2017 April

Monthly Archives: April 2017

‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill gets mixed response at Assembly hearing

An Assembly committee Thursday heard mixed testimony on what some have dubbed a “Blue Lives Matter” bill, with a series of opponents speaking against the measure that would expand the definition of hate crime victims to include police officers.

But bill author Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, said the legislation would “show our support and protection for those who protect and serve us every day.”

Speaking with Steffen was Deputy Sheriff Adam Day of Grant County, who said he wanted lawmakers to back the bill “for the thousands of police officers who are willing to risk their lives for you on a moment’s notice,” after recounting an experience last summer where he was physically attacked by someone for being a police officer.

Still, some committee Dems, including Milwaukee Reps. David Crowley and JoCasta Zamarripa, expressed concern that it would unfairly elevate an occupation.

“You’re equating race, religion, color, disability to a job,” Zamarripa told Steffen. “Therein lies the dilemma, that you would equate a job with folks’ identity that cannot be removed at the end of the day. Today when I go home I will not hang up my Latina-ness or my LGBT-ness.”

Currently, there are seven other categories of people that are part of the hate crime penalty enhancement, including race, religion, color, gender and disability.

But Steffen argued that religion “has some choice.” As a Christian, he said, he could choose other religions. For law enforcement officers, he said the job is part of who they are.

“It’s core to who they are,” he said. “I look at it as it is part of their identity.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said police officers he spoke with in Milwaukee worried the bill would lead to “further fracturing” of police and community relations.

Rep. David Bowen, who testified against it, said the characterization of it as a “Blue Lives Matter” bill essentially “framed in a box if we support police or not.” Instead, the Milwaukee Dem said, lawmakers should be focused on making sure they can prevent “these situations from getting out of hand.”

Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, agreed that the bill’s informal name “frames us in a box,” but focused on whether the bill could be used as some sort of crime deterrent for offenses against police officers.

Others speaking against the bill included National Association of Social Workers Director Marc Herstand and former pastor Michael Rehak, of Cambridge. Among those registering in favor of the bill were the state Department of Justice, the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association and Rep. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City.

See the bill text:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/proposals/ab48

‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill receives mixed testimony

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‘The Insiders’ on transpo funding and the Walker factor

The WisOpinion Insiders, Chvala and Kanavas, debate transpo taxes and the Walker factor.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

‘The Insiders’ tackle health care, state superintendent’s race

The WisOpinion Insiders, Chuck Chvala and Ted Kanavas, tackle the difficulties of Dems vs. Walker and Ryan and Priebus on health care along with the state schools superintendent race in the “lightning round.”

Sponsored by Michael Best Strategies and the Wisconsin Counties Association.

 

‘The Insiders’: Conservative rank-and-file legislators driving Capitol discussion

The WisOpinion.com Insiders explain how conservative rank-and-file legislators are driving a lot of the discussion in the Capitol.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

 

‘UpFront’: Brancel urges feds to pressure Canada over dairy trade dispute

Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Ben Brancel is urging the federal government to put pressure on Canada to in order to resolve a trade dispute that has left dozens of Wisconsin dairy farmers without a buyer for their milk.

Brancel discussed what is being done regarding the trade dispute on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha.”

The farmers face loss of income and their livelihoods when a contract with a processing company to provide a specialized milk type to Canada ends on May 1.

Brancel said on the show, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com, that Canada has put the American dairy farmers in peril.

“We need the federal government to press Canada to be more transparent in the activities they’ve been engaged in,” Brancel said.

“They changed their pricing structure, which directly targeted products that were being shipped to them from the United States,” he said.

“We need, here in the state, to make sure that we stay focused on processors, lenders, farm organizations, and those producers affected so that there is a lot communications to help people sort through, and in fact partner, on solutions for this problem,” he said.

Also on the program, Earnell Lucas, who is challenging Sheriff David Clarke, says Milwaukee County can do better in the position of sheriff.

Lucas is a former Milwaukee police captain and currently serves as chief liaison for security and investigations for Major League Baseball.

“I’m a 40-year public servant. I’ve served 25 years in the Milwaukee police department, served 15 years Major League Baseball. I’ve learned a lot of experiences over those years. I see the opportunity now to bring those experiences to back to Milwaukee County.”

“Milwaukee County can do better, Milwaukee County residents need better, and I feel I’m the person to provide that,” Lucas said.

Clarke, whose frequent appearances on Fox News and outspoken support of President Trump have earned him a national profile, hasn’t yet announced whether he’s running again in 2018.

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

‘UpFront’: Craig touts ‘right-to-carry’ legislation

State Sen. Dave Craig, R-Town of Vernon, said his right-to-carry bill would remove barriers for law-abiding citizens who want to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin.

Craig is the lead Senate sponsor of the bill, which would remove the requirements for a permit, training and fee for concealed carry.

“This is a constitutional right. This is a fundamental right laid out by the Second Amendment. Government should be examining that to determine and make sure that people aren’t being infringed of their rights,” Craig said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Gousha asked about criticism of Craig’s plan to eliminate the training requirement. Craig said other states have passed similar laws without ill effects.

“At the end of the day, people who are hell bent on conducting violence with a firearm are going to do that,” he said. “The only people who are worried about the law are the law-abiding citizens.”

Also on the program, Democratic strategist Joe Zepecki discussed the field of possible candidates to challenge Republican Gov. Scott Walker in 2018.

In recent weeks, three people who were considering a run — U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of LaCrosse, former state Sen. Tim Cullen of Janesville, and Madison businessman Mark Bakken — have all said that they will not run next year.

“I’m really encouraged by the number of people who are looking at this right now. There are more people thinking about running for governor, who haven’t made up their mind yet today, on the Democratic side than there were four years ago at this time,” Zepecki said.

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

‘UpFront’: Nygren says Assembly GOP transportation plan will aim for long-term funding solution

Rep. John Nygren, who co-chairs the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, says Assembly Republicans are working on developing their own transportation plan aimed at finding a long-term solution to the state’s funding challenges.

“Where we’re at is we’re going to try and develop a plan, and then take it to the people, and take it to the governor, and hopefully the governor will see the value of this plan as a long-term solution,” Nygren said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Asked if higher revenues would be necessary, Nygren said his personal opinion was that “revenues have to be part of the equation,” but noted he wasn’t speaking for the Assembly GOP caucus.

Nygren said Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, relied on an “overextension in bonding” for roads and that debt service is “eating up” transportation dollars.

Gousha also asked Nygren if there was any tension between Assembly leaders and Gov. Walker, following the release of tense text messages between Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on the issue. Vos later tweeted a picture of himself and the governor smiling after a face-to-face meeting.

“I’m not sure I would call it tension, but what two people are ever going to agree on everything?” Nygren said.

Also on the show, former Gov. Marty Schreiber discussed caring for his wife Elaine, who has Alzheimer’s disease, and the book he has written about their journey. The book is called “My Two Elaines.”

The hardest thing, he said, was to “let go of the first Elaine.”

“The second Elaine, Elaine’s brain was broken and there was no way I could ever expect the same kind of experiences and friendship and companionship with the second Elaine,” he said.

“And so I had to let go of the first Elaine. It was very difficult, but to a certain degree it makes life easier now,” Schreiber said.

The only declared Democratic candidate for governor, Bob Harlow, also appeared on the show to discuss why he’s running and the eight-point plan he has for Wisconsin.

Harlow, 25, is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in physics and lives in Barneveld. He said he’s running for governor because he wants to “see Wisconsin move toward a strong economic future.”

“As a third-generation Wisconsinite, as someone who grew up in the state and really has a deep connection to Wisconsin, I want to make sure that Wisconsin has a strong economy, and I have not heard in our politics a discussion of the things we need to do to get there,” Harlow said.

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

‘UpFront’: Schimel aims to amend state constitution to strengthen crime victims’ rights

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said amending the state constitution to strengthen the rights of crime victims would even the playing field between victims and defendants.

Schimel, who appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” is backing Marsy’s Law, a nationwide movement to elevate victims’ rights to state constitutions. The law is named for Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a young California woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

“What we’re looking to do is move the statutory rights into the constitution, and it better evens the playing field,” Schimel said on the show, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“It’s never going to be perfectly even, because in a criminal courtroom the defendant’s right to fair trial, his constitutional rights, will always have an edge over the victim’s rights. But this moves them closer to even,” he said.

The law would strengthen the rights of victims in the areas of restitution, information and notification. Schimel offered an example of how Marsy’s Law would work in bail hearings for defendants. Victims currently don’t have the right to be heard at a defendant’s bail hearing, he said, but under Marsy’s Law they would.

“The judge sees the defendant’s face at every single court appearance,” Schimel said. “As a prosecutor for a long time, I think it’s a good thing that the court sees the face of the victim more often.”

Gousha asked about concerns raised in other states that the law would lead to delays in the criminal justice system, or unforeseen consequences. Schimel said he disagreed with that.

“If we want crime victims to come forward and be part of the system, and we need them if we’re going to hold offenders accountable and make our communities safe, we need crime victims to participate in the system. If we want them to do that, they need to perceive the system as not stacked against them,” he said.

Gousha also asked Schimel about the state crime lab’s progress in testing old rape kits, and in a web extra, he asked Schimel about the fight against heroin and opioid abuse and addiction.

Also on the program, a newly elected member of the Milwaukee Public Schools Board said the Emerge Wisconsin program helped teach her how to campaign and win elections.

Paula Phillips of Milwaukee was elected to the MPS board last Tuesday. She is currently attending the Emerge Wisconsin program, which helps elect progressive and Democratic women to public office by teaching them campaign fundamentals.

In the April 4 elections, 16 women who had attended or are currently attending the Emerge Wisconsin program ran for local, non-partisan offices around the state. Fourteen of those 16 women won seats.

“I think what makes Emerge unique is that is does focus on women,” Phillips said.

She said the program is “helping women build confidence so that when you’re going through a grueling campaign you know what your story is, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then you have this amazing support system while you’re doing it.”

In another segment, the president and CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance urged Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers to reconsider funding for work on the Interstate 94 east-west corridor in Milwaukee.

Suzanne Kelley said the corridor “is a major thoroughfare for commerce in our region.”

Walker eliminated money for corridor planning and work in his most recent budget plan, now before the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

“Our business leaders in Waukesha County are telling us that a modern, efficient transportation system is critical to their businesses,” Kelley said.

She said 21,000 businesses, more than 300,000 jobs, and some 500,000 people are within a 3-mile radius of the corridor, which is a 3-mile section of I-94 between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges.

“The best approach from our standpoint would be to find a comprehensive solution that combines a long-term transportation strategy with appropriate funding for the highest priorities,” she said.

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

ACLU asks federal judge to halt ‘excessive’ use of solitary confinement

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ACLU of Wisconsin: Preliminary Injunction Filed in Lincoln Hills Case

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CONTACTS:
KATY OTTO (JUVENILE LAW CENTER)
OFFICE: 215-625-0551 ext. 128 CELL: 240-478-9387 EMAIL: [email protected]

MOLLY COLLINS (ACLU OF WISCONSIN) 414-272-4032 x215
EMAIL: [email protected]

Milwaukee, WI – Today the ACLU of Wisconsin and Juvenile Law Center, with pro-bono assistance from Quarles & Brady, filed a request for a preliminary injunction in federal court to halt the unconstitutional use of solitary confinement and other inhumane conditions and practices for youth in state-run correctional facilities. The suit was originally filed in January on behalf of youth confined in the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls. Earlier this week, the groups filed an amended complaint with additional children incarcerated at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake as plaintiffs.

“Isolating, handcuffing and pepper spraying children is not only dehumanizing and traumatizing,” said Larry Dupuis, Legal Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “It is also unnecessary and counterproductive. As experts in the field show, these practices actually undermine institutional safety and security. As a result, most juvenile correctional facilities no longer use pepper spray, restraints or punitive solitary confinement.”

Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake incarcerate about 150 to 200 youth, some as young as 14 years old. It confines about 15 to 20% percent of the youths at any given time in seven or eight by ten foot solitary confinement cells for 22 or 23 hours a day. On top of that, the guards keep many of these children in handcuffs attached to a belt around their waists, and then handcuffed to a table or desk, during the hour or two they are allowed out of their cells. Guards throughout Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake also regularly use peppers spray on the youth, causing pain and burning and impairing their breathing and health.

“These practices are so harmful that we’re taking decisive action to stop them immediately,” said Jessica Feierman, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center. “Putting children in solitary, shackling them to tables, and pepper spraying them isn’t rehabilitation – it’s abuse.”

As the Complaint asserts, these practices violate children’s constitutional rights, including their rights to substantive due process, as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, as guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The plaintiffs are seeking immediate relief for the young people in these facilities while this case is being litigated.

ACLU Wisconsin: Files Suit in Wisconsin Over Denial of Insurance Coverage for Transgender State Employees

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CONTACT: Molly Collins, ACLU of Wisconsin, 414-272-4032 x 215, [email protected]
Ryan Karerat, ACLU, 212-284-7388, [email protected]

MILWAUKEE – The national ACLU, ACLU of Wisconsin, and volunteer attorneys from the law firm Hawks Quindel sued Wisconsin’s state university system and insurance board today over their refusal to provide gender-affirming health insurance coverage to state employees who are transgender.

The suit was filed on behalf of Alina Boyden, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Shannon Andrews, a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

“The state continues to deny our clients coverage for medically necessary treatment simply because they are transgender, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” said John Knight, of the ACLU’s national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project. “All that transgender people like Alina and Shannon are asking for is to be treated like everyone else, and that includes respect and coverage for the health care you need.”

The Group Insurance Board approved coverage for such medically necessary care in July 2016, but under pressure from the state Attorney General, voted in closed session to rescind these essential benefits in December. The clients are two transgender state employees who filed challenges to the exclusion with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and are now seeking relief in federal court.

“Many people can relate to paying into an insurance plan only to be told that the treatment they need is not covered,” said Andrews. “But when the reason you are denied coverage is because of who you are, it is even more painful. And it’s clearly discrimination.”

“Too many transgender people continue to face discrimination in all facets of life, including health care access, and so I felt compelled to stand up and try to do something about it,” said Boyden.

“The state should not be playing games with its transgender employees’ essential medical needs,” said Chris Ott, ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director. “It has cruelly backtracked on its promise to provide access to care that the medical community agrees is necessary. Most people would hate to have the government make health care decisions for them. Our clients have experienced both, and it needs to stop.”

Counsel on the filing includes Larry Dupuis of the ACLU of Wisconsin, John Knight of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, and Nick Fairweather and Mike Godbe of the law firm Hawks Quindel.

Find the complaint here: http://aclu-wi.org/media/aclu-files-suit-wisconsin-over-denial-insurance-coverage-transgender-state-employees

Acting U.S. Attorney Anderson: Indictment charging 8 individuals with distributing methamphetamine is unsealed 

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Contact: Diane Schlipper, (608) 264-5158, TTY: (608) 264-5006

MADISON, WIS. – Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced today the unsealing of an indictment that charges eight individuals with various crimes related to the distribution of methamphetamine.  The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury sitting in Madison on March 29.

The indictment charges the following individuals:

1.      Christopher Dutton, 43, Madison;

2.      Olivia Halvorson, 28, Browntown, Wis.,

3.      James Nehls, 30, Iowa County, Wis.;

4.      Sean McLyman, 42, Madison;

5.      Brandon Frank, 42, Argyle, Wis.;

6.      Sean Brown, 33, Encino, Calif.;

7.      Amanda Brown, 30, Encino, Calif.; and

8.      Joel Ringelstetter, 48, Lone Rock, Wis.

Sean Brown and Amanda Brown are brother and sister.

All the defendants, with the exception of Joel Ringelstetter, are charged with conspiring from September 2015 to February 2017 to distribute methamphetamine.  The indictment alleges that the amount of methamphetamine attributable to defendants Dutton, Frank, and Sean Brown was 500 grams or more.

The indictment also charges some of the defendants with other offenses.  Nehls is charged with one count of attempting to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  Halvorson is charged with three counts of distributing methamphetamine.  Frank is charged with two counts of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.  Sean Brown is charged with three counts of distributing methamphetamine and one count of distributing 50 grams or more of methamphetamine.  Ringelstetter is charged with one count of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  McLyman is charged with two counts of possessing methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Dutton, Nehls, McLyman, Frank, and Ringelstetter were arrested today, and made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison this afternoon.  They will remain in custody pending a detention hearing.  Halvorson was also arrested today; she will make an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison tomorrow.  Sean Brown was arrested in California today, and no date has been set for his appearance in Wisconsin.  Amanda Brown is not in custody.

If convicted, due to the amount of methamphetamine the indictment alleges to be attributable to Dutton, Frank, and Sean Brown, they each face a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum of life in federal prison on the conspiracy charge.  For Brandon Frank and Sean Brown, the counts which allege the distribution of 50 grams or more of methamphetamine carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum of 40 years.  All the defendants face a maximum penalty of 20 years on each of the other charges.

The charges against these eight individuals are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Dane County Narcotics Task Force; Dane County Sheriff’s Department; Madison Police Department; UW-Madison Police Department; U.S. Postal Inspection Service; Sauk County Drug Task Force; Richland-Iowa-Grant Drug Task Force; Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office; State Line Area Narcotics Team; and Rock County Special Investigations Unit.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Schlipper and David Reinhard.

You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Acting U.S. Attorney Anderson: Menomonie man sentenced to 15 years for distributing methamphetamine

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Contact: Elizabeth Altman, (608) 264-5158, TTY: (608) 264-5006

 

MADISON, WIS. — Jeffrey M. Anderson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Pheng Vang, 32, Menomonie, Wis., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge William Conley to 15 years in federal prison for distributing methamphetamine.  This prison term will be followed by five years of supervised release.  Veng pleaded guilty to this charge on November 14, 2016.

Vang was held responsible for selling at least 4.5 kilograms of pure methamphetamine during the course of his criminal activities.   His sentence was enhanced because officers found guns at the farm in Colfax where much of the methamphetamine activity took place.  In addition to this conviction, the defendant has an extensive criminal history, consisting of drug and alcohol offenses, property crimes, and crimes of violence.

In sentencing Vang, Judge Conley was troubled that Vang exploited drug addicted individuals in a callous way.  It also appeared to Judge Conley that the defendant was more interested in earning easy money that earning legitimate money.

The charge against Vang was the result of an investigation conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; West Central Drug Task Force; Dunn, Eau Claire, Chippewa, and St. Croix County Sheriffs’ Offices; Menomonie and Eau Claire Police Departments; and La Crosse County Emergency Response Team.  The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman.

ADCC Event in La Crosse 🗓

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Wednesday, April 26th from 5pm to 7pm
Moxie’s Pub
1835 Rose St, La Crosse, WI

Please join Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca, Assistant Leader Dianne Hesselbein, and Democratic Caucus Chair Mark Spreitzer for an event hosted by Assistant Caucus Chair Steve Doyle to benefit the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.

$50 Suggested Donation, Sponsorships Available
Please make checks out to ADCC.

Advocates praise homelessness bills at committee hearing

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AG Schimel: Appoints Brian O’Keefe Division of Criminal Investigation Administrator

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Madison, Wis. – Today, Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the appointment of Brian O’Keefe to Administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI).

“Anybody who has worked with Brian knows his passion for law enforcement and public safety,” said Attorney General Schimel. “As DCI Administrator, Brian will provide the highest caliber assistance and support to local law enforcement agencies.”

“Attorney General Schimel could not have picked a better choice to lead DCI,” said Marquette County Sheriff Kim Gaffney, President of the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association. “On behalf of all the sheriffs in the State, I can say we are more than pleased with the cooperation and collaboration Brian has brought to the table as DLES Administrator and we look forward to continuing the relationship with him as DCI Administrator. During these trying times for Wisconsin law enforcement, we need a leader like Brian O’Keefe.”

O’Keefe joined DOJ in 2011 when he was appointed by former Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen to be Administrator of DOJ’s Division of Law Enforcement Services.  Attorney General Schimel re-appointed him to this same position upon his election.

O’Keefe has helped lead many of Attorney General Schimel’s initiatives, including the Dose of Reality prescription drug abuse prevention campaign, prescription drug disposal, officer wellness and suicide prevention, enhanced law enforcement training for the investigation of sexual assaults and domestic violence, and new and innovative law enforcement training to meet the challenges of today’s policing environment.

O’Keefe has built a reputation statewide for successfully collaborating with the Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police organizations, and the major police unions, in order to enhance law enforcement’s ability to keep their communities safe and return home safely at the end of their shifts each day.

“Brian O’Keefe is nothing short of a legend in the law enforcement community and Wisconsin will be well-served to have him at the helm of DCI,” said Sheboygan Chief of Police Chris Domagalski, President of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association. “From his technical expertise as a homicide detective to his unbridled dedication to ensuring that Wisconsin law enforcement officers are the best-trained and best-equipped in the country, Brian is simply the finest partner police departments in this state have ever had.”

O’Keefe began his law enforcement career with the Milwaukee Police Department as Police Aide in 1981 and worked his way through the ranks, primarily in the Criminal Investigation Bureau, retiring in 2008 as the Deputy Chief in charge of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. O’Keefe continued his career with M&I Bank, working in Corporate Security before returning to public service in 2011 at DOJ.

O’Keefe is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Academy and was elected to the Executive Board for the Wisconsin Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates. O’Keefe is also a member of several state and national law enforcement organizations and is currently on the Executive Committee of the Law Enforcement Standards Board, where he serves as Secretary.

AG Schimel: Crime Victims’ Rights Capitol Ceremony 🗓

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WHERE: State Capitol Rotunda, 1st Floor, Wisconsin State Capitol, 2 E. Main St., Madison, WI 53703

WHAT: A ceremony to recognize National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and the constitutional and statutory rights provided to crime victims in Wisconsin. The ceremony will feature poetry written by survivors of crime and performances by the Milwaukee Police Band.

WHEN: 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m., Friday, April 7, 2017

WHO:

  • Attorney General Brad Schimel
  • Jill Karofsky, Executive Director of DOJ’s Office of Crime Victim Services
  • Chief Anna Ruzinski, Menomonee Falls Police Department
  • Wisconsin Crime Victims Council
  • Milwaukee Police Band

 

Alliance Defending Freedom: Statement on confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to U.S. Supreme Court

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CONTACT ADF MEDIA RELATIONS: (480) 444-0020 or www.adfmedia.org/home/contact

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris regarding Friday’s Senate confirmation of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch as the newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court:

“ADF congratulates Neil Gorsuch, who will be the newest member of the high court and a natural successor to Justice Scalia. His confirmation should surprise no one given the high praise he has received from people across the ideological spectrum. The American Bar Association gave him its highest rating, and his integrity, professional competence, and judicial demeanor have earned him respect from all quarters. ADF hopes that he will continue to interpret the Constitution as our founders intended and affirm our most fundamental freedom—religious liberty, which includes the right not to be discriminated against because of one’s religion. This basic principle will be at stake right away on April 19 when the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer.”

Gorsuch will fill the position previously held by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13, 2016. This is the second time that the Senate has voted to confirm the Coloradan for federal judicial service. In 2006, by a unanimous voice vote, the Senate confirmed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Extended commentary by Farris and ADF Senior Counsel Jim Campbell regarding Gorsuch is available on the ADF blog.

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

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Alliance for the Great Lakes: Adopt-a-Beach program springs into action for 2017 beach season

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Contact: Jennifer J. Caddick, 312-445-9760 (office), 315-767-2802 (cell)

Beach cleanup season begins around the Great Lakes; Volunteers removed over 40,000 lbs of trash in 2016

Thursday, April 13, 2017 (Chicago)  – As spring finally begins to appear around the Great Lakes, volunteers are heading out to beaches for a spring cleaning. The Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach program mobilizes thousands of volunteers who give back to their local beaches each year. April, especially Earth Day, marks the unofficial beginning of the beach season around the Great Lakes as many groups hold their first Adopt-a-Beach events of the year.

Last year, 15,181 Adopt-a-Beach volunteers picked up 40,211 pounds of debris as part of 1,388 cleanups around the region. In addition to cleaning up beaches, volunteers collect valuable data. The data is shared with beach managers and scientists. The results: cleaner beaches and data on pollution sources that can be used to develop solutions to pollution problems.

Data collected by Adopt-a-Beach volunteers gives insight into the most common and problematic types of litter. In 2016, the majority of trash picked up by Adopt-a-Beach volunteers (87%) was plastic. Plastic is problematic for a number of reasons. In addition to being an eyesore, it can harm the lakes and animals that live in them. Over time, plastic litter breaks down into small pieces which can be eaten by birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Plastic was the most common material of litter, and includes a wide range of items like cigarette filters, water bottles, food containers, or even left behind beach toys. The three most common types of litter found in 2016 were tiny trash (made up of broken down pieces of plastic and glass), smoking-related litter, and food-related litter. Most litter found on Great Lakes beaches is anthropogenic, meaning it originated from human activity.

“Keeping Great Lakes beaches and shorelines beautiful is no small task, and it couldn’t be done without the incredible efforts of volunteers all over the region,” said Joel Brammeier, Alliance for the Great Lakes President & CEO. “Each cleanup, when combined with hundreds of similar events across the Great Lakes, makes a big difference for the lakes.”

Volunteers interested in participating in Adopt-a-Beach can find events in their community, or start their own cleanup, by visiting www.greatlakesadopt.org.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes works to protect the Great Lakes for today and tomorrow. We involve tens of thousands of people each year in advocacy, volunteering, education, and research to ensure the lakes are healthy and safe for all. Learn more at greatlakes.org and greatlakesadopt.org

Almost Sunrise film screened at Wisconsin State Capitol

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Contact: Senator Jon Erpenbach, 608-266-6670

MadisonAlmost Sunrise, a feature length documentary film featuring two Wisconsin Veterans from Milwaukee, will be screened in the Wisconsin State Capitol Monday, April 24th at 2pm in room 411 South. Following the screening Anthony Anderson, featured in the film, will discuss the movie and answer questions. Invited are members of the Legislature, Legislative Service agencies, staff, media, local veterans and the public.

“Our veteran communities deserve every opportunity to succeed and a fair Legislature examines how we can get there. I am honored to be able to host a screening of this important film. As we look for more creative ways to support veterans in our communities, the work of this film and the Veterans Trek helps us explore what works. Having a discussion about moral injury and how we treat PTSD in veterans can only improve our policy decisions,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton).

Almost Sunrise website: http://sunrisedocumentary.com/

Wisconsin State Capitol Screening of Almost Sunrise

2pm, Monday April 24th, Room 411 South

Open to the public

The Almost Sunrise website offers visitors and veterans to learn about moral injury, promote wellness, connect with communities, and to help change legislation.

 

 

American Cancer Society: Mt. Horeb coach and childhood cancer survivor to be honored at Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala on April 29

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Contact: Colleen McDonald, 262-312-4370 (office), 414-801-3146 (cell)
[email protected]

NBA legend and cancer survivor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scheduled to deliver keynote.

