2017 May

Monthly Archives: May 2017

‘The Insiders’ look at the transpo funding end game


The WisOpinion Insiders, Chvala & Kanavas, analyze the possible budget end game for transportation funding. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

‘UpFront’: Kind knocks Trump over sharing classified information

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, says Congress needs assurances that President Trump will not again share classified information with people who aren’t supposed to have it.

Appearing on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Kind discussed the investigations of Trump’s campaign and Russian interference in the U.S. election, and also Trump’s reported sharing of classified information with Russian officials in the Oval Office.

“He’s got to understand that the Russians are not our friends, they are not our allies, they are not to be trusted,” Kind said on the show, produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com.

“This is going to make it difficult for us to get the cooperation we need from the Middle East allies and friends on counter terrorism activities,” he said.

Kind added there need to be assurances Trump and his administration won’t do this again.

“It just seems he’s taken a very cavalier attitude to the presidency itself but also the handling of classified information,” he said.

Kind said the investigations of Trump’s campaign and possible ties to Russia need to go forward.

“These investigations need to proceed. We need to find out about foreign interference in our election process, take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and any possible collusion that some Trump associates might have had with Russia as well,” he said.

Also on the program, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein said Trump’s troubles are “taking away real momentum and focus from anything House Republicans like Speaker Ryan want to get done.”

Klein said House members will go home for the summer and then will start to look ahead to the 2018 elections.

“So the window for governing is closing, and closing fast, and it looks like precious time is getting eaten up by the air of scandal in Washington,” he said.

Klein said that Ryan, R-Janesville, appears to be “all in” on Trump, despite their many differences during the campaign, and it has hurt Ryan politically.

“As of now, Speaker Ryan is diminished politically by his association with President Trump. He lost the votes on health care initially, even while resuscitating it. But …talk to a lot of folks who are close to the speaker, that have worked in his office, members of Congress, they have to question Speaker Ryan and his leadership in this,” Klein said.

“This has not been a shining moment for him, because it hasn’t been a shining moment for President Trump,” Klein said.

Former Republican state Rep. Michelle Litjens also appeared on the program to discuss Tuesday’s look at the policy achievements of former Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Litjens is the executive director of “[email protected]: A Public Policy Symposium,” which will be held Tuesday in Madison. It’s been 30 years since Thompson, who served nearly four terms, first took office.

Litjens said Thompson developed innovative policies, like welfare reform, that served as a model for other states and even the federal government.

She said Thompson’s personality was part of the reason he was successful.

“Gov. Thompson was so positive,” she said.

“His door was open to Democrats every day. He took ideas from everyone, from the lowly staffer to Democratic leadership,” Litjens said. “He had to work with Democrats to get anything done.”

See more from the program:

‘UpFront’: McCabe says he’s likely to run for governor

Mike McCabe says a run for governor next year looks likely, and he expects to make an announcement sometime after Labor Day.

More than 200 people from around the state have signed a letter to the former director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign asking him to run.

“It’s not my idea. I’m not volunteering for this. But I’m being drafted. And it’s inspiring to see people from every part of the state — north, south, east and west — getting off the sidelines and deciding to take matters into their own hands,” McCabe said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“They are looking for a different kind of leadership. They don’t want to wait for the parties to tell them who they can choose from. They want to find somebody they can get excited about,” he said.

“So what I have told them is, I’m willing to do this, but you can’t do it alone and if there are enough people willing to do the work with me, I’m willing to do it,” he said.

McCabe said he has not decided whether he would run as a Democrat or an independent.

“That’s obviously one of the questions that has to get answered in the weeks and months to come,” McCabe said.

McCabe, whose work with the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign tracked the role of money in politics, said his campaign would have to be “people powered and crowd-funded.”

“I’ll tell you this. If this election comes down to money alone, some candidate is going to win, but the people are going to lose. Because they end up with representation that doesn’t really represent them,” he said.

Also on the program, state Sen. Alberta Darling said the Senate Republican caucus could be in for some rough debate over transportation funding in the 2017-2019 state budget.

Darling is the Senate co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald recently suggested the state might borrow against GPR funding in the short term, and consider toll roads as a source of revenue longer term.

“We have to figure out what our positions are, because in our Senate some people agree with the majority leader and others don’t want any more bonding,” she said.

“I think that debate is going to be pretty rough in our caucus,” the River Hills Republican said.

Darling said tolls are a user fee that would be paid by tourists and out-of-state traffic.

“I think it is an option that many people would like to see, but it’s definitely not a consensus option right now,” she said.

“We can’t solve the problem in one budget,” she said. “But I hope we have a vision about where we’re going, and what kind of commitment we’re going to make for it.”

See more from the show:

‘UpFront’: Vos confident agreement can be reached on transportation

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s confident an agreement can be reached on the transportation budget, but the end result may be neither side getting what it wants.

“The agreement might not be what either of us want,” Vos said on Sunday’s “Upfront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “That’s the middle ground.”

Vos was critical of Gov. Scott Walker’s plan for the $500 million in borrowing; Walker also proposed a boost in local road aids, but delays for major projects.

“To me that’s not acceptable,” Vos said. “I’m not willing to accept delaying those projects forever. He wants to continue to borrow. So maybe the answer is we just freeze spending in place.”

Vos said while the state’s roads would be made “problematic” under that approach, “at least we’re not putting the debt on our kids that we can’t afford.”

Vos said he is still open to considering transportation as separate legislation to avoid delaying the rest of the budget.

Vos last week criticized the governor for threatening via Twitter to veto the entire state budget if it raised property taxes. But he said on Sunday’s program he understands Walker is seeking to rally the public and said he has been “pretty good” at communicating with the Legislature face-to-face.

“I don’t know if going out there and tweeting at the Legislature is all that helpful, honestly,” Vos said. “But at the same time, I understand he wants to use his bully pulpit to try to rally the public.”

Despite tensions, Vos struck a conciliatory tone in discussing Walker, saying he’s long supported him and has been friends with him for more than 20 years.

“All the good things that have happened in Wisconsin, as far as the political side, he’s been instrumental in making those happen,” the Rochester Republican said.

He also praised Walker’s plan, which passed the JFC last week, to establish drug testing and work or job training requirements for some Medicaid recipients.

He said the plan would help able-bodied adults find jobs to get them out of poverty, and he noted that those who fail drug tests would receive treatment at state expense.

“I certainly think the governor’s plan of allowing you to go into treatment paid for by the state is compassionate, not cruel,” Vos said. “We want to get that person productive.”

Watch the interview:

Also on the program, Lisa Pugh, state director of Arc Wisconsin, said President Trump’s proposed budget would harm those with disabilities.

The organization develops programs and advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Pugh said she was most shocked by the $600 million in proposed cuts to Medicaid, on top of cuts already being considered in Congress.

“That is the lifeline program for people with very significant disabilities,” said Pugh. “It’s hard to imagine that a state like Wisconsin, or any state, really can survive a cut of that magnitude.”

In addition to the Medicaid cuts, she said Trump’s budget would also make cuts to employment supports, Social Security Disability, food stamps and other aid to those in poverty. She noted these cuts affect people with disabilities because they are often in poverty.

“It really is the sort of budget that is very shocking to people who support individuals with disabilities,” Pugh said.

She also said because Wisconsin has been efficient with its use of Medicaid dollars, the state would be at a disadvantage should Medicaid move to a block grant model.

Watch the segment:

‘UpFront’: Walker expresses support for GOP campus speech bill

Gov. Scott Walker expressed support for a bill that calls for suspending or expelling students who disrupt free speech on college campuses.

“To me, a university should be precisely the spot where you have an open and free dialogue about all different positions,” he said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“But the minute you shut down a speaker, no matter whether they are liberal or conservative or somewhere in between, I just think that’s wrong,” said.

Walker discussed a variety of topics in a wide-ranging interview.

On transportation, Walker said he remains opposed to raising the gas tax or registration fees to pump additional money into the transportation budget.

“There are some in the Legislature who would like to spend a little bit more. I’m willing to work with them on that,” Walker said, adding that some $200 million to $300 million in budget savings could be applied to future projects.

“I just don’t want to add a gas tax or a vehicle registration fee, and I think we can get there,” he said.

Walker has said that he will make an official announcement about a bid for a third term after the 2017-2019 state budget is signed. But he dropped strong hints about his plans.

“I’ve never been more positive, during all my years as governor, about the future of this state than I am right now,” he said.

“And so to me, it’s very appealing to say, ‘Yeah, I’d like to keep this state on the right track,’” he said.

See more from the show:

“Gig economy” looking up in Wisconsin


With the explosive growth of ride-sharing apps in recent years, and some predicting a steady trend toward more contractor jobs, the “gig economy” appears on the rise in Wisconsin.

This phenomenon was the topic of the Tech Council’s latest Innovation Network luncheon in Madison, which featured a panel discussion with experts.

Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still broadly defines the gig economy as “a climate in which temporary positions are common, and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.”

“Intuit predicted by 2020 — which is not that far away — 40 percent of American workers will be independent contractors or working a second gig job,” Still said.

Still points to several factors contributing to the growth of this more flexible system, like a more mobile workforce and an increased ability to work remotely.

See more at WisBusiness.com 

2017 Governor’s Foster Care Award Ceremony 🗓


The Department of Children and Families (DCF) will award the 2017 Governor’s Foster Care Awards during a ceremony at the State Capitol on Monday, May 16.

Foster Care Month is observed in May, to recognize and honor those outstanding foster parents who have welcomed a child into their home, and to highlight the positive impact that foster families make in our communities.  At the ceremony, DCF will present six Foster Care Awards, to: Doris and Wayne Jeske of Tilleda, Joan Klang of Madison, Richard and Lynn Lawson of Wausau, Lacey and Steve Naiberg of Conrath, David and Carrie Osswald of Whitefish Bay, and Aaron Schellinger of Appleton.

Additionally, a 2017 Foster Youth Award will be presented to Reginald “Reggie” Brown, Jr. of Waupaca.

Speakers will include DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson.



Contact: Joe Scialfa or Gina Paige ― 608-266-9000

AACCW Workshop on Insurance Benefits for Small Businesses 🗓

  • Asset Protection – Monday, June 5th / 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm:
    Your home and your business are essential.  There is an importance in pre-planing that provides a sense of comfort.  Hear several ways to keep your self and your business protected.
Networking:  5:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Workshop Presentation:  6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Presented by:  Bara Legacies, LLC
Hosted by:  Concordia University -Wisconsin (Milwaukee Midtown Center)
4151 N. 56th Street, Milwaukee, WI  53216

Note:  Concordia University is located on the same side as T-Mobile and Cousins Subs. Please use the buzzer located on the left for entry.
This workshop is FREE compliments of AACCW!

Space is Limited.  Please register early.

ACLU: State legislator joins ACLU lawsuit against Stop-and-Frisk Program by Milwaukee Police conducted without reasonable suspicion, based on racial profiling


Contact(s): Molly Collins, ACLU of Wisconsin, 414-272-4032 ext. 215, [email protected]
Alexandra Ringe, ACLU, 212-549-2582, [email protected]

Milwaukee, Wisconsin — Last night, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the law firm of Covington & Burling filed an amended complaint in their class-action lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee over its police department’s vast stop-and-frisk program. The revised complaint adds three named plaintiffs to the lawsuit, one of whom is Representative David Crowley, a state legislator representing Wisconsin’s 17th Assembly District. Like the other named plaintiffs and tens of thousands of other Milwaukeeans of color, Rep. Crowley has been subject to an unconstitutional stop and frisk by the Milwaukee police without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and based on racial profiling.

One evening before he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, Rep. Crowley was walking with his godbrother in Milwaukee. “We heard gunshots in the distance, so we walked in the other direction to avoid trouble. A patrol car stopped in front of us, and two officers jumped out with guns drawn and pointed right at us. I was terrified,” said Rep. Crowley.

He and his godbrother put up their hands. The police frisked them, taking their wallets from their pants pockets and pulling their IDs from the wallets. One officer asked if the two men had thrown a gun into the field where they had been walking.

“The police treated us like suspects, yet we had done nothing wrong. The officers drew their guns on us, searched us without our consent, and never explained why,” said Rep. Crowley. “As young Black men, we were presumed guilty. The police decided that the Constitution doesn’t apply to us.”

Another new plaintiff in the suit is Jerimiah Olivar, a 19-year-old Latino Milwaukeean, who was stopped and frisked by police without reasonable suspicion while riding his bike in the early afternoon. The third new plaintiff, Jeremy Brown, is Black, and a police officer stopped him while he was walking one morning because the officer didn’t recognize his face. The officer ordered Mr. Brown to drop what he was carrying and stand against a fence while he questioned him. Mr. Brown was eventually taken to the police station and released with a $185 ticket for disorderly conduct.

“The Milwaukee Police Department has been routinely interfering in the lives of tens of thousands of Black and Latino residents, stopping them, searching them, and worse—all without reasonable suspicion and as if the Constitution didn’t exist,” said Karyn Rotker, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Wisconsin. “The department’s practices have caused Black and Latino Milwaukeeans to deeply distrust and fear police, crippling its ability to investigate crime.”

The Milwaukee Police Department conducts far more stops and frisks in neighborhoods that are predominantly Black or Latino than in other parts of the city.

Collins v. City of Milwaukee seeks reforms of the Milwaukee Police Department that protect constitutional rights through bias-free and evidence-based policing, transparency, and accountability. These reforms include an end to conducting stops and frisks without reasonable suspicion and to stopping people based on race or ethnicity. The lawsuit also seeks improved training, supervision, and monitoring of officers who conduct stops and frisks, and the collection and semiannual release to the public of data on all stops and frisks to permit analysis for evidence of constitutional violations.

For the amended complaint and more information about the lawsuit:

ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/cases/collins-et-al-v-city-milwaukee-et-al

ACLU of Wisconsin: http://aclu-wi.org/issue/collins-v-city-milwaukee

For more information about Covington & Burling: https://www.cov.com/

This press release can be found at: http://aclu-wi.org/media/state-legislator-joins-aclu-lawsuit-against-mpd-stop-and-frisk-program

Adamczyk asks convo attendees to make him last state treasurer

This post is part of our coverage of the 2017 state GOP convention in Wisconsin Dells. See the rest of our coverage here.

State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk said the elimination of the treasurer’s office will be a “symbolic win for limited local government.”

Adamczyk who came out to Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” said he did so because the office is near to be eliminated with an amendment to do so having passed two consecutive legislative sessions and set to go before voters in April 2018.

He noted that when he took office he fired his entire staff and has worked to find other ways to save taxpayer money.

He criticized his predecessor for spending money on promotional items, and blasted former Dem Gov. Jim Doyle for entering into a $30 million lease before leaving office on a building Adamczyk said was worth just $5 million.

Adamczyk asked attendees to support eliminating the treasurer’s office.

“I ask you to vote to eliminate it so I will be the last state treasurer,” he said.

Advantageous Advocacy: The 10-Step D-I-Y Meeting Agenda Planner


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

“I survived another meeting that should have been an email,” reads the coffee mug on my corporate friend’s desk. We have all been there, so we should do our best not to give others THAT feeling during our own meetings. No one, especially an elected official, has time in the day to be wasted by an ill-prepared group.

A worthwhile and efficient meeting usually requires solid preparation and strong organization. A leader (and we can all be leaders) putting in a little time up-front goes a long way toward achieving objectives and making meeting attendees believe their time is valued.

Below is a 10-step do-it-yourself starter agenda planner to get any advocacy group off on the right meeting foot.

1) Define the meeting purpose: (informing, persuading, making an ask, inviting, etc. — if no specific purpose can be defined, skip the meeting)

2) Establish a clear meeting goal: (signing onto a letter, sponsoring legislation, attending an event, etc.)

3) Make introductions: (be brief, mention the district/state whenever possible, provide an individual’s credibility and relevance for being in the meeting)

4) Share stories/facts/figures/background: (be compelling, be relevant, be accurate)

5) Highlight the district/state/community impact: (officials are elected by constituents so his/her constituents must feel the impact for an official to heavily engage)

6) Make the ask: (be specific — please support H.R. 1234, please sign X letter, please be neutral on this legislation instead of opposed, etc.)

7) Discussion: (think and strategize — what would this person want or need to know that has not already been covered, such as who is already supporting and opposing this, what are the hidden costs, why has it not been done before, etc.)

8) Timeline: (are there deadlines to meet or is it worth including time estimates for each section on the agenda)

9) Wrap-up: (say thank you and share contact information)

10) Follow-up: (send a thank you note with any relevant information requested or needed within one week)

Organizing ahead of time will keep the meeting ordered, on-topic, and goal-centric. Furthermore, sending out a formal agenda about a week before the meeting with a list of participants and any intended handouts will better allow the attendees to be prepared and possibly even conduct relevant background research before the meeting, as opposed to reviewing it while someone is speaking during the meeting.

Finally, government schedulers often plan 30 minutes for a meeting. Aim to finish the meeting agenda in 20 minutes or less to either allow the official more time to discuss, or delight him by adding a few minutes back into his day (this may seem insignificant however, it could mean the difference between a visit to the restroom or eating lunch).

Countless surveys suggest unorganized meetings are one the biggest time wasters at work — start proving this otherwise!

— Riemann is president of 1492 Communications, a consulting firm. Like 1492 Communications on Facebook to learn more.

AFP digital ad backs Walker plan to nix state property tax

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Alderman Donovan: Additional state funding for foot and bike officers – a plus for Milwaukee


(414) 286-3285
[email protected]

Last year I was joined by Council President Hamilton, Mike Crivello of the Milwaukee Police Association and Dave Seager of the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association Local 215 in a meeting with Governor Walker to discuss Milwaukee’s public safety challenges.

One of the things discussed was the need for the state to increase grants for officers on foot and/or bicycle patrol.  Governor Walker included exactly that in his budget and on Tuesday (May 16) the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance voted to move this grant funding increase proposal forward.

This is great news for the City of Milwaukee!

I want to publicly thank Governor Walker for making that important call, as well as President Hamilton, Mike Crivello and Dave Seager for helping make the case to the Governor.

Foot and bike patrol officers have been shown to increase better relations with residents (and the broader community) while helping to reduce crime in challenged neighborhoods. The officers are seen as guardians and get to know residents and business owners, and vice versa. Foot and bike officers establish important bonds and can build trust within neighborhoods – something that is badly needed right now across our city.

While we all were hoping for a larger amount of funding for these officers, the added state funding would increase grants for foot and bike officers by almost three times more than previously allocated.

One City Hall staff member remarked about the state funding: “It’s a step in the right direction.”


You bet it is.

Alderwoman Lewis: Invest on the front end and avoid huge costs on the back end


Last week (Tuesday, May 9) the Common Council passed a resolution encouraging leaders in the State Legislature to consider a different approach to public safety. The approved package of recommendations (attached) calls for the Legislature to consider going beyond reforms to the juvenile justice system and increasing penalties for certain crimes. It calls on our state legislators to also make investments on the front end so that more Wisconsin citizens can not only avoid incarceration, but can live a life without contact with the corrections system.

I co-sponsored the legislation because I believe strongly that we need to change our focus to prevention and key investments in our fellow citizens and neighbors, and especially in our children. I will go to Madison to testify at the Capitol for our package because I believe strongly that we need to proactively invest in quality education including early childhood education, and trauma informed care. We need to continue the efforts to connect underserved and underemployed individuals with better living wage jobs that can provide hope while helping to stabilize families and neighborhoods.

I believe that individuals who commit crimes need to be sanctioned, but I also believe we need to do a much better job preventing the conditions and/or paths that lead people to consider poor choices in the first place.

Alliance for the Great Lakes: Congress moves to roll back rules meant to prevent invasive species


Jennifer Caddick
(312) 445-9760
[email protected]

(May 18, 2017) Chicago – Today, the U.S. Senate’s Commerce Committee voted to move the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act out of committee and to a full vote in the Senate. The bill includes a provision, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), that would eliminate U.S. EPA’s authority over ballast water pollution and roll back rules that protect the Great Lakes from invasive species. In response, the Alliance for the Great Lakes issued the following statement.

“Invasive species, like zebra mussels and round gobies, have wreaked havoc on the Great Lakes. Brought in via ballast water tanks on ocean-going ships, invasive species out-compete native species and destroy habitat. They also cost people in Great Lakes communities hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Unfortunately, the shipping industry has convinced some Senators to try to roll back the rules that protect the lakes from these harmful critters.

Despite knowing of the threat posed by invasive species since the early 1980s, it has taken two acts of Congress, a lawsuit, and states passing their own rules to get federal requirements for actual ballast water treatment systems onboard ships in place in 2008. But even after the U.S. EPA and Coast Guard started that process, excessively long timelines for phasing in the regulations mean most ships on the Great Lakes still do not have ballast water treatment installed.

Why has it taken so long for Congress and federal agencies to act? Shippers have asked  for special treatment and exemptions from U.S. law over and over. And it is happening again.

New invasions are all too real. In 2016 a new species of zooplankton was found in Lake Erie. Given that this critter is from the other side of the planet, researchers say that ballast water is a likely way it entered the lakes.  Yet rather than installing treatment technology to stop these invasions as quickly as possible, shippers are staying busy convincing Senators to roll back existing rules.

Several members of the Great Lakes Congressional delegation aren’t buying it, and are working hard to fight off this bad ballast bill. But we need all of them. We urge the Senate to remove these harmful provisions from the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act.

We heartily applaud the efforts of Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), all members of the Senate’s Commerce Committee who voted no on this bill because of VIDA.”

American Cancer Society: Twenty-five diverse organizations support closing the little cigar tax loophole


Jennifer Amundson
[email protected]

MADISON, Wisc. – May 19, 2017 – The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and 24 other Wisconsin organizations joined together to ask lawmakers to close a tax loophole that allows cigarette-sized cigars, so-called “little cigars,” to be taxed significantly less than traditional cigarettes.

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga recently introduced the Assembly Republicans’ tax package, which includes a proposal to close the loophole and tax little cigars at the same rate as cigarettes. Over the last week, the 25 organizations distributed a memo (attached) urging members of the Joint Committee on Finance to support the proposal.

These little cigars are nearly identical to traditional cigarettes, except they are wrapped in brown paper. They contain the same cancer-causing substances, are sold in packs of 20 and have a filter. The tax loophole means a pack of 20 little cigars may be purchased for as low as $1.99, with an average tax of just 78 cents. Meanwhile, a pack of 20 cigarettes costs more than $7, with a tax $2.52.

“The diversity of these organizations shows broad support for this initiative,” said Sara Sahli, ACS CAN Wisconsin government relations director. “This is such a common-sense solution. We know that price is a big factor for new users and particularly children.”

The organizations that signed on to the memo supporting the proposal are:

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

American Family Children’s Hospital

American Heart Association

American Lung Association



Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Gunderson Health System


Marshfield Clinic Health System

Medical College of Wisconsin

Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers

SSM Health

UW Health

Wisconsin Allergy Society

Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards

Wisconsin Asthma Coalition

Wisconsin Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Wisconsin Medical Society

Wisconsin Nurses Association

Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association

Wisconsin Public Health Association

Wisconsin Society of Respiratory Care

Tobacco use is the most preventable cause of death in Wisconsin. Nearly 8,000 Wisconsinites will lose their lives this year to a tobacco-related illness.

American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin: Issues Texas travel advisory


Contact: Gabriela Melendez, 202-715-0826
[email protected]

Traveling to Texas May Result in Violation of Constitutional Rights

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Wisconsin issued a nationwide travel alert today informing anyone planning to travel to Texas in the near future to anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement.

The alert comes amid the passing of a Texas law, known as SB4. SB4 gives a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine stop, leading to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be “foreign” based on how they look or sound.

“In a free country, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your rights when crossing from one state to another, and residents shouldn’t have to put up with the way this law encourages racial profiling,” said ACLU of Wisconsin executive director Chris Ott. “In recent months, clumsy and heavy-handed anti-immigrant measures have sparked outrage, and we hope Wisconsin lawmakers will avoid making the same mistakes. The ACLU fought President Trump’s unpopular and unconstitutional Muslim travel ban, and we will fight unjust laws like this.”

“We plan to fight this racist and wrongheaded law in the courts and in the streets. Until we defeat it, everyone traveling in or to Texas needs to be aware of what’s in store for them,” said Terri Burke, executive director of the ACLU of Texas. “The Lone Star State will become a ‘show me your papers’ state, where every interaction with law enforcement can become a citizenship interrogation and potentially an illegal arrest.”

SB4 requires Texas law enforcement to comply with the federal government’s constitutionally flawed use of detainer requests, which ask local law enforcement to hold people for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), even when they lack the legal authority to do so. Additionally, between 2008 and 2012, ICE requested local law enforcement to hold 834 U.S. citizens, some of whom subsequently spent days in jail as a result. Under SB4, the state of Texas is placing the rights of its residents, including U.S. citizens, in extreme jeopardy.

“It is simply a matter of time before illegal arrests occur. Local law enforcement will have to decide between violating a person’s rights and being severely fined, thrown in jail, or even being removed from office for choosing not to do so,” said Burke.

SB4 will go into effect on September 1, 2017. However, the ACLU is concerned that some law enforcement officers may begin to treat residents and travelers unfairly now. If you believe your rights have been violated because of SB4, please contact the ACLU of Texas at 1-888-507-2970.

ACLU “Know Your Rights” materials are available in a variety of languages at:  aclu.org/know-your-rights


American Dairy Coalition: Sen. Johnson Releases Meaningful Reform for Desperate Farmers


[email protected]

The American Dairy Coalition applauds Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, for introducing desperately needed legislation to secure workers to milk cows throughout the nation. The bill he introduced today is called the “State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017”. The ADC has been diligently working with Senator Johnson on the introduction of this bill on behalf of our 35,000 dairy farmer members who are experiencing severe labor shortages throughout the country.
For years, farmers have tried to hire domestic workers, but they are simply not attracted to these jobs, even though starting pay has increased to $13.00 – $15.00 an hour plus benefit packages. It is critical for the dairy industry to have a means to utilize a legal workforce since current immigration visa programs are not available for dairy farms.

“Immigrants are not taking American jobs. These immigrants serve a crucial labor force needed to bolster our industry, and in turn, create additional jobs more appealing to our domestic workforce. Legalized immigrant labor allows dairy farm businesses to thrive and grow, providing opportunities for American citizens all the way through the supply chain.” –Laurie Fischer, CEO of the American Dairy Coalition.

ADC appreciates the hard work of Senator Ron Johnson, who understands as the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, that the United States can stringently vet immigrants coming in to the U.S. to assure the safety of American citizens, while still allowing legal immigrants into the country. Senator Johnson’s immigration reform policy provides a solution not only for producers to sustain their dairy businesses, but also to allow for the growth and expansion on dairy operations necessary to provide safe, nutritious and affordable dairy products for the world.

The State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act creates a nonimmigrant visa category, allowing states to sponsor foreign nationals who wish to perform services, provide investment, direct an enterprise, or otherwise contribute to the economic development of that state. The State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act of 2017 will provide:
States with the ability to voluntarily participate and they will be provided with a predetermined number of visas. Homeland Security will oversee the stringent vetting of all incoming immigrants.
All industries the ability to apply for visas, but each state that passes this program will determine which industries receive the designated visas based on the specific economic needs within that state.
Visas for low, medium, and high-skilled workers to participate for a period determined by the state, as long as it is not more than three years. Visas are renewable.
States to collaborate and enter “interstate compacts” for the joint administration of a state-based non-immigrant program.
ADC will continue to work diligently with Senator Johnson to establish bi-partisan support for this very important legal immigration reform tool.

American Federation of Teachers: Trump/Devos education bill assaults MATC students



Dr. Michael Rosen
414-467 8908
[email protected]

Leaders of Milwaukee Area Technical College’s faculty union accuse President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos of waging class warfare on working class students like those at MATC.

Dr. Michael Rosen, MATC Economics Professor and President of the American Federation of Teachers Local 212, MATC’s faculty union, charges, “The proposed 2018 Education Budget is nothing less than an assault on higher education and on the nation’s economically disadvantaged students. It is unconscionable and shortsighted for President Trump to fund his billionaire tax cuts by denying the nation’s working and middle class students the opportunity to attend college.”

Rosen explains that the Trump/DeVos budget, leaked to the Washington Post, slashes federal higher education funding. “It lets the Perkins Career and Technical Education Grant program expire and ends the subsidized student loan program that pays the interest on undergraduate loans while borrowers are in college. These programs are crucial for MATC students to afford college,” according to Rosen.

Calling Trump’s budget “An historic assault on college affordability,” Rosen explained that it would make post-secondary education less accessible to the nation’s twelve million working and middle class students who rely on financial aid.

“Furthermore” stated Rosen, “it undermines the nation’s efforts to build a high-wage, knowledge-based economy by slashing support for career and technical education.”

“Student debt is already at a crisis level and continues to be a significant drag on the economy; yet, Trump’s and DeVos’ proposal slashes loans and work-study programs for disadvantaged students and ends subsidized loans for students still in school, which will assuredly cause student debt to soar even higher, ” explained Dr. Rosen.

Life Sciences Professor and Local 212 Executive Vice President, Dr. Lisa Conley, described the impact: “This proposal turns disadvantaged students into moneymakers for for-profit firms, like the Education Management Corp., that service student loans, refinance the debt, and collect on loans that go into default. Federal financial aid was established fifty years ago to provide access to higher education not to serve the interests of investment banks like Goldman Sachs, the largest shareholder of Education Management Corp. These federal programs were designed to serve people, not corporations.”

The federal work study program allows economically disadvantaged students to work on campus, often in areas related to their field of study, as a means to earn money to help pay for their education.

