeal manufacturing and ag credit

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Dem leaders look to 2018, optimistic for a favorable redistricting ruling

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The Dems’ top legislative leaders expressed optimism about their party’s 2018 chances, even as no clear gubernatorial candidate has emerged to challenge Gov. Scott Walker in his expected re-election bid.

But the two, especially Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, are pinning much of their hopes on a federal court decision about whether the GOP-drawn 2011 Assembly redistricting maps are unconstitutional.

“I think Gov. Walker is vulnerable,” Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling told a WisPolitics.com luncheon March 16, citing his low approval rating, which has been underwater since early 2015 when he became a presidential candidate.

Pointing to the candidates who are considering a run for governor as evidence of energy within the party, Barca, D-Kenosha, said a primary would “generate a lot of interest and excitement.”

“I don’t think it would be a bad idea to have a primary,” he said.

Those potential candidates include Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, Rep. Dana Wachs and former Sen. Tim Cullen, among others.

In terms of other races, Shilling, D-La Crosse, said while Dems will have to work to protect Vinehout and Sen. Janet Bewley, who are both up for re-election next year, they’ll “have some opportunities to be on the offensive as well,” such as in southwestern Wisconsin.

Barca also pointed to the northwestern part of the state, where “Trump unexpectedly did better than we thought, [and] Hillary did worse than we thought” as “an area with potential growth.”

But he concluded that more Dem gains would come from a new set of maps, which he said would have a “tidal wave effect.”

“If you do redistricting, all of a sudden you have another seat in Racine, you have three more seats in Milwaukee,” he said. “All of a sudden, it’s a whole new ball game.”

A federal panel last year ruled the maps were an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and has since ordered lawmakers and Walker to draw up new maps by Nov. 1. Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court at the end of February.

Still, responding to comments from the audience, Shilling acknowledged other challenges Dems face — including messaging.

“That’s part of our problems as Democrats, that we love to get in the weeds, and we feel like we need to dig down” she said. “We need to realize that we need to talk about issues in a way that connect with people because we all lead really busy lives.”

After a scolding from an audience member, Shilling also named four issues she thinks Democrats should stand for and tout in 2018: education, roads, health care and jobs.

“You know what Democrats stand for? Good schools, good roads, good jobs and health care, that’s what Democrats stand for,” she said. “So we need to tighten it up.”

The two leaders were also encouraged to be more strategic. Barca said Republicans have prioritized their individual and party interests over those of the public in order to create a long-term plan.

Citing GOP “restrictive” voting provisions, Barca said he believes in putting “your country first and your party second,” but concluded “that’s now what’s happening now.”

“I honestly believe they were willing to put their personal interests about the public interest, and for me personally, I’m not willing to do that,” he said.

Meanwhile, Shilling identified two GOP-backed “cancers in our democracy: Citizens United and redistricting.”

“They have been chipping away for a long time to get where they’re at. The role of the minority is to get into party, the role of the majority is to keep power,” she said. “So they make all the rules, we need to keep talking about our message.”

Listen to the luncheon:
soundcloud.com/wispolitics/luncheon-with-rep-barca-sen-shilling/s-jsl5Q

 

Democratic Governors Association: ames Walker to “Chicken Caucus” for Hiding on Health Care

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Contact:
Jared Leopold, 202-772-5600
[email protected]

Today, the DGA named Governor Scott Walker to the inaugural class of the “Chicken Caucus,” 15 gubernatorial candidates who refuse to take a position on the U.S. House health care bill.

The 15 inaugural members include three sitting governors and 12 candidates, from a total of 10 different states up for election in 2017-18.

Democratic and at least 15 Republican governors around the country have raised concerns about the impact of the House health care bill on states. Four Republican governors wrote a joint letter to Congressional leaders last week saying the bill “shifts significant new costs to states.”

While other Republican governors have spoken up for their states, these members of the “Chicken Caucus” have refused to take a stand or even give voters a clear yes-or-no answer on the bill.

Presenting the inaugural class of the Chicken Caucus:

WI: Gov. Scott Walker

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Headline: Scott Walker still not saying whether he supports Obamacare replacement. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/14/17]

Gov. Scott Walker Refused to Endorse the Republican Health Care Bill. According to the Cap Times, “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker expects ‘additional improvements’ to be made to House Republicans’ health care bill, but said it’s ‘important for them to move forward.’ […] ‘To me, the more options people have, the better,’ he said. Walker stopped short of endorsing the bill, but said it is ‘moving in the right direction.’” [Capital Times, 3/21/17]

IL: Gov. Bruce Rauner

When Asked How He Recommends the State Delegation Vote on the AHCA, Gov. Bruce Rauner Refused to Answer. In March 2017, Rauner was asked by Bernie Schoenburg of the State Journal Register, “Governor, there’s supposed to be a vote in Washington this week by the House on the health care plan that Paul Ryan has crafted with some changes. It clearly would have—I think it block grants Medicaid—at least some state fiscal issues because of it. Are you recommending one way or another for how our delegation should vote on that plan?” Rauner responded, “What I won’t do—I know you’d like me to, but I won’t—I won’t negotiate in the press about what we’re advocating. I’m saying move slowly, move thoughtfully. We need to transition this in a careful way. We’ve got to minimize the hurt to people’s lives while we change the system.” [Office of Gov. Bruce Rauner, Governor Rauner Unveil Plan to Make Illinois Cyber Security, 45:00, 3/21/17]

MD: Gov. Larry Hogan

After Being Pressed by the Maryland Congressional Delegation, Gov. Larry Hogan Refused to Take a Position on the Republican Health Care Bill. According to the Associated Press, “Reps. Steny Hoyer, Elijah Cummings, John Sarbanes and Jamie Raskin gathered in front of the governor’s residence on Monday to criticize Hogan for not joining four GOP governors who’ve made their own proposal about how to overhaul Medicaid for low-income people. […] Amelia Chasse, a Hogan spokeswoman, questioned what the four congressmen have done, except hold press conferences. She says the four Democrats are ‘grandstanding.’ She added that the four were ‘disregarding the governor’s direct appeal to them to work in a bipartisan manner to come up with responsible solutions for Maryland’ and that ‘they should tell their friends in the legislature to quit holding up our health secretary’s confirmation.’” [Associated Press, 3/20/17]

VA: Ed Gillespie & Sen. Frank Wagner

Ed Gillespie’s Spokesperson Would Not Answer if Gillespie Supported the GOP Health Care Plan. According to Politico, “Campaign Pro surveyed a handful of Republican candidates who are either in or considering statewide bids on the House GOP health care bill. Here’s what they had to say. Virginia Ed Gillespie’s spokesman Matt Moran: ‘Ed believes Obamacare is a disaster that should be completely repealed and replaced – and done so without punishing taxpayers in fiscally-responsible states like Virginia. Ed believes that Congress and the Trump Administration should work together to pass a conservative plan that fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with healthcare system that saves taxpayer dollars, increases affordability and gives consumers the choices they deserve.’” [Politico, 3/9/17]

State Sen. Frank Wagner Said the GOP Health Care Bill “Needs a Lot of Work!” but Did Not Say Whether or Not He Would Support It. According to Wagner’s Facebook page, “Good to see the Republicans are keeping their word but, the plan needs a lot of work! http://www.foxnews.com/…/house-republicans-release-long-awa…” [Facebook, FrankWagnerforGovernor, 3/6/17]

MI: LG Brian Calley & AG Bill Schuette

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley ‘Reviewing’ Bill, Declined to Take a Position. According to Politico Pro, “Campaign Pro surveyed a handful of Republican candidates who are either in or considering statewide bids on the House GOP health care bill. Here’s what they had to say. […] Michigan Lt. Gov Brian Calley’s communications director Laura Biehl: ‘Lt. Gov. Calley is reviewing the proposed federal health care reforms that were released this week. He hopes Michigan continues to have a seat at the table as the future of health care in our country is determined.” [Politico Pro, 3/9/17]

A.G. Bill Schuette’s Press Secretary Refused to Say Where Schuette Stood on the GOP Health Care Bill. According to Politico Pro, “Campaign Pro surveyed a handful of Republican candidates who are either in or considering statewide bids on the House GOP health care bill. Here’s what they had to say. […] Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s press secretary Andrea Bitely: “We’re reviewing the legislation.” [Politico Pro, 3/9/17]

OH: Sec. of State Jon Husted, AG Mike DeWine & LG Mary Taylor

Sec. of State. Jon Husted: “I Can’t Give You a Yes or No Answer on that Question.” When asked at a Townhall at Cedarville University for a yes or no answer on whether or not he opposes a program that takes people off Medicare, Husted said, “Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I can’t give you a yes or no answer on that question.” [Husted Townhall, Cedarville University, 3/14/17]