MADISON, WIS. – April 20, 2017The American Cancer Society is honored to present its Fan of the Year Award to the family of Glen Pretti from Mt. Horeb, and the Spirit of Hope Award to childhood cancer survivor Ian Lock from Fond du Lac, at the 10th annual Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala on Saturday, April 29, at the Monona Terrace in Madison.

These awards are given annually at the Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala to individuals who demonstrate courage, passion, and hope in the fight against cancer.

Glen Pretti passed away from pancreatic cancer in October 2016. A husband, father, and commercial real estate broker in the Madison area, Pretti was also a former athlete who enjoyed coaching youth basketball for the Wisconsin Hoops Select Basketball program. In Pretti’s honor, Wisconsin Hoops Select Basketball held a fundraiser earlier this month that collected more than $8,400 for the American Cancer Society. Prior to his family receiving the Fan of the Year Award, a special video tribute to Pretti will be shown.

“We’re so grateful for the passion, dedication, and support that Wisconsin Hoops Select has shown to the American Cancer Society and the Pretti family,” said Marieanna Wild, senior development manager for the American Cancer Society in Madison. “The dollars they raised will help us fund innovative cancer research and provide the resources people need when facing a cancer diagnosis.”

Ian Lock was 16 years old when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a rare form of bone cancer. Thanks to advances in cancer research shortly before Ian’s diagnosis, doctors saved his leg using a cadaver bone, along with nearly 20 rounds of chemotherapy. Today, Ian is cancer-free and a senior at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., studying biology and economics.

Ian also currently volunteers for the American Cancer Society and its advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). He’s passionate about the role cancer research plays in saving lives, and testified before Congress in 2013 to advocate for increased federal funding for cancer research.

“While we still don’t know what exactly caused my cancer, what I do know is if the National Institutes of Health hadn’t funded the cancer research that led to new treatments – I could have lost my leg and even my life,” Ian told members of Congress. “As you can imagine, cancer research means a lot to me.”

Ian will share his remarkable story of survivorship at the Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala as part of a “raise-the-paddle” fundraiser to benefit pediatric cancer research.

The Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala is part of the American Cancer Society’s larger Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin program. Each year, more than 85 teams from schools and universities throughout Wisconsin and a variety of sports host Coaches vs. Cancer fundraisers to support the American Cancer Society. Their success and statewide impact will be celebrated at the gala, and several coaches will be recognized for engaging their teams in this effort.-

Since 2008, the Coaches vs. Cancer Wisconsin Gala has raised $5.6 million to support the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission. In addition to a three-course dinner and live and silent auctions, the evening will include an inspirational program highlighted by remarks from NBA legend and cancer survivor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

This year’s gala sponsors include Mike & Cheryl Shult and Family; Research Products Corp.; Bo & Kelly Ryan; Wind River Financial; The University Book Store; and Golfers vs. Cancer.

For more event details, contact Marieanna Wild, senior development manager, at [email protected] or 608-662-7543.

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 2 million volunteers saving lives in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society’s efforts have contributed to a 25 percent decline in the cancer death rate in the U.S. since 1991, driven by less smoking, better treatments, and earlier detection. We’re finding cures as the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call us anytime, day or night, at (800) 227-2345 or visit cancer.org.

American Dairy Coalition: Applauds Rep. Duffy for ensuring a workforce for dairy farmers

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Contact: Laurie Fischer, 920-366-1880
The dairy farmers represented by the American Dairy Coalition (ADC) are elated with U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), co-chair of the Congressional Dairy Farm Caucus, for his leadership in introducing a new immigration reform policy for dairy operations.
The new legislation — known as the DAIRY Act — will help to provide a reliable labor force, ensuring dairy producers have the workers necessary to care for their animals as well as provide healthy and affordable dairy products to our nation and across the globe.

ADC highly supports the efforts of Rep. Duffy in his work to allow the dairy industry to utilize the H2-A visa program.  Previously, the dairy industry was excluded due to its 365-day-a-year need for labor. Dairy farmers have been waiting for a provision to utilize the H2-A visa category to legally employ immigrant workers to fill important roles thatdomestic workers continually pass up. The H2-A visa is a vital tool to provide year-round labor for dairy operations.

The American Dairy Coalition has worked diligently on several immigration reform bills, which each representing various tools dairy farmers can utilize to access the labor so desperately needed to ensure they can successfully maintain their businesses.  ADC will work hard with Rep Duffy to move this bill over the finish line.

The American Dairy Coalition is the united voice of the dairy, agriculture and livestock industry. Successful policy making, in order to best serve this industry, starts in Washington DC. We focus only on top priority issues in order to remain nimble and quickly adapt to the ever changing federal policy making environment. ADC is the only national organization solely focused on advocating to advance the growth and success of progressive producers and agriculture companies.  ADC has collaborated with many groups and individuals to make a significant impact on the agriculture industry.  

Amid lower turnout, Evers dominates Holtz in 9 of state’s 10 biggest counties

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Analysts: Dems face challenges for 2018, House could be in reach

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Dems hoping for major electoral victories in 2018 will likely only get them if President Trump’s base begins to pull away from him, according to pollster Charles Franklin.

So far, there’s little sign that’s happening, the Marquette Law School Poll director says, with Trump’s national approval rating hovering around 42 percent but at 80 percent among Republicans.

If that changes, though, Franklin said that could lead to “massively different ramifications for what’s going on” in the midterms.

Franklin spoke at a WisPolitics.com event April 6 previewing the 2018 election cycle, also saying that U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is in a “decent position” as she seeks a second term in the Senate next year.

When looking at Baldwin’s polling data by party affiliation, Franklin said while she was “quite unfavorable” among Republicans, members of her own party viewed her more favorably than the GOP did unfavorably.

“That’s a candidate who’s in a decent position, about evenly balanced between favorable and unfavorable,” Franklin said, adding the party balance looks like “what you’d expect.”

But even if Baldwin is re-elected, Dems will have a tough time flipping the chamber and returning to the majority, said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor for The Cook Political Report.

Dems currently hold 48 Senate seats (including the two Independents who caucus with them), and would need to win three more seats in 2018 to claim the majority. There’s a good chance they could pick up Nevada, she said, but Dems also need to defend 25 of the 34 Senate seats up for re-election — and some of those are vulnerable.

Still, she predicted Dems would largely be able to hold their seats, and she could see either party pick up one. She could even see Democrats picking up two, leading to a 50-50 split in the chamber.

“I bet that this is not a big cycle of gains and losses to either party,” Duffy added.

Duffy also said Democrats have lots of energy early on in the Trump administration, saying the party “despise[s] Trump with a greater intensity” than the GOP “ever despised Obama.” But she questioned whether Dems will be able to keep that energy going to overcome the built-in Republican advantage in the midterms.

Meanwhile, in the House, Duffy said it would be difficult for Dems to get the needed 24 seats to claim the majority, although she conceded the House “is more susceptible to waves” than the Senate.

“We don’t doubt that there is a chance that Democrats could actually take the majority [in the House],” she said.

Franklin said based on past presidents’ approval ratings and analyses of losses the president’s party sustains in the midterms, and Trump’s current rating of about 42 percent, Republicans could lose some 35 House seats. When looking at past presidencies, their approval rating on average drops 7 percentage points between the first two months of their term and the two months before midterms, although Franklin said he isn’t certain Trump’s already historically low approval rating would drop that much further before that election.

At the gubernatorial level, Duffy stressed the importance of the upcoming guv races, as those elected in 2018 will oversee redistricting in 2021. She said staff have been devoted to those races since the beginning of 2015.

While the GOP currently holds 33 state governorships, she said the party will face some tough battles, including potentially in Wisconsin, although she thinks the race will lean toward Walker.

“I think any governor running for a third term is challenged. I think that it is a rarity that any governor seeking a third term goes into that in great shape,” she said.

Walker has been dogged by a low favorability rating since his failed presidential run in 2015, coupled with an unpopular 2015-17 budget that drew criticism from his own party, Franklin said.

And Franklin said Walker is weakest in the Madison market, while the Milwaukee market outside of the city remains strong. Franklin also flagged the southwestern part of the state as an “interesting area” to watch heading into the gubernatorial race because it swung for Trump in November 2016. He said, though, it was too soon to tell if that was a “one off affair” or could increase Walker’s standing in the area come 2018.

He also pointed to Green Bay, an area that saw an unexpected boost for Trump last fall, as another potential market for all Republicans going statewide in 2018.

Meanwhile, no clear Dem frontrunner has emerged to vie for governor against likely candidate Walker, “Rewind” show analysts Steve Walters and JR Ross pointed out earlier in the evening, adding that Dems lack a bench in the state.

In the state’s gubernatorial race, former Sen. Tim Cullen recently passed on a bid, and earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, also opted out.

But Duffy said the lack of a bench “plagues Democrats nationally,” not just in Wisconsin. That’s something she said gets in the party’s way of “major, major electoral gains,” including in statewide races.

Listen to the event:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/2018-election-cycle-preview-event

See Franklin’s slides:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/20170406FranklinSlides.pdf

Analysts: Dems face challenges for 2018, House could be in reach

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AP calls superintendent race for Evers

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The Associated Press is projecting incumbent State Superintendent Tony Evers will win re-election over challenger Lowell Holtz.

The AP called it just 27 minutes after polls closed in the only contested statewide race on the spring ballot.

Check back in at WisPolitics.com to see more results and updates.

Assembly adjourns after passing several bills, will return Thursday

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The Assembly has adjourned after passing several bills but will be back on Thursday morning to vote on a bill Dems objected to today.

The bill, AB 109, makes changes to a law passed last session that lets towns withdraw from Dane County zoning rules. Dems raised concerns that the bill would effectively nix eight currently scheduled votes from citizens in Dane County towns on whether their town should withdraw from county zoning.

Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, told reporters after today’s session that people could still vote on the issue another day under the bill, but “they want to vote on April 18,” when those eight towns have their annual meetings scheduled.

“They’ve got daycare lined up,” Hesselbein said. “They’ve already figured out what they’re doing for the night. They want to go to this town board meeting.”

Dems objected to suspending the rules to give the bill a third reading, putting the vote on that at 63-34, just short of the two-thirds vote that Republicans needed to pass the bill today.

The Assembly signed off on several other bills, though, including:

*SB 12, which changes processes for the governing body of a multiple jurisdiction health department.
*AB 96, relating to letting businesses have a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors that can be used on individuals going through anaphylaxis
*AB 146, which lets dental hygienists practice in additional areas like nursing homes or correctional centers without the presence of a dentist
*and AB 151, which creates an approval process for community paramedics, community emergency medical technicians, and community emergency medical services providers.

This post has been updated with additional reaction.

Assembly approves bill making cheese official state dairy product

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The state Assembly today unanimously approved a bill designating cheese as the official state dairy product.

The proposal, approved 96-0, was the idea of a 4th grade classroom, said Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville.

Novak authored the bill and ticked off several statistics on the state’s cheese production, including that Wisconsin produced more than 3 billion pounds of cheese last year, that the state makes 26 percent of the nation’s cheese and that if Wisconsin were a standalone country, it would be the 4th largest cheese producer in the world.

The 4th grade students’ testimony at a committee hearing, he said, made it “probably one of the most enjoyable committee hearings I’ve ever had.”

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, also highlighted the state’s cheese industry and said she wanted to “shine a light to our dairy workers,” many of whom are Hispanic immigrants.

“They are certainly a vitally important part of Wisconsin’s dairy industry,” she said.

Assembly approves bill on Dane County zoning rules

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The state Assembly today approved legislation 57-34 that would ease the process for Dane County towns to opt out of the county’s zoning rules.

Dems this week delayed a vote on AB 109 until today, raising concerns the bill could nix eight currently scheduled citizen votes on whether their towns should withdraw from Dane County’s zoning rules.

But that could only happen if the Senate approves the bill before those April 18 annual town meetings. A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the current legislative calendar doesn’t have the chamber returning until the first week of May.

Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, said the bill “isn’t going to go anywhere in time” to cancel those votes.

“Ain’t gonna happen now, so you’re doing this for an exercise in ego,” Berceau said.

Still, Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, said the bill is necessary because “Dane County has intruded on townships” by not doing a comprehensive review of its zoning for decades.

“If they would do it, we don’t need this bill,” he said.

And Rep. Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, said the bill boosts local control by letting townships decide their future. He noted it’s been 80 years since Dane County did any comprehensive changes on zoning and “they don’t wanna see one.”

He said the decision will ultimately be up to citizens, likening it to President Obama’s health care promise.

“If you’re happy with your zoning, you can keep your zoning,” Brooks said.

The bill originally removed the ability of citizens to directly vote on the issue, putting the decision on the hands of their town board members. Ripp noted the bill was amended to ensure people could vote on those questions at referendums or special meetings — but not annual town meetings.

But Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said that amendment still could’ve cancelled the eight votes scheduled for April 18 at the towns’ annual meetings. That’s because it would prevent people from voting on the question at annual meetings and because town leadership wouldn’t have enough time to schedule a special meeting on the same day.

Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, also spoke out against the bill, calling it “bad legislation” by putting those questions in low-turnout meetings rather than a high-turnout annual meeting.

“To take advantage of low voter turnout and low voter participation is simply wrong and is simply bad legislation,” he said.

Allen was one of a handful of Republicans to vote against the bill.

But Brooks said the “annual meeting is overrated” because it doesn’t need public noticing if it’s held on the third Tuesday of April. He also said people would go to a special meeting if it’s on an important issue.

“If you have a local issue, people will turn out,” he said.

Assembly battles over Medicaid expansion during opioid debate

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Assembly Republicans are turning back an effort from Dems to accept the Medicaid expansion during today’s debate on several special session bills on opioid abuse.

Republicans also charged Dems with fundraising off the debate, with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos saying it’s “disgusting” that Dems are “using this as a political issue to raise money.” They gave reporters an email from the ADCC sent this afternoon telling supporters that Republicans are refusing to “bring Wisconsin tax dollars back to our state to fund healthcare.”

But Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said she thinks it’s “disgusting” that Republicans have refused to cover additional people under Medicaid and take the expanded federal dollars for the program.

Dems are trying to add amendments to some of the opioid bills aiming to get Wisconsin to accept the Medicaid expansion, saying the amendments would ensure the proposals are funded adequately.

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, applauded the bills and the work from Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, on the issue. But he said the state “can have a much greater impact” by accepting the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and giving people better access to alcohol and drug treatment.

Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said lawmakers are missing “the most critical part to the solution.”

Assembly Republicans have declined to accept the Medicaid expansion amendments so far.

At the start of the debate, Nygren pushed back against the effort, suggesting Dems weren’t “really serious” about it because they didn’t let Republicans know about the amendments until a bit before the session started.

He later said he was “appalled on behalf of” families affected by the opioid addiction that Dems were looking to raise money off today’s debate.

“Using this discussion as an opportunity to raise funds sinks to a new level,” he said.

Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, said that argument is “absurd” and said Republicans have “made a debacle” of campaign finance laws in this state so they could raise more money.

Assembly bill requiring DPI to submit ESSA plan to leggies won’t see a Senate companion

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Assembly committee OK’s bill requiring DOT to include inflation in project cost estimates

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Assembly committee passes bill prohibiting state from covering abortions for its employees

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Assembly panel approves GOP-authored bills on homelessness

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Assembly passes nine special session bills on opioid abuse

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Despite a contentious debate on several Dem amendments, the state Assembly today signed off on nine special session bills on opioid abuse.

Dems sought to amend some of the bills to ensure the state accepts the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, but Republicans said those amendments were brought to them at the last minute and charged them with fundraising off the debate as it was going on.

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said Republicans accepted several Dem amendments that they got ahead of time. He said he’s worked hard to talk to get Dem input on the bills he wrote, and any suggestion that he hasn’t is “plain and simple wrong.”

But Dems said they should be able to bring proposals to the floor and debate them, with Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, saying the minority party isn’t supposed to “go home quietly.”

“This is the way government should work,” she said.

The bills largely passed on a voice vote or unanimously, but Nygren said lawmakers’ previous bipartisan cooperation on the issue was “dealt a serious blow” when Assembly Dems sent a fundraising appeal off today’s debate on the Medicaid expansion.

“We’ll move past the politics and the political mistakes of today and hopefully work on this issue moving forward together,” he said.

In all, there are 11 special session bills on the issue. The Assembly passed nine of them today, including:

*Special Session AB 4, which ensures drugs with codeine can’t be dispensed without a prescription.
*Special Session Assembly Bill 6, which lets the UW System set up a recovery charter school
*Special Session Assembly Bill 8, which expands DHS treatment programs for underserved areas
*Special Session AB 10, which adds four new criminal investigation agents at DOJ that focus on drug trafficking.
*and Special Session Assembly Bill 7, which expands graduate medical training for those specializing in addictions

Autonomous vehicles and other technologies topics of importance for Legislature

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Wisconsin has to get in gear if it wants to be on the forefront of self-driving vehicles and other high-growth technologies, says the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy.

Rep. Adam Neylon insists pushing for a regulatory framework that reduces limitations on self-driving vehicle testing will be good for the state in multiple ways. One way to do that more effectively, he says, is to create a task force on automated vehicle legislation.

He spoke to this need Tuesday at a meeting of the Wisconsin Technology Council’s Innovation Network in Madison, where one of only 10 DOT-approved partnerships in the country testing self-driving vehicles is located.

“I imagine, by next session, if we don’t have legislation, we might fall behind other states,” said Neylon, R-Pewaukee. “There’s quite a few states that have already done legislation to allow self-driving vehicles outside of those test sites.”

See more at WisBusiness.com 

Award-winning WPR host helps people harness their voices

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Veronica Rueckert, an award-winning Wisconsin Public Radio radio host, is helping people harness the power of their voices to take control of how they present themselves.

Through her Madison-based company, Veronica Rueckert Coaching, she is working with people who want to train their speaking voices for professional settings, as well as for everyday life. She works with TED presenters, lawyers, executives, teachers and even religious leaders.

She emphasizes confidence and self-expression in her coaching — which she does on an individual basis — and also in workshops she leads.

“Your voice is an instrument,” she said at a recent meeting of the national entrepreneurship group 1 Million Cups in Madison. “The thing is, we don’t know how to play it.”

See more at WisBusiness.com

Baldwin campaign: Raised $2.2 million in first quarter, finished March with $2.4 million in bank

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s campaign says she raised $2.2 million over the first three months of the year and finished the quarter with $2.4 million in the bank.

The campaign said it did not yet have a coversheet for the period. But the Madison Dem, a top GOP target in 2018, finished 2016 with nearly $1.1 million cash on hand. That puts her spending for the three months at roughly $900,000.

The haul was a dramatic uptick for Baldwin compared to the past two years, a period when her biggest fundraising period was $565,063. It’s also one of her best reports going back to her 2012 race for then then-open seat. She raised $4.1 million in the third quarter of 2012, her best performance, and reported just less than $2.4 million raised on her post-general report, which covered Oct. 18, 2012, through Nov. 26, 2012.

Baldwin says she’s ‘hopeful’ Trump will join her on Buy America efforts

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Baldwin sees bulk of funding coming from individuals in first months of 2017

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin saw nearly 94 percent of her total funding coming from individual contributions over the first three months of the year.

Meanwhile, around $138,000 of the Madison Dem’s total $2.2 million in contributions came from committees, according to her quarterly report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

From Jan. 1 to March 31, Baldwin spent some $820,000, leaving her roughly $2.5 million cash on hand as she gears up for a re-election bid next year.

Of the money from committees, the largest was a $39,000 contribution from Washington, D.C.’s Senate IMPACT: WI & ND, which also contributed the same sum to North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp. Most committee funding came from outside Wisconsin, including a total of $10,000 from the Los Angeles-based Women’s Political Committee, $5,000 from D.C.-based Miller Coors LLC PAC and $5,000 from Springfield, Illinois’ Prairie PAC.

Money from Wisconsin-based committees included:

*$2,500 from AO Smith Corporation PAC in Milwaukee;

*$1,000 from Marinette Marine Corp PAC based in Marinette;

*And $1,000 from American Family Mutual Insurance CO in Madison.

See Baldwin’s report, which is more than 2,200 pages:
http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/206/201704200200118206/201704200200118206.pdf

Baldwin, Johnson under fire for votes on Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch

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Barca pushes back against GOP concerns on Dem fundraising appeal

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Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca pushed back on GOP concerns over a fundraising appeal Dems sent out during today’s debate on opioid addiction bills, though he acknowledged the email probably “could’ve been better timed.”

Dems today proposed amendments on some of those bills that would’ve ensured Wisconsin accepted the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. As the debate was going on, the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee sent out a fundraising email on the topic.

The email led Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, to say it was “disgusting” that Dems are “using this as a political issue to raise money.” Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, the author of the bills, said he was “appalled on behalf of” families affected by the opioid addiction.

But Barca, D-Kenosha, told reporters after today’s session that the issue wasn’t brought up “out of the blue,” noting Dems have consistently pressed Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker to accept the expanded Medicaid funds.

He said though he often signs off on ADCC appeals, he didn’t see today’s email before it went out. But he said ADCC didn’t make a mistake in sending out the email “because the majority of the people in this state” believe the state should take the Medicaid expansion.

“I would say probably it was ill-advised in terms of going out today vs. tomorrow or Thursday, but those things happen,” Barca said. “I don’t think it’s that egregious of an issue.”

Barca also dismissed state GOP concerns that the feds would pull back on their promise of expanded Medicaid funds, noting the number of states that have accepted the expansion is now at 31 and increasingly includes GOP-led states.

That, Barca said, leads to having 62 U.S. senators — two from each state — that would refuse to accept a health care bill that repeals the Medicaid expansion.

“It’s remarkable to me that not one Republican [in Wisconsin] will break on this issue,” he said.

Bill Kaplan: Syrian missile strike

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

Last Tuesday, the Syrian regime launched a chemical weapons attack against Syrian civilians, in violation of a 2013 U.S. – Russian deal requiring Syria to destroy its entire chemical weapons program. Syria lied. Although international weapons inspectors supervised the destruction of the Syrian regime’s “declared” chemical weapons stockpile, not all chemical arms were eliminated. On Thursday, Trump gave the go-ahead for a retaliatory U.S. missile strike against Syria. There was no consultation with Congress or congressional authorization. Nor did the Trump administration seek international support from the United Nations or allies.

Politico said: “The White House tried to paint Trump’s Syria strike as rising to a presidential moment. On Friday morning, the administration released a photograph of Trump … being briefed on the airstrike. … But if that image was meant to project competence and confidence, it came after days of vacillation over how the administration would handle Assad (Syrian president) ….” Shortly before the Syrian chemical weapons attack Secretary of State Tillerson and White House press secretary Spicer said regime change was not U.S. policy. There’s more.

Trump has long tweeted about Syria: “We should stay the hell out of Syria” (and) “The president must get congressional approval before attacking Syria – big mistake if he does not!” But that was then, when President Obama was in the Oval Office. Same problem for GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson. Both tied themselves in knots, opposing Obama’s request for Congress to authorize air strikes against Syria in 2013. Now Ryan and Johnson issue press releases supporting Trump, not standing up for the separation of powers and the constitutional role of Congress to authorize force. It gets worse.

Trump is in big political trouble and maybe more. The Trump presidential campaign is being investigated by Congress, and the FBI on “whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts” (to interfere in the 2016 presidential election). Then there is the GOP health care debacle, a draconian Trump budget – dead on arrival, a pattern of incompetence and incoherence by the administration and historic low polls. However, the Syrian missile strike will not solve Trump’s political problems. Nor is it a long-term strategy for Middle East peace and stability. A whiff of Nixon.

When Nixon fired Archibald Cox, Watergate Special Prosecutor, there were calls for impeachment. Then Nixon “ordered a worldwide military alert of American forces, both conventional and nuclear. The move reflected the administration’s perception of Soviet (Russian) intentions to intervene in the Middle East …” (The Wars of Watergate by Stanley Kutler, late UW-Madison professor). Diversion from Watergate? One constitutional crisis can lead to another.

Now is the time for Speaker Ryan to stop being a Trump toady. Ryan is Speaker of the entire House. He has unique constitutional responsibilities to seriously look into campaign wrongdoing by the Trump administration, and not protecting Trump. Moreover, Congress must authorize the use of force by Trump. History will not be forgiving if Ryan falters in defending the Constitution.

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump like Nixon, more cover-up

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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 Wednesday, North Carolina GOP Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, indicated that the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election is bipartisan and serious. Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, vice-chairman of the committee, concurred with Burr. Warner – a centrist known for working across party lines – then dropped a bombshell, with no disagreement from Burr. Warner said that Russian hackers had created fake news stories on the internet for Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin during the 2016 presidential election.

Wisconsin, a swing state, voted for Trump by a margin of only 22,748 votes. Did Russian interference play a role, and what did the Trump campaign know? Months ago U.S. intelligence agencies said: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election”. The Kremlin clandestine operation sought to “help” Trump by “discrediting” Clinton. Moreover, FBI director James Comey recently confirmed that the FBI is “investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

Republicans such as Arizona Senator John McCain, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Pennsylvania Representative Charlie Dent support a bipartisan congressional investigation or an independent commission to look into this explosive matter. However, California GOP Representative Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has turned his committee’s investigation into a clown show to protect Trump and cover-up the facts. The Fresno Bee, a newspaper in Nunes’s congressional district, editorialized: “Nunes, a Trump transition team member – betrayed the Constitution and its separation of powers by running like an errand boy to the White House to share with Trump classified information that he had received.” Nunes claimed “whistle blowers” gave him material supposedly exonerating Trump for falsely claiming that President Obama had “wiretapped” the president-elect (Trump). The White House claimed no involvement with Nunes. Then The New York Times revealed that Nunes’s “sources” were White House aides! There is more.

Wisconsin Democratic Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan have repeatedly called for an independent commission to conduct a bipartisan probe of Russian interference and possible ties to Trump and his entourage. And, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin early on asked the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel to look into this matter. However, Speaker Paul Ryan and fellow Wisconsin GOP Representative Jim Sensenbrenner have defended Nunes. And, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson sees no urgency to investigate, but is upset about “leaks”. Just like Nixon.

Nixon and Trump have similarities. The New York Times outlined them: “Their thin skin. Their skyscraping paranoia. Their cavernous memory for slights …” and hatred of the press.

Watergate’s ghost looms over Trump. Former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn, fired for lying about his secret contacts with the Kremlin, is seeking immunity. Why does Flynn want immunity? Trump tweeted his support. Cover-up like Nixon and Watergate? Will the Senate and FBI investigations get to the bottom?

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump takes health care hostage

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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 GOP-Trump health care debacle was mind-boggling in exposing their cruelty, incompetence and incoherence. After years of hissy fits, obstruction and blatant lies about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump came up with an alternative: don’t get sick. The GOP-Trump plan would lead to 24 million more uninsured, higher private insurance premiums for the elderly, an end to Medicaid expansion – cutting Medicaid spending by $880 billion, elimination of health care coverage protections and a humongous tax cut for the wealthy. The so-called health care replacement collapsed from public outrage, GOP division and principled Democratic opposition. There’s more.

