2018 May

Monthly Archives: May 2018

 Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Serving our country is patriotic, not partisan

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Contact: Melanie Conklin, 608-260-2409

MADISON — Democratic Party of Wisconsin Veterans Caucus member and U.S. Navy veteran Tracey Sperko, of Milwaukee, issued the following statement on Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson questioning the “cognitive thought process” of Democratic service members and veterans:

“Military service isn’t about progressive values or being a conservative — it comes down to love of country and a sense of duty. My oath of enlistment was to defend the Constitution of the United States of America and not an oath to any political party.

“As a Navy veteran, I’m deeply troubled by Kevin Nicholson’s attempt to politicize military service to advance his own political career while tearing down fellow veterans — it’s wrong, and it epitomizes the toxic partisanship that Wisconsinites hate about Washington.” 

‘UpFront’: Kaul says DOJ needs new leadership

Democratic candidate for Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul said the Department of Justice needs “new leadership in a host of areas.”

One of those areas, Kaul said, is fighting crime. He cited a backlog of rape kits that need testing and said Republican incumbent Attorney General Brad Schimel hasn’t moved fast enough.

“That should have been a priority,” Kaul said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“If our AG had been on top of this and really prioritized it from day one, we could be a lot further along, which would mean that justice wasn’t being delayed for survivors, and that perpetrators who have committed a serious offense would be held accountable,” he said.

Gousha asked Kaul what he would do differently on the opioids epidemic.

“I think we need to start responding to it like it’s a crisis,” Kaul said.

“One thing I think we need to do is make sure that our enforcement efforts are targeting high-level traffickers,” he said.

“That’s one of the things I did when I was a federal prosecutor, and I think our AG’s office should be more involved in those efforts. I think we need an AG who is going to be serious about holding the pharmaceutical companies accountable for the role they have played in creating and exacerbating this epidemic,” Kaul said, adding that more resources for drug treatment are needed.

Also on the program, Democratic candidate for governor Kelda Roys says her campaign continues to build momentum “all over the state.”

“I feel great about where we are,” said Roys, who is part of a large field of Democrats running for governor this year.

“I think people are really responding to our positive, forward-looking message,” she said. “I want Wisconsin to be a place of opportunity and fairness again. It’s really not about any of the other candidates or the governor. It’s about my vision for the state.”

As a former state legislator and small business owner, she said one of the things that sets her apart from the rest of the field is that she has “a great track record of turning big ideas into real results in terms of state policy.”

In the Legislature, she said she worked on a bipartisan basis to expand Badger Care to thousands of Wisconsin residents. She also said her campaign has a focus on issues that are important to Gen X and millennial voters, like reducing student loan debt.

In another segment, Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said the police body cam video showing officers tasing and taking down of Bucks player Sterling Brown after a parking violation is an embarrassment for the community.

Hamilton said the Brown incident “undermines the efforts that so many officers are trying to do when they are trying to build on the positive relationships with community members.”

Hamilton said he has faith in Police Chief Alfonso Morales and said the department was taking the right steps to be more transparent after other high-profile, officer-involved shootings of African-American men in recent years.

“What we want to be able to do is change the process of how we deal with challenges,” Hamilton said.

“It’s not that mistakes will never be made. What we have to say is that they will not be tolerated when they are, and there’s corrective action, and that it’s the type of corrective action that the community can believe in when it’s made,” he said.

‘UpFront’: Priebus says Mueller probe should continue

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation into the Trump campaign and possible ties to Russia.

“I think the best thing to do is let Bob Mueller do his job. I’d stay out of his way, and let that job finish without getting involved. I think it probably goes away faster,” Priebus said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Priebus also cast doubt on suspicions of collusion or coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

“The Trump campaign wasn’t hardly colluding with the RNC, let alone the Russians,” he said.

Priebus also said the investigation is a distraction for President Trump.

Priebus, the Wisconsin native who served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, was Trump’s first chief of staff before parting ways with the administration in the summer of 2017.

Priebus said the chief of staff job is not easy, but he remains close to Trump.

“Donald Trump is a force of nature. I have never in my life worked with, met, known a politician that has more energy, more horsepower, more adrenaline, more everything, than Donald Trump,” Priebus said.

Gousha asked Priebus how he thought Republicans would fare in the November election.

Priebus said he thinks Republicans have a slightly less than 50-50 chance of holding onto the House.

“But things can happen. The economy, attitudes, the president has successes like with North Korea, and other things, slowly but surely, you’re looking at a better situation,” he said.

Priebus, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, has endorsed state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate. He said Vukmir is “a perfect match up” for the Democratic incumbent, Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

Priebus zinged Vukmir’s primary opponent, Delafield businessman and Marine veteran Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat who says his life experiences have made him a conservative Republican.

“I’m all for conversions,” Priebus said. “I know what kind of kids want to be president of the College Republicans. People like me, and if he was president of the College Democrats, great. Welcome to the Republican Party.

“But I think first, help out Scott Walker. Help out Paul Ryan. Conversions don’t just necessarily mean here’s the nomination for the U.S. Senate of the Republican Party. And by the way, you’re going to lecture us as to who’s a good Republican and who’s a bad Republican? I don’t think so,” Priebus said.

1st Congressional District Democratic candidate Cathy Myers of Janesville also appeared on the program. Gousha asked her what she meant when she said in a recent interview that she felt “held back” in the race.

“It seemed like everybody was coalescing around one person without really giving any consideration to the entirety of the race, and not really looking at all the candidates and their qualifications,” Myers said.

“And I feel as though I am very qualified to take on this role and be in this race. I am a high school English teacher, I’m on the Janesville school board, I have electoral experience and have served. And so to be sort of squeezed out, or ignored, I was shocked by the fact that we weren’t really looking at the race in its entirety,” she said.

Myers will face Racine ironworker Randy Bryce in the August primary. Bryce has received national media attention, donations from around the country, and some celebrities have backed his bid for Congress.

See more from the show:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

‘UpFront’: Steil recounts lessons learned from Ryan as he pursues 1st CD bid

Bryan Steil, Republican candidate in the 1st Congressional District, said he learned important lessons from his former boss, House Speaker Paul Ryan that he would take to Congress if elected.

Steil was a legislative aide to Ryan, whose retirement has created an opening in the district for the first time in 20 years.

Steil said Ryan taught him how to have a conversation with people about issues.

“There’s a real kind of a Wisconsin approach. You address problems directly, head on, and you have an open, honest conversation about how you solve them. That probably more than anything else is what Paul Ryan has taught me,” Steil said on Sunday’s “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Although he has much in common with Ryan, Steil also cited Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, as role models.

“I’m my own man, but I think there’s aspects of the Republican delegation in Wisconsin that is really kind of a role model of how you can be effective in Washington,” he said.

Gousha asked Steil if he is an enthusiastic supporter of President Trump.

“I support the president and particularly the conservative reforms that we’re starting to get done. I probably have a very different communication style, more of a Wisconsin communication style, than the president. But yeah, excited for some of the conservative reforms we’re beginning to get done in Washington,” he said.

Also on the program, state Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, said 76,000 people in Wisconsin could lose access to food assistance under changes Republicans have proposed to the federal farm bill.

Subeck said 23,000 Wisconsin children could be especially hard hit through changes in eligibility requirements. She said those children could lose access to free or reduced meals at school.

Subeck said the proposed changes will hurt the working poor.

“These are the kinds of families that this affects. It’s people who are working, who are barely scraping by in an economy that really, wages haven’t kept pace here in Wisconsin,” she said.

Subeck and other Democrats requested a legislative study on the impact of the changes in Wisconsin. Subeck said people all over the state would be affected.

In another segment, longtime education reporter and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Alan Borsuk discussed rising tensions over budget cuts in the Milwaukee Public Schools.

He said it’s “probably the most stormy, even ominous” time that he’s seen in the district.

Borsuk said the district is feeling the effects of years of budget cuts, a leadership change, declining enrollment, student achievement problems, and other options for schooling in Milwaukee.

“They really are in a tough place,” he said.

Gousha asked if teachers might go on strike.

“They could go on strike, which would be illegal of course. They could do some kind of job action, a partial strike,” Borsuk said.

Milwaukee teachers and staff protesting the expected next round of cuts have been encouraged by large-scale teacher demonstrations in other states this year, he said.

But Borsuk said he did not expect to see a statewide teacher protest in Wisconsin.

“There isn’t that sentiment statewide that there is in Milwaukee, of a really angrily aggressive teaching force,” he said.

See more from the show:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

‘UpFront’: Walker to continue laying out ‘optimistic vision,’ may ‘shake things up’ at MPS

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After issuing a “wake-up call” to party faithful at the state GOP convention, Walker said he would continue to “lay out an optimistic vision going forward” in his bid for re-election.

“I think most voters in the state want to vote for something, not against something,” Walker said on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Walker said the rhetoric of Democratic candidates is “filled with anger and hatred.”

“We need to respond as Republicans, not with anger and hatred, but with optimism and organization. We’ve got to get motivated,” he said.

Walker said a Democrat winning the governorship could jeopardize the Foxconn deal and turn off future companies from considering Wisconsin as a place to do business.

“I think (Democratic candidates) are going out of their way to say, to forecast, that if any one of them is elected governor, they want to find a way to cut Foxconn out of the deal,” Walker said.

“What other company in America, what other company in the world, would consider coming to this state if that’s the kind of leadership that’s going to be in place?” he said.

Walker also said it might be time to “shake things up” in the Milwaukee Public Schools, in order to achieve his goal of making the state’s high school graduation rate one of the best in the nation.

“Funding from the state is not the issue,” Walker said about MPS.

“You believe it is adequate?” Gousha asked.

“They have the ability to do any number of things, just like school districts all across the state. If they don’t have a board and leadership willing to do those things, that’s not something the state’s responsibility for, it’s theirs,” Walker said.

“The key question is, maybe we need to do something more to change, you know, in the past there’s been changing boundaries, splitting up into smaller pieces, those are things that I think realistically, we have to look at in the future,” he said.

Also on the program, New York Times reporter Megan Twohey, who co-reported the investigation that led to the downfall of Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, discussed the impact of her reporting that helped spur the #MeToo movement.

Twohey, who formerly worked for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, won a Pulitzer Prize for her work, along with fellow Times reporter Jodi Kantor.

“We heard over and over the same line, from women and men alike,” Twohey said. “Weinstein is going to come into the New York Times, he’s going to threaten and bully and basically get the New York Times to kill this story.

“So no, we didn’t expect that our work would help ignite this really worldwide reckoning on sexual abuse and harassment,” she said.

See more from the show:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

10 Dem guv candidates qualify to speak at party’s state convention

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Ten guv candidates have met the Dem Party’s requirements to earn a speaking spot at this weekend’s state convention.

That includes the nine candidates who have received the most attention in the race: state Superintendent Tony Evers; attorney Matt Flynn; businessman Andy Gronik; state firefighters union President Mahlon Mitchell; activist Mike McCabe; former state Rep. Kelda Roys; Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout; and state Rep. Dana Wachs.

The 10th candidate to qualify is Josh Pade, a Kenosha attorney and activist.

Candidates wishing to speak at this weekend’s convention had until Friday to turn in 2,000 signatures to earn a speaking spot.

42nd AD candidate forum 🗓

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Contact: Bill Haupt, 608-592-4278, [email protected]

The Lodi Optimist Club will sponsor a 42nd Assembly District special election candidate forum on Wednesday, May 30 from 7 – 8:15 p.m. in the Large Group Instruction (LGI) room at Lodi High School, 1100 Sauk St., Lodi.

Democrat Ann Groves-Lloyd of Lodi, Republican Jon Plumer of Lodi and Independent Gene Rubenstein of Pardeeville have all confirmed their commitment to attend the forum.

Candidates will provide opening and closing statements and respond to questions from audience members. Optimist member Bill Haupt will serve as moderator.

For the past two decades, the Lodi Optimist Club has sponsored candidate forums, typically in partnership with the administrators, faculty and students at Lodi High. In addition to being a “Friend of Youth,” Optimist clubs are encouraged in their mission statement to “promote an active interest in good government and civic affairs” in their communities.

The special election will be Tuesday, June 12.

42nd AD Dem Lloyd says her campaign is about bringing back Wisconsin values

Ann Groves Lloyd, the single Democrat vying to represent the 42nd AD, is running on a campaign to restore her version of Wisconsin’s values.

Lloyd, a UW-Madison career adviser, said her version of those values — clean government and environment and excellent education and transportation systems — are what have set Wisconsin apart.

But she now worries about the legacy being left to her children.

“From where I sit, it’s not a pretty one. I’m deeply concerned about the Wisconsin I grew up with,” she said.

She made clear her campaign is about embracing the state’s past values for a forward looking agenda. She plans to push for ending the state’s private school voucher program and upping investments in K-12 and higher education.

Lloyd opposes the private voucher program for diverting public dollars to private institutions without addressing the shortcomings of public schools. Plus, she says private schools receiving voucher funds aren’t held to the same strict standards their public and charter counterparts are.

Like some other Dems, Lloyd is calling for a transition period to end private vouchers to ensure children who currently attend school under the program are able to graduate with their peers.

But her plan for education goes beyond gutting the decades old private voucher program. She believes additional funding for K-12 schools is needed to bolster quality.

“If we have issues with public education then we need to fix public education,” she said.

https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/ann-groves-lloyd-interview

She also is pushing for a long-term reinvestment in the UW-System, which she called an economic driver, and said that state policymakers should discontinue the tuition freeze, characterizing increases before the freeze as “modest.”

“Schools are very cognizant of not raising tuition more than they absolutely have to, but it’s one part of a mix of ways to increase your budget or revenue,” she said.

Increasing the state’s share of funding, and considering loan forgiveness programs are ways she thinks the state could prevent students from being saddled with excessive debt.

On other issues:

*Lloyd isn’t committing one way or another to a 5-cent gas tax increase, though she suggested she’s open to bringing back indexing, which pegged the gax tax to the cost of living.

“As soon as we severed that, the gas tax becomes a political issue,” she said.

She said she’s generally against tolling, and doesn’t want to lock herself into increases in vehicle registration fees, but acknowledges Wisconsin’s roads are “in a world of hurt” and that lawmakers will have to make difficult decisions on transportation funding.

*Lloyd opposes banning the use of fetal tissue in research at universities.

“I’ll do everything in my power to protect a woman’s legal right to make her own decisions about her reproductive state,” she added.

*Lloyd opposes constitutional carry, arguing training should be required for concealed carry.

“Those barriers are not too high to have people jump,” she said.

AARP Wisconsin: Seeks nominees for 2018 Andrus Award for Community Service

Connect: Jim Flaherty
AARP Wisconsin
608-286-6308 or (cell) 608-698-0928

Madison, Wisconsin – AARP is now accepting nominations for its 2018 Wisconsin Andrus Award for Community Service, an award which honors Wisconsinites age 50-plus who share their experience, talent, and skills to enrich the lives of their community members.

“AARP Wisconsin is excited to shine a light on 50-plus Wisconsinites who are using what they’ve learned in life to make a difference in the lives around them,” said Sam Wilson, Director AARP Wisconsin.

The AARP Wisconsin Executive Council of leadership volunteers will evaluate nominees on how they have improved their community, supported AARP’s vision and mission, and inspired others to volunteer. One winner will be selected. An award recipient will be announced in early fall.

AARP Wisconsin Andrus Award for Community Service nominees must meet the following eligibility requirements:

· Nominee must be 50 years or older.

· The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must have been performed on a volunteer basis, without pay.

· The achievements, accomplishments, or service on which the nomination is based must reflect AARP’s vision and mission.

· Couples or partners who perform service together are also eligible; however, teams are not eligible.

· This is not a retrospective award.

Nominations, which are due by June 1, can be made online at www.aarp.org/AndrusAward

A $1,000 donation will be made to the winner’s charity of choice. Nominators are invited to participate in the award and check presentation.

The AARP State Andrus Award for Community Service is an annual awards program developed to honor individuals whose service is a unique and valuable contribution to society. Last year, AARP recognized 51 outstanding individuals from around the country.

ABC of Wisconsin: Fitzgerald named ABC of WI’s 2017 Legislator of the Year

Contact: Kyle Schwarm, 608-244-5883; [email protected]

MADISON, WI – Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin presented Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, with the 2017 Legislator of the Year Award on Wednesday, thanking him for his leadership on pro-construction initiatives during the 2017-18 legislative session.

The award was presented by the ABC of Wisconsin Board of Directors at the association’s office in Madison.

During the 2017-18 legislative session, Fitzgerald was instrumental in securing the Legislature’s approval of three ABC of Wisconsin-backed initiatives:

  • Wisconsin Act 3, known as “Project Labor Agreement Neutrality,” which prohibits all levels of Wisconsin government from entering into union-only project labor agreements on taxpayer-funded projects.
  • Assembly Bill 208, called the “1-to-1 Ratio Bill,” eliminated the Department of Workforce Development requirements for multiple journey workers to a single apprentice and brings Wisconsin in line with ratios in other states.
  • The full repeal of Wisconsin’s prevailing wage law, which eliminated prevailing wage mandates on construction projects funded by Wisconsin taxpayers.

“ABC of Wisconsin members appreciate Sen. Fitzgerald’s commitment to pursuing policies that help create family sustaining skilled construction jobs and pathways to help fill those positions while preserving free market principles,” said John Mielke, president of ABC of Wisconsin. “We are pleased to present this award to Sen. Fitzgerald and look forward to working with him in the future to continue building Wisconsin.”

Abrahamson says she won’t seek re-election next year, plans to finish term

Shirley Abrahamson, who became the first woman to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court with her appointment in 1976 and then rose to chief justice, won’t seek re-election next year. But the liberal justice plans to fill out her final term.

Abrahamson, 84, has been hearing cases via teleconference and cited a “variety of reasons” for not seeking re-election next year.

“It is the right decision for me. More importantly, it is the right decision for the state,” Abrahamson said in a statement released by her state office.

When liberal Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet joins the Supreme Court later this year, it will close the conservative majority to 4-3. Holding Abrahamson’s seat in 2019 will be key for liberals if they want a shot at flipping the court’s majority in 2020, when conservative Justice Daniel Kelly would face voters.

Court watchers have said possible candidates have been waiting for Abrahamson to indicate her plans for 2019 before deciding on a run. Already, conservative Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn, who was appointed to the bench by Gov. Scott Walker, has indicated he’s considering a run next year.

Following Abrahamson’s announcement, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer said she will consult with “colleagues, friends and family” about making a decision on a bid quickly. She added Abrahamson’s “legacy will be top of mind as I explore a run for the Supreme Court. Neubauer’s husband is a former chair of the state Dem Party, while her daughter Greta in January was elected to an Assembly seat representing Racine as a Dem.

Abrahamson has been praised by liberals as a trailblazer and sometimes drawn the ire of conservatives over her four decades on the court.

She vowed to continue expressing her point of view on the bench and “if principles and values integral to the great state of Wisconsin and its courts continue to be challenged, I will also express my views off the bench, if necessary and as appropriate.”

“When I joined the court, I was given a voice — a voice that I have not hesitated to use,” Abrahamson said. “The best expression of appreciation I can give the people who have elected and repeatedly re-elected me is to continue to speak with the clarity, forthrightness and compassion that come from a life I have tried to devote to service and to justice for all.”

Madison attorney Lester Pines, who often represented Dem causes before the court, called Abrahamson “one of the finest justices, if not the finest, who has served on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.” He said Abrahamson sided with individual rights even as courts in Wisconsin and nationally began sided more with corporate and monied interests.

“I think that history will look back at Shirley Abrahamson as a stalwart of individual rights,” Pines said.

Abrahamson noted in her announcement that she won full, 10-year terms on the bench with at least 55 percent of the vote each time and once hit 65 percent. Along the way, she earned a reputation as a trailblazer for female judges and built a national fundraising network that was unique among state Supreme Court justices.

Her time as chief justice was also marked with controversy. Voters approved a GOP-authored constitutional amendment in 2015 to allow the justices to select who leads the court rather than bestowing that honor to the longest-serving member. Despite conservatives flipping control of the control, Abrahamson continued to hold onto the chief justice’s office, and she filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the amendment from taking effect until after her 10-year term ended in 2019. That effort was rejected, and conservative Pat Roggensack has served as chief justice since 2015.

Abrahamson’s 1999 re-election bid also laid bare tensions on the court as justices Bill Bablitch, Pat Crooks and Jon Wilcox supported her challenger, Green Bay attorney Sharren Rose. Abramson went on to win re-election by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, said conservatives in the legal community often disagreed with Abrahamon’s rulings. But they also respect how effective she’s been on the court.

“She was an effective champion for her view of the law,” Esenberg said. “She had a long career and a great impact on the court, and I wish her well in retirement.”

Former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske, who was appointed to the court by GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson and served with Abrahamson from 1993-98, said the outgoing justice had a deep impact on Wisconsin’s judicial system. Geske said Abrahamson worked to modernize how the courts operate and sought to make the courts accessible to the public. Geske said that includes often insisting people call her by her first name, rather than chief justice when she led the court.

“She is an incredible scholar and brilliant, brilliant jurist who really taught me so much about being a judge and being a leader,” Geske said. “She’s left her fingerprints on a whole lot of what the Wisconsin courts are today.”

See Abrahamson’s statement:
https://jwyjh41vxje2rqecx3efy4kf-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/SSA-Statement.docx

ACLU Wisconsin: Hires Sean Wilson as Smart Justice Statewide Organizer

CONTACT: Cassandra Bowers, ACLU of Wisconsin, 414-272-4032 x 217, [email protected]

MILWAUKEE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin (ACLU) has hired Milwaukee native Sean Wilson as its Smart Justice statewide organizer. Sean is an activist who grew up in Milwaukee’s 53206 neighborhood. As a formerly incarcerated person, Sean knows all too well the outcome of poor decisions – and has made a vow to advocate for justice, and also teach young people how to problem solve and create better conditions for themselves.

“As someone that has lived experiences with the criminal justice system in this state, I feel that my path has ultimately placed me in a unique position to help others, and make progress for real reform,” Sean said. “I am an advocate for change and because I have endured struggles, I want my presence to be a liberating encounter for youth and all who feel they have no options. My favorite quote, ‘if there is no struggle, there is no progress’ [Frederick Douglass], not only exemplifies my life personally, but now also in my role at the ACLU.”

“Sean will help build the ACLU’s Smart Justice campaign in Wisconsin to decrease the number of people in prison. He will play a critical role in leading this work and will help ensure that people impacted by problems in today’s criminal justice system lead the ACLU’s work on criminal justice reform,” said Chris Ott, ACLU of Wisconsin executive director.

The ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice is committed to realizing a new criminal justice system – one that is substantially smaller than its current size while also keeping communities safe, advancing racial justice, treating people fairly, and using fiscal resources wisely. Founded in 1930, the ACLU of Wisconsin is a private, nonpartisan organization with more than 24,000 supporters, who reside in every county in the state. For more information, see aclu-wi.org.

Adam Neylon: Wisconsin Jobs & Economy Chairman Neylon on tax cuts

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

Since 2013, I have had the honor of voting for legislation to cut taxes by millions for hardworking Wisconsin residents and businesses. These tax cuts are a major reason why Wisconsin has a 2.9 percent unemployment rate and our labor force is at an all-time of more than 3.1 million.

As Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy, I take great pride in the strides we have made the last few years to completely eliminate some taxes and lower others. Another important bit of information to keep in mind as you read this editorial is that in spite of these tax cuts, every year Wisconsin’s tax collections have increased. I repeat, the more taxes are cut the more Wisconsin collects in tax revenue.

At the national level, Democrats are doubling down on their promise to repeal the most recent tax cuts signed into law late last year by Republicans. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has even promised to “replace and repeal” them.

Republicans, meanwhile, are doing their best to ensure those tax cuts are made permanent. Let’s check the numbers to see what’s at stake.

First, let’s note that tax cuts have ushered in a historic wave of stable economic growth and expanding prosperity. I’m a small business owner. I know that in states like ours across the country, small firms account for about two-thirds of new jobs. This year’s tax cuts delivered a huge 20 percent deduction for job-creating small firms.

Early evidence suggests the tax cuts are a runaway success. About two-thirds of small business owners report they’re in good financial health and anticipate increased revenues next year too. A third of businesses intend to grow operations, while a quarter are going to increase hiring and increase wages. Not since 1989 have we seen figures so high.

These tax cuts are turbocharging small businesses. The impact of booming small business is felt on Main Streets across America in the form of healthier markets, more take-home pay and better opportunities to get ahead.

In the first few months of this year alone, over 4 million employees gained better pay or benefits thanks to the tax cuts. Nonpartisan experts forecast above-average growth this year and next— as high as 4 percent annually.

Then we have to factor in personal taxes, which take the effect of small business relief and multiply it. Lower personal income taxes are coming to 90% of middle-class Americans— to the tune of more than $2,000 on average.

If repealed, small businesses would have to kiss that 20% deduction goodbye. Democrats would have us revert back to the old tax code where the top marginal rate was 40%— even before state and local taxes were tallied, not to mention the high costs of compliance and outside tax prep help.

To put it plainly, doing what the Democrats propose which is increasing taxes is a slap in the face of all the entrepreneurial small firms— many of them family firms with multiple employees — bolstering our economy. Eliminating these tax cuts would reduce job creation, shrink wages, diminish benefits and narrow opportunity. It’s also a recipe for economic stagnation.

Obviously, stalling our economy is not in our best interest, and I think most voters know better. You would think members of the minority party could support common sense economics. Instead, Democrats continue to dump misleading and cynical messaging on taxes over the political airwaves.

Democrats believes fundamentally that the money you earn belongs to the government, which simply lets you keep some of it.

At least now, the choice between which party believes you know how to spend your own money better than the government is clearer than ever.

— Neylon, R-Pewaukee, represents the 98th Assembly District.

AFSCME: Endorses Mahlon Mitchell for governor of Wisconsin

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For more information, please contact Michael Horecki ([email protected])

On Sunday, AFSCME Wisconsin’s PEOPLE Committee, which is responsible for the union’s political activities, endorsed Mahlon Mitchell for Governor of Wisconsin.

In a crowded primary field, Mahlon’s commitment to working people stood out said Paul Spink, President of AFSCME Wisconsin.

“As a union leader, Mahlon has been standing with AFSCME since before ACT 10,” said Spink. “AFSCME is thrilled to be supporting a candidate for Governor who understands the value of public service and who will be a powerful advocate for working people as our next Governor!”

AFSCME Wisconsin represents thousands of public and private sector workers across the state of Wisconsin and will be working with other labor groups to propel Mitchell to victory in August & November!

AG Brad Schimel launches first digital ad of re-election campaign

GOP AG Brad Schimel launched the first digital ad of his re-election campaign today, saying in the spot the work on the opioid crisis “isn’t finished.”

Schimel narrates the 30-second ad, which shows a needle and spoon and pills before switching to an empty playground.

He says more than 80 percent of heroin addicts started by becoming addicted to prescription drugs, and 71 percent of the time the drugs came from a family member or a friend, not a doctor or street drug dealer.

“That’s why we’ve prioritized treatment and prevention over the last three years and that’s why the work on the opioid crisis isn’t finished,” Schimel says.

Final screen reads, “Re-elect Brad Schimel for attorney general.”

Watch the spot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZDZmLqL28E

AG Schimel slams Dem rival Kaul

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AG Brad Schimel on Saturday knocked his Dem rival Josh Kaul, calling him an activist who would seek to undo a series of GOP successes over the past eight years.

Schimel also slammed Kaul for the work of his firm, Perkins Coie, which has offices across the country. He said the firm was responsible for the “infamous” Steele dossier that was “meant to disrupt and destroy” the Trump presidency. He said the firm also sough to get convicted drug traffickers released early from prison and has been a clearinghouse for liberal special interests.

Schimel said Kaul also served as Hillary Clinton’s lawyer in the recount of Wisconsin’s 2016 presidential results and he “espouses” the beliefs of his law firm.

“I espouse the beliefs of our Wisconsin law enforcement team,” Schimel said.

Kaul spokeswoman Gillian Drummond fired back Schimel has failed to eliminate the backlog of rape kits waiting to be tested, while the state’s opioid epidemic continues to worsen and fines from polluters have dropped under his watch. She also touted Kaul’s background as a former federal prosecutor.

“As AG, he’ll restore leadership to the Wisconsin Department of Justice and fight every day to protect Wisconsinites.”

Schimel also touted his work to combat the state’s opioid problem and pushed the federal government for help.

“Our federal government must secure our borders if we’re going to stem the tide of heroin and methamphetamine,” he said.

This post is part of our coverage of the 2018 state GOP convention in Milwaukee. See the rest of our coverage here: https://www.wispolitics.com/category/gop-convos/

AG Schimel: Issues Guidance to Wisconsin Law Enforcement on CBD Oil and Industrial Hemp Production

MADISON, Wis. – Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and Wisconsin Statewide Intelligence Center (WSIC) released an unclassified Analytical Note to advise law enforcement of the legal status of CBD in Wisconsin since law enforcement agencies have received many inquiries about the legality of cannabidiol (CBD) products, including CBD which is derived from hemp. Nothing in this Analytical Note prohibits farmers from cultivating industrial hemp and using it for other lawful purposes.

“Law enforcement has encountered examples of products claiming to be CBD oil that resulted in people getting hurt and sick,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “We have an obligation to protect public health and safety, and need to provide frontline law enforcement with the knowledge to enforce the law as it is written by the Wisconsin State Legislature and United States Congress.”

As explained in the Analytical Note, the Wisconsin State Legislature has chosen to allow the possession and distribution of CBD in only very limited circumstances.

  1. An individual may possess CBD only if he/she has a doctor’s certification under Section 961.32 of the Wisconsin Statutes;
  2. Only a physician or pharmacy may sell CBD if they have an FDA investigational drug permit and approval from the Wisconsin Controlled Substances Board, under Sections 961.34 and 961.38 of the Wisconsin Statutes;
  3. The Legislature has only chosen to allow this type of possession and distribution if the CBD does not have a psychoactive effect.

Any possession or distribution of CBD outside of these very limited exceptions is prohibited by law.

The authorization for the Wisconsin industrial hemp pilot program is defined under Wis. Stat. Sec 94.55(2)(a) as follows: “Subject to the provisions under this subsection, a person may plant, grow, cultivate, harvest, sample, test, process, transport, transfer, take possession of, sell, import and export industrial hemp in this state to the greatest extent allowed under federal law.”

Except under very limited circumstances, the production of cannabidiol is illegal under Federal Law. Under 21 USC Section 802 (16) cannabidiol is a “derivative” of the cannabis plant and is therefore a controlled substance.  Because cannabidiol is a controlled substance under Federal law, Section 94.55(2) forbids the processing of it under Wisconsin state law.

While the industrial hemp law allows a licensee to plant, grow, cultivate, harvest, sample, test, process, transport, transfer, take possession of, sell, import and export industrial hemp pursuant to the rules of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection program, the Wisconsin State Legislature and Congress have not authorized the production and possession of CBD except as outlined above.

Farmers are not prohibited under state law for growing industrial hemp, even for the express purpose of producing CBD. The Wisconsin Legislature, however, has banned CBD possession, distribution, and production within the state, except in the limited circumstances outlined in the Analytical Note. Wisconsin law would not prevent farmers from shipping the hemp out of state.

The Wisconsin Attorney General is responsible for enforcing the laws as written by the Wisconsin State Legislature and signed into law by the Governor.

Alliance for Justice: Brennan confirmation crosses red line

Contact: Laurie Kinney, [email protected]
(202) 464-7367/cell (571) 882-3615 

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 10, 2018 – Following today’s Senate vote to confirm Michael Brennan to the Seventh Circuit over the objections of one of his home-state senators, Tammy Baldwin, AFJ President Nan Aron released the following statement:

“Mitch McConnell’s Senate has now shredded most of the rules and norms designed to preserve all senators’ constitutional right to advise and consent on judicial nominees. This is an unconscionable, naked power grab. Senators who care about our core constitutional values must vote no on future Trump judicial nominees unless and until Republicans restore bipartisan consultation and mutual respect to the process.”

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin: Thanks Glenn Grothman for fighting against wasteful government spending

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CONTACT: Joe Sangiorgio, [email protected]

Grassroots activist group launches advertising and mail campaign lauding Rep. Grothman for vote to stop overspending

MADISON, WI — Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) announced today it will begin a campaign to thank U.S. Representative Glenn Grothman for his voting record of opposing wasteful government spending. Grothman is the only Wisconsinite featured in a new national AFP campaign to hold both Republicans and Democrats accountable for their records on government spending and thank champions who have protected taxpayers.

The campaign will begin over the Memorial Day recess using mailers as well as digital and print advertising to thank Representative Grothman for his vote against a bloated $1.3 trillion omnibus package in March. It will also call on him to continue his work to reduce federal spending as the 115th Congress draws to a close.

AFP-WI State Director Eric Bott made the following statement:

“Time after time, Glenn Grothman has proven himself to be a true friend of Wisconsin taxpayers by voting against wasteful government spending. AFP-WI’s base of over 130,000 grassroots activists are delighted to thank a true champion of fiscal responsibility like Congressman Grothman. Washington does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. While too many lawmakers, Republican and Democrat alike, seem content to be part of that problem, Grothman is working to be part of the solution. He has kept his promise to the people of Wisconsin and we urge him to keep fighting the good fight against overspending.”

You can view the mailer that will be sent to Grothman’s constituents HERE

You can view digital advertisements that will run in Grothman’s district HERE

You can view the print advertisements that will run in Grothman’s district HERE

Appleton animation startup in New Orleans for tech conference

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An early-stage animation startup called dodles is in New Orleans for a major tech conference this week, as company leaders strive to connect with investors and potential partners.

The Appleton-based business is developing a platform where content creators can create, share, license and sell illustrations in an online marketplace. According to CEO Craig Doriot, this makes it easier for artists to make themselves known without needing publishers and advertising studios.

Doriot and the rest of the team are at the Collision conference, which had over 25,000 attendees including speakers from some of the biggest names in tech.

Aside from private meetings arranged in advance, dodles is exhibiting on the beta track, which is reserved for relatively advanced companies.

“That’s more exclusive than the general exhibitors,” Doriot told WisBusiness.com. “That gives us some leverage with investors, a little more attention.”

The company recently ran a closed beta which wrapped up in March.

“We’ve had some good results,” he said, adding that the process helped identify new areas of expansion, like educational elements.

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Badger Institute: Names two new Visiting Fellows

Economists Brannon, Hanson will provide research, commentary on wide range of policy issues

The Badger Institute welcomes two highly accomplished, influential economists to its growing Visiting Fellows program today.

Ike Brannon, president of the consulting firm Capital Policy Analytics in Washington, D.C., and Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University, will provide the institute with research and commentary on a wide variety of topical issues ranging from labor force needs to immigration to minimum wages to tax subsidies.

“This is a very good day for the Badger Institute and, frankly, for all of Wisconsin,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols. “These are highly respected thinkers and analysts who know the state and want to help it flourish through sound policy. We’ve already asked them to focus on the state’s most pressing need, our worker shortage, and they will publish a collaborative white paper in the coming months. But you’ll also see regular commentary and analysis that should be must-reading for anyone interested in making Wisconsin a better place.”

Both economists have contributed to the Badger Institute in the past, including a joint research paper on the impact of raising Wisconsin’s minimum wage. Brannon has also done research for the Badger Institute on tenure, professional licensure and minimum markup among other topics.

They join Jay Miller, a Whitefish Bay tax attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar School of Business, and Kahryn Riley, an attorney who manages the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s criminal justice reform initiative, as part of the growing fellows program.

Brannon, a former economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, has also been a senior fellow for the Bush Institute and was director of economic policy for the American Action Forum. He served as the chief economist for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chief economist for the Republican Policy Committee, senior adviser for tax policy at the U.S. Treasury, principal economic adviser for Senator Orrin Hatch on the Senate Finance Committee, chief economist for the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, and senior economist for the Office of Management and Budget.

“I’m pleased to once again have a formal affiliation with the Badger Institute,” said Brannon. “It has had a tremendous impact on public policy in Wisconsin in the 20 years since I first began writing for it. I look forward to contributing to its further success.”

Hanson is an associate fellow of the R Street Institute, a public policy research organization based in Washington, D.C. Before joining the Marquette faculty in 2012, he served for four years as an assistant professor at Georgia State University. From 2005-2006, Hanson served as a staff economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in Washington, D.C. His primary fields of interest are public finance and urban economics. Among other things, he has examined federal housing subsidies, spatially targeted redevelopment programs and racial discrimination in housing markets.

“I’m excited to join the Badger Institute as a visiting fellow to continue to research policy issues that matter for Wisconsin,” said Hanson. “As someone who grew up in Wisconsin and has spent a good portion of my adult life here, I care deeply about the success of the state and how good policy plays a role in achieving it.”