According to Dr. Conley, “Our students juggle school, work and family obligations. The work study program allows them to focus on their classes while they earn income on campus rather than squandering valuable time traveling back-and-forth between school and work.”

The budget also “zeroes out “the $15 million CCAMPIS program, which helps low-income parents in college afford on-campus childcare.

“One out of every four college students is a parent,” said David Espinoza, MATC Early Childhood Education Professor. “Parents need to be able to pursue their education without worrying about the safety and health of their children. Eliminating this program will make it virtually impossible for millions of mainly female students to obtain the education their families need for a better more productive life.“

The proposed budget also eliminates the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. It’s designed to encourage college graduates to pursue careers in government and non-profit fields the market undervalues by forgiving their loans after they make 120 payments under an income-based repayment program. The program was established in 2007, and the first qualifying borrowers would seek forgiveness this year.

As a final insult to MATC students and those like them around the country, Dr. Rosen explained that this budget does not increase Pell Grants or adjust them for inflation. Rather, it finances them by raiding the Pell reserves by almost $4 million, thus threatening its long term viability.

American Lung Association in Wisconsin: Turns turquoise in honor of National Women’s Lung Health Week


Dona Wininsky
(262) 703-4840

Brookfield, WI (May 8, 2017) – Today, the American Lung Association in Wisconsin is supporting LUNG FORCE during National Women’s Lung Health Week (May 7 – 13) by turning local landmarks turquoise and encouraging our communities to take action while wearing turquoise in an effort to defeat lung cancer in women. LUNG FORCE is an initiative uniting Americans against lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women. In Wisconsin, numerous landmarks* will be illuminated in turquoise—the signature color of LUNG FORCE—in honor of National Women’s Lung Health Week.

Anyone can get lung cancer and sadly, one woman dies every eight minutes in the U.S. from the disease. Early detection and treatment of lung cancer translates to higher survival rates, however only 18% of lung cancer cases among women are diagnosed early, when the disease is most treatable. Awareness is critically low – in fact, nearly all women (98%) don’t even have lung cancer on their health radar and most women (71%) believe that not enough is being done to raise awareness for lung cancer.

Now in its fourth year, Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE is encouraging women and men in Wisconsin to take a stand against lung cancer by launching a social campaign asking people to #ShowYourLUNGFORCE to demonstrate the power of our lungs and motivate people to take action in support of the movement. Donations will support the American Lung Association’s investment in lung cancer research and patient support, including early detection, clinical trials, biomarker testing and advocacy for more federal research funding. It will take a FORCE to end lung cancer and support is critical.

“We don’t associate lung cancer with the female gender,” said Racine resident Sandra Helmin-Clazmer, 2017 WI LUNG FORCE hero. “They don’t think they’ll ever get it because, ‘Oh, I’m a nonsmoker, I’ll never get lung cancer.’ Well, I was too. Lo and behold – 33, and here I had lung cancer.”

Below are some of the ways to take action:

  • Participate on social:

o   Upload a video or photo to your social channels – Facebook, Twitter or Instagram – demonstrating how you Show Your LUNG FORCE and use the #ShowYourLUNGFORCE hashtag

o   Tag 3 of your friends and challenge them to do the same

o   Donate directly from the LUNG FORCE Facebook page or LUNGFORCE.org.

  • Donate in-store: Stop by any CVS Pharmacy location from May 7-27 to donate $3 at the register to raise much needed funds for lung cancer awareness and visit Lung.org/CVS for easy ways you can help your community become tobacco-free. As the national presenting sponsor of LUNG FORCE, CVS Health is committed to creating tobacco-free communities to help beat lung cancer. The in-store campaign is part of CVS Health’s 5-year $50 million initiative to help deliver the nation’s first tobacco-free generation.

*2017 LUNG FORCE Turquoise Takeover Illuminations:

  • Milwaukee Art Museum/Calatrava (New this year!) TuesdayThursday
  • Milwaukee Gas Light Building (New this year!)
  • Mitchell International Airport/MKE Monument letters (New this year!)
  • Wisconsin Center District Wells Street Tunnel (New this year!)
  • US Bank Center
  • Mitchell Park Domes MondayWednesday
  • Marquette Interchange
  • Milwaukee Fire Department Headquarters
  • Johnson Controls, Inc. – Glendale
  • GE Healthcare – Wauwatosa
  • FedEx Ground – Brookfield
  • Governor’s Residence – Madison
  • Appleton Family Ice Arena (Logo inside on ice) – Appleton

Americans for Responsible Solutions: Four reasons why Americans should be alarmed that Sheriff David Clarke was named to top Homeland Security job


Katie Peters
(202) 731-5951
[email protected]

Washington DC – This week, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke accepted a senior position with the Department of Homeland Security. Known for his outrageous and inaccurate rhetoric, Sheriff Clarke has previously suggested that a semi-automatic weapon be added to the Great Seal of the United States and that ISIS and Black Lives Matter activists were forming an alliance to destroy America.

“Sheriff Clarke’s appointment to the Department of Homeland Security is the Trump administration bowing once again to the gun lobby, yet another reward for the 30 million dollars they spent to elect him,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director for Americans for Responsible Solutions. “Clarke’s polarizing personality, close relationship with the gun lobby, and willful disregard for the safety of our communities and law enforcement is a direct threat to all Americans. This country doesn’t need a senior Homeland Security official who would rather shoot someone than call 911.”

Below are four red flags to know about David Clarke:

  • TOOL OF THE GUN LOBBY: The gun lobby has consistently relied on Clark to support and defend a variety of radical positions, including a weakening of concealed carry weapons in Wisconsin. After the Sandy Hook shootings, when 26 women and children were murdered, Clarke became a gun lobby media lightning rod when he called for citizens to arm themselves at a time when most were calling for commonsense gun legislation and safety.In addition to speaking at a variety of gun lobby events, Clarke’s cozy relationship with the gun lobby includes roles on their legal affairs, law enforcement assistance, and outreach committees in 2016.

  • DISREGARD FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: In 2013, Clarke told his constituents, “911 is not our best option, […] point that barrel center mass and pull the trigger.” Clarke was featured in a ad by the Greater Wisconsin Committee stating, “I don’t dial 911. I will afterwards, to say ‘Come get this dead guy out of my house, he’s bleeding out and he’s messing up my carpet.’” He is known for his opposition to common sense gun safety laws like expanding background checks, and has suggested getting rid of gun-free school zones.

  • CONNECTION TO RUSSIA: Clarke, and many other members of the NRA delegation visited Russia in 2015 to meet with Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s defense industry and an ally of President Vladimir Putin. Rogozin is one of many in Putin’s inner circle who has been put under sanctions by the US government. This is part of a longstanding relationship between the NRA and Russian officials. The tangled web between Clark, the NRA, and Russia presents a direct danger to American safety and security.

  • CONNECTION TO TORTURE CASE: Charges are being filed against several members of Clarke’s staff in connection with the death of a mentally ill inmate last year, after having the water cut off in his cell. Inmates said Terrill Thomas spent his final days begging for water after jail staff shut down the flow to the pipes as punishment for his behavior. Thomas was one of four people to die at the Milwaukee jail within a six-month period in 2016. State lawmakers and an activist organization called on Clarke to resign over the deaths.

What Members Of Congress Are Saying:

Assembly adjourns after passing bills on public assistance programs


The Assembly has adjourned after passing several bills making changes to state public assistance programs.

That included a bill, AB 240, that adds W-2 participants whose kids are habitually truant from school to a list of those who can face sanctions from the Department of Children and Families.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, the author of the bill, disputed claims from Dems that the bill was punitive, saying it would help those families get case management services under the Learnfare program.

He and other Republicans said the state needs to do all it can to help families make sure their kids get a proper education.

“Punishing is letting a child go through life without getting an education to be able to support themselves and their family,” he said.

Assembly Dems tried adding several amendments to the bill, including one to make sure the bill would apply to those in 5th grade and under and another to exclude children from disabilities.

Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee, said lawmakers have taken the right path with the HOPE agenda in ensuring they’re not being punitive.

“That is the same mentality we should be using on this,” he said.

The Assembly’s adjournment came despite Dem efforts to try to get the chamber to take up a resolution aimed at protecting those with pre-existing conditions. Democrats have slammed the American Health Care Act, which passed the House last week, as gutting protections under the Affordable Care Act and raised concerns over Gov. Scott Walker’s recent comments on the issue.

Rep. Daniel Riemer, D-Milwaukee, said the resolution would “keep these very important protections in state law,” and Dems criticized Republicans for refusing to take up the resolution today.

The chamber also passed:

*AB 242, which makes changes to the drug screening and testing requirements in certain programs managed by the Department of Children and Families. It also expands those requirements to custodial parents in some DCF programs.

Under those programs, those who test positive for drugs can get access to treatment services.

Dems said other states that have similar requirements in place have spent far too much money on programs that don’t turn up many positive test cases. And that’s also the case here in Wisconsin, said Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, noting the state has screened about 2,000 people under the DCF programs and has only found eight people who tested positive for substance abuse.

Rep. Jimmy Anderson, D-Fitchburg, said similar programs in other states have been ineffective.

“Why are we not testing corporate executives who receive funding from the WEDC?” he asked.

The bill also lets DCF decide what kind of screening method it uses, as it currently is required to use a questionnaire to see whether any participants then need to go through a drug test.

Rep. Cody Horlacher, R-Mukwonago, said he was “perplexed” by Dems’ arguments, saying the bill gives DCF officials who are most knowledgeable the flexibility to set up its screening methods.

Having beneficiaries go through that screening and testing, he said, ensures the state can “continue to help those who struggle with substance abuse.” He also said the numbers Dem cited show the vast majority of people in those programs wouldn’t be affected.

*and AB 241, which looks to mitigate the benefit drop-off in the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program. The bill passed on a 97-0 vote.

Assembly GOP details transportation plan

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Assembly GOP transpo plan would nix some tax credits, allow local sales taxes to fund roads

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Assembly OK’s bill giving lawmakers direct oversight of education plan

The state Assembly today passed a bill that would give lawmakers direct oversight on how the state plans to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, an education policy overhaul that Congress passed in 2015.

The chamber passed the bill, AB 233, on a voice vote, though Dems said it was an unnecessary attack on the Department of Public Instruction.

State Superintendent Tony Evers released a draft of the plan on Friday and is testifying at the Capitol tomorrow on it. Some GOP lawmakers say they need greater input in the process, but Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, who chairs the Senate’s education committee, previously said lawmakers have had plenty of changes to weigh in.

Olsen and Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb, were part of a council that advised DPI in crafting the plan. Pope said that council had a wide range of stakeholders, including lawmakers, and that DPI was always open to input from legislators.

“To imply that the Legislature has not had opportunities to be involved in this report I would have to call an alternative fact,” she said.

But the bill’s author, Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, said states like Minnesota have had lawmakers vote on their plans and that his bill is narrower, only calling for more input from the Legislature’s education committees.

“We would like to do our part,” he said.

Assembly passes bill on child work permits, broadband legislation


The state Assembly today passed 64-34 a bill that would eliminate the requirement that minors aged 16 or 17 obtain a child work permit.

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said the bill removes a significant hurdle to homeless students who struggle getting their parents to sign the permit or pay the required fee. The bill, she said, will help ensure those children can work toward “self-sustainability.”

“If parents are unable or unwilling to raise their own kids and provide them with what they need … they should be able to do that for themselves,” she said.

Dems, whose two amendments on the bill failed, spoke out against the bill, saying it changes child labor laws that have been in place for decades.

“It’s a step back,” said Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, raised concerns said the bill ensures it’s “no longer in the hands of parents to decide” whether their kids get a job permit. If the bill sought to address issues homeless teenagers face, he said, it should be narrower.

But Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said Dems were making a hypocritical argument because they “support abortion on demand without parental involvement.”

“Talk about serious decisions — life or death decisions,” he said. “You want to take the parents out of that decision, but God forbid someone wants to go out and earn a few bucks for their college.”

The chamber also unanimously passed a broadband expansion bill. AB 123 is similar to one that passed the Senate but without a key amendment. The Senate had added a privacy amendment that would have banned providers from collecting information on their customers’ use without their permission.

But Assembly backers wanted to take up the bill without the change. The version without the amendment would need to clear the Senate before going to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

Rep. Romaine Quinn, R-Rice Lake, said at a news conference ahead of today’s session the bill he authored is a “huge boon for many areas across the state” who are lacking adequate internet access.

The chamber also passed:

*AB 194, which lets large music festivals such as Eaux Claires allow those under 21 years old in legally without their parents. The bill’s author, Rep. Rob Summerfield, R-Bloomer, said it would “save music festivals in our area” that have been operating illegally on that front. He noted those festivals spur tourism in the state, saying in his area they have a $20 million impact.

*AB 58, which changes the process of monitoring law enforcement dogs that have bitten a person and are already immunized against rabies. The bill removes the requirement that those dogs be examined by a veterinarian, which police departments say is a costly mandate. The bill directs law enforcement agencies to notify the local health department if the dog displays any unusual behavior.

*AB 115 and AB 116, two bills introduced by the Joint Legislative Council relating to the access of civil legal aid.

Assembly passes homelessness bills but Dems say larger investments needed


The state Assembly today passed four GOP bills aimed at helping address homelessness, with two passing unanimously and several Dems opposing the other two.

Dems said the package isn’t enough to solve the issue, while also saying past GOP policies such as changes in landlord-tenant laws have only exacerbated it.

“I don’t like legislation that is feel-good, that has no teeth and will have no results,” said Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, acknowledged “there is more to do” but said the state needs to make sure it’s spending money effectively. He’s the co-author of one of the bills, AB 234, which would create an interagency council to find ways for state agencies to collaborate on the issue.

He said the package is “only the first step” in what will be a years-long effort.

“Our side of the aisle wants to be able to prove results before we’re throwing dollars at programs,” he said.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, is the co-author of all four bills.

AB 234 passed unanimously, as did AB 235, aimed at freeing up state resources that are underutilized and putting them in areas with greatest need. Rep. Pat Snyder, R-Schofield, is the co-author of the bill.

Some Dems voted for AB 236, which would call for a pilot program prioritizing chronically homeless individuals on a waiting list to get federally-funded housing vouchers. The bill, co-authored by Rep. Treig Pronschinske, R-Mondovi, passed 73-25.

Dems unsuccessfully sought an amendment adding more funding to the program, expanding the number of vouchers available to help others on the waitlist.

“We are simply rearranging the deck chairs if we follow the Republicans’ lead here and change who has priority for vouchers,” said Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison.

The fourth bill, AB 237, is aimed at creating grants for local governments to set up programs connecting homeless people with jobs and workforce training. The bill’s supporters have pointed to a similar program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that pays people who help the city for the day.

The bill passed 88-10.

Rep. Daniel Riemer, D-Milwaukee, likened the bill’s approach to President Roosevelt’s New Deal, connecting people with jobs and understanding that it’s “about much more than a paycheck.”

But Subeck said Albuquerque’s program resembles a day labor program and is merely aimed at getting panhandlers off the street for the day, adding she doesn’t see “where this connects people to permanent employment or even gives them much hope of it.”

“This is a way to get cheap labor for something like cleaning up our parks and pat ourselves on the back because we did something good on the process,” she said.

But co-author Rep. Jessie Rodriguez, R-Oak Creek, said the Albuquerque program has been a success, though the local governments that get the grant money will have the flexibility to “come up with a model that works for us here.”

“We have a chance to help people throughout each area of the state who want to work, who want to contribute to their communities and have a place to call home,” she said.

Assembly passes last of the special session bills on opioid abuse

The Assembly this evening passed two bills to curb opioid abuse, the last of the 11 total special session bills to make their way through the chamber.

The Assembly already passed nine of the special session bills, all of which were taken up and passed by the Senate today. The legislation is based on recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse.

The special session bills before the Assembly today:

*SSAB 3, which would grant immunity for drug possession to a person who calls 911 to report another person who is experiencing a drug overdose;

The bill passed on a voice vote.

*And SSAB 5, which would extend Department of Health Services programs currently used to treat alcoholics to drug users, including voluntary treatment programs.

The bill passed unanimously on a 97-0 vote.

Assembly sends bill on correctional child abuse reporting to Walker’s desk


The state Assembly today passed a bill requiring juvenile correctional officers to report any child abuse they see while on the job, sending the bill to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

The bipartisan bill follows lawsuits and a federal investigation into allegations of mistreatment at the state’s Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile correctional facilities. The bill, which passed on a voice vote, was co-authored by Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee.

Kleefisch said at a news conference ahead of today’s session it “only makes sense” to add juvenile correctional officers to the list of professions such as teachers and psychologists that need to report possible child abuse cases.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called it a “great bill” and said there could be more legislation addressing those issues, though he said Walker’s Department of Corrections is “doing a good job.”

The chamber, which is now debating several bills making changes to public assistance programs, also passed several other bills in rapid succession this afternoon, including:

*SB 148, a bill that would allow delivery robots to travel on sidewalks and in crosswalks. The bill passed the Senate already and now heads to Walker’s desk for his signature.

*SB 51, which makes several technical changes relating to the state’s tax incremental financing statute. That bill is also heading to Walker’s desk.

*AB 98, which clarifies procedures for those who have a court-ordered requirement that they can only drive cars with ignition interlock devices. The bill looks to correct a loophole that currently prevents authorities from citing some people with driving without a device.

*and AB 170, which ensures bus shelters on state trunk highways can have advertisements.

Attorneys hired by GOP leaders for redistricting lawsuit have charged $41K so far

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Audit finds WEDC improved operations, issues remain

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Auer Avenue Community School’s 105th Anniversary 🗓

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Auer Avenue Community School, located on Milwaukee’s near north side, is proud to announce it will be celebrating its 105th anniversary on Saturday, May 6, 2017. Alumni, guests and the media are invited to join in celebrating educating students in the community for the past 105 years.
There will be a program at 12:00 p.m. followed by cake and punch reception. Alumni and guests will have the opportunity to tour the school until 3:00 p.m. T-shirts will be available for purchase.
Built in 1903, its original name was Twentieth District School No. 4. The name was changed to Auer Avenue School in 1912 to identify it by its street address. Auer Avenue, and in turn, Auer Avenue School, was named after Louis Auer, a member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors from 1868 to 1880. Auer was a local real estate and insurance agent who was active in local government as alderman, county supervisor and school board member. The school annex that is currently home to middle school students and support staff was added in 1967. Auer Avenue Community School is located in the Amani Neighborhood and has been proudly educating families for more than 105 years.
In January 2015, as a school reform method, Auer Avenue adopted the Community School model. Auer Avenue Community School is one of seven MPS Schools that are part of the Milwaukee Community Schools Partnership (MCSP) with United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County. The MCSP is a collective strategy to transform schools into a place where students, families, staff and the surrounding community can work together to ensure every student is successful.

Bill Kaplan: Impeachment unlikely, for now


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

Arizona GOP Senator John McCain said: that the goings-on and scandals at the White House had reached “Watergate size and scale”. A short review.

In January the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies reported the following: “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election; Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process; We also assess Putin … aspired to help … Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting … Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him; (and) We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence … relayed material (from cyber operations) to WikiLeaks.” There’s more.

In March FBI Director James Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee. He confirmed that the FBI “is investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump (presidential) campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts” (to interfere in the 2016 presidential election). Since then one bombshell after another.

First, Trump’s shocking firing of Comey, with Trump, Vice President Pence, White House press staff and others misrepresenting the reasons for dismissing Comey. Finally, Trump told NBC News: “You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story … .” Motive. More stunning revelations.

The New York Times (NYT) reported that Trump pressured Comey to “let this go”, i.e., the FBI investigation into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (who had lied about discussing U.S. sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.). Trump’s admonition was made the day after Flynn was fired. Moreover, earlier in January Trump had improperly and repeatedly asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty. That took place the day after the White House learned Flynn was interviewed by the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. Explosive.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reacted appropriately by appointing well-respected former FBI Director Robert Mueller to be a special counsel to lead the Russian probe. Another expose. The NYT reported Trump told the Russian ambassador (to the U.S.) and foreign minister that firing Comey had solved a problem. Trump said: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” Obstruction of justice.

All the while House Speaker Paul Ryan has pretended that nothing was going on. He reduced himself to a servile enabler of Trump’s misdeeds. Contrast with Wisconsin GOP Representative Mike Gallagher, who reacted strongly to Comey’s firing and press reports that Trump had discussed classified intelligence with the above Russian officials. What to do?

Impeachment is unlikely, for now. Why? It’s a math problem with a GOP-led Congress. Moreover, Special Counsel Mueller and congressional investigations have a long way to go to get to the bottom. Magical thinking is foolish. Focus on winning the 2018 elections with a Democratic message of economic security and social justice. Restore checks and balances. Vote.

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

Bill Kaplan: No backsliding on health care


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

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has become a popular success, with over 20 million Americans, including 243,000 Wisconsinites, gaining affordable quality health care coverage. But there has been unrelenting GOP hostility and sabotage. Years of calculated fearmongering, misrepresentations and lies culminated in the GOP-led House narrowly voting to repeal the ACA, with a so-called replacement. Trumpcare. All Wisconsin GOP representatives voted to kill the ACA, while all Wisconsin Democratic representatives were opposed.

Trump wanted a legislative win. Moreover, House Speaker Paul Ryan and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had become Trump’s scapegoats, and needed to deliver for Trump. Panic. The White House collaborated with the House GOP Freedom Caucus on making Trump’s replacement bill even worse. Trump played the tune: Must pass it before the public finds out what’s in the bill.

The GOP bill went through the House with little debate, zero committee hearings, no amendments allowed on the floor and no waiting for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “score” (fiscal impact and rise in the uninsured). The U.S. as a plutocracy: “As the money torrent rises, it’s no coincidence that for the first time in history, most members of Congress are millionaires …” (New York Times). Ryan and Trump could care less about regular folks.

Trump falsely claimed “It’s a great plan”. But remember Trump’s previous pledges: “Insurance for everybody” or “no one will lose coverage” and “no cuts to Medicaid”. Bold-faced lies. Trumpcare would mean: diminished health care protections, much higher insurance charges for the elderly, sick and folks with pre-existing conditions, many fewer covered by private insurance, millions kicked off Medicaid, huge tax cut for the wealthy and defunding Planned Parenthood. In a nutshell at least 24 million more uninsured, including 431,000 Wisconsinites (CBO and Urban Institute). There’s more.

Trumpcare would put predatory insurance companies back in the driver’s seat. States could get waivers to allow the sale of useless bare-bones health insurance coverage as well as price gouging the elderly, sick and others with pre-existing conditions. High insurance premiums — less folks covered. So to get votes in the House Ryan added inadequate funding for high-risk pools to supposedly cover those with pre-existing conditions.

Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker put his finger in the air, suggesting he was open to a waiver. A quick outcry and Walker pulled back, for now. And, despite Walker’s ill-informed claims, when Wisconsin had a high-risk pool there were big problems: Only 21,000 were covered, leaving out tens of thousands, deductibles and premiums were too high for many and there was a 6-month waiting period (Modern Healthcare). Cancer does not wait. What to do?

Stop trying to repeal the ACA. Kill Trumpcare in the Senate. If you know people in Alaska, Maine, Nevada, Ohio and West Virginia contact them to speak with their GOP senators: Senators Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Rob Portman and Shelley Moore Capito. These GOP senators have been critical of Trumpcare. No backsliding on health care. Regular folks want to win.

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

Bill Kaplan: One hundred days


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

Saturday marked one hundred days of Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and the GOP-led Congress. Compare to FDR in 1933. In his inaugural address FDR said: “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work.” FDR and a Democratic-led Congress moved quickly. The Public Works Administration was created to build bridges, dams, hospitals, municipal buildings, port facilities, road, schools and sewage systems. Jobs. Moreover, many other New Deal programs were established to help middle class and working people as well as the poor.

However, in his inaugural address all Trump had to offer was fear (the Women’s March dissipated the fear). Despite Trump’s dark vision, he did decry the “disrepair and decay” of our infrastructure. But unlike FDR, Trump and the GOP-led Congress have done nothing to appropriate federal funding for an infrastructure program. Zip. No jobs.

Their first priority was to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and take health care coverage from millions. This could result in 431,000 more uninsured in Wisconsin (Urban Institute). It failed from public outrage, GOP division and Democratic opposition. But as the hundred day mark neared, Trump with zero legislative accomplishments, renewed the cruel GOP effort to repeal the ACA. Blaming Ryan, the White House did an end run around the increasingly diminished Speaker Ryan, to collaborate with the most extreme House Republicans. So much for the separation of powers.

Trumpcare two was worse than the original GOP crackpot bill: Diminished health care protections, higher insurance charges for older and sicker folks, no Medicaid expansion, fewer people covered by private insurance and a huge tax cut for the wealthy. The bill was opposed by the public, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and AARP. By Thursday the legislation was dead, but like a zombie lives on the to-do list of Trump and Ryan. What’s next?

Trump, always the showman, had something shiny to tout. A one page tax “reform” outline was floated: Humongous tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, with trillions added to the national debt. And, Trump makes out like a bandit. The New York Times reported: Trump could personally save well-over $1 billion from the changes he wants. Will Trump ever release his tax returns? There’s more.

The hundred days have been a race to the bottom for Trump and Ryan: Their polls at historic lows, a do-nothing president, no substantive congressional legislation, a mutual record of cruelty and incompetence, theatrics and failed leadership. Meanwhile a constitutional crisis simmers. The Russians are coming.

The Washington Post reported: “Key lawmakers deliver bipartisan rebuke of Flynn”. Bombshell revelations. Disgraced –fired Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn may have broken the law over his payments from Russian government entities and for working as a “paid foreign agent for Turkish interests….” What does Flynn know about possible Trump campaign coordination with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election? Why does Flynn want immunity? Ryan needs to stop being Trump’s enabler. The Constitution beckons.

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump and Nixon


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

Late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel derided Trump’s shocking firing of FBI Director James Comey: “When we said Trump should act more presidential, we probably should have specified – we didn’t mean Nixon”. Trump’s dismissal of Comey was reminiscent of Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” – the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox (Nixon was unlawfully defying a court order to release the White House tapes). An aroused citizenry and Congress made certain the Watergate investigation continued. And, a unanimous Supreme Court forced the White House to surrender the tapes as impeachment proceedings began. The tapes showed Nixon orchestrating a cover-up; he resigned in disgrace.

Trump and Nixon have similarities: “Their thin skin. Their skyscraping paranoia. Their cavernous memory for slights …” and hatred of the press (New York Times). There’s more. Nixon said: “I am not a crook” in defending his actions. Compare to Trump’s letter firing Comey: “While I greatly appreciate you (Comey) informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” Self-serving lies.

Trump, Vice President Pence, White House press staff and others “initially misrepresented the reason for the firing” … (Washington Post). It shifted from supposed concern over Comey’s public discussions of Hillary Clinton’s emails, to character attacks against Comey to Trump sort of fessing up to NBC: “When I (Trump) decided to just do it (fire Comey), I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.” False.

When Comey testified before Congress in March he said: 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” (to interfere in the 2016 presidential election). Trump became enraged and unhinged. The White House is opposed to a serious investigation. Trump confidante Kellyanne Conway told CNN: “Especially on your network, you always want to talk about Russia, Russia and Russia”.

Then Trump tweeted another bombshell: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” A Nixonian threat. It got the attention of Bob Woodward, Washington Post reporter who covered Watergate. But when asked about Trump’s taping, Speaker Paul Ryan said: “I’ve never given any thought to that.” A morally shrinking Ryan. While Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson falsely said that Trump had tweeted: “Comey had better not have recorded him” (Trump). Johnson, a second-rate politician.

Other Republicans have more sense. Wisconsin GOP Representative Mike Gallagher tweeted: “The American people deserve the truth, not politically-driven talking points”. And, Arizona GOP Senator John McCain said: “This scandal is going to go on. I’ve seen it before. This is a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop … .” Trumpgate moving faster than Watergate. Subpoenas have been issued by a grand jury and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump, ‘a complete disaster’


Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner said: the Trump presidency has been “a complete disaster”. True especially for middle-working class and rural folks who voted for Trump. For example, Trump’s deceptive job deals.

Last week, Carrier announced that it would begin dismissing 632 Indiana factory workers in July. These well-paying jobs are moving to Mexico. The Mexican minimum wage is $3.90 per day! President-elect Trump had boasted that there was a “100 percent” chance that he would save Carrier jobs. Another exaggerated claim by Trump. Instead Carrier cut a deal with Indiana — $7 million in state tax credits to keep only some jobs in Indiana. It gets worse.

Milwaukee-based Rexnord has laid off 200 factory workers in Indiana, with another 100 more to follow. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. workers trained their Mexican replacements for a Rexnord factory in Mexico. Trump’s tweets didn’t stop this offshoring. There’s more.

Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson is opening a motorcycle assembly plant in Thailand. In June, Harley-Davidson will begin laying off over 100 factory workers in York, Pennsylvania. This winter, Trump acting like a fraidy-cat, canceled a visit to Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, to avoid a planned protest. Instead Harley-Davidson executives came to the White House. Trump exclaimed: “We’re proud of you! Made in America, Harley-Davidson.” Phony rhetoric. Offshoring continues. As do other betrayals.

The repeal and so-called replacement of the Affordable Care Act was jammed through the House by GOP Speaker Paul Ryan. Trumpcare had little debate, no committee hearings, no amendments allowed on the floor and most of all, no waiting for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) “score” (fiscal impact and rise in the uninsured). On Wednesday, the chickens came home to roost.

The CBO released its analysis of Trumpcare: 23 million more uninsured, including millions no longer covered by private insurance, and 14 million fewer by Medicaid; much higher insurance costs for the elderly, sick or those with pre-existing conditions; many would have trouble even buying coverage, particularly in rural areas; and $230 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy. So much for Trump’s lies: “Insurance for everybody”, or “no one will lose coverage” and “no cuts to Medicaid.”

GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes for Trumpcare) ….” All the while Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson pretends nothing is amiss. He disingenuously said: “I’m going to try … to make sure we don’t pull the rug out from anybody … .” More bad news.

Last week the Trump budget was released. Its message was clear: drop dead rural-urban folks. It is an evil and monstrous budget: cutting trillions in domestic spending, adding billions for military spending and cutting taxes for the top 1 percent. And, despite Trump’s promise, it cuts Social Security disability benefits. Another broken promise. A budget that asks nothing from the well-heeled, but much sacrifice from middle-working class and rural folks. Even in this GOP-led Congress it is dead. Any wonder why Boehner is happy he is no longer speaker?

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

Bill punishes adults for allowing underage drinking on property

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Bill that would require DOT to account for inflation in road project cost estimates passes Senate

A bill that would require DOT to account for inflation in future road project cost estimates passed the Senate today on a voice vote.

The DOT bill, from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, were first recommended by the Legislative Audit Bureau following its January 2017 report on the state highway program.

Sen. Rob Cowles, who is a co-chair of the audit committee, said the bill would “take a significant step in helping us resolve some of our problems.”

The legislation passed with two amendments from Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon. The first tweaks a requirement specifying which legislative bodies DOT would annually report project updates to. The second amendment throws out a construction-manager general contractor provision from the bill. The provision would have let DOT use the hired contractor in three highway improvement projects before July 1, 2021, similar to an item the Joint Finance Committee removed from Walker’s budget.

Bill to eliminate personal property tax sees support at public hearing

A bill that would eliminate the state’s personal property tax starting next year was largely supported Wednesday in a public hearing, where backers touted it as a business-friendly measure that would remove unnecessary burdens.

But Dems on the Senate committee worried the funds wouldn’t be completely backfilled by state aid, leaving municipalities and property taxpayers covering the costs in the future.

While the bill from GOP authors Reps. Bob Kulp, Dan Knodl and Sens. Duey Stroebel and David Craig guarantees that taxing jurisdictions will be reimbursed by the state for the loss of personal property tax revenue, it does not make any appropriations. But the authors told committee members the funding would be handled by the Joint Finance Committee during budget deliberations.

They and business owners from around the state also criticized the personal property tax as prohibitive to both emerging and existing businesses.

Ted Balistreri, one of the owners and operators of Sendik’s Food Market, said the tax punishes those that invest profits back into their businesses to buy new equipment, like shelving, coolers, hot water heaters and more, by levying taxes on them that “never end.”

“When we need help the most, when we just spent a lot of money remodeling a store, we are taxed the most,” he said.

And Bud Styer, a member of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners board, said because of current exemptions few people pay into it.

“The hole used to be paid by everybody, now it’s paid by just a few. I don’t see how that’s fair. I don’t see how that’s common sense…” he said. “We don’t want to be the burden for that hole, this small little group.”

Meanwhile, representatives from the Wisconsin Counties Association and League of Wisconsin Municipalities, which had previously opposed efforts to get rid of the personal property tax, said the two groups are “not opposed to this legislation.”

Still, Counties Association Director of Government Affairs Kyle Christianson and Curt Witynski, LWM assistant director, flagged some areas of concern. Christianson said under the bill, state aid payments to municipalities in the place of the tax revenue are “frozen in time,” which could mean that local governments are “essentially losing revenue” over time.”

They also wondered whether the state would “remain committed to making this reimbursement in future years,” a concern echoed by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, who said the bill doesn’t have a “source of revenue” to begin with.

“There is no revenue in this bill,” Vinehout said. “This resolution has not been met.”

Bill would require periodic reviews of administrative rules

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Bill would require periodic reviews of administrative rules

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke says his new bill aimed at setting up periodic reviews of administrative rules would help lawmakers avoid the “logistical nightmare” of conducting those reviews all at once.

Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said Republicans have learned that trying to “review all 1,100 pages of administrative rules at one time is practically impossible.”

Assembly Republicans are now on their third session of the Red Tape Review initiative, which Steineke’s office says would continue if the bill passes. At the start of the session, the chamber had reviewed 27 percent of the state’s administrative code.

“We wanted to make sure we never had to go through this exhaustive process again by making sure that we’re doing it on a consistent basis every year,” he said.

Steineke’s bill, which he co-authored with Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, would have lawmakers review individual chapters of the Wisconsin Administrative Code every seven years — and let rules that aren’t re-adopted expire.

The two wrote in a co-sponsorship memo to lawmakers that more consistent reviews are needed, because as time goes on, regulations “become outdated and harmful to both individual freedom and economic productivity.”

Agencies that want to re-adopt rules would send a notice to JCRAR and the relevant standing committee a year before the chapter is set to expire. If no member of those committees object to that notice, the rule is then re-adopted.

If there is an objection, the agency would have to go through the standard rule-making process. If that happens, the agency would have to prepare an economic impact statement and compare it to past projections, Steineke said, giving lawmakers a chance to see whether “what we said was going to happen” actually did.

“This makes sure that the decisions that we make now, we’re held to account for,” he said.

The bill is getting praise from business groups, with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce calling it “one of the most significant regulatory reforms in a generation.”

“This legislation would build on the great work that has been done over the past six years to improve Wisconsin’s regulatory climate and push back on the ever-growing regulatory state,” said WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer.

Other groups supporting the bill include the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and the conservative Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin.

But Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, pointed to those groups’ support and said it’s “no secret who’s behind this Republican bill.”

“This proposal is another special interest giveaway that would jeopardize our clean water protections, weaken financial safeguards and undermine workplace fairness rules,” she said.

See the bill:

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: $2.5 million for community projects


Contact: Jonathan Barry, (608) 266-8369

MADISON – The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) today slightly more than $2.5 million in State Trust Fund Loans to support four community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • Town of Athelstane, Marinette County / Purchase municipal vehicle / $75,000
  • City of La Crosse, La Crosse County / Finance economic development projects / $825,000
  • City of Mosinee, Marathon County / Finance water main replacement / $120,000
  • City of Oshkosh, Winnebago County / Finance convention center improvements / $1,500,000

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: Board approves $320,000 in trust fund loans



Jonathan Barry, Executive Secretary (608) 266-8369

MADISON – The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) today approved $320,000 in State Trust Fund Loans to support three community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • Village of Elmwood, Pierce County / Finance road construction / $52,000
  • Town of Grantsburg, Burnett County / Finance road construction / $100,000
  • Town of Sullivan, Jefferson County / Purchase truck and snow plow / $168,000

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.

Broadband expansion bill back before the Senate today; Assembly to take up delivery robots bill

The Senate plans to take up a child labor permits bill today, while the Assembly’s considering a bill that would allow delivery robots to travel on sidewalks.

The Assembly’s also looking to take up a bill that passed the Senate in March that would require juvenile correctional officers to report child abuse. Representatives are also planning to take up a bill that would create a pilot program to add work requirements for able-bodied adults who get housing vouchers.

Meanwhile, a broadband grant expansion bill, which unanimously passed the Assembly last week, is up before the Senate today.

The chamber had previously added a privacy amendment that would have banned providers from collecting information on their customers’ use without their permission, but the Assembly version did not include that provision. The unamended version is what’s before the Senate today.

The Senate also plans to take up a bill that would require DOT to account for inflation in future road project cost estimates. That bill was recommended by the Legislative Audit Bureau following its January 2017 report on the state highway program.

Briana Reilly is covering the Senate today, and Polo Rocha is at the Assembly. In addition to checking Quorum Call for developments, follow them for updates via Twitter at @briana_reilly and @polorocha18.

See the Senate calendar.

See the Assembly calendar.

Brown County: UWGB engineering school is major win for NE Wisconsin


Jeff Flynt
(920) 448-4083

(Brown County, Wis.) – Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach is pleased to see a plan authorizing an engineering school at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay win approval as part of an omnibus motion by the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance.

“I want to thank Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) for leading on this important initiative,” says Streckenbach. “This historic vote allowing a new engineering school at UW-Green Bay helps secure and grow our future manufacturing base in Northeastern Wisconsin.”

This demonstrates what can be accomplished by seeking community partnerships and having a Legislative leader willing to champion bold ideas that will secure a successful future for Northeastern Wisconsin.

In his statement, Nygren says, “The new engineering school at UW-Green Bay will be a game changer. More students will have access to quality educational opportunities to learn marketable skills, and local businesses will be able to hire more qualified college grads for well-paying positions.”

Brown County hopes that the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Scott Walker approve this UW System budget as-is, along with the $5 million from the Governor for the STEM Innovation Center where the school would be located, as part of the overall 2017-2019 biennial budget.

Burns campaign: Tim Burns announces candidacy for the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Contact: Amanda L. Brink

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Burns4WI

Facebook: facebook.com/Burns4WI

Website: www.BurnsForWisconsin.com

Madison, WI – on Monday, May 1st, 2017, Madison attorney Tim Burns announced his candidacy for Wisconsin Supreme Court, almost one year out from the 2018 election when Justice Gableman’s term is set to expire.

This announcement comes just two weeks after Justice Gableman and four other justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused a proposal requiring judges to recuse themselves from cases involving their big campaign donors. The Court’s decision violates citizens’ rights to a fair and impartial court.

The following is a statement from Tim Burns:

I’m running for Supreme Court because I believe in our democracy.  I believe our country works best when everyone has a voice in governing, not just special interests and wealthy donors.  I believe in democracy because it affirms the dignity and value of each person, no matter how wealthy or how poor, no matter their education, no matter their race, no matter their creed.  I also believe that the strength of our economy is inextricably tied to the strength of our democracy.  When our democracy is strong, our economy is strong.

When I was young our courts were the great equalizer.  They made sure that everybody got a fair shot.  Now our courts have become the tools of special interests and their efforts to obtain opportunities for themselves.  Those special interests are now getting a free ride, and they are weakening our democracy to make sure their free ride continues.  That has to stop.


Tim Burns is a partner at a law firm in Madison, WI.  He is a former co-chair of the Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee of the American Bar Association.

A graduate of University of Missouri-Columbia Law School, Tim is licensed in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri.  Tim’s national practice focuses on making insurance companies live up to their obligations to their policyholders.  Tim also serves on the national board of the American Constitution Society and he chairs the Fair and Impartial Courts Committee of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Section of the American Bar Association.

Tim and his wife Pam, have chosen Middleton to raise their family.  Married for over 20 years, they have three children.


Burns campaign: Tim Burns announces candidacy for the Wisconsin Supreme Court


Amanda L. Brink
[email protected]

Madison, WI – on Monday, May 1st, 2017, Madison attorney Tim Burns announced his candidacy for Wisconsin Supreme Court, almost one year out from the 2018 election when Justice Gableman’s term is set to expire.

This announcement comes just two weeks after Justice Gableman and four other justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused a proposal requiring judges to recuse themselves from cases involving their big campaign donors. The Court’s decision violates citizens’ rights to a fair and impartial court.

The following is a statement from Tim Burns:

I’m running for Supreme Court because I believe in our democracy. I believe our country works best when everyone has a voice in governing, not just special interests and wealthy donors. I believe in democracy because it affirms the dignity and value of each person, no matter how wealthy or how poor, no matter their education, no matter their race, no matter their creed. I also believe that the strength of our economy is inextricably tied to the strength of our democracy. When our democracy is strong, our economy is strong.

When I was young our courts were the great equalizer. They made sure that everybody got a fair shot. Now our courts have become the tools of special interests and their efforts to obtain opportunities for themselves. Those special interests are now getting a free ride, and they are weakening our democracy to make sure their free ride continues. That has to stop.

Buzz Davis: Humans have done too much killing


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

We approach Memorial Day honoring the ultimate sacrifices made by 1.4 million American military men and women who died in America’s wars since 1775. We must discuss the horrific impact of war on surviving soldiers and civilians. For only they can teach us working for peace is a better option than fighting wars.

Each death in war brings everlasting tragedy to a family.

Each death damages the hope of loved ones.

Humans are brutal. We have many wonderful traits. But we must admit to a brutal streak. And we must hope that we do not exhibit that trait ourselves and are not forced into situations where we too become brutal.

Historians view history as a long string of wars. The most destructive war thus far was World War II. Between 45 million and 85 million men, women and children perished in combat, destruction and resulting disease and famine.

Historians estimate 400 million to 670 million soldiers and civilians died in the largest 35 wars. Wars always kill far more civilians than soldiers.

This drawing and caption of children at the graveside of a Civil War relative killed at Gettysburg depicts our basic problem.

Because a relative served in a long ago war, many children especially boys are socialized into thinking being a soldier is the good thing to do.

Society (families, media, schools, movies, religions) encourage this, many times glorifying war. Recruiters prey on these emotions.

As a future infantry officer, I spent a year of my life being taught how to kill people (fortunately I was sent to S. Korea rather than S. Vietnam in 1969).

The military does an excellent job of training men and women to kill. But our generals have no idea of how to train/educate people to “unkill.” Many of our 22 million veterans who were in combat and had to participate in, or were near, the killing, deaths and maimings have memories and emotions they try to control all their lives. Most don’t discuss these memories at all or very much with family and friends. Such discussions are extremely difficult to have.

The veterans’ silence results in enabling power hungry politicians and greedy business persons to use the military industrial complex to push war as the “solution” to problems/challenges nations face.

The result of silence is that millions of veterans are not teaching their children, friends and community that war is not the answer. Killing does not solve problems. It just makes problems more difficult to resolve. You can’t kill a religious idea or political idea with a bullet.

The military teaches team work and being in the military and combat encourages camaraderie. But each vet is on his/her own when it comes to controlling or squashing the bad memories and thoughts.

America spends over $600 billion per year on wars, weapons and designing more weapons. We spend only $50 billion on the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.

Nine nations have 15,000 nuclear weapons. Scientists say if just 1% of those weapons are exploded in a nuclear war, tens of millions would die in the first hour. Millions would die later from the radiation effects and fire storms. Firestorms, sweeping large areas creating dark dust clouds, would cause an extended winter of possibly 10 years with drastically shortened food growing cycles. Two billion would be threatened with famine. Life on earth, as we know it, would be gone.

For decades we have had politicians creating more wars instead of creating a more peaceful world via diplomacy, cooperation, helping other nations improve safe water supplies, educational systems, infrastructure, health, food production and strengthening the United Nations to help improve the lives of peoples across this world.

Small steps for America are: Veterans, especially combat veterans, need to discuss with their families some of what they did in “their” war. Or skip their personal experiences, if they cannot talk about it, and talk about the horrendous cost in lost lives. Vets can write letters to the editor of their local papers saying War Is Not the Answer and tell the readers what needs to be done.

Today our nation is controlled by Republican war mongers and meek Democratic followers. We must all think ahead to November 2018. We will have an opportunity to vote out of office those who foolishly advocate war. But right now we must talk about why we must fight harder for Peace than we do for War!

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

Canadian general consul comes to Madison, emphasizes importance of trade


John Cruickshank, Canada’s general consul in the upper midwest, made a trip this week from Chicago to Madison to emphasize the importance of trade between Wisconsin and its biggest trading partner to the north.

“Having that relationship makes us better in Canada; I think it makes lives better in Wisconsin,” he told WisBusiness.com. “So it’s something that’s valuable, that’s historic, and something that should not be just preserved, but we want to encourage more investment on both sides of the border.”

His visit, which included a “very positive, really constructive” face-to-face with Gov. Scott Walker, comes at a time when rocky trade relations between the two countries have driven some U.S. politicians to criticize Canada.

A recent change in Canadian pricing policy that left dozens of Wisconsin farmers temporarily without buyers for their filtered skim-milk product drew the attention of President Donald Trump in April.

See more at WisBusiness.com

Cancer drug being repurposed to treat Fragile X Syndrome


Researchers at UW-Madison are trying to repurpose an antitumor drug to treat a common intellectual disability known as Fragile X Syndrome.

And Professor Xinyu Zhao, a professor of neuroscience at UW-Madison who’s heading up this research, says initial tests in rodents show promise for this experimental treatment option.

“This could be a new way to treat, at least, cognitive function in Fragile X patients — at least worth exploring,” Zhao said.

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation is seeking commercial licensing partners for the patent, which covers the use of Nutlin-3, a candidate antitumor drug, to treat Fragile X Syndrome.

See more at WisBusiness.com

Catholics for Choice: Catastrophic, Callous and Cruel— GOP Bill Guts Social Justice

Media Contact:
Cynthia Romero
+1 202 986 6093
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass a GOP bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act that guts coverage for millions of Americans, defunds Planned Parenthood and reverses Medicaid expansion. Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice issued the following statement:

“As Catholics who live by social justice we are compelled to speak out— this bill is cruel and unjust to millions of Americans, especially the poorest and most marginalized. This legislation will have catastrophic consequences on communities across America, including the very communities that hoped President Trump would bring a positive difference in their lives. That’s just wrong.

President Trump simply does not care about stripping the most poor and most vulnerable of just and compassionate care. This is a betrayal of the very America he claimed to put first in exchange for cheap political paybacks to ultraconservative special interests.

This terrible investment could mean lives lost and resources squandered. By pulling the plug on the most vulnerable, it will drive up unplanned pregnancies, sexual disease and ill health in our poorest communities. Defunding Planned Parenthood in particular will single out women who have fewer resources and limit their ability to make their own conscience driven decisions about their health and their bodies.

There is no justice if the Senate signs off on this wickedness.”

Read this press release on the Catholics for Choice website.


Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.

Catholics for Choice: Warning- US foreign assistance can kill you


Cynthia Romero
(202) 986-6093

Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice issued the following statement in response to the Trump administration’s directive to US agencies significantly expanding the Global Gag Rule on foreign assistance.

“With this action, President Trump continues to provide political payback to antiabortion groups. This action will shut out qualified, experienced aid groups which refuse to toe this administration’s ideological line against women’s rights. The dramatic expansion to the scope of this draconian policy will further erode, undermine and destroy the quality of US taxpayer funded aid. The Trump administration’s action turns US foreign assistance into a slush fund for ultra-conservative culture warriors bent on exporting their anti-women’s rights agenda to parts of the world where the health and welfare of the world’s poorest women are most in jeopardy.

The Trump Global Gag Rule will severely impact the Global South and other areas where not having access to condoms, contraception and safe abortion can kill, destroying families and devastating communities. The business interests of religious groups like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Saddleback Church have just been privileged by the president to better gorge themselves on taxpayer funded aid while ignoring the sexual and reproductive health needs of the most vulnerable, such as those seeking prevention and treatment for HIV/AIDS or Zika and survivors of sex trafficking.

For those Americans who voted for Trump in the hope that he represented positive change, we have, in this decision, absolute proof that truth, reason, science, compassion and social justice can all be sacrificed on the altar of political payback to social and religious conservatives. This decision will cost lives and the recklessness of it beggars belief. With a dangerous policy like this attached, US foreign aid should come with a warning label.”

Child labor permits bill passes Senate, heads to guv’s desk

A bill that would eliminate the requirement that minors aged 16 or 17 obtain a child work permit passed the Senate today on a 20-12 party-line vote, sending it to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

But Dems protested the bill would have negative effects on students and prioritizes labor and industries over children.

Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, said the legislation “takes advantage of our most vulnerable, especially our poor and low income kids” and will lead to increased truancy among high school students.

And Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said “the idea of prioritizing cheap labor over positive outcomes for at-risk youth is troubling for me.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Janet Bewley said the bill would inhibit a parent’s ability to be involved in his or her child’s life.

“What we are doing is we are quietly and softly loosening those abilities that we have to get our arms around children and protect them,” said Bewley, D-Ashland.

Dems also proposed a series of amendments to the bill, all of which were shot down on party-line votes.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, was absent from the chamber today.

Children’s Leadership Council: Children’s advocacy groups blast Trump’s budget via press call


Contact: Brad Woodhouse
[email protected]

Washington, DC –
On a national press conference call today, the Children’s Leadership Council (CLC) and children’s advocacy groups slammed the President’s budget as a disservice to the American people which turns its back on our nation’s most important resource, our children.  On the call, children’s advocates said the Trump budget represents the same misguided priorities we’ve seen too often in the past: very large tax cuts that primarily benefit those who need them the least and cuts to critical domestic priorities, including those vital to the health and welfare of our children.

“Our children are our future and rather than cuts, our nation needs to make new and sustained investments in programs that support the health, education and nutrition of our children,” said Randi Carmen Schmidt, Executive Director, Children’s Leadership Council.  “But this budget does the opposite.  Among other things, it slashes food and nutrition assistance for children, guts Medicaid, cuts the Children’s Health Insurance program and makes deep cuts to education programs.  But while all this austerity is being applied to programs which are critical to preparing our children for school, work and life, the President’s budget includes hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for people who need them the least.  These budget choices are backwards, a disservice to our nation’s children and families, and will be strenuously opposed by the CLC and children’s advocates nationwide.”

Others on the call echoed Schmidt’s concerns about a budget which amounts to a cruel form of Robin Hood in reverse:

Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP):

“The deep and broad cuts in President Trump’s proposed budget are devastating to children, youth, and families, destabilizing their lives and throwing many backward into poverty. These disinvestments are also truly short-sighted, as they take direct aim at children’s healthy and successful development and therefore our nation’s future – whether by cutting nutrition and health supports that improve children’s education and earnings in later life, eliminating after-school child care programs that help parents work and stabilize their families, or shrinking federal supports that help low-income young people complete postsecondary education and move up on the job.”

Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF):

“The impact of the President’s budget on Wisconsin children will be severe because our state, like most others, will not be able to close the gap in federal funding.  As Wisconsin’s policy makers try to fill in the holes created by President Trump’s budget, they will cut programs that help children, families, and communities thrive. Moreover, the cuts in the President’s proposal will be felt most by families in rural areas, small towns, and within communities of color—people who are working hard to make a living and give their children the best life possible, but who need access to good schools and quality health care. The President’s budget will punish hard-working families in our state and make it harder for them to achieve the American Dream.”

Shanequa Levin, Every Child Matters, New York State Director:

“As a children’s advocate – and from my personal experience – I know first-hand how government assistance can help break negative generational cycles and improve the lives of children and families. Let’s not cut kids programs so the wealthy can have huge tax cuts. The cuts to kids in this budget won’t heal.”

Kofi Essel, M.D. Children’s National Health System

“Our children deserve better.  When our parents and caregivers suffer our children suffer.  They come to my clinic and gracefully share with me their uncertainty of where they will sleep overnight.  They take me in the corner and whisper to me trying to protect their children at all costs. Without the resources we have been able to provide to counteract the social determinants of health we are turning our backs on a great need.”

For more information, visit the Children’s Leadership Council at childrensleadershipcouncil.org and follow the conversation on Trump’s terrible budget on twitter using the hashtag #CutsHurtKids.


The Children’s Leadership Council is a coalition of leading policy and advocacy organizations that are working every day to improve the health, education and well-being of babies, children and youth in order to prepare them for school, work, and life.

To reach those who participated in today’s call:

Olivia Golden thru Tom Salyers, Communications Director, Center for Law and Social Policy: [email protected], (202) 906-8000.

Ken Taylor thru Wenona Wolf, Communications and Fund Development Manager, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families:[email protected], (608) 284-0580, x-304.

Questions for Randi Carmen Schmidt, Shanequa Levin and Kofi Essel can be sent to Brad Woodhouse at [email protected].

Chiropractic groups at odds over measure to allow advice on OTC drugs

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Circus World: Thank you Wisconsin! State supports Circus World – Wisconsin’s National Treasure

Dave Saloutos Circus World Museum E-Mail: [email protected]org
Baraboo, Wis. – From the birthplace of the Ringling Brothers; Circus World whole-heartedly applauds Governor Walker and the Joint Finance Committee with their announcement of support for the 64-acre state-owned site and world-class collections.
As Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ceases their touring operations, it is vitally important to preserve that legacy, and Wisconsin’s leading role in the heritage of the circus. Circus World is intimately tied to the Ringling Brothers story as the birthplace of the colossal touring operation, which brought joy and wonder to people across the country. Circus World is the world’s leading repository of those stories, and exists to collect, preserve, and interpret materials and artifacts relating to all circuses.
Circus World has been a proud member of the Wisconsin Historical Society family since its inception and is owned by the State of Wisconsin. The original Ringling structures in Baraboo are state treasures that have also achieved National Historic Landmark status.  They are the foundation of Circus World, and speak clearly to Baraboo’s continuing identity with the story of the American circus.
Additionally, Circus World maintains and operates the largest and finest library and research center in the world dedicated to preserving the colorful and vibrant stories of the circus.
“I am pleased that the Joint Committee on Finance has supported unanimously the Governor’s desire to provide state funding for the Circus World Museum.  State funds will help to address budget challenges at the facility and protect this important part of Wisconsin’s history,” according to Ellsworth Brown, The Ruth and Hartley Director of the Wisconsin Historical Society.  “The Society is committed to working closely with the Circus World Museum Foundation (CWMF) to ensure a successful transition in our unique state-local partnership.  The CWMF will continue to play an essential role in supporting this vital part of the Baraboo community.”
The State allocation approved by Governor Walker will support the management and preservation of the State’s exceptionally priceless collections including over 10,000 pieces of original and lithographic art, over 200 wooden circus wagons, more than 300,000 photographs, and an astounding array of irreplaceable artifacts valued at over 75 million dollars.
“I and the residents of Baraboo along with circus fans and historical advocates everywhere would like to thank Governor Walker, the Senate, the Assembly and the State Historical Society for their support and work to help find a sustainable future for Circus World.  We very much appreciate this non-partisan determination to protect this national treasure” stated Baraboo Mayor Mike Palm.
The Baraboo site celebrates the families of artists and countless others who for generations have dedicated themselves to bringing dreams to life. They continue to savor the taste of cotton candy, the laughter of clowns, and the daring achievements of acrobats flying in air. America needs Circus World more than ever and so, with the encouragement and support of Governor Walker and the elected State officials, Circus World has a brighter future going forward!
For additional information about Circus World, visit:  www.circusworldbaraboo.org
For press information and interviews contact: [email protected]org

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger: Efforts lead to better testing at Badger


Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is requiring the Army to analyze drinking water and groundwater at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant for contaminants resulting from the breakdown of explosives in the environment.

Toxicologists with the Department of Health Services recently issued Health Advisory Levels (HALs) that are the first federal or state drinking water guidelines in the U.S. for four (4) currently unregulated breakdown products of the explosive DNT.

The new HALs, requested by CSWAB in a formal petition in 2015, may now be used by state regulators as remediation goals for the protection of groundwater and drinking water resources.

“This sampling will help us determine whether these compounds are present and, if so, this effort will also help us evaluate the environmental fate and extent of the breakdown products in groundwater,” the WDNR May 23 letter says.

Of the four new HALs, the lowest is for 2,4-Diaminotoluene at 0.01 parts per billion (ppb) based on cancer risk. By comparison, Wisconsin’s drinking water standard for DNT is five times higher at 0.05 ppb, indicating that the degradation product (2,4-Diaminotoluene) is more toxic than the original parent compound (DNT).

The WDNR letter directs the Army to analyze between 20 to 30 water samples, from supply wells and monitoring wells, for the DNT breakdown products with new HALs.

“We expect (the Army) to collect samples from… areas where active degradation of DNT took place,…private wells where DNT has been detected in the past few years, private wells that are down-gradient from where DNT has been detected…(and) other monitoring wells where DNT has been detected in the past few years,” the WDNR wrote.

“We are very pleased with the prompt response by the WDNR,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB.  “While the number of proposed samples is small given the size of the affected areas, it is big step in the right direction.”

The WDNR has asked the Army to submit a plan for the additional sampling within 30 days.

City of Madison: Madison and Middleton select winning offer for solar program; Madison recognized with “SolSmart Gold” Award at National Planning Conference


Contact: Katie Crawley, Mayor’s office
[email protected]
Katherine Klausing, RENEW Wisconsin, 614-406-1105
[email protected]

May 9, 2017 – Madison. The Cities of Madison and Middleton have selected the winning offer from contractors who competed to serve the MadiSUN Solar Group Buy program, which helps residents easily and affordably invest in solar electric systems on their homes. The cities have selected a collaborative bid from Full Spectrum Solar and Midwest Solar Power, two solar installation companies based in Madison.

The MadiSUN Solar Group Buy program allows Madison and Middleton residents to “go solar” together.  MadiSUN used a competitive Request for Proposals process to seek offers from solar companies across the region, and dozens of companies were invited to bid. For the first time, the program selected a collaborative bid from two companies, who will offer the same price and services.

Katherine Klausing, MadiSUN Program Manager, said “we were really pleased with the competitive offers we received.” The program evaluated bids based on pricing, work quality, customer service and the company’s qualifications.  “This is going to be a great deal for families who are interested in going solar this year. Our participants say that they feel better knowing there’s a trusted company that has been vetted by our program. By going with the group buy and benefitting from the low price we negotiate, families can save an extra 10 percent compared to what they would pay to go solar alone.”

Alarik Rosenlund, Co-Owner of Midwest Solar Power, says his company is happy to partner with the program to bring more solar energy to local residents. “This year may be a real sweet spot for anyone looking at installing solar, especially with the tax credits and rebates available,” Rosenlund said. But it’s not just about the economics. “This is a great way for people to take action on something really important.”

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.

New solar education events were also announced, 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 and enclosed below.

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. The announcement took place at on Monday at the National Planning Conference in New York City.

“Madison’s commitment to continued utilization of solar energy is genuine,” said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin in a statement.  “We have our Green Power Program in which we train new workers to install solar, our goal of producing one Megawatt of Solar by 2020 and incredible partnerships like SolSmart and others.  We are on our way!”

