Daily Archives: October 24, 2017
MADISON, WI. – Within a week of launching her campaign for Dane County Circuit Court judge, over 200 people have endorsed Susan Crawford’s candidacy, including sixteen judges, top elected officials, attorneys, activists and key political figures across Dane County.
“I hired Susan Crawford to take on tough jobs, from overseeing a massive criminal caseload as an Assistant Attorney General to serving as my Chief Legal Counsel in the Governor’s Office,” said Jim Doyle, former Governor and Attorney General of Wisconsin. “Susan is an exceptional lawyer who rises to every challenge with intellect, perseverance, and common sense. She will be an outstanding judge for the people of Dane County.”
“As your former County Executive, and as a lawyer myself, I know first-hand how important our judges are to protect our rights,” said Kathleen Falk, former Dane County Executive. “Susan Crawford has devoted her career to doing exactly that. Her work at the Pines Bach law firm taking on powerful interests, her work at the DNR protecting our natural resources, and her work at the Wisconsin Department of Justice will make her a great judge, serving all of us. I urge you to support Susan.”
As a partner at Pines Bach, Crawford has fought to protect citizens’ constitutional rights and other important public interests. She has defended voting rights in cases on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She won protection of women’s health services on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Representing Madison Teachers, Inc, Crawford helped lead the legal challenge to Act 10. Crawford recently co-authored an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Wisconsin’s gerrymandered legislative districts in Gill v. Whitford.
“I’ve known Susan Crawford for over ten years. She is not only a brilliant lawyer, but a kind, compassionate person with common sense and integrity. Susan will be a great judge with a commitment to justice for all,” said Charles Tubbs, Sr., Dane County emergency manager and former Capitol Police Chief.
Long-serving Judge Richard Niess noted, “Susan Crawford’s broad experience in civil litigation, criminal law, and public service will be a valuable addition to the Dane County Circuit Court. Her history of hard work, sound judgment, civility, and integrity have earned her the respect of lawyers and judges throughout the state. I am pleased to endorse her candidacy.”
“I am honored and humbled by this overwhelming early display of support,” said Crawford. “My goal is not only to be an excellent judge, but to work collaboratively to improve the justice system for all Dane County citizens.” Crawford lives in Madison with her husband, Shawn Peters, and their two teenaged children. The Spring election will be held on April 3, 2018.
Gov. Walker: Authorizes emergency relief for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricanes Irma and Maria
Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839
MADISON – Governor Scott Walker issued Executive Order #260 Monday calling Wisconsin National Guard emergency personnel to active duty as the Adjutant General deems necessary to assist in responding to the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to aid Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
“This order will provide vital medical personnel and resources to help our fellow Americans affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria quickly and effectively,” said Governor Walker. “We’re also directing all state agencies to assist the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs in responding to this situation.”
Gov. Walker: Directs DHS to increase investment, improve access to treatment for mental health, substance use disorders
Contact: Tom Evenson, (608) 266-2839
Behavioral health rate increase builds on historic efforts to address mental health needs and fight the opioid epidemic
MADISON – Governor Scott Walker has directed the Department of Health Services to improve access to treatment for those battling mental health and substance use disorders by increasing the investment in behavioral health services. This morning, at the 13th Annual Mental Health and Substance Use Recovery Training Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer announced an investment of about $17 million, including $7 million in state funding, to raise rates for professionals providing outpatient mental health and substance use disorder services.
“While we have made great strides in our efforts to help those living with mental health issues, or battling heroin addiction or prescription drug abuse, there is much more work to be done,” Governor Walker said. “The painful and heartbreaking stories of lives lost and families devastated due to untreated mental health issues, or substance abuse, or both, are evidence that we are still in crisis here in Wisconsin, and across the nation, and we will continue to be aggressive in this fight.”
“This increase builds on Governor Walker’s historic investment in mental health funding, and will fuel our fight in the battle against heroin and prescription drug abuse, as well as other substance use disorders,” Secretary Seemeyer said. “This is a big win for patients and their families, as it will improve access to treatment, which is key to building a healthy, rewarding life.”
According to DHS, in 2016, 827 people died in Wisconsin of opioid overdose deaths caused by heroin, or prescription drugs, or both. From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths in Wisconsin due to prescription opioids increased 600 percent, from 81 to 568 in 2016. Heroin overdose deaths increased 12 times, from 28 deaths in 2000 to 371 deaths in 2016.
According to DHS, advocates and partners, one of the most effective options available to address the statewide opioid addiction epidemic is to increase access to treatment for individuals with addiction and support the addiction treatment workforce.
“Approximately fifty percent of families are affected by a mental health or substance use disorder and these behavioral health concerns are even more prevalent among low income individuals,” said Joy Tapper, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership. “Our local Community Health Needs Assessment, as well as the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership work plan, both identified access to mental health and addiction services as one of the top health improvement priorities. This investment will help improve access to outpatient care for Medicaid members, and is an important step in addressing the challenges we face recruiting and retaining providers in this field. The Partnership is grateful to the Governor, Secretary Seemeyer and the Department of Health Services for recognizing the gap in access and taking this action; along with the many other initiatives that have been advanced by the Administration to meet the behavioral health needs of Wisconsin residents.”
