2019 February

Monthly Archives: February 2019

‘UpFront’: Johnson hopeful second government shutdown can be averted

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said the most recent government shutdown “accomplished nothing,” and expressed hope a second shutdown could be averted.

In an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said members of the conference committee who are negotiating a deal to keep the government open are “sounding more and more optimistic” that an agreement will be reached with the White House. “UpFront” is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

The sticking point has been President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for construction of a wall on the southern border. Democratic leaders have been unwilling to allocate money for a wall, but Johnson said that figure is “more than reasonable.”

“Do you think he’d be willing to sign, or go along with something that would provide, for example, less than $5.7 billion for sections of the border wall?” Gousha asked.

“I have no doubt that there are laws on the books the president can probably start pointing to, pockets of money that have been over-appropriated, that he may be able to access. So, my guess is he’ll probably sign the appropriations bill, and then look at some method of funding what he really ran on as a candidate,” Johnson said.

He said an agreement could include more money for several aspects of border security – better barriers, technology and more personnel “particularly at the ports of entry where all the drugs are flowing through.”

Johnson also said ongoing tariffs are hurting Wisconsin manufacturers, farmers and consumers, and costing jobs.

He said he shared Trump’s goal of fair and reciprocal trade agreements, and that he “didn’t really have a big problem with using tariffs as a negotiating tactic to bring people to the table.”

“But the president said, (Commerce Secretary) Wilbur Ross said, that once we have the new NAFTA, the USMCA signed, the tariffs would go away. They haven’t gone away. I am concerned about that,” he said.

“Tariffs are a tax on American consumers,” Johnson said.

Also on the program, Candice Owley, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, discussed her organization’s involvement in a lawsuit over Republican-passed laws limiting the authority of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

The group is part of a coalition of unions suing over laws passed in December’s extraordinary session, and signed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker just before he left office. The laws essentially keep Evers and Kaul from disengaging Wisconsin from a multi-state lawsuit seeking to overturn the federal Affordable Care Act.

Owley said her members are concerned about protecting the ACA and expanding Medicaid. She said the new laws were “changes in the middle of the night, with really no hearings, really bad politics.”

“Bad policy is set like that,” she said.

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

‘UpFront’: Katsma, Riemer debate dueling middle-class tax cut plans

GOP state Rep. Terry Katsma said the state should return a budget surplus to taxpayers, while Dem Rep. Daniel Riemer said a tax cut should be paid for by partially rolling back a tax credit for manufacturers.

The two lawmakers debated the merits of different approaches to a middle-class tax cut Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“We have this budget surplus that was done under good budgeting under the Walker administration. And we think that money should be returned back to the taxpayers,” said Katsma, R-Oostburg.

Riemer said the manufacturing tax credit has benefited some of the wealthiest people in Wisconsin. He also said Democrats want to do the middle-class tax cut as part of the budget process.

“As the stewards of public funds, we have to look carefully at how we appropriately do tax cuts, invest in education, health care, roads — the things we do through the budget process,” said Riemer, D-Milwaukee.

“Part of the Democrats’ argument is let’s do it through the budget process so we have a sense of the whole picture,” Riemer said.

“The Democratic plan is really a tax shift. We want to lower the taxes to the middle class without raising taxes on somebody else,” Katsma said.

Riemer said he thinks there is a compromise to be had on the middle-class tax cut.

“We hope we can work it out,” Katsma said.

Also on the program, Kerry Schumann, executive director of Wisconsin Conservation Voters, said Gov. Tony Evers’ decision to join the U.S. Climate Alliance is more than symbolism.

“Regular people are feeling the effects of climate change,” she said.

But she said there is a “lot more (Evers) has to do.”

She also said many elected leaders are lagging the public on the issue of climate change.

“People are ahead of our politicians, the market is ahead, our utilities are ahead. Our utilities are moving forward on clean energy faster than some of our lawmakers in Madison,” Schumann said.

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

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‘UpFront’: Thompson predicts ‘pushing and shoving’ ahead in budget process

Former GOP Gov. Tommy Thompson predicted some “pushing and shoving” in the budget process ahead for Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the Republican-controlled Legislature but he thinks both sides can end up working together.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time. You’ve got to build trust. You’ve got to be able to show the other side that you actually listen to them, and that you can go part way to meet them,” Thompson said in an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Thompson, who spent most of his time as guv with Dems controlling at least one of the Legislature’s chambers, said his first budget “was a budget of fights” and that he “vetoed 85 items to show them that I meant business.”

“I called (Democratic leaders) in right after and said, ‘You know, we can spend the next two years just fighting, or we can get along and we can sit down and talk and be able to make peace and be able to get a lot of accomplishments. Which one do you want?'” Thompson said.

He said the Democratic leaders wanted accomplishments.

“So, every Tuesday they would come in and we would talk and we would find out what they needed, what I needed, how we could get together and solve problems,” Thompson said.

Evers will present his first biennial budget on Thursday, and then the Republican-led Joint Committee on Finance will go to work on it. Thompson said there will be “a lot of pushing and shoving and giving and taking.”

“I think there should be vetoes,” Thompson said of Evers. “You’ve got to establish your territory.”

Republicans, he said, “are going to be testing, you know, the strength and the viability and how far they can push and how much they can get done. They have to do that.”

But sooner or later, Thompson said, “the pushing and shoving has got to stop. And the person who’s got to lead that is the governor.”

“Just like I had to go and talk to (former Assembly Speaker) Tom Loftus and (former Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Chvala and all the Democrats who really didn’t like me in the beginning. But in the end, they respected me and today they are, both of those, very close friends of mine,” Thompson said.

Also on the program, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said he supports decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana. Gov. Tony Evers said he supports decriminalizing the possession of 25 grams or less.

However, Lucas said he would be cautious about full legalization.

“I’m not certain that the, there’s enough science to show whether there’s a difference in a person under the influence of alcohol versus under the influence of marijuana,” Lucas said.

“And unless and until we solve that and a number of other issues as it relates to the legalization, then I think the appropriate step for us to take is decriminalization,” he said.

Lucas also discussed what he called a “disparate impact” of marijuana laws between the county’s suburbs and the city of Milwaukee, and the effect of current laws on communities of color. See more from the program at wisn.com.

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

‘Wisconsin and the World’ conference 🗓

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Contact: Melissa Anderson,
[email protected], 920-748-8365 or 608-658-9997

RIPON — “Wisconsin and the World,” featuring leading experts in national security,
international relations, foreign policy, domestic energy and economics, will be held April
13 at Ripon College.

Presenters include former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and retired U.S. Army General and NATO commander Wesley Clark. The Ripon College International Relations Club is the host. The conference will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts. Admission is free, but because of limited space, tickets are required. Registration may be made at:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ripon-college-international-relations-club-
present-wisconsin-and-the-world-tickets-54613626828

Scheduled speakers are:

  • Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and U.S. Health and Human Services secretary, “Wisconsin’s Role in the World.”
  • Jim Woolsey, former CIA director, “National Security Threats to the U.S.”
  • Simon “Pete” Worden, retired brigadier general of the United States Air Force and former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, “America’s Future in the Solar System.”
  • Henry “Hank” Cooper, chairman of the board of High Frontier and former director of the Strategic Defense Initiative, “Protect the Electric Grid from the Bottom Up.”
  • Wes Clark, retired Army four-star general, Commander of U.S. Southern Command and Commander of U.S. European Command/Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, “Importance and Future of NATO.”
  • Ron Johnson, U.S. senator (R) from Wisconsin.
  • Tim Bickmore and Nathanial Leach, financial planners from Madison, Wisconsin, and Dan Weiss, financial adviser from Verona, Wisconsin, “Wisconsin Economics and Finances: A Fireside Chat.”

Ilan Berman, senior vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington, D.C., expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Russian  federation, “Iran: the contemporary challenge posed by the Islamic Republic, and the countervailing strategy now being marshaled by the Trump administration in order to confront it.”

  • Richard Miniter, award-winning investigative journalist, best-selling author and CEO of American Media Institute, “The Twilight of post-World War II institutions — IMF, NATO, UN — -and what it means for America’s Future Foreign Policy.
  • Peter Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland
    Security and director of the United States Nuclear Strategy Forum, “Electromagnetic Pulse and Cyber Warfare.”
  • Daniel Gallington, former special assistant for policy for the Secretary of Defense, and adjunct professor of law at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, where he teaches national security law, “Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest” – a sharp critique of U.S. national security policies since Reagan …”
  • Peter Huessey, director of strategic deterrent studies at Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies and former senior defense consultant at the National Defense University Foundation, “National Security Issues of the United States.”

‘UpFront’: MMAC president says Foxconn confronting ‘market forces in a Twitter world’

Taiwanese tech giant Foxconn is confronting “market forces in a Twitter world,” and while plans for its massive Racine County campus are evolving, a good outcome is still possible, said Tim Sheehy, president of the Milwaukee chamber.

MMAC President Sheehy appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” after what he described as a “topsy-turvy” week for Foxconn in Wisconsin. “UpFront” is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

The week saw Foxconn first say that it would shift from manufacturing to a research and development hub in Mount Pleasant, only to reverse course on Friday after talking to President Trump and recommit to a Gen 6 manufacturing plant, making smaller screens in Racine County.

Sheehy, who is in contact with Foxconn executives, said the company’s Wisconsin project has changed since it was first announced two years ago. He said “market forces have intervened.”

“What’s important is they are looking at what they are going to manufacture here, not if they are going to manufacture,” Sheehy said.

“We need to view this as a factory for the future. They are developing technology in some cases that’s not even on the market. So, in any event this is going to be a high-tech, high skill environment in which to work, whether you are on the plant floor or doing engineering,” Sheehy said.

Gousha asked why taxpayers should take the company’s word.

“I understand the angst about a changing story, but what we’ve got is a solid contract that only pays for jobs and capital investment that are made,” Sheehy said.

Sheehy also said Gov. Tony Evers “has been nothing but professional” in dealing with Foxconn, a $3 billion deal he inherited from the Walker administration.

In another segment, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, a critic of the Foxconn deal, said the state needs more transparency and accountability from Foxconn.

“One of the biggest problems with this project has been the fact that, no matter what’s happening, it’s ‘aw, 13,000 jobs, $10 billion of investment.’ This is a company with a terrible track record of overpromising and under-delivering in other countries, in other states, and right now I think the perception that Wisconsin is just the latest state to get burned,” Hintz said in an interview recorded on Friday morning, before Foxconn publicly recommitted to manufacturing in Wisconsin.

“Let’s have the company come forward (with) what we can expect, what those jobs will be tied to, and what level of subsidy taxpayers can expect,” Hintz said.

Also on the program, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel business reporter Rick Romell described what’s happening on the ground with Foxconn in Mount Pleasant, Milwaukee, Green Bay and Eau Claire.

He also detailed the company’s history of plans that never came together in Pennsylvania, Brazil, and Vietnam.

See more from the show. 

‘WisBiz: The Show’: Features software code group, Tech Metrics and latest Tom Still commentary

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Contact: Tom Still or Julie Johnson at 608-442-7557

To learn more online: www.wisconsintechnologycouncil.com

MADISON, Wis. – The latest episode of “WisBusiness.com: The Show” features an interview with Sean Roberts, director of state government affairs for code.org, a national group working in states such as Wisconsin to build the supply of young adults who are computer literate and able to write software code.

Also, Liz Schrum presents Tech Metrics, which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy. This episode: Act 255 state tax credits over time.

In a separate commentary, Tech Council President Tom Still talks about the Wisconsin Tech Summit, a matchmaking event between 20 major companies and emerging firms in Wisconsin. It will be held March 18 at Lambeau Field; a company application deadline is nearing.

Click here to view the biweekly show and Still’s commentary, produced by Red Arrow Production for the Tech Council and WisBusiness.com, as well as archives of past shows. The show is sponsored by UW-MilwaukeeBDO and Exact Sciences.

Miss a show? Visit our archives at https://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/newsroom/wisbusiness-the-show/

AARP Wisconsin: What a great week for family caregivers

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Contact: Jim Flaherty, Communications Director
Office 608/ 286-6308 – Cell 608/ 698-0928

MADISON – “What an outstanding week this has been for Wisconsin’s unsung, unselfish and often underappreciated heroes – our 578,000-plus family caregivers,” said Sam Wilson, State Director for AARP Wisconsin.

On Monday, Feb. 18, AARP Wisconsin stood alongside Governor Evers as he recognized the incredible work that family caregivers provide all across Wisconsin and signed an Executive Order establishing the creation of a Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving.

One day later AARP joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers at a press conference to introduce the Credit For Caring Act, which is proposed legislation that would help many of Wisconsin caregivers offset some of the personal expenses they incur while providing care for loved ones.

“We commend Governor Evers and state legislators for valuing the work these caregivers perform every day,” Wilson said. “They clearly understand the importance of preparing for Wisconsin’s increasingly aging population by making sure all the right supports and safety nets are in place to help families with the difficult tasks involved with providing this care.”

Family caregivers put in long hours helping loved ones with tasks such as giving baths, dispensing medications, preparing meals, paying bills, and providing transportation to doctor’s appointments.

More than 40 million Americans take on these challenges every day so that family members, relatives or friends can remain living independently as long as possible in their own homes and communities rather than being moved into costly long-term care institutions, Wilson explained.

The task force will be charged with analyzing strategies to attract and retain a strong direct workforce, finding strategies to support families providing caregiving supports and services, and improving the quality of caregiving in Wisconsin.

“Caregivers provide critically important services and are often the unsung heroes, supporting and caring for friends and loved ones so they can stay in their homes and their communities,” Governor Evers said in a press statement. “It’s important to me that we recognize, value, and celebrate the work of caregivers across our state, and that we make sure caregivers have the support they need while strengthening and improving access to direct care workforce in Wisconsin.”

The task force will be charged with analyzing strategies to attract and retain a strong direct workforce, finding strategies to support families providing caregiving supports and services, and improving the quality of caregiving in Wisconsin.

Separately, the Credit For Caring Act would create a $1,000 nonrefundable individual income tax credit for certain expenses incurred by a family caregiver to assist a qualified family member.

Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) and Rep. Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), along with Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) and Rep. Debra Kolste (D-Janesville) introduced the legislation on Tuesday of this week, and urged fellow state lawmakers to join them as co-sponsors.

“Each year, Wisconsin’s 578,000-plus family caregivers provide about 538 million hours of care to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones,” Wilson said. In addition, they spend an average of $7,000 per year on out-of- pocket costs related to caregiving. They provide this care while also keeping up with their own jobs, running their own households and trying to make ends meet.

“Caregivers do all of this while Wisconsinites are getting older, with thousands of Boomers retiring each day and fewer home health care workers available to take care of them. That’s why we at AARP believe that making small investments in caregivers right now will lead to big savings for Wisconsin and much better care for families down the road.”

Wilson said AARP is very excited for both the task force and to see the Credit For Caring Act move forward. He said family caregiving is a bipartisan issue that impacts nearly everyone at some point in their lives.

“It’s high time we step up our game and do more to assist these heroes throughout Wisconsin. We hope lawmakers will clearly understand that this task force and tax credit are important first steps to providing this critical support,” Wilson said.

ACS CAN: Applauds Gov. Evers’ commitment to reducing burden of cancer in Wisconsin

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Tracy Lytwyn
Phone: 312.279.7284
Email: [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – Feb. 28, 2019 – Today, Gov. Tony Evers released his budget plan, which included funding for tobacco prevention and the state’s Well Woman program for breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as a tax on e-cigarettes. He also announced his commitment to increasing access to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. In response, Sara Sahli, Wisconsin government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, released the following statement:

“As an organization dedicated to ending suffering and death from cancer, we’re thankful that Governor Evers’ budget plan will help reduce the burden of this disease.

“The best treatment against cancer is prevention, and our state’s tobacco prevention and control program provides critical education and cessation resources to our communities. We commend the governor for increasing funding for tools like the Tobacco Quit Line in his budget and for including a tax on e-cigarettes. With one in five high schoolers and one in nine middle schoolars in Wisconsin now using e-cigarettes, this tax is crucial to making these products less accessible to young people.

“Likewise, Wisconsin Well Woman connects uninsured or under-insured women to much-needed breast and cervical cancer care and screenings. Early detection is critical to diagnosing the disease when treatment is more effective and less expensive. With the funding Governor Evers has proposed, we can help stop cancer before it takes root.

“In the same vein, we know that cancer patients fare best when they have access to quality health insurance. But so many still fall in the coverage gap, where they’re unable to afford private health insurance but make too much money for Medicaid. That’s why we’re grateful that Governor Evers has committed to increasing access to Medicaid to reach more low-income, uninsured Wisconsinites.

“ACS CAN encourages the Legislature to follow Governor Evers’ lead and prioritize cancer patients throughout budget negotiations. We stand ready to work with our lawmakers to craft a plan that best supports Wisconsin’s health.”

About ACS CAN

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.

ADCC 2019 golf outing 🗓

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Where: Wild Rock Golf Club, 856 Canyon Road Wisconsin Dells 53965
$5,000: Golf Foursome + Hole Sponsorship + Golf with Special Guest
$4,000: Golf Foursome + Hole Sponsorship
$3,500: Golf Foursome
$2,000: Lunch or Dinner Sponsor
$1,000: Hole Sponsorship or Individual Golfer

Administrators of Nursing Education in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Nurses Association: Applaud Governor Evers’ creation of Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving in Wisconsin

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Contact: Gina Dennik-Champion
608-228-3300

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Nurses Association (WNA) and the Administrators of Nursing Education in Wisconsin (ANEW) want to express appreciation to Governor Evers for creating a Task Force on Caregiving in Wisconsin. “Nursing care delivered by registered nurses in many practice settings are dependent upon the availability of caregivers to support their practice. The quality and competence of caregivers requires education, training, direction and support provided by RNs,” states Linda Gobis, RN, MSN, JD., WNA President. Caregiver shortages are requiring RNs to perform the duties of the vacant caregiver position. This is undesirable as it leads to increased labor costs, i.e. RN vs. caregiver salary, and RNs retention issues.

ANEW and WNA want to make you aware that Wisconsin is facing a nurse educator shortage. “The demand for nurses exceeds the capacity of schools of nursing to admit. Individuals wanting to become nurses are met by waiting lists due to faculty shortages,” states Dr. Linda Young, RN, PhD., ANEW President. One other factor that is creating caregiver shortages is the shortage of qualified nursing instructors.

ANEW and WNA are asking that dollars be allocated in the 2019-2021 State Budget that support RNs receiving graduate or PhD level nursing education. Dollars will be used to provide scholarships, stipends, loan forgiveness and/or fellowships to nurses who commit to working as a nurse educator for three years in a Wisconsin School of Nursing. To find out more about the Nurse Faculty Shortage go to: https://www.wisconsinnurses.org/nurse-faculty-shortage/

AFL-CIO: Unions join together to challenge lame duck laws

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Contact:  Karen Hickey, 414-574-7579, [email protected]

Stephanie Bloomingdale, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO, released the following statement on the lame duck special session lawsuit brought forth by Wisconsin unions.

“This week a coalition of unions filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the lame duck special session. The actions of the majority in power in the legislature and former Governor Scott Walker were not only a blatant undemocratic power grab, but also illegal.

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO applauds the Wisconsin affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for standing up for all of us to uphold the will of the people.

Put simply, the politicians in Madison who conspired to nullify the results of the election by stripping power from the winners must be held accountable.”

AFP-WI: Statement on Evers right-to-work repeal effort

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CONTACT: Eric Bott, [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) State Director Eric Bott issued the following statement in response to Governor Tony Evers’ plan to repeal Wisconsin’s right-to-work law:

“Wisconsin’s economy is roaring because of numerous pro-growth reforms over the last decade but the labor reforms in this budget put that growth at risk. We can’t go back to where we were, and we are ready to commit the full extent of our grassroots infrastructure to protect worker freedom and stop this outrageous attack on taxpayers and small businesses.

“Repealing right-to-work would unfairly limit worker freedom by forcing employees to join and fund a union as a condition of employment. We know right-to-work is an important consideration for businesses looking to expand or set up shop. Getting rid of right-to-work would make it harder to attract job creators to Wisconsin.

“Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin will spare no effort to stop Governor Evers’ misguided assaults on workers and taxpayers in Wisconsin.”

 

AG Kaul: Statement following death of Milwaukee police officer

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul issued the following statement after a Milwaukee Police Officer was killed in the line of duty:

“I join all of Wisconsin in mourning the loss of one of our brave law enforcement officers. Those who put on the uniform every day put their safety at risk to protect others and to save lives.

“DOJ continues to assist with this investigation and the Law Enforcement Death Response Team is supporting the Milwaukee Police Department.”

AG Kaul: Statement following Governor Evers’ budget address

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul issued the following statement following Governor Tony Evers’ budget address:

“Glad to see the governor’s budget includes much needed resources to support the criminal justice system. By adequately funding the state crime labs, allocating resources for more prosecutors, and increasing funding for treatment and diversion programs, we can make Wisconsin safer.”

AG Kaul: Statement following U.S. attorneys’ notification to prescribers

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MADISON, Wis. – Today, U.S. Attorneys Scott Blader and Matthew Krueger notified
medical professionals with relatively high levels of opioid prescriptions to review their
prescribing practices. Following this action Attorney General Josh Kaul issued the
following statement:

“Thank you U.S. Attorneys Krueger and Blader for sending these notices out to
providers. While the medical community has played an important role in addressing
the opioid epidemic, we need to ensure that all medical professionals are prescribing
responsibly,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Members of the public who have unused or unwanted medications can dispose of them
safely and conveniently at more than 400 drug disposal boxes around Wisconsin.
Unused or expired medicine should never be flushed or poured down the drain. Water
reclamation facilities are not designed to remove all of them and trace amounts of
pharmaceuticals are showing up in rivers and lakes.

To find a drug disposal box near you, go to www.doseofrealitywi.gov/find-a-take-back-
location/.

AG Kaul: Statement on President Trump’s national emergency proclamation

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul issued the following statement in
response to President Donald Trump’s proclamation on declaring a national
emergency:

“President Trump’s emergency declaration is a blatant attempt to circumvent the
system of checks and balances prescribed by the United States Constitution. I fully
expect that it will be blocked by the courts.

“If it becomes clear that federal funds that should be distributed to Wisconsin will
instead be diverted as a result of this manufactured emergency, the Wisconsin
Department of Justice will take appropriate action.”

AG Kaul: Unveils new crime scene response vehicle at State Crime Lab

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced the Wisconsin State
Crime Laboratory (WSCL) has purchase a new Crime Scene Response Vehicle for the
Madison laboratory. The new vehicle was purchased to increase the amount of
equipment available to forensic analysts and technicians when responding to crime
scenes across the state.

“In addition to testing evidence from across the state, the Wisconsin State Crime Labs
have crime scene response teams that assist law enforcement in collecting and
processing evidence in complex cases,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “This new
crime scene response vehicle will make the crime scene response team at the Madison
crime lab even more effective at the important work it does.”

The Crime Scene Response Unit consists of 22 staff, from multiple disciplines from
all three WSCL locations, who volunteer to respond to scenes. The unit primarily
responds to scenes involving homicides, officer involved shootings, clandestine
graves, and autopsies related to scenes. The unit is available 24 hours a day, 365 days
a year, per the request of law enforcement.

In 2018, the unit responded to 90 requests from law enforcement. In January 2019,
the unit has responded to six cases resulting in 17 individual responses out of the lab
to account for scenes that required multiple days processing time, autopsies and
vehicle processing. Total unit time spent on these 17 events in January accounted for
approximately 579 analytical hours. This does not include any time spent at the lab
preparing reports.

Ahead of formal rollout, questions remain about Evers budget

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Alliant Energy: Chairman and CEO Patricia L. Kampling announces retirement; John O. Larsen named new chairman and CEO, appointed to Board of Directors

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Media contact: Scott Reigstad (608) 458-3145

Investor Relations contact: Susan Gille (608) 458-3956

MADISON, Wis. – February 13, 2019 – Alliant Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patricia L. Kampling announced her intent to retire from the company effective July 1, 2019. Kampling has been with Alliant Energy since 2005 and has served as Chairman and CEO since 2012.

The Board of Directors appointed Alliant Energy President and Chief Operating Officer John O. Larsen to succeed Kampling. Larsen was also appointed as a member of the Board of Directors effective February 13, 2019. Larsen will become Chief Executive Officer, President and Chairman of the Board of Alliant Energy, effective July 1, 2019.

“Pat Kampling has done an outstanding job of transforming the company and setting a new vision to move us into the future,” said Dean Oestreich, lead independent director of Alliant Energy’s board. “John Larsen’s leadership in developing and executing our strategy will continue to position the company for long-term success.”

Larsen joined the company in 1988 as an electrical engineer after receiving his degree at the University of North Dakota. Over his career at Alliant Energy, he held leadership roles in engineering, energy delivery and generation operations of the company. In 2004, he was promoted to Vice President. In 2010, John was named Senior Vice President – Generation. At that time, he also became President of Wisconsin Power and Light Company.

In 2015, John stepped into a new expansive role: leading our efforts related to technology, development, generation construction, economic development, customer service and account management.

In recognition of his leadership, in 2017 John was named President of Alliant Energy. As President, John had critical responsibilities – including leading the Technology and Strategic Planning functions – to help Alliant Energy respond more rapidly to opportunities and deliver greater value to customers. In 2018, he was named President and Chief Operating Officer of Alliant Energy and Chief Executive Officer of Alliant Energy’s two utility companies.

“Pat has been both visionary and pragmatic in her leadership of our company. It has been an honor and privilege to work alongside and learn from her over the past seven years in her role as CEO,” said Larsen. “As we look ahead, our focus remains on our customers and developing new products, services and markets to help them power beyond the challenges of today while powering what’s next in energy solutions.”

American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin: Sends demand letter to stop sexual harassment in Wisconsin school district

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Contact:
Ana Blinder, ACLU, 646-905-8877, [email protected]
Cass Bowers, ACLU of Wisconsin, 414-272-4032, ext. 217, [email protected]

MILWAUKEE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the ACLU sent a letter to Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD) demanding the district take prompt corrective action regarding serious concerns of pervasive gender discrimination, including sexual harassment, body-shaming, and victim-blaming. The two schools named in the demand letter are Tremper High School and Bradford High School.

According to parents and students, in March 2018, cheer coaches at the annual Tremper High School cheer banquet — featuring over 150 people in attendance — distributed offensive and objectifying awards to female cheerleaders including the “Big Boobie” award and the “Big Booty” award. Records obtained by the ACLU show that parents complained to the Tremper principal and the director of student leadership and were told there was no evidence of wrongdoing on part of the cheer coaches.

“It was heartbreaking to see the girls accept awards for things that are inherently damaging to their worth and identity. My concerns multiplied as one district administrator after another disregarded the complaints. Ultimately there was no substance in the district’s actions, the coaches are still directly working with the squad without any understanding of how their actions harmed these impressionable young women,” said the ACLU’s client and parent of one of the cheerleaders in attendance.

“KUSD seems to have a practice of sweeping harassment under the rug or failing to acknowledge sexual harassment is a serious offense,” said Asma Kadri, staff attorney with the ACLU of Wisconsin. “From Ash Whitaker to the disparate enforcement of its dress code against female students and now this, KUSD has run out of explanations for its failure to take action to protect students from sex-based discrimination and promote a learning environment free from harassment and discrimination as required by federal law and the Constitution.”

“We’re glad to hear that Tremper High School will no longer award student cheerleaders for the size of their breasts, after hearing from us,” said Emma Roth, Equal Justice Works Fellow, ACLU.  “This is a step in the right direction. However, they need to take further corrective action, including district-wide training on sexual harassment.”

The ACLU and ACLU of Wisconsin call on KUSD to take concrete action in response to these troubling reports and promptly enforce its policies so that all students are treated equally, regardless of gender. Should the district fail to take corrective action, the ACLU and ACLU of Wisconsin will consider further legal steps.

The demand letter is online here: https://www.aclu.org/letter/aclu-demand-letter-kenosha-unified-school-district
Read more from our attorneys here: https://www.aclu.org/blog/womens-rights/womens-rights-education/wisconsin-school-district-shrugged-after-high-school
Link to banquet video: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/rwxxww6c0q477dk/AADu6_f48iMyknPq_KA55DFRa?dl=0.

American Dairy Coalition: Supports the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019

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Media Contact:
Laurie Fischer
CEO
920-965-6070
[email protected]

The American Dairy Coalition supports the efforts of Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI) with his introduction of the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019. This bill will make it necessary for the president to submit to Congress any plans to “adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.” A similar bill has been introduced to the Senate.

“When it comes to trade, Congress has consistently surrendered its Constitutional authorities to the executive branch. This bill reverses that trend, allowing for trade interventions when our national security is at stake and giving the Defense Department a greater role in that process. My bill also safeguards the public from executive overreach and from protectionist policies that hurt Wisconsin families, manufacturers and farmers.”—Rep. Gallagher said in a statement.

Recently, the U.S. dairy products industry has been reeling, trying to overcome the challenges created when major trading partners like Mexico and China placed retaliatory tariffs on dairy products in reaction to steel and aluminum tariffs the imposed by the Trump Administration. The American Dairy Coalition feels the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act will allow our elected officials to weigh in on the possible impacts of import adjustments on the various industries that employ hard-working Americans.

American Dairy Coalition: Unnecessary trade war risks irreparably damaging U.S. dairy

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Contact:
Laurie Fischer
920-965-6070
[email protected]

Mexico imports nearly a quarter of the U.S. dairy industry’s exports annually. It’s a critical $1.4 billion marketplace. And it’s one that President Trump continues to risk damaging permanently — and unnecessarily.

Locked in a trade war since May, Mexican leaders are setting aside American business connections that took decades to build as our neighbors to the south find new sources of cheese, butter and other products.

This should have changed in November when Trump declared success with his newly rechristened U.S.-Canada-Mexico Trade Agreement replacing NAFTA. In retrospect, it was a disingenuous statement: The administration has not lifted steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexican and Canadian products, and — in response — those countries are refusing to sign the pact or lift retaliatory tariffs, impacting dairy products and other items.

“If you’re using the tariffs as leverage, if you get an agreement with countries that have come to the table because of that, if you don’t relieve them of tariffs, you’re going to marginalize that as an effective leverage point for other negotiations,” U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told reporters at a recent press conference.

“The longer this trade war goes on … the greater and more permanent the damage will be,” added Johnson, whose home state saw the dairy-fueled economy lose $139 million through October of last year.

A Pyrrhic victory is defined as one that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. That’s an apt description of the precipice President Trump stands on today.

His surprise electoral path to victory in 2016 ran straight through the American “Farm Belt,” fueled by Midwest states where agriculture still figures prominently in the day-to-day lives of their citizens. Those same farmers — whether they deal in dairy, livestock, dairy or crops — have generally remained supportive of the president’s efforts to secure more favorable trade deals from nations historically benefiting from lopsided agreements.

However, having won concessions from Mexico and Canada, Trump now risks squandering those hard-fought gains — wiping out thousands of agriculture-related jobs in the process, ignoring one of his core constituencies and, in the most ironic twist of all, irreparably undermining his 2020 re-election ambitions.

A Pyrrhic victory, indeed.

“The president’s trade policies have sent U.S. agricultural exports plunging, exacerbating already difficult economic conditions facing farmers,” Politico’s Ryan McCrimmon recently reported. “Average farm income has fallen to near 15-year lows under Trump, and in some areas of the country, farm bankruptcies are soaring.”

This has been particularly notable in places, such as Wisconsin, where the dairy sector has shrunk by about 1,200 operations — or about 13 percent — from 2016 to October 2018.

Unfortunately, it could get worse. A lot worse: A new report from a national research firm, Washington, D.C.-based Trade Partnership Worldwide, estimates that if higher tariffs remain intact — including those currently in place against China — the country risks 2.2 million lost jobs in the next three years.

President Trump has displayed a willingness to play hardball in order to secure concessions. He is to be commended for his desire to level the playing field in North America and, potentially, beyond. Nonetheless, he has reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns and everyday unnecessary tariffs remain in place, more and more of the very people he claims to be fighting for — American dairymen and farmers — are being pushed into bankruptcy.