The Badger Institute’s mission is to ensure opportunity and advance economic prosperity through free markets, individual initiative, limited and efficient government, and education reform. For more information, visit www.badgerinstitute.org.

Baldwin campaign: Remember their stories

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I talk a lot about stories as a powerful tool to make change. Even the painful ones, because often they’re the most important.

This Memorial Day, I’m paying tribute to the men and women who have given their lives to defend our freedom. I’m remembering their stories.

Those who have served, and those who continue to serve, are the very best of who we are. We should listen to the stories of parents, spouses, and children whose loved ones have made the ultimate sacrifice.

And to truly honor the grace, selflessness, and courage of these patriots, we must turn their stories into deeds if we want to remain a nation worthy of their sacrifice. It is our shared responsibility to be there for the sons and daughters who fought to preserve the freedoms we too often take for granted.

So as a start, today I ask you to remember and share their stories. If you had a loved one whose story deserves to be told — reply to this email and tell me about them.

I want to know who they were, why they served, and how we can best honor them. I’d love to share their stories, and help others honor them too.

Let us remember our fallen heroes, and hold their families in our hearts.

Tammy

Baldwin talks about mother’s struggles with mental illness, prescription drugs in new TV ad

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, talks about her mother’s struggles with prescription drugs and mental illness in a new TV ad, telling viewers “I know how hard this fight is.”

The ad comes on the heels of Baldwin opening up publicly last week for the first time about her mother, who died in August.

Baldwin begins the 60-second spot saying she used to come home from school, but couldn’t get into the house. She’d pound on the door, but her mother was passed out inside and wouldn’t answer. Baldwin says her mother struggled with addiction to prescription drugs her whole life and she had to “grow up fast.”

“So when I see the opioid crisis that is wrecking so many Wisconsin families, all I can tell you is I’ve been there,” Baldwin says. “I know how hard this fight is. I know the stigma that comes with drug abuse and mental illness.”

Baldwin, who has been criticized for her handling of a report on the overprescription of painkillers at the Tomah VA, then says she’s worked with Republicans and Dems to “get the funding Wisconsin needs so people have somewhere to turn for help.”

“This is a crisis for our country and far too many Wisconsin families,” Baldwin says before closing the ad saying she approves the message “because this fight hits close to home.”

The spot, the fifth Baldwin’s campaign has released, will run in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau, Eau Claire and La Crosse. While the other ads have run on dual tracks, the campaign only plans to air the new spot for now.

Baldwin, Johnson split on CIA director nomination vote

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U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson today split on the nomination of Gina Haspel, who was confirmed as CIA director despite her involvement in the agency’s torture program.

Hours before the Senate voted 54-45 to confirm her as the first female CIA director, Baldwin announced she wouldn’t support Haspel’s nomination. Baldwin cited her past actions under then-President George W. Bush and recent comments she made about the CIA’s use of torture during that period.

The Madison Dem has been under fire from GOP opponent Leah Vukmir over the nominee, with Vukmir’s campaign in a recent tweet saying Baldwin would rather give “terrorists hugs and safe spaces than take adequate action to protect America and confirm Gina Haspel quickly.”

But in the statement today, Baldwin said Haspel’s refusal to call torture immoral at a recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearing “disqualifying.”

“I believe torture is immoral, and I am deeply troubled this nominee would not say it is immoral at the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing,” she said. “Like Senator McCain, I believe this refusal is disqualifying.”

Haspel during her confirmation hearing last week pledged she wouldn’t run an “interrogation program” at the CIA, but didn’t call the agency’s employment of it “immoral” when pressed by Dems, according to national media reports.

Johnson, meanwhile, touted Haspel’s credentials in a statement following the vote.

“The world is a dangerous place, and, as the deputy director of the CIA and a career intelligence officer, Gina Haspel has the experience needed to help keep our country safe,” he said. “I am pleased the Senate approved such a qualified candidate for the important role of CIA director.”

Baldwin’s latest TV ad touts legislation to ensure taxpayer dollars help build U.S. military ships in America

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin released a new TV ad today featuring employees of Fairbanks Morse Engine in Beloit touting legislation she introduced to ensure taxpayer dollars go toward building U.S. military ships in America.

The spot, which is running on broadcast and cable TV, features several employees of Fairbanks, including Bill Flory, who’s worked at the company for 10 years. He opens the spot saying a ship can’t move without an engine before Pam Densch, who’s worked there seven years, says, “And American naval ships cannot move without us.”

“Thank to Tammy Baldwin, that’s how it’s going to stay,” says Bob Churchill, who’s worked for the company for 52 years.

Jason Voss, who’s been with the company less than a year, then touts the Madison Dem’s effort to make sure ships for America’s armed forces are made in the U.S. Fred Stewart, who’s been with the company two years says, “And that means thousands of jobs.”

“Tammy Baldwin has been a fierce fighter for keeping jobs here in America,” Flory says before Densch closes the spot, “She’s backed us 100 percent.”

The campaign is not saying how much it spent on the ad buy.

Barca campaign: Rules out run for Congress

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Contact: Peter Barca, 262-705-3285

Following the announcement by Speaker Paul Ryan in April that he would not seek re-election for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, Representative Peter W. Barca (Kenosha/Racine) was encouraged by many to enter the election. However, after considering this possibility with family, friends, and supporters, Barca has decided not to enter the election for Congress and will again seek re-election to continue representing the Greater Kenosha/Racine Area in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

With this announcement, Representative Barca issued the following statement:

Timing is everything in politics, and the extremely late Ryan announcement made a possible run nearly impossible given the head start some have and the obvious advantages Ryan will certainly provide to his hand-selected successor.

After hundreds of citizens reached out to encourage me to run, I was compelled to evaluate a possible race from every conceivable angle. My number one goal has always been to ensure that the citizens of our region have responsive representation that reflects our values and vision for our community, state and nation. Now that I have taken the time to carefully assess this option, it would take a herculean effort to piece together a winning campaign and would be further complicated given the prior endorsements by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a number of key allied groups.

These factors also could have led to divisiveness that might have undercut the clear, shared goal of our efforts to bring people together for the November election to bring change to both Washington DC and Wisconsin.

I have met with the two announced Democratic candidates and it appears they both have very vibrant campaigns with strong outreach planned to continue throughout the district this summer and fall, which is essential for a winning campaign in a district as diverse as the First Congressional District.

For all of these reasons, I have decided not to seek election to the First Congressional District. My focus will remain on representing the 64th Assembly District, and standing up for issues important to the Greater Kenosha-Racine Area such as education, employment, and training, as well as investment in infrastructure and transportation needs.

I want to thank the many key leaders and friends who offered to help in substantial ways on a potential congressional campaign. I am especially heartened and grateful for their support. I know we will all work together to ensure Wisconsin’s common sense values are better reflected in both the halls of Congress and the Wisconsin State Capitol following the election this fall.”

Barca passes on congressional bid

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State Rep. Peter Barca is passing on a bid for the congressional seat he held more than 20 years ago, saying it would take a “herculean effort to piece together a winning campaign” considering the head start others have.

Barca began considering a run for the 1st CD after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, announced last month he would not seek re-election. The Kenosha Dem and former Assembly minority leader said a possible run was also complicated by prior endorsements by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other key groups.

The DCCC has added Caledonia iron worker Randy Bryce to its “red to blue” program, which provides organizational and financial support. The other Dem candidate is teacher Cathy Myers of Janesville.

“Timing is everything in politics, and the extremely late (Paul) Ryan announcement made a possible run nearly impossible given the head start some have and the obvious advantages Ryan will certainly provide to his hand-selected successor,” Barca said in a statement.

Barca won the 1st CD in a 1993 special election and then lost it the following year in the GOP wave. He will seek re-election to his Assembly seat representing the Kenosha area.

Barnes campaign: Democracy for America (DFA) endorses Mandela Barnes for Lieutenant Governor

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Contact:
Justin Bielinski
[email protected]
414-208-9283

Barnes joins Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Randy Bryce as the only Wisconsin candidates to receive the progressive group’s endorsement in 2018

Milwaukee: Democracy for America (DFA), a member-driven progressive political organization founded by Gov. Howard Dean in 2004, has endorsed Mandela Barnes for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. Barnes joins US Senator Tammy Baldwin and 1st Congressional District Candidate Randy Bryce as the only Wisconsin candidates to be endorsed by DFA in 2018.

Jim Dean, Director of DFA, released the following statement:

“Mandala Barnes is not only a hero in his home state of Wisconsin for his work championing progressive economic policy, criminal justice reform, and healthcare in the State Assembly, since his tenure in office he’s been a national leader in the battle for gun violence prevention and the building of progressive power in the nation’s state capitols. Democracy for America members are thrilled to support Mandala in his race to become the Badger State’s next Lieutenant Governor, because we know he’s committed to making sure Wisconsin works for working people once again.

Said Barnes:

“I am honored to have earned the support of DFA in my campaign for Lieutenant Governor. I’ve built my career as an organizer, state legislator, and policy professional by fighting for progressive principles. Principles like healthcare as a fundamental human right, quality public education for every child, and green jobs as the backbone of our 21st century economy. I am thrilled to be among such an impressive slate of endorsed candidates, and I look forward to helping restore Wisconsin’s proud progressive tradition as part of a new Democratic administration.”

The Democracy for America endorsement comes on the heels of endorsements for Mr. Barnes from Collective PAC, Iron Workers Union Local 8, Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 4, Working Families Party, and more. A full list is available at www.mandelabarnes.com.

DFA’s mission is to build and empower a broad coalition of grassroots organizers to elect the New American Majority – people of color and white progressives – to fight for inclusive populism at all levels of government in all 50 states.

Mandela’s campaign is based on restoring and expanding opportunity across Wisconsin, beginning with what he dubs the 4 Essentials of Opportunity: Equity in Healthcare, Economic Progress, Investment in Education, and Environmental Protection. Barnes is a former 2-term state legislator and community organizer from Milwaukee.

Barnes campaign: Iron Workers Union Local 8 endorses Mandela Barnes for Lieutenant Governor

Contact:
Justin Bielinski
[email protected]
414-208-9283

Union represents Iron Workers in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Milwaukee: The Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union Local 8 has endorsed Mandela Barnes for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. Local 8 joins the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and Working Families Party as labor groups who have endorsed Barnes’ candidacy thus far. Said Barnes of the endorsement:

“It’s no secret that the Walker-Kleefisch administration has been devastating for Wisconsin workers. Wages and benefits have failed to keep pace with other states, particularly our neighbors to the west in Minnesota, and worker protections continue to be undercut. It’s time we had leadership in Madison who instituted pro-worker reforms, including raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour and indexing to inflation, restoring collective bargaining for all workers, and repealing “right-to-work for less.” As Lieutenant Governor, I will be one such leader. I want the thank the Iron Workers for standing with me in this race, as I will continue to stand with them.

Mandela’s campaign is based on restoring and expanding opportunity across Wisconsin, beginning with what he dubs the 4 Essentials of Opportunity: Equity in Healthcare, Economic Progress, Investment in Education, and Environmental Protection. Barnes is a former 2-term state legislator and community organizer from Milwaukee. For more information about the campaign, visit www.mandelabarnes.com.

Barnes campaign: The Collective PAC endorses Mandela Barnes for lt. guv

Contact:
Justin Bielinski
[email protected]
414-208-9283

Barnes is one of just 9 statewide candidates across the country to receive their endorsement, and the only candidate from Wisconsin

Milwaukee: The Collective Political Action Committee, a national group working to address the challenge of African American underrepresentation in elected seats of power throughout the United States, has endorsed Mandela Barnes for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. Barnes becomes just the 9th statewide candidate to receive their endorsement, and the only candidate running in Wisconsin in 2018.

Quentin James, Collective PAC Founder and Executive Director, released the following statement:

“It’s great to have candidates who understand the most pressing issues of our community, and how they relate to overall progress. As we saw in the 2016 election, communities of color cannot be taken for granted, which is why we’re proud to endorse Mandela Barnes in his bid for Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor. Mandela has demonstrated the leadership and experience necessary to build a winning ticket for November.”

Mr. Barnes stated:

“Wisconsin has only ever had one statewide elected official of color, that being the recently departed former Secretary of State Vel Phillips, who in her later years became a mentor to me. For our state to move forward, this must change. I recognize the challenge of working to become Wisconsin’s first African-American Lieutenant Governor, and I am humbled by the opportunity. I am thankful to Collective PAC for recognizing my ideas, drive, and commitment to a Wisconsin that works for everyone, particularly those communities, like the one that I grew up in, that have been failed by administrations from both parties for far too long”

The Collective PAC endorsement comes on the heels of endorsements for Mr. Barnes from Iron Workers Union Local 8, Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 4, Working Families Party, and more. A full list is available at www.mandelabarnes.com.

Collective PAC was launched in August of 2016 by Quentin James and Stefanie Brown James, with the goal of achieving equity in representation for African-Americans nationwide. Eighteen Collective PAC-endorsed candidates have won elections since its founding, including US Senator Kamala Harris, US Representatives Val Demings, Lisa Blunt Rochester, and Don McEachin, as well as Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax of Virginia.

Mandela’s campaign is based on restoring and expanding opportunity across Wisconsin, beginning with what he dubs the 4 Essentials of Opportunity: Equity in Healthcare, Economic Progress, Investment in Education, and Environmental Protection. Barnes is a former 2-term state legislator and community organizer from Milwaukee.

Barrett campaign: Statement

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Thank you to the many people who have encouraged me to run for governor in 2018. I agree that now is the time for change in Madison and that starts with electing a new governor, a governor who puts Wisconsin first and not his national ambitions. But the fact is I love my job as mayor and that’s where my heart is.

I hope to serve as mayor for many years to come, to continue to advance Milwaukee forward. I’ve still got the fire in the belly, and I wake up every day ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.

Milwaukee has tremendous momentum despite efforts by Governor Walker and his allies to harm the city. Now is the time for change in Madison. Now is the time for a new governor. I’ll fight shoulder to shoulder with you to make that happen. I’ve got your back, and I know you’ve got mine.

Barrett passes on guv bid

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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett today announced he will not run for guv this year, saying he loves his current job and “that’s where my heart is.”

Barrett’s statement puts to rest six weeks of public speculation on whether he would make another bid for the guv’s office. While Dem guv candidates have struggled to break away from the crowded field financially, Barrett had $621,983 in his campaign account at the end of 2017, more than twice what any of the top-tier contenders had in the bank to end the year.

Still, Barrett, 64, had done nothing publicly to lay a foundation for a run ahead of today’s announcement, which comes three days before candidates have to turn in at least 2,000 valid signatures to make the ballot. He also has faced questions on whether he could beat Gov. Scott Walker in the general election after losing to him in 2010 and the 2012 recall.

“I hope to serve as mayor for many years to come, to continue to advance Milwaukee forward,” Barrett said. “I’ve still got the fire in the belly, and I wake up every day ready to roll up my sleeves to get to work.”

Barrett, who would be up for re-election as mayor in 2020, had expressed concern over whether the current field is strong enough to beat Walker and would like to see a stronger ally for Milwaukee in the guv’s office, according to multiple sources.

“Milwaukee has tremendous momentum despite efforts by Governor Walker and his allies to harm the city,” Barrett said. “Now is the time for change in Madison. Now is the time for a new governor. I’ll fight shoulder to shoulder with you to make that happen. I’ve got your back, and I know you’ve got mine.”

Bill Kaplan: Checks and balances, not impeachment

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

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a Republican, was appointed by GOP Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, possible collusion by the Trump campaign and White House obstruction of justice. To date, workmanlike Mueller has indicted 19 individuals, including fired Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, Trump campaign Chair Paul Manafort and Deputy Chair Rick Gates. Flynn and Gates pled guilty and are cooperating. 13 Russians are among the indicted, facing charges for interfering in the election.

While Mueller and his crackerjack team try to get to the bottom, Trump continues to tweet bluster, lies and worse. Trump tweeted: “At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!”. The New York Times reported that Trump has twice demanded that Mueller be fired. And, the Washington Post reported that a Trump lawyer raised the possibility of presidential pardons for Flynn and Manafort with their attorneys. All reminiscent of Nixon who said: “Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.”

Meanwhile, GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, oblivious to his constitutional oversight responsibilities and legislative record, warned of a Democratic-led Congress. Ryan said: “You’ll have subpoenas, you’ll have … the system shutting down.” However, Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin said: “Ryan has it backwards. The ‘system’ – of constitutional government and checks and balances – is currently shut down thanks to Republicans …”.

Ryan also warned that a Democratic win in November would lead to “absolute gridlock”. But the GOP-led Congress’s single accomplishment exploded the deficit, with tax cuts benefitting corporations and the rich. Thankfully, Democrats and a few Republicans defeated repeal of the Affordable Care Act. That is the sorry GOP record. No infrastructure program, nothing for underfunded multiemployer pension plans and threats to cut Medicare, Social Security and safety net programs. What to do?

Only a Democratic-led Congress will stand up for regular folks, as well as provide checks and balances. Impeachment is not on the table. Not a single congressional Republican supports impeachment. A majority in the GOP-led House would be needed to pass an article of impeachment. And, two-thirds of the GOP-led Senate would be necessary for conviction. There are other considerations.

Only 8 federal officials have ever been impeached and convicted. Impeachment of a president must be bipartisan. California Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor and ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, said: “Should the facts warrant impeachment (of Trump), that case will be made more difficult politically if part of the country feels that removing Mr. Trump was the result that some of their fellow Americans were wishing for all along.” Accordingly, let Mueller finish his job. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: firing Mueller “would be crossing a red line …”. Finally, we must all work like heck for a Democratic-led Congress. Charlie Cook, nonpartisan Cook Political Report, astutely said: “Could it be voters are seeking moderation, checks and balances?”

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

Bill Kaplan: Ryan, Dreamers and redemption

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

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported: “The night before Trump delivered his first speech to Congress in February 2017, … (he) reluctantly agreed with suggestions (to) strike a gentler tone on immigration in the speech. …he (Trump) then read aloud (at the White House meeting) a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, like rape or murder”. Presidential aides Stephen Miller and Jared Kushner “laughed”. Moral depravity.

The Post also reported Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was recently belittled by Trump for “a surge in illegal border crossings”. Nielsen is on thin ice. Overlooked is that “U.S. farms, factories and businesses are desperate for workers” (Post). Moreover, the aftermath of civil wars in Central America and poverty there and in Mexico causes many to flee to the U.S. But it’s easier for Trump to scapegoat Latinos and pretend that a wall is the solution.

House Speaker Paul Ryan is at a crossroads. His only accomplishment exploded the deficit, with tax cuts mostly benefitting corporations and the rich. However, history is knocking at his door. It’s time for Ryan to listen to the humane, moderate conservatives in the House GOP caucus and U.S. Catholic bishops. They are speaking truth to power about the Dreamers (brought to the U.S. illegally as kids).

Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said: “The Dreamers have been waiting for decades for Congress to do its job and pass immigration reform legislation. But for many years now, reform has been blocked in the House for political reasons by a minority of lawmakers. This is not about Republicans or Democrats. It is about right and wrong.” (There are about 7,600 Wisconsin Dreamers – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

Some House Republicans and almost all Democrats are not waiting. They have signed a “discharge petition” to bypass obstruction and force a vote on multiple immigration bills. The likely winner would be a bipartisan measure giving permanent legal status to Dreamers, with a possible pathway to citizenship, and enhanced border security. So far 23 Republicans and 190 Democrats have signed, leaving only 5 more needed. Wisconsin Democratic Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan are on board, but no Wisconsin GOP representative has signed. I urge Green Bay Republican Representative Mike Gallagher to sign. After all he is a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

On Thursday, House GOP Chief Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry said the “discharge petition” would get the final five signatures. Ryan is looking for a “sweet spot” to avoid losing control to a bipartisan majority and a bitter fight within the House GOP caucus. But there is only one pathway to redemption for Ryan. Listen to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: “We urge a bipartisan solution forward that is narrowly tailored. Time is of the essence. Every day we experience the human consequences of delayed action in the form of young people losing their livelihood and hope. … Elected officials must show leadership … .” Ryan must help the Dreamers and himself. Redemption.

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

 

Bill Kaplan: Trump’s showmanship on Iran and North Korea

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

“With showman’s flair, he (Trump) touts his foreign moves (Iran and North Korea) and waves away scandals” (Washington Post). The Trump administration is awash in corruption: Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, with possible collusion by the Trump campaign and White House obstruction of justice; disgraced cabinet secretaries forced out after inappropriate travel spending; influence peddling and hush payments by Trump’s personal attorney (Michael Cohen) and a vicious attack by a White House staffer against Arizona GOP Senator John McCain – “It doesn’t matter (McCain’s opposition to torture and CIA nominee Gina Haspel); he’s dying anyway.” Rock bottom for the White House.

Like Nixon, the White House is seeking to distract voters and change the narrative.  As Watergate was reaching a crescendo, Nixon flew to the Soviet Union to toast the regime’s leaders and discuss arms control. Nixon achieved no arms control breakthrough.  Moreover, the dark cloud over Nixon did not dissipate, nor will it for Trump. Still, “Trump seizes chance to alter image” (Washington Post).

Trump decided to blowup the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by the Obama administration, our allies (Britain, France and Germany), China, Russia and endorsed by the European Union plus the United Nations. Trump’s recklessness has deepened a rift with our allies, could allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons, set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and perhaps lead to war. Iraq was no “cakewalk” and neither will Iran be.

With no alternative plan, Trump broke an international agreement that closed off multiple pathways for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Iran had to give up all the building blocks for a nuclear bomb: removal of 98 percent of its enriched uranium, dismantlement of thousands of centrifuges and disablement of  a plutonium reactor. All done under strict on the ground inspection.

Now, Trump demands sanctions be reimposed on Iran. Europe might defy Trump. China and Russia will. Maybe that will give Iran an incentive to continue to adhere to the nuclear deal. With Trump “utterly lacking in … policy depth or strategic vision and patience” (New York Times) there will not be a new agreement.

However, House Speaker Paul Ryan supports Trump as always. So do Wisconsin GOP Representatives Mike Gallagher and Glenn Grothman. But Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin offered wisdom: “It’s a mistake to walk away from this international agreement with no alternative plan to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon or hold them to account for destabilizing the region. Our U.S. military leaders have said this international agreement is working in our national security interests and breaking it will not make us safer.”

But what the heck, Trump can’t be bothered by details and facts. Always the showman, Trump “has shifted from warmongering to diplomacy on North Korea and prepares to meet its leader, Kim Jong-un to get him to abandon his nuclear arsenal of 20 to 60 weapons” (New York Times). Trump apparently thinks it’s a piece of cake. Will his showmanship lead to nothing or far worse?

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

Bill Kaplan: Walker’s cruel, inconsistent health policies

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

Despite an all-out assault against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the ACA has persisted. Enrollment in ACA private health insurance plans stands at 11.8 million, including over 200,000 Wisconsinites. “A slight dip in sign-ups for ACA plans” (Washington Post). Moreover, Medicaid expansion continues in 31 states, including 15 GOP-led states.

However, Trump and Ryan, supported by Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker, are sabotaging the ACA. The Commonwealth Fund outlined how the Trump administration seeks to eviscerate the ACA: “… deep cuts in advertising and outreach during the … (ACA) open-enrollment …, a shorter open enrollment period, and other actions that collectively may have left people with a general sense of confusion… . Signs point to further erosion of insurance coverage in 2019: the repeal of the individual mandate penalty, included in the 2017 tax law, recent actions to increase the availability of (bare-bones) insurance policies … and support for Medicaid work requirements.”

Governor Walker’s cruel, inconsistent health policies show that he is trying to surpass Trump’s punitive lead. Walker applied for a federal waiver to restrict some childless adults to a lifetime limit on Medicaid coverage if they do not meet proposed work requirements. On Tuesday, the Trump administration denied a similar lifetime limit on Kansas Medicaid. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said: “We’ve indicated we would not approve lifetime limits, and we’ve made that pretty clear to states.” Nonetheless, Trump and Walker continue in lockstep on Medicaid barriers.

Trump and Walker support work requirements to cut Medicaid coverage sharply. “The new policy would be attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. About two-thirds of Medicaid beneficiaries are either seniors, disabled people or children. Of the remaining one-third, nearly 80 percent are in families with at least one working person and 60 percent have full- or part-time jobs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation” (New York Times).

Walker also wants federal approval to require some Medicaid applicants to undergo drug-screening. An election year dog whistle. But Jon Peacock, research director at Kids Forward, said: “The goal of increasing the size and health of the Wisconsin workforce would be accomplished much more effectively by significantly increasing the state’s investment in drug treatment programs, rather than substantially increasing spending on BadgerCare (Medicaid) administration.”

Finally, Walker has asked Trump’s support for a Wisconsin ACA reinsurance program to help private insurers with high-cost enrollees. It has worked in Minnesota to limit rising premiums. However, Walker wants the state’s share of funding to come from unspecified Medicaid savings. With health insurers awash in new profits from the Trump-Ryan tax cuts, why not require Wisconsin insurers to pony up? Maryland GOP Governor Larry Hogan agreed to charge Maryland insurers to help pay for a Maryland ACA reinsurance program. Moreover, Walker and Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel must drop their frivolous election year lawsuit to have the ACA declared unconstitutional. And, why not expand Medicaid? It’s working everywhere across the nation. Cruel, inconsistent health policies.

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

 

Bill Kraus: Chasing the wrong squirrel?

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Our federal representatives are up in arms over the possibility [probability?] that Russian propagandists were able to influence votes and voters in the 2016 presidential election. The charge is that the Russians used social media to spread their word to members of Facebook.

Let’s say they did.

Let’s say a law is passed suppressing them and what they say.

Let’s say the law is challenged and the challenge gets to the Supreme Court.

Will the Supreme Court say—as they have about corporations and organizations of all varieties—that the Russians are people and what they have to say about issues and candidates in our elections is protected by the 1st amendment as long as they don’t say “vote for” or “vote against”?

There is, however, a law on the books which prohibits foreign nationals from making any expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S.

This is more restrictive than the rights given to domestic organizations where, in effect, where money is speech.

So the Supreme Court could use that to justify ruling against the Russians.

Fortunately the incumbents in legislatures everywhere have made it easy for the Russians to get around or past this restriction. The reigning laws about disclosing who is spending money on politics and politicians are weak to nonexistent.

So all the Russians have to do is set up Political Action Committees and/or corporations which are friendly to them and their positions, staffed of course by U.S. citizens. This gives them access to election mischief along with all the other people and groups of all kinds that live in the “dark money” world.

This freedom puts the Russians and everyone else with money and a cause into what has become a party-free, discipline-free, money driven entrepreneurial election system.

That’s a squirrel worth chasing.

— Kraus is a longtime Republican strategist and former co-chair of Common Cause in Wisconsin.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: $5.2 million for community projects

CONTACT:  Jonathan Barry, Executive Secretary (608) 266-8369 

MADISON – The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) today approved $5,255,761in State Trust Fund Loans to support five community projects in Wisconsin.  Board Chair Brad Schimel and Commissioner Doug La Follette voted in favor of the loans with Commissioner Matt Adamczyk voting against them.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

Town of Beloit, Rock County / Construct public works building / $4,707,511

  • Town of Calamus, Dodge County / Purchase snowplow truck / $118,000
  • City of Fox Lake, Dodge County / Refinance bonds dated 9/23/2008 / $316,500
  • Village of Rochester, Racine County / Purchase defibrillators / $63,750
  • Town of Wyoming, Iowa County / Purchase tractor and accessories / $50,000

The BCPL operates entirely on program revenue, without taxpayer money, and distributes more than 96 cents of every dollar of interest earned on BCPL State Trust Fund investments to Wisconsin’s public schools.  The 2018 earnings of $35.7 million provide the sole source of state funding for K‑12 public school library materials.

A list of 2018 library aid received by each public school district is available at: (http://bcpl.wisconsin.gov/docview.asp?docid=28530&locid=145).

Established in 1848 by the State Constitution, the BCPL consists of the Secretary of State Doug La Follette, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, and Attorney General Brad Schimel.  The BCPL manages the Common School Fund, which was created in Article X of Wisconsin’s Constitution, as a permanent endowment to benefit public education.

To learn more about the agency, visit http://bcpl.wisconsin.gov.

Boivin campaign: Constitutional conservative & mental health professional announces run for Congress

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Contact: Brian DeRoy – Communications Director
[email protected] 608-352-0370

District native, son of an autoworker and gay Christian conservative, Boivin will deliver unique perspective as Speaker Ryan’s replacement

JANESVILLE, Wis. – Conservative Christian Dr. Brad Boivin announced his candidacy for Congress to replace the retiring Speaker Paul Ryan.

“I’m running to make politics work again,” declared Dr. Brad Boivin. “It’s time we get back to the basics of being a government of We, The People, where government empowers people and gets out of their way.”

Dr. Boivin is a mental health professional who treats people tackling addiction. As a citizen, he worked with the Wisconsin legislature to reform state law to increase access to addiction treatment by an estimated 500%, and did so without costing taxpayers a penny.

“As a mental health professional, I’m ready to use my healthcare experience and conservative principles to end the opioid epidemic,” Dr. Boivin said. “I’ve seen how welfare traps people in a system of despair that ultimately steals hope and dignity from them. This must change.”

As his campaign launch video shows, Dr. Boivin grew up in Janesville and is the son of an autoworker and administrative assistant. He is a Constitutional Conservative, whose Christian faith is deeply rooted. Boivin is gay and came out in 1994.

“As a Christian, a conservative, and a gay man, I learned to fiercely defend my Conservative principles and my Christian beliefs, which is why I am a strong defender of religious liberty today,” Boivin said.

Dr. Boivin says politicians on both sides of the aisle in Washington are ignoring the people.

“Like most grassroots conservatives, I find it shocking that Republicans in Congress passed a bloated omnibus budget that throws money at sanctuary cities and Planned Parenthood while not even securing our border. Let’s build The Wall already and pass President Trump’s agenda.

“Too many politicians won’t tell you what they’re going to do in office,” continued Dr. Boivin. “Well, I’m not a politician.”

That’s why Dr. Boivin is releasing his “My Word to Wisconsin” pledge.

“Growing up in Janesville, I learned that my word is my bond and my handshake seals a promise,” Dr. Boivin said. “Wisconsin, you have my word and I want you to hold me to it.”

MY WORD TO WISCONSIN:

Stop Wasting Your Money

  • No More Bloated Omnibus Budgets
  • Defund Sanctuary Cities
  • No More Tax Dollars for Abortion Providers
  • Actually Repeal and Replace Obamacare

Keep The Swamp Out of Your Pockets and Out of Your Lives

  • Protect the Tax Cuts and Promote Economic Freedom
  • Defend Religious Liberties
  • Protect the 2nd Amendment
  • Cut Regulations on Small Businesses

Protect America and American Workers

  • Build The Wall, Already
  • Defend Your Right to Work and Promote Worker Freedom
  • Do Whatever It Takes to Serve Our Veterans
  • Support Our Military and First Responders

Value Life and Restore Hope

  • End Opioid Epidemic and Stop Flow of Drugs into Our Communities
  • Remove Government Regulations that Interfere with Addiction Treatment
  • End Hopelessness and Generational Cycle of Poverty Created by a Broken Welfare System
  • Defend Life and End Human Trafficking

“We are at our greatest as a nation when we draw on our faith in God, hope in America’s future and love for our fellow citizens,” Dr. Boivin concluded. “As your Congressman, these core American values, my conservative principles, and most importantly, my word will guide my service and actions.”

Bolen campaign: Let’s think bigger: Superior refinery provides opportunity

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Contact: Phone: (715) 798-1825

Email: [email protected]

SUPERIOR – Today, candidate for Wisconsin’s 25th Senate District, James Bolen released a statement following his press conference asking Husky Refining to expand its operations in Superior, Wisconsin:

Recently, the Superior refinery sustained significant damage as a result of an explosion at the facility. Twenty people were injured, but thankfully, there was no loss of life. I pray those injured will have a full and speedy recovery.

Those who responded quickly to prevent further damage—both human and environmental—should be commended for their quick response. Fortunately, the owner, Husky Refining has safeguards in place that prevented even greater damage.

After the post-explosion investigation is completed, I am asking Husky Refining to not just rebuild the damaged facility but to expand it. The Superior refinery has been a cornerstone industrial facility in the region for 60 years. There are many families that depend on the good-paying, family supporting jobs the refinery provides. It is the largest employer in Superior. A decade ago, then owner, Murphy Oil, drew up plans to expand the facility. With Wisconsin’s improved business climate, now is the time to act on that idea and expand the facility. If elected as the state senator for the 25th District, I will make it a priority to help rebuild the Superior refinery and, if possible, expand it. I will use my experiences building relationships and finding resources to make this vision a reality.

Wisconsin and America’s economy are growing in large part because of affordable energy. In previous decades, the main beneficiaries of low crude oil prices have been the oil producing states. Wisconsin workers can benefit by refining more products right here in northern Wisconsin. Among the products the Superior refinery produces is asphalt. Paving contractors across northern Wisconsin have an advantage by having a local source of asphalt produced close to home. As a result, our local governments and local communities benefit. Additionally, the plant produces propane which many families across northern Wisconsin depend on to heat their homes.

America’s renaissance is directly tied to affordable energy. Abundant sources of crude oil and natural gas have contributed to more jobs, a growing economy and less dependence on hostile foreign governments. Wisconsin has a terrific asset in the Superior refinery. Let’s use that strength to build a stronger North.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin: Congratulate First Lady Walker on receiving SAMHSA Special Recognition Award

On Behalf of Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin, we would like to congratulate you on receiving the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Special Recognition Award for your pioneering work to promote Trauma Informed Care in Wisconsin. You are shifting the perspective – and the entire conversation – across Wisconsin and the nation.

Largely due to your work, our state has been a leader of incorporating Trauma-Informed Care and the science of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) into policy and practice. The Menominee Nation, Waupaca County Department of Health and Human Services, and the Sojourner Family Peace Center are just three of the leaders creating lasting change for Wisconsin’s children and families through Trauma-Informed Care. We stand with these organizations in our work on TIC, SEL and ACES at our 159 club sites across 57 cities and regions in our state.

Your ongoing efforts have made it evident that addressing trauma requires a multi-pronged, multi-agency public health approach. We have followed your work closely, and will be integrating trauma informed care into a number of our club activities and programs in the upcoming years. We look forward to continued partnerships with your office and other state entities to ensure Wisconsin is first in the nation on being Trauma Informed!

We are watching with enthusiasm all the work you are doing on this critical topic, which is instrumental to the well-being of our communities and our youth. Again, congratulations on the well-deserved recognition and award.

Sincerely,
Andrew Gussert
State Director, Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin

Brostoff-WILL open records settlement to cost state $1,800

Taxpayers are on the hook for more than $1,800 following a new settlement in an open records case.

The deal came about after the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty sued Rep. Jonathan Brostoff earlier this year because the Milwaukee Dem declined to provide emails to a WILL researcher in electronic form.

In response to the 2017 WILL records request, which asked for electronic copies of emails relating to occupational licensing reform, Brostoff’s office printed off thousands of pages of documents and charged the group $3,240. WILL in its February lawsuit argued Brostoff should have provided electronic records as requested.

As part of the settlement agreement, Brostoff agreed to provide the emails to WILL electronically and cover the group’s court costs and attorney fees, amounting to $1,822, the group said.

Department of Justice spokesman Johnny Koremenos said the amount would be covered by the Assembly Chief Clerk’s office’s existing budget.

Brostoff said in a statement yesterday he decided to print off the documents WILL had asked for in its open records request last year because of advice from Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller.

“Speaker (Robin) Vos and the Chief Clerk should examine their caucus policies and guidelines to take into account recent court rulings,” he said, referencing a recent Dane County judge’s order that Republican Rep. Scott Krug release records electronically to Madison journalist and Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council President Bill Lueders.

The state DOJ in March appealed the ruling.

A spokeswoman for Vos, R-Rochester, did not return a call seeking comment. Fuller did not respond to an email.

Brostoff also knocked WILL over the lawsuit, saying: “The fact that an extreme right-wing group like WILL is going after a strong, progressive Democrat shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.”

WILL President Rick Esenberg countered that WILL prioritizes open government and has “opposed efforts by both Republicans and Democrats to resist government transparency.”

“Rep. Brostoff can try to change the subject by pretending to be a victim, but that won’t change the fact that he tried to play fast and loose with the law and got caught,” he said.

Asked why the state decided to settle in Brostoff’s case and release the records electronically, Koremenos said in an email Brostoff and Krug were following the Assembly Chief Clerk’s office policy, and he noted ensuing lawsuits — from WILL and Leuders — both sought to challenge the policy.

He also stressed the suits didn’t represent “a ‘left vs. right’ and ‘right vs. left’ fight.”

“Since DOJ is already litigating the case involving Rep. Krug, we did not want to waste taxpayer resources fighting another case on the same issue,” he said.