Effective January 1, 2018, Wisconsin Medicaid will increase reimbursement for outpatient mental health and substance use disorder treatment. This policy change will increase the maximum allowable fee for each covered outpatient service, and simplify the current rate structure, moving from five different fees per service to two fees per service. The new rates are competitive with border-state Medicaid programs and Medicare reimbursement, supporting growth of the Wisconsin provider workforce.
More information regarding the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin: Governor Scott Walker created the Task Force on Opioid Abuse in 2016 to address the state’s opioid overdose epidemic. In addition to the creation of the DHS Opioid Abuse Prevention and Treatment Steering Committee, the Governor also directed DHS to issue a Public Health Advisory to increase the awareness of the situation and the efforts in addressing it. A special legislative session was called by the Governor earlier this year to consider recommendations developed by the task force, which is chaired by Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and State Representative John Nygren. To date, Governor Walker has signed into law 28 pieces of legislation under the HOPE (Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education) agenda. #HopeActLiveWI
More information regarding mental health and substance use disorder investments in Wisconsin: Under Governor Walker, Wisconsin has made historic investments in mental health, including an increase of almost $30 million for community mental health services, the largest increase in at least 25 years. This allowed for expansion of Comprehensive Community Services (CCS), a program that supports individuals of all ages living with mental health and substance use concerns at the community level. CCS is now available in 64 counties and three tribal nations. As of June 30, 2017, more than 5,200 individuals were enrolled in CCS.
Gov. Walker: Launches petition and digital ad campaign to press NFL players to stand for National Anthem
CONTACT: Zach Madden, 608-266-7521(office) 920-627-5773 (cell)
MADISON –Today, Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), ranking Democrat on the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform, criticized Republican members of the Committee for declining to choose between incentivizing healthy food purchases through the FoodShare program and restricting food choices for FoodShare participants. The two bills considered by the committee, Assembly Bills 501 and 530, take radically different approaches to promoting healthy choices in FoodShare purchasing. AB 501 takes a positive, evidence-based approach by incentivizing healthy purchases through discounts and, in turn, enables shoppers to stretch their FoodShare budget. AB 530 takes a negative and restrictive approach, not supported by evidence, by creating a list of restricted or banned foods based on some set of unidentified standards. AB 501 passed unanimously with bipartisan support, while AB 530 passed on a party line vote with all Republicans voting yes.
“Today, the Public Benefit Reform Committee was faced with a clear choice between two radically different approaches to reaching the goal of promoting healthy food purchases in the FoodShare program,” said Rep. Subeck. “This was truly a tale of two bills – best and worst, wisdom and foolishness, belief and incredulity, hope and despair – and faced with these clear choices, committee Republicans punted by passing both bills.”
The incentive based approach utilized in the bi-partisan AB 501 mirrors similar programs such as the USDA’s Healthy Incentives Pilot which produced significant increases in purchases of fresh, healthy foods. AB 530 takes a restrictive approach, creating a list of foods that must be limited or banned from FoodShare purchases. USDA guidance cautions against such a restrictive approach, citing federal dietary guidance that applies to the total diet and a lack of widely accepted standards to determine what foods are healthy vs. unhealthy. The pilot program and related study under AB 501 would cost approximately $700,000, while AB 530 would cost taxpayers a startling $12 million or more.
“With two bills before them – one positive and the other punitive, one we can afford and one we cannot, one bipartisan and one politically motivated, one proven effective and the other not – Republicans still could not choose one over the other,” said Rep. Subeck. “In our highly partisan legislative environment, it is rare that a committee has the opportunity to consider and choose between two radically different approaches to one issue at the same time, and it is unfortunate Republicans chose to squander such an opportunity. The positive impact of AB 501 will pale in comparison to the costly, negative impact of AB 530.”
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin: Support continues to grow as organization partners with local victims’ advocates
Madison, Wisconsin – The bipartisan coalition in favor of Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin continues to grow, and recent partnerships with local victims’ advocates have generated additional attention around the statewide effort to update Wisconsin’s Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims.
With the publication of letters to the editor, op-eds, and local news coverage, the coalition has enjoyed broad and growing support and now boasts a growing list of over 200 key endorsements. Most recently, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin partnered with local victims’ advocates to sponsor the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event in Green Bay.
Check out what our supporters and partners are saying about the event:
Teri Jendusa Nicolai, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin state chairwoman on WBAY Action 2 News: “People don’t realize how often people survive sexual assault or domestic violence, they don’t realize that it’s in their own neighborhoods and their own backyards, and awareness means action.”
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin supporter Brown County Chief Deputy Todd Delain on CBS Local 5 This Morning: “Awareness is critical; that we have people that understand that this is happening in our community, and we need to take it seriously… This is an outstanding event—really important to bring awareness to such an important topic.”
Koren Petersen, Communications & Development Coordinator of Golden House, Inc. in an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette: “It’s really just a wonderful thing… all the people who are standing up to support victims in our community and to support survivors… It’s just a really great thing to be part of this community, and we have all of the people supporting the event by walking, but also all of our sponsors; and this year we have a new sponsor, our high heeled sponsor Marsy’s Law, so we’re really excited about that too.”