President Trump sells himself as a champion for agriculture. However, a good general knows when the day is won and when to remove his troops from harm’s way. If Trump can’t learn the same lesson, he may find few farmers willing — or able — to stand behind him.

American Majority Wisconsin: Launches conservative training forum

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Media ContactNate Nelson

[email protected]

Conservative Group to Provide Monthly Training Opportunity in Appleton

Mequon, WI– American Majority Wisconsin is launching a new project called the Conservative Training Forum. It is a monthly training opportunity in Appleton, Wisconsin.  Every month, on the fourth Tuesday, American Majority Wisconsin will be hosting a training event and speaker. The goal is to equip conservatives with cutting edge information about how to organize, mobilize, and win.

The training topics will range from social media, how to run for office, how to volunteer on a campaign, how to organize on an issue, and more. These trainings will be regularly held on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Machine Shed, 220 Fox River Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin from 11:30am-1:30pm.

The first two events will be:

February 26: Julaine Appling, President Wisconsin Family Council

“Local Government: The Place to Be”

March 26: Matt Batzel, National Executive Director of American Majority

“What Happened in 2018 and How to Prevent It from Happening Again”

Nate Nelson, the Wisconsin Executive Director of American Majority, said “I am excited about the launch of our Conservative Training Forum. This project will be a great opportunity for activists, local candidates, and campaign staff to learn the latest campaign and organizing techniques.”

American Majority works to build a farm team of new leaders at all levels of government. Since opening a Wisconsin chapter in 2010, American Majority has trained 177 winning candidates in Wisconsin and trained more than 8,000 activists.

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin: Evers education budget doesn’t prioritize student success

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Contact: Eric Bott, [email protected]

 

MADISON, Wis. – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) issued the following statement in advance of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget reveal, which will reportedly restrict educational freedom by freezing enrollment in Wisconsin’s educational opportunity programs and curbing the expansion of independent public charter schools. This proposal would likely prevent some of the highest performing schools in Wisconsin from expanding and make it harder for the state’s neediest students to access high-quality educational alternatives. In the end, this proposal will hurt students trapped in low performing traditional public schools the most.

AFP-WI believes that a quality education can happen in any school model – including public or private schools, charter or homeschools, virtual schools, and ways yet to be imagined, regardless of a child’s ZIP code. AFP-WI is committed to bringing all sides together to find solutions that best meet the needs of our state’s students and reject this dangerous proposal from the administration that divides our community.

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

“Partisanship and a commitment to the status quo have impeded our ability to unite and realize true change for Wisconsin’s students, teachers and families. As we begin this new legislature and kick off the education debate in earnest, we – families, teachers, lawmakers, all Wisconsinites – should seize this extraordinary opportunity to work together to provide an education that empowers teachers and helps every kid find fulfillment and success.

“This budget runs antithetical to the purpose of education, which is to help every kid discover, sharpen, and apply their unique abilities so that they can better shape our future. By restricting options, this budget widens the gap between our children and the schooling options tailormade for them and their unique needs and circumstances. We urge the governor to join in the conversation to find ways to eliminate, not erect, barriers so every student can exercise their right to an individualized and quality education.

“Parents want more educational options for their children, yet this budget doesn’t reflect that. The Governor’s budget is driven by politics, when it should instead be driven by the needs and wants of Wisconsin’s parents and their kids.”

Andrea Kaminski: League of Women Voters of WI calls on lawmakers to end gerrymandering

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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 a legacy going back almost a century and a presence in all 50 states, the League of Women Voters takes the long view on how voting district maps are drawn. In Wisconsin the League has been active on apportionment and redistricting since the 1930s. Through the decades our stance has sometimes lined up with that of one major political party or the other, but that is not because we have changed our minds about where we stand.

The Wisconsin League adopted a position in the 1970s favoring voting maps drawn by a nonpartisan entity, rather than by the legislators who might want to ensure their own job security by creating “safe” districts. It’s the voters who should choose their representatives, not the other way around. Currently we support having a nonpartisan legislative agency draw the maps, a plan that has worked well in Iowa since 1980. Over the years our position has not sat well with the party in power.

In a 1989 letter to the League, Assembly Speaker Dave Travis, a liberal Democrat, blasted the League for our position favoring an independent commission. He said the League “allowed itself to be used for partisan political purposes on behalf of the Republican Party of Wisconsin during the 1980s redistricting process.”

That was then. Now it’s the Republican legislators who oppose nonpartisan redistricting. That party’s leaders have refused to even hold a public hearing for the “Iowa Plan” bill which was introduced in each of the past four sessions. The Democrats, on the other hand, may be wishing they had followed the League’s advice in the 1980s or in the 2009 legislative session, when their party controlled both houses of the legislature and governor’s office.

What has changed between the 1980s and today? Not the League’s position. All that has changed is which party is in power. The party in power got there through the current system and is often reluctant to make any changes. This is happening in both red states and blue states around the country. In Maryland and New Jersey, the League has recently fought against gerrymandering by the Democrats.

This battle really is between the party leaders, much more than the public. The latest Marquette University Law School Poll found that 72 percent of likely voters, including 63 percent of Republican leaners and 83 percent of Democratic leaners, say they would prefer to have district maps drawn by a nonpartisan commission.

It is expected that a new bill will be introduced soon in the Wisconsin legislature to establish a redistricting system similar to that in Iowa. If enacted, this would result in fair districts for voters rather than safe districts for politicians. It would cost taxpayers well under $100,000 every ten years, with most of that spent on public hearings held around the state to get public input. Compare that to the $3 million and counting that has already been spent or committed to have a private law firm draw the voting maps back in 2011 and then have the state defend the gerrymandered districts in the courts.

When this legislation is introduced it should have a public hearing and a vote in both houses of the state legislature, and then Governor Evers should sign it into law. In addition, nonpartisan redistricting should be incorporated into the biennial state budget, which will be in effect through June of 2020. Given that the nonpartisan process will be less expensive than what we have had in the past, it will free up needed tax dollars for better pursuits than rigged districts.

–Andrea Kaminski is the legislative coordinator for the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin. 

Aspirus: Third Class of Aspirus Scholars Named to Tackle Physician Shortage

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Recipients receive scholarships for future service at Aspirus

WAUSAU, Wis. – The Aspirus Health Foundation’s Aspirus Scholars Program has awarded $550,000 to four medical students from the Medical College of Wisconsin-Central Wisconsin campus (MCW-CW). The program is a community collaboration to address the national physician shortage and meet the needs of people and communities in north central Wisconsin and Upper Michigan today and for future generations.

The Aspirus Scholars Program provides generous scholarships for tuition to medical students and connects them to Aspirus and the communities served by Aspirus during their training. In return, students will commit to employment at Aspirus in the areas of primary care, psychiatry or general surgery.

Four Aspirus Scholars recipients have accepted scholarships in return for future employment with Aspirus:

Madeline Klippel, 2nd Year Medical Student (Hometown: Merrill, WI)

Joseph Novak, 1st Year Medical Student (Hometown: Antigo, WI)

Hannah Marti, 1st Year Medical Student (Hometown: Pittsville, WI)

Natalie Weeks, 1st Year Medical Student (Hometown: Orfordville, WI)

“Our Aspirus Scholars award recipients already have strong ties to north central Wisconsin as well as the U.P. of Michigan and are passionate about medicine and caring for patients,” said Kalynn Pempek, Executive Director of the Aspirus Health Foundation and Volunteer Services. “Each will be a tremendous addition to the Aspirus family and the communities we serve.”

The Aspirus Scholars Program is a forward-looking approach that could bring as many as 62 new primary care, psychiatry or general surgery providers to communities in north central Wisconsin and the upper peninsula of Michigan by the year 2030. It leverages the unique opportunity to collaborate with a college partner whose program is specifically designed to attract students interested in learning and working in community and rural settings.

A selection committee made up of Aspirus and community members from Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan screened the applications and selected the third class of Aspirus Scholars.

The first two classes of Aspirus Scholars included five medical students from MCW-CW and four physician assistant students from the UW wisPACT program at the UWSP-Wausau Campus and from Marquette University.

“The local, state and national provider shortage is real, and the Aspirus Scholars Program was designed as an important approach to meet the needs of our communities for access to high-quality health care for future generations,” said Sid Sczygelski, Sr. Vice President and System Chief Financial Officer for Aspirus, Inc. “Aspirus and our community partners are proud to invest in the students who will care for our patients and communities as physicians and advanced practice providers in the future.”

Jenny Redman-Schell, President of Aspirus Clinics stated, “The Aspirus Scholars Program offers medical students an opportunity to begin rewarding careers with the Aspirus family and to see health care and community at its finest. With more than 7,600 employees and a world-class consortium of more than 500 providers committed to medical excellence, we provide a higher level of care to some of the most wholesome, family-focused communities in north central Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan.”

The Aspirus Scholars Program is made possible through contributions from community partners such as The Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin; Judd S. Alexander Foundation; Dwight and Linda Davis Foundation, B.A. & Esther Greenheck Foundation; Dudley Foundation, Molinaro Family, and individual donors.

Vital investments were also made by Aspirus Ironwood Hospital (Ironwood, Mich.); Aspirus Iron River Hospital (Iron River, Mich.); Aspirus Keweenaw Hospital (Laurium, Mich.); Aspirus Langlade Hospital (Antigo, Wis.); Aspirus Medford Hospital; Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital (Ontonagon, Mich.); Aspirus Riverview Hospital (Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.); and Aspirus Wausau Hospital.

Assembly unanimously passes amended Black History Month resolution

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The Assembly unanimously passed an amended version of a resolution honoring Black History Month after lawmakers clashed over competing versions earlier this afternoon.

The differing resolutions were not originally brought up for a floor vote after some in the Republican caucus expressed disapproval of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s inclusion in the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus’ version.

But members later in the afternoon introduced a final version of the amendment that removed Kaepernick’s name and modified some of the language from the Black Caucus’ original resolution.

The final version cleared the chamber 95-0.

See more on the debate. 

Badger Institute Policy Symposium 🗓

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When: Noon – 4 p.m. (Lunch provided for those who registered.)
Where: North Hearing Room, Wisconsin State Capitol

SESSIONS
Wisconsin’s Ideal Pro-Growth Tax Structure   
Noon–12:50 p.m.
Presenters:
Katherine Loughead, Policy Analyst with the Center for State Tax Policy at the Tax Foundation
Joe Bishop-Henchman, Executive Vice President at
the Tax Foundation
Mike Nichols, President of the Badger Institute

Proven Successes in Criminal Justice Reform   
1 p.m.–1:50 p.m.
Panelists:
Cecelia Klingele, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin Law School
Tom Lyons, State Director, Wisconsin Right on Crime
Orlando Owens, Southeast Regional Director,
Office of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson/Joseph Project

Occupational Licensing: At What Cost?   
2 p.m.–2:50 p.m.
Dr. Morris Kleiner, Professor and AFL-CIO Chair in
Labor Policy at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at
the University of Minnesota and co-author of “At What Cost? State and National Estimates of the Economic Costs of Occupational Licensing.

Transportation Needs and Funding
3 p.m.–3:50 p.m.
Presenters:
Dale Knapp, Director, Forward Analytics
Robert W. Poole Jr., Director of Transportation Policy at the Reason Foundation and author of “Rethinking America’s Highways: A 21st-Century Vision for Better Infrastructure.”

Badger Institute: Applauds movement toward dental therapists

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Contact: Michael Jahr, 262-442-5208
[email protected]


Milwaukee
 – The Badger Institute applauds Gov. Tony Evers’ focus on creation of a dental therapist license, a policy change that would address Wisconsin’s shortage of dental care providers and improve oral health care for hundreds of thousands of children with dental benefits through Medicaid.

“We are pleased to see Gov. Evers’ commitment to increasing dental care for Wisconsin’s residents who need it most,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols. “We’ve found that too many Wisconsin residents, especially in rural areas, are without access to a dentist. Dental therapists have been a proven solution to this crisis in other states, and we’re confident they can have the same impact here as well.”

According to 2018 research from the Badger Institute, Wisconsin ranks last in the nation for providing oral health care to the more than 550,000 children with dental benefits through Medicaid. More than 90 percent of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have at least one geographical area experiencing a shortage of dental providers. In 2017, 1.5 million residents (more than a quarter of the state’s population) lived in areas designated by the federal government as dental care shortage areas.

Dental therapists – mid-level providers similar to nurse practitioners and physician assistants in the medical field – can provide a free-market solution to the problem without additional burdens on taxpayers. Therapists work under the supervision of dentists, and since they can provide routine care at a lower cost, they are able to serve more low-income patients. In Minnesota, dental therapists have freed up time for dentists to focus on more complex procedures that generate more revenue.

Licenses for dental therapists were implemented in Minnesota in 2009, expanding access to dental care throughout the state. Other states that allow dental therapists are Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Vermont and tribal communities in Alaska, Oregon and Washington. Dozens of others are considering proposals.

The Badger Institute will address this topic at its upcoming Policy Symposium in the state Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 20. University of Minnesota professor Morris Kleiner, a leading expert on occupational licensing, will deliver the presentation.

Badger Institute: Supports lower fees for licensed workers

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DSPS fee changes approved, will take effect July 1

CONTACT: Michael Jahr, Badger Institute vice president at 262-442-5208 or at [email protected]

Milwaukee – Most Wisconsin workers who are required to have a state occupational license or certificate will see their initial and renewal fees reduced in July thanks to a request by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) that has been approved by the legislative Joint Committee on Finance.

Research from the Badger Institute shows that fees associated with getting or maintaining a license are among several licensing-related roadblocks to work for many Wisconsinites.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said Badger Institute Policy Analyst Julie Grace. “Over the years, our research has indicated that fees and other overly onerous education and licensing requirements make it difficult for many Wisconsinites to enter the workforce and provide for their families. We hope this is the beginning of a bipartisan licensing reform effort similar to what we’ve seen in other states.”

DSPS is establishing a maximum licensure/credential fee (initial or renewal) of $75. Until now, the maximum initial fee has been $135, and the maximum renewal fee has been $220.

New fees are listed in a DSPS report submitted to the Joint Committee on Finance. Notable fee reductions for license renewals included in the report are for real estate appraisers ($154 reduction), hydrologists/geologists ($114 reduction), psychologists ($104 reduction), chiropractors ($95 reduction) and cosmetologists ($71 reduction).

“DSPS Secretary Dawn Crim deserves credit for lowering the compliance burden on those working to gain access to the hundreds of occupations that require workers to secure a government permission slip,” said Grace. “The Badger Institute will continue to highlight examples of the impediments erected by licensing requirements, and we will continue to promote solutions that will provide greater access to the labor market for the many Wisconsinites who are ready and eager to work.”

Founded in 1987, the Badger Institute (formerly the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) guided by the belief that free markets, individual initiative, limited and efficient government and educational opportunity are the keys to economic prosperity and human dignity.

Badger Institute: Wisconsin legislative leaders say tolling necessary for upgrading, maintaining highway system

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Contact: Michael Jahr, 262-442-5208
[email protected]


Milwaukee
 – Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos yesterday advocated for tolling as a long-term solution to the state’s transportation funding shortfalls and called for a study that could bring the state one step closer to gaining federal approval for tolling.

During a roundtable discussion at a Wisconsin Counties Association meeting in Madison, Fitzgerald said he does not see a way for the state to address its infrastructure challenges without some form of open-road tolling. He also noted that tolls could generate billions instead of millions of dollars for highway improvements, adding that even a significant increase in the gas tax would fall short of fixing Wisconsin highways.

Analysis from the Badger Institute over the years confirms that tolling on interstate highways is a workable approach for rebuilding and widening the state’s aging Interstate system. It is, in fact, “the only realistic, long-term solution to Wisconsin’s road funding dilemma,” according to Robert Poole Jr., author of Rebuilding and Modernizing Wisconsin’s Interstates with Toll Financing, and Mike Nichols, president of the Badger Institute.
As vehicles become more energy efficient, revenue from gas taxes will slowly decline in coming years.

Borrowing is unsustainable, too. More than 20 percent of all Wisconsin transportation fund revenues already go toward debt service instead of improving our roads. The state spends over a half-billion dollars every year just servicing transportation-related debt.

In a recent Badger Institute commentary, Poole reported that two major studies released late last year strengthen the case for Wisconsin to pursue tolling and validate the need for a Phase 2 interstate tolling study. Funding for such a study was vetoed by Gov. Scott Walker in the last state budget.

A Phase 2 study would allow the state to determine what it would cost to rebuild and widen the state’s aging interstates.

Such a study, he added, could identify “the best ways to ensure that the tolling is done in a customer-friendly way — for example, by offering rebates for fuel taxes on the newly tolled corridors. It also could recommend ways to make the cost of electronic toll collection as low as possible, compared with the high cost of old-fashioned cash tolling. And it could assess value-added features for trucking companies, such as lots of safe overnight parking spaces with various other services, including electric vehicle recharging and alternative fuel sources.”

Modern, all-electronic tolling lets people who use the roads pay for them and provides a fair, quick and convenient way to create a highway system that grows the state economy and allows Wisconsin drivers to reach their destinations safely.

“Wisconsin,” according to Poole, “can pioneer 21st century Interstates, becoming a model for all the other states.”

Barnes says Foxconn needs to prove it will keep its promises

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Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes says several reports of Foxconn changing plans are “frustrating,” but that with investments already made he hopes the Taiwanese tech company creates the jobs it promised.

“Foxconn needs to prove, not just to us, they need to prove to everybody in the state of Wisconsin … that they are going to do the work they said they are going to do,” Barnes said at a luncheon hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com February 7. “So it’s very frustrating looking at them change course all of the time.”

Barnes was critical of Foxconn, saying the company has not kept promises in the past, but he challenged them to create the promised jobs in Wisconsin.

“Foxconn has traditionally not lived up to its promises, but I will say that since it is here in theory, I dare Foxconn to do the correct thing,” Barnes said. “I dare them to create jobs. I challenge them to do that, because, obviously, since it’s here we want things to work out as best as they can right now.”

Barnes’ comments follow news last week from an interview with a Foxconn executive that the company would be changing its focus away from manufacturing LCD screens at its Mount Pleasant site, and a disputed report from a Japanese publication that the project was on hold. Foxconn has since reaffirmed its plan to build a Generation 6 facility, which would produce smaller LCD screens than those originally envisioned when the state struck the $3 billion deal with the company.

Barnes noted the local infrastructure investments already made and how people in the area lost homes and farms to eminent domain for Foxconn to acquire land for the complex.

“We don’t need that to be all for naught,” he said. “We have to make sure that it is as beneficial a project as it can be.”

Barnes also addressed Evers’ promise on the campaign trail to reduce the state’s prison population.

He said the key to reducing the prison population is reducing recidivism.

“If we can curb recidivism in the state, the prison population will ultimately dwindle because the overwhelming majority of people in prison are not there for life,” Barnes said. He advocated more reentry program to ensure “people who are released have a pathway back into society.”

Barnes also said a lot of people are in prison for technical parole and probation revocations along with testing positive for marijuana, which Barnes said should be legalized.

Additionally, he said treatment should be a focus for non-violent offenders with mental health or substance abuse issues.

“The models are there,” Barnes said. “Other states are doing it, we’re just not there for whatever reason.”

Barnes, Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus tout goals to kick off Black History Month

MILWAUKEE — Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and members of the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus today kicked off Black History Month by touting their commitment to tackling disparities communities of color are facing in education, the criminal justice system and other areas.

The officials, who spoke at a news conference at Milwaukee’s Black Holocaust Museum this morning, also highlighted the progress African-Americans have experienced in the state while acknowledging there are still gains to be made.

Barnes, the second African-American elected to statewide office after former Secretary of State and civil rights leader Vel Phillips, noted challenges African-Americans are facing in Wisconsin, including income inequality, though he expressed optimism going forward.

“A lot of my colleagues in the Legislature don’t necessarily have to experience or hear from constituents who share the concerns of the Black Caucus, so a lot of things get ignored,” he said. “But I still think that progress is being made, because if you look at the battle of public ideas we’re winning it.”

At the event this morning were Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus Chair Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee; Caucus Vice-Chair Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee; and Caucus Treasurer Rep. Kalan Haywood, D-Milwaukee, among others.

Haywood thanked Phillips, Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King Jr., who he said cleared the path for him to join the Legislature this session.

“They opened the door wide for me to come in,” said Haywood, who at 19 is the second youngest person ever elected to the Legislature. “Now it’s my job to open the door even wider.”

Members of the caucus also hosted an event this afternoon at the state Capitol.

— By Royce Podeszwa, WisPolitics.com 

Bill Kaplan: End the Trump emergency

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

Candidate Trump made many promises in 2016, mostly unmet. His tax cuts largely helped big business and the wealthy, not regular folks. And, the Trump alternative to the Affordable Care Act was to repeal, with no replacement. Trump also pledged massive infrastructure spending. Empty words, despite much of the nation and Wisconsin in disrepair. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ infrastructure report gave a D+ to the U.S. And, it rated Wisconsin: 8.7 percent of bridges are “structurally deficient”, 27 percent of roads in “poor condition”, and over $7 billion needed for drinking and wastewater infrastructure.

However, Trump’s most far-fetched promise was to make Mexico pay for a border wall. Mexico refused. And, a GOP-led Congress, busily running up the deficit, did not pony up the funding. Moreover, there is no emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border. Illegal crossings have been declining for years, most outlawed drugs enter the U.S. through border stations and terrorists are not coming across the border.

But Trump’s empty record and failed promises enraged conservative talking heads and extremists. So Trump shut down the government for over a month. His disapproval polling numbers soared, while congressional Republicans began to defect. Trump caved. The government reopened, but to save face Trump proclaimed a “national emergency” at the border. A manufactured crisis. Worse, Trump said he would divert funds appropriated by Congress for military construction to build his vanity wall. A clear violation of Article I of the Constitution and separation of powers.

On Tuesday, the House will vote on a resolution terminating the “national emergency”. About 225 representatives have signed on as sponsors, including Wisconsin Democratic Representatives Ron Kind, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan. Will Wisconsin GOP representatives stand up for the Constitution? Green Bay Representative Mike Gallagher has been critical: “This is bad policy and bad process”. And, Waukesha Representative Jim Sensenbrenner has been scathing: “Article I of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power of the purse… . It is imperative that no administration, Republican or Democratic, circumvent the will of Congress”. Well-spoken words from both, but on Tuesday it will be time to stand up and vote to end the Trump emergency.

The same resolution will be introduced in the Senate. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin tweeted: “Both Democrats and Republicans oppose the President declaring a national emergency, and taking money from our military, or anywhere else, to pay for a wall that he promised Mexico would pay for. This is a bad idea. Doesn’t the President have enough legal problems already?” But as usual Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Will he stand up for the Constitution?

The only real way to end the Trump emergency is to vote this tin-pot dictator out in 2020. Democrats must choose a candidate who can beat Trump and govern. We must lead to overcome the rural-urban divide. Instead of emphasizing our own identity group let’s unite Americans. Senator Baldwin has been outstanding in doing this, leading with pocketbook economic issues.

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

Bill Kaplan: How to stop Foxconn giveaway deals

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

If it looks too good to be true it probably is. The Foxconn deal concocted by Trump and then Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker was heralded as the “eighth wonder of the world”. They promised high-paying factory jobs to make big television flat screens. One big catch – Wisconsin taxpayers had to pony up more than $4 billion, including direct cash payments, to Foxconn. The nonpartisan state Legislative Fiscal Bureau said it would take 25 years for taxpayers to see their hard-earned money return to Wisconsin. Bright and glittery, like fools gold.

Then Ohio GOP Governor John Kasich was more discerning. Kasich said: “We are pitching Foxconn. We hope they will make something here.” However, Kasich took a well-deserved potshot at Walker’s deal: “I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not going to take us 40 years to make back the investment we make. We don’t buy deals.” Kasich is not alone.

Former Indiana GOP Governor Mitch Daniels made a sharp criticism of Foxconn-like deals: “Nothing in public life is more dangerous to the public interest than politicians chasing ‘jobs’ with the people’s checkbook. They can buy their way into the ribbon-cutting photos knowing that if they grossly overbid, they won’t be around when the bills come due.”

And, the press was harsh. A New York Times editorial opined: “Wisconsin’s Fire Sale for Big Business … The Foxconn project amounts to a low-road scheme to advance big business by scapegoating environmental laws … . (T)he robber barons would have envied … Governor Walker’s reckless giveaway of tax subsidies and hard-won protections of the environment.” The Washington Post reported: “The bundle of financial incentives Wisconsin offered to lure Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn’s first major U.S. plant is larger than what New York, Virginia and Tennessee collectively offered to Amazon for far more jobs, a comparison of the two developmental projects shows.”

Walker told Foxconn critics to “go suck lemons”. However, the chickens have come home to roost. First, Foxconn told Reuters: “In terms of TV, we have no place in the U.S.” A corporate spokesperson said Foxconn’s Wisconsin development would be hiring white-collar workers (knowledge-research), rather than high-paid blue-collar workers. All on top of Foxconn’s previously saying a smaller less-costly facility would be built. And, initial job promises have not been kept. Wisconsin Republicans panicked, blaming newly-elected Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers. But Trump tweeted the Foxconn deal was on, with no details offered. Just flip-flops.

Time to go down a different road. Former Delaware Democratic Governor Jack Markell opined: “Competition for jobs should not be seen to hinge on which government can write the biggest check to an employer but on … the quality of schools, workforce development programs, the transportation grid and other infrastructure … . Congress should institute a federal tax of 100 percent on every dollar a business receives in state or local incentives that are directed specifically to that company.” Wisconsin’s congressional delegation should introduce legislation to enact the tax. It would end the race to the bottom.

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

 

Bill Kaplan: Trump’s theatrics and Evers’ substance

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

Trump’s State of the Union address was the opposite of Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ State of the State address in humanity, tone and substance. Trump began with urging bipartisan “cooperation, compromise and the common good”. It was jaw-dropping. “This language completely glosses over the past 3 1/2 years. Whatever you think of Trump’s politics, he has pursued a divisive political strategy very much focused on his base. …he has exacerbated (divisions) with an unyielding, uncompromising and controversial style that relies on fomenting cultural wars and humiliating those who run afoul of him” (Washington Post).

There was nothing for regular folks. Trump described a rosy economy, but left unsaid was the growing inequality of income and wealth. The Washington Post headline provided clarity: “Wealth concentration returning to levels unseen since (19)20s”. The New York Times reported that stock market “gains haven’t been spread among the masses. Stock market wealth is heavily concentrated among the richest families”. Moreover, there was no Trump plan to solve real problems such as strengthening (not sabotaging) the Affordable Care Act, infrastructure and pension reform, e.g., making certain that the Central States Pension Fund retirees get their hard-earned pensions.

The centerpiece of Trump’s bombast was his wall, notwithstanding that illegal immigration has been declining for years, most outlawed drugs enter the U.S. through border stations and terrorists are not coming across the Mexico-U.S. border. Moreover, the ultimate Trump hypocrisy and lie: “Former employees’ accounts indicate that Trump, who denounces workers without legal status, has long benefited from their labor” (Washington Post). Pathetic.

And, to add insult to injury Trump fantasized: “Here in the United States we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country” (earlier echoed by Wisconsin GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who said “we won’t let socialism … take root in our state”). All reminiscent of reactionaries who denounced Social Security as “socialism” and Medicare as “socialized medicine”. No, Trump is not a populist. He uses deception, fearmongering and theatrics to divert our attention. What a contrast to Governor Evers.

Evers’ State of the State address was an optimistic, roll-up-your-sleeves speech focused on solving problems facing regular folks. It celebrated the diversity, history and humanity of Wisconsin. And, he touted the Wisconsin Idea and BadgerCare (enlargement of Medicaid under Wisconsin GOP Governor Tommy Thompson). Evers emphasized that his first budget will include Medicaid expansion as provided for in the Affordable Care Act.

Evers wants to join 33 states (many GOP-led) that have expanded Medicaid, plus 3 more that recently approved it in state referendums. An educator, Evers has done the math. 90 percent federal funding for expanded Medicaid will cover 76,000 more Wisconsinites. And, resultant savings could be used to increase state funding for education and infrastructure. Moreover, Wisconsin doctors and hospitals know that expanded health coverage will reduce uncompensated care (over $1 billion in 2017, Wisconsin Hospital Association).

It’s long past time for Wisconsin GOP legislators to join enlightened GOP legislators nationwide in embracing the math and morality of Medicaid expansion.

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

Birthday fundraiser for Sen. Tim Carpenter 🗓

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Please join us for Senator Tim Carpenter’s Happy Birthday Fundraiser

Monday March 4th
Argus Bar and Grill
123 E. Main Street
Madison  5- 6:30pm

“Friends of Tim Carpenter”
2957 South 38th Street
Milwaukee, WI  53215
[email protected]
(414) 719-9957

Contribution levels- $100
$250, $500 and $1,000.
Thanks for your support!

Black Business and Nonprofit Day 🗓

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Contact:
Rep. David Crowley
608.266.5580
920.915.0479

MADISON – The Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus announces Week 2 schedule for Black History Month to be hosted by Representatives Jason Fields and Kalan Haywood.

This week will be headlined by Black Business and Nonprofit Day from 12pm-2pm on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the State Capitol, Assembly Parlor. “This is what Black History Month is all about,” said Rep. Fields. “Coming together to establish strategies and building new relationships that will improve and enhance the economic viability of our community.”

“Black History Month is a great time to celebrate the culture and the people who have contributed to making the lives of other people better,” added Rep. Haywood. “However, it should also serve as an urgent call to action and inspire us to create innovative ways to push the needle forward in terms of economic development in communities of color and the State of Wisconsin as a whole.”

The flyer for this week’s event is attached below. For a full schedule of events, please visit the Black Caucus’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BlackCaucusWI or reach out to the Office of Representative David Crowley.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: $1.5 million in funds approved for community projects

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

MADISON – Today, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) unanimously approved slightly more than $1.5 million in State Trust Fund Loans to support six community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • Town of Remington, Wood County / Purchase plow truck / $135,419.95
  • Town of Sparta, Monroe County / Purchase dump truck with plow / $53,124.50
  • City of Tomah, Monroe County / Finance TID #8 small business loan program / $70,000
  • City of Tomah, Monroe County / Finance TID #8 development incentive / $1,000,000
  • City of Tomah, Monroe County / Finance TID #8 veterans’ assistance housing loan / $180,000
  • Village of Whiting, Portage County / Finance operations and maintenance / $110,000

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:
https://bcpl.wisconsin.gov/Shared%20Documents/Agency%20Info/Library%20Aid%20Distribution%202018.pdf

Established in 1848 by the State Constitution, the BCPL consists of the Secretary of State Doug La Follette, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Attorney General Josh Kaul.  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 bcpl.wisconsin.gov.

Chief Justice Roggensack: Statement

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The Governor’s proposed budget, as released tonight, takes substantial steps in support of constitutional guarantees that Wisconsin must accord in its criminal justice system.

His budget increases momentum among the three branches of Wisconsin government to work together on those issues on which we all have a common interest.

The Governor’s budget proposal, similar in some respects to that announced by Assembly leadership last week, evidences the Governor’s intent to raise the rate for attorneys who provide constitutionally required representation for the poor to $70 per hour and to authorize some of the additional district attorneys necessary to moving cases through Wisconsin’s criminal courts.

I am pleased with the progress being made by the legislative and the executive branches of Wisconsin’s government as they move forward to address serious concerns for the administration of Wisconsin’s criminal justice system.

Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin: Celebrates 40 years of consumer advocacy in Wisconsin

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Contact: Tom Content, 608-251-3322 ext. 12
414-550-4712 (cell)

The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin will celebrate four decades of standing up to power on behalf of homeowners, renters and small businesses on April 7 in Milwaukee.

Lakefront Brewery, a CUB small business member, will host the event starting at 6:30 p.m.

CUB, the state’s independent consumer voice, was created in 1979 to advocate for the interests of residential and small business customers in utility cases decided by the state Public Service Commission.

Wisconsin was the first state in the country to create a Citizens Utility Board to advocate for fairness and affordable prices for utility customers.

