2017 May 19

Daily Archives: May 19, 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.

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.

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:

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

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.



FRI AM Update: Schimel faults measures used in redistricting lawsuit; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: JFC rejects tech college tuition freeze; Walker creates committee on driverless cars

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FRI Report: No recent donations would have triggered proposed Supreme Court recusal rule

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Gov. Walker: Budget ensures Wisconsin remains a Top 10 state


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker released the following column today calling on Wisconsin citizens who support the top priorities included in his budget – student success, rewarding work, and accountable government – to contact their legislators and urge them to support his proposal. This column is for your consideration to publish.

Budget Ensures Wisconsin Remains a Top 10 State

Good news! Wisconsin has the highest number of people employed in state history.

More good news – the unemployment rate for April is down to 3.2 percent. That is the lowest the unemployment rate has been in Wisconsin since February of 2000 (and close to the all-time record low unemployment). The report also showed that 7,500 private sector jobs were created, and our state led the nation in significant job gains along with Texas and Minnesota last month.

Plus, the percentage of people working in our state went up to 68.6 percent, which is 5.7 points higher than the federal rate. We are a Top 10 state for the percentage of our adults in the labor force.

Wisconsin is in the Top 10 in other areas, too.

Our students are in the Top 10 for ACT scores in states where all of the students take the exam. Wisconsin ranks in the Top 10 for high school graduation rates.

In my budget plan, we include the largest actual dollar investment in K-12 education ever. We increase state aid for our technical colleges and the University of Wisconsin System. And we continue to hold the line on tuition to make college more affordable for students and working families.

We are in the Top 10 states for reducing our overall tax burden. Specifically, from 2010 to 2014, we outranked 43 other states in this area.

In my budget plan, we continue our tax relief. Property and income taxes will both be lower in 2018 than they were in 2010. In fact, we actually eliminate an entire tax. If approved, the state tax on your property tax bill will be gone.

We are in the Top 10 for fully-funded pension systems. Wisconsin ranks in the Top 10 for the lowest outstanding long-term debt.

In my budget plan, we have the lowest level of transportation bonding since the 2001-2003 state budget and the lowest overall bonding in 20 years. On top of that, our rainy day fund is 178 times larger than it was when we first took office.

We are in the Top 10 for access to health care coverage for our citizens. In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation said we had no insurance gap and Wisconsin is the only state that did not take the Obamacare expansion that is in the Top 10 for coverage. Wisconsin’s health care systems also rank in the Top 10 in the nation.

Recently, Wisconsin moved into the Top 10 rankings for places to do business. In 2010, Wisconsin ranked 41st in the nation for business according to the rankings of Chief Executive Magazine. In 2017, for the first time ever, we moved up to the Top 10.

As the economy continues to improve here in Wisconsin, we must do more to build a strong workforce. Last week alone, there were more than 100,000 jobs openings on our state website JobCenterOfWisconsin.com.

Our budget helps to build a strong workforce by investing in student success. We reform welfare to reward work. And we make government more accountable so we can continue to lower the tax burden on our hard-working taxpayers. If these are goals you share, I ask you to contact your state Representative and your state Senator. Let know that your values are reflected in the priorities of our budget.

Gov. Walker: Honors fallen law enforcement officers at 27th Annual Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

Madison – Governor Scott Walker presented a wreath on behalf of the people of Wisconsin today at the 27th Annual Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony, which took place at the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial located on the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds.

“From Beloit to the Apostle Islands, from Ellsworth to Washington Island – law enforcement officers all throughout our great state risk their lives every day to protect us from harm,” Governor Walker said. “We owe all of our law enforcement officers sincere thanks every day for their selfless service. Today, however, we offer special, heartfelt thanks to those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our safety by laying down their lives in the line of duty. We honor them, and keep their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.”

The names of Traffic Officer Charles William Gudgell, Public Safety Officer Michael Josua Ventura, and Deputy Sheriff Dan Thomas Glaze, Jr. were added to the Memorial today.

Traffic Officer Charles Gudgell was directing traffic when he was struck by an automobile and fatally injured on August 22, 1916.

Public Safety Officer Michael Ventura died in the line of duty on July 8, 2016, following a tragic automobile accident. He joined the Salem Department of Public Safety in 2016 following his graduation from Gateway Technical Law Enforcement Academy.

Deputy Sheriff Dan Glaze, Jr. was shot and killed in the line of duty after responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle on October 29, 2016. He had served as a law enforcement officer for ten years.

The Memorial site outside the State Capitol now lists the names of 273 fallen Wisconsin law enforcement officers.

Gov. Walker: Joins in groundbreaking ceremony for new Mills Fleet Farm Distribution Center


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

Chippewa Falls – Governor Scott Walker joined Mills Fleet Farm and other community leaders today in celebrating the groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s new distribution center in Chippewa Falls. The new 1.1 million square-foot center will be located in the Lake Wissota Business Park.