Don’t forget Trump falsely claimed that the ACA “covers very few people” (ACA covers over 20 million, including nearly 243,000 Wisconsinites). Trump also promised: “We’re going to have insurance for everybody” – with coverage “much less expensive and much better”. Then there was Trump whining: “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Predictably Trump blamed others for his own bungling.

The blame-shifting didn’t change Trump’s declining polls or his political downturn. Trump is still stewing. He can’t stomach being seen as a loser. Most of all Trump wants to protect his phony image as a dealmaker. It’s all about him, not regular folks. So Trump has a new scheme to make himself a winner: take health care (ACA) hostage. Threaten to blow it up. Extortion, until the ACA is repealed.

Trump, in a Wall Street Journal interview, signaled that he would not fund the ACA cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) to regular folks who buy ACA private insurance. The CSR payments to insurers allow them to sell ACA insurance with lower deductibles and co-payments to eligible consumers, with incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the federal poverty level. 7 million, including well over 100,000 Wisconsinites receive CSR benefits. It gets worse.

Politico reported: “But because of a clause in their (ACA) exchange contracts insurers could immediately cut off coverage if the federal government no longer provided cost-sharing subsidies” (CSRs). Moreover, insurers would be forced to raise their premiums or leave ACA exchanges. The American Hospital Association (AHA) said: “The most critical action to help stabilize the individual (health insurance) market for 2017 and 2018 is to remove uncertainty about continued funding for cost-sharing reductions ….The funding helps those who need it the most access quality care ….” The AHA was joined by the American Medical Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist (R-TN) and Tom Daschle (D-SD), along with GOP health care policy experts, also called for “extension of cost-sharing reduction subsidies.” Moreover, Democratic congressional leaders have said they will use budget negotiations to include continued payment of CSRs. Some Republicans want to avoid the Trump train wreck. Time for House Speaker Ryan, other Wisconsin congressional Republicans and Governor Scott Walker to speak up. Wisconsin does not need a hostage crisis.

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump, a new Korean 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.

In 1945, Korea, then a Japanese colony, was divided into Soviet and U.S. occupation zones. The Koreans were promised independence and unity. However, the Korean peninsula was soon enveloped in the Cold War. Communist North Korea invaded non-Communist South Korea in 1950. The United Nations (largely U.S.) and South Koreans drove the North Koreans back to the Chinese border. Then China entered the war. The conflict stalemated, but the carnage continued.

The entire Korean peninsula, including Pyongyang and Seoul, respective capitals of North and South Korea, was devastated. Former Washington Post reporter Blaine Harden opined: “The (U.S.) bombing (of North Korea) was long, leisurely and merciless …. After running low on urban targets U.S. bombers destroyed hydroelectric and irrigation dams in the later stages of the war, flooding farmland and destroying crops. … It is perhaps the most forgotten part of a forgotten war.”

Over 36,000 Americans, including 747 Wisconsinites, came home in body bags. About 100,000 Americans were wounded. 3 million Koreans (North and South) died, including 2 million civilians and a million soldiers. China lost 900,000 military dead. Both Truman and Eisenhower recklessly made threats to use nuclear weapons to end the war and punish North Korean aggression. Exhaustion and stalemate led to a ceasefire in 1953, but no peace treaty or Korean unification.

The conflict remains frozen. Moreover, an authoritarian and impoverished North Korea has not forgotten the war and is fearful of regime change. The North Korean military is huge, with many artillery pieces aimed at the Seoul metropolitan area (25 million, with some U.S. troops). But over the years the North Korean conventional military has grown obsolete, while the South Korean military has become more advanced. The North Koreans then began a nuclear weapons program, later renouncing the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a bilateral non-nuclear agreement with South Korea. And, defying United Nations sanctions, North Korea has an extensive missile program.

Fast forward. Trump and Pence are engaged in bluster and saber rattling. Trump said: “We are sending an armada.” However, the New York Times reported: “Aircraft carrier wasn’t sailing to deter North Korea, as U.S. suggested.” Pence warned that “all options are on the table.” And, he referenced U.S. bombing in Syria and Afghanistan. A threat? NBC News reported about a possible U.S. preemptive attack against North Korea if it conducts another nuclear test. There’s more.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said: “We don’t want to have military options employed, but we must keep all options on the table.” Fellow Wisconsin Republicans, Representative Sean Duffy and Senator Ron Johnson, concurred. Moreover, Johnson said that China should be cajoled into engineering regime change in North Korea, “or we’re going to do it for you.” Miscalculating and stumbling into war? Politico reports: “Senators to attend North Korea briefing at While House” (Wednesday).

Better to negotiate with North Korea: A peace treaty ending Korean War, diplomatic recognition, security guarantee (North and South) – in exchange for arms control for the Korean peninsula. A new Korean War would be horrific.

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

Bill to fully repeal prevailing wage gets split reaction at public hearing

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Bill would bar state health plans from covering abortions, with some exceptions

A bill that would prohibit the Group Insurance Board from providing some abortions for public employees or contracting to do so “corrects a practice” Wisconsinites don’t agree with, according to its GOP authors.

The legislation faced a strong backlash from Dems, who argued it eliminates physicians’ role in deciding when an abortion is “medically necessary” and instead substitutes politicians’ judgment.

The bill, authored by Sen. David Craig and Reps. André Jacque, Ron Tusler and Janel Brandtjen, would allow for exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the mother’s life. Currently, the state covers “therapeutic abortions” for public employees at any stage of pregnancy. While that definition varies across plans, most are defined by whether they’re medically necessary.

Jacque and Craig, who spoke about the bill in front of the Assembly Committee on Health during a public hearing this afternoon, said it provides “equity” so taxpayers aren’t funding abortions for any group of people.

“We are trying to prohibit the taxpayers from subsidizing abortions, from paying for abortions,” said Jacque, R-DePere.

The legislation is a partial redraft of a bill from 2013 that passed the Assembly, but died when the Senate didn’t take it up before the session ended.

Still, committee Dems, including Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, raised concerns the legislation was “another bill to chip away at abortion care.”

Meanwhile, Reps. Chris Taylor and JoCasta Zamarripa worried it would limit women’s access to abortions.

But Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, said access is different than payment, likening the right to getting an abortion to the right of possessing a gun — but he wouldn’t “ask someone to pay for” the gun.

And Julaine Appling of Wisconsin Family Action, who was among a handful of people speaking in favor of the legislation, said the bill “is about who pays for the procedure, not about access.” Others included representatives from Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro Life Wisconsin.

At one point, Jacque also referenced a comment from Taylor, D-Madison, at an earlier date about how Wisconsin is a state with fewer millennials than baby boomers, saying preventing abortion could help with that.

“One of the first things we should do to address the shortage of young people in our midst is to stop aborting them,” Jacque said.

Throughout the hearing, Dems returned to that point, with Subeck questioning Jacque whether he was telling women to “have children to solve a demographic problem in the state.”

Jacque said that was outside the scope of the bill.

Bill would let robots make deliveries on sidewalks

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Bipartisan bill aims to connect veterans to farming opportunities

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Biz groups cool to Walker plan to add more tax auditors, want review of audit process

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Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: Approves $500,000 for community projects

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Contact: Jonathan Barry, (608) 266-8369

MADISON – The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) today approved $500,000 in State Trust Fund Loans to support two community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • Town of Leon, Waushara County / Finance dam repair / $300,000
  • Town of Pleasant Springs, Dane County / Finance road repairs / $200,000

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 provide the 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.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: Nearly $27.7 million for community projects

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Contact: Jonathan Barry, (608) 266-8369

MADISON – The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) today approved nearly $27.7 million in State Trust Fund Loans to support fifteen community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • City of Beaver Dam, Dodge County / Finance TID development incentive / $1,000,000
  • Village of Bloomfield, Walworth County / Refinance BCPL loan #2015068.02 / $68,493.30
  • Village of Bloomfield, Walworth County / Refinance BCPL loan #2016113.01 /$38,769.27
  • Village of Bloomfield, Walworth County / Refinance BCPL loan #2017074.01 / $540,000
  • Village of Bloomfield, Walworth County / Refinance BCPL loan #2017102.01 / $200,000
  • Village of Bloomfield, Walworth County / Finance 2017 budget shortfall / $635,000
  • Village of Bloomfield, Walworth County / Finance 2017 capital budget / $260,000
  • Town of Dunkirk, Dane County / Purchase patrol truck, road equipment, and finance road repairs / $200,000
  • Kenosha Unified School District, Kenosha County / Finance energy efficiency projects / $16,355,000
  • Town of Longwood, Clark County / Purchase road grader / $152,000
  • Town of Martell, Pierce County / Construct municipal shop building / $450,000
  • Town of Onalaska, la Crosse County / Purchase refuse and recycle carts / $220,000
  • City of Owen, Clark County / Finance TID #4 projects / $680,000
  • Town of Plum Lake, Vilas County / Purchase ambulance / $150,000
  • Racine School District, Racine County / Purchase and remodel building / $6,750,000

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 provide the 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.

 

Campaign: Ziegler returning leftover campaign funds to donors

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Cellular Logistics pursuing commercialization, top spot in Governor’s Business Plan Contest

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One of the finalists in the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, Cellular Logistics, is making another run at the top prize as it pursues commercialization of its biomaterials.

Two years ago, the company submitted a plan and made it to the semifinal round before being eliminated.

“That was premature, but a good experience to go through in terms of preparation for this year, where we have a much more clear path and stronger team,” said Adam Bock, CFO for Cellular Logistics. “We’ve been here before, but it’s always exciting.”

The company just finished up a “family and friends” funding round last quarter, which raised $400,000. It’s still in its growth stages, according to Bock, who characterizes Cellular Logistics as a “virtual company” at this point.

See more at WisBusiness.com

Chabad Community Passover Seders 🗓

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[Milwaukee, WI] -Few Jewish holidays evoke the same warm sentiments as Passover. Memories of family and friends gathered as the four cups of wine are poured, the four questions asked and the Matzah served, all contribute to Passover’s popularity in the Jewish community. Bringing the warmth and tradition of this festival to the Milwaukee Community, Chabad of the East Side is inviting all residents to participate in community Seders to be held on Monday night, April 10, and again on Tuesday night, April 11.

The Seders take participants through the wondrous liberation of our ancestors from Egyptian bondage, while sharing the relevance and beauty of the age old festival in our modern lives. Included in the Seder will be a delectable catered dinner paired with a variety of fine imported wines and handmade round ‘Shmurah’ Matzah.

“Passover is not simply a celebration of the historic liberation of an ancient people,” said Rabbi Yisroel Lein, spiritual leader at Chabad of the East Side. “Passover is about our own personal liberation – physically, emotionally and spiritually. Passover inspires us to break free from the shackles restraining us from reaching new heights – in our lives, relationships and connection with G-d.”
Chabad’s community seder is part of a global Passover campaign that began in 1954, when the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of blessed memory, considered the most influential rabbi in modern history, launched the Shmurah Matzah initiative as part of an effort to create awareness and promote observance of the holiday. An estimated four million hand-baked Shmurah Matzahs will be distributed by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement this year. This year brings added significance as the world marks 50 years since, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, launched the worldwide Tefillin campaign, a historic undertaking that took Jewish observance to the streets.

All are welcome to join the community seder, regardless of Jewish affiliation or background. Reservations can be made online at www.chabadoftheeastside.com/seder.
Event Recap:
What: Passover Seders
Where: Chabad of the East Side 3030 East Kenwood Boulevard
When: Monday, April 11 7:00 pm | Tuesday, April 12 8:00 pm
Cost: Suggested Donation: $25 No one will be turned away for lack of ability to pay.

Chris Holman: Farmers deserve better

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

This week, just shy of 100 Wisconsin dairy farmers who produce for Grassland were notified they would need to find somewhere else to sell their milk. In her April 3rd article covering this story, Farm Journal’s Anna-Lisa Laca wrote, “Imagine walking to the mailbox on a Monday only to find a note from your processor that in one month they will no longer be picking up your milk. That’s what happened to several Grassland producers in Southern Wisconsin this week.”

Yes, imagine what that will be like for those farmers. Maybe in a perfect world they could jump ship to another processor and take whatever they can get there or until they can find another destination for their milk. Today’s world is far from perfect for dairy, though. Even Grassland’s vice president for business development, Goedhart Westers, shows in Laca’s story that he understands the predicament his company has put these farmers in, “In a normal market where milk is not coming out of our ears, the search [for a new processor] includes many factors including distance from the plant, how milk is paid for and recent history of patronage dividends if you’re looking at a coop,” he says.

Unfortunately we are not in a normal market. There is nothing “normal” about any of this. Think about it. In a time of terrible prices, the national dairy herd grew by 40,000 animals last year. Production continues to climb, and farms continue to add animals because they think it will help or to paradoxically keep their processors happy. Processors, mind you, are so full that the cream has long ago risen past the top and slid down the sides of the tank and onto the ground.

Agricultural economists chalk a lot of this up to the fourth soft landing in who knows how many more soft landings in a down farm economy. Risk management will be key they say, and tightening one’s belt strap yet again will be necessary. We need to wait for the market to correct itself, they go on to argue. We’re in a cycle, really, trust us! They are loathe to admit that the so-called market correction is just a euphemism for losing a lot of farms and dispersing a lot of herds. Yet, here we are where, apparently, the market hasn’t corrected itself fast enough. So a processor as large as Grassland has drawn the line and determined that it’s not worth it to them to continue to do business in certain areas. Sorry, we’re full and we can’t wait any longer for farms to stop producing for us. Thank you for your service.

Wisconsin isn’t alone with this, either. I spoke with some people in Michigan’s dairy industry this week, and in some areas of their state farmers have been paying a $2.00/cwt destination fee because of their distance from the processor. As usual, farmers are bearing the brunt of making someone else’s profit margins improve. What do these farmers do to cope with that fee? They have no choice. So, they eat the loss and borrow money to stay in business. Not an unfamiliar fate even when destination fees are not being charged. If it’s not happening already, farms are going to be asked to take turns dumping their milk into their lagoons so that their processors aren’t burdened with the over-supply of a product that we seemingly can’t produce enough of despite the fact that no one is buying it. It won’t be long before more farmers are lost or more fees are charged. Something to keep an eye out for as we wait.

Grassland ‘s decision to suddenly drop current producers must be especially alarming to farmers in areas like Dunn county, where Grassland is proposing to buy an existing dairy and add an additional 4,000-plus milk cows. This mega-farm will be directly owned and operated by Grassland itself, and could significantly impact access to markets for other dairy farms in the area. Farmers need their processors to share in the responsibility for managing periods of over-production and helping their producers to balance market swings and prices, Lame statements of concern just won’t cut it, Grassland is undercutting the very farmers that have helped build its business.

The price for milk has been argued in some publications as one of the lone bright spots in USDA’s projections for 2017. Granted, that bright spot is still very dim for most dairy farmers, and the new trend of dumping farmers only highlights that fact. Furthermore, dairy only shines when compared to current or projected prices for most other commodities, which are, like a lot of farmers these days, severely depressed. No one seems to want to say it, but there is no light at the end of the tunnel when you’re way down in the hole. Farmers deserve better than this.

— Chris Holman is District 6 Director for Wisconsin Farmers Union. He and his partner, Maria Davis, run Nami Moon Farms, a diversified livestock, poultry, fruit and vegetable farm near Stevens Point. Chris has represented Wisconsin family farmers in advocacy efforts locally and abroad as a member of the National Farmers Union’s Next Generation Advisory Council.

Chris Holman: Farmers not buying false advertising on climate change

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

This week, President Trump signed an executive order “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Essentially, the order tells EPA to “suspend, revise, or rescind,” regulations that “unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law.” That’s just a needlessly long, bureaucratic way of saying the EPA should do its best to dismantle The Clean Power Plan and anything associated with it. Whether one chalks this up to the fulfilling of yet another shortsighted campaign promise or another knee-jerk attempt to unwind significant legislation put in place by the Obama administration, there will be plenty of questions and frustrations moving forward.

What many probably don’t realize is that this order doesn’t do anything right away. Rather, it initiates a variety of different processes—legal and otherwise—that will have to take place before any significant changes to anything can occur. This will take years to accomplish. The same can be said for how the order lifts the moratorium on leasing public lands for coal. In the short-term, it looks good for supporters of Trump’s piecemeal agenda, but it’s possible that the eventual outcomes generated by this order, which may be no outcomes at all in some cases, will occur after Trump has left office.

In a November Harvard Gazette article, Jody Freeman, the Archibald Cox Professor of Law and director of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program, noted that “Trump could unilaterally withdraw from the Paris Agreement, renouncing U.S. leadership on international climate negotiations. And he could try to rescind or weaken some important regulations, like the Clean Power Plan. But any effort to fully unravel the substantial and meaningful regulatory initiatives of the last eight years will be long, complicated, and difficult, and in the end likely only partial because of the significant legal, political, and practical barriers to doing so.”

So what is Trump trying to do? Buried toward the bottom of this new executive order you’ll find disbanded working groups, rescinded reports and a list of previous executive orders to be revoked. If you’re still not sure what this is all about, the first revoked order is, “Executive Order 13653 of November 1, 2013 (Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change).” At a time when wildfires, exacerbated by changing climate patterns, have been raging across Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, leading to the loss of human lives and homes, the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres, and the deaths of countless wild and domestic animals, President Trump might want to break his silence and reach out to farmers and ranchers with something other than an executive order that assures he will not let the government do much of anything to prepare for or understand this and other climate-related phenomena.

Higher temperatures and extreme weather events will continue to affect everyone, but it arguably affects farmers more often and more directly than most. In the absence of leadership from Congress or The White House, the farmers who will navigate the uncertain future brought to us through variations in climate patterns and local weather events are going to be those who are willing to assess the complex situation in front of them and make the needed changes. Their efforts at building resiliency into their operations will hinge upon things like crop selection, new and improved technology, and a suite of practices that will help them navigate what the climate throws at them. They realize what others do not. Namely that climate change benefits from being like the science that seeks to understand it. That is, whether or not farmers, President Trump, or Congress believe in it, it will affect them and they must act upon that reality.

Like Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Department of Defense acknowledges climate change is a real concern, and Secretary Mattis is including climate change in his plans for the future of national security. Paradoxically, this has not prevented the President from asking for a substantial budget increase for them. Even the EPA acknowledges climate change is real in its handouts. “Climate Change and The Health of Older Adults,” a May 2016 EPA handout, notes that “Climate change affects the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. It also leads to extreme weather events, like flooding, droughts, and wildfires. All of these impact human health. Older adults and their families and caregivers should consider how the condition of their health and home affects their exposure to the negative impacts of climate change.” Sage advice for President Trump and the 115th Congress, which according to the Congressional Research Service has an average age, “among the highest of any Congress in U.S. history.”

What’s worrisome is that the reasons being cited for writing this executive order don’t hold up under scrutiny. Federal regulation is not going to change the fact that coal and jobs in the coal industry are—like other diminishing sectors of the U.S. economy—losing to cheaper alternatives and robots. Also, threatening to pull the U.S. out of global agreements only serves to boost the geopolitical position of others and undermine our own. The Trump administration talks a big talk when it comes to their vision of American exceptionalism, but their approach so far has only been exceptional in how ham-fisted it has been. Perhaps they should take advice from one of their own who said that, “what separates the winners and losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate.” That was Donald Trump on Twitter in 2014.

In conclusion, Wisconsin Farmers Union’s policy clearly breaks with the Trump administration on climate change, as we acknowledge that farmers’ livelihoods are tied to the weather. Unlike President Trump, we urge policymakers to consider the scientific evidence that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are increasing and global climate change is occurring, at least in part, as a result of man-made activities. The best shot we have at winning on this issue is reacting to the science and not to the arbitrary twists and turns that come with ill-fated political gambits like this one.

— Chris Holman is District 6 Director for Wisconsin Farmers Union. He and his partner, Maria Davis, run Nami Moon Farms, a diversified livestock, poultry, fruit and vegetable farm near Stevens Point.

Chris Holman: Milking scapegoats

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

Ever since Grassland Dairy issued their 30-day notice that they’d be dumping around 75 farms in the wake of a well-known and long understood decision by Canada to support their domestic dairy sector by discouraging imports of ultra-filtered milk from American processors, media coverage has focused on various attempts to mitigate the PR nightmare and control the damage wrought by the abrupt and hard-hearted business decision.

This week President Trump joined the fray when he visited Wisconsin to tell the world that, “in Canada some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others.”

It’s curious to this observer that the fair treatment of American dairy farmers somehow starts in Canada. Maybe the temptation to initiate a trade war with one of our neighbors and strongest trade partners is so deep-seated, that he and his advisors couldn’t resist jumping into the milking parlor to champion a rural cause and prove to the rural Americans who voted for him that despite not paying much attention to them since the election – and still not having an appointed Secretary of Agriculture — he and his team really do care.

Political posturing aside, the truth behind the unfolding nightmare is clarified in an April 11 article in Wisconsin State Farmer that quotes Dallas Wuetrich of Grassland Dairy saying, “We’ve been aware of the issue for over a year… and have been working with dairy groups and government to solve it – it hasn’t happened.”

To be fair to Wuetrich, at least he and Grassland came out to make a statement. One can appreciate that he highlights just how long we’ve known this was coming. He went on to say that, “It was a tough decision on our part, one of the most difficult we’ve ever had to make.” I have no doubt it was a troublesome decision, but it still boggles the mind that with a year to contemplate the best way to handle things, the processors and others involved seemed to collectively agree that giving farmers the same amount of notice one normally gets to vacate a rented apartment would be enough time. The only thing a 30-day notice is actually sufficient for is limiting how long they will have to navigate the repercussions of their decision in the realm of public opinion.

This does not even touch on the fact that Grassland has been buying up dairies in Wisconsin and has pushed hard to expand at least one of them so they can vertically integrate their business. Perhaps that’s just “good business” these days in agriculture, but we’ve seen what this looks like in other sectors, and it’s not pretty for most farmers. It’s worth mentioning that Grassland is not alone in pursuing these practices, either.

The processors involved don’t have the luxury of distance from all of this, but there are plenty of actors in politics and industry who are stepping in to pass the buck, cleverly directing the blame toward Canada. Now, scapegoating Canadian trade policy is a brilliant move as morally flexible politics goes, but as is often the case with fingerpointing, anyone doing it in a situation like this looks suspiciously like a guilty four-year-old. Rather than look you in the eye and tell the truth about their complicity, they frantically look around for someone else to blame. If no one else is around, a convenient imagination will conjure up something to fill the void. Sorry Canada, this time that thing is you.

What no one seems to want to talk about is that the status quo before this occurred was still a startling high loss of farms per year. Yes, some farmers walk away because it’s time to retire, and some farmers decide not to farm anymore for one reason or another. That said, plenty more farmers want to find a way to persist, but the cards are stacked against them. It has been reported that many of the farmers dropped by Grassland are younger farmers with families whose farms have been in production for generations. It’s a raw deal for them no matter how you look at it. Many of them may soon join the ranks of lost dairy farms in Wisconsin. One wonders how much of a future there is for dairy farmers in America’s Dairyland if our state was losing around 400 dairy farms per year before decisions like this were made.

The key piece of information in this story is that U.S. dairy farmers are simply producing too much milk. According to data from the U.S. Department of agriculture, 43 million gallons of milk were dumped in fields, manure lagoons or animal feed or were discarded at plants just in the first eight months of 2016.

Farmers are caught in a vicious cycle. When markets are up, farms often expand and production increases to take advantage of better prices. When the milk supply goes up and markets are down, farms often expand and production increases as they try to keep their heads above water. If that’s not a recipe for more of the same, I don’t know what is.

Here in Wisconsin, state programs like the Grow Wisconsin Dairy 30×20 Initiative have made the situation even worse. Beyond pushing Wisconsin dairy farmers to reach 30 billion pounds of milk production by 2020, the initiative—with no sense of irony—provides grants “to improve the long-term viability of Wisconsin’s Dairy Industry.” If you dive into data from USDA and the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistic Service, we’ve lost 2,411 dairy farms since March 2012 when the 30 x 20 initiative was announced. That’s an average of almost 500 dairy farms per year. We are growing our production but it is being done by fewer and fewer, larger farms.

This all has a predictable end. Refusing to change our policies in agriculture right here at home will lead us further down the road to monopoly. We’re already firmly in the grasp of oligarchic practices with a small handful of massive, multinational conglomerates running the show in most sectors of agriculture.

Consolidation of land, farms, and corporations coupled with the death of the midsize farmer is encouraging ever more mergers, more vertical integration and more distance between your average citizens, the food they eat, the farmers who produce the food and the rural landscape that used to be the backbone of the nation. If farmers continue to accept this as some sort of unavoidable reality, we will have to take prices that guarantee a future no one but the titans of industry can navigate once they’ve shrugged us all off.

Consumers have an even greater role in all of this, as the never-ending pursuit of cheaper production in agriculture is generated by the foodstuffs we purchase. Affordable food is certainly laudable, but we should ask ourselves if there’s room in agriculture for anything but the excessively large farms that will be able to create profit for shareholders while minimizing costs of production to levels that defy belief and honest accounting. When we reach that point, will they be, like the banks that sunk the economy only a few years ago, too big to fail?

As the old saying goes, no one likes to see the sausage being made, and that is exactly what this fiasco is. That’s why farmers received their unsigned, uncaring letter with less than a month to figure this out. If they had been given longer, they would have had more time to move their milk or reinvent their lives to something beyond dairy farming, but that’s not what’s really important here from the PR perspective. Rather, the 30 days only gives everyone else who is upset by this a month to be outraged by it. If you’re a farmer, you have a month to fatalistically hope for the best for your peers while also hoping to God that the invisible hand of twisted industry policy doesn’t grab your livelihood by the throat and squeeze it out of existence, too.

No, this is a glimpse behind America’s curtain and into the abattoir that we were never meant to see. Only this time, it’s farms, farmers and the dairy cows that will be culled out of production and transformed into something far more palatable and easier to digest—a hamburger perhaps.

If we’re going to be honest with ourselves, there’s only one thing to blame Canada for in all of this and it’s that they’ve held up a mirror and forced us to reluctantly turn around and take a look at our troubled visage. Make no mistake, this is a moment that many will try to prevent from ever happening again. There’s just too much made vulnerable for those who have a lot invested when the background noise of economic injustice is brought to the fore. The powers of industry and their political allies have been telegraphing their intentions for quite some time now and managing the pace of those intentions is clearly important given the visceral reactions people have when confronted with them.

Many dairy farmers say they get one good year out of every three, so it won’t be long before dairy farmers will get another chance to test their mettle. While looking for a new home for milk from the farms that were dropped from their processors is a good short-term solution, the industry needs to also look at the long-term and seriously consider oversupply management or other measures like the Market Driven Inventory System that has been proposed by National Farmers Union for other commodities in the past. If we hope to see robust family farms and rural communities in Wisconsin’s future, we need to reduce volatility in the markets.