“Wisconsin is known for being forward thinking in so many ways, and CUB is part of that legacy,” said Tom Content, CUB’s executive director. “We were the first state to regulate monopoly utilities by creating a PSC back in 1907. And we were the first state to create a Citizens Utility Board to advocate for the ‘little guy.’ “

CUB’s advocacy has helped save customers almost $3.4 billion since 2006, and CUB continues to advocate for fairness and lower rates. That includes $84 million in 2018 alone. In 2017, CUB hired an in-house utility analyst, an expert who previously worked at the Public Service Commission. This enabled CUB to advocate for more customers across the state in more cases.

“Even with the savings we helped realize, Wisconsin’s electricity rates are above the Midwest and national average,” he said. “It goes to show that a strong consumer voice is still needed today to help bring costs back in line, and for our leaders to keep the interests of hard-working customers in mind when they consider utility proposals that will add to already high profits.”

Through a Citizens Utility Board, customers who don’t have the means to advocate on their own gain a collective voice. That’s important because utilities and large businesses have the means to lobby for their own interests and can easily afford to have a seat at the table when decisions affecting their bottom lines are made.

CUB’s 40th anniversary is taking place at a time when the state’s largest utility company, WEC Energy Group, is expected to seek to increase rates for customers of its utilities We Energies of Milwaukee and Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay.

CUB’s Milwaukee celebration on April 7 will feature a brewery tour focusing on Lakefront Brewery’s environmental sustainability, as well as information about CUB and its work, including the Utility Bill Clinics it hosts for customers. Outpost Natural Foods, a CUB small business member, will sponsor a dessert station at the event.

Tickets are $25 each and include a free glass of beer and a variety of appetizer favorites. They can be purchased at www.cubwi.org.

Clean Wisconsin: Governor’s funding proposal for water protections an investment in our future

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Contact:  Amber Meyer Smith, (608) 251-7020 x16
[email protected]


MADISON, WI —Clean Wisconsin applauds Governor Evers’ call for $70 million in funding for water protections announced on Monday. Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s Vice President of Government Relations, made the following statement:

“Governor Evers is investing in Wisconsin’s future. Clean drinking water for everyone in our state means making sure families living with contaminated water are helped immediately. It means having water protections in place to prevent future pollution, and it means making an investment in adequate resources for those whose job it is to protect our water.

“Many people do not have adequate access to clean drinking water due to past failures by our state to take our drinking water issues seriously. During this Year of Clean Drinking Water, Governor Evers is turning the page to a new era of clean water in Wisconsin.

“Lead is a serious issue faced by many across Wisconsin. Forty million dollars towards lead pipe replacement signals a serious commitment by the Governor to address and solve this problem to protect our kids and vulnerable communities from the real harms of lead poisoning.

“We look forward to working with the Governor and state leaders to find solutions to our water challenges so everyone in Wisconsin has access to clean and safe drinking water.”

Clean Wisconsin: Statement on Cowles water quality trading bill

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Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, Vice President of Programs & Government Relations, (608) 251-7020 ext. 16 [email protected]

MADISON, WI —Senator Robert Cowles and Representative Joel Kitchens released LRB 1244: P3, a Pollution Prevention Partnership, relating to buying and selling water pollution credits through a clearinghouse.

Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s Vice President of Government Relations, made the following statement:

“I am encouraged to see continued attention on solutions that will reduce the phosphorus pollution that plagues our waterways. One pound of phosphorus can cause 500 pounds of algae to grow and massive algal blooms continue to choke lakes and rivers throughout Wisconsin. Through this bill, Senator Cowles has taken a serious look at new solutions that could create more cooperation between all the sources of phosphorus pollution to work together to tackle this critical issue.

“Wisconsinites deserve access to clean, safe water, and this bill is another step in the right direction toward a clean water future. We look forward to continuing to discuss the details of the proposal with the authors and working on all of the bipartisan solutions to achieve clean water for Wisconsin.”

Clean Wisconsin: Statement on Governor Evers’ budget address

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Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, Vice President of Programs & Government Relations, (608) 251-7020 ext. 16 [email protected]

Today Governor Evers gave the 2019-2021 State Budget Address highlighting some of his main priorities over the next two years. See the Budget in Brief here.

Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s Vice President of Government Relations, made the following statement:

“In January Governor Evers announced 2019 as the Year of Clean Drinking Water. I am glad to see his budget amplify this commitment. The significant investments in Governor Evers’ budget only help Wisconsinites gain access to the clean, safe drinking water they deserve. The Governor is helping protect both rural and urban sources of contaminated drinking water with a $70 million proposal to address water quality. This additional funding will help control polluted runoff, replace lead pipes, and restore science to natural resources decision-making.

“I am also encouraged to see the Governor set a goal of 100 percent carbon-free electricity in Wisconsin by 2050, and make meaningful investments in clean energy. The carbon-free goal together with a new Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy will be key to transitioning Wisconsin to a clean energy economy. Additional efforts like electric vehicle charging infrastructure will help reduce emissions from the transportation sector and reduce our need for harmful fossil fuels.

“Clean Wisconsin looks forward to working with elected officials and the Joint Finance Committee throughout the budget process to continue prioritizing clean water, air and energy.”

Clean Wisconsin: Statement on governor’s pledge for funding SWIGG study, well compensation grant program

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Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, Vice President of Government Relations, (608) 251-7020 x16 or [email protected]

MADISON, WI — Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s Vice President of Government Relations, made the following statement on Governor Evers’ proposal to spend $75,000 for the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study and increase funding for the Well Compensation Grant Program:

“Clean drinking water for everyone in our state means making sure families living with contaminated water are helped immediately. It means having water protections in place to prevent future pollution, and it means making an investment in adequate resources for those whose job it is to protect our water. The provisions announced today by Governor Evers underscore that framework and highlight a vision for how we live up to his commitment to make 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water.

“We continue to learn more about the scope of well water pollution through initiatives like the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study, and the results are alarming. The first samples show 42% of wells in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties are contaminated with nitrates and/or bacteria, higher than in Kewanee County. For years, Clean Wisconsin has urged the state to take action in Southwest Wisconsin, and when the state ignored our requests, we encouraged the counties to take an active role in protecting their residents’ drinking water. We’re thrilled to see the state also step up to match the commitments local governments have already made to the SWIGG study.

“The additional $2 million for the Well Compensation Grant Program will go a long way toward helping those with polluted wells get access to clean drinking water. Too many people cannot drink water from their own private well due to harmful pollution from nitrates and bacteria. We applaud this commitment by Governor Evers to provide more funding and increase accessibility to ensure people can drink the water coming from their tap.”

Customers First! Coalition Power Breakfast 🗓

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Contact: Kristin Gilkes, 608-286-0784

MADISON – The Customers First! Coalition will host a Power Breakfast in Madison on February 19, 2019, featuring a lineup of industry-experts discussing game changers in the energy industry, including renewable energy, energy storage, and electrification. An agenda can be found below.

Interested individuals and members of the media can register at the following link:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2019-power-breakfast-game-changers-registration-53872063793

2019 Power Breakfast Agenda
Tuesday, February 19, 2019; 8:15 am – 11 am
Madison Concourse Hotel, 1 W Dayton St, Madison, WI
Networking and breakfast seating (8:15 am)

Introductory Remarks (8:45 am)
• PSCW Commissioner Rebecca Cameron Valcq
• State Senator Rob Cowles

Presentations
• Electrification: Elizabeth Stipnieks, Alliance for Transportation Electrification
• Renewable Energy: Tyler Huebner, Executive Director, RENEW Wisconsin
• Energy Storage: Troy Miller, Sales Leader, Energy Storage, GE Power

Break (10 am)
Panel discussion
• Discussion with presenters above
• Moderated by PSCW Commissioner Mike Huebsch

Closing Remarks
• State Representative Beth Meyers
• PSCW Chairperson Ellen Nowak

Breakfast Concludes (11 am)

Please direct any questions about the Power Breakfast to Customers First! Coalition Executive Director Kristin Gilkes at
608-286-0784 or [email protected]

Dairy Business Association: Endorses bill to improve water quality through credit clearinghouse

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEFeb. 26, 2019

Contact: Jamie Mara, director of public relations
Dairy Business Association
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]

Nutrient trading system would foster farm conservation practices

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Dairy Business Association said today it supports a new legislative initiative that would improve water quality through the promotion of a streamlined process for nutrient trading.

State Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Allouez, today began circulating a bill for co-sponsorship that would create a third-party clearinghouse to allow for the buying and selling of water quality credits. While state law already allows for this type of trading, a centralized system for the sale of such credits would make this an easier process and, thus, more popular.

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“This type of trading system is something that dairy farmers have been interested in for some time,” said John Holevoet, DBA’s director of government affairs. “The current system for doing trades of this kind is well intentioned, but trades are cumbersome to set up and get approved. The clearinghouse would make this a much more appealing option for those looking to buy and sell these new water quality credits.”

The clearinghouse approach for water quality credits would function something like existing markets for carbon credits. Various entities, including local water treatment facilities, cheese plants and other factories are required to meet limits for what pollutants or nutrients they can discharge to the environment. Phosphorus is one of the most commonly regulated nutrients. It can be very expensive for a facility to filter its discharge sufficiently to reach its assigned phosphorus target.

At the same time, there are environmental and farming organizations that can implement innovative farming techniques or land use changes that would reduce the amount of phosphorus in a watershed. Now, organizations doing that kind of work could sell credits from the phosphorus reductions they achieve, and other entities could buy them to offset the amount of phosphorus they need to remove from their waste streams.

“This new credit system would be a great way to encourage farmers to implement new conservation practices,” Holevoet said.

“We’re hopeful this new bill will garner broad support. Clean water is something we all want. This new clearinghouse is exciting because it would allow for partnerships between rural and urban stakeholders to improve water quality for everyone.”

Holevoet said innovative companies play an important role in these sorts of solutions. He noted Newtrient, which works to improve sustainability by advancing technologies that transform manure into products like soil conditioners, fertilizer and energy, and by connecting stakeholders in this new and growing business arena.

“Companies like Newtrient have rolled up their sleeves and are working with dairy farmers and the state to find financially sustainable ways to improve water quality,” he said.

Click here for a high-resolution photo of John Holevoet

Tweet about this:

Dairy group @DairyForward supports @SenRobCowles proposal for streamlined #water quality credits

Click here for more about the benefits of market-based nutrient trading in Wisconsin 

About DBA:

The Dairy Business Association is a nonprofit organization comprised of Wisconsin dairy farmers, milk processors, vendors and business partners who work to ensure that Wisconsin dairy farmers of all sizes have the support they need to thrive in the state’s economy, communities and food supply chain. The integrated approach is a unique model that fosters collaboration and innovation for the collective good. The association’s core work is advocating for sensible state laws and regulations that affect the dairy community. For more information, visit www.widba.com.

Dane Co. Exec Parisi: Statement on Governor Evers’ budget proposal

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

Tonight, Governor Tony Evers introduced his first biennial budget to the state of Wisconsin. In response to the proposal, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi released the following statement:

“Governor Tony Evers’ 2019-2021 budget reflects Wisconsin values and prioritizes many initiatives that Dane County supports and has worked hard to implement since I first took office in 2011.

“From committing to increase K-12 funding and improve the quality of our water to emphasizing the need to repair our aging roads and support Wisconsin’s struggling agricultural industry, it is clear to see that the Governor’s budget serves the people of Wisconsin and works to address our state’s needs. Criminal justice reform is one of many issues in this budget that Dane County shares an interest in addressing, and I am happy to see that Governor Evers wants to raise the age that offenders are considered adults for most crimes. I am also excited to see a focus on preserving our state’s natural resources so Wisconsin’s outdoors can be enjoyed for generations to come.

“Governor Evers’ proposal acknowledges the needs of local governments and provides us with solutions to help us grow and move forward. Dane County is currently the fasting growing county in Wisconsin. With a net in-migration of more than 20,000 since 2010, no other county comes close. As recently as 2016, we accounted for almost 80 percent of the state’s population growth and over half of its private sector job growth. According to a 2018 survey, nearly 40 percent of participating Dane County business leaders said their business performed better than they expected in 2018 and nearly 75 percent are anticipating an even better outcome in 2019. Governor Evers’ budget proposal makes me excited for what lies ahead—not only for our region, but for Wisconsin as a whole.”

 

Dane Co. Exec. Parisi: Announces Kwik Trip as key partner of renewable fuel from Dane County’s landfill biogas project

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

Today, standing in front of Kwik Trip’s compressed natural gas (CNG) station in Verona, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Kwik Trip will be one of the primary dispensers of the renewable vehicle fuel generated by the County’s landfill biogas project when it reaches completion later this year. When finished, Dane County’s landfill biogas project will be able to turn trash and cow manure into renewable fuel and inject it into an interstate transmission pipeline so it can be bought and sold to power fleets of CNG vehicles. Through Kwik Trip’s partnership with Dane County, the company will be able to dispense renewable CNG fuel from the pipeline, sell it at the company’s growing list of CNG fueling stations, and power vehicles locally and across the Midwest.

“Our project at the landfill will be a win for clean air as well as Dane County taxpayers,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “Dane County’s partnership with Kwik Trip will enable our region to reap the benefits of the renewable fuel generated at the landfill.”

Biogas contains about 50 percent methane and is created when garbage at a landfill breaks down. While methane is a harmful greenhouse gas pollutant, it also makes up about 98 percent of natural gas, so biogas can be used as a renewable energy source. Dane County’s landfill biogas facility will enable the County to convert its landfill biogas into vehicle fuel, thereby eliminating thousands of tons of carbon emissions, a leading cause to the extreme weather events triggered by climate change.

Dane County’s landfill biogas project will displace 3,000,000 gallons of fossil fuels in the first year of operation, with this number growing to 4,000,000 gallons per year in future years. Due to renewable CNG having a lower carbon footprint, this is equivalent to taking 4,800 cars off the road. This is a CO2 emission reduction equal to over 24,000,000 pounds of coal burned. In addition to the project’s environmental benefits, it is estimated that Dane County will generate enough revenue from the project to payback its $28 million cost of the project in just a few years.

“Kwik Trip is proud to partner with Dane County and Bluesource on this progressive, innovative, and collaborative sustainability initiative involving the transformation of the County’s landfill biogas into the development of renewable natural gas,” said David Ring, Community Relations Manager at Kwik Trip.  “We view this as a win-win partnership that will allow us to provide a cleaner fuel source for our customers and create a significant benefit for the environment in the form of reduced carbon emissions. This partnership makes a positive difference in the communities we serve and fits well with Kwik Trip’s other integrated sustainability initiatives.”

Kwik Trip is headquartered in La Crosse, Wisconsin and already uses CNG to power its fleet of vehicles. The fleet is comprised of over 80 percent natural gas vehicles that deliver products to stores every day. Kwik Trip began offering compressed natural gas in 2012. With more than 45 stores and 1,300 coworkers in Dane County, Kwik Trip is well-equipped to take advantage of this renewable natural resource. CNG fuel technology has been in place and is available now for commercial and passenger vehicles. Kwik Trip has CNG available in Verona and Windsor, along with 19 other stores in Wisconsin, and 35 CNG locations total in the upper Midwest.

This partnership will be made possible through Dane County’s contract with Bluesource, a company that brings firms together to monetize renewable energy and environmental attributes to reduce and mitigate environmental impacts. As one of Bluesource’s clients, Kwik Trip will be able to purchase the fuel and use it for the company’s operations.

“As North America’s oldest and largest environmental attribute developer, Bluesource is delighted and proud to partner with Dane County on this industry leading RNG project,” said Kevin Townsend, Chief Commercial Officer of the company. “It’s encouraging and rewarding to experience first-hand Dane County’s leadership in bringing this project through to fruition.”

Dane County’s new facility will also have a biogas offloading station to allow other biogas producers, like manure digesters, to inject their gas into the pipeline. This Dane County project is the first in the nation to be able to receive biogas from multiple off-site locations and connect that renewable gas with CNG gas stations locally and across the nation. Before being hauled to the landfill for injection into the interstate pipeline, the gas will need to be purified and compressed by the owner’s equipment.

Digesters reduce greenhouse gas emissions by collecting methane that would otherwise be emitted to the atmosphere. They also help farms manage manure more responsibly, which reduces harmful runoff to lakes and streams. Due to the increased revenue opportunities for local digesters, this offloading station is expected to create an economic incentive for owners of “Cow Power” facilities in the area to convert their operations to vehicle fuel production, which will spur the development of more digesters in our area, and significantly increase Dane County’s lakes clean-up efforts.

The County’s 2018 budget included the final phase of funding totaling $28 million for Dane County to build the biogas processing facility at its landfill and connect it with the adjacent interstate pipeline. Of those funds, $5.5 million went toward building the gas off-loading station for other biogas producers to inject their cleaned up fuel. The 2018 County budget also included a $200,000 study to look into where additional digesters could be located to process manure into biogas.

A resolution for Dane County’s contract with Bluesource will be introduced at tonight’s County Board meeting. The Board’s approval process of the contract will take place over the next few weeks.

Dane County Exec Parisi: Announces Tessmann as new Human Service Director

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink

608-267-8823
[email protected]

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Shawn Tessmann has been selected as the new Director of the Dane County Department of Human Services. Tessmann has worked in the Department of Human Services as a senior leadership team member since 2016 and previously worked for the state of Wisconsin in a number of state agencies where she acquired broad experience in Medicaid, FoodShare, Child Care, W-2, and other economic assistance programs.

“I look forward to working with Shawn Tessmann as the new Dane County Human Services Director,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Between Shawn’s extensive experience working in the public sector and her dedication to serving those in need, the Dane County Department of Human Services has a bright future with Shawn as its next director.”

In Tessmann’s role as Economic Assistance and Work Services Administrator for Dane County’s Department of Human Services, she administered all public assistance functions for Dane County, provided oversight of the County’s commitment to end homelessness, and held leadership responsibility for an eight county income maintenance consortium, among other duties.

“I’m delighted and honored to be asked by the County Executive to lead the delivery of the excellent services and programs we administer to Dane County citizens,” Tessmann said. “I look forward to working with our staff, partners, policymakers, agencies, stakeholders and clients to make sure the department is being as responsive as possible to community needs as they exist now, and as new needs emerge.”

Prior to her work at the Dane County Department of Human Services, Tessmann served as Eligibility Policy and Systems Director for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, where she had primary day-to-day responsibility for all income maintenance functions for Medicaid and FoodShare. Tessmann’s past experiences also include working as the Member and Employer Services Director for the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, as Business and Operations Manager for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, and as Policy Advisor for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

“I’m pleased that this nationwide search pointed us to a talented individual in our own ranks,” said Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Corrigan. “Shawn’s career experiences and the respect she has earned from those she works with in the Department will serve her well as the Director.”

For five years, Tessmann was an owner of Isthmus Research and Consulting, LLC. She served as the Project Manager for the independent evaluation of all welfare reform and workforce development programs for the state of Arkansas. She also managed broad-based qualitative and quantitative research projects and worked with Wisconsin legislators to detail program improvements to Wisconsin’s welfare replacement program.

Tessmann resides in Mount Horeb with her husband and son, who is currently a junior in high school. She grew up in the Dane County area and is an active volunteer with her local school board. Her favorite pastimes include reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Tessmann will replace Lynn Green, who has served as the Director of the Dane County Department of Human Services since 2002 and has spent a total of 46 years serving Dane County. Tessmann’s confirmation as Dane County Human Services Director is pending final approval by the County Board.

Dave Considine: Support our kids, support DPI’s budget

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

Although it is early in the year, the state legislature has already begun to get to work on the 2019-2021 state budget. With a new Governor who previously served as the Superintendent of our state’s public school system, we are seeing a focus on supporting public education in a very different way than in the past. In his final budget request as State Superintendent, Governor Evers and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) submitted a plan that included $63 million to support and improve school mental health programs.

As a former special educator, I know this funding will have major positive impacts on the well-being and productivity of students across Wisconsin. In the 29 years I worked with students labeled Emotionally and Behaviorally Disordered in Baraboo, I spent a lot of time helping them learn to care for their mental health. I saw firsthand what can happen when a student struggling with their mental health cannot access support. They experience lower grades, truancy, substance abuse, criminal activity, and worse. But I also saw what happens when schools do have the funding to prioritize their students’ mental health: better academic performance, higher participation in the community, improved overall health, increased self-confidence, and more.

$63 million is a large investment, but we have much to gain from it. Every Wisconsin student deserves to thrive, and this investment will go a long way toward helping them do so. If we do not spend this money now on proactive mental health services, we may be forced to spend it later on addiction treatment or incarceration at a much higher cost and lose the productivity each person brings to our community.

The good news is, the state budget can be influenced by citizens all over the state. Governor Evers will be introducing his budget, the people’s budget, on February 28th. Whether you agree or disagree with what is proposed, Governor Evers is looking for feedback and plans to travel across Wisconsin to hear your thoughts. Please look for the notices of when and where these public hearings will happen, and make sure to voice your views. I also encourage you to contact your legislator and make your voice heard. You can find out who your legislators are at https://maps.legis.wisconsin.gov.

– Considine, D-Baraboo, represents the 81st Assembly District.

Dave Prosser: Trump, Ocasio-Cortez silent during brouhaha over corn syrup suds

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

There is widespread disappointment, even despair among some citizens, that neither President Donald Trump nor Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has addressed the most critical issue facing the country: corn syrup.

President Trump’s State of the Union Address mentioned nothing at all about the sensational disclosure by Anheuser-Busch during the Super Bowl that Bud Light’s competitors, Miller Lite and Coors Light, use corn syrup in brewing their beer, while Bud Light uses rice.

Even more surprising, Representative Ocasio-Cortez, whose comments on the great issues are always eagerly awaited, has remained completely silent on the subject.

Upon inquiry, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders admitted that President Trump was not an expert on corn syrup and that trying to explain the issue to Congress would have made his SOTU remarks even longer than President Bill Clinton’s 89-minute speech in 2000.

“President Trump does not have to break every record for a President,” she said.

Representative Ocasio-Cortez’s office tried hard to dodge the issue entirely. Ocasio-Cortez, a prominent bartender less than a year ago, is a recognized expert but her office had no answer when asked who she is siding with.
After a lengthy pause, one of her staff members mumbled, “What is the phrase politicians use when they don’t want to answer a question?”

“No comment?”

“Oh, yeah. We’ve never used that before.” Then he hung up.

Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill was indignant when she learned that Ocasio-Cortez was being evasive. “I stand foresquare behind Bud Light,” she said. “Time in Washington can cause some officials to abandon their transparency. Not me.”

According to informed sources, neither Trump nor Ocasio-Cortez is willing to take a position against corn syrup for fear of offending corn farmers in Iowa. The lowa caucuses are only a year away. This affects Trump directly. He is much stronger in Arkansas, the Nation’s leading producer of rice, than he is in Iowa where the tall corn grows.

Although Ocasio-Cortez will not be running for President until 2024, she is viewed by leading Democrats such as Michael Moore as the Party’s de facto leader and does not want to hurt Democratic candidates in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Colorado by taking a position that could divide voters.

On the other hand, if Ocasio-Cortez gives her blessing to corn syrup, she’s afraid that certain special interests will put her in stocks, with the implicit encouragement of Nancy Pelosi. Speaker Pelosi is reportedly furious that AOC accused her of supporting only a “Chartreuse New Deal.”

Meanwhile, millions of Americans have been left with no direction, no guidance from their leaders, about whether they should be concerned about the possibility of corn syrup in their beer. They are being forced to make a decision on their own. For many this is bound to leave a bitter taste.

–Prosser served as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice from 1998-2016. He previously served as a Republican member of the state Assembly from 1979 to 1997, and was Assembly speaker from 1995-1997.

 

DC Wrap: Baldwin responds to calls to run for president; House committee assignments finalized

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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

I think it would just be tragic if we bugged out, left the Kurds who, by and large, have done the fighting and have defeated the ISIS caliphate, the territorial caliphate and ISIS, if we just abandoned them to the mercies, and I use that term loosely, of Russia and Iran and possibly Turkey. It would just be unconscionable.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in a Fox News interview over the weekend. The Oshkosh Republican pushed back on President Trump’s plans to withdraw all American troops from Syria.

I’m sure there are many Republicans shaking in their boots about that happening with a future Democratic president.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” where the Madison Dem predicted Republicans were getting nervous at the prospect of President Trump declaring a national emergency to begin construction on a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.  

President Trump’s vision for our nation’s future, which includes fighting for American workers and farmers by leveling the playing field on trade, strengthening our military, and securing our southern border, should make every American proud.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, praising President Trump’s State of the Union address, saying “the American Dream is alive and once again achievable.”

I stand ready to work with all of my colleagues to find common ground, and will fight to break down the hyper-partisanship in Congress to make life better for Wisconsinites.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, saying he was “encouraged” by some of the proposals Trump put forward in his speech.

This week’s news

— Tammy Baldwin says she’s flattered by calls for her to run for president next year but says she’s sticking to her role as senator for now.

The Madison Dem’s comments came after a New York Magazine column this week suggested Baldwin is “a uniquely compelling” 2020 candidate, and may be the party’s most “electable.”

“It’s very flattering, but I’m focused on doing my job for Wisconsin and bringing the Democratic Convention to Milwaukee,” Baldwin said in a statement provided by her campaign.

This week’s column — written by Eric Levitz, the magazine’s Daily Intelligencer Associate Editor — pointed to Baldwin’s history as the first openly gay women elected to Congress, her support for single-payer health care and gun control legislation and her double-digit win over Republican opponent Leah Vukmir in November.

Levitz argued Baldwin was able to win Wisconsin “as an unabashed progressive because she gets her state.” He pointed to her “Go Pack Go Act,” which would have allowed Wisconsinites in all media markets watch Packers games.

A potential Baldwin presidential bid also has support from a newly created Twitter account: Tammy Tammy 2020. The account, which has more than 650 followers, is calling for a Baldwin-U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., ticket.

“Time for a Tammy Tammy double whammy! No matter who tops the ticket, a Tammy Tammy twosome will trounce Trump in 2020!” the account’s bio reads.

 

— Baldwin this week also signed onto three letters calling on executives at three major insulin makers to share information about rising costs.

“According to the World Health Organization, insulin is an essential medicine, meaning that access to this drug at a price that individuals and communities can afford is a basic requirement of a functioning health care system,” she and her Senate colleagues wrote. “Unfortunately, rapidly increasing insulin prices mean that for many patients, access to this essential medicine is threatened.”

See the release.

 

— Committee and subcommittee assignments for the state’s House members have been largely finalized for the new session.

The group’s lone freshman, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, has been assigned to the Financial Services Committee, which oversees insurance, banking, securities and other industries. The Janesville Republican will also serve on three subcommittees: Housing, Community Development, and Insurance; Oversight and Investigations; and Diversity and Inclusion.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner — the dean of the state’s congressional delegation — will continue serving on the House Judiciary and House Foreign Affairs committees. The Menomonee Falls Republican is also the ranking member of the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee.

His other subcommittee assignments are: Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations; Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations; and Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and Environment.

Meanwhile, other reps’ assignments include:

*U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau: member of the House Financial Services; ranking member on Housing and Insurance Subcommittee.

*U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay: Membership on two committees, Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure, and five subcommittees: Intelligence, Emerging Threats & Capabilities; Seapower and Projection Forces; Highways and Transit; Aviation; and Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

*U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah: member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and Education and Labor Committee; and member of four subcommittees: Government Operations; Economic and Consumer Policy; Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education; and Higher Education & Workforce Development.

*U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse: Ways and Means Committee member; and will also sit on the Health and Trade subcommittees.

*And U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee: Newly appointed member of the House Ways and Means Committee; also serves on three subcommittees: Oversight, Select Revenue Measures and Worker and Family Support.

*U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont: member of the House Appropriations Committee;  serves on the following subcommittees: Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; and Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies.

 

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman has introduced a bipartisan bill aiming to prevent future government shutdowns.

The bill, called the “End Government Shutdown Act,” would prevent government shutdowns by funding the government at the previous year’s levels if Congress fails to pass an appropriations bill.

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, noted Wisconsin’s state government has had its own version of his bill in place since 1953; it has helped the state complete its budget on time and avoid shutdowns.

“For too long, politicians on both sides of the aisle have used government shutdowns and other budgetary gimmicks that put federal workers in harm’s way,” Grothman said. “My bill, the End Government Shutdowns Act, will eliminate federal shutdowns and force politicians to work together to produce a budget that works for everyone.”

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. David Loebsack, D-Iowa.

See more on the bill here.

 

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is pushing a bill to lower the costs of prescription drugs.

The bipartisan bill, called the “Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act,” would bar pharmaceutical and biological companies from engaging in anti-competitive actions to block cheaper generic drugs, according to a release from the Menomonee Falls Republican.

“Americans of all ages are burdened by high prescription drug prices, and we must address this growing issue,” Sensenbrenner said. “I’m proud to sponsor this common-sense bill that will implement market-based solutions, making prescription drugs more affordable, saving taxpayers money, and providing much-needed relief to the American people.”

 

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore is bringing back her bill to block President Trump from using taxpayer dollars to pay for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Moore in a statement said she’s introducing the bill — the “No Taxpayer Funding for the Wall Act” — in response to Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday.

“My constituents don’t want a wasteful wall,” she said. “They want effective border security, to feel safe in their homes, and to know their hard-earned tax dollars are used appropriately, especially during tight fiscal times. President Trump’s wall does nothing to further this mission, nor secure the border.”

The Milwaukee Dem introduced a similar bill last session that didn’t go anywhere.

 

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is looking to increase access to retirement savings opportunities, under plans provided by employers in a new bill.

The bipartisan legislation, called the “Retirement Enhancement and Savings Act,” is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa.

“As a nation, we have a problem when it comes to retirement savings. We need to take common sense steps to ensure our businesses are offering their employees flexible retirement plans that set our workers up for success in their golden years,” Kind said in a statement this week.

 

— Kind has brought on a new chief of staff.

That’s Hana Greenberg, former legislative director, who replaces former chief of staff Brad Pfaff. Pfaff left the La Crosse Dem’s office following his appointment as Tony Evers’ Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary.

Meanwhile, Alex Eveland is taking over as Kind’s legislative director, after working as his legislative assistant.

See the release.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

‘Unconscionable’: GOP Senate Homeland Security chair torches Trump’s Syria policy

There’s a corner in Madison where Baldwin and Johnson meet

How Wisconsin senators, representatives reacted after Pres. Trump’s State of the Union address

Roll Call: Key votes from the Wisconsin congressional delegation

Tammy Baldwin for president? New York Magazine makes the case

Baldwin: ‘We will rue the day’ Trump declares national emergency for border wall

Rep. Mike Gallagher advocates for stronger Congress, border security

GOP Rep. Sean Duffy calls out Democratic pastors for siding with liberals on abortion

Lawmakers from Wisconsin congressional districts carried by Trump push vastly different tariff bills

U.S. Rep. Steil holds Janesville listening session

Rep. Steil holds first listening session in Janesville

DC Wrap: Baldwin to support overturning national emergency declaration; roundup of key votes this week

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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

Thank you @GovEvers for doing the right thing and ensuring that our National Guard members won’t be used as props for the President’s outrageous political schemes on the southern border.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, applauding Gov. Tony Evers’ executive order this week to “promptly” remove the state’s National Guard troops from Arizona. Members have been serving in Arizona since the end of June, following President Trump’s call for the National Guard to help secure the border.   

Securing our borders is a top priority of our nation, and I’m proud of Wisconsin’s National Guard for playing a valued role. It’s unfortunate Governor Evers doesn’t agree, and has decided to withdraw them from their important mission.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a statement.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she’ll back legislation to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency as he attempts to go around Congress to fund a wall along the southern border.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is mum on the effort, which cleared the House this week with the support of all of Wisconsin’s Dems and two Republicans: U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Jim Sensenbrenner.

The pair were two of just 13 Republicans who supported the resolution, while GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, of Wausau; Glenn Grothman, of Glenbeulah; and Bryan Steil, of Janesville, opted to oppose the bill on Tuesday.

Sensenbrenner, the longest serving member of the delegation, said he supports efforts to build a physical barrier along the southern border and criticized Dems for refusing to provide the necessary funds.