“Today’s groundbreaking is the latest example of companies choosing to invest and create jobs in Wisconsin,” Governor Walker said. “Companies like Mills Fleet Farm know Wisconsin is working. Our unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent in April, down from 3.4 percent in March. That’s the lowest our unemployment rate has been since February of 2000. Our common-sense reforms have led us here, but there’s still much work to be done. Our budget proposal continues to strengthen Wisconsin’s workforce and economy by investing in top priorities like student success, rewarding work, and accountable government.”

Construction on the new Mills Fleet Farm Distribution Center is expected to near completion by February 2018. The city of Chippewa Falls will contribute $10 million in tax increment financing to the project – $7.3 million in a financing grant, $1.29 million for the land purchase, and $1.41 million for sewer, water, and storm water extensions. The new center represents a $64.8 million investment and Mills Fleet Farm expects to hire 325 full-time employees.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) worked closely with the company as well as county and local officials throughout the site selection process. The site ultimately selected is part of Wisconsin’s Certified Sites Program, which provides assurances that the location is development-ready. WEDC is also continuing discussions with the company regarding possible incentives for the project.

With 37 locations, Mills Fleet Farm has been serving the upper Midwest since 1955. They offer a wide variety of goods, including farm and pet supplies, hunting and fishing products, auto parts, home improvement and living goods, and outdoor and work apparel. Their corporate office is located in Appleton.

Insurance Commissioner Nickel: Statement following severe weather in Wisconsin


Elizabeth Hizmi
(608) 267-9460
[email protected]

Madison, WI—Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel expressed concern for the citizens of Wisconsin facing property damage and flooding after severe storms this week.

“My thoughts and prayers are with residents of Barron, Jackson and Rusk counties,” said Commissioner Nickel. “The aftermath of a storm will be overwhelming for those whose homes or businesses have been damaged. As clean up begins, it’s important for these individuals to check their insurance coverage.”

Governor Walker declared a State of Emergency for Barron, Jackson and Rusk counties following the tornadoes and damaging storms. Along with numerous state agencies, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) is a resource for the response and recovery efforts.

Commissioner Nickel suggests the following tips in dealing with the aftermath of the storms:

  • Notify your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible to begin filing a claim. Make sure you provide a telephone and/or e-mail address where you can be reached. Your insurance company may also have representatives on the scene to speed up the handling of claims.
  • Check your policy:
    • Most homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding or seepage through the foundation which is covered under a separate flood insurance policy sold through the National Flood Insurance Program.
    • Most comprehensive auto policies provide coverage for vehicles damaged in a flood. However, if you purchased collision-only coverage, you may not have coverage.
  • Pay attention to local news to find out if state and federal agencies are available on-scene to help with relief efforts.
  • Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property. It will help to take photos of the damage. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items. Do not throw out any damaged property without your adjuster’s agreement. If local officials require the disposal of damaged items before the insurance company’s claims adjuster can inspect the damages, take photos and keep a swatch or other sample of damaged items for the adjuster (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting, curtains, and chairs).
  • Separate damaged items from undamaged items.
  • To avoid scams, make sure to take your time. If you feel pressured to sign a contract quickly, take a step back and investigate. Rebuilding your home or business is important, but quickly signing a contract with an unscrupulous party can make a bad situation worse.
  • Contact your insurance company again if an adjuster has not been assigned to you within several days.

“It’s important to record as much as you can after any severe weather event where you have damage to your property,” Commissioner Nickel continued. “Take photos of the damage and do not move or pick up anything until the insurance company claims adjusters are able to see the damage. We also want people to be assured that we’re here to help.”

OCI provides numerous helpful publications including Consumer’s Guide to Homeowner’s Insurance, Settling Property Insurance Claims and Documents and Records, which provides a list of documents that will need to be replaced if they have been destroyed and whom to contact for replacement. There are also specific insurance publications for small business owners, manufactured home insurance, and condominium insurance. All of these publications can be found on the OCI Web site at oci.wi.gov/pages/Consumers/ConsumerPublications.aspx.

You can contact OCI with questions at 1-800-236-8517 or via e-mail at [email protected]. If you have a specific complaint about your insurance, refer it first to the insurance company or agent involved. If you do not receive satisfactory answers, contact OCI.

MadREP summit highlights diversity in the workforce


A recent Madison Region Economic Partnership event highlighted the benefits of diversity in the workforce.

Over 500 attendants gathered May 11 at the Monona Terrace in Madison for the Economic Development and Diversity Summit. They heard from speakers like Tiffany Jana, CEO and president of TMI consulting, a diversity and inclusion company based in Richmond, Va.

She says if companies want the fresh perspectives and unorthodox ideas that come from a more diverse group of workers, they have to be prepared to be flexible.

“If you want the upside of diversity, you have to be prepared that someone who comes from a different background, with a different set of experiences and a different set of values, they’re going to create a little bit of friction,” she said. “Because if you ask the same people the same questions over and over again, you get the same kind of results. When you throw different in there, they’re going to challenge.”

See more at WisBusiness.com

Milwaukee Alderman Bauman: “Cream of Cream City” to be recognized at Historic Preservation awards ceremony


(414) 286-2221

The Cream of the Cream City Awards, sponsored by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, the Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett, will recognize individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions in the field of historic preservation and heritage education and advocacy in the City of Milwaukee. The event will be held at Best Place at the Pabst, 901 W. Juneau Ave., and begins at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

The public is invited and refreshments will be served.