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin, introduced as Assembly Joint Resolution 47/Senate Joint Resolution 53, is authored by Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Representative Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville). With a broad and growing bipartisan statewide coalition supporting it, the legislation has passed key committees in both the State Senate and State Assembly and is now awaiting votes by both full chambers of the Legislature.
You can read more on Teri’s story of survival here and find facts on Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin’s bipartisan legislation below:
· Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin follows a proud tradition in our state of protecting victims’ rights, unlike many other states. Wisconsin already has a constitutional amendment on victims’ rights that passed in 1993, and was the first state in the nation to pass a Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. The state also is recognized as having some of the strongest statutory rights for victims in the country. This means the changes we are proposing are about making sure victims’ rights are truly equal alongside the constitutional rights of the accused – nothing more, nothing less.
· Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin strengthens rights that already exist in Wisconsin. The proposed amendment would do two things: Elevate certain rights currently under state statute to be fully constitutional rights, and strengthen other rights that are already part of the Constitution. An example of a right that is the law under state statute but needs to be elevated to the Constitution is the right to put victim restitution payments ahead of any dollars owed to the government. An example of a current constitutional right that needs clarification is the right to be heard throughout the legal process, including release, plea, sentencing, disposition, parole, revocation, expungement, or pardon – as opposed to just disposition.
· Nearly 80 percent of Wisconsinites support updating our state Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims. A poll of Wisconsinites found that nearly 80 percent support updating our state Constitution to ensure equal rights for crime victims. More than 80 percent support a victim’s right to speak up at more points in the criminal justice process, and 68 percent said they were “more likely” to support a state legislative candidate who supported Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin. The bipartisan legislation must be passed in the state Legislature twice, then by voters at the ballot box.
About Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin
Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin is a grassroots coalition that has developed a unique proposal to give victims of crime equal rights in our state, building on Wisconsin’s laws and history of leading on this issue. Marsy’s Law is named after Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Only one week after her death, Marsy’s mother and brother, Henry T. Nicholas, walked into a grocery store where they were confronted by the accused murderer. The family, who had just come from a visit to Marsy’s grave, was unaware that the accused had been released on bail. In an effort to honor his sister, Dr. Nicholas has made it his life’s mission to give victims and their families constitutional protections and equal rights.
Victims and supporters interested in sharing their stories can email [email protected].
Milwaukee Jewish Federation: Former U.S. small business administrator to keynote economic forum 2017
MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin–The Milwaukee Jewish Federation expects another sell-out crowd at its Economic Forum 2017 on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., at the Pfister Hotel.
This year features Karen Mills as the keynote speaker, who is a former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. She is currently a senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School focusing on U.S. competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation.
As SBA Administrator (2009 – Aug. 2013) and a Cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and was a key member of the White House economic team. At the SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion. Mills is credited with turning around the agency, streamlining loan programs, shortening turnaround times and reducing paperwork. These efforts resulted in record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital. In addition, Mills helped small businesses create regional economic clusters, gain access to early stage capital, hire skilled workers, boost exports and tap into government and commercial supply chains.
Following the keynote speech will be a panel discussion with Milwaukee business leaders: Mike Gousha, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Marquette University Law School; Greg Marcus, CEO/president of The Marcus Corporation; and Justin Mortara, Ph.D., president of Mortara Instrument, Inc.
“The Milwaukee Jewish Federation organizes the Economic Forum to hold a community conversation about the economy, and this year we are celebrating five years of straight talk about the economy,” said Hannah Rosenthal, CEO/president of MJF. “Having a national expert like Karen Mills deliver the keynote speech is an excellent opportunity for this conversation. And our local panel of business leaders brings it all home.”
The lead sponsors of Economic Forum 2017 are BMO Harris Bank, PNC and Milwaukee Business Journal, along with 50 additional sponsors. Limited individual tickets are still available; go to MilwaukeeJewish.org/EconomicForum<http://www.milwaukeejewish.org/economicforum/>.
Event co-chairs are: Allan “Bud” Selig, commissioner emeritus of Major League Baseball; David Lubar, CEO/president of Lubar & Company; Greg Marcus, CEO/president of The Marcus Corporation; and Linda Gorens-Levey, partner of General Capital Group.
Economic Forum 2017 follows last year’s sell-out crowd of 650, which included a panel of prominent local business leaders and featured Vivek Wadhwa, a futurist who is recognized as Silicon Valley’s most provocative voice for his ideas on technology trends, globalization and U.S. competitiveness.
Milwaukee Press Club: Partners with Rotary Club of Milwaukee for program on the $1.2 Billion Amazon Effect
Milwaukee Press Club Partners with Rotary Club of Milwaukee
for Program on the $1.2 Billion Amazon Effect
MILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Press Club and the Rotary Club of Milwaukee will present a joint program on Tuesday, Nov. 7, featuring Jon Wile, vice president of content for American City Business Journals, which operates 43 business newspapers and websites across the United States, including the Milwaukee Business Journal.