By Briana Reilly

Brown County Deputy Exec. Flynt: Seeks declaratory judgment

Media Contact:
Deputy Executive Jeff Flynt
(920) 448-4083

County Preemptively Strikes to Avoid Further Wasting of Taxpayer Money

(Brown County, Wis.) – Today, County Executive Troy Streckenbach is taking preemptive action to finally resolve any alleged uncertainty surrounding the County sales tax needlessly caused by the actions of the Brown County Taxpayers Association (BCTA) and Milwaukee special interest group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL).

“I believe it is in the best interest of the taxpayers of Brown County to resolve this legal issue quickly,” says County Executive Troy Streckenbach. “The BCTA, through their initial lawsuit and their subsequent filing of an official claim, has created uncertainty and having uncertainty at any level of government is not a good thing – especially as we start preparing the 2019 budget. The County doesn’t have bottomless pockets like BCTA, who’s engaged a special interest group to foot the bill.”

The County’s Debt Reduction, Infrastructure and Property Tax Relief Plan, which came about after months of study and analysis, relies on a temporary, 72-month half-percent sales tax that will be used to cut Brown County’s debt in half by over $70 million, cuts up the credit card by not issuing any new debt, saves $40 million in interest payments, reduces the property tax rate and retires debt service levy.

“The BCTA continues costing Brown County taxpayers with this long, drawn out legal process based upon, in my opinion, a meritless claim,” said Patrick W. Moynihan, Jr., Chairman of the Brown County Board of Supervisors. “There seems to be a theme coming from the BCTA leadership…It’s easy to sue if you’re not the one paying the bill.”

Brown County Exec. Streckenbach: Advocating for Brown County in D.C.

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Media Contact:
Deputy Executive Jeff Flynt
(920) 448-4083

County Executive Advocates for Southern Bypass among Other Local Issues

Brown County – On Tuesday, May 22nd, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach will embark on a mission to Washington D.C. in order to advocate on behalf of Brown County to Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation and the White House.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to talk with Wisconsin’s delegation and the White House to inform them of the issues important to Brown County and Northeast Wisconsin,” says Streckenbach, who serves as President of the Wisconsin County Executives and Administrators Association. “It’s important that they understand how they can help ensure our strong financial health and commitment to Northeast Wisconsin.”

Executive Streckenbach will spend his time in the nation’s capital meeting with Wisconsin’s Legislative leaders and the White House to discuss topics such as federal funding for local and regional infrastructure like the Southern Bypass, Port of Green Bay, and Green Bay-Austin Straubel International Airport, along with Mental Health services like trauma informed care and community treatment options for dealing with the scourge impacting our local communities like the opioid crisis.

The County Executive was invited by the White House to talk about County-related issues facing the State of Wisconsin.

Brown County Exec. Streckenbach: Participating in Dark Sky exercise

Media Contact:
Deputy Executive Jeff Flynt
(920) 448-4083

Brown County Testing Response to Emergency Disasters

(Brown County, Wis.) – Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach, along with Brown County Emergency Management staff, municipal and agency officials and others, will be participating in the statewide “Dark Sky” exercise on Tuesday, May 15th.

“It’s important that we as a county take part in these emergency response exercises to better prepare ourselves in the event they happen,” says Executive Streckenbach. “Brown County must be ready if and when the time comes for disaster response so that our residents can remain safe.”

During Tuesday’s exercise, Brown County will test a full activation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and also test a briefing/transfer of command between the two operational periods. Officials will also practice a changeover between operational periods by having a transfer of information from one period to the next. There will also be a Joint Information Center (JIC) that day to help coordinate public information during such a disaster.

“The full-scale exercise will involve a terrorist attack that escalates into a long-term power outage and natural gas outage across multiple counties in Wisconsin,” says Brown County Emergency Management Director Jerad Preston. “It’s important that we have participation from a number of different agencies so that we can stay true to what would most likely occur during a disaster of this magnitude.”

Bryce campaign fundraiser 🗓

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Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 

Please Join Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce for Congress

5:30-7 PM

Puddler’s Hall

2461 S. St. Clair Street

Milwaukee, WI 

Host Levels:

Host: $1,000 each

Sponsor: $500 each

Patron: $250 each

$50 suggested contribution

Donate Online at: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/mke4ironstache

Checks Payable to: Randy Bryce for Congress

Questions? Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Bryce campaign: Bryce Calls on Ryan to Resign

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For Immediate Release: May 22, 2018
Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]

RACINE, WI – Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce is calling on Speaker Ryan to resign immediately.

“Now that some members of the GOP have turned their back on Paul Ryan by plotting to remove him as Speaker, he is clearly most concerned with party politics and not the voters in Southeast Wisconsin. The people of the First District deserve a Congressman who will actually represent them and fight for their interests, not one who is going to dedicate the better part of a year to fundraising for other Republican Representatives across the country. Voters in Southeast Wisconsin were going to reject Ryan in November– and now some in his own party are abandoning him too. He should give up his speakership and resign now in order to help address the needs of working families, rather than the needs of his legacy.”

About Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. After graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. After returning stateside, Randy was diagnosed with cancer, which he survived, but only after struggling through the bankruptcy that came with the medical bills. Once in remission, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an iron worker, a trade he’s now been practicing and fighting to protect from anti-labor laws for nearly 20 years. Randy currently resides in Caledonia, WI with his son, Ben, who attends public schools like his dad. Randy joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in Summer 2017.

Bryce campaign: Bryce releases statement on Santa Fe High School shooting

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Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]

RACINE – Randy Bryce released the following statement regarding the Santa Fe High School shooting:

“This is shameful and yet another tragedy that could likely have been prevented. The school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas is the latest example of the dangerous and systemic issue we face in our country, and it’s reached epidemic proportions. Too many politicians who are in the pocket of the gun lobby have said that anyone who speaks up for comprehensive and common sense gun reform is politicizing the situation–I don’t think demanding our children be safe is politicizing anything–it’s what we should expect from our elected officials.”

“This could have been my son– this could have been any of our children. Our hearts go out to the kids and families at Santa Fe High School, but that is not enough. This is the third shooting in the past 8 days, and the twenty-second shooting in 2018 (citation)–and it’s only May. Children all over the country are terrified to go to school–they don’t want our thoughts and prayers. They want real reform. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to their safety. The time for talk has long passed–every one of us has to decide: will you stand with those politicians and the gun lobby who put profits over people, or will you stand for the safety and security of our children.”

Bryce campaign: Bryce turns in nomination signatures to qualify for the ballot

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Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]

RACINE – Today, the Randy Bryce campaign turned their nomination papers with the maximum amount of 2,000 signatures needed to qualify for the ballot in November.

“Since April 15, our 200+ county captains partnered with over 100 new volunteers to go from neighborhood to neighborhood circulating nomination papers for Randy Bryce,” said Communications Director Julia Savel. “Our field program has canvassed the district, collecting well over the 2,000 signature limit. You can feel the support for Randy across the district and voters are excited about Randy’s commitment to building a bigger table. We are looking forward to being on the ballot in November.”

Bryce campaign: Calls on Steil to disclose his position on net neutrality

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

RACINE, WI – The Randy Bryce campaign released the following statement prior to the upcoming Net Neutrality vote in the Senate.

“83% of Americans from both sides of the aisle support Net Neutrality (citation) — meaning this should not be a partisan issue– but Trump, Ryan, and their allies are making it one. Once the recent Net Neutrality decision goes into effect in June, there will be nothing to stop the handful of companies that control a majority of Americans’ access to the internet from slowing down content or blocking political opinions they disagree with,” said Communications Director Julia Savel. “The free exchange of ideas on the internet is in jeopardy, and Ryan’s hand-picked replacement Bryan Steil has yet to figure out his position on this clear-cut issue. Tomorrow, senators will cast their vote to keep Net Neutrality or to side with corporate special interests. The people of Wisconsin’s 1st district deserve to know where Bryan Steil stands on Net Neutrality.”

About Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. After graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. After returning stateside, Randy was diagnosed with cancer, which he survived, but only after struggling through the bankruptcy that came with the medical bills. Once in remission, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an iron worker, a trade he’s now been practicing and fighting to protect from anti-labor laws for nearly 20 years. Randy currently resides in Caledonia, WI with his son, Ben, who attends public schools like his dad. Randy joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in Summer 2017.

Bryce campaign: Calls on Steil to To Reject Donations from Pharmaceutical Companies Fueling the Opioid Crisis

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

RACINE, WI – With a record number of opioid overdose deaths in Wisconsin last year, and a 109 percent increase in emergency room visits due to the crisis (citation), Randy Bryce issued the following statement:

“The opioid epidemic is ripping Wisconsin families apart and costing billions of dollars, while profits soar for the companies that make and distribute the drugs that are flooding our communities. Unlike Paul Ryan, who received $175,000 in campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry this year, more than any other member of Congress, I will not take a penny from the big pharmaceutical corporations that fund and fuel the opioid epidemic. I challenge Ryan’s chosen replacement, Bryan Steil to do the same. Wisconsin families and communities deserve a leader who will put their interests first.”

Bryce will not accept contributions from corporate PACs in his campaign for Congress.

Bryce campaign: Congratulates Amy McGrath and Stacey Abrams

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

Randy Bryce released the following statement after Tuesday’s elections.

“Yesterday, Democrats in Georgia and Kentucky made history. Amy McGrath and Stacey Abrams fought hard to win their primaries, and I am proud to have backed both of them throughout their races. We need more candidates like Stacey Abrams and Amy McGrath who will fight to build a bigger table for all working people.

Amy McGrath is not your typical politician. My fellow vet wasn’t groomed from an early age to run for office. But, by fighting for the fundamental right to healthcare, better public education, and a fair living wage, Amy is well on her way to becoming a Member of Congress.

Stacey Abrams is an unapologetic champion of progressive solutions for the problems working people face—problems she’s experienced firsthand. If elected in November, she would be the first Black woman our country has ever elected Governor, and just the fourth Black governor ever elected nationwide. With Black women underrepresented in politics, we need someone like Stacey Abrams.

But this fight is far from over– we need to come together to make sure we elect these two strong, progressive women. When working people work together, there is nothing we can’t do.”

Bryce campaign: Dolores Huerta endorses Randy Bryce

Contact: Lauren Hitt, 443-370-3205, [email protected]com

To honor May Day, Bryce is marching with other Latinxs and immigrants today

RACINE, WI – Today, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta officially endorsed Randy Bryce to represent the First Congressional District of Wisconsin.

“Randy Bryce has dedicated his life to strengthening unions and fighting for all working families,” said Huerta in a statement. “His efforts to bridge divides in Southeastern Wisconsin is what we need to have spread throughout the country. When Randy wins Paul Ryan’s seat, we will send a message to candidates that when they stand up for all working people, they win.”

In honor of May Day, and the continuing struggles workers face, Bryce will participate in the “Day without Latinxs and Immigrants” March in Waukesha, today. More details are available here.

Bryce campaign: Issues statement on Teacher Appreciation Day

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

RACINE, WI –  Randy Bryce released the following statement on Teacher Appreciation Day:

“Every day our teachers have to fight to get the resources and support they need. It’s simple: when we take care of our teachers, we take care of our kids. Our teachers aren’t demanding outrageous luxuries– they’re fighting for the wages they need to survive. In Wisconsin, teachers are seeing lower pay and fewer benefits because of the elimination of collective union bargaining rights implemented by the Walker administration. I stand with the Wisconsin teachers that are fighting to get the respect all our educators rightfully deserve.”

About Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. After graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. After returning stateside, Randy was diagnosed with cancer, which he survived, but only after struggling through the bankruptcy that came with the medical bills. Once in remission, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an iron worker, a trade he’s now been practicing and fighting to protect from anti-labor laws for nearly 20 years. Randy currently resides in Caledonia, WI with his son, Ben, who attends public schools like his dad. Randy joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in Summer 2017.

Bryce campaign: Issues statement on Wisconsin gun violence statistic

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

RACINE, WI – A new report released by Kid Forward (citation) found that in 2016, Wisconsin saw the highest number of children killed by gun violence, the most deadly year since 2003.

“In 2016, 33 children died in Wisconsin because of guns. This is a crisis, period. We should be standing up to protect our children from gun violence, but instead, our representatives in Washington are kicking the can down the road and cashing checks from the NRA. This has got to stop. In Congress, I will support universal background checks, raising the age of purchase, and banning assault rifles and bump stocks.  We need our representatives to do their jobs and keep our children safe,” said Randy Bryce.

Bryce campaign: Raised $700,000 halfway through Quarter 2 

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

Campaign sustains a robust cash on hand amount going into the final six months of the cycle 

Racine, WI – The Randy Bryce for Congress campaign released the results of their fundraising efforts thus far in the second quarter of 2018, today. So far in this quarter the campaign has raised $700,000, and has nearly $2.5 million cash on hand. With $5.5 million raised since the campaign’s launch, the Bryce campaign has raised more than any other Democrat running for Wisconsin’s First Congressional District in the last twenty years, with 6 months still to go. The majority of those donations came in from small contributions, with an average contribution of $25. The campaign also dramatically grew its number of donors for a total of 121,000 total donors. Since Ryan’s decision to not run for re-election, fundraising efforts for Bryce’s insurgent campaign have remained strong.

“Some political observers thought Ryan’s departure would cause Randy’s fundraising to dry up, but our continued strength proves that this race isn’t about D.C. insiders — it’s about the working people our broken political system has left behind,” said Bryce’s campaign manager, David Keith. “This is because our campaign was never just about beating Paul Ryan — since day one Randy’s message of building a bigger table has resonated with working families across the district. We’ve been on air throughout the district for over two months and have a uniquely strong field program that communicates with voters every day. These factors, coupled with our campaign’s strong fundraising, should make the GOP very, very scared.”

About Randy Bryce
Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. After graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. After returning stateside, Randy was diagnosed with cancer, which he survived, but only after struggling through the bankruptcy that came with the medical bills. Once in remission, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an iron worker, a trade he’s now been practicing and fighting to protect from anti-labor laws for nearly 20 years. Randy currently resides in Caledonia, WI with his son, Ben, who attends public schools like his dad. Randy joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in Summer 2017.

Bryce campaign: Randy Bryce continues to call for ICE to be abolished

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For Immediate Release: May 29, 2018
Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]

RACINE, WI — Following the Congressional testimony (citation) that over 1,500 immigrant children were lost after being taken into government care at the U.S. border, Randy Bryce released the following statement.

“It’s simple: ICE has abused their power and lost thousands of children. These kids were taken into government care because they showed up alone or were separated from their parents at the border– most of them fleeing drug cartels, gang violence, and domestic abuse. They came to America in search of a better life, but what they got was a living nightmare.

When tax payer funded agencies abuse their power, stray so far from their mission, and act in such contradiction with our shared American values, we must question whether that agency should exist at all. I have called to abolish ICE for months — and every day we let this unconstitutional, unlawful, and immoral organization exist is another day we let children be ripped apart from their families and get lost while the government sits idly by.”

About Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. After graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. After returning stateside, Randy was diagnosed with cancer, which he survived, but only after struggling through the bankruptcy that came with the medical bills. Once in remission, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an iron worker, a trade he’s now been practicing and fighting to protect from anti-labor laws for nearly 20 years. Randy currently resides in Caledonia, WI with his son, Ben, who attends public schools like his dad. Randy joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in Summer 2017.

Bryce campaign: Releases statement on Farm Bill negotiations

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]randybryceforcongress.com

RACINE, WI –  Randy Bryce released the following statement regarding the upcoming Farm Bill vote and ongoing negotiations.

“Paul Ryan and his Republican cronies are taking a page from the Scott Walker playbook with a heartless plan that would take SNAP benefits away from up to 2 million people (citation). These cuts haven’t helped working families in Wisconsin, and they won’t help working families or local farmers around the country. What was once a bill that had broad bipartisan support has been unnecessarily politicized as the GOP desperately tries to convince the public that their party is fiscally responsible — after they gave a $1.5 trillion tax cut to the 1%. The consequences of this sham of a bill could be dire — in Wisconsin alone, as many as 23,400 children could go hungry (citation).

It’s simple: millions of working families rely on SNAP benefits, but Paul Ryan, Scott Walker, and their Republican colleagues don’t seem to care. It’s clear that special interests and corporate donors come first.”

Bryce campaign: Statement on Sterling Brown video

Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]

RACINE, WI – Randy Bryce released the following statement about the Sterling Brown arrest video.

“What happened to Sterling Brown is inexcusable. He had a parking violation. He should have simply gotten a parking ticket. Instead, a group of Milwaukee police officers slammed him to the ground, tased him, and used offensive and racist language. This is shameful and absolutely unacceptable. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Young Black men and women across America are being unlawfully stopped, arrested, beaten, and killed– simply because of their race. It is time politicians stand up and do something before more men and women are traumatized by police brutality.”

Bryce campaign: Statement on Supreme Court private arbitration case

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Contact: Julia Savel, 973-525-5579, [email protected]

RACINE, WI – Randy Bryce released the following statement on the Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis case.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision upheld the right for bosses and corporations to give their workers an ultimatum in their employment letter– sign a gag order or face unemployment. Many workers face all too common problems like sexual harassment and wage discrimination, and now they’re left with no legal option but to try and take their claims to their bosses’ hand-picked arbiter in mediation. This is a slap in the face to everyone who works for a living and a massive blow for worker’s rights. Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat, and now working people are suffering.”

About Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce is a U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker. He was raised in southeastern Wisconsin, and went to public schools. Randy’s father was a police officer, and his mother worked in a doctor’s office. After graduation, Randy enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was posted to Honduras, where he earned the Army Achievement Medal. After returning stateside, Randy was diagnosed with cancer, which he survived, but only after struggling through the bankruptcy that came with the medical bills. Once in remission, Randy found his way to an apprenticeship as an iron worker, a trade he’s now been practicing and fighting to protect from anti-labor laws for nearly 20 years. Randy currently resides in Caledonia, WI with his son, Ben, who attends public schools like his dad. Randy joined the race for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District in Summer 2017.

Bryce campaign: Steil misleads on manufacturing background

Contact: [email protected]com

RACINE, WI – In an interview on Sunday, Republican congressional candidate Bryan Steil repeatedly referred to his “nine years in manufacturing” as one of his credentials for representing the First District. But until pushed by the interviewer, Steil failed to mention that his experience was actually as the attorney for two different manufacturing companies. When confronted by the interviewer with the fact that “you’re not actually a manufacturer,” Steil claimed that “my focus in particular was business development, so how to grow those companies and how to grow jobs for those companies.” (full transcript) But contrary to Steil’s claim that he helped create more good-paying manufacturing jobs, news reports show that Steil served as the corporate attorney for one of those manufacturing companies when they moved jobs from the Midwest to Mexico (citation).

“Not only does Bryan Steil not understand the challenges working families are facing, but he actually contributed to them, by helping to move good paying jobs overseas,” said Bryce campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt. “He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and now he wants to go to Washington to protect tax cuts for the wealthy and to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Bryce-backer Pocan nudging Barca not to run for 1st CD, staying neutral in Dem guv primary

Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan is nudging longtime friend Rep. Peter Barca not to run for the 1st CD.

Pocan, who is endorsing Randy Bryce in the Democratic primary, told reporters at a news conference Monday in Madison he’s relayed his concerns to the Kenosha Dem and former leader of Assembly Democrats.

“I think I tried to explain the realities that are out there. It’s difficult to put a campaign together in three and a half months before a primary. And let’s face it. An ironworker scared away the speaker of the House of Representatives from running. That speaks volumes,”said Pocan, D-Town of Vermont.

Barca, who said he hopes to make a decision in “days, not weeks” on a congressional bid, stressed he has a “long, positive, strong relationship” with Pocan and the two had a “good, solid” conversation. He said Pocan noted how late it is to be getting into the race, Bryce’s head start on fundraising and other factors that the congressman believed would make a bid harder.

Still, Barca said it was not a contentious conversation and he didn’t believe Pocan was necessarily trying to dissuade him from running.

“I’ve been a member of Congress before so it’s not like I don’t understand what it takes to run a congressional race,” said Barca, who was the last Dem to hold the seat after winning it in a 1993 special election and then losing in the 1994 GOP wave.

Pocan also quipped Dems couldn’t ask for a better Republican opponent than Bryan Steil, a corporate attorney.

“I think it’s amazing they couldn’t find a single sitting elected official in the district that decided they’d like to move up to Congress,” he said. “I like corporate attorney versus iron worker. I think it’s a great contrast.”

Pocan says he’s staying out of the Dem guv’s race, and that his role is simply to prevent infighting among the candidates.

“I think there are a number of really good candidates, and I want to make sure we take the governorship back. So I think the best role I can play is just trying to make sure that everyone realizes who they’re trying to defeat, and it’s not each other,” he said.

And unlike State Superintendent Tony Evers and Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, Pocan doesn’t believe the Dem field is a one or two-person race. A recent poll commissioned by Soglin showed 30 percent of voters would back Evers in August, while 17 percent would support Soglin.

Soglin said the poll signifies a two-person gubernatorial race, while Evers said it means he’s leading a one-person race.

Pocan acknowledged Evers might have the “inside track,” but that the next top candidates are anyone’s guess.

He said any of the candidates could win in November. He added one piece of advice he’s providing each gubernatorial candidate is to bash the Foxconn deal, which he says is “radioactive toxic” among voters across the state.

He’s also urging gubernatorial candidates to be authentic, a characteristic he thinks voters increasingly value in candidates for elected office.

“Don’t go up there and give a measured speech; don’t be afraid to speak your mind, even if people might disagree with you,” Pocan said. “Beyond that, be for school funding, be for improving our infrastructure, be for a different set of development than Foxconn.”

Hear the audio:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/rep-pocan-news-conference-4302018

Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Scott Walker continues to sabotage quality affordable health care

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Contact: Robert Kraig

(414) 322-5324

[email protected]org

Web version here

Uses authority from Trump Administration to allow sale of dangerous substandard health plans
BadgerCare Public Option is a better way to increase access to affordable, quality health coverage

Statewide: Tuesday the Walker Administration built on its 7-year record of sabotaging the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by permitting the continued sale of substandard “lemon” health plans through the end of 2019 on the individual and small group markets.

The move shows that Walker’s dramatic change in tone in his State of the State Address, where he claimed to want to stabilize the Wisconsin individual health insurance market, was nothing more than empty an promise during an election year. The individual health insurance marketplace has been buffeted by years of sabotage by Congressional conservatives, President Trump, and the governor himself. The failed effort by Trump and Congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA without any viable replacement sparked a powerful public resistance which has made expanding the right to health care a first tier issue in the 2018 elections.

In a bulletin published by Walker’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) on May 29, the agency announced that it was using new authority created by the Trump Administration in April to permit the sale of so-called “transitional” health plans until December 31, 2019.  According to the OCI, this rule “provides insurers relief” from provisions of the ACA which “guarantee the availability of coverage;” prohibit “pre-existing condition exclusions or other discrimination based on health status;” “guarantee the renewability of coverage;” and guarantee “comprehensive health insurance coverage.”

Citizen Action of Wisconsin has documented over the years that these substandard “lemon” plans increase health insurance prices on the ACA marketplace by skimming off healthier people. According to the Rand Corporation allowing the sale of such substandard plans increases ACA premiums by as much as 10%.

Perhaps most importantly, these transitional plans leave individuals without access to healthcare. Big insurance corporations tout low premiums to draw lower- and middle-class customers, and then leave them holding high medical bills.

That may be the cruelest part of this policy– it causes premiums to rise on high-quality plans, forcing families to choose these “lemon plans.” Insurance corporations get to make money two ways: raising premiums on quality plans and not having to pay out many claims on “lemon plans.”

If Governor Walker really wants to make high quality healthcare more accessible and affordable for individuals and small businesses, he could take the following steps:

  1. Open BadgerCare to everyone in Wisconsin by creating a public option using the highly successful BadgerCare program. This would reduce premiums and deductibles by an average of 38% compared to private health insurance. It would help people who buy insurance as individuals as well as small businesses.

  2. Reverse his disastrous decision to turn down the Medicaid expansion money provided by the ACA. This would reduce premiums by about 7%, help healthcare providers by increasing reimbursement rates, and allow people to access the healthcare they need.

“Scott Walker is still trying to rig the healthcare system against Wisconsin families who need access to quality affordable coverage. The only party who benefits from the continuation of lemon health plans is the insurance industry, which is allowed to continue to profit by separating people who have pre-existing conditions with those who do not,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Walker now finds it politically convenient in an election year to pretend to care about health care costs, but his refusal to effectively use the power of state government for the public benefit makes it impossible for him to meaningfully address the affordability crisis.”

Link to news release https://www.citizenactionwi.org/scott_walker_continues_to_sabotage_quality_affordable_health_care

 

City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance: Milwaukee Pride says ‘no thanks’ to tobacco funding

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Contact: Anneke Mohr (414-270-2948; [email protected])

Milwaukee—Twenty LGBTQ and allied health organizations are applauding Milwaukee Pride for saying “no thanks” to Big Tobacco funding for this year’s PrideFest celebration. This big step forward builds on the Milwaukee Pride board’s decision last year to provide several tobacco-free spaces to promote the health of all PrideFest attendees.

“The past several festival seasons have been ones full of progress, change and advancement. We’re proud to make a commitment to respectfully declining Big Tobacco sponsorship and support in an effort to continually educate and engage people about the health risks associated with smoking. We understand and respect the individual’s right to make decisions on their own, however, we are fully committed to supporting our community partner’s efforts in reducing cigarette use across the board. We’re excited about the increased community activation and support for promoting positive health messaging and resources for those who need them,” said Wes Shaver, President, Milwaukee Pride Board of Directors.

“Milwaukee Pride’s decision to decline tobacco money is a big win for LGBTQ health,” said Gerry Coon, President and CEO of Diverse and Resilient, which is the recipient of PrideFest’s Plus One campaign this year. “Especially the health of LGBTQ youth. Milwaukee Pride is to be applauded for putting the health of Pride-goers first.”

In the past, Milwaukee Pride has received sponsorship funding from a promotional agency on behalf of a tobacco company and in exchange allowed them to promote menthol cigarettes and offer coupons to attendees to purchase their products at a deep discount.

No more. Twenty organizations invested in the health and well-being of LGBTQ individuals sent a letter to the Milwaukee Pride board asking them to say “no thanks” to Big Tobacco. Although the organizations understand that Big Tobacco money helped to offset the costs of organizing PrideFest, they were alarmed by the promotion of menthol cigarettes at this annual celebration of the LGBTQ community’s vibrancy. After all, LGBTQ individuals smoke at almost twice the rate of the general population, and menthol tobacco products are more addictive, more dangerous, and harder to quit than non-flavored cigarettes. The higher smoking rate is in part due to the tobacco industry targeting the LGBTQ community and people of color to encourage them to smoke and become addicted to their products—with devastating health consequences.

“Big Tobacco is not a friend to LGBTQ individuals and people of color,” said Lorraine Lathen of the Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network. “By reducing the availability of inexpensive tobacco products at PrideFest, its organizers are helping to establish the next generation of tobacco-free youth and making it easier for long-time smokers to quit with the support of their peers.”

To show their support for Milwaukee Pride’s decision to say “no thanks” to tobacco funding, nine different community groups—including Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center, Froedtert Hospital, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Diverse and Resilient, City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance, Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network, Wisconsin Tobacco Prevention and Poverty Network, Pathfinders, and UMOS—have contributed a total of $11,000 to offset the tobacco money the festival is losing and will be recognized as sponsors.

“Milwaukee Pride’s decision shows that the LGBTQ community can survive—and thrive—without tobacco,” said Anneke Mohr, City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance Coordinator.

To learn more about the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance contact Anneke Mohr at [email protected] or 414-270-2948.

City of Waukesha: Recognized by the Wisconsin Policy Forum

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Contact: Shawn N. Reilly, Mayor

Phone: 262-524-3697

Email: [email protected]

Waukesha, WI (May 31, 2018) – The City of Waukesha is proud it will receive, along with the City of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Policy Forum’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Award. The “Salute to Local Government” Awards recognize “governments and school districts for innovative problem solving, effective use of technology, partnership, and cooperation.”

“Last year, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and I made a historic announcement of a water agreement between Waukesha and Milwaukee,” Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said. “This was an important collaboration for the common good of our residents and businesses. We are proud to receive this award which we hope will lead to additional partnerships in the future.”

Waukesha’s current groundwater supply is unsustainable. It contains natural contaminants, including the carcinogen radium. The agreement to obtain Lake Michigan water provides a new water supply for Waukesha at a lower cost than other suppliers. It also provides a new source of funds for Milwaukee, providing mutual benefits for decades to come. Reaching that agreement set a new precedent for cooperation that could extend to other important regional issues.

The tentative deal was announced by Mayors Reilly and Barrett on October 30, 2017, with a ceremonial toast of Lake Michigan water. At the event Mayor Barrett called the new partnership “the most significant intergovernmental cooperation agreement in southeastern Wisconsin history.”

History became official on December 20, 2017, as Mayors Reilly and Barrett were joined by leaders from both cities to sign the regional cooperative agreement. Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in early 2020.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum award presentation will take place on Tuesday, June 19, 2018 at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee.

Clean Wisconsin: Statement on Meteor Timber’s petition for review by DNR secretary

Contact: Evan Feinauer, Clean Wisconsin, 608-251-7020 ext. 21 (office) or [email protected]

MADISON, WI —Clean Wisconsin made the following statement upon submitting a response to Meteor Timber’s petition for review by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Dan Meyer on the recently reversed wetland fill permit:

“Meteor Timber’s request that the Secretary, a political appointee, overrule the decision of an impartial administrative law judge is inappropriate and asks the Secretary to act beyond his legal authority. If the company does not agree with the judge’s decision, there is an authorized process for appealing that decision to a Circuit Court judge who will serve as an impartial decision maker.

“It’s disrespectful to the legal process and our environmental laws to ask the Secretary to overstep his legal authority and overrule a judicial opinion that was reached after a week-long evidentiary hearing, including hours of testimony from expert witnesses, extensive legal briefing by all parties, and a complex record.”

“Meteor Timber should not have made this request of Secretary Meyer and we ask him to decline to become involved in the judicial process. We will continue to defend our state’s wetlands every step of the way.”

Committee to Elect a Republican Senate: Wisconsin Democrats want a Foxconn failure

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2018
Contact: [email protected]

Campaigning to take away thousands of new Wisconsin jobs

[Madison, WI] — Senator Shilling and the Democrat caucus are continuing their anti-job tour throughout Wisconsin. Sadly, the rhetoric from Wisconsin Democrats is largely aimed at taking away thousands of new jobs for our state. The Committee to Elect a Republican Senate released the following statement today from Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald:

“It’s one thing to vote no on a bill in the legislature because you don’t agree with the public policy, and another to hope, pray, and hold rallies cheering for Wisconsin workers to fail.

“Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac County is thriving, thanks to the bipartisan work of Governor Jim Doyle and Republicans in the legislature. That’s how we work together in Wisconsin to get things done for hard-working families. Apparently, today’s Democrats do not believe in fighting for a more prosperous Wisconsin.

“Senator Shilling and Wisconsin Democrats are crossing their fingers and hoping that Foxconn and Southeastern Wisconsin fail. The Senator and her caucus have sunk to a new low in trying to appease their far-Left base – even if it means costing Wisconsin thousands of new jobs. It is disgusting.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus: Opposes Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement

Press Contacts:
Geoff Nolan (Grijalva)
Ron Boehmer (Pocan)
Emma Lydon (Lee)
Hamid Bendaas (Ellison)
Jeronimo Anaya-Ortiz (Schakowsky)
Jaimie Woo (Doggett) 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chairs Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), released the following statement opposing President Trump’s announcement that the United States will violate the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by reinstating all sanctions on Iran that had been waived by the accord:

“By unraveling the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump is dismantling a landmark achievement in U.S. diplomacy and disregarding the fact-based findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s verification program, which has certified Iran’s compliance at least 10 times. We stand with the heads of state and hundreds of parliamentarians across the political spectrum in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the European Union by voicing our strong support for the JCPOA, which eliminated both the risk of an Iranian nuclear weapons program and drastically reduced the threat of war with Iran.

“The Congressional Progressive Caucus will work in Congress to vigorously oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to destroy the JCPOA. An exit from the agreement and a re-imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran only weaken U.S. credibility abroad; undermine our ability to facilitate a peaceful, diplomatic solution in the Korean Peninsula; and empower Iran’s hardliners, while laying groundwork for unnecessary military confrontation.

“We urge our European partners to uphold and protect President Obama’s and Secretary Kerry’s signature foreign policy accomplishment by maintaining economic and diplomatic cooperation with Iran in exchange for its continued compliance with the deal. President Trump’s reckless rhetoric and decisions do not reflect the will of the vast majority of Americans, who believe the JCPOA serves our national interests. We speak on behalf of millions of Americans who believe in diplomacy and a future in which the United States and Iran can have more constructive relations.”

Conservative Energy Network: Midwest voter support for clean energy continues to grow

Contact: Mark Pischea, 517-927-1089

Region’s Conservative Voters Want Candidates to Support Clean Energy Expansion, Monopoly Reduction

Lansing, Mich – According to newly released polling commissioned by the Conservative Energy Network (CEN), an examination of Midwest responses across the board demonstrates more than 82 percent of Midwest voters surveyed indicated it is important for elected officials to share their views on energy. Conservatives expressed strong support for acceleration of clean energy development, particularly when such development improves the economy and creates jobs.

“Clean energy is not just about powering homes, cars, and buildings – more and more, it’s also about powering our state and local economies,” said Mark Pischea, president of the CEN, which supports and connects state-based conservative clean energy and energy efficiency organizations across the U.S. “Midwesterners overwhelmingly acknowledge our nation’s inevitable transition to clean energy, and want all policymakers, including conservatives, to play a greater role in participating in the development of policies that facilitate that transition.”

Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies (POS), one of the nation’s top GOP polling firms, conducted the polling and unveiled this new data. POS found that a majority of voters increasingly want national and statewide policies that encourage the generation and use of electricity from renewable and clean energy sources.

“A majority of voters, including those who voted for President Trump, are supportive of our nation’s clean energy transition, understand the inevitability of such transition, and desire policies that encourage it—in contrast with many politicians seeking the status quo,” said Bolger. “In particular, voters want more electricity competition—the freedom to choose who generates their power and what source it comes from, whether that be renewables like hydro, solar, and wind power, or even clean coal.”

Additionally, the poll showed overwhelming voter support toward encouraging competition in the electricity market (see chart below). Voters were asked how they would vote on a referendum in their state to open and establish competitive electricity markets, and prohibit the creation of monopoly electricity utilities. This is the essentially the same referendum language that voters in Nevada approved in record numbers in November of 2016.

From a policy perspective (see chart below), 94 percent Midwestern voters want more opportunities to realize energy efficiency savings in their states, and 91 percent believe the state should not restrict a property owner’s ability to do what they want with their land – including adding solar panels or even a wind turbine.

Other significant findings from the survey include:

  • 74 percent of Midwesterners want more emphasis placed on solar development, 65 percent want more wind and 54 percent want more hydropower. They are less excited about biomass and “clean coal” at 31 percent each, and nuclear, which is at 25 percent while 30 percent want less of it. Only 16 percent want more coal while 56 percent want less.
  • Midwestern voters rank efficiency upgrades as the most important policy objective at 94 percent, followed by property owners’ right to develop renewable resources on their land at 91 percent, community solar at 87 percent, data access to monitor energy usage at 84 percent, and allowing third party Sales at 79 percent.
  • 86 percent of all Midwestern voters agreed that their state should pursue an “All of the Above” energy policy, 45 percent strongly agreed.
  • 73 percent of Midwesterners think a candidate who supports clean energy policies cares more about their family’s future, while only 21 percent wants a candidate who “prefers keeping things the way they are now”.

Pischea concluded: “Midwestern voters are ready for a change. According to this poll they want access to clean, affordable energy and they want candidates who are committed to help make that happen. This is true of all demographics, including Republicans, conservatives, and Trump voters. All experts seem to agree that 2018 is going to be a challenging year for Republicans. To overcome this political environment, GOP candidates will need a way to communicate with key independent voters—including college educated voters, young voters, and women—that does not alienate their base. Being able to articulate a positive clean energy message will be critical to that strategy.

“The Conservative Energy Network brings together conservatives from all backgrounds to help our states and nation lead the world’s clean energy economy by building support for policies that grow the sector and are consistent with the conservative principles of individual liberty, less government, and free markets.”

