2019 March

Monthly Archives: March 2019

‘UpFront’: Darling says GOP will hold line on taxes, spending in budget

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said Republicans will hold the line against the tax hikes and increased spending that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers proposed in his first budget.

“I was really hoping it would be a ‘people’s budget’ and continue the reforms that we put on the table. But this is a payback budget to the special interests that put him in office, in my opinion,” Darling, the Senate co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, said in an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront.” The program is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“I think the level of spending is outrageous, and I think the level of intimidation for a lot of our reforms is really unnecessary,” she said.

Darling said Republicans “dug out of a hole” and grew the economy in Wisconsin since 2009, when Dems controlled the guv’s office and both houses of the Legislature.

“If we have this level of spending and taxation, we’re going to go back to 2009 and I’m really afraid of that,” Darling said.

“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen asked Darling if there was anything in the budget that she liked.

Darling said she liked some of the governor’s corrections reform plans, but she didn’t like that the Lincoln Hills prison would stay open longer. She also said she thought Evers had “some good ideas about education” but “the level (of spending) he’s putting in is way over the top of what we have to spend.”

Also on the program, Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, said Democrats recognize Lincoln Hills has to stay open until alternative youth corrections centers are ready.

“We want to make sure that we get this right. We’ve seen from Lincoln Hills how juvenile justice can be done wrong. And we want to make sure that when we make these investments, they’re lasting investments, and that we’re doing it the right way,” Johnson said.

Pedersen asked Johnson about criticism from Republicans that the Evers budget is an extreme, far-left budget.

“I don’t see it as a far-left budget,” Johnson said, adding that Evers “has done an excellent job laying out how this would be paid for.”

“The last administration focused more on business, and this administration focuses more on people,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Democrats will be looking for compromise in the budget process.

“I believe that was a piece that was missing before when Republicans controlled everything, there was no need to compromise. But now, with Gov. Evers at the helm, it forces us all to compromise and to try to just put partisanship aside,” Johnson said.

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

‘UpFront’: Lasry says raising funds for 2020 DNC will be ‘team effort’

Wisconsin Democrats will make it a “team effort” to raise the $60 million or more needed to pull off the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, the chairman of the city’s bid committee said.

Alex Lasry, a senior vice president with the Milwaukee Bucks, said prominent Democratic leaders including Gov. Tony Evers, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, and U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore would all be working to raise money and make the convention successful.

“We want to show the DNC and the world that cities like Milwaukee can take care of a convention like this,” Lasry said in an interview that aired Sunday on “UPFRONT,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“If we are successful, that paves the way for a lot of other cities like Milwaukee to be able to put in a bid, and give them confidence to put in a bid,” he said.

Lasry also promised a convention with a “local vibe” that would be “very Wisconsin.”

“This is our chance to reintroduce Milwaukee to the world,” Lasry said. “I think this is hopefully just the start of Milwaukee becoming that top-tier city.”

Also on the program, ABC News Political Director Rick Klein said the choice of Milwaukee as the DNC convention site is “a very clear signal that the Democrats recognize that they cannot win the White House, really functionally win it, without carrying the state.”

Another segment explored the impact on the city of Cleveland when it hosted the 2016 Republican National Convention.

“It absolutely lived up to what we hoped it would be,” said Emily Lauer of Destination Cleveland, the city’s convention and tourism bureau.

Cleveland’s RNC host committee projected a $200 million economic impact before the 2016 convention. A study released about a year later showed the convention delivered almost $190 million in economic impact.

The “short-term revenue” was important, Lauer said, but so was the boost to the city’s image.

“It was really more about changing Cleveland’s narrative, putting us on that national and international stage to really accelerate the trajectory of changing the narrative, changing perceptions about Cleveland,” she said. “And in that regard, it absolutely didn’t disappoint.”

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

‘UpFront’: Vos says Evers has yet to sit down with GOP leaders to discuss budget

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he hopes GOP lawmakers eventually can sit down to negotiate a new state budget with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. But for right now, they are not talking.

“Gov. Evers has chosen kind of this one-sided approach where he hasn’t reached out to the Legislature. He hasn’t even asked to sit down with us even though we have regularly asked for meetings,” Vos said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Host Adrienne Pedersen asked Vos why he was seen shaking his head “no” during the governor’s Feb. 28 budget address.

Vos said he found some of the governor’s budget proposals “egregious,” especially his plan to remove work training requirements for people receiving welfare payments.

“I don’t want the people of Wisconsin to believe that this (budget) is something that is actually good for the state.” Vos said.

Vos said Evers “put these poison pills in there, knowing we are never going to accept tax increases. He’s made all kinds of promises to people that can never be fulfilled, because there’s not enough money in the checkbook.”

Vos said medical marijuana should be a stand-alone bill taken up later in the year, and not included in the state budget.

He said he still supports medical marijuana “in a limited way” but worries “for a lot of skeptics (Evers) has poisoned the well” by also proposing decriminalization.

The speaker also said the governor “should accept that there are some things that are non-negotiable.”

“We are never going to raise income or sales taxes as long as Republicans are in control,” Vos said.

Also on the program, Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul discussed DOJ’s budget request for 25 new positions, including a new prosecutor dedicated to sexual assault cases.

Kaul said a sex crimes prosecutor is necessary, because approximately 1,000 DNA matches have emerged in the testing of old sexual assault kits.

“We need to make sure that those cases are investigated fully and that prosecutions are brought where they can be. Having an additional prosecutor will help with that,” Kaul said.

A backlog of untested sexual assault kits was an issue in Kaul’s race last year against former Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel. Kaul said his department will be proposing legislation “that will prevent there being another backlog of untested kits.”

“We hope to propose it in the Legislature next month,” Kaul said.

Kaul also is seeking new digital forensic examiners and new resources for the Internet Crimes Against Children unit.

“Criminals use modern technology just like the rest of us, and making sure that we have the tools to obtain evidence from those (electronic) devices is really important,” Kaul said.

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

12th Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference 🗓

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Interview: Bobby Peterson: (608)261-6939 or Brynne McBride (608)261-6939

Madison, WI– On March 5 & 6, HealthWatch Wisconsin kicks off its 12th Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference, this year titled “Change: Improving Access to Health Care & Coverage.” State, regional, and local stakeholders committed to improving access to health care and coverage for all people in Wisconsin will gather with policymakers from the Evers Administration, health policy experts, and members of the Wisconsin Legislature.

This year’s conference focuses on connecting children and low-income, disparity families to health coverage and services. Attendees will discuss possible changes in the Wisconsin healthcare and coverage landscape. Brynne McBride, HealthWatch Wisconsin Director and COO at ABC for Health says, “Our power-packed line-up will promote positive system changes that ‘connect the dots,’ to make sure all people have the health coverage and consumer protections they need and deserve.”

Sessions throughout the 2-day event will cover Medicaid Expansion, BadgerCare Buy-In proposals, and ABC for Health’s WisCare 2019 proposal; protecting consumer rights; securing behavioral health coverage & services; and innovative ways to reducing health disparities; among other topics of interest.

Concurrent with the conference, on Wednesday, March 6 HealthWatch will again recognize those doing outstanding work in the community. This year we recognize Sen. Kathleen Vinehout with the “2018 Elected Official of the Year” award, and Dane County Human Services Director Lynn Green with the “2018 Amy Mendel-Clemens Lifetime Achievement” award.

If You Go: The 12th Annual HealthWatch Wisconsin Conference is March 5, 1pm-5pm & March 6, 9am-5pm (Award ceremony is 12pm on March 6), at the Madison Masonic Center, 301 Wisconsin Ave, Madison (E. Johnson Street Entrance).