Wile oversaw a nine-month investigation by all of ACBJ’s newsrooms to document the systematic expansion of Amazon.com, from Class A office space in the nation’s largest cities to former cornfields and barren industrial spaces long abandoned by industries of old. The company’s growth, while massive in scope, has hinged on negotiations with local officials, deals with local real estate developers and tax breaks blessed by local municipalities in excess of $1.2 billion. The series of stories identified where the Seattle-based company’s unrelenting expansion might be headed, including the nationwide competition underway for its second headquarters, and the growing trend of requests for huge incentives by businesses looking to expand or relocate.
The program includes lunch and networking at 11:45 a.m., 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 Friday, Nov 3. Advanced registration and payment are required and may be done online at http://www.milwaukeepressclub.
The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
As a member of 11 cooperatives throughout Wisconsin, and a former co-op board member, I am concerned about a bill working its way through the legislature that would change the definition of a cooperative in Wisconsin. The very cooperative principles that have been fundamental to the agriculture industry in Wisconsin are being challenged by this bill.
Assembly Bill 353 and its companion, Senate Bill 281, would allow co-ops to make changes to their bylaws that are currently prohibited under state law. Why do I care about these changes? As dairy farmers my husband and I depend on cooperatives to market our grain in the fall and provide feed throughout the year. Most of our feed is purchased through supply coops. Most of the semen we use is purchased through supply cooperatives. We market our cows through Equity Co-op. The electricity we use is delivered through an electric co-op. The bed I sleep on every night and the furniture in our living room was even purchased through a furniture cooperative. As an owner-member of all of those cooperatives, I have the opportunity to make my voice heard on many decisions.
In the current law, cooperative members make up the board of directors. Those board members are voted in by other members, their peers. Co-ops have the ability to appoint or hire advisors without giving them a seat on the board, and many co-ops already do this. There is no need for a statutory change to let non-members serve and vote on cooperative boards, as this bill proposes. Why does a cooperative need to appoint non-members, including outside investors, to vote on its board? If co-op members want outside investors to start managing the cooperatives they own, they should restructure into a corporation.
A second change in this bill would restrict members’ access to the financial records of the cooperative. Most cooperatives have records that go back many years, and with today’s technology, they should be able to produce those records without any difficulty. I have served on cooperative boards where we have gone back a number of years to review financial decisions, or for new board members to understand why by-laws or financial decisions were made. Members should be able to do the same – after all, they are co-owners of the business, and should be able to see how it is managed.
Finally, this bill would allow one cooperative in the state, Cooperative Resources International, to switch to patronage-based voting. This goes against the cooperative principles of one member, one vote, and democratic member control. It would significantly diminish the voting power of small to average-sized farmers. These are the farmers who are already struggling financially, and may decide not to spend as much with their co-op. my husband and I milk 120 cows, one of my neighbors milks 1,000, another neighbor milks 400, another neighbor milks 65. We should all be allowed to have a single vote and know that our vote matters. By changing the cooperative history of one member one vote, we again are turning farmer owned cooperatives into farmer owned corporations where the only way your voice will be heard is if you purchase more “stock” in that company. This is a change I adamantly oppose in AB 353/SB 281. Take away the one member one vote rule, and you take away the core principle that cooperatives are based on.
I urge my fellow cooperative members in Wisconsin to call your legislators and oppose AB 353/SB 281. It will take all of us speaking up together to keep Wisconsin’s co-op laws intact.
— Edelburg is a dairy farmer (Front Page Holsteins, Scandinavia) and co-op member and owner.
Contact: Rep. Rob Brooks
Madison, Wisconsin — Representatives Rob Brooks (R-Saukville) and Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) issued the following statement regarding moving Wisconsin forward through civil discourse and unified principles:
“Our foremost goal as elected officials is to move Wisconsin forward and provide a better quality of life for our constituents. Accomplishing this goal requires us to set aside differences and unify behind our core principles of limited government, lower taxes, and personal freedom.
Wisconsin’s future is bright, our economy is robust and our workforce is among the nation’s best. Moving forward as a state requires uniting behind a set of commonly held principles and recognizing that we serve the people of this state. Our constituents demand civil discourse, collaboration, and ingenuity. Civil discourse has been a focal point of our republic since its founding. We must, for the good of Wisconsin and the people who entrust us to represent them, hold ourselves to a higher standard and be the change that continues moving Wisconsin forward. Vitriol has become commonplace in political discourse and as a result, has precipitated a profound distrust of government and elected officials. We have an opportunity to reverse this course and show Wisconsinites that their interests and concerns are our foremost priorities. At the end of the day, we are all hard-working, God-fearing people who love Wisconsin and its people. Our desire to move Wisconsin forward must take precedent over our own self-interest and desires.”
As we work through our remaining legislative priorities for this session, it is imperative that collaborative and robust dialogue exist between both houses of the legislature and Governor Walker. Doing so will ensure that bold, conservative reforms are enacted and not mere talking points. Tax relief; expansion of educational opportunities for families; investment in job training programs; the elimination of burdensome regulations; and college affordability, to name a few, are a reality, today, because we all put our differences aside and did what was best for the people of Wisconsin.”