Cream of the Cream City Award honorees will receive a commemorative brick recognizing how they have met the special stewardship challenges required of historic buildings. The 2016 winners that will be honored include James Haertel, Beam House Apartments LLC, Adler House LLC, Forest County Potawatomi and many others.

Alderman Robert J. Bauman, who serves as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission and who will serve as the event’s master of ceremonies, said the awards recognize projects “large and small which have preserved the rich history of Milwaukee found in its varied architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Milwaukee Alderman Murphy: Rebuilt DeBack Playground wins Mayor’s Design Award


(414) 286-3763

Marcus DeBack Playground – rebuilt at 2461 N. 55th St. as part of the MKE Plays initiative – received a 2017 Mayor’s Design Award during a special ceremony yesterday.

According to Alderman Michael J. Murphy, who founded MKE Plays to help rebuild many of Milwaukee’s most deteriorated playgrounds and parks, the design award was an “affirmation” for the hard work and collaboration that went into the Marcus DeBack Playground’s rebirth.

“The heartfelt work and planning put in by Marcus’ mother (Lisa Ettienne), the neighbors, MKE Plays and all of the stakeholders was recognized in the form of a Mayor’s Design Award,” Alderman Murphy said.

“This is truly high recognition and a very proud moment for the neighborhood, for the City of Milwaukee and MKE Plays,” he said.   

Since 1997, the Mayor’s Design Award has recognized design excellence throughout the City of Milwaukee. Projects are selected for adding value to their neighborhoods by contributing to the urban fabric and the character of their surroundings.

In 1996, Wright Street Playground was renamed for Marcus DeBack, a nine-year-old boy and innocent bystander who was shot and killed on the playground while leading a younger boy away from violence which had erupted on the basketball court.

With the help of Marcus’ mother, the Uptown Crossing Neighborhood Association, and local residents, MKE Plays has helped restore the playground as a symbol of the positive change happening in the community. It features a 90-foot zipline, walking track, fitness equipment, permeable pavement basketball courts, challenging toddler elements, and a 10-foot tall rope dome, all selected based on resident input.

Alderman Murphy’s MKE Plays initiative seeks private financial support and resident participation in the park reconstruction process. While the initial goal for MKE Plays was to reconstruct 12 parks over three years (2015-17) and raise $1 million for these projects, in just 18 months the program has leveraged more than $1.475 million to be used at 14 locations across the city.

Nass warns against using state funds to ‘bail out’ UW-Oshkosh Foundation

Sen. Steve Nass clashed with the UW System Thursday on whether it’s trying to use public funds to “bail out” the UW-Oshkosh Foundation.

The UW System is currently suing a former UW-Oshkosh chancellor and former vice chancellor in a lawsuit that alleges the two approved “illegal transfers” of money for five real estate projects managed by the private UW-Oshkosh Foundation.

Nass, R-Whitewater, sent a note to UW System President Ray Cross saying he had heard “efforts are underway to reach a deal on the UW-Oshkosh scandal” that would potentially include state funds.

Michael Grebe, the chair of the Board of Regents Audit Committee, responded that any settlement discussions are preliminary “and no agreement has been reached.”

He said the state Department of Justice, which is representing UW in the case, has worked to determine if a settlement can be reached. He added that DOJ has said if banks can’t collect from the UW-Oshkosh Foundation, it’s “likely the banks will attempt to seek funds from the UW System.”

“DOJ and the UW System will continue to act responsibly to protect our taxpayers, students and families, and our campuses,” he said. “Namely, we are aiming to safeguard state assets, as well as Foundation funds which are used to provide scholarships for UW-Oshkosh students and support university programs.”

Nass said state officials cannot “rush a bailout that benefits the private foundation and the banks/investors involved at the expense of the taxpayers or students.”

“In other words, President Cross, you need to keep your commitment that the public won’t be forced to fund the inappropriate decisions of two campus administrators and the failed oversight of the System,” he said.

Mike Mikalsen, a Nass spokesman, also said the UW’s “tune has changed.”

He pointed to a January release from the UW System saying UW-Oshkosh and the UW System “cannot be held responsible for the Foundation’s project expenses or debt service,” as the actions of the two former UW-Oshkosh officials were unconstitutional.

Now, Mikalsen said, they’re “trying to rush a deal” that could include state funds. He said Nass would approve of any settlement that uses private money but he is “adamantly opposed and will work very strenuously” to avoid having the state pitch into a settlement.

UW System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said the system still believes that legally, it can’t be held responsible for those projects and debts but any party could decide to sue the system if it wanted to challenge that.

She also emphasized there isn’t a settlement agreement and that any comments regarding one are “speculative.”

No recent donations would have triggered proposed Supreme Court recusal rule

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Public Policy Forum: Proposed 2018 MPS budget “retrenches” in the face of revenue challenges and renewed expenditure pressures


Rob Henken
(414) 276-8240 or (414) 708-4392
[email protected]

The Public Policy Forum’s annual review of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) superintendent’s proposed budget finds that 2018 will be a year of “retrenchment” for MPS as it trims positions and restores funding to retirement and capital debt obligations.