As a SolSmart Gold designee, Madison received national recognition for adopting programs and practices that make it faster, easier, and cheaper to go solar. A SolSmart designation is a signal that the community is “open for solar business,” helping to attract solar industry investment and generate economic development and local jobs. Madison recently became the first community in Wisconsin to commit to a goal of 100 percent renewable energy.

About SolSmart

SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. Learn more at SolSmart.org.

About MadiSUN Solar Group Buy

MadiSUN works to expand solar energy adoption through a comprehensive, community-wide approach. This group purchase program is operated by RENEW Wisconsin Inc., a nonprofit organization, on behalf of the City of Madison, with support from the City of Middleton. The goal of the program is to increase solar education and adoption in the Madison and Middleton areas through a group purchase and competitive bidding process. In conjunction with this program, RENEW Wisconsin and the City of Madison will partner with Summit Credit Union to provide a special solar loan program for Madison residents. This summer, participants can learn more and sign up at madisunsolar.com.

Solar Information Sessions

All events are free and open to the public. Participants should RSVP to [email protected].
The dates, times, and locations information sessions are available at www.madisunsolar.com/upcoming-events

  1. Madison College, Truax Campus
    Tuesday May 16that 6pm
    Protective Services Building, Room 215,
    1701 Wright St, Madison
  1. Goodman Community Center
    Tuesday June 6that 6pm
    Merrill Lynch Room, 149 Waubesa St, Madison
  1. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
    Tuesday June 13th at 7pm
    Peterson Hall, 5701 Raymond Rd, Madison
  1. Middleton Public Library
    Wednesday June 28that 6:30 p.m.
    7425 Hubbard Ave, Middleton
  1. Catholic Multicultural Center
    Thursday July 6that 7pm
    1862 Beld St, Madison
  1. Capital Brewery & Bier Garten
    Monday July 17that 5:30pm
    7734 Terrace Ave, Middleton
  1. First Unitarian Society
    Sunday July 30th at 12:30 p.m.
    900 University Bay Dr, Madison

City of Milwaukee: City, county public safety agreement wins approval


Contact: Jonathan Fera, 414.286.5579
[email protected]e.gov

Mayor Barrett, County Executive Abele announce partnership to improve public safety

MILWAUKEE – Under a new partnership adopted by Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele, the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) and Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will take an incremental step as part of an ongoing collaboration in improving public safety throughout local communities.

This effort aims to reduce juvenile recidivism and improve outcomes for youth offenders through increased monitoring of high-risk individuals and stricter compliance with court imposed restrictions.

The Milwaukee Common Council passed the resolution approving this partnership in April.

“We are working collaboratively to reduce juvenile crime,” Mayor Barrett said. “Juveniles need to know there will be real consequences. This exchange of real time information will work to keep young people out of trouble and foster safer neighborhoods.”

The Milwaukee County Delinquency and Court Services Division (DCSD), through DHHS, currently tracks juvenile’s locations and events by maintaining GPS data on the individuals who wear electronic monitoring devices. This practice encourages compliance with the terms of a juvenile’s supervision.

“For years, Milwaukee County has been implementing comprehensive, data-driven reforms that are all about getting smarter on crime,” County Executive Abele said. “This partnership with the City is another example of how we can improve outcomes for youths and make our community safer at the same time.”

MPD will have access to DCSD GPS data via an Internet-based tracking application when a monitored youth offender enters a prohibited location and when a juvenile is implicated in a crime. At this time, DCSD will provide real time access to their GPS service to assist MPD with the apprehension of the youth.

“Repeat juvenile offenders committing auto thefts, robberies and carjacking need services, sanctions, and supervision. Having these may help to stop a dangerous pattern of behavior and affect a real change in their activities,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said. “MPD’s access to GPS monitoring once a juvenile offender violates their terms of supervision is an important tool to hold them accountable and protect the community.”

A key part of this is the exchange of information. DCSD will be notified of any juvenile under their supervision being arrested or investigated by MPD. Parents or legal guardians will be notified when their children have been designated as a high risk offender and that MPD will have access to their GPS information.

This data sharing effort will provide law enforcement officers in Milwaukee County timely information regarding youth under court ordered supervision and, in turn, DCSD with information on the type of interaction between law enforcement and monitored juveniles.

Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said the collaboration between the City and County is critical if positive progress is to be made in protecting the public and in getting the young offenders the “justice and the help they deserve.”

“As a community, we need a holistic and all-hands-on-deck approach to address these few but very troubled young people who will be the focus (of the MOU),” President Hamilton said. “This is an important collaborative effort, and I am looking forward to seeing the results and benefits to the community.”

Milwaukee Police Officers will receive training by DCSD staff or GPS vendor representatives on proper usage of this technology. In addition, cross training between identified staff for each respective agency will be conducted in order to gain an understanding of the mission, vision and daily operations of MPD and DCSD.

Both the City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County, through their law enforcement and criminal rehabilitative efforts, have a mutual interest in the administration of criminal justice to create safer neighborhoods throughout the region.


City of Racine: Colonial Park ravine and wetland restoration is underway


Gretchen Herrmann
(262) 497-7339
[email protected]

Root-Pike Watershed Initiative Network, in collaboration with the City of Racine, WeedOut! Racine and the Fund for Lake Michigan, has begun a project to increase water quality, plant diversity and spawning habitat.

The Problems Addressed
Root-Pike WIN Executive Director, Dave Giordano, outlined the issues the restoration project is looking to address: “This ravine has been overlooked as a potential opportunity for water quality improvement until Matt Koepnick with the City of Racine brought it to our attention. It has a major impact on the park’s floodplain forest, and with improvements, this could be Northern Pike spawning ground (and other species perhaps). The ravine is very difficult to get to as the area is heavily wooded with both native and non-native vegetation. There are several problems that this project will address: Invasive plants are among the most critical as identified in the SEWRPC’s Root River Nine Element Watershed Restoration Plan. This area has been overrun with buckthorn, reed canary grass and garlic mustard. The plan calls for the removal of invasive species throughout the park and the ravine restoration implementation will include replanting and regrading the ravine to better accommodate erosive flood events. This juncture of structure and vegetation – working hand-in- hand – is where there is as strong possibility to engage other coalition partners in the value of Colonial Park. These partners include WeedOut! Racine, the Root River Council, and UW-Parkside and Carthage College monitoring and volunteer workday groups, etc.

According to Giordano, another issue is that of nutrient loading, which can over-stimulate algae growth. Algae consume large amounts of dissolved oxygen, which has the potential to suffocate fish and other marine organisms, while also blocking available sunlight to bottom dwellers. This is an issue throughout our Lake Michigan tributaries.

Another problem addressed by the Colonial Park restoration project is the accumulation of sediment from a small eroding tributary stream that runs through a steep ravine and enters the Root River at Colonial Park. Downstream of the recent Valley View Drive crossing and culvert upgrade, the stream exhibits evidence of channel evolution. The bed elevation is lowered by routine water action intensified by the slope of the banks, the stream becomes incised and disconnected from its floodplain, further increasing the erosive energy on the stream banks. This causes the banks to erode and the channel to widen. Deposition of a portion of this eroded material in downstream reaches decreases the stream capacity, so the stream spills out of its bank more frequently, resulting in dispersed flow in some locations. Left unchecked, this channel evolution process would continue until the final slope of the stream channel is flat enough that energy in the flowing water is not sufficient to transport the native stream bed material. This process would continue to result in significant export of sediment and nutrients from the ravine. Adding to the situation is human activity impact in the form of increased impervious pavement runoff and over-fertilization.

A portion of the eroded sediment is being deposited in a wetland within the Root River floodplain in Colonial Park and a portion is being carried to the Root River. Deposition of sediment within the wetland limits several ecological functions, including potential use as habitat for fish that spawn in wetlands, such as northern pike. Discharge of sediment and associated nutrients into the Root River contributes to threats to the health of the river and Lake Michigan.

Project Goals and Activities
Root Pike WIN and its partners propose stabilizing this ravine to minimize future export of large quantities of sediment and nutrients. Since the project is located within a park, the project also provides a valuable opportunity for public engagement and education regarding stream and lake health and threats. Colonial Park is an oasis and a rare natural experience surrounded by dense urban development.

Expected Outcomes and Impact on Lake Michigan Water Quality
There are three outcomes of this project – physical repair and biological reestablishment, and water quality. To ensure success in all three areas, work has to progress in a specific order. Giordano explains: “The biological restitution and water quality measures are dependent upon the repairs to the physical environment. So, if the invasive species were removed first and replanted with native species along the ravine slopes without first improving the hydraulics of the ravine’s flow, the biological measures would fail and water quality would decrease again as time goes by. Given that the Horlick dam currently precludes passage of such fish, there are limited opportunities for Lake Michigan fish to utilize the Root River for spawning. Therefore, improving conditions downstream of the dam is an unique opportunity we want to seize. With the help of Inter-fluve and WeedOut! Racine, we will also improve the current plant diversity in the project area as a way to enhance the overall ecosystem.”

Root-Pike WIN is working cooperatively with the City of Racine’s Parks and Recreation Department. Tom Molbeck, Director of the Parks and Recreation department is pleased to be collaborating with mission-drive groups, “Discussion took place on the overall vision for the park, and this project, and our spirit of teamwork, have sparked improvement ideas and we’re working together to sequence the effort and effectiveness to meet a variety of stakeholder needs.”

“There is also another opportunity to engage groups that are concerned with fish habitat and passage,” said Giordano. “In our site survey of the ravine, we noted some small forage fish farther up the ravine than expected. We also noted a few natural springs adding bubbling up before the ravine flattens out into the floodplain. These observations lead us to believe there is a strong potential for a more extensive and high-quality spawning area for Northern Pike perhaps. This realization could fuel more interest in funding the ravine headwaters and eventually the wetland floodplain. Should this all become a reality, the educational experiences within the park should be richer and more diverse… inspiring stuff!”

As the project progresses through design, we will look for opportunities to bring WeedOut! Racine and the Root River Council to advance planning and implementation ideas. Melissa Warner, Jim Chambers and Monte Osterman have already expressed interest in getting involved through Root-Pike WIN initiated conversations. We welcome other groups to participate in the restoration efforts of the park as there is much to do. Colonial Park represents a rare opportunity for residents to enjoy a part of the City of Racine that is still in a naturalized state. We aim to make it the best, ecologically diverse experience for outdoor enthusiasts from students and seniors to fisherman and flower-lovers.

Clarke says he’s headed to DHS, Walker to pick replacement

Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who announced in a radio interview today he’s leaving his post to join the Trump administration, said he has several people in mind to replace him.

A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman did not confirm Clarke’s appointment.

Clarke told conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna while the ultimate decision on a replacement will be up to Gov. Scott Walker, he hopes to have input on the decision because he’s the one who won his latest four-year term, which ends in early 2019.

“Ultimately, the decision will be his,” said Clarke, who’s going to the Department of Homeland Security. “But at the same time, it is for the remainder of my term. I don’t own this office. But I own these next 18 months.”

A Walker spokesman said the process to replace Clarke will not begin until a resignation letter has been received, and one was not yet in as of this afternoon.

Clarke has been under fire in recent months for problems at the county jail as well as his frequent absences as he has become a national media figure. He has openly said for months he would serve in the Trump administration if asked.

A DHS spokeswoman wrote in an email the position is a secretarial appointment.

“Such senior positions are announced by the Department when made official by the Secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made,” the spokeswoman wrote.

Reports first surfaced in late April that Clarke was under consideration to be assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Partnership and Engagement. In the post, which does not require Senate confirmation, he will oversee outreach to state, local and tribal law enforcement.

Clarke toldi McKenna his focus will be on serving as a liaison between the federal agency and local law enforcement officials, which he said often feel the government is dictating to them.

Clarke said he wants to ensure communicating is a two-way street between them and will keep Secretary John Kelly apprised of what’s going on with local law enforcement.

“That’s my biggest role to keep him informed of what’s going on at ground level,” Clarke said.

Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele, who has frequently clashed with Clarke, slammed the appointment. Still, he added it means an opportunity to work with someone who actually cares about addressing racial disparities in Milwaukee.

“For the country I love, the last thing America needs is another loud voice angrily and unproductively telling you who to blame and who not to trust,” Abele said.

Earnell Lucas, who helps run security for Major League Baseball and had already announced plans to challenge Clarke in 2018, said he will apply for the gubernatorial appointment to fill out the term and still intends to run next year for a full term.

Clarke says he’s leaving post to take Trump DHS job

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Clean Wisconsin: High-capacity well bill’s passage ensures ongoing groundwater conflicts

Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, (608) 347-6026 or [email protected]

John Adams, (608) 239-7553 or [email protected]

Bill gives away public groundwater for private benefit

Madison, Wis. – On a 62-35 vote, lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation that ensures unsustainable pumping rates by existing high-capacity wells will continue unchecked and jeopardize water supplies and lock-in conflicts between major water users and property owners.

Feeling growing public opposition to Senate Bill 76, Assembly Republicans rushed to pass the measure, which strips the ability of DNR to review high capacity well permits that are being repaired, replaced, reconstructed or transferred regardless of impacts to nearby private wells or lakes, rivers streams and wetlands. In some areas of the state, most notably the Central Sands where the presence of high capacity wells has grown exponentially, and once waterfront properties are now mudfront properties.

“Legislators who voted to support this bill today sent a strong message that the public’s water can be given away for private benefit – regardless of the impacts to our natural resources,” said Clean Wisconsin’s Amber Meyer Smith, Director of Programs and Government Relations.

“This bill completely ignores what is really happening in some areas of our state that are already being impacted by unsustainable levels of groundwater pumping from high-capacity wells,” Smith added.

The courts have ruled the DNR must manage the waters of Wisconsin for the mutual benefit of all users in accordance with the state constitution.

Clean Wisconsin and the Pleasant Lake Management District are suing the DNR over the agency’s failure to act on its duty to protect nearby water bodies from the impacts of eight high-capacity wells in violation of its Constitutional obligation to protect the natural resources the citizens of Wisconsin entrusted it.

A recent Clean Wisconsin review of dozens of high-capacity well permits from around the state showed how Attorney General Brad Schimel’s flawed 2016 legal opinion created a massive water grab, allowing high-capacity well permit-holders to pump enormous quantities of water despite well-documented analyses from the agency’s own scientists about the likely impacts to natural resources and nearby private wells.

“To ignore the recently-revealed information that the state just gave away another 1 billion gallons of the public’s water is stunning,” Smith said. “We are calling on Gov. Scott Walker to veto this bill.”

Visit http://bit.ly/2oW0A5v to view a chart of the high capacity well permit modifications. 

Committee rejects motion to allow help for replacing water service lines containing lead

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Committee shoots down Walker plan to exempt journeyman plumbers, electricians from exam after apprenticeship

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Common Cause in Wisconsin: Calls for removal of restrictions on college student ID as voter ID


Sandra Miller, Director of Information Services & Outreach
[email protected]

This past November, Wisconsin experienced its first presidential election in which voters had to present a photo ID at the polls – a requirement put into place to address the nonexistent problem of “voter fraud.”

There is little doubt that Wisconsin’s extreme and restrictive voter photo ID law disenfranchised tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of eligible voters who did not have one of the few forms of ID acceptable for voting, such as a Wisconsin driver license or state ID card. Among those most negatively impacted by the requirement were seniors, the poor, citizens of color – and college students (primarily students from out of state).

A college student ID card is listed as an acceptable ID for voting; however, a student ID can only be used as a voter ID if it was issued by a Wisconsin-accredited institution and the ID includes a photo of the student; a signature; the date it was issued and the date it expires. Further, the student ID cannot expire more than two years after the date it was issued… but, the ID can be expired (thanks to a federal court ruling in late July 2016).

Unlike any other form of ID used for voting, a student ID requires additional documentation in order to be used as a voter ID: students must also bring (or show electronically) proof of current enrollment, such as a tuition statement.

Confused? Concerned? It gets worse…

The majority of student IDs issued by Wisconsin colleges and universities do not meet the criteria for use as a voter ID.

According to research conducted by CC/WI over the last year, the standard student ID at only three of the University of Wisconsin’s 13 four-year schools, at none of the UW System’s 13 two-year schools and at only seven of the state’s 23 private colleges can be used as a voter photo ID.

Separate “Voter ID cards” are available upon request at the 23 UW System schools, and at nine of the sixteen private colleges, whose standard student IDs cannot be used as a voter ID – but students must take action in order to get one of those college-issued voter ID cards.

Notice a pattern here? There’s more…

When other IDs are presented as voter ID, poll workers are instructed to only look for a voter’s name, photo and the ID’s expiration date (if one is required); conversely, when examining student IDs, poll workers must also check for the criteria listed above – including a signature. Note that some of the other acceptable IDs do not even include a signature (e.g., some Tribal ID cards) and those that have one, do not need the signature’s appearance on the ID verified when voting.

Bottom line – as a result of Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law – college students are treated differently, facing unnecessary barriers to voting. This deliberate disenfranchisement is wrong and must be addressed; we should be encouraging civic participation by young voters, not preventing it.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a federal court decision overturning North Carolina’s restrictive voter ID law – sending a strong message nationwide that such voter suppression measures are unacceptable.

CC/WI calls on our State Legislature to address the obvious, excessive burden Wisconsin’s voter photo ID law places on college and university students by removing the unnecessary restrictions placed on those who use a student ID as a voter ID.

Even college students in Alabama need only present a valid student ID to cast a ballot.

A voter photo ID is supposed to prove who you are. That’s it.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute: Serious Concerns Remain about BadgerCare Waiver Request

Media Contact: Mike Bare (920-242-1639; [email protected]) or Lisa Kaiser (414-270-2999; [email protected]) 

Milwaukee—Today, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is taking public testimony on its waiver application to make major changes to the state’s BadgerCare program. The Community Advocates Public Policy Institute welcomes this opportunity to share its opposition to the waiver.

The state seeks to add drug testing requirements, time limits on coverage, co-pays, and premium payments to a health care program intended for the most vulnerable Wisconsinites. Yet there is no evidence that these changes will improve health care access, reduce barriers to employment, or lessen drug use or abuse in the state. In addition, there’s no price tag attached to this complex and likely very expensive waiver.

The Public Policy Institute strongly opposed these BadgerCare changes when they were passed as part of the 2015-2017 biennial state budget without a separate public hearing on them. Two years later, we are still concerned about the implementation and impact of these changes, but we also welcome the opportunity to publicly comment on them and raise concerns that we hope will be considered by the state and federal governments.

“If the state’s goal is to make health care more affordable and accessible while reducing drug use, then this waiver should be denied,” said Mike Bare, research and program coordinator for the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute. “If approved, these changes will impose new burdens on Wisconsinites living near or below the poverty line, while increasing costs to taxpayers, health care providers, and those with health insurance. We shouldn’t put vulnerable Wisconsinites’ health at even greater risk.”

A copy of Mike Bare’s submitted comments on the waiver is attached to this email. Feel free to contact Bare for further comment at 920-242-1639 or[email protected].

Community Advocates established the Public Policy Institute in 2008 to work toward preventing and reducing poverty while improving the quality of life for individuals and families in Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin. The Public Policy Institute targets poverty by changing relevant public policies and laws; preventing its effects through public health efforts; and working to increase opportunity and wellness for low-income people by fostering factors related to success, resilience, and well-being. 

Competing version of campus speech bill would let schools set sanctions

The backers of two competing bills aimed at preventing the “heckler’s veto” on college campuses disagree on which version is stronger.

But liberal critics are slamming both versions as proposals that would create “safe spaces for racists.”

The bills aim to ensure controversial speakers can give speeches on college campuses without being disrupted by protesters. The debate comes a week after conservative commentator Ann Coulter cancelled an appearance at UC-Berkeley due to safety concerns.

Sen. Leah Vukmir’s office says the bill she laid out Wednesday includes more legislative oversight to ensure campuses are complying with state statutes. Vukmir, R-Brookfield, authored the bill with Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake.

But Rep. Jesse Kremer, R-Kewaskum, said it’s a “watered-down” version of the proposal he announced last week. Kremer’s co-authors are Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the two co-chairs of the Legislature’s higher ed committees: Rep. Dave Murphy and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf.

“It’s paying lip service to a problem we’re trying to fix,” Kremer said.

Among the differences between the bills is that Kremer’s applies to UW System campuses, while Vukmir’s applies to those campuses and the tech colleges.

The disciplinary process for students who violate others’ free speech rights also differs substantially.

Kremer’s bill would require the UW System to adopt a policy on freedom of expression and sanction students who violate that policy. Those who violate the policy twice would then be suspended or expelled. Kremer said that approach is a strong deterrent and “creates a behavioral change.”

Vukmir’s bill would allow colleges to decide how to discipline their students, instead of laying out mandatory suspensions and expulsions. It also would put into state statutes language prohibiting disruptive protests.

Jessica Ward, Vukmir’s chief of staff, said the bill would provide greater legislative oversight by requiring the UW System and the tech college system to draft rules outlining a “strict disciplinary system” for those who break the statutes, ensuring lawmakers review and approve those rules.

“If you’re not holding them accountable, by simply saying they should be putting in a policy as opposed to [adding a] statute, then you’re going to have a problem,” she said.

Vukmir’s bill also would require colleges to “make all reasonable resources available to ensure the safety” of invited speakers.

Kremer’s bill has other provisions not included in Vukmir’s proposal, such as creating a council that reports to the Legislature each year on freedom of expression and proposing that campuses explain the rules on the issue to students during freshman orientation.

The liberal One Wisconsin Now said Republicans “hit a new low” with Vukmir’s proposal.

The language, the group noted, says people can’t “threaten an invited speaker or threaten to organize protests or riots or to incite violence with the purpose to dissuade or intimidate an invited speaker from attending a campus event.”

OWN says that would mean students could be expelled for organizing a protest dissuading speakers from coming to campus. The group also raised concerns over a portion of the bill saying campus administrators “shall remain neutral on public policy controversies and may not take action that requires students, faculty or academic or university staff to express specified viewpoints.”

“Leah Vukmir is apparently trying to prove that she can take a bad idea and make it even worse,” OWN Executive Director Scot Ross said. “This scheme literally threatens students with expulsion from school for publicly declaring racism has no place on campuses and gags administrators from advocating for their schools.”

Ward said the bill wouldn’t prevent campus administrators from lobbying the Capitol on proposals that affect UW. She said Vukmir wants to ensure administration isn’t “pushing their personal beliefs onto faculty and students.”

UW officials said they’re reviewing the bills and agree that ensuring freedom of expression on college campuses is important.

UW System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the system is working with legislators on the proposal and thinks the Board of Regents “is the appropriate body to create any policy.”

UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said the current policies “have served well for many years in supporting First Amendment rights” and urged lawmakers to work with the regents on any concerns they may have.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Gannon, R-Slinger, said the issue would likely be solved if the UW System fires any administrators who aren’t committed to ensuring freedom of expression.

“When they walk a couple of employees out the door because they can’t keep a campus open for all, I bet the other campus administrators get the message,” Gannon said.

See Vukmir’s bill:

See Kremer’s bill:

Congressional Progressive Caucus: Rep. Mark Pocan elected new co-chair of Congressional Progressive Caucus

Press Contacts: 
David Kolovson (Pocan) 202-225-2906
Sayanna Molina (Grijalva) 202 225-2435
Brett Morrow (Ellison) 202-225-4755

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) was elected today by his colleagues as a Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).  He assumes the Co-Chair position vacated by Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-05), who is now the Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

“With the Trump Administration attacking both the values we hold dear and the programs which provide vital services to people across the country, it is my goal to help make the Congressional Progressive Caucus the voice of the resistance,” said Rep. Mark Pocan.  “All we need to do is take a look at the devastating cuts proposed in the budget President Trump released today to see the clear distinction between progressives and this Administration and Congress. I am proud to help lead the charge in Congress for progressive ideas that lay the foundation for our resistance in this era of Trump. The CPC will fight the fights against bad policies and offer positive alternatives which demonstrate progressives have a pulse on the will of the people and a plan forward.”

“As a lifelong progressive, I will continue to fight for the kitchen table issues we all care about and put forward pragmatic, progressive policies to combat Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s radical agenda,” continued Rep. Pocan. “House Republicans think they can get away with passing a health care bill that will cause 24 million Americans to lose coverage, but the CPC will work with outside groups to ensure people understand what Congress is doing. We know progressives have a winning message across the country and in America’s heartland. I hope to help the Congressional Progressive Congress make sure the voices of the American people are heard in the halls of Congress.”

“As an outgoing Co-Chair of the Caucus, I know the dedication and determination it takes to be a leader in the CPC,” Rep. Keith Ellison said. “Congressman Mark Pocan has these qualities in abundance. He has been an active member of the CPC during his two terms in Congress and has been an outstanding First Vice-Chair of the CPC.”

“It’s been a privilege serving the CPC and I look forward to working with Mark as Co-Chair to advance the caucus’ agenda of standing up for working people,” Rep. Ellison continued.

“I would like to give my sincere thanks to Congressman Ellison for his steadfast leadership and friendship these past several years as Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus,” CPC Co-Chair Rep. Raúl Grijalva said. “The energy, time and dedication he showed for the CPC has been instrumental in growing the progressive movement.  I know that I share the sentiment of the entire caucus when I say that Congressman Ellison will continue to be a principal and principled leader and voice for progressive values.”

“I would like to congratulate Congressman Pocan and welcome him as our new Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Congressman Pocan’s commitment and leadership is especially crucial during these times,” continued Rep. Grijalva. “I look forward to working with him to amplify the message and values of our Caucus and standing up for the millions of hard-working Americans we represent.”


The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.

Congressional Progressive Caucus: Unveils The People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance


Contact: [email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Progressive Caucus, led by Co-Chairs Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), and First Vice Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) along with other Members of the CPC, released the annual People’s Budget today. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance reinvests in American families, prioritizing funding for education, health care, jobs, clean air, and water. The People’s Budget puts political and economic power back in the hands of the people.

The Executive Summary of The People’s Budget: A Roadmap for the Resistance can be found here. The full text can be found here. A list of organizations supporting this year’s budget can be found here. The Economic Policy Institute released an analysis of The People’s Budget, which can be found here.

Members of the CPC including Rep. Pocan, Rep. Ellison, Rep. Grijalva, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. André Carson (D-IL), and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) made the following statements about the Fiscal Year 2018 The People’s Budget:

“It’s one thing to oppose President Trump and expose his broken promises to workers, but it’s also important to lay out a positive path forward,” said Rep. Pocan. “The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s budget is a plan to actually help working Americans who have felt left behind by an economy rigged against them. Our budget is a roadmap for the resistance, investing in the progressive priorities and economic, kitchen table issues that matter to real people: infrastructure to create jobs; education to help our kids reach their full potential; and access to affordable health care.”

“As the Trump Administration attempts to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Labor Department, and countless other essential services, the Progressive Caucus is providing an alternative vision – one that will help working families,” Rep. Ellison said. “The People’s Budget creates jobs by spending $2 trillion on infrastructure, makes debt free college a reality, ensures equal pay for equal work, expands Social Security, and fights to reverse climate change by investing in clean energy. It also helps millions of American families by funding universal childcare. Right now, full-time childcare for a 4-year-old is more expensive than in-state public college tuition in 23 states. With the People’s Budget, we will invest $1 trillion in high quality childcare and make sure childcare workers earn a living wage.

“When we invest in the American people, they have enough for retirement, can pay for their kids to go to college, and can own a home. That means our economy will grow and the next generation will be better off. That’s what the People’s Budget offers, and it’s what our country needs.”

“The People’s Budget is a commitment to our communities and the progressive values we fight for,” Rep. Grijalva said. “It’s a long overdue, smart and necessary investment in our infrastructure, our overcrowded and underfunded classrooms, and jobs practical for a 21st century economy. Unlike the Republican alternatives that prioritize corporations and the wealthy, the People’s Budget focuses on working families and lifting them up from socio-economic inequalities. It calls for tax reform so corporations can’t continue exploiting working people here and abroad. It signals a robust $2 trillion dollar response to upgrading our infrastructure to ensure our children have safe schools, clean air and water. And it ensures that working class Americans are provided with the opportunities and tools they need in order to get ahead. The People’s Budget is a stark contrast to the corporate-influenced Republican budgets that place profits over people.”

“The People’s Budget is a forward-looking blueprint for rebuilding our country, putting money back in the pockets of families, and reigning in our unchecked military spending,” Rep. Lee said. “For years, Republicans in Congress have given massive handouts to Wall Street executives and defense contractors, while working families struggle to pay the bills. The People’s Budget takes back the power from special interests and invests in good-paying jobs, long-overdue infrastructure improvements, education from pre-K to debt-free college, and pathways out of poverty. In stark contrast to President Trump’s cruel poverty budget, our progressive proposal is a plan for resistance and a roadmap to a safer, healthier and more prosperous America for all.”

“Budgets reflect priorities, and the contrast between the People’s Budget and President Trump’s priorities could not be clearer,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “While the President gives massive tax cuts to millionaires, billionaires and large corporations, our budget asks the wealthiest Americans and most profitable companies to contribute their fair share to invest in the future of middle-class families and those who aspire to be middle class.  While Trumpcare would rip coverage away from millions of people and increase out-of-pocket costs, our budget calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices and drive health care costs down. This is not just an alternative budget; it’s a roadmap for the resistance.”

“The budget released today by the Congressional Progressive Caucus would set the stage for broad-based economic growth by investing in working families, expanding access to affordable health care and good-paying jobs, and restoring fairness to our tax code,” Rep. Takano said. “While the president and his party focus on building a monument to ignorance along our Southern border, Democrats are focused on fixing crumbling bridges, repairing our roads, and building a modern broadband network that provides economic opportunity to Americans across the country.”

