2017 June 23

Daily Archives: June 23, 2017

ACLU Wisconsin: Federal Court finds current conditions of confinement for youth at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools unconstitutional


Katy Otto (Juvenile Law Center), (215) 625-0551 x128, [email protected]
Molly Collins (ACLU of Wisconsin), (414) 272-4032 x215, [email protected]

Milwaukee, WI (June 23, 2017) Today, Western District Judge Peterson ordered the opposing parties in a lawsuit to agree on language for a preliminary injunction to end the inhumane conditions and practices for youth in state-run correctional facilities.  The suit was originally filed in January on behalf of youth confined in the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls. Yesterday and today, the ACLU of Wisconsin and Juvenile Law Center, with pro-bono assistance from Quarles & Brady argued in the Western District Court that children incarcerated at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake needed immediate relief while the case was being litigated.

“We are happy that the Court recognized that most juvenile correctional facilities no longer use pepper spray, restraints or punitive solitary confinement, and we don’t need to use them in Wisconsin to keep our facility safe,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Legal Director Larry Dupuis.

Last month, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake incarcerated 166 youth, and kept an average of 27 youth per day in solitary confinement. That means it confines about 16% percent of the youths at any given time in seven or eight by ten foot solitary confinement cells for 22 or 23 hours a day.  On top of that, the guards keep many of these children in handcuffs attached to a belt around their waists, and then handcuffed to a table or desk, during the hour or two they are allowed out of their cells. Guards throughout Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake also regularly use pepper spray on the youth, causing pain and burning and impairing their breathing and health. The State even admitted that they have used pepper spray on children while they were shackled.

“We are pleased that the Court took this action to protect youth from harmful, degrading, and unconstitutional practices,” said Jessica Feierman, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center. “Young people in Wisconsin – and across the country – deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

As the court alluded to in its decision, there is a right to rehabilitation, and it was being thwarted by these practices.  Judge Peterson said that the civil rights groups had “amply shown acute, immediate and lasting harm from use of solitary confinement,” and immediate changes needed to take place.  The parties have two weeks to agree on language in the injunction.

Alderwoman Coggs and Alderman Stamper: Unique ARCH pilot program gets Council approval


Alderwoman Coggs- (414) 286-2994
Alderman Stamper- (414) 286-2659

Today the full Common Council approved a new first-of-its-kind pilot program to turn dilapidated foreclosed homes into beautiful hubs for artwork and resources.

The Art and Resource Community Hub (ARCH) loan program will take city-owned foreclosed homes and turn them into artists’ oases and/or resource hubs.

Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs and Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II are the principal sponsors of the legislation creating the pilot, which will focus on transforming city-owned foreclosed homes beginning in the Bronzeville area and the Walnut Hill neighborhood.

Both Alderwoman Coggs and Alderman Stamper extended thanks to the artists who inspired them to push the ARCH program forward.

Ray Nitti, founder of FLYE, a Milwaukee-based business that focuses on connecting artists with opportunities to work with area companies and non-profits on various events, said he believes ARCH has the potential to allow more artists to thrive while earning a living to support themselves and their families.

“I think the ARCH program is vitally important to the artist community and the City of Milwaukee,” Mr. Nitti said. “We are excited to work on the models launching in Bronzeville and in Walnut Hill. We look forward to consulting with the city and developers on this project throughout its entirety.”

“This is a new approach to creating a critical mass of artistic talent, creativity and entrepreneurship in Milwaukee neighborhoods that truly need a boost of positive energy,”

Alderwoman Coggs said. “We hope to build the program and increase resources and add new neighborhoods, and we believe the pilot will help get us to that next level.”

Alderman Stamper, whose 15th Aldermanic District includes a portion of the city’s original Bronzeville area, said the ARCH program neighborhoods will benefit by the positivity, stability and creativity brought about by artist-occupied homes and/or much needed resource hubs.

“We have a solid win-win where we are turning foreclosed homes that are available on the market into creative spaces for artists and/or homes used to provide valuable resources,” Alderman Stamper said. “We are hopeful that the stability and vitality of ARCH homes will bring additional investment and economic activity.”

ARCH is a matching grant program whereby the city puts up $25,000 and the artist or interested person purchasing a home must match that amount and work to rehab the home – transforming it into a livable and working art studio or resource hub.

For more information please contact Rhonda Manuel in the Department of City Development at 414-286-2037.

Brian Fraley: The collision course in Madison


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

I’m not an accountant, nor an expert in municipal finance, or engineering. But I do understand basic math and politics, which are on a collision course in Madison.

For the last year, I’ve assisted the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin with its efforts to raise public awareness of our transportation crisis, including promotion of its
“Just Fix It” campaign.

Yet, my interest in this issue is not simply a case of providing a service for a client. As a conservative Republican small business owner, I’m very concerned about the state’s reliance on bonding to compensate for a lack of political will to address our pressing transportation needs.

The transportation crisis is well-documented and undeniable. The question now is how do we meet this crisis? The deny, delay and decay approach to transportation in Wisconsin threatens our economic prosperity. But so does an over reliance on bonding, without any plan on how to pay down that debt.

The Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance issued an ominous warning this spring. It’s one I take seriously.

“Today, the fallout from years of increased transportation borrowing is that over 20 cents of every gas tax or registration fee dollar is diverted from road projects to pay off debt. And that only adds to the challenge of trying to repair and rebuild dated infrastructure with an outdated revenue system.”

That’s right, 20 cents of every transportation dollar doesn’t go to concrete, iron or asphalt, nor the labor needed to build roads, highways and bridges. That money doesn’t help municipalities maintain existing roads or help the state repair or rebuild interstates. It goes to pay off debt service on transportation bonds.

How did we get here? Well, briefly, almost 90 percent of state transportation revenue comes from the gas tax and registration fees. That revenue has been stagnant for more than a decade, while the transportation needs of the state and inflation continue to grow. To make up for the diverging trendlines, the last two administrations in Madison, one Democrat and one Republican, have turned to fiscally-irresponsible, short-term fixes.