To Register: Registration is required to attend the full HealthWatch conference. There is no cost to attend the awards ceremony. Conference registration information is online: www.healthwatchwisconsin.org.

HealthWatch Wisconsin, Inc. is a subsidiary of ABC for Health, Inc., a Wisconsin-based, nonprofit, public interest law firm dedicated to linking children and families, particularly those with special health care needs, to health care benefits and services. HealthWatch Wisconsin gathers public health professionals to learn about access to health care and coverage issues and amplify the voices of low income or underserved individuals in Wisconsin.

36 active, retired Milwaukee judges: Neubauer the right choice for Wisconsin Supreme Court

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

The election of a new Supreme Court Justice will impact the lives of Wisconsin families for years to come. We are active and retired judges from the Municipal Court, Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals in Milwaukee County. We have decades of experience in the courtroom, and we know how important it is to restore our highest court’s national reputation for fairness and integrity.

Judge Lisa Neubauer, Chief Judge of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, has earned the respect and endorsement of 340 judges statewide – over 98% of endorsing judges in this election – for good reason; she has the character, experience and qualifications that the people of Wisconsin have a right to expect from their Supreme Court.

Judge Neubauer was a practicing lawyer for 20 years and has been an Appeals Court Judge for 11 years. She has proven herself to be fair, impartial and independent. She keeps politics out of the courtroom and has no agenda except to follow the rule of law. Judge Neubauer is a hard-working and intelligent judge who decides cases based upon the facts, not her own preconceived notions of what the law should be. She also has a patient and thoughtful demeanor, and works well with her colleagues, lawyers and court officials.

We know that Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer’s impeccable character, legal scholarship and work ethic make her the right choice for our Wisconsin Supreme Court. Please remember to vote on April 2nd, 2019.

Hon. Mary Kuhnmuench
Hon. Dennis Cimpl
Hon. Charles Kahn
Hon. Laura Gramling Perez
Hon. Janet Protasiewicz
Hon. Jean Keis
Hon. William Pocan
Hon. Russ Stamper, Sr
Hon. Lindsey Grady
Hon. David Hansher
Hon. M. Joseph Donald
Hon. James Gramling
Hon. Mary Triggiano
Hon. Michael Guolee
Hon. Jeffrey Kremers
Hon. Jeffrey Wagner
Hon. Jeffrey Conen
Hon. Karen Christenson
Hon. Kitty Brennan
Hon. David Feiss
Hon. Michael Skwierawski
Hon. J. D. Watts
Hon. Thomas Cooper
Hon. Marshall Murray
Hon. Michael Sullivan
Hon. Tom Donegan
Hon. Fran Wasielewski
Hon. Michael Dwyer
Hon. Mel Flanagan
Hon. Glenn Yamahiro
Hon. Stephanie Rothstein
Hon. William Jennaro
Hon. Gwen Connolly
Hon. Bonnie Gordon
Hon. Derek Mosely
Hon. Phil Chavez

AARP: Guv’s budget is a win-win for older Wisconsinites

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MADISON, WISCONSIN – Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 budget includes a call for
federal Medicaid expansion, which would save millions of dollars for the state
while extending health care coverage to tens of thousands of our most financially
vulnerable residents, says AARP Wisconsin State Director Sam Wilson.

Currently, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, called BadgerCare, covers adults up to
100% of the federal poverty line (FPL), or about $21,330 per year for a family of
three. If the state fully expands Medicaid, 82,000 adults between 100% and
138% of the FPL would also be covered by BadgerCare.

Expanding Medicaid would not only increase the number of adults who are
insured, but it would improve a variety of health and economic outcomes for
individuals and the state.

“Accepting Medicaid expansion would save Wisconsin about $320 million over
the next two years by maximizing the federal share of Medicaid in BadgerCare,”
Wilson said. “That is real money our state can use to help Wisconsinites live,
work, raise families and age with dignity. We look forward to working with the
governor and legislature to make this expansion happen.”

This infusion of federal money will strengthen the long-term care system by
boosting wages for the direct care workforce, expanding access to dementia care
specialists, and investing in innovative approaches to systemic health equity
issues.

In addition to Medicaid expansion and long-term care system investments, the
Governor’s budget seeks to address one of the most pressing issues in health
care today, exorbitant increases in prescription drug costs.

“This is one of AARP’s top priority issues in Wisconsin and across the country,”
Wilson said. “Prescription drug companies are making billions in profits off
seniors and hardworking folks. Wisconsin has always been a leader in finding
ways to keep these costs at bay for its residents, and we commit to working with
lawmakers at the state level and in Congress to lower prescription drug costs.”

Besides health care issues, Evers’ budget addresses the financial challenge of
long-term retirement savings that both younger and older Wisconsinites face. A
proposed feasibility study will look at the possibility of creating a retirement plan
open to all workers who choose to participate.

“Wisconsinites are anxious about having enough money for life after work and
rightfully so,” Wilson said. “Many workers don’t even have an option to save for
their retirement in their workplace. We need an option that will help workers grow
the savings they need to have the health and retirement security we all hope to
have in retirement.”

AARP is also pleased to see enhancements to the Homestead Tax Credit. The
credit will provide increased relief to low-income Wisconsinites to meet their
property tax burdens.

ACLU Wisconsin: Calls on Greendale School District to improve racial climate in its schools

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CONTACT: Cassandra Bowers, ACLU of Wisconsin, [email protected]

MILWAUKEE – Recently, a concerned family filed a complaint against Greendale School District for creating a racially hostile environment. We are asking the district to investigate – and meaningfully act upon – a series of racial incidents in its high school and elementary school, including the use of racial slurs, posting of racially offensive videos, and other harassment – that have created a hostile environment. A number of these behaviors occurred as recently as last month – despite repeated reports to administration by complainant and others, and despite the “equity plan” the District is developing. The District is on notice of the racially hostile environment, but its response to the climate of racial harassment in its schools has been ineffective and inadequate, as the recent uptick in incidents shows.

“While the District may have taken action against some of the individuals involved, the repeated incidents show a need for an effective and systemic response and one that meaningfully includes affected students and families,” noted Karyn Rotker, ACLU of Wisconsin staff attorney. “Federal civil rights guidance suggests that a more effective response could include, in addition to punishing the individuals responsible, to take steps to reaffirming the school’s policy against discrimination (including racial harassment), publicizing the ways to report allegations of racial harassment, training faculty on constructive responses to racial conflict, hosting class discussions about racial harassment and sensitivity to students of other races, and conducting outreach to involve parents and students to identify problems and improve the school environment. This needs to happen as soon as possible.”

To view this statement and the complaint online please visit our website at https://www.aclu-wi.org/en/news/aclu-wisconsins-files-complaint-against-greendale-school-district

ADC: Supports new bipartisan bill introduced to address labor shortages on dairy farms

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The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) supports anew federal bill that has been introduced by Congressmen Anthony Brindisi (D-NY) and John Joyce (R-PA) to expand the current H-2A visa program, allowing for its use by dairy farmers.
The bill will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act, making it suitable for the year-round labor needs of the dairy industry by allowing for an initial three-year visa with an option to extend for another three years.  Under current law, dairy workers are not allowed to utilize H-2A visas because the dairy industry is not considered seasonal. This new legislation will change this and allow workers from outside of the United States to utilize the H-2A to access agricultural jobs on dairy farms.
“It is clear that one of the reasons our dairy farmers in Pennsylvania’s 13th District are struggling is because they are lacking the manpower that they need to produce their goods and get them to market,” said Congressman Joyce in a press release on his Web site. “Milk production in our country relies heavily on our migrant workers, and for far too long Congress has harmed the dairy industry by failing to fix our broken immigration system. This small change to the H-2A visa classification will come as welcome news to our dairy farmers and will give them flexibility that they need to be more efficient and profitable.”
“As a fourth-generation dairy farmer, my family has poured our hearts and souls into our dairy farm and the dairy industry for over 110 years. Our farm along with many other dairy farms throughout our great country have come to rely on migrant workers to milk, feed and care for our dairy cows on our farms,” said Walt Moore, ADC president. “We need to have a steady, highly skilled, reliable work force to continue to properly care for our cows and to continue to produce one of the safest, healthiest foods in the world. I applaud Congressman John Joyce and Anthony Brindisi for understanding the needs of the American dairy farmer and introducing a bill that will amend the current H2A program to allow dairy famers throughout the country to access year round migrant workers. Please take a few minutes out of your busy day and reach out to your representative in congress to pass this bill into law!”
The American Dairy Coalition encourages all ADC members to reach out their legislators and encourage them to support this bill as a significant step forward in securing a reliable labor force to care for your cows.