The poll surveyed 245 voters across the region from February 10 – 14. The margin of error is +/- 6.3%. Midwest states included in the sample wereIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasMichiganMinnesotaMissouriNebraskaNorth DakotaOhioPennsylvaniaSouth Dakota, and Wisconsin

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Announces Land Acquisition for Cherokee Marsh Which Will Increase Conservation Efforts and Recreational Opportunities 

Stephanie Wilson Miller
Communications Director
Dane County
608.267.8823 o
920.470.4618 c

Today Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced a grant to Groundswell Conservancy for over 100 acres of land that will add to the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource area. The 2 separate parcels, 95.5 acres in the Village of DeForest and 10.9 acres in the Village of Waunakee, will protect lake quality for Lake Mendota and will connect public ownership making land management of the wetland easier and more efficient. It will also vastly increase recreational opportunities for year round hiking, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching and natural appreciation.

“I am proud to partner with Groundswell Conservancy to increase access to recreational activities, clean up our lakes and manage our natural resources more efficiently,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “The addition of these properties to our conservation efforts will ensure their enjoyment for years to come.”

Village of DeForest Property:

The larger property connects County land to the west and Department of Natural Resources’ land to the southeast.  A portion of its southern boundary is made up of 2750 feet of Yahara River frontage. The property is level, open wetland and is part of the largest remaining wetlands in the County.

The property will provide migration and nesting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds while also providing river bank protection for spawning northern pike and water quality protection of Lake Mendota.  The connection will also provide continuity for public recreation.

Groundswell Conservancy will partner with the County, Department of Natural Resources and the Friends of Cherokee Marsh to restore the wetland and manage habitat. Acquisition of this parcel will protect additional wetland within the Cherokee Marsh wetland complex, provide wetland habitat for wildlife and recreational opportunities for the public.   

The project costs for the acquisition total $214,640. The acquisition costs will be provided by funds from Dane County, the Department of Natural Resources’ Knowles Nelson Stewardship Grant Program, a small North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant and funds from Groundswell Conservancy.

Village of Waunakee Property:

Groundswell Conservancy will purchase approximately 10.9 acres in the Village of Waunakee.  The property is located on a plateau that overlooks the Cherokee Marsh, Yahara River valley and is located within the boundary of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resources Area. Acquisition of the land would fill a gap in conservation ownership between the Westport Drumlin Preserve/State Natural Area and conservation lands on the west side of Cherokee Marsh.  The property would also provide land for local food production, which falls under the Agriculture, Gardening and Foraging initiative .

The landowner currently leases the land to local farmers and Groundswell would continue this practice, making the land available to immigrant farmers for subsistence and market growing. Community GroundWorks, a non-profit that manages 26 acres of community farms and agricultural programming at Troy Gardens on the north side of Madison, has committed to partnering with Groundswell to manage the leases and the infrastructure on the property.

The landowner is donating half of the value of the land to Groundswell Conservancy as well as a perpetual conservation easement on the remainder of her farm. The land and the easement will allow a pedestrian trail linking the Westport Drumlin Preserve with County owned land ease of River Road.   

The project costs for the acquisition total $107,590, Dane County will fund $26,897.00 in County matching funds.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Announces Land Acquisition to Double Size of Verona’s Fireman’s Park

Stephanie Wilson Miller
Communications Director
Dane County
608.267.8823 o
920.470.4618 c

Land Includes Public Access to Popular Sugar River

Today Dane County Executive Parisi announced a grant will be awarded to the City of Verona to purchase 13.1 acres of land that will double the size of the Verona’s Fireman’s Park and contains over 1/3 mile of Badger Mill Creek, a tributary to the Sugar River.

“Protecting our beautiful natural resources is critical to ensuring our high quality of life in Dane County,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “I am proud of all the conservation efforts Dane County has lead. This is another important part of our efforts to increase access to outdoor recreational activities.”

The majority of the land consists of wetland and consists of Badger Mill Creek, a “cool water fishery” which has the potential to sustain some trout populations. Acquisition of the property will create opportunity to improve habitat for fish and wildlife and provide public access for public recreation including hiking and fishing. The City intends to remove invasive woody plants and reestablish an open meadow with natural walking paths allowing access to the Badger Mill Creek. The City will partner with Trout Unlimited, the Upper Sugar Watershed Association and the Department of Natural Resources for habitat and streambank improvement and management of the parcel.

The project costs for the acquisition total $80,200 with Dane County contributing $20,500. The remainder of the acquisition costs will be provided by funds from the City of Verona.

This is just the most recent step in the investment into the popular Sugar River area. In February Dane County purchased a 60 acre parcel in the Town of Montrose that contains a meandering stretch of the West Branch of the Sugar River and a public hunting easement of an additional 110 acres. The new land will have a new fishing easement along the Sugar River to make it easier for trout fishing in the popular fishery. The land was be purchased for $636,000. The purpose of the purchase and easements is to provide permanent public fishing and hunting access, protect water quality and preserve fish and wildlife habitat.

In 2015 Dane County acquired more than 100 acres south of Paoli, a property that includes over 4,800 feet of frontage on the Sugar River and is known as the Sugar River Basco Unit Wildlife Area. This is after the County’s historic acquisition that forever protected more than 450 acres and several miles of the Sugar River just north of Paoli. That property, now named the “Falk Wells Sugar River Wildlife Area,” has since had parking areas developed to improve outdoor recreation and access to the river for fishing, kayaking and canoeing.

The County added new hiking trails and bridges which opened in 2017 at the Falk Wells Sugar River Wildlife Area. In County Executive Parisi’s 2018 budget he allocated $75,000 for a multi-year restoration of the Sugar River to improve the health of the fishery and ease of navigation. He also added a new Restoration Crew, modeled after state counterparts at the Wisconsin DNR. These teams will be trained in restoring waterways and help accelerate the conversion of natural spaces.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County creates national model for helping people with opiate addiction

Stephanie Wilson Miller
Communications Director
608.267.8823 o
920.470.4618 c

Safe Communities Pilot Program had 90% Success Rate, Program Now Launching Countywide

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Safe Communities announced an expansion of a successful pilot program to help people who struggle with opiate addiction. Dane County will be a national model for Opioid treatment after this expansion due to the 90 percent success rate of the pilot program. The County is working with Safe Communities to increase the referral network of recovery coaches for anyone that is struggling with an opioid addiction. In addition to all area hospital emergency departments, the Dane County Jail, and to pregnant women, this summer recovery coaches will be offered through Dane County police departments and EMS agencies. Area police and EMS agencies will distribute recovery coach contact information to community members struggling with opioid addiction. This is the most robust recovery coach program in the country.

“This expansion will increase the availability and opportunities for treatment,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We want an all hands on deck approach to addressing this opioid crisis. This has affected more of our neighbors and community members. Alcohol and Drug Treatment programs are available through the County but alone will not solve the problem. We must be sure to take full advantage of opportunities to guide those burdened by addiction to the help they need.”

The program was modeled after a successful program in Rhode Island, where experts in treatment intervene with overdose patients in emergency rooms, shortly after their medical conditions are stabilized. County Executive Parisi included $15,000 in his 2017 budget to match dollars from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation to pilot the program. The pilot started in the Emergency Department at SSM Health St. Mary’s November 1, 2017. In coming weeks, programs will launch at Unity Point Health Meriter and Stoughton Hospital EDs, which means all area emergency departments will offer recovery coaching services. UW Hospital and American Center Emergency Departments, and St. Mary’s Hospital and SSM Health – Sun Prairie Emergency Departments have programs underway.

“This epidemic has caused so much pain in our community,” said Skye Tikkanen from Safe Communities. “Safe Communities along with our partners: Dane County, our local health care organizations, and first responders is happy to alleviate some of that pain through this evidence-based intervention. This brings us one step closer to being able to support every Dane County resident that struggles with a substance use disorder at the time, and in the way they want.”

Coaches can be referred to any emergency department patient that presents as having opioid use disorder, not just those treated for overdose. For instance, if an individual is admitted due to complications with a pregnancy, or is suicidal, and emergency department medical staff identify opioid use as an issue, patients can be referred to recovery coaches. Patients admitted to a medical floor from the emergency department for another condition and who have an underlying opioid use disorder can be matched with a recovery coach. In 2017, the program reached 43 participants with an average of 90% having a confirmed intake at treatment.

In addition to emergency rooms, Safe Communities is partnering with Journey Mental Health to connect recovery coaches with inmates scheduled to be released from jail who opted to participate in the vivitrol program. Recovery coaches have attended orientations, received required clearances from the jail, and began attending Journey’s vivitrol patient groups in the jail. Five recovery coaches have been trained and assigned to the program, all of whom are in long term recovery and served time in jail for drug related offenses. This program began connecting coaches to people being released from jail in May.

The program will also help pregnant women who are struggling with addiction. Three recovery coaches are assigned to the program, all of whom are in long term recovery and used substances while pregnant. The pregnancy coach program began at SSM Health in February 2018.

Recovery Coaches are state-certified and have training on motivational interviewing, basic counseling techniques, and appropriate self-disclosure. Coaches are people in recovery who have had the same experiences as the patients that they will serve.

In addition to this program, Dane County funds many other drug and alcohol related services and recently announced it will be filing a federal lawsuit against the pharmaceutical drug manufacturers and wholesale drug distributors for their role in causing and fueling the opioid epidemic in the Dane County community.

Dane County EMS agencies administered 701 doses of narcan in 2016 and this increased to 901 administrations in 2017. A total of 13 opioid involved deaths occurred in 2000, but that number skyrocketed to 85 in 2016. The rate of heroin involved deaths has more than tripled since 2000, from 3.0 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 10.1 per 100,000 people in 2016.

Overall, Dane County has allocated a significant amount of resources to help those struggling with opioid addiction. Approximately $7.5 million made up Dane County’s 2017 Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment budget. There was $733,000 in grant revenue from the state and federal governments that specifically provided treatment to those using opiates and using drugs intravenously in Dane County’s 2017 budget. Of the Dane County residents receiving county-funded treatment, 30 percent were seeking treatment for problems with using opiates.

In the County Executive’s 2017 budget he allocated funding for a permanent opiates counselor position to assist with deferred prosecutions in the District Attorney’s (DA’s) Office due to an increase in cases. Dane County spends $230,000 on this program. The additional staff doubled the program’s capacity, keeping more people out of jail and getting help for the root causes of their addiction. The deferred prosecution program works with non-violent opiate addicts to help assess what help they need and get them that treatment. Participants comply with weekly drug testing, face to face meetings with their counselor, take part in programming for their challenges and work to rebuild their relationships. Since its inception in 2013, the program has helped 157 participants.

Dane County has also been operating a drug court since 1986 that provides prosecution and sentencing alternatives to the criminal justice system for persons with substance abuse problems. The court services Dane County residents who are referred on felony non-violent drug driven charges who are at medium or high risk to re-offend. Graduates of this year-long program can have charges reduced or dismissed and have periods of incarceration reduced or eliminated.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County Honors foster parents during national foster care month

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MADISON – In honor of National Foster Care Month, the Dane County Department of Human Services is raising awareness of the vital role foster parents play in the lives of Dane County’s youth, and the need for more foster parents for teens.

The awareness campaign, “Turn A Life Around,”  kicked off May 2nd at the State Capitol. The campaign is a partnership between the State Department of Children and Families  and the Coalition for Children, Youth and Families to highlight the need for foster parents throughout the State.

“I want to thank all the amazing foster parents out there,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “We appreciate all you do for children in Dane County. Please consider fostering children, the need is always more and good stable homes are critical to a child’s development.”

Children and teens may enter Wisconsin’s foster care system every day due to a number of hardships. When they do, the children and teens are in need of kindness, stability, and support.

In Dane County, 218 children and youth are currently in foster care. Another 37 children and youth are in court-ordered care with relatives.

The need for foster parents for teens is particularly great in Dane County. 41% of the children in Dane County’s foster care program are aged12 and over, but only 19% of the County’s foster homes care for youth in that age range.

Dane County Human Services is in constant need for teen foster homes, and foster homes who will take siblings of any age.  For many children, this help in their time of need can turn their lives around.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a foster parent in Dane County, call 242-6303 or visit our website at http://fostercare.dcdhs.com.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County secures grant to bolster lakes cleanup efforts

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Today Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced there will be more boots on the ground to help clean up our lakes because of an $80,000 grant the Land Conservation Division in the Land & Water Resources Department has been awarded from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). Starting this summer, the grant dollars will be used to fund a conservation specialist to work directly with farmers on ways to reduce runoff.

“People care deeply about our lakes, that’s why we continue to use every means possible, from the most advanced state of the art technology to the most basic practices like the farm to farm work this new position will do, to clean them up,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We’re committed to a comprehensive approach that preserves these waters that provide so much for our quality of life.”

The position will assist with implementation of Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation planning and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) grants under the county’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant targeting conservation work with agricultural operations and landowners in the Yahara River Watershed.

Dane County was one of only six counties in Wisconsin to win this grant from the NACD. A resolution to approve the position is before the County Board for consideration. Once approved, the new conservation specialist will work with farmers to implement new practices good for both their lands and water quality.

This new work begins as Dane County’s $12 million multi-year project known as “Suck the Muck” gets underway in the Lake Mendota watershed. The cornerstone of Parisi’s 2017 Dane County budget, “Suck the Muck” is designed to clean-up sludge with high concentrations of phosphorus from 33 miles of streams that feed directly into the lakes. When complete, the innovative project will remove 870,000 pounds of phosphorus, responsible for algae growth, from area waters.

The county is also in the process of conducting an analysis of where new digester facilities could be located to most effectively treat manure and potentially process it into biogas or other byproducts of economic value. That report detailing the feasibility of potential future digester sites is due back later this year.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County to cap landfill, convert lands with prairie for pollinators

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Communications Director: Stephanie Wilson Miller

608.267.8823 o

920.470.4618 c

Today Dane County announced that pollinators such as bees and butterflies will soon have a new home at the Dane County landfill. Dane County is currently taking proposals to plant native prairie grass on over 90 acres at the Rodefeld Landfill along with land owned by Dane County Solid Waste in the Town of Westport. The goal of the project is to use county owned lands to increase habitat for pollinators that have been in decline and are critical to the food we eat.

“Pollinators such as honeybees have seen a devastating population drop due to such factors as lack of habitat and pesticides,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This proposal to restore our county-owned land to support honeybees and other insects is one step we can take to be part of the solution.”

40 acres of the restoration will be done when part of the Rodefeld Landfill is capped off Highway 12/18. The remaining lands being converted (approximately 56 acres) are located in the Town of Westport off Easy Street adjacent to the Dane County Law Enforcement Training Center. Wisconsin has seen significant losses in honeybee colonies in recent years, declining greater than 60% alone in 2014-15.

In 2015, the Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force recommended that the county plant pollinator-friendly plants on permanently capped portions of the landfill. The native grasses that will be planted later this summer will provide both nectar and pollen sources and also provide nesting habitat to 70% of over 400 bee species that nest in the ground. Pollinator declines are due to a number of causes: pests, pathogens, habitat loss, nutritional deficiency, insecticide exposure, and extreme weather events (e.g., drought or winter cold).

Scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and hummingbirds. Bees are the primary pollinators for our fruits and vegetables as they gather pollen to feed their young. Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollinators to reproduce.

 

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Joins DA Ozanne to announce new domestic violence efforts

Stephanie Wilson Miller
Communications Director
Dane County
608.267.8823 o
920.470.4618 c

New Alarms Will Save Lives

Today Dane County Executive Parisi and District Attorney Ozanne announced Dane County will be purchasing emergency alarms and radios that will be placed in the homes of those at risk of being victims of domestic violence. The alarms will connect directly to the Dane County 911 Center, triggering an automatic police response when activated.

“Those about to commit an act of domestic violence now need to think twice before going through that door, wondering if the next step they take toward a victim will be the one that sets off an alarm on police radios across this county,” Parisi said.  “These alarms will save lives and are an important tool to help those in the most danger to have police respond as quickly as possible.”

The alarms are being bought through a combination of county dollars and a $100,139 Victims of Crime Act grant Dane County successfully applied for through the federal government.  Dane County is contributing $26,040 to the project, a 20% match to the grant.  The dollars will help purchase five of the alarm systems and a resolution approving the local share of funding will be introduced at this week’s County Board meeting.

Domestic violence is too common. The Dane County DA’s office receives approximately 3,000 referrals each year from law enforcement for domestic violence related crimes. National statistics show that less than 1/4 of domestic violence is ever reported to law enforcement. Nationally, one in four women and one in seven men will be the victim of physical or sexual assault at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime. In 2017 alone Domestic Abuse Intervention Services in Dane County fielded more than 18,000 calls on our 24-hour help line.

“We are trying to protect victims who may be in imminent danger,” said District Attorney Ozanne. “With a lack of emergency housing, home alarms provide a needed tool in providing safety options to victims and their children.”

The new alarms are Dane County’s latest initiative at confronting domestic violence.  Just a couple of years ago, County Executive Parisi allocated $2.5 million in county dollars to help complete the fundraising campaign to construct the new domestic violence shelter for DAIS on North Sherman Avenue.  Along with helping build that shelter to help serve more victims, Dane County has a Social Worker in the Adult Protective Services Unit, who is partially funded by a VOCA Grant and addresses issues of domestic violence in later life.  Dane County also has a Commission on Sensitive Crime Community Coordinated Response and contracts with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services for legal services, crisis intervention, and hotel vouchers for $249,430 a year.  Dane County Human Services also addresses the consequences of domestic violence in other areas of the Department, especially Child Protective Services, and other purchased services address these issues in the context of the family services that we contract for.

“DAIS is incredibly grateful to be part of a strong network of partners in Dane County working collaboratively to support victims of domestic violence with serious safety issues,” said Shannon Barry Executive Director for DAIS. “Additional Emergency Home Alarms and radios for victims utilizing the services of the District Attorney’s office Crime Response Program will have a significant impact for victims who are the most at risk of potential homicide by their batterers.”

Dane County Sheriff Mahoney fundraiser 🗓

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Wednesday, May 23
5 – 6:30 p.m.
Fundraiser for Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney
Hosted by Barbara DeMain
52 White Oaks Lane
Madison

Suggested contribution at the door: $50. All contributions gratefully accepted

Contact: Melissa Mulliken
3306 Gregory Street
Madison, WI  53711
608/231-3859
608/206-1818 (cell)

DATCP: Blue means go: A DATCP sticker means you are getting what you paid for at the pump

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Media Contact: Jerad Albracht, Senior Communications Specialist, 608-224-5007 or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020

Note: A sample image of the DATCP inspection sticker is here.

MADISON – Hitting the road this Memorial Day weekend? If so, you’ll likely need to fill up your tank before you start your journey. If you see a Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) inspection sticker on the pump, you can be confident that our weights and measures inspectors have tested that unit and found it to be accurate.

DATCP checks gas pumps statewide to ensure that consumers are getting the appropriate amount of fuel for their money, and our annual inspection numbers show that Wisconsin businesses take that responsibility seriously. In 2017, DATCP inspectors tested 38,209 grades of fuel at pumps statewide. Consumers received either the accurate amount of fuel or extra fuel 99.8 percent of the time in these tests.

When checking fuel pumps, DATCP inspectors and city sealers test for accuracy, check for tampering and credit card skimmer devices, look for leaks, verify posted price signs, test fuel quality, and ensure that the customer displays are working and are accurate.

For even more protection in a fuel purchase, Wisconsin consumers can:

  • Check the price per gallon on the pump to ensure that it matches the street sign.
  • Verify that the price display reads zero before opening the nozzle.
  • Check the total price after filling up to ensure that it computed properly.

Tell the store management immediately if there is a problem at the pump. If you wish to file a weights and measures complaint with DATCP, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call 608-224-4942.

So if you fill up in Wisconsin before you hit the highway this weekend, check for a DATCP inspection sticker or a city seal at the pump so you can focus on the road…not your wallet.

Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer or Twitter: @wiconsumer.

DATCP: Camping this summer? Leave firewood at home

Contact:  Donna Gilson, 608-224-5130, donna.[email protected]
Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020,  [email protected]
 

MADISON – As you kick off your summer camping and cabin season this Memorial Day weekend, don’t be the one who brings emerald ash borer, gypsy moth or other pests and diseases to new homes in Wisconsin.

“Buy it where you burn it,” says Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “State parks require that firewood be brought from no more than 10 miles away. National forests require it to be purchased within 25 miles. Many private campgrounds prohibit bringing in firewood at all. And if you live in a county that’s under quarantine for gypsy moth, it’s actually illegal to take firewood to a non-quarantine county. The only exception to these regulations is when you buy firewood marked with the DATCP certification.”

While the entire state of Wisconsin is now quarantined for emerald ash borer, there are still large areas where EAB has not been found.  Slowing the spread of both gypsy moth and EAB to these areas can give communities and property owners time to prepare, by treating high-value trees or planting other species, and spreading costs over time. But it’s not only EAB and gypsy moth that threaten Wisconsin’s forests. Oak wilt and other pests and diseases can also be spread on firewood.

“It’s never a good idea to move firewood,” Kuhn says. “We strongly advise against it. You can’t just look at wood and see pests. They may be inside of it, or they may be microscopic pathogens. In the balance of things, the health of our North Woods – and all the jobs and wildlife that depend on it – is worth spending a few dollars to buy firewood instead of hauling it from home.”

For more information about EAB and gypsy moth and the quarantines aimed at slowing their spread, go toemeraldashborer.wi.gov and gypsymoth.wi.gov.

DATCP: Counties sought to host Alice in Dairyland finals

Media Contact: Rick Hummell, 608-224-5041 [email protected]
Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020 [email protected]

MADISON – Organizations interested in promoting their county’s agriculture industry are encouraged to consider serving as a host county for the Alice in Dairyland Finals in an upcoming year.

Each year, a different county hosts a series of Alice in Dairyland Finals events leading up to the selection of the next Alice in Dairyland. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection currently is accepting bids from counties to host Alice Finals in the following years: 2020 (73rd Alice in Dairyland), 2021 (74th Alice in Dairyland) and 2022 (75th Alice in Dairyland). Proposals are due by June 18, 2018.

Local economic development organizations and agriculture promotional organizations are encouraged to consider this opportunity to welcome to their county visitors and media professionals from around the state. The planning process begins at least a year in advance, including scheduling Alice in Dairyland to attend events in the county monthly to promote the finals and learn more about the impact of agriculture on that county. In mid-March, the host county holds a press conference to officially announce the top candidates for the next Alice in Dairyland.

The hosting process culminates in a three-day Finals event in which the new Alice is selected. During these three days, top candidates tour agribusinesses, give interviews with local media, hold a discussion panel for the public, and finish with the Finale event in which a new Alice is selected. The discussion panel and Finale events are open to the public as ticketed events and include opportunities to showcase local businesses, agri-tourism and other county highlights.

Adams County is serving as the host county for this year’s 71st Alice in Dairyland Finals. The host county for the 72nd Alice Finals will be announced later this month.

“Hosting the 71st Alice in Dairyland Finals has been a great experience for Adams County,” said Tori Babcock, co-chair, Adams County Alice in Dairyland Committee. “The county has come together to not only promote agricultural opportunities, but to work together to showcase a number of unique features. The committee also was excited to work with groups generally not associated with agricultural, such as our Historical Society and the Friends of the Roche-A-Cri State Park.”

Babcock added, “Our monthly events, where we worked closely with 70th Alice in Dairyland Crystal Siemers-Peterman, provided the county with the opportunity to get to know Crystal, as well as highlight agriculture and adventure opportunities here in Adams County. My recommendation for any county ‘thinking’ of becoming a host county is to just do it! The partnerships that are developed between your committees, your sponsors and event hosts are connections that will exist to further promote agriculture in future years.”

Alice in Dairyland is a communications professional employed by the DATCP. After a lengthy public job interview involving as many as six finalists, each Alice works for one year to educate the public about Wisconsin agriculture.

Learn more or download an RFP at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/AliceInDairyland.aspx or by contacting Alice in Dairyland Program Director, Ti Gauger at 608-224-5115 or [email protected]

DATCP: Green County to host 2019 Alice in Dairyland finals 

Media Contacts: Rick Hummell, 608-224-5041 [email protected]
or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020 [email protected]

MADISON – Green County will host the 72nd annual Alice in Dairyland Finals events in May 2019. Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Assistant Deputy Secretary Keith Ripp made the announcement Saturday, May 19 during the Finale event for the selection of the 71st Alice in Dairyland, held in Adams County.

Agriculture provides more than 32 percent of the jobs in Green County, and approximately $2 billion in economic activity, or nearly 50 percent of the county’s total economic activity. Dairy farming is the major agricultural industry in Green County. On-farm production and milk sales account for $165.7 million, and processing milk into dairy products generates another $1.29 billion. Green County farmers own and manage more than 300,000 acres, or more than 80 percent, of the county’s land. This includes cropland, rangeland, pasture, tree farms, and farm forests.

Alice in Dairyland is a communications professional who works to educate the public about Wisconsin agriculture. Each year, a new Alice is selected from a group of candidates during an extended public job interview process, and, each year, a different county hosts the finals. Kaitlyn Riley of Gays Mills will start work June 4 as the 71st Alice.

Throughout her year, Riley will attend numerous events in Green County to promote its agricultural industries and the events leading up to the selection of the 72nd Alice in Dairyland, which will take place May 9-11, 2019.

The annual Alice in Dairyland interview process includes the three-day finals event each May, as well as a two-day briefing event several weeks earlier. These events include press conferences, agribusiness tours, interviews with local media, and speeches. Some of the final interview events are open to the public and include opportunities to showcase the host county’s local businesses and products.

Learn more about the Alice in Dairyland program at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/AliceInDairyland.aspx

DATCP: Gypsy moth aerial spraying to begin in May

DATCP Contact: Christopher Foelker, 608-224-4581, christopher.[email protected]
DNR Contact: Jodie Ellis, 608-266-2172, [email protected]wisconsin.gov

Western and central Wisconsin counties to be treated for gypsy moth May through August

MADISON — Residents of 15 western and central Wisconsin counties can expect to see and hear loud, low-flying planes as early as sunrise, starting in early-mid May. Small yellow planes will be treating for invasive gypsy moth caterpillars, which may defoliate many kinds of trees, causing stress and potentially tree death. The DNR and DATCP are leading the treatment efforts against the gypsy moth.

“These aerial treatments are the most efficient and effective method to reduce the risk associated with gypsy moth outbreaks,” says Christopher Foelker, DATCP gypsy moth program manager. “Where this insect is well established in eastern North America, it has been a periodic public nuisance and damaging forestry pest.”

These counties will have treatment sites: Barron, Bayfield, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Crawford, Dane, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Green, Lafayette, Rusk, and Vernon.

The gypsy moth has a wide range of harmful effects on local communities. Removing dead trees can cost from several hundred to over one thousand dollars. Loss of mature trees decreases property value. During spring and summer, caterpillars shed bristly skins multiple times while growing. Airborne bristles from the cast skins may irritate people’s eyes, skin, and respiratory system, and contact with the bristles may cause a rash.

Know what to expect

Timing

Treatment applications depend on calm winds, with high humidity and no precipitation. Planes may start applying as early as 5 a.m. and continue until the completion of the day’s plans, as long as weather conditions remain favorable. The planes fly very low over treatment sites and surrounding areas. Applications may last into the late morning or afternoon and can occur any day of the week, including weekends.

Treatments

  • Most sites will be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki (Btk). Btk is a naturally-occurring soil bacteria. It is sprayed across the tree canopy and kills gypsy moth caterpillars eating the leaves.
  • Btk is not toxic to people, bees, pets, or other animals. However, some people with severe allergies may wish to stay indoors during nearby treatment applications.
  • The formulation of this bacterial insecticide is listed with the Organic Materials Review Institute as acceptable for use in certified organic food production.
  • An organic, biodegradable gypsy moth mating disruptor will be applied at additional sites in western Wisconsin mid-June to mid-August. The mating disruptor makes it difficult for male moths to find females in low, isolated populations, preventing reproduction.

Stay updated

Treatment dates and times are weather dependent. Sign up to receive e-mail notifications about treatment plans at http://gypsymoth.wi.gov. You can listen to a recorded message about our plans by calling the toll-free Gypsy Moth Information Line at 1-800-642-6684. Press menu option 1 for updates. You can also follow treatment progress on facebook.com/widatcp, and on Twitter at #WIgypsymoth.

Treatments are expected to begin in southern Wisconsin in mid-May and end in northern Wisconsin during August. View maps of all treatment areas on an interactive map: https://datcpgis.wi.gov/maps/?viewer=gm.

Two programs

  • The Slow the Spread Program – conducted by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, focuses efforts in western Wisconsin where gypsy moth populations are low or beginning to build. The objective is to slow the westward spread of gypsy moth. This year’s Slow the Spread treatments are planned in the following 14 counties: Barron, Bayfield, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Crawford, Douglas, Dunn, Eau Claire, Grant, Green, Lafayette, Rusk, and Vernon.
  • The Suppression Program – conducted by the Department of Natural Resources, serves mainly eastern and central Wisconsin where gypsy moth is well established. In these counties, treatments are applied to reduce the number of caterpillars and prevent damage from very high populations. This is a voluntary program that works with landowners and local governments. Seven Suppression Program treatments are planned this year in Dane County.

DATCP: Keep an eye out for Palmer amaranth, DATCP cautions

Contact:   Donna Gilson, 608-224-5130, [email protected]
                Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020, [email protected]

MADISON – Farmers and land managers planting conservation seed mixes should be on the lookout for an aggressively invasive weed called Palmer amaranth, state plant protection officials say. In addition, anyone packing and labeling such seeds must take steps to avoid contaminating the mixes with Palmer amaranth.

Under a new emergency rule in Wisconsin, Palmer amaranth is a prohibited noxious weed seed, and including it in a seed mix would be a civil or criminal violation for the seed labeler.

“Once established, Palmer amaranth can out-compete other native plants in conservation plantings, and if it gets into corn and soybeans, can cause yield losses as high as 90 percent,” said Brian Kuhn, director of the Plant Industry Bureau in the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. “This is an incredibly invasive, incredibly expensive-to-control weed. It’s been highly destructive in some of our neighboring states, and we don’t want to see that in Wisconsin.”

Palmer amaranth is a broadleaf weed that grows 2-3 inches a day. It commonly grows 6-8 feet tall, but may reach 10 feet. It has separate male and female plants, and the females may produce as many as 500,000 seeds. It is related to water hemp and other “pigweeds”, common in Wisconsin, and a casual observer might confuse the two.

Native to the southwestern United States, it has now spread to other areas of the country. In the past, it usually was spread on equipment, in feed or by wildlife, so it didn’t spread very rapidly and could be eradicated in a field fairly easily. It has been found in a handful of sites in Wisconsin where it was brought in by these methods.

But in recent years, it has gotten into seed mixes that farmers plant as pollinator habitat on conservation acreage, such as land in the Conservation Reserve Program. Left to go to seed in these areas, it spread to new areas rapidly. Iowa has had a particularly severe problem, with more than half the counties there now infected with Palmer amaranth. To date, Wisconsin has not found it in conservation plantings.

Kuhn said, “We want to keep it out of Wisconsin as long as possible. Our pest surveyors have been trained in spotting Palmer amaranth, with help from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We’ve sent information to our licensed seed labelers. And now we need landowners to join the effort.”

Anyone planting a pollinator or conservation seed mix should:

  • Be aware of what Palmer amaranth looks like. You can find many clear photos in an online image search.
  • Buy local seed mixes if possible, with no pigweed or amaranth listed on the label.
  • Thoroughly clean equipment after seeding, especially if your seed mix came from out of state.
  • Call your University of Wisconsin-Extension office if you suspect you have found Palmer amaranth.

DATCP: Nominations Sought for WI Soybean Board

Media Contacts: Rick Hummell, 608-224-5041 [email protected]
or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020 [email protected]

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is accepting nominations for two seats on the Wisconsin Soybean Board. Producers who grow and sell soybeans in Districts 2 and 6 are eligible to nominate producers or to be nominated to the board. Signed, notarized nomination forms must be postmarked by June 1, 2018.

District 2 serves Buffalo, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, St. Croix and Trempealeau counties. District 6 serves Jefferson, Kenosha, Manitowoc, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties.

A completed nomination form must include the signatures of five eligible soybean growers other than the nominee. Completed forms must also be notarized.

Eligible producers who want to nominate themselves or other eligible producers may request application materials by phone or online. Contact Debbie Gegare, DATCP market orders program director, at 608-224-5116 or email [email protected] Alternatively, visit the Soybean Market Order webpage on the DATCP website to download a nomination form: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/SoybeanBoard.aspx

Mail completed forms to WI DATCP, DAD, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911.

DATCP will conduct the Wisconsin Soybean Board election from July 15 through August 10, 2018. Elected growers will serve three-year terms beginning Sept. 1, 2018.

Learn more about the Wisconsin Soybean Board at http://wisoybean.org/

DATCP: Riley of Gays Mills selected as 71st Alice in Dairyland

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Media Contacts: Rick Hummell, 608-224-5041 [email protected]
or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020 [email protected]

ADAMS – Kaitlyn Riley has been chosen as Wisconsin’s 71st Alice in Dairyland. As Alice, Riley will work as a communications professional for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Her job will be to educate the public about the importance of agriculture in Wisconsin.

Riley, from Gays Mills, learned first-hand the passion and work ethic of Wisconsin farmers growing up on her family’s registered Jersey dairy farm. Wanting to share agriculture’s story, she studied strategic communications and broadcast journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In college, she held officer positions with the Association of Women in Agriculture and Badger Dairy Club. She also founded the university’s first agricultural radio talk show, AgChat. After graduating with honors in May, 2014 Riley served as the 48th Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs. Professionally, she worked as the farm news director at WPRE-WQPC Radio in Prairie du Chien and as a multimedia journalist with WQOW News 18 in Eau Claire.

In May, 2017 she returned to the family farm where she manages calf and heifer care. She continues sharing the stories of agriculture by freelance writing for Hoard’s Dairyman, and she volunteers with agricultural organizations such as the Crawford County Dairy Promoters, Crawford County Livestock Camp Committee, and Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

“As Alice in Dairyland, I will give a positive voice to Wisconsin’s diverse agriculture industry,” said Riley. “Through my travels, I will learn from the many faces of agriculture to better educate urban and rural audiences about the importance of Wisconsin food, fuel and fiber production in our daily lives.”

Riley was selected at the culmination of three days of final interview events in Adams County. The events included agribusiness tours, speeches, a public question-and-answer session and media interviews. The other candidates were: Kristen Broege, Janesville; Sydney Endres, Lodi; Alexus Grossbier, Elk Mound,; Jacqueline Hilliard, Wisconsin Dells; and Megan Schulte, Hammond.

Riley will start working as Alice on June 4. She succeeds 70th Alice in Dairyland Crystal Siemers-Peterman of Cleveland. As Alice, Riley will travel about 40,000 miles speaking at events and giving media interviews. She will present lessons in more than 100 Wisconsin classrooms in partnership with the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

A number of other Wisconsin organizations contribute to make Alice in Dairyland visible and recognizable to the public. For example, Schulte will wear a custom mink garment to promote Wisconsin’s fur industry, and she’ll drive an E-85 flex-fuel Ford Explorer to promote the state’s ethanol industry. While working, Schulte will wear a 14-carat gold and platinum brooch or tiara, both of which feature amethysts and citrines, gems indigenous to Wisconsin.

To schedule the 71st Alice in Dairyland for an event or classroom visit, contact Program Manager Ti Gauger at 608-224-5115 or [email protected] Follow Alice online at facebook.com/DATCPAliceInDairyland or twitter.com/Alice_Dairyland.

DATCP: Sec. Harsdorf applauds new funding for producer-led projects

Contact:   Donna Gilson, 608-224-5130, [email protected]
Bill Cosh, Communications Director
608-224 5020, [email protected]

MADISON – Two more farmer-led groups will receive funding for soil and water conservation efforts, and 17 groups will receive additional funding as a result of a recently signed bill that triples funding for Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants through 2019.

“We applaud the Governor for his leadership in calling for the increase in funding as part of his new initiative for rural communities,” said Sheila Harsdorf, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

“We’ve now had three grant cycles, and each time interest has grown. Funding requests actually tripled in 2018 from the previous year. We commend the Legislature and Governor for recognizing the importance of these farmer-led efforts in protecting and conserving our land and waters in ways that work for them.”

The program previously received $250,000 a year for grants, with funds coming from DATCP’s overall soil and water allocation. In April, the Legislature approved and the Governor signed legislation to boost the total funding to $750,000 per year during the 2017-19 biennium.

Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants provide financial support to groups of farmers willing to lead conservation efforts tailored to their own watersheds. The emphasis is on innovation and practices not already covered by other state and federal programs, and the intent is that participating farmers will reach out to other farmers to help them adopt conservation practices.

Producer groups must work with DATCP, the Department of Natural Resources, a county land conservation committee, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, or a nonprofit conservation organization. Groups may receive up to $40,000 a year. From 2015-2017, the department awarded a total of over $689,600 to 25 different groups.