American farmers need to stick up for themselves and demand better for themselves, their families, their farms, and their animals. If we cannot muster the energy to do so in moments like this one, we never will. At that point, Canada won’t be around to scapegoat, and we’ll only have that reflection in the mirror to blame.

— Chris Holman is District 6 director for Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Public health experts challenge Gov. Walker’s forced drug testing for BadgerCare

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Contact:
Kevin Kane- (414) 550-8280, [email protected]
Robert Kraig- (414) 322-5324, [email protected]

Statewide: In a media call this morning Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and substance use disorder experts Dr Richard Brown and Jesse Heffernan raised concerns about Gov. Scott Walker proposed Medicaid waiver seeking permission from the Trump Administration to make a series of changes in the state’s BadgerCare program. Listen to the entire media call here.

Governor Walker’s proposed Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver, which will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services later this week, makes a series of changes in BadgerCare which apply to adults without minor children. These include charging premiums, requiring participation in job training programs, a 48 months on time limit on enrollment, and a requirement for drug use screening and testing.

The experts who spoke on the call argued that these change, if approved by the federal government, would force many low income Wisconsinites off BadgerCare without providing and viable alternative for access to health care. Although this might save money initially, it will be far more expensive for the state in the long run.

According to experts who spoke on the call, the drug testing proposal would be costly, impractical, and counterproductive.

“The whole idea is misguided. Depriving drug-addicted people of Medicaid will deprive them of high quality healthcare. This is the last thing we want during our current opioid epidemic,” said Dr. Rich Brown, founder of Wisconsin Initiative to Promote Healthy Lifestyle at UW School of Medicine “The Internet is full of guidance on how people who are using drugs can escape detection. Drug testing will likely not to identify most drug users and will be a total waste of time and money. Wisconsin already has many people on waiting lists to receive treatment. The longer people wait, the less likely they will actually end up in treatment. The $48 million proposed for drug testing would be much better used to reduce wait times for people who already want treatment.”drug test2.jpg

“Scott Walker is playing politics with the health and safety of people who need medical care the most. His forced drug testing proposal flies in the face of decades of medical science which has determined that substance use disorders are a disease not a moral failing,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “If Walker was really interested in tackling the opioid epidemic and reduce substance use, he would fully fund voluntary prevention, screening, and treatment programs recommended by public health experts. Instead, he is playing on the worst stereotypes about people with substance use issues and all moderate income people who can’t afford to buy health coverage on their own.”

“The fact is we don’t even have the number of treatment beds in this state to handle a major influx of patients if people’s coverage is at risk,” said Jesse Heffernan, Certified Recovery Coach at Helios Addiction Coaching. “Governor Walker’s proposal perpetuates stigma and does not prioritize prevention. For someone who is actively using or seeking recovery, how can we expect them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they are facing a constant struggle. This is not the recipe to make someone a productive member of society again.”

“Walker’s proposed time limit on BadgerCare is likely to cut off people with chronic conditions. The proposal overall will likely lead to a less healthy workforce and much higher uncompensated care for hospitals,” said Jon Peacock, Research Director at Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. “This waiver will make Wisconsinites less healthy and will result in a smaller Wisconsin workforce.”

Citizens sound off on several budget items at JFC hearing

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City of Madison and MadiSUN Solar Energy Program: Madison and Middleton launch solar buying program; Madison earns “Gold” designation from national SolSmart program

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Contact:
Katie Crawley, Mayor’s Office
[email protected]

Katherine Klausing, RENEW Wisconsin
[email protected], (614) 406-1105

April 24, 2017 – Madison. Today the Cities of Madison and Middleton announced the launch of the MadiSUN Solar Group Buy program, a collaborative program that helps residents easily and affordably invest in solar electric systems on their homes. The announcement continues the steady stream of renewable energy commitments and solar projects announced in Wisconsin, and follows 2016’s successful solar group buy program—the largest in Wisconsin to date.

The MadiSUN Solar Group Buy program will enable Madison and Middleton residents to “go solar” together.  Through the group buy program, a team of community members requests offers from solar companies across the region. The program then pre-qualifies a price and service provider to make it as easy as possible for people to join the program. The City’s investment in marketing and competitive bidding will drive down the cost for each participant. The cost of installing solar has never been lower, and households can receive a Federal Tax Credit for 30 percent of the system cost, while Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program offers up to $2,000 in additional rebates.

The program, through its contractor RENEW Wisconsin, has begun recruiting interested households to participate. This summer, citizens can learn more and sign up at madisunsolar.com.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin lauded the group buy program. “These programs are proven vehicles for making rooftop solar more accessible and affordable for homeowners in the community, and that’s why we thank MadiSUN,” he said.

The City will partner Summit Credit Union to offer a special Solar Energy Loan Program where residents can finance 100 percent of a solar electric system with no fees or collateral. “Summit Credit Union is thrilled to continue partnering with the City of Madison bringing solar technology to the area,” they said in a statement.  Details on the MadiSUN loan program can be found on the website summitcreditunion.com or by calling 800-236-0985.

Six educational events were also announced as part of the program, aimed at helping residents learn more about solar energy and the options available for installing solar. All events are free and open to the public. The dates, times, and locations information sessions are available at www.madisunsolar.com/upcoming-events.

Madison earned a “gold” designation from SolSmart, the highest level of recognition from a national program under the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. The “gold” designation recognizes the city’s efforts to accelerate solar development, from improving permitting and zoning for solar, to investing in financing and solar workforce training programs.  Madison recently became the first community in Wisconsin to commit to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy. The City is already progressing toward that goal, including initiatives like a citywide solar apprenticeship program whose trainees will install another 100 kilowatts of solar on city facilities.

Middleton Mayor Gurdip Brar pointed to the city’s many solar developments in recent months, such as the 100kW atop the Middleton Police Station. “We at the City of Middleton are proud to work with our neighbors to bring the benefits of solar energy to all of our communities here,” he said. “Going forward, Middleton and Madison are going to be cooperating a lot more,” he said.

“2017 is going to be a great year for solar, and we encourage Middleton families to take advantage of this opportunity,” Brar said. “This is a great day for our communities.”

Homeowners Josh Feyen and Jay Edgar hosted the event outside their home, where they installed 6 kW of solar panels in 2016 as part of that year’s MadiSUN Group Buy program.  The array also powers their new car, a hybrid-electric Chevrolet Volt.  Feyen estimates that the system will pay for itself through energy cost savings in about 10 years “and then we’re going to be getting about 20 years of free electricity, including charging our car three times per week. So if you think about it, we’re saving a lot of money from the energy we’re creating and the gasoline we’re not putting in our car,” said Feyen. They were also able to take advantage of the federal tax credit and rebates from the Focus on Energy program.

Feyen and Edgar have also been talking to family and friends about the benefits of the MadiSUN program. “We’ve kind of been Johnny Appleseed,” Edgar says.

MadiSUN Program Manager Katherine Klausing concluded by saying, “We’ve built a lot of momentum leading to this event. As successful as the past year has been, we believe 2017 is going to be even better.”

Sign up to learn more about the program at https://madisunsolar.com.

City of Milwaukee: Nominees sought for 2017 Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award

Contact: Bill Arnold, (414) 286-3285

Nominations for the 2017 Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award are being accepted until the close of business on Friday, June 30, 2017.

The honor is awarded annually to recognize an outstanding city resident who best exemplifies Frank P. Zeidler’s legacy of social justice and civic accomplishment. The award was established by the Common Council in 2006, and city residents who are not elected officials are eligible for consideration. Last year’s winners were Rose Daitsman, a lifelong advocate for many human rights issues, and Andre Lee Ellis, an activist, community leader, and theatre director.

Milwaukee attorney Art Heitzer, chair of the award’s selection committee, said the committee welcomes nominations of worthy candidates for the Zeidler award from individuals or organizations. “We are fortunate that Milwaukee is rich with individuals from diverse communities who pay it forward and contribute their time and talent in remarkable ways to make our city a better place,” he said. “If you know of someone who fits that description, please nominate him or her for the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award by June 30th.”

The selection committee also includes Alderman Robert J. Bauman, activist Jack Murtaugh, historian John Gurda, lawyer Arthur Harrington of Godfrey & Kahn, civil rights activist and retired founder of the New Concept Self Development Center, Inc. — June Perry, and a representative of the Frank P. Zeidler Center for Public Discussion, Shelley Bruehling. 

2017 Zeidler Public Service Award

Nomination forms are now available on the city website or by contacting Joanna Polanco (414-286-2366 or [email protected]).  Anyone can nominate themselves or others, but nominees must be city residents who are not publicly-elected officials.

Please submit six copies of the nomination letter (three pages maximum) by June 30, 2017, along with the nominee’s resume and any supporting materials that would help the committee make its selection. Send to: Ms. Joanna Polanco, City Hall Room 205, 200 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Clean Wisconsin: Statement on Wisconsin Senate’s party-line passage of SB 76

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Contact:  Amber Meyer Smith, (608) 251-7020 x16, [email protected]

 

 

Madison, WI — Clean Wisconsin, the state’s oldest and largest environmental group, issued the following statement in response to the Wisconsin Senate’s passage, on a party-line vote, of a bill that limits regulation of high capacity wells:

“Today’s vote is extremely disappointing. It takes Wisconsin even further away from sustainable management of our water resources by removing critical opportunities to review high capacity well permits. This bill ensures existing high capacity well permits will not be reviewed and updated with new standards in the future. It locks in the current problems. No other industry gets permits that last forever. We are especially disappointed that efforts to create a permit expiration that would have accommodated the agricultural industry’s desire for regulatory certainty while still allowing for updates to permits were rejected. There was a solution to this bill, but the majority party rejected those efforts. The Senate committee heard from dozens of citizens who are desperate for solutions for the lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands drying up in areas of our state due to excessive pumping from high capacity wells. SB 76 takes us in exactly the wrong direction and even further away from sustainable management.”

 

Co. Exec. Abele: Milwaukee County to partner With Wauwatosa to add new county parkland

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CONTACT: Melissa Moore Baldauff, Director of Communications
414.278.4216 Office
772.579.6936 Cell
[email protected]MilwaukeeCountyWI.gov

MILWAUKEE – Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele today announced that the County will partner with the City of Wauwatosa to add new parkland to the County’s footprint, in the area of the County Grounds referred to as “Sanctuary Woods.”

The County has been working collaboratively and transparently with Wauwatosa officials for months in support of the City’s efforts to do thoughtful planning as it attempts to balance development interest, environmental protection, and build a sense of community on the County Grounds.

City officials and some residents have expressed concern that a portion of the County Grounds land commonly referred to as “Sanctuary Woods” would be at risk and should therefore have the protection of Parks zoning. The county executive also agrees with the City and residents that the woods should be protected by Parks zoning and is prepared to ask the City to rezone the woods to Parks.

Before rezoning can occur and County Grounds Park can be expanded, officials must determine what land in addition to the woods should be protected. Right now, the parcel that includes part of the wooded area also includes an abandoned county building, a parking lot, and land that was never part of the woods. The County is surveying the site to establish what in addition to the woods should be protected, and what should be developed. A complete survey should take 2-4 months.

“Protecting our natural spaces has long been a priority of mine. Since I took office the County has added more than 150 acres of parkland and worked with municipalities to rezone more than 350 parcels as parks,” County Executive Chris Abele said. “In order to support this expanded footprint and invest in critical priorities, we need to grow our tax base to fund the maintenance of environmental and cultural assets. Mayor Kathy Ehley and the City of Wauwatosa have done a great job balancing smart development opportunities with protecting our natural spaces. I thank them for their thoughtful planning process and look forward to working with them to add new parkland to Milwaukee County.”
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Commercial Association of REALTORS Wisconsin: State’s failure to address deteriorating I-94 East-West corridor will hurt economic development in Milwaukee, Waukesha Counties

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CARW declares East-West reconstruction to be top legislative priority of 2017-18

 

MILWAUKEE – Stopping work on the planned I-94 East-West freeway project will make it more difficult to attract additional economic development to Milwaukee and Waukesha counties and hurt the region’s effort to grow, the leader of the area’s largest commercial real estate group said today.

Tracy Johnson, president and CEO of the Commercial Association of REALTORS® Wisconsin (CARW), said that further delays to the East-West corridor project will be a deterrent in site selection for new businesses considering a move to the area and will also damage the region’s ability to attract companies looking for expansion locations. She indicated that making necessary infrastructure improvements – particularly continuing East-West rebuilding efforts – is the organization’s No. 1 legislative priority for 2017-18.

“Having an old, deteriorating freeway section that is congested, unsafe and woefully inadequate harms our members’ ability to close deals, lease and sell space and interest new business in the area,” she said.

Jeff Hoffman, CARW’s immediate past board chairman and a principal at the commercial real estate firm of Cushman & Wakefield / Boerke, said a good transportation network is key to economic growth and job creation and consistently ranks as a Top 5 issue among business executives determining desirable locations for commercial investment.

“Southeast Wisconsin’s robust transportation system, of which the East-West corridor is a critical part, has helped the region attract such signature developments as IKEA, Uline, Amazon, the Mayfair Collection, The Corridor and The Corners of Brookfield, not to mention $3 billion worth of new development in downtown Milwaukee,” Hoffman said. “But that kind of progress will hit a speed bump if the state cannot continue to provide the needed infrastructure that businesses and residents rely on for jobs, commerce, tourism, recreation and more.”

Originally built in the early 1960s and bookended between an $800 million investment in the Marquette Interchange and a $1.7 billion investment in ongoing work in the Zoo Interchange, the I-94 East-West corridor runs for 3.5 miles between 16th and 70th streets. The stretch is a main artery for commerce in the state of Wisconsin and carries between 140,000 and 160,000 vehicles per day – 30,000 more than its 1950s-era design intended. The average crash rate is 2-3 times higher than the statewide urban freeway average and at some points, more than 4 times higher.

Planning and engineering to rebuild the outdated corridor has been ongoing since 2012, and was expected to continue with construction anticipated in 2018/19. In February 2017, however, funding for the project was unexpectedly dropped from the state’s proposed 2017-19 budget.

“While we applaud efforts by the state to eliminate waste and inefficiency, stopping the East-West project now would be a major roadblock to Wisconsin’s business, job and economic growth,” Johnson said. “It would also squander the millions of dollars already spent on engineering and design and the more than $2 billion spent to overhaul the interchanges feeding into the corridor.”

CARW members have met with members of the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance and other legislators to discuss the East-West corridor, Johnson said additional outreach is planned to encourage legislators to take the necessary steps to restore funding to keep the project moving forward.

“Wisconsin has made tremendous strides in creating an environment where our state is ‘open for business,’ and there have been measurable results,” Johnson said. “But you can’t be ‘open for business’ if there is a ‘road closed’ sign on one of the most critical stretches of highway in the state.

“There are 21,000 businesses, 310,000 jobs and 540,000 residents within a five-mile radius of the heart of the East-West corridor, and it is in the state’s best interest to get this project back on track,” she added. “Failure to do so would hurt Wisconsin now and have negative consequences that will reverberate throughout the entire state economy for years to come.”

Community Health Systems: Presents Friend of Community Health Centers award to Rep. Loudenbeck

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Contact: Lynn Vollbrecht, (608) 313-3375 (phone), (952) 393-5824 (cell)
[email protected]

BELOIT, Wis.On Monday (April 24) morning, Community Health Systems’ Chief Executive Officer Julie Sprecher presented the 2016 Community Health Centers Friend award to Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, of Wisconsin’s 31st District.

Each year, the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association presents a small number of bi-partisan state and federal legislators with the award, in recognition of their support for community health centers’ work to advance access to medical, dental, and behavioral health care.

“I’m honored to receive the Community Health Centers Friend Award from the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association,” Loudenbeck said, after a tour of CHS’s Beloit location. “It was great to visit and tour the Beloit Area Community Health Center to receive this award. I’m particularly excited about their forthcoming behavioral health services and increased access to dental care.”

Wisconsin’s health centers serve hundreds of thousands of individuals statewide, providing primary, oral and behavioral health care for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents.

“We’re so appreciative of Representative Loudenbeck’s continued support of some of our state’s most vulnerable children and families,” said Sprecher. “We were happy to present her with this award, and glad she came to our Beloit Area Community Health Center to witness our growth and expansion first-hand.”

Beloit Area Community Health Center (BACHC) of Community Health Systems, Inc. has been offering comprehensive care for our community since 1999. The health center provides medical and dental care for area residents of all ages, and offers a sliding-fee-scale discount based on patients’ income and family size. For more information call (608) 361-0311 or visit www.chsofwi.org.

Congressman Pocan: “GOP’s newest version of Trumpcare is so bad they’ve exempted themselves from it”

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

Washington, D.C.  – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) released the following statement after House Republicans introduced an amendment to the Trumpcare plan, which failed to get a vote on the House Floor last month. The amendment allows states to opt-out of popular provisions in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Protections for preexisting conditions and requirements that insurers cover basic services like maternity care, cancer screenings, and addiction treatment could be taken away. In addition, the Republicans’ amendment even exempts Members of Congress and their staff, ensuring they will keep these ACA protections.

“House Republicans showed their hand when they exempted themselves from their own plan. If this latest version of Trumpcare isn’t good enough for Members of Congress, it’s not good enough for the American people.

“The reason Trumpcare failed, was that the American people took a long hard look at what the President and Speaker Ryan put on the table and flatly rejected it. Now, House Republicans are trying to introduce a worse version of Trumpcare that will likely cause more people to lose health insurance, make it harder for people with preexisting conditions to get coverage, and leaves people at the mercy of insurance companies.”

Constitution Party of Wisconsin: Republicans are too gutless to pass Right to Carry legislation

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CONSTITUTION PARTY OF WISCONSIN

608-561-7996

[email protected]  

Madison-On March 28, 2017, LRB 2039/1 was introduced to the Wisconsin State Legislature.  This “Right to Carry” bill would allow for the concealed carry of a firearm without a concealed carry license anywhere in the state where an individual is legally allowed to carry a firearm. 

Given the complete lack of leadership that the Republicans have in Wisconsin regarding all things relating to the US Constitution, it is very unlikely that this bill will become law. In fact, the Constitution Party of Wisconsin (CPoW) has decided not to say “I told you so.” Rather, CPoW has chosen to predict, as of this date, that the Republicans are so pathetic and weak, that they will definitely not have enough votes in their own party to pass the Right to Carry bill. The fact that they control the Wisconsin State Assembly, Senate and Governor’s Office will not deter them from snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

“This ought to be a no-brainer,” said CPoW State Chairman, Andrew Zuelke. “US Citizens have a God-given, unalienable right to keep and bear arms, as outlined in the 2nd Amendment of our constitution. Law-abiding citizens do not need permission from their government to exercise this right. Why is that so difficult for the Republicans to understand?”

The position of the Constitution Party is clear: The Constitution Party upholds the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. We oppose attempts to prohibit ownership of guns by law-abiding citizens, and stand against all laws which would require the registration of guns or ammunition.

The Constitution Party has been a leader on this issue since its inception in 1992. While the democrats blatantly try to strip law abiding citizens of their right to keep and bear arms, the Republicans continue to do what they do best; cave-in to the democrats.

“Once again we [the Constitution Party] have proven to be the only conservative party left in Wisconsin,” said Jerry Broitzman, CPoW Vice Chairman. “The Republican Party has gone the way of the Whigs. We are the only political party who can oppose the democrats.”

If you want a political party with principles, you only have one choice; the Constitution Party. Join a group of people who are willing to fight for our conservative principles, not run and hide. Go to www.constitutionparty.com to learn more.

Council on American-Islamic Relations: Calls for hate crime probe of vandalism targeting Muslim prayer space at Marquette University

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Contact: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726
[email protected]

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/4/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on law enforcement authorities to investigate two acts of vandalism targeting a Muslim prayer space at Marquette University in Wisconsin as possible hate crimes.

Muslim students say the Islamic prayer room in the university’s Alumni Memorial Union was vandalized in November after the presidential election and again following the announcement of President Trump’s second “Muslim ban” executive order.

SEE: Muslim Prayer Space Tarnished
https://marquettewire.org/3969315/news/increased-muslim-hate-speech/

“It is concerning that these acts of vandalism occurred after an election in which Islamophobia was promoted and exploited, and following the announcement of the second ‘Muslim ban,’” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “The vandalism should be investigated as possible hate crimes, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.”

Hooper noted that CAIR recently decried what it termed the Trump administration’s “deafening silence” on a growing number of anti-Muslim incidents in recent days, part of an unprecedented spike in anti-Muslim incidents nationwide that began during the recent presidential campaign and accelerated following the November 8 election.

SEE: CAIR Decries Trump Administration’s ‘Deafening Silence’ on Series of Anti-Muslim Incidents Nationwide
https://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/14225-cair-decries-trump-administration-s-deafening-silence-on-series-of-anti-muslim-incidents-nationwide.html

CAIR-OK Releases 2016 Civil Rights Report Showing Spike in Anti-Muslim Hate Incidents
http://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/14236-cair-ok-releases-2016-civil-rights-report-showing-spike-in-anti-muslim-hate-incidents.html

Since the beginning of the year, CAIR has called for investigations of possible bias motives for 35 incidents targeting mosques in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Arizona, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Texas, and a number of other states. By comparison, in the January-March period in 2016, CAIR recorded 19 such incidents.

CAIR: This Map Shows How Many Mosques Have Been Targeted Just This Year (CNN)
http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/20/us/mosques-targeted-2017-trnd/index.html

In a soon-to-be-published report, CAIR will detail a more than 50 percent increase in anti-Muslim bias incidents in 2016 over 2015. That figure is accompanied by a more than 40 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the same period.

CAIR is asking American Muslims and Islamic institutions to take extra security precautions and is offering Muslim community leaders free copies of its booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety.” The booklet may be requested through CAIR’s website: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html

The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR’s Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at: http://www.cair.com/civil-rights/report-an-incident/view/form.html

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Critics slam bill removing FoodShare eligibility for those who don’t pay child support

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Cross, Blank want regents to have more control over performance-based funding

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Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County, local farmers partner to improve fishing along Sugar River

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Easement to Allow Public Access to Half Mile of Popular Trout Fishery Near Paoli

It will be easier to fish one of area’s most popular waterways under a new agreement between Dane County and a local property owner, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.   The County is looking to acquire an easement for a half mile of frontage along the West Branch of the Sugar River near Paoli.  The easement is adjacent to one of the County’s largest conservation projects, the Falk Wells Sugar River Wildlife Area.

“The Sugar River is not only a top notch fishery, it’s also one of our county’s most picturesque natural resources as it winds through the farm fields of southwestern Dane County,” Parisi said.  “We’ve done a lot of work in this area in recent years to protect highly valuable land and water resources while making sure those of all ages have the opportunity to get outside and enjoy all our county has to offer.”

The Sugar River is a cold water trout stream and this half mile meandering stretch of the river is located just south of Verona and near the unincorporated community of Paoli.  The easement is adjacent to Dane County’s Falk Wells Sugar River Wildlife Area,  hundreds of acres acquired along the Sugar River in 2013 for preservation and outdoor recreation.

https://www.countyofdane.com/press/details.aspx?id=3040

A decade ago, Dane County created a program to protect and restore popular fishing streams with the goal of making it easier for families to get outdoors and enjoy these waterways.  Since creation of this streambank easement fund in 2007, the County has permanently protected over 19 miles of stream and river frontage, opening up new areas for public fishing access.

Under terms of the agreement, the County will purchase the easement for $31,600.  The parcels will continue to be privately owned with the public fishing managed by the Dane County Parks Commission.

The resolution authorizing purchase of this easement will be reviewed by the County Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.

 

Dane County Executive Parisi: New Dane County resources for immigrants on verge of final approval

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Contact: Scott Adrian
608-266-4114

In response to rising fears in the community resulting from the President’s policies on immigration, Dane County is moving forward with new services to help local immigrants, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today.

“Real people, working hard every day to raise their kids and support their families are unnecessarily living in fear and looking for reasons for hope,” Parisi said.  “By starting up a fund for the community to build upon and dedicating a new county position to connect those in need of services to help that’s available, we’re responding to the unnerving and uninformed policies coming from Washington D.C.”

Parisi first introduced the new services for immigrants in partnership with community providers several weeks ago.

https://www.countyofdane.com/press/details.aspx?id=3975

A resolution authorizing the new services is slated for final approval this evening.

The new $150,000 Immigration Assistance Fund will be housed with a community partner, such as the Madison Community Foundation.  Partnering organizations will look to raise additional dollars in the months to come to help meet the growing need for immigration and citizenship services in the area.  In turn, they’ll access the funds for the work they do in the community.

The new position, housed in Dane County Human Services, will serve as a point of contact for those in community inquiring about existing county services and do outreach work to make sure those eligible for help are linked with the appropriate public or non-profit resources.  The position will team with county resources already in neighborhoods such as Joining Forces for Families.

“Like the rest of America, immigrants define the culture of our great county.  Whether it’s Syttende Mai, Festa Italia, Fiesta Hispana or Africa Fest we celebrate the diversity of who we are all across Dane County each year,” Parisi said.  “That’s why it’s imperative we stand together in support of our friends, neighbors, families, and employers and do our part to offer a little hope and optimism in what’s become such an unnecessarily divisive time in our nation’s history.”

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Danielle Endvick: At the mercy of the mailbox: Dairies dropping family farms

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

When news broke this week of farmers being dropped from Grassland Dairy, it stirred within me a sadness for the farmers affected and frustration at the markets but also memories of the life I’d hoped to lead.

From the time I was a young girl, trailing Dad out to the barn to feed calves, I remember boldly declaring my plans for my future: “I’m going to be a farmer, too!”

My world revolved around our Chippewa County dairy farm. I woke early to help Dad with morning chores and headed straight back to the barn when the school bus dropped me off after school. Some of my best memories were those chore times spent with Dad, ambling along beneath the whitewashed barn beams. Through the big, weathered door on the end of the barnwalk, we watched the sun rise and dreamed of the future when I might raise my own family and herd at our Split Ridge Dairy.

So it was with angry, tear-filled eyes that I listened the day Dad told me he didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps. I was 17 years old.

We were in the milkhouse, waiting for the milkers to finish rinsing before we started evening chores. Like we often did, we were leaning on the silver bulk tank, catching up on each others’ days and pondering the world’s many problems when he said, “I don’t think there’s a future for you in dairy farming.”

He pulled out the latest milk check. Another price drop. Another meager check for the work that kept us grueling along from dawn til dusk. With feed prices climbing, milk prices dropping and a poor stroke of luck that meant needing to buy in some replacements, Dad had become a regular at our small-town bank. He was a sound farm manager and worked full-time at the local feed mill for the insurance and extra paycheck, but with milk prices on an ever dipping-and-diving rollercoaster, our chances of digging out looked slim.

So life changed course. Dad continued with the dairy farm, but my dreams shifted, and I found myself at UW-River Falls majoring in marketing with an animal science minor in homage to my roots. Then I landed in a newsroom, sharing the stories of farmers and other rural folks across Wisconsin. Eventually I signed on with Farmers Union and a chance to work on behalf of family farmers on the issues impacting their farms and rural towns.