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s Spokesman: “The Lt. Governor Wants to Take Some More Time with this Issue Before She Comments.” According to Politico, “Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor’s Spokesman Michael Duchesne: ‘The Lt. Governor wants to take some more time with this issue before she comments. She’s a thoughtful, policy-oriented person and doesn’t want to just throw out a sound bite. I’m sure this is going to be topical for awhile and we’d love to have another opportunity to weigh in on the future.’” [Politico, 3/9/17]

A.G. Mike DeWine Has Not Publicly Taken a Position on the Republican Bill, Despite Previous Calls for the Repeal of Obamacare. Attorney General Mike DeWine has not released a statement on the current House bill. From Mike DeWine For Ohio’s campaign website: “REPEAL OBAMACARE! Obamacare is a bad law that is adding costs to healthcare, costing Ohio jobs, and causing Ohioans to lose their health insurance. Stand with me by signing the petition telling President Obama to repeal this law and replace it with common-sense healthcare reform.” [Mike DeWine for Ohio, Website, accessed 1/19/17]

PA: Sen. Scott Wagner

PennLive: “Wagner Has Yet to Comment Publicly on the AHCA.” According to PennLive, “Wagner has yet to publicly comment on the American Healthcare Act, the Obamacare replacement being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and President Donald Trump. In a statement issued by his campaign last week, Wagner, of York County, said he supported ‘the full repeal of Obamacare.’ ‘As a business owner, he has seen the dramatic increase in costs in the years since Obamacare was passed,’ Wagner’s campaign said in response to the attacks,’ the campaign’s statement, first published by PoliticsPA, read. At least three GOP members of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation, U.S. Reps. Scott Perry, R-4th District; Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-5th District, and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8th District, have said they’ll vote against the bill in its current form. A fourth Republican, 15th District Rep. Charlie Dent, has said he’s on the fence about the bill.” [PennLive, 3/21/17]

NJ: LG Kim Guadagno & Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno Refused to Take a Firm Position on the Republican Health Care Bill, Calling it “Just the Beginning of the Debate.” According to the Associated Press, “Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said through a spokesman that the GOP bill is just the beginning of debate and the result must be a ‘better plan.’” [Associated Press, 3/15/17]

Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli Said the ACA was “Failed and Flawed” and Called for “New and Improved” Medicaid, but Would Not Take a Position on the Republican Health Care Bill. According to the Associated Press, “Republican candidate Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli called the ACA ‘failed and flawed’ and called for a ‘new and improved’ Medicaid. It’s unclear whether the congressional GOP plan meets that test.” [Associated Press, 3/15/17]

NM: Rep. Steve Pearce

Rep. Steve Pearce Spokesman Said he Was Still “Studying” the GOP Bill. According to the Associated Press, “Eyes were fixed this week on the state’s sole Republican on Capitol Hill, Rep. Steve Pearce, who said he was studying revisions to the GOP plan before the scheduled House vote. ‘Concerns still remain regarding affordability for consumers in New Mexico,’ Pearce spokeswoman Keeley Christensen said in an email.” [Associated Press, 3/22/17]

IA: LG Kim Reynolds

Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds Spokesman Declined to Comment on the Estimated Number of Iowans that Would Lose Coverage Under the Republican Health Care Bill. According to the Times Republican, “The Iowa Hospital Association, which represents 118 hospitals, has estimated through statistical data that between 200,000 and 250,000 Iowa residents will lose coverage. Kirk Norris, president and CEO of the association, said the bill would cause people to lose preventive care coverage, increasing emergency room visits and leading to more costs for hospitals. […] Ben Hammes, spokesman for Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, the incoming governor, declined to comment on the association’s estimate.” [Times Republican, 3/20/17]

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Just call her ‘D.C. Leah’

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Contact:
Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]

MADISON — State Senator Leah Vukmir’s name regularly comes up as the third choice to challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin after GOP golden-boy Rep Sean Duffy dropped out and Sheriff Clarke waffles. And if anyone wondered where Leah Vukmir’s priorities lie: look for the powerful D.C. elite.

Displaying her strong desire to enter the Washington establishment, Vukmir proudly retweeted a photo linked arm in arm with D.C. lobbyist Mark Smith (LINK: https://twitter.com/MarkDaVinciGrp/status/842101553943179264)

And photos of her at the Capitol Hill Club (LINK: https://twitter.com/LeahVukmir/status/842117564067123201)

The next day, D.C. Leah ran into a bunch insiders familiar with the D.C. beltway crowd that she had to share:



And this was just her first two days in D.C. courting insider support.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Brandon Weathersby reacted, saying “It’s pretty clear D.C. Leah’s priorities lie with the powerful D.C. elite. D.C. Leah is earning her name by courting support from the Washington establishment, rubbing elbows with lobbyists, long-time Washington insiders and basking in the D.C. limelight and forgetting Wisconsin in the process.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Statement on CBO score of Speaker Ryan’s Health Care Bill

0

Contact:
Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]

MADISON –  After Speaker Paul Ryan’s haphazard rollout of the Republican Health Care Bill last week, which featured no estimates on the cost of their ideas or any details of how many Americans would be covered under the plan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is shedding light on the real impacts of the Republican plan.

Today, the CBO announced that 14 million Americans will lose health insurance next year with the number of uninsured only growing over time. “In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the report states.

The CBO’s projections are widely viewed as unbiased and the most accurate amongst federal analysts. In fact, its projections for the Affordable Care act were more accurate than other prominent analyses from 2010. Even the Speaker has agreed with this view in the past, referring to the CBO as “nonpartisan” and using figures released from the office. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]

The following is the statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning in response to the recent data:

“Every American should have access to quality, affordable health care. Today’s CBO report shows that Congressional Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, along with President Trump don’t share that basic value.

“President Trump has said that all Americans will have coverage under the Republican plan and Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, recently said that no one will be worse off financially under the bill. Today’s news paints a much different picture.

“Speaker Ryan’s bill will make everyday Americans pay more money for fewer benefits, and leave many of his fellow Wisconsinites without any health care at all. I find it appalling that Republicans would want to take us backward to a day when Americans crumble under crushing medical debt, and even worse, die needlessly because they can’t afford care.

“After seven years of Republican attacks on President Obama’s bill that currently insures over 20 million individuals, it is clear that Republican lawmakers have no real ideas to provide affordable health care the people of this country.”

BACKGROUND

[1] Independent Analysis Of The C.B.O.’s Forecasting Concluded It Was Not Biased And Was The Most Accurate Of Federal Analysts. “In the C.B.O.’s assessment of its own accuracy, the agency says it has overestimated revenue by an average of 1.1 percent for two-year projections and by 5.3 percent for six-year projections since 1982.  Similarly, the C.B.O. concluded that its economic forecasts of the past four decades ‘have been comparable in quality to those of the administration and the Blue Chip consensus,’ which aggregates analyses from the private sector.  Independent analysis of the C.B.O.’s forecasting tends to be even more generous, concluding it is not biased (though perhaps optimistic) and citing the agency as the most accurate of federal analysts.” [New York Times, 3/9/17]

[2]“The CBO’s Analysis Is Generally Accepted As Sound. Its Own Assessment Of Its Record At Forecasting Economic Trends Found That Its Estimates Have Generally Been In Line With Administration Estimates And The Estimates Of An Average Of 50 Private-Sector Groups.” “That particular subject aside, the CBO’s analysis is generally accepted as sound. Its own assessment of its record at forecasting economic trends found that its estimates have generally been in line with administration estimates and the estimates of an average of 50 private-sector groups. The CBO’s analysis is considered sound enough that both Spicer and Trump have, in the past, cited its projections for political points.” [Washington Post, 3/10/17]

[3] “The C.B.O.’s Projections For The Affordable Care Act Were More In Line With What Actually Happened Than Four Other Prominent Analyses From 2010.” “C.B.O.’s predictions were off, but less so than others’  The agency, created in 1974, released its analysis of the completed version of the health care law in March 2010. It estimated 21 million people would be enrolled in public marketplaces by 2016. The year ended with 11.5 million enrollees.  But according to a 2015 report from the Commonwealth Fund, a health care research group, the C.B.O.’s projections for the Affordable Care Act were more in line with what actually happened than four other prominent analyses from 2010.  ‘Nobody always gets this stuff right,’ said Sherry Glied, a health policy expert and the primary author of the report. ‘But if you believe it’s possible to make an assessment, they’re the best at that.’” [New York Times, 3/9/17]