Contact: Rep. John Nygren (888) 534-0089
Madison–State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette), Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, released the following statement regarding the announcement of an increase in behavioral health reimbursement rates for professionals providing outpatient mental health and substance use disorder services:
“It is great to see the increased reimbursement rates for professionals providing outpatient mental health and substance use disorders. This is a huge step for Wisconsin as we continue our fight against opioid addiction. An increase in reimbursement rates will have a real, immediate impact for those on the forefront of our fight against addiction.
“Since we began our work on the HOPE Agenda, one our biggest priorities has been to increase access to addiction treatment. This announcement will build on our efforts by providing the tools and resources necessary to support the addiction treatment workforce. Increased reimbursement rates will help attract and retain the highly-skilled professionals we so greatly need.
“I would like to thank Governor Walker for continuing to make the necessary investments in mental health and addiction. Today’s announcement is a big deal for all those affected by addiction”
Rep. Subeck and Sen. Taylor: Bill to limit shackling of incarcerated women during labor and childbirth passes Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety
CONTACT: Rep. Subeck 608-266-7521
Sen. Taylor 608-266-5810
MADISON – Today, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety unanimously passed Senate Bill 393, authored by Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison). SB 393 would restrict shackling of incarcerated women during labor and childbirth and would ensure incarcerated women have access to needed maternal support services including the supplies for pumping breast milk, postpartum health care, and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The legislation was introduced in response to reports of multiple incarcerated women being shackled while in labor in Milwaukee County. Federal facilities and 18 states already have policies that prohibit or restrict shackling pregnant women.
“I am pleased that the Senate is moving forward on this critical piece of legislation to protect pregnant women who are incarcerated,” said Sen. Taylor. “I was horrified to learn that a lawsuit in Milwaukee County documented one woman being handcuffed and shackled throughout 21 hours of labor and another woman giving birth with her wrists handcuffed to her waist and connected to her legs.”
The bill had a great show of support and positive reception at the public hearing last week, which resulted in the Committee Chair Senator Van Wanggaurd to sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill. SB 393 would create the much needed statutory guidance on when corrections officers may shackle pregnant women and limit the practice to only when absolutely necessary to preserve safety. The bill would also give incarcerated women access to much needed maternal support services including the ability to pump breast milk for their babies, helping get their children off to a healthy start. Finally, the bill would expand voluntary STI testing in correctional facilities, which will increase early detection and decrease the risk of transmission to a pregnant woman’s child.
“Today’s committee action moves Wisconsin one step closer to ending the dangerous and inhumane practice of unnecessarily shackling incarcerated women in labor,” said Rep. Subeck “No mother should be unnecessarily restrained during labor or childbirth, and no child should be born to a mother in shackles.”
The bill will now need to advance to the full Senate for a vote.
Rep. Subeck: Legislation to allow Municipal Officials to serve as Election Officials passes Senate Committee on Elections and Utilities
Contact: Hariah Hutkowski
Madison – Today, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R – Fond du Lac) officially released legislation aimed at protecting teachers and restoring discipline in classrooms, also known as the “Teacher Protection Act.” This legislation was in direct response to the comprehensive report by Dan O’Donnell, “Blood on the Blackboard” that shared horror story after horror story of teachers’ physical assaults and subsequent issues.
Rep. Thiesfeldt stated, “School safety is not just for kids—it is vital for teachers and staff as well. While I wish it were not necessary to bring legislation forward on this issue, we must bring this serious discussion to the light of day on how we can better protect our teachers. We all know teachers who can relate personal stories of threats and physical assaults from students. Too many of our teachers operate daily in an environment where violence and threats of violence from students are all too common, and students go with little or no disciplinary action from school administration.”
In the most recent national data (US Dept. of Ed.) available broken down by state, 1/4 of all Wisconsin teachers reported experiencing either a physical attack (11.3%) or being threatened with injury (13.7%) by a student in the previous 12 months. The former figure was worst in the nation; combined data placed our state 3rd worst. Nationwide, using combined data, 1 in 6 teachers report the same.
Thiesfeldt continued, “Teachers are responsible for providing an appropriate learning atmosphere within their classroom. Logical disciplinary techniques have been set aside to respond to the pressure applied by misguided federal agencies to reduce suspensions and expulsions.”
In a January 2014 letter to schools nationwide, the US Depts. of Education and Justice made it clear that schools with a record of racial or ethnic disparities in disciplinary data could face a federal investigation. Many schools simply stopped expulsions and suspensions.
Thiesfeldt continued, “Under this bill, most schools would see little change since they already do fine work protecting our teachers. The legislation provides common sense policies that can help restore classroom discipline, require police involvement with serious issues like physical assaults, and inform teachers of potential issues with pupils.”
The draft legislation and the memo to colleagues can be accessed here (memo) and here (legislation). It includes eleven specific initiatives and was developed with extensive input of law enforcement, education groups, and other stakeholders.