A few years after I had left the farm, Dad sold the Split Ridge herd. I remember the dreary day spent following the cattle broker as he walked through the barn, eyeing up the cows I’d raised from calves, as he turned over in his mind which would bring the prettiest penny. And I remember all too well that emotional last milking, where dad and I again found ourselves gathered round the bulk tank, this time with my infant son, Blake, who slept peacefully in a corner of the milkhouse as Dad and I tearfully brought in the last milking units and hung them over the peg where they’d stay.

When the cattle trailer backed up beside the milkhouse, our big Brown Swiss, Brownie, was among the first to load. I paused to scratch her head one last time before nudging her across the gutter and out the door. One by one the cows filed out, closing a chapter on the farm.

A few years later I felt the same pang watching my uncles’ cows head out the door for the last time. Two farms erased from Wisconsin’s dairy industry. Two among thousands lost these past few years.

This week, the fates of many more Wisconsin farms may also have been sealed. A number of farmers reached into their mailboxes to find a generic letter from Grassland, announcing that as of May 1, the dairy would no longer be accepting their farm’s milk. The problem, according to Grassland, is a policy put in place by the Canadian government to discourage exports of ultra-filtered milk into the Canadian market, resulting in Grassland losing its market for about 1 million pounds of milk per day. Ironically, at the same time it is dropping these farmers, the Greenwood-based dairy is reportedly behind a 5,000-cow expansion of Cranberry Creek Dairy in Dunn County. At a 70-pound daily production average, that herd expansion would add 350,000 pounds a day to Grassland’s corporate-owned supply.

In mid-March, Nasonville Dairy also notified a group of producers that they were being bumped off. In a recent article in The Country Today, Marathon County farmer John Litza was quoted as one of the farmers struggling to find a market for his milk after being axed by Nasonville.

“We’ve had to beg and borrow to find any place to ship our milk to,” Litza is quoted. “All the plants tell me they have too much milk.” He believes some plants in the state have been buying excess milk from out of state and notes one plant near Green Bay reportedly has been picking up Michigan milk on the cheap, for $6 per hundredweight rather than paying $14 for Wisconsin milk.

Something seems wrong with this picture.

Some days I’m thankful for the foresight Dad had. A lifetime in the dairy industry told him that we were on a runaway train that was only headed for heartache. Other days I’m angry. Angry that I didn’t try to fight it out and do what I love, no matter how hard the struggle. But as I hear of those letters rolling in and see fear stirring among my friends who are dairy farming, I’m angry at a system that has been so broken for so many years. I’m saddened by a system that for far too long has exclaimed that “Bigger is better!” A system that promotes overproduction with programs like the Dairy 30×20 Initiative – but then lynches family farms when they’ve become too efficient at production.

To the tune of a single sheet of paper in the mailbox, a farm’s legacy – maybe even generations of sweat and tears – could come to a close.

Each of those farms that received a letter this week has a story; each is home to real human beings whose lives will be shattered if they can’t find a market for their milk. And they’re not alone. The newspapers have been riddled lately with ads for herd dispersals – with families losing their way of life, like we did at Split Ridge.

The Grassland letters may mean more dispersals. When will we as dairy farmers get wise to the fact that the market “correcting itself” is just a euphemism for farms going out of business? Many point the blame at countries like Canada, who are implementing policies in an effort to better stabilize their own markets. Maybe instead of pointing fingers abroad we should reevaluate our own response to nosediving prices. A February 2017 report by the National Center for Dairy Excellence Milk shows that in the midst of price-killing oversupply, we increased milk production in the last year by 2.5 percent nationally, with 54,000 more cows and a 1.9 percent increase in milk production per cow. In January alone, the nation’s dairy herd grew by 6,000 head.

It is insanity to continue full throttle with production. We need to develop common-sense oversupply management measures that will responsibly balance the milk supply and take some of the gamble out of farming – milk supply management should not be achieved by processors abruptly dropping existing farmers. I believe that when milk goes down the road, farmers shouldn’t be losing money. I also believe farmers shouldn’t have to fear the walk down their driveway to the mailbox.

Farm groups across the state are hard at work, searching for processors who might be able to accept more milk from the farmers who were dropped. So far, the outlook is bleak, with many processors reporting full capacity. DATCP’s Wisconsin Farm Center has set up a help line for affected farmers to call: 800-942-2474.

In The Country Today article, Mark Stephenson, UW-Madison director of dairy policy analysis, said he doesn’t believe the “handful” of producers who received letters make the scenario symptomatic or a reason more widespread concern.

“This may be short-lived, but now we have a lot of production in our country, and we have lots of inventory,” Stephenson said. “Hopefully, by fall, we will see some real strengthening in prices. The main exporting countries are still well below a year earlier production; they’re starting to draw down on stocks.” He pointed to dairy demand in China and a few other importing countries that has been ticking upward. “Look for milk prices to firm through the summer and into the second half of the year,” he said. “We’ll get through this.”

From a farm girl who has stood by the barn door and watched the cows go, I’m not sure we all will.

— Endvick is communications director for Wisconsin Farmers Union. She and her husband recently bought her family farm in Holcombe and are working to start a new chapter on the farm, where they’re raising their two young sons.

Dave Considine: Industrial hemp is the crop of our future

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

When I say “industrial hemp”, what comes to your mind? You may never have heard of hemp before. You may think of marijuana, a relative of the hemp plant (though the two are used for very different purposes). You may think of George Washington, our first President who grew hemp on his plantation. Or, if you’re like me, you think of agriculture and industry.

Industrial hemp presents a major opportunity for our state, and it’s time we take full advantage of it. AB 147, a bill I have introduced in the State Assembly, would make it legal to grow, process, and transport industrial hemp in Wisconsin again. And my bill is not the only one. Today, I am asking you to contact your legislators and request that they support the legalization of industrial hemp in our state.

Hemp has a long history of agricultural production in North America, including right here in Wisconsin. In 1890, the USDA Office of Fiber Investigations was created by Jeremiah Rusk. Rusk was once a Republican Governor of Wisconsin and served as the 2nd U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and he created the office to explore solutions to the nation’s fiber shortage. Wisconsin’s own hemp industry emerged directly from the creation of this office and its research.

Our state’s hemp industry thrived through World War II, but disappeared in the 1950s, in part due to postwar market forces and public confusion regarding its link to marijuana. Although hemp and marijuana come from the same plant species, they look and perform very differently. Visually, it’s easy to tell one plant from the other: hemp is tall and fibrous, while marijuana grows close to the ground. Their production is also very different. Hemp cannot be used for mind-altering or medicinal purposes, and marijuana can’t be used in manufacturing because it produces poor quality fibers. And if you’re concerned about someone trying to “hide” marijuana in a hemp field (as I have heard from a number of people), just talk to any farmer and they’ll tell you: hemp crops and marijuana cannot and should not even be grown near each other.

Financially, industrial hemp represents a significant opportunity for Wisconsin. According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. market for imported hemp products hit $36.9 million in 2013. That was a six-fold increase from 2005. Hemp is used in a wide variety of ways including rope, oil, edible seeds, concrete, clothing, paper, and much more. Wisconsin already imports some of these products, but we could benefit even more from producing our own hemp crops on our own land.

At least 30 other states have enacted legislation that allows them to produce hemp for either research or commercial purposes. It’s time for Wisconsin to catch up. With so many roads – like Highway 33, 188, and more – in dangerous states of disrepair, and our public schools trying to find all the money they can to keep their doors open, our state is in desperate need of an opportunity to cooperate across the aisle and find a new, creative source of income. Industrial hemp is that opportunity, and we need to take advantage of it now before we are the last in the nation. Please contact your legislators and ask them to support industrial hemp in Wisconsin.

– Considine, D-Baraboo, represents the 81st Assembly District.

Dave Considine: Show your support for the environment this Earth Day

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

Did you know Wisconsin is responsible for the founding of Earth Day? In 1969, Governor Gaylord Nelson proposed a day when citizens across the nation would hold simultaneous “teach-ins” to educate each other and raise awareness of environmental issues. His vision spread, and on April 22, 1970, about 20 million Americans participated in the first official Earth Day.

Believing in the power of individual citizens, Governor Nelson resisted the idea of a single national organization that would control the message and methods of Earth Day. He once said that this day of action “planned itself,” and he was right. Earth Day has always been a true grassroots effort. This is what makes it so powerful: it is truly by the people and for the people.

In recent years, I have listened to more and more people who sincerely believe that our environment no longer needs the strict protections it used to have. Some feel that environmental regulations are unfair to the private sector. Others may believe that climate change is exaggerated or is a natural progression, not a serious problem caused by human actions.

I understand reluctance to accept the reality of our situation. But the truth that the majority of scientists all over the world have agreed upon is that our environment desperately needs protection. Our trees, prairies, lakes, rivers, and wildlife are extraordinary resources. They don’t have voices, and they can’t speak for themselves. That means we have to.

For me as a legislator, protecting our environment means taking the time to write legislation that truly balances the agricultural industry’s needs with every citizen’s right to access our water. It means restoring funding to the DNR so that it can return to protecting and supporting our natural resources. It means acknowledging that we have caused many of our current environmental problems, so we have to be the ones to fix them. It means respecting our state’s robust hunting and fishing traditions while still protecting species that are at risk of disappearing. It means working harder to reach across the partisan divide and take bold action to protect Wisconsin’s incredible outdoors.

Earth Day reminds us each year that we only have one environment, and that it is each of our responsibility as citizens to protect it. So what are you doing for Earth Day this year? We humans celebrate those things that are important to us as individuals, families, and communities. Will your friends and community see you celebrating Earth Day? Will you teach, plant, preserve, clean up, or enjoy nature with others? Now is the time!

— Considine, D-Baraboo, represents the 81st Assembly District.

DC Wrap: April 21-27

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

Also: Registration is open for a June 7 breakfast gathering at the Monocle in Washington, D.C. featuring U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont. Sponsored by Michael Best and Michael Best Strategies, WPS Health Insurance, AARP Wisconsin and Xcel Energy with assistance from partners UW-Madison and the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Register: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/june-7-wispolitics-com-dc-breakfast-with-u-s-rep-mark-pocan/ 

Quotes of the week

Cleaning up our tax code is a vital step toward expanding our country’s economic potential and remains one of my top priorities in Congress.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, on the Trump administration’s tax proposal. In a statement shared with Fox 11 News, Gallagher said he looks forward to reviewing President Trump’s proposal to make sure taxpayers “can keep more of what they earn.”
http://fox11online.com/news/local/green-bay/white-house-announces-tax-cut-proposal

Despite claims from the White House’s Chief Economic Advisor that such a proposal will stimulate growth and create jobs, it is clear that the only result of this plan will be a steep increase in our country’s deficit while leaving working- and middle-class families in the dust.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, who blasted the president’s proposal, saying in a statement it “clears the way for corporations to abuse wide-open tax loopholes.”

This week’s news

— House Speaker Paul Ryan says he thinks a new amendment to the House GOP health care bill “helps us get to consensus.”

The conservative House Freedom Caucus announced yesterday it backs the amended version of the American Health Care Act, though it still faces questions among moderates whose opposition contributed to Ryan pulling the bill last month.

The amendment would, among other things, let states apply for waivers so they can be exempted from Affordable Care Act requirements outlining “essential health benefits,” such as mental health coverage and maternity care. States that get the waivers would then decide which procedures would be considered “essential” for an insurance company to cover.

Other than Ryan, R-Janesville, none of the state’s House GOP members yesterday said they support the amended version of the bill.

Spokespeople for U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, and Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, said they’re still considering the bill. A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said he wasn’t available to comment on the issue yesterday.

And a spokeswoman for U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Ryan said the amendment from U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey, is a “great way to lower premiums, give states more flexibility while protecting people with pre-existing conditions.”

Asked if the House will vote on the bill this week or next week, Ryan said “we’ll see.”

— Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, drew attention to the lack of open GOP support for the plan in his critique of it, saying “House Republicans are trying to introduce a worse version of Trumpcare.”

“(They) showed their hand when they exempted themselves from their own plan. If this latest version of Trumpcare isn’t good enough for Members of Congress, it’s not good enough for the American people,” Pocan said.

And a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Ron Kind said that because the GOP bill “is not new,” the La Crosse Dem’s “previous statements on it still stand.”

Those previous statements largely criticized House GOP leadership for “trying to force a bad bill.”

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, did not return a request for comment.

— Congress returned this week after a two-week recess, during which many lawmakers headed home to hold town halls and listening sessions in their districts.

Following is a run-down of the Wisconsin congressional delegation’s in-person, telephone or online events over the past couple weeks, according to their offices:

*U.S. Sen Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison: Six roundtable listening sessions and one town hall.

*U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh: Seven in-person town hall events, along with smaller meetings and a video town hall with high school students from five different rural Wisconsin schools.

*U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls: Twenty-four in-person town halls.

*U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse: Three in-person listening sessions.

*U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee: No town halls or listening sessions over this period; last town hall was on March 18.

*U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau: Four in-person town halls.    

*U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont: Two in-person town halls, and one listening session on the future of labor in Rock County.

*U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah: Seven in-person town halls, including one at a Manitowoc retirement home that only touched on senior-specific issues. He also held an open house on Monday for his constituents to tour the new Fond du Lac office space.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, did not respond to a request for comment. His office said in an April 12 release that he visited the UA Local 400 plumbers and steamfitters union in Kaukauna to talk about his work in Congress and proposals so far.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, did a telephone town hall yesterday with thousands of residents of Rock County and Walworth County.

— A bill on overtime that U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, is co-sponsoring got approval from the House Education and Workforce Committee yesterday.

The committee, which Grothman is a member of, approved the Working Families Flexibility Act on a 22-16 vote. Currently, private sector employers need to give monetary compensation to employees if they work overtime. The bill lets those employers give workers the option of taking the money or instead taking paid time off.

See the Grothman release:
http://grothman.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=299

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is praising a plan from the new Federal Communications Commission chairman to scrap an Obama-era decision that broadband should be treated as a public utility.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai laid out the plan yesterday at a speech at the Newseum. Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said the “Internet will remain free and open without heavy-handed regulations,” just like it was under previous administrations.

The announcement came under fire from advocacy groups like Free Press, which said it would “destroy the internet as we know it and give even more gatekeeper power to a few huge companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.”

Read Pai’s speech:
https://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-pai-speech-future-internet-regulation

See Johnson’s release:
https://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=press-releases&id=2FDF6455-B1F9-42B4-97C5-DD45DD20DF03

See the Free Press release:
https://www.freepress.net/press-release/108003/trumps-fcc-announces-plan-gut-open-internet-protections-and-end-net-neutrality

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s office launched a new website this week that he says will “make it easier than ever before” for constituents to access information, contact him and keep track of his work in Congress.

See the website:
http://sensenbrenner.house.gov/press-releases-statements?ID=36BF8E3F-6C54-476F-827F-7B5F7BAD75BA

Posts of the week

 

View this post on Instagram

Sen. Johnson joined Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions during a visit to the southwest border near San Diego today. He got a firsthand look at the areas where updated fencing is needed and spoke with border patrol agents and DOJ officials about what needs to be done at the border to keep America safe. “The Department of Homeland Security is an agency that has been troubled and plagued by low morale. The men and women that have the courage to enforce our laws have not been given the authority to do that. I’m glad to partner with Secretary Kelly and Attorney General Sessions who are giving our law enforcement agencies the opportunity to enforce our laws, secure our border, and keep our nation safe.”

A post shared by Senator Ron Johnson (@senronjohnson) on

ICYMI

Baldwin sees bulk of funding coming from individuals in first months of 2017
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/baldwin-sees-bulk-of-funding-coming-from-individuals-in-first-months-of-2017/

Johnson raises nearly $150,000 in first quarter of the year https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/johnson-raises-nearly-150000-in-first-quarter-of-2017/

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers say little about Donald Trump tax plan
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/wisconsin-gop-lawmakers-say-little-about-donald-trump-tax-plan/article_fda808f7-71e6-5426-864b-a6fb0dd5003f.html

Yes, we are experiencing a net outflow of illegal, undocumented workers from America back to Mexico
http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2017/apr/26/ron-kind/yes-experiencing-net-outflow-illegal-undocumented-/?hootPostID=468bad33ebb2bd284532014cd84c29c8

Rep. Pocan: Dems need to focus on “kitchen table” issues
http://whbl.com/news/articles/2017/apr/24/rep-pocan-dems-need-to-focus-on-kitchen-table-issues/

Madison students grill Sen. Ron Johnson
http://isthmus.com/news/news/madison-east-students-grill-ron-johnson/

Dodgeland students ask Sen. Johnson ‘virtual’ questions
http://www.wdtimes.com/news/article_99d88e2c-26af-11e7-a11e-ef236974185c.html

Johnson talks tax reform, healthcare, federal budget
http://www.wiscnews.com/saukprairieeagle/news/local/article_95197b3f-c32b-5b4d-ae65-cc6951361ece.html

Ron Johnson presses Comey on FBI response to Texas terrorist attack
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/ron-johnson-presses-comey-on-fbi-response-to-texas-terrorist-attack/article/2620819

Trump’s ‘Buy America’ stance aligns him with top GOP target Tammy Baldwin
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/04/21/trumps-buy-america-stance-aligns-him-top-gop-target-tammy-baldwin/100750118/

Sensenbrenner takes heat for internet privacy comments
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/04/15/sensenbrenner-takes-heat-internet-privacy-comments/100512922/

Rep. Grothman speaks to Wautoma Rotary
https://www.wausharaargus.com/news-latest-community-clubs-groups/rep-grothman-speaks-wautoma-rotary

Duffy Joins Trump Supporters At Northwestern Wisconsin Rally
https://www.wpr.org/duffy-joins-trump-supporters-northwestern-wisconsin-rally

DC Wrap: March 31-April 6

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

We’ll be taking a two-week break from DC Wrap, as Congress is on spring recess starting today, and going through April 25. The product will pick up again on Thursday, April 27.

Quotes of the week

We’re all at the concepts stage right now.

– House Speaker Paul Ryan on the progress of Republicans’ health care legislation at a WisPolitics.com event in DC. Ryan, R-Janesville, said “productive conversations” are happening on the issue. See more from the event: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/ryan-says-house-in-concepts-stage-of-new-health-care-bill/

The voters in my state, in Wisconsin, spoke. They voted, the 10 electoral votes, in support of President Trump, and they voted to elect me to confirm President Trump’s nominee to this Supreme Court vacancy. So I believe it is our duty to listen to the voices of the voters, of the American people, the voices of Wisconsin.

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in support of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Johnson testified on the floor of the Senate on Monday in support of Gorsuch’s nomination, where he also urged U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and other Senate Dems to vote “at least for cloture.” Watch his full speech: https://youtu.be/D5cSHkkQLQo

I do come from a district that did flip to Trump this time, but I don’t think they should be reading that as a slam dunk. I’m not going to support crazy up here.

– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind in a Politico story on whether moderate Democrats will work with President Trump

This week’s news

— Freshman U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher tells WisPolitics.com he won’t hold himself to the term limits he’s trying to push for members of Congress because one person doing so is “not going to fix the problem.”

Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said the first piece of advice he got from his predecessor, Reid Ribble, was to avoid setting term limits for himself because “you actually undercut your ability to get things done in Congress.” Ribble retired after his third term in Congress, one term short of the four-term maximum he said he would serve.

Gallagher said he wants to make sure he’s as “effective as possible for the people of northeastern Wisconsin.”

“I just want to work as hard as possible in this narrow window to get the job done and return to my private life,” he said.

Gallagher is the author of a bill that would add an amendment to the Constitution on term limits. The bill 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 it’s better for all members of Congress to “take that step together” rather than “one person unilaterally disarming and then being unable to advance the broader cause.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the dean of the state’s congressional delegation, has warned against term limits because he says Congress is stronger with those who have institutional memory. Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, has been in Congress since 1979.

But Gallagher, a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, said any member who works hard can “easily master the issues.” And members would be more engaged if they didn’t “have to spend all their time worrying about re-election or raising money,” he added.

He also said term limits are “by no means a silver bullet or a panacea,” so he’s introducing several other measures to improve how Congress functions. That includes a bill to make sure members of Congress don’t get paid if they can’t pass a budget.

“There’s a whole variety of reform initiatives that I think people are demanding,” he said.

Editor’s note: This item has been updated to clarify the bill doesn’t offer exemptions for current members.

Read a column from Gallagher on term limits: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/326940-a-time-for-congressional-term-limits

— House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said funding medical research is one priority on which most Republicans are willing to spend tax dollars.

“Perhaps the most popular domestic funding we have among Republicans is” the National Institutes of Health, Ryan said during a WisPolitics luncheon in Washington on Wednesday. “It’s one of the reason we got consensus on the Cures bill in the first place.”

Ryan was referencing the 21st Century Cures Act, which became law Dec. 31. It strives to speed up the drug approval process and invests in research, largely through boosting NIH’s funding.

“The ‘cures’ bill was a way of finding savings to hit these benchmarks on cures, and a lot of that’s NIH,” he continued. “So the same Republicans who drafted and passed that bill are the same Republicans who are now drafting appropriations” funding NIH and medical research.

Ryan warned against assuming too much about President Trump’s stance on the matter from his 2018 budget proposal.

“What the administration had to do, because they’re in their first year, is give us a partial budget … they don’t have the research or the time to give us a full and complete budget, no administration does, when they’re in their first year.

“So I think you’ve just seen a piece of what they’re trying to achieve,” he continued.

Ryan said Congress needs to rein in mandatory spending, such as Social Security and Medicare, to cut the deficit, thereby enabling lawmakers to increase some discretionary spending like medical research.

“What we’ve long believe is, we have to get savings from the mandatory side of the spending ledger, which is where the debt crisis comes from, which is where the spending is uncapped and non-controlled — it’s on autopilot — in order to make fiscal space for priorities in discretionary spending,” Ryan said. “I also do think though that there are areas of domestic discretionary spending that we can get savings from to fund other priorities” among which is “basic health research.”

Ryan also said the GOP is examining ways to bring down the cost of prescription drugs and will address the issue down the road. First Republicans need to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Then they will tackle “regulatory relief we think will bring down prices” for health insurance. Then they will enter “phase 3” areas that cannot be addressed in the budget.

That is where they will confront drug prices, Ryan said.

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s office has a new scheduler.

Eleanor Traynham moved over from the office of U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. She started in Duffy’s office at the end of March, replacing former scheduler lana Wilson, who is now scheduling at the Republican National Committee, Duffy spokesman Mark Bednar said.

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s campaign said she has raised $2.2 million over the first three months of the year and finished the quarter with $2.4 million in the bank.

The Madison Dem, a top GOP target in 2018, finished 2016 with nearly $1.1 million cash on hand. That puts her spending for the three months at roughly $900,000.

See more in the WisPolitics.com Election Blog:  https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/baldwin-campaign-raised-2-2-million-in-first-quarter-finished-march-with-2-4-million-in-bank/

— Baldwin sent a series of letters this week to President Trump on health care and holding China accountable on trade.

Baldwin joined four other senators in a letter requesting Trump “to do no further harm” to the Affordable Care Act and “halt efforts that have already begun to undermine access to affordable coverage.”

That letter was sent the day after she and 20 other senators sent a note to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price demanding the release of a plan the Trump administration reportedly presented to the House Freedom Caucus that would “undermine our health care system.”

And in a letter to Trump on China and trade, Baldwin and 11 other Dem senators asked Trump during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week to keep his “promise to American workers” and ensure China complies with its international trade obligations.  

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said this week “we’ve learned an awful lot” in the 22 hearings his committee has held on border security.

That includes the fact that the U.S. needs a “layered approach to border security,” mixing technology, more fencing and removing incentives for people to come to the country illegally, such as the perception that people can stay in the country forever due to lax enforcement of laws.

Johnson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs, held two of those hearings this week, including one with testimony from Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

The other focused on fencing along the southwest U.S. border with Mexico.

Watch the Kelly hearing: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/improving-border-security-and-public-safety

Watch the fencing hearing: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/hearings/03/27/2017/fencing-along-the-southwest-border

— Johnson and Baldwin introduced a “ban the box” bill that would prohibit federal agencies and contractors from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until later in the interview process.

The two said Congress should make it as easy as possible to help those who get out of prison find jobs.

See the release: https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/fair-chance-act

Posts of the week

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSO68n7DtbA/?taken-by=repgwenmooreinterns

ICYMI

Ryan says House in ‘concepts stage’ of new health care bill
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/ryan-says-house-in-concepts-stage-of-new-health-care-bill/

Baldwin campaign: Raised $2.2 million in first quarter, finished March with $2.4 million in bank
https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/baldwin-campaign-raised-2-2-million-in-first-quarter-finished-march-with-2-4-million-in-bank/

Ron Johnson: Wisconsin voted Donald Trump so I’ll confirm SCOTUS pick Neil Gorsuch
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/ron-johnson-wisconsin-voted-donald-trump-so-i-ll-confirm/article_483503f4-538f-549d-a293-4a95e24cd5b2.html

Republican Sean Duffy wants CFPB Director Richard Cordray out, preferably through ugly firing
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/republican-wants-cfpb-director-richard-cordray-out-preferably-through-ugly-firing/article/2619409

Too soon? Vets want national monument for Iraq, Afghanistan wars (Gallagher interview)
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/military/the-intel/sd-me-terrorism-monument-20170328-story.html

Grassland Dairy cuts back on number of farms supplying milk (Gallagher statement)
http://www.nbc26.com/news/grassland-dairy-cuts-back-on-number-of-farms-supplying-milk

VA retaliation against whistleblower: doctor kept in empty room (Johnson interview)
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/30/va-retaliation-against-whistleblower-doctor-kept-in-empty-room.html

Congressional Progressive Caucus demands Trump fire ‘white supremacist’ Steve Bannon (Pocan comments)
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/congressional-progressive-caucus-demands-trump-fire-white-supremacist-steve-bannon/article/2619466

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner talks health care, Donald Trump at respectful town hall
http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2017/04/01/rep-jim-sensenbrenner-talks-health-care-donald-trump-town-hall/99915924/

Rep. Ron Kind weighs in on possible elimination of federal COPS program
http://www.wxow.com/story/35052291/rep-ron-kind-weighs-in-on-possible-elimination-of-federal-cops-program

Grothman Aims to Eliminate Work Requirement Waivers for Food Stamps
http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=373&yr=2017

Sensenbrenner aide: Town hall ‘uprising’ is scripted and doesn’t reflect the people
http://www.jsonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2017/03/30/tieman-authenticity-has-been-replaced-activism-calls-and-town-hall-meetings/99832276/

Dem Josh Kaul launches campaign for attorney general

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Dem Josh Kaul, a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore who has been involved in voter rights cases since moving back to Wisconsin, today launched his campaign for attorney general, the office his mother held from 2003-2007.