[4] Paul Ryan’s Congressional Office Referred To The CBO As “Nonpartisan.” “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today released its latest deficit projections, which show the budget deficit falling from $248 billion in Fiscal Year 2006 to $172 billion in Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07), primarily due to robust federal tax revenues. CBO even forecasts a deficit decline, though by a smaller amount, when additional appropriations for Iraq are enacted – estimating that the deficit would be ‘in the vicinity of $200 billion’ in FY07.” [Press Release, Rep. Paul Ryan, 1/24/07]

[5] Ryan’s “A Better Way” Health Care Plan Repeatedly Cited Figures From The “Nonpartisan” Congressional Budget Office. “The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said that premiums in the individual market ‘are projected to grow somewhat more quickly over the next few years because of factors related to the ACA.’ … According to CBO, 11 million new individuals enrolled in Medicaid in 2015, and by 2025 there will be 14.5 million new people in the program. 34 Newly eligible beneficiaries will add pressure to already-strained state budgets beginning in 2016, when the federal funds to support the expansion begin to decrease and the health care law forces states to bear a greater share of the costs… The non-partisan CBO projects this job-based subsidy will lower federal revenues by $266 billion in fiscal year 2016 alone and $3.6 trillion over the next decade. 37 …This study should also review state anti-trust regulation regarding health insurance since such regulation is not preempted by McCarran-Ferguson. Past CBO analyses and third party actuarial estimates should also be consulted when studying this idea.” [Health Care, “A Better Way,” 6/22/16]

[6] Paul Ryan’s Office Noted They Had Requested Estimates From The “Nonpartisan” Congressional Budget Office In Their Fact Sheet On Ryan’s Healthcare Proposal. “15. You seem to make a lot of promises about universal health care, as well as investments in prevention and health IT.  How much will your plan cost the American taxpayer? A. The Patient’s Choice Act is budget neutral.  A. We anticipate a cost estimate will demonstrate revenue-neutrality as well, meaning net taxes will decline, or remain at their current level, costing the American taxpayers no additional money.  The legislation will redirect tax dollars, leveling the playing field so every American has access to affordable health insurance.  Official cost estimates have been requested from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.” [Patients Choice Act Q&A, Rep. Paul Ryan, accessed 3/10/17]

Dems criticize Corrections as Litscher testifies at JFC

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Dems highlight bill on independent investigations for inmates’ deaths

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Dems introduce bill limiting solitary confinement for those with mental illness

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Dems look to 2018, optimistic for a favorable redistricting ruling

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Dems push family, medical leave legislation

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Dems want to prevent state investment in companies involved with Trump’s border wall

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Department of Corrections: Committed to safety of youth in custody

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Contact:
608-240-5060
[email protected]

MADISON—Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Jon Litscher penned a guest column which appeared in the Wausau Daily Herald outlining DOC’s commitment to the safety and success of youth at Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School. The column is included below:

“I care deeply about the safety and well-being of every youth at Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School and Department of Corrections employee at all of our work sites throughout Wisconsin. I make it a point to spend a significant portion of my time in the field visiting with staff and those in our custody. As part of this effort, I have visited CLS/LHS six times during my tenure.

When I became DOC secretary in early 2016, my charge was clear: fix the concerns that had been raised regarding Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School as a result of DOC’s internal investigation that began in November 2014. Through that process, DOC held staff responsible for misconduct and made widespread changes to division and institution operations.

These changes made have resulted in many positive improvements to institution operations. Staff today receive significant training, are required to wear body cameras when interacting with youth, and extensively document their involvement in use-of-force incidents.

These changes include the requirement to resolve situations with the least amount of force necessary and to use verbal dialogue whenever possible. This typically includes avoiding the use of physical force unless it is necessary for the safety of youth or staff. Agency, division and institution leaders hold weekly reviews of every youth injury and use-of-force incident to ensure accountability in institution operations. Leadership at every level are identifying and promptly addressing issues as they arise.

Having said this, we will not rest until we have comprehensively overhauled the Division of Juvenile Corrections and completed a full review of all institution policies and procedures. DOC is working closely with the Council of Juvenile Corrections Administrators and other organizations, as are a number of juvenile corrections agencies around the country, to actively minimize the use of confinement, restraints and chemical agents in juvenile correctional facilities, along with other enhancements that will positively benefit youth in our custody.

In June 2015, CJCA released a toolkit articulating a path to minimize the use of confinement, which CLS/LHS has been utilizing in an effort to reduce the frequency and length of confinement placements for youth. In late 2016, the Division of Juvenile Corrections established a road map which identifies a number of proposed strategic changes, which include changes to further minimize or eliminate the use of confinement, restraints and chemical agents.

Last year, after I became aware of a medication error that occurred at CLS/LHS, I directed the Division of Juvenile Corrections to correct the issue. As a result, licensed medical staff administer medication to youth, a change that took effect in November 2016. We made this change because we knew it was the right thing to do. DOC will continue to move forward in other areas to address concerns and enhance facility operations.

We are committed to making the changes necessary to ensure that Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School is a safe and secure environment for all youth confined there. As I noted before, while we have moved forward in many areas, we will continue to identify and make additional enhancements that positively affect the safety, security and well-being of youth in our custody.”

Department of Safety and Professional Services: Fight Against Prescription Drugs Takes Another Step Forward April 1

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For Immediate Release

Contact: Alicia Bork

Madison, WI – Beginning Saturday, April 1, all practitioners who prescribe controlled substances will be required to use the Wisconsin enhanced Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (WI ePDMP). This latest requirement comes from 2015 Act 266, which is a piece of the Heroin, Opioid, Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda.

“This new requirement is imperative in ensuring that we continue to prevent opioid abuse,” said Governor Walker. “We have made great strides thus far, and the implementation of this legislation will continue to help us fight the misuse, abuse, and diversion of controlled prescription drugs.”

While some practitioners have voluntarily been using the system since its inception in 2013, law did not require them to do so. This new requirement will require a practitioner to review a patient’s PDMP records before prescribing a controlled substance prescription unless any of the exceptions apply:

A patient is receiving hospice care
The prescription is intended to last the patient three days or less, and is not subject to refill
The drugs are administered directly to a patient
An emergency situation prevents the practitioner from reviewing ePDMP records
There is a technological failure
“The biggest misconceptions about the ePDMP are that it is only for opioid prescribers and dispensers and that it sets a limit on the amount of medication a patient can receive,” said Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) Secretary Laura Gutiérrez. “In reality, the system tracks prescriptions for all schedule II-V controlled substances. That includes opioids, but also includes benzodiazepines, stimulants and other controlled substances. The amount of medication prescribed or dispensed continues to be up to the healthcare professional’s discretion.”

Also beginning April 1, a change in requirements goes into effect for pharmacies and other dispensers. Since the PDMP’s inception in 2013, dispensers have been required by law to submit dispensing data to the system within seven days. Beginning April 1, pharmacies and dispensing practitioners must submit a monitored prescription drug record to the ePDMP no later than 11:59 p.m. of the next business day after dispensing, providing prescribers better real-time data about their patients.

“The WI ePDMP is a tool to help healthcare professionals make more informed prescribing and dispensing decisions,” said Gutiérrez. “It has already proven to be effective, with nearly 21 million fewer opioid doses being dispensed in the second half of 2016 as compared to the same period in 2015.”

The original Wisconsin PDMP was deployed in June 2013; however DSPS launched an enhanced version, the ePDMP, in January 2017. The WI ePDMP allows for value-added healthcare workflow integration, improved data quality capabilities, and maximized public health and safety use. It also contains analytics and visualizations to draw attention to the most relevant and potentially concerning data in each report, such as a patient’s high levels of opioid consumption or dangerous combination of drugs.

Department of Transportation: Governor Walker approves over $1.9 million for design and construction projects at Dodge County Airport

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For more information, contact:
Lucas Ward, P.E., WisDOT airport development engineer
(608) 266-2729, [email protected]

Governor Scott Walker today announced funding totaling $1,938,607 to design and reconstruct Runway 8/26 at the Dodge County Airport. Lucas Ward, P.E., airport development engineer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), says these projects will improve safety and pavement conditions at Dodge County Airport. Construction should be completed by October 2018.

Funds from the state, Dodge County and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be used for this project.

Funding Breakdown
· State = $96,930
· Dodge County = $96,931
· FAA = $1,744,746

Airport improvement projects are administered through the WisDOT Bureau of Aeronautics. Dodge County Airport is one of 97 facilities included in the Wisconsin State Airport System Plan, which makes it eligible for state and federal funding.