“The People’s Budget is a progressive vision for this country that emphasizes economic mobility, strengthens our communities, and reflects the values that make America great. I am proud to stand behind this document and I look forward to the day when it can be put into action.”

“I am proud to join my CPC colleagues to unveil the People’s Budget as a practical, progressive vision that better reflects the priorities of our nation and puts working families first,” Rep. Espaillat said. “Our budget plan takes steps to deny funding for the divisive border wall, and instead strengthens healthcare for all Americans by keeping health protections afforded by the ACA, implements comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, ensures funding for affordable housing, and guarantees educational opportunities for students by providing access to early education and educational attainment for all.”

“The People’s Budget is a true reflection of our values. I’m proud that our proposal prioritizes public investments in infrastructure, quality and affordable healthcare, abundant resources for our public schools, and protections for the environment – each of which will directly contribute to economic prosperity for all Americans in generations to come.”

“A budget is, above all, an ethical document.  The Trump budget would rip gaping holes in the fabric of social life in America while driving the militarism of the Bannon wing of the Trump White House,” Rep. Raskin said. “The Progressive Caucus budget is the answer to the moral chaos of the administration.  It reflects a serious commitment to the needs and priorities of the American people.”

“At a time when Republicans are working to give massive tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, the People’s Budget presents a viable path forward to improving the lives of everyday Americans,” Rep. Clarke said. “This comprehensive proposal would provide working families with quality education, affordable healthcare, humane immigration policies, and a sustainable defense strategy while making sure that the rich pay their fair share. I applaud my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus for creating such a well-thought-out proposal and look forward to working with them to advocate for its adoption in the 115thCongress.”

“In contrast, President Trump’s disgraceful budget and unworkable tax proposals are merely a handout to the wealthy at the expense of hardworking families and vulnerable communities,” Rep. Watson Coleman said. “Our nation cannot succumb to such dangerous and divisive ideals. As bad as it may be, the Trump budget did not develop in a vacuum; it ultimately reflects a failed and untenable conservative vision for the nation that has only succeeded in widening economic inequality, stagnating wages for American workers, and cutting social safety net programs. The refusal from this Administration and Republicans in Congress to stand up for the very people they swore to represent is a green light for what can only be characterized as attacks on what truly makes America great.”

“Americans deserve a budget that promotes their values- not a slash and burn approach to governing based on ideological extremism,” said Rep. Carson.The People’s Budget focuses on the needs of hardworking Americans, investing in infrastructure, targeting wage growth, guaranteeing civil rights, and supporting education to give every American family a fair shot. The People’s Budget is a good alternative that achieves these priorities for all Americans.”

“The priorities and policies expressed in The People’s Budget are values we can truly all be proud of,” Rep. Chu said. “More, they are policies that will bring real benefits to our whole country, not just those at the top. As opposed to Trump’s cruel budget which abandons Americans, our budget helps people succeed at every stage in their life, from pre-natal care to retirement. It also includes much needed comprehensive immigration reform which economics have said will raise wages and grow our economy. This isn’t just the morally right thing to do, it’s the economically right thing to do. I’m proud to be supporting this budget and thank Reps. Ellison, Grijalva, and Pocan for their work on it.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.

Constitution Party of Wisconsin: Statement on Concealed Carry Bill, AB 247


Contact: 608-561-7996

In a free nation, we secure the God-given Right of the citizen to use force to defend himself.  In a free nation, criminals are not only deterred by law-enforcement, but by “We The People.”  In a firefight, an armed citizen can defend himself immediately.  In spite of Gun Control Laws, street gangs have AK-47s, Mac-10’s, UZI’s, and some have machine guns, all of which they are not supposed to have.  You don’t have to like it, but you must know the truth and provide for it.  That means being armed.

Recently a Constitutional Carry Bill, AB 247 was introduced by State Senator Dave Craig (Big Bend) and State Representative Mary Felzkowski (Irma).  The bill is now in the Committee on State Affairs.  These legislators are to be commended for asserting that carrying firearms is a God-given Right, and not a state granted privilege.

Wisconsin has made some progress, in being the 49th State in the Union to issue Concealed Carry permits.  This State is a still a socialist stronghold, full of gun control types in the Democrat and Republican Parties.  The Democrats want the citizenry to be disarmed chattel and many Republicans want our Right to be reduced to a privilege, reserved for a privileged few.  Any infringement on the Right to be Armed is a form of Gun Control.

The time to pass Constitutional Carry is now, because we might not have another opportunity.  The State Committee of the Constitution Party of Wisconsin believes AB 247 will not be signed into law, with good reason.  Too often, Republican politicians campaign on patriotism, and when in office, govern like socialists.  The Constitution Party dares the State Legislature and the Governor to sign this Bill into law, and act like real Americans, while they have the votes to do it.

Constitution Party of Wisconsin
PO Box 070344
Milwaukee WI, 53207
constitutionpartyofwisconsin @ gmail.com

Council on American-Islamic Relations: Urges Trump administration not to appoint Wisc. Sheriff who supported ‘patrols’ in Muslim neighborhoods to DHS post


Robert McCaw
(202) 742-6448
[email protected]

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/1/2017– The Council on American-Islamic relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today urged the Trump administration not to appoint Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. to a post with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Sources say Clarke will be appointed as assistant secretary at the DHS’s Office of Partnership and Engagement, a position of that does not require Senate confirmation.

SEE: White House Considers Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke for Post in Homeland Security


Last year, Clarke supported then GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz’s call for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.” CAIR expressed concern that such a policy would lead to religious and ethnic profiling by officers and called the policy “unworkable, unconstitutional and counterproductive.”

SEE: CAIR Concerned That Milwaukee Sheriff’s Support for Ted Cruz’s Muslim ‘Patrols’ Will Lead to Profiling


Clarke also caused controversy with his claim that the Black Lives Matter movement would “join forces” with the terror group ISIS. He is facing protests today because he wants his officers to operate as federal immigration agents.

Trump Considers Sheriff Who Called Black Lives Matter ‘Terrorists’ for DHS Post


Controversial Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke Faces Protests Monday


“Given Sheriff Clarke’s history of extremist views, and his support for counterproductive and un-American policy proposals, it would be inappropriate to appoint him to any government position — let alone one involving public outreach,” said CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw

McCaw noted that Clarke would join many other infamous Islamophobes in, or recently removed from the Trump administration, including Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, and Stephen Miller. Many of the administration’s picks are themselves on record as making anti-Muslim statements or of working closely with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists.

CAIR Islamophobia Monitor: Islamophobia and the Trump Team


CAIR: Muslim Civil Rights Group Opposes Confirmation of Mark E. Green as Army Secretary http://www.cair.com/press-center/press-releases/14271-cair-muslim-civil-rights-group-opposes-confirmation-of-mark-e-green-as-army-secretary.html

CAIR’s national headquarters recently decried what it termed the Trump administration’s “deafening silence” on a growing number of anti-Muslim incidents nationwide since the November 8 election.

SEE: CAIR Decries Trump Administration’s ‘Deafening Silence’ on Series of Anti-Muslim Incidents Nationwide


County Exec Abele: County Exec Abele to seek court remedy on illegal action by the County Board


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

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Following an illegal action taken by the Milwaukee County Board, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele today announced that he would seek a remedy from the court that would halt the Board’s illegal action and prevent imminent harm to County employees.

As an example, the Board today heard the story of a public safety employee who works with victim witnesses in the District Attorney’s office who would have her salary cut by 23 percent because of their illegal action. They chose to ignore this testimony and opt for petty political games, sending a message to employees that their contributions don’t matter.

Last month, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John DiMotto ruled on a lawsuit filed by County Board Chairman Theo Lipscomb that the County Board exceeded its legal authority in trying to interfere on certain administrative functions, and specifically stated that the Board’s “meddling and second-guessing” on such administrative decisions is “impermissible.”

The Chairman’s lawsuit — the second one he filed after his initial filing was dismissed when the Court ruled decisively that Chairman Lipscomb did not have the authority to unilaterally file a lawsuit against the county executive on behalf of the County — has already cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Board also took action today to authorize an additional $50,000 in taxpayer-funded legal services for the Chairman’s lawsuit.

Despite concerns about this needless lawsuit, the county executive was willing to accept the Court’s decision that the Board has the authority to create pay ranges but the executive sets salaries for individual employees within one of the approved ranges. He has always believed that he and the County Board have much more on which they agree than disagree, and would prefer to devote time, energy, and taxpayer resources to solving problems, not creating them.

However, today’s illegal action by the Board directly conflicts with the Court’s decision and would cause imminent harm to County employees. In order to protect County employees and prevent further legal damage to the County, the county executive will seek an immediate stay from the Court to halt the Board’s illegal action and will also appeal the Court’s decision from last month.

County Executive Abele released the following statement:

“My top concern is that the County has a fair compensation system that allows us to attract and retain top talent. Our workforce and County residents deserve no less.

“It’s disappointing that Chairman Lipscomb won’t abide by the Court ruling he sought and instead is forcing the County to spend additional taxpayer money on this lawsuit.

“To be clear, the Board’s illegal action will not only harm individual County employees who have been targeted for pay cuts, it threatens the County’s ability to provide needed services in the community. I fear that the Board’s attack on County workers may result in public employees feeling so threatened and intimidated that we will see a mass exodus of talent.”


County Veterans Service Officers Association of Wisconsin: Applauds Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin Legislative Joint Finance Committee


Contact: 1-844-WIS-CVSO (947-2876)
[email protected]

Today, the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted to approve Governor Walker’s Department of Veterans Affairs budget, which included changes to the department’s grants to counties and tribes for improvement of services. The JFC approved returning the grant to a block grant and removed barriers to use the grant dollars. The County Veterans Service Officers Association of Wisconsin applauds the Joint Finance Committee for listening to the concerns the association had and addressing them within the state’s budget.

Changes to the grant during the 2015-2017 biennial budget made it a reimbursement program instead of a block grant and also included categories of eligible expenses. Two of the eligible expense categories were training and salary; however, training was strictly limited to training provided by state or federal VA and salary was limited to a certain percentage over the biennium and then discontinued. The requirements also made the grant process burdensome and prevented counties and tribes from maximizing the improvements sought by the grant itself.

The overall grant amount ranges are from $500 for a part-time County Veterans Service Officer, $8,000 to $13,000 for full-time officers depending on total county population, and $15,000 for Tribal Veterans Service Offices. These amounts remained unchanged; however, the restrictions left many counties unable to fully expend the grant.

JFC actions today restores the program to a block grant while retaining accountability on the use of the funds. The JFC also removed the eligible expense categories providing County Veterans Service Officers and Tribal Veterans Service Officers with the flexibilities necessary to use the funds appropriately to assist veterans.

If you have any questions for the CVSO Association of Wisconsin, feel free to reach out to our President, Joe Aulik, [email protected], 920-236-4898, our Legislative Chairman, Rock Larson, [email protected], 715-421-8420 or any member of our Executive Committee. All contact information can be found on our webpage at www.wicvso.org.

Courtney opens convention


This post is part of our coverage of the 2017 state GOP convention in Wisconsin Dells. See the rest of our coverage here.

State GOP Chair Brad Courtney has called this year’s convention to order, setting up a day of speeches.

Gov. Scott Walker will address the convention this morning in an earlier slot than he normally does so he can attend his son Alex’s graduation from UW-Madison.

Alex Walker also will address the convention this morning as Midwest regional vice chair of College Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, meanwhile, won’t be at the convention; he’s attending his son’s graduation from UW-Oshkosh. Neither will U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who was on a delegation to India this week.

Those who will address the convention include: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who’s chairing this year’s event; the GOP members of the congressional delegation; Assembly Speaker Robin Vos; Senate President Roger Roth; state Treasurer Matt Adamczyk; AG Brad Schimel; and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, and Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, are expected to address the convention via video.

Dane County Board pursuing clean energy financing


The Dane County Board is pursuing a financing model for clean energy projects.

PACE — or property assessed clean energy — is a program that lets certain property owners obtain long-term loans for projects relating to water conservation, energy efficiency and clean energy. Examples can include solar panel installation, high-efficiency heating and more.

Supervisor Patrick Miles of McFarland recently brought a PACE resolution to a meeting of the board. It will need to be reviewed by two committees before going to the board for final approval.

“PACE is an excellent example of the role government plays in making lasting, positive change,” said Miles. “PACE, at the same time, promotes economic development and creates jobs while improving the air we breathe and conserving valuable water resources in the county.”

Miles says a committee on environment, agriculture and natural resources will review the proposal Thursday, while a committee on personnel and finance will take a look June 5. He added he would be surprised if there is any opposition.

See more at WisBusiness.com 

Dane County Land and Water Resources Department: Launches aquatic plant harvesting survey


Pete Jopke
(608) 224-3733

The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department manages an Aquatic Plant Harvesting Program to cut and harvest Eurasian watermilfoil and other invasives from county waters.

From now through the end of August 2017, Dane County invites area residents to participate in an online survey to complement the county’s comprehensive assessment of aquatic plant communities and the harvesting program.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said, “Every five years Dane County assesses the health of our aquatic plant communities. We also review our management strategies for providing reasonable use of the lakes for boating, fishing and swimming, while preserving the health and balance of the lake ecosystem; and for maintaining flow in the Yahara River to prevent high water issues including flooding.

I invite county citizens to take a five-minute online survey at https://olw-lwrd.countyofdane.com/ to tell us what you think about aquatic plant management needs for area lakes and rivers.”

Public comments and the plant survey field work to be conducted during summer 2017 will provide valuable information for updating aquatic plant management plans for waters across the county where county staff operate mechanical harvesters.

Aquatic plant management plans provide an inventory of existing plants in a lake or stream, and describe how native plants will be protected for their role as the foundation of healthy ecosystems, while nuisance non-native species will be controlled and recreational access will be provided. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources requires these plans in order for them to permit aquatic plant harvesting programs under NR 109 Wis. Admin. Code.

DANEnet pushing for more connectivity, tech education


DANEnet, a nonprofit based in Madison, is bringing more web connectivity and tech education to Dane County.

“I’m hoping people will sort of understand digital equity as an important issue,” said Alyssa Kenney, executive director and accountant for DANEnet, which has been around since 1995. “Sometimes it gets forgotten when we think about housing, we think about food, we forget about asking about connectivity. And it’s critical; it connects to everything.”

Kenney spoke Wednesday at a Madison meeting of 1 Million Cups, an entrepreneurial group with chapters across the country. She pointed out that despite a high level of connectivity in Madison, there are also many who lack at-home access to the internet — 14,000 households in Dane County alone, she says.

And one in three U.S. adults report needing additional digital literacy skills, Kenney says.

“They might have a computer, they might have home connectivity, but they feel like they can’t quite use it; they don’t know what’s real, they don’t know what’s an ad, they don’t know what’s spam,” she said.

See more at WisBusiness.com

Darin Von Ruden: Time to take the bull by the horns


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

The recent experience of Wisconsin dairy farmers being dropped from their processors and left scrambling to find a new buyer for their milk should be a wake-up call. Dairy farmers, farm groups, and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection should all take a long look at what has happened and what it means for the future of dairy farming in our state.

The hard work of pulling together to speak up for these farmers and find a home for their milk has brought our industry together in important ways. But it has also left some larger issues and divisions unresolved. For some in the ‘Blame Canada Crowd,’ over-production is still seen as a temporary problem that will somehow solve itself. But for a growing number of farmers and processors, this experience has opened their eyes to the need for a long-term program that better meets demand without oversupply, reduces price volatility and pays farmers a fair price for their milk.

So how could we do this? The dairy farmers of Canada decided to change their pricing system because they recognized the repercussions an ever-expanding supply of milk would have on Canadian family farms. With the help of a milk marketing board, they decided to develop this new price structure that incentivizes use of their own Canadian milk to make the butter, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products. This is the action of Canadian dairy farmers for their mutual benefit.

Perhaps it is time that U.S. farmers started thinking proactively ourselves.

Last summer WFU sent out a survey to the dairy farmers in Wisconsin. Farmers overwhelmingly support some type of inventory management program, however not one run by the government. Last week Ag Secretary Ben Brancel said that supply management would be too slow to adjust to changing market conditions.

But during a meeting last week between Wisconsin Farmers Union representatives and three farmers from the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the point was raised that Canada’s pay price is still over $25 US per hundredweight of milk. Their system has responded to the market needs and also maintains a stable price, something that most American dairy farmers would like to see to stabilize their own farm businesses.

Let’s take a look at some numbers: 100 cows at 80 lbs of milk per day equals 8,000 lbs of milk for an average farm in Wisconsin. The current milk price of $15 per hundredweight means the average farm takes in $1,200 dollars per day. If there is a 2 percent surplus that is keeping our prices at $15, is there a way to manage that inventory to better meet the actual demand? Let’s create a mechanism to avoid that 2 percent of surplus and we should see prices rise. If we could get them to $20 per hundredweight, that same farmer will bring in $1,600 per day, adding $146,000 more per year to cover their costs. These extra dollars also have an important impact on the local communities that depend on the dairy industry.

So the question we need to ask ourselves is what are we waiting for? As an industry we need to help ourselves, even if that means getting tough on ourselves.

Will this process be easy? No. Will it take thoughtfulness, input and cooperation from a variety farmers and farm groups? Yes. Will it be worth it in the long run? I believe so.

As the largest representation of milk producers in the USA, National Milk Producers Federation has the ear of Congress and has the ability to work with our elected officials. In the past NMPF has not been willing to talk about setting up a mechanism to manage inventory. But as an organization that represents over 85 percent of the total milk produced in the country, we need them to work towards a program that will reduce volatility and stabilize farm gate milk prices. We need them to use their position to get producers and processors talking to each other to better meet the actual demand.

I believe we should also take a look at what the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and other state and national dairy boards could do to help research the mechanisms of meeting market demand. This is definitely within their purview. Let’s have research that helps us envision scenarios to keep more farmers on the land instead of fewer and fewer. We as dairy farmers need these organizations to be more responsive to the dairy farmers who are struggling to keep their nose above the milk line. Dairy farmers, I encourage you to call the WMMB at 608-836-8822 and NMPF at 703-243-6111 and tell them we need them to work on matching supply with demand.

I applaud all the processors who have taken steps to address the issues of oversupply by communicating with their members. We as an industry need to take the bull by the horns and get together and solve the problem.

Von Ruden is president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.

Darling: JFC will take up UW System budget on Thursday

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Dave Considine: Appreciate teachers every week


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

This week, May 8 through May 12, is National Teacher Appreciation Week. First, I want to thank all the educators across our state, and particularly around the 81st District, who work so hard to help our children learn and become better citizens. Our communities are better off because of your work, and I am proud and grateful to represent you.

Every day, teachers dedicate their time and energy to students in Baraboo, Sauk Prairie, Portage, Black Earth, North Freedom, and so many more communities. They often come in to work early and stay long after students leave. Many times, they use their own money to support their classrooms without even being asked.

Teachers face plenty of obstacles on the job: tight schedules, limited resources, large classes, testing requirements, and more. They are confronted with a growing movement, both in Wisconsin and nationally, that doesn’t value their contributions or their role in our society. In our state, they’ve had their union voices drastically quieted and watched as the state severely cut aid to public schools. (Yes, there is an increase in Governor Walker’s budget proposal this time around, but it is not enough to cover the damage from his previous cuts.) And this is on top of the normal workplace challenges we all face!

And yet, they stay. In the Baraboo School District alone, at least 25 teachers are celebrating 5+ years of service to the district. Given the challenges I just described (and many more that I have personally experienced as a public educator), this is no small feat. Despite all of these factors that might push them away, many Wisconsin educators stick around. They do not give up. Especially in public schools, they do their best to serve every child who comes through their door, no matter their situation or abilities.

Am I saying that all teachers are perfect? Of course not. Our school system will never be perfect. But our educators are working hard every day to do more with less, and we need to acknowledge that. Over the years, we’ve asked them to fill so many roles with so few extra resources: teacher, counselor, social worker, sometimes even parent or guardian. Teacher Appreciation Week is a great time to show respect for the educators in your life, and to encourage the amazing work they do to prepare our children to be better citizens. But it would be even better to appreciate them every week.

We can do this at the state level by increasing funding for public schools, rather than supporting private voucher schools at the public’s expense. The legislature could work to reduce testing requirements so that our teachers and students don’t have to focus all their energy on “teaching to the test”. Instead of creating an endless stream of temporary pilot programs that we never really seem to revisit, we could show real leadership by implementing programs that are built to help sustain our public schools into the future.

What will you do to show your appreciation for the teachers in your life – including retired teachers – during National Teacher Appreciation Week? I encourage us all (myself included!) to go beyond a Facebook post or an op-ed piece. Send your child’s teachers a handwritten thank-you note. Say hello and thank them if you see them out in the community. Or better yet, ask how you can help them! Ask what their classroom needs or if there’s anything you can help your child with at home to make things easier at school. They will appreciate it more than you know.

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

David Yankovich: Announces his candidacy for Congress, will challenge Paul Ryan



Lauren Young, [email protected]

KENOSHA, WI – Today, Democrat David Yankovich announced his candidacy for Congress in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, the seat currently held by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Yankovich, a political activist and consultant, decided to run for Congress because he believes the people of Wisconsin deserve better that what they have gotten from Paul Ryan.

“I am running because every American deserves the same health care that saved my mother’s life,” Yankovich said. “I am running because Paul Ryan and Donald Trump are a threat to Wisconsin’s middle-class families. I am running because the people of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District deserve a Congressman who listens to them, not a member of Washington’s elite who only looks out for his wealthy friends in Washington.”

Yankovich, who launched a campaign website at www.davidyankovich.com, is one of the original voices of the Resistance against Paul Ryan and Donald Trump. His articles have been published by Huffington Post, Raw Story, and on his website. He is a regular guy seeking to better represent the people with whom Paul Ryan has completely lost touch.

After his mother’s recent illness nearly claimed her life, Yankovich decided to run for Congress to be a champion for everyone who cannot afford health care. He was infuriated by Ryan’s attempt to take health care coverage away from tens of millions of Americans and decided the best way to fight back was to move to Wisconsin and run for Congress. Now a resident of Kenosha, Yankovich intends to spend the next year and a half meeting Wisconsinites and learning from them.

“I will pay more attention to the people of Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in the next 18 months than Paul Ryan has in the last 18 years,” he said.

DC Wrap: April 28-May 4


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

Quotes of the week

If it’s good for credit unions and it’s good for small banks, it’s good for rural America, it should be good enough for you to support it. Let’s join hands, let’s work together.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, urging U.S. House Financial Services Committee Dems to support the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017 by touting supporters of the legislation. The GOP bill, which was previously introduced but never made it to the House floor, would make changes to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and repeal a portion of Dodd-Frank giving the government the authority to intervene in a failing giant financial firm.

Not one word of this huge bill is designed to right consumers. It is written strictly to benefit a financial sector and to unleash any sort of regulatory regime, and to take us back to where we were the day before the crash.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, who chastised some of her committee colleagues for blaming consumers for the 2008 financial crash, saying that “it was the greed of Wall Street and the lack of supervision that caused these failures.” She also called the bill “very, very one-sided.”

This week’s news

— House Republicans leaders say a vote is coming today on the American Health Care Act and they’re confident they’ve got enough Republican support to get it passed.

It’s unclear, though, where House GOP members from Wisconsin stand on the latest version of the bill aside from Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville.

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, is “still reviewing the bill but is ready to repeal and replace the disaster that is Obamacare,” spokesman Mark Bednar said. A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, said he’s also still reviewing the proposal.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said she hasn’t spoken with him about the latest version of the bill, though she noted he’s supported a prior version of it.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Dems have repeatedly slammed the bill, with U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, blasting it as a “massive tax cut” for “the wealthiest few.”

— Funding for the Great Lakes wouldn’t dry up in a spending deal the House approved yesterday, which funds the government through the end of September.

President Trump had proposed completely eliminating funding for the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, instead using those funds on defense spending. The move drew bipartisan pushback and outrage from environmental and water advocates.

Racine Mayor John Dickert, a vocal advocate of the program and soon-to-be president of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, said national legislators’ “resounding no” to Trump’s idea came from “both sides of the aisle,” and was reflected in the spending bill.

“I think any time a new president comes in, they look at ways that they can cut the federal budget, and unfortunately sometimes they’re just not familiar with the impacts of those cuts,” Dickert said.

The program, established under then-President Obama in 2009, looks to clean up and protect the Great Lakes, keep Asian carp and other invasive species out of the waterways and more. Trump’s call to defund it came after a congressional vote last year to authorize the program for five more years, and after a Trump campaign representative last fall had said then-candidate Trump backed the initiative.

Looking ahead to the end of the fiscal year, Dickert said it was too soon to say whether the initiative would keep its full funding levels. He’s been to D.C. twice since Trump’s budget outline came out, talking to lawmakers about the importance of the program, and he says he plans to continue to do that.

Another nugget in the Congressional spending bill:

*The National Institutes of Health, an agency that funds a good chunk of the research at UW-Madison, would get a $2 billion boost over the next five months.

Trump had previously called for cutting NIH’s budget.

Funding from the NIH is currently supporting UW research in transplant-ready organs, as well as other research looking into new strains of harmful bacteria, according to Natasha Kassulke, manager of strategic communications for research at UW-Madison. Nearly one-third of the university’s annual budget comes from grants from the federal government.

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson wants states to be able to set up their own guest worker visa programs to address their local workforce needs.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, laid out his proposal yesterday at the Cato Institute, pointing out companies across the country are struggling to find enough workers. Congress, he said, should set up a pilot program under the bill to “see how much better states do” and help businesses “have the labor they need to compete effectively throughout the world.”

“The federal government is not capable of coming up with a one-size-fits-all [solution] that addresses all the specific issues in individual states,” he said.

The bill has the backing of groups that include the Bipartisan Policy Center, the tech industry immigration group FWD.us, several dairy and ag groups, Americans for Tax Reform and the Associated General Contractors of America.

See Johnson’s remarks:

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy is looking for advice from the federal education department on laws Congress can pass to counter what he and other Republican legislators see as a threat to free speech on college campuses.

In a letter last week to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Duffy also requested the department take steps to ensure state schools “create and support a fair environment that protects speech and fosters dialogue,” adding that “any attempts to undermine the political will of our youth … should be weeded out and condemned.”

The letter comes as state GOP lawmakers are circulating two bills aimed at sanctioning students who interfere with others’ rights to hear from controversial speakers.

Gov. Scott Walker expressed his support for one of those bills on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” before the second bill was released. Walker said in the interview that universities “should be precisely the spot where you have an open and free dialogue about all different positions.”

“But the minute you shut down a speaker, no matter whether they are liberal or conservative or somewhere in between, I just think that’s wrong,” Walker said.

Both Duffy’s letter and the state GOP legislation came after conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s appearance at UC-Berkeley was canceled. That’s where violent protests had led to former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos’s speech being called off.

Duffy referenced Coulter in his letter, saying he was “appalled by the double standard of tolerance” colleges have embraced, which he says allows “the free exchange of any and all ideas, except when those ideas challenge their own.”

“I am deeply concerned by the decision of UC Berkeley to suppress free speech on a campus that claims to be a champion of the Free Speech Movement,” he wrote.

See Duffy’s letter:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin took to Twitter yesterday afternoon to criticize an executive order dealing with religious liberty that President Trump is reportedly signing today.

The Madison Dem dubbed it a “license to discriminate.”

National media reports yesterday indicated President Trump could sign an order today that would allow business owners to cite their religious faith as a reason to refuse service to someone.

In a series of 14 tweets, Baldwin condemned the measure, saying she supports “religious freedom and the freedom of full equality for every American.”

“This isn’t presidential leadership, this is an attack on our founding principles and authorizing taxpayer funded discrimination,” she wrote.

See the tweets:

— Baldwin this week pushed Trump to close a tax loophole that she said lets “Wall Street millionaires and hedge fund managers” pay low taxes.

Trump during the campaign had previously said he would eliminate the so-called carried interest loophole, which is used primarily by financial managers to lower their tax rates. TV interviews from the president and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus from over the weekend showed the administration could target the loophole.

Baldwin in a press conference Tuesday morning urged Trump to keep his campaign promise, as she blasted the loophole and the overall tax code that she said “rewards wealth over work.”

“For far too long our tax code has been rigged by powerful interests to benefit millionaires, billionaires and hedge fund managers on Wall Street,” she said. “As a result, we have an economy that awards those at the top.”

Watch the press conference: https://www.facebook.com/senatortammybaldwin/videos/10155302836342140/

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan and the Congressional Progressive Caucus this week unveiled their own spending plan dubbed “The People’s Budget,” which the town of Vermont Dem called an “alternative path” forward.

Pocan said at a press conference on Tuesday that while the caucus’ 74 members have been “leading the fight” against “bad ideas” from the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans, the group’s budget also outlines the members’ priorities.  

Those include:

*$2 trillion invested in infrastructure, including expanding broadband access and public transportation, among other things;

*$1 trillion for a “child care for all” plan;

*And the preservation of Obamacare and the ability of states to transition to a single-payer healthcare system.  

Watch the press conference: https://www.facebook.com/repmarkpocan/videos/1380611008685302/

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, has introduced a bill limiting the taxpayer resources former U.S. presidents can access after leaving office.

The bill keeps the lifetime Secret Service protection for presidents but eliminates other benefits that Sensenbrenner said in a news release no longer make sense, such as funding for a personal office and staff. Sensenbrenner said presidents today get paid significant sums for speeches and book deals, which wasn’t the case when the law he’s looking to amend passed in 1958.

“The common sense reforms in the Former Presidents Amendment Act would update these benefits to reflect today’s society while still maintaining the necessary levels of protection our past presidents deserve,” he said.