Not only did Gov. Doyle increase bonding, he notoriously raided the transportation fund to balance the rest of his budget, putting the fund and the projects it pays for in jeopardy. Thanks to the passage of a statewide referendum in 2014, such a raid cannot happen again. However, the bonding spree has continued, unabated.

In fact, this over-extension of the credit card is a bipartisan problem that has grown worse over time. At the end of the Thompson-McCallum Administrations, transportation bond debt service was $93 million a year– seven percent of total transportation fund revenue. At the end of the Doyle Administration the dollar amount of debt service had more than doubled, and debt service share of transportation revenue it grew from seven to 11.5 percent. Now, in his latest budget proposal, Governor Walker’s budget doubles the dollars allocated to debt service, compared to the final Doyle budget. As a share of transportation revenue, debt service rises to a staggering figure in excess of 20 percent.

As a conservative, I believe paying one of every five dollars toward debt service is irresponsible, not to mention unsustainable, and I’m not the only conservative in Wisconsin who feels this way.

“In previous budgets, we admittedly reached compromises on borrowing with the promise that we’d address this elephant in the room ‘next time.’ That ‘next time’ is today,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna). “Ignoring the problem and putting a Band-Aid on it just won’t work. As we have made abundantly clear, we are not willing to continue to borrow without a system in place to fund our current and future projects.”

The stalemate in Madison is the result of that aforementioned collision of math and politics. The Governor believes it is bad politics to increase user-fee based revenues like gas taxes and registration fees, even though that jeopardizes much-anticipated and much-needed projects. (Did I mention more than 1,200 bridges in Wisconsin are structurally deficient?). The legislature believes it is bad politics to continue to paper-over the funding crisis by issuing new bonds.

While Madison dances, local government officials and economic development professionals know failure to address the needs of the entire transportation system is both bad politics and bad math.

Suzanne Kelley, president and CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance and spokesperson for the I-94 East-West Econ Connect coalition, knows this leadership vacuum in Madison will have serious repercussions in the real world.

“It is important to keep the East-West rebuild moving forward to protect the $20 million the state has already invested in preliminary design and engineering work for the project, avoid spending $40 million on a resurfacing that won’t solve the freeway’s many problems, and protect the state’s $2 billion investment in the Marquette and Zoo interchange projects.” she said recently.

Folks in Racine feel the same way about the I-94 North-South project.

Speaking to the Racine Journal Times Editorial Board in February, State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) said, “I’m going to have a real challenge voting for the budget if they don’t take care of I-94 out here. Period.”

He reiterated those comments in a press release just last month.

The ramifications are felt well beyond the boundaries of the greater Milwaukee area. The ripple effect of these decisions impacts the math across the rest of the state as well. According to WisDOT there will be at least $200 million in “throw-away costs” that will be absorbed by the State Highway Rehabilitation Program over the next ten years. That means beyond squandering the $2 billion investment in the Marquette and Zoo interchanges we will be sucking hundreds of millions of dollars that should be funding the rehabilitation of state highways all across Wisconsin to make sure bridges and other stretches of Interstate in southeast Wisconsin don’t literally fall apart while they wait to be reconstructed.

Local leaders know balancing the meeting of needs with constituents’ ability to pay is a constant struggle. Past bad decisions by members of both political parties have left us at a tipping point, however.

They say where there is a will there’s a way. So the question is, is there enough political will to prevent the collision of politics and math, or will we be forced to wait for some future leaders to sort through the wreckage?

— Fraley is the president of Edge Messaging, LLC, a public relations and strategic communications firm in Brookfield.

Bryce campaign: Randy Bryce, Democratic candidate for Wisconsin’s first district to hold first campaign rally this Saturday in Kenosha


Nick Ramos
(262) 260-9366
[email protected]com

KENOSHA, WI—Randy Bryce, local activist and iron worker, launched his campaign earlier this week to challenge Speaker Paul Ryan for Wisconsin’s First Congressional seat in 2018. Bryce’s campaign will hold its first rally this Saturday, June 24 at 10am at the United Autoworkers Local 72 Hall in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Bryce will headline the rally and will be joined by local Democratic activists and supporters including: State Senator Chris Larson, Racine Alderman John Tate, Community activist Ethel Gates, Racine teacher Angelina Cruz, Former congressional candidate Rob Zerban, as well as a crowd of supporters.

“Since Monday morning, my whole world has changed completely—in the best way,” said Bryce. “The enthusiasm and support from working and middle-class people all over the country is astounding. It’s clear that the people of Wisconsin want a leader in Congress who represents their values and knows their struggles, and I know that if we work together I can be that person and win in November 2018.”

Bryce’s campaign launched on Monday morning, and was met immediately with widespread enthusiasm and nationwide grassroots support. Since Monday, his campaign has raised more than $250,000 spread across nearly 9,000 donations, and his launch video has been viewed more than 5 million times on his campaign platforms alone.

What: Randy Bryce for Congress Campaign Rally
Date:  Saturday, June 24
Time: 10:00 AM CDT
Location: UAW Local 72 Hall
            3615 Washington Rd.
            Kenosha, WI 53144

Space is limited. Any media interested in attending the rally should RSVP to [email protected]RandyBryceforCongress.com by 6pm CDT on Friday June 23rd.

Bryce’s campaign for Congress can be found online at RandyBryceForCongress.com, at facebook.com/RandyBryce2018 and on Twitter at @IronStache.

City of Racine: Veterans Outreach presents at national conference


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

On Monday, June 26, 2017, The James A. Peterson Veteran Village in Racine will be highlighted at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Meeting in Miami, FL.

In a morning session of the Ending Veterans Homelessness Task Force, Jeff Gustin, Director of Veterans Outreach of Wisconsin (VOW), Shannon Goodman, VOW staff member, Fiona Murphy, Village project facilitator and Racine Mayor John Dickert will share the story of how a small group of people made a Big Thing happen for veterans in Racine and created a solution for ending veteran homelessness here.