As a result of the new funding, the 17 groups that received grants in January will get full funding rather than the prorated amount. Two groups that did not receive grants then will now be funded. Those groups are Farmers for Lake Country, receiving $38,375, and Pecatonica Pride, receiving $30,500. For 2019, the department will again award up to $750,000.

The department will begin taking grant applications in July for 2019 funding. For more information about producer-led project grants, visit the webpage.

DATCP: WI Cranberry Board Nomination Period Open

Media Contacts: Rick Hummell, 608-224-5041 [email protected]
or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020 [email protected] 

MADISON –The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection is accepting nominations to fill two director seats on the Wisconsin Cranberry Board. Individuals who grow and sell cranberries in Wisconsin are eligible to participate. Signed, notarized nomination forms must be received at DATCP by June 1, 2018.

Eligible producers who want to nominate themselves or other eligible producers may request application materials by phone or online. Contact Debbie Gegare, DATCP market orders program director, at 608-224-5116 or email [email protected] Alternatively, visit the Cranberry Market Order webpage on the DATCP website to download a nomination form: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/WisconsinCranberryBoard.aspx

Completed nomination forms must include the signatures of five eligible producers and must be notarized. Mail completed forms to: Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Marketing Order Program, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708-8911. Completed forms may not be scanned and emailed.

DATCP will conduct the cranberry board election from July 15 to August 10, 2018. Ballots and instructions will be mailed prior to the election. Participants may vote once, either by paper ballot or by email.

The newly elected members will serve terms beginning Sept. 1, 2018.

The Wisconsin Cranberry Board is responsible for administering Wisconsin’s Cranberry Marketing Order. The board secures and distributes funding for research, education and promotion of Wisconsin cranberries. Learn more at www.wiscran.org.

DC Wrap: Baldwin, Johnson on opposite sides of net neutrality vote

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Join WisPolitics.com and the Millennial Action Project for an upcoming Appleton event on “The Future of Work” featuring U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and state Rep. Amanda Stuck. The event is May 29 at 4 p.m. See more details and RSVP here.

Quotes of the week, May 11-17

We’re driving my generation of conservatives into obscurity if we get complacent. I don’t bring that up to make you angry or make you worry. I bring that up to suggest we need to deal with that.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, who suggested at last weekend’s GOP state convention his party is falling behind with young voters.

See more convention coverage via the WisPolitics.com GOP Convention Blog.

It was a step too soon. Giving such a huge issue away makes us look like we can’t be an honest broker.
– Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, of La Crosse, who argued the U.S. moving its embassy to Jerusalem undercuts the possibility of Middle East peace with a two-state solution.  

I can think of no other sovereign country that has had to put up with the indignant treatment of not being allowed to place an embassy in their capital city.
Republican U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, of Glenbeulah, who said in a statement the embassy’s relocation is “long overdue.”

This week’s news

— U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson ended up on opposite sides of a move to roll back recent changes to net neutrality rules, sending it to the House where it faces an uncertain future.

The issue came to the floor yesterday after Baldwin joined fellow Dems to force a vote to repeal changes the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission made in December to Obama-era rules that blocked internet providers from impeding access to websites and online services or charging higher fees for the highest streaming quality.

The bill cleared the Senate 52-47, with all Dems, two Independents and three Republicans supporting it.

Baldwin, D-Madison, touted the victory in a statement, saying in a tweet the House now “needs to take action because innovators, entrepreneurs, small businesses & consumers should have a #FreeandOpenInternet.”

But Johnson, R-Oshkosh, has previously called net neutrality an “overreach” and argued it had led to the creation of bad policy that reduced broadband investments needed to improve internet access in rural Wisconsin.

Dems were able to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress revoke agency rules via a simple majority vote instead of the 60-vote threshold typically required.

See the roll call vote.

— Baldwin and Johnson this week also signed onto a letter calling for fair trade practices for cheese producers.

The two joined 25 other senators in sending off the letter as the U.S. continues renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The letter asks U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to ensure Mexico honors current trade agreements involving the names of types of cheese. The senators expressed concern after Mexico adopted a European Union policy in April that gives EU countries exclusive naming rights to certain foods in Mexico.

The Mexico-EU agreement covers certain food names that would be considered generic in the U.S., according to a press release from Baldwin’s office.  

“Wisconsin cheese making is vital to our state’s economy and our heritage, which is why I am fighting back against any trade proposal that creates an uneven playing field for our Wisconsin businesses to compete,” she said in a statement.

— The National Republican Senate Committee is launching a new social media ad calling on Baldwin to support the confirmation of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA.

The 5-second ad, which is running on Twitter and Facebook statewide, features a cutout of the Madison Dem on one side of the screen, while text on the right side directs viewers to tell Baldwin to vote yes on Haspel.

Baldwin has not yet said whether she will back Haspel’s nomination. A spokeswoman said Baldwin hasn’t yet met with the nominee, because Haspel has cancelled two scheduled meetings. Once they meet, the spokeswoman said, “she will have a position on the nomination.”

An NRSC spokesman didn’t return a question on the size of the buy.

— Johnson this week introduced a bipartisan bill to safeguard buildings against drone threats.

The bill would let the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security protect buildings and assets to address any risks posed by pilotless aircrafts.

Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement the legislation would help the country “keep up with emergency security threats.”

“The threats posed by malicious unmanned aircraft are too great to ignore,” he said. “It is not enough to just tell drone operators not to fly in certain high-risk areas; we must give federal law enforcement the authority to act if necessary.”

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is looking at ways to cut down the national debt.

The La Crosse Dem’s bipartisan legislation, called the Wasteful Defense Spending Act, would create an 11-member commission to review the nation’s defense programs and recommend the elimination of unnecessary ones in a report to Congress. Congress would then have 90 days to vote on a joint resolution to enact the recommendations.

“Year after year, the United States spends billions of taxpayer dollars on wasteful and outdated defense programs, many of which of our military leaders have said they do not want or cannot use,” Kind said in a statement. “That is an unacceptable use of America’s hard-earned tax dollars.”

The bill was co-introduced by Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy has introduced a bipartisan bill that would create a housing voucher pilot program aimed at alleviating poverty.  

Under the bill — from Duffy, R-Wausau, and U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo. — the Housing and Urban Development secretary would be authorized to spearhead the program to encourage families receiving such voucher assistance to move to lower-poverty areas and expand access to opportunity areas, according to the bill text.  

“A major contributor to the generational cycle of poverty is the lack of employment opportunity, and this bipartisan legislation will help people relocate to areas with more opportunities and greater economic freedom,” Duffy said in a statement.

— Duffy in his latest podcast, #Plaidcast, sits down with Gov. Scott Walker at the state GOP convention to talk Star Wars, his favorite Assembly Dem, his social media presence and more.

Hear the podcast.

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, was the fastest male lawmaker in a three-mile fundraising run this week.

Gallagher finished first in the annual run for the second year in a row, with a time of 18:52.

The event is hosted by the American Council of Life Insurers and features runners from the legislative, executive and judicial branches, along with the media, according to a Roll Call report.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Ron Johnson: ‘Give President Trump a great deal of credit’ for summit with North Korean leader

‘Team Terrorists?’ Ron Johnson questions fellow Republican’s accusation against Democrat Tammy Baldwin

“Unprecedented” Outside Spending Floods into Wisconsin to Attack U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin

Republicans put heat on Sen. Tammy Baldwin over Haspel vote

7th CD Democratic primary candidate forum set for May 17 in Cable

Margaret Engebretson looks to unseat Sean Duffy

Rep. Sean Duffy says increase drug price abroad to lower prices in U.S.

Gallagher, Last Year’s ACLI Congressional Winner, Trains for Wednesday’s Race

Ron Kind touts Farm Bill tweaks to ‘work for Wisconsin farmers’

Ron Kind talks farm bill with local farmers

Roll Call: Key votes from the Wisconsin congressional delegation this week

DC Wrap: Grothman hosts Sheboygan panel on EPA pollution rules; state Dems blast farm bill

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Quotes of the week, April 27-May 3

What good does it do if everyone just keeps these little secrets? This affects all of us. I’ve seen it over and over again, the power of telling your story.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin speaking in Milwaukee for the first time publicly about her mother’s mental illness and prescription drug addiction. The Madison Dem was raised by her grandparents, but she hadn’t said why until this week, when she said she realized staying silent about mental illness and the struggles of drug addiction was no longer an option for her. Baldwin’s mother, Pamela Bin-Rella, died at age 75 in August. See more from AP.

There are 300 million guns in America today — 300 million. They’re not going away. We have all kinds of gun control on the books, and it hasn’t prevented these tragedies.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, who told an audience of high school students in Kiel he prefers tightening school security rather than imposing tougher gun regulations in response to mass shootings. See the full story from The Sheboygan Press.

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman hosted a panel this week during which he claimed EPA pollution rules are hurting business in Sheboygan County.

Grothman’s Tuesday field briefing at UW-Sheboygan, which included members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, centered on what he considers the misplacement of an air quality monitor that picks up pollution from outside the area, including Chicago, Milwaukee and Indiana.

The Glenbeulah Republican’s complaint comes as the EPA moves forward with implementing stricter air-quality regulations for ozone. In 2015 the agency lowered the acceptable level of ozone from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.

The EPA in December put parts of Sheboygan County on a preliminary list of places that do not meet its stricter ozone regulations, a decision the agency affirmed in its final ruling Tuesday.

Grothman contends Sheboygan County’s placement on that list and the stricter regulations that may go along with it are unfair.

“The most devastating consequence of this is the direct limitation on economic growth. Companies are required to jump through unnecessary hoops in order to expand, discouraging many to do so,” Grothman said in a previous statement.

He blames Sheboygan County’s classification on the EPA using an air quality monitor at Kohler-Andrae State Park. That monitor measures pollutants from urban centers to the south, not from Sheboygan County.

“More industrial areas on Lake Michigan, such as Chicago, create ozone pollution, which is blown over the lake and into Sheboygan County,” he said. “The result is higher readings for the sensors placed along the lake. The subsequent regulations imposed on Sheboygan County because of these readings do not reduce pollutants created elsewhere.”

Grothman figures Sheboygan County would meet the EPA’s ozone standards if they switched to using the Haven air quality monitor located downwind of those urban sources.

Other parts of the state that do not meet the EPA’s new ozone regulations include portions of Kenosha, Door, Manitowoc, Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties.

Missing from the list: parts of Racine County, where Foxconn’s new factory is slated to be built. 

— Democratic state lawmakers contend House Republicans will be “taking food out of the mouths of children” if they pass their current version of the farm bill.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo released by Dems shows an estimated 75,720 people, or about 11.1 percent of food stamp recipients, would lose eligibility. Those numbers are based on enrollment in September 2017.

Of that number, 23,369 are children — about 8 percent of all children currently eligible. In total, the reductions in eligibility would cut federal benefits for food stamps by about $23.8 million annually.

In September 2017, 682,924 Wisconsinites received benefits. Of those, 291,956 were children.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, blasted the findings in a news conference this week, saying: “I think it’s bad enough that Republicans have fought to give millionaires yet another tax break this season, but then to turn around and deny low-income children access to food, it’s unthinkable.”

But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, lauded the farm bill when it passed out of the House Agriculture Committee in mid-April.

“Included in this farm bill are much-needed reforms that will strengthen America’s workforce and help people move out of poverty,” the Janesville Republican said in a statement at the time. “For too long, vague and unenforceable requirements have discouraged work and left many good jobs unfilled.”

The reductions in eligibility stem from a provision in the current draft of the farm bill that would limit broad-based categorical aid, which allows people to qualify automatically for SNAP benefits if they also receive benefits from other public assistance programs.

See more on the bill in a WisPolitics.com story.


— Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan is nudging longtime friend Rep. Peter Barca not to run for his old congressional seat in the 1st CD.

Pocan, who is endorsing Randy Bryce in the Democratic primary, told reporters at a news conference Monday in Madison he’s relayed his concerns to the Kenosha Dem and former leader of Assembly Democrats.

“I think I tried to explain the realities that are out there. It’s difficult to put a campaign together in three and a half months before a primary. And let’s face it. An ironworker scared away the speaker of the House of Representatives from running. That speaks volumes,” said Pocan, D-Town of Vermont.

Barca, who said he hopes to make a decision in “days, not weeks” on a congressional bid, stressed he has a “long, positive, strong relationship” with Pocan and the two had a “good, solid” conversation. He said Pocan noted how late it is to be getting into the race, Bryce’s head start on fundraising and other factors that the congressman believed would make a bid harder.

Still, Barca said it was not a contentious conversation and he didn’t believe Pocan was necessarily trying to dissuade him from running.

“I’ve been a member of Congress before, so it’s not like I don’t understand what it takes to run a congressional race,” said Barca, who was the last Dem to hold the seat after winning it in a 1993 special election and then losing in the 1994 GOP wave.

See the full story at WisPolitics.com.

— Republican freshman Rep. Mike Gallagher is touting President Trump’s endorsement of his resolution calling for congressional term limits.

Trump’s expressed support of the resolution came during a recent bipartisan meeting in the Oval Office of freshman House members who support term limits.

The resolution would propose a constitutional amendment that would limit members of the House to six terms and those of the Senate to two terms.

Gallagher wrote on Twitter this week such a resolution is in line with the nation’s guiding principles.

“Our government should be of the people, by the people,” the Green Bay Republican wrote. “Term limits are something that both sides of the aisle should be able to unite behind.”

Milwaukee attorney Mike Brennan’s nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals could face a vote on a cloture motion next week.

The Senate’s schedule includes coming in Monday to resume consideration on a cloture motion for the nomination of Kurt Engelhardt to the 5th Circuit. The Senate then plans to take up cloture motions on five other judicial nominations, one at a time.

See the schedule.

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is applauding the passage of bipartisan opioid response legislation through the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, of which she is a member.

The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 has more than a dozen provisions, including authorization for grants supporting prevention, response and treatment.

“In Wisconsin, we have seen a growing problem of methamphetamine abuse in our state and a spike in fentanyl overdose deaths,” said Baldwin, D-Madison. “This bipartisan legislation is an important step forward and will help provide Wisconsin the tools we need to save lives.”  

The legislation now goes to the full Senate.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Sen. Tammy Baldwin shares story about mother’s drug addiction

Sen. Tammy Baldwin tells own story of mother’s struggles with addiction

Tammy Baldwin talks about late mother’s opioid addiction

Guns ‘not going away,’ Ron Johnson tells students in Kiel

Sen. Ron Johnson says people walk up to U.S. border, say a few words and are let in

Pocan Won’t Endorse In Democratic Primary For Governor

Mark Pocan: Food stamp work requirement plan ‘a farce’

Pocan: House Chaplain Ouster Shows Dysfunction

Roll Call: Key votes from the Wisconsin congressional delegation this week

Rep. Gallagher meets with President Trump on term limits

Democrat Dan Kohl disavows Nancy Pelosi, becoming latest candidate to do so

DC Wrap: Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill heads to Trump’s desk; Moore, Kind introduce Green Alert bill for missing veterans

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Join WisPolitics.com and the Millennial Action Project on Tuesday in Appleton for “The Future of Work” event featuring U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and state Rep. Amanda Stuck. The event is May 29 at 4 p.m. See more details and RSVP here.

Quotes of the week

Why did CNN know about the Steele Dossier, who leaked that to them? … There’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicion. We need to get to the bottom of this. And Congress is the last body getting the information that the American public needs to know.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in an interview on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.” Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland SEcurity and Government Affairs Committee, this week sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for more information on the agency’s handling of the so-called Steele Dossier.  

These are the things that Wisconsinites are focused on, and yet it doesn’t seem to be the focus in Washington D.C. right now.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, who told supporters at the opening of the Juneau County Democratic headquarters Congress isn’t addressing issues likes healthcare, education and job security. See the story.

 

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s push to enact so-called “right-to-try” legislation is heading to President Trump’s desk after clearing the House.  

Johnson, R-Oshkosh championed the bill in the Senate, where it passed unanimously last August. It passed the House Tuesday on a 250-169 vote, where only Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind crossed party lines to support it.

The bill would allow terminally-ill patients to use treatments not approved by the FDA.

“Congress restored a little freedom and hope to terminally ill Americans,” Johnson said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, one of two Wisconsin Dems to oppose the bill, said in a statement the bill “sets a dangerous precedent of weakening FDA oversight by broadening access to unproven treatments.”

A Kind spokesman didn’t immediately return a request for comment as to why the La Crosse Dem decided to support the measure.

The House in March passed its own version of the right-to-try bill, which would have caused the Senate to pass that iteration before it could be sent to the president. But House Republicans last week signaled they would take up the Senate’s version of the legislation.  

Trump has previously praised the legislation, saying during his State of the Union address that it’s “time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the ‘right-to-try.’ “


— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher this week launched a new House caucus to boost awareness in Congress of trauma-informed care.

Meanwhile, a Johnson-introduced resolution recognizing the importance and effectiveness of trauma-informed care cleared the Senate on Tuesday with unanimous support.  

In the House, Gallagher joined U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., in kicking off the Trauma-Informed Care Caucus on Monday.

Gallagher, R-Green Bay, in a statement said the practice creates a “unique opportunity” for elected officials “to come together and improve health outcomes for the millions of children, families, and adults across the United States who have been impacted by trauma.”

“By working together, we can raise awareness of TIC and its vital role in helping solve some of our nation’s most pressing public health issues,” he said.

Gallagher’s decision to launch the caucus is part of a wider effort — led by First Lady Tonette Walker — to increase statewide awareness of the approach.

Walker in a statement praised the creation of the caucus, saying trauma-informed care helps caregivers “address the root” cause of problems and “improve outcomes” for affected children.

Johnson, meanwhile, thanked Walker for her work backing trauma-informed care since 2011, saying in a statement her efforts mean “Wisconsinites will be better equipped to support those who have experienced trauma.”


— Dem U.S. Reps Gwen Moore and Ron Kind teamed up this week to introduce a bill that would create a nationwide Green Alert to locate missing veterans.  

The legislation comes on the heels of Wisconsin enacting its own Green Alert law earlier this year.

The bill, called the “Corey Adams Searchlight Act,” is named after US Air Force Reserve Sgt. Corey Adams, who went missing from his Wisconsin home in March 2017. His body was found 18 days later.

“Too many veterans put their lives on the line for this country without receiving the support and resources they need in return,” Moore, D-Milwaukee, said in a statement. “This bill, modeled after Wisconsin’s Green Alert program, takes an important step forward in ensuring our nation’s veterans receive the care and respect they so greatly deserve.


— Moore also has a new press secretary: Libbie Wilcox.

Meanwhile, former spokesman Eric Harris started a job in California Dem U.S. Rep. Jimmy Gomez’s office last month.

Wilcox has worked in the House as a spokeswoman since June 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile. Before that, she worked for a year at the National Journal in Washington, D.C.


— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman has introduced a bill aimed at protecting small businesses from potential misinformation provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The so-called “OSHA Employer Notification Act” would require OSHA to notify a business of an alleged violation 24 hours prior to making a public statement regarding the violation.

The bill would also require OSHA to update public postings on it’s website if a citation is subsequently reduced or dropped all together.

Grothman said under current law, OSHA can notify the press of alleged violations made by a business before the actual business. This, he said, can result in a “delayed resolution of the problem.”

“We need to help businesses by treating them as part of the solution, not the problem, which is what the OSHA Employer Notification Act will do,” Grothman said in a statement.


— A new Grothman bill looks to better address the opioid crisis.

If signed into law, the “Federal Response to Families Impacted by Substance Use Disorder Act” would establish a federal task force with the mission of coordinating the federal response to the opioid crisis.

The task force would help identify, evaluate and recommend best practices to states and local agencies in their fight against opioid abuse, as well as develop ways to better identify and prevent substance abuse in the home and around children and minors.

Grothman said in a statement opioid abuse has “long been a problem” and has become “a large-scale epidemic in need of immediate attention.”

The representative noted a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis with state and federal experts earlier this month revealed “that better coordination is needed between federal agencies and local communities.”

“One overdose is too many. These are preventable deaths of precious lives. I am determined to fight to put an end to the opioid crisis and believe that this bill could be a turning point in the fight,” he said.

 

— The state’s congressional delegation recently split along party lines over a stalled farm bill that ultimately failed to clear the House.  

The legislation failed to pass on a 198-213 vote Friday. The party-line split among Wisconsin House members came as the bill faced criticism from Dem state lawmakers and other activists over the work requirements it sought to place on food stamp recipients.

In a statement, Kind said he couldn’t support a bill that “lavishes huge taxpayer subsidies on millionaires and billionaires,” rather than working “for our family farmers.”

But House Speaker Paul Ryan previously lauded the plan, saying that it contained “much-needed reforms that will strengthen America’s workforce and help move people out of poverty.”

In the lead-up to Friday’s vote, Kind, D-La Crosse, had pushed for a series of amendments he co-sponsored to be considered by the House Rules Committee, including two provisions he worked on with Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner. One of those was aimed at increasing transparency in the crop insurance program.

Meanwhile, Grothman backed an amendment that would have excluded carbonated drinks from the list of items that can be purchased with food stamps, his office said.  

The vote on the bill outlined divisions in the House, as GOP moderates and hard-liners joined unified Democratic opposition to the bill, according to national media reports. The vote came amid an ongoing debate over a possible immigration overhaul.

Though the bill failed last week, is is expected to come up for a second vote on June 22, according to a Roll Call report.

The deadline to pass it is Sept. 30.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s “Buy America” language was featured in a bill that has passed a Senate committee.

The provision was included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, which cleared the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Tuesday.

The Madison Dem’s language would require water infrastructure projects funded through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund only use American-made iron and steel. Projects funded through this program are improvements to water infrastructure that support safe drinking water.

The provision is part of a bill that has bipartisan support, according to a Baldwin statement, and received President Trump’s endorsement when he visited Kenosha last year.

 

— Baldwin this week also introduced a bill targeting fraudulent organic imports.

The bill would require authentication of organic-labelled goods imported at U.S. ports of entry. This would catch goods that are imported with an organic label, but do not meet USDA’s standards for organic.

“We must make sure that all organic products sold in the U.S. meet [the USDA’s] rigorous standards,” she said in a statement.

The legislation comes after the USDA issued a series of recommendations to standardize the quality of organic products coming into the country.

Baldwin cited concerns over the potential harm the mislabelling would cause to Wisconsin’s organic industry, which she says is the second-largest in the nation by number of farms.

 

— Baldwin was recently awarded the Maritime Leadership Award from the Shipbuilders Council of America.

The award honored “outstanding dedication and support of the U.S. shipbuilding and repair industry,” according to a release.


— In this week’s Magic Monday, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan brings the “Yanny/Laurel” debate to Congress.

See the video.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Sen. Johnson sends letter to FBI about ‘Steele Dossier’

Ron Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill passes House and goes to Donald Trump for signature

Republican senator seeks interviews with more than 30 FBI, Justice Department officials

Tammy Baldwin attends Democratic headquarters opening in Mauston

Sen. Tammy Baldwin On Family’s Opioid Struggle

Sen. Tammy Baldwin on the Campaign Trail

Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin Is Seeking Reelection

Milwaukee campaign rally with Senators Tammy Baldwin, Kamala Harris set for June 9

Roll Call: Key votes from the Wisconsin congressional delegation this week

Prompted by Wisconsin tragedy, Green Alerts for missing, at-risk veterans could go national

Local reaction to House Farm Bill being voted down Friday

Rep. Gallagher fights for more littoral combat ships

Glenn Grothman draws fire for outspending fellow House members from state on mail-related costs

Gun policy question gets few responses from Wisconsin House members

House fails to pass Farm Bill

DC Wrap: Kind talks NAFTA, midterms; Trump signs Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Quotes of the week

Sterling Brown could have come out of Walgreens, but instead this police officer wanted to see who this was and when he saw this black man with nappy hair and a hoodie, that set up a confrontation and that set off all the biases and stereotypes we have become too accustomed.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore as quoted in a WISN story. The Milwaukee Dem re-introduced a bill on mandatory de-escalation training for police in response to reports Milwaukee police officers’ actions during a confrontation with Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. The Milwaukee Police Department last week released a video of Brown’s tasing and arrest in January and chief Alfonso Morales apologized for the incident.

I have concerns that the North Koreans are not serious when they talk about denuclearization. It’s clear that we are talking about two different things when we use that phrase in large part because a lot of the things the North Koreans allegedly say are being filtered through a government in South Korea that is very committed to getting a deal.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, who told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on Monday he’s concerned North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un really means suspension of its nuclear program when making claims the country will denuclearize. Gallagher, a former marine with a PhD in international relations, joined Mitchell to discuss the significance of Memorial Day and weigh in on a potential summit between President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

This week’s news

— As NAFTA renegotiations continue to drag on, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind warns a failure to reach an agreement could hurt the United States’ deal-making capacity with other nations.

Kind said he was “concerned about the larger message” an impasse could send to the rest of the world.

“If we can’t figure out a way to make nice with our two border neighbors, there’s not a country in the world that’s going to be willing to sit down and talk to the United States of America with any confidence that we’re going to be good faith negotiations and trustworthy partners willing to live up to the terms of our agreement,” the La Crosse Dem told WisPolitics.com in an interview this week..

National media reports in recent weeks have shown the tri-county talks over the North American Free Trade Agreement have been bogged down as the Trump administration earlier this month missed an informal deadline to get a revamped deal to Congress for approval.

While Kind supports effort to modernize NAFTA, he also cautioned that if President Trump were to pull out of the deal, the state’s dairy industry could be in “extreme jeopardy.”

That’s because, he said, Mexico is a top dairy export market that if lost would mean Wisconsin farmers would see “even lower milk prices” and the state’s greater dairy infrastructure would be endangered.

Kind, who said he’s been meeting with Trump’s trade team to talk NAFTA, also raised concerns about the tariffs the administration has imposed, saying the president is “inching us closer and closer to (a) trade war every day.”        


— Kind also is rebuffing a proposed constitutional amendment that would lay out term limits for members of Congress.

The push, spearheaded by fellow Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, would limit members of the House to six terms and those of the Senate to two terms. President Trump has previously expressed support for the effort.

But while there are many new faces in both chambers, Kind said Congress has “gotten worse” because of the loss of institutional memory surrounding how to broker deals, find common ground and get along with one another.   

Roughly one-third of the members of the Senate are in their first term, and Kind said “a majority” of House members have served fewer than three terms.

“It looks good on a bumper sticker — just term limits, throw all the bums out. But we’ve been doing that in the last few elections, with a tremendous amount of turnover and new faces joining Congress. And I submit Congress is getting worse rather than better with the new personalities that are coming to Washington,” said Kind, in Congress since 1997.

— Kind also says “things have changed” in his 3rd CD since the 2016 general election when the district backed President Trump.

Pointing to Dem Sen. Patty Schachtner’s win in the special election for the 10th SD in January and liberal leaning Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet’s victory in the state Supreme Court race, Kind said people in his district “sense that things are not going in the right direction.”

Kind also said constituents in his district were largely concerned over what they saw as the limited economic benefit of Foxconn, adding it’s seen as an example “of southeastern Wisconsin being taken care of and the rest of the state being neglected.”  

On the Dem guv race, Kind said he doesn’t see himself endorsing early “given the strengths of so many of these campaigns out there.” But he’s confident in the Dem chances for the seat, saying there’s an “eight year itch” to replace Gov. Scott Walker.  

Asked if he would support Nancy Pelosi, of California, as House speaker should Dems win that chamber in November, Kind noted that he voted against her last time, but didn’t say whether he’d oppose her again or if he backed any particular Democrat to replace her as leader.

“I think either way, if we pull up short (in November), there’s going to be leadership change; if we’re in the majority but by a slim majority, there’s going to be leadership change,” he said.

Hear the audio.

— Wisconsin lawmakers stressed the importance of getting millennials into the workforce at a recent discussion held at the downtown Appleton Beer Factory.

“Every generation has its own challenges — this one included — but it also brings enormous strengths,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Green Bay Republican.

He was joined by Appleton Democratic Rep. Amanda Stuck in leading the discussion Tuesday which was attended by other legislators as well as representatives for Fox Valley startup group Kinnektor and the Millennial Action Project, which organized the event with WisPolitics.com.

“The most consistent thing I hear is… we have jobs, we have plenty of jobs available,” he said. “We just can’t find people to do those jobs.”

Both Stuck and Gallagher noted the importance of technologies like automation and artificial intelligence on Wisconsin industries moving forward.

“We really have to be aware” of how technology is changing, Stuck said.

She also said employers must shoulder some of the responsibility for dealing with the state’s workforce shortage. She said part of the issue is that discussions often center on expectations for employees and the skills they need, rather than what employers can do to make their workplaces and company culture more attractive to millennial workers.

Gallagher noted that while automation does eliminate some jobs, it also creates opportunities for other high-skill, high-paying jobs. He also challenged the cultural notion that young workers need a four-year degree to get work, noting that other options exist, like the trades.

See more via WisBusiness.com.

— Gallagher has also been appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

He also will serve on the subcommittees for: Highways and Transit; Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials; and Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management.

Gallagher replaces former U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, who resigned from the House following allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination, among other things.

See the release.

— President Trump has signed U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s ‘right-to-try’ bill into law, ending a two-year effort to expand access to treatments for terminally-ill patients.

The bill, which passed the House last week on a 250-169 vote, would allow those individuals to use treatments not currently approved by the FDA.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, lauded the bill signing on Twitter, writing: “Terminally ill patients and their families now have more freedom and more hope!”

Trump, who previously praised the legislation during his State of the Union address, said today the effort would mean individuals with life-threatening illnesses “will finally have access to experimental treatments that could improve or even cure their conditions.”

“These are experimental treatments and products that have shown great promise and we weren’t able to use them before,” he said. “Now we can use them.”

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin this week called on the Senate to pass bipartisan opioid legislation.

Baldwin co-sponsored legislation to change policy for multiple federal agencies that handle both enforcement and research of the opioid crisis. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions last month, and awaits a full vote in the Senate.

The legislation would improve data sharing between the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies, as well as coordinate the Food and Drug Administration and Customs and Border Patrol to stop the importing of drugs such as fentanyl at the border.

“Our Senate health committee just passed bipartisan legislation to give our communities more resources to save lives, and now it’s time to bring that legislation to the Senate floor and pass it,” the Madison Dem said in a statement.

Baldwin made the call while holding roundtables in Superior, Sturgeon Bay and Kaukauna with Wisconsin law enforcement, first responders and community leaders.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Sen. Tammy Baldwin meets with local authorities, officials about opioid abuse

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Discusses Opioid Epidemic with Douglas County

5/25/18 – Senator Ron Johnson Interview, Shooting Harms Left’s Anti-Gun Campaign, Americans Siding with Trump over Dems, Calls

Inability to fill jobs a key economic challenge in Fox Cities, says U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, State Rep. Amanda Stuck

Appleton forum addresses future jobs and millennials

Roll Call: Key votes from the Wisconsin congressional delegation this week

Koch brothers running ads in Wisconsin for Grothman

Gus Bilirakis, Ron Kind Team Up Again to Improve Medicare

DC Wrap: Senate to vote on Brennan’s nomination; new report on Russian interference in 2016 election

Welcome to our weekly DC Wrap, where we write about Wisconsin’s congressional delegation. Sign up here to receive the newsletter directly.

Join WisPolitics.com and the Millennial Action Project for an upcoming Appleton event on “The Future of Work” featuring U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher and state Rep. Amanda Stuck. The event is May 29 at 4 p.m. See more details and RSVP here.

Quotes of the week, May 4-10

This is a for-profit company. I don’t know that taxpayers across America should cover the cost of those transitions. I think if it’s an appropriate move, they should make the decision and bear the cost of that transition.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, after touring the damaged Husky Energy oil refinery in Superior. The refinery was damaged by a series of explosions and fires there last month. Mayors in Duluth and Superior have said the refinery should end its use of hydrogen fluoride, but Duffy told reporters should that happen, he wouldn’t back the use of federal funding to cover it.

Maybe I should sign on to more bills to rename a post office in Oklahoma. But I don’t know that that really shows the bipartisan nature of Congress.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, on the Bipartisan Index that ranks all members of Congress based on how frequently a member introduces bills that get sponsors from the opposite party, and how often they co-sponsor legislation from the other side of the aisle. Pocan, who ranked 333rd in the House, called it a “flawed” and antiquated study.

This week’s news

— Milwaukee attorney Michael Brennan’s confirmation vote for his nomination to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is slotted for today.

The Senate will convene at 9 a.m. CDT to begin debate on Brennan’s nomination with a roll call vote planned two hours later.

The Senate yesterday signed off on Brennan’s cloture motion, as U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin ended up on opposite sides of the 49-47 vote.

— A new federal Senate Intelligence Committee interim report on election security identified at least 18 and up to as many as 21 states that had their election systems targeted during the 2016 election.

It also found that in at least six states, the Russian-backed actors conducted “malicious access attempts on voting-related websites.” In other states, the report said, those actors were able to access “restricted elements of election infrastructure” and in some instances they were in a position to alter or delete voter registration data.

But in no cases, the report found, were cyber actors able to manipulate individual votes or vote totals.

Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said while Wisconsin was targeted by the Russians in 2016 with “scanning activity,” Wisconsin is not among the states where those activities went beyond scanning.

The report also found the Department of Homeland Security launched an “inadequate” response to attempts to meddle in the US’ elections systems under both Presidents Obama and Trump. Still, it also commends the agency for making “tremendous progress” over the last six months to address the issue.

Magney said while the Senate Intelligence Committee hadn’t been in touch with the state about the report specifically, the Elections Commission has had “regular contact” with Homeland Security since the agency told the commision last September cyber actors had unsuccessfully targeted the state’s voter registration system before the 2016 presidential election.

“At this point, we are working very closely with Homeland Security, and we are satisfied with that relationship that we’re getting the information and the services we need,” he said.

See the report.

— Baldwin, D-Madison, is objecting to President Trump’s decision to end the Iran nuclear deal, while her GOP rivals are praising the move.

Baldwin said the move this week leaves no alternate plan to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“Our U.S. military leaders have said this international agreement is working in our national security interests and breaking it will not make us safer,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, meanwhile, called it a “great day for Wisconsin and America. The foolish and dangerous Iranian nuclear deal would have allowed Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and it is now in the wastebasket of history along with the rest of Obama’s naïvely misguided foreign policy.”

Business consultant and former Marine Kevin Nicholson via Twitter applauded Trump for “pulling us back to reality today” by exiting the deal. He also knocked Baldwin for “supporting a deal that sent that same Iranian state sponsor of terror billions of dollars of cash on cargo planes – and allowed them to get closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon. Unconscionable.”

Vukmir and Nicholson are running in a primary for the GOP nomination to go up against Baldwin this fall.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, said Trump’s actions were “a strong statement that we can and must do better. I have always believed the best course of action is to fix the deficiencies in the agreement.”

But U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, called the decision shortsighted and “a reckless display of carelessness in both foreign relations and national security that further isolates us from our allies in the world.”

See more reaction on the WisPolitics.com press release page.

— Baldwin in a new TV ad talks about her mother’s struggles with prescription drugs and mental illness, telling viewers “I know how hard this fight is.”

The ad comes on the heels of Baldwin opening up publicly last week for the first time about her mother, who died in August.

Baldwin begins the 60-second spot saying she used to come home from school, but couldn’t get into the house. She’d pound on the door, but her mother was passed out inside and wouldn’t answer. Baldwin says her mother struggled with addiction to prescription drugs her whole life and she had to “grow up fast.”

“So when I see the opioid crisis that is wrecking so many Wisconsin families, all I can tell you is I’ve been there,” Baldwin says. “I know how hard this fight is. I know the stigma that comes with drug abuse and mental illness.”

See more on the ad via WisPolitics.com.

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is calling on the House Veterans Affairs Committee to take up his bill aimed at improving veteran employment opportunities.

The La Crosse Dem wrote in a letter to committee Chair U.S. Rep. Phil Roe and ranking member U.S. Rep. Tim Walz on Monday his bill would “provide critical tools for veterans and their spouses to find employment.”

The bill, he wrote, has been pending for nearly five months without any action being taken.

“When our veterans return from service, they deserve the opportunity to find a good-paying job back at home,” Kind wrote in the letter. “It’s time to pass this bill, which helps our veterans and their families make an easier transition from military to civilian life.”

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan joined U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in introducing a bill aimed at bolstering the power of labor unions.

The so-called “Workplace Democracy Act” would let employees form a union by signing up rather than being elected into membership; require workers in every state to pay some dues to the unions they’re represented by; and speed up the timeline for negotiating between unions and companies, according to national media reports.

Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, knocked President Trump and Gov. Scott Walker, saying their work cracking down on unions “makes it harder for middle class families to get ahead.”

“The Workplace Democracy Act restores real bargaining rights to workers and repeals the right to work laws like those that Governor Walker has used to undercut American workers,” he said in a statement.

But state GOP spokesman Alec Zimmerman said the plan “would give more power to big government interests at the expense of worker freedom and choice.”