See the release: https://sensenbrenner.house.gov/press-releases-statements?ID=CA590846-729E-4A10-AFA0-F6BA4F0871AC

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, is praising an executive order from President Trump aimed at protecting whistleblowers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The order establishes an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the agency that would, among other things, ensure the VA deals with veteran complaints quickly and protects employee whistleblowers from retaliation.

Gallagher, a former Marine who did two tours in Iraq, said the order is “critical to improving accountability for employees at the VA and protecting whistleblowers so that our veterans can receive the best care possible.”

See the release: https://gallagher.house.gov/media/press-releases/congressman-mike-gallagher-releases-statement-president-trump-s-new-executive

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman’s office dog was featured on Roll Call’s “Dogs of the House” this week.

Grothman’s spokeswoman, Bernadette Green, told the newspaper she adopted Todd Grrrley in July 2016 and that Grothman “loves dogs” and asked her to bring him to work every day. The dog is named after Todd Gurley, a former University of Georgia running back who now plays for the LA Rams. 

See the photo: http://www.rollcall.com/news/hoh/meet-dogs-house

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy on Monday announced a new hire for his Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing & Insurance.

The new designee is 36-year-old John Hair, a Kentucky native and University of West Florida graduate who’s previously worked at the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, among others.


Posts of the week

My favorite part of my recent trip to talk with our NATO allies was having the opportunity to thank Wisconsin service members for serving overseas and talk with them about their experiences.

Posted by Rep. Ron Kind on Thursday, April 27, 2017


Controversial PAC targets Tammy Baldwin with radio ads about Tomah VA

Grothman town hall draws angry, raucous crowd

Grothman Pleased With Trump’s First Hundred Days In Office

Overtime pay or time off? GOP bill would let employees decide

Rep. Duffy: Democrats Would Rather Fail Than Work With Trump & Fix Things

Diversity in Congress: Democrats have women and minorities, Republicans have white men over 55?

Kind seeks better trade relations with Europe

Bipartisan Index rates Wisconsin’s congress members

Activists lobby Wisconsin Dems to include plank for same-sex marriage in party platform

DC Wrap: May 12-18


This is the 11th sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

DC Wrap: May 19-25


Join the WisPolitics.com DC Wrap email list here: https://goo.gl/forms/yHxSHZVenzsss1SH2

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

We are on a rescue mission to bring down the cost of coverage and make sure families have access to affordable care. This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit.
– House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, on the new Congressional Budget Office score for the Obamacare replacement bill that the GOP-led House passed.

This is just a bad bill that was never intended to help people, only to give $600 billion in tax cuts to the wealthiest in this country, insurance companies, and Big Pharma.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, adding the CBO score “confirms that Trumpcare is a terrible proposal and people will pay more for less coverage, if they can even afford it.”

See more on the CBO score in a WisPolitics.com story:

This is a long-term generational struggle and war that we’re going to be in, and we need a willing coalition of the civilized world.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a CNN interview after the attack in Manchester calling for further engaging the country’s Muslim communities.

He’s got to understand that the Russians are not our friends, they are not our allies, they are not to be trusted.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, in an “UpFront with Mike Gousha” interview saying Congress needs assurances that President Trump will not again share classified information with people who aren’t supposed to have it. 

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan says he is anticipating more “synergy” between the Democratic National Committee and progressive Dems after he became co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus this week.

That’s because he’s stepping into a role formerly held by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., who’s now deputy chair of the DNC.

Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, told WisPolitics.com in an interview this week that he’s planning to continue working closely with Ellison, as he did when Ellison was co-chair and Pocan was vice-chair of the caucus. That includes working on forming progressive policy initiatives “trying to stop some of the bad stuff we see coming from the Trump administration and House Republicans.”

But Pocan added he’ll also continue working to build up and maintain the progressive base that formed as a “reaction to President Trump coming in” and ensure it’s a movement and “not just a moment.”

Pocan said his district, which covers southern Wisconsin including Dane County, is “one of the most progressive districts in the country,” giving him the ability to step up in the progressive movement.

“What I’m doing is tapping into what we hear from constituents, what they want me doing here in Washington, what their concerns are that the policies that are being brought forth by this administration are going to be hazardous to their families and to our country,” he said.

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman says though President Trump’s budget proposal may change significantly, he likes that “he’s not afraid to cut something.”

Trump this week outlined his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which begins in October. It includes significant cuts to Medicaid, Social Security, the National Institutes of Health, foreign aid, the Environmental Protection Agency and a host of other programs and agencies.

It also boosts defense spending, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security, including his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, said in an interview a lot of the cuts “are going to have to be amended, obviously” but he’s happy with the overall direction of cutting spending.

“He does understand the average American is $60,000 in debt and he does understand, therefore, that it’s time to say no to some things,” Grothman said.

On the Medicaid cuts, Grothman said he hasn’t delved into the details but Congress needs to address the program’s spending. He also said he objected to calling them cuts, saying it’s making changes to the program to ensure “the increases aren’t as great” as they would’ve been otherwise.

Some Republicans have said Trump’s proposed $53 billion boost in defense spending isn’t enough, but Grothman said he’s glad Trump held the increase to a relatively modest amount.

And on the DHS spending boost, Grothman said building a wall is needed because immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally are “costing us a lot of money” through medical expenses or the criminal justice system.

He also noted he signed onto a letter raising concerns over cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Trump is proposing to eliminate it entirely, but Grothman said that won’t happen and that a more mild cut is much more likely.

Trump also wants to cut NIH funding by 20 percent, and Grothman said there should be some cut, it won’t be that large. He noted he voted for last year’s 21st Century Cures Act, which increased funding toward the agency so it could fund medical research.

And he said Trump’s proposed tax cuts should be more geared toward the middle class.

“I think it’s important that they be aimed at the middle class, and I’m not sure that’s where we are quite yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Trump’s budget “recognizes that for far too long we as a country have spent beyond our means.”

“I stand ready to work with anyone who is serious about prioritizing spending on the core functions of the federal government to develop a budget that is in the best interests of both our state and our nation,” the Oshkosh Republican said.

And U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, noted presidents’ budget proposals are “essentially a wish list” that Congress makes significant changes to. Given the country’s debt levels, he said, it’s “critical that any budget passed by Congress include significant cuts in order to decrease spending.”

“This will require difficult but necessary decisions about our national priorities,” he said. “It will not be an easy process, but it must be done for the health and continued success of our country.”

— Dems are slamming Trump’s budget, with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore saying she was “utterly aghast” by the cuts affecting the working and middle class.

Moore, D-Milwaukee, also blasted the budget for being “misguided and cruel” in its funding for Medicaid and Social Security.

She, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind also highlighted the Community Development and Service Block Grants, which would be eliminated under Trump’s budget, with Moore arguing it would hinder the ability of lawmakers to support the nation’s rural and urban communities.

Baldwin pledged on Twitter to “fight in the Senate to restore funding for this critical program,” while Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement there was “nothing fiscally responsible” about cutting the grant program to “pay for outdated military equipment.”

Meanwhile, Baldwin also criticized Trump’s cuts to nix the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which which forgives the balance of some federal student loans after making more than 100 payments and serving as a public service employee.

“The #TrumpBudget breaks the promises made to many of our teachers and law enforcement officers, cutting relief on their student loan debt,” the Madison Dem wrote.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, issued a joint statement with Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders, where he called out Trump’s budget for benefitting “the wealthy over people aspiring to be in the middle class.”

“The real winners of Trump’s budget are CEOs, defense contractors, and big corporations while seniors, students, teachers, and rural communities lose out,” the progressive Dem leaders wrote.

— The state GOP on Wednesday bashed U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin for failing to support a candidate for state Dem party chair ahead of the convention next week.

“Tammy Baldwin is nowhere to be found and appears uninterested in the fate of her party’s leadership,” state GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said. “Her silence makes clear that even she has jumped ship.”

The Dems are holding their annual convention June 2-3, where they’ll vote on one of four candidates for state party chair: incumbent Martha Laning; Joe Donovan, a former Waukesha County businessman; Eric Finch, an attorney; and Bryan Kennedy, the mayor of Glendale and former AFT-Wisconsin president.

Baldwin’s campaign did not return requests for comment.

See the state GOP statement:

— Baldwin, D-Madison, is touting the passage of a VA accountability bill through a Senate committee that she says will protect whistleblowers trying to improve the system.

The bipartisan bill, co-sponsored by Baldwin and more than 20 other senators, now heads to the full Senate for a vote.

The legislation includes measures to provide the Veterans Affairs secretary with a stronger ability to discipline poorly-performing employees.

“Now that our bipartisan legislation has passed committee, we must continue to work across party lines to push our VA reforms forward and make them a reality,” she said. “Our veterans deserve nothing less than high quality service and care.”

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s committee this week explored a “broken system” that’s failed to fully stop gang members from coming into the country.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, which yesterday held a hearing on “the rise of MS-13 and other transnational organizations.” Johnson noted MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, actually started in Los Angeles in the 1980s and was formed by immigrants who had come from El Salvador.

Watch the hearing: https://www.c-span.org/video/?428981-1/hearing-examines-rise-ms13-crime-gang-us

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is introducing a bill aimed at ensuring more Americans can deduct medical expenses from their income taxes.

Americans can do so right now if their costs are at least 10 percent of their annual income, but Sensenbrenner is looking to get rid of that threshold.

“As Congress continues to debate health care and tax reform, now is the ideal time to repeal the arbitrary medical tax deduction threshold for medical expenses and give a hand up to Americans struggling to pay for necessary medical expenditures,” he said in a news release.

See the release:

— Sensenbrenner is also praising the House reauthorizing a 2006 law that he introduced aimed at preventing sexual exploitation of children.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act strengthened sex offender registry requirements, boosted penalties and added funding for programs combatting the issue.

“Today’s reauthorization the Adam Walsh Protection and Safety Act ensures that serious action will continue to prevent the ongoing sexual exploitation of our nation’s children,” he said.

See the release:

Posts of the week

I forgot my leather vest at home, but I still enjoyed having ABATE in the office to discuss issues affecting motorcycle riders.

Posted by Congressman Glenn Grothman on Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Dems slam new CBO score on health care bill

‘UpFront’: Kind knocks Trump over sharing classified information

PolitiFact: Evidence lacking for Tammy Baldwin’s voter suppression claim

Sen. Ron Johnson peppered with questions about health insurance

Ron Johnson Calls For Partial Slowdown On Obamacare Overhaul

Mark Pocan to lead Congressional Progressive Caucus

Betsy DeVos vs. Mark Pocan: the art of deflection

Ron Kind: Russia investigations may be a distraction, but Trump’s the one causing division

Rep. Kind asks government to help severe weather victims

Duffy: Evidence of collusion between Trump campaign and Russia would already have come out

Duffy calls for stepped up attention to drug-impaired driving

Protesters of proposed health care bill play dead at Sensenbrenner town hall

Protesters attend U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s town hall meeting

US lawmaker Jim Sensenbrenner wants to abolish H-1B visa lottery system

As chaos mounts, House Speaker Paul Ryan tries to power through the Trump turmoil

DC Wrap: May 26-June 1


Join the WisPolitics.com DC Wrap email list here: https://goo.gl/forms/yHxSHZVenzsss1SH2

Quotes of the week

Ignoring climate change is foolish and short-sighted. Inaction will limit our country’s long-term prosperity and expose our children and grandchildren to catastrophic consequences because President Trump wants to make good on his promises to Big Oil – not the American people.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan in a joint statement with Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders blasting President Trump for failing to take action on climate change, following media reports that he plans to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. 

I haven’t seen anything that leads me to believe that there was any wrongdoing by Jared Kushner or by the Trump campaign.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy in an interview with CNN, though he also said Kushner’s meetings with Russian officials “should have been disclosed.”

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, led a letter to the Secretary of State asking him to investigate the violence against protesters in Washington during the Turkish president’s visit.

Nine people were hospitalized during a clash outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence this month. Turkish government has denied that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security staff was involved, though protesters say that’s not the case.

Johnson and 19 other senators, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, wrote a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that violence from Turkish diplomatic security in the U.S. is “not acceptable.”

They called on his agency to work with local police to identify perpetrators of the assault and determine whether Turkish security was involved.

“If their participation is confirmed, those responsible should be held accountable under applicable U.S. law,” the senators wrote.

See more:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin signed onto a letter calling for pumping millions of dollars into a Medicare assistance program that counsels beneficiaries on coverage options.

The letter, which touted the benefits of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, was sent last week to two members of the subcommittee responsible for overseeing the program. It urged them to restore the approximately $52 million in program funding that President Trump eliminated under his budget proposal, writing that the program is “a trusted source of independent advice” and “critical” for constituents.

The 23 senators added the feds should be “expanding the ability of SHIPs to meet growing needs” as more people begin qualifying for Medicare, “not eliminating their ability to serve those who need assistance.”

See the letter:

See the release:

— Johnson says he’d be open to a “short-term market stabilization bill” addressing issues with the Affordable Care Act if Republicans struggle to replace the law.

The Oshkosh Republican is part of the Senate Republican group working on a health care bill following the House’s passage of the American Health Care Act.

Johnson told reporters at the state Capitol there are “real problems with the House bill” that the group will try to work out, though he gave the House GOP credit for passing a bill to address the “real mess” that Obamacare created.

Johnson said he’s open to passing a bill that would likely spend a few billion dollars aimed at helping address the “collapsing” insurance markets. He said his position is “probably a minority view” among his Senate GOP colleagues.

“If we have a hard time coming to consensus, and I think it will be difficult, I’d be willing to do a short-term market stabilization bill just to provide the insurance carriers some certainty so they don’t pull out [of the marketplaces], so they don’t artificially boost premiums even further,” he said after addressing the Assembly Republican caucus.

See more from his comments and listen to the audio: https://www.wispolitics.com/2017/johnson-open-to-short-term-obamacare-fix-if-gop-fails-to-reach-deal/

— Johnson is praising the Senate for unanimously passing a bill he authored aimed at boosting protections for whistleblowers.

The bill is named after Chris Kirkpatrick, a doctor who questioned prescription practices at the Tomah VA and committed suicide after getting fired. The bill increases penalties for federal officials who retaliate against whistleblowers and increases training on whistleblower protections.

Kirkpatrick’s brother testified at Johnson’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the Tomah VA. Johnson co-authored the bill with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

“The dedicated men and women who take a risk to expose wrongdoing and waste in the federal government deserve the respect and support of our nation,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, too often these courageous individuals are subjected to retaliation in an attempt to silence them.”

The bill stalled in the Senate last year due to an objection from then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

See the release:

— Johnson’s latest “Hey, Wisconsin” podcast features a woman whose 19-year-old son, Archie, died from a heroin overdose.

Johnson talks to Lauri Badura, who runs Savings Others For Archie, after her organization organized a “Jump for Life” community event. The event included training on the overdose-reversing drug Narcan.

Johnson’s been doing the podcast since last year and has covered topics that include terrorism, vaping, his “Right to Try” bill on experimental drugs and his visits with high school students.

See more:

See an archive of Johnson’s podcasts:

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore is one of the members of a new DNC-sponsored commission seeking to protect voting rights, in light of action from the Trump administration.

The group, called the Commission on Protecting American Democracy from the Trump Administration, seeks to counter Republicans and Trump administration officials on claims of voter fraud and battle efforts to “deny [voters] deny them their constitutional rights at the ballot box,” according to DNC Chairman Tom Perez.

Moore, D-Milwaukee, is one of 13 members on the commission, which is largely comprised of members of Congress and state officials.

See more on the commission:

Posts of the week


GOP rep: Kushner should have disclosed Russia meeting

Ron Johnson’s whistleblower protection bill passes U.S. Senate

Why Is This Mega-Donor Spending Millions To Defeat Tammy Baldwin?

Senate Staff Beginning to Draft Health Care Bill Over This Week’s Recess

Constituents of U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher hold Green Bay Town Hall without him

Flood Insurance Looks Like One Area of Bipartisan Agreement

Mark Pocan’s errant claim about tax breaks in Wisconsin’s school voucher program for low-income kids

Glenn Grothman: Greg Gianforte ‘seems like a good guy’

Lawmakers Urge Sens. Ron Johnson, Claire McCaskill to Mark Up Federal IT Modernization Bill

U.S. Sen. Baldwin introduces rail shipper ‘fairness’ bill

Sen. Baldwin Introduces Rail Shippers Fairness Act

Education Department Faces Deep Cuts; DeVos Faces Tough Questions

55 members of Congress urge DHS secretary to reject appointment of Sheriff Clarke

This Political Fight Is a Big Threat to Fixing the Mortgage Market

Democrats Launch New Effort To Fight Back Against Trump’s Bogus Claims Of Voter Fraud

DC Wrap: May 5-11


This is the 10th sample of a weekly DC Wrap product from WisPolitics.com. Let us know your feedback: [email protected]

Quotes of the week

I think the timing of the firing is indeed suspicious. It raises a lot of questions. And like most Americans and like most Wisconsinites, I just want the truth.

– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, on the firing of former FBI Director James Comey amid an investigation into possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. During an interview yesterday, he spoke warily of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country itself, saying that Russia “does not share our interests.” See more from the interview: http://www.wearegreenbay.com/news/local-news/rep-mike-gallagher-talks-comey-firing-healthcare-and-town-hall-meetings/710848097

I hope and pray this had nothing to do with the FBI’s independent investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion of Trump associates with Russia during the 2016 election.

– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, who joined other Dems in knocking President Trump’s decision to fire Comey as “a grotesque abuse of power.” He also called on congressional leadership to schedule hearings “so we can get to the bottom of this.”

This week’s news

— House Speaker Paul Ryan says former FBI Director James Comey was “compromised” and lost confidence of officials at the Department of Justice.

Ryan did not immediately comment on the president’s decision to fire Comey. But he went on Fox News late yesterday to say Trump “made a presidential decision” to remove him because he did not want the FBI to be in disarray under Comey’s leadership.

“I think he had just basically lost the confidence of a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats based upon his conduct, his actions and some of the comments that he made,” Ryan said of Comey. “Most importantly, he lost the confidence of the president, and it is entirely within the president’s role and authority to relieve him, and that’s what he did.”

Ryan added he does not believe it would be a good idea to appoint a special prosecutor to look into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.

See more from the interview:

— Ryan is praising President Trump’s appointment of former U.S. Rep. Mark Green to lead USAID, the federal agency in charge of humanitarian assistance.

Green, a former GOP guv candidate who was elected with Ryan to the House in 1998, represented the northeast Wisconsin 8th CD until 2007. He’s currently president of the International Republican Institute, which helps boost democracy around the world, and was U.S. ambassador to Tanzania until 2009.

Ryan said Green, whose appointment requires Senate confirmation, has a “passion to help people in need, ” which would serve him well as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“His years of experience fighting poverty and repression in the developing world make him an exceptional choice to lead USAID,” he said. “In this post, Mark will serve as a strong voice for liberty and help strengthen American leadership abroad.”

See the White House announcement:

— A new survey from the Dem firm Public Policy Polling has Ryan’s numbers upside down in his southeastern Wisconsin congressional district.

The poll found 43 percent of 1st CD voters approve of the job Ryan is doing, while 51 percent disapprove. It also found 46 percent would re-elect Ryan if the election were held today, while 48 percent would prefer “someone new.”

The poll was paid for by the Stop the Speaker PAC, whose mission is to “make Paul Ryan’s life hell,” according to its website.

The survey also found President Trump’s job approval number at 49-45 in the district.

The poll of 553 district voters, conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

See the results:

— The House is on recess again this week, but this time, two Wisconsin congressmen from across the aisle are coming together for a listening session — and food.

U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, and Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, are coming together on Thursday to hold a “Pizza and Politics” event in Appleton with employees at Thrivent, according to a Pocan spokeswoman.

The two are then heading to Green Bay to do a show on Fox 11 together.

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, this week highlighted cybersecurity in his committee and the “relentless and incredibly destructive attacks” he says affect each sector of the economy.

Johnson chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which held a hearing on the issue yesterday. Johnson cited estimates that cyberattacks cost $375 billion to $575 billion each year.

He also praised federal workers who are tackling the issue as “really fabulous patriots who are working at way below” what they’d make in private companies. But he said the feds need to “engage the private sector” to ensure all the most talented people collaborate on cybersecurity.

“We just need to make sure we get as many bright minds as possible working on such a difficult issue,” he said to kick off the hearing.

Those who testified at the hearing were Jeffrey E. Greene of Symantec Corporation; Steven Chabinsky of White & Case LLP; Brandon Valeriano, the Donald Bren Chair at the Marine Corps University; and Kevin Keeney of Monsanto Company.

See more on the hearing:

Listen to the hearing:

— U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson on Tuesday took opposing votes on the nominee for commissioner of the FDA.

Scott Gottlieb was ultimately confirmed on a 57-42 vote, with one abstaining. Johnson, R-Oshkosh, joined the majority to support President Trump’s pick.

Gottlieb had previously held jobs at the agency during George W. Bush’s presidency. He’s also been a frequent consultant to drug companies and has been a big investor in the health care industry, raising concerns among some Dems he wouldn’t be able to lead the agency in an unbiased way.

See the roll-call vote:

— Baldwin joined nine other senators on Tuesday to introduce a bill that looks to safeguard pension plans.

The legislation seeks to combat a 2014 provision that the senators fear could result in millions of retirees and workers facing deep cuts in their multi-employer pension plans.

Baldwin, D-Madison, said at a news conference touted the importance of pension plans as a “central pillar of economic security for our working class.”

“It’s time for Washington to respect the hard work of American workers and make sure that the promises made to them are kept,” she said.

Posts of the week

Congratulations to Stratford High School student Clare Thompson for her winning piece, "Dreaming in Color," in the 2017 People's Choice Award contest! Amazing work!

Posted by Congressman Sean Duffy on Monday, May 8, 2017


Wisconsin delegates split along party lines in House health care vote

Wis. Dem members slam Trump for firing Comey

Sen. Baldwin says McConnell not taking Comey firing seriously

Super PAC attack blaming Tammy Baldwin for deaths of 3 veterans at Tomah VA hospital lacks evidence

Wisconsin Republicans worry about crowded Senate primary aiding Tammy Baldwin again

Sen. Baldwin: Senate GOP is “not out to a good start” on Obamacare replacement bill

Senate GOP chair won’t rule out independent Russia probe

Congressman Pocan Will Speak at Thomas Paine Dinner Thursday

Mark Pocan to Talk Health Care in Paul Ryan’s District

Sexual assault, domestic violence themselves are not pre-existing conditions under GOP health bill

Kind: Health care bill ‘a bad piece of legislation’

Many Wisconsin Dems call for investigation into Comey firing

Rep. Mike Gallagher unleashes tweet storm over Comey firing

Watch: Rep. Mike Gallagher answers questions about health care bill

Rep. Gallagher invited to town hall meeting

GOP congressman: Republicans were ‘irresponsible’ to celebrate AHCA passage at White House

Gallagher stands by health care vote

Rep. Duffy on AHCA: ‘Our Bill Actually Brings Us Closer to Choice and Competition’

Rep. Duffy Defends AHCA: ‘Obamacare is Imploding… We Have to Do Something’

Will health care fight backfire on GOP?

Dem Party chair hopefuls differ on organizing approach, view of party’s shortcomings

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Dem Rep. Subeck circulates bills to fight homelessness

One Dem lawmaker is circulating her own legislation to combat homelessness following the Assembly’s passage of four GOP bills last week.

Rep. Lisa Subeck, the author of five bills she’s calling the “Housing First Package,” was a vocal critic of the Republican legislation; she’s previously said the GOP package doesn’t go far enough to address the issue’s causes.

Still, the bills passed by the the Assembly received bipartisan support, including two that passed unanimously. Of those, one would create an interagency council to find ways for state agencies to collaborate on addressing homelessness, while the other is aimed at freeing up state resources that are underutilized and putting them in areas with greatest need.

But the Madison Dem today said while Republicans have been giving the issue “a lot of lip service,” they took a “backwards approach” to addressing homelessness by not focusing on provisions aimed at securing and maintaining housing long-term.

“We prevent homelessness first and foremost by providing housing,” she said.

Subeck’s legislation is based off various amendments she proposed to the four GOP bills last week. Her bills would:

*Require WHEDA to set up a program aimed at eliminating the wait lists for the federal housing vouchers program. The additional vouchers would be funded by $2.75 million in WHEDA bonding.

*Create an eviction-prevention program that WHEDA would administer and pay for. The program would be funded through $1 million of WHEDA bonding.

*Allocate $2.5 million in funding for housing grants to cover programs aimed at keeping formerly homeless individuals in permanent housing.

*Expand case management services for housing voucher recipients and formerly homeless families. It would be funded through $500,000 in WHEDA bonding.

*Authorize WHEDA to complete a study by January 2018 on the use of social impact bonding to fund the development of new affordable housing.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: Statement on Glenn Grothman & House Republican repeal & ripoff health care bill


Contact: Evan Lukaske, (202) 485-3456

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján released the following statement on the passage of the House Republicans’ repeal and ripoff health care bill:

“Glenn Grothman just voted to increase your health insurance premiums anddeductibles, toss 24 million Americans off of their insurance, and to slap you with an age tax if you’re age 50 to 64 – and they robbed Medicare while doing it. If that’s not bad enough, Grothman also voted to let health insurance companies charge you more if you have a preexisting condition. That means if you, your kids, or your parents aresick with cancer, diabetes or any other illness, insurance will not be affordable.

“Make no mistake about it: Glenn Grothman must face the music, look his constituents in the eye, and answer for the mess he created. There is no question that this bill will cause incredible pain for hardworking Americans, particularly those fighting to make ends meet, and this vote will haunt Grothman through Election Day.”

With this vote, Grothman also broke a promise to voters. Grothman said in March that in repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, Republicans “must be sure to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

Grothman’s “yes” vote for this disastrous health care bill will end guaranteed protections for people with pre-existing conditions, like asthma, diabetes, cancer and even pregnancy. Beyond that, this bill will strip away health insurance from 24 million Americans, cause out-of-pocket costs like premiums and deductibles to skyrocket, and impose an unfair age tax on older Americans. There’s a reason that only 17% of Americans support this heartless and costly legislation.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: Statement on Sean Duffy & House Republican repeal & ripoff health care bill


Contact: Evan Lukaske, (202) 485-3456

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján released the following statement on the passage of the House Republicans’ repeal and ripoff health care bill:

“Representative Sean Duffy just voted to increase your health insurance premiums and deductibles, toss 24 million Americans off of their insurance, and to slap you with an age tax if you’re age 50 to 64 – and they robbed Medicare while doing it. If that’s not bad enough, Duffy also voted to let health insurance companies charge you more if you have a preexisting condition. That means if you, your kids, or your parents are sickwith cancer, diabetes or any other illness, insurance will not be affordable.

“Make no mistake about it: Sean Duffy must face the music, look his constituents in the eye, and answer for the mess he created. There is no question that this bill will cause incredible pain for hardworking Americans, particularly those fighting to make ends meet, and this vote will haunt Duffy through Election Day.”

Representative Duffy’s “yes” vote for this disastrous health care bill will end guaranteed protections for people with pre-existing conditions, like asthma, diabetes, cancer and even pregnancy. Beyond that, this bill will strip away health insurance from 24 million Americans, cause out-of-pocket costs like premiums and deductibles to skyrocket, and impose an unfair age tax on older Americans. There’s a reason that only 17% of Americans support this heartless and costly legislation.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: For third straight year, Wisconsin ranks last in business startup activity


Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]

MADISON — For the third year in a row, Wisconsin has ranked dead least in business start-up activity. Unfortunately for hard-working families in our state, the infamous ranking is becoming an annual trend under the tutelage of Gov. Scott Walker.

“America is a land of entrepreneurs. Many of us want to create the next big thing for ourselves that also would create new jobs for others. But thanks to the failed economic policies of Gov. Scott Walker many people live paycheck to paycheck working unreliable hours, with few or no benefits,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning. “We need a governor who understands that launching a new venture requires first making ends meet today and having something left over to launch a new venture tomorrow. We need someone who will prioritize our higher education system which spurs innovative research and technology that helps create new businesses and industries. We need someone who gets it, instead of Gov. Walker who prioritizes tax giveaways to the rich while the state economy falls farther and farther behind the rest of the nation.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: For third straight year, Wisconsin ranks last in business startup activity

Another year, another last-place ranking for Wisconsin on the business startup front.

For the third year running, Wisconsin has placed 50th among the 50 states in startup activity as measured by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the country’s leading entrepreneurship advocacy and research organizations.

Not only was Wisconsin last; the gap between Wisconsin and the next-lowest states widened significantly from 2016 and 2015. While other states are clustered with relatively small differences from one state to the next, Wisconsin stands as an outlier – on the low end.

“It just feels like such a broken record,” said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor, a company with offices in Milwaukee and Madison that runs a respected training program for startups. “We’ve played this song so many times in terms of we’ve been dead last and dead last and dead last.”


“At some point, I think we have to decide to have a strategy that we’re going to a take a little bit more risk in hopes of pursuit of more rewards,” Kirgues said.

Zach Brandon, president of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, agrees. The chamber this week released a new legislative agenda that, among other things, calls for creation of a statewide council to study ways to grow entrepreneurship in Wisconsin.

“With the new report from Kauffman, Wisconsin as last place is officially a trend,” said Brandon, a former deputy secretary of the state Department of Commerce under former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. “We can no longer sort of argue that it’s a blip.”

Read the entire article on JSOnline.com

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Gov. Scott Walker largest benefactor of Betsy DeVos led campaign to unfairly fund unaccountable private schools


Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]

MADISON –   Democrats know that a strong public education is the key to opening the doors of opportunity for millions of Wisconsinites. Unfortunately, under Gov. Scott Walker, Wisconsin has walked away from its commitment to strong public schools by making historic cuts to public education over the last six years all while shoveling millions to fund unaccountable private schools. This weekend, an investigation by the Associated Press revealed motivations for the Governor’s destructive policy choices.