“After two consecutive years in which the district was able to add positions and initiate new
programs, the 2018 proposed budget reverts back to a more familiar budget paradigm – one in which MPS’ leaders face fierce pressure to reduce positions and to shift resources from school operations to other needs,” says the report. “This reality necessitates the proposed elimination of 194 positions and an overall reduction of $31 million to school budgets.”

The report explains that MPS entered its 2018 budget deliberations with a $46 million “hole,” which was created by the use of one-time savings in 2017 that resulted largely from the district’s ability to pre-fund certain retirement and debt-related payments late in 2016. Those savings were used to finance new positions and strategic initiatives, but they need to be restored in the 2018 budget.

The report notes that district leaders were “fully transparent about the move,” arguing that this was a unique opportunity to invest in high-priority initiatives and expressing hope that additional revenues or new internal reallocation opportunities might materialize to painlessly plug the gap in 2018.

“Unfortunately, that has not turned out to be the case,” says the report. “Under the proposed State budget, MPS’ State aids would increase only slightly. Meanwhile, not only do new reallocation opportunities not exist to help finance school operations, but the budget must find a way to restore $36.6 million to retirement and capital-related debt accounts, and to add $4.5 million for growing health care costs.”

Despite the cuts in positions and the reallocation of resources from school operations to other accounts, district officials say the impacts will be manageable, as school-related position and funding increases in the 2017 budget still exceed the reductions required in 2018. Also, the budget notes that despite the elimination of 194 positions, there will be few layoffs, as most will occur through staff turnover, retirements, and vacancies.

Other key findings from the Forum’s 2018 MPS Proposed Budget Brief include the following:

-The budget anticipates a $15.4 million increase in per pupil aid from the State based on the
Governor’s recommended 2017-19 State budget. That increase is mostly offset, however, by a projected $12.9 million reduction in combined State equalization aids and local property
tax levy based on aid amounts and revenue limits in the Governor’s budget.

-While the proposed budget fully restores one-time savings in retirement and capital-related
debt accounts, it again includes a transfer of $9.5 million in property tax levy from the
construction fund to school operations. This transfer likely will need to be restored in 2019,
adding to budget challenges that year.

-After several successive years of decline following the negotiation of a new teachers’ union
contract in 2010 and changes enabled by Wisconsin Act 10, MPS’ health care expenditures
are projected to increase for the second consecutive year (by $4.5 million, or 4.2%). Total
fringe benefits expenditures are projected to increase by $3 million (1.2%).

-New student enrollment projections indicate that MPS will start to see an increase in students after 2018, with enrollment estimated to increase from 83,761 to 86,529 students
(3.3%) by 2022. Enrollment is critical to MPS, as it is a key factor in the calculation of
equalization aid from the State.

Looking to the future, the budget brief warns that MPS’ most recent five-year forecast projects a $74 million deficit in school operations in 2022. However, it notes that the projections assume no increase in State equalization aid and local property tax levy, which may be conservative.

The brief concludes that “overall, MPS students, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders should take comfort in the fact that significant cuts to the teacher workforce and major changes in educational programming should be avoided in 2018, and that several of the strategic initiatives launched in the past two years should continue. A look ahead is far less comforting, however, and reveals that considerable heavy lifting will be required to avoid such undesirable consequences in future budgets.”

The budget brief can be downloaded from the Forum’s website: www.publicpolicyforum.org.

Milwaukee-based Public Policy Forum, established in 1913 as a local government watchdog, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of government and the development of southeastern Wisconsin through objective research of public policy issues.

Rep. Anderson: Thanks JFC for protecting LIRC


Logan Vidal
[email protected]
(608) 266-8570

Fitchburg – Yesterday, the Joint Finance Committee voted to disregard Governor Walker’s recommendation to eliminate the Labor and Industry Review Commission. Rep. Anderson released the following statement.

“The Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) is a vital, independent agency that protects employers, employees and the state from fraudulent legal claims and potential abuses. LIRC saves the state of Wisconsin thousands of dollars by diverting unnecessary cases from our court system each year. Those savings will be put to better use in our schools and for our roads.”

“Beyond the financial incentives, LIRC is an important part of our state’s employment law jurisprudence. The recommendation of the Governor to eliminate this commission without providing an alternative shows a deep misunderstanding of how employment cases are handled in Wisconsin. Suffice it to say, LIRC saves everyone from our litigants to our court system to our taxpayers considerable time and money.”

“I would be remiss if I did not critique JFC for eliminating six positions from the commission but I am ultimately relieved that LIRC will continue in its mission. Preserving LIRC is just common sense and I thank the members of JFC for doing just that despite efforts from Governor Walker to strip it from the budget.”

Rep. Goyke: Honored as 2017 Property Taxpayer Champion


(608) 266-0645

MADISON- Today Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) was recognized by the Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. as a 2017 Property Taxpayer Champion. This award was given in recognition of important legislation Rep. Goyke is championing regarding needed reforms to the sale of properties at Sheriff Sale, as well as legislation to grow Wisconsin’s agriculture workforce with veterans.