Joining them will be Zack Giffin, host of the popular Tiny House Nation on FYI TV. Mr. Giffin joined VOW for a house building/training session last summer, which included veterans and community volunteers, to build two of the 15 houses expected to complete Veteran Village. The 3-day workshop has been captured in a video which will be shared at the Task Force Session.

With the additional exposure, it is hoped that the process and practices developed in Racine can prove to be a model in other communities. Additionally, VOW will be introducing a plan at the conference for extending its mission to veteran job apprenticeships by having site residents build and ship tiny homes for vets to other cities interested in addressing veteran homelessness.

City of Wisconsin Rapids: Dark store resolution passage


Paul Przybelski, City Clerk
(715) 421-8200

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – The Common Council of the City of Wisconsin Rapids unanimously approved a resolution in support of SB291 & AB387 and SB 292 & AB286 Tuesday evening at their regular city council meeting. These bills reverse the Walgreens state Supreme Court decision and close loopholes that shift a greater property tax burden from commercial to residential homeowners, respectively.

The goal of these bills is to avoid a large tax shift from commercial properties to other classes of property, primarily residential and small business. Alderperson Thaddeus Kubisiak, the council member who introduced the resolution, said, “this legislation will ensure that the dark store tax strategy being used by big box retail chains to cut their property tax bills in half in Michigan and other states does not take hold in Wisconsin.”

The legislation clarifies that when assessors use sales of comparable properties for
determining the value of a property they must use properties that are within the same
market segment and similar to the property being assessed with regard to age, condition, use, type of construction, location, design, and economic characteristics. Mayor Zachary
Vruwink added, “These bills explicitly provide that assessors may not use a dark and vacant store as a comparable for property that is not dark or vacant.”

If these bills are enacted, local governments will not receive one dollar more in tax revenue due to levy limits. The legislation will, however, prevent more of the tax burden from being shifted to homeowners. Currently, homeowners in the state of Wisconsin already pay 68 percent of the statewide property tax levy.

Excess heat recovery legislation passes Assembly with industry support


A bill that would classify excess heat produced by manufacturing processes as a renewable resource recently passed the state Assembly with broad support from some of Wisconsin’s biggest industries.

Electric utilities and retail electric cooperatives are currently held to “renewable portfolio standards,” which require a certain percentage of the electricity they sell to retail customers to come from renewable resources.

These groups can use renewable resource credits — which they can create themselves or buy from others — to meet the required percentage. These RRCs are created when electricity is produced from a renewable resource like solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and others.

Utilities and co-ops, as well as their customers and members, can also get RRCs based on the use of renewable resources, to the degree that their use displaces electricity derived from conventional resources.

The bill, which passed the Senate earlier this year, would place waste heat in the same category as wind and solar with respect to the RRC program. It goes now to Gov. Scott Walker for approval.

See more at WisBusiness.com

FRI AM Update: WHA expresses concern about Senate health care bill; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: Johnson says he’s ‘not ready’ to vote for Senate health care bill

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FRI REPORT: Sources: Potential K-12 deal would boost aid, reduce property taxes

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Gov. Walker: Celebrates the 74th Annual Badger Girls State


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

OSHKOSH – Governor Scott Walker will address young women from across the state this evening at the 74th Annual Badger Girls State Inauguration Ceremony. Every year during Badger Girls State, students selected to attend are grouped into cities and counties to form a “51st state,” where they have the ability to elect their own representatives and learn what it takes to run their city, county, and state. 

“One of our top priorities right now is preparing our next generation of leaders with the practical skills they need as they transition from high school, to higher education, to a career, and to life,” Governor Walker said. “Opportunities like Badger Girls State give young women in Wisconsin with hands-on state government experience that allows them to take concepts they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations.”

First held in 1937, Badger Girls State is a program of the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Wisconsin. This year, more than 725 Badger Girl delegates attended Girls State, which is held at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. 

To attend, students must be between their junior and senior years of high school. Candidates are selected by American Legion Auxiliary Units and local high school teachers, who evaluate candidates based on several factors, including their academic record, character, participation in extra-curricular activities, and interest in government. All participants must also rank in the upper half of their classes.

Governor Walker has proclaimed the week of June 18 – June 23, 2017 as American Legion Auxiliary Badger Girls State Week. A copy of the proclamation can be found here.

Gov. Walker: Highlights economy, workforce development investments in Milwaukee


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

MILWAUKEE – Governor Scott Walker joined Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen, Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer, and Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Eloise Anderson today in visiting Word of Hope Ministries, Inc. in Milwaukee to highlight Milwaukee’s record low unemployment rate as well as over $1.6 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) – Manufacturing Grant Awards.

In May 2017, the City of Milwaukee tied for its lowest unemployment rate on record at 4.0 percent. Additionally, Milwaukee County is at its lowest unemployment rate on record for the month of May.

“When we first took office, our unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, so our top priority was connecting people to good-paying jobs,” Governor Walker said. “Now, the unemployment rate for our state is 3.1 percent, and our priority has shifted from jobs, jobs, jobs to workforce, workforce, workforce. Now is the time for us to continue investing in our workforce to ensure the success of Wisconsin for generations to come.”

Word of Hope Ministries, Inc. is a pillar of the Milwaukee community and a key resource for workforce development. Last fall, Word of Hope received a $200,000 grant from the WFF Milwaukee Grant Program. Working with two separate employers – Patrick Cudahy and Quad Graphics – Word of Hope is contracted to train 300 total employees. Word of Hope has already held two training sessions and 38 individuals completed job training.

The new round of WFF grants Governor Walker announced today continue to benefit Milwaukee and surrounding areas, including $185,862 to Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership, Inc. (WRTP/BIG STEP), a Milwaukee non-profit, and a $98,617 grant that includes Milwaukee Area Technical College as a training partner. Altogether, the new WFF grants total more than $1.6 million and will go towards funding 16 worker training projects that will benefit nearly 1,300 workers and more than 40 manufacturers statewide.