AFSCME Wisconsin Council 32: Statement on Gov. Evers’ budget proposal

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AFSCME Wisconsin Council 32 applauds Governor Evers for crafting a budget that addresses many of the serious issues facing Wisconsin communities, yet reminds him that tens of thousands of public employees are still waiting for him to show that he truly stands with them.

AFSCME Wisconsin President Paul Spink offered tempered praise for Governor Evers’ budget measures including increases to shared revenue and funding for state universities; overturning Right-to-Work legislation; pay increases for state employees; and additional funding to address the corrections crisis.

President Spink said, “Governor Evers understands that investments in the people of Wisconsin lead to a strong state.” Spink continued, “However, it is difficult to fully embrace a budget that does nothing to address unfair compensation for state employees and continues to embrace Walker-era policies which silence the collective voice of all public sector workers.”

Under Wisconsin law, working people in public employment are denied nearly all the collective bargaining freedoms that private sector workers are afforded. This means correctional officers are not allowed to discuss dangerous shortfalls in staffing levels and county highway workers are denied the right to discuss safety hazards when repairing state roads as a part of the current collective bargaining law.

“I agree with Governor Evers that Right-to-Work is morally and economically wrong for Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the Governor can’t see how the same argument applies to the selfless public employees who work day in and day out to serve the citizens of our great state. Public workers demand dignity in their workplace,” stated Spink.

Patrick Wycoff, AFSCME Wisconsin’s Interim Executive Director stated that AFSCME is committed to continuing the dialogue initiated by Governor Evers’ budget proposals. “We appreciate Governor Evers’ attempt to address these issues, and as an organization, we are dedicated to working with all stakeholders to improve the working conditions and morale of all public workers,” said Wycoff.

For more information, please contact Valerie Landowski ([email protected])

AG Kaul: Advocates for Crime Labs, invites legislators to tour

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today hosted legislators at the Milwaukee and Madison locations of the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories (WSCL) and advocated for the states crime labs to be adequately funded. The WSCL at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) are the only full service criminal laboratories in Wisconsin, and provides testing and analysis of evidence for every community in the state. 

“Staff at the state crime labs analyze evidence and respond to crime scenes across the state. Failing to adequately fund the crime labs can result in backlogs and delay justice,” said Attorney General Kaul. “I hope there’s broad support for DOJ’s request for increased funding for the crime labs.”

“Experience has taught us how important it is to analyze evidence and process scenes effectively. I am confident that the addition of the attorney general’s request, if passed, will enhance our ability to solve crime and address the challenges of the future. Attorney Genneral Kaul can see the issues needing attention – we as Sheriff’s support his request,” said President of Badger State Sheriff’s Association and Green Lake County Sheriff Mark Podoll. 

The WSCL tests evidence submitted by law enforcement agencies, coroners, medical examiners, district attorneys, wardens or superintendents of any state prison, state agency heads, the attorney general, or the governor, at no charge to the submitting official. The crime labs also conduct analysis upon request of a defendant in a felony action that is approved by the presiding judge. The crime labs provide the following services: crime scene response, toxicology, drug identification, DNA analysis including the DNA Databank, trace evidence analysis, firearms and tool marks analysis, fingerprint and footwear analysis, ten print comparison, photo work, and forensic imaging. 

“There is great value in addressing criminal justice resource needs at the system level, and the crime lab is a good example of the ways that funding the criminal justice system is interrelated. Appropriate resources for the crime lab reduces the potential for error and allows for the most efficient testing of evidence. A lack of trained analysts delays justice for both victims and defendants when evidence isn’t processed in a timely manner,” said State Public Defender Kelli Thompson.

The lab is staffed by approximately 180 managers, forensic scientists, and technicians at facilities in Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau. The Madison lab serves 24 southern counties, the Milwaukee lab services eight counties in the metro area, and the Wausau lab serves 40 northern Wisconsin counties.

“The Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory plays an essential role assisting law enforcement with the investigation of prosecution of criminal matters,” said Brown County District Attorney David Lasee. “The crime lab’s ability to timely and effectively respond to crime scenes and conduct DNA and other types of analyses has been instrumental in solving significant crimes and holding offenders accountable.” 

In September 2018, the National Forensic Science Technology Center (NFSTC) released a comprehensive report to improve the productivity and efficiency of analytical operations at the three state crime laboratories in order to address backlogs of evidence to be tested and increasing turnaround times. The recommendations are based on a detailed analysis of workflows and assessments of substantiated observations. The compensation and staffing recommendations require legislative action, via DOJ’s budget request, to implement.

DOJ’s budget requests pay progression to address pay disparities, pay compression, and inequity with comparable crime laboratories in the region, at a cost of $1,899,500 of additional funding in Fiscal Year 2021.

The budget also includes 15 new positions for $1,807,700 GPR over the biennium:

·         Three crime scene response staff members, one for each laboratory.

·         Six DNA technicians, three for each DNA unit.

·         Three chemistry technicians, one for each lab.

·         One evidence technician for the Madison lab.

·         Two firearms analyst positions, in order to reopen the firearms and tool marks unit in Madison.

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-kaul-advocates-crime-labs-invites-legislators-tour

AG Kaul: Expands efforts to fight opioid epidemic

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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.

AG Kaul: Opposes CFPB effort to delay protections from payday lenders

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to take immediate action to protect consumers from abuses in payday lending, vehicle title lending, and other types of high-cost exploitative consumer lending. Attorney General Kaul is part of a coalition of 25 states, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, taking today’s action.

“We should have strong protections in place for borrowers,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Delaying the date by which lenders must comply with rules that protect consumers is unwarranted and would mean that more consumers will be harmed by abusive lending practices.”

In 2017, CFPB announced a new rule that would help protect borrowers and ensure they would have the ability to repay loans while also prohibiting lenders from using abusive tactics when seeking repayment. The rule went into effect in early 2018, but compliance was delayed to August 19, 2019, to give lenders time to develop systems and policies. CFPB has now proposed to further delay compliance to November 19, 2020, more than three years after the regulation was finalized. At the same time, CFPB is reviewing another rule that would altogether rescind this one.

 

Together, these actions would put at risk borrower protections. In their comments, the attorneys general cite CFPB’s own findings that demonstrate the many ways the short-term payday and title lending model is broken – specifically as a significant percentage of these loans are expected to fail. 90 percent of all loan fees come from consumers who borrow seven or more times in 12 months. Twenty percent of payday loan transaction series end in default and 33 percent of single-payment auto title loan sequences end in default.

Attorney General Kaul is joined in filing these comments by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

 

A copy of the letter is attached.

 

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-kaul-opposes-cfpb-effort-delay-protections-payday-lenders

AG Kaul: Releases data on drug cases submitted to State Crime Lab

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that new data on
drug evidence submitted to the Wisconsin State Crime Laboratories (WSCLB) since
2008 is available for the public’s review. View the interactive data dashboards.
“This data can be a resource for those who are working to address substance abuse in
Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Kaul.