Following receipt of the award Rep. Goyke stated:

“I extend my thanks to the Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. and their members for this great honor. I greatly appreciate their support and advocacy for the bi-partisan pieces of legislation I have worked so hard on.

The 18th Assembly District is home to a vibrant and diverse community. When Milwaukee wins – Wisconsin wins. By introducing and advocating for legislation to grow our workforce, and to make the sale of properties more transparent and accessible, my community and the State of Wisconsin benefit. When property is productive-whether a farm or a formerly foreclosed home – property taxpayers in Wisconsin win.”

The award was presented this morning in Madison alongside fellow legislative colleagues and advocates.

Rep. Loudenbeck: Sends letter to STB


[email protected]
(608) 266-9967

Madison – State Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Office of Rail Customer and Public Assistance in response to the filing of a formal filing by Great Lakes Basin Transportation, Inc. (GLBT) to the STB for authority to construct and operate a 261-mile rail line through portions of Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana.

“While the issues related to GLBT’s proposal are numerous, the comments provided in this letter are focused on three major decision items for the STB: completeness of the GLBT’s application; confidentiality of GLBT’s shareholders and their interest; and consideration of the entire project as one “connected action.” Rep. Loudenbeck says in the letter. “When GLBT submitted their application on May 1st, they also announced that the $8 billion project was not just a rail line but also a major highway toll-road. This illustrates that the developers have been planning one project that encompasses the rail line and the highway toll-road. The STB must consider the entire scope of the GLBT’s proposed project as one “connected action” when reviewing their application.”

To read the full letter, please click here or follow the link below. http://legis.wisconsin.gov/eupdates/asm31/GLB%20Completeness%20Letter.pdf

Rep. Mursau: Working to protect the sustainability of Wisconsin’s forest industry


There is a great deal of discussion circulating around the Forestry Mill Tax, which recently has been nicknamed, “the Statewide Property Tax”. Governor Walker has proposed eliminating this tax and instead shifts funding from GPR (income and sales tax revenues) to support forestry efforts. I’ve been vocal in my opposition to the Governor’s proposal because forestry is one of the top five employers in my district (first or second in 3 counties). I’m not willing to gamble away a secure funding source and put the people I represent at risk.

After the budget was introduced, I sent a survey to my district asking for input on budget priorities. I also asked if they support keeping the Forestry Mill Tax or the Governor’s provision to remove it from the property tax bill. Over 80% of respondents are in favor of keeping the Forestry Mill Tax. They understand how the funding source equates to having healthy and sustainable forests and job security for their families.

I have supported every budget the Governor has introduced and he’s always been a strong supporter of our forestry industry. On this particular issue however, I disagree with him and I’m not alone. The Governor’s Council of Forestry, which advises him on forestry issues, voted today to oppose the Governor’s proposal.

I believe we can reduce property taxes and support forestry at the same time. I’ve proposed, and the Governor’s Council of Forestry supports, an audit of the Forestry Account by the independent Audit Bureau. Let’s make sure the funds are being used appropriately before we make hasty decisions we can’t take back. If the audit shows we’re collecting more than we need or the funds are being mismanaged, we can adjust the mill tax accordingly and save property taxpayers some money.

The forest product industry employs more than 64,000 people and is the number one employer in several Wisconsin counties. Our printing industry employs an additional 29,000 workers and Wisconsin is the number one paper-producer in the United States. Our forestry industry has an output of $24.7 billion. If we don’t ensure that we have a healthy and sustainable crop, we put all of this in jeopardy.

If we fund forestry efforts with GPR than forestry will be forced to compete in future budgets with transportation, education, and health care for adequate funding. I am certain that forestry will always lose because it isn’t a statewide priority. This means our forests suffer, my constituents will be out of work, and we’ll no longer be the envy of other states that currently can’t compete with our timber quality and production.

Lastly, we get quite a lot for our annual $27 investment. This includes supporting our local volunteer fire departments when wildfires occur and just last week the Governor declared a State of Emergency in response to elevated wildfire conditions in the state. We don’t want to experience what the state of Kansas did this year when almost 700,000 acres were destroyed by fires. Similar to rural Wisconsin, most of the fire departments in Kansas are volunteer and they weren’t equipped to handle that type of fire and the state didn’t have additional resources in place to help the local towns. They lost so many trees and families lost their homes.

I believe an audit of the forestry account is a reasonable compromise. We keep our industry intact, establish integrity of the forestry account, and offer tax relief to property owners.

Rep. Taylor: Schedules more spring office hours


MADISON – Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) has announced two more Office Hours locations in the 76th Assembly District.  For two hours, Rep. Taylor will be available at the following small businesses to meet with constituents and neighbors.  There is no specific topic that will be discussed, but participants are encouraged to keep their comments focused on state legislative issues. 

Friday, May 26, 2017
10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Johnson Public House, 908 E Johnson St, Madison

Friday, June 9, 2017
10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon

Barriques – Atwood, 2166 Atwood Ave, Madison

“Thank you so much to everyone who attended my earlier Office Hours! I truly enjoy spending time at our local coffee shops, while also having the opportunity to listen to the very important concerns of the 76th Assembly District,” Taylor said.  “I look forward to hearing from YOU at one of our next Office Hours!”