“Wisconsin families can’t afford Pocan’s attempts to take our state backward,” he said.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Sen. Ron Johnson stops by Ellsworth

Ron Johnson: “I truly do not believe anybody wins the trade war”

Sen. Tammy Baldwin did back a Department of Peace, but Kevin Nicholson’s attack needs some context

Tammy Baldwin shares story of late mother’s addiction in TV ad

Baldwin releases ad about mother’s struggle with addiction

Pocan hits on Farm Bill, ‘swamp’ during Baraboo stop

Wisconsin Democrats face struggle in gaining congressional seats, despite ‘blue wave’

Rep. Kind Reactions to Iran Nuclear Deal

Trump backs bipartisan House push for congressional term limits

Female truckers could be solution to semi-truck driver shortage

Wisconsin Congress members react to Iran deal withdrawal

Congressman Sean Duffy Tours Damaged Superior Oil Refinery

Congressman Sean Duffy evaluates Husky, says he wants to “learn lessons”

Dem Frostman touts economic development experience in 1st SD bid

1st SD Dem Caleb Frostman says his record bolstering economic development — and his commitment to prioritizing that mission over partisanship — should earn him a ticket to Madison.

Frostman, 33 and the former executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corp., in a recent WisPolitics.com candidate interview pointed to his experiences helping start and grow small businesses, as well as aiding in workforce development.

“That mission of improving the economic vitality of the region and its residents is above partisan politics,” he said. “For me, my goal in the Senate is kind of the same: It’s to improve the quality of life of the people around me. And I’ve been able to do that in my work at DCED, and I want to do that for the folks of SD 1.”

Frostman will face either state Rep. André Jacque, R-De Pere, or Alex Renard, the operations manager at Green Bay’s Renco Machine Co., in next month’s general election with the winner taking a vacant northeastern Wisconsin seat once held by Republican Frank Lasee. The Jacque-Renard primary is Tuesday.

If elected, Frostman says the issues he’d be pushing for include: prioritizing infrastructure; “investing heavily” in public education, both K-12 and the UW System; and safeguarding natural resources.

On transportation funding, Frostman was noncommittal about whether he’d push for an increase in the gas tax, higher vehicle registration fees and tolling, saying “all options need to be on the table.”

“What I wouldn’t do is be an ideologue that says at the cost of new roads, we can’t increase taxes, can’t increase fees and I think a lot of that comes from perhaps posturing for the next job,’’ he said. “And frankly if I were doing that, if I was to posture for the next job, I would want to point to new roads, I would want to say say we found a bipartisan solution.’’

On other issues:

*Frostman backs changes to NR 151, a Department of Natural Resources administrative rule aimed at strengthening groundwater protections in eastern Wisconsin, saying it marks “a really good step in the right direction.”

The updated policies on manure spreading practices for 15 counties was approved unanimously by the seven-member Natural Resources Board in January. The rule changes include tweaks to further stipulate the conditions manure can be mechanically applied and guidelines governing the application of liquid manure.

*Frostman said he wouldn’t support legislation to ban the use of fetal tissue in research.

Calling the research performed “cutting edge,” he highlighted the importance of its use in helping to find cures for various diseases, as well as the jobs the state’s bioscience sector provides.

*Frostman said he wouldn’t support what proponents call “constitutional carry” should he get elected.

The bill, which would have allowed individuals to carry a concealed weapon without first obtaining a permit or going through training, passed the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, but did not receive a floor vote in either chamber.

Frostman said a written test, field test and certain amount of training “is highly appropriate for something like concealed carry.”

He also called concealed carry reciprocity, or the ability for those permits from other states to be recognized across state lines, “troubling.”

Frostman said legislators work to put “laws on the books that keep our citizens safe,” adding that the state should “decide what those rules should be for Wisconsin.”

Dem Governors Association: ICYMI: New Report Shows Walker’s Wisconsin Bested By Minnesota

Contact: Melissa Miller, 202-875-9188
[email protected]

Yesterday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on a new study that compared the economies of Wisconsin and Minnesota and found, “on a multitude of key measures, Minnesota’s economic performance over the past seven years has been markedly better than that of its neighbor to the east.”

The report highlights multiple indicators by which Minnesota’s economy is outpacing that of Wisconsin including total jobs, population growth, median real hourly wages, poverty, and health care coverage.

“‘On virtually every metric, workers and families in Minnesota are better off than their counterparts in Wisconsin — and the decisions of state lawmakers have been instrumental in driving many of those differences,’ writes the report’s author, David Cooper.”

“Scott Walker’s agenda these past eight years has been driven by his national political interests, not the best interests of the people and businesses of Wisconsin,” said DGA Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “This new study shows how Wisconsin’s economy has paid the price for Walker’s warped priorities, quite a contrast with the economic progress made by the state next door. Wisconsin voters will have a clear choice to make this fall, and it’s clear they’re fed up with playing second fiddle to Scott Walker’s personal political ambition.”

Read the full story online HERE

Dem Governors Association: Scott Walker’s Career of Failing to Appreciate Teachers

Contact: Melissa Miller, 202-875-9188
[email protected]

As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day, Wisconsin voters are reminded of Governor Scott Walker’s long record of attacking teachers, cutting school funding, and hurting education and kids in the Badger State.

  • Governor Walker slashed school funding by $800 million and led attacks on teachers that cut their pay, despite his record giveaways to special interests.
  • Walker also slashed thousands of education jobs across the state, overburdening the teachers who remain with larger student-to-teacher ratios.
  • As many as 1 in 10 teachers are leaving the profession altogether each year since Governor Walker took office, leading not only to shortages, but to a less experienced workforce in Wisconsin’s schools.

And Wisconsin families know this: a poll late last year found that nearly half of Wisconsin voters think the state’s public schools have gotten worse during his time in office.

“Teachers deserve respect and appreciation, not just today but year-round, yet Governor Scott Walker has actually worked to make life harder for Wisconsin’s educators during his time in office,” said DGA Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “Wisconsin needs a Democratic governor to fight for teachers, their students, and improvements to the state’s public schools, not one who puts education on the chopping block to serve national political special interests.”

Dem Governors Association: Walker’s latest Trump two-step attempt falls flat

Melissa Miller, 202-875-9188, [email protected]

Will Walker Campaign With Trump? Depends When You Ask

Governor Scott Walker has now spent years trying to have it every possible way when it comes to President Donald Trump, so you think he’d be better at it by now. But just days after the New York Times reported that Walker “has told associates he is unlikely to campaign with the president,” he walked back his comments and said that he “would welcome the chance for the president to come to the state.”

Video of Walker awkwardly answering this question yesterday is HERE.

“Scott Walker may want to run from President Trump now, but he can’t hide from his record of proudly backing the Trump policy agenda that hurt Wisconsin families,” said DGA Press Secretary Melissa Miller. “Scott Walker was the number one cheerleader for Donald Trump’s health care plan that would have jacked up premiums on Wisconsin families. He can’t hide from that record now. Scott Walker can keep attempting to walk this Trump tightrope, but he’s sure to keep falling on his face.”

Dem guv candidate Flynn fights off charges on priest abuse scandal

Women’s March Wisconsin is calling on Dem guv candidate Matt Flynn to drop out of the race because of his past work defending the Milwaukee Archdiocese against priest abuse victims.

But Flynn campaign manager Bryan Kennedy said Flynn’s not leaving the field, telling WisPolitics.com the call amounts to an attempt “to take someone who is a likely frontrunner out of this race, and to attack him for priest sex abuse when he’s the one who actually cleaned up the problem.”

When Flynn, a retired partner with the Quarles & Brady law firm in Milwaukee, first launched his campaign last fall, he fielded hits from the state GOP regarding his work on behalf of the Archdiocese. The GOP labeled Flynn as a “dirty defense attorney” guilty of “putting Wisconsin families at risk.”

The issue was again brought up after The Wisconsin Gazette Thursday published an article quoting victims of clerical abuse who said they were “appalled” by Flynn’s bid.

Then in a statement Sunday, Women’s March Wisconsin said Flynn should bow out of the race.

The group’s call came after Co-Chair Sarah Pearson approached Flynn following a Dem guv debate in Madison last night where she asked him about his “involvement in the coverup and transfer of pedophile priests.” The encounter was filmed live on the group’s Facebook page.

During the conversation, Pearson also pointed to a series of church documents, released in 2014, that the group said show Flynn “directed and knew of secret transfers of dozens of child molesting clergy, many of which went on to abuse more children.”

Flynn during the video declined to comment on the documents, telling Pearson to instead be on the lookout for a campaign statement. He also dismissed in the video the Wisconsin Gazette article as “fundamentally untrue, in many, many respects.”

After a nearly two-minute conversation, Flynn again referred Pearson to the campaign’s upcoming statement, before thanking her and walking away.

Pearson then addressed the camera, saying it’s “highly inappropriate that his candidacy has continued despite the fact that he’s clearly covered up sexual abuse of children and allowed pedophiles to continue working in capacity with children. That’s fundamentally wrong, and we’ll be calling on him to end his candidacy.”

But Flynn in his statement Monday said once he learned of the abuses, he “knew that to be in alignment with my conscience, I had to do something, not merely voice disapproval.”

“In my work almost twenty years ago, I worked with others to put into place procedures to identify and remove abusive priests, notify the authorities, and prevent their transfer,” he said. “It was imperative that we work to create a system that would ensure that crimes such as these could never be committed and allowed to persist.”

While Flynn’s statement claimed it was the first time he had talked publicly about his involvement with the archdiocese, Flynn previously defended his work in an interview with WisPolitics.com in October when he first got into the race.

Flynn then told WisPolitics.com the scandal “pained me more than I can tell you.” Still, he was proud of his work for the archdiocese, saying his efforts and those of others led to an end of the practice of transferring priests accused of abuse to other parishes without warning of past allegations.

See the Women’s March Wisconsin Facebook video:
https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchwi/videos/441254126312039/

See the Women’s March Wisconsin statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/womens-march-wisconsin-calls-for-matt-flynn-to-drop-out-of-governors-race/

See the documents:
http://www.andersonadvocates.com/Documents/priest_files/Arimond.pdf

See Flynn’s statement:
https://forwardwithflynn.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Flynn_Statement_Archdiocese.pdf

By Briana Reilly

Dem guv candidate forum 🗓

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What: Racine Gubernatorial Forum
When: Wednesday, May 30 at 6 p.m.
Where: Dr. John Bryant Center, 601 21st St, Racine, Wisconsin 53403
Who: Our Wisconsin Revolution, Wisconsin Working Families Party, Wisconsin’s Choice campaign, and members of the Racine community

RACINE — The Wisconsin’s Choice campaign — a partnership between Our Wisconsin Revolution and the Wisconsin Working Families Party — is holding a Racine Gubernatorial Forum to discuss the race to be Wisconsin’s next governor.

Wisconsin’s Choice is co-hosting the event alongside local elected officials Nick Demske, Racine County Board Supervisor, 1st District; Fabi Maldonado, Racine County Board Supervisor, 2nd District; and Alderman John Tate II.

More than 50 concerned citizens will attend. Activists contend that Wisconsin politics are dictated by and for the wealthy, while the rest of us fall behind. Confirmed candidates include Matt Flynn, Andy Gronik, Mike McCabe, Mahlon Mitchell, Kelda Roys, and Rep. Dana Wachs.

The campaign is bringing voters together to elect a people’s champion as governor this November. Through a series of three votes, Wisconsin’s Choice is narrowing the field to find this candidate who will fight for the many — not just the few. The Racine forum comes directly before the group’s second round vote, which will narrow the field of candidates from nine to four.

The Racine Gubernatorial Forum is a place where community members can come together to discuss key issues in the Racine area. Participants will “interview” gubernatorial candidates by asking questions about the issues that matter to working families — including immigration, healthcare, racial justice, and raising wages for all workers.

Dem guv candidates discuss education, other priorities at WEAC forum

Increasing school funding and restoring collective bargaining are at the center of nearly every major Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s prescription for education in the state.

Eight major candidates debated before Madison-area educators at a WEAC Region 6 hosted forum Sunday night. Their answers to questions ranging from the school funding formula to private school vouchers and school safety almost always circled back to lashing out at Gov. Scott Walker for Act 10 and cuts to public education.

The eight candidates in attendance were: Mike McCabe, Mahlon Mitchell, Andy Gronik, Kathleen Vinehout, Kelda Roys, Paul Soglin and Matt Flynn. State Rep. Dana Wachs was unable to attend due to a funeral for his longtime friend and law partner.

On issues like safety in schools, the candidates largely stressed funding as the answer. For instance, Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin, gave a brief mention of banning assault rifles before arguing at length why providing funding to beef up school staffing levels is essential to increasing school safety.

And in their responses to a question about their views on private school voucher programs, each candidate underscored to varying degree that public funding should exclusively go to public schools, not private or charters.

McCabe, an independent activist running as a Dem, received a round of applause after criticizing voucher programs for siphoning off public funding to private institutions he argued are not better than their public counterparts.

“If a program works, fund it. If a program doesn’t work, get rid of it. By that standard, taxpayer- subsidized private schooling should end in Wisconsin,” McCabe said.

Vinehout, a state senator from Alma, argued the state should “look at what works and fund it” to address achievement gaps among African-American students.  

While several candidates supported eliminating vouchers for private and charter schools, Evers and Gronik were more cautious. Gronik, a Milwaukee businessman, supported ending voucher programs, but emphasized a transition period to ensure every public school would meet students needs.

“I’m not going to take a student out of a safe, productive educational environment, and won’t put them into a public school until it’s the very best choice,” he said.

Evers, the state superintendent, offered his own practical assessment.

“There’s 30,000 kids in these voucher schools. For anybody to say they’re going to be gone tomorrow is frankly BS,” he said.

Overall, the eight candidates’ responses to questions on education were quite similar. But there were some notable differences in the approach each thought to take.

For example, every candidate backed a repeal of Act 10, which repealed collective bargaining powers for most public employees. But Roys, a former state lawmaker, emphasized a practical approach to repeal that would depend on the outcome of the November midterms.

“We have to be honest about what Legislature looks like,” she said.

She added she’d first put the repeal into the state budget, and then see about pursuing other remedies.

Flynn, a Milwaukee attorney, said “it’s gonna get repealed, totally,” when talking about Act 10. He said he’d use executive order and veto power to attempt his repeal.

McCabe said he’d support a restoration of bargaining rights that would be rolled into a broader bill that would help workers in other major sectors. Along with repealing the law, Gronik said he’d also like to re-evaluate teachers’ entire compensation plans to ensure the state treats teachers as professionals. Soglin, the Madison mayor, echoed similar sentiments.

Candidates also diverged in their responses to a question on school safety. Candidates like Roys emphasized their tough stance on guns. She proposed a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases, universal background checks, a ban on assault rifles and taking on the National Rifle Association.

In his response, Evers repeated his mantra that he would “go to jail” before signing off on a law that would allow guns in classrooms. He went on to call for increased funding for mental and behavioral health programs.

Flynn pointed to guns as the main threat to school safety. His solution: increasing funding for school safety measures and banning all military-style weapons.

“I have no tolerance for military wannabes and crazy people, quite frankly,” he said.

And while the candidates showed similarities when asked how they would change the school funding formula, the question also provided a moment for several candidates to differentiate themselves.

Soglin, for instance, touted his proposal to increase income taxes for the top 3 percent of earners to better fund schools. His school funding formula would rely on population and district wealth, and would attempt to lessen a reliance on the local property tax.

Flynn, on the other hand, said he’d first look to rescind major tax credits like the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit.

Dem state lawmakers criticize federal farm bill over food stamp eligibility changes

Democratic state lawmakers are arguing House Republicans will be “taking food out of the mouths of children” if they pass their current version of the farm bill.

A Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo Dems released yesterday shows an estimated 75,720 people, or about 11.1 percent of food stamp recipients, would lose eligibility. Those numbers are based on enrollment in September 2017.

Of that number, 23,369 are children — about 8 percent of all children currently eligible. In total, the reductions in eligibility would cut federal benefits for food stamps by about $23.8 million annually.

In September 2017, 682,924 Wisconsinites received benefits. Of those, 291,956 were children.

The memo was compiled after Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling requested estimates on the effect the House bill would have on caseload and benefits under Wisconsin’s food stamp program.

“I think it’s bad enough that Republicans have fought to give millionaires yet another tax break this season, but then to turn around and deny low-income children access to food, it’s unthinkable,” Shilling, D-La Crosse, said at a Capitol news conference.

The reductions in eligibility stem from a provision in the current draft of the bill that would limit broad-based categorical aid, which allows people to qualify automatically for SNAP benefits if they also receive benefits from other public assistance programs.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, lauded the bill when it passed out of the House Agriculture Committee in mid-April.

“Included in this farm bill are much-needed reforms that will strengthen America’s workforce and help people move out of poverty,” the Janesville Republican said in a statement at the time. “For too long, vague and unenforceable requirements have discouraged work and left many good jobs unfilled.”

Wisconsin’s FoodShare program allows people with gross income at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for food stamps if they receive non-cash benefits from certain state and federal public assistance programs.

For instance, people in Wisconsin who receive a referral to the state’s employment services program are automatically eligible for benefits if their income is below the state’s 200 percent threshold. In 2017, the threshold was an annual gross income of $49,200 for a family of four.

But the House bill would cap broad-based categorical eligibility by limiting it to only those who receive cash assistance — as opposed to non-cash assistance like job referrals — or ongoing and substantial services, under the federal temporary assistance for needy families program.

The bill would also limit benefits distributed in broad-based categories to those with gross income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level instead of Wisconsin’s 200 percent threshold.

The LFB memo shows the House bill could also reduce eligibility for free and reduced lunches in schools, because children in families eligible for food stamps are automatically eligible for free and reduced lunches.

See the memo:
https://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/democrats/media/1154/snap-changes_5118.pdf 

Democracy for America: Endorses candidates for Lt. Governor in Wisconsin, Hawaii, Rhode Island

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Contact: Neil Sroka, [email protected], 847-219-8491

National progressive group backs Barnes (WI), Green (HI), Regunberg (RI) in critical state contests

Today, Democracy for America (DFA) announced its endorsement of three candidates running for Lieutenant Governor in states across the country — Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, Josh Green in Hawaii, and Aaron Regunberg in Rhode Island.

Democracy for America is a member-driven, people-powered progressive PAC with 1 million members across the country and 44,023 in Wisconsin, 8,571 in Hawaii, and 7,310 in Rhode Island. These progressive candidates are DFA’s first endorsement for Lt. Governor in the 2018 cycle and join the endorsements of seven gubernatorial candidates and now 12 total statewide non-federal candidates the organization has made ahead of this year’s elections.

Chair Jim Dean on DFA’s endorsement of three progressive choices for Lieutenant Governor:

“All across the country, Lieutenant Governors play a critical role on the front lines of the fight for progress, whether they functioning as the leader of a legislative chamber, head of a Department of State, or standing in for the absence of a Governor.

“We’re excited to announce Democracy for America members’ full-throated support for three progressive leaders running for Lieutenant Governor in their respective states: Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, Josh Green in Hawaii, and Aaron Regunberg in Rhode Island.

“Mandala Barnes is not only a hero in his home state of Wisconsin for his work championing progressive economic policy, criminal justice reform, and healthcare in the State Assembly, since his tenure in office he’s been a national leader in the battle for gun violence prevention and the building of progressive power in the nation’s state capitols. Democracy for America members are thrilled to support Mandala in his race to become the Badger State’s next Lieutenant Governor, because we know he’s committed to making sure Wisconsin works for working people once again.

“One of DFA’s very first endorsed candidates in 2004, Josh Green has a proud history as a progressive fighter in Hawaii’s State House and Senate and DFA members are thrilled to be supporting Josh once again. As Lieutenant Governor, we trust Josh to be a champion for Hawaii’s working families and ensure the Aloha State continues to be a national progressive leader.

“In Rhode Island’s State Assembly, Aaron Regunberg has proven himself to be an unwavering champion for inclusive populist priorities like raising the state’s decades-old tipped minimum wage and leading the fight to establish earned sick days. Aaron will not only work to end the kind of backroom dealing that distorts Rhode Island’s progressive politics, as Lieutenant Governor, he’ll help lead the battle for a Medicare for All-style healthcare and better access to reproductive health services.” — Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America

DFA’s endorsed candidates for Lieutenant Governor are an important part of its long-running “Purple to Blue” project, a multi-year effort dedicated to winning state House and Senate chambers across the country. In 2017, DFA’s Purple to Blue project helped elect 27 inclusive populist leaders to state legislative chambers across the country; ran an independent expenditure campaign for a Washington State Senate candidate that was instrumental in helping flip the chamber; and fiercely backed Justin Fairfax in his effort to become Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor and State Senate President.

As a part of its work in the 2018 election cycle, Democracy for America intends to raise and spend more than $12 million in support of progressive candidates, make more than 2 million voter contacts, and support more than 250 candidates nationwide — like those it’s endorsing for Lieutenant Governor today — in running inclusive populist campaigns committed to turning out the New American Majority of people of color and progressive white voters in November.

Democracy for America is a member-driven, people-powered progressive PAC with more than one million members nationwide committed to taking on income inequality, money in politics, and structural racism. Since 2004, DFA members have raised and spent more than $54 million and made more than 21.9 million volunteer calls to help successfully elect 917 progressive candidates nationwide.

Dems tout enthusiasm on their side, knock GOP message

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Dem Party officials today touted the enthusiasm they said is on their side headed into the fall and knocked the GOP message as Republicans met for their annual state convention.

To back up their argument on enthusiasm, Dems pointed to Patty Schachtner’s January win in the 10th SD after the seat and liberal Milwaukee County Judge Rebecca Dallet’s victory last month in the state Supreme Court race. They also pointed to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s decision against seeking re-election this fall.

State Rep. David Bowen, the party’s first vice chair, said things couldn’t look bleaker for Republicans.

“Wisconsin Republicans are simply in disarray,” Bowen said. “One minute they’re scrambling to distance themselves from President Trump’s toxicity, the next they’re cozying up to him. Scott Walker is so panicked he can’t even remember what he stands for — he just knows he will say whatever he thinks will get him re-elected.”

Chair Martha Laning said Dems are energized like never before.

“We’re mobilizing to take back our state, to lead with our Wisconsin values and create a better future for Wisconsin,” she said.

This post is part of our coverage of the 2018 state GOP convention in Milwaukee. See the rest of our coverage here: https://www.wispolitics.com/category/gop-convos/

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Is That “Hometown” Florist Out of State?

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Media Contact: Jerad Albracht, Senior Communications Specialist, 608-224-5007 or Bill Cosh, Communications Director, 608-224-5020

MADISON – The Mother’s Day flower shopping extravaganza is underway! For shoppers with a favorite local store, the choice is simple for placing an order. But for those who need to seek out a florist: the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks shoppers to do their research before placing an order this Mother’s Day.

“Be cautious when using online listings or phone book ads to pick a florist,” said Michelle Reinen, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. “You may think you are selecting a local florist but are actually contacting a business located in another state that just coordinates the purchase and delivery of goods.”

If you want to hire a “local” florist from the phone book or using an online search, ask the business:

  • Where is the business specifically located?
  • Can you visit that location to see their selection?
  • How long have they operated at that location?
  • How long have they been in business?

If the salesperson refuses to provide that information, consider calling another florist. Also, if the business answers the phone with a generic phrase like “flower shop” (instead of a specific name), ask for its legal name. Again, you should be able to expect a straight answer.

Other considerations when choosing a florist include:

  • Beware of offers for multiple discounts, claims of lowest prices, “A+” self-ratings and other puffery (exaggerated praise in advertising or publicity).
  • Get an itemized price quote (written, if possible) for the product and delivery before you make a payment and ask about any additional fees that could potentially arise. Ask for the terms of any satisfaction guarantees that the business may offer.
  • Ask specifics about the flowers that will be used in the arrangement: how many roses vs carnations will be used, how many “filler” flowers and accents vs. focal flowers, etc.
  • Understand if a portion of your payment is used to purchase the vase and any accessories with the bouquet. Ask for alternatives if you want to spend less on accessories and more on flowers.

As part of your research, you may also wish to contact DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128 or [email protected]) to learn about complaints that have been filed against a business.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau athttps://datcp.wi.gov.

Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer or Twitter: @wiconsumer.

Dept. of Children and Families: First Lady Walker and DCF secretary honor Green Bay Packer Ty Montgomery and his mother, Lisa Montgomery

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

(MADISON) – In recognition of Foster Care Month, First Lady Tonette Walker and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson presented a special award to Ty and Lisa Montgomery for their dedication to raising awareness of the ongoing need for more foster parents who will provide safe and loving homes to children in need.

Foster families throughout Wisconsin play an important role in the lives of children who require a temporary home, while also providing care and guidance to children and families in crisis. In recognition of the Montgomery’s remarkable efforts to help recruit more Wisconsin families to provider foster care and to highlight the joy that fostering can provide a family, Ty and Lisa were presented a Champion of Change Award during a special ceremony in the Assembly Chamber of the State Capitol.

“We cannot fully express the importance of the work Ty and Lisa Montgomery are doing for the state of Wisconsin and our foster care system,” said DCF Secretary Eloise Anderson. “Children entering foster care are at one of the most difficult periods in their life, and thanks to the dedication and passion of the Montgomerys, we are seeing more families motivated to step up and support their communities by becoming foster parents.”

Growing up with 17 foster brothers throughout his childhood, Ty was motivated by his personal family life to bring more awareness to the ongoing need for more loving foster families. In 2016, Ty helped kick off the “Life Interrupted” foster care recruitment campaign, driving a 250 percent increase in the number of people requesting information about how to become a foster parent.

Soon after, Ty joined forces with his mother to create an eight video series – Montgomery Moments – to encourage others to learn more about becoming a foster parent. The results continued to be astounding, with the videos receiving over 55,000 views and another 37 percent increase in website traffic.

Through Ty and Lisa’s commitment to the foster care community, more children are receiving a safe and loving environment to call home. But, there is always a need for additional kind, responsible adults to step forward and care for foster children. Currently in Wisconsin there are about 8,000 children living in out-of-home care. For more information on becoming a foster parent, visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become.

To see Ty accept his award, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ovt1hf1O1HU&feature=youtu.be.

Dept. of Children and Families: First Lady Walker and DCF secretary recognize Sun Prairie foster parents

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

(MADISON) – In recognition of Foster Care Month, First Lady Tonette Walker and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson honored foster parents Bob and Nan Pieper for their incredible commitment to the children of Dane County who have needed a temporary, safe place to call home by presenting them with a 2018 Governor’s Foster Care Award during a special ceremony today at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

“Foster Care Month gives us an opportunity to thank the families who care for the vulnerable children who need to be removed from their homes for their own protection,” said Secretary Anderson. “Foster parents offer these children shelter, and play a critical role in helping them take the first step of their journey towards healing and recovery.”

Mr. and Mrs. Pieper have created a home that epitomize what a trauma-informed household should look like – safe, nurturing and supportive. Bob and Nan have committed themselves to learning the skills to help youth work through their traumatic experiences and fear about what comes next, while at the same time helping create new positive memories. With their continued strength and drive to help children, the Piepers have become foster parents that county workers can trust and rely on to provide a stable and loving home for children in need of a temporary home.

“For those times when children cannot remain at home, foster families step in to keep them safe, nurture them, and give them support,” stated Secretary Anderson. “I know firsthand the joys and challenges of being a foster parent, although for me the joys far outweighed the challenges. Wisconsin is forever in the debt of foster families who are willing to welcome children into their home at the very moment of their greatest need.”

The Piepers were recognized with five other outstanding foster families throughout Wisconsin along with a special Champion of Change Award being presented to Green Bay Packer Ty Montgomery and his mother, Lisa, for their dedication to raising awareness of the ongoing need for more foster families to offer protection and support during this difficult period in a child’s life.

The ceremony today also highlighted the need for additional kind, responsible adults to step forward and care for foster children. Currently in Wisconsin there are about 8,000 children living in out-of-home care. For more information on becoming a foster parent, visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become.

Dept. of Children and Families: First Lady Walker and DCF secretary recognize Verona foster parents

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

(MADISON) – In recognition of Foster Care Month, First Lady Tonette Walker and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson honored foster parents Pam Mathias and Tammy Stodola for their incredible commitment to the children of Dane County who have needed a temporary, safe place to call home by presenting them with a 2018 Governor’s Foster Care Award during a special ceremony today at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

“Foster Care Month gives us an opportunity to thank the families who care for the vulnerable children in Wisconsin who need to be removed from their homes for their own protection,” said Secretary Anderson. “Foster parents offer these children shelter, and play a critical role in helping them take the first step of their journey towards healing and recovery.”

Pam Mathias and Tammy Stodola are remarkable for the fact that they simply refuse to ever give up on a child. Where others might see an insurmountable challenge, Pam and Tammy see an opportunity to prove the power that love and commitment can have on a child’s life. Through their exceptional working relationships with numerous medical providers and their ability to recognize and articulate changes in a child’s behavior, Tammy and Pam have optimized the quality of care the children in their home receive.

“For those times when children cannot remain at home, foster families step in to keep them safe, nurture them, and give them support,” stated Secretary Anderson. “I know firsthand the joys and challenges of being a foster parent, although for me the joys far outweighed the challenges. Wisconsin is forever in the debt of foster families who are willing to welcome children into their home at the very moment of their greatest need.”

Pam and Tammy were recognized with five other outstanding foster families throughout Wisconsin along with a special Champion of Change Award being presented to Green Bay Packer Ty Montgomery and his mother, Lisa, for their dedication to raising awareness of the ongoing need for more foster families to offer protection and support during this difficult period in a child’s life.

The ceremony today also highlighted the need for additional kind, responsible adults to step forward and care for foster children. Currently in Wisconsin there are about 8,000 children living in out-of-home care. For more information on becoming a foster parent, visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/fostercare/become.

Dept. of Corrections: 41 correctional officers graduate from local pre-service academy held in Green Bay

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DOC Communications, 608-240-5060
[email protected]

GREEN BAY – Today, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) hosted a ceremony for correctional officers graduating from DOC’s rigorous seven-week Correctional Officer Pre-Service Academy. The officers, who have been training at Green Bay Correctional Institution, are the newest class to join the ranks of DOC security staff around the state who work on a 24/7 basis protecting the public and keeping DOC correctional facilities safe.

In recent years, the Department has begun holding local academies in coordination with correctional facilities around the state, which enable correctional officers to train in the same geographic area where they will be initially assigned. These academies have proven very successful, as correctional officers work closely with the facility where they will work and can go home at night.

Officers from today’s graduating class will be assigned to the following facilities:

· 21 officers to Green Bay Correctional Institution;

· 8 officers to the Wisconsin Resource Center;

· 4 officers to Redgranite Correctional Institution;

· 3 officers to the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility;

· 2 officers to the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility;

· 1 officer to Columbia Correctional Institution;

· 1 officer to Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution; and

· 1 officer to New Lisbon Correctional Institution.

The Correctional Officer Pre-Service Academy includes an extensive curriculum that includes both academic and applied training in a wide variety of topics, including state law and administrative code, professional communications skills, basic first aid, responding to emergency situations, working with inmates who have significant medical and mental health needs, managing work-life balance, suicide prevention, observation and report writing, on-the-job training, Prison Rape Elimination Act training, use of force training, and professionalism and ethics.

DOC Secretary Litscher said: “Today’s graduates are joining a proud 165-year tradition that stretches nearly back to our founding as a state. These officers will join thousands before them who work in our correctional facilities to keep the public safe. I am thankful for their service and welcome them to our ranks.”

Dept. of Corrections: Kicks off Correctional Employees Week

DOC Communications, 608-240-5060
[email protected]

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is celebrating Correctional Employees Week from May 6 – 12, as proclaimed by Governor Walker. The Department will be holding events at correctional facilities, probation and parole offices, and other worksites across the state to recognize the vital contributions of Department of Corrections employees.

The Department employs approximately 10,000 employees who work at 36 correctional facilities, 168 probation and parole offices, and numerous offices and buildings throughout the state of Wisconsin. Many employees work on a 24/7 basis to protect the public.

Staff work in a wide variety of careers, including teachers, medical professionals, psychologists and treatment providers, security employees, probation and parole agents, IT employees, food services workers and many other occupations. All of these employees have different roles with one attribute in common – they are integral to the success of the Department of Corrections.

DOC Secretary Jon Litscher said: “I firmly believe our employees are our greatest resource. We know that a career in corrections is challenging and we are incredible thankful for the sacrifices of all of our employees and their families on a daily basis. I am incredibly proud to work for the Department of Corrections and extend my profound appreciation to all of our employees. ”

Dept. of Financial Institutions: Announces $100,000 program for K-12 financial literacy grants 

Contact: George Althoff, Communications Director, 608-261-4504

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today announced a $100,000 statewide grant program to encourage Wisconsin’s K-12 school districts to incorporate personal finance education into their curricula.

Funding for the program will be provided by DFI, which through its Office of Financial Literacy is charged with promoting financial literacy in Wisconsin. The Office of Financial Literacy works in concert with the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy to measurably improve the financial literacy of Wisconsin’s citizens. The Governor’s Council was created by Governor Walker’s Executive Order #24 in 2011. DFI is working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) on administration of the grant program.

“This program reinforces our continued commitment to improving educational opportunities for Wisconsin’s K-12 students,” Governor Scott Walker said. “Financial literacy is an important lifelong skill that empowers people to take control of their futures and achieve their financial dreams.”

Governor Walker last year signed into law 2017 Wisconsin Act 94, which requires all Wisconsin public school districts to incorporate personal finance into their curricula. According to data compiled by DFI, more than 70 percent of all Wisconsin high schools now require students to take a course in personal finance in order to graduate.

“This grant program is a great opportunity for those districts that do not have a personal finance requirement or program to obtain funding to implement one,” DFI Secretary Jay Risch said.

Application deadline is June 1, 2018. DPI, which is administering the program, will begin accepting online nominations on May 9, 2018 at https://dpi.wi.gov/finance/grants. Award recipients will be notified the week of July 23, 2018. The program is open to all public and parochial schools in Wisconsin. Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • The nature of the expected outcome from the project and the degree to which they are measurable.
  • The number of students impacted by the project.
  • Sustainability and the degree that the proposal includes parents, volunteers, and other members of the community.
  • Matching financial support from the school or other partners in the community.
  • Degree the project is realistic, innovative, experiential, educational and engaging.
  • Degree it enhances student experiences and curriculum delivery.
  • Level of innovation and creativity to enrich existing services and programs.
  • Cost effectiveness.
  • All proposals must indicate how they support approved academic curriculum and integrate Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards on Personal Financial Literacy.

Under similar programs conducted in 2012, 2014 and 2016, DFI awarded more than $750,000 to 64 Wisconsin school districts.

Dept. of Financial Institutions: Credit unions’ net income, loan growth again up by double digits

Contact: George Althoff, Communications Director, 608-261-4504

MADISON – Net income and total lending grew by double digits at Wisconsin’s 128 state-chartered credit unions in the first quarter of 2018 compared to same quarter in 2017, according to data released today by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

In the three months ending March 31, 2018:

· Net income totaled $103.4 million, up 26.0% from $82.1 million in 2017.

· Total loans were $28.0 billion, up 12.6% from $24.9 billion.

· Net worth was 11.20%, up from 10.89%.

· The delinquent loan ratio was 0.60%, down from 0.61%.

“State-chartered credit unions in the first quarter picked up where they left off at the end of 2017,” DFI Secretary Jay Risch said. “Their continued strong performance indicates they are providing their members with the right mix of products and services, which is helping to fuel Wisconsin’s already strong economy.”

A full report on credit unions’ first-quarter 2018 performance will be available on the DFI website, www.wdfi.org, by the end of May.

Dept. of Financial Institutions: joins 40-plus other states in international crypto crackdown

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MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today announced it has issued an investor alert as part of an international crackdown on fraudulent Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency-related investment products. The sweep is being coordinated by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), of which DFI is a member.

“Fraudulent activity involving ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investment products is a significant threat to Main Street investors in Wisconsin,” said Leslie Van Buskirk, Administrator of DFI’s Division of Securities. “Crypto-criminals need to know that DFI is committed to swiftly and effectively protecting investors from schemes and scams involving these products.”

DFI has joined with more than 40 other state and provincial securities regulators in the United States and Canada in “Operation Cryptosweep,” resulting in nearly 70 investigations and 34 pending or completed enforcement actions since the beginning of May. These actions are in addition to more than a dozen enforcement actions previously undertaken by NASAA members regarding these types of products.

In April 2018, NASAA organized a task force of its member state and provincial securities regulators to begin a coordinated series of investigations into ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investment products. Regulators identified many cryptocurrency-related products and as part of its work, the task force identified hundreds of ICOs in the final stages of preparation before being launched to the public. These pending ICOs were advertised and listed on ICO aggregation sites to attract investor interest. Many have been examined and some were determined to warrant further investigation. A number of these investigations are ongoing and others resulted in enforcement actions announced today.