The WSCLB worked with the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of
Justice Information and Analysis (BJIA) to publish interactive dashboards on the
drugs identified by the Controlled Substances Unit.

The Controlled Substance Unit at the WSCLB analyzes evidence for the presence (or
absence) of controlled substances as defined in the Unit Controlled Substance Act.
The dashboards include county-level data on submitted evidence that identified drugs
(benzodiazepines, cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, ketamine,
methamphetamine, NBOMe, oxycodone, pregabalin, prescription opioids, THC, and
tramadol), starting in 2008.

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

AHA: Applauds Gov. Evers for inclusion of school water filling station funding in budget proposal

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MADISON, Wis. (March 1, 2019) – The American Heart Association applauds Governor Tony Evers for including funds for water filling stations in schools in his budget proposal. The American Heart Association advocates for clean and safe water, which is critical to a child’s overall health, to be easily accessible to all children.

The benefits of drinking water include:
 Supporting a child’s muscles, joints and tissues, while keeping their growing bodies
hydrated
 Positively impacting a child’s cognitive performance, particularly short-term memory
 Improving a child’s fine motor skills and visual attention, which helps with activities like
reading
 Maintaining a healthier weight

However, fewer than one-third of children and teens drink enough water a day. The
recommended amount of water a child should drink ranges from seven to 10 cups a day,
depending on the child’s age and gender.

“More than 28% of Wisconsin’s high schoolers are obese or overweight, which can lead to a lifetime of chronic health problems, including cardiovascular disease and stroke,” said Dr.
Sarang Baman, the Chair of the Wisconsin Advocacy Committee at the American Heart
Association. “With funds to put water filling stations in schools, more students will be
encouraged to drink the station’s cold, clean water every day. We support Governor Evers’
budget proposal and look forward to working with state lawmakers on this issue during the
budget process.”

For media inquiries:
Krystal Webb, Communications Director
608-709-4953
[email protected]

Alzheimers Association: Governor’s budget proposal helps people with Alzheimer’s disease

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Contact: Robyn McGill, Marketing Communications Manager
(414) 479-8800 ext. 8825 | [email protected]

 

Milwaukee, WI – March 1, 2019 – The Alzheimer’s Association thanks Governor Tony Evers forincluding several items in his budget proposal that will help persons living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias and their professional and family caregivers.

 

“The expansion of the dementia care specialists program to all aging and disability resource centers in the state is a cost-effective way to assist individuals with Alzheimer’s to maintain the highest quality of life possible while remaining in their homes,” said Michael Bruhn, Alzheimer’s Association State Public Policy Director.

 

Governor Evers budget also included funding for an Academic Detailing training pilot program in dementia with the goal of improving patient care, and would establish five regional crisis stabilization facilities to help individuals in crisis and reduce involuntary commitments. The Governor’s proposed budget would expand the definition of a crisis to include substance abuse and dementia, which would greatly reduce the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia being taken to state run institutions.

 

“We appreciate the efforts of Governor Evers to address the important needs faced by people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” continued Bruhn. “As a CDC identified public health crisis, there is more that needs to be done to respond to the growing cost and prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease. We look forward to working with the Joint Finance Committee and the entire state legislature to ensure that Wisconsin provides the necessary resources to individuals with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.

 

About the Alzheimer’s Association

 

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer care, support and research whose mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. For more information about Alzheimer’s disease and local services visit www.alz.org/sewi or call the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

American Dairy Coalition: Applauds Sen. Baldwin on reintroduction of DAIRY PRIDE Act

The American Dairy Coalition commends Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) on her efforts to reintroduce ”The Defending Against Imitations and Replacements of Yogurt, milk and cheese to Promote Regular Intake of Dairy Every Day Act” — or DAIRY PRIDE Act as it is known.

This bill will prohibit the use of terms such as “milk,” “yogurt” or “cheese” from use on labels to describe products made from nuts, seeds, plants or other non-dairy alternative products. Americans have associated these dairy terms with quality, nutritious and consistent products for years — non-milk alternative products are not equivocal in nutritional value or consistency, making it imperative the FDA stop allowing the confusion to continue.

The DAIRY PRIDE Act would not only require the FDA to enforce the labeling restriction nationwide, but provide enforcement to ensure long term accountability to the rule. Milk provides 30 percent of the daily recommended calcium intake for most of the U.S. population and is the primary source for three of the four under-consumed nutrients of public health concern as identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Despite this, the consumption of milk is on the decline and the sale of plant-based alternative products are up 61 percent over the past 5 years — a trend that is expected to continue to increase by up to 5 percent each year. Americans deserve clarity and truthfulness when choosing what to feed their families. Fortified nut juice is not milk.

The American Dairy Coalition encourages members of the dairy industry to reach out to their federal representatives to support this important bill. The future of the dairy industry is in jeopardy as more and more dairy farms go out of business, taking with them jobs and revenue that support rural economies. When the non-dairy alternative beverage trend falls out of favor, it is vital the American dairy industry is still intact to provide the wholesome and reliable dairy products, which have nourished our nation’s families for generations.

American Lung Association: 2,900 climb U.S. Bank Tower; raise record-breaking $750,000 to fight lung disease

BROOKFIELD, Wisc. – (March 20, 2019) – On March 9, nearly 2,900 people climbed in the American Lung Association in Wisconsin’s Fight for Air Climb at U.S. Bank Center in Milwaukee. The event raised a record-breaking $750,000 to fund lung cancer research and critical local programs to help Wisconsin residents who suffer from lung disease.

The 2019 Milwaukee event was the largest Fight For Air Climb in the history of the organization. Over the 11 years of the event, the organization has raised nearly $6 million. Much of this is thanks to long-time sponsors, including Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin, Presenting Sponsor; Today’s TMJ4, Media Sponsor; and US Bank Center, site sponsor.

“Every year the Fight For Air Climb gets bigger and better and distinguishes itself further as a signature fundraising event in southeast Wisconsin,” said Anthem Blue Cross and BlueShield in Wisconsin President Paul Nobile. “It’s an important event for an important cause, and a cornerstone of Anthem’s commitment to this community. Congratulations to every climber and donor, and to the ALA staff who worked so hard to make the Climb an unparalleled success.”

New to the event this year was the We Energies Pole Climbers Challenge, where teams of five or more line mechanics raced to the top of U.S. Bank Center. Team members were required to climb in their full work gear, including their FRC shirt and pants, safety glasses, boots, rubber gloves, hard hat, climbing belt and tools.

In total, the Fight For Air Climb at U.S. Bank Center resulted in:

  • Nearly 2,900 registered climbers
  • 444 teams
  • Nearly 400 volunteers
  • $750,000 raised and counting

Top Finishers Include:

Top Female Climbers

  1. Danielle Anton: 6:21
  2. Holly LaVesser: 6:22
  3. Meghan Neu: 7:30
  4. Rachel Illgen: 7:34
  5. Mollie Bussie: 7:39

Top Male Climbers

  1. Josh Duncan: 6:19
  2. Keith Harvey: 6:25
  3. Sal Impellitteri: 6:25
  4. Jean-Roch Grenetier: 6:33
  5. Ricardo Contreras: 6:37

Top  Ultimate Climbers – Eight Climbs in One Hour

  1. Jason Larson, 48:51
  2. Holly LaVesser, 52:10
  3. Josh Duncan, 53:53

Fastest Firefighter Teams

  1. Sheboygan Fire Department
  2. West Allis Fire Department
  3. Wauwatosa Fire Department
  4. Waukesha City Firefighters
  5. Madison Fire

Fastest Individual Firefighters

  1. Zeke Dombrowski, West Allis Fire Department
  2. Efrem Capetillo, Sheboygan Fire Department
  3. Jestin Demerath, Sheboygan Fire Department
  4. Joel Johnsrud, Sheboygan Fire Department
  5. Nathaniel Reisdorf, Wauwatosa Fire Department

For full timing results, click here.