Sen. Bewley: Words are not enough


(608) 266-3510

Soon we will all be celebrating the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day.  I will spend the day with a group of veterans from Mellen VFW Post 2273 visiting cemeteries across Ashland County.  I’m honored to join them as they quietly pay their respects and remember the men and women who answered the call, and too often lost their lives defending our freedom.  I also will speak at a Memorial Day Ceremony at the Northern WI Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner on the Saturday before Memorial Day.  It’s important to find the right words.  Even more important is making sure that our actions speak as loud as our words.

The same is true when it comes to honoring the men and women who lose their lives policing our streets, fighting fires and responding to emergencies.  Sadly, we’ve lost too many good public safety professionals in Wisconsin recently.  In the 25th Senate District we lost Dan Glaze, a 33 year old Rusk County Deputy Sheriff killed in the line of duty responding to reports of a suspicious vehicle in November of 2016.  Trevor Casper, a young Wisconsin State Trooper was gunned down in a grocery store parking lot in 2015.  Dennis Swenson, a dedicated EMT for South Shore Ambulance, died trying to save his 95 year old mother who also perished in the fire in 2015.  Dennis left behind an abundance of family and friends; he did not leave behind a family who depended on him for financial support.

Unfortunately, other public servants who lose their lives in the line of duty do leave behind spouses and children who depend on their incomes and benefits.  In 2009 the legislature passed a law that required municipalities to pay health insurance premiums for the survivors of a Firefighter who dies, or has died, in the line of duty.  For some reason, the law did not extend the same benefit to the surviving spouses and children of Law Enforcement Officers, Emergency Medical Technicians, Rangers, Foresters and others who lose their lives while on duty protecting the public.

Jason Zunker, A Chippewa County Sheriff’s Deputy and graduate of Maple Northwestern High School, died in the line of duty in 2008.  He left behind a young wife, Lisa.  After Deputy Zunker’s loss, people in Northern Wisconsin began asking: “Why do we treat the surviving spouses and children of these public servants differently?”  It is a good question, one that should be answered by passing legislation that extends the benefit to the young children and spouses left behind when any of our public safety personnel lose their lives while on duty.

I am proud to be working with one of my colleagues, Republican State Senator Van Wanggaard, a retired Racine Police Officer, to make this happen.  I have coauthored a bill with him again this session to extend health insurance coverage for spouses and children of Law Enforcement Officers, DNR Firefighters, Correctional Officers and EMTs who are killed in the line of duty.

The bill passed in the State Senate, but not in the State Assembly.  No one has been able to give me a straight answer as to why the Republicans who control the Assembly won’t step up, pass the bill and send it to the Governor.  Today Governor Walker will lay a wreath at a State Capitol Ceremony in honor of Wisconsin’s fallen Law Enforcement Officers.  At a similar ceremony earlier this month in Milwaukee, he laid another wreath and said “we owe them respect and honor their selfless courage.” I couldn’t agree more.  I believe we can and should do better than some nice words and a wreath.  We should pass the bill that provides health insurance benefits to their surviving spouses and children and give the Governor the chance to sign it.

Speaker Ryan: To join the ‘Hugh Hewitt Show’


Doug Andres or AshLee Strong
(202) 225-0600

WASHINGTON—Today, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) will join The Hugh Hewitt Show at approximately 8:30 a.m. ET.

Speaker Ryan on The Hugh Hewitt Show
Friday, May 19, at approx. 8:30 a.m. ET
Listen live here.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin: Appoints new chief judges from Waukesha, Winnebago counties


Tom Sheehan
(608) 261-6640

Madison, Wis. (May 19, 2017) – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has appointed circuit court judges from Waukesha and Winnebago counties as the new chief judges of their respective judicial administrative districts, effective Aug. 1. The Court also re-appointed circuit court judges from Milwaukee, Rock, Grant, and St. Croix counties to continue serving as administrative chief judges.

Deputy Chief Judge Jennifer R. Dorow, Waukesha County Circuit Court, will become chief judge in the Third Judicial Administrative District. She replaces Chief Judge Randy R. Koschnick, Jefferson County Circuit Court, who has been appointed Director of State Courts as of Aug. 1.

Dorow was appointed to the Waukesha County bench in 2011 and elected in 2012. She was previously an assistant district attorney for Waukesha County and worked 12 years as an attorney in private practice. Dorow is a graduate of Marquette University and Regent University Law School. District Three consists of Jefferson, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties.

Deputy Chief Judge Barbara Hart Key, Winnebago County Circuit Court, will become the new chief judge of the Fourth Judicial Administrative District. She replaces Chief Judge Robert J. Wirtz, Fond du Lac County Circuit Court, who has served the maximum three consecutive two-year terms as a chief judge.

Key was first elected to the Winnebago County bench in 1998 and has been re-elected three times. She previously served as a circuit court commissioner in Winnebago County, as an assistant district attorney in Winnebago and Wood counties and as an attorney in private practice. Key is a graduate of UW-Madison and the UW Law School. District Four consists of Calumet, Fond du Lac, Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Winnebago counties.