“We all want our students to attend school each day in a positive learning environment. This is not possible when teachers do not feel safe or supported in the performance of basic disciplinary duties. If you feel strongly about supporting our teachers, I ask our citizens to contact their State Representatives and State Senators to encourage them to support and cosponsor this legislation. It is time to put teachers back in control of the classroom,” concluded Thiesfeldt.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2017
Representative Melissa Sargent, 608.266.096
Representative Terese Berceau, 608.266.3784
WEDC Audit, Public Hearing Should Be Déjà Vu to Wisconsin Taxpayers
Public hearing today on LAB’s WEDC audit highlighted similar concerns to two prior reports
MADISON – Today the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (“Audit Committee”) held a public hearing on the results of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB)’s audit of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (report 17-9). State Representatives Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and Terese Berceau (D-Madison), members of the Audit Committee, expressed concern about the audit results and the WEDC’s continued trouble executing contracts, verifying job numbers, and complying with state statutes.
“If it feels like déjà vu to Wisconsin taxpayers, that’s because it is,” said Berceau. “WEDC should be able to account for what they’ve done with the dollars they’ve been given, but they aren’t able to, and they’ve been asked to on three separate occasions. We still have an agency that can’t tell taxpayers what they’re getting for their investment.”
The LAB’s 2017 WEDC audit reviewed today was the third audit since WEDC’s inception in 2011. The 17-9 report highlighted the WEDC’s inability to substantiate job creation and retention claims or effectively execute contracts pursuant to Wisconsin law, and failure to comply with statutory requirements for tax credit recipients to verify job creation and retention numbers.
“Wisconsin state laws are not a buffet–state agents don’t get to pick and choose which laws they want to follow and when,” said Sargent, ranking Democratic Assembly member on the Audit Committee. “We’ve seen this with the DOT and the DNR, among others, and we’ve seen it now three times with the WEDC. ‘Close’ might count in horseshoes and hand grenades, but it’s not good enough when it comes to complying with state law.”
Today’s public hearing also comes less than a week after the WEDC board postponed a vote on the Foxconn package with board members citing contractual concerns.
“How can the Legislature, as stewards of Wisconsin taxpayer dollars, honestly entrust executing a $3 billion contract like Foxconn with tax credits hinging upon—of all things—verified job creation, when WEDC has demonstrated not once, not twice, but three times that they are not capable of adequately executing contracts, verifying job creation, and even simply complying with state statutes?” asked Sargent.
The WEDC is expected to provide another status report to the Audit Committee by February of 2018. Among the items on the agenda for Committee consideration was the proposed forestry account audit included in the 2017-19 biennial budget, and legislation to remove required LAB audits (LRB-4557 and LRB-4586) and repeal the Department of Workforce Development’s supervised business initiatives program (LRB-3593 and LRB-4211).
Safe Communities: Applauds increase in Badgercare’s behavioral health rate as a critical step to addressing Wisconsin’s drug overdose epidemic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 24, 2017
For More Information: Contact: Senator Robert Cowles ~ (920) 660-0615
Bill to Improve Water Infrastructure in State Parks
Passes Senate Committee
MADISON- Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) released the following statement after 2017 Senate Bill 421, authored by Senator Cowles and named the Parks Revitalization Act, was passed through the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy by a 5-0 vote:
“Our state parks are not only critical in showcasing the best of our state’s natural beauty, but they provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity while generating thousands of jobs in the tourism and service industries. Moreover, the impact of our state parks is growing. In 2016, 17 million people visited the State Park System, which is a 21% increase from the decade prior. While the environment in our state parks may be pristine, the infrastructure is certainly not.
“Good drinking water quality should not be optional when it comes to the health and safety of our visitors. The Parks Revitalization Act is designed to tackle the ongoing issue of degrading water infrastructure in some of our most visited parks. By addressing these critical water infrastructure projects, we can continue to ensure that our state park visitors have an enjoyable outdoors experience and continue to patronize our parks. I hope to see this bill brought before the entire Senate in an upcoming floor session.”
The Parks Revitalization Act uses up to $4.5 million in authorized but unobligated Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds from FY 2016-17 to complete critical water infrastructure projects in some of the most frequented state parks. Some of these parks may include Devil’s Lake, High Cliff, Kohler-Andre, Peninsula and Willow River State Parks. Some of these projects may include drinking water fixture replacement, septic system replacement, vault toilet replacement, water line replacement, and waste storage areas.
Sen. Erpenbach: Statement on Governor Walker action to increase reimbursement rates for mental health and substance abuse providers
Statement on Governor Walker action to increase reimbursement rates for mental health and substance abuse providers.
“I am glad Governor Walker has joined the fight to improve access to mental health in Wisconsin with his announcement today that he plans to increase reimbursement rates for mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals. We have long advocated for and offered motions (that were voted down) creating a higher reimbursement rate because we have known, for years, that Wisconsin has been losing educated and trained staff to other states simply because of our low rates. It has always been within the Governor’s power to choose to help mental health access this way and I am happy he has finally decided to do it.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 24, 2017
Audit of Walker jobs agency intensifies Foxconn concerns
Troubled jobs agency remains unable to verify job numbers
MADISON, WI – An audit of Gov. Walker’s troubled jobs agency has uncovered significant accounting problems and ongoing management issues. Since Gov. Walker and Republican lawmakers formed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in 2011, the agency has been plagued by scandals, mismanagement and economic disappointment. Wisconsin has trailed the nation in job creation every single quarter for 23 consecutive quarters and has ranked dead last nationally in start-up businesses for the past three years.