Top Fundraisers Include:

Top Individual Fundraisers

  1. Mark Jungers: $17,060.00
  2. Todd Pfander: $15,915.00
  3. Donna Scaffidi: $14,390.00
  4. Chris Cahlamer: $10,296.00
  5. Chuck Roberts: $5,808.00

Top Team Fundraisers

  1. Baker Tilly Milwaukee: $30,355.10
  2. Team Pelkey 2019: $19,639.00
  3. That One Guy: $15,915.00
  4. Climbing Cahlamers: $14,640.00
  5. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield: $12,058.09

Full event results and photos are available here.

“This year in Wisconsin, there will be almost 4,400 people diagnosed with lung cancer and more than 3,000 will die from the disease. For the Fight For Air Climb, our community came together to fight lung disease and help raise money to fund critical lung cancer research,” said Monique Hughes, development director for the Lung Association in Wisconsin. “Thank you to all of our participants, sponsors and volunteers who came together to make a difference in the lives of people facing lung disease.”

The Fight For Air Climb raises awareness for lung disease, raises money for life-saving research, and funds critical local programing like educational programs to help local children better manage their asthma and free programs to help residents quit smoking. More information is at FightForAirClimb.org. 

Appeals court stays lame-duck ruling

The 3rd District Court of Appeals today stayed a Dane County judge’s ruling that prevented enforcement of all laws and appointments Republicans approved in the December extraordinary session.

But other pieces of the package remain on hold after a Dane County judge in a second case this week ruled they violated the separation of powers.

GOP leaders, who have vowed to appeal the second ruling as well, hailed today’s decision, which put Judge Richard Niess’ decision on hold as the broader appeal of his ruling is heard.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Niess’ ruling had “created a constitutional crisis.”

“Today, the rule of law has prevailed,” they said. “Independent judges have put a Dane County ruling on hold that was based on politics, not the law. A judge should not violate the Legislature’s basic ability to convene when its duly elected members call a session day.”

While Niess’ ruling was still in effect, Gov. Tony Evers rescinded the 82 appointments the Senate had approved during the extraordinary session. GOP lawmakers in a letter filed with the court on Friday asked it to restore those appointments. But today’s order from the 3rd District Court of Appeals doesn’t mention the issue.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the only “victory today is for the $500-per-hour Chicago lawyers getting paid by taxpayers to defend the Republican attack on our Constitution” and the guv remains confident courts will ultimately overturn actions taken in the lame-duck session.

“Republicans created this chaos and have doubled down on defending their illegal attack on our Constitution instead of working with the governor to move forward,” she said.

The suit, brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups, alleged the December extraordinary session wasn’t properly convened under the Wisconsin Constitution, rendering the laws invalid.

In issuing his order last week preventing enforcement of the laws, Niess also refused a request from GOP lawmakers to stay his decision while they appealed it.

The 3rd District wrote its focus in today’s order was on Niess’ decision to deny the request for a stay, not the merits of the injunction he issued. The three-judge panel also found he erred on two fronts in denying the stay.

One, the judges found the issues in the case are a matter of first impression for the courts and thus Niess underestimated “the Legislature’s chance of prevailing on its challenge to the temporary injunction.”

Two, the court found Niess failed to account for the possible harm if the laws and appointments that were overturned were ultimately found to be valid.

As part of the order, the appeals court set out an expedited briefing schedule that wraps up by April 30.

The three-judge panel included Lisa Stark and Thomas Hruz, who were appointed to the court by Gov. Scott Walker in 2013 and 2014, and Mark Seidl, who won an open seat in 2015.

April 4: Coping with diversions, invasives, and politics in the Great Lakes region 🗓

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Join Canada, UW-Milwaukee and WisPolitics.com/WisBusiness.com on Thursday April 4 for a luncheon at the University Club in Milwaukee to discuss new developments in the complicated issues affecting Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. Out-of-basin diversions, including those affecting Foxconn, invasive species and politics all combine to challenge those seeking to manage and preserve a critical resource.

Included in the discussion are top experts on Great Lakes issues:

— Peter Annin, author of “The Great Lakes Water Wars,” a former Newsweek journalist who currently serves as director of the Mary Griggs Burke Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College in Ashland. Book signing to follow event. See more on the book: http://greatlakeswaterwars.com/

— Molly M. Flanagan, vice president for policy at the Alliance for the Great Lakes in Chicago.

— J. Val Klump, dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences, Great Lakes WATER Institute, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

— And Stephen G. Galarneau, director, Office of Great Waters – Great Lakes & Mississippi River, Environmental Management Division, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Québec Government Representative in the Midwest Jean-François Hould will provide the program introduction. See his bio.

This event is sponsored by Canada and UW-Milwaukee.

PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED.

When: Thursday April 4. Check in begins at 11 a.m. Lunch begins 11:15 a.m. Program goes from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Where: University Club, Milwaukee Parking: Free https://www.uclubmke.com/contact

Cost for program and lunch: $25 per person; table of eight $150

Click here to register: https://www.wispolitics.com/make-payments/

Please enter “APRIL4WATER” in the “purpose of payment” box

Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions: Poll finds broad support for minimum markup repeal and new spending to fix Wisconsin roads

Contact: Tom Diehl (608) 963-9630

Survey Shows Public Would Embrace Budget Solution This Year

[WISCONSIN DELLS, WI] Tourism is one of the three key pillars of Wisconsin’s economy along with agriculture and manufacturing. According to data released today by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, more than 94% of all visitors to Wisconsin travel by car, truck, motorcycle or RV. The Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attraction (AWTA) released new survey results showing this morning strong public support for infrastructure investments even if it means paying a little more to fix our crumbling roads and bridges.

“The public gets it; our roads and bridges are in bad shape and getting worse. They understand how important good roads are to a strong economy and are willing to pay a little more to improve local roads, bridges, and state highways to reduce vehicle repair costs and improve pavement quality statewide,” said Tom Diehl, President of the AWTA. “Voters support increasing the gas tax if it is offset by repealing the minimum mark up. A plurality of voters also supports indexing the gas tax, to maintain purchasing power over time. Fuel based taxes are user fees. If you don’t drive, then you don’t pay them. Visitors will pay their fair share to get safely and efficiently to the tourism destination of their choice,” said Diehl.

Among the poll’s findings:

Three quarters of voters support increasing the state’s transportation fund to make local and statewide improvements

Most voters think Wisconsin’s roads have gotten worse in the last five years

More than nine-in-ten voters think Wisconsin’s infrastructure and public transportation are important to economic development and job growth; two-thirds says it’s very important

Three quarters of all voters oppose the minimum markup law mandated by the state with the knowledge that none of that money goes to fixing roads and bridges

Over half of voters would support increasing the gas tax by eight cents if it included repealing the minimum markup charged at the pump

Nearly six-in-ten voters would be willing to pay an extra four dollars a month to create an immediate solution to fix the roads

About the poll: Public Opinion Strategies conducted this statewide survey of 500 likely voters in Wisconsin  from March 3-5, 2019. The poll surveyed land line and cellular phone users and has a margin of error of±4.38%. The survey was paid for by Wisconsin Infrastructure Investment Now, Inc. (WIIN), a member of AWTA.