“More funding is required,” the Menomonee Falls Republican said. “However, where that money comes from matters for the integrity of government.”

In the Senate, where the effort heads next, Baldwin, D-Madison, in a tweet called for the chamber to block “Trump’s unlawful power grab to take money from our military and make American taxpayers fund an ineffective wall that he promised Mexico would pay for.”

But Johnson’s office didn’t say whether the Oshkosh Republican would support or oppose the effort.

See the House roll call vote.

 

— Johnson and Baldwin split this week over a bill aiming to boost protections for infants that survivewho survive an abortion attempt.

The GOP-backed bill, which Johnson supported, failed to clear the needed 60-vote threshold in a Senate procedural vote Monday night, 53-44.

Baldwin joined most Dems in opposing the measure.

The legislation would require that infants who are born following a failed abortion receive care. And it would punish doctors who don’t provide properly attend to the infants, per national media reports. A similar bill passed the House last session but wasn’t taken up by the full Senate.

See the roll call vote.

 

— Baldwin is bringing back a bipartisan bill looking to guarantee health care coverage for infants born with birth defects or congenital abnormalities.

The legislation, called the “Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act,” would require health insurance plans cover any medically necessary services stemming from birth defects or congenital abnormalities, excluding cosmetic surgeries.

Baldwin in a statement said she was inspired to work on the bill after hearing about 14-year-old Aidan Abbott, from Slinger, who was born with a rare congenital disease but denied coverage for his dental work despite having insurance.

“Aidan’s story continues to inspire my work on this issue to guarantee that individuals born with congenital anomalies have access to the comprehensive health treatments and coverage they need,” she said.

Baldwin first introduced the legislation in the Senate last session, but neither it nor the House version made it out of committee.

 

— Baldwin and other senators wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission this week demanding answers on their enforcement of “Made in the USA” labeling standards.

The letter is a follow-up to one the senators wrote to the FTC in October due to companies labeling foreign products as “Made in the USA” without facing any monetary penalties or admitting fault.

In their follow-up letter, the senators request that the FTC increase its transparency and enforce the law in order to protect American manufacturers and consumers.

They also requested further information on the FTC’s enforcement actions against companies that commit labeling violations.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

Read the full letter here.

 

— Wisconsin’s House members split along party lines over a gun control bill that cleared the chamber Wednesday 240-190.

The bill, which looks looks to expand the federal background check system for all gun purchases and many transfers,. It is one of two firearm-related pieces of legislation the House is likely to consider this week, per national media reports. The other bill, which will likely hit the floor today, would lengthen the timeline for completing a background check.

On the first bill, Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind all voted in favor of the legislation, while GOP U.S. Reps. Bryan Steil, Glenn Grothman, Jim Sensenbrenner, Sean Duffy and Mike Gallagher opposed it.

See the roll call vote.

 

— U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Mike Gallagher are teaming up on a bill to expand residency training opportunities across the state.

The legislation, called the “Advancing Medical Resident Training in Community Hospitals Act,” also has the backing of the six other Wisconsin House members. The bill would tweak a Medicare rule to free up more funding through for hospitals with new residency training structures under the Graduate Medical Education program.

Kind, D-La Crosse, and Gallagher, R-Green Bay, touted their bill in a statement this week as a means to recruit and retain more doctors in rural parts of the state.

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which will help provide more opportunity for medical residencies here in our state, and ensure our rural communities have the medical professionals they need to stay healthy and strong,” Kind said.  

 

— Gallagher has introduced a bipartisan bill aiming to increase transparency surrounding health care pricing.

The so-called “Transparency in All Health Care Pricing Act of 2019” would require medical providers to disclose costs for all of their products, services and procedures.

Gallagher said in a statement the bill would result in increased competition, which in turn would lower health care costs across the board.

“The rising cost of healthcare is one of the issues I hear about most from families across Northeast Wisconsin,” he said. “This is why I am proud to introduce bipartisan legislation with Rep. Perlmutter that would require healthcare providers to tell you exactly how much their procedures, products, and services cost.”

Gallagher joined U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., in introducing the bill.

 

Posts of the week

View this post on Instagram

Happy #NationalMargaritaDay!

A post shared by Rep. Sean Duffy (@repseanduffy) on

ICYMI

Sensenbrenner, Gallagher vote against Trump’s declaration

Senator Tammy Baldwin visits MOSES Conference, says Wisconsin dairy is in crisis

Sen. Tammy Baldwin visits 608 Brewing Company in La Crosse to talk craft beer

MacIver Newsmakers Podcast: Sen. Ron Johnson On Trump’s Emergency Declaration

How much have domestic violence rates fallen since the Violence Against Women Act passed?

Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) pushing for sweeping elections reform bill

Congressman Glenn Grothman Joins Newsmaker Sunday

Capital City Sunday: Congressman Bryan Steil & State Rep. David Crowley

US Rep. Bryan Steil announces staff office hours

DC Wrap: Wis. House Republicans mum on potential resolution to block national emergency declaration

0

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

Particularly these cartels, they will rent someone else’s child, or have somebody else’s child just to stay in the United States. We shouldn’t be encouraging either one of those things.
– U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman in a Fox 6 interview. The Glenbeulah Republican said the government funding bill signed into law last week includes language that could allow criminals who have a child with them to avoid extradition. Grothman pledged to introduce a bill to correct the issue.

I do believe that the pathway to the presidency runs right through Wisconsin. My campaign showed how you win in Wisconsin.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal. Pointing to her nearly 11-point re-election win in November, Baldwin said she sees her role in 2020 as “sharing the best wisdom I can about how the Democratic nominee can win Wisconsin and the presidency.”

This week’s news

— Wisconsin’s GOP House members aren’t saying how they would vote on a potential resolution of disapproval to reject President Trump’s recent national emergency declaration.

Meanwhile, two of the three Wisconsin Dems are already planning to support it.

National media reports show House Dems are planning to introduce a resolution on Friday led by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, to block the emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The move would come a week after Trump’s declaration, which has raised concerns from Wisconsin Dems and Republicans alike.

That includes U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, whose spokeswoman said the Janesville Republican is worried “about the long-term implications” of the move and noted “the executive branch has extended its authority” for years.

But the spokeswoman declined to comment on a possible resolution of disapproval without reading the text, adding Steil would “carefully review” any legislation.

Meanwhile, the office of U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, who warned the declaration “sets a dangerous precedent which will undoubtedly be exploited by future administrations,” didn’t respond to questions about whether the Menomonee Falls Republican would back a resolution.

The other GOP offices didn’t return emails seeking comment yesterday or didn’t immediately weigh in on the resolution.

On the Dem side, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said the Town of Vermont Dem is one of more than 90 cosponsors of Castro’s resolution; and U.S. Rep. Ron Kind’s office said the La Crosse Dem supports a resolution of disapproval.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, didn’t return a request for comment.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is bringing back a bill to give craft breweries a tax break.

The bipartisan bill — led by U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, in the House — would reduce excise taxes and other regulations for breweries, wineries and distilleries.

Baldwin noted a similar, but temporary, tax reduction was enacted in 2017. She stressed the bill would give craft brewers “permanent tax relief.”

“Wisconsin craft beer makers are small businesses that create jobs and help grow our economy, so we need to make it easier for them to invest in workers and grow their business,” she said in a statement.

 

— Libbie Wilcox, who served as spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, has left the Milwaukee Dem’s office.

She’s now serving as the press secretary and digital director to U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Tammy Baldwin says she isn’t running for president, but her re-election is a blueprint for others

Tammy Baldwin expresses worries over delay in Johnson Controls’ response to contamination

Sen. Ron Johnson Voices Concern About Precedent Of Trump Emergency Declaration

Ron Johnson: ‘Concerned’ About Trump’s Emergency Declaration

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson undecided on whether to support Trump emergency declaration

GOP senator says Republicans didn’t control Senate when they held majority

Wisconsin Republican lawmakers uneasy with Trump’s emergency declaration

Some Wisconsin Republicans wary of President Trump’s emergency declaration

Kind calls Trump’s emergency declaration unconstitutional

Rep. Ron Kind weighs in on national emergency declaration

Rep. Ron Kind weighs in on emergency wall funding declaration by Pres. Trump

Rep. Kind’s staff to hold office hours next week

Wisconsin’s Mark Pocan Hands Out ‘Missing’ Flyers at ICE Headquarters

Rep. Grothman says ‘compromise’ funding bill has provision that puts children in harm’s way

Grothman off-base with claim on U.S. tax dollars funding abortions abroad

Rep. Steil taking dim view of national emergency

DC Wrap: Wis. one of a few states with multiple reps on Ways and Means; Sensenbrenner back in D.C. post surgery

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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

I have always supported universal health care, but we are not there yet. Medicare at 50 is a very bold step in the right direction.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, joining Dems Wednesday in unveiling a bill to let anyone between ages 50 and 65 buy into Medicare. Those who do, under the bill, would receive the subsidies and tax credits currently available under the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges. See the release.

If we haven’t finished our official business of funding the government, then we shouldn’t be going on taxpayer-funded trips outside of our districts. This is just common sense.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, in a statement introducing his “No CODELs During Shutdowns Act.” The bill would prevent congressmen from joining congressional delegation trips during a government shutdown.

This week’s news

— Wisconsin is one of just eight states to have more than one representative on the House Ways and Means Committee.

And it’s one of only five states to have at least two Democrats on the panel, according to a WisPolitics.com check of the body’s makeup this session.

Wisconsin is represented by U.S. Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee. Kind is the 7th-ranked member on the committee, while Moore was first appointed this year.

The House Ways and Means Committee consists of 42 members, 25 of which are Democrats and 17 are Republicans. The committee is the oldest of the U.S. Congress and is the primary tax-writing committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Other states with multiple members include: California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

Across the Midwest, Illinois has the highest representation on the committee with three members, followed by Wisconsin’s two. Other midwestern states with at least one representative on the committee include: Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas.

See the full list of members.

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is back in his D.C. office following his hip replacement surgery last month.

A Sensenbrenner spokesman says the Menomonee Falls Republican and dean of the state’s congressional delegation resumed his congressional duties last week. Sensenbrenner, 75, had hip replacement surgery Jan. 10 at Mt. Vernon Hospital in Alexandria, Va.

The spokesman said Sensenbrenner’s “keeping his schedule flexible to accommodate the daily physical therapy sessions and follow-up medical appointments,” per his doctor’s recommendation.

“His recovery is on schedule and going well, and he will continue to follow the recommendations of his surgeon and physical therapist who will determine the course of his recovery,” the spokesman said.

The operation came after Sensenbrenner tripped over a coiled power cord and broke his hip six years ago while attending a fair in Butler, Wis. He then had surgery, but was aware at the time he’d need another operation in the future, his office previously said.

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin announced she will vote against William Barr’s nomination to be attorney general, saying she was troubled by his “hostility” toward Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

The Madison Dem cited an “unsolicited memo” Barr sent while in private practice to the Department of Justice and President Trump’s lawyers attacking the probe. She said it came on the same day new charges were filed against former Trump campaign Chair Paul Manafort and a month before grand jury indictments were handed down against a dozen Russian military officers for conspiring to interfere in the 2016 election. Baldwin said she had “too many unanswered questions” about the motivation behind the memo.

Baldwin also said she had concerns whether Barr would “continue to move in the wrong direction” on equality for LGBTQ Americans, following the lead of former AG Jeff Sessions.

“I do not have the confidence I need that this nominee to be America’s top law enforcement official will provide the independence we must have at this critical time,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin’s announcement came as the Senate on Tuesday ended a Dem filibuster of Barr’s nomination, clearing the way for an expected final vote later this week.

— Baldwin has also reintroduced legislation that she says would keep American students globally competitive.

The bill, called the “Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act,” looks to ensure American students access to international and foreign language education programs by reauthorizing Title VI of the “Higher Education Act.”

Title VI provides resources for U.S. universities to develop international programs focusing its interest to Middle East, East and Central Asia, Russia, East Europe, Africa and others. Baldwin said the bill has been especially beneficial to Wisconsin universities, including those at UW-Madison.

“Wisconsin is home to world class universities and our international education system lives up to our state motto, ‘Forward,’” Baldwin said in a statement. “That’s why I’m joining Senator Young to support the reauthorization of critical Title VI programs that support language and area studies education.”

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy has introduced a bipartisan bill encouraging low-income families to move to lower-poverty areas.

The bill, called the “Housing Choice Voucher Mobility Demonstration Act,” would let the Housing and Urban Development secretary start a housing choice voucher demonstration to encourage certain families getting the vouchers to relocate.

Duffy, R-Wausau, said the legislation would help break the generational cycle of poverty.

“People deserve the chance to relocate to areas with more opportunity and greater economic freedom,” he said in a statement.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.

Duffy previously introduced the bill last session.

— U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman has introduced a bill aiming to bolster school safety and security measures.

The Glenbeulah Republican’s bill, the “Student and Teacher Safety Act,” would widen the physical safety improvements schools are able to make with federal dollars. It would also give states the ability to use federal funding for emergency planning practices, forming agreements with law enforcement and others, and more.

“I believe that the people who know what is best for schools are the students, parents and teachers in the local community,” he said in a statement. “So, if federal dollars are already being given to schools, they should be able to use that money to protect our children.”

Grothman introduced a similar bill last session.

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is looking to give craft breweries a tax break under a new bipartisan bill.

The legislation, introduced with U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., would reduce excise taxes and other regulations for breweries, wineries and distilleries.

Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement the bill would help grow craft breweries while opening new markets and creating employment opportunities.

“Not only are our breweries a source of pride and a large part of our state’s culture, but they also support our local economies and create jobs,” he said.

See the bill text.

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan has been appointed to a House committee tasked with reviewing options for modernizing Congress.

The Town of Vermont Dem is the only Wisconsin rep to serve on the new panel, which consists of 12 members total, half appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the other half chosen by Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The House voted to form the select committee early last month, which will look into potential congressional rule changes, as well as tweaks to procedures and schedules, according to a report from Roll Call.  

See a release on the Republican members of the committee.

See ones on the Dems.

Posts of the week

ICYMI

‘UpFront’: Johnson hopeful second government shutdown can be averted

Tammy Baldwin opposes William Barr nomination as attorney general

“Green New Deal” event outside Rep. Kind’s office

La Crosse residents call on Rep. Ron Kind to support Green New Deal

Congressman Pocan named to committees

Congressman Mike Gallagher Talks Government Shutdown, Trade

Dem JFC members: Governor Evers unveils his budget for the people

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Contact: Rep. Evan Goyke 608-237-9118
Rep. Chris Taylor 608-266-5342
Sen. LaTonya Johnson 608-266-2500
Sen. Jon Erpenbach 608-266-6670

MADISON- Today, Democrats on the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) welcomed Governor Tony Evers’ budget for the people. After months of input at community meetings and town halls throughout Wisconsin, Governor Evers has introduced a budget that creates a Wisconsin that works for everyone by funding the priorities of Wisconsinites. Following tonight’s budget address, Democratic JFC members released the following statements:

“Finally we have a governor who puts the people of this state first by making public investments so hardworking Wisconsinites and their children can thrive. It turns the tide on the boom and bust budgeting of the past. This is a budget for the people,” said Rep. Taylor.

“Tonight, Wisconsin takes a generational step forward. Critical investments in our state’s rural, suburban, and urban communities will ensure Wisconsinites have access to affordable healthcare, improved infrastructure, and world class schools. Voters prioritized these investments last year and I look forward to working with Governor Evers and all my colleagues in the Legislature to see this budget passed,” said Rep. Goyke.

“I applaud Governor Evers for unveiling a bold vision for the state in his first budget. I am so pleased that after eight years, the priorities included in the state budget finally align with the values and needs of Wisconsin families. All of our children, regardless of their zip code, should be given an opportunity to thrive, and I am filled with hope knowing that this budget invests in our communities and works towards this goal. As a member of the budget-writing committee, I look forward to championing a budget that fulfills the promise Governor Evers made to Wisconsinites by investing in education, health care, and an economy that works for everyone,” said Sen. Johnson.

“For too long, vital programs that have set Wisconsin apart from the rest of the nation have been left behind, underfunded, and ignored. Governor Evers has proposed a budget that invests in our communities, in our kids, and our natural resources. This is a budget that clearly prioritizes Wisconsin families, and I’m looking forward to going around the state to talk about it,” said Sen. Erpenbach.

Democratic National Committee: Launches new Organizing Corps 2020 program

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Today, the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, in partnership with 270 Strategies and The Collective, announced the launch of Organizing Corps 2020, a program to recruit and train students expecting to graduate by June 2020 and place them as field organizers in key states.

Organizing Corps 2020 will help build the grassroots infrastructure needed to defeat Donald Trump, while investing in the next generation of Democratic leaders — focusing on students from communities of color who have been traditionally underrepresented among political campaign staff.

With a structured college-to-career pipeline for organizing, Organizing Corps 2020 will recruit juniors in the spring of 2019 from local colleges, including HBCUs, in a number of states where Democrats fell short in 2016 and need to be competitive in the 2020 general election. These students will work on state party priorities in an eight-week, on-the-ground training program with campaign veterans, who will teach them critical organizing and campaign skills such as voter registration, data analysis, and digital organizing. After the training program, Corps members will return to their campuses and communities to put their organizing skills to work. By May 2020, nearly 1,000 Corps members will graduate ready to help elect the Democratic nominee and Democrats up and down the ticket in several key 2020 states.

“We know that the key to defeating Donald Trump in 2020 is to organize early and put the best team in place to motivate Democratic voters to make their voices heard,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “Organizing Corps 2020 will build a powerful pipeline of young talent — energized Democrats who reflect the diversity of their communities. This new organizing program will help us recruit organizers who will become our future leaders and grow the party, win more elections up and down the ticket, and build the organizing infrastructure our nominee will need to take back the Oval Office.”

“The pace of the primaries typically leaves no time for training or skill building in preparation for the general election campaign,” said Meg Ansara, CEO of 270 Strategies and a veteran of the presidential campaigns of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. “The Organizing Corps 2020 program will give us a skill advantage in online and on-the-ground organizing, data and voter engagement by training homegrown field organizers well ahead of the general election in must-win states.”

“It’s critical that young people of color are engaged as not only a core Democratic voting bloc but as pivotal organizers needed to mobilize their communities to the polls in 2020,” said Stefanie Brown James, Co-Founder of The Collective and former National African American Vote Director for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “Through a culturally rich curriculum and relevant training from respected community leaders, Organizing Corps 2020 will help propel the young people in the program to make a significant contribution to the Democrats’ success in 2020 while preparing them to hold increasing positions of influence as campaign staffers and within the Democratic Party structure.”

‘Organizing Corps 2020’ will be led by campaign veterans: Executive Director Rachel Haltom-Irwin, Chief Program Officer Jonae Wartel, Chief Operating Officer Naoko Kudo, and Senior Development Advisor Yolanda Magallanes.

The Organizing Corps 2020 program is only one piece of DNC’s battleground plan, but a key part of the infrastructure the DNC and state parties have been developing to support the presidential nominee and Democratic campaigns all across the country. The program builds on state party organizing and DNC investments in all 50 states that led to historic Democratic victories in the midterm elections. Just last week, the DNC announced a data and tech overhaul that will help Democrats reach and communicate better with voters all across this country.

BACKGROUND

  • Organizing Corps 2020 will be led by campaign veterans:

    • Rachel Haltom-Irwin, Executive Director. Rachel got her start in 2002 organizing on a state Senate race in Massachusetts. She has worked on issue and electoral campaigns as well as spending five years working in K-12 education. She was GOTV Director for Jon Tester in 2006, the Iowa Youth Vote Director in 2007-08 for Senator Obama, the General Election Director in Indiana in 2008, the White House Internship Director in 2009, and the National GOTV Director in 2012 for President Obama.

    • Jonae Wartel, Chief Program Officer. Jonae began her career as an organizer on Barack Obama’s 2008 & 2012 campaigns. One of her earliest national roles was as the training director and then executive director of the Association of State Democratic Chairs where she lead party-building efforts for the Democratic National Committee; engaging all 57 state parties. In her role as training director; she developed and led the Democratic National Committee’s first ever national training program for state parties.  Most recently she served as Southern Regional Director for the Democratic National committee, developing regional strategy and managing electoral investments in 13 states. Originally from Marietta, GA; she has had the great fortune of living and working all over the country.

    • Naoko Kudo, Chief Operating Officer. Naoko started her career in the private sector as a financial planning analyst with Gap Inc. before leaving to join Senator Obama’s campaign, serving as a field organizer at Temple University and in North Philadelphia’s 20th Ward. Naoko has spent the last 10 years working in the education and non-profit sectors serving as a school leader, operations leader and most recently, as a founding team member at The Primary School, a new program model in East Palo Alto, CA that weaves together education, health and family supports .

    • Yoli Magallanes, Senior Development Advisor. With over a decade in fundraising experience, Yoli has worked with advocacy groups and political candidates to raise the resources needed to run effective campaigns, both at the major donor and grassroots level. Yoli has worked for Organizing for Action, the 2012 Presidential Inaugural Committee, Obama for America, and launched her career with The Ashmead Group directly supporting Governor Ted Strickland, Senator Mark Udall and Congresswoman Doris Matsui.

  • Corps members can earn $4,000 gaining valuable career skills in leadership, project management and communication while experiencing the exciting and rewarding field of campaign work.

  • The program kicks off with a five-day national training led by campaign veterans, where corps members will learn key skills in field and digital organizing, and data analytics.

  • For the remaining 7 weeks, corps members will, with the help of a coach, return to their home communities and work with their local Democratic Party to turn their training into on-the-ground learning through action – organizing neighborhoods and registering voters. In the process, corps members will build a powerful network of like-minded peers and mentors from across the country that will last beyond 2020.

  • The summer 2019 corps experience will give young people the skills and tools to organize their community and – importantly – get a great first job fighting to win across the country in 2020.

  • Organizing Corps 2020 will recruit students from seven states that are crucial in providing a pathway to 270 with four key characteristics — these are states that are not a focus in the primary season; have had close margins in the past; will benefit from skilled field staffing; and have an expanding electorate.

Dems, Evers release details of middle-class tax cut plan

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Dental Therapy Coalition: Encouraged by Governor and lawmakers’ dental access efforts

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Contact: [email protected]


Madison, WI
– A diverse coalition of dental access proponents support the creation of a dental therapist mid-level provider put forward by Governor Evers.

The Governor, like Representative Mary Felzkowski and Senator David Craig who continue their legislative effort to authorize dental therapy, seeks to address the dental workforce shortage in Wisconsin. Evers’ dental package in the budget together with the reintroduction of the Felzkowski/Craig legislation demonstrates a bipartisan recognition of the dental access problem faced by rural, poor, and underserved citizens of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin ranks near the bottom in access to dental care for low-income children. The connection between oral health and overall health is well documented and advocates agree allowing dental therapists would improve access to care in our state.

A dental therapist is a highly educated and licensed oral health professional who works in conjunction with a dental care team under the supervision of a dentist. They provide evaluative, preventive, restorative dental care within their scope of practice. Authorizing dental therapists to a dentist-led team would increase access to dental care for underserved areas in Wisconsin.

In addition to over 50 countries, dental therapists are currently authorized in Michigan (2018), Arizona (2018), Vermont (2016), Maine (2014), Minnesota (2009), with tribal authorization in Alaska (2003), Washington (2017) and Oregon via state pilot authority (2011). Several other states are currently considering legislation.

Department of Health Services: March FoodShare benefits will be available March 1

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Contact: Jennifer Miller/Elizabeth Goodsitt 608-266-1683

Other Wisconsin Food and Nutrition Programs Will Continue on Normal Schedule
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that funding for March FoodShare benefits is available. FoodShare members will see their benefits on their QUEST cards, and be able to use them, on March 1, 2019.

Due to the recent federal government shutdown, February FoodShare benefits were issued early to members, on January 20, 2019. DHS is adjusting the March benefit schedule to minimize the length of time between February and March benefit issuance dates. A normal benefit issuance schedule would result in members receiving their benefits between March 2 and 15. Members who typically receive their benefits on the 15th of the month would have waited 54 days between benefit issuances, which would put a strain on families.

The benefit amount on members’ QUEST cards on March 1, 2019, will be the normal amount FoodShare members receive for the month, so they should budget and plan accordingly.

View the entire news release.

Department of Workforce Development: Comment period open on interagency Community Integrated Employment Plan

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Contact: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

MADISON – The Departments of Workforce Development (DWD), Health Services (DHS) and Public Instruction (DPI) encourage stakeholders to submit comments about the state’s interagency plan to increase the number of working-age adults with disabilities in Wisconsin participating in competitive integrated employment (CIE). DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation is accepting feedback on the plan on behalf of DWD, DHS and DPI through Feb. 27, 2019.
Comments may be submitted by email to [email protected]wisconsin.gov, by fax to 608-266-1133, by phone to 800-442-3477, or by mail to:

CIE Joint Plan
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
P.O. Box 7852
Madison, WI 53707-7852

The partner agencies will also take comments from stakeholders at an input session on Feb. 27, 2019. The session will be administered in Madison and broadcast live at ten additional locations throughout the state. Input session attendees will be able to share feedback with the agencies and other CIE stakeholders in real time at any of the eleven locations:
CIE Stakeholder Input Session
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Eau Claire
Eau Claire Job Center
221 West Madison Street, Suite 2
Eau Claire, WI 54703
Green Bay

ADRC of Brown County
300 S. Adams Street
Green Bay, WI 54301
Janesville
Rock County Job Center

Room M-6
1900 Center Avenue
Janesville, WI 53546
La Crosse
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

East Ward Commerce Center
2615 East Avenue South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Madison
Dane County Job Center
1801 Aberg Avenue, Room 101
Madison, WI 53704
Milwaukee West Allis
1205 South 70th Street

Suite 201
West Allis, WI 53214
Oshkosh
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation 219 Washington Avenue
Suite 105
Oshkosh, WI 54901
Racine
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
1516 South Green Bay Road

Suite 100
Racine, WI 53406
Hayward

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
15614 Windrose Lane
Suite 310B
Hayward, WI 54843
Waukesha
Division of Vocational Rehabilitation
2607 North Grandview Boulevard

Suite 100
Waukesha, WI 53188
Wausau
Marathon County Job Center
Wausau Willow Room

364 Grand Avenue
Wausau, WI 54403
 
For more information on the stakeholder input session and interagency CIE plan, visit: dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/cie/

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Confirms CWD-positive deer in Forest County

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Media Contact: Leeann Duwe, Public Information Officer, 608-224-5005

MADISON – Based on test results from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) confirms that a whitetail buck from a hunting ranch in Forest County has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The six-year old buck was born on a breeding farm in Marinette County and was moved to the 230-acre hunt ranch in 2014. Both the breeding farm and hunt ranch have been quarantined since June 2018 because the breeding farm tested positive for CWD and both locations are registered to the same owner. A quarantine means no animals may move in or out of the locations which helps to prevent the spread of disease.

According to the owner’s most recent registration, the hunting ranch contains only whitetail deer. DATCP’s Division of Animal Health is working with the owner of the Forest County facility to determine if any changes are needed to the existing herd plan. A herd plan provides restrictions under a quarantine that the owner must operate under to prevent the spread of disease.

CWD is a fatal disease of deer, elk, and moose caused by an infectious protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain. Testing for CWD can only be performed after the animal’s death. For more information about CWD visit DATCP’s website. DATCP regulates deer farms for registration, recordkeeping, disease testing, movement, and permit requirements. To learn more about deer farm regulations in Wisconsin, visit DATCP’s farm-raised deer program. DATCP’s Division of Animal Health monitors animal health and disease threats, promotes humane treatment of animals, and provides licensing and registration regulation for animals in Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources also provides resources for CWD and monitors the state’s wild white-tailed deer for CWD.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Releases top ten consumer complaints for 2018

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Media Contact: Jerad Albracht, Senior Communications Specialist

Editor’s Note: For interview requests about the top complaints, please contact Jerad Albracht by email:[email protected]. The list is also available as a free downloadable 8.5″x11″ poster.

MADISON – …and the number one consumer complaint is…

Telemarketing complaints are on the rise (4,860 complaints) and continue to top the annual list of consumer complaints collected by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). More than two out of every five complaints received by the agency in 2018 were in regard to calls from unknown numbers, unwanted sales calls or scam calls. This represents a 17% increase in telemarketing complaints over 2017.

“Consumers are frustrated with the amount of unwanted calls that they receive,” said Lara Sutherlin, administrator for the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “At best, these calls are a disruptive nuisance; at worst, they are a threat to the personal and financial information that consumers work hard to protect.”

“Until a fix is identified, many Wisconsin consumers report having some success in minimizing the disruption of robocalls by using call-blocking apps for their mobile phones and letting unknown calls ring through to voicemail,” Sutherlin added.

In only its second year as a formal complaint category, Medical Services jumped two spots to number five with 255 complaints – an increase of more than 30% from 2017’s count (195 in 2017). These complaints cover services related to clinics, hospitals and professional services in the medical field and were overwhelmingly about billing disputes, misrepresentations and unauthorized charges. This category does not include complaints regarding health care providers, medical devices, procedures or products.

“When you have transactions that involve hospitals, specialty clinics, independent providers and more, the paperwork can become complex quickly,” said Sutherlin. “Medical bills and terminology are puzzling for many consumers, and we are increasingly hearing from Wisconsin residents who are seeking help with having their voices heard in these transactions.”

Landlord/Tenant complaints held steady at the second spot with 1,188 complaints. Complaint allegations were primarily in regard to security deposit-related issues, with tenants claiming that inappropriate amounts were withheld or that a landlord failed to return deposit funds at the end of a tenancy. Evictions and unauthorized entry were additional issues cited in many complaints.

“One of the best protections for a tenant is to be educated on your rights and responsibilities as a renter under Wisconsin law,” said Sutherlin. “DATCP offers useful resources on its website to help landlords and tenants alike stay informed about changes in state rental laws.”

Given that nearly every consumer in the state has a mobile phone, home internet service, cable/satellite television package, or bundled service agreement, it is no surprise that Telecommunications remains in the number three spot in the Top Ten list with 681 complaints. Complaints were lodged against a wide spectrum of service providers, with customers making allegations about billing disputes, misleading representations, unauthorized charges and performance issues.

Home Improvement moved up one spot to number four in the list with 489 complaints (up more than 20% over 2017). Home improvement complaints include a wide range of allegations, with consumers alleging that contractors failed to provide the services promised under a contract, charged for services or repairs that were not performed, failed to honor warranties or provided unsatisfactory workmanship.

Rounding out the top ten for 2018:

   6.)  Identity Theft (250 complaints)

  • The primary identity theft issues included fraud, tax identity theft, misuse of Social Security numbers and unauthorized account access.

   7.)  Motor Vehicle Repair (196)

  • Complaints commonly involved unauthorized charges, workmanship, and failures to provide services or honor warranties.

   8.)  Gas Pumps (169; received by DATCP’s Bureau of Weights and Measures)

  • Complaints were primarily from consumers concerned about gas pump accuracy and credit card skimmers in gas pumps.

   9.)  Motor Vehicle Sales (155)

  • Complaints involved inadequate disclosures and misrepresentations.

  10.)  Fuel Quality (119; received by DATCP’s Bureau of Weights and Measures)

  • Fuel Quality complaints centered on concerns about the quality of fuel at retail stations.

In all, DATCP received 11,303 complaints to the Bureau of Consumer Protection and another 390 to the Bureau of Weights & Measures. The agency returned more than $4.6 million in funds to Wisconsin – the majority of which were returned to consumers in the form of mediated refunds, negotiated settlements or court-ordered restitutions.

“Consumers facing issues with businesses are always encouraged to learn more through the many resources offered on the DATCP website. If you need additional help, we are proud to provide guidance through our Consumer Protection Hotline or to help you navigate the situation through our complaint mediation team,” said Sutherlin.

For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau athttps://datcp.wi.gov, call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128 or send an e-mail to[email protected].

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

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Reminds farmers of new tool available today

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Contact: Donna Gilson, (608) 224-5130, [email protected]

MADISON – Beginning today, Feb. 1, farmers can turn to a new version of Wisconsin’s Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast that gives them a much more localized look at the threat of runoff before they plan to spread manure.