“The actions announced today are just the tip of the iceberg,” Van Buskirk said, noting that NASAA’s task force also found approximately 30,000 crypto-related domain name registrations, the vast majority of which appeared in 2017 and 2018.

A critical component of “Operation Cryptosweep” is raising public awareness of the risks associated with ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investment products. “Not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is fraudulent, but we urge investors to approach any initial coin offering or cryptocurrency-related investment product with extreme caution,” Van Buskirk said, adding that the best protection is prevention since there is little likelihood that fraudulent investments will ever be recovered by investors.

For more information about ICOs and cryptocurrencies, contact Robin Jacobs in the Division of Securities at [email protected] To assist consumers, DFI has issued two investor advisories: “What to Know About ICOs” and “Be Cautious of the Crypto Investment Craze.” Both are available on the agency’s website at http://www.wdfi.org/fi/securities.

Dept. of Financial Institutions: Net income, lending show healthy gains at state-chartered banks in 1st quarter

Contact: George Althoff, Communications Director, 608-261-4504

MADISON – Net income rose 23.3% and net lending grew by 8.8% at Wisconsin’s state-chartered banks in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, according to data released today by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

Compared to the first quarter of 2017, Wisconsin’s 160 state-chartered banks:

  • Increased net loans to $39.0 billion, up from $35.8 billion.
  • Posted a net income of $158.7 million, up from $128.7 million.
  • Reduced their past-due loan ratio to 1.22%, down from 1.23%.
  • Posted a solid capital ratio of 11.48%, down from 11.64%.

“The performance of our state-chartered banks is yet another sign of a prosperous and growing Wisconsin economy,” said DFI Secretary Jay Risch. “Our community banks help fuel the economy by providing their business customers and consumers with the products and services they need and want.”

In the first quarter, more than 75% of all state-chartered banks posted earnings gains compared to the prior year.

Dept. of Financial Institutions: Student entrepreneurs now eligible for waiver of $130 LLC filing fee

Contact: George Althoff, Communications Director, 608-261-4504

MADISON – Are you an entrepreneurial student who has a great idea for a start-up business, but is unable to pony up the filing fee? Then you’re in luck! Effective May 1, any college student in Wisconsin who creates a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) will have the $130 filing fee waived. The waiver was enacted when Governor Scott Walker signed Wisconsin Act 177 into law earlier this year.

The LLC filing fee will be waived for Student Entrepreneurs who meet the following criteria:

  • The student is enrolled in a post-secondary institution in Wisconsin.
  • The student is an organizer of the LLC or will be a member of the LLC upon its formation, and the LLC is being formed as a business start-up.
  • The student is at least 18 years of age.

“This is a great way to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of college students across the state and show that Wisconsin is open for business,” said Jay Risch, Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

In order to be eligible for the fee waiver, a Student Entrepreneur must submit a Form 502SE and a completed affidavit to DFI. These forms may only be filed on paper. The forms, along with instructions on how to submit them, can be accessed here. More information is available on DFI Corporations home page, http://www.wdfi.org/corporations.

Dept. of Justice: AG Schimel and stakeholders resolve questions surrounding DATCP industrial hemp research pilot program

MADISON, Wis. – On May 9, 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) hosted a meeting with Attorney General Brad Schimel and his staff, members of the Wisconsin State Legislature, the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation (WFBF), and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) regarding Wisconsin’s new industrial hemp research pilot program. Specifically, those in attendance discussed the effect of 2017 Wisconsin Act 100 on Wisconsin’s existing law concerning CBD and THC.

“We all have always had full confidence in the successful implementation of the industrial hemp program in Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Schimel. “Industrial hemp has the promise of being an important part of our critical agricultural economy, and Wisconsin farmers who choose to participate in this pilot program deserve and need legislative and regulatory certainty from all parts of government.”

Wisconsin’s industrial hemp program, which is administered by DATCP, allows Wisconsin farmers to grow and sell industrial hemp, as long as they obtain a permit and abide by certain DATCP requirements. Farmers who participate in this program and follow the rules are exempt from criminal prosecution, and products made from industrial hemp, including CBD, are lawful.

“I very much appreciate WFBF raising concerns to me about Wisconsin’s current laws related to hemp,” said Attorney General Schimel. “DOJ remains committed to ensuring that CBD oil for sale at retail outlets is safe for consumers. Senator Testin has been a leader on this issue, and I know he is committed to overcome any challenges that may arise legislatively. With the 2018 Farm Bill now working its way through Congress, it is likely that our current laws will be changed even further to make industrial hemp’s legality clear. Therefore, I am advising law enforcement not to take enforcement action against products made from industrial hemp that is grown under a lawful hemp research pilot program, including CBD, until Congress considers changes to the law, enabling the Wisconsin State Legislature to further clarify the status of these products.”

During yesterday’s meeting, the Attorney General, DOJ senior staff, members of the Legislature, WFBF, and DATCP all agreed on several important points, including the following.

Farmers who follow DATCP’s rules and regulations may do the following:

  1. Grow industrial hemp without fear of criminal prosecution;
  2. Sell the entire industrial hemp plant or parts of the plant to anyone;
  3. Process the plant as permitted by DATCP’s rules and regulations, which includes producing CBD.

It is important to note that the legal protections under DATCP’s program discussed above apply only to farmers who are working in compliance with DATCP authorization and retailers who are selling CBD certified to be in compliance with the provisions of the Farm Bill. Rogue producers and retailers will still be subject to prosecution.

“Although our legislature has chosen to authorize industrial hemp pilot projects and products made from that hemp, it is still very important to remind Wisconsin consumers that certain products may threaten their health or could be mislabeled,” said Attorney General Schimel. “Over the past few weeks, I have learned that there is great deal of confusion and uncertainty with products sold in grocery stores and health food stores labeled as ‘CBD.’”

“Law enforcement has encountered products labeled as CBD oil throughout the state and, until the DOJ analytical note, had no guidance on what products are legally and properly manufactured and what products might be harmful to consumers,” said Wausau Chief of Police Ben Bliven. “I appreciate the additional clarity Attorney General Schimel has provided to keep Wisconsinites safe from potentially harmful substances.”

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several warning letters to businesses that market and sell CBD. During these investigations, the FDA learned that some materials labeled as CBD do not contain the levels of CBD that they claim. DOJ’s Analytical Note explained other health concerns related to mislabeled CBD.

“CBD is helpful for certain Wisconsinites, and the legislature has made a policy decision to allow those individuals to have access to CBD,” said Attorney General Schimel. “But we should make sure that our consumers are getting what they expect.”

To view this news release online, please visit: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-schimel-and-stakeholders-resolve-questions-surrounding-datcp-industrial-hemp

Dept. of Justice: AG Schimel’s fight to uphold Congressional Review Act proves successful

MADISON, Wis. – Yesterday, the United States District Court for the District of Alaska granted the motion to dismiss the constitutional challenge to the Congressional Review Act in Center for Biological Diversity v. Ryan Zinke and Department of the Interior, which Attorney General Brad Schimel and 14 other state attorneys general asked in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in the case last year. The brief, which defended the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act, was co-led by Attorney General Schimel and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

“I’m pleased to have a federal district court agree with our position that the Congressional Review Act is clearly a lawful procedure that allows states to work with Congress to stop unlawful and burdensome regulations,” said Attorney General Schimel. “Preserving this important procedural tool is crucial to undoing the harm federal rules can cause.”

State attorneys general from Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah joined Wisconsin in filing the amicus brief.

Dept. of Justice: All 4,155 Wisconsin sexual assault kits submitted for testing; testing to be complete by end of year

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Brad Schimel announced today that Wisconsin’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (WiSAKI), a statewide effort to address the decades-long accumulation of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) that were in the possession of local law enforcement agencies and hospitals, has completed inventorying all of these kits, collected those designated for testing, and submitted them to contracted laboratories for testing. Testing will be complete by the end of 2018.

“When I took office in 2015, I inherited more than 6,000 sexual assault evidence kits that had never been submitted for testing, some of them dating back to the 1980s,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “Today, I am excited to announce that every last one of the kits that should have originally been tested has now been submitted for testing, and that testing will be complete by the end of the year. In less than three years, DOJ and local law enforcement will have tested the kits that built up over several multiple decades, and justice can be served to sexual assault survivors.”

“We are pleased to hear that testing of the previously unsubmitted SAKs will be complete by the end of the year,” stated Pennie Meyers, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA). “As testing results come back, it is imperative that notification of survivors occurs in a trauma-informed and victim-centered manner. We look forward to continuing to partner with DOJ on the WiSAKI project to ensure that survivors have access to information and resources after their SAK has been tested.”

“The Wausau Police Department values its partnership with DOJ, for the benefit of our criminal investigations and outcomes for victims,” said Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven. “Holding offenders accountable and earning the trust and confidence of victims is essential to our mission of enhancing the quality of life in our community. The implementation of WiSAKI and its training resources elevates our agency’s effectiveness in carrying out that mission.”

As of Tuesday, May 29, 2018 the last 48 WiSAKI kits were sent to private labs for testing. Testing is complete on 1,884 kits, and 2,271 kits are currently being tested. Aggregate data on kit testing results can be found at https://wisaki.doj.wi.gov/numbers/data-results. The testing of all WiSAKI kits that have been designated for testing will be complete by the end of 2018.

In September 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) was awarded two, $2 million grants to implement WiSAKI and test previously unsubmitted SAKs. In order to expedite this testing and ensure current case work at the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory (WSCL) could continue without interruption, DOJ needed to outsource the testing of previously unsubmitted SAKs to other laboratories. After receiving permission to do so in early 2016, DOJ submitted a request for bid (RFB) for the testing of SAKs. However, due to the volume of untested SAKs across the country being submitted to private labs and the stringent requirements placed on the private labs, DOJ received no bids. DOJ subsequently published a second RFB in July 2016, and Bode Cellmark Forensics, as the sole responder, was awarded the contract to test 3,000 kits.

Simultaneously, the DOJ WiSAKI team completed a detailed inventory of all SAKs in the possession of local law enforcement and hospitals that were never submitted for testing before 2016. In the inventory, DOJ collected case-specific information on 6,833 SAKs from Wisconsin’s 557 law enforcement agencies and every hospital that conducts forensic exams. Collecting this data was no small effort, as detailed information was required from each and every kit, along with an examination of accompanying documentation, such as case files. Local law enforcement agencies and hospitals put in a tremendous amount of time and effort collecting and reporting this information to DOJ, and did so voluntarily.

In November 2016, grantors certified the first phase of Wisconsin’s previously unsubmitted SAKs inventory, which allowed DOJ to initiate testing on the approximately 4,200 kits that had been designated as eligible for testing.

Once DOJ received authorization to test the SAKs, it then began physically collecting each of the SAKs and, beginning in January 2017, sent 200 kits per month to Bode Cellmark Forensics. This limited testing capacity was caused by the many states and local governments flooding the system with their simultaneous efforts to test kits in their own communities. Nationwide, more than 30 jurisdictions have identical SAKI initiatives under way, totaling nearly 44,000 kits combined. These nearly 44,000 kits have been submitted to the few labs nationwide that are accredited and eligible to test SAKs. DOJ has continually monitored the capacity of private labs to speed up testing of Wisconsin’s kits, and in January 2018 DOJ contracted with Sorenson Forensics, in Salt Lake City, Utah and Marshall University Forensics Science Center, in Huntington, West Virginia to test WiSAKI kits.

Out of the 6,833 kits inventoried in Wisconsin, 4,155 kits are currently designated for testing. Kits that are not designated for testing are designated as such for a number of reasons, including whether a victim consented to testing or if a conviction has already occurred. Further details and data on kits not designated for testing can be found on the WiSAKI website.

The WiSAKI project will continue even after testing is complete. In addition to processing all previously unsubmitted SAKs, the WiSAKI team has been preparing criminal justice professionals across the state to review cold case sexual assault investigations after testing is completed. The team has also been conducting case reviews on an ongoing basis as testing results are returned to DOJ, in conjunction with local law enforcement and district attorney’s offices. Over the course of many months local and state criminal justice professionals will be working with victims and will determine whether new evidence may result in reopening cases and possible prosecution of sexual predators. Already, DOJ has filed charges against two individuals in Wisconsin as the result of WiSAKI kit testing: Aaron J. Heiden, Winnebago County 2018CF000130; and Leroy R. Whittenberger, Waupaca County 2018CF000129.

The WiSAKI team is also working to expand the sexual assault response training program at DOJ to equip more law enforcement officers, prosecutors, sexual assault nurse examiners, and victim advocates with the specialized knowledge and resources needed to properly respond to sexual assault cases.

The team is also developing the implementation of a sexual assault kit tracking system that will track a kit from the point of manufacture, to hospitals, to law enforcement, and through submission to the state crime lab. This system is intended to offer an option for survivors to access information about the location of their kit and will provide a mechanism for the ongoing auditing of sexual assault kit submissions.

Any survivor who had a sexual assault kit collected and does not know if their kit was tested for the presence of DNA evidence can call 1-800-446-6564 or go to ByYourSideWI.org for information and assistance. Survivors will also be referred to local advocacy and support services.

For more information about Attorney General Schimel’s efforts to address the accumulation of previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits, and to see regular updates on testing results as they come in, go to www.wisaki.wi.doj.gov.

Dept. of Justice: Announces “A Dose of Reality” for tribal communities, online ad campaign

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WAUSAU, Wis. – Today, Attorney General Brad Schimel announced the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) is now offering a Dose of Reality to Native American Tribal Communities on the dangers of misusing opioid and narcotic pain medications. In addition to customized brochures, flyers, and posters, online advertisements will run throughout the summer, targeted at young tribal members and their influencers – parents, caregivers and elders.

“Here’s a dose of reality: nonmedical use of opioids in Native American youth occurs two-to-three times more than with other ethnic groups,” said Attorney General Schimel. “I’m excited to partner with tribal communities to bring this new phase of Dose of Reality, and equip tribal communities with tools and resources to prevent opioid abuse.”

The Dose of Reality’s success is due to strong partnerships with organizations like the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), which helped develop and launch the opioid abuse prevention campaign in 2015.

“There is not a community in this state that isn’t touched by the opioid crisis, including the Wisconsin tribal communities. These tools help tribes address the epidemic in a way that is unique to their specific needs and challenges,” said Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives.

Marshfield Clinic Health System, Alliance for Wisconsin Youth, and Northwoods Coalition – Wisconsin’s largest and oldest coalition dedicated to substance abuse prevention – assisted in the creation, messaging, and design of the Dose of Reality tribal community materials.

“Feedback gathered through community conversations and listening sessions led to the development of new Dose of Reality materials that can be used in Native American communities. Messaging places the importance on culture as prevention,” said Danielle Luther, Manger – Alcohol & Drug Programs, Marshfield Clinic Health System. “Marshfield Clinic Health System – Center for Community Health Advancement has dedicated staff to focus on learning and supporting the Native American tribes as they focus on substance abuse prevention.”

Dose of Reality, is a statewide prevention campaign designed to raise awareness about prescription drug abuse and its effect on the opioid epidemic. The campaign was launched in September 2015, and has prevention messages for the medical community, students, coaches, parents, educators, employers, and now, tribal communities. The Dose of Reality campaign has also been adopted and deployed statewide in Arkansas, Georgia, Maine, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

Dept. of Justice: Clark County officer involved death investigation

MADISON, Wis. – In the late evening of Friday, May 11 the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) responded to a critical incident in Clark County, Wis. at the request of Clark County Sheriff Greg Herrick.

When law enforcement attempted to make a traffic stop on a subject with a felony warrant, a high speed chase ensued that ended once stop sticks were deployed. The subject exited the vehicle and presented a firearm. The subject and a Clark County sheriff’s deputy and a Loyal Police Department officer exchanged fire, and law enforcement struck the subject. No law enforcement were injured during the exchange.

Deputies and police rendered first-aid to the subject, and first responders transported the individual to an area hospital. The subject later succumbed to injuries at the hospital.

The involved sheriff’s deputy and police officer have been placed on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of this investigation, per the departments’ policies.

The Wisconsin DOJ-led investigation of this incident has been a collaboration between DCI, Wisconsin State Patrol, Clark County Coroner, and UW Hospital. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Loyal Police Department have been fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation.

DCI is continuing to collect evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to the Clark County District Attorney when the investigation concludes.

No additional details are available at this time.

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/clark-county-officer-involved-death-investigation

Dept. of Justice: Fox Crossing officer involved death investigation

FOX CROSSING, Wis. – On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 23 the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) responded to a critical incident in Fox Crossing, Wis. at the request of Fox Crossing Police Chief Tim Seaver.

Law enforcement received calls from numerous people that a male subject was acting erratically with a knife and approaching members of the public in Fritse Park. Law enforcement arrived on scene and located the individual and over the course of the incident, one Fox Crossing police officer fired their weapon and struck the man.

Law enforcement rendered first-aid to the subject on scene, however the decedent succumbed to injuries at the scene. No law enforcement were injured during the incident.

The involved police officer has been placed on paid administrative leave, per the department’s policies.

The Wisconsin DOJ-led investigation of this incident has been a collaboration between DCI, Wisconsin State Patrol, Neenah Police Department, Menasha Police Department, Winnebago Sheriff’s Office, and the Winnebago County Coroner. The Fox Crossing Police Department have been fully cooperating with DCI during this investigation.

DCI is continuing to collect evidence and determine the facts of this incident and will turn over investigative reports to the Winnebago County District Attorney when the investigation concludes.

No additional details are available at this time. Please contact DOJ with media inquiries.

Dept. of Justice: Hosts internet crimes against children investigators in Green Bay for high-tech training

GREEN BAY, Wis. – Law enforcement and prosecutors from across Wisconsin and the Midwest attended the 2018 Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Conference in Green Bay today to receive highly specialized training focused on investigating and prosecuting technology-facilitated crimes against children by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ).

“I spent a large part of my nearly 30-year law enforcement career prosecuting sensitive crimes against children, and I swore to continue protecting Wisconsin’s children when I became Attorney General,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “This DOJ training, and the work accomplished because of Alicia’s Law, is guaranteeing that Wisconsin families can feel more comfortable having their children use the Internet.”

Nearly 175 law enforcement and prosecutors attending the training, which featured a training on investigative tactics regarding the latest in internet crime trends, including Internet of Things and Cloud data, social media, the dark web, sexting, and virtual currency. DOJ and national experts provided the high-tech training.

Also attending the conference was Alicia Kozakiewicz – the survivor of a brutal abduction by an Internet predator and was held hostage and tortured in the predator’s Virginia basement at the age of 13 – an advocate for Internet and child safety awareness. Kozakiewicz is the namesake of “Alicia’s Law,” which was passed and signed into law in Wisconsin in 2016. Alicia’s Law provides additional funding to the Wisconsin ICAC Task Force and created an administrative subpoena process that expedites the procedure for finding the location of suspected internet sex predators.

“Alicia’s Law is probably the single-most effective law enforcement tool passed in the several decades,” said Senator Van Wanggaard of Racine, the lead legislative author of Alicia’s Law. “Thanks to this law and the efforts of the ICAC investigators, we’ve arrested over 1,000 sexual predators in just two years. Children are being saved, and bad guys are being put away.”

“How incredible that so effective a piece of legislation was born from such a horrendous experience; that by our working together, my namesake, Alicia’s Law, has provided law enforcement the tools necessary to prevent further predatory crimes against other children,” said Alicia Kozakiewicz.

In 2017, the Wisconsin ICAC Task Force received more than 1,700 cybertips; inspected more than 415,000 gigabytes of seized data on hard drives, cellphones, and other data storage devices; and arrested 537 people who were suspected of conducting internet crimes against children including child enticement, obscenity directed to minors, child prostitution, and manufacture, distribution, and possession of child pornography.

In the first quarter of 2018, the Wisconsin ICAC Task Force has reported 119 arrests, over 200 search warrants executed, over 250 subpoenas obtained, over 130 terabytes of data examined, and 495 cyber tips received.

The ability to investigate so many cases in recent years would not have been possible without Alicia’s Law. In 2015, before the law was passed, the Wisconsin ICAC Task Force arrested 291 suspected predators and executed 459 search warrants.

ICAC also provides online safety training for parents, teachers, and communities through educational programming and the Protect Kids Online Podcast. Since 2015, ICAC teams have given nearly 2,000 educational presentations statewide.

The Wisconsin ICAC Task Force was launched in 1998 to help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies protect kids online by investigating individuals who use the internet, online communications, or computer technology to exploit children. The Wisconsin ICAC Task Force is comprised of DOJ personnel, as well as police and sheriff’s departments from around the state (full list of Wisconsin ICAC affiliates can be seen here). In August 2017, the ICAC Task Force at DOJ merged with the DOJ Human Trafficking Bureau, allowing for a more efficient flow of critical investigative information as the these units often overlap with human trafficking investigations.

For more information on ICAC and how to protect children online, go to: www.ProtectKidsOnlineWI.gov.

Dept. of Justice: Top cop’s quick action saves lives

Top Cop and Racine County Sheriff’s Deputy Karen Hernandez, quick action after seeing a fleeing vehicle had run over two people in a parking lot. She rushed to help save the lives of the two people and applied a tourniquet to one of the victims, while directing a nearby citizen on how to apply a tourniquet to the other victim.

“Sheriff’s Deputy Karen Hernandez quick response and leadership helped save the lives of two innocent civilians,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “The men and women of law enforcement are lifesavers. Every day they encounter situations where their quick action saves lives.”

“Deputy Hernandez’s quick response and actions undoubtedly saved lives,” said Racine County Sheriff Chris Schmaling. “She represents the highest standards of law enforcement and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Read about Deputy Hernandez’s experience from WTMJ:

Sometimes a routine check of a license plate can turn into something a whole lot more serious. But there is nothing ever routine about the daily work of a law enforcement professional.

Racine Sheriff’s Department Deputy Karen Hernandez was at an intersection in Racine when a vehicle next to her rapidly pulled away and fled into a… parking lot.

As the suspect drove through the parking lot, he ran over two people who had come out of the store after shopping, resulting in very serious injuries.

Deputy Hernandez immediately sprang into action, applying a tourniquet to one of the victims, as her face was sprayed with blood from the horrific injury, at the same time directing a nearby civilian on how to make a second tourniquet for the other victim.

Her quick response is credited with saving the woman’s life. She clearly understands her role in the safety of the community, but this event was more than just doing a job. “I looked over to my left and saw the victims lying on the ground, it was horrific, and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Hernandez said.

May 14 – 19, 2018 is National Police Week, dedicated to recognizing law enforcement’s daily sacrifices, and remembering the brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their communities.

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/topcops/top-cop%E2%80%99s-quick-action-saves-lives

Dept. of Military Affairs: REMINDER: National Guard to canvass Omro as part of Dark Sky exercise

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CONTACT: Capt. Joe Trovato | [email protected] | 608-242-3048

by Capt. Joe Trovato

MADISON — Approximately 110 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers will partner with local emergency management, fire and police from the city of Omro, Winnebago County and the American Red Cross to go door-to-door in Omro, Wisconsin, May 16 as part of a full-scale training exercise known as Dark Sky.

Local residents can expect to see Soldiers canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors, speaking with residents, and passing out emergency preparedness information as part of the exercise during the afternoon hours of May 16. Residents may participate in a voluntary survey about smoke detectors. The American Red Cross will dispatch volunteers to help resolve smoke detector issues. Residents who are not home during the canvassing period will still receive emergency preparedness information at their doors, and they may still choose to participate in the survey by calling “2-1-1.”

There is no threat to the public, and local residents should not be alarmed or concerned if they see an increased law enforcement or military presence in Omro May 16. The purpose of this exercise is to aid in readiness and safety should a major crisis arise in the city.

In the exercise scenario, National Guard Soldiers — at the request of local authorities and emergency responders — will simulate conducting health and welfare checks of local populations to ensure residents are safe. This is similar to a real-life scenario that played out in July 2017 in Burlington, when Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers assisted local emergency responders by going door-to-door in that community to conduct health and welfare checks in the wake of extreme flooding there.

“The city of Omro is pleased to be partnering with Winnebago County and the State of Wisconsin to exercise our ability to incorporate mutual aid resources into local disaster operations” Linda Kutchenriter, the Omro city administrator, said. “This opportunity will help our first responders, as well as those around the state, learn how to better coordinate and communicate with the Wisconsin National Guard, American Red Cross, and other partners to conduct critical public outreach during these crisis periods.”

Dark Sky is a full-scale exercise that runs May 15-17 in Brown, Calumet, Dane, Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Outagamie and Winnebago Counties. The exercise simulates a long-term mass power outage across a large swath of Wisconsin, testing the abilities of private utilities, nongovernmental organizations, emergency responders from all levels of government, and the National Guard to respond to threats to the power grid, a long-term power outage and its second and third order effects.

The goal of the exercise is to increase the understanding of the coordination, policies, and procedures required to conduct a joint inter-agency response to cyber and physical threats to critical Wisconsin infrastructure.

The state Emergency Operations Center, the Business Emergency Operations Center, Wisconsin National Guard, county emergency operations centers, municipal command posts, and federal agencies will participate in the exercise.

The Dark Sky scenario includes a variety of incidents that require local, county and state-level response operations designed to exercise each participating unit and agency. The Wisconsin National Guard will exercise its joint staff and the National Guard Reaction Force in support of private utilities partners, nongovernmental organizations, local, county, state and federal agencies for infrastructure security. As part of the exercise, Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers will conduct door-to-door health and welfare checks in Omro.

The exercise will also test the abilities of public and private sector partners to work directly with local citizens impacted by critical infrastructure failures and to coordinate critical fuel distribution, cyber response, intelligence sharing, and other resources as well as procedures for opening and operating the state’s Business Emergency Operations Center.

The exercise represents the final phase in a series of related exercises that culminate in Dark Sky. In November 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and private utilities partners conducted GridEx in Columbia and Dane Counties. GridEx also simulated a cyber and physical threat to the power grid resulting in a Wisconsin National Guard response. In February, the annual Statewide Interoperable Mobile Communications — or SIMCOM — exercise simulated a notional winter ice emergency that affected 600,000 people and disconnected power to about 50,000 people.

The relationships developed between the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs and private utilities in Wisconsin during the previous exercises have further honed public-private response capabilities and laid the groundwork for continued success in the Dark Sky exercise.

Dept. of Military Affairs: Volk Field to host Northern Lightning exercise May 14-25

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CONTACT: Capt. Eric Dunford| [email protected] | 608-427-1774

by Capt. Joe Trovato

CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. — Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center will host aircraft and personnel from multiple active duty Air Force, National Guard and Navy units as part of the annual Northern Lightning Counterland training exercise May 14-25.

Northern Lightning is one of seven Air National Guard joint accredited exercises held at a Combat Readiness Training Center. According to Col David May, the commander of Volk Field CRTC, Northern Lightning represents a one-of-a-kind training opportunity.

“We are very excited to kick off our first of two Northern Lightning exercises for this year,” May said. “Our Airmen have worked exceptionally hard for months to make this two week exercise a success for all of the participants from the National Guard and the Active Duty. Our airspace, training facilities, and ranges make Volk Field an ideal location for counterland training. Pilots will practice completing specific missions in a contested environment to include adversary aircraft, electronic jamming, and simulated ground based threats.”

The first rendition of the Northern Lightning exercise will consist of several assets including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, T-38 Talon, KC-135 Stratotanker, and the E-2C Hawkeye.

Units scheduled to participate in the 2018 exercise include the 128th Air Refueling Wing from Milwaukee; 115th Fighter Wing from Madison, Wisconsin; 128th Air Control Squadron from Volk Field; 114th Fighter Wing from Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and 88th Fighter Training Squadron from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

The general public can expect to see an increase in aircraft activity in and around the Camp Douglas area May 14-25. Those living in the following counties can anticipate increased noise levels from 10 a.m.-noon from May 14-25 as well: Adams, Brown, Calumet, Clark, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Jackson, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Outagamie, Portage, Sauk, Sheboygan, Trempealeau, Waupaca, Winnebago, and Wood.

Dept. of Natural Resouces: Great Lakes states to collaborate on West Nile virus monitoring in ruffed grouse

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CONTACT: Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 608-267-7861; Charlotte Roy, grouse project leader, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 218-328-8876; Kelly Straka, State Wildlife Veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 517-336-5030

MADISON – A region-wide effort to better understand West Nile virus in ruffed grouse is getting underway in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

“In the Great Lakes Region, West Nile virus has been found in a small number of grouse with no known population-level effects at this point,” said Charlotte Roy, grouse project leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Still, we want to let hunters know we’re in the first steps of monitoring the virus, and we’re planning to do some limited testing of birds this fall.”

In 2017, West Nile virus was identified in more ruffed grouse in the Great Lakes states than in the past. The virus has been present in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin for about 17 years.

West Nile virus has been documented in more than 250 species of birds; however, not all birds develop clinical disease from the virus. Corvids (including blue jays and crows) are very prone to illness and death from the virus, while other species may be less so or may not develop symptoms at all.

Last year, Michigan had 12 positive cases of West Nile virus in ruffed grouse. Prior to 2017, only one positive ruffed grouse had been found in Michigan, and that was in 2002. The virus was confirmed in one ruffed grouse in the early 2000s in Minnesota, and is yet to have been detected in a Wisconsin ruffed grouse.

West Nile virus in ruffed grouse has become a topic of concern because of a recent study in Pennsylvania reporting that the virus may have contributed to population declines in areas of lower-quality habitat or where habitat was scarce.

Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are in the early stages of planning to test samples from grouse this fall but at this point, there is no evidence that the virus is having a population-level impact in the Great Lakes region.

“By monitoring birds at a regional level, we will be able to gain a better understanding of this disease in ruffed grouse,” said Kelly Straka, State Wildlife Veterinarian with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Ruffed grouse are hunted annually by around 300,000 hunters across the three states. Preliminary reports from 2017 hunters were mixed across the Great Lakes region. While the virus could impact brood survival of grouse, other factors such as cold, wet springs during nesting and hatching; drought conditions; or habitat decline can also affect birds seen and harvested.

Biologists in the region are optimistic that the great habitat for ruffed grouse in the Great Lakes states will help populations thrive despite the virus.

“We are looking to hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to help us in this endeavor,” said Mark Witecha, upland wildlife ecologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “This is an excellent example of agencies and organizations taking a proactive approach and working together to expand our knowledge about WNV and ruffed grouse – we will be sharing updates throughout the process.”

Recently, the Midwest Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Health Committee held their annual meeting in Traverse City, Michigan. WNV was one of the topics for state wildlife health leaders. Over 25 wildlife health professionals from 13 midwestern states and Canada were in attendance.

Individual agencies are currently reviewing ways they will be monitoring their grouse populations for WNV, and additional information will be shared when more details are determined.

Like humans, wild animals can be exposed to WNV and survive the exposure. Currently, there is no evidence of humans becoming infected by consuming properly cooked birds or by handling birds. Research has shown dogs can be infected but are very resistant to developing clinical signs of the disease and are considered an end host.

The Wisconsin ruffed grouse hunting season opens September 15 in Zone A and October 20 in Zone B. Ruffed grouse hunting information can be found at dnr.wi.gov by searching keywords “ruffed grouse.” Ruffed grouse hunting seasons open on September 15 in both Michigan and Minnesota.

Dept. of Natural Resources: The ultimate birder adventure – Horicon Marsh 21st Annual Bird Festival will be held May 10-14

CONTACT: Liz Herzmann, DNR wildlife conservation educator, 920-387-7893

HORICON, Wis. – Bird enthusiasts can experience the sights, sounds and natural beauty of birds in peak spring migration as the Horicon Marsh Bird Club hosts the 21st annual Bird Festival at Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center May 10-14.

From the backyard birder to the world traveler, four days of adventure await by foot, boat, bus and bicycle at Horicon Marsh, one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States. The Horicon Marsh Bird Festival is the oldest bird festival in Wisconsin.

Highlights of this year’s Bird Festival include a keynote speech from birder and humorist Al Batt; ‘Mom and Me, Birding Together’, a beginner’s guide to birding (and a great way to spend some time with mom on Mother’s Day) and bird banding demonstrations by Dr. Sheldon Cooper from UW-Oshkosh.

The Birding by Bicycle guided tour invites birders to peddle their way through the area. A Birdy Scavenger Hunt offers a unique way to explore the Marshes scenic views, sounds and enjoyment.

At over 33,000 acres, Horicon Marsh provides habitat for endangered species and is a critical rest stop for thousands of migrating songbirds and waterfowl. It is recognized as a Wetland of International Importance and as Globally and State Important Bird Areas. More than 300 bird species are on the Horicon Marsh checklist.

The festival begins with an Early Bird Bus Tour. Popular favorites include the Hot Spot Birding Bus Tour, Beginners Bird Hike, Birding Adventure Boat Tour, and 20+ other tours and activities planned by the Horicon Marsh Bird Club.

For the early morning birder, First Light Birding offers a glimpse of the birds at sunrise. At sunset, a Night Sounds Bus Tour is offered. Throughout the festival, the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, Marsh Haven Nature Center and Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center will be buzzing with interactive displays, programs, and opportunities for viewing birds at their observation areas.

To plan your birding adventure, visit www.horiconmarshbirdclub.com (exit DNR) and click on the Bird Festival link for a complete list of events, descriptions and registration information. For additional registration information, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR wildlife conservation educator, at 920-387-7893.

Many tours require advanced registration and fees and spaces are filling up fast. Partners for this event include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marsh Haven Nature Center, Horicon Marsh Boat Tours, Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, and Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center.

The Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center is located between Horicon, Wis. and Mayville, Wis. on Hwy. 28. For a detailed list of all Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center special events, please visit the Friends of Horicon Marsh website at www.horiconmarsh.org (exit DNR). For more information regarding Horicon Marsh education programs, contact Liz Herzmann, DNR educator, at 920-387-7893.

Dept. of Revenue: 324,000 Wisconsin child sales tax rebate claims have been filed in the first week

CONTACT:  Patty Mayers, Communications Director
608.266.2300 or [email protected]

With slightly more than five weeks remaining in the filing period, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) is reminding eligible claimants to file for their $100 per child sales tax rebate. Claims must be filed by July 2, but DOR encourages those who are eligible not to wait until the last minute.  DOR estimates that roughly 670,000 households, with 1.22 million children in total, are eligible to file a claim.

“The filing process is going very well.  The online application system is easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes to apply.  Because there is a deadline, we want to be sure people don’t leave it until the last minute and then forget to apply,” notes Department of Revenue Secretary Richard Chandler. “After July 2nd, we will no longer be able to accept claims, so if you’re eligible, don’t wait.”

Have a dependent child/children?  You’re likely eligible for a $100 (per child) sales tax rebate!

Sound fiscal management and a strong economy resulted in a state budget surplus of almost $400 million for the State of Wisconsin. Recently, a law was passed to return some of that surplus to taxpayers in the form of a Child Sales Tax Rebate. If you’re eligible, you can claim it between May 15 and July 2.

What is the Child Sales Tax Rebate?

It is a $100 rebate for sales and use tax paid on purchases made for raising a dependent child in 2017.*

You may claim $100 for each qualified child.

Who can claim the Child Sales Tax Rebate?

If you have a qualified child, you’re likely eligible. Each child’s rebate may only be claimed by one individual.

 A qualified child must be:

  • Under age 18 on December 31, 2017
  • A dependent of the claimant for tax year 2017
  • A Wisconsin resident on December 31, 2017
  • A United States citizen

How do I claim my $100 (per child) Child Sales Tax Rebate?

The fastest and most convenient way is to go to childtaxrebate.wi.gov where you will find more details, frequently asked questions and information. You can apply for the Child Sales Tax Rebate online 24/7 from May 15 through July 2.

If you don’t have internet access, you may file a claim by phone at (608) 266-KIDS (5437), Monday – Friday from 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Please keep in mind that going online will be faster and more convenient.

*Dependent is determined using guidance described in IRS Publication 501, regardless of whether the claimant files a 2017 federal income tax return.

