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— Hundreds from across the state gathered at the Capitol today to protest a GOP bill that would crack down on sanctuary cities. 

Speaker after speaker voiced concerns the legislation could open the door to turning law enforcement into immigration officials, while driving a wedge between police and undocumented immigrants that could lead to fewer crimes being reported out of fear of deportation.

But bill author Sen. Steve Nass countered repeatedly before the Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee that his bill looks to target those undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes such as murder, assault, drunk driving and others. The Whitewater Republican said the bill wouldn’t affect any law-abiding residents.

“The bill is directed specifically at illegal aliens that have committed a crime,” he said. “It simply requires a local municipality to follow state and federal law.”

The bill would ban local governments from protecting those who are living in the country illegally by passing local ordinances obstructing enforcement of federal immigration laws, as well as require local municipalities and counties to comply with detainers issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

But if a local government did violate the law, an attorney general, district attorney or sheriff could file a writ of mandamus with the circuit court to require the community to comply. If a court were to find a failure to comply, the Department of Revenue would then reduce the local government’s shared revenue payments in the next year by between $500 and $5,000 per day of noncompliance, depending on its population.

— Opponents of the bill filled the Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee hearing and packed a nearby hallway and other overflow spaces. They argued Nass’ bill would only push undocumented immigrants who fall victim to crime “further into the shadows,” ultimately jeopardizing everyone’s safety. 

“With this kind of bill, there is large fear, they don’t want to see anybody in uniform because they’re afraid their immigration status is going to come up,” said Tony Gonzalez, who works as an interpreter in Wausau.

Nass responded that while he understands the concern, he again said the bill looks to “get at the criminal element, period.”

“This is not a roundup,” he said.

And Voces de la Frontera Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz said the bill would give law enforcement the authority to inquire into someone’s immigration status, which in turn would lead to “more racial profiling, more discrimination.”

“(People here) know the reality of what this invites, what this opens the door to,” she said.

Others, meanwhile, said immigration enforcement is the fed’s’ responsibility, and should not be put on the backs of local units of government.

Milwaukee Alder Jose Perez said the bill would “produce an inestimable drain on finite local resources” while discouraging “some of our most vulnerable populations” from reporting crimes.

“We believe that the local municipalities should focus on making our communities safer rather than fostering an environment of fear,” he said.

But Nass said his bill only looks to ensure that local governments “have to follow the law.”

A similar bill, which faced strong opposition last session, passed the Assembly last year but died in the Senate.

A spokesman for Gov. Scott Walker said the guv would review the bill if it gets to his desk.

— House Speaker Paul Ryan raised more than $300,000 directly during the third quarter, finishing September with more than $10.4 million in the bank, his campaign said today.

Ryan, R-Janesville, also received almost $2 million in transfers from Team Ryan, his national political organization.

Ryan was expected to file his third-quarter report with the FEC this afternoon. His campaign said the speaker transferred “significant amounts” from his personal campaign account to the National Republican Congressional Committee. That helps account for his cash on hand dropping to $10.4 million at the end of September, compared to almost $11.2 million at the end of June.

Randy Bryce, who’s seeking the Dem nomination to challenge Ryan, raised more than $1 million during the third quarter and had more than $1 million in the bank at the close of September, his campaign said earlier this month.

The campaign for fellow Dem candidate Cathy Myers, a Janesville School Board member, has not yet shared any fundraising numbers.

— Wisconsin consumers will see a roughly 36 percent increase in their premiums next year, state officials said today, citing increasing uncertainty from insurers over the federal marketplace.

Most consumers won’t be affected by the rise, as they’ll also get higher premium subsidies from the federal government. But about 20,000 of the roughly 215,000 in the state’s marketplaces who don’t receive those subsidies would feel the effects of rising premiums, according to the state Office of Commissioner of Insurance.

The rise in premiums for next year’s marketplace is far beyond past increases. Democrats attribute that to the Trump administration sabotaging the marketplaces by wavering on upholding key parts of Obamacare and slashing funding for enrollment efforts.

At least part of the increase this year stems from the Trump administration refusing to commit to funding a separate set of subsidies for low-income consumers.