The runoff forecast, available at manureadvisorysystem.wi.gov, provides maps in 4-kilometer grids that will show the local short-term runoff risk for daily application planning. The first version of the RRAF provided all this data by watershed basins. The new version provides data on a finer scale and lets farmers look at conditions close to home.

The Runoff Risk Advisory Forecast uses factors including soil moisture, precipitation and temperature forecasts, snow cover, and landscape characteristics to make its predictions. It is updated twice daily by the National Weather Service, using the same computer models used to forecast floods.

In addition to the precipitation forecast, the new version will also provide soil temperatures and saturation, based on computer models. And it will make it easier to find previous day snapshots, a tool that farmers often use to document adherence to their nutrient management plans.

When farmers open the RRAF, they will see a statewide map. By clicking on the map, they will be able to zoom in on their areas. There will also be a link to a video tutorial to show them how to use the tool.

The runoff risk forecast does not replace nutrient management planning or emergency planning in case of manure spills. It is a tool to help farmers make informed decisions.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Reminds farmers to keep safety first, report losses following winter storms

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Media Contact: Grace Colás, 608-224-5020, [email protected]

MADISON – Winter storms have brought large amounts of snow, extreme cold and high winds over the past week, resulting in reports of barn collapses, shed damage and livestock losses. Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Brad Pfaff encourages farmers to keep safety a top priority and report losses as soon as possible.

“This winter has dealt Wisconsin farmers a difficult hand,” said Pfaff. “Personal safety is always our top priority. Farmers, families, employees, friends and all who are trying to assist should take necessary precautions when trying to remove snow or work with compromised structures.”

Farmers are reminded to report property damage promptly to their insurers. Photographs are helpful to document the claims. Farmers should also record livestock losses.

“As this situation unfolds, I continue to communicate with the USDA Farm Service Agency,” added Pfaff. “Farmers should report all damage and losses to their local county FSA office. There may be assistance available for farmers, and these reports are critical to making the determination whether to seek a disaster designation from the USDA Secretary.”

FSA has safety net programs, including the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, which may be helpful for farmers who lost livestock due to an adverse weather-related event. A disaster designation in their county would make farmers eligible for low-interest loans if they cannot access private financing. Contacts for county FSA offices are availableonline.

“In times like this, I am encouraged by the stories I see on social media and hear from out in the barnyards about neighbors helping neighbors to assist with clean-up and even house animals,” concluded Pfaff. “These are the times that make me even more proud to be part of Wisconsin agriculture and showcase what makes our rural communities special.”

Property owners should also be on the lookout for “storm chasers” – fly-by-night contractors that travel to storm-damaged neighborhoods in search of quick cash. These traveling work crews may perform substandard work or no repair work at all, and they typically depart soon after being paid. This leaves the consumer with little recourse when problems arise.

Be wary of any contractor who knocks at your door. Hire a local contractor based on referrals (ask friends, family or coworkers) and get a written contract with a start and completion date and warranty information. Ask for lien waivers when you make a payment. And before you sign a contract, contact DATCP’s Bureau of Consumer Protection (800-422-7128) to see if we have received complaints about the business. 

These winter storms add an additional hardship on Wisconsin farmers and their families. The Wisconsin Farm Center is available to assist farmers with mediation, financial analysis and emotional stress. Contact the Wisconsin Farm Center at 800-942-2474.

Dept. of Financial Institutions: Wisconsinites encouraged to build personal savings during Wisconsin saves week

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For more information, contact Melanie Conklin, Communications Director | 608.261.4504

Madison, WI— The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) have teamed up to educate consumers on the importance of building personal savings for short-term and long-term goals during Wisconsin Saves Week.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Without emergency savings, Americans often end up relying on high-interest debt. Wisconsin Saves Week encourages Wisconsinites to save money for emergency costs and long-term goals like retirement and education.

“As costs of health care, medicine, education, and other vital expenses rise, it is often hard to imagine saving for major life events like post-high school education, job training, retirement, or a family vacation,” noted DFI Secretary Kathy Koltin Blumenfeld. “A focus on financial literacy and saving, even a very small amount whenever possible, can help empower all of us when unanticipated expenses arise.”

“As consumers, we often think that our insurance will cover the costs of an emergency or an accident but we often need savings to cover the accompanying insurance deductible,” said Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable. “Saving even a small amount of money to prepare for a car insurance deductible or the co-pay on health insurance is an important part of being financially prepared.

“Wisconsin Saves Week also gives us the opportunity to educate consumers on types of insurance that may help them save for long-term care as they age or life insurance that can protect their loved ones.”

DFI’s mission includes educating consumers and promoting financial literacy at all life stages. This includes financial literacy in Wisconsin schools, in the workplace and for our seniors. DFI also manages the state’s 529 education savings plan to help families save for higher education.

OCI educates consumers on insurance options that may help protect their health and investments. OCI also regulates auto, home, life, long-term care, and health insurance companies in Wisconsin to protect consumers. Like DFI with financial institutions, OCI also ensures the financial soundness of insurers writing business in our state.

OCI and DFI are members of the Governor’s Council on Financial Literacy and share additional financial literacy information with consumers during the annual Money Smart Week Wisconsin each April.

Wisconsin State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski declared February 25 – March 2, 2019, as Wisconsin Saves Week. The initiative is part of an annual America Saves Week, which is a national event started in 2007 to raise awareness of the importance and necessity of personal savings.

Dept. of Health Services: Receives another temporary extension of the SeniorCare program

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Contact: Jennifer Miller/Elizabeth Goodsitt 608-266-1683

Prescription drug assistance program for seniors will continue

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it is granting the Department of Health Services (DHS) an additional temporary extension of Wisconsin’s SeniorCare waiver. This is the second extension DHS has received in 2019 for the SeniorCare waiver, which expired at the end of 2018. This 60-day temporary extension allows the program to continue until March 31, 2019, as CMS finalizes its review of the application for a long-term extension. Reviews of applications have been delayed due to the 35-day federal government shutdown.

Dept. of Justice: AG Kaul calls on federal government to protect consumers

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul took action last week on the federal level to protect Wisconsin consumers.

Attorney General Kaul commented, “The Wisconsin Department of Justice takes seriously its role in protecting consumers and taxpayers. Last week, Wisconsin signed on to a letter in support of rules that protect against identity theft, a letter opposing changes that would undermine protections for purchasers of financial products, and an amicus brief regarding the statute of limitations that applies in certain False Claims Act cases.”

Identity Theft Rules Letter to FTC

Attorney General Kaul and 30 other state attorneys general sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agency to maintain and update its “Identity Theft Rules” to reflect technological advances and changing methods of identity thieves. The FTC had sought comment on its Identity Theft Rules, first adopted in 2007.

The current rules require financial institutions and other businesses that grant credit or issue debit or credit cards to take affirmative steps to detect, prevent and mitigate identify theft. The letter suggests adding a requirement that credit card holders be notified by email or cell phone at both the old and new number or address if an email address or cell phone number in the holder’s account is changed.

A copy of the states’ letter can be read here.

Financial Consumer Products Letter to CFPB

Attorney General Kaul also joined 22 state attorneys general in asking the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to rescind its recently-proposed policies that would erode existing protections for consumers purchasing financial products.

The CFPB proposed in December 2018 greatly expanding the agency’s ability to issue no-action letters. No-action letters are informal guidance stating that CFPB enforcement action will not be brought based on facts described in an application to the agency. Under its proposal, the CFPB would be allowed to issue no-action letters for a much larger class of consumer financial products without receiving information fully describing the risks to consumers – and, once issued, no-action letters could bind the CFPB indefinitely. The state AGs’ letter cautions against making these changes and notes that such significant regulatory changes should only be pursued through the federal rulemaking process.

A copy of the states’ letter can be read here.

False Claims Act Amicus Brief

In addition, Attorney General Kaul joined a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, along with 19 other state attorneys general, in a case regarding the federal False Claims Act’s statute of limitations period, Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, No. 18-315 (U.S.).

The False Claims Act (FCA) prohibits the knowing submission of false claims for payment to the federal government, and it is often invoked in cases involving Medicaid fraud. The state AGs’ amicus brief argues against adopting a new, narrower statute of limitations standard, which would force the government to intervene in certain FCA suits. Whether or not Wisconsin is a party to Medicaid fraud suits brought under FCA, it usually receives a portion of any settlement funds received by the federal government as a result of these actions.

Read the brief here.

Dept. of Justice: Man sentenced to federal prison for bankruptcy fraud

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CONTACT: MEREDITH P. DUCHEMIN
WWW.JUSTICE.GOV/USAO/WIW TTY: (608) 264-5006

MADISON, WIS. – Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Teddy Stevens, 45, currently of Arizona but formerly of Middleton, Wisconsin, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge William Conley to one year and one day in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud. Stevens pleaded guilty to the charge on November 7, 2018.

Stevens defrauded the bankruptcy court and his creditors by making false statements on his bankruptcy documents and by making false statements under oath at a bankruptcy hearing called the Meeting of Creditors. Through his conduct, Stevens was attempting to shield from the bankruptcy trustee certain real-estate related assets. At his Meeting of Creditors, Stevens provided a false address and falsely testified under oath that he had not sold, transferred, given away or otherwise disposed of any of his assets in the four years prior to filing. Stevens also convinced another individual to provide false information to the bankruptcy court in an effort to conceal his real interest in a residence.

In selecting a sentence of prison, Judge Conley noted that Stevens’s actions were calculated and egregious. Judge Conley also said that he wanted to deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

The charges against Stevens were the result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and IRS Criminal Investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office also acknowledges the assistance of the Office of the United States Trustee in Madison, Wisconsin. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Meredith Duchemin.

Dept. of Justice: New data on domestic abuse in Wisconsin is available

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New Data on Domestic Abuse in Wisconsin is Available
DOJ – Communications Office <[email protected]> Wed, Feb 27, 2019 at 9:08 AM
To: DOJ – Communications Office <[email protected]>
MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that new data on domestic abuse incidents in Wisconsin is now available for the public’s review.

 

“By making more data available, we can help law enforcement, policymakers, and advocates for survivors who are working to reduce domestic violence,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.

 

In 2018, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Information and Analysis (BJIA) published interactive data dashboards on domestic abuse, offering incident- and case-level data detail. At the time, only data from 2013-2016 was available. Data from 2017 is now published on the dashboards, and 2015-2016 data has been updated.

 

The dashboards are divided into three primary areas: law enforcement reporting, charging, and case processing. Users can view information about incidents reported by law enforcement, including the number of incidents, suspects, victims, and arrests by county. Users can also view information about charging and case processing, including the most common and severe referred, issued, and convicted charges, as well as information about prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing by county and by defendant demographics.

 

View the domestic abuse data dashboards at https://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/bjia/domestic-abuse-data.

 

Additional information regarding the definitions and methodology are available on the dashboard page. Under Wis. Stat. § 968.075 (9), district attorneys are required to annually report domestic abuse law enforcement responses, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions to the DOJ. The data used to construct the dashboards includes only those incidents reported to district attorneys’ offices by law enforcement, entered into, and flagged as a domestic case by staff within the district attorney’s office. Law enforcement agencies and the district attorneys’ offices are responsible for complete and accurate data reporting.  The data will be refreshed annually.

These data dashboards were developed by BJIA, which works to inform criminal justice policy and practice by conducting objective research, analysis, and evaluation of information. BJIA first launched interactive data dashboards in 2016. Other dashboards currently available, which include uniform crime reporting data from 2013 to 2017, are arrests by location, arrest demographics, offenses by location, offense and arrest data by agency and sex offenses.

 

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/new-data-domestic-abuse-wisconsin-available

Dept. of Public Education: Graduation rate improves with class of 2018

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Contact: Tom McCarthy, DPI Communications Director, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — Students in the class of 2018 graduated at higher rates than their predecessors. The overall graduation rate jumped a point from the 2016-17 school year to 89.6 percent. Four-year graduation rates improved from the prior year for most subgroups of students as well.

“Congratulations to the class of 2018. A high school diploma is a ticket to the future,” noted
State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “Graduation is to be celebrated because it
improves students’ opportunities for better jobs, income, and further education, which contributes to life success.”

There were some notable gap closures for some subgroups of students. The largest gap closure was 5.1 points between 2013-14 and 2017-18 for students learning English and their English proficient peers, though this may be due to changes in criteria for exiting English learner identification. English learners in the class for 2018 had a graduation rate of 70.1 percent compared to 90.2 percent for English proficient students. For economically disadvantaged students the gap closed 1.6 points over five years. Economically disadvantaged students in the class of 2018 had a graduation rate of 80.2 percent compared to 94.5 percent for students who are not economically disadvantaged. By race and ethnicity, notable graduation rate gap reduction over five years was 3.7 points for black or African American students, 3.6 points for Hispanic students, and 0.5 points for Asian students.

“Disparities in graduation rates by race and ethnicity and for English learners, students with
disabilities, and students from economically disadvantaged families are truly troubling,” Stanford Taylor said. “We must persist in our work with schools and communities to close gaps.”

The high school graduation rate counts only students who earn a regular diploma. Students are assigned to a cohort year when they first enroll in a Wisconsin public high school, which for the class of 2018 would be students who started high school in the 2014-15 school year. Graduating in four years or less is the standard for federal graduation rate reporting.

However, Wisconsin’s Constitution guarantees young people the right to a public education from the ages of 4 to 20. Additionally, federal law requires educational services for students with disabilities, if needed, until the age of 21. Thus Wisconsin calculates five-, six-, and seven-year graduation rates to honor the additional time and effort of students who, due to illness or injury, personal or family events, or lifetime or temporary disabilities, need longer to complete their high school education.

For 2017-18 data reporting, the five-year graduation rate for the class of 2017 was 91.5 percent. The six-year rate for the class of 2016 was 90.6 percent, and the seven-year rate for the class of 2015 was 92.5 percent.

Dept. of Revenue: Franklin woman pleads guilty to felony tax evasion

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CONTACT:  Patty Mayers, Communications Director
608.266.2300 or [email protected]

Connie L. Larmon, formerly known as Connie L. Huggins, plead guilty in Milwaukee County court last week to two felony counts of Filing a False tax return, one felony count of Theft by Employee, and one felony count of Fraudulent use of a Credit Card.  Larmon, a Franklin resident, was sentenced to three years in prison and seven and a half years of probation for charges relating to tax evasion and embezzlement of $452,000 from her employer.  She was also sentenced to $406,000 in court ordered restitution to her former employer and $20,275 to the state of Wisconsin.

According to the criminal complaint, Larmon was an office manager for a local business from 2014 to 2017. During this time, she embezzled $452,000 from her employer.  Larmon stated that she did this to fuel a drug addiction; however, she purchased thousands of dollars’ worth of clothing and costume jewelry.   Additionally, Larmon failed to report the embezzled income on her 2015 and 2016 Wisconsin income tax returns. Therefore, she evaded $20,275 in state taxes.

The criminal charges Larmon faced were filed by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office following an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s Office of Criminal Investigation and the Greenfield Police Department.

Dept. of Revenue: Stepped-up identity theft protection efforts protect taxpayers

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CONTACT:  Patty Mayers, Communications Director

608.266.2300 or [email protected]

Anti-Fraud Initiatives Save Taxpayers More Than $416 Million Over Ten Years

More than $51.3 million in fraudulent and erroneous refunds and credits were blocked last tax season thanks in part to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue’s use of identity verification tools that can also protect identity theft.

“Identify verification is extremely important to us.  It helps ensure that the identities of tax filers are secure and protected, and that their tax dollars are not stolen,” said Wisconsin Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca. “Cybercrime and identity theft have become more common.  As a result, we’ve implemented a number of measures to combat it,” Secretary Barca said. “Our systems are very secure, but when criminals steal someone’s personal information from other sources, they may use it to file a fraudulent tax return.”

How ID Verification Works

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) uses analytics to identify tax returns that indicate possible identity theft.  If there’s a concern, DOR sends a letter to the tax filer asking them to complete a quiz, enter a Personal Identification Number (PIN), or submit documentation to confirm their identity. The unique PINs are a tool DOR uses to help safeguard tax filers.

It is important to note that DOR does not call to request information.  Rather, a letter is sent requesting that the tax filer contact DOR.

During the past ten years, the department stopped more than $416 million in potential fraud. The increase is due to DOR’s continuous expansion of its anti-fraud efforts and tools as more cybercriminals attempt fraud. For more information, visit DOR’s Protecting Taxpayers page.

DOR Anti-Fraud Efforts
Fiscal Year Total Savings
2018 $51,356,674
2017 $59,566,026
2016 $63,043,527
2015 $57,786,246
2014 $49,659,865
2013 $30,173,245
2012 $25,738,269
2011 $29,054,408
2010 $18,604,585
2009 $18,084,318
2008 $13,881,956

Dept. of Safety and Professional Services: DSPS secretary-designee crim leadership team nearly complete

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Contact: DSPS Newsroom, (608) 266-6795

[email protected]

Madison, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) Secretary-designee Dawn B. Crim announced three additional appointments to her leadership team today.

Brennan Nardi has been appointed to serve as communications director effective February 28, 2019. She will manage internal and external communications, public relations, news and social media for the agency.

Nardi has more than twenty years of experience in journalism and communications, mostly recently as Communications Director of Madison Community Foundation. Prior to that, she served as Editor of Madison Magazine, where she continues to write a monthly column on entrepreneurship.

Nardi is a committed community volunteer. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the UW-Madison Center for Journalism Ethics. Her past community service includes the Board of Directors of the Madison Parks Foundation, founding Community Board member of Clean Lakes Alliance, and coach of Girls on the Run Dane County.

Nardi holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Tom Ryan has been appointed as the Division Administrator for the Division for Legal Services and Compliance, effective March 4, 2019. He will oversee legal services to professional boards and the Department regarding the investigation and discipline of licensed credential holders for violations of professional regulations. Ryan has been an administrator in the Division of Policy Development at DSPS for over 16 years. He has served several Boards, Councils and Committees, assisting them in advancing their public protection mission.

Prior experience in consumer protection includes four years with the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (1993-97) and over two years as a practicing attorney with Legal Action of Wisconsin (2000-03).

Ryan has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the LaFollette School of Public Affairs and a Law Degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Yolanda McGowan has been appointed as the Division Administrator for Policy Development, effective March 4, 2019. She spent the majority of her legal career as a litigator in private practice prior to joining the Department in 2008, where she has since served in multiple capacities including as Executive Director, Legal Counsel and most recently, as a prosecuting attorney in the Division of Legal Services and Compliance.

McGowan graduated cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. In 1993, she obtained her law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Crim said she would announce additional appointments as they are made.

Dept. of Transportation: Frozen road law takes effect statewide on Saturday

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For more information, contact:

WisDOT Office of Public Affairs

608/266-3581, [email protected]

Law affects log haulers, transport of road salt/sand

Effective Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 12:01 a.m., Wisconsin’s frozen road law will expand to include Zone 5 in southeast Wisconsin meaning that beginning Saturday, the frozen road law will be in effect statewide.

The frozen road law allows heavier loads for trucks carrying peeled or unpeeled forest products cut crosswise (not including woodchips), and salt and sand for winter maintenance for a period of time determined by weather conditions. WisDOT and county highway personnel monitor temperature forecasts, along with frost tubes – liquid-filled devices under pavement – to help determine when roads are adequately frozen to accommodate heavier loads.

The declaration is issued once the ground under highway pavement is frozen to a depth of at least 18-inches, allowing the maximum gross weight for trucks hauling logs or salt and sand for maintaining roads in winter to go up to 98,000 pounds on vehicles with a minimum of five axles (from the normal 80,000 pounds). Effective Saturday, February 2, 2019, special permits for hauling the increased weights are not required, however, vehicles must be legally licensed at 80,000 pounds to handle the increased weights. The higher weight limits do not apply to county or local roads unless authorized by the local agency having maintenance authority. Also, higher weights may not be transported on any highways or bridges specifically posted for lower weight limits.

The “Motor carrier/trucker” section of the WisDOT website contains comprehensive information impacting commercial motor vehicle operators including weight restriction programs and frozen road declaration. Customers can also check a recorded message on the Frozen Road Hotline at 608/266-8417. Haulers with specific questions can contact WisDOT’s Oversize/Overweight Permits Unit at 608/266-7320.

Dept. of Transportation: Steps to obtain an ID to vote in the Spring Primary explained

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For more information, contact:
WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
608/266-3581, [email protected]

Most Wisconsin voters already have some form of ID needed to vote, including a Wisconsin driver license or ID. There is no separate “voter ID.” The Wisconsin Elections Commission explains the acceptable options to bring to the polls on its website.

Voters looking to get their first Wisconsin ID can turn to Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for help at wisconsindmv.gov/idcards or visit a DMV Customer Service Center and bring the required documents to apply. DMV’s website has a locator to find the nearest DMV and check wait times.

There are documentation requirements, such as a birth certificate, proof of identity and Wisconsin residency, to obtain an official Wisconsin ID card (see wisconsindmv.gov/identity-list). If all documentation is not readily available, the ID Petition Process (IDPP) can be used to obtain a receipt valid for voting while the remaining documents or verifications are obtained. The voter should bring any documentation available to the DMV and fill out two forms. A photo ID document will be sent in the mail that can be taken to the polls and used for voting.

DMV offers this IDPP service and ID card for voting purposes free of charge. Anyone who doesn’t have an ID to vote in the spring primary should start the process now. DMV’s voter ID hotline at (844) 588-1069 is available for questions on obtaining an ID to vote. Questions regarding voter eligibility, poll locations, voter registration information or other election information can be directed to the Wisconsin Elections Commission http://elections.wi.gov/ .

Dept. of Veterans Affairs: Secretary-designee Mary M. Kolar testifies before Senate Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs

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MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee Mary M. Kolar testified on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 before the  Wisconsin State Senate Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs to share her vision and plans for the Department. Governor Tony Evers has nominated Kolar to serve as Secretary, but she must be confirmed by the State Senate.

Below is Secretary-designee Kolar’s full testimony:

Good afternoon Senator Petrowski and committee members. Thank you for having me here this afternoon.

At my very first staff meeting as Secretary-designee, I asked that every Department member, before taking any action, ask themselves, “How will this best serve Wisconsin veterans and their families?” Veterans and their families contribute to communities in many important ways, and it’s our job at the WDVA to help them achieve their goals. Employment, education and quality of life, it’s all attainable in Wisconsin, and I expect WDVA to help.

What led to me being here today? Please allow me to tell you a bit of the details.

My grandfather served in the Army, my father and 2 oldest brothers in the Navy, one in the Air Force, and one brother with the Marines. My husband served in the Navy. Our oldest son is currently serving in the Navy. Our youngest is a Firefighter. My mother, who after the death of my father when I was a two-years-old, became a single-parent of seven children, was also committed to her community, country and service to veterans.

I grew up in Wilton, WI. It’s about a 20 minute drive from the VA Hospital in Tomah. One way we supported the veterans there was to sing. My mother, sister and I would be accompanied by a Catholic nun as we sang songs the veterans of earlier conflicts would appreciate. “You are my sunshine” is still one of my favorites from that time and I appreciate the memories of the veterans singing along.

Though the percentage of women serving in the U.S. Navy when I joined was less than 10%, it was the promise of adventure and seeing the world that led to my commission as a Naval Officer. For 28 years I enjoyed serving and working with all facets of the Navy. I also had opportunities to work with all the U.S. military services. I’ve shared a handout listing my tours in more detail, but I’d like to highlight some of my duties and responsibilities.

My first duty station after being commissioned was at a command where we tracked satellites and other objects in outer space.

I served as a Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor and Legal Officer in a Helicopter Squadron.
I was an Instructor and Company Officer for newly commissioned staff-corps officers including doctors, nurses, and lawyers. Also during that tour, I completed a master’s degree in Adult Education during my off-duty hours.

Next, I was assigned to the War Gaming Department of the Naval War College as staff. I was then able to be a student there and earn my second master’s degree – in National Security and Strategic Studies.

In Washington, DC, I was the Commanding Officer of the enlisted personnel assigned to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).

From there, my family and I moved to upstate New York to support Navy Nuclear Power Training. With subsequent moves between the Midwest and the East Coast, I was trusted with more and more responsibility. A highlight was to serve as the Executive Officer of Recruit Training Command Great Lakes. At the time, we trained over 50,000 Recruits per year.

After 28 years and countless professional and personal experiences, my Navy Adventure ended when I retired in 2008.

My goal when my husband Scott and I moved to Madison was to be able to walk to work. For 7 years I was able to do so as the Director of Public Operations at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Most rewarding during my time there, working with the federal VA here in Madison, I was able to hire six formerly homeless veterans.

I also became more involved in Madison and Dane County activities and especially those focused on veterans. I was appointed to the Veterans Service Office Commission and eventually served as President of the Commission.

In 2013, I was elected a Dane County Supervisor and continued to focus on veteran issues. One I’m most proud of is working with Judge, and Navy veteran, Dave Flanagan and many others to create the first Veterans Treatment Court in Dane County to help fellow veterans get back on the right path.

During my interview with Governor Evers for a potential appointment to serve as Secretary, he asked me why I’d want the position. I said, “I believe everything I’ve done and everything I haven’t been able to do in my life has led me here.”

In my first weeks as Secretary-designee, I met some of the employees who care for veterans around the clock at our Wisconsin Veterans Homes. Whether it’s nursing staff, food service staff, custodial staff, administrators or volunteers, they all play key roles in providing top quality care to the veterans who dedicated their lives to our country.

I met the employees who help veterans determine eligibility for benefits and navigate the federal claims process. I met our Wisconsin Veterans Museum staff who share our state’s rich military history and the stories of our veterans. And at our cemeteries, I was impressed by our dedicated staff who work very hard all year round to give every veteran a dignified send off.

We know there are a great number of challenges we must address at the WDVA – ensuring access to mental health care, ensuring our Homes are meeting the ever-changing needs of veterans, and as you are all well aware, ensuring our finances are sound so that we can continue to deliver the programs, benefits and services that have made Wisconsin a national leader when it comes to providing for veterans and their families.

While I have only been on the job for 45 days, I am so honored to have the opportunity to lead this agency with such a worthy mission.

I look forward to working with you and others throughout the state to continue to serve our veterans and their families. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you.

Dept. of Workforce Development: Secretary Frostman releases statement regarding Shopko closures 

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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

MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today received 11 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notices (WARN) from Shopko Stores Operating Company, LLC, showing that over 575 hardworking Wisconsinites will lose their employment at 11 Shopko stores statewide. DWD Secretary-Designee Caleb Frostman released the following statement in response to the announced closures:

“Shopko has been a Wisconsin institution for more than 50 years and these closures will undoubtedly change the fabric of multiple Wisconsin communities. The Department of Workforce Development has been in communication with Shopko officials to coordinate and provide Rapid Response services to the workers affected by all Shopko closings, including those previously reported by the media and the 11 DWD received notice of today. Those services are already underway, and further communication from DWD and our workforce development board partners will be forthcoming. These layoffs will impact hundreds of hardworking Wisconsinites across our state in several Wisconsin communities. With ever-changing consumer habits, retail workers are becoming more and more insecure in their employment, and today’s announcement, along with last year’s layoffs by Bon-Ton, demonstrate that we must champion policies that provide the workers of Wisconsin the ability to re-train as our economy continues to evolve.

To these and other workers recently affected by a layoff; Governor Evers and DWD stand by you, and we are ready to assist in every way we can.”

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Dislocated Worker Program provides transition assistance to workers and companies affected by permanent worker layoffs. The Program’s local Rapid Response Teams help companies and worker representatives develop and implement a practical transition plan based on the size of the layoff event. Types of services include:

  • pre-layoff workshops on a variety of topics such as resume writing and interviewing, job search strategies, and budgeting
  • provision of information about programs and resources through written materials and information sessions
  • career and resource fairs.

Workers affected by permanent layoff may also access basic re-employment services at no charge through the state’s Job Centers. Some services, including training assistance, may be an option for some workers after enrolling in one or more of DWD’s workforce development programs. While all companies faced with permanent worker layoffs are encouraged to seek assistance from the local Rapid Response Teams, some companies may be required to give 60 days notice before a mass layoff or closing under federal and/or state law. More information about advance notice requirements is available at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dislocatedworker/.

The WARN notices received today can be accessed on DWD’s WARN Notice Webpage.

Dept. of Workforce Development: Secretary-designee Frostman participants in Take Your Legislator to Work event on Capitol square

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CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce
 
Secretary job shadows five individuals with disabilities working at three downtown businesses
MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-Designee Caleb Frostman today participated in a Take Your Legislator to Work Event on Madison’s Capitol Square job shadowing five individuals who are employed in community-integrated settings earning minimum wage or above. All five individuals are former DWD Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) consumers and achieved their employment goals in part due to the supports provided by DVR and partner agencies.
“Individuals with disabilities are a vital segment of our labor force and a big part of Governor Evers’s workforce development strategy,” Secretary Frostman said. “All individuals who want to work should have the opportunity to do so, to live a life of independence, and enjoy the sense of dignity that having steady employment in a community setting brings.”
Take Your Legislator to Work Events are organized by the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities and designed to allow legislators and executive branch officials to visit with Wisconsin citizens with disabilities at work and learn how individuals with disabilities contribute to the local economy and how community-integrated employment benefits not only the individual, but the business.
“I would like to thank Beth Swedeen and BPDD for giving me the opportunity to visit with these talented young individuals,” Secretary Frostman said. “The commitment these individuals demonstrated to their work and their employer is outstanding, and their work ethic is second to none. I look forward to participating in future events highlighting the great contributions that individuals with disabilities, and the employers who hire them, make to the Wisconsin economy.”
The businesses that were highlighted today include: The Old Fashioned, Husch Blackwell Law Firm, and The Management Group (TMG).
For more information on DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, please visit https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/
For more information on BPDD, please visit https://wi-bpdd.org/

DFI: Credit unions post growth in net income and lending for 2018

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Contact: Melanie Conklin, DFI Communications Director, 608-261-4504 

MADISON – Net income and total lending grew at Wisconsin’s 125 state-chartered credit unions in 2018 compared to 2017, according to data released today by the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

Over the 12 months ending on December 31, 2018:

  • Net income totaled $401.3 million, up 7.76% from $372.4 million in 2017.
  • Total loans were $30.3 billion, up 11.5% from $27.2 billion.
  • Net worth was 11.49%, up from 11.28%.
  • The delinquent loan ratio was 0.69%, down from 0.70%.

“The positive growth in all categories over the past year is good news for our state-chartered credit unions and a healthy sign for our state’s economy,” said DFI Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld.

A full report on credit unions’ fourth-quarter 2018 performance will be available on the DFI website, www.wdfi.org, by the end of February.

Disability Rights Wisconsin: Celebrates Governor’s announcement on caregiving task force

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Contact: Barbara Beckert, [email protected], (414) 719-1034

Disability Rights Wisconsin attended Governor Evers’ signing of an Executive Order to form a Caregiving Task Force to on strengthening the direct care workforce and supporting families providing care for their loved ones. The Task Force will study caregiver recruitment and retention, compensation and benefits, access to healthcare, and provider registries.
Wisconsin has been a leader in developing innovative ways to support people of all ages with disabilities in the community. Lea Kitz, Executive Director said, “The potential of these programs to support community living is at risk because of a shortage of direct care professionals.”

The need for direct care workers is projected to increase by an additional 20,000 workers by 2026. Nationally, unpaid caregivers provide more than $470 billion per year in unpaid direct care for their family members. As participants in the Governor’s transition team on healthcare, DRW recommended that the administration prioritize the direct care workforce crisis by addressing low wages and lack of benefits.

“We suggested several initiatives including hourly wage increases and a Medicaid buy-in option for direct care workers. These would be a good start to building a caregiver workforce which we hope will be part of any recommendations of the Task Force,” said Barbara Beckert.

The Task Force will bring together key stakeholders including people who receive services, family caregivers, direct care providers, and advocates. Importantly, collaboration and technical assistance between state departments to accomplish this important work are built into its structure. In 2016, Wisconsin Survival Coalition conducted a statewide survey of more than 500 people who rely on direct care services and their families and found that 95% had trouble finding workers, 85% did not have enough workers to cover all their shifts, 43% couldn’t find a worker seven or more times per month, and 60% said they get sick more often when they do not have enough staff.