Kaul said in a phone interview the AG’s focus should be on protecting Wisconsin families, including reducing crime and enforcing consumer protection laws, as well as the environment.

“I don’t think we’ve had that under Brad Schimel,” Kaul said. “I think far too much of his focus since he’s been in office has been on politicizing the office.”

Kaul cited Schimel’s creation of the office of solicitor general as an example of politicizing the agency. He knocked the AG for using the office to challenge a federal regulation guaranteeing overtime to those who put in extra hours and make between $23,000 and $47,000 a year. Kaul also dinged Schimel for spending $10,000 of taxpayer money on challenge coins.

State GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said Kaul built his career as an attorney for “liberal special interests and Washington insiders like Hillary Clinton.” Kaul’s resume includes representing Clinton during the recount of Wisconsin’s presidential results.

“By contrast, Attorney General Brad Schimel has fought for Wisconsin families by improving public safety, upholding the rule of law, and stopping federal overreach from Washington,” Zimmerman said.

Kaul’s campaign website says he “grew up in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac in a family of law enforcement professionals and teachers.” But it does not mention by name his mother Peg Lautenschlager, who served one term as the state’s top cop, is a former federal prosecutor and served in the Assembly.

“I love my mother like any son who was fortunate enough to grow up in a great family that encouraged education and public service should,” Kaul said. “But I’m running based on my own experience and based on the places I think Brad Schimel has let the state of Wisconsin down.”

Lautenschlager resigned from the state Ethics Commission on Friday, writing in a letter when appointed she did not “anticipate several factors that have arisen that mitigate against my continued service.” The letter did not specify what the factors were, and she has not returned calls Friday or today seeking further comment.

Kaul deferred to his mother on the reasons she resigned, but said “I’m confident she wanted to make sure there was no potential conflict with my running.”

Jefferson County DA Susan Happ, who ran for AG in 2014, has been considering another run for the office, as well as a bid for guv.

See Kaul’s website:
http://www.joshkaul.org/

See his Twitter feed:
http://twitter.com/JoshKaulWI

Dem Party presses Trump on ‘Buy America’ efforts

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Democratic Party of Wisconsin and Nebraska Democratic Party: Nebraska and Wisconsin Dems slam Gov. Scott Walker’s visit to Omaha

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Contact:
Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]
(608) 260-2409

OMAHA – As Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert campaigns alongside Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker—a failed Republican presidential candidate who is one of the least popular governors in the entire country—the Nebraska Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin are highlighting the extreme views and out-of-touch policies Stothert and Walker share.

Mayor Stothert bragged to the media that Governor Walker “governed like I’ve governed.”

“Stothert and Walker are two perfect motivators for Democrats and Independents to get to the polls for Heath Mello,” said Jane Kleeb, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair. “Stothert brags Walker governs exactly like her–a major red flag to voters since that means women are not valued the same as men in the workplace, preventative care gets defunded because of an extreme right political agenda, climate change gets ignored and working class families get left behind as big corporations have the red carpet rolled out for tax breaks and special favors all on the backs of middle-class families.”

“Scott Walker has already done enough damage to Wisconsin the economy and its workers – we don’t need to export his failure to other states,” said Martha Laning, Chair of the Democratic Party. “In Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, poverty is up, labor participation is down, the state government is broke, and thousands of manufacturing jobs are fleeing the state. Scott Walker’s failed trickle-down economic policies simply don’t work, and the last thing we need is Walker exporting his economic failures to hardworking communities like Omaha.”

Walker is known by working class families all across the country as the Governor who does the Koch brothers bidding and removes basic workplace organizing rules for better pay and safe working conditions.

The Stothert-Walker event takes place on April 24 from 3-5pm at DC Centre 11830 Stonegate Drive in Omaha.

Here is what a Stothert-Walker Agenda looks like for our families:

1. EQUAL PAY REPEALED
The Walker Record: In Wisconsin, Governor Walker repealed an equal pay law, making it more difficult for women to earn the same wages as men.
The Stothert Record: In Omaha, Mayor Stothert failed to support an equal pay law that was proposed on the City Council.

2. PLANNED PARENTHOOD DEFUNDED
The Walker Record: Governor Walker defunded Planned Parenthood, taking away women’s access to crucial health care services.
The Stothert Record: Mayor Stothert pledged she’d support efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

3. DONALD TRUMP FANS
The Walker Record: After Walker’s own presidential campaign failed to win a single vote, Walker enthusiastically endorsed Donald Trump in a primetime speech at the Republican National Convention
The Stothert Record: After touting the support of Nebraska’s biggest Trump fans—from Dave Heineman to Taylor Royal—Mayor Stothert is now desperately importing out-of-state Trump supporters like Scott Walker to prop up her flailing campaign.

4. MINIMUM WAGE DENIED
The Walker Record: Governor Walker called the concept of having a minimum wage ‘lame’ and eliminated the state’s living wage law.
The Stothert Record: Mayor Stothert refused to sign legislation that aimed to raise the minimum wage for hard-working Omahans.

5. CLIMATE DENIAL
The Walker Record: As Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker has moved to reduce the role of science and climate change in policymaking.
The Stothert Record: As Mayor of Omaha, Jean Stothert is ignoring climate change by falsely claiming it’s not an important issue to Omahans.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention 🗓

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MADISON — This year’s Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention will feature U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) as its special guest speaker in Madison on June 2nd.

The convention is the state Party’s biggest annual event where Democrats from all corners of Wisconsin join together to build the Party, hear from outstanding Democratic leaders who share a vision of building an economy that works for everyone – not just the millionaires and billionaires, and work together to build towards electoral victories in 2018.

We’ve seen enormous growth in the gap between the economic security Wisconsinites work so hard to achieve and the economic uncertainty that they are asked to settle for. The Wall Street lobbyists and wealthy special interests have written all the rules and rigged the game in Washington against American workers. That’s why this year’s convention will focus on the shared economic vision of Democrats all over the state who want a Made in Wisconsin economy that is built to last and will help us strengthen and grow our middle class by out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building the rest of the world.

Senator Tammy Duckworth’s strong economic record makes her a perfect fit for this year’s convention. The Illinois Senator won her 2016 election for Senate by promising to fight tooth-and-nail for American workers. Sen. Duckworth has kept that promise by urging President Trump to enforce trade laws that protect American steelworkers, pushing for policies to improve workforce development efforts and make higher education more affordable, as well as supporting major investments to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

“The Democratic Party is the party of fairness and opportunity for all communities in Wisconsin. As families in our state work harder than ever before only to fall deeper and deeper into financial ruin, they need someone who will work just as hard on their behalf to even the playing field and help change their fortune,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Thursday. “When we convene in Madison this summer, we’ll continue our plan to build our party and work towards electing progressive Democrats in 2018 who want to end economic uncertainty for hard-working families, return fairness to Wisconsin, and give every person in our state the opportunity to be successful.”

A credential is required for members of the media wishing to attend this event. Please visit http://www.wisdems.org/2017-state-convention-media-credential-requests to apply for a press credential.

All members of your party wishing to attend are required to submit a credential request.

Members of the media who have not submitted a request for credentials and have not been approved for a press credential will not be allowed into the event. Please note that press riser space will be limited.

Details of the event are located below.

What: 2017 Democratic Party of Wisconsin State Convention
Who: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Democratic Party leaders
When: June 2nd – 3rd 2017
Where: Madison Marriott West, 1313 John Q Hammons Dr, Middleton, WI 53562

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: National energy palpable among Wisconsin progressives, ready to win in 2018

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Contact:
Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]
(608) 260-2409

MADISON — Joining a chorus of stories across the country, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published a Sunday story highlighting activism across Wisconsin that has translated to a record-breaking fundraising and grassroots activism in support of Senator Tammy Baldwin’s re-election campaign.

Milwaukee Journal SentinelWisconsin Democrats see new energy, challenges
By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley
April 22, 2017

MADISON – In the first three months of this year, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin got money from twice as many new donors as she did in all of 2016 — more even than she did in her first full quarter as a Senate candidate in late 2011. She’s done it while decrying President Donald Trump and while meeting with new liberal groups that didn’t exist last fall when Democrats were dealt a bitter defeat by Trump and other Republicans.

Read more here.
This story adds to a clear trend in Wisconsin and nationally: Democrats are ready to win in 2018.
Read more about this nationwide movement that has found a stronghold in Wisconsin:

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Wisconsin Republicans limp through Congressional recess

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Contact:
Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]
(608) 260-2409

MADISON – Democrats are riding high off the energy of progressive grassroots activists getting more engaged on the ground and Sen. Tammy Baldwin successfully standing up to President Donald Trump and bending his will to supporting her “Buy America” legislation. The momentum follows incredible swings in special Congressional elections held in Kansas and Georgia this month. It also comes as Democrats finished criss-crossing the state speaking to their constituents at successful local town hall meetings. Republican members of Congress, on the other hand, are limping back to Washington after a disastrous Congressional recess.

When meeting with constituents, Sen. Ron Johnson, Rep. Sean Duffy, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, and Rep. Glenn Grothman heard an earful from their constituents on everything from health care to immigration to the president’s travel ban. Other Republicans, like Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Mike Gallagher, chose to avoid speaking face-to-face to their constituents altogether.

Take a look at the coverage on their troubled two weeks out of Washington:

Speaker Paul Ryan
Janesville Gazette: Our View: Detached from his district: “Paul Ryan, your constituents have waited long enough. It’s time for a town hall, even if it’s only the telephone kind. Something. Anything to show your constituents that you—not only your staff—are hearing their concerns. […] Why are we so insistent about holding town halls? Because they’re especially important during the transition from a Democratic to Republican presidency and the resultant policy upheaval. Voters in the 1st Congressional District deserve the opportunity to question their representative in a public setting to gauge his intentions. That you failed to hold a town hall before unveiling a monumental change in health care law was—to be blunt—galling.” 

Representative Mike Gallagher
WPR: 
Wisconsin Freshman Congressman Says He’s On A Reluctant Recess: “A Wisconsin freshman congressman has introduced a bill that would cut back on recesses for Congress. […] Gallagher has no public listening sessions scheduled during the recess. Instead, he says he will meet with local businesses and employees.”

Senator Ron Johnson
Isthmus:
 Madison students grill Sen. Ron Johnson: “Johnson struggled to answer questions relating to a number of key areas. When asked — as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was in her confirmation hearing — whether he believed in using standards of proficiency versus growth to measure student achievement, he — like DeVos — was unable to differentiate between the two. ‘You’re getting into some pretty esoteric educational pedagogy,’ he told the student who asked the question. ‘I’m an accountant, a plastics manufacturer.'”

Isthmus cont’d: Johnson also struggled to articulate clear views when a student asked if Johnson would vote to go to war with North Korea. ‘I can’t answer the question,” Johnson said. “I don’t know the exact circumstances.'”

Representative Sean Duffy
Barron County Democrats: VIDEO: Sean Duffy’s Rice Lake Town Hall: “Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) held a town hall in Rice Lake on Wednesday, April 19th. Despite less than 24 hours notice given to the public, the room was full of constituents who were eager to share their views on the direction of our country. He chose to double-down on his bizarre argument that any form of government assistance –including public schools and healthcare– somehow robs us of our freedom as Americans. He also regaled us with tales of Donald Trump’s work ethic and explained why Gerrymandering is good for us.”

Representative Glenn Grothman
WBAY: Environmental issues dominate town hall led by Rep. Glenn Grothman:
“The first question specifically asked about the management of the Great Lakes region.’So given the proposed cuts to EPA, what is your position on the Great Lakes Restoration project funding, and the proposed cuts to that?’ asked a woman in the audience.Grothman responded saying, ‘I don’t blame the Appropriations Committee if they don’t bring everything back up to the level it was before Donald Trump proposed these cuts, because we are broke out of our mind, but I’m confident that the program will not be gotten rid of, and I think I’m confident most of it will survive the budget process.'”

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner 
Shareblue: GOP Rep defends Trump attack on internet privacy: “Nobody’s got to use the internet” (with video): “Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) offered a strangely antiquated defense of Donald Trump’s recent decision to roll back an Obama-era protection that stopped internet providers from selling information about their customer’s browsing habits. When a concerned voter at Sensenbrenner’s town hall asked about Trump’s assault on internet privacy, Sensenbrenner told her ‘nobody’s got to use the internet.'”

The Courier: Sensenbrenner constituents concerned about health care: “Affording health care was still a pressing issue at Congressman’s Jim Sensenbrenner’s town hall meeting held at the Waterloo Municipal Building Tuesday morning, April 11. About 15 constituents were in attendance. Many voiced concerns about the increasing price of Medicaid and Medicare, the American Health Care Act (ACHA) and the rising cost of premiums.  The town hall meeting kicked off with a constituent asking, ‘Is healthcare a right or a privilege?’ ‘A privilege,’ Sensenbrenner said. Even with Medicare, Sensenbrenner explained, that people have paid into it their whole lives.”

“With the growing unpopularity of President Trump’s agenda, It’s not a surprise that Wisconsin Republicans are having a hard time trying to defend, or avoiding talking about altogether, a President who in his first 100 days attempted to impose a Muslim Ban and kick 24 million Americans off of their health insurance,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesperson Brandon Weathersby on Monday. “While Republicans continue to sink under the proverbial albatross that is the extremity of the Trump agenda, Democrats are energized, organized, and in great shape heading into 2018.” 

Dems make another push for amendment on Citizens United

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Dems pushing for universal background checks say bill unlikely to get through Legislature

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Dems slam bill prohibiting GIB from providing aboritions

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Department of Administration: Statement on West Shore Pipeline’s Decision Not to Rebuild

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Contact: Steven Michels, (608) 267-7874

Madison – Following an open season, the West Shore Pipeline Company has notified the state that they will not replace a pipeline for gasoline and other products servicing northeast Wisconsin. Since the closure of the 110 mile segment of the West Shore Pipeline in March 2016, the state has worked with local officials and industry leaders to maintain an adequate fuel supply in the region.
“In light of this announcement, the state will continue to work with our partners to assist the industry in developing long-term, market-based solutions to manage an adequate fuel supply for the region at a reasonable price for consumers,” Secretary Scott Neitzel said. “We’d like to thank our partners for their continued efforts to limit the impact of this pipeline’s closure on citizens in the region.”

Since the pipeline’s initial closure, Governor Walker directed DOA, the Public Service Commission, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Natural Resources to lead the state’s efforts to work with local, state, and industry leaders to keep the area well supplied at reasonable prices for consumers.

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 February 2017 and the preliminary estimates for March 2017. These numbers are not seasonally adjusted. In brief, the estimates showed:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas: Preliminary March 2017 unemployment rates decreased in all areas over the year when compared over the year to March 2016 and over the month to February 2017. The largest over the year decline was 1.2 percent in Racine. The latest rates ranged from 2.6 percent in Madison to 4.5 percent in Racine.

Municipalities: Preliminary March 2017 rates decreased in all of the state’s 32 largest municipalities when compared over the year to March 2016 and over the month to February 2017. The latest rates ranged from 2.3 percent in Madison to 5.7 percent in Beloit.

Counties: Preliminary March 2017 rates decreased in all 72 counties when compared over the year to March 2016 rates and in 71 of 72 counties when compared over the month to February 2017. The largest over the year decline was 2.3 percent in Bayfield county. The latest rates ranged from 2.5 percent in Dane to 7.9 percent in Iron.

The release of the March 2017 local rates follows last week’s release of BLS monthly estimates showing a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.4 percent in March 2017, dropping to its lowest rate since April 2000. Data also showed both total labor force and employment in Wisconsin reached an all-time highs in March, while the number of unemployed individuals was its lowest since June 2000.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:

Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate increased to 68.4 percent and continues to outpace the U.S. rate of 63.0 percent in March.
Wisconsin saw a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.4 percent in March 2017, down 0.3 percent from February and at its lowest rate since April 2000.
Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level in their last 30 years. 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 Ranks 15th in Nation in Manufacturing Growth Rate Year-Over-Year

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CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce
MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen released the following statement following today’s U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) release showing Wisconsin outpaced all neighboring states in rate of growth for manufacturing jobs over the year ending in March 2017, finishing the year with the 15th best manufacturing growth rate in the nation.

“Wisconsin’s economy continues to grow under Governor Scott Walker,” Secretary Ray Allen said. “Today’s rankings show Wisconsin continuing to be one of the nation’s leaders in the manufacturing industry, outpacing all neighboring states and coming in at 15th in the nation for year-over-year growth rate. On top of this, Wisconsin’s 3.4 percent unemployment rate is its lowest since April 2000 as we are experiencing the highest total labor force and employment numbers in our state’s history.”

Highlights of Friday’s BLS release of state-by-state employment and unemployment data for March 2017 include:
Wisconsin ranked 15th in the nation in manufacturing growth rate compared to March 2016.
Wisconsin out-ranked all neighboring states in the Midwest in manufacturing growth rate when compared to March 2016.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate of 3.4 percent is at its lowest point since April 2000, and is significantly lower than the national rate of 4.5 percent.
Wisconsin’s year-over-year unemployment rate decrease of 0.7 percent was statistically significant.
Wisconsin’s month-over-month unemployment rate decrease of 0.3 percent was statistically significant.

Other indicators of Wisconsin’s strong economy include:
Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level in their last 30 years. 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.

DHS releases draft of Medicaid waiver request

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DHS to pay nearly $7 million to feds for FoodShare data errors

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DNR presentation on phosphorus runoff & TMDL study 🗓

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Madison- A public briefing will be held by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to discuss phosphorus runoff in Northeast Wisconsin, and possible responses for the restoration of Wisconsin’s waterways. Representatives Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) and Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth) have been instrumental in planning the public meeting, as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study has been proposed for the tributaries of Lake Michigan in Kewaunee, Manitowoc, and Sheboygan Counties.

“Water is one of our most valuable resources,” Representative Katsma stated. “We have the opportunity to make a real positive impact by studying the levels and sources of pollutants in our waterways. The best way to understand how to protect our water is to know what the contaminants are, and where they are coming from. A TMDL study would answer those questions for us, and get us on a path to preserving our water quality in the long term.”

Representative Vorpagel added, “Many people are concerned about the water quality in the state and across the country. The best thing we can do to protect our water is learning more about it. I am excited to hear what the DNR has to present at the briefing, and hope to have this TMDL study on Lake Michigan, so we can continue learning.”

The presentation by the DNR will take place on Monday, April 17th at 2:30pm at the Mead Public Library, in the Rocca Meeting Room. The public is welcome to come and listen. Representative Vorpagel and Representative Katsma will be in attendance.

Sheboygan Informational Session 

What: DNR presentation on phosphorus runoff & TMDL study

When: Monday April 17th, 2:30pm to 4:30pm

Where: Mead Public Library, 710 N 8th St, Sheboygan WI 53081 Rocca Room

Contact: Rep. Tyler Vorpagel, (608) 266-8530
Rep. Terry Katsma, (608) 266-0656

DNR: Champions of city trees from throughout Wisconsin lauded for outstanding community service

CONTACT: Sara Minkoff, Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council liaison, 608-264-6039, [email protected]; Michelle Gary, 608-266-2193, [email protected]

http://dnr.wi.gov/news/releases/article/?id=4224

MADISON, Wis. – Five individuals and organizations dedicated to protecting, preserving and increasing the number of trees lining city streets, filling community parks and beautifying neighborhoods throughout the state earned recognition from the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council at the recent 2017 Wisconsin Arborist Association/DNR conference in Green Bay.

“The awards recognize and thank individuals and organizations for their work and commitment to the trees, plantings, habitat and economic benefits they provide,” said Kristin Gies, co-chair of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council’s award committee. “Reviewing the nominations each year is a wonderful way to see the great things happening around Wisconsin and to support healthy community forests.”

The Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council advises the Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry on the best ways to manage urban and community forest resources.

The recipients of the awards include:

  • Distinguished Service: Sean Gere, 6-time state champion climber, ISA certified arborist, arboriculture researcher/educator, member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists, the Tree Care Industry Association, and Wisconsin Urban Wood and owner of Gere Tree Care in Madison, Wisconsin. He received this award for contributions to urban forest health, safety of arborists, and community education and awareness. Sean is involved in research and teaching on topics related to tree care, urban ecosystems, and safety for members of the tree care industry, and providing programming for community members to help people and the environment exist together in mutually beneficial ways.
  • Project Partnership: The Popple Trail Invasive Species Removal Project in Webb Park, Reedsburg earned this award for the excellent demonstration of a collaborative partnership involving numerous community groups of all ages. Because of their effort to remove invasive buckthorn and plant trees to restore the urban forest and enhance wildlife habitat, the recreational and educational opportunities of an urban corridor were increased.
  • Innovations in Urban Forestry: This category includes two winners. Adam Alves, Dane County Forestry Specialist, was recognized for creating sustainable partnerships providing outreach and educational events around arboriculture including climbing events for kids of all abilities. He is the founder of the Dane County Regional Arborist Group dedicated to sharing knowledge and skills involved in urban forestry and promoting arboriculture as an exciting viable career option. WholeTrees, a Madison-based architectural design and building-products company focused on bringing low-value forest byproducts into high-value building markets, received the second award in this category for their use of whole urban local trees in the construction of Festival Foods at the Galaxie in Madison. This project involved extended collaborations and generated income for local businesses employing researchers, engineers, builders, and foresters throughout the Madison area. The project demonstrated how continued partnerships between cities and local businesses can find new ways to utilize local wood for building.
  • Lifetime Achievement: Dick Rideout received this award in recognition of his leadership, organizational skills, and dedication promoting and improving urban forestry, which has had a lasting impact on arboriculture in Wisconsin, the Midwest and across the country. Dick served as Wisconsin’s first urban forestry coordinator. Until his retirement in 2015, his career focused on ensuring the future of healthy urban forests in Wisconsin and the U.S. His legacy includes the DNR Urban Forestry Grants Program, Champion Tree Program, Urban Forestry Awards, and engagement in the Tree City, Tree Line, and Tree Campus Award programs and Arbor Day observances and activities across Wisconsin.

Interested in previous winners? Have ideas for nominees? The deadline for 2018 nominees is October 31, 2017. However, you can nominate your community tree champions any time. Learn more by visiting DNR.wi.gov and searching for the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council.

DOT frees up $100 million for projects, but Vos says long-term solution still needed

State officials announced today that more than $100 million has been freed up for transportation projects across the state.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the money doesn’t “come anywhere near to solving the long-term transportation funding crisis.”

The funds include $38 million in additional projected revenues from the Department of Transportation that can be pumped into the upcoming biennial budget, along with $65 million Gov. Scott Walker today directed toward statewide projects starting in fiscal year 2017.

Beginning in June, the DOT will fund 21 additional projects, including U.S. 10/441 in northeast Wisconsin. I-94 did not make the list.

The announcement comes as Vos and Walker continue to battle over transportation funding, with Vos saying the state needs to put all options on the table to fix a shortfall, including raising the gas tax or registration fees.

DOT Secretary Dave Ross noted in a statement that the agency is “generating more revenue for transportation” without doing either of those things.

But Vos, R-Rochester, said finding a long-term funding solution is still a priority, although he commended DOT for “being frugal with taxpayer dollars.”

“Hopefully, as we look for solutions we’ll continue to focus on both aspects of solving the problem, which are finding savings like they did today and also looking at long-term revenues to keep the fund stable,” Vos said.

 

DPI aims to halve achievement gap in 6 years under Every Students Succeeds Act compliance plan draft

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Dr. Richard Weiner: Your money or your life!

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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 day Speaker Ryan withdrew the American Health Care Act from consideration, there was a wreck on the freeway.

Getting home took a lot longer than usual. At times traffic stopped completely. We were in a parking lot that stretched for miles.

The car in front of me was an Audi A8. Shiny silver and brand new, the four-door version costs about $100,000. Behind me was a city bus. On the day Trump Care vanished, it didn’t matter if you were driving a fancy German sedan, my beat-up Honda SUV, or were sitting in public transportation. You weren’t going anywhere quickly. There was some comfort in the notion that we were all in this stalled procession together.

Finally, I got off the freeway and coasted up my driveway. Safe and home, I thought.

The jabbering geniuses of television journalism were in a celebratory mood. The depredations of the AHCA had been beaten back. We were all safe and home with Obamacare.

The station switched to advertisements for two medications: Harvoni, a medicine for hepatitis C, and Opdiva, for lung cancer.

Then we were back to howls about Trumpcare: a bullet dodged.

I couldn’t stop thinking about hepatitis C, a disease that can lead to liver failure, liver cancer and death. A few keystrokes on my cell phone, and the cost of Harvoni popped up. The wholesale acquisition cost for a single pill is $1,125. If you’re cured in eight weeks that comes to $63,000, not counting doctor visits and lab tests. If you need to continue therapy for twelve weeks the total is $94,500, plus clinic and lab fees.

Opdiva’s a medicine for lung cancer. It’s also used for skin and kidney cancer. The drug costs about $150,000 for the initial treatment, and then $14,000 a month. That’s for lung cancer; for skin cancer, along with another medication called Yervoy, the cost is $256,000 per year.

The average American household income is about $51,000 per year. A medication costing three times that, or a combination that costs five times a family’s income, might as well exist only on the moon.

The problem is, there are no substitutes for these very expensive drugs. If you have high blood pressure, there are many effective – and financially accessible – choices. So also for diabetes, with very good ones costing hundreds of dollars per month. And the same for asthma: hundreds per month will keep you breathing.

Put it this way: if we’re all going home, it doesn’t matter a great deal if we get there in a German luxury car, an old SUV, or a bus. The end result is the same. The Audi may ride better; the Honda may arrive a lot sooner than the bus, but we all get where we want. In the case of lung, kidney or skin cancer, sometimes the alternative to modern medicine is dying.

According to the Kaiser Foundation, over twenty-eight million Americans were without insurance in 2015. If you average that across the entire population, that’s about one in eleven citizens. Put another way, it would be two patients in my clinic per day – except this clinic does not see uninsured patients.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, in 2014 about a tenth of us had insurance with out-of-pocket costs or deductibles so high that we wouldn’t seek medical care until we were desperate.

I’ve read that the Republicans are developing a new and improved proposal that will come along someday. For now, we have Obamacare, which provides some insurance to most of us. You may not like the mode of transportation it offers, but you’re better off with it than being uninsured.

I switched off the television and thought of the people who don’t have any insurance, and the folks who have $10,000 deductibles.

We’ve got to find a way to get everyone on the bus.

— Dr. Richard Weiner has been practicing medicine in Milwaukee since 1989. The former UW Medical School faculty member is the author of the soon to be published legal thriller, Killing Dante.

DSPS’ Gutierrez ‘very excited’ to look at state licensing requirements

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Edge Messaging: Dan Deibert Joins Edge Messaging 

Strategic Communications Company Adds Veteran Broadcaster

[BROOKFIELD, WISC…] Edge Messaging, LLC is expanding its strategic communications team with the addition of Dan Deibert as Director of Creative Services and Innovation. Deibert brings a quarter century of broadcasting experience to the firm. He has hosted radio shows in Chicago and St. Louis, as well as in Wisconsin’s three largest media markets.