During the past four years, Governor Walker has invested more than $200 million of state funding in workforce development, including $30 million in WFF grants to Wisconsin employers for customized skills training to fill current job openings and ongoing skill requirements. DWD has awarded more than $20 million in WFF grant contracts to date, supporting more than 200 worker training projects, benefiting hundreds of businesses and thousands of workers throughout Wisconsin.

“The future success of our state depends upon our ability to provide our next generation of workers with the practical skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the 21st-century workforce,” Governor Walker added. “With the help of state agencies like DWD and other workforce partners throughout the state, we’re making crucial investments in workforce development. Job opportunities exist in Milwaukee and all throughout the state – now we’re focused on bridging the skills gap and empowering Wisconsin’s workers.”

Gov. Walker: Signs legislation to change procedure for law enforcement dogs


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

GREEN BAY – Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 58 into law today at the Green Bay Police Department. The bill changes procedures for law enforcement dogs if they bite a person.

Assembly Bill 58 – changes the requirements for law enforcement dogs that have bitten a person. Under current law, if a dog has bitten a person, they must be quarantined unless they bit the person while performing law enforcement duties and are immunized against rabies. It must be confined while not performing law enforcement functions until it can be examined by a veterinarian on three separate occasions. This bill eliminates the requirements that a law enforcement dog that has bitten a person be examined by a veterinarian and that the dog be confined. It also requires the law enforcement agency to make the dog available for examination at any reasonable time and, if the dog exhibits abnormal behavior, to notify the local health department. Authored by Representative Andre Jacques (R – De Pere) and Senator Robert Cowles (R – Green Bay). It is Act 23.

“This is a common-sense change that saves the state time and money,” Governor Walker said. “In fact, 19 other states already have a similar exemption on the books. Law enforcement dogs are highly trained and their handlers know them well enough to know if there are changes in their health or behavior.”

Gov. Walker: Signs two bills into law in Star Prairie


Tom Evenson
(608) 266-2839

STAR PRAIRIE – Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 160 and Assembly Bill 56 into law today at Star Prairie Trout Farm.

Assembly Bill 160 – addresses three major subject areas for fish farms and the Department of Natural Resources, including: access to appropriate genetic strains of fish and fish eggs, maintenance, repair, and construction of fish farm facilities, and the streamlining of water use reporting and wastewater permitting. The bill  works to reduce burdensome and inconsistent regulations within Wisconsin’s fish farming industry and allows access to appropriate genetic strains of fish and fish eggs to strengthen successful public-private partnerships between private fish farms and state fish hatcheries. Authored by Representative Mary Felzkowski (R – Irma) and Senator Thomas Tiffany (R – Hazelhurst), the bill passed the Assembly with a vote of 64-34 and was concurred by the Senate on a voice vote. It is Act 21.

Assembly Bill 56 – allows a person who sells less than 15,000 gallons of motor fuel in Wisconsin to advertise motor fuel prices by the half-gallon. Current law requires motor fuel prices be advertised by the gallon, which affects small business owners across rural regions in the state that still own and maintain older, non-digitized gasoline pumps that do not rise above $1.99 or $2.99. When gasoline prices rise above these levels, pump owners display the cost per gallon of gasoline by the half-gallon. Authored by Representative Mary Felzkowski (R – Irma) and Senator Thomas Tiffany (R – Hazelhurst), the bill passed the Assembly on a voice vote and was concurred by the Senate on a voice vote. It is Act 22.

Johnson says he’s ‘not ready’ to vote for Senate health care bill


U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he and his constituents “need time to go through” the Senate GOP health care bill released Thursday before he decides how to vote on it.

Johnson got national attention for releasing a statement with three other conservatives saying they’re “not ready to vote for the bill.” The four senators — enough to put Senate passage of the bill at risk — said they’re open to negotiating and getting more information before the Better Care Reconciliation Act comes to the floor.

Johnson told reporters in Washington after the statement came out that Senate GOP leaders seem to think there’s “plenty of time” for senators to vote on the bill by the end of next week. But he said that’s likely not enough time for him to see how it affects Wisconsin’s health care industry and his constituents.

“I just have a hard time thinking those things are going to be answered … by the end of next week,” he said, according to audio his office provided.

The Oshkosh Republican, in his second term, also said he wants to talk to Gov. Scott Walker and state lawmakers to see how they view it, as well as read over the score from the Congressional Budget Office.

“All these things take time, and we don’t even have the information yet in terms of scores,” he said.

The bill was released after weeks of closed-door meetings. It repeals several Affordable Care Act taxes — an action critics say would be a giveaway to corporations and wealthy Americans. It caps the amount of money states get to manage their Medicaid programs for low-income Americans, moving the program away from the current open-ended funding commitment from the feds.

It removes the individual mandate and a separate employer coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act, cuts off Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood for a year and lets states define what should be considered essential health benefits that insurers need to cover. And older enrollees could now see premiums that are five times higher than younger ones; the Obamacare limit is three-to-one.

After the bill came out, Johnson had released a statement with three other conservatives — U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Rand Paul — saying they are “not ready to vote for the bill.”

“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs,” they said.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said at his weekly news conference it’s “very good” that the Senate bill takes a similar path to the House one.

But he declined to weigh in on the specifics of the bill, saying the Senate “gave us space” to develop the House GOP bill and he’ll do the same.

“This system is in a tailspin,” Ryan said. “We made a promise that we would repeal and replace this law. I’m very happy that the Senate has gone through the work of putting together a bill that keeps that promise, so yeah, I’m eager for them to pass it, but I’m not going to opine on the details.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin blasted the bill, saying families will “pay more for less care” and that the bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured.

Baldwin, D-Madison, said the issue is particularly pressing to her because she “was branded as a child with a pre-existing condition” due to an illness she had growing up. Wisconsin families, she said, will now “lay awake wondering if the health care they have today will be there tomorrow.”