J.P. Wieske, the state’s deputy commissioner of insurance, told reporters on a conference call the state didn’t have projections for what the increases would’ve looked like if the feds committed to funding those subsidies.

But he said the Obamacare marketplaces have been unstable from the beginning, with insurers facing losses in that business and some deciding they no longer wanted to “compete for this market.”

— Gov. Scott Walker pointed to the figures that OCI released as a sign that “Obamacare is collapsing.”

“These increases are unsustainable and unacceptable,” he said. “While our state remains one of the best in the nation for health insurance coverage and quality, Obamacare is disrupting healthcare markets in our state and across the country.”

Walker said Republicans in Congress should meet their promise of replacing the law, but if not, the state will “explore our options in seeking greater flexibility from the federal government to help lower costs for Wisconsin citizens.” Wieske told reporters the state is looking at options for a waiver from the feds on some federal requirements; he added they haven’t settled on an approach yet.

Walker also pointed to some of the steepest increases for consumers. For example, a 21-year-old in Brown County under a benchmark silver plan would see premiums rise by 105 percent — more than double.

But Congressman Mark Pocan charged the Trump administration aims to sabotage Obamacare, saying the president’s actions “are now having a very real impact.”

“President Trump has never cared about working men and women, and with these rate increases, it is clearer than ever that he is actively working to hurt them,” the Town of Vermont Dem said. “President Trump should reverse course to guarantee that his administration will continue the payments [for the subsidies] and Congress should act to make them permanent.”

— Consumers in some parts of the state will also have fewer insurers to choose from, following the exit of Molina Healthcare, Anthem and Health Tradition Health Plan, though every county will have at least one insurer.

The insurers’ exits mean 75,000 Wisconsin consumers will lose their current coverage, and if they don’t shop for a plan on the exchanges, the federal government will assign them to a new health insurer.

Wieske encouraged those consumers to log onto platform to look through the options. Even those consumers in counties with one insurer, he said, will be able to pick from multiple coverage options from that insurer.

“It’s important for consumers to pick their plans because you don’t want somebody else picking it for you,” he said.

Open enrollment for next year’s plans kicks off Nov. 1 and will go through Dec. 15.

See the OCI release:

— Though Trump’s executive order on health care today isn’t expected to have an immediate effect, Wieske said OCI hopes it will give consumers more choices and lower their costs.

Trump today signed an executive order aimed at encouraging trade associations and employers to offer coverage across state lines. The executive order also would direct the feds to consider whether they should encourage the creation of short-term plans that wouldn’t be subject to some Affordable Care Act requirements.

The executive order’s effects won’t be felt right away, as federal agencies need to draft rules on the issues.

Wieske said as more details come out, the agency might have some concerns but expressed optimism the executive order would “increase the availability and affordability” of health care.

“We’re hopeful over the longer haul that some of these pieces will have a positive impact on consumers’ ability to buy health insurance,” he said.

— An Assembly panel today approved revised versions of three proposals that would punish those who participate in riots, with Dems saying the bills could still lead to innocent protesters being charged with crimes. 

Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Appleton, also said he shared the Dems’ concerns on at least one of the proposals and has asked the author, Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, to look at further changes.

Tusler, for example, said he’d like to ensure the bills protect peaceful protesters who showed up to voice their opposition to an issue but “didn’t expect this to become a riot.”

Tusler and the other Republicans on the committee voted for the bills, while Dem Reps. Chris Taylor, of Madison, and Gary Hebl, of Sun Prairie, voted against them. Spiros’ amendments to his bills passed unanimously.

One of the bills, AB 395, would punish those who intentionally participate in a riot, which the bill defines as an assembly of at least three people where someone commits an intentional act of violence or makes an intentional threat of violence.

Spiros’ amendment added the words “intentional” throughout the bill, but Taylor and Hebl said the bill could still lead to one person — perhaps a counter-protester — committing a violent act and turning what would’ve been a peaceful protest into a riot.

“We’re flipping these criminal charges around for people standing in the street because they believe in something,” Hebl said.