“Dan is one of the most creative individuals I’ve ever come across and luring him to leave broadcasting and come aboard our team is a huge coup for our clients,” said Edge Messaging President Brian Fraley. “I created this job description with a Dan Deibert-type in mind, and then decided to make a play for the real deal.”

Deibert comes to Edge Messaging from legendary WOC where he co-hosted the “AM Quad Cities” morning program on the iHeart Media-owned station. He previously hosted shows in Milwaukee at iHeart’s NewsTalk 1130 WISN, on Madison’s WTDY and WTAQ/WGEE/WNFL in Green Bay. Deibert has also served as a regular fill in on Westwood One’s nationally-syndicated “Overnight America,” and in various time slots on Chicago’s WGN, St. Louis’ KMOX, and Milwaukee’s Scripps-owned AM620 WTMJ.

“I’m a storyteller at heart,” said Deibert. “I’m excited to get to work on behalf of our clients and help them tell their stories and effectively communicate with the audiences they need to target.”

As Director of Creative Services and Innovation, Deibert will immediately begin utilizing his podcasting, videography, graphic arts and multimedia production skills to enhance the services already provided by Edge Messaging.

“Our business and our team both continue to grow because we are relentless and deliver results for our clients,” said Fraley. “Dan knows we not only work hard, we work smart and are committed to helping our clients win.”

Edge Messaging is a Strategic Communications and Public Relations firm located in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Edge Messaging’s clients include corporations, political candidates and nonprofits that range in size from Fortune 100 companies to voluntary grassroots organizations.

Edgewood College and UW-Madison Distinguished Lecture Series “Honduran Feminist Resistance: Melissa Cardoza & Karla Lara” 🗓

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Edgewood College Sonderegger Science Center,
1000 Edgewood College Dr.,
Madison.

Madison, Wis. (April 20, 2017) – Edgewood College invites Greater Madison to the Center for Multicultural Education Distinguished Lecture Series “Honduran Feminist Resistance: Author Melissa Cardoza and Singer Karla Lara.”

This unique opportunity is scheduled for 2:00-3:30 pm, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in the Sonderegger Science Center. Tickets are not required, and the public is welcome.

Melissa Cardoza’s book, 13 Colors of Honduran Resistance, poetically relates some of the most compelling moments she has witnessed amidst the brutal repression and struggle that characterizes Honduras today.

Cardoza is touring with jazz/folk/protest singer Karla Lara, who appears in one of the book’s stories and has been an icon and sharp voice for the resistance. Both of the women were close friends of Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous leader and organizer of COPINH, who was a victim of assassination. Cardoza’s book and speaking tour are dedicated to Berta.

Cardoza and Lara will be accompanied by Liz Moldan and Elise Roberts from Witness for Peace-Midwest, based in Minneapolis, a grassroots organization that promotes peace, justice and sustainable economies to the Americas and advocates for U.S. policy changes to eradicate oppression and poverty.

This event is co-sponsored by the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies (LACIS) Program at UW-Madison, and the Center for Multicultural Education & Ethnic Studies Program at Edgewood College.

Contact: Ed Taylor, 608-663-2333

Edgewood College: Perspectives on Value and Quality in Healthcare 🗓

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Edgewood College,
Anderson Auditorium,
Madison.

Madison, Wis. (April 13, 2017) – Edgewood College is pleased to invite Greater Madison to Perspectives on Value and Quality in Healthcare. This panel discussion will take place 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm, Wednesday, April 19, 2017, in Anderson Auditorium. The event is free.

Healthcare affects us all personally, and we can hardly visit the web or read a publication today without any reference to healthcare, one of the largest and most complex sectors of our economy. Leading Wisconsin experts from key stakeholders in the healthcare sector will share their perspectives on how consumers, employers, payers and the government can derive more value and higher quality in healthcare. Raj Kamal, Senior Lecturer in the School of Business at Edgewood College will moderate the panel.

Panelists include Dr. Timothy Bartholow, V.P. and Chief Medical Officer, WEA Trust; Mr. Michael Heifetz, State Medicaid Director, Wisconsin Department of Health Services; Mr. Chris Queram, President/CEO Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ); and Mr. Lee Wiersma, Executive V.P. / Chief Human Resources Officer, UW Credit Union.

 

Elections Commission experts turnout between 13 and 18 percent in DPI race

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Elections Commission predicts 13-18% turnout today

The Elections Commission expects turnout today to be between 13 percent and 18 percent, based on recent spring elections that featured a contested DPI race, but no challenger to a sitting Supreme Court justice.

Not counting presidential primaries that have been held on the April general election, turnout for statewide spring races has averaged 19.3 percent since 2000.

But there have been only two featuring a contested state superintendent race and an unopposed Supreme Court justice. In 2001, turnout was 13.74 percent as Elizabeth Burmaster beat Linda Cross and Justice David Prosser was unopposed. In 2005, 17.14 percent of the state’s voting age population turned out as Burnmaster beat then-GOP state Rep. Gregg Underheim and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley was unopposed.

See more:
http://elections.wi.gov/node/5051

EnsoData cleared by FDA for sleep software

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EnsoData, a Madison-based health technology company, has been cleared by the FDA for its EnsoSleep software.

Chris Fernandez, the company’s CEO and co-founder, says gaining that clearance “involved a ton of nonclinical and clinical testing of software,” since the company was founded in 2015.

“We really started it after closing our $550,000 seed funding round last April,” Fernandez said, adding it took about 4 months to write all 800-or-so pages of the proposal document.

EnsoSleep, the company’s first product, is a software system that plays a role in sleep studies. It takes data from sensors and devices that measure breath, heart rate and other variables while the patient is sleeping, integrates those results, and analyzes them much more quickly than a person could.

See more at WisBusiness.com 

ETF disputes concerns over self-insurance plan’s effect on local governments

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Evers campaign: Election night 🗓

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Contact: Amanda L. Brink
Email: [email protected]


Madison — Tony Evers is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. He champions public education and is a tireless advocate for Wisconsin’s 860,000 public school kids. Tony is up for re-election and is seeking his third term.

Following the polls closing on April 4th, Tony will be gathering with supporters to celebrate the end of the campaign. The event is open to the public as well as members of the press.

We ask for all members of the media wishing to attend to RSVP to Amanda Brink at [email protected].

LOCATION: Park Hotel, 22 S. Carroll Street, Madison Top of the Park
TIME: 8:00 – 11:00 pm
Members of the media will be allowed inside begining at 7:30 p.m.
CONTACT: Amanda Brink, [email protected]
TONY’s REMARKS: TBD

Evers Campaign: Re-elected with statewide support

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Contact: Amanda L. Brink
Email: [email protected]


Madison — The following is a statement from State Superintendent Tony Evers:

I’m grateful for tonight’s results. First, I just want to thank my wife Kathy, my family, my supporters and everyone who came out to vote today. I’ve received enormous support in this campaign, and it has been truly heartwarming. I also want to acknowledge Dr. Holtz — stepping into the arena isn’t always easy. But I think that when you talk about the issues that really matter to folks, they show up and vote. Our campaign was about our kids, and the future of Wisconsin.

I believe the real winners tonight are Wisconsin’s 860,000 public school kids. The little girl in Altoona who loves playing her clarinet, the 4th grader in Greenfield who is excited about his computer class, and the kid from Three Lakes who is driven to invent and comes to school every day to work in the Fab Lab.

I believe in public education and I am proud of where we are today. We have high graduation rates, suspensions are down, attendance is up, and the number of kids earning college credit in high school is at an all-time high.

Despite these successes, we have serious challenges facing our schools. A larger share of our kids live in poverty, one in five students has a mental health need, the achievement gap between black and white students is too high and we have a growing teacher shortage that is furthered by divisive rhetoric.

Funding public schools is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, it is our obligation to care for our children, and our obligation to Wisconsin’s future prosperity. Education is the driving engine of our economy. Education gives kids a ladder of opportunity, and every child, not just some, deserve the resources Wisconsin should invest in them: kids with special needs, kids of color, kids who are immigrants and kids who come to school hungry.

I will continue to advocate for what is best for our kids and our future, but I need your help. With both the federal and state budgets in process, it is clear now, more than ever, we will have to continue to fight for public education and the resources our kids need. It takes more than just one person, one voice. So my ask tonight is this — volunteer in your local school, mentor a student, speak to your elected representative. These kids are Wisconsin’s future, and they need our help.

Join me in being their champion.

Evers optimistic about state after easy win over Holtz

State Superintendent Tony Evers chalked up his easy win over challenger Lowell Holtz to his role as “the chief advocate” of public school kids.

Evers also struck an optimistic tone last night about the future of the state, telling reporters and a crowd of some 50 supporters in downtown Madison, including Dem legislative leaders Rep. Peter Barca and Sen. Jennifer Shilling, that despite the problems Wisconsin faces, “we can roll up our sleeves and solve them.”

Still, he addressed issues the state needs to solve to enhance the education environment for public school students, including better addressing mental health issues and allocating more money to districts. But he conceded the state’s in a good starting place with Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget plan.

With almost all precincts in, Evers had 494,845 votes, or 70 percent, while Holtz had 212,529, or 30 percent.

In 2013, Evers beat then-GOP Rep. Don Pridemore with 61.1 percent of the vote.

In 2009, Evers won his first term over school choice advocate Rose Fernandez with 57.1 percent.

The just more than 700,000 people who voted in the state superintendent race is a little under 16 percent of the state’s voting age population.
Holtz said he raised important issues in his bid for state superintendent even though he came up well short of knocking off Evers.

Holtz said he was at a resource disadvantage compared to Evers, who outraised him better than 2-to-1. Between Jan. 1 and March 20, Holtz pulled in $117,190, while Evers collected just north of $360,000.

Evers also benefited from a $225,000 TV ad buy from the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee.

“There’s only so much you can do shaking hands,” Holtz said on a conference call.

Holtz said he wished Evers well and hoped others would step up to help the superintendent address issues, such as the achievement gap between white and minority students.

“I’m really hoping that while I might not have been in the position where I wanted to be, I really hope that we raised issues and awareness that parents don’t ever have to put up with failing schools, businesses shouldn’t put up with failing schools and our communities shouldn’t put up with them,” Holtz said.

See the Election Blog for more:
https://www.wispolitics.com/category/election/

 

Evers strikes optimistic tone about future of Wisconsin as he speaks on his re-election win

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State Superintendent Tony Evers struck an optimistic tone about the future of Wisconsin, especially for the state’s public schools, as he addressed a supportive crowd following his re-election victory.

“We have lots of problems in the state, but we can roll up our sleeves and solve them,” he said.

Speaking to a crowd of around 50 in downtown Madison, which included Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, Evers attributed his victory to “being the chief advocate” of public school kids.

He also credited “people at the local level” for supporting their schools via referendum vote in past elections. This time around, there were 65 referenda questions on the ballot.

Still, he addressed issues the state needs to solve to enhance the education environment for public school students, including better addressing mental health issues and allocating more money to districts, although he conceded the state’s in a good starting place with Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget.

Evers also likened running for re-election and heading the Department of Public Instruction as having “two jobs at the same time.”

“Running for election is not something I take lightly,” he said. “I work hard for it.”

He mentioned his challenger Lowell Holtz, former superintendent of Whitnall School District, only once and not by name, calling him instead “my opponent.” Evers said Holtz’s “view of the world is a lot different than mine,” adding “my view won.”

In an interview with WisPolitics.com later in the evening, Evers attributed the lack of big outside money flowing in to support Holtz’s campaign to the quality of Evers’ campaign.

“I think it’s because we had a good campaign and people didn’t want to invest in my opponent,” he said.

But he added he thinks people respect that he takes “difficult positions, even though they may not be popular,” he said, citing his stance on whether transgender kids should use the bathroom they identify with and guns in schools.

Evers’ margin of victory high after strong win in DPI race

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Ex-Prisoners Organizing: 2017 EXPO of Milwaukee Community Forum

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Contact:
Mark Rice
[email protected]
(608) 843-0171

Community Forum on Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility, Crimeless Revocations, and Community-Based Alternatives to Incarceration
Saturday, April 29
at 11 AM – 3 PM
Wisconsin Black Historical Society
2620 W Center St, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53206 

On April 29, an unprecedented coalition of formerly incarcerated people and faith leaders will gather to call for action on one of Milwaukee’s greatest scandals.

Community members will be gathering for a discussion about the consequences of excessive revocations in Wisconsin, the inhumane conditions at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), and the need to invest in community-based alternatives to incarceration. The forum will be covered live on the Earl Ingram Show on 1510 am.

Panelists will include community leaders such as Milwaukee NAACP President Fred Royal and WISDOM President Rev. Willie Brisco as well as EXPO leaders who have been directly impacted by these issues. Click here to RSVP and to see the agenda and the bios of the panelists.

Wisconsin officials should support policies that would give all people the opportunity to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect and to live in safe and healthy communities. Unfortunately, Wisconsin’s unjust revocation policies lead to the unnecessary incarceration of thousands of men and women every year. These policies, which disproportionately harm people of color and people with disabilities, tear families apart, disrupt communities, and drain resources that could instead be used to build safer and stronger communities. It is time for Wisconsin to stop incarcerating people who have not been convicted of new crimes and join the growing number of states that are making significant investments in community-based alternatives to incarceration.

EXPO is a group of previously imprisoned people who are working to end mass incarceration, eliminate all forms of structural discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, and restore formerly incarcerated people to full participation in the life of our communities. EXPO is a project of WISDOM. Click here for more information about EXPO.

Family Farm Defenders: NAFTA needs to be replaced, not rengotiated

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CONTACT: 
John E. Peck, FFD executive director  #608-260-0900  [email protected]
Jim Goodman, FFD board member  #608-489-2291  [email protected]
Madison, Wisconsin – April 6, 2017
The North American Free Trade Agreement must be replaced with a transparent trade agreement that ensures: farmers in all three nations receive fair prices for their production, consumers are guaranteed the right to know the content and origin of their food and strong environmental protections are put in place to protect the sustainability of rural communities.
While the current structure of NAFTA has increased trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States, farm profit margins did not increase. Multi-national grain traders made huge profits dumping subsidized US corn on Mexico, crushing much of Mexico’s farm economy to the point that Mexican Catholic Bishops said that NAFTA was leading to the “cultural death” of their nation. Trade agreements should promote fair trade that that supports farmers of all countries involved, not just the financial interests of multi-national agribusiness corporations.
To give just one recent example of how rural communities suffer from reckless trade policies, on April 1st Grassland Dairy Products, the nation’s largest butter maker, informed 75 Wisconsin dairy farmers that their milk would no longer be needed by May since Canadian buyers had cancelled contracts to import one million pounds of milk per day. Ironically enough, Grassland has also been bankrolling the 5,000 cow factory farm expansion of Cranberry Creek Dairy in Dunn County to further flood the domestic milk market. Trade deals like NAFTA thrive on such commodity speculation that boosts corporate profits, while bankrupting family farmers, price gouging consumers, and destroying the environment.
NAFTA should be replaced with a new Fair Trade agreement, one that ensures farmers receive prices that, at a minimum, meet their costs of production plus a living wage. Farmers should not be pitted against each other in a race to the bottom. They deserve to have access to their own domestic markets and to be protected from imported commodities that are unfairly priced below the cost of production (dumping). Furthermore, people of all participating countries should not be subject to trade rules that restrict their right to: reject imports that do not meet their preferences on GM content, pesticide use, food labels, or protect their local food systems.
The basic human rights of farm workers: fair wages and working conditions, must be protected by trade rules that support jobs and rural development in all three countries.
Food is a human right. Food sovereignty cannot be compromised by trade agreements designed by corporate interests. All nations have a right to decide what they will eat, how it will be grown and who will control it. No one should forced to accept agricultural products they do not want.

Feeling the Squeeze: Prescription Drug Pricing Trends and State Policy Options 🗓

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An EBHPP Breakfast Briefing
Thursday, April 27th, 2017
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Wisconsin State Capitol, Room 411-South
 
Moderated by Rep. Debra Kolste
 
Rising prescription drug costs affect state budgets and family finances, here in Wisconsin and nationwide. The Evidence-Based Health Policy Project presents a briefing on prescription drug pricing, with presentations on trends, current efforts to contain costs, and options for state policymakers.
Coffee and light breakfast will be provided.
Featured Speakers
Joe Cesarz

Director, Specialty Pharmacy Residency Program

Rachel Currans-Henry 

Director, Medicaid Bureau of Benefits Management

Eileen Mallow 

Deputy Director, Office of Strategic Health Policy
Presenting on the National Academy for State Health Policy Pharmacy Costs Workgroup

Fireball Run announcement press conference 🗓

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WHAT

Press Conference to announce that the national travel adventure series, THE FIREBALL RUN, is featuring Eau Claire, WI for their 11th season. Out of the 8 locations for the season, Eau Claire will be the only Wisconsin location included. This will be the first time a Wisconsin location has been included in this Travel Adventure Series.

Major announcement of this press conference will be the announcement of the individuals that will be a team competing in and representing Eau Claire throughout the entire 11th season of the Fireball Run: Big Country.

WHO

·         State Representative Dana Wachs, Assembly District 91

·         Christina Wasson, Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation Marketing Manager

·         Ray French, City of Eau Claire Economic Development

 

·         The 2017 Eau Claire Fireball Run Team

·         (via Skype) J. A. Sanchez, Showrunner/Executive Producer (Star Trek, The Truman Show, Passenger 57, Psycho)

Opportunities for photos, video, and interviews will be available.

WHEN

Friday, April 7th
10:00 am – 11:00 am

WHERE

North Conference Room
City Hall

203 S Farwell, St.
Eau Claire, WI 54701

WHY

Fireball Run is Amazing Race, How It’s Made, Dirty Jobs, and your favorite travel and history show combined. It is an action-packed 26-episode adventure series, featuring 40 driving teams as they take part in a legendary, 8-day, 2000-mile, life-sized trivia game. To win, they take the road less traveled in hot pursuit of America’s under-discovered places, unique stories, and obscure historic artifacts. Unlike Reality TV, this adventure is real. The entire season is filmed in real-time, in front of thousands of spectators. It’s all just for bragging rights, a greater cause, and a plastic road sign.

In addition to promoting Eau Claire and exploring the under-discovered locations of America, the Fireball Run is the largest children’s recovery effort, supporting the Child Rescue Network. As of the end of 2015, 47 missing children featured on the Fireball Run have been recovered

While the production crew will be filming, behind-the-scenes the community will be developing relationships with business leaders and decision makers. There will be approx. 150 individuals that will be participating in this initiative. While the teams can vary slightly year over year, in 2015, 98% of the contestants were key corporate decision makers.

The series features museums of all sizes, unique places, notable locations, and aspiring people. Viewership is over 4+ million projected viewers (worldwide, includes Amazon Prime streaming).

Fitzgerald slams Sentry’s decision to hire Lassa as lobbyist

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Fitzgerald, lawmakers talk to Canadian officials over dairy trade dispute

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Former Supreme Court justices against proposal to overhaul recusal rules

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Fourth candidate emerges for open DNC seat

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Fred Risser’s 90th birthday celebration 🗓

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When: Friday, May 5th
Where: Best Western Premier Park Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin

Freshwater For Life Action Coalition: Will make statement regarding Milwaukee Water Quality Task Force report and recommendations

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Contact: Robert Miranda, 414-469-4182
Milwaukee – The Milwaukee Water Quality Task Force will convene it’s last meeting on Friday, April 28, 2017.
It is anticipated that the task force will be releasing its final report and recommendations at this meeting.
The Freshwater For Life Action Coalition (FLAC) will be attending this meeting and will be giving statements regarding the task force report and recommendations.
“FLAC sent a letter to chairman Bohl addressing what the group saw were concerns the task force draft report and recommendations had. FLAC did not receive a response to our letter in which we made 14 recommendations. We will see tomorrow what the task force decided on”, said Robert Miranda, FLAC Spokesperson.
A copy of the letter to Alderman Bohl is included below:
March 30, 2017
Alderman Jim Bohl
Milwaukee Common Council
Chairman, Milwaukee Water Quality Task Force
City Hall
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
53201
Dear Alderman Bohl:
The Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) expresses our congratulations on your successful chairmanship of the Water Quality Task Force (WTQF) and we extend to you and the members of the task force our gratitude and thank you for the leadership of the task force addressing the concerns around the quality of Milwaukee water, specifically addressing the more than 80,000 lead laterals that dot the Milwaukee landscape.
FLAC has reviewed the draft of the recommendations being proposed by the Task Force. Upon review of the draft FLAC wishes to express some concerns regarding the report and its recommendations.
The report, it appears, has the city taking on the notion that lead water is not as much a threat to public health as other sources of lead. The report fails in its recommendations to recognize the fact that lead water, unlike paint chips, dust and soil, is not something the public can see readily and report like they do lead paint chips. Testing water is proven to be hit or miss. Lead in water is not as visible as paint chips falling from the walls. The poisoning of families by lead laterals is a deadly game of aqua Russian roulette.
Unfortunately, in our opinion, the recommendations by the Milwaukee WQTF appears to not adequately make lead pipes and fixtures a public health crisis, which is disturbing.
FLAC recommends the following we believe the report fails to address and should consider adding to the recommendations portion of the WQTF report.
FLAC Recommendations:
1. Establish accountability measures for not achieving or moving on recommendations made by the task force.
2. Recommend that the Common Council direct the Milwaukee Water Works to outline an active plan to protect people from lead water exposure.
3. Create a time line, short and long term, to remove lead pipes from residences.
4. Recommend that Milwaukee Common Council initiate a mandate to create a strategic comprehensive plan to fund and remove lead pipes from Milwaukee residences. No mention of a strategic plan or long term removal plan with goals is mentioned.
5. Establish long term measures to educate residents about the need to continue to be vigilant and take precautions to protect from lead water poisoning is not adequately outlined.
6. Outline affordability of filters and replacements for all homes with lead laterals, specificity for low-income/fixed income homeowners.
7. Call for increased testing of water Milwaukee consumers receive via lead laterals, in particular, surpassing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards the city follows.
8. Recommend that the Department of Public Works proceeds with incorporating a plan that removes city water mains to include removal of lead laterals.
9. Recommend to the Milwaukee Common Council that it direct the Mayor to dedicate 25 to 50 percent of MWW revenue the Mayor receives for general funds as revenue to be used towards removing lead laterals on private property.
10. Recommend that Milwaukee Water Works includes filter replacement reminder notices to water customers every billing cycle.
11. Recommend water testing plan for residences where street construction is taking place and report test results to the Common Council in areas under construction.
12. Establish a biannual community information session that focuses on lead lateral removal efforts and report progress removing lead laterals  from residences in the Milwaukee community.
13. Recommend review/reform current policy being utilized for testing and treating children for lead blood levels annually. Ensure City policies meet current EDA & CDC standards and report status to the Common Council annually.
14. Recommend that the Common Council direct Department of Public Works and Milwaukee Water Works to develop a plan that correctly identifies the number of lead laterals in Milwaukee.
In December of 2016, the Common Council approved an ordinance for funding the removal of lead service lines that experience leaks, breaks or other emergency repairs. The costs to property owners to pay out of pocket for such an emergency amounts to $1,600 maximum to remove the lead service lines on privately-owned portion. The ordinance also covered administrative costs to oversee these replacements.
The report also cites additional funding from the State of Wisconsin’s Safe Drinking Water Program, which will provide funding for lead service lines replacement of schools and daycares in 2017.
FLAC calls upon the Task Force to recommend that Mayor Barrett initiate a letter to the Public  Service  Commission (PSC) requesting that the PSC moves to approve authority for the City to use funds from the water utility to support full-lead lateral removal.
Ownership/control
Finally, FLAC continues to advocate for the City of Milwaukee to take ownership/control of lead laterals.
FLAC contends that after the United States banned lead laterals in 1986, the EPA started working on getting lead out of water leaching from pipes through the Safe Drinking Water Act, which required water utilities to undertake the replacement of all lead service lines – including those that went into privately owned homes and buildings.
A few years later, 1993 to be exact, after lead contamination started making headlines across the country, water utilities started to claim that they didn’t have the right to replace lead pipes on private property.
A lawsuit filed by the American Water Works Association trade group in 1993 changed the original rules and the federal mandate was struck down. In 2000, the EPA decided to revise the Lead and Copper Rule and in doing so put the cost of replacing lead pipes on private property the responsibility of homeowners. The 2000 revision created a slippery slope by giving water utilities nationwide the right to claim they have control of a smaller sections of once-public water lines.
The change in 2000 gifted sections of water pipes to residents, meaning homeowners have “control and ownership” of a portion of lead pipes – making the homeowner liable. Many home owners were not aware of the change that automatically made them owners of lead lateral on their side of the curb after this happened.
This we strongly believe is wrong.
There isn’t any controversy over whether a gas or phone company has the right to go onto private land to fix a leaky pipe or a downed wire to address a public health hazard. FLAC views this as a public health crisis.
When the service lines were installed in the early 1880s to early 1900s and up until 1962, it was the City of Milwaukee who mandated using lead pipes.
Thank you for your attention to our concerns and recommendations.
Sincerely,
Robert Miranda
FLAC, Spokesperson

FRI AM Update: Assembly to take up high-capacity wells bill Tuesday; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: JFC holds final public hearing on budget today; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: JFC public hearing in Berlin today; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Walker cancels Easter egg hunt as Jakubowski manhunt continues; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: Campus speech bill; Risser, turning 90, marks 61 years in the Capitol

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FRI News Summary: Man suspected of robbing gun store, making threats captured; $100M freed up for transpo

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FRI News Summary: State budget; health care reform; Ryan on Syria strike

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FRI News Summary: Walker on private school tax benefit; State Supreme Court dismiss recusal petition

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FRI REPORT: JFC co-chairs outline key issues as committee prepares to tweak Walker’s budget plan

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FRI REPORT: Municipalities, schools fleeing threatened state-run insurance fund

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FRI REPORT: Sources: Tax code overhaul part of Kooyenga’s transportation plan

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Gallagher’s post-election fundraising outpaces recent Wis. House freshmen

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Gary Hebl: Republican majority votes for 130th time to erode local control

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

This past week, Republicans in the Assembly attempted to fast track Assembly Bill 109, a bill that would have negated town votes regarding the opting out of Dane County zoning ordinances. I voted against this bill because of the way that it was being rushed through the Assembly, with little to no consideration of what the local communities wanted. Instead, it was written for one town supervisor in Middleton who claimed to know better than his constituents.

The bill removes the option of voting at annual town meetings about whether or not to withdraw from Dane County zoning rules. Eight Dane County townships, including the Town of Sun Prairie, have a meeting scheduled for April 18 to discuss and vote on this issue. If the bill had passed last Tuesday and passed the Senate the following day, it would have upended the timetable that these communities had been working on for months.

Democrats in the legislature proposed a simple fix- if the bill passes, delay enforcement of the new law until June 1, 2017, to allow communities that had already scheduled votes to hold those before the bill takes effect. The amendment to the bill was defeated on a mostly party line vote.