“For Wisconsin families struggling to get ahead, this repeal plan has no heart and people are scared that it will make things worse. … The guaranteed protections and care that you have today are weakened and now, politicians in Madison will decide whether you keep the care you have, or whether it is taken away,” she said.

The Senate bill also has a longer phase-out of the Medicaid expansion under ACA than the House bill — something Walker earlier flagged as a concern.

“Any bill that allows the Obamacare Medicaid expansion to grow is not a repeal of Obamacare,” Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said. “Governor Walker supports a repeal of Obamacare and believes it is better to cap enrollment and make it easier and more affordable to obtain coverage in the marketplace.”

See more reaction in Press Releases:

Milwaukee Co. Sheriff’s Office: Probationary CO arrested for firing weapon in apartment


Fran McLaughlin
(414) 278-5226

Milwaukee, WI – A Milwaukee County Jail probationary correctional officer was arrested last night by the Greenfield Police Department.

Timothy J. Jennings, age 30, of Greenfield, initially called the Greenfield police to report that someone shot into his apartment.  Responding officers found evidence inconsistent with Jennings’ account, and he admitted it was his own weapon that discharged.  The investigation is being handled by the Greenfield Police Department.

Jennings has been terminated from his employment with the Sheriff’s Office.

Milwaukee Press Club: Partners with Rotary Club of Milwaukee for program on problem-oriented policing


Joette Richards
(262) 894-2224
[email protected]

MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Press Club and the Rotary Club of Milwaukee will present a joint program on Tuesday, June 27, featuring Michael Scott, director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing at the University of Arizona.

Scott oversee the center, which produces and shares information about how police can address specific public-safety problems effectively. He formerly was a clinical professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School; chief of police in Lauderhill, Florida; special assistant to the chief of the St. Louis, Missouri, Metropolitan Police Department; director of administration of the Fort Pierce, Florida, Police Department; legal assistant to the police commissioner of the New York City Police Department; and a police officer in Madison, Wisconsin.

The program includes lunch and networking at 11:45, program 12 noon to 1:15 p.m. in Memorial Hall at the War Memorial Center, 750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive downtown. Parking is available to the north of the building – please tell the attendant you are there for Rotary. Seating will be limited for this event and advanced registration is required.

The cost to attend is $20 for MPC members and $25 for non-members. Lunch is included. Registration deadline is Monday, June 26. Advanced registration and payment are required and may be done online at http://www.milwaukeepressclub.org/. Checks may be mailed to the MPC at PO Box 176, North Prairie, WI  53153-0176. Cancellations will be accepted up to 48 hours in advance for a full refund. Please contact Joette Richards at the Milwaukee Press Club at [email protected] with any questions or call 262-894-2224.

Nehlen campaign: Paul Nehlen claims victory at Paul Ryan’s BAT tax failure


Noel Fritsch
[email protected]

Delavan, WI – Republican Paul Nehlen proclaimed victory over Paul Ryan today after Fox Business reported the imminent demise of Ryan’s pet tax, the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT).

“Another of Paul Ryan’s supposedly genius policy schemes is crumbling around him,” Nehlen said. “Ryan is supposed to be helping Republicans in the House pass Trump’s America First agenda, but he keeps on swinging and missing.”

“The good news for Wisconsin is this: Paul Ryan’s loss is America’s gain,” Nehlen stated.

“Just like President Trump, I’m tired of Americans getting taken advantage of,” Nehlen said. “For Speaker Ryan to use the word ‘adjustment’ with respect to this tax hike is hogwash, because it’s code for America getting the shaft from virtually every country on the planet. When Paul Ryan says he’s ‘adjusting’ a tax, it means America loses, period.”

“Ryan’s BAT tax was a bad idea from the start,” Nehlen said. “Even worse than driving the prices of products we buy higher, Ryan’s BAT tax would have distorted the market to favor large exporting conglomerates over small and mid-sized manufacturers.”

“Speaker Ryan can’t blame this failed negotiation on Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton like he attempted with TPP,” Nehlen cautioned. “Paul Ryan completely owns the failure of BAT. Even worse, this horrible BAT idea it is the main driver delaying Trump’s tax cut,” Nehlen surmised.

“Virtually the entire House Republican Conference hated Ryan’s BAT Tax.  The only Representatives who supported it were the ones who want to stop Trump’s progress.

“Even knowing that Paul Ryan would prefer to ship American jobs to the lowest bidder in Asia, Ryan’s BAT Tax legislation is so bad I have a hard time believing he actually wanted to pass it,” Nehlen guessed. “I have to assume Ryan’s BAT Tax strategy was designed to intentionally delay Donald Trump’s America First 15% corporate tax rate proposal,” said Nehlen.

Paul Nehlen is a turnaround specialist, business executive, and inventor who started on the factory floor, who, with God’s grace and some determination, rose to lead Fortune 500 manufacturing businesses around the world. Nehlen challenged Speaker Paul Ryan in Wisconsin’s 2016 First Congressional District to stop Trans-Pacific Partnership and secure America’s border. He is waging the battle for Wisconsin’s workers, against the refugee resettlement racket, and lends his voice to the battle for America’s values. He lives in Delavan, Wisconsin.

One Wisconsin Now: National voting rights leader Jason Kander to discuss efforts to protect Americans’ access to the franchise with local advocates in Madison


Mike Browne, Deputy Director
[email protected]
(608) 444-3483

MADISON, Wis. — Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote, will join State Sen. Mark Miller and Madison voting rights advocates at a press conference on Sunday, June 25 at 11 a.m. outside the Madison Central Public Library to discuss the continuing fight to protect voting rights in Wisconsin and around the country.

Kander served in the military in Afghanistan and as a state legislator and Secretary of State in Missouri before running for the U.S. Senate in 2016. His 2016 campaign produced a popular ad showing him assembling a rifle blindfolded while discussing common sense sense gun control legislation.

He now heads Let America Vote, an organization dedicated to “… fight back against proposals across the country that make it harder for eligible voters to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot.”