About POS: Public Opinion Strategies is a national political and public affairs research firm. Founded in 1991, we have conducted over nine and a half million interviews with voters and consumers in all fifty states and over two dozen foreign countries. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, our nationwide presence is achieved through a strategically sited office in Colorado, with eleven partners and one Vice President leading research efforts. They have been conducting survey research in Wisconsin for nearly 20 years.

Bill Kaplan: Better Wisconsin roads require higher gas tax

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

TRIP, a national transportation group, found “that 31 percent of Wisconsin’s major locally and state-maintained roads are in poor condition and 19 percent are in mediocre condition. … Driving on rough roads costs the state’s drivers $3.1 billion annually in extra vehicle operating costs, or an average of $747 per driver, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear.” These problems are statewide, in both rural and urban areas, including Eau Claire, Green Bay–Appleton–Oshkosh, Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau (TRIP).

The state economy requires a well-built and maintained road system — for businesses, farmers, manufacturing workers and daily commuters. And, a good state transportation system will attract out-of-state companies to move to Wisconsin. Moreover, “(t)he design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure in Wisconsin supports more than 64,000 full-time jobs across all sectors of the state economy” (TRIP). Other states get this.

“27 states have raised or reformed their gas taxes since 2013” (Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy). This included many GOP-led states such as Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska and South Dakota. But Wisconsin’s gas tax has not increased since 2006. Former GOP Governor Scott Walker and the GOP-led legislature refused to raise the state gas tax to pay for needed road construction and maintenance.

Former Wisconsin Democratic state Senator Tim Cullen wrote: “he (Walker) sticks to his philosophy of no tax increases for any reason … . His insistence on governing by philosophy and not common sense has led to delaying much needed road and bridge improvements that people of all political persuasions realize are needed. He asked his own Secretary of Transportation to prepare a list of funding recommendations. He prepared one and the governor rejected all of them” (Ringside Seat).

However, many Republicans don’t have their heads in the sand, including the aforementioned GOP-led states that increased state gas taxes. Moreover, GOP President Ronald Reagan raised the federal gas tax in 1983, the first increase in 23 years. Reagan said: “After weighing all of the considerations, I have decided that we should move forward now with a program to repair the nation’s major highways and bridges.” And, for the first time the federal gas tax was also used to fund mass transit programs.

Former Wisconsin GOP Governor Tommy Thompson gets it. He called for bipartisan support to raise the state gas tax: “Let’s face it — gas taxes have not been raised for a long time” (since 2006 – Wisconsin and 1993 – U.S.). Thompson wants Democratic Governor Tony Evers and GOP legislators to “sit down and reach a compromise”. Evers’s budget proposed an 8 cents per gallon increase, in line with many GOP-led states. Evers said voters “wanted to fix the roads. … and we can’t build roads or fix roads without revenue”. GOP legislators said no. But borrowing will lead to debt and budget cuts to misery. Time for Evers and legislators to sit down at the bargaining table, e.g., combining a gas tax hike with transportation-related fees.

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

Bill Kaplan: Medicaid expansion helps all Wisconsinites

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
Author Thomas Frank provocatively asked “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”.  Last Thursday, the Kansas GOP-led House answered: nothing.  28 Republicans, putting state over party, joined 41 Democrats to approve expanding Medicaid to cover 150,000 Kansans.  GOP state Representative Don Hineman, farmer-rancher and chair of the House Rural Revitalization Committee, said Medicaid expansion “will provide immediate help” to rural Kansas and its hospitals facing closure.  The issue now goes to the GOP-led state Senate.
Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly won last November after 8 years of GOP rule.  Same for Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers.  Both face GOP-led legislatures.  Kelly got the Kansas House to “yes” on Medicaid expansion, echoing Evers and Andrea Palm, Secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  Like Kelly they are speaking to voters, health care providers, other stakeholders and legislators to get to “yes”.  With Kansas moving forward there are only 3 Midwest states still resisting Medicaid expansion: Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
“Wisconsin is the only state in the country that expanded eligibility for its Medicaid program (throwing thousands off, but covering thousands more) … while not accepting the federal money available to states through the Affordable Care Act” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).  State Republicans shot themselves and Wisconsin in the foot by leaving $1.1 billion in federal funding on the table for other states. However, the federal funding can still be substituted for state funding to cover both those added and 76,000 additional Wisconsinites if Medicaid is expanded (Legislative Fiscal Bureau). It’s needed.
A new study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the UW-Madison Population Health Institute ranks the “healthiest and least healthy counties in Wisconsin”. Rural northern counties and Milwaukee County are the worst, while affluent Ozaukee County is ranked first.  The takeaway point is that both rural and urban Wisconsinites would benefit from Medicaid expansion.  And, other studies make clear the fiscal and moral imperatives of expanding Medicaid.
The American Medical Association said: “data … indicates Medicaid expansion has had a positive impact on patient access and health as well as strengthening the financial stability of safety-net institutions. …(And,) researchers have discovered a positive impact on hospitals … reductions in uncompensated care, improved operating margins – especially for small hospitals – and reduced likelihood of closure, especially among rural hospitals.”  (The Wisconsin Hospital Association and Wisconsin Medical Society support the concept of Medicaid expansion).
The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families outlined the fiscal benefits of Medicaid expansion for Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana and Virginia.  “In each of these states, … expanding Medicaid has either been a positive for the state’s general fund revenues or has not resulted in any additional cost to the state.  The reason is a combination of substantial state savings from Medicaid now largely paying for formerly state-covered services (e.g., mental health) and additional revenues as a result of expansion from increased economic activity and hospital/health plan contributions.”
It’s time for Wisconsin GOP legislators to come to the bargaining table.  Wisconsin wants to get to “yes”.
–Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 – 2009.

Bill Kaplan: Rural Wisconsin needs Medicaid expansion

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

Rural Wisconsin is in big trouble. Wisconsin farmers are beset with ongoing low prices and loss of vital foreign markets (Trump’s trade wars). The state has lost over 700 family dairy farms in an economy that isn’t working. And, the resultant economic fallout is threatening small towns. Community banks, family businesses and local health care providers will be hit hard, including rural hospitals.

These hospitals are critical given the disproportionate number of elderly in rural areas. “In many communities, hospitals are among the largest employers. They also draw other businesses to an area, including those within health care and others that support it …” (New York Times). Moreover, an eye-popping report from Navigant, detailed in Modern Healthcare, make clear how high the stakes are: Wisconsin has 75 rural hospitals, with 9 (12 percent) at high financial risk.

“In rural areas, lower incomes and higher rates of uninsured people contribute to higher levels of uncompensated care – meaning many people are unable to pay their hospital bills” (New York Times). A key factor in rural hospitals closing. In Wisconsin, uncompensated care costs state hospitals over a billion dollars (Wisconsin Hospital Association). “Uncompensated care becomes less of a problem (for) hospitals in states that have expanded Medicaid. …(T)he vast majority of recent hospital closings have been in states that have not expanded Medicaid” (New York Times).

Medicaid expansion is an important component of an economic-social tool box to help rural Wisconsin. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) said: “Multiple recent analyses demonstrate that Medicaid expansion is having a disproportionately positive impact in rural areas in expansion states …”. Medicaid expansion has led to higher health coverage, access to care, treatment for “opioid use disorder and opioid overdose” and “budget savings, revenue gains and overall economic growth” (KFF).