Wirtz will continue serving on the Fond du Lac County bench, to which he was first elected in 1999. He was re-elected in 2005 and 2011.

The Supreme Court previously announced the appointment of Judge Jason A. Rossell as chief judge of the Second Judicial Administrative District. Rossell replaced retiring Chief Judge Allan “Pat” Torhorst, Racine County Circuit Court, on May 8. The Second District includes Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

The Supreme Court also re-appointed four circuit court judges to continue serving as chief judges of their respective administrative districts.

  • District One: Chief Judge Maxine A. White, Milwaukee County Circuit Court (District One consists of Milwaukee County)
  • District Five: Chief Judge James P. Daley, Rock County Circuit Court (District Five consists of Dane, Green, Lafayette and Rock counties)
  • District Seven: Chief Judge Robert P. VanDeHey, Grant County Circuit Court (District Seven consists of Buffalo, Crawford, Grant, Iowa, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Richland, Trempealeau and Vernon counties)
  • District Ten: Chief Judge Scott R. Needham, St. Croix County Circuit Court (District Ten consists of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Sawyer, and Washburn counties)

Circuit court judges who continue their terms as chief administrative judge:

  • District Six: Chief Judge Gregory J. Potter, Wood County Circuit Court (District six consists of Adams, Clark, Columbia, Dodge, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Portage, Sauk, Waushara, and Wood counties)
  • District Eight: Chief Judge James A. Morrison, Marinette County Circuit Court (District Eight consists of Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie and Waupaca counties)
  • District Nine: Chief Judge Gregory B. Huber, Marathon County Circuit Court (District Nine consists of Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Menominee, Oneida, Price, Shawano, Taylor and Vilas counties)

Working as a team with a deputy chief judge and a professional court administrator, a chief judge manages the flow of cases and meets several times a year with other chief judges as a committee to work on administrative issues of statewide interest. With the exception of the First Judicial Administrative District, where the chief judge is a full-time administrator, chief judges maintain court calendars, in addition to handling administrative duties.

Wisconsin again ranked low for startups by Kauffman Foundation


Wisconsin has again been ranked at the bottom of the pile for startups in the Kauffman Index of Startup Activity Report.

The report evenly splits the 50 states into “Large” and “Small” categories, ranking each list 1-25. Kauffman Foundation researcher Inara Tareque says that is done because “it’s not quite fair to compare a smaller state like Vermont to a larger state like California.”

Wisconsin falls into the former category, and was ranked dead last for startup activity in 2016 — the same ranking it received the year before.

Tareque says this low ranking can be largely attributed to the comparatively low number of new entrepreneurs, which is less than half that of California.

“That’s really taking a toll on Wisconsin’s startup activity for this ranking,” she told WisBusiness.com.

See more at WisBusiness.com

Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health: State medicaid waiver proposal would undermine access to health care


Mike Murray
(608) 251-0139 x3

Madison, WI – The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health (WAWH) submitted comments to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) this week regarding the Department’s proposed changes to the BadgerCare program for low-income, “childless adults” who earn an income at or below the federal poverty level.  DHS is currently seeking a waiver from the federal government that would allow the Department to implement changes the program that would otherwise be prohibited by federal law that governs the Medicaid program.

“If implemented, the Department’s proposed waivers would harm low-income adults currently participating in BadgerCare,” said Sara Finger, WAWH Executive Director.  “These changes will actually undermine the Department’s stated goals of reducing the uninsured rate and increasing workforce participation, as many BadgerCare participants who rely on the program to access the health care they need to maintain employment will be thrown off the program as a result of these changes.”

The proposed changes include:

  1. Charge enrollees monthly premiums
  2. Charge higher monthly premiums for enrollees engaged in “risky behavior” as indicated through a Health Risk Assessment
  3. Impose lifetime eligibility limits for certain enrollees who do not satisfy work or work training requirements
  4. Require drug screenings as a condition of eligibility and make referrals to treatment programs for those who test positive for drug use

“When former BadgerCare enrollees are forced to turn to emergency rooms to treat conditions that could have been prevented with access to preventive care, rates of uncompensated care will increase and lead to further cost-shifting to all of us,” added Finger. “The Department’s approach will waste state funds that could be used to implement far more effective strategies for expanding the Wisconsin workforce and providing adequate resources for substance use disorder treatment.”

Many other organizations that advocate for greater access to health care and on behalf of health care professionals have expressed similar concerns regarding the Department’s proposed waiver.  The widespread opposition to the proposed waiver is largely based on experiences in other states that have adopted similar policies and significant research that indicates such changes will reduce access to health care for many of the particularly vulnerable populations that would be affected by this proposal and likely have no other means through which they can access health insurance.

A copy of WAWH’s written comments to DHS can be found online.

Wisconsin Department of Administration: Governor Walker directs state efforts to assist residents of Barron, Jackson and Rusk Counties


Steve Michels
(608) 267-7874

Madison – Governor Scott Walker issued a State of Emergency earlier this week following his survey of the damage near Chetek, where one person was killed and 25 people were injured after devastating storms in Barron, Jackson, and Rusk counties.  Heavy rains in parts of west central and northwestern Wisconsin caused damage to roads and other infrastructure in the area.   