DRW Advisory Council Member Jessica Nell said, “I recently had to stop working due to lack of caregivers to help support me in my home on a daily basis. I had my dream job supporting other people with disabilities, but inconsistent care left me no option but to resign.”

DRW looks forward to working with the Governor to consider steps that will impact this serious situation.

Disability Rights Wisconsin: Supports investment in dental access

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Contact: Barbara Beckert, [email protected], 414-292-2724

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), the designated Protection and Advocacy system for people with disabilities, is pleased to support Governor Evers’ Dental Access Initiative.
Many Wisconsinites with disabilities experience significant difficulties in obtaining regular dental care, resulting in many preventable extractions, a high incidence of periodontal disease, and other reduced health outcomes. Data provided by the Wisconsin State Health Plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020, indicates that 29% of adults with disabilities reported having at least one permanent tooth removed over the past year, and 26% said they had not visited a dentist within the past year.

The Governor’s proposal leverages multiple approaches to address inequities in oral health
care, including funding to improve access for Medicaid members. DRW is encouraged by the potential to improve access to dental care for many Wisconsinites with disabilities.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative: Whole milk option for schoolkids good for children, good for dairy farmers

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Contact: Jamie Mara
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]

 

John Holevoet, director of government affairs –

If you get a group of dairy farmers together to discuss the challenges facing the industry, you won’t have to wait long before someone mentions the decline in fluid milk consumption. There is no doubt this is a problem for the dairy community. There is also a direct link behind this and the decline in the milk check.

Fluid milk’s falling sales have many causes:

  • We have seen the erosion of our market share by plant-based beverages, many of which illegally use the term “milk” to portray their products as wholesome and nutritious. Edge and many of our members have submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration to help stop this practice.
  • Breakfast consumption has declined and the type of breakfast many people are having is changing. Milk used to be the co-star of breakfast along with its beloved castmate cereal. As cereal sales slump, fluid milk has done the same.
  • The proliferation of more beverage choices has also squeezed fluid milk’s share of that market. The fact that our marketing and packaging is often lackluster by comparison has not helped either.

These issues call for tailored solutions. This is not a complete list. There is another significant one: Fluid milk has not been able to put its best (tastiest and most appealing) foot forward with our youngest customers.

Schoolchildren have access to fluid milk in cafeterias across the country, but we generally serve them skim or unflavored one percent milk in difficult-to-open, often under-chilled cartons. Where school districts have done the work of applying for a waiver, kids might have one or two more options, but their choices are still pretty limited.

Lifelong eating habits are being established in school cafeterias. We must do a better job of appealing to our youngest customers and we need the government to get out of our way to make that possible.

A new bipartisan bill would allow regular and flavored whole milk as options for schoolchildren. The measure was introduced by U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pa., and Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Peterson, D-Minn. The Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act of 2019 (H.R. 832) recognizes the importance of milk as part of a healthy diet, especially for growing children. It also acknowledges a growing body of research that shows that full-fat dairy products are not to be avoided. In fact, full-fat dairy can help keep certain ailments at bay.

The legislation is primarily being supported by lawmakers from the northeastern United States. Edge is working to draw attention to the bill and to increase support for the idea in the Upper Midwest, where our members farm. Right now, Chairman Peterson and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) are the only legislators from our part of the country who are cosponsoring the bill.

Offering whole milk to kids in school will not alone solve the problem of low milk prices and it will not alone reverse the declines in fluid milk consumption, but it is one part of a multipronged strategy to boost domestic consumption that should help with both issues. Edge is always looking to support opportunities to do that. It is part of our core mission to be the voice for our farmers – the voice of milk.

Photo: Click here for a headshot of John Holevoet

Tweet about this: Dairy farm group @voiceofmilk pushes for whole #milk as school option

About Edge:

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative provides dairy farmers in nine Midwestern states with a powerful voice — the voice of milk — in Congress, with customers and within their communities. Under the Federal Milk Marketing Orders, the co-op also provides milk testing verification services and market information. Edge, based in Green Bay, Wis., is one of the top cooperatives in the country based on the amount of milk produced by its members. For more information, visit voiceofmilk.com.

Edgewood College panel: ‘Promoting Racial Equity Through Community Development’ 🗓

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Contact: Ed Taylor, Director of Strategic Communications 608-663-2333

Madison, Wis. (February 6, 2019) – Edgewood College is pleased to invite Greater Madison to the next opportunity in our School of Business Executive Speaker Series: Promoting Racial Equity Through Community Development.  This panel discussion will take place 5 – 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Anderson Auditorium. The event is free.

The community development field is grappling with its role in promoting racial equity. This session will provide a framework for understanding the issue of racial equity from the perspective of policy, community-based efforts, and investments. Leaders will share insights on the connection between people, place, and racial equity, as well as ideas on how the field can invest in a more just and equitable society.

Panelists include Dr. Ruben Anthony, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison, and Mr. Jeremie Greer, Vice President of Policy & Research at Prosperity Now.

Please visit www.edgewood.edu/executive-speaker-series for more information and to RSVP for this event.

Edgewood College: Unifies learning experience on main campus

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Contact: Ed Taylor, Director of Strategic Communications 608-663-2333

Madison, Wis. (February 11, 2019) – In response to the changing preferences of adult students, Edgewood College is returning College Completion, graduate and doctoral programs and offices to its main Monroe Street Campus. The move combines a comprehensive on-campus experience with the convenience of online and blended course options for adult students.

The move will be completed by summer 2019. Dean Health Plan – a member of SSM Health – will lease the facility at 1255 Deming Way, Madison.

“Serving returning adult and graduate students has been and remains an important part of our mission,” Scott Flanagan, President of Edgewood College, said. “This partnership allows us to improve our service to students, to better align our resources with student needs, and to deepen the sense of community for which Edgewood College is known. This transition marks an important next step in graduate and returning adult programs that meet community needs, and we are excited about the opportunity it brings.”

Graduate and returning adult students will enjoy significantly more access to services like the Oscar Rennebohm Library, the Academic Support and Career Development Center, the Military & Veterans Services Office, the Technology Assistance Center, Dining Services, and a host of other resources. For several key services, hours of operation will be extended to better serve all students.

The Deming Way campus has been an important part of Edgewood College for the past fifteen years. When the College acquired the facility through a generous gift in 2003, it was at a time before online and blended educational offerings were replacing some face-to-face formats.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: Armslist case to be heard by Wisconsin Supreme Court, domestic violence programs sign brief to increase accountability and justice

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CONTACT: Chase Tarrier, Public Policy Coordinator
End Domestic Abuse WI
[email protected], 608.237.3985

Madison — On Thursday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Yasmeen Daniel v. Armslist, LLC et al. In an amicus brief, over 40 victim advocacy organizations say the court’s decision could have life and death consequences for victims of domestic abuse.

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of Yasmeen Daniel against Armslist.com, the company that facilitated an illegal gun sale which led to the death of Daniel’s mother during the Azana Spa Shooting in 2012. Armslist wants the State Supreme court to overturn an appellate court decision that gives Daniel the opportunity to prove Armslist acts negligently when it refuses to prevent illegal gun sales on its site. The brief from victim advocates urges the Supreme Court to uphold the decision. They agree with Daniel that Armslist.com was designed to allow buyers to acquire weapons without a background check. They also say the outcome of the case is significant for the safety of victims.

“If the Supreme Court overturns the lower court decision to find that Armslist is immune from suit, domestic abusers will continue to have easy – and deadly – access to firearms,” said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. “Family and intimate assaults with firearms are twelve times more likely to result in death than non-firearm assaults and victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm. The Azana Spa shooting of 2012, the murder of Sarah Schmidt in Calumet county and other similar cases show that sites like Armslist.com must be held accountable for exploiting online loopholes to allow illegal arms sales.”

Zina Daniel-Haughton was murdered by her estranged husband, along with two of her co-workers at the Azana Spa and Salon in Brookfield in 2012. Although he was prohibited from buying a gun because of an active domestic abuse restraining order, Radcliffe Haughton easily obtained a firearm on Armslist.com through the private sale loophole in the federal background check system. Similarly, in early 2018 Robert Schmidt illegally purchased a firearm on Armslist.com, using the site to avoid a background check that would have prevented the sale before killing his wife, Sarah Schmidt. A recent investigation from Everytown for Gun Safety found nearly 1.2 million ads on Armslist for firearm sales that have no legal requirement for a background check. The investigation also found that, across several states, one in nine people seeking to buy a gun from an unlicensed seller were legally prohibited from buying or possessing a gun — and would have failed a background check at a licensed gun dealer.

“Guns are consistently the most common weapon in domestic violence homicides—they account for more killings than all other weapons combined,” continued Seger. “Our thoughts are with the families of the shooting victims of these two cases and with all people who experience gun violence at the hands of an intimate partner. We hope the Supreme Court will honor these families by upholding the lower court decision that will encourage companies like Armslist.com to take further action to keep guns out of abusers’ hands and prevent domestic violence from claiming more lives.”

The hearing is scheduled for February 14, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. at the State Capitol.

End Domestic Abuse-Wisconsin: If President Trump needs an emergency, advocates suggest an option based in reality – domestic violence

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CONTACT: Chase Tarrier, Public Policy Coordinator End Domestic Abuse WI

[email protected], 608.237.3985

Madison— Domestic violence victim advocates across Wisconsin are speaking out to refute President Trump’s fraudulent claims of an immigration crisis that warrants a “national emergency.” Instead of making potentially unconstitutional decrees based on misinformation to build an unnecessary and xenophobic wall, advocates are recommending that the President take steps to address an issue that affects one third of all women at some point in their lifetime: intimate partner violence.

“The ultimate irony of President Trump’s ridiculous decision to declare a national emergency because of immigration related concerns is that a great majority of the families entering the United States at the Southern border are doing so in order to flee violence and instability often created by US foreign policy,” said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “Undocumented immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than native-born US citizens. Additionally, undocumented and refugee victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking are at greater risk of harm than those victims with full citizenship because of the precarious situation they find themselves in upon entering the US.”

In addition to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency, Congress passed a funding resolution last week to dramatically increase border security. Included in the resolution is $1.375 billion for a physical barrier (a total of 55 miles), an 11% increase in funding for 45,274 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds, and more enforcement agents which advocates report will only serve to increase fear for immigrant families and discourage victims from reporting serious abuse to authorities. The funding resolution and national emergency declaration come on the heels of several other immigration related changes from the Trump administration in November of last year.

Those changes include a new policy subjecting minors as well as victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault who applied for, but were denied, protective status to deportation (a policy that was historically viewed as inhumane). Further changes in longstanding immigration practice included a new ban on asylum for anyone who enters the U.S. anywhere except at a port of entry, a move that flies in the face of U.S. law established by Congress decades ago and jeopardizes the safety of numerous vulnerable families who are lawfully seeking out protection from persecution and violence.

“We are extremely disappointed to see Congress legitimize the President’s extensive pattern of scapegoating and xenophobia by increasing border security funding. If our elected officials need an emergency to focus on, maybe they should consider the real violence being inflicted on victims of domestic and sexual violence in our country every day,” continued Seger. “Demonizing refugee families who are fleeing violence will not make anyone safer, it will only ensure that undocumented and immigrant victims of crime remain in the shadows while abusers continue their violent behavior unimpeded.”

President Trump signed the resolution, approved by Congress, on Friday of last week to fund the government, preventing a new shutdown which was set to begin on Saturday, February 16, 2019.

Engineers Local 139: Gov. Evers outlines new, workable funding sources to repair crumbling infrastructure

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Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Evers budget to include new redistricting proposal, grants to aid Native American college students

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Evers calls for freeze on choice enrollment, advocate calls plan unworkable

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Evers campaign: Responds to DPW Chair Martha Laning’s decision to not seek re-election

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Contact: Sean Elliott, Finance Director
[email protected]

“Chair Laning’s leadership and vision were an important part of our success in November,” said Sean Elliott, Tony for Wisconsin’s finance director. “Martha’s drive and passion to see a better future for our state helped deliver historic victories for Wisconsin Democrats. Though Martha has led the Party through some of its most challenging moments, through all the obstacles, she has maintained a relentless optimism in Wisconsin Democrats’ ability to win and lead.

“The robust Party infrastructure Martha has built will continue to support and deliver victories for Wisconsin Democrats for years to come. Martha is leaving the Party stronger, more competitive, and ready to secure more wins on behalf of Wisconsinites. We on Team Evers are grateful for her leadership and years of service to the cause, and we look forward to working with the Party’s next chair.”

Evers expects transpo task force to recommend gas tax increase

Gov. Tony Evers says he expects his Transportation Stakeholder Task Force to recommend an increase to the gas tax.

Evers said Tuesday “there seems to be some consensus” among the 34-member task force, which has met twice since being commissioned Jan. 30.

“From what I hear, at least part of it is a gas tax increase,” he said.

The guv didn’t offer specifics on how large of a gas tax hike he expects the task force to recommend and noted that he wants to see the body’s final recommendations before making a decision on what to include in his budget, which will be released Feb. 28.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t comment on a possible gas tax increase, but said the committee’s ideas seem to be ones that the Department of Transportation had previously floated.

“It’s kinda the same argument over and over and over,” he told reporters ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s floor session, adding that the guv has yet to reach out to him to discuss ideas for transportation funding.

Vos backs tolling as a revenue upper for transportation, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald at a panel discussion at the Wisconsin Counties Association Legislative Exchange last week said he’s “become a big believer” in the option as a solution to the state’s transportation challenges.

But at the time, the Juneau Republican warned he would not move forward on the option unless he had support from Evers, who didn’t address tolling in his comments to reporters today.

Also speaking at the panel, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, indicated that “everything should be on the table” when it comes to solving the transportation issue.

Evers also said that he was “hopeful” that he could find common ground and compromise with Vos on a middle-class tax cut.

But the guv warned that he may veto the proposal if it comes across his desk in its current form and said he planned “to see what options are out there.”

Asked if that included vetoing legislation which would fulfill his campaign promise to cut taxes on the middle class by 10 percent, Evers responded that he wanted to see a final draft of the bill, but said he “can’t understand how we could possibly use up all of the surplus for this.”

The Assembly passed the bill 61-33 along party lines late Tuesday afternoon.

AB 4, the GOP version of the tax cut, would use the projected $691.5 million gross balance in the general fund at the end of the current fiscal year to cover the costs of their tax cut over the 2019-21 budget.

Under the GOP plan, the state would see reduced revenues of $152.1 million in the first year of the upcoming budget as withholding changes were changed to reflect the cut. It would then be a reduction of $343.5 million in the second year of the budget. The plan would result in a tax cut for nearly 2 million filers with an average reduction of $170 for those seeing a reduction.

Evers and Dems, though, have objected to using one-time money to cover the cost of an ongoing obligation. They unveiled a proposal last week which would cap a tax credit for manufacturers to help cover the price tag of their plan, which Republicans have called a non-starter.

Evers orders special election to fill Barca Assembly seat

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Gov. Tony Evers this morning called a special election for April 30 to fill the Assembly seat Dem Peter Barca left to join the guv’s administration as Revenue secretary.

Evers’ executive order also means the expected primary for the strongly Dem seat would line up with the April 2 general election.

Under the order, candidates can begin circulating nomination papers today, and they’ll be due at 5 p.m. March 5.

So far, Dems Tip McGuire, a former aide to Barca who’s now an assistant DA for Milwaukee County, and Gina Walkington, a community organizer, have formally announced plans to run for Barca’s former seat.

Evers proposes $150 million boost to UW, allowing undocumented residents to pay in-state tuition

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Evers proposes 8-cent gas tax hike as budget checks off string of Dem priorities

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Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday issued a blueprint for reshaping state government after eight years of GOP control, proposing a boost in the minimum wage, the repeal of drug testing for those on food stamps and a goal of all electricity produced in Wisconsin being carbon free by 2050.

The Dem’s first state budget also would increase the state’s gas tax by 8 cents a gallon. His office estimated that would cost the typical driver $3 a month and contribute to a $520 million bump to the transportation fund over the next two years.

But he also coupled that hike with a call to eliminate the minimum markup on gas, which his administration said would largely blunt the impact of the gas tax increase.

Likewise, he is seeking to cap a tax credit for manufacturers, limit exclusions for capital gains and update the state’s tax code to match federal law. Those moves, combined with efforts to improve collections of what’s already owed the state, would generate $1.6 billion in additional tax money.

At the same time, Evers proposed tax breaks for middle- and low-income Wisconsinites totaling $951.4 million. For a family of four, his office said that could amount to $500 in savings.

The guv said his budget wasn’t “the Tony Evers budget, the Democratic budget, the speaker’s budget, or the Republican budget” but what he called “the people’s budget.”

And he warned lawmakers against playing politics with the document, saying the stakes are too high.

“At times, we’ve succumbed to the trivial pursuit of political outposturing. At times, we’ve let partisanship cloud the opportunity for compromise. And at times, we’ve let power be the enemy of the good,” Evers said. “So, tonight, I want to be clear: this can’t be one of those times.”

But GOP leaders quickly denounced Evers’ plan. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said it was a “1,000-page press release,” while Assembly Speaker Robin Vos called it a “liberal tax and spend wishlist,” adding it would raise spending by $1,000 for every man, woman and child in the state. Both said they planned to largely ignore Evers’ proposals and start with current law as they build their own budget.

A common thread through much of Evers’ budget was a call to undo a string of initiatives his predecessor and GOP lawmakers pushed through over the past eight years. But the proposals face tough-sledding in the Republican-run Legislature, where leaders have already labeled many of the items dead on arrival.

Among the measures proposed by Evers that will most certainly be rejected by majority Republicans are repealing right-to-work and reinstating the prevailing wage for state and local projects. Evers also would cap enrollment in the state’s school choice program after Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers took the program originally intended for Milwaukee to neighboring Racine in 2011 and then statewide in 2013.

And he would repeal almost all of the changes Republicans pushed through in a December extraordinary session just before Evers and fellow Dem Josh Kaul took office as attorney general. Republicans hailed them as an effort to balance the powers of state government, while Dems denounced them as an attempt to undercut the incoming administration.

Still, the plan wouldn’t touch Act 10, Walker’s changes to collective bargaining powers for most public employees. That fight eight years ago helped propel the Republican into the national spotlight and split the state.

Evers had already rolled out a series of proposals in recent weeks — from a $150 million boost to the University of Wisconsin System that includes providing state aid to offset continuing a tuition freeze for another two years to pushing more transparency at the Republican-created Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

But Thursday’s budget release was the first time the former state schools superintendent provided details on his transportation plan after promising during the fall campaign to keep all options on the table to address that state’s infrastructure.

The heart of the plan is a proposed boost of the state’s gas tax to 38.9 cents a gallon. Evers’ administration said the repeal of the minimum markup on gas would save Wisconsinites as much as 14 cents, offsetting the proposed 8-cent hike.

On transportation, Evers also would:

*again index the gas tax by the consumer price index starting April 1, 2020; the move would generate $42 million over the biennium. The gas tax was previously indexed to inflation, but the Legislature ended the practice in 2005.

*increase heavy truck registration fees by 27 percent, generating $36 million.

*increase the fee on original or transfer of vehicle titles, generating $36 million.

*collect the hybrid vehicle fee, pulling in $9.7 million over the biennium.

Evers also would eliminate the annual transfer from the general fund to the transportation fund. That transfer, comprised largely of the gas tax and registration fees, is now about $44 million a year. And the net impact of Evers’ proposals would result in a boost to the transportation fund of $520 million over the biennium.

He would then put $320 million more into the state highway rehabilitation program, another $22 million into the state’s 81 transit systems, and pump $6 million more into elderly and disabled transit aids.

Ever also would complete the Zoo Interchange in the Milwaukee area and enumerate the expansion of I-43 to three lanes in each direction rather than the current two in Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties.

Evers’ administration said no current projects would be canceled under his plan and transportation bonding would be $338 million over the next two years. That would be the lowest level of transportation bonding since at least 2000.

Altogether, Evers wants to spend $83.4 billion over the next two years in all funds, which would amount to increases of 5.4 percent in the first year of the budget and 4.9 percent in the second. Evers’ office said general purpose revenue expenditures would go up $2.7 billion, slightly above the additional $2.4 billion the Legislative Fiscal Bureau projects will be available through the end of the budget.

By comparison, Walker’s last budget called for spending hikes from all funds of 1 percent and 3.2 percent.

Other highlights of Evers’ plan include:

TAXES

Fresh off vetoing the GOP’s version of a middle-class tax cut, Evers included his own plan in the budget. Dubbing it the Family and Individual Reinvestment — or FAIR — credit, it would provide a cut in the individual income taxes paid by individuals with adjusted gross incomes below $80,000 and married-joint filers below $125,000. Those filers would see a credit equal to 10 percent of their remaining tax liability or $100, whichever is greater.

The credit would then be phased out for individuals making between $80,000 and $100,000 and married couples between $125,000 and $150,000.

It would amount to a tax cut of $837.5 million over the biennium and provide an average credit of $217 for individuals and more than $500 for the median family of four, according to Evers’ office.

He also would boost the Earned Income Tax Credit, which targets low- and moderate-income earners with children, producing $53.1 million in savings for those who qualify. And he would enhance the Homestead Credit for low-income Wisconsinites, increasing the maximum eligible household income to $30,000 and indexing the credit. That would produce $38.9 million in savings for taxpayers.

Evers also is calling for a new nonrefundable child and dependent care credit, which amounts to nearly $10 million annually after it would kick in during fiscal year 2020-21.

Saying he wants a “fairer” tax code, Evers also is proposing a series of tax hikes.

One would cap a tax credit for manufacturers at the first $300,000 of income, generating $516.6 million over the biennium. Another would limit a tax break on long-term capital gains. Now at 30 percent, the guv would cut that limit that to individuals with an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less and married-joint filers at $150,000. Evers said it would preserve the credit for 81 percent who now claim it, though it also would cost those no longer eligible $505.1 million.

The budget also would conform the state’s tax code with the federal changes approved as part of the federal GOP tax cut in 2017. Those changes would generate $362.4 million.

Evers also proposed a series of smaller tax hikes, from ending a break for private school tuition ($24.3 million), to repealing a change in how broadcast stations are taxed ($29.5 million), and raising taxes on brown cigarettes and little cigars ($6.8 million).

Evers also would relax property tax caps on municipalities that were put into place by Republicans. Now, municipalities are limited to increasing their property tax levies by new construction. Instead, Evers wants to ensure each municipality could raise their property taxes levies by 2 percent or new construction, whichever is higher.

The guv also would increase county and municipal aids by 2 percent in 2020.

According to the guv’s office, the net impact of his budget would result in property taxes for a mythical median-valued home going up 1.7 percent in each year of the biennium, or about $50 annually.

That home, projected to be worth $173,646 in 2019-20, would have a property tax bill of $2,919, compared to $2,869 in the current year. In the following year, that would go up to $2,969.

Evers’ office said more than half of the anticipated increase would be due to already approved school district referendums and the option for local school districts to raise property taxes to pull in more money after losing students to the state’s school choice programs.

MINIMUM WAGE

Evers’ plan seeks to gradually increase the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour over a four-year period before indexing it to the Consumer Price Index.

The guv has said he’d aim to up the wage floor to $15 an hour, but it wouldn’t happen over the course of the upcoming biennium.

Instead, the budget sets a series of incremental steps towarding upping the minimum wage. First, it would be increased to $8.25 starting Jan. 1, 2020, before rising to $9 beginning Jan. 1, 2021. It would then increase by 75 cents each of the following two years, meaning the minimum wage would be set at $10.50 beginning Jan. 1, 2023. After that, it’d be indexed to the CPI.

The budget would also create a task force to study other options to progress toward a goal of a $15-per-hour minimum wage. The panel would include five guv appointees and appointments from the four legislative leaders.

LAME DUCK

Evers’ budget also looks to repeal most of the provisions included in the lame-duck laws that cleared the Legislature and Walker’s desk in December.

That includes repealing language requiring the AG to get approval from the Joint Finance Committee to settle cases and rolling back the Legislature’s ability to hire private attorneys for their members if needed, rather than relying on representation from the Department of Justice.

The plan would again let DOJ retain any settlement funds it receives, rather than turning them over to the general fund. DOJ would still have to report to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee how the funds are spent.

And Evers’ proposal would nix requirements for guidance documents. The laws compel each agency by the start of the new fiscal year to rescind guidance documents outlining how it interprets existing state statute unless it first sends them through a new process that includes a public comment period.

It would also eliminate language requiring the Department of Administration to get legislative approval to make changes to Capitol security, as well as get rid of provisions changing the administrative rule process.

Evers’ budget also targets changes the lame-duck laws made to ID cards for voting.

For example, temporary voting credentials would be valid for 180 days instead of the 60 days GOP lawmakers pushed for — a change federal Judge James Peterson in January approved as well in a broader lawsuit targeting the lame-duck laws’ early voting changes.

The guv’s plan would also allow expired college IDs to be used within five years of the expiration date, though Republicans sought to allow only current IDs to be accepted. Peterson’s ruling last month also allowed the state to accept students’ expired college IDs for voting.

VOTING

The budget includes several provisions that change the voting process in the state, including the addition of an automatic voter registration system.

Evers is proposing coordination between the Elections Commission and the Department of Transportation to create an “opt-out” voter registration system that would automatically sign Wisconsinites up to vote.

DRUG TESTING AND WELFARE

Able-bodied adult FoodShare recipients wouldn’t be subject to drug screening and testing requirements under Evers’ plan.

The budget also targets at least one of the welfare overhaul laws Walker signed into law last session.

That is the 2018 law requiring able-bodied adults to work or participate in a workforce development course to maintain eligibility for the FoodShare program. Evers would repeal the work requirement for those able-bodied adults with dependents ages 6 to 18.

The budget would also repeal the state’s plan to institute work requirements for certain Medicaid recipients, which the feds signed off on last fall.

Specifically, the proposal would throw out a measure to require able-bodied childless adults between 19 and 49 in the program to work or participate in a worker training program or “other community engagement” for at least 80 hours a month to receive benefits.

It would also roll back other provisions, including:

*An $8 copayment for childless adult recipients who visit the emergency room in a non-emergency situation;

*A requirement that recipients submit a health care assessment that includes questions about drug use;

*And a monthly premium for BadgerCare Plus recipients of $8 per household for those childless adults whose household incomes are between 50 percent and 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

PRISON

Evers’ budget aims to address both surging prison populations and the dwindling and overworked ranks of prison guards.

The budget aims to lower the number of inmates in the correctional system by making efforts to prevent offenders from ending up behind bars in the first place. That includes: allocating $1 million dollars each fiscal year towards treatment and diversion programs for substance abuse offenders; setting aside $1 million per year toward community policing initiatives to head of crime before it happens; reclassifying 17-year-olds as minors for most offenses; and decriminalizing possession of up to 25 grams of marijuana.

The budget also increases funding for district attorneys as well as several Department of Justice positions and ups the reimbursement rate for private attorneys in an effort to expedite the trial process.

Additionally, the budget proposes to fund expanded barracks to address overcrowding at some facilities. Jackson Correctional Institution would have an additional housing complex built on site, while Taycheedah Correctional Institution would have two. The barracks hold roughly 144 inmate each.

Evers is also proposing to boost correctional officer pay to $18 per hour from $16.30 per hour over the two-year period. Those employees would also qualify for the proposed 2 percent raise for government workers.

While that falls short of the $22-per-hour mark which Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr said last week would align with neighboring states, the Evers administration hopes the bump will drive recruitment and retention efforts.

HEALTH CARE

Evers’ budget includes his long expected plan to accept federal money to expand Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act after Walker and GOP lawmakers six years ago rejected the move.

It also would keep Walker’s “Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan” intact, while fully funding it.

The $200 million plan subsidizes coverage on the federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act in order to contain premium increases.

The feds in July signed off on the waiver required to set up the program. At the time, Walker said the state will cover $34 million of the plan with the federal government covering the remaining $166 million through savings.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance said the budget includes the full $72 million the state needs in order to obtain federal funding for the plan over the biennium.

While the guv included a series of Dem proposals, Evers also sought to play up provisions that have been championed by Republicans.

That includes provisions to increase the private bar reimbursement rate to $70 an hour and adding more than 25 new assistant district attorneys. GOP lawmakers earlier this month called for a similar increase for private attorneys who take on cases as public defenders. But it also included seeking more than 60 assistant DAs.

Evers also said he will accept every recommendation from the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness, which was chaired by former GOP Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. He added he will also expand broadband grants.

Evers urged lawmakers to focus on the pressing issues facing Wisconsinites.

“Their plight must be our purpose, their crises our cause and their desires our demands,” Evers said.

Read Evers’ prepared remarks.

 

Evers pushes marijuana proposal as Republicans raise doubts

Gov. Tony Evers says his plan to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana would help address “racial disparities, economic inequity, and cycles of poverty” statewide.

This came as part of the administration’s rollout of a marijuana overhaul, which Evers plans to address as part of his upcoming budget. He is also proposing to legalize medical marijuana and bring Wisconsin’s laws on CBD oil in line with federal regulations.

“This is not just about access to health care; this is also about connecting the dots between racial disparities and economic inequity,” Evers said in a Capitol news conference Monday.

But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos indicated while he’s open to legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, the proposal “appears to go too far.”

“It makes it easier to get recreational marijuana and provides a pathway to full legalization, which I do not support,” the Rochester Republican said.

Evers’ proposal would decriminalize possession, manufacturing or distribution of 25 grams or less marijuana, an amount one expert compared to a pack and a half of cigarettes.

Currently, 13 states have decriminalized the drug but not adopted full legalization. The measure unveiled Monday would put Wisconsin on par with the median amount those states have decriminalized.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws compares the penalties for first-time offenders in those 13 states to “a minor traffic violation.”

An overview of Evers plan from the guv’s office didn’t provide specifics on what penalties, if any, would remain.

The proposal would also establish a process to remove criminal charges for those who have been previously convicted of marijuana offenses at the same 25 gram threshold.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said the agency is “still gathering some information internally” and could not provide the number of people currently incarcerated that would be impacted by Evers’ proposal.

The guv went on to say that the current criminal justice system is incarcerating people — particularly people of color — for non-violent drug offenses, which he said “doesn’t make our state any stronger or safer.”

Rep. David Crowley, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, agreed and pointed to a 2002 study from the Justice Policy Institute that he said highlighted the “disproportionate burden placed on communities of color” by the criminal justice system.

“Right here in Dane County, black men have been locked up for drug offenses nearly 100 times more than their white counterparts,” the Milwaukee Dem said.

“Even more troubling is studies that show the disparity is only getting larger, not smaller.”

On the whole, a 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report found that even though African-Americans and whites use marijuana at similar rates, black people are around six times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts in the state. According to the report, Wisconsin has the fifth highest rate in the country.

The same report concluded that the disparity between African-Americans arrested for marijuana possession in Wisconsin and whites arrested for the same charge increased by 153 percent between 2001 and 2010, the third highest rate in the country.

Crowley said he believed the proposal is a good first step in helping to address some of the problems he sees with the “unjust and racially disproportionate” criminal justice system.

In addition to Vos, other GOP lawmakers voiced opposition to the proposed changes.

Sen. Van Wanggaard, chair of the Senate’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, said he would never support the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. The Racine Republican said he could support medical marijuana under certain circumstances. He said that included having the medical marijuana dispensed by a healthcare provider.

But he said Evers’ proposal doesn’t belong in the state budget and he would vote against the document if the final version includes it.

“I think we could surely have a discussion, but what he’s doing is not acceptable to me,” he said.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald referred questions on Evers’ proposal to the Juneau Republican’s previous statements, in which he said he does not support the legalization of medical marijuana.

See a background document on Evers’ proposal:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/190218Pot.pdf

See the Justice Policy Institute study:
http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/WI-Dane.pdf

See the ACLU report:
https://www.aclu.org/report/report-war-marijuana-black-and-white

Evers says budget will include steps toward minimum wage increase, restore DNR scientists

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Evers to call in budget for illegal immigrants to have access to driver’s licenses

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Evers unveils $28 million budget plan to boost funding for women’s and infants’ health care

Gov. Tony Evers says his nearly $28 million budget plan to increase funding for women’s and infants’ health care will ensure “our state is strong and healthy.”