Department of Workforce Development: Secretary Ray Allen issues statement on new BLS employment and wage report

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Contact: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
MADISON – Today’s release of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) state-by-state Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages (QCEW) data covering the third quarter of 2016 reaffirm that quarterly wages by covered Wisconsin private-sector employers grew by 7 percent during the year ending in September 2016. Data also showed Wisconsin added 25,562 private-sector jobs from September 2015 to September 2016.
Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen issued the following statement in response to the new data:
“Today’s data show that Wisconsin’s economy continues to create thousands of high paying jobs year-over-year,” Secretary Allen said. “With a 7 percent growth in private-sector quarterly wages and almost 25,600 private-sector jobs created between September 2015 and September 2016, Wisconsin’s economy is benefiting from common-sense reforms and incentives to drive business growth and develop the workforce.”
Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:
  • Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1988. Continuing unemployment claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1973.
  • More people were employed last year in Wisconsin than at any point in our state’s history.
  • After adjusting for inflation, total private sector wages in 2015 grew 5.1%, the best growth since 2001.
  • After adjusting for inflation, average weekly wages in 2015 increased 3.6%, the best growth since 2001.
 The BLS’ full QCEW report is available online.

Department of Workforce Development: Wisconsin Local Employment & Unemployment Estimates Released

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CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities, and counties in Wisconsin. The estimates include updates for January 2017 and the preliminary estimates for February 2017. As these numbers are not seasonally adjusted, they are most appropriately compared year-over-year instead of month-over-month as rates often increase in the colder winter months due to the seasonality of the state economy. In brief, the not-seasonally adjusted estimates showed:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas: Preliminary February 2017 unemployment rates decreased in all areas over the year when compared to February 2016. The largest over the year decline was 0.7 percent in Fond du Lac. The latest rates ranged from 3.3 percent in Madison to 5.4 percent in Racine.

Municipalities: Preliminary February 2017 rates decreased or stayed the same in 30 of the state’s 32 largest municipalities when compared to February 2016. The latest rates ranged from 2.9 percent in Madison to 6.3 percent in Racine.

Counties: Preliminary February 2017 rates decreased or stayed the same in 71 of 72 counties when compared to February 2016 rates. The largest over the year decline was 1.5 percent in Sawyer county. The latest rates ranged from 3.1 percent in Dane to 8.6 percent in Iron.

The release of the February 2017 local rates follows last week’s release of BLS monthly estimates showing a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in February 2017, dropping to its lowest rate since November 2000. Data also showed both total labor force and employment in Wisconsin reached an all-time highs in February, while the number of unemployed individuals was its lowest since January 2001.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:

Based on preliminary data, the state added 28,200 total non-farm jobs and 21,500 private-sector jobs from February 2016 to February 2017, with a statistically significant gain of 11,100 total non-farm jobs as well as 7,600 private-sector jobs over the month.
Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate increased to 68.3 percent and continues to outpace the U.S. rate of 63.0 percent in February.
Wisconsin saw a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in February 2017, down 0.2 percent from January and at its lowest rate since November 2000.
Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1988. Year 2017 initial UI claims are running at their lowest levels since 1989.
Continuing unemployment claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1973. Continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin are running the lowest in at least the past 30 years.

Department of Workforce Development: Wisconsin Local Employment & Unemployment Estimates Released

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities, and counties in Wisconsin. The estimates include updates for December 2016 and the preliminary estimates for January 2017. As these numbers are not seasonally adjusted, they are most appropriately compared year-over-year instead of month-over-month as rates often increase in the colder winter months due to the seasonality of the state economy. In brief, the not-seasonally adjusted estimates showed:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas: Preliminary January 2017 unemployment rates decreased in all areas over the year when compared to January 2016. The largest over the year decline was 0.6 percent in Fond du Lac. The latest rates ranged from 3.0 percent in Madison to 5.0 percent in Racine.

Municipalities: Preliminary January 2017 rates decreased in all of the state’s 32 largest municipalities when compared to January 2016. The latest rates ranged from 2.7 percent in Fitchburg and Madison to 5.7 percent in Racine.

Counties: Preliminary January 2017 rates decreased or stayed the same in 71 of 72 counties when compared to January 2016 rates. The largest over the year decline was 1.6 percent in Bayfield and Sawyer counties. The latest rates ranged from 2.9 percent in Dane to 8.0 percent in Bayfield.

The release of the January 2017 local rates follows last week’s release of BLS monthly estimates showing a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in January 2017, dropping to its lowest rate since January 2001. Data also showed Wisconsin’s total employment increased by 20,500 over the year, meaning more people were employed than ever before in Wisconsin in January 2017 when compared to updated 2016 monthly estimates.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:

Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1988. Year 2017 initial UI claims are running at their lowest levels since 1989.
Continuing unemployment claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1973. Continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin are running the lowest in at least the past 30 years
Wisconsin’s January 2017 Labor Force Participation Rate increased to 68.1% and was 5.2 percentage points higher than the national rate of 62.9% during the month.
A preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.9% in January, down from 4.3% in January 2016 and below the national rate of 4.8%. The state’s 3.9% rate in January is down 0.2 points from the updated 4.1% unemployment rate in December 2016 and is the lowest rate since January 2001. Additionally, the number of unemployed individuals is at its lowest point since February 2001.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Every day is April Fool’s Day for email scammers

Media Contact:  Jerad Albracht, Senior Communications Specialist, 608-224-5007 or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020

Spam Email Screenshot Examples (.jpg files):  #1   #2   #3
MADISON – When someone plays a harmless prank on April Fool’s Day, usually you laugh it off.  After all, it’s safe to assume that the tricks stop by the next morning.  But for email users, every day is another chance to get tricked by a scammer.  Scammers see email as a cheap way to send batches of rip-off attempts (known as “spam”) all over the world with one click.  The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection asks Wisconsin residents to be on the lookout for phony email pitches that could put their finances and personal information at risk.

“Some spam emails are carefully crafted and appear to come from legitimate sources while others are poorly constructed but aim to draw you in with over-the-top claims,” said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection.  “Regardless of appearance, the risks to your finances and sensitive information are the same.  Any messages you receive need to be carefully screened and deleted if you suspect they are fake.”

A number of recent spam emails have falsely promised a gift card for a major retailer.  The email subject lines include “Thank You!,” “Congratulations!,” or something similar.  The emails appear to contain separate links for different actions, but the entire content of the email is actually one graphic that is presumably linked to a malicious website.  You will be sent to that same address regardless of where you click on the message. 

Most of these emails end up in your “junk mail” folder if your security settings are high and your email provider is routing spam correctly, but the occasional junk email inevitably finds its way through the filters and into your inbox. 

Keep these tips in mind to avoid spam emails: 

  • Watch for poor grammar, misspellings, awkward language choices and a general lack of professionalism.  Legitimate corporate emails will be clear and grammatically accurate.  A spam email may have the name, logo and color scheme of a well-known business, but these language clues can tip you off to a fake message that otherwise appears to be real.
  • Check the sender’s email address for another easy tipoff.  In many spam messages, the web address (URL) referenced in the sender’s email address does not match the true URL for the business in question.  For example, an email that claims to come from the U.S. Postal Service may come from “JoeSchmo @ somefakecompany.com” instead of “___ @ usps.com.”
  • Be suspicious of any request to open an attached file or click a link (including to “view your account”).  Either action could cause you to download malware on your device.
  • If you hover your mouse over a link in an email (do NOT click your mouse!), the URL that the link directs you to will appear in the bottom of your browser window.
  • Refuse requests to reply to an email with confidential information such as user names, passwords and personal details.  If you question the validity of an email that claims to be from a major business, call the business directly to inquire about its legitimacy.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau atdatcp.wisconsin.gov, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to[email protected].

Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer.

Dept. of Natural Resources: Strong partnerships shine in third year of elk translocation efforts

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Contact:
Kevin Wallenfang
(608) 206-1107

Madison – Twenty-eight Kentucky elk have arrived at their new home in the Flambeau River State Forest in Sawyer County. Once released into the wild, the “class of 2017” will join the current Clam Lake herd.

The Clam Lake herd resides primarily in Ashland, Price, and Sawyer counties, and was reintroduced to the area in 1995 from Michigan. Adding additional elk from Kentucky to the herd is expected to provide a boost to herd growth and introduce new genetics. These efforts mark the third year of a five-year elk reintroduction program being conducted with assistance from multiple partners.

“We are very excited to be adding more elk to the northern elk herd – working alongside Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff has been such a positive experience,” Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said. “This is yet another milestone we would not have reached without help from Kentucky and our other partners – whether through volunteer hours or donations, their support has led to a true team effort.”

Wisconsin DNR staff have worked closely with Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff over the past three years to help make sure trapping efforts in Kentucky are as successful and efficient as possible.

Funding for Wisconsin elk translocation efforts over the past three years is a result of support from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Jackson County Wildlife Fund, Chippewa tribes and others.

Now that the elk have arrived in northern Wisconsin, DNR staff will take special precautions to help make sure these elk become accustomed to their new home in the Flambeau River State Forest.