Joining Mr. Kander will be State Sen. Mark Miller, an armed services veteran and ranking member of the state Senate Committee on Elections and Utilities.

The event is hosted by One Wisconsin Now, a leading advocate for voting rights in Wisconsin. Their partner organization, One Wisconsin Institute, was the lead plaintiff in federal lawsuit that resulted in a number of state laws restricting voting rights including limits on the times and locations of early voting and measures that made it harder for university students to vote.

WHO: Jason Kander, President, Let America Vote
State Sen. Mark Miller, ranking member Senate Committee on Elections and Utilities
One Wisconsin Now
WHAT: Press conference regarding the latest attacks and efforts to protect voting rights
WHEN: Sunday, June 25 at 11 a.m.
WHERE: Madison Central Public Library entrance
201 W. Mifflin Street
Madison, WI 53703

Panel looks back on Capitol restoration as building turns 100 years old

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Rep. Berceau: Democratic weekly radio address- “No campus gag rule”


Contact: (608) 266-3784

MADISON – Today, Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison) offered the Democratic Weekly Radio Address on the Assembly bill that represses free speech on Wisconsin’s university campuses:

“Your legislature should not be setting itself up as big government policing free expression on campus,” Rep. Berceau said. “This is bill is about chilling protests – sending a message to students and faculty to be careful not to offend conservatives. This is a dangerous encroachment on free speech principles that have been in place since 1791.”

The audio file of this week’s address can be found here, and the video can be found here.

A written transcript of the address is below:

“Hello, I’m Representative Terese Berceau with this week’s Democratic Radio Address

“Last night, Assembly Republicans passed a gag rule on free speech on college campuses. Citing incidents with speakers in other states, not Wisconsin, Republicans want to suspend and even expel students who are alleged to have interfered with someone’s right to speak.

“The University has disciplinary rules on the books already. There are campus and city police to deal with major disruptions. Your legislature should not be setting itself up as big government policing free expression on campus.

“This is bill is about chilling protests – sending a message to students and faculty to be careful not to offend conservatives. This is a dangerous encroachment on free speech principles that have been in place since 1791. Liberal and conservative speakers have been, and still are, challenged when they speak on campuses because colleges are places of clashing ideas that are the catalyst for intellectual growth. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Democrats will defend the rights of everyone to speak on campus.”

Rep. Krug: Votes to protect Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions


(608) 266-0215
[email protected]

MADISON – Early Thursday morning, Representative Krug (R-Rome) joined his Republican
colleagues in a vote on an amended version of Assembly Bill 365. The bill passed the
Wisconsin State Assembly on a party line vote of 62-35. A vote for this bill is a vote to
protect healthcare coverage of Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions.

“In working to protect those with pre-existing conditions, I had a long conversation with a
constituent from Wisconsin Rapids who was at his wits end.” Krug explained. “ Tonight I
finally had a chance to vote for HIM and get HIM options. His feedback was humbling. “May
be a liberal but your focus on your constituents regardless of their politics is very impressive.
We need more like you in state and national government”. I will keep fighting for what’s

The amended bill provides protections for citizens across Wisconsin with pre-existing conditions by barring insurance providers from increasing premiums or deductibles on those
who have maintained continuing coverage. This bill also directs the Office of the Insurance
Commissioner to develop a plan to help those with pre-existing conditions but who have not
maintained continuing coverage. With the approval of the Joint Finance Committee, the
Office of the Insurance Commissioner will expand affordable insurance options and increase
portability of plans.

Sen. Taylor: Milwaukee’s urban orchards continue to grow


Abby Parsons and Daniel Chinitz, 608-266-5810

(MILWAUKEE) – Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) is honored to thank the nation’s largest nursery, Stark Bro’s Nurseries & Orchards, and Will Allen of Growing Power, for donating trees to the McGovern Park Orchard. This development will provide tremendous opportunities in urban agriculture in Milwaukee.  The most recent donation of 2,000 fruit trees brings the total number of trees donated to more than 9,000 to date.

“It is exciting to see a corporation like Stark Bro’s working intimately with the Milwaukee community,” said Sen. Taylor. “Urban agriculture projects like this are the glue to the Love and Faith initiative, which open Milwaukee residents to job opportunities in forestry and urban agriculture at the local, state, and federal levels.”

“Thanks to these efforts Milwaukee County has the largest organic urban orchard in the nation and our urban forestry efforts continue to grow.  I’m excited we are becoming a greener community and are expanding forestry into urban centers in an exciting, new, and profitable direction,” said Sen. Taylor.

Sen. Taylor: More accountability for the choice and power for DPI


Madeline Braun or Zach Benson
(608) 266-5810

(MADISON) –Yesterday, the Assembly passed a bill that went through the Senate last week. The bill provides more power to DPI to hold private schools who accept state vouchers accountable. Today, State Superintendent Tony Evers has called on Governor Walker to sign Senate bill 293, which is a product of months of collaborative and negotiated work between DPI and Wisconsin School Choice.

Creating the 30 points in this bill was no easy feat as the organizations have been in contention for nearly thirty years. Both houses voted for the bill’s common sense reforms-passing the Senate 28-5 and the Assembly 67-30.

Taylor states she has long fought for needed background checks and school closure procedures to better regulate schools. The bill does many things including;

-Requiring that all schools in the choice program perform background checks, meaning if somebody has a background that prevents them from being able to have teaching license or they are a threat to safety, then they cannot teach

-Moving more money to public schools

-Requiring that schools have a financial report and pay for auditing costs

-Removing a school from the program if it intentionally or negligibly misrepresents information, ie commit fraud, by failing to provide financial information or do background checks

-Requiring schools to have a surety bond of at least 25% of what they are trying to create

-and more

Following its passage, Taylor said the following about the bill:

“I’m incredibly disappointed that legislators voted against this bill and did not recognize the importance of giving DPI more power to hold private schools accountable. Clearly what’s best for Wisconsin and our children wasn’t their priority.”