“We stand ready to provide much needed assistance to those affected by the storms as they recover and rebuild,” Governor Walker said.  “The coordinated response of the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Emergency Management, and all state agencies will help the residents impacted by the severe weather as they work to repair the damage in the area.”

As a part of the State of Emergency, Governor Walker asked all state agencies to review their programs for assistance tools to aid in response and recovery efforts for those affected by the severe weather.

The Department of Administration (DOA) has Community Development Block Grants – Emergency Assistance Program (CDBG-EAP) housing assistance available to eligible homeowners and tenants whose primary residence has been affected by a natural or man-made disaster event. CDBG-EAP housing assistance is awarded as a grant not a loan to the community that administers the program.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) issued a press release: Spring Storm Damage Draws Transient Contractors.  They are also assisting the land conservation departments in Barron, Jackson and Rusk counties to evaluate/review any conservation structures that may have been damaged in the storms, as well as several other counties in their area that had significant rainfall events to see if they need engineering assistance.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is working with victims of natural disasters to determine eligibility for assistance to find housing under the Emergency Assistance program, provided persons meet all of the Emergency Assistance eligibility requirements.  The W-2 agency for the area, Workforce Resources Inc. (WRI), will have a team in Rice Lake on Friday, May 19 taking applications for Emergency Assistance from tornado victims, either in person or remotely via Skype.  WRI is working with the Barron County Department of Human Services, which can offer other assistance such as emergency Food Share benefits.

The Department of Health Services (DHS) offers an online Tornado toolkit for public health and first responders as well as a severe storm safety page to provide residents with tips on preparing for severe weather.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has storm debris clean-up information available on this DNR web page: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/waste/stormdebris.html.  DNR Forestry units have been out since the night the storm hit assisting tree and limb removal. They are also responding to a request to support an Incident Management Team (IMT) for volunteer efforts this weekend (FridaySunday) by Barron County. 

The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) has the ability to expedite commercial building plan review through the Department for rebuilding purposes.

The Department of Tourism is preparing communications and marketing plans to remind visitors that northern Wisconsin’s tourism industry remains open for business and encourage visitors to call ahead to confirm conditions rather than cancel vacation plans.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is providing damage assessment assistance and help with Disaster Damage Aids reimbursements as requested.  They are also working to repair damage to State Highway 121 due to flooding, which they anticipate should be completed before the weekend. The State Patrol Northwest Region deployed resources to assist Barron and Rusk counties in recovery efforts.  State Patrol is monitoring flood areas and patrolling storm damaged areas to assist local law enforcement and motorists as needed.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Unemployment Insurance (UI) program stands ready to assist workers who are out of work as a result of the storms and are eligible for regular state UI benefits.  More information about the state’s UI program is available online.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) issued a press release: Commissioner Nickel Statement Following Severe Weather in Wisconsin.  In dealing with the aftermath of the storms, the OCI recommends individuals to: notify their insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible to begin filing a claim, separate damaged items from undamaged items and make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property.  If individuals have a specific complaint about their insurance, they should refer it first to the insurance company or agent involved. If satisfactory answers are not received they may contact OCI at 1-800-236-8517 or [email protected].

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) continues to monitor outage restoration with Xcel.

Wisconsin Emergency Management administers the Wisconsin Disaster Fund (WDF) which is a state-funded reimbursement program intended to assist county, local and tribal units of government (“the applicant”) recoup costs incurred in responding to, and recovering from, natural disasters. The state reimburses up to 70 percent of eligible costs, with the local government responsible for the remaining share. The fund does not cover losses suffered by individuals, businesses or the agricultural sector, or those covered by insurance. It also does not provide management or administrative costs for the applicants.  Wisconsin Emergency Management continues to work with local officials on recovery efforts.


Wisconsin Property Taxpayers: Wisconsin lawmakers receive 2017 WPT Property Taxpayer Champion awards


John Jacobson
(608) 255-7473

Today in Madison, Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. (WPT) awarded several lawmakers from both sides of the aisle with 2017 Property Taxpayer Champion Awards, in recognition of their work for and commitment to the property taxpayers of Wisconsin.

This year’s award recipients are Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford) for their unwavering commitment to repealing the burdensome personal property tax, Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) for his work on the Homeowners Bill of Rights, Sen. David Craig (R-Town of Vernon) for his work on protecting homeowners’ privacy rights and to repeal the personal property tax, and Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) for his work on safeguarding taxpayers’ dollars at sheriff’s auctions, and working to provide Wisconsin veterans with work in the agriculture industry.

“Wisconsin’s property taxpayers and small business owners should be very pleased and proud of the work that these lawmakers have accomplished and that they fight for each and every day in their districts and in the Capitol,” John Jacobson, Member & Government Relations director said.

“Our organization and its 18,000 members statewide are pleased to see members from both sides of the aisle, working toward protecting homeowners’ rights and safeguarding tax dollars. It’s truly our pleasure to formally thank and recognize their work by presenting them with these awards.”

May 20, 2017 | May 18, 2017
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