Dept. of Revenue: Collections, April FY2018

CONTACT:  608.266.2300 or [email protected]

($ thousands)

  Collections for Month Collections to Date
Revenue Source FY17 FY18 % change FY17 FY18 % change
       
Individual Income          760,060      1,236,212 62.6%      6,119,181      6,662,467 8.9%
adjusted          987,288          982,800 -0.5%      6,346,409      6,662,467 5.0%
         
General Sales & Use          419,420          448,561 6.9%      3,823,053      4,008,852 4.9%
         
Corporate            71,464          135,328 89.4%          693,638          644,786 -7.0%
         
Excise Taxes            50,598            52,438 3.6%          521,375          505,657 -3.0%
         
Other            10,451            10,240 -2.0%          247,335          246,564 -0.3%
         
Total GPR      1,311,994      1,882,779 43.5%    11,404,582    12,068,326 5.8%
Total GPR, adjusted      1,539,222      1,629,366 5.9%    11,631,811    12,068,326 3.8%

Notes:

  1. For fiscal year (FY) 2018, the adjusted line excludes withholding that was received on the first working day of April, rather than the last day of March, which was a weekend day. The collections-to-date were not affected for FY2018.  For FY2017, the adjusted line includes withholding that was received on the first working day of May instead of the last day of April, which was a weekend.  The collections-to-date were also affected for FY2017.
  2. Individual Income includes 66.2% of pass-thru withholding and Corporate Franchise & Income includes the remaining 33.8%.
  3. The “Other” category includes estate, utility, and real estate transfer fee collections.
  4. Total does not include insurance premium taxes.
  5. This report is generated from the STAR Accounting System.  Timing differences may cause the amounts in this report to differ from reports produced by the Department of Administration.
  6. All data are preliminary and unaudited.

Dept. of Revenue: Two sentenced after pleading guilty to tax fraud scheme

CONTACT:  Patty Mayers, Communications Director

608.266.2300 or [email protected]

Two Milwaukee residents were sentenced on May 22, 2018 in Milwaukee County Circuit Court for their involvement in a tax fraud scheme that defrauded the Wisconsin Department of Revenue out of $22,217 between January 2010 and October 2015.

Raimone Lewis Sr., 50, and Melissa Hlawek, 31, entered guilty pleas on March 8, 2018.

Lewis was sentenced to two years in prison and two years extended supervision for one count of Filing a False Income Tax Return and one count of Identity Theft to Obtain Money.

Hlawek was sentenced to nine months in the Milwaukee House of Correction and three years’ probation for one count of being party to a crime of Filing a False Income Tax Return.

According to the criminal complaint, between 2010 and 2015 Lewis and Hlawek conspired to file 93 fraudulent state income tax returns.  The returns included false wage and tax statements issued by two fake businesses requesting refunds of tax money that was never actually withheld.

Lewis and Hlawek were prosecuted by the Public Integrity Unit with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office after an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s Office of Criminal Investigation and the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.

Dept. of Transportation: Memorial Day weekend travelers asked to plan ahead, buckle up, be patient and safe

For more information, contact:
WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
608/266-3581, [email protected]

While most highway construction is being put on hold, motorists will likely encounter work zones requiring reduced speed, extra caution

To enhance traffic flow and accommodate higher traffic volumes expected over the Memorial Day weekend, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will temporarily halt construction work on many highway improvement projects across the state. Although workers will open as many highway lanes as possible, motorists should still allow extra travel time and expect slower traffic in work zones and during peak travel periods.

Construction in most highway work zones will stop by noon on Friday, May 25, and will not resume until 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 29. Peak travel times for the holiday weekend are expected to occur between noon and 8 p.m. on both Friday, May 25, and Monday, May 28.

“For the safety of motorists and workers, most highway construction is being put on hold for the holiday weekend, but drivers will still need to be patient and alert for slowing traffic, especially in work zones,” said WisDOT Secretary Dave Ross. “The State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies will be out enforcing traffic laws and assisting stranded motorists. We’re asking all motorists to plan ahead, buckle up, watch their speed and celebrate responsibly.”

To help prevent traffic deaths and injuries, law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin are watching for unbuckled motorists as part of the Click It or Ticket mobilization that continues through June 3rd. Other important traffic safety reminders:

  • Posted speed limits apply to ideal travel conditions. Drivers are required to slow to a “reasonable and prudent” speed based on weather and traffic conditions.
  • State law allows law enforcement to stop and cite motorists for failing to wear a safety belt. Drivers can also be cited for every unbuckled passenger in their vehicle. Penalties are higher for transporting unrestrained children.
  • Except for emergencies, it is illegal in Wisconsin for drivers to use a handheld mobile device in work zones. Texting while driving is prohibited at all times.
  • The state’s Move Over law requires drivers to slow down or shift lanes when coming upon emergency response vehicles stopped along a roadway with warning lights flashing. This includes police and fire vehicles, ambulances, tow trucks and highway maintenance vehicles.

Significant road construction projects that may impact Memorial Day weekend travel:

  • Milwaukee County: work continues on the Zoo Interchange project with a new traffic pattern in place. Closures include the system ramp from I-94 westbound to I-41/894 southbound. Access to I-94 westbound is restricted at 84th Street. The ramp remains open for traffic going to I-94 westbound or I-41 northbound. Various other on and off ramps remain under construction with detours posted.
  • Milwaukee County: there is ongoing work along I-94 and the Marquette Interchange. Lane and ramp restrictions are in place on the High Rise/Valley Bridge. The ramp from I-94 eastbound to head southbound over the bridge is closed with a detour using the nearby Hoan Bridge (I-794).
  • Milwaukee County: ongoing work along I-894 between 84th St. and National Ave. A traffic shift is in place, along with a lane closed from I-43 northbound to I-894 northbound in the Hale Interchange.
  • I-94 in Kenosha and Racine counties has impacts from the I-94 North-South project and local work due to the Foxconn development. Northbound lanes have only minimal ongoing work and no lane restrictions. Southbound I-94 is down to two lanes at County G in Racine County. Extensive delays are anticipated both Sunday and Monday as motorists return from up north. A reduced speed limit is in place for the southbound lanes between County G and WIS 142 in Kenosha County.
  • Racine County: US 45 north of Union Grove is closed to traffic as the roadway is reconstructed. Detours are posted.
  • Walworth County: WIS 67 is closed to through traffic between Williams Bay and Elkhorn near the Lake Geneva Area. A detour route is posted along I-43 and WIS 50.
  • Walworth County: work along WIS 120 near Lake Geneva will require a 30-day closure of the US 12 interchange ramps beginning May 29. Motorists are being detoured to the nearby WIS 50 interchange.
  • Dane and Rock counties: motorists on I-39/90 should be alert for lane shifts and crossovers.
  • Dane County: Verona Road (US 18/151): motorists should be alert for lane shifts and reduced speeds.
  • US 151 in Dane and Columbia counties: traffic is shifted and reduced to two lanes of traffic between Sun Prairie and Columbus.
  • I-41 near US 10 in Winnebago County: northbound and southbound lanes of I-41 are reduced to two lanes in each direction and have a 55 mph speed reduction and lane shifts throughout the WIS 441 Tri-Project work zone. Eastbound and westbound US 10 also have reduced lanes and lane shifts with a 55 mph speed reduction through the work zone.
  • Winnebago County: WIS 116 in the village of Omro and the village of Winneconne is closed and detoured. The Omro detour route includes WIS 21 to I-41 to US 45; the Winneconne detour route includes US 45 to US 41 to WIS 21.
  • Manitowoc County: US 10 is closed and detoured in the village of Whitelaw. The detour route includes I-43 to US 151 and County W.
  • Winnebago, Calumet and Outagamie counties: eastbound and westbound US 10 have reduced lanes and lane shifts with a 55 mph speed reduction throughout the WIS 441 work zone.
  • Brown County: northbound and southbound lanes of US 41/US 141 at the County B interchange in the village of Suamico have reduced speeds (55 mph) and lane shifts.
  • Waupaca and Outagamie counties: WIS 96 is closed and detoured at the US 45 intersection via WIS 110, US 10 and WIS 76.
  • Portage County: WIS 54 over I-39 is reduced to a single lane with temporary traffic signals controlling one-way movements (no impacts are anticipated on I-39).
  • Iron County: US 2 between WIS 122 and County B is reduced to a single lane with temporary traffic signals at a railroad crossing bridge.
  • Oneida and Vilas counties: US 51/WIS 47 Woodruff/Arbor Vitae is reduced to one lane in each direction with a 12-foot width restriction.
  • Price County: WIS 182 in the city of Park Falls is reduced to one lane with temporary signals at the Flambeau River Bridge.
  • Dunn County: US 12 (Broadway Street) bridge in Menomonee – all traffic will be single lane on the westbound structure.
  • St. Croix County: I-94 (WIS 35 – US 12) in Hudson will have nighttime single and double lane closures. Various ramps will be closed with signed detours.
  • Douglas County: US 2/Belknap St. in Superior will have single lane closures from Hill Ave. to Ogden Ave. A signed truck detour and alternate route are available.
  • Bayfield County: US 2 bridge in Iron River – traffic is reduced to a single lane.
  • Chippewa County: WIS 124 near the town of Eagle Point is closed for bridge construction. Detour route includes County S, US 53 and WIS 64.

For up-to-the-minute information on work zones and incidents that may affect highway travel, motorists can access the state’s 511 travel information system by downloading the free 511 Wisconsin mobile app or following @511WI on Twitter. Users can also access the system by dialing 511 on a phone or visiting 511wi.gov on the web.

Wisconsin Division of Motor Vehicle customer service centers will be closed on Memorial Day, but citizens can conduct DMV business online 24/7 atwisconsindmv.gov.

Dept. of Transportation: Motorists and ATV/UTV riders urged to share the road safely

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For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs 608/266-3581, [email protected] or Joanne Haas, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 608/267-0798, [email protected]

New Wisconsin law allows local communities to authorize ATV/UTV use on local roads with posted speed limits of 35 mph or less

Motorists could be sharing the road more frequently in some areas with all-terrain and utility-terrain vehicles (ATV/UTV) under a change in state law granting local authority to allow use on roads within territorial boundaries.

The state Departments of Transportation and Natural Resources urge motorists and ATV/UTV operators to stay cautious and be aware of these changes in the law:

2017 Wisconsin Act 87 enacted November 30, 2017, allows a town, village, or city to authorize the operation of ATVs/UTVs on roads within their territorial boundaries that have posted speed limits of 35 mph or less regardless of which municipality has jurisdiction on that road.
2017 Wisconsin Act 193 enacted April 3, 2018, allows a town, village, city or county to place a sign on each road that crosses its boundary alerting motorists that all roads under the municipality’s jurisdiction have been designated as ATV routes.

“As the weather warms up, we’re asking everyone – drivers and riders alike – to eliminate distractions and stay safe,” said WisDOT Secretary Dave Ross. “Also, be mindful that motorists may see more ATVs on state and local roads than in the past, and fewer signs indicating ATV routes.”

WisDOT has published a website with resources for riders and for local officials who are interested in learning more about requirements to establish ATV routes within their jurisdiction. The website also contains a downloadable flier for anyone who’d like to encourage motorists and riders to share the road.

The DNR publishes additional resources to assist ATV and UTV riders with safety courses, vehicle registration and knowledge of the law.

“ATVs and UTVs are growing in popularity throughout Wisconsin and, in some areas, it can be a sure sign of spring and summer to have more four-wheelers out on roads and trails,” said DNR Off-Highway Vehicle Administrator Gary Eddy. “Keep safety in the forefront of your thinking – no matter what you drive.”

Safety tips for motorists:

When you approach ATV/UTVs on the road, slow down and be patient for a safe opportunity to pass. As ATV/UTVs are much wider than bicycles or motorcycles, motorists will need to ensure they can achieve a wide berth that many times can extend into an oncoming traffic lane.
Keep an eye out for ATV/UTV Route postings, and remember that the new law allows postings at territorial boundaries so motorists might not see additional signage along individual roads.
Watch for riders. Always eliminate distractions, be patient and stay focused.

Safety tips for ATV/UTV riders:

If riding on a road, stick to authorized areas. Most highways and roads statewide remain off limits. Check for posted signs or with local authorities to see if certain highways and roads are legally open.
Travel at an appropriate speed and stay aware of your surroundings.
Stay as visible as possible, as some drivers might not expect to be sharing the road with ATVs.
Riders are required to operate headlight(s) when on or around roadways.
Always remember the basics by wearing your helmet and protective gear. Most importantly, never consume alcohol or drugs before or during ATV operation.

Dept. of Workforce Development: Milwaukee Career Expo & Wisconn Valley Construction Resource Fair draw hundreds of attendees to State Fair Park

CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

MILWAUKEE –Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen joined local leaders and other partners on Thursday, May 3, to welcome hundreds of job seekers and interested members of the public to the Milwaukee Career Expo and Wisconn Valley Construction Resource Fair at State Fair Park

“Employers in Wisconsin including the Milwaukee area are hiring, and the career expo was designed to connect employers that have openings to fill with job seekers who are in the market for good-paying opportunities,” Secretary Allen said. “Plus, we were pleased to welcome our Wisconn Valley Construction Resource Fair partners to this year’s event, which drew additional members of the public to learn more about in-demand construction careers.”

The career expo featured approximately 150 employers with openings to fill. Additionally, 50 resource providers representing businesses, trade associations, non-profit organizations, and others attended, including Wisconn Valley Resource Fair partners with information on what it takes to pursue careers in Wisconsin’s booming construction industry. Between the expo and resource fair, at least 670 job seekers and members of the public attended.

Liz Grams, Recruiter for Marcus Hotels & Resorts, seeks qualified candidates from all skill levels to fit customer service-focused positions at Marcus Hotels & Resorts within the Milwaukee Metro area. These properties include The Pfister Hotel, InterContinental Milwaukee hotel, Hilton Milwaukee City Center and the SafeHouse.

“This is one of my favorite job fairs, it really draws a nice candidate base,” Grams said. “They are ready when they walk through the door, with professional attire and resumes in hand. I love the level of preparation that went into the candidates that I’m seeing today.”

Bob Rettmann, an Iraq War veteran from West Allis, attended the event seeking positions and connections for a career in communications. Rettmann said his main objective is to land a job while at the expo, but he’s also looking for network connections.

“I’ve been looking for work for the last couple of months and I know there’s some great employers here,” Rettmann said. “I’m really developing a network of people I can communicate with whenever I land a job.  It’s really important to keep that professional development going.”

The Milwaukee Career Expo is the region’s premiere hiring event coordinated in partnership between DWD and Employ Milwaukee. The Wisconn Valley Construction Resource Fair was made possible through collaborations between DWD and the state Departments of Transportation and Administration, along with Employ Milwaukee and the city and county of Milwaukee.

To learn more about the thousands of available job opportunities in Milwaukee and throughout the state, visit https://JobCenterofWisconsin.com

Dept. of Workforce Development: Sec. Allen announces almost $440,000 in Wisconsin Fast Forward Grants

CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

A total of five grant projects benefit up to 293 trainees and over a dozen employers

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen today announced nearly $440,000 for five Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) contracted worker training grant awards, benefitting up to 293 trainees and over a dozen employers in the health care, manufacturing, small business and transportation industries.

“Governor Walker’s Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program is delivering in-demand skills training to hundreds of current and unemployed workers across the state through these five grant awards, underscoring the program’s continuing value to our state’s workforce and economy,” Secretary Allen said. “Employers in manufacturing, transportation and health care, along with a small business, will benefit in the form of highly trained workers who help their businesses thrive.”

Wisconsin has invested over $200 million over the past four years and $140 million in current biennial budget to support workforce development under Governor Walker’s vision and leadership, including additional support for the WFF program.

WFF grants reimburse Wisconsin employers for customized training programs that provide workers with the practical job skills needed to succeed in the 21st century workforce. Details about the five contracted grant awards, which were applied for during the fourth quarter of 2017, are available online.

DWD opened two ongoing WFF Grant Program Announcements (GPAs) benefitting All Sectors and Small Business Occupations last July. The changes reflect recent program enhancements to better address the training needs of Wisconsin businesses from a variety of industries and sectors, as well as support greater collaboration among employers to develop training projects in real time, rather than having wait for a grant cycle to open.

Learn more about current WFF grant opportunities and awarded projects at: http://www.wisconsinfastforward.com/

DeWitt Ross & Stevens: Attorney, the Honorable Louis B. Butler Jr., Named Honorary Fellow for the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers

Office: 262-523-3740
Mobile: 414-520-5680
www.seroka.com

MADISON | MILWAUKEE | MINNEAPOLIS – DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C. announced attorney Louis Butler has been invited to join the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers as an Honorary Fellow after careful consideration of his accomplishments by the Academy’s Board of Directors. The Academy’s membership is limited and by invitation only.

Butler will be recognized at the Induction Dinner during the Academy’s 2018 Fall Meeting which will be held October 5-7, 2018 at the Westin San Francisco.

As the first African American to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Butler participated in decisions that had a significant impact on Wisconsin’s legal landscape. He was the first Public Defender in Wisconsin’s history to argue before the United States Supreme Court in McCoy v. Wisconsin Court of Appeals, 486 U.S. 429 (1988) and was nominated by President Barack Obama to be a United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Wisconsin.

About DeWitt

DeWitt Ross & Stevens S.C., including its affiliate DeWitt Mackall Crounse & Moore S.C., is one of the ten largest law firms based in Wisconsin, with an additional presence in Minnesota. It has ​nearly 140 attorneys practicing in Madison and Metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, in a variety of legal areas and has the experience to service clients of all scopes and sizes. The firm is known for its work in several areas, including corporate law, employment, environmental, employee benefits, government relations, health care, litigation, real estate, tax, estate planning, family law, personal injury, intellectual property, patents, trademarks and copyright law.

More information is available at www.dewittross.com.

DNR attorney to review judge’s decision to invalidate frac sand mining permit

An attorney for DNR Secretary Dan Meyer will review an administrative law judge’s decision invalidating a frac sand mining permit.

DNR attorney Mark Herman will decide whether to honor Administrative Law Judge Eric Defort’s ruling at the beginning of this month that the DNR failed to gather “necessary information” before issuing a permit to Meteor Timber last year.

The announcement Thursday drew the ire of Clean Wisconsin, the Ho-Chunk Nation and Midwest Environmental Advocates, which have previously argued Meteor Timber’s $70 million project would destroy 16.3 acres of wetland that includes rare white pine and red maple. The groups had also called on Meyer in a letter last week to decline the company’s request.

“We do not believe that DNR should have granted this review,” the groups said in a joint statement this afternoon. “DNR should have exercised its more traditional level of respect toward the independent administrative law judge. Integrity of independent judicial review is at risk when DNR becomes the judge of its own actions.”

DNR spokesman Jim Dick said Meyer’s decision came on the advice of Herman. Meyer in a letter May 18 ordered Herman to decide whether to launch a review by yesterday.

Meteor Timber project manager Chris Mathis praised the decision.

“We worked with the DNR and US Army Corps for over 30 months to develop a comprehensive mitigation plan with a mitigation ratio of nearly 40 to 1,” he said in a statement. “Equally important, is that this project if approved creates and preserves 630 acres into perpetuity, which can be enjoyed by hunters, fisherman and ATV enthusiasts.”

Herman has met with the parties involved in the case, Dick said, and has discussed a schedule for filing briefs.

See the May 18 letter from Meyer to his designee:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/180524DNR.pdf

By Briana Reilly

Dodd campaign: Former Wisconsin State Senator and Milwaukee County Supervisor Nikiya Dodd to Seek Milwaukee’s 5th Aldermanic District Seat

Contact: Nikiya Dodd at 
Email: [email protected] or
 
MILWAUKEE (May 24, 2018) –  Nikiya Dodd formally announces today her candidacy for Milwaukee Alderman, 5th District. 
 
“I was born and raised in Milwaukee, and four years ago, my husband and I made the 5th district our permanent home,” said Dodd. “My love for this city reaches back, over 40 years, when my grandparents moved their young family to Milwaukee with hopes of a better quality of life, good schools, and family supporting jobs. It is in this hope; Tony and I choose to raise our son in this great city,” Dodd continued.
 
As a resident of Nash Park, Dodd says the reality facing her community are car thefts, rolling drug sales, and gun violence.  She has been awakened, on more than one occasion, to the sounds of gunshots during late night hours. As a mother of a 3-year-old, it terrifies her to think her child and other children are not safe in their very own community.
 
“I refuse to stand on the sideline and watch while criminal activity takes place in our neighborhood. I envision and desire that the 5th Aldermanic District be a community where families choose to buy homes and raise their kids.”
 
Dodd’s experience in state and county government includes legislative policies on economic development, law enforcement, environmental policies, and parks. In the private sector, she has spent her career as a non-profit professional in healthcare, education, and community services.
 
Dodd’s decision to run for Alderman was motivated by her strong desire to create and maintain a quality of life for residents that provides safe neighborhoods and parks for children to play. She believes in the power of working together to find solutions to make her community better. 
 
As Alderwoman, Dodd will work on the following issues to improve her district:
• Setup investments in roads 
• Promote long-term solutions to public safety
• Investigate ways to curb dangerous driving
• Advocate fiscal responsibility
About Nikiya Dodd
Nikiya Dodd started her political career on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors from 2010 through 2012. As a county supervisor, Dodd led the County Board on the decision to separate the House of Correction from the Sheriff’s budget. The separation resulted in the implementation and restoration of inmate treatment and diversion programming for non-violent offenders. These changes increased evidence-based decision-making practices while saving millions in taxpayer dollars. 
 
She also led the fight for voters’ rights by opposing Governor Scott Walker’s Voter ID law. She eased voter access to the polls by passing an initiative that, temporarily, allowed thousands of Milwaukee residents to receive a free birth certificate, including the elderly and young adults. 
 
Dodd was also a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate, representing the 6th Senate District from 2013-2017. She did not seek re-election. During the 2013-14 legislative session, Dodd pushed for an increase in the minimum wage, access to job training, and affordable healthcare. She also put forth initiatives to repair Milwaukee’s foreclosure crisis and reform Wisconsin’s broken criminal justice system and mental health system.
 
In April 2014, Dodds’ bill to create the Milwaukee County Emergency Detention Pilot Program was signed into law. The program put the authority to initiate emergency detentions into the hands of qualified mental health professionals, rather than solely in the hands of the police. The law is intended to stop negative police interjection into mental health crisis situations. 
 
Dodd graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in community education and a master’s degree in adult education. She and her husband, Anthony Dodd Sr., live on Milwaukee’s northwest side with their 3-year-old son Anthony Thomas Dodd, Jr.

Don Vruwink: Remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice

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

This weekend communities across Wisconsin and the nation will celebrate Memorial Day. This is a time when we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty while serving in the United States armed forces.

In accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968, Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May, but traditions of what we know and celebrate as Memorial Day have roots dating back to the Civil War. Towns across the country claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, as people would place flowers and decorate graves of fallen soldiers in the North and South during and right after the Civil War ended.

Memorial Day was first officially proclaimed by General John Logan, National Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, on May 5, 1868. In his General Order No. 11, Logan proclaimed:

“The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.”

Originally known as Decoration Day, the term Memorial Day was first used in 1882, but did not become more commonly used until after World War II. Memorial Day was declared the official name for the holiday in 1967. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 moved four annual holidays to a Monday, including Memorial Day. The law went into effect in 1971.

While communities across the country observe Memorial Day with parades and ceremonies, there is an official procedure required for flag observance. In the morning, the U.S. flag is raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position until noon. It is then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.

The half-staff position honors the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service to their country. At noon their memory is raised by the living, who resolve not to let their sacrifice be in vain, but to continue the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Memorial Day is much more than a three-day weekend or the start of the summer season. The holiday gives people a chance to reflect and show gratitude. Please take a moment to remember the men and women who served their country in the armed forces and gave their life in defending the ideals we cherish.

— Vruwink, D-Milton, represents the 43rd Assembly District.

 

Duffy: There’s too much winning

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U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy told GOP activists he had a phone call with President Trump and told him there’s too much winning.

Duffy, R-Weston, joked with activists it was hard to get in a word edgewise whenever he’s on the phone with the president. But Duffy said he managed to tell Trump it’s impressive that five of the top ISIS leaders were captures, three American prisoners have been returned home from North Korea, unemployment is down, economic optimism is up and tax revenues are on the upswing.

“I said Mr. President, ‘I’ll tell you what. We’re winning so much, I’m actually get sick of winning. There’s too much winning,’” Duffy recalled.

He said the president assured him, “we’re not done winning.”

Duffy praised the president for America’s move to energy independence, saying he’s happy when filling up his tank that his money is going to North Dakota, not to people who cage, burn and behead people.

He also recounted how his mom, a major Bernie Sanders backer, was impressed with Trump’s stance toward North Korea and the results it has produced.

“Even my mom is giving credit to Donald Trump,” he said.

This post is part of our coverage of the 2018 state GOP convention in Milwaukee. See the rest of our coverage here: https://www.wispolitics.com/category/gop-convos/

DWD: BLS Data: Wisconsin Unemployment Rate Declines to New Record Low of 2.8 Percent

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CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce

On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

State labor force participation rate increases by 0.2 percent to 68.9 percent

MADISON – Today, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for March 2018 and preliminary estimates for April covering the employment and job statistics for the state of Wisconsin.  The data showed that Wisconsin’s historically low unemployment rate declined to 2.8 percent in April, setting another record low for the state.  Additionally, Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate increased to 68.9 percent, which outpaces the national rate of 62.8 percent by more than six percentage points.

In brief, the seasonally adjusted estimates show:

  • Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin’s preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April 2018 was 2.8 percent, a decline of 0.1 percent from the March rate of 2.9 percent.  The April decline is the 3rd straight month that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has declined or stayed the same.  Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate also increased over the month by 0.2 percent to 68.9 percent.  The number of people employed in Wisconsin also increased by 8,100 people setting a new record for the state with 3,086,100 individuals employed. The year over year increase of 42,700 people employed is statistically significant according to BLS methodology
  • Place of Work Data: Based on preliminary data, Wisconsin has gained 11,000 total non-farm jobs and 8,800 private sector jobs over the last three months.  Over the month, Wisconsin’s total non-farm job number declined by 1,000, and private sector jobs declined by 3,100.  Over the year, Wisconsin has gained 27,900 total non-farm jobs and 26,100 private sector jobs, including a statistically significant 13,700 manufacturing jobs according to BLS.

DWD Secretary Allen released the following statement about today’s report:

“Wisconsin’s record-low unemployment rate is both great news for our economy and a reminder that we need to continue doing everything we can to keep growing the pool of available talent,” Secretary Allen said. “That includes developing the skills of Wisconsinites who are currently out of work and searching, attracting out-of-state talent through innovative marketing, and helping veterans, ex-offenders and others facing employment barriers skill up and skill in to good-paying jobs.  At DWD, we will continue delivering our nationally recognized workforce development solutions that build on Wisconsin’s economic momentum.”

The BLS uses three data sets to measure employment and unemployment:

  • Current Employment Statistics (CES): compiled from a monthly survey sent to about 5,500 employers (3.5% of Wisconsin employers). CES data has been shown to be subject to significant revision.
  • Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS): compiled from a monthly survey of 985 households and unemployment insurance claims. Measures the labor force, employment, unemployment, and the unemployment rate.
  • Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW): compiled on a quarterly basis from Unemployment Insurance records from some 96 percent of Wisconsin business establishments. Considered by most economists to be the most accurate measure of jobs, the QCEW includes data from almost all employers in Wisconsin.

Other indicators of the state of Wisconsin’s economy include:

  • Initial UI claims ended 2017 at their lowest level in the last 30 years.
  • Continuing unemployment claims ended 2017 at their lowest level since 1973.
  • Moody’s investor Service upgraded the state’s credit rating, nothing that “(T)he stable outlook reflects the expectation that the state will experience moderate economic growth and will continue its prudent fiscal management practices.”

Ed Brooks: An honor and a privilege

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

How do you say good bye? It isn’t easy, but after ten years as your state representative, I’ve decided to step aside to focus my efforts on dealing with cancer, which has unfortunately returned after a period of remission. While I may be headed out to pasture (sorry, the farmer in me couldn’t resist), I do so knowing that Wisconsin is moving in the right direction, and that we’ve come a long way over the past decade.

When I took office at the height of the recession, unemployment was nearing 10%, and many people were struggling to find a job, make ends meet, or see a light at the end of the tunnel. Today, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is the lowest in state history. Taxes are lower today than they were in 2011, and we’ve been able to make the single largest increase in K-12 education funding in the state’s history while also building the largest rainy day fund. Our economy is growing, and that means more opportunities.

I have spent my time in the legislature working to ensure that those opportunities are available to everyone, no matter where in the state they happen to live. I joined with Reps. Romaine Quinn and Travis Tranel to launch the Rural Wisconsin Initiative, a series of bills aimed at improving access to health care, education, technology, and the workforce. Over the last two sessions, we’ve promoted and funded broadband expansion, developed training grants for rural health care workers, incentivized teachers to move to our part of the state, and created new ways for students to get worker training. Rural Wisconsin is a great place to live, work, and raise a family – and I think our best days are still ahead. That’s why it’s so hard to step aside.

Sometimes, it’s too hard to say good bye – so I won’t. Instead, I’ll say thank you. I want to thank my children and grandchildren for their support and for being a reminder to always think about the future when making decisions. I want to thank my wife, Barb – for her strength, her patience, and her love. We have a great partnership, and I owe so much to her. Finally, I want to thank you – the people of the 50th district. You chose me to be your representative, and I’ve appreciated the opportunity to hear your thoughts, concerns, and aspirations. I’ve always said that the 50th district is the best district – and that’s because of the people.

I’ve taken the responsibility you’ve given me seriously, and it’s been an honor and a privilege to be your voice in Madison. God bless you.

— Brooks, R-Reedsburg, represents the 50th Assembly District. 

Edming campaign: Rep. Edming running for re-election to the state Assembly

Contact: James Edming
(715) 475-9292

Rusk County Small Business Owner Seeks Third Term Representing the 87th Assembly District

Glen Flora – Today, Representative James “Jimmy Boy” Edming (R-Glen Flora) announced his intention to seek re-election as the State Representative for the 87th Assembly District. Rep. Edming was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016.

“As I often tell folks, representing the 87th District in the State Assembly is the best job I ever had,” said Rep. Edming. “During my four years in office, I am proud to have advocated for the values of northern Wisconsin and worked to ensure the people in the 87th District were heard at the Capitol.”

Rep. Edming’s work this session was highlighted by the Employment First bill (Act 178) which he authored and was signed into law on March 28, 2018. This new law makes Wisconsin a national leader in promoting community-based employment for people with disabilities. This legislation, along with the other five bills Rep. Edming authored, all earned bipartisan support.

“I am proud of the work I did this session and the legislation I authored,” said Rep. Edming. “I remain humbled by the trust the people of the 87th have placed in me to serve as their voice in Madison. I look forward to meeting with folks around the district and earning their support again.”

Evers campaign: Despite Walker’s $1.5 million ad spending spree, Evers still leading Walker in head-to-head showdown

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For More Information, Contact:
Maggie Gau (715) 581-0406
[email protected]

MADISON – After three consecutive polls showing State Superintendent Tony Evers with a
commanding lead over the Democratic primary field, today the Evers campaign is releasing
new poll results that show Tony Evers with a four-point lead over Governor Scott Walker.
This is the first poll released that shows a head-to-head comparison between the two
statewide elected officials.

Evers leads Walker 49-45 in the poll and for the 6 percent of voters undecided, 56 percent
of those voters have an unfavorable view of Walker and 55 percent believe Wisconsin’s
public schools are underfunded.

“Earlier this year, primary voters overwhelming stated they believed Tony Evers was the
best candidate to beat Scott Walker. Even with $1.5 million in ads by Scott Walker, we now
know Tony Evers absolutely can beat him,” Evers Campaign Manager Maggie Gau said. “Given these results, it’s no surprise that Walker has been attacking Tony’s record on public education. Walker is desperate and scared.”

Other notable points from the poll include Evers enjoying a +22 net favorability rating,
compared to a -2 net rating for Scott Walker. Further, Wisconsinites overwhelmingly (69
percent) believe that Evers should not be forced to use Republican Attorney General Brad
Schimel as his lawyer in a recent lawsuit before the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Tony’s
power over our public schools. Walker has denied Evers request for his own legal counsel
and has maintained that Evers should use Schimel, despite Schimel indicating he sides with
the right-wing think tank suing Evers.

“Under Scott Walker our public schools have been decimated, some of our poorest
communities have zero access to quality early childhood programs and there’s been a six
year war being waged at Lincoln Hills between staff and the kids being rehabilitated there.
Tony has always believed that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. During
these chaotic times in Washington DC and Madison, we need a steady hand at the wheel – a leader who will do what’s right regardless of the political winds. Clearly, Wisconsinites
agree,” Gau concluded.

See the polling memo:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/180523Evers.pdf

Fair Maps Coalition public hearing 🗓

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COME TO THE CITIZENS’ PUBLIC HEARING ON FAIR MAPS.
The Wisconsin State Legislature has refused to even consider creating a fair and transparent process to draw legislative district maps. They wouldn’t even have a hearing on SB13/AB44, let alone a vote, so the Fair Maps Coalition is organizing a “Citizens’ Public Hearing on Fair Maps.”

CITIZENS PUBLIC HEARING on FAIR MAPS
Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
First United Methodist Church, Fellowship Hall
203 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin

The public is invited to present testimony about what a fair map-drawing process would look like, as well as to propose actual fair maps or other input into unrigging the system.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/173349996697976/

Fair Maps Coalition: Citizens’ public hearing on fair maps scheduled

Contact: Mary McCarthy, (414) 344-1733
Sachin Chheda, (414) 412-6099

After legislature refuses to consider fair maps process & legislation, citizens call public hearing
to be co-chaired by former Senators Dale Schultz and Tim Cullen

MADISON—Citizens frustrated by the lack of action by the Wisconsin State Legislature on creating a fair and transparent process to draw legislative district maps are organizing a “Citizens’ Public Hearing on Fair Maps” to be held on Tuesday, May 15, from 4 to 6 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Avenue, in Madison.

“We expected at least the courtesy of a hearing, if not a committee and floor vote, on independent redistricting,” said Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project and co-chair of the WI Fair Maps Coalition, a collective of a dozen groups concerned about democracy. “Instead, we got stonewalling, lies, and misdirection, and no action on the independent redistricting bill. So if Sen. LeMahieu and Rep. Bernier won’t do their job, we’ll have to step in and do it for them.”

The Citizens’ Public Hearing will be co-chaired by former Senate Majority Leaders Tim Cullen and Dale Schultz, who have led the fight for fair redistricting for many years. Senator Cullen also chairs Common Cause Wisconsin, which along with the League of Women Voters, the Fair Elections Project, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign are organizing the hearing.

The public will be invited to present testimony about what a fair map-drawing process would look like, as well as to propose actual fair maps or other input into unrigging the system.  The event is free and open to the public.

First Lady Walker: And first spouses receive award for trauma-informed care from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Contact: Amy Hasenberg, (608) 266-2839
 
First Lady Walker: And first spouses receive award for trauma-informed care from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
 
WASHINGTON – 

First Lady Tonette Walker joined the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. Representing 18 first spouses, First Lady Walker received SAMHSA’s Special Recognition Award for their efforts to promote Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) in their respective states.

“Thank you to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Secretary Azar for this award and recognition,” said First Lady Walker. “Trauma-Informed Care is a critical tool that can improve outcomes for children and families across the country. By coming together to discuss the significance of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the power of TIC we are already making a difference. But this is only the beginning. We can, and we will do more because our children can’t wait and everyone has a role to play.”

In September 2017, First Lady Walker hosted a First Spouses Convening in Milwaukee and welcomed ten first spouses from across the nation to a two-day conference. The event provided attending first spouses with the opportunity to hear from TIC experts about how ACEs affect child welfare and impact a child’s developing brain, discuss ways to incorporate TIC into existing initiatives, and brainstorm next steps moving forward to change outcomes for children and families throughout the United States.

“Trauma-Informed Care has the ability to change lifelong outcomes for millions of people,” added First Lady Walker. “In Wisconsin, we are working to become the first fully trauma-informed state, and together with the first spouses, we are working to become a trauma-informed nation.”

First Lady Walker is a strong advocate of TIC. Under her leadership with Fostering Futures, nine of Wisconsin’s state agencies, 20 county human service systems, two tribal nations, one medical college department, and one nonprofit are implementing TIC principles within their interactions with each other as well as in the services they provide the people of Wisconsin. The First Lady was also instrumental in the drafting of House Resolution 443 and Senate Resolution 346, both of which work to increase the promotion and implementation of TIC on the federal level. House Resolution 443 passed the United States House of Representatives in February 2018.

First Lady Walker was also involved in the recent formation of the Trauma-Informed Care Caucus in the United States House of Representatives. ​ 

First Lady Walker participated in SAMHSA’s town hall with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar II. Also in attendance was the HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore McCance-Katz, Executive Director for the National Congress of American Indians Jacqueline Pata, President of the American Psychiatric Association Altha Stewart, Chief Executive Officers of the American Psychological Association, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation Patrick McCarthy. 

The following first spouses also received the award:

  • First Lady Donna Walker (Alaska)
  • First Lady Angela Ducey (Arizona)
  • First Lady Susan Hutchinson (Arkansas)
  • First Lady Diana Rauner (Illinois)
  • First Lady Glenna Bevin (Kentucky)
  • First Lady Donna Edwards (Louisiana)
  • First Lady Yumi Hogan (Maryland)
  • First