Sen. Taylor: Provides a plan to rebuild the relationships between law enforcement and the communities in which they serve


Anna Patterson
(608) 266-5810

(MADISON) – State Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. David Crowley unveiled the “Community-Police Relations Improvement Act” in response to the growing lack of trust between law enforcement and communities of color. Tragic altercations between the police and the members of the community that go unchecked and undiscussed do not serve the city, its officers or its citizens.

The longer we ignore our challenges and fail to rebuild those relationships, the more difficult it will be for police to protect and serve effectively and for citizens to trust them and feel safe in their own neighborhoods. The Police-Community Relations Improvement Act aims to grow community safety and trust by providing grants for police departments to engage in community police strategies that build relationships in the neighborhoods in which we serve.

Senator Taylor offered the following remarks:

“There has been a long history of distrust in this country between community members and the police who serve them. The first step to making our neighborhoods safer is rebuilding the relationships between law enforcement and their communities; the Community-Police Relations Improvement Act aims to do just that.”

Sources: Potential K-12 deal would boost aid, reduce property taxes

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State could rake in $15 million from fees tacked onto debt collections over next two years

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U.S. Sen. Johnson: Talks health care on CNN’s ‘Wolf’


Ben Voelkel
[email protected]

WASHINGTON — During an appearance with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Friday, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) explained why he is not yet ready to support the Senate health care bill. Excerpts of Senator Johnson’s appearance are below, and video can be found here.

On his criteria for supporting the bill: “If I have enough time to evaluate the bill, get the input from Wisconsinites, how does this affect them in their lives, in the end I’ll take a look at any bill, whether it’s been modified or not, to determine if this is enough improvement over the current system to garner a yes vote. … Leadership said it was a draft open for discussion and improvement. I hope they’re being genuine about that.” 

On Medicaid: “I’ve been on the inside, I’ve been listening to the discussions on what we’re going to do with Medicaid to make it more sustainable, turn it back over to the states, where it can be managed more efficiently and effectively. I haven’t seen the final numbers, but as we’re trying to do the projections, I don’t see any year-on-year reduction in spending, which is what I’d call a cut.”

On taking enough time: “We don’t have enough time, both members and the public, to completely evaluate this bill, see the scoring, see all the debate within the public realm. Whether we have a hearing or not, this thing needs to be fully vetted. I need to have enough time to evaluate it myself and get input from Wisconsinites. I’ve been very clear with leadership about that.”

“I have a hard time believing if we take a vote the end of next week that will afford me or my constituents enough time. I am really urging leadership to take the time, get this right, get us the information so the American public can really evaluate this – and quite honestly, let’s prove some of the rhetoric false.”

Waukesha Co. Department of Emergency Preparedness: Waukesha County to participate in large-scale emergency training course


Kathy Schwei
(262) 548-7580
[email protected]

(WAUKESHA, WI) –Waukesha County is taking extra measures to be prepared when disaster strikes. Seventy-five staff members from Waukesha County and partner municipalities and agencies will be part of a four-day crisis simulation training at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD. From June 26th-29th, attendees will learn incident management best practices at the Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC).

“This is a significant opportunity to work with FEMA to build a more resilient community by increasing our emergency preparedness,” said Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow. “We look forward to enhancing our capabilities in emergency response and recovery with this unique opportunity.”

Waukesha County Emergency Management is one of only 20 applicants from across the country selected to attend the IEMC training, which is funded by FEMA. The four-day course consists of training modules that cover everything from resource tracking to recovery planning. Exercises then engage the participants to deal with the effects of hazards that are specific to Waukesha County. The lessons learned will be brought back to improve emergency plans that are currently in place.

Wisconsin Department of Justice: AG Schimel continues 72-county tour to discuss public safety in Barron and Douglas counties


MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Brad Schimel continued his 72-county statewide tour to meet with local law enforcement and elected officials this week with stops in Barron and Douglas Counties on Wednesday, June 21.

“Counties in northwest Wisconsin have been particularly hard hit with the opiate and meth epidemics ravishing our state,” said Attorney General Schimel. “These local meetings are valuable in hearing how health and human services staff and law enforcement are working together, and how the state can be another partner in the fight to make our communities safer and stronger. Local sheriffs and police have become the first stop for many who are having a mental health crisis or struggling with addiction so a successful partnership between law enforcement and health services is critical to the fighting the drug epidemic.”

“Local law enforcement wants to thank AG Schimel for the meeting and for the discussion on ways we can work together to prevent and slow down the meth issue in the county,” said Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald. “It was clear that this will be a top priority in the coming months for the AG and DCI, and by working together we hope to works towards a solution to help our county.”

Attorney General Schimel and the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) leadership team is meeting with law enforcement and local officials in every county to discuss public safety concerns specific to each county. The challenges faced by law enforcement leaders and the criminal justice system differ from county to county, even in neighboring communities, making it critical for DOJ to be responsive to public safety needs at the local level. DOJ is local communities’ partner in safety, and these meetings aim to discover what resources and efforts DOJ can provide to make Wisconsin safer and stronger.

DOJ financially supports a number of programs to help public safety officials keep the counties safe. In Barron County this year, DOJ has provided nearly $27,000 to the county drug and alcohol court program, enabling participants to seek support during recovery for substance abuse. DOJ has also provided more than $44,000 to Barron County to fight heroin and methamphetamine, to be used from later 2015 to late 2018.

Douglas County is part of the Northwest Area Crime Unit Task, along with six other counties (Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Iron, Sawyer, and Washburn). Together, these counties received more than nearly $183,000 to fight heroin, methamphetamine, and drug distribution.

In attendance at the Barron County roundtable meeting was Judge James Babler, Barron County District Attorney Angela Beranek, Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, Mayor of Barron David Vruwink, Cameron Police Chief Michael Linch, Chetek Police Chief Ron Ambrozaitis, Four Corners Police Chief R.J. Severude, Rice Lake Police Chief Steve Rock, and Turtle Lake Police Chief Alan Gabe.