GOP-led states, including rural ones such as Iowa and North Dakota, long ago grasped the many benefits of Medicaid expansion. Former Arizona GOP Governor Jan Brewer, an ultra-conservative who expanded Medicaid said: “(T)here comes a time (when) you have to look at the reality. You have to do the math. … It’s not only a mathematical issue, but it’s a moral issue” (Politico). That time has come for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers is from Plymouth, “The Cheese Capital of the World”. And, having worked across Wisconsin he gets rural areas. So Evers included Medicaid expansion in his budget. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau said it would give Wisconsin $320 million in extra federal funding to cover 82,000 Wisconsinites. Resultant state savings could be used to fund other health care needs, education and infrastructure. Wisconsin hospitals and doctors support Medicaid expansion. The Wisconsin Farmers Union has made Medicaid expansion one of its “2019 policy priorities”.

This should not be a heavy lift for the GOP-led Wisconsin legislature. The state Medicaid program was established by GOP Governor Warren Knowles and enlarged under GOP Governor Tommy Thompson. The benefits of this state-federal-private health care program are obvious. It’s time for state GOP legislators to come to the bargaining table.

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump’s budget betrays rural Wisconsin

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

Rural America is in crisis. Farmers are overwhelmed by unrelenting low prices and loss of critical foreign markets (Trump’s trade wars). South Dakota GOP Governor Kristi Noem said: “South Dakota has been devastated by the trade wars … .” She stressed “sustained low commodity prices” and the impact on farmers and main street businesses (Politico). Same for Wisconsin. The state has lost over 700 dairy farms. UW-Madison economics professor Steven Deller emphasized that Wisconsin farmers are running up debt and had a “17.8 percent decline in farm income last year” (Wisconsin Public Radio). The White House is not paying attention.

Trump ran as a populist, saying: “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” He promised a laundry list: “no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid”, an infrastructure program, e.g., roads and bridges, middle class tax cuts and to “drain the swamp”. Snake oil. And, Trump keeps tweeting: “Farmers, I LOVE YOU!” However, the budget Trump released last week belies his campaign promises and betrays rural Wisconsin.

Vox’s headline said it all: “Ahead of 2020, Trump is going after Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and more”. The Trump budget cuts $845 billion from Medicare through reduced provider payments, while increasing uncompensated care. Social Security is cut by $25 billion, hitting disability benefits. And, Trump yet again calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including Medicaid expansion. “It (Trump budget) proposes cutting $777 billion over ten years from Medicaid and ACA subsidies (to buy private insurance)… .” (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities).

Wisconsin Democratic Representative Ron Kind tweeted ”This budget isn’t a budget for Wisconsinites – it was made for the powerful special interests and Washington elite. I’m committed to continuing the fight to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid from this Administration’s reckless cuts”. And, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “The Trump Administration continues to attack the health care that millions of Americans depend on. We should be doing more to expand affordable health coverage – not less”. Amen.

However, Trump and his minions want budget cuts to pay for their $1.5 trillion tax cuts, mostly for corporations and the rich, because of resulting $1 trillion deficits beginning in 2022 (New York Times). Remember that clueless Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson said the tax cuts would lower the deficit through higher economic growth. Now, Trump wants rural Wisconsin to pay big time with catastrophic cuts to programs that help farmers and small towns.

The Trump budget cuts the Agriculture Department by 15 percent, including crop insurance that protects farmers from depressed prices, weather and natural disasters. Conservation programs, rural housing loans and economic development spending are cut or eliminated. And, $220 billion will be slashed from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Then there is the elimination of the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, which feeds and educates vulnerable kids in poor hungry countries. Shame on Trump and the GOP. Their budget betrays rural Wisconsin, including farmers and all that is good in America.

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

Bill Lueders: Opees honor good acts and bad

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

As part of Sunshine Week, an annual celebration of open government that runs from March 10-16, the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is bestowing its 13th annual Openness Awards, or Opees.

This year’s honorees reflect the range of people fighting for transparency in Wisconsin, from a citizens group to a Wisconsin state senator, from the state’s largest paper to a local publication produced by teens. We are also acknowledging both sides in a brouhaha in the city of Racine, where officials tried to block access to rudimentary public records.

The awards will be handed out at the ninth annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards Dinner in Madison on Tuesday, April 16, at the Madison Club. The event, open to the public, is presented by the Council, the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Madison Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

And the winners are:

Political Openness Award (“Popee”): Chris Larson. Members of the state Legislature, alone among state and local government officials, are able to legally destroy records they wish to hide, as some are now doing. Larson, a state senator from Milwaukee, has introduced legislation to end this abusive practice, which he has called “an invitation to corruption.”

Citizen Openness Award (“Copee”): Citizens for a Clean Wausau. This local environmental group, especially co-founder Tom Kilian, spent countless hours looking into soil contamination at the site of a former Wausau wood-waste plant, unearthing piles of records. As a result, the state Department of Natural Resources opened an investigation and asked the manufacturer’s parent company to submit a cleanup plan.

Media Openness Award (“Mopee”): Simpson Street Free Press. A Madison-based newspaper produced mainly by high school students, the Free Press pushed back hard against the claims made by a group affiliated with the Madison School District that the group is not subject to the state’s open records and open meetings laws. This prompted one school board member to call for requiring any group that includes school district representatives to follow those laws.

Open Records Scoop of the Year (“Scoopee”): “Lessons Lost,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This multifaceted report examined the challenges presented by the surprisingly high number of students who transfer between schools. Reporter Erin Richards, data analyst Kevin Crowe and others used public records to produce an incisive and disturbing portrait of this largely unexplored problem.

Whistleblower of the Year (“Whoopee”): Sandra Weidner. This Racine alderperson sued over her city’s efforts to shield some of her own email exchanges with constituents, and was cited for contempt of court for disclosing information about her case, which a Racine County judge conducted in secret. After media groups intervened, virtually all of the case records were released. But, if not for Weidner, no one would have even known it happened at all.

No Friend of Openness (“Nopee”): The City of Racine. City Attorney Scott Letteney and Mayor Cory Mason wasted more than $75,000 of taxpayers’ money fighting to prevent the public from seeing run-of-the-mill emails and other records. Letteney’s office even claimed it could not release records showing how much it was paying outside counsel for this foolish fight. The city trampled its citizens’ right to public information—and then made them foot the bill for it. Ouch.

– Your Right to Know is a monthly column distributed by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (wisfoic.org), a group dedicated to open government. Bill Lueders, editor of The Progressive, is the Council’s president.

 

 

Bipartisan Policy Center: Presents 2019 Legislative Action Awards

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Contact: Jordan LaPier

(202) 379-1630

[email protected]

Twitter l @jordanlapier

Washington, D.C.– The Bipartisan Policy Center will today present six members of Congress with the 2019 Legislative Action Awards. The 2019 recipients are: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA)Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)Rep. John Katko (R-NY), and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA).

The annual awards recognize members of Congress who are breathing new life into the legislative process. The 2019 winners have led bipartisan advances on causes such as criminal justice reform and combatting the opioid crisis.

“The Legislative Action Awards recognize members with the unique capacity to identify common interests and get things done,” said BPC President Jason Grumet. “It takes real skill and commitment to govern a divided country. Thankfully, there are still true legislators in the Congress who understand how to build coalitions that deliver sound policy for the American people. It is an honor to recognize six of these leaders today and remind the public that principled collaboration is the essence of effective democracy.”

Recipients have served in their chambers for six years or less, demonstrated skill and courage in the face of political challenges to confront a political problem, provided a positive tenor to the legislative process, and improved the functioning of Congress through their example.

The 2019 winners are the third group to be recognized with this award. Recipients will give remarks at a reception at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

“Americans expect Republicans and Democrats to work together and address the real challenges we face as a country. Getting things done requires a desire to work together across party lines on solutions. It means moving past what divides us and finding common ground,” said Baldwin. “I am honored to have my work recognized by the Bipartisan Policy Center with this award, and I remain committed to solving problems in a way that produces results for the American people.”