The guv’s “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiative aims to expand access to preventative care, such as cancer screenings; support healthier pregnancies; reduce infant mortality rates; and address racial disparities in maternal health care and child care.

The plan, which Evers unveiled at Milwaukee Health Services Inc., would also bring Planned Parenthood “back into the fold” by restoring its access to funding that was blocked by then-Gov. Scott Walker.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin President Tanya Atkinson applauded Evers for “championing women’s health and lifesaving preventative care” in his budget.

“As the state’s oldest and most trusted nonprofit reproductive health care provider, we know these policies will positively impact our patients and are an important step in keeping Wisconsin safe, healthy and strong,” she said.

But Wisconsin Right to Life objected to restoring funding to Planned Parenthood.

“We agree, Governor Evers, we can’t have healthy communities without healthy women and babies,” Executive Director Heather Weininger said. “And the first step in ensuring they are safe and healthy is to guarantee Planned Parenthood is not involved in the destruction of lives through abortion across our great state.”

Evers’ announcement comes a week before he’s set to deliver his state budget address. Specifically, his plan would:

*Allocate $22.8 million in new funding to expand postpartum coverage for women under the Medicaid program. It would also order the Department of Health Services to seek a waiver to extend the coverage under the Children’s Health Insurance Program from 60 days after child birth to one year.

*Make Planned Parenthood eligible to again receive federal Title V and Title X funds. Changes to state law were made in the 2011-13 biennial budget that blocked Planned Parenthood from accessing Title V state and federal block grant funding for maternal and child health. And a bill from 2015 restricted the organization from receiving Title X federal funding for family planning services.

*Allocate $387,200 for the Women’s Health Block Grant, which provides grants to public health departments and private groups that cover cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, pregnancy testing and more. Under Walker’s budgets since taking office in 2011, Planned Parenthood has been unable to receive that block grant funding.

*Direct DHS to create an Infant Mortality Prevention Program by reallocating five existing full-time positions to the program, which would aid families in finding secure housing and jobs and provide nutritional and family support.

*Provide an additional $3.2 million in funding to the Department of Children and Families’ Family Foundations Home Visiting Program, which helps mothers who are at a high risk for a poor birth outcome. The money would come from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families block grant.

*Invest $767,200 in the state’s Minority Health Grant, which is awarded to organizations that assist minority populations with high health disparities.

See a background sheet on the plan from Evers’ office:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/190221EversPlanBackground.pdf

See a Fox6 News video of Evers’ comments:
https://www.facebook.com/fox6news/videos/152222192362211/

Evers vetoes GOP middle-class tax cut

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Evers, GOP leaders at odds over middle-class tax cut

Gov. Tony Evers says he doesn’t think he could sign the GOP’s version of a middle-class income tax cut because Republicans had failed to provide a path to pay for it in future years.

GOP leaders, meanwhile, said the version Evers and Dem lawmakers unveiled was a “non-starter” with them, as the two sides remained deeply divided over their shared goal of cutting taxes for the middle class.

Evers Tuesday called his version of the middle-class tax cut “far superior,” saying the proposal from GOP lawmakers would take money that he said is needed to pay for other priorities. It would cut taxes by $892.3 million for individuals over the two-year budget while raising them $518 million on manufacturers by capping an existing credit.

“Right now I cannot support a plan that has no plan for funding in the future,” Evers said.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, testifying on the GOP version at a hearing Tuesday, said the state can fund the plan through its surplus and avoid “jeopardiz(ing) the jobs” that have been created through the manufacturing and ag tax credit.

“We are not going to raise taxes, period; we are not going to raise taxes, especially on our job creators, when we have a huge surplus,” the Rochester Republican said.

And Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted Evers was “wants to hike taxes on WI businesses to pay for his plan. That’s not a tax cut, that’s a tax shift to create winners and losers. Our plan cuts taxes for families without raising them on anyone else — only creating winners.”

In unveiling the Dem version of the cut, state Sen. La Tonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, declared “The methods matter.”

The Dem proposal includes a two-pronged approach.

One, there would be a new nonrefundable tax credit equal to 10 percent or $100, whichever is greater, for some earners. Two, those who qualify for the federal earned income tax credit would see a boost in what they could claim as a credit against their Wisconsin taxes. The latter credit would be refundable, meaning those who qualify would get a check if their credit exceeded their tax liability.

For the income tax credit, according to Evers’ office:

*individuals with an adjusted gross income of less than $80,000 and married-joint filers at less than $125,000 would qualify for the full 10 percent credit.

*the 10 percent credit would gradually phase out for individual filers with an AGI of up to $100,000 and married-joint filers up to $150,000.

For the EITC:

*those who qualify could claim a credit to their state taxes equal to 11 percent of the federal credit, up from 4 percent, for one child. For those with two children, the credit would increase to 14 percent from 11 percent. For those with three or more children, the credit would remain at 34 percent of the EITC.

Over the 2019-21 budget, the new income tax credit would equal a cut of $839.2 million, while the EITC proposal would reduce taxes $53.1 million.

Meanwhile, the cap on the credit for manufacturers would hike taxes $518 million.

During Tuesday’s news conference, Dems said the average credit between the income tax cut and the EITC proposal was about $225 per filer.

Dem also talked about a price tag of $373.9 million for the package. But that referenced how much it would cost the state from expected revenues over the two years after deducting the tax hike on manufacturers.

See the Dem proposal:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/190205Tax2.pdf

See a background document from Evers’ office:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/190205Tax3.pdf

Listen to the Dems’ news conference:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/190205_1302a/s-mvksM

Vos during a media availability touted what he sees as the simplicity of the Republican version of the tax cut. 

Vos noted the GOP plan would increase the standard deduction on a sliding scale, a change that doesn’t require anyone “to file any special paperwork” or “go through any extra hoops.”

“I would prefer to have the simplest, easiest way and not make people go through a bunch of bureaucratic hoops,” Vos told reporters at a news conference this afternoon minutes after Dems and Gov. Tony Evers announced their plan.

While Vos said he hadn’t yet reviewed the proposal, “if it’s based on raising taxes on anyone in the state, it’s a nonstarter.”

The Dem proposal would kick in for tax year 2019, which runs Jan. 1-Dec. 31, while the Assembly GOP plan would begin in tax year 2020.

Under the Dem plan for tax year 2020, the middle-class tax cuts would total $441.1 million, while the increase on manufacturers would be $235.4 million with a net reduction of $205.9 million in tax collections for that year.

Under the Assembly GOP plan for tax year 2020, the income tax reduction would amount to $338.1 million.

Hear the audio of Vos’ availability:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/assembly-speaker-robin-vos-comments-to-reporters

See a new LFB memo on the GOP plan:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/190205LFB.pdf

GOP lawmakers touted their version of the tax cut plan at a joint public hearing Tuesday, selling it as a way to return the budget surplus to taxpayers. 

And many Republicans pushed back against the idea of rolling back the manufacturing and ag tax credit to cover the cost, arguing the approach would “raise taxes on the same people we want to cut taxes for.”

Meanwhile, an Evers administration official repeatedly called for bipartisan conversations around the plan, as committee Dems bemoaned their exclusion from Republicans’ work in drafting the bill. They also called for making the tax cut “sustainable.”

“We can work together. I truly believe you’ve got a governor who would love to sit down and roll up his sleeves,” Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca said this afternoon. “Let’s come up with a comprehensive plan that meets the goals that we’ve outlined.”

Tuesday’s public hearing — before members of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and Senate Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions Committee — began shortly after Democrats and Evers unveiled their version of the tax cut.

Under the GOP bill, the standard deduction would increase on a sliding scale.

Republicans, including the bill’s authors, lamented Evers’ initial proposal to pay for his version of the credit. On the campaign trail, the Dem had called for a cap on the manufacturing and ag credit at the first $300,000 of income. But under the proposal unveiled Tuesday, that cap would only apply to manufacturers claiming the credit.

But committee Dems, including Milwaukee Sen. Chris Larson, charged GOP lawmakers are “rushing to spend” the surplus, a decision that could mean a lack of funds for roads or other priorities down the line.

Still, Senate bill author Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, countered the bill doesn’t spend anything but rather “returns money to the taxpayers that sent it to us in the first place.”

Dems and Barca also called for holding off on the GOP plan and working out the issue over the remainder of the fiscal year through budget talks.

“The appropriate time to do this is part of the budget,” Barca said.

Evers’ budget to push for more accountability, transparency in WEDC

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Evers’ budget to use estimated $320M from expanding Medicaid to boost Wisconsinites’ ‘health and wellbeing’

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Fox Cities Chamber luncheon featuring Canadian Consul General John Cruickshank 🗓

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For information contact:

Emily Feagles

Director, Marketing & Communications

[email protected]

 

APPLETON, Wis. (February 26, 2019) – The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and its Public Policy Council will welcome the Canadian Consul General, John Cruickshank, at its first Public Policy Luncheon of 2019 in April.

Canada and the United States enjoy the largest trading relationship in the world. In fact, Canada is Wisconsin’s #1 customer, selling more goods to our northern neighbor than to the next four largest foreign markets combined. Consul General Cruickshank will speak to this dynamic relationship, new trade agreements and the challenges to our mutual prosperity.

“Wisconsin’s largest international trade partner is Canada. Recent tariffs and trade agreements have changed the trade landscape and we have a first-hand opportunity to hear what the actual impacts are from a Canadian perspective,” shared Peter Thillman, Vice President of Economic Development and Workforce at the Fox Cities Chamber and Fox Cities Regional Partnership.

Registration is open for this upcoming Public Policy Luncheon, Freeing Trade: Canada & Wisconsin, at foxcitieschamber.com. The event will be held on Wednesday, April 3, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Pullman’s at Trolley Square in Appleton. Individual tickets are $20 each for Fox Cities Chamber members or $30 each for general admission. To register for the event, visitfoxcitieschamber.com or call (920) 734-7101. Media are encouraged to attend.

Foxconn Racine County: Local leaders applaud announcement of Generation 6 advanced manufacturing facility at Mount Pleasant campus

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For more information, contact:

262-770-5189

[email protected]

FoxconnRacineCounty.com

Mount Pleasant, Wis. – February 1, 2019 – The following joint statement was issued today by Village of Mount Pleasant President David DeGroot, City of Racine Mayor Cory Mason, Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave and Jenny Trick, Executive Director of the Racine County Economic Development Corporation (RCEDC) regarding the announcement that Foxconn has determined which technology it will manufacture in Racine County:

We welcome today’s announcement that Foxconn has determined the LCD/TFT technology it will build at its advanced manufacturing campus in the Village of Mount Pleasant. We look forward to working with Foxconn as it advances its Generation 6 manufacturing facility, including its ongoing construction of manufacturing, assembly and research facilities in 2019.

Foxconn has confirmed to us that it will host information sessions in April for the next round of construction. It will also commence work on the Gen6 Fab facility, along with completing work on the campus facilities it shared earlier this week, over the next 18 months.

We remain committed to ensuring that Foxconn’s investment in our community will bring unparalleled economic development, job growth and enhanced quality of life for those in Racine County and throughout Wisconsin.

Foxconn says it’s moving forward with plans to manufacture screens at Racine County site

Gov. Tony Evers today warned the state will need to “continually monitor the progress” of the Foxconn Technology Group after the Taiwanese tech company said it is moving forward with plans to manufacture LCD screens in southeastern Wisconsin.

Today’s announcement came on the heels of reports suggesting Foxconn was considering a change in focus at its Wisconsin plant or halting the project altogether.

Instead, Foxconn reaffirmed previously announced plans to build what’s called a Generation 6 facility, which would produce smaller LCD screens than those originally envisioned when Wisconsin inked a $3 billion incentive package with the company.

Foxconn made the announcement after having “productive conversations” with the White House and a personal discussion between Chairman Terry Gou and President Trump.

Meanwhile, Evers told reporters in Madison after speaking today with Louis Woo, special assistant to Gou, he’s “comfortable that they’re still committed to the state.” Still, Evers said his priority remained insuring “taxpayers are protected and the environment is protected.”

During the fall campaign, Evers had raised concerns about the air quality permits the state issued Foxconn for the project.

A Department of Natural Resources spokesman said there have been no requests to rescind or modify either the air permit or the agency’s approval for Foxconn to divert up to 7 million gallons of water a day from Lake Michigan for the plant.

Today, Evers said a review of the air standards would take “some time,” particularly with the company looking at a different vision for the plant than what was first proposed.

Earlier this week, Foxconn said its plans over the next 18 months at the Wisconsin facility included a packaging plant, molding factory and assembly facility, among other things.

“Those air standards were created based on previous expectations of what they were actually going to be doing, so that’s likely something that will be in flux for a little bit until we see exactly what’s written,” Evers said. “Air standards have always been a concern, and as I said before, protecting the taxpayers, protecting the environment continues to be our top priority.”

Foxconn had originally planned to build a larger Generation 10.5 facility for LCD panels but last summer backed away from the plan and opted for the Generation 6 factory. The company at the time left open the possibility for a Generation 10.5 facility, but said the final decision would depend on market and economic conditions.

Today’s announcement followed a whiplash few days in which Woo suggested in an interview the company was looking at shifting its focus in Wisconsin to a technology hub rather than a manufacturing. That was followed by a report — refuted by the company and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. — that Foxconn was halting the project altogether after Evers tried to renegotiate the contract.

Foxconn Technology Group today said its decision for a Generation 6 facility is based on “a recent comprehensive and systematic evaluation” to identify the thin-film transistor screens best suited for the Wisconsin project.

“We have undertaken the evaluation while simultaneously seeking to broaden our investment across Wisconsin far beyond our original plans to ensure the company, our workforce, the local community, and the state of Wisconsin will be positioned for long-term success,” the statement said.

The statement didn’t include a timeline for construction or an estimate of how many would be employed at the facility.

Meanwhile, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, pointed to the company’s comments earlier this week that it’s planning to shift away from LCD manufacturing to reflect market demand and “meet these new realities.” He questioned how Foxconn officials could recommit to producing screens after saying the factory “by their own admission is noncompetitive.”

“How did they justify two days ago saying that they can’t manage to compete in electronics manufacturing in the U.S. then go forward with a facility at least verbally again?” he asked.

But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, praised Trump for his “commitment to Wisconsin workers.”

“Our state has an ally in the White House who is dedicated to helping us bring family-supporting careers to our state,” they said in a joint statement.

Fitzgerald and Vos also thanked Foxconn for “reaffirming its commitment” and predicted the state would soon see “an influx of manufacturing jobs and billions in investments.”

The original contract called for up to 13,000 employees and a $10 billion investment. But the company fell short of the minimum number of employees required to qualify in 2018 for the first year of tax credits. And the Reuters report that sparked this week’s coverage cited an anonymous company source saying Foxconn is expected to employ around 1,000 workers by the end of 2020, rather than the approximately 5,200 it initially pledged.

–This story has been updated with additional comment.

Foxconn Technology Group: Statement

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After productive discussions between the White House and the company, and after a personal conversation between President Donald J. Trump and Chairman Terry Gou, Foxconn is moving forward with our planned construction of a Gen 6 fab facility, which will be at the heart of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. This campus will serve both as an advanced manufacturing facility as well as a hub of high technology innovation for the region.

Our decision is also based on a recent comprehensive and systematic evaluation to help determine the best fit for our Wisconsin project among TFT technologies. We have undertaken the evaluation while simultaneously seeking to broaden our investment across Wisconsin far beyond our original plans to ensure the company, our workforce, the local community, and the state of Wisconsin will be positioned for long-term success.

We look forward to continuing to expand our investment in American talent in Wisconsin and the US.

Foxconn: Receives Golden Shovel Award for support of diverse Wisconsin businesses

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Pewaukee, WI –  Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) today received the Golden Shovel Award from the National Association of Minority Contractors Wisconsin Chapter (NAMC-WI) and Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) at the Annual DBE Workshop and Secretary’s Golden Shovel Awards. The award recognized Foxconn’s ongoing commitment to engage a diverse range of local businesses as part of its inclusive, Wisconsin-first approach. 

The event, which gathered Wisconsin’s small, minority, and women-owned businesses in the transportation construction industry, was held on February 13 and 14 at The Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee. It culminated with an awards luncheon to recognize the outstanding efforts of companies from around Wisconsin that have championed the Badger State’s local construction talent. Of the Wisconsin companies engaged by Foxconn for the Wisconn Science and Technology Park project, 16 percent are disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs). 

Dr. Louis Woo, Special Assistant to Foxconn Founder and CEO Terry Gou, expressed Foxconn’s continued commitment to a diverse, inclusive workforce at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park.

“As we continue to grow in Wisconsin, we have engaged a varied group of contractors representative of the state’s diversity,” noted Dr. Woo. “We are proud to count many disadvantaged business enterprises as members of the Foxconn family. We extend our gratitude to the hosts of this event, the National Association of Minority Contractors and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and look forward to continued and deepening support of Wisconsin businesses.”

The Golden Shovel Award was received by Mr. Shawn McComb, Director of Business Development and Commercial Management at Foxconn. Mr. McComb also participated on the Transformation in Wisconsin Panel alongside Dr. Connie Li, P.E., TRANSmart President, Mr. Ted Homer, KPMG Managing Director, and Mayor Corey Mason of the City of Racine. 

“As part of Foxconn’s investment in Wisconsin, we look forward to continued engagement with all members of the communities in which we operate. Providing opportunities to disadvantaged business enterprises is an important part of our commitment to the state,” said Dr. Woo. “As we make further progress on the construction of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park campus, we will continue to expand our support of local businesses of all kinds in line with our Wisconsin-first approach.”

FRI AM Update: Evers, Barnes, Legislative Black Caucus to mark start of Black History Month; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: GOP leaders send tax cut bill to Evers; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: MoveOn.org’s Wikler first candidate to enter Dem Party chair race

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FRI AM Update: Regents may take up tuition increases today; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: Evers calls special election for Barca’s seat; controversy over Hagedorn’s affiliation with private school

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FRI News Summary: Evers orders flags at half-staff in honor of fallen MPD officer

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FRI News Summary: Foxconn, Evers, WEDC deny report WI project on hold

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FRI News Summary: Milwaukee’s DNC bid; Dems file 4th lame-duck lawsuit

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FRI REPORT: Evers’ budget to push more accountability, transparency in WEDC

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FRI REPORT: Foxconn reaffirms plans to make LCD screens in WI

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FRI REPORT: GOP lawmakers paying attorney in lame-duck suits at almost twice the rate Evers paying

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FRI REPORT: Kimberly-Clark spent $131K lobbying Capitol on unsuccessful push to pass incentive bill

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Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.: Welcomes Zachary P. Bemis

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Katie Chamberlain
414.287.9374
[email protected]

MADISON, WIS. (Feb. 7, 2019) – Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. is proud to announce that Zachary P. Bemis has joined the firm as Special Counsel in the Madison office. Bemis is an administrative and regulatory attorney working with clients served by the firm’s insurance and political law practice groups.

Prior to joining Godfrey & Kahn, Bemis served as Chief Legal Counsel at the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance where he was responsible for providing legal counsel to the Commissioner’s Unit and overseeing OCI’s Legal Unit. At OCI Bemis helped develop and implement the agency’s regulatory sandbox and led a cybersecurity working group.

Before joining OCI, Bemis spent five years working in the Wisconsin Legislature, including as chief of staff to the Assembly Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, legal counsel and advisor to the Speaker of the Assembly, and various positions in the State Senate. He received his J.D. from DePaul University College of Law and his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

With more than 160 lawyers, Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. is one of Wisconsin’s leading business law firms. Founded in 1957, Godfrey & Kahn maintains offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton, Green Bay and Waukesha, Wis.; and Washington, DC. For more information, please visit the firm’s website at www.gklaw.com.

Good weather? Check. Political symbolism? Check. But is Milwaukee big enough for Democrats?

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Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

GOP lawmakers dismiss Evers budget as appeal to liberal supporters, Dems defend plan

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GOP lawmakers paying attorney in lame-duck suits at almost twice the rate Evers paying

Republican lawmakers have agreed to pay the former solicitor general $500 per hour to represent them in two suits challenging the lame-duck laws, nearly double the rate Gov. Tony Evers is paying his private attorneys in those cases.

The GOP contracts, provided to WisPolitics.com today through an open records request, also don’t cap the overall cost for Misha Tseytlin, who served under GOP AG Brad Schimel, in the cases.

Meanwhile, taxpayers are on the hook for up to $100,000 to cover the cost of Madison law firm Pines Bach to represent Evers in the two suits. Each contract calls for a rate of $275 per hour for the attorneys representing the guv, with a cap of $50,000, though the ceiling could be amended under each document “if litigation requires additional resources.”

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff slammed the disparity in rates in a statement this afternoon.

“Republicans won’t pay for a middle class tax cut but they’re willing to spend unlimited money defending their attempts to override the will of the people,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Both Evers and GOP lawmakers hired private attorneys for representation in two recent lawsuits challenging the December extraordinary session: one from a coalition of groups that say the lame-duck laws are unconstitutional because they stemmed from an unlawful legislative session; and the latest from five unions and state Sen. Janet Bewley that argues the laws violate the state Constitution’s separation of powers clause.

Tseytlin in the GOP contracts note the $500 hourly rate he’s charging “is less than my standard hourly rate.” The document shows Tseytlin will be Republicans’ primary attorney in the case, but he may assign other attorneys work on aspects of the case, though the contract says none would make more than $500 hourly. Tseytlin has joined Chicago-based firm Troutman Sanders, according to the docs.

In a separate letter, sent to Vos and Senate President Roger Roth Jan. 16, Tseytlin wrote if the Legislature prevails in the case brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups, he would seek to recover the full fees the Legislature would have incurred “had I charged the fees typically charged to commercial clients.” The Legislature would then remit to Tseytlin the full amount of any fees awarded, the letter said.

That language was not included in either of the two contracts, which were signed earlier this week.

The state is also on the hook for out-of-pocket expenses, such as printing, photocopying, travel costs and more, per the contracts. Tseytlin’s firm will send the Legislature monthly invoices to cover the costs incurred, the documents said.

The latest contract between Evers and Pines Bach was provided to WisPolitics.com today by the guv’s office. That contract, in response to the suit brought by the unions this week, comes after Evers hired the firm late last month to represent him in the earlier lame-duck case brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups.

Baldauff, the Evers spokeswoman, said in a statement earlier today the office’s decision to retain Pines Bach comes from the “overlapping issues” in both cases that would make it “more cost effective” to hire the same firm for each suit. She also pointed to the firm’s “expertise in state constitutional law issues.”

The guv has also assigned private attorneys to represent the Elections Commission in the League of Women Voters suit, at a cost of up to $50,000. The commission had requested representation from the Department of Justice, but the agency notified the commission it couldn’t provide representation due to a conflict. The terms of its contract are similar to the ones the guv’s office signed.

Former Deputy Attorney General Dan Bach, who served under Dem AG Peg Lautenschlager, and two colleagues at Lawton & Cates will represent the commission. The terms of the contract, which call for the firm to make up to $50,000, are similar to one the guv’s office signed.

GOP leaders send tax cut bill to Evers, moving up timeline to act

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GOP legislative leaders Thursday sent the Republican version of the middle-class tax cut to Tony Evers, moving up the timeline for the guv to act on the bill.

The action triggers a window of seven days, not including Sundays, for Evers to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

Without the action, the legislation wouldn’t have gone to Evers until April 25.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, late Thursday afternoon tweeted the bill had been sent to Evers, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted, “Middle-class families shouldn’t have to wait until the end of the budget process to pick up whatever scraps are left. We have a surplus, let’s give them a tax cut today – sign this bill @GovEvers.”

Evers has sent numerous signals that he will likely veto the bill and believes the tax cut should be addressed in the budget.

Under the GOP bill, changes in the withholding tables wouldn’t take effect until January 2020, and some see today’s move as an attempt to force Evers’ hand ahead of his budget, which will be introduced Feb. 28.

A Vos spokeswoman said the bill was sent to the guv early because “There’s no reason to wait. The middle class families of Wisconsin have every right to know whether a tax cut is coming their way so they can budget accordingly.”

An Evers spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a call and text seeking a response.

GOP leggies hire former solicitor general in lame-duck suit, Elections Commission gets private attorneys

The GOP-controlled state Legislature has retained former Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin to represent it in one of several lawsuits filed over the lame-duck session laws.

Meanwhile, the Elections Commission will be represented in the case by former Deputy Attorney General Dan Bach and two colleagues at Lawton & Cates. The terms of the contract, which call for the firm to make up to $50,000, are similar to one the guv’s office signed with a different firm to represent Tony Evers in the suit.

That suit, brought by the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities and private citizens, alleges the extraordinary session wasn’t properly convened under the Wisconsin Constitution. Thus, the suit argues, the laws passed during the session aren’t valid.

The Joint Committee on Legislative Organization last month approved hiring outside counsel to represent the Legislature in the suit.

Tseytlin, who served as solicitor general under GOP AG Brad Schimel before the lame-duck bills did away with the office at DOJ, filed a notice of appearance Monday, according to online court records.

Tseytlin’s contract with the Legislature wasn’t immediately available.

Attorney General Josh Kaul declined to represent Evers in the suit, saying there was a conflict because the bills curtained his agency’s powers. Evers then hired the Madison law firm Pines Bach at a cost of up to $50,000.

Elections Commission spokesman Reid Magney said the agency asked DOJ for representation. But DOJ told the commission it couldn’t provide representation due to a conflict, and the guv’s office then assigned outside counsel with Bach and fellow Lawton & Cates attorneys Dixon Gahnz and Terry Polich.

Bach served as deputy AG under former Dem Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the firm was chosen to represent the commission due to its “expertise with litigation involving state constitutional claims.” The contract calls for a rate of $275 per hour, as well as other expenses, with a cap of $50,000 unless the deal is amended “if litigation requires additional resources.”

See more in yesterday’s PM Update.

 

GOP tax cut bill clears Assembly on party-line vote

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A Republican tax cut plan is on its way to the Senate after it cleared the Assembly this afternoon 61-33.

The party-line vote came after Gov. Tony Evers earlier today said he was “hopeful” that he could find common ground and compromise with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on a middle-class tax cut.

AB 4, the GOP version of the tax cut, would use the projected $691.5 million gross balance in the general fund at the end of the current fiscal year to cover the costs of their tax cut over the 2019-21 budget.

Under the GOP plan, the state would see reduced revenues of $152.1 million in the first year of the upcoming budget as withholding changes were changed to reflect the cut. It would then be a reduction of $343.5 million in the second year of the budget. The plan would result in a tax cut for nearly 2 million filers with an average reduction of $170 for those seeing a reduction.

Evers and Dems, though, have objected to using one-time money to cover the cost of an ongoing obligation. They unveiled a proposal last week which would cap a tax credit for manufacturers to help cover the price tag of their plan, which Republicans have called a non-starter.

The guv warned today he may veto the proposal if it comes across his desk in its current form and said he planned “to see what options are out there.”

Asked if that included vetoing legislation which would fulfill his campaign promise to cut taxes on the middle class by 10 percent, Evers told reporters he wanted to see a final draft of the bill, but said he “can’t understand how we could possibly use up all of the surplus for this.”

Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes: Delivers Democratic weekly radio address

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes: Delivers Democratic weekly radio address
 
Audio File of Radio Address

Governor Tony Evers: Hi everybody! I’m Governor Tony Evers.

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes: And I’m Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes. We’re just one day away from releasing our 2019 budget, and we think you’re really going to like it.

Gov. Evers: Mandela and I hosted listening sessions around the state to learn about issues you wanted addressed in our budget. We took all that feedback you gave us and made sure it was incorporated as much as possible into the budget. We’ve put the finishing touches on it, and I’m proud to say that this budget was built by Wisconsinites and for Wisconsinites.

Lt. Gov. Barnes: This budget tackles some really big issues. We’re going to be making healthcare more affordable and accessible. We’re bringing science back to the Department of Natural Resources and making serious investments to combat climate change.

Gov. Evers: We’re cleaning up Wisconsin’s drinking water, we’re lowering taxes for hardworking families, and we’re funding education so all of Wisconsin’s kids have the opportunity to succeed.

Lt. Gov. Barnes: This budget, like everything the governor and I do, is for you. We’re excited to keep listening, learning from, and working with people like all of you, as we work to make Wisconsin a more sustainable and more equitable state.

Gov. Evers: So thanks for all you’ve done to help us put together this budget. We can’t wait to show it to you.

Gov. Evers: Announces “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiatives in state budget

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers today announced that his upcoming budget proposal will include a nearly $28 million investment in “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiatives aimed at improving women’s access to preventative care such as cancer screenings, health exams, and STI testing, supporting healthier pregnancies and births, and addressing racial disparities in maternal and child health.

Every woman in Wisconsin deserves access to quality health care, no matter where they live. However, data from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), indicates that Wisconsin is facing a shortage of obstetrician-gynecologists, or OB-GYN, particularly in small and rural communities around the state. [Source: https://waow.com/news/2019/02/18/ob-gyn-shortage-impacting-women-throughout-wisconsin/]

The governor’s proposal will expand the Well Woman Program and bring Planned Parenthood back into the fold as a trusted provider of healthcare services through an increase to the Women’s Health Block Grant and changes to Title V and X eligibility.

“We can’t have healthy communities without healthy women and babies,” said Gov. Evers. “That is why my budget will connect the dots and increase access and coverage, as well as create innovative programs to ensure quality health care for women, and healthy beginnings for our children.”

In 2016, (the most recent data available) there were 415 infant deaths in Wisconsin, or 6.2 deaths per 1,000 live births. These numbers alone are concerning, but when comparing the infant death rates of white infants to children of color, the disparities are startling.

Between 2014 and 2016, the infant mortality rate for white infants was 4.8 per 1,000 live births, while for Black infants the rate was 14.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

To reduce the number of infant deaths in Wisconsin, and to support women during and after their pregnancies, the governor’s budget will strengthen the state public health infrastructure to support local efforts to address infant mortality by creating an Infant Mortality Prevention Program at the Department of Health Services. This program will assist families to remove barriers to healthy pregnancies like unstable housing, lack of nutritional and family supports, and unemployment.

The “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiatives also include additional funding for the Family Foundations Home Visiting Program, a home visiting program managed by the Department of Children and Families targeting mothers at a high risk for a poor birth outcome, increased funding to address racial disparities in maternal and child services through the minority health grant, as well as grant funding for doula training and Medicaid coverage for doula services. A doula is a woman who is employed to provide guidance and support to a pregnant woman during labor and provides guidance and support to the mother of a newborn baby.

The governor will also seek a waiver in the CHIP program to increase post-partum coverage for women up to a year. Currently, Medicaid covers pregnant women for 60 days after the birth of their child. Having a longer period of uninterrupted health coverage contributes to the health of both the mother and child and provides adequate time to find private insurance that meets their needs and budget.

Gov. Evers: Announces additional water quality initiatives

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

State Will Evaluate Water Safety in Southwest Wisconsin, Allocate $2 Million for Well Compensation Grant Program

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers today announced two additional water quality initiatives that will expand upon the administration’s work to make 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water in Wisconsin.

The governor’s budget proposal will allocate $2 million in funding for the Well Compensation Grant Program, an increase of $1.6 million in investment in this critical program which provides funding to eligible landowners or renters to replace, reconstruct or treat contaminated private water supplies that serve a residence or provide water to livestock. The most contaminated wells will be prioritized to receive funding.

The program would also bring eligibility for the program in line with federal standards for unsafe contamination levels for arsenic and nitrates.

In addition, the governor’s proposal will provide a new economic hardship cost share option for families that make less than the median income. Under this option, the Department of Natural Resources would pay 100 percent of costs up to $16,000, with the owner of the well only paying the $250 deductible.

“Contaminated water poses harm to rural and urban residents, impacting public drinking water systems, private wells, schools, daycares, and businesses. A scientific approach is critical to first understand the breadth of Wisconsin’s water quality problem, and how it impacts different communities so that we can successfully implement the best solutions,” said Gov. Evers. “I am committed to connecting the dots on this important issue as we make investments that will improve water quality for folks all over Wisconsin.”