In attendance at the Douglas County roundtable meeting was Douglas County Sheriff Tom Dalbec and other local government officials.

To see what other counties the Attorney General has visited, and where he will going next, go to: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/ag-roundtable-map

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction: Hearing July 6 on changes to educator licensing rules


Tom McCarthy
(608) 266-3559

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will conduct a hearing in July on emergency rules that will make changes in educator licensing to address teacher shortages in time for the 2017-18 school year.

The July 6 hearing will be held from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the DPI’s headquarters, GEF 3, Room P41, 125 South Webster Street, Madison. For those who cannot attend the hearing, written comments sent to the department will be given the same consideration as public testimony.

The emergency rules for PI 34 were among recommendations from a stakeholders workgroup organized to address school district staffing difficulties. The emergency rules will

• Replace current emergency licenses and permits with a one-year license with stipulations for teachers and pupil services professionals from another state who have not met Wisconsin
testing requirements; speech language pathologists who hold a valid license from the
Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services; and an individual with a bachelor’s degree, if a district cannot find a fully licensed teacher or pupil services


• Create a three-year license with stipulations as part of a district-sponsored pathway for
experienced teachers to receive another teacher license in a new subject or developmental

• Issue licenses to teachers from another state who have successfully completed the edTPA or the National Board process (Foundations of Reading Test still required).

• Allow, starting Jan. 1, 2018, educators who are licensed at the initial or professional educator level to use professional growth goals and work in Educator Effectiveness as another option to renew or advance their license.

• Allow educator preparation programs flexibility in their admissions policies by removing
specific testing and grade-point average (GPA) requirements.

• Allow teacher and pupil services candidates to demonstrate content knowledge with a 3.0 or higher GPA in the license area or by successfully completing a content-based portfolio.

• Remove the master’s degree requirement for the library media specialist license and make it a stand-alone license based on completion of a major.

• Create a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) teaching license that will allow someone who has been certified as a JROTC instructor by a branch of the military to teach
JROTC courses in a high school.

The hearing site is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Those who cannot attend the public hearing may provide written comments. Send comments on the emergency rules via U.S. mail or e-mail to the addresses below no later than July 21.

A copy of the emergency rules is available online on the department’s administrative rules page at http://dpi.wi.gov/policy-budget/administrative-rules or on the Wisconsin Legislature page for this emergency rule, https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/emergency_rules/all/emr1711. Copies of these materials can be requested and written comments submitted by sending an e-mail to [email protected] or by writing to Carl Bryan, budget and policy analyst and administrative rules coordinator, DPI, 125 South Webster Street, P.O. Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707-7841.

Wisconsin Hospital Association: Statement on U.S. Senate health care bill falls short


Mary Kay Grasmick
(608) 274-1820

“Our initial review leads us to conclude that this bill falls far short of protecting our core issues
of maintaining access to health care coverage, stabilizing the insurance market and
safeguarding Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. It is a complex bill and requires much more in-
depth review before we will know the full extent of its impact on Wisconsin’s patients,
providers and communities.

There is a lot at stake for Wisconsin in this bill, not the least of which is potentially billions in
lost federal Medicaid funding by perpetuating inequities among states.

We commend Senator Johnson for taking a circumspect approach, including advocating for
market stabilization first, while wanting time to understand the broader ramifications of the bill through his stated desire to obtain constituents’ reaction and input.”

Wisconsin Legislature: ‘Ruff’ burden on law enforcement removed by Cowles/Jacque bill


Sen. Cowles, (608) 266-0484
Rep. Jacque, (920) 819-8066

MADISON- Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Representative André Jacque (R-De Pere) released the following statement after Assembly Bill 58 was signed into law by Governor Scott Walker during a visit to the Green Bay Police Department today:

“Until today, handlers, who regularly spend 40 hours a week or more with their K-9 partner, found their hands tied by state statutes while a crucial member of the police force sat on the sidelines,” said Senator Cowles. “By allowing K-9 officers to stay in the field after a biting event, law enforcement will save the tax payers money and continue to protect public safety with one of the best tools available to them. I would like to thank my co-author, Representative Jacque, and all of the co-sponsors for their hard work on this bill.”

“I am proud to see this commonsense bi-partisan legislation signed into law today, removing an obsolete and costly mandate on law enforcement that was shown to hinder, rather than improve public safety,” said Representative Jacque. “Law enforcement K-9 units have repeatedly demonstrated their value as a highly trained asset to their departments, solving crimes and keeping our community safe.  I am very appreciative of Sen. Cowles for his leadership in getting this bill through the State Senate, and deeply thankful to Green Bay Police K9 Unit Lieutenant Matt Van Egeren and Oconto County Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Skarban, President of the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Canine Handler Association, for working with me to draft and pass AB 58.”

Previously, the law required a K-9 officer to receive three check-ups from a veterinarian over the ten-day period following a biting incident and confinement outside of work duties. 2017 Assembly Bill 58, now referred to as 2017 Act 23, allows for the K-9 officer to remain at work while the handler monitors their health and reports any abnormal behavior to the health department. The bill was supported by a broad coalition of law enforcement groups, including the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association, Chiefs of Police Association, Professional Police Association, Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, and Troopers Association.

WisOpinion.com: ‘The Insiders’ talk infrastructure

This week the WisOpinion.com Insiders, Chvala and Kanavas, make a bet Congress will develop and pass a huge infrastructure bill this fall. Sponsored by the Wisconsin Counties Association and Michael Best Strategies.

WisPolitics.com Book Club: Podcast with reporter Mark Johnson


The WisPolitics.com Book Club this week talks to Mark Johnson, of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a co-author of “One in a Billion: The Story of Nic Volker and the Dawn of Genomic Medicine,” about how Wisconsin doctors using bold new methods helped save the life of a Monona child.

Hear the podcast:

See more on the book:

Check out other WisPolitics.com podcasts on iTunes and SoundCloud.

June 24, 2017 | June 22, 2017
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