After the Joint Legislative Audit Committee reviewed the audit findings, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) released the following statement:
“If there’s anything we’ve learned from the years of damning audits and scandals at Gov. Walker’s jobs agency, it’s that WEDC is incapable of overseeing the $3 billion corporate giveaway to Foxconn. For the past six years, Gov. Walker’s administration hasn’t been able to track job numbers or prevent tax dollars from going to companies that have outsourced Wisconsin jobs. Despite these glaring problems, Republicans want to put put this troubled agency in charge of the largest taxpayer funded giveaway to a foreign corporation in U.S. history. I’m not convinced by any stretch of the imagination that this administration is able to protect taxpayers and hold corporations accountable when they outsource jobs.”
The audit revealed that “WEDC did not report accurate information on the number of jobs created and retained as a result of its programs.” It also found that the potentially uncollectable balance of loans with repayments more than 90 days past due increased nearly tenfold between 2015-2017 from $1.3 million to $11 million. Democratic efforts to increase transparency, accountability and oversight of the troubled agency continue to be blocked by Republican lawmakers.
Washington, D.C.—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued the following statement today regarding Senator Flake’s announcement:
“I’m saddened Congress is losing my friend Jeff Flake. Throughout his career in public service, Jeff has been a champion of constitutional, limited government and a trailblazer for fiscal restraint. He as much as anyone helped to end a corrosive earmarking process that enabled runaway spending. Jeff’s retirement is a loss to the Senate and the greater cause of conservatism. I wish him well as he continues to advocate for our principles outside of government.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02) today introduced the Contractor Accountability and Workplace Safety Act, legislation that would help ensure that companies contracting with the federal government maintain safe workplaces. The legislation comes as President Trump has revoked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which required companies to disclose past labor law violations when bidding for large federal contracts. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
“Rather than stand up for the hardworking men and women of this nation, President Trump has decided to side with crooked contractors and corporate interests. When he revoked the Fair Pay and Workplaces Executive Order earlier this year, President Trump exposed American workers to potentially dangerous conditions that could have deadly results,” said Pocan. “When the federal government grants a contract, workers should have the assurance that their work place is safe and their employer does not have a history overrun with labor law violations. The Contractor Accountability and Workplace Safety Act would restore many protections for workers and help ensure that the U.S. government allocates federal taxpayer dollars responsibly.”
“Every American deserves a safe workplace, but too often, federal contractors break labor laws and endanger their employees while continuing to suck down millions of dollars in government contracts,” said Warren. “This legislation will help ensure that companies that threaten the health and safety of their workers won’t receive another dime from American taxpayers.”
Existing regulations require that contracting officers within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) make a determination of responsibility of a prospective contractor to evaluate its “business ethics.” However, the requirement is generally interpreted to relate to efficiency and costs, rather than worker safety. This bill would require contracting officers, when considering a bid for a contract worth more than $1,000,000, to:
- Consult the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s inspection database for past safety and health violations by the bidder or relevant subcontractors known to the DOD;
- Consider any violations he/she identifies as part of the bid’s “responsibility determination;” and
- Refer violations to the DOD’s suspension and debarment official.
The bill would also require the DOD to train contracting officials on how to evaluate safety as part of the responsibility determination. Lastly, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office to evaluate the DOD’s procedures for evaluating contractors’ safety records, the incidence of safety violations among DOD contractors, whether the Department of Labor (DOL) has the resources to investigate violations among DOD contractors, and whether the DOL should consider expanding its investigatory role into DOD contractors.
The legislation has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO, Center for American Progress Action Fund, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (BAC), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH), National Employment Law Project (NELP), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and the United Association of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Sprinklerfitters and Service Techs (UA).
Joining Pocan as original cosponsors of the legislation are U.S. Representatives David Cicilline (RI-01), John Conyers (MI-13), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Jim McGovern (MA-02), Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), Donald Norcross (NJ-01), Frank Pallone (NJ-06), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Mark Takano (CA-41).
Madison, Wisconsin — Today Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign launched a petition demanding NFL players stop taking a stand against racial inequality. State Rep. David Bowen, Democratic Party of Wisconsin First Vice Chair, released the following response:
“Gov. Walker’s campaign stunt of a petition is his way of playing identity politics designed to pit Wisconsinites against one another. If Walker thinks continuing to divide our state will get him national attention for another presidential run, he should take a good look at Donald Trump’s dreadful approval rating before mimicking him.
“Walker’s attempt to silence NFL players’ First Amendment right to protest racial inequality is anti-American. It’s especially shameful that Walker choose to engage in this divisive, race-baiting tactic on the same day that a report was released that shows Wisconsin ranks among the worst states for African-American youth.
“The governor should spend more time focused on Wisconsin and repairing the public schools, roads and health care he has damaged rather than pandering for national attention with his anti-American petition. His moves to stoke anger and resentment are as cynical as politics gets.”