“Our ability to make significant progress on issues like opioids and broadband are proof that bipartisanship is still possible in these too-often polarized times,” said Capito. “I pride myself on working with those across the aisle and know the benefits of having an open mind and a willingness to find common ground. I’m honored to be one of the recipients of this award and thank the Bipartisan Policy Center for all they do to encourage bipartisan policy and conversation.”

“It was an honor to work with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to pass the First Step Act,” said Collins. “The bipartisan support surrounding this bill reflects a shared dedication to restoring lives and strengthening communities in every corner of the United States.”

“Bipartisanship is the engine that drives the legislative progress that has made America the greatest nation in the world,” said Jeffries. “When the people of Brooklyn and Queens gave me the distinct honor of representing them in Washington, I made the commitment to work across the aisle to improve the lives of families in my district and throughout our nation—and that’s what we’ve done with the First Step Act. Representative Collins and all involved should be commended for their commitment to working together in this regard.”

“I am honored to receive the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Legislative Action Award for bipartisanship and productivity in Congress,” said Katko. “I pride myself in my ability to work with any of my Republican or Democrat colleagues to address common issues facing our constituencies. As the 116th Congress progresses, I will continue to reach across the aisle to create positive solutions to address the issues facing our country, including addressing the ongoing opioid crisis and fixing our aging infrastructure.”

“The folks I represent want to get the economy on track—and they want Congress to get on track too. In recent years, there’s been far too much partisan bickering and far too little Congress,” said Kilmer. “That’s why I’ve been so committed to finding common ground. Congress is at its best when people listen and learn from one another to find the policies that will move our country forward. It’s an honor to receive this award, and I thank the Bipartisan Policy Center for encouraging members of Congress to work together for the common good.”

BLOC: Applauds decision to uphold the will of the people

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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.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: Approves $7 million for community projects

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

MADISON – Today, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) unanimously approved slightly more than $7 million in State Trust Fund Loans to support three community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • Town of Greenville, Outagamie County / Construct public safety building / $6,750,000
  • Lake Denoon Lake District, Waukesha County / Finance weed abatement program / $30,000
  • Village of Twin Lakes, Kenosha County / Purchase fire truck / $574,731

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.

Bowen talks lame-duck lawsuit, Lincoln Hills on ‘UpFront’

State Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said Republicans are “sore losers” who implemented laws in extraordinary session that Wisconsin citizens didn’t want or need.

Bowen appeared in an interview Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

On Thursday, a Dane County judge temporarily stayed enforcement of laws Republicans passed in their December lame-duck session. The laws were widely viewed as limiting the authority of new Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Bowen said “Republicans don’t want to play fair.” He also said it’s time for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to work together and “move in the direction that the people of Wisconsin need us to.”

Bowen also discussed the plan to close and replace the troubled Lincoln Hills youth detention center in Irma.

Evers and the Department of Corrections recently announced two sites for new secure youth detention centers that will succeed Lincoln Hills. One site is in Outagamie County, and the other is in the city of Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee site, at Teutonia and Mill Road, has been met with opposition from some area residents, but Bowen said he supported the plan and thought it should move forward.

He said area residents need more information, and it’s important for state officials to “bring residents along with us” through the process of developing youth centers to replace Lincoln Hills.

He also said the goal of closing Lincoln Hills in 2021 remains, but the timeline might need flexibility, and he thinks the Legislature will accommodate that. Bowen said there is “more synergy” between lawmakers of opposing parties on the youth corrections issue.

Bowen also discussed his bid for state Democratic Party chairman in a web extra posted on wisn.com.

Also on the program, state Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, discussed the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality, which is just beginning a series of hearings around the state.

“The goal of the task is to start from scratch, 16 members, bipartisan, and we’re hoping to learn about water, study water,” Novak said.

“We’re having eleven hearings across the state of Wisconsin, we’re hitting every region,” he said.

Wisconsin’s water quality problems include poor groundwater in northeast Wisconsin, and contaminated wells in southwest Wisconsin. The task force will look at both groundwater and surface water.

At the end of the process, Novak said, the task force will write a report and “hopefully have some bipartisan legislation come out.”

Novak said he thought more money would be allocated for water quality solutions, and he also said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is willing to reconvene the task force in the next session.

He said the task force and the Department of Natural Resources need more people to test their wells.

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

Boys & Girls Club Wisconsin Youth of the Year Awards 🗓

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin invite you to join us for our Wisconsin Youth of the Year Awards on the evening of Monday, March 11th. Earlier that day, our top 18 youth finalists will compete for the highest honor we give. FOX Sports Wisconsin — in conjunction with the Packers, Admirals, Brewers and Bucks — will award $25,000 in scholarships to winners. UW Madison has agreed to give a full scholarship to the winner after admission, and First Lady Kathleen Evers will be presenting the awards. You can purchase tickets here and at the link below.

We are honored by our panelist of judges this year:

  • Mark Tauscher, Founder of Trifecta Foundation, former Badger & Packer Offensive Lineman
  • Caleb Frostman, Secretary of Department of Workforce Development
  • Emilie Amendson, Secretary of Department of Children and Families
  • JoAnne Anton, Director of Kohl Philanthropies
  • Lea Culver, Director of the Culver Foundation
  • Arvind Gopalratnam, Executive Director of Milwaukee Bucks Foundation
  • Alexzandra N. Shade, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility CUNA Mutual Group
  • Mark Bakken, Founder and Managing Partner at HealthX Venture
  • Lisa Peyton-Caire, President of Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness
 

Your event contribution will go directly to support all of our 144,810 Wisconsin kids across the state. Spanning 159 sites in 57 cities, our clubs serve more youth than any other organization outside the public school system. We also serve two million free meals and snacks a year, because it’s hard to learn and grow when you’re hungry.

Tickets: https://raisedonors.com/bgcdc/register-stateyouthoftheyear

Details of the Event | Wisconsin Youth of the Year 

Monday, March 11th, 5:00 pm to 7:30 pm

The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club

1 W. Dayton St. | Madison, WI 53703

  • 5:00 pm Social Hour Cocktail Reception
  • 6:00 pm Dinner Gala and Awards Celebration
  • 7:30 pm Program Ends
 

Youth of the Year is our signature effort to foster a new generation of leaders, fully prepared to live and lead in a diverse, global and integrated world economy. Our mission is to ensure all young people, especially those who need us most, can reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Your contribution, and those form our sponsors below, is what makes this possible.

Platinum Sponsors

  • Operating Engineers 139
  • Construction Business Group
  • Destinations Career Academy
  • Delta Dental of Wisconsin
  • Herb Kohl Philanthropies
  • KW2
 

Champion Sponsors

  • University Research Park
  • Husch Blackwell
  • IBM
  • Altria Group
  • Foley & Lardner
  • General Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Cisco
  • Xcel Energy

…and more.

To sponsor a table or buy a ticket, contact Andrew Gussert, Wisconsin Boys & Girls Clubs, 608.213.8585 or visithttps://raisedonors.com/bgcdc/register-stateyouthoftheyear

Brown County Treasurer’s office: County Treasurer highlights lottery credit month

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FROM: Paul Zeller – Brown County Treasurer
CONTACT: (920) 448-4074

(Brown County, Wis.) — The Brown County Treasurer’s office is recognizing March as Lottery Credit Awareness Month.

“We’re asking all eligible property owners to review their 2018 real estate tax bill to ensure they received this important credit,” says Paul Zeller, Brown County Treasurer. “Last year, the average lottery credit in Brown County was about $150. If you got the credit properly on your 2018 tax bill, you don’t need to do anything to earn the credit on your 2019 tax bill.”

If you are an eligible property owner who did not receive the credit on your 2018 property tax bill, the Brown County Treasurer’s office will assist you in filing the late 2018 claim