After examining political contributions over a 10-year period by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and nearly 50 other individuals and married couples who gave large sums to advance unaccountable private schools funding over public school funding, nearly $1.5 million flooded Wisconsin since 2007. More than a third of the haul went to Gov. Scott Walker.

According to the Associated Press, Gov. Walker received $512,000 since his first run for governor in 2010. The report also found that the DeVos family donated $731,250 to politicians and political groups in Wisconsin – the third highest total for all states.

“Democrats believe that Wisconsinites should determine how their schools are funded – not out-of-state corporate tycoons looking to line their own pockets,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Brandon Weathersby said on Monday. “For six years, Gov. Walker has come up with excuse after excuse for making historic cuts to public education, but the latest report from the Associated Press is further evidence that his education policy choices were actually dictated by millionaires and billionaires outside of Wisconsin. If we want to ensure that every child has the chance to go to a great school, with great teachers, and with the programs and tools they need to succeed we need Democratic leadership that will ensure that Wisconsinites determine the future of our education system.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Is Sheriff David Clarke backing down from challenging Sen. Tammy Baldwin?


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

MADISON – Last week, news reports surfaced naming Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke as a potential White House pick for a role with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The news comes after months of prolific spending on his behalf by the Sheriff Clarke for Senate committee, the official Draft Clarke super PAC.

In late January, the Sheriff Clarke for Senate committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission and aggressively fundraised to convince the Milwaukee County Sheriff into running for U.S. Senate. In just its first two weeks of operation, the PAC  raised over $175,000 and secured 25,000 voters and donors promising to support Clarke in a potential run for Senate – by the end of it’s first thirty days the PAC had raised more than $300,000.

The PAC’s dollars went to promoting Sheriff Clarke with Clarke branded lip balm and bobbleheads in the Sheriff’s likeness at CPAC this year. Along with that, the Sheriff Clarke for Senate committee and another pro-Clarke group, the Committee to Defend the President, both paid for polls to see how the Sheriff would fair in a challenge to Senator Baldwin – both polls showed the Sheriff losing in a head-to-head match up. Currently, the group has a billboard up, on Highway 175 in Milwaukee County, promoting the Sheriff’s stance on immigration.

“Sheriff Clarke has tried everything under the sun to increase his profile. Whether it’s inflammatory statements online, regular appearances on cable news, or traveling the country to speak to conservative groups, Clarke is always looking for an out. It’s too bad for the Republican Party of Wisconsin that his exit strategy appears to involve working in the Trump Administration and not running for U.S. Senate,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Brandon Weathersby said on Monday. “Now, with another top tier candidate being too afraid to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the Republican Party is only left with millionaires and candidates backed by millionaires to potentially run for Senate.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: KevinForWisconsin.com- the history of a political opportunist


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

MADISON – Today, as “Republicans are growing increasingly worried” about the bloated Senate GOP primary field, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin unveiled a new advertising blitz, highlighting one of the critically flawed contenders, anchored by KevinForWisconsin.com. The new website walks through political opportunist and wannabe GOP Senate nominee Kevin Nicholson’s history of politically expedient lies.

The website, KevinForWisconsin.com, begins with his leadership at the Democratic National Committee as paid staff while serving as Chair of College Democrats of America and the speech he gave at the Democratic National Convention in 2000. It then outlines various liesvotes, and more lies about his beliefs.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Brandon Weathersby said, “Kevin Nicholson is a political opportunist, not an honest Wisconsinite. He’s wanted to run for President since college and only believes in political expediency in his chase of power and stardom. Whatever Kevin says at the republican convention this weekend, can anyone really believe him?”​

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Speaker Paul Ryan defends President Trump, House Democrats demand independent investigations


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

MADISON — The events of the last week have made it clear that the president’s recklessness knows no bounds. President Trump has no credibility and his actions are sowing distrust in our institutions, endangering national security, and weakening the U.S. on the world stage. The President still has at least one fan: Speaker Paul Ryan.

At a press conference today, speaking in the wake of new revelations related to the firing of James Comey, Speaker Paul Ryan defended the President saying “it is obvious – there are some people out there who want to harm the president.” As he exited this morning’s press conference Ryan confirmed that he still has confidence in the President.

With every passing day, we learn of new grave abuses of power from President Trump. Instead of playing partisan politics, Speaker Ryan should schedule a vote immediately to create an independent outside commission and an independent counsel to conduct full investigations of the Trump-Russia connection.

78 percent of Americans – a truly whopping number – want an independent investigation. Only 15 percent prefer a Congressional investigation.

That’s why Democrats in the House are filing a discharge petition to force a vote on H.R. 356, the bipartisan Swalwell-Cummings bill to establish an outside, independent commission to investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia. Speaker Ryan and House Republicans must decide whether they value their oath to the Constitution, or whether they will be accomplices to President Trump’s effort to obstruct justice.

“Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t disavow Donald Trump when he attacked a gold star family. Ryan didn’t disavow Donald Trump when he was caught on tape bragging about the sexual assault of women. And now, as President Trump reveals himself to be a danger to American security and our Democracy, Ryan still has full confidence in Trump,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Brandon Weathersby said on Wednesday. “The reality is that there will be no consequences for any of President Trump’s actions unless Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans in Congress grow a spine and decide to put their country before their party. Unfortunately, it seems that as long as Ryan has the President’s support in kicking 24 million Americans off their health insurance he will not provide the oversight the American people need and deserve to get answers about the President’s ties to Russia.” ​

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Speaker Paul Ryan swears House GOP to secrecy regarding Trump’s ties to Russia, spokesperson lies about the conversation


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

MADISON — Another day, another bombshell report concerning Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. According to the Washington Post, a month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination for president, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy commented that he thought Trump was being paid by Russian President Vladimir Putin – Speaker Paul Ryan immediately stopped the conversation and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.

From the Washington Post:
“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016 exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) immediately interjected, stopping the conversation from further exploring McCarthy’s assertion, and swore the Republicans present to secrecy.


Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”

Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks…This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

The remarks remained secret for nearly a year.


When initially asked to comment on the exchange, Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Ryan, said: “That never happened,” and Matt Sparks, a spokesman for McCarthy, said: “The idea that McCarthy would assert this is absurd and false.”

After being told that The Post would cite a recording of the exchange, Buck, speaking for the GOP House leadership, said: “Thisentire year-old exchange was clearly an attempt at humor. No one believed the majority leader was seriously asserting that Donald Trump or any of our members were being paid by the Russians. What’s more, the speaker and leadership team have repeatedly spoken out against Russia’s interference in our election, and the House continues to investigate that activity.”

“This was a failed attempt at humor,” Sparks said.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Statement on Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke


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

MADISON — The following is the statement of Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning with regards to the news that Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke will leave his post next month to join the Trump administration:

“The public safety of our local communities and our nation isn’t a joke, a game, or a popularity contest – but that’s exactly how Sheriff David Clarke has treated his role over the past few months.

“Sheriff Clarke, facing warranted scrutiny for the deaths of four people in his jail since last April, spent most of the last year traveling the country for paid speeches and hopping in front of cable news cameras to audition for a job in the Trump administration. Public safety is not a top priority for the Sheriff, his record on public safety in his own jail is evidence enough that he has no business working at the Department of Homeland Security.

“I can only hope that Gov. Scott Walker appoints someone who is committed to the public safety of all Milwaukee County residents and will put their job to the people of the county ahead of politics and self-promotion because Milwaukee County certainly deserves better than the likes of Sheriff Clarke.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Trump falsely claims-six times-that people with preexisting conditions are protected under Trumpcare


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

Yesterday, Donald Trump told one of his cruelest and most egregious lies to date: he claimedTrumpcare will protect people with pre-existing conditions.

THE TRUTH: Trumpcare actually guts protections for people with pre-existing conditions by possibly jacking up premiums to the point that they are wholly unaffordable.

This wasn’t a one-off. Trump went on to repeat the lie SIX times. Here’s the full exchange:


Here’s a reality check for the president:

American Medical Association: Trump’s pre-existing condition “assurance may be illusory as health status underwriting could effectively make coverage completely unaffordable to people with pre-existing conditions.”

New York Times: “Mr. Trump insisted that the Republican health legislation would not allow discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions, an assertion contradicted by numerous health policy experts as well as the American Medical Association.’

Politifact: “This makes protection for people with pre-existing conditions sound ironclad. But that’s not the case. People with pre-existing conditions could get coverage, but they could be charged higher rates.”

Politico’s Dan Diamond: “Trump appears to reverse himself on pre-existing conditions 2x in 2 mins—first by saying it’s guaranteed (it isn’t), then kicking to states.”

Washington Post: “President Trump tried Sunday to reassure anxious Republicans that the latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act would continue to protect those with preexisting medical conditions, although he struggled to fully articulate what form those protections would take.”

The Guardian: “Trump’s promise for healthcare act contradicts Republicans’ proposal” “It is not clear how many states would follow through on the power to make the sick pay more. Critics, however, have said any such change could make insurance prohibitively expensive for those with preexisting conditions.”

The Week: “He seemed to guarantee that the bill would protect people with pre-existing conditions. The American Medical Association and outside health policy analysts mostly disagree with this assertion.”

Huffington Post: “Republicans claim that other provisions of their bill, designed to reimburse insurers for expensive beneficiaries or to create separate programs for people with pre-existing conditions, would take care of people with serious medical problems. ‘They say we don’t cover pre-existing conditions, we cover it beautifully,’ Trump said on ‘Face the Nation.’ As multiple analysts have pointed out, these programs have never provided adequate protection in the past, even though Republican leaders like Ryan keep claiming otherwise.”

Star-Ledger: “3.8 million Garden State residents with pre-existing conditions could lose their ability to get adequate coverage. That’s on top of the 500,000 fewer state residents who would have insurance under the GOP alternative.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation still in chaos


Brandon Weathersby
[email protected]

MADISON — A new audit from the Legislative Audit Bureau shows Gov. Scott Walker’s Economic Disaster Corporation (WEDC) is still fraught with chaos and disorder even as Republican Joint Finance Committee members shockingly recently voted to reinstate the WEDC’s lending authority.

Gov. Scott Walker’s flagship job creation agency is better known for a string of scandals since it’s inception than creating good-paying jobs for Wisconsinites. Instead of creating jobs and helping new businesses thrive, WEDC has lost funds and failed to follow basic practices to track and recoup taxpayer funds.

According to the audit released today, WEDC still cannot accurately measure how many jobs it has created. This is the first WEDC audit since the agency regained its lending authority weeks ago, while Wisconsinites would have hoped that the agency had gotten its act together, today’s audit paints a very different picture.  It isn’t the first time Gov. Walker’s flagship job creation agency has shown an inability to do its duties on behalf of the taxpayers. Past audits have shown WEDC’s internal chaos and disarray, which begs the question why would Republicans give the agency lending authority when WEDC has a history of not doing its job and hadn’t shown any signs of progress.

“A job creation agency is a fantastic idea, but after three consecutive disturbing audits over 6 years, clearly the Republicans have shown they need help getting the job done. Governor Walkers flagship job agency isn’t even tracking whether their loans are creating jobs, enough is enough,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Wednesday. “Today’s audit shows that Republicans haven’t been responsible with taxpayers money and reinstating WEDC’s lending authority without fixing the problem is just plain stupid. It’s time for Republicans to partner with Democrats on a real plan to clean up the WEDC mess they created and start putting Wisconsinites first by using tax dollars to spur innovation through our universities, encourage entrepreneurial activity, and thereby create good-paying jobs for hard-working Wisconsinites.” ​

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Where’s Kevin?


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

MADISON — With Kevin Nicholson’s deer-in-headlights expression when confronted with one of his lies at the Wisconsin Republican Party’s convention this weekend, Kevin needs to come out from hiding and answer more questions. Did Kevin Nicholson lie? Did Dick Uihlein know about Nicholson’s 2008 vote? If not, is he still planning to spend millions in support of Nicholson’s run or will he just keep running false ads attacking Tammy Baldwin 18 months before the election? So where is Kevin?

Kevin Nicholson has a history of lying to prove his political allegiances, but after the Republican Party of Wisconsin convention last weekend, Kevin has disappeared.

“Kevin wasn’t ready to address his lies last weekend, but he better figure out his line soon because out-of-state millionaires backing his run must be questioning his Republican credentials,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Brandon Weathersby. “Did Illinois millionaire and super PAC funder Dick Uihlein know that Kevin Nicholson voted for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in 2008? What does Dick believe: that the record was wrong or that Kevin has changed?”

Maybe Kevin will reemerge with another smooth answer after pleading with Dick. Maybe not.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Wisconsin needs a straight answer from Gov. Scott Walker after Trumpcare CBO score


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

MADISON — Weeks after House Republicans passed Trumpcare without knowing what exactly was in it, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released their official audit of the bill and the results weren’t pretty. Knowing how terrible Trumpcare will be for Americans’ health, Gov. Scott Walker owes Wisconsinites a straight answer. Will he apply for a waiver allowing insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions and exclude basic coverage like prescription drugs, mental health, or maternity care?

The CBO report released this week projected that one-sixth of Americans would live in states that would likely take advantage of waivers. and price increases would be dramatic. The CBO found the premiums could rise as much as 700 percent for low-income seniors.

Gov. Walker floated the idea of applying for a waiver earlier this year but quickly walked it back after facing criticism. Gov. Walker has failed to elaborate since and refuses to address coverage requirements.

“Wisconsin families were shocked when they saw the damning CBO score for Trumpcare which showed that individuals with pre-existing conditions are not guaranteed protection and that rolling back essential health benefits would mean women paying thousands for maternity care, individuals paying large sums out of pocket for mental health treatment, and seniors paying seven times more than what they pay now,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Friday. “Gov. Scott Walker needs to come out and let Wisconsinites know what he’ll do if Trumpcare becomes the law of the land. And if he really cares about the health and safety of his constituents he’ll say once and for all that the state will not apply for a single waiver under Trumpcare.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee: Statement on passage of the GOP health care bill


Contact: Lauren Passalacqua, David Bergstein, 202-545-3567

Republican Health Care Bill Guts Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions and Makes You Pay More for Less Care

In response to the House of Representatives voting on the Republican’s disastrous health care bill, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Press spokesman David Bergstein released the following statement. New analyses shows the bill will protect just 5 percent of Americans with pre-existing conditions and also threatens “about half of the country” who receive employer provided coverage.

“The toxic Republican Healthcare Plan spikes costs, slashes coverage and provides a clear example of how the GOP has broken their promise to voters —  pushing the agenda of the rich and the powerful at the expense of Wisconsinites who actually work for a living. This Plan makes older Americans pay five times more for care, strips away coverage for pre-existing conditions, and threatens vital drug abuse prevention and women’s healthcare services, all to give big insurance companies another handout. Americans of every political persuasion are united in opposition to these proposals and any Republican who runs for Senate in 2018 will own this plan and be held accountable for the toxic GOP healthcare agenda.”

Dems call for new transpo committee to find funding solutions

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Dems introduce bills aimed at lowering officer-involved shootings

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Dems push motions knocking Schimel on rape kits, swag

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Dems say work requirements bill would contribute to homelessness


The state Assembly today approved 61-35 a bill that would set up a pilot program adding work requirements for those who get federal housing vouchers.

The bill would only affect able-bodied adults whose housing vouchers are managed by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. WHEDA manages about 2,800 of the roughly 30,000 federally-funded vouchers in the state, as Madison and Milwaukee manage their own.

Dems said the bill would push people out of their homes, noting that it comes after the chamber passed a package aimed at helping homeless people.

“Here we are a week later about to vote on a bill that would risk making more people homeless,” said Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit.

But Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, noted the bill would include job training to help people find well-paying jobs. The bill, she said, would “open up a new spot” for those on waiting lists for the vouchers if those who refuse job training programs lose their eligibility.

The bill’s author, Rep. Terry Katsma, R-Oostburg, said at a news conference ahead of today’s session that it comes at a time of low unemployment and as companies across the state are looking to add workers.

“This is the time to do it,” he said.

Dems seize on new prevailing wage study

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Dems slam bills boosting penalties for juvenile offenders

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Dems slam new CBO score on health care bill


Dems are again slamming the Obamacare replacement bill that passed the GOP-led House following a new Congressional Budget Office score on the legislation.

The CBO released its report on the amended version of the bill this afternoon, finding it would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 23 million in 2026. The report also found it would reduce the deficit by $119 billion by that year, largely due to decreased spending on Medicaid.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, touted the report’s findings today as “another positive step toward keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

“We are on a rescue mission to bring down the cost of coverage and make sure families have access to affordable care,” he said. “This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit.”

But the Dems in the state’s congressional delegation again blasted the bill as one that would gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions and kick people off their coverage.

They also pointed to a chart in the CBO score projecting how much low-income 64-year-olds would pay in premiums compared to current law, partly due to the bill’s significant changes in determining subsidies that people use to pay premiums.

Right now, 64-year-olds with annual incomes of $26,500 pay around $1,700 each year for premiums — after the subsidies are factored in. CBO projected that population could pay at least $13,600 in premiums annually under the House GOP bill, largely due to the significant decrease in subsidies for them.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, called that an “age tax” and also said the bill hurts those with pre-existing conditions.

“If you have a pre-exisiting condition, #TrumpCare weakens the guaranteed protections you have today and gives you higher costs tomorrow,” she wrote on Twitter.

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, tweeted the CBO score found the bill “is a bad deal for rural Wisconsinites.”

And U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, said “people will pay more for less coverage, if they can even afford it.”

Department of Corrections: Looking to the future at Lincoln Hills


[email protected]

MADISON—Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Jon Litscher penned an editorial which appeared in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel regarding DOC’s actions to ensure that Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School is a safe and secure environment for youth. The column is included below:

“During my time as corrections secretary, my focus has been on expanding education, vocational training, treatment and programming for inmates and offenders. While our core mission is public safety, I believe that we must provide opportunities for inmates and offenders to learn vital skills that prepare them for success in the community and encourage them to leverage these opportunities to live productive lives upon their release from Department of Corrections custody and supervision.

Nowhere has this emphasis had a more significant effect than at Copper Lake School and Lincoln Hills School. Since I began in February 2016, we have made considerable investments to fundamentally shift our culture to incentivize and reward positive progress by youths, rather than solely focus on correcting misbehavior. Our interest is in helping these youths learn from their prior misdeeds, find their potential and move on to bright futures.

We have sought additional resources and utilized existing resources within our current budget to expand treatment and programming opportunities, including changes that will greatly increase the amount of time that youths spend out of their room engaged in productive activities to develop pro-social behavior. We have made policy changes to lessen the use of OC, restrictive housing and restraints, and continue to examine how we can further minimize their use.

Additionally, we have made wide-reaching personnel changes, bringing in experienced and highly qualified staff from across the Department of Corrections to lead cultural and institutional change at the schools that aligns with evidence-based practices. We have also emphasized and required significant training for all staff at the youth facilities, including a seven-week academy for new security staff. As a result, our staff have a clear understanding of their role and responsibility in each youth’s achievement.

The sum total of these changes is a vastly improved environment. When I visit Copper Lake and Lincoln Hills, I hear directly from staff and youths the positive effect these changes have had. We have opened

our doors to parents, county agencies, judges, legislators, professional associations, members of the media and others to see these changes firsthand and have received positive feedback from many visitors. I am incredibly proud of the ownership our employees have taken in serving as positive role models for youths in our custody.

I firmly believe that the environment at the facilities is safe and secure for both staff and youths. While issues have occurred, we have taken action to hold employees accountable.

Dwelling on the past, except as it informs future improvement and enhancement, discounts the progress that has occurred over the prior year and presents an image that does not reflect the reality that we see every day. As I noted above, we are continually focused on creating opportunities for youths to be successful and transition to independent lives in the community.”

Department of Financial Institutions: Wisconsin one of three states represented at national financial literacy commission meeting


Contact: George Althoff, Communications Director

Madison, Wisconsin – Wisconsin was one of three states invited to participate in the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Literacy and Education Commission meeting on May 24 in Washington, D.C.

Representing Wisconsin was David Mancl, Director of the Office of Financial Literacy at the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). The Commission is led by Chair Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, and Vice Chair Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Wisconsin is “proactive in promoting and implementing financial literacy education, especially in our schools,” Mancl told Commission members. “By equipping our students with the proper money skills, we increase the likelihood that they will be able to successfully navigate our evolving financial system as adults.”

Among the Wisconsin accomplishments cited by Mancl were:

  • Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to develop stand-alone model academic standards for personal financial literacy for Kindergarten through 12th grades. The standards define what students should know and be able to do. They include content, performance and proficiency benchmarks. In school districts with a required personal finance course, 89 percent have aligned their courses to those standards.
  • Wisconsin was a pioneer in financial literacy training for teachers with the creation of the National Institute on Financial and Economic Literacy, an annual program marking its 17th anniversary this summer. Nearly 900 educators have participated in this professional development program, which is comprised of three separate weeks offered at three graduate credits per week. More than 40,000 Wisconsin K-12 students were taught personal finance by Institute-trained teachers this school year.
  • To encourage decision makers in school districts to increase their commitment to financial literacy, DFI created a grant program. School districts may apply for a grant in a competitive bid process to enhance their financial literacy initiatives, or seek a grant for the adoption of a one-semester personal finance course as a requirement for graduation. Since 2012, $750,000 in grants have been awarded through the program. Seven years ago, only 25 percent of Wisconsin school districts required a course. Today that number has risen to 64 percent.
  • Wisconsin employs the convening power of government through the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy, which was created by Governor Scott Walker in 2011. The council is comprised of 25 appointed members from education, business, the financial industry, community organizations and government. The council is charged with measurably improving financial literacy in Wisconsin.
  • Beginning this fall, Wisconsin has mandated that all school districts provide academic and career planning services to students enrolled in grades 6 to 12. The goal of this requirement is to have every student college and career ready. It uses a collaboratively developed, student-driven process where students cultivate their own informed decisions for post-secondary success. Financial literacy is a key component in the process.

Representatives of other states to participate in the meeting were Carly Urban, Department of Agricultural Economics at Montana State University, and Richard Woods, Superintendent of the Georgia Department of Education.

Department of Revenue Collections: April FY2017


[email protected]gov


  Collections for Month Collections to Date
Revenue Source FY 2016 FY 2017 % change FY 2016 FY 2017 % change
Individual Income              717,088               759,147 5.9%           5,845,357           6,113,297 4.6%
Adjusted           1,013,229               986,375 -2.7%           6,141,498           6,340,526 3.2%
General Sales & Use              403,487               419,422 3.9%           3,711,212           3,823,055 3.0%
Corporate                32,840                 72,376 120.4%               755,230               699,522 -7.4%
Excise Taxes                57,456                 50,598 -11.9%               525,131               521,375 -0.7%
Other                10,554                 10,451 -1.0%               252,210               247,335 -1.9%
Total GPR           1,221,425           1,311,996 7.4%         11,089,141         11,404,584 2.8%
Adjusted           1,517,566           1,539,224 1.4%         11,385,282         11,631,813 2.2%



  1. For both fiscal years FY2016 and FY2017, the adjusted line includes withholding that was received on the first working day of May, rather than the last day of April, which was a weekend day. The collections-to-date were also affected for both fiscal years.
  2. Individual Income includes 62.5% of pass-thru withholding and Corporate Income includes the remaining 37.5%.
  3. The “Other” category includes estate, utility, and real estate transfer tax collections.
  4. Total does not include insurance premium taxes.
  5. This report is generated from the STAR Accounting System.  Timing differences may cause the amounts in this report to differ from reports produced by the Department of Administration.
  6. All data are preliminary and unaudited.

Department of Workforce Development: BLS dat- Wisconsin ranks 5th in nation in rate of manufacturing and total nonfarm job growth from March to April 2017



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 had the 5th highest rate of growth in total nonfarm and manufacturing jobs over the month:
“One day after announcing Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3.2 percent, the lowest since February 2000, we now learn that our pace of manufacturing and total job growth has outpaced the vast majority of states over the month,” Secretary Allen said. “As employers continue to invest and create jobs in Wisconsin, we will continue to equip workers with the skills needed to fill available openings.”
Highlights of Friday’s BLS release of state-by-state employment and unemployment data for April 2017 include:


  • Wisconsin’s manufacturing growth rate ranked 5th highest in the nation month-over-month and 11th highest in the nation when compared to April 2016.
  • Wisconsin’s ranked 5th highest in the nation in total nonfarm job growth from March to April 2017, and 14th highest in private-sector job growth over that time.
  • Wisconsin’s unemployment rate of 3.2 percent is at its lowest point since February 2000, and is significantly lower than the national rate of 4.4 percent.
  • Wisconsin’s year-over-year unemployment rate decrease of 0.9 percent was statistically significant and the rate of decrease ranked 5th in the nation.
  • Wisconsin’s month-over-month unemployment rate decrease of 0.2 percent was statistically significant and the rate of decrease ranked 7th in the country.
  • The state added a significant 37,600 total non-farm jobs and a significant 29,300 private-sector jobs from April 2016 to April 2017.
  • Wisconsin added a significant 14,800 total non-farm jobs from March to April 2017, and a significant 37,600 total non-farm jobs year-over-year.


Other indicators of Wisconsin’s economy include:


  • Both total labor force and employment in Wisconsin remained at all-time high in April, while the number of unemployed individuals was its lowest point 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: Over 2,610 jobs, 108 registered employers to participate in the June 8 Milwaukee Career Expo

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
Job seekers encouraged to register and obtain an admission ticket now
MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen announced today 108 employers with more than 2,610 entry level through advanced job openings have registered for the Milwaukee Career Expo on Thursday, June 8 at the State Fair Park Expo Center. He urges employers and job seekers to register now for the hiring event, which DWD operates in partnership with Employ Milwaukee.  
“The Milwaukee Career Expo is open to employers in all sectors with current job openings and pre-screened job seekers who successfully demonstrate work-ready qualities,” Secretary Allen said. “Requiring both employers and job seekers to register for the event helps strengthen employment connections and accelerate possible job offers.”
Aurora Health Care, Briggs & Stratton, FedEx Ground, Froedtert Health, Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, Quad/Graphics, Rockwell Automation and  Spectrum are among the businesses already registered for the expo. Representatives from a variety of non-profit organizations and state and local government agencies also will promote available jobs at the event. Employers with interest in attending the Milwaukee Career Expo must register online by June 1 at: WisconsinCareerExpo.com/Milwaukee
More than 1,000 registered job seekers are expected to attend the Milwaukee Career Expo, which will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first 30 minutes will be limited to U.S. military veterans seeking employment. The general public will be admitted at 11 a.m. Job seekers must take these steps to register and obtain an admission ticket by June 7: WisconsinCareerExpo.com/Milwaukee
Increased coordination between DWD and Employ Milwaukee provides businesses and workforce talent with added value through stronger connections to employers that are ready to hire qualified individuals for posted job openings. Registered job seekers are encouraged to prepare for hiring opportunities by: 1) Reviewing the list of participating Milwaukee Career Expo employers; and 2) Then visiting JobCenterofWisconsin.com to learn more about positions that employers are seeking to fill.
For News Media: Reporters who wish to interview Carol Burgett, DWD’s Milwaukee Job Service Director, may call her at (414) 874-0313 or DWD Communications at (608) 266-2722.

Department of Workforce Development: Retires part of automated telephone system to file UI claims May 24, emphasizes convenience of free, online services


(608) 266-2722

MADISON – Starting May 24, 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will retire part of a 1990’s-era automated telephone system to file Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims, shifting virtually all filing of initial UI claims online using a computer, tablet or smart phone. Claimants can call UI help center staff for guidance in using the online process or, if they are unable to use online services, staff will file the claim over the phone.
Weekly claims will still be accepted through the automated phone system until the weekly phone system is retired in a future phase. In 2017, approximately 81 percent of all initial and weekly claims already are filed online.
“As a substantial majority of all UI claimants already file using our free, fast and easy online system, we will be working to support a smooth transition for the small number or claimants who still file initial claims by phone,” DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. “By transitioning more users to the online system, our staff can provide even better customer care to Wisconsinites by more effectively and efficiently processing claims.”
In addition to providing additional training to UI help center staff, DWD has cross-trained DWD staff who work in the state’s Job Centers and is communicating the upcoming changes to Wisconsin’s network of over 450 public library locations in communities across Wisconsin to help those without a personal computer or mobile device file their claims.
DWD began notifying claimants in late 2016 of plans to retire the 1990’s-era automated phone system with messages on the phone system, online and through direct mailings. In 2016, over 90 percent of all UI claimants had an active UI online account.
Secretary Allen noted the online claim filing services offer several advantages over the automated telephone system, such as:
  • The ability to save work and conveniently finish a claim at a later time.
  • Options to view information before submitting the claim to verify the accuracy of a claimant’s answers.
  • Work search and wage entry screens to entered required data online, preventing potential payment delays associated with sending the information by fax or mail.
  • Tips and answers to frequent questions during the filing process and how to videos to help claimants navigate the online system.
Additionally, customers can quickly access account information, such as:
  • Individual claim information, payment status and remaining benefit balance.
  • Printer-friendly documentation of payments received for housing or energy assistance.
  • 1099-G tax forms. to view and print
  • Personal information including the ability to update an address, tax withholding, payment method, and bank information.
To file an unemployment claim or seek answers to claims questions online, UI customers can log on to my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov and create a username and password.
For more information, please visit https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/online.