This is not what the people of Dane County want. We know this because the Middleton town supervisor who helped craft this bill lost his re-election bid to a write-in candidate because of his advocacy for and lobbying in favor of this bill. The people that were directly affected by the bill had a chance to speak at the ballot box, and they rejected it.

The debate is not about whether towns in Dane County should be able to opt out of its zoning ordinances- that is already law. The argument is about the manner in which towns can vote on opting out. This bill simply makes no sense. It removes the option for allowing towns to vote on the opt out issue at their annual meetings- instead forcing towns to call special meetings to consider the issue, which means having to coordinate an additional meeting with the community, expending additional resources that towns may not want to do or be able to afford.

In the end, local communities should have the control to do what they find is best for them- if that means having a vote at an annual meeting, they should be allowed to do so. This is the 130th instance since Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010 that they have voted to erode local control. This is an unacceptable intrusion by the legislative majority. We have to be able to work with our local communities, and constantly telling them what they can and cannot do is not the way to accomplish that.

— Hebl, D-Sun Prairie represents the 46th Assembly District.

GOP attorneys, WILL urge U.S. Supreme Court to overturn redistricting decision

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GOP leggies file amicus brief in redistricting case

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GOP seeks savings through prevailing wage repeal; Dems, unions warn of wage cuts

The co-authors of a bill repealing the state’s prevailing wage laws said at a hearing Monday the requirements artificially increase the costs of construction projects.

But Dems and union members slammed the bill as an attack on workers that would drive down wages. Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, said it would exacerbate income inequality in the state.

“Your bill makes it worse, driving people out of the middle class by cutting wages,” Wirch told the bill’s GOP co-authors, Sen. Leah Vukmir and Rep. Rob Hutton.

Vukmir and Hutton said prevailing wage laws, which set minimum salaries for construction projects, make those projects more expensive and shut out many non-union firms from bidding on them.

Repealing the requirements, Vukmir said, would lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings over the years.

“Government shouldn’t be paying for inflated wages on the backs of all taxpayers,” Vukmir told the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform.

Republicans last session repealed prevailing wages on local government projects, though the partial repeal didn’t apply to state construction projects.

Gov. Scott Walker proposed a full repeal in his budget, but the Joint Finance Committee removed it as a non-fiscal policy item. Walker told reporters today at the Capitol that he backs a repeal whether it happens in the budget or in a separate bill.

“As long as it happens, I think that’s one more tool to make sure the taxpayers get a better bang for their buck,” Walker said.

Several union members spoke in opposition to the bill, saying it would lead to lower wages and layoffs as local companies find it harder to compete with out-of-state firms that underbid them.

“That money will not stay here, will not be earned by local people,” said Dan Bukiewicz, the president of the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council.

Leroy Miller, an Army veteran who works in the construction industry, said the proposal would hurt his family’s finances and could lead him to moving to another state.

“I will gladly fight for America, and I guess I’m going to have to fight for this because it’s my life,” he said.

Opponents also questioned the authors’ claims that the move would lead to savings, with Stephanie Bloomingdale, the secretary-treasurer of Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, saying prevailing wages ensure that skilled workers “build high-quality lasting infrastructure safely and on time.” She said supporters’ “back-of-the-envelope math” fails to take that into account.

But supporters said the state would see significant savings, partly due to the increased competition on public bidding projects.

John Schulze, a lobbyist for the mostly non-union Associated Builders and Contractors, said many small businesses decide against bidding on those projects because they “may not have the compliance back-office to deal with the overregulation” of those jobs.

Eric Bott, state director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, said other states that have repealed their laws have seen significant savings. Doing so in Wisconsin, he said, would save the state money that it could then use on more construction projects and lead to more people getting hired.

The repeal, he said, is crucial given the current budget talks on transportation funding.

“We feel like it’s more important now more than ever before to consider this reform as a means of stretching taxpayers dollars further,” Bott said.

Gov. Walker: Announces changes to guarantee loan program for Wisconsin dairy farmers and milk processors 

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker announced today that the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) will provide amended loan guarantees to dairy farmers and processors with more favorable terms. Effective immediately, the loan guarantees will help Wisconsin dairy producers and processors access much-needed capital to address current market conditions. The changes will provide more favorable repayment and collateral terms to farmers and increased guarantees for producers at lower fees.

“This is a difficult time for many of Wisconsin’s dairy farm families due to Canada’s dairy trade policies, and we’re going to do everything we can to help them,” Governor Walker said. 

WHEDA loan guarantee changes follow Governor Scott Walker’s April 18, 2017, request for President Donald J. Trump to address Canada’s decision to unilaterally shut down the market for U.S. ultra-filtered milk. Governor Walker’s appeal comes as a result of many of Wisconsin dairy farms being without buyers for their milk production beginning May 1, 2017.

“WHEDA is proud to be a part of the solution to Governor Walker’s efforts to help dairy farmers in need of finding processors for their milk supply,” said WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston. “With our Small Business Loan Guarantee program, WHEDA will also help Wisconsin-based dairy processors and businesses involved in storing finished goods to expand operations for the influx of milk.”

WHEDA has offered small business loan guarantees since 1983. The loan guarantees reduce financial risk and exposure to lenders while ensuring that farmers and businesses have access to low-cost capital. 

Effective immediately, eligible dairy farmers will be able to access loan guarantees at more favorable terms than WHEDA’s current agricultural loan guarantees. In addition, qualified dairy processors will have access to an 80% loan guarantee up to $750,000. Revolving working capital loans offer an 80% loan guarantee up to $200,000. WHEDA’s current small business loan guarantees offer a 50% maximum guarantee and slightly higher fees. WHEDA’s expanded loan guarantees will be available to dairy farmers and processors through August 1, 2017.

“Governor Walker has asked that agencies work together and coordinate efforts to create innovative solutions to Wisconsin’s current dairy situation,” said Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel. “I am glad that WHEDA is exploring opportunities to support companies in their effort to help the displaced dairy farmers find a market for their milk.”

For 45 years, WHEDA, as an independent state authority, has provided low-cost financing for housing and small business development in Wisconsin.  Since 1972, WHEDA has financed more than 84,000 affordable rental units, helped more than 122,000 families purchase a home and made more than 29,000 small business and agricultural loan guarantees.  For more information on WHEDA programs, visit www.wheda.com or call 800-334-6873.

Gov. Walker: Announces success with initiatives that assist people with disabilities in gaining empolyment

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker is traveling throughout the state today to highlight the success of workforce development initiatives that work to employ people with disabilities. Governor Walker will visit HSHS St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, Aspirus Riverview Hospital in Wisconsin Rapids, and Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire to tout the success of workforce development programs like Project SEARCH, which teaches students marketable, transferable, and competitive skills to help them transition into Wisconsin’s workforce.

“A top priority for us as we continue to move Wisconsin forward is rewarding work,” Governor Walker said. “This means removing barriers to work so that anyone who wants a job can find a job – and a good-paying career. We know a strong Wisconsin workforce is one that celebrates and promotes the unique abilities and talents of all employees, including those with disabilities. Workforce development programs like Project SEARCH help make this a reality by providing students with disabilities with the practical skills and experience they need to thrive in the career of their choice.”

During the two most recent federal fiscal years, Wisconsin helped a record 9,500 individuals with disabilities overcome barriers to employment. This marks the first two full fiscal years following Governor Walker’s launch of the Year of A Better Bottom Line, which encouraged more employers to hire workers with disabilities, in 2014. During the most recent federal fiscal year, 4,615 people with disabilities entered Wisconsin’s workforce, helping to drive the state’s disability employment rate up to 41.2 percent. According to the 2016 Annual Disability Statistics Compendium, Wisconsin ranks among the top ten states in the nation for employing people with disabilities.

“While there has been an explosion of Americans on disability rolls, the fact is that people with disabilities can be a talent solution that our economy needs,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, a non-profit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. “Governor Walker is creating tangible progress by replacing broken programs with proven solutions that are win-win-win for people with disabilities, employers and taxpayers alike. Thanks to his vision and leadership, youth with disabilities are able to have the dignity and money that a job provides – instead of a lifetime of dependency and despair.”

Project SEARCH is part of Governor Walker’s Year of A Better Bottom Line. Developed in 1996 by Nurse J. Erin Riehle at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the cornerstone of Project SEARCH is total immersion in a business environment for students with disabilities. In 2014, Governor Walker announced an expansion of the Project SEARCH program and allocated $850,000 to expand the number of Project SEARCH sites in Wisconsin from seven to 27 in the following years. Project SEARCH sites in Wisconsin have an average employment success rate of 88 percent. Learn more about Project SEARCH here.

“Project SEARCH and other worker training programs offered through the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) are a win for individuals with disabilities and a win for employers,” Department of Workforce Development Secretary Ray Allen said. “Individuals with disabilities have proven time and again that they want to work, and when given the opportunity, they demonstrate that they are some of the most dedicated, passionate and trustworthy employees an employer can have.”

Governor Walker’s 2017-19 budget proposal includes several initiatives to promote employment for individuals with disabilities, including:

  • Invests $35 million in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) to maintain the maximum federal funding for the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.
  • DVR helps individuals with disabilities obtain and thrive in their jobs. As a result, the total funding for DVR will be $185 million over the biennium.
    $7.6 million in funding to support and expand programs that ensure students with disabilities gain the practical skills they need for life after high school.
  • This includes $6.1 million to fund awards for school districts that successfully place students with disabilities in employment as well as $1.5 million to support the developments of school district efforts to connect students with disabilities with employment opportunities.
  • Requires the Department of Health Services (DHS) to implement reforms to the Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP), to eliminate the disincentive to work for people with disabilities, while protecting the most vulnerable by:
  • Eliminating the premium cliff by changing the program’s premium structure to replace the existing premium cliff with incremental premiums.
  • Strengthening the work requirement through proof of paid employment, substantial in-kind work, or participation in pre-employment programming.
  • Incentivizes work by allowing people with disabilities on the MAPP program to earn money and build up assets and plan for retirement without being penalized now or later in life.

Gov. Walker: Appoints Ryan Ring to the UW System Board of Regents

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker appointed Ryan Ring to serve as the traditional student representative on the University of Wisconsin System (UW-System) Board of Regents today.

“As a current student at a UW-System school, Ryan brings a unique perspective to his role on the Board of Regents,” Governor Walker said. “His outstanding academic performance and passion for making the UW-System a better place for his fellow students to live and learn will certainly be a valuable asset to the board.”

Ryan Ring, a native of Green Bay, is currently a sophomore studying finance at the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. He is the first member of his family to pursue a four-year college degree, and will serve as the traditional student representative on the UW-System Board of Regents for a two-year term expiring in May of 2019. Ryan is very involved on campus, currently serving as a Student Senator on the UW-Eau Claire Student Government. He is also Vice President of the Iota Phi Chapter of the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.

Ryan will be succeeding James Langes III, who served as the traditional student representative from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. He was appointed by Governor Walker in 2015.

The UW-System Board of Regents is responsible for establishing policies and rules governing the UW System. Duties include planning to meet future needs for collegiate education, setting admission standards and policies, reviewing and approving university budgets, and establishing the regulatory framework within which the individual units are allowed to operate with as great a degree of autonomy as possible. Board members attend eight regular meetings per year, serve on special committees, serve as liaisons with at least two UW institutions, and perform related duties.

The UW-System Board of Regents is an 18 member board. The Governor appoints 14 citizen members and 2 student members to serve 7 year terms and 2 year terms, respectively. All appointments to this board are subject to confirmation by the Wisconsin State Senate.

Gov. Walker: Attends Winona Foods groundbreaking ceremony

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Project expected to create 87 new jobs

Howard – Governor Scott Walker joined Winona Foods employees today at the groundbreaking ceremony for their new facility in Howard.

“We are proud to be recognized as America’s Dairyland thanks to our strong agricultural tradition,” Governor Walker said. “To succeed in the 20th-century economy, we’ve developed a strong infrastructure of service, equipment, knowledge, and technology to ensure we remain America’s top dairy producer for generations to come. Looking forward, it’s up to companies like Winona Foods and dairy ambassadors throughout the state to strengthen this important industry by producing and promoting our world-class dairy products.”

Founded in 1995 in Winona, Minnesota, Winona Foods has its roots in cheese making. Today, Winona Foods has an expanded focus, including the areas of foodservice, industrial ingredients, retail, and co-packaging industries. In 2003, Winona Foods relocated to Green Bay and built a state-of-the-art facility featured on The History Channel’s “Modern Marvels.” This facility creates and packages cheese, cheese products, sauces, salsa, and their Winona Pure Oil line. In 2014, Winona Foods expanded and opened a facility in Kaukauna, which includes a fully functional commercial kitchen, technology, and equipment to provide customers with performance-oriented products as well as support Winona Foods’ Green Bay facility.

The new $1.4 million, 180,000 square foot facility will house a crossdock distribution center with converting lines for shedding, slicing, cubing, loafs, prints, and wedges. The project is anticipated to create 87 new positions.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is in discussions with the company regarding possible incentives for the expansion project.

Thanks to over 9,000 local dairy farms and 1.2 billion dairy cows, Wisconsin produces a quarter of the nation’s cheese, ranking Wisconsin as the top cheese-producing state. In 2015, Wisconsin cheese production reached a major milestone, topping 3 billion pounds for the first time.

Gov. Walker: Budget proposal bolsters funding for children and families in need

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839
Milwaukee – Governor Scott Walker highlighted efforts included in his 2017-2019 Biennial Budget proposal to support Wisconsin children and families in need today at the Together for Children Conference in Milwaukee. The Together for Children Conference is held in conjunction with the International Family Justice Center Conference, thus allowing participants to attend workshop sessions at both.

“I am committed to protecting and advocating for our state’s most vulnerable,” Governor Walker said. “This includes our children, those affected by domestic violence, and their families. Our biennial budget reinforces our commitment to ending domestic violence and preventing child abuse by providing additional support for Wisconsin children and families in need. My thanks to important advocates like the Sojourner Family Peace Center and shelters like it throughout the state, as well as organizations like Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin, for their efforts to raise awareness and get to the root of these issues so we can end them in Wisconsin.”

Governor Walker’s 2017-2019 Biennial Budget proposal includes the following recommendations and provisions to support Wisconsin children and families in need:

  • Additional Funding to Protect Child Victims of Sex Trafficking. Governor Walker recommends in his budget proposal providing additional funding for services to child victims of sex trafficking, consistent with provisions of 2015 Wisconsin Act 367, which adds child sex trafficking to the definition of the Children’s Code, directs law enforcement to report suspected cases of child sex trafficking to child protective services, and instructs child protective services to investigate all cases of suspected child sex trafficking.
  • Expand Exclusive Original Jurisdiction of Juvenile Courts. In his budget proposal, Governor Walker also recommends modifying current law to expand exclusive original jurisdiction of juvenile courts to include any child who is a victim of or at substantial risk of becoming a sex trafficking victim.
  • Eliminate Waiting List for Long-Term Support. Governor Walker’s budget proposal provides $14,067,300 in fiscal year 2017-18 and $25,205,500 in fiscal year 2018-19 to eliminate the waiting list for long-term supports for around 2,200 Wisconsin children with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, or severe emotional disturbances. Also implement reforms to increase efficiency of service delivery and develop an equitable funding methodology to ensure county funding remains within the program.
  • Increase Children and Family Aids Allocation. The budget proposal increases children and family aids allocation by $1,250,000 PR-F in fiscal year 2017-18 and by $5,000,000 PR-F in fiscal year 2018-19 to address increasing child welfare costs. The increases would raise total children and family aids funding to $70,630,800 in fiscal year 2017-18 and $74,712,400 in fiscal year 2018-19, totaling $145,343,200 over the biennium. These aids provide county child welfare services to assure the safety and well-being of Wisconsin children.
  • Increase Foster Care and Kinship Care Rates. The budget proposal also increases foster care and kinship care rates by 2.5 percent annually in each calendar year to strengthen foster and kinship care parent recruitment and retention efforts. The basic foster care and kinship care rate would increase from $232 to $238 in calendar year 2018 and from $238 to $244 in calendar year 2019. Additional funding to foster and kinship care under the budget proposal would be $861,300 in fiscal year 2017-18 and $2,162,100 in fiscal year 2018-19, totaling $3,023,400.

Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin is a program created by the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin that works closely with the Child Abuse Prevention Fund to unify child abuse prevention efforts in Wisconsin. Their work focuses on primary prevention with the goal of stopping child abuse and neglect before it occurs by building community resources, providing training and public awareness, and organizing advocacy activities. It is a state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, a national leader in preventing child abuse and neglect.

At the conference, Governor Walker also highlighted the Say Something, Do Something for Kids campaign, an initiative of the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). The goal of this initiative is to get the citizens of Wisconsin actively involved in stopping child abuse and neglect before it happens. It encourages Wisconsinites to “Say Something” if they suspect a child is being threatened, harmed, or neglected; about the need for prevention programs and the importance of strong families; and to spread the word that we can save lives and money by preventing child abuse and neglect instead of treating the lifelong harm caused by childhood adversity and trauma after the fact. Further, the initiative encourages the citizens of Wisconsin to “Do Something” by allocating funds to organizations and other resources designed to stop child abuse; promoting and supporting legislation that grows healthy children and families; and making child abuse prevention a priority every day, not just one month every year.

In an effort to raise awareness about crucial state efforts to combat the long-term effects of child abuse and neglect, as well as the importance of preventing this abuse and neglect in the first place, Governor Walker proclaimed April as Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and Awareness Month. A copy of the proclamation is attached.

Gov. Walker: Building Commission Approves Projects

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Today, the State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved several key projects across the state including, but not limited to:

Infrastructure maintenance and repairs for the Department of Military Affairs;
Construction of the Williams Fieldhouse Addition, Phase II at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville;
Renovation of Rodli Hall at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to accommodate a Student Success Center;
Construct the Southeast Recreational Facility Replacement at the University of Wisconsin-Madison;
Maintenance and repair projects at several University of Wisconsin System campuses; and
Various maintenance and repair projects around the state.
“The State Building Commission approved a number of important projects today, which will positively impact Wisconsin residents,” said Governor Scott Walker. “I would like to thank the members of the Building Commission for taking action on these projects, which will improve facilities throughout Wisconsin.”

The Building Commission is chaired by Governor Walker and made up of the following members:

State Senator Terry Moulton;
State Senator Jerry Petrowski;
State Senator Janis Ringhand;
State Representative Rob Swearingen;
State Representative Terry Katsma;
State Representative Dana Wachs; and
Citizen member Bob Brandherm.

Gov. Walker: Discusses Historic K-12 Education Investments at Brookfield East High School

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Brookfield – Governor Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal makes student success a top priority and includes significant investments in K-12 education, including $649 million in new state aids for all Wisconsin K-12 schools. It additionally lifts total K-12 investment to $11.5 billion over two years, an all-time high. Governor Walker traveled to Brookfield East High School today to discuss the impact these investments will have on the Brookfield School District.

“Students begin to develop the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary for success at a young age, which is why our budget proposal makes historic investments in K-12 education,” Governor Walker said. “That solid foundation will serve them well as they go from elementary to middle to high school, then on to higher education, a good-paying career, and life. Investing in our K-12 schools is a no-brainer because it ensures our students reach their full potential today and help fuel the growth of Wisconsin’s economy tomorrow.”

The Elmbrook School District is estimated to receive $24.2 million in funding from the state under Governor Walker’s biennial budget, including:

An increase of $4,009,956 in Per Pupil Aid. Governor Walker’s budget proposal increases per-pupil funding by $200 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2018 and $204 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2019, which marks the largest increase since the 2005-2008 biennium.
The Elmbrook School District may also be eligible for further funding under Governor Walker’s budget proposal, such as mental health grants, energy efficiency incentives, and special needs grants.

Learn more here about Governor Walker’s proposed investment in K-12 education. For Governor Walker’s full 2017 Budget Address, click here.

Gov. Walker: Discusses historic K-12 education investments at Neenah High School

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Contact: Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

Neenah, WisconsinAs Governor Scott Walker continues to move Wisconsin forward, one of his top priorities is student success. Governor Walker’s budget proposal includes historic investments in K-12 education, including $649 million in new state aids for all Wisconsin K-12 schools. It also lifts K-12 investment to $11.5 billion over two years, an all-time high. To highlight this investment, Governor Walker met with students, teachers, and administrators today at Neenah High School to discuss the positive impact this investment will have on their school district.

“How we prepare our students in the classroom today directly translates to how prepared Wisconsin’s workforce is going to be in the next decade,” Governor Walker said. “With this in mind, our budget proposal bolsters support for public schools, investing more money into K-12 education than ever before in the history of our state. Our children are the future of Wisconsin, and ensuring student success today guarantees the success of our state for generations to come.”

The Neenah School District is estimated to receive more than $77.8 million in funding from the state under Governor Walker’s biennial budget, including:

  • An increase of $4,003,312 in Per Pupil Aid. Governor Walker’s budget increases per-pupil funding by $200 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2018 and $204 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2019 – the largest increase since the 2005-2007 biennium.

The Neenah School District may also be eligible for further funding under the governor’s proposal, such as mental health grants, energy efficiency incentives, and special needs grants.

To learn more about Governor Walker’s proposed investment in K-12 education, click here. For Governor Walker’s full 2017 Budget Address, click here.

Gov. Walker: Education leaders call on legislature to approve $649 million for K-12 education

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Waukesha – Governor Scott Walker visited Waukesha South High School with education leaders today to visit with students and faculty and to call on the Legislature to support his proposed $649 million increase for all Wisconsin K-12 schools. Governor Walker’s budget would also lift the state’s K-12 investment to $11.5 billion over two years, an all-time high.

“We’re here today to visit with the students and teachers here at Waukesha South and to call on members of the Legislature to support our K-12 education proposal,” Governor Walker said. “Our budget places a high priority on student success and workforce development, and it’s receiving overwhelming support from people across our state. I thank all of the school leaders who are here with us today to support our budget.”

“In the weeks and months leading up to the introduction of his budget, Governor Walker promised there would be a significant increase for public schools in his budget proposal and he delivered,” said John Ashley, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. “This is great news for Wisconsin’s 422 public school districts and the students they serve. The Wisconsin Association of School Boards is here today to thank the Governor for his leadership, to support his school funding proposals, and to urge the Legislature to follow the Governor’s lead. We support the increases in state support for public schools, but more importantly, the people of Wisconsin support increases in state funding for K-12 schools.”

“We fully support and endorse the Governor’s budget proposal to increase per pupil aid by $200 and $204 throughout the biennium,” said Terri Phillips, executive director of the Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance. “This increase doesn’t solve all of our budget issues, but it goes a long way in helping our districts serve student’s needs and meet their community’s expectations of providing an excellent public education for their children.”

The Waukesha School District is estimated to receive more than $130 million in funding from the state under Governor Walker’s biennial budget, including:

An increase of $7,624,896 in Per Pupil Aid. Governor Walker’s budget increases per-pupil funding by $200 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2018 and $204 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2019 – the largest increase since the 2005-2007 biennium.
The Waukesha School District may also be eligible for further funding under the governor’s proposal, such as mental health grants, energy efficiency incentives, and special needs grants.

To learn more about Governor Walker’s proposed investment in K-12 education, click here. For Governor Walker’s full 2017 Budget Address, click here.

Gov. Walker: Gov. Walker highlights historic K-12, rural school investments in budget proposal at Shell Lake community

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Shell Lake, Wisconsin – Governor Scott Walker traveled to Shell Lake Elementary and High School today to discuss the historic K-12 and rural school investments included in his biennial budget proposal with students, teachers, and staff. The governor’s proposal lifts K-12 investment to $11.5 billion over two years, an all-time high, and includes $649 million in new state aids for all K-12 schools in the state.

“Every single student in Wisconsin deserves equal access to a great education, regardless of their zip code,” Governor Walker said. “That’s why our state budget proposal makes targeted investments that support our rural schools, including high-cost transportation aid and sparsity aid. By easing some of the unique challenges rural schools face, such as high transportation costs, those school districts are better able to invest in providing our kids with a quality education that will prepare them for college, a career, and real life.”

The Shell Lake School District is estimated to receive $7.6 million in funding from the state under Governor Walker’s biennial budget, including:

  • An increase of $359,380 in Per Pupil Aid. Governor Walker’s budget proposal increases per-pupil funding by $200 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2018 and $204 per pupil in Fiscal Year 2019 – the largest increase since the 2005-2008 biennium.
  • An increase of $110,633 in High-Cost Transportation Aid. High-Cost Transportation Aid provides additional transportation aid to school districts with per-pupil transportation costs more than 150 percent of the state average and with a density of 50 pupils per square mile or less.
  • An increase of $137,356 in Sparsity Aid. Sparsity Aid provides $300 per pupil of additional funding to small rural districts that have less than 745 pupils and a population density of fewer than 10 pupils per square mile of district attendance. Governor Walker’s budget proposal also creates a $100 per pupil tier of Sparsity Aid funding for districts with 746-1000 pupils, which provides additional stability for school districts that hover around the 745 buffer.

The Shell Lake School District may also be eligible for further funding under Governor Walker’s budget proposal, such as mental health grants, energy efficiency incentives, and special needs grants.

To learn more about Governor Walker’s proposed investment in K-12 education, click here. Governor Walker’s full 2017 Budget Address can be found here.

Gov. Walker: Gov. Walker releases statement on tragic death of trooper

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Madison – Governor Scott Walker released the following statement today after learning Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Anthony J. Borostowski of Tomah died in the line of duty after his patrol car struck a tree on Interstate 90/94.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the loss of Anthony Borostowski who passed away early this morning in the line of duty. Anthony was an outstanding trooper and staff sergeant in the Wisconsin National Guard. I had the honor of meeting him in 2015 when he received the Wisconsin State Patrol’s Lifesaving Award for saving a man’s life by performing CPR. Tonette and I send our prayers to Anthony’s family as they grieve the loss of their loved one. Anthony will never be forgotten.”

An executive order lowering the flags of the United States and Wisconsin in honor of Trooper Borostowski is forthcoming.

Gov. Walker: Gov. Walker urges President Trump to address Canada’s dairy trade restrictions

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Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a joint letter to President Donald J. Trump today urging him to address Canada’s protectionist dairy trade policies. The move comes as dozens of Wisconsin dairy farms will be without buyers for their milk production beginning May 1, 2017.

“Wisconsin and New York dairy farmers are only the first victims of Canada’s illicit dairy trade restrictions,” Governors Walker and Cuomo wrote. “Nearly one year ago, we, along with other state and U.S. dairy officials, warned our federal partners – and Canadian industry and government representatives at all levels – that protectionist regulations would harm U.S. dairy producers. We look forward to working with you to maintain trade policies that help sustain farm families in future generations and preserve a way of life that is the backbone of our American culture and values.”

Recently, Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel joined New York Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball to urge the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide assistance for the farmers who will be impacted by purchasing cheese and butter and distributing it through the USDA’s