Contact: Melanie Conklin, 608-260-2409
MADISON — Attorney General Brad Schimel dodged questions at a press conference Monday on whether he will join the lawsuit to help Wisconsinites keep their needed healthcare. He hedged, saying he “doubts” that Wisconsin will join the lawsuit to require the federal government to continue essential health care subsidies.
Without these subsidies and due to the Republican sabotage of healthcare market, the average Wisconsinite will see a 36% increase in their premiums.
“Schimel’s spineless comments show just how unwilling he is to do the right thing for Wisconsin and stand up for residents who deserve to keep their health care, and instead blaming his fellow Republicans,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning. “As we’ve seen a rise in mental health issues and addiction, as well as prescription drug cost hikes, it is unconscionable that Schimel would refuse to defend a law that helps people in Wisconsin get the treatment they need.”
Schimel told reporters he doubted that Wisconsin would join 19 other states in suing so lower-income Wisconsinites can continue receiving subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket health care costs. He thought he would need permission from Gov. Walker or Republicans in the Legislature, and he did not think they would allow him to do it.
“As attorney general, Brad Schimel has embraced the role of a partisan hack when it comes to wasting state taxpayer money to fight countless unwinnable lawsuits against a law that provided affordable healthcare to 20 million Americans,” continued Laning. “For Schimel to foist the blame for his inaction on other Republicans during a tough re-election campaign is cowardly.”
Madison, Wisconsin — Following a May 2017 report that the agency failed to adequately report job numbers and has handed out nearly $10 million in bad loans, Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is undergoing another performance review today by the state legislature’s Joint Audit Committee.
Gov. Walker rushed to form WEDC in 2011 without a formal business plan and left out key financial safeguards that would go on to haunt the organization in future dealings. Walker’s deal with Kestrel Aircraft, made on the eve of his 2012 recall election, was revealed this week to have materialized only 25 jobs of its 655 job promise. In total, sixty percent of WEDC awardees have failed to meet their job creation goals.
“This is Walker’s WEDC in a nutshell — scramble to push a flashy deal through during a tough election for Walker, fail to follow through on the bare minimum standards of accountability and later taxpayers see the jobs and economic growth never show up,” said Martha Laning, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “The Foxconn deal is following these same rushed, unaccountable patterns. This should concern us all.
“Walker needs to see the warning signs, whether it’s Foxconn’s lengthy history of broken promises, WEDC’s sheer ineptitude or this ‘bombshell’ in the Foxconn contract. If Walker really cared about these jobs, he’d take the time and energy to do this deal right. These rushed, uncertain negotiations show that Walker cares more about his own political ambitions than securing good, stable jobs for generations of Wisconsinites to come.”
Pavement repairs will occur on Thursday (Oct. 26) at the I-39/90 and I-43 interchange loop ramps near Beloit. To safely accommodate this work, ramp closures are scheduled from midnight Wednesday (Oct. 25) to midnight Thursday (Oct. 26) at the following ramps:
- I-39/90 southbound to I-43 northbound – Janesville to Delavan
- I-39/90 northbound to WIS 81 (Milwaukee Road) – South Beloit to Beloit
- I-43 southbound to I-39/90 southbound – Delavan to South Beloit
- WIS 81 (Milwaukee Road) to I-39/90 northbound – Beloit to Janesville
Motorists are urged to plan ahead, use alternate routes and allow extra time to safely reach their destination. Motorists are reminded to be alert for crews and equipment, and drive with caution in all work zones.
These operations and ramp closures are weather dependent and subject to change.
For more information regarding traffic impacts, transportation news and improvement project updates in Wisconsin’s southwest region:
- Follow us on Twitter: @WisDOTsouthwest for regional alerts from the Traffic Incident Alert System and for construction related traffic advisories
- Visit the southwest region’s 511 website: http://projects.511wi.gov/region/southwest/.
Alerts and updates provided via these sites are not intended for use while driving. When driving, your focus should always be on driving.
Shaun Peterson, Special Plates Unit Supervisor
Request for new specialty license plate
Comments for Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin open until November 24, 2017
Today, an application for Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin, Inc., is available for review at wisconsindmv.gov/SpecialGroupReview using Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) new process for sponsoring an Authorized Special Group license plate. Funds from the $25 donation will go toward the Musky Club Alliance’s efforts to provide funding for musky research, habitat improvement, and stocking of muskies, Wisconsin’s state fish. A public review period will stay open for 30 days, until Friday, November 24, 2017. All objections will be passed to the state legislative Transportation Committees for final decision on the plate’s status.
The new Authorized Special Group license plate process began October 1, 2016 with Wisconsin Act 227. When a group applies for a specialty plate, DMV will make the public aware of the application and invite individuals with objections to the group’s application to fill out an objection form. This form is available on the DMV website at wisconsindmv.gov/SpecialGroupReview.
To apply for an Authorized Special Group license plate, groups must pay a $15,500 fee for development costs and collect signatures from 500 Wisconsin residents who intend to purchase the special plates. If authorized, the group must maintain 500 valid special plate registrations after three years, or DMV will discontinue issuing the plates. More on the process is available here.
A complete list of specialty plates currently offered is available at: http://www.dot.state.wi.us/drivers/vehicles/personal/special/index.htm
October 24, 2017
Contact: Alec Zimmerman