The elk will be enclosed in a seven acre holding pen to satisfy quarantine and animal health testing requirements and allow the elk to become familiar with their new surroundings. The area surrounding the holding pen is closed to the public during this period. Individuals are asked to avoid the general vicinity of the closed area. Minimizing human disturbance near the release site will allow the elk to adjust and will maximize the success of reintroduction efforts.

During 2015 and 2016, a new elk herd was established in Jackson County where a total of 73 elk were released, and department staff are excited to continue working closely with partners in this region.

“The task of actually bringing elk to Jackson County is complete, and we are now shifting our relocation efforts to the northern herd,” said Kevin Wallenfang, DNR deer and elk ecologist. “Our hope is to deliver up to 75 elk to the Clam Lake area over two years, but we have an option to return for a fifth year if necessary.”

For more information regarding elk in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “elk.”

Dept. of Revenue Secretary Chandler: Statement on 2017-19 biennial budget

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CONTACT: Casey Langan, Communications Director

608.266.2300 or [email protected]

MADISON – Today, Department of Revenue Secretary Richard Chandler appeared before the Joint Committee on Finance to discuss Governor Walker’s 2017-19 Biennial Budget. Secretary Chandler issued the following statement:

Governor Walker’s budget is working and winning for Wisconsin by lowering taxes and advancing policies that encourage work. This budget’s tax reform initiatives reduce income tax rates for everyone, with significant relief targeted to middle class taxpayers. This budget continues our commitment to hold the line on property taxes for Wisconsin homeowners. As our state’s tax burden decreases, opportunities increase for Wisconsin families.

# # #

Dept. of Revenue: Tax deadline one month away

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CONTACT:  Casey Langan, Communications Director
608.266.2300 or [email protected]

The tax filing deadline is one month away and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue is reminding taxpayers to file their income tax returns by the deadline. Returns must be received or postmarked by midnight on Tuesday, April 18. The deadline is extended this year because April 15 is a Saturday and Monday, April 17 is a holiday in Washington, D.C.

 

Department of Revenue is sharing the following tips to make the filing process easier:

 

 

  • Pay your taxes online. The department offers easy online payment of your taxes on its website. Watch this short one minute video to find out how to make your payment online.

 

  • File an extension request with the IRS if you won’t make the April 18 deadline. You must request an extension from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by April 18 to avoid late filing penalties. Go to the IRS website at www.irs.gov and search “extension” for more information. Taxpayers who file an extension request with the IRS automatically receive an extension from the state. Keep a copy of the IRS federal extension application (Form 4868) for your records.

 

  • Get free tax help at one of more than 200 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites across Wisconsin. For more information, visit www.revenue.wi.gov and search “free tax help.” Call 2-1-1 to find free tax assistance sites in your area.

 

  • Download the WI Revenue mobile app (available in the Apple and Android app stores) and watch tax assistance videos, check the status of your return or refund, find VITA sites, take action if you received an ID Verification letter, and more.

 

  • Call customer service during off-peak hours at 608.266.2772. Our customer service hours are 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The best time to call isTuesday through Friday, especially in the afternoon. Our call center is busiest on Mondays and during the lunch hour.

 

  • Remember DOR will not contact you by telephone or email regarding your income tax return. If the Department needs more information to verify items on your return, it will contact you by letter.

 

Dept. of Workforce Development: BLS data- state unemployment rate declines to 3.7 percent, lowest since November 2000

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Contact:
(608) 266-2722

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for January and preliminary estimates for February covering employment and job statistics for the state of Wisconsin. In brief, the seasonally adjusted estimates show:

  • Place of residence data: A preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7 percent in February 2017, down 0.2 percent from January and at its lowest rate since November 2000. The rate remains lower than the national unemployment rate, which decreased to 4.7 percent in February 2017. Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate increased to 68.3 percent and continues to outpace the U.S. rate of 63.0 percent in February.  Both total labor force and employment in Wisconsin remained at an all-time high in February, while the number of unemployed individuals was its lowest since January 2001.
  • Place of work data: Based on preliminary data, the state added 28,200 total non-farm jobs and 21,500 private-sector jobs from February 2016 to February 2017, with a statistically significant gain of 11,100 total non-farm jobs as well as 7,600 private-sector jobs over the month. January 2017 total non-farm jobs were revised up 5.200 and private-sector jobs were revised up 4,600.

“Wisconsin is working,” Governor Scott Walker said. “More people are working than ever before in our history, wages are up, and the last time our unemployment rate was this low Tommy Thompson was governor and Bill Clinton was president. This is outstanding news for people all across our state, but there is more work to be done.”

DWD Secretary Ray Allen issued the following statement: “Revised numbers show Wisconsin gained 10,400 private-sector jobs in January and preliminary numbers show we added 7,600 private-sector jobs in February, pointing to an excellent start to 2017. Building on this economic progress, Governor Walker’s recent budget proposal reinforces Wisconsin’s economic and workforce development strategy, which has supported the state’s economic growth.”

The BLS uses three data sets to measure employment and unemployment:

  • Current Employment Statistics (CES): compiled from a monthly survey sent to about 5,500 employers (3.5 percent of Wisconsin employers). CES data has been shown to be volatile and subject to revision.
  • Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): compiled from a monthly survey of 985 households and unemployment insurance claims. Measures the labor force, employment, unemployment, and the unemployment rate.
  • Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW): compiled quarterly based on Unemployment Insurance records from some 96% of Wisconsin business establishments. Considered by most economists to be the most accurate measure of jobs, the QCEW includes data from almost all employers in Wisconsin.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:

  • Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1988. Year 2017 initial UI claims are running at their lowest levels since 1989.
  • Continuing unemployment claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1973. Continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin are running the lowest in at least the past 30 years.

Display and discussion about solitary confinement in Wisconsin prisons 🗓

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Event will feature a life-size mock solitary confinement cell

MADISON – On Thursday, March 30, Wisconsin State Senator LaTonya Johnson (D – Milwaukee) will be joined by Rev. Jerry Hancock from the statewide faith-based advocacy group WISDOM, and other lawmakers to discuss the use of solitary confinement in Wisconsin prisons. Individuals and family members who have experienced solitary confinement will also be present at the event and available for comment.

At the event, Sen. Johnson will also announce the introduction of legislation that would prohibit the placement of inmates living with serious mental illness in solitary confinement for more than ten days. The legislation will also require that a mental health evaluation be performed on any inmate before he or she is placed in solitary confinement in order to minimize the risk of causing irreparable damage to individuals’ mental health.

The press conference will feature a life-size mock solitary confinement cell. The cell, built by the statewide faith-based advocacy group Wisdom, is based in part on drawings made by former inmate Talib Akbar during his one nearly yearlong stint in isolation.

WHO: Sen. LaTonya Johnson, Rep. David Crowley, Rep. David Bowen, Rev. Jerry Hancock, individuals and family members who have experienced solitary confinement

 

WHAT: Announcement on limiting the use of solitary confinement on prisoners living with serious mental illness

 

WHEN: 10:30am, Thursday, March 30

 

WHERE: North Hearing Room, Wisconsin State Capitol

 

This event is open to the public and the press. Press are encouraged to RSVP to [email protected] or 608.266.5580.

 

DNR’s Stepp tells audit committee agency has made ‘substantial progress’

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DOA officials defend guv’s budget to JFC as agency briefings kick off

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DOJ: Two sentenced for scheme to pass counterfeit currency

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Contact:
Robert Anderson
(608) 264-5158

MADISON, WIS. – Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Danesha Phillips, 23, and Marlo Phillips, 19, both of Madison, Wis., were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley for passing counterfeit U.S. currency at numerous merchants in southern Wisconsin. Danesha Phillips and Marlo Phillips are sister and brother.

Danesha Phillips, who pleaded guilty on December 20, 2016, was sentenced to 42 days in prison, with credit for time served.  Marlo Phillips, who pleaded guilty on December 9, 2016, was sentenced to one year in prison, also with credit for time he has served since his arrest in February 2016.  Both sentences are to be followed by two years of supervised release.  The defendants were also ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution to the victimized merchants, jointly and severally with their other co-defendants.

During January and February 2016, Danesha Phillips and Marlo Phillips traveled with three other individuals to various cities from Baraboo to Janesville, passing counterfeit $100 bills at restaurants and merchants. The group would make small-dollar purchases for which they would present the fake $100 bills in order to receive a large amount of change in legitimate currency from the merchants.

The group was apprehended on February 23, 2016 by Janesville police officers during one such shopping spree, when police officers responded to merchant reports of the suspicious bills.  In issuing the sentences, Judge Conley took into account the youthfulness of the defendants and, particularly, their post-arrest contrition and cooperation with the investigation and prosecution.