The governor has also directed the Department of Natural Resources to spend $75,000 in this biennium for the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology study (SWIGG), a broad survey that will evaluate the safety of drinking water in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties.

The county land conservation departments from the three counties are funding a portion of the study which is being conducted by the UW Extension and researchers from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, the US Geological Survey, and the US Department of Agriculture. The first sample of tests from the study is already showing that 42 percent of 301 wells tested in the three counties did not meet standards for bacteria or nitrates.

Last year, a separate study in Wood and Juneau counties found 42 percent of the 104 wells tested exceeded the standard for nitrates. Because of these clear and well-documented issues, the governor chose to fund additional study work on wells to determine the extent of contamination throughout the state.

Gov. Evers: Announces gubernatorial appointments

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443


MADISON
– Today Governor Tony Evers announced the following appointments:

Governor Tony Evers to chair the Interagency Council on Homelessness
Summer Strand as the Governor’s Designee to the Building Commission
Dr. Timothy Rose to the Fox River Navigational System Authority
Hank Newell to WEDC
Joe Kirgues to WEDC
John Brogan to WEDC
Becca Cooke to WEDC
Thelma Sias to WEDC
Kurt Fielding to the Athletic Trainers Affiliated Credentialing Board
Joel Enking to the Snowmobile Recreation Council
Jill Hoyt to the Dietitians Affiliated Credentialing Board
Tim Size to the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority
Robert Misey to the Accounting Examining Board
Karl Linck to the Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers, and Land Surveyors
Katherine Schrubbe to the Dentistry Examining Board
Scott Krueger to the Dietitians Affiliated Credentialing Board
Peter Kallio to the Board of Nursing
Linda Pellmann to the Marriage and Family Therapy Professional Counseling and Social Work Examining Board
Lee Van Zeeland to the Snowmobile Recreation Council
Greg Winkler to the Marriage and Family Therapy Professional Counseling and Social Work Examining Board

Gov. Evers: Announces plan to join U.S. Climate Alliance

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON – Governor Tony Evers today announced his plans to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to implementing the Paris climate accord on a state level to combat climate change.

The Alliance was formed in June 2017 in response to President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. By joining the Alliance, governors commit to:

  • Implement policies that advance the goals of the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emission by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025;
  • Track and report progress to the global community in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris Agreement;
  • Accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal level.
“It’s a new day in Wisconsin and it’s time to lead our state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change, where we work to find solutions, and where we invest in renewable energy,” said Gov. Evers. “By joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, we will have support in demonstrating that we can take climate action while growing our economy at the same time.”

 Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes has made it the mission of his office to focus on equity and sustainability, as well as the important issue of environmental justice.

“For far too long clean energy hasn’t been a priority in our state and we’re going to change that,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes. “We’re also going to focus on better understanding how climate change is disproportionately affecting communities of color and how it’s impacting our farmers and the most rural parts of our state.”

Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes are committed to being innovative and forward thinking when it comes to clean energy and combating climate change. As they work with the bipartisan Alliance, Evers and Barnes will explore new energy saving goals for state agencies, increasing the use of solar power in Wisconsin, and helping businesses and communities make smart energy choices.

“Climate change poses a real threat to Wisconsin’s communities and economy, with drought, heat-waves, and flooding likely becoming more severe across the region. By joining the U.S. Climate Alliance, Governor Evers is showing the nation that he intends to lead on climate action, and we look forward to working with the governor on his priorities like investing in transportation infrastructure, locally-produced renewable energy, and natural and working lands across the state,” U.S. Climate Alliance Executive Director Julie Cerqueira said.

Gov. Evers: Announces responsible tax relief plan for families

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443

MADISON—Governor Tony Evers today announced that his budget will include a responsible tax relief plan that will cut taxes for hard-working Wisconsin families by 10 percent, expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and end a costly tax giveaway to millionaires—without adding to the deficit.

Under the Evers plan, middle-class families with a Wisconsin adjusted gross income (WI AGI) below $80,000 for single filers and $125,000 for married-joint filers will receive a new nonrefundable credit equal to 10% of the remaining tax liability after all other credits (besides the credit for taxes paid to other states).

“I promised Wisconsin’s hard-working families that I would not only provide the tax relief they deserve, but that I would provide tax relief in a responsible and sustainable way,” said Gov. Evers. “This is what the people voted for and it’s what we know they support. I’m calling on Republicans to work with me and with Democrats in the Legislature to put people first and cut taxes for Wisconsin’s hardworking families without increasing Wisconsin’s budget deficit.”

The Evers plan will also expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for families with one or two children. Beginning with tax year 2019, the credit rate as a percentage of the federal credit for families with one child will nearly triple, from 4 percent to 11 percent, and the rate for families with two children will increase from 11 percent to 14 percent. Increasing the credit for those categories brings Wisconsin closer to parity with the median EITC provided by other states.

In addition, the Evers plan will rollback a Republican giveaway to some of Wisconsin’s highest earners by capping the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit (MAC) for manufacturing claimants. Agricultural firms would continue to have the credit as it exists under current law.

As of October 2018, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that 79 percent of the MAC goes to individuals with adjusted gross incomes of over $1 million. In 2019, 21 individuals with an adjusted gross income of $30 million or more a year are estimated to receive $38.9 million in tax breaks (an average of $1.8 million each).

The Wisconsin Budget Project estimates that the MAC will have cost the state more than $1 billion by the end of 2019.

Gov. Evers: Announces tribal initiatives in state budget

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Office of Governor Tony Evers
Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
MADISON – Today, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes met with Wisconsin tribal leaders at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College in Hayward to to share details of several tribal initiatives in advance of Governor Tony Evers’ budget address this Thursday. 

“For far too long, the needs of our Native American communities have been neglected,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes. “But under the leadership of Gov. Evers, those days are over. We’re committed to listening to, working with, and investing in Wisconsin’s tribal communities.”

Key highlights of the governor’s budget proposal include:

  • Funding the next phase of the creation of an $8 million, 36-bed youth wellness center to treat opioid addiction for both tribal and non-tribal populations;
  • Increasing funding in higher education grants for tribal college students, as well as for the language revitalization grants program which go to schools on or near tribal lands to teach tribal heritage languages;
  • Using tribal gaming revenue to increase funding for tribal family service grants and tribal elderly transportation grants that assist in providing transportation services for elderly persons.

“The investments Gov. Evers is making in Wisconsin’s tribal communities are well overdue, and we applaud the steps he’s taking to support Native American children and families,” said Michael Decorah, the Senior Intergovernmental Affairs Director for the St. Croix Chippewa Indians. “Wisconsin’s tribal nations contribute immensely to the state of Wisconsin. We provide job opportunity, stimulate local economies, and are rich in culture. However, Native Americans throughout the state face some of the biggest gaps in opportunity, and these investments will help Native communities thrive. The St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin look forward to working with Gov. Evers in the coming years, and also look forward to seeing leaders in the legislature follow the governor’s lead and work in a bi-partisanship manner to finally prioritize all families and kids in Wisconsin.”

“My budget puts kids first—and that includes Native American kids,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m excited that our budget will make investments that will help Native American children, families, and communities thrive.”

Gov. Evers: Announces withdrawal of Wisconsin National Guard personnel

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers today issued Executive Order #13 relating to withdrawing the Wisconsin National Guard from assisting at the southwest border.

Approximately 112 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers and Airmen are currently serving in Arizona, where they have been deployed to assist with border security.

“Keeping all of our borders safe and crime-free, and protecting immigrants who seek asylum at our borders, many of whom are women and children, is the responsibility of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol,” Gov. Evers said. “There is simply not ample evidence to support the president’s contention that there exists a national security crisis at our southwestern border. Therefore, there is no justification for the ongoing presence of Wisconsin National Guard personnel at the border. I cannot support keeping our brave service men and women away from their families without a clear need or purpose that would actively benefit the people of Wisconsin or our nation.”

A copy of Executive Order #13 is available here.

Gov. Evers: Calls special election for 64th Assembly District

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Governor Tony Evers today issued Executive Order #9 calling for a special election for the 64th Assembly District.

Gov. Evers ordered the special election to be held on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. If a primary is necessary, it will be held on Tuesday, April 2, 2019.

Circulation of nomination papers for candidates may begin today, February 14, 2019. Nomination papers must be filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5, 2019.

A copy of Executive Order #9 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Creates Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON – Governor Tony Evers has signed executive order #11 establishing a Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving in Wisconsin.

“Caregivers provide critically important services and are often the unsung heroes, supporting and caring for friends and loved ones so they can stay in their homes and their communities,” said Gov. Evers. “It’s important to me that we recognize, value, and celebrate the work of caregivers across our state, and that we make sure caregivers have the support they need while strengthening and improving access to the direct care workforce in Wisconsin.”

The Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving is charged with analyzing strategies to attract and retain a strong direct care workforce, finding strategies to support families providing caregiving supports and services, and improving the quality of caregiving in Wisconsin.

A copy of the governor’s executive order can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Excepts from Gov. Evers’ 2019-21 Biennial Budget Address

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Below are excerpts from Governor Tony Evers’ 2019-2021 Biennial Budget Address as prepared for delivery. Gov. Evers will give his address at 7:00 P.M. tonight in the Assembly Chambers of the Wisconsin State Capitol.
… I want everyone to understand how we arrived here. At the end of the day, our budget is about putting people first. It’s about creating a Wisconsin that works for everyone–a Wisconsin for us. This isn’t the Tony Evers budget, the Democratic budget, the Speaker’s budget, or the Republican budget–this is The People’s Budget. And it’s one that we crafted together.

We heard from people like Maryann who lives in Coleman in Senator Tiffany and Representative Mursau’s district and Nancy who lives in Amherst in Senator Testin and Representative Shankland’s district. Both Maryann and Nancy came to our listening sessions and talked to us about water quality and water pollution issues across our state.

Because of people like Maryann and Nancy, we announced we’re making safe drinking water a top priority in Wisconsin. We’re authorizing nearly $70 million in bonding to address water quality, from replacing lead service lines to addressing water contamination across our state. I know Representative Shankland has been working with us closely on this issue. Thank you, Representative Shankland, and to Maryann and Nancy, who are here with us in the gallery tonight, for advocating on this important issue.

We also heard from people like Tony who lives in Senator Petrowski and Representative Snyder’s district in Wausau. Tony not only has a great first name, but he also came to one of our listening sessions and talked about why we need driver’s licenses for immigrants and persons who are undocumented, especially in communities where there’s limited access to public transportation.

Because of people like Tony, we’re announcing tonight that undocumented folks will be eligible to receive driver’s licenses and ID cards. This makes our roads and our communities safer, and helps strengthen our economy and Wisconsin families. I know Representative Zamarripa has worked on this issue, and Tony is here with us in the gallery tonight–thank you both for your work on this issue.

And finally, I shared that tonight so that everybody understands what’s at stake in choosing to play politics with this budget.

Gov. Evers: Gives 2019-21 biennial budget address

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Today, February 28, 2019, Governor Tony Evers will give his 2019-21 Biennial Budget Address. Here are Gov. Evers’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
Honorable Supreme Court Justices, tribal nation leaders, Constitutional Officers, Major General Dunbar and the members of the Wisconsin National Guard as well as active and retired members of our armed forces, cabinet members, Senate President Roth, Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Minority Leader Shilling, Speaker Vos, and Minority Leader Hintz, legislators, distinguished guests, and, most importantly, people of Wisconsin: welcome, and thank you for being here.

My favorite pickleball player, Kathy, is also up there in the gallery tonight. My kids couldn’t be here, but I’m sure they’re watching at home. Thank you always for your love and support—I love you all.

Before we get started, I also want to mention someone else who’s with us in the gallery tonight. All of you know I talk a lot about connecting the dots. Karen is an operator for the Milwaukee County Transit System–she literally makes connections every day. While on her route one day, Karen noticed a boy alone in the freezing cold. She pulled over to make sure he was ok but noticed the boy wasn’t wearing any socks or shoes. So, Karen brought the boy onto her bus and kept him safe and warm while she called for help.

Folks like Karen embody our Wisconsin values like kindness, compassion, empathy, and respect. Karen, thank you for joining us tonight and for your exceptional work.

I’m Tony Evers, and I’m incredibly proud to be here as the 46th governor of Wisconsin announcing my first biennial budget for our state.

You know, I guess you might say I’ve spent some time in education for give or take a handful of years. And one of the most important lessons I took away from my time in the classroom is that you learn more from listening that you ever do from talking.

So, after Mandela and I were elected, we decided we wanted to do a listening session tour across Wisconsin. We wanted to hear directly from the people of our state about what they wanted to see in the budget I’m announcing here tonight.

But we didn’t want to show up months later with a budget in hand and say, “So, what do you think?”

We said we’d always put people first. That’s why we wanted everyone to be part of finding these solutions together.

So, what we did was we turned the standard listening session formula on its head. And, by golly, the darndest thing happened: people showed up from different backgrounds and different communities, and they sat and they talked to each other. And they listened to each other’s perspectives. And they had a dialogue about the problems our state is facing and the best way to fix them. And they ranged from Republicans to Democrats to the democratically disenfranchised to the politically apathetic. And sometimes they even disagreed, but they did so amicably. Never with elevated voices. Never out of spitefulness. And never with disrespect.

I know in today’s day and age, what I’m describing might sound like a unicorn phenomenon of sorts. But the good news is we managed to capture proof it actually happened, and I’d like to share that with you tonight.

[Gov. Evers’ Budget Listening Sessions Video]

Now, I showed you this tonight for a few reasons. The first, although I said it tongue-in-cheek, is to show that people really can get along. If Wisconsinites can come to a room armed with different ideas, listen to each other, and compromise on solutions, then we should be able to do that in this building, too.

Second, I want everyone to understand how we arrived here. At the end of the day, our budget is about putting people first. It’s about creating a Wisconsin that works for everyone–a Wisconsin for us. This isn’t the Tony Evers budget, the Democratic budget, the Speaker’s budget, or the Republican budget–this is The People’s Budget. And it’s one that we crafted together.

We heard from people like Maryann who lives in Coleman in Senator Tiffany and Representative Mursau’s district and Nancy who lives in Amherst in Senator Testin and Representative Shankland’s district. Both Maryann and Nancy came to our listening sessions and talked to us about water quality and water pollution issues across our state.

Because of people like Maryann and Nancy, we announced we’re making safe drinking water a top priority in Wisconsin. We’re authorizing nearly $70 million in bonding to address water quality, from replacing lead service lines to addressing water contamination across our state. I know Representative Shankland has been working with us closely on this issue. Thank you, Representative Shankland, and to Maryann and Nancy, who are here with us in the gallery tonight, for advocating on this important issue.

We also heard from people like Tony who lives in Senator Petrowski and Representative Snyder’s district in Wausau. Tony not only has a great first name, but he also came to one of our listening sessions and talked about why we need driver’s licenses for immigrants and persons who are undocumented, especially in communities where there’s limited access to public transportation.

Because of people like Tony, we’re announcing tonight that undocumented folks will be eligible to receive driver’s licenses and ID cards. This makes our roads and our communities safer, and helps strengthen our economy and Wisconsin families. I know Representative Zamarripa has worked on this issue, and Tony is here with us in the gallery tonight–thank you both for your work on this issue.

And finally, I shared that tonight so that everybody understands what’s at stake in choosing to play politics with this budget.

We have to be a better version of democracy than we have been in the past. At times, we’ve succumbed to the trivial pursuit of political outposturing. At times, we’ve let partisanship cloud the opportunity for compromise. And at times, we’ve let power be the enemy of the good.

So, tonight, I want to be clear: this cannot be one of those times. We cannot afford to play politics with this budget. Folks, the stakes are simply too high.

And as I told you in my inaugural address, I believe in leading by example. That’s why we’re going to begin tonight on the things about which we can all agree.

I’ve said all along that reforming our criminal justice system is an area where I know Republicans and Democrats can work together. So, earlier this week, I announced we’re going to return kids who are 17 to the juvenile justice system. And, I’m investing more than $200 million in additional funds so that we can get kids out of Lincoln Hills and get them closer to home as soon as we safely and responsibly can. I know there’s been bipartisan work on this issue in the past–thank you for your work on this issue, and I look forward to working together in the days ahead.

But juvenile justice is only part of a larger picture. We have to connect the dots in criminal justice by tackling this issue holistically. Starting the moment someone encounters the justice system to the moment they re-join our communities, we have to look at everything from alternatives to incarceration to equity in representation to substance abuse prevention to re-entry programming.

The criminal justice system starts in our communities. So we’re announcing tonight that we’re allocating $2 million over the next two years on a grant program for community policing through the Department of Justice in the 10 cities with the highest violent crime rates in Wisconsin.

But at the same time, we also need to come to terms with the fact that non-violent drug arrests are contributing to overcrowding and economic inequity, instability, and insecurity in our state. That’s why I announced a few weeks ago that our budget will decriminalize marijuana possession for 25 grams or less.

And we also have to ensure that once someone encounters our criminal justice system, they’re receiving adequate, fair, and vigorous representation.

So we’re increasing the private bar reimbursement rate to $70 per hour, and we’re providing more than 25 additional Assistant District Attorneys across our state. Under our plan, ADA positions will be the highest they’ve been since 2011. That will allow us to make sure the justice system is efficient and works for everyone. I know that Representative Born recently advocated for similar initiatives and that there’s been bipartisan support for this issue in the past. I’m hopeful these will receive bipartisan support in our budget.

Additionally, we need to make sure that while folks are incarcerated, they have the tools to be successful when they re-enter our communities. So, we’re expanding the Opening Avenues to Reentry Success program to all 72 counties, providing support to inmates who have mental health issues and are at risk of reoffending.

Finally, we have to make sure folks applying for jobs have the tools they need to maintain employment. So, we’re expanding the Windows to Work program by allowing the program in all minimum- and medium-security institutions, and that’s why we’re also announcing tonight that we will be “banning the box” statewide. We have to reduce employment barriers and empower the folks re-entering our communities with the skills and support they need to live a better life. I know Senator Taylor has been a tireless advocate on this issue–thank you for your work on this.

But fixing our criminal justice system is not the only area of this budget where we can find common ground.

Last session, Senator Darling and Majority Leader Steineke introduced and received unanimous, bipartisan support for legislation creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness. The Council was chaired by former Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch and offered recommendations for addressing homelessness in Wisconsin. I know that Republicans recently introduced legislation supporting portions of the Council’s ideas.

This is important work. That’s why just last week, I announced that I will be chairing the Council myself. And tonight, I’m proud to announce that we’re accepting each and every one of the Council’s recommendations and including them in our budget.

Homelessness and housing insecurity affects kids in the classroom, it affects our criminal justice system, and it affects economic development in our communities. We have to connect the dots on this issue, and it’s time we get serious about addressing this issue in Wisconsin.

Another area I think we can agree on and where we have to connect the dots is expanding access to broadband. Mary lives in Senator Wirch and Representative Neubauer’s district in Racine and came to one of our listening sessions this last December. She’s seen how businesses and schools are falling behind because of a lack of broadband and thinks this is a hindrance to advancing industries and technology. Mary told us, “Not having access to broadband flies in the face of any economic development.”

Mary is here with us in the gallery tonight–thanks for being here. Folks, Mary’s right. Lack of access to reliable broadband internet service affects families at home, and it also affects our classrooms, our hospitals, and building a strong economy. I know there has been bipartisan support on this issue in the past, and we absolutely have to double down on this critically important issue.

So, we’re setting a goal of attaining 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabit per second upload for all Wisconsin homes and businesses by 2025.

But we’re not just setting goals, we’re also going to make sure we actually have the means to achieve them. That’s why we’re making historic investments in broadband expansion grants, increasing total funding to more than $78 million over the biennium. That’s more than four times what was invested in broadband expansion grants during the last state budget. And we’re going to be targeting those grants to the unserved and underserved communities who need them most.

From broadband to homelessness to criminal justice reform, among many other things in this budget, there is much on which we can agree. I’ve said all along that I’m willing to work across the aisle to get things done. I’ve said all along that there’s more that unites us than divides us. We just have to choose to put people before politics. We have to do what’s best for the people of our state. And most importantly, we have an obligation to listen–truly listen–to what the people of Wisconsin need and what they are asking of us.

That starts with healthcare. I’ve said all along we need to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin, and according to a Marquette Law Poll, 62% of Wisconsinites agree. 82,000 more Wisconsinites will have access to affordable, quality healthcare coverage. And because we’re accepting these federal dollars, we have the opportunity to invest in programs that improve healthcare access and affordability across our state. It means that we can invest in programs to address infant mortality, and to encourage preventative care like cancer and STI screenings. It means we’re going to put our money where our mouths are–literally–to ensure Wisconsin isn’t among the worst states for dental care in the country. It means we can can expand access to substance abuse and mental health treatment, intervention, and stabilization, especially in our rural communities, for folks who are in crisis.

Additionally, the people of Wisconsin have asked us to fully fund our public schools. More than one million Wisconsinites have raised their own property taxes to support local schools in their communities. This is simply not sustainable. I’ve said all along that what’s best for our kids is best for our state, and investing in our kids will yield dividends for our future. So, we’re going to start with providing historic investments in K-12 education and returning to two-thirds funding at the state level.

In the past decade, we’ve not only cut public school funding, we’ve failed to fund programs for our kids with special needs. Erin is from St. Francis and lives in Senator Larson and Representative Sinicki’s district. Erin joined us for our listening sessions in December, and she talked about some of the gaps in our education system, and what more support and attentiveness would have meant for someone like her when she was growing up.

Erin said, “Special education is important to me because education itself is important, but sometimes students need extra support—for some students it’s a little, for some students it’s a lot. But if some of us don’t have the resources we need to access education, everyone loses in the end.”

Because of folks like Erin, we’re working to make sure kids like Mac and Abbey have the support and resources they need to be successful. So, as I told you during the State of the State Address, our budget includes an unprecedented $600 million increase in special education funding. We shouldn’t have to squeeze resources to make sure every kid can be successful. Erin, Mac, and Abbey are here with us in the gallery tonight. Thanks so much for being here.

We have to support our kids in the classroom, and we also have to make sure we’re supporting the educators who teach our kids, too. Wisconsin pays our public school teachers less than the national average, which makes it harder to recruit and retain talented educators. We need to do our part to make sure our educators know that the work they do is valued and to use these funding increases to do everything they can to keep our talented educators here in Wisconsin.

And we’re not just investing in K-12 education. We’re also going to get back into the business of funding public education at every level, including investing in higher education in Wisconsin. We announced this week that we’re increasing Technical Colleges funding by $18 million over the biennium and investing more than $150 million in our University of Wisconsin System. That means we’re able to freeze tuition for undergraduate residents in Wisconsin. But our universities shouldn’t have to sacrifice affordability for quality education. So, we’re not just going to freeze tuition, we’re also going to fund that freeze. And no one should have to struggle paying the bills because they pursued higher education. I’ve said all along that folks should be able to refinance their loans just like you can with a mortgage. That’s why I’m also bringing together State Treasurer Godlewski, DFI Secretary-designee Blumenfeld, and a member of the Higher Educational Aids Board, among others, to work on creating a Wisconsin-based strategy for student loan debt refinancing.

Finally, we’re going to make sure that, regardless of whether a kid was born in this country, if they went to a Wisconsin high school and have lived here for three years, they shouldn’t have to pay more for tuition like an out-of-state student–they should be treated like any other kid from Wisconsin.

In addition to funding public schools at every level, I believe everyone should have the opportunity to participate in our democracy. People should get to choose their elected officials, not the other way around. So, earlier this week, we announced that we’re creating a nonpartisan redistricting commission. And, as it turns out, the people of Wisconsin agree. According to a recent Marquette Law Poll, 72% of Wisconsinites want nonpartisan redistricting in Wisconsin. And not just Democrats. 63% of Republicans and 76% of Independents support nonpartisan redistricting, too. I know Senator Hansen has done extensive work on this–thank you for your leadership. Nonpartisan redistricting is only part of the democratic process and participation. So, we’re not only including nonpartisan redistricting in our budget, we’re also going to direct the Elections Commission and the Department of Transportation to work together on implementing automatic voter registration in Wisconsin. And I know Representative Crowley has been working on this issue–thank you.

Finally, we turn to transportation. I’ve said all along that our current approach to transportation is unsustainable. For years, we’ve kicked the can down the road on this issue, and we can’t afford to do it again. According to a 2018 TRIP report, industries like retail stores, tourism, agriculture, and manufacturing bolster about 1.4 million full-time jobs, and they depend on our roads, highways, and bridges. About $580 billion in goods are shipped across our state each year. Yet, our roads rank among the worst in the nation. And according to that same report, our infrastructure problems are costing Wisconsin taxpayers $6.8 billion annually in higher vehicle operating costs, traffic delays, and accidents.

That’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our pocketbooks.

It’s time to find a long-term solution to our transportation crisis, and that’s what I’m proposing to do here tonight. I said when I ran for governor that I’d get everyone to the table to find a solution that works for everyone. And that’s what we did.

And that’s why tonight, I’m proposing the largest biennial investment in transportation in Wisconsin state history. But this won’t be a one-time fix. We’re going to raise more than $600 million in new revenues to fix our roads, bridges, and highways and make sure that our transportation fund is sustainable for our future.

Now, I want to be clear: everyone is going to have to give a little to make this work. That’s compromise. We’re all going to have to share the burden so this is feasible for everyone, and to make sure we’re not passing the buck to the next generation. We’re going to be increasing fees for titles and heavy trucks, and we do have to raise the gas tax–but as I promised all along, we’re sure as heck not going to raise the gas tax by a dollar. We’re going to raise it $.08 a gallon–well below what they did over the river raising it by $.20 in Minnesota, or $.18 in Ohio. But the good news is, we’re also going to repeal a hidden tax that costs you $.14 a gallon on gas. That means our plan actually makes it possible for you to pay less at the pump than you do right now.

Because of all of this, we’re going to make sure local governments don’t have to rely on things like wheel taxes to make ends meet. So, we’re going to increase general transit and transportation aid to counties and local governments by 10% to repair local roads and local bridges. Those are the highest levels ever in Wisconsin history. And we’re going to do all of this without having to raid our general funds and without jeopardizing other budget priorities like expanding broadband, fully funding our public schools, and reforming our criminal justice system. Because of our long-term solution to this issue, Wisconsin’s highway bonding in our budget is the lowest it’s been in over 20 years. It’s time we pay our bills and stop kicking the can down the road.

At the end of the day, the people of Wisconsin expect and deserve for us to get to work on these pressing issues. From broadband to healthcare, education to justice reform, and roads to redistricting, these are the priorities of the people of our state. Their plight must be our purpose, their crises our cause, and their desires our demands.

You know, I’ve heard some remark that the people of Wisconsin chose divided government this November. I don’t think that’s the case. The people of Wisconsin didn’t choose for us to be divided, they chose for us to find it within ourselves to be united, not in party, but in promise–to serve our state, and to do what’s best for the people who sent us here.

Folks, let’s get to work.

Thank you, and On, Wisconsin!

Gov. Evers: Proclaims February as Career and Technical education month

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CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce
MADISON – Governor Tony Evers has proclaimed February as Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month in Wisconsin to highlight the state’s efforts to develop students for a wide-range of careers, post-secondary education, or both. According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, approximately 70 percent of 11th and 12th graders in Wisconsin participate in CTE courses in fields like agriculture and natural resources, family and consumer sciences, business and information technology, health science, marketing and entrepreneurship, and technology and engineering. The high school graduation rate of students who participate in CTE courses is approximately 10 percent higher than students who do not participate in CTE courses in high school.
 
“There is more to an economy than creating jobs and monitoring an unemployment rate – we must, as government officials, provide every opportunity to our youth so that they can position themselves to succeed,” Governor Tony Evers said. “Strong investments in education and career and technical education programming empower our future workforce with the skills and training they need to thrive. As governor, my administration will measure success in many ways, one of which will be the success of our students.”
Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program has experienced a steady increase in demand over the previous years. During the 2017-2018 school year, a record 4,363 students participated in the program.
 
“CTE programming is vital to both the development of our future workforce and increasing the number of students who graduate high school well-positioned for their future careers,” Department of Workforce Development Secretary-Designee Caleb Frostman said. “By expanding the capacity of important education and workforce programs, we will improve the quality of life for our citizens and build a Wisconsin where our talented residents choose to stay after graduation and attracts workers from other parts of the globe.”  
 
Growing strong relationships between K-12 schools and businesses is essential to building and expanding opportunities for all Wisconsin students. Programs like Academic and Career Planning and Pathways Wisconsin are designed to give students interaction and experience with businesses, as well as to align the coursework required to succeed. But they need strong collaboration from regional industry partners to be successful.
 
“Having the ability to plan for and experience a career, while still finishing their academics, helps students make more informed decisions about the courses they take and their life trajectory,” said State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. “It is our job, as leaders of the state, to make sure those opportunities exist for all of our students.”
Wisconsin’s tech colleges work with K-12 districts to provide dynamic, hands-on career awareness and exploration for students of all ages. They also awarded nearly 154,000 transcripted college credits to more than 40,700 high school students last year alone, at no cost to students or their families.
“Our work with K-12 partners puts countless students on a meaningful pathway that helps them better understand education and career options. If they’re ready, it also prepares them for a chosen career by the quickest, least expensive route possible,” said Wisconsin Technical College System President Dr. Morna K. Foy. “Students are now earning technical college credentials – from Certified Nursing Assistant courses to Associate Degrees in Information Technology – before they graduate from high school.”
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes joined DWD Secretary-Designee Frostman, Superintendent Stanford Taylor, Milwaukee Area Technical College President Dr. Vicki Martin and Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Posley today at WE Energies in West Allis to hear from students involved in WE Energies’ Line Mechanic Internship and Design Engineer Youth Apprenticeship programs and job shadow student participants as they demonstrated the skills acquired through both programs to officially kick-off CTE Month. Additional events to celebrate CTE Month are being planned throughout the state.
For more information on the state’s Youth Apprenticeship program.
 
Visit DPI’s website to learn more about CTE programming.
 
Learn more about the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Gov. Evers: State Building Commission approves key projects

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

Yesterday, the State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved several key projects across the state, including:

  • Design and construction of UW-Milwaukee Sandburg Hall renovation project, UW-Platteville Boebel Hall addition and renovation phase II, and UW-River Falls Dairy Plant remodel;
  • Release of Building Trust Funds to complete the design of Waupun Correctional Behavior Health Unit/Life Safety improvements, Juvenile Corrections Regional Facilities, and Mendota Mental Health Juvenile Treatment Center;
  • Grant release for 18 Department of Natural Resources Friends Group projects and the completion of Medical College of Wisconsin regional schools; and
  • Various maintenance and repair projects located in 13 counties across the state for the Departments of Administration, Corrections, Military Affairs, Natural Resources, Health Services, and the UW-System.

The Building Commission is chaired by Governor Tony Evers and made up of the following members:

  • State Senator Janis Ringhand;
  • State Senator Jerry Petrowski;
  • State Senator Patrick Testin;
  • State Representative Jill Billings;
  • State Representative Rob Swearingen;
  • State Representative Mark Born; and
  • Citizen member Summer Strand

Gov. Evers: To remove restrictions on petroleum and propane transporters

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers issued Executive Order 12 exempting drivers of commercial motor vehicles transporting petroleum and propane from Wisconsin hours-of-service and weight requirements. The order comes in response to recent weather events that have closed terminals, the closure of the West Shore pipeline, industry requests, and tightening in the petroleum and propane markets which has resulted in increased wait times at terminals.

“Petroleum is a vital resource for transportation and most of Wisconsin’s terminals are in the Southern part of the state. Recent weather conditions have presented increasing challenges to the delivery of petroleum and propane,” said Gov. Evers. “By exempting propane transporters from hours-of-service requirements, we’ll decrease wait times and backups and ensure people in all areas of the state have equal access to home heating and fueling options.”

A copy of Executive Order #12 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Vetoes Assembly Bill 4

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers today vetoed Assembly Bill 4 in its entirety and returned it to the Assembly.

The bill