Under that bill, people who intentionally participate in riots could face felony charges. Another bill also punishes those who obstruct a thoroughfare during a riot, though that action would lead to a misdemeanor.

A third bill makes it a felony for someone to use “a dangerous weapon while intentionally participating in a riot.” The original language would have also applied to those who carried a weapon during a riot but didn’t use it.

Tusler said as a Republican, he generally doesn’t like to restrict gun rights but it’s “an exception I’m willing to stomach.” The bill, he said, shows the “noble intent” that Spiros had in ensuring public safety.

— Taylor and Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, today laid out legislation to repeal several restrictions on abortions that Republicans have passed in recent years.

Their Respect Women Act got attention today at a news conference in the Capitol as they joined by doctors, medical students and other advocates.

Among the supporters was Sara Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, who said the three bills would reverse the recent trend in Wisconsin away from “politicians who are too busy playing doctor” and decide to limit women’s reproductive health options.

The bills would repeal any laws that were passed following Roe v. Wade in 1973 that sought to limit women’s access to abortion. That includes GOP-authored legislation in recent years that requires women to get an ultrasound before getting an abortion and a prohibition on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in most cases, among other things.

Other provisions in the bills would increase training for law enforcement to prevent harassment of patients and doctors at reproductive health centers and ensure that health care providers share “medically accurate information” with patients.

That bill, specifically, would ensure information that isn’t medically accurate not be included on a procedure or treatment form; and ban units of government from forcing doctors to provide certain medical information that isn’t medically accurate, Taylor said.

“Every woman really should have the right to receive comprehensive reproductive health services that protects her health, that provides her with medically accurate information and is delivered in a safe environment,” she said.

Erpenbach acknowledged Republicans would likely not go along with their proposals. But he said Democrats want to offer a vision for what “reproductive health can look like” without political interference from lawmakers.

“We can do better than that here in Wisconsin,” Erpenbach said. “We should do better than that.”

— The feds have officially rescinded their decision approving an expansion of the I-94 east-west corridor in Milwaukee County, formally shutting down any chance of moving the project forward in the short term. 

The state Department of Transportation had written a letter last month to the Federal Highway Administration asking that it rescind its “record of decision” signing off on the expansion. Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers decided against funding the expansion in the state budget.

In the letter, DOT Secretary Dave Ross noted the budget didn’t authorize the project and it’s unlikely that the Legislature will do so this session in a separate bill.

A federal notice, published in the Federal Register, summarized the situation and said: “Therefore, FHWA has determined, in conjunction with WisDOT, that the ROD shall be rescinded.”

The feds also wrote any future environmental action in the corridor would comply with federal environmental review requirements prior to the reissuance of another ROD.

Ross last month had asked the feds to allow the current environmental impact statement to be used if the state asks for federal approval on the project in the future. The state could have faced a costly legal battle over the project’s EIS due to several groups, including the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP, suing the state over the it.

Those groups celebrated the project’s official rejection this week at a news conference, where Elizabeth Ward with the Sierra Club John Muir Chapter called on the state to “use this as an opportunity to prioritize more cost-effective and forward-looking solutions.”

Asked whether the feds’ response signals that DOT can use the EIS again, spokeswoman Becky Kikkert said the agency “stands by the analysis presented in the project’s EIS. If this project is re-initiated, WisDOT intends to use the analysis presented in the EIS to the extent appropriate under NEPA and WEPA regulations.”

See the notice:


Register now: ‘Navigating the New Economy’ roundtable discussions 

Business leaders and community members have an opportunity to learn from state and local experts about how they can better navigate the new economy during roundtables in Hudson, Richland Center and Sheboygan. The series of community conversations is brought to you by and in partnership with UW Colleges and UW-Extension.

The interactive sessions will provide insights into the entrepreneurship history and business personality of each community by exploring the area’s industry mix and the key contributors to job creation, as well as share new techniques for developing local resources. UW Colleges and Extension Chancellor Cathy Sandeen will moderate the discussion, and panelists include:

– John Koskinen, Chief Economist for the Wisconsin Department of Revenue
– Mark Lange, Executive Director, UW-Extension’s Division for Business & Entrepreneurship
– A local economic development expert from each community.