Department of Workforce Development: Worker’s compensation study ranks Wisconsin 1st in low level of attorney involvement

CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce
Study showed level of attorney involvement in WC cases in Wisconsin is roughly 13 percent, well below median of 30 percent
MADISON – Today, Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen released the following statement regarding the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute’s (WCRI) new study showing that Wisconsin ranked first among the 18 states in level of attorney involvement in worker’s compensation (WC) cases.  The study showed that the level of attorney involvement in WC cases in Wisconsin was 13 percent, compared to 52 percent of WC cases in Illinois. 
“WCRI’s recent study shows that Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation (WC) program’s systems and processes promote rapid resolution of disputes which leads to lower costs, quicker payment of benefits and a fair, efficient and accountable system overall,” Secretary Allen said.  “Not only did Wisconsin create the nation’s first worker compensation program over 106 years ago, we continue to be recognized as a national leader and that is directly attributable to our system, the legislature and the staff who support it.”  
Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation law was signed in 1911.  Under the law, both sides, employees and employers, received a benefit in exchange for a stable system.  Employers received tort protection from workplace injury lawsuits and employees received no fault workplace coverage with a defined schedule of benefits if an injury resulted in lost time from work. 
For information on Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation program.

Dept. of Administration: Gov. Walker announces redesigned Wisconsin.gov



Contact: Steven Michels, (608) 267-7874

State web portal delivers compelling mobile responsive interface

Madison – Today, Governor Scott Walker announced the redesign of Wisconsin.gov, which features an exciting mobile-responsive design and compelling user experience for residents and visitors alike. Wisconsin.Gov enhances engagement with the state by presenting key online state services and apps, interactive maps, and dynamic display of performance metrics.

“Wisconsin.gov is a one-stop source for those living, visiting, and doing business here in Wisconsin,” Governor Walker said.  “Our redesigned state web portal makes government services more effective and efficient for the hard-working taxpayers.  Visitors and residents can discover all that Wisconsin has to offer in an easy to navigate, interactive design while on the go.”

The site is organized around user groups for better service to citizens, businesses, workers, and government. Agencies, Boards, and Commissions are categorized and include links to social media, providing more ways to connect to state government. Events of statewide and regional interest are prominently featured, and Wisconsin.Gov also includes content for kids including state symbols such as the badger.  Wisconsin’s famous scenic beauty and outdoor activities are featured on the site in a background video.

The State portal was last redesigned in 2014, and at that time was given a mobile-responsive facelift to accommodate the growing move toward mobile devices. The latest updates reflect the evolution in mobile interface design since 2014, underscoring the state’s focus on current technology. The Wisconsin.Gov project was delivered at no cost to the state or its citizens through a public-private partnership between the State of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Interactive Network, LLC.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Comments open on Spartan 4F® use on strawberries


Donna Gilson, 608-224-5130[email protected]gov
Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020[email protected]wi.gov

MADISON – Public comments are open through June 6 on a proposed pesticide registration for a special local need in Wisconsin, allowing strawberry growers to use Spartan 4F® to control weeds.

The registration would help growers control weeds including common groundsel and ladysthumb in strawberries after harvest, when commercial growers mow their fields to rejuvenate the leaf canopy to help control insect and disease problems. After mowing, weeds can grow in the open space left from mowing. There are no registered herbicides to control these weeds in strawberries.

The active ingredient in Spartan 4F® is sulfentrazone. It is manufactured by FMC Corp.

Spartan 4F® is already registered for use on strawberries and other crops in Wisconsin, but it is labeled only for use before planting strawberries. It has previously been available for post-harvest use under a five-year special registration, but that registration expired Dec. 31, 2016. This new registration would expire Dec. 31, 2021.

The preliminary environmental assessment indicates that the proposed registration will not require a full environmental assessment.

For a copy of the assessment, contact Otto Oemig, DATCP, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI, 53708-8911, 608-224-4547, [email protected]. It is also available for review at the department MondayFriday, 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 2811 Agriculture Dr., Madison, second floor. Comments received on or before 4:30 p.m.,Tuesday, June 6, will become part of the preliminary environmental assessment record. Send comments to Otto Oemig by mail at the above postal or email address.

The special registration process allows states to register additional uses of pesticide products other than those listed on their labels, without prior federal approval. It helps growers address local pest problems that cannot be adequately controlled by any available federally registered product. These problems include insect outbreaks, fungal diseases, and grasses and weeds that outcompete crops. Details about the special registration process are available at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/SpecialPesticideRegistrations.aspx.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Election period now open for Wisconsin Ginseng Board



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

MADISON – Wisconsin ginseng growers have until June 10, 2017 to vote to elect two new members to the seven-member Ginseng Board of Wisconsin. Eligible growers may vote for two of the three growers nominated during the period that ended April 1, 2017, or they may write in alternative producers.

The candidates whose names are on the ballot are: Aaron Kaiser, Edgar; Robert Kaldunski, Edgar; and Toufue Xiong, Wausau.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is mailing ballots to producers the week of May 15. Ballots must be emailed or postmarked by June 10, 2017. Elected producers will serve a 3-year term beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2020.

Growers who have questions or who do not receive a ballot by May 22 can contact DATCP’s Market Orders Program Director, Debbie Gegare, at 608-224-5116 or [email protected]

The Ginseng Board of Wisconsin is responsible for administering Wisconsin’s Ginseng Marketing Order. The board secures and distributes funding for research, education and promotion of Wisconsin-grown ginseng. DATCP administers elections for all Wisconsin market orders. To learn more about the market order boards, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/MarketingBoards.aspx

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: WI Milk Marketing Board ballot deadline is May 25



Rick Hummell, 608-224-5041, [email protected]

Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020, [email protected]


MADISON Dairy farmers in nine Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board districts are reminded they have until May 25 to mail in their director election ballots. For the 2017 election, seven districts have candidates running unopposed, while two districts have run-off elections.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) mailed ballots to eligible dairy producers in the affected districts during the first week of May.

Here are the candidates, listed by district:

  • District 1 (Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties), candidate: Benjamin Peterson, Grantsburg.
  • District 4 (Barron and Polk counties), candidate: Audrey Kusilek, Rice Lake.
  • District 7 (Clark County), candidate: David Bangart, Greenwood.
  • District 10 (Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties), candidate: Julie Veldhuis, Kewaunee.
  • District 13 (Buffalo, Pierce and Pepin counties), candidates: Lanette Harsdorf, Beldenville; and Robert Sendelbach, Cochrane.
  • District 16 (Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Marquette counties), candidates: David Schmitz, Fond du Lac; and Janet Clark, Rosendale.
  • District 19 (Columbia and Dodge counties), candidate: Becky Levzow, Rio.
  • District 22 (Grant County), candidate: Ann Kieler, Platteville.
  • District 25 (Green, Rock and Walworth counties), candidate: Stacy Eberle, Monroe.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) mailed ballots to eligible dairy producers in the affected districts during the first week of May.

Eligible producers who have not received a ballot can contact Debbie Gegare, DATCP Market Orders program coordinator, at 608-224-5116 or [email protected] to request a ballot. Completed ballots must be signed and sent to WI DATCP, Marketing Order Program, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911. The ballots must be postmarked on or before May 25. Unsigned ballots will not be counted.

Elected producers will serve three-year terms beginning July 1, 2017.

DATCP administers elections for Wisconsin commodity marketing boards.

To learn more about the market order boards, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/MarketingBoards.aspx

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Wisconsin potato board election open until June 10



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

MADISON – Wisconsin potato growers have until June 10, 2017 to vote to elect three new members to the nine-member Wisconsin Potato Industry Board. One seat is open in each of the board’s three districts. Eligible growers may vote for the candidate in their respective districts, or they may write in alternative eligible producers. Candidates were nominated during the period that ended April 1, 2017.

Nominees on the ballot are:

District 1:  Nominee: Tom Wild, Antigo. (District 1 includes: Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Brown, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Door, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Florence, Forest, Iron, Kewaunee, Langlade, Lincoln, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, St. Croix, Taylor, Vilas, and Washburn counties.)

District 2: Nominee: William Wysocki, Plover. (District 2 includes: Marathon, Outagamie, Portage, Shawano, Waupaca and Waushara counties.)

District 3: Nominee: Heidi Randall, Cambria. (District 3 includes: Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jackson, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, LaCrosse, Lafayette, Manitowoc, Marquette, Milwaukee, Monroe, Ozaukee, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Vernon, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Winnebago and Wood counties.)

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is mailing ballots to producers the week of May 15. Ballots must be emailed or postmarked by June 10, 2017. Elected producers will serve three-year terms beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2020.

Growers with questions or who have not received a ballot by May 22 can contact DATCP’s Market Orders Program Director, Debbie Gegare, at 608-224-5116 or [email protected]

The Wisconsin Potato Industry Board is responsible for administering Wisconsin’s Potato Marketing Order. The board secures and distributes funding for research, education and promotion of Wisconsin-grown potatoes. DATCP administers elections for all Wisconsin market orders. To learn more about the market order boards, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/MarketingBoards.aspx

Dept. of Children and Families: Department of Children and Families recognizes Madison Foster Parent



Joe Scialfa or Gina Paige ― 608-266-9000

(MADISON) – In recognition of Foster Care Month, Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson honored foster parent Joan Klang for her incredible commitment to the children of Dane County who have needed a temporary, safe place to call home by presenting them with the 2017 Governor’s Foster Care Award.

“Foster Care Month gives us an opportunity to thank the families who care for the vulnerable children in Wisconsin who need to be removed from their homes for their own protection,” said Secretary Anderson. “Foster parents offer these children shelter and play a critical role in helping them take the first step of their journey towards healing and recovery.”

Fostering children for 40 years, Mrs. Klang has opened her home to over 130 children and youth. Joan was an early adopter of having the goal to reunite children with their biological parents. In working towards reunification, she has served as a mentor and source of support to countless parents trying to make the changes needed to bring their children home. She has helped many children overcome traumatic experiences and gain hope for the future by providing them acceptance, respect and commitment.

“For those times when children must be placed in out-of-home care, foster families step in to keep them safe, nurture them, and give them a place to call home,” stated Secretary Anderson. “I know the joys and challenges of being a foster parent can be significant, although the joys far outweigh the challenges.”

Secretary Anderson recognized Mrs. Klang, along with five other outstanding foster parents from throughout Wisconsin, at a ceremony this morning at the state Capitol.

The ceremony today also highlighted the need for additional kind, responsible adults to step forward and care for foster children. Currently in Wisconsin there are about 7,300 children living in out-of-home care. For more information on becoming a foster parent, visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become.

Dept. of Children and Families: Foster care awards recognize unsung heroes



Joe Scialfa or Gina Paige ― 608-266-9000

(MADISON) – Foster families throughout Wisconsin play an important role in the lives of children who need a temporary home, while also providing care and guidance. In recognition of Gov. Scott Walker’s proclamation declaring May as Foster Care Month in Wisconsin, Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Eloise Anderson honored six outstanding foster families and a foster youth with the 2017 Governor’s Foster Care Award.

Six foster parent awards were presented during a ceremony today in the Assembly Chamber of the State Capitol, recognizing:  Doris and Wayne Jeske of Tilleda, Joan Klang of Madison, Richard and Lynn Lawson of Wausau, Lacey and Steve Naiberg of Conrath, David and Carrie Osswald of Whitefish Bay, and Aaron Schellinger of Appleton.

“Foster families are some of our communities’ greatest unsung heroes,” said Secretary Anderson. “Foster families take in children during their darkest hour, shelter them and give them love. They do this, knowing that in all likelihood they will one day say goodbye. Even with that knowledge, they nurture and love these children and welcome birth families into their lives; offering support during their journey towards reunification.”

Also recognized was Reginald “Reggie” Brown, Jr. from Waupaca who received a 2017 Foster Youth Award for overcoming challenges, forging a new path for his future, and helping to mentor other teens.

The ceremony today also highlighted the need for additional kind, responsible adults to step forward and care for foster children. Currently in Wisconsin there are about 7,300 children living in out-of-home care. For more information on becoming a foster parent, visithttps://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become.

Dept. of Children and Families: Joins hands in support of foster youth


Joe Scialfa or Gina Paige ― 608-266-9000

(MADISON) – As part of National Foster Care Awareness Month, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) joined the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council (YAC) to support, empower and give a voice to current and former foster youth throughout Wisconsin.

DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson and department staff participated in the Hands Around the Capitol event on Tuesday, May 23rd to show support and raise awareness of the challenges facing foster children and youth.

“Children and youth who are placed in foster care must overcome significant obstacles before, during and after their stay in out-of-home care,” said Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Eloise Anderson. “I am so proud to join hands with members of the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council as they recognize National Foster Care Month and show the world that they will not let their past dictate their future.”

In Wisconsin, 285 of the roughly 7,300 children in foster care aged out of the system in 2016. While thousands of fosters parents have already stepped forward to provide a temporary home for children in need, we are still searching for additional kind, responsible adults to provide the love and support these children need.

If you are interested in changing the life of a child through foster care, visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become.

To learn more about the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council, visit https://www.facebook.com/wiyac2005/.

Photo caption: Representative Jessie Rodriguez, First Lady Tonette Walker and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson join hands to show support and raise awareness of the challenges facing foster youth at the Hands Around the Capitol event on May 23 (photo by Gina Paige, DCF).

Dept. of Corrections: DOC Secretary Presents Valor, Lifesaving Awards at SALUTE Awards Ceremony

CONTACT: DOC Communications, 608-240-5060[email protected]

MADISON – During a ceremony at the Wisconsin State Capitol, Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Jon Litscher joined DOC leadership, family, and friends to recognize a number of DOC staff for their exceptional performance.

The SALUTE Awards Ceremony, which is held annually, recognizes employees who exemplify the highest standards of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Employees received awards for valor and lifesaving, as well as awards recognizing employees for outstanding performance in the following categories: service, awareness, leadership, uniqueness, team, and excellence.

“Our employees make me incredibly proud,” said Secretary Litscher. “The individuals we recognized today represent the very best of the Department of Corrections – staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to make our Department better. On behalf of the people of Wisconsin, I am pleased to thank these employees for their service to our state.”

Valor Award Recipients

  • Andrew Boerst, Correctional Officer, Green Bay Correctional Institution, Green Bay: Intervened and confronted an inmate armed with a weapon who was attacking a psychologist at GBCI, sustaining an injury in the process. He continued to confront the attacker until help arrived.
  • Mark Garavalia, Lieutenant, Jackson Correctional Institution, Black River Falls: Came upon a vehicle rolled over with the victim pinned inside the car and a downed power line. Lt. Garavalia notified law enforcement and stayed with the victim until responders arrived.

Lifesaving Award Recipients

  • Bryan Brennan, Correctional Officer, Oakhill Correctional Institution, Oregon: Officer Brennan and his son observed an individual sitting in a car who was experiencing a medical emergency. Officer Brennan and his son performed lifesaving measures until emergency responders arrived. Officer Brennan received a Valor award in 2016.
  • Heidi Corey, Probation and Parole Agent, Division of Community Corrections – Region 6, Oconto: Agent Corey received a phone call from a suicidal offender and kept the offender on the phone until police arrived.
  • Robert Drehmel, Correctional Officer, Waupun Correctional Institution, Waupun: Officer Drehmel was off duty and came upon an individual laying in the street who had overdosed on heroin. Officer Drehmel called 911 and performed lifesaving measures until paramedics arrived.
  • Dean Knollenberg, Correctional Officer, Redgranite Correctional Institution, Redgranite: Officer Knollenberg was the first to respond to a serious car accident and stayed with the victim until emergency responders arrived.
  • Dr. Prapti Kuber, Physician, Dodge Correctional Institution, Waupun: Dr. Kuber was driving to work when she came across a vehicle accident. Dr. Kuber provided medical care until an ambulance arrived.
  • Shane Steffen, Correctional Officer, Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center, Milwaukee: Officer Steffen was leaving work and saw an individual performing chest compressions. He assisted in performing lifesaving measures until paramedics arrived.
  • Sandra Stephan, Social Worker, Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility, Chippewa Falls: Ms. Stephan was driving home when she witnessed a car drive off the road and roll down an embankment. She called 911 and stayed with the driver until paramedics arrived.

SALUTE Award Recipients 

  • Service award winner – Joan Braun, Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution, Plymouth: Ms. Braun has worked in the KMCI business office since 1981 and serves as a valuable resource to both the institution and Division of Adult Institutions.
  • Awareness award winner – Joelle Kotecki, Division of Community Corrections – Region 1, Madison: Agent Kotecki has repeatedly gone above and beyond the call of duty to help ensure that offenders can access treatment and programming services critical to their continued success in the community.
  • Leadership award winner – Sherry Govier, Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, Boscobel: Sergeant Govier has taken on many roles at WSPF and serves as an invaluable resource for staff at WSPF and throughout the Division of Adult Institutions.
  • Uniqueness award winner – Kane Casolari, Division of Management Services, Madison: Mr. Casolari developed a tool that enables DOC staff to perform audits much more quickly utilizing technology.
  • Team award winner – Dr. Tracy Johnson, Dr. Melissa Parrent, Dr. Cynthia Bainbridge, Dr. Cassandra Jennings, Luke Severt, Karyn Mehringer, Torie Sebranek, and Debra Koch, Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School, Irma: The CLS/LHS PSU staff have identified and implemented significant enhancements that result in youth receiving quality mental health services.
  • Excellence award winner – Dylon Radtke, Dodge Correctional Institution, Waupun: Security Director Radtke manages security at DCI as well as taking a leadership role through DOC’s Use of Force Committee and conducting a number of Use of Force Reviews of incidents that occurred at CLS/LHS.

Dept. of Corrections: Jackson Correctional Institution launches program to train service dogs for persons with disabilities


DOC Communications, 608-240-5060
[email protected]

BLACK RIVER FALLS – Today, the first litter of ten puppies arrived at Jackson Correctional Institution in Black River Falls to begin training as service dogs. Jackson Correctional Institution is working with Can Do Canines, a Minnesota-based non-profit organization that trains assistance dogs for persons with hearing loss, mobility challenges, seizure disorders, diabetes, or childhood autism. The service dogs are provided at no cost to the recipient.

In addition to the program launching at Jackson Correctional Institution, there are existing programs at Stanley Correctional Institution, Oshkosh Correctional Institution, and Flambeau Correctional Center. Correctional dog programs decrease costs for organizations training dogs and provide inmates with positive, productive activities while they are incarcerated.

The incoming litter of puppies is roughly 4 months old and will alternate between training at Jackson Correctional Institution and training with volunteers in the community for the next 10 to 14 months. During this period, the dogs will receive training in a number of areas, including obedience training, house manners, and service dog skills like opening doors or flipping light switches.

Jon Litscher, DOC Secretary said: “Welcoming this new program to Jackson Correctional Institution is one way that we can give back to the community. Inmates training service dogs for persons with disabilities decreases the cost of training and is a positive, productive activity for inmates. Our focus is on providing opportunities for inmates to better themselves through education, programming, and treatment. I firmly believe that this program will aid inmates in developing new skills that will serve them well upon their release to the community.”

Lizzie Tegels, Warden, Jackson Correctional Institution said: “This program is an incredible opportunity for inmates at Jackson Correctional Institution to grow key skills like responsibility, empathy, and commitment, as well as giving back to the community. We are excited for this partnership with Can Do Canines and look forward to doing our part to train these dogs to serve persons with disabilities.”

Julianne Larsen, Director of Training for Can Do Canines said: “We are so excited to be starting this new partnership with Jackson Correctional Facility and we cannot wait to see the positive impact this program has on the inmates and the facility staff!”

Can Do Canines is also seeking volunteers in the Black River Falls area to provide community training during the weekend, socializing the dogs and exposing them to situations they will encounter as a service dog. Community members interested in volunteering can contact Can Do Canines Volunteer Coordinator Laurie Carlson at 763-331-3000, extension 113.

Can Do Canines (New Hope, Minn.) is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities by creating mutually beneficial partnerships with specially trained dogs. Since 1989, Can Do Canines has provided more than 570 assistance dogs to people with disabilities; all free of charge. Our fully trained dogs, often adopted from local animal shelters, are provided to our clients who live with disabilities that involve mobility challenges, hearing loss or deafness, seizure disorders, diabetes complicated by hypoglycemia unawareness or children with autism.

Dept. of Veterans Affairs: WDVA announces Memorial Day events at Wisconsin Veterans Cemeteries


Ceremonies at King, Spooner and Union Grove


Carla Vigue, Director at (608) 266-0517

[email protected]

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs today announced Memorial Day observances at the state’s three Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemeteries.

The theme of this year’s Memorial Day ceremonies is Remembering WWI in observation of the centennial of World War I. Ceremonies will include guest speakers, special music and a ceremonial rifle salute. Details in the links below.

Veterans, their families, and the public are invited to attend. Ceremonies are as follows:

Saturday, May 27th at 1:00 p.m.
Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery
N4063 Veterans Way, Spooner (just off Highway 53)
Featured speakers: State Senator Janet Bewley and Elizabeth Benn, Council on Veterans Programs

Sunday, May 28th at 11:00 a.m.
Southern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery
21731 Spring Street, Union Grove (adjacent to the Wisconsin Veterans Home)
Featured speakers: Governor Scott Walker, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Robin Vos and U.S. Navy Command Master Chief Shawn Isbell

Monday, May 29th at 10:30 a.m.*
Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery
N2665 County Road QQ, King
Featured speakers: State Representative Kevin Peterson and Wisconsin Veterans Museum Director Michael Telzrow
*a short lakeside service will take place at the Marden Center at 9:30 a.m.

Dept. of Workforce Development: Business closing & mass layoff (WARN) notice: Colony Brands, Inc.


Colony Brands, Inc. – Colony Brands, Inc. will be closing their Madison Fulfillment Center, 3650 Milwaukee Street, in Madison, Wisconsin, on or about July 31, 2018. This closing will affect approximately 16 full-time employees and 87 temporary employees. The South Central Workforce Development Board Rapid Response Team will contact the company to offer Rapid Response Services.

Contact: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

Workforce Development Dislocated Worker Services Summary

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Dislocated Worker Program provides transition assistance to workers and companies affected by permanent worker layoffs. The Program’s local Rapid Response Teams help companies and worker representatives develop and implement a practical transition plan based on the size of the layoff event. Types of services include:

  • pre-layoff workshops on a variety of topics such as resume writing and interviewing, job search strategies, and budgeting
  • provision of information about programs and resources through written materials and information sessions
  • career and resource fairs.

Workers affected by permanent layoff may also access basic re-employment services at no charge through the state’s Job Centers. Some services, including training assistance, may be an option for some workers after enrolling in one or more of DWD’s workforce development programs. While all companies faced with permanent worker layoffs are encouraged to seek assistance from the local Rapid Response Teams, some companies may be required to give 60 days notice before a mass layoff or closing under federal and/or state law. More information about advance notice requirements is available at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dislocatedworker/.

Dept. of Workforce Development: New quarterly census of employment & wages data released

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 Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the state’s Quarterly Census of Employment & Wages (QCEW) covering the fourth quarter of 2016. The QCEW data is compiled quarterly based on Unemployment Insurance records from some 96% of Wisconsin business establishments.

Highlights of the data when compared to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) published data for 2015 and previous years include:

  • Wisconsin added 179,820 private-sector jobs from December 2010 through December 2016, including an increase of 11,590 jobs over the last 12-month period.
  • The state added 172,444 total nonfarm jobs from December 2010 through December 2016, including an increase of 15,462 jobs over the last 12-month period.
  • Construction jobs grew by 21 percent from December 2010 through December 2016, holding steady over the last 12-month period with a gain of 670 jobs.

“Wisconsin added almost 180,000 private-sector jobs over the six-year period ending in December 2016 including thousands of new jobs last year,” DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. “More recent economic indicators show we’re going strong in 2017 with the unemployment rate reaching a 17-year low of 3.2 percent, more Wisconsinites employed than ever before and announcements of companies such as Haribo and Mills Fleet Farm investing and creating hundreds of additional jobs in Wisconsin. As Wisconsin works to reduce costs to do business and support a robust talent pipeline, employers can offer incentives like higher pay to attract and retain skilled workers.”

Today’s release follows the recent releases of BLS statewide and local monthly data, which showed:

  • Wisconsin has a preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 3.2 percent in April 2017, down a significant 0.2 percent from March and at its lowest rate since February 2000.
  • The 3.2 percent rate remains lower than the national unemployment rate, which was 4.4 percent in April 2017.
  • Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 68.6 percent and continues to outpace the U.S. rate which decreased to 62.9 percent in April.
  • Both total labor force and employment in Wisconsin remained at all-time high in April, while the number of unemployed individuals was its lowest point since April 2000.
  • Based on preliminary data, the state added a significant 37,600 total non-farm jobs and a significant 29,300 private-sector jobs from April 2016 to April 2017.
  • Wisconsin also added 7,500 private sector jobs and a significant 14,800 total non-farm jobs from March 2017 to April 2017.
  • The unemployment rate for 44 of 72 counties reached all-time April lows in 2017.

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

  • Initial UI claims ended 2016 at their lowest level in their last 30 years. Year 2017 initial UI claims are running at the lowest in at least the past 30 years.
  • Continuing unemployment claims ended 2016 at their lowest level since 1973. Continuing unemployment claims in Wisconsin are running at the lowest in at least the past 30 years.

Every quarter, all employers covered under state or federal unemployment insurance are required to submit tax reports on monthly employment, quarterly total and taxable wages, and contributions for hourly and salaried employees. Wisconsin has nearly 160,000 business establishments employing some 2.8 million workers that are required by state and federal statutes to submit this information to DWD. DWD sends the data to the BLS, which incorporates the information when it publishes the QCEW.

Wisconsin has received the BLS’s sign-off on state data covering the fourth quarter of 2016 and is posting the fourth-quarter data on its WORKnet site. The BLS will incorporate the data in its next QCEW release scheduled for June 7. Information about the QCEW, including data for the 2015 quarters and first three quarters of 2016, can be accessed through the BLS website at http://bls.gov/cew/.

The QCEW is a comprehensive count of jobs, as it includes reports from nearly all Wisconsin employers. This data series is distinct from the Current Employment Statistics (CES), which estimates jobs based on response to a survey of roughly 5,500 employers (3.5 percent of Wisconsin businesses) and is released in preliminary form each month.

Dept. of Workforce Development: Wisconsin business closing & mass layoff (WARN) notice: Goetz Companies, Inc. & Zalk Josephs Fabricators


DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

DWD has received the following Wisconsin Business Closing and Mass Layoff (WARN) notices:

Goetz Companies, Inc. (Petro of Portage Travel Center) – Goetz Companies, Inc. (Petro of Portage Travel Center), located at N5800 Kinney Road, Portage, WI 53901 is in the process of selling its business. The buyer has agreed to hire substantially all of the company’s non-management employees. This notice was filed out of “an abundance of caution” and to the extent any job losses occur as a result of the sale, approximately 104 employees could be affected. The South Central Workforce Development Board Rapid Response Team will contact the company to offer Rapid Response Services if needed.

Zalk Josephs Fabricators, LLC – Zalk Josephs Fabricators, LLC, located at 400 Industrial Circle, Stoughton, WI 53589 will be temporarily laying off approximately 50-55 employees beginning on or around July 22, 2017. The layoffs are expected to be no longer than 8 weeks. The South Central Workforce Development Board Rapid Response Team will contact the company to offer Rapid Response Services.

Workforce Development Dislocated Worker Services Summary

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Dislocated Worker Program provides transition assistance to workers and companies affected by permanent worker layoffs. The Program’s local Rapid Response Teams help companies and worker representatives develop and implement a practical transition plan based on the size of the layoff event. Types of services include:

  • pre-layoff workshops on a variety of topics such as resume writing and interviewing, job search strategies, and budgeting
  • provision of information about programs and resources through written materials and information sessions
  • career and resource fairs.

Workers affected by permanent layoff may also access basic re-employment services at no charge through the state’s Job Centers. Some services, including training assistance, may be an option for some workers after enrolling in one or more of DWD’s workforce development programs. While all companies faced with permanent worker layoffs are encouraged to seek assistance from the local Rapid Response Teams, some companies may be required to give 60 days notice before a mass layoff or closing under federal and/or state law. More information about advance notice requirements is available at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dislocatedworker/.

Disability Rights Wisconsin: Applauds Joint Finance for ending wait lists for children


Dan Idzikowski
(608) 267-0214

Madison, WI- Disability Rights Wisconsin applauds the Joint Finance Committee for taking the bold step to finally eliminate waiting lists for children with disabilities to receive long term care services. The members of Joint Finance supported the Governor’s investment of $39 million dollars to support families raising children with significant disabilities.

Disability Rights Wisconsin and many other disability advocates have sought the elimination of waiting lists for children for over a decade. This investment makes sense from a policy and budget perspective. DRW has worked with parents and advocates to advance this idea ever since Wisconsin’s Children’s Long Term Supports Medicaid Waiver program was approved. Families who have a child with significant disabilities are more likely to live in poverty and experience financial hardship and stress than other families. Yet in Wisconsin, 46% of
eligible children and families have been waiting for services that help them live at home and be part of their communities, including specialized equipment, respite, or home modifications. These supports will allow more parents to maintain active participation in the workforce.

“Over 2200 families of children with disabilities have been waiting too long to get the needed supports and services to help their children live at home and reach their full potential. Families will have the services needed to take care of their children. Tomorrow these families can breathe a sigh of relief for their children with disabilities knowing help is on the horizon,” said Dan Idzikowki, Executive Director for DRW.

This commitment by Joint Finance makes the provision of long term supports in Wisconsin more equitable between eligible adults and children. We believe this funding to support children and families today will have a lasting positive effect that will result in a higher quality of life and less pressure on the adult long term care system in the future.

DOA, Elections, Ethics commissions on JFC agenda Tuesday

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