Cornelius Stewart, 22, Madison, was sentenced to two years in prison in February for his role as a leader of the group.  Stewart provided the counterfeit bills to the other members of the group in return for a portion of the change they would receive from merchants.  Dominique Gaunichaux, 19, and Parish Barbary-Wheatherby, 21, also of Madison, will be sentenced on April 6 and 28, respectively.

The charges in this case were the result of an investigation conducted by the Madison, Baraboo, Stoughton, Verona, Oregon, Fitchburg, Lake Delton, and Janesville Police Departments, as well as the Sauk County and Rock County Sheriffs’ Offices, all in coordination with the U.S. Secret Service.  The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson.

DOT’s Ross says state has ‘spending problem’ on roads, doesn’t need more funds

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Dozens of 17-year-olds voted illegally in 2016 presidential primaries

The state saw at least 60 cases of 17-year-olds voting illegally during the 2016 spring primaries, according to a report the Elections Commission will submit to the Legislature.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said that was a significant increase from prior elections, which had seen only a handful of these cases.

The report, which commissioners will review at their meeting tomorrow, notes some political campaigns “were providing false information” that indicated 17-year-olds could vote in the April primary if they turned 18 by the November general election. Other states let teenage voters do so but “the answer is clearly no in Wisconsin,” the report says.

The report also highlighted other cases of potential voter fraud or irregularities, including at least 16 cases of people voting twice in the same election or felons voting despite being under Department of Corrections supervision. The report looked at anything between June 30, 2016, and Feb. 15, 2017, and includes cases in both the primary and general elections.

Magney attributed the increase in 17-year-olds voting illegally to a “perfect storm” of false information on social media and high interest in the April presidential primaries. Magney said people can register to vote before they’re 18, but cannot vote until they hit that age.

State elections officials flagged potential cases to municipal clerks, who then were told to check the information and forward possible violations to their local district attorney. The Elections Commission material does not detail whether DAs filed charges in those instances or any other cases of voter fraud and irregularities.

David Lasee, the Brown County district attorney, said he’s still reviewing the other types of cases. But for the nine cases of 17-year-olds voting in his county, he decided to press no charges after the sheriff’s office interviewed the students.

Lasee said he didn’t recall dealing with similar issues during the 2012 elections. But he said none of the students intended to commit fraud and even told poll workers that they hadn’t yet turned 18, but poll workers let them vote anyway.

“All of them believed that they were able to vote at that time,” Lasee said.

Some counties had only one instance of 17-year-olds voting but others had several. That includes Kewaunee County’s nine cases, seven cases in Rock County and five in Dane County.

See the report (starts on p. 94): http://elections.wi.gov/sites/default/files/event/261/tuesday_march_14_2017_complete_meeting_materials__23379.pdf 

Dozens of 17-year-olds voted illegally in 2016 presidential primaries, Elections Commission says

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DSCC running TV ad on GOP health care bill

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DSPS secretary says agency wants to ‘remove barriers’ to entering workforce

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DWD’s Allen defends against Dem concerns that Walker’s harming workforce fairness

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Elections Commission dismisses election bribery complaint against Holtz, Humphries

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The Elections Commission unanimously dismissed a complaint filed against John Humphries and Lowell Holtz, finding their talks that one could get a six-figure salary and a driver if the other won the state superintendent’s race did not violate election bribery laws.

Scot Ross of liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now, which filed the complaint, still slammed the discussions.

“The inaction by the Wisconsin Elections Commission points to shortcomings in the law, not the lack of sleaze in the conduct of Lowell Holtz when he sat down and discussed an election bribe,” Ross said.

In the days leading up to the February primary, Humphries accused Holtz of offering him a six-figure job at DPI if he dropped out of the primary and Holtz beat incumbent Tony Evers in the April general election. He also charged Holtz sought a similar deal if Humphries won the primary and then beat Evers.

But Holtz countered the offer was a “rough draft” of ideas and that the deal wasn’t aimed at getting one of them to drop out of the race. Rather, he said, the job offer was part of a possible deal to ensure the primary loser backed the other challenger in the general election.

The two said a December meeting at a Milton restaurant to discuss the proposal was set up by unnamed businessmen.

OWN then filed the complaint. But the Elections Commission dismissed it at Tuesday’s meeting, according to a letter released Wednesday. The commission wrote in the letter the finding was unanimous that the allegations do not violate Wisconsin’s election bribery law and “therefore there can be no reasonable suspicion that a violation of this law has occurred.”

Holtz, the former superintendent of the Whitnall and Beloit school districts, told reporters the decision wasn’t surprising, pointing to media reports citing former GAB Director Kevin Kennedy suggesting there likely weren’t any violations of state law.

He also compared the talks to Hillary Clinton having talks before the presidential election on who would be on her staff.

“People do that all the time,” Holtz said after a candidate forum with Evers.

In a statement the campaign released, Holtz also called on Evers “to reject the politics of personal destruction practiced by his hit squad at One Wisconsin Now.” The group, he said, doesn’t have “even a casual relationship with ethics, legality or the truth.”

“Dr. Evers may claim to have nothing to do with this,” Holtz said. “I for one don’t believe him.”

Ross said Holtz “wouldn’t know ethics if it sat down with him at the Milton Family Restaurant.”

“He should stop calling names and at long last apologize for his $500,000 bribery scheme,” he said.

Amanda Brink, an Evers spokeswoman, said Holtz “broke this news story on a live radio show when he discussed his backroom deal with unnamed business leaders to boost his salary and take over Wisconsin’s 5 largest school districts.”

Humphries, who is consulting for the Dodgeville district, wrote in an email, “I’m happy to be back in school helping kids, and glad that the elections board has dismissed this complaint. I was surprised by the original proposal from Holtz and the fact that the complaint was dismissed supports my decision to bring it to the public’s attention.”

Evers told reporters his major concern “wasn’t necessarily the bribery angle” but that a document Holtz brought to his meeting with Humphries included the possibility of taking over major urban school districts.

“That, to me, was the scariest part of the whole thing. … What it was is backroom deals and that upset me tremendously,” Evers said.

Public policy, he added, isn’t handled on “the back of a bar napkin.”

See the letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/170315OWN.pdf

Elections Commission dismisses OWN complaint against Humphries, Holtz

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Elections Commission warns clerks about proposed budget changes

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Elections commissioners blame social media posts, Sanders campaign for 17-year-olds illegally voting

Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen Tuesday blamed Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign for the spike in 17-year-olds voting illegally in the April 2016 primaries.

But he later softened his criticism during Tuesday’s commission meeting after agency staff said it didn’t fully investigate whether it was social media posts from Sanders or others that contributed to the issue. The commission says a large number of students thought they could vote in the primaries as long as they turned 18 by the November general, and though poll workers turned most away, they let some 17-year-olds vote.

The commission’s meeting included a discussion of a new agency report to the Legislature that found at least 60 such cases, though it’s unclear whether local DAs filed charges.

The report also highlighted other cases of potential voter fraud or irregularities, including at least 16 cases of people voting twice in the same election or felons voting despite being under Department of Corrections supervision.

The draft report partly attributed the rise in 17-year-olds voting illegally to “some political campaigns” spreading false information on social media. But it didn’t specify which campaigns were responsible or provide examples of posts.

Thomsen, a Dem appointee, said this morning the Sanders campaign “blurred the differences between” laws in different states. In pushing 17-year-olds to vote in states where that’s allowed, the campaign didn’t clarify Wisconsin wasn’t one of those states, he said.

But Thomsen later offered a change to the report removing the language blaming “some political campaigns,” saying without clear examples that language is “completely useless.” Commissioners approved tweaking that language to generally say information on social media was inaccurate.

Nathan Judnic, a commission attorney, said the now-defunct Government Accountability Board got many inquiries on the issue. In some cases, people said they saw Sanders-related posts, but that’s anecdotal evidence and the commission didn’t look up specific posts to determine what caused those calls, Judnic said.

Commissioner Steve King, a GOP appointee, said that amounted to enough documentation that the Sanders campaign was responsible.

But Commissioner Ann Jacobs, a Dem appointee, said it’s hard to pin down whether something that was originally true got transmitted in “eight different ways” by Sanders supporters or Facebook pages backing him.

“I know I saw that meme 100 times,” she said. “I don’t know that it was a campaign-generated thing. That’s the difference.”

Judnic, the commission attorney, also noted the teenagers didn’t intend to commit voter fraud and that the harshest penalties some might’ve gotten were deferred prosecution agreements or a “strongly-worded letter” from the DA. But it’s unclear what happened in each of those cases since the local DAs aren’t required to report to the agency what steps they took. Thomsen told reporters that’s something he’d like to see changed.