Discussions are to be held Oct. 17 in Hudson, Oct. 24 in Richland Center and Oct. 26 in Sheboygan.

The series is sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training.

For registration and more information:



LRB-3681/1: Prescription drug cost reporting by manufacturers and providing a penalty. By Reps. Kolste, Spreitzer, Sargent and Sen. Erpenbach.

LRB-3682/1: Registration of pharmacy benefit managers. By Reps. Kolste, Sargent and Sen. Erpenbach.

LRB-3119/1: Prohibiting elimination of covered prescription drugs or devices during a contract year for certain health care plans. By Reps. Kolste, Subeck and Sen. Erpenbach.

LRB-4302/1: Recognizing the state wildflower as the Bee Balm and the state butterfly as the Monarch. By Rep. Tittl and Sen. LeMahieu.

LRB-3355: Creating a reproductive health care facility safety program and making an appropriation. By Sen. Erpenbach and Rep. Taylor.

LRB-3349: Right to choose an abortion and elimination of certain abortion-related regulations. By Sen. Erpenbach and Rep. Taylor.

LRB-3602: Medically accurate information. By Sen. Erpenbach and Rep. Taylor.


AB 533: Regulation of appraisal management companies, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and providing a criminal penalty. Referred to Committee on Housing and Real Estate.

AB 534: Various changes regarding the laws governing real estate practice and the licensure of real estate brokers and salespersons and granting rule-making authority. Referred to Committee on Housing and Real Estate.

SB 444: Driver education instruction on human trafficking. Referred to Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges.

SB 445: Transfer for emergency detention and warning of dangerousness. Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services.

SB 446: Plans for supervised release of sexually violent persons, representation of sexually violent persons by the state public defender, and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

SB 447: Designating the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge. Referred to Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs.

SB 448: Relocating with a child who is the subject of a legal custody or physical placement order. Referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

SB 449: Funding for Reach Out and Read Wisconsin and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services.

SB 450: Eligibility for state procurement contracts and certain actions taken by state and local governmental bodies involving a boycott of Israel. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.

SB 451: The sale or rental of soda water beverage equipment. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.

SB 452: Requirements for certain services covered under the Medical Assistance program. Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services.

Track bills for free:


WSJ: Critics of anti-sanctuary city bill: ‘We are not criminals’

The Capital Times: Public hearing debates whether sanctuary cities help or hinder public safety

WPR: Opponents Converge On Capitol For Sanctuary Cities Bill Hearing

AP: Paul Ryan has $10.4 million cash on hand

WSJ: Obamacare insurance rates to rise 36 percent in Wisconsin next year

AP: Walker blames ‘Obamacare’ for big premium jumps

WRN: Johnson not taking sides in feud between Corker and Trump

AP: Staff member assaulted at Lincoln Hills juvenile prison

The Capital Times: Erpenbach, Taylor bills would undo some abortion restrictions in Wisconsin

La Crosse Tribune: Former Tomah VA head got 6-figure payout with resignation after opioid scandal, paper says–figure-payout-with-resignation/article_4228f2ce-0265-5a1e-b06c-b82cf280745a.html

WRN: Clean Wisconsin critical of Clean Power Plan repeal

CNN: Trump nominates Kirstjen Nielsen for DHS secretary

CNN: Trump begins Obamacare dismantling with executive order

CNN: Kelly: ‘I don’t think I’m being fired today’

CNN: US withdraws from UNESCO over ‘anti-Israel bias’

CNN: House approves $36.5 billion disaster aid bill


– 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. EconomicsWisconsin: Get your kids pumped up on personal finance & economics. Speakers are to provide information on financial and economic education for K-12 teachers and community outreach educators.

– 9 A.M. – 5:30 P.M.: Geometry of Redistricting: Conference and Workshops. UW-Madison.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Labor public hearing on AB 499, relating to the regulation of nonferrous metallic mining, prospecting, exploration, and bulk sampling and repealing administrative rules relating to wetlands.

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