David Lasee, the Brown County district attorney, said yesterday he decided against pressing charges after the sheriff’s office interviewed the nine students in his county.

The Sanders campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Thomsen also said the agency will evaluate whether it needs to step up training of poll workers after some let 17-year-olds vote.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said most of those votes were counted and pointed to a memo clerks received three days after the April 5 election flagging the issue.

The memo said most 17-year-olds “were properly turned away without voting” but some weren’t. The memo also said there’s “no good solution” once an illegitimate ballot enters the mix and directed clerks to not remove the votes unless the ballots in question “can be clearly identified,” such as those that were challenged on Election Day.

Andrea Kaminski, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin’s executive director, told commissioners the issue shows “we do need better training” for election officials and better voter education.

Jacobs suggested the commissioner needs to “be more aggressive in our outreach.” Thomsen, meanwhile, said the commission will take a look at communication and training and also noted the agency’s request for additional staff would help address those issues.
See the draft report (starts on p. 95): http://elections.wi.gov/sites/default/files/event/261/tuesday_march_14_2017_complete_meeting_materials__23379.pdf

See the April memo: http://elections.wi.gov/node/3926

End Domestic Abuse WI: Applaud Family and Medical Leave Insurance act

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Contact:
Chase Tarrier
[email protected]
(608) 237-3985

Madison, WI – Advocates at End Domestic Abuse WI are celebrating the introduction of state
legislation that would create a Wisconsin Family and Medical Leave Insurance program. This
bill, introduced by Representative Sondy Pope and state Senator Janis Ringhand, would
empower Wisconsin workers to take paid time off from work to take care of their own serious health condition, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, to care for a new baby, or in the case of domestic violence victims, take time to access critical lifesaving services.

“Without time off from work, victims are unable to access the services they need to start a
violence-free life,” said Patti Seger, Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “Often
victims cannot take action because of inflexible employment obligations. For example, our local programs often receive calls from shift workers who cannot go to court during business hours to get a restraining order or petition for divorce because they would risk losing their jobs. As domestic violence abusers take advantage of financial vulnerabilities, victims are often caught in untenable situations.”

Guaranteeing paid leave for workers will allow victims of domestic violence the freedom to
seek medical attention or obtain psychological or other counseling, obtain services from local
victim service providers or relocate. Additionally, without paid leave, victims are often unable
to initiate, prepare for, testify, assist, or otherwise participate in any civil or criminal action or
proceeding. Yet, these are the activities that have been shown to reduce and eliminate
domestic and sexual violence. One survey found that taking legal action, relocating or working with an advocate significantly increased the chances a woman would leave an abusive relationship, which in turn improved her physical health.

Although both the federal and Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Acts (FMLA’s) do provide
important protections to some workers, a significant portion of the workforce is not eligible for these protections and both FMLA’s only provide for unpaid time off, which is not financially
possible for many employees.

“If victims take time off of work to escape an abuser, they could very well lose the income they need to be independent and support their children,” added Seger. “Moreover, police and
prosecutors cannot bring perpetrators to justice unless victims are able to appear at legal
proceedings. This legislation is an important step towards protecting and empowering victims
of abuse all across Wisconsin.”

Eric Finch campaign: Announces candidacy for DPW chair

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“My name is Eric Finch. I’m an attorney living in Madison. Since moving to Wisconsin a few years ago, I’ve fallen in love with this great state. My wife and I hope to start a family here. But there’s one thing I can’t stand about Wisconsin: our awful republican government. While GOP officials claim to be conservative, they have absolutely betrayed the voters of our state. This isn’t even a left-versus-right issue. It’s an issue of our governor and legislature being terrible with money and failing to understand the Constitution. That’s why I am entering the contest for chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. The people of Wisconsin deserve a champion that will stand up to these cronies.

Our Governor calls himself fiscally conservative and yet he can’t even pay the interest on our state’s loans. He’s just kicking the can down the road, burdening future generations. It’s disgraceful. I personally wouldn’t trust him with my checkbook, and yet I have to pay my taxes to him. I’m sick of it. Our government should be wise and prudent with our tax dollars. Instead, under GOP control, it has blown money on poorly designed road construction and handed out our tax dollars to Walker’s rich friends through WEDC. As someone that has run businesses, I know that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. For example, by putting a little extra money into education, we know that our state could save massively on other costs over the long-term, from social services to incarceration. We need to get back on a path toward fiscal sanity.

I’d like to see common sense prevail. Things like being able to drink water straight from the tap. I’ve lived all across this country and it was never an issue. But since moving here, I’ve learned more about water filters than I’d ever wanted to know, thanks the GOP lawmakers screwing up basic water quality shortly after gaining power in 2010. Wisconsin has become far too similar to Flint, Michigan. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of environmental issues: As I’ve travelled rural areas of the state, even very conservative hunters and fishing enthusiasts are concerned about Walker’s poor administration of the DNR, and what sort of hunting and fishing legacy will be left for their kids.

It isn’t just our governor and state legislature that we need to fix. We need representation in congress that will stand up to our historically unpopular president, not show the spinelessness of Sean Duffy and Paul Ryan. We need more people like Tammy Baldwin, who has been a courageous fighter for our civil rights. There’s no one I’d rather have represent me in the United States Senate than the first openly gay member of our highest law-making body. She’s exactly who we need to stand up to the hateful ideology of Mike Pence. We need representation in the house that, like Tammy, will actually stand for the ideal that every American should be free to live their life as they choose.

Speaking of our freedom as Americans, one of the biggest reasons that I’m running for this position is the failure of the democratic establishment insiders in our state, for more than half a decade, to take action to address what Scott Walker and the rest of his GOP buddies actually did by passing Act 10: they took away our constitutional rights granted by First Amendment. We all know our constitutional rights to free speech, press, and religion. But the First Amendment also protects two other important rights: the right to peaceably assemble and the right to petition our government for grievances. Unions of public employees exist to exercise these two important constitutional rights. For Scott Walker to limit and take away these rights violates the very spirit of the Constitution. It’s downright un-American. Perhaps Walker wanted to avoid the work of actually negotiating with public unions on our behalf so that he could travel the country, running for higher office. Whatever his excuse, he’s shirked his duty and ignored the founding ideals of our country. For that, we need to rise up and show these republican officials what America is all about. As chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, I’ll lead the charge in fighting for your freedom and the integrity of our democracy.”

Evers ‘pleased’ with Walker’s DPI budget proposal

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Evers battles with Holtz over state’s achievement gap

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In his last face-off with Tony Evers before Tuesday’s election, Lowell Holtz slammed the state superintendent for the Wisconsin’s achievement gaps, saying it’s “not acceptable to be the worst” in the country.

Holtz said one of the main reasons why it exists is because schools aren’t safe.

“We’re turning our back on generations of minority kids and saying, ‘Sorry, we didn’t fix the problem,’” he said at a Wisconsin Public Television and Wisconsin Public Radio debate in Madison.

Holtz asked Evers why he let the achievement gap widen during his nearly eight years as state superintendent.

Evers countered the achievement gap is tied to poverty, which he’s not responsible for, but refuted Holtz’s claims that he’s done nothing on the issue. The state has “spent a lot of time, effort and money” to help address the issue and noted there’s significant collaborations with other state agencies happening to provide mental health treatment, services for parents and developing job centers.

Evers also said Common Core was carefully developed with local leaders and gives school districts flexibility to set more rigorous curriculum if they’d like. The standards, he said, have let teachers “go deeper and work on application of content” they teach.

“It’s not about memorizing facts. … It’s about taking those facts and applying them,” he said.

But Holtz said he’s “adamantly opposed to Common Core.” He noted concerns from some teachers unions who say it turns teachers into “data collectors” and said local school districts should have the flexibility to set their own standards.

“Everyone is a little bit different,” he said. “You can’t group them like that.”

Four days ahead of the election, the two sparred on a wide range of issues, including on school choice, allowing parents to have a gun in their car while dropping off their children and whether schools should get a chunk of the K-12 funding increase only if they comply with Act 10.

Holtz also defended his email use at the Whitnall School District, insisting there was “nothing illegal” about it. The Whitnall School Board wrote a letter to district families this week saying it had contacted the Milwaukee County DA’s office over Holtz’s possible “misuse of district resources” while he was superintendent.

Emails released by the liberal One Wisconsin Now show Holtz sent an email with his district account to his wife relating to his possible campaign, as well as an email to former GOP state Rep. Don Pridemore, who ran for superintendent in 2013 and then looked to recruit a conservative candidate for this year’s race.

But Holtz said those were before he announced his campaign. He said he reviewed state election laws and “there’s nothing illegal about personal conversations” and that he’d only be violating laws if he was asking for campaign funds.

“That’s pretty much it — nothing illegal because what they’re talking about is illegal campaign fundraising,” Holtz said.

Holtz also alluded to Evers paying a $250 settlement in 2009 after sending an email to an education official’s work account asking him to plan a fundraiser.

Evers, though, said he thinks Holtz’s email use while at Whitnall is banned by state election law.

He also slammed Holtz for his pre-primary discussions with then-candidate John Humphries, including a document promising a six-figure job at the Department of Public Instruction and a driver if one of them dropped out of the primary and the other won the April election. The document also included the possibility of Holtz taking over four of the state’s largest school districts.

Holtz said he “didn’t craft the document” and that taking over schools is “the last thing I would do.”

Evers said the discussions around a driver and the DPI job are “kind of baloney.” The more significant concern, he said, is the district takeover portion because “that’s just not how we make public policy in the state.”

They also split on whether parents should be allowed to have a gun in their car while dropping their kids off at school, as a bill from GOP Sen. Dave Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski proposes.

Holtz said he doesn’t have a problem with that, pointing to an example of a parent forgetting that they had a gun in their car and “now they’re lawbreakers.”

But Evers said he opposes the measure, saying having more guns around schools “is not going to increase safety.”

On school choice, Evers said Milwaukee voucher schools haven’t performed differently than the city’s public schools since the voucher program there began. But the expansion of school choice statewide, he said, has limited the amount of money available for public schools, though he said he’s “glad I’m working with the governor” on getting more K-12 funding in his budget.

“If we support two systems, that makes it more difficult for all schools,” he said.

Holtz, meanwhile, said he likes parents having choices of where to send their kids to school and said he “was never afraid of competition” when he was a public school leader.

“It made us better,” he said.

Evers campaign: On track to double fundraising of 2013 campaign

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Contact: Amanda L. Brink
Email: [email protected]

Tony Evers on Track to Double Fundraising of 2013 Campaign

Madison — State Superintendent Tony Evers continues to have an aggressive fundraising strategy as the campaign moves into the closing days of the race for State Superintendent.

Later today, Evers will report raising $217,616 for the filing period of February 7th through March 20th, as well as cash on hand of $74,634.

The following is a statement from Amanda Brink, Campaign Manager for Tony Evers for State Superintendent:

“Tony is proud to be supported by parents, educators and community leaders across Wisconsin who share his dedication to kids and commitment to public education. Tony’s campaign has received thousands of contributions from hard-working Wisconsin folks who donated $50 or $75 at a time and is on track to double Tony’s 2013 campaign resources.

With this robust fundraising, the campaign has made a significant investment in reaching out to voters in the final week of the election.”

Evers campaign: Releases first television ad in Milwaukee and Madison media markets

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Contact:
Amanda Brink
[email protected]

Madison — The following is a statement from Amanda Brink, Campaign Manager for Tony Evers for State Superintendent:

“We will be strongly communicating our message to voters statewide in the final two weeks of the campaign. Our television ad “Most” will be aired throughout the Madison and Milwaukee media markets. The ad details a clear contrast between Tony Evers and his opponent. In the race, Tony Evers is the only candidate who can be trusted to be a strong advocate for Wisconsin’s public education system and our 860,000 kids.”
You can view our ad here

Evers knocks Holtz in first TV ads of the campaign

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State Superintendent Tony Evers’ campaign released its first two TV ads of the campaign today, both of which knock opponent Lowell Holtz for a proposed deal that could have landed the challenger a six-figure, taxpayer-funded job.

Without naming Holtz in either ad, Evers references talks Holtz and fellow primary challenger John Humphries had that one could get a six-figure salary and a driver if one of them left the race and other beat Evers in the April election.

“My opponent’s plan raises his own salary, and pays for a personal driver,” Evers says in the ad that launches tomorrow in Madison and Milwaukee. “That’s wrong, folks.”

The other ad, part of a different TV ad buy for markets in Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau, hones in on the proposed personal driver.

“When it comes to education, we can’t afford to waste a single dollar,” Evers says. “Yet my opponent thinks taxpayers should pay for his personal driver. I’m Tony Evers, and I don’t need some chauffeur to show me the way.”  

Evers also touts higher graduation rates, higher standards and the expansion of career and technical education in both ads, as he seeks a third term as the state’s head of schools.

A WisPolitics.com check of the ad buy found the campaign is spending at least $110,000 to run TV ads through the April 4 election.

Repeated checks have not turned up any ad buys from Holtz, the former superintendent of the Whitnall and Beloit school districts, or outside groups.  

See the Madison and Milwaukee ad:

See the Green Bay, La Crosse and Wausau ad:

Evers outraises Holtz 2-to-1 in run-up to April 4 election

State Superintendent Tony Evers’ campaign says he raised $217,616 in the run-up to the April 4 election, 2.5 times the amount challenger Lowell Holtz raised over the same period.

The campaign also said he’ll report $74,634 in cash on hand.

Holtz, meanwhile, gathered $86,931 from Feb. 9 to March 20, according to his filing with the Ethics Commission.

Holtz’s report, filed yesterday, shows he spent $72,214 over the period and has $30,038 in cash on hand heading into the April 4 general.

It also shows Holtz received a total of $25,000 from longtime conservative donors Richard and Liz Uihlein, as well as $5,000 from the Milwaukee County Republican Party and $2,500 from the Oneida County Republican Party.

See Holtz’s filing:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/170327HoltzFiling.pdf

See Evers’ statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/evers-campaign-on-track-to-double-fundraising-of-2013-campaign/

Evers outraises Holtz by more than double as election nears

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Evers releases first two TV ads

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Evers spending at least $110,000 on TV ads in final weeks of election

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Evers, Holtz differ on Act 10, Walker’s budget at WisPolitics.com forum

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Candidates for state superintendent at a WisPolitics.com forum in Milwaukee disagreed about Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to make a proposed boost in per-pupil school aid contingent on compliance with Act 10.

Walker’s plan would increase per-pupil aid by $200 the first year and $204 the second year of his budget, but schools would have to comply with Act 10 provisions such as requiring teachers to pay 12 percent of the cost of their health plans.

“That to me is a significant overreach by the state,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said during the forum, held Feb. 27 at UW-Milwaukee’s Zilber School of Public Health.

He noted Monona Grove teachers were paying 12 percent, but the district achieved savings by switching plans and subsequently reduced the amount staff had to contribute.

“Is that right as a state to say: ‘Well, you shouldn’t be doing that?'” Evers said.

Evers’ challenger, Lowell Holtz, likened it to having to follow the speed limit.

“You have to follow the letter of the law,” Holtz said. “You can’t have … fully independent districts that don’t follow the law.”

Holtz, who recently retired as superintendent of the Whitnall School District, praised Walker’s education budget overall, particularly provisions to help rural districts with transportation issues and to move to lifetime licensing for teachers.

Holtz said as a principal some of his best teachers were those with lifetime licenses.

“When you give teachers the opportunity to do what they do best, which is teach, they fly — they do a great job with our kids,” Holtz said.

Evers also praised the budget’s increased per-pupil investment in K-12, but said rather than the funds be given equally to districts, those like Milwaukee and elsewhere with students who have greater needs should get a larger share.

“Usually if kids need an extra lift, they need some extra resources,” Evers said.

Evers said lifetime licensing is something that needs a deeper look, but expressed some reservations, noting that licensing now carries professional development requirements.

But he noted some districts that have lifetime licensing are doing well.

“I’m not sure that’s a statewide issue,” Evers said. “I need to think about that.”

The two also expressed different views about new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Holtz said he was hopeful President Trump and DeVos would follow through on giving states more control over education.

“I welcome that with open arms, because I don’t want D.C. dictating what we’re doing in Wisconsin,” Holtz said. “I want Wisconsin to choose their path moving forward, and I do think that she’s going to help us with that.”

Evers, who noted DeVos is a proponent of voucher schools, said he was “fearful” about how she will use her “bully pulpit” as secretary.

He said if DeVos comes to Milwaukee to visit a high-achieving voucher school, she should also visit public schools.

“She better go to both,” Evers said. “And she better talk about both in a positive way. She represents all kids, all 680,000 public school kids in the state of Wisconsin, and we need her to be an advocate for those kids.”

Holtz and Evers shared common ground, however, on wanting to repeal a law backed by the tourism industry that prohibits schools from starting before Sept. 1.

“I would like to see the schools have the flexibility to do more year-round types of school programs,” Holtz said, noting some students regress over a long summer.

“There are so many creative things our schools can do when they have local control,” Holtz said. “We have great instructional leaders, great superintendents and great teachers. They can come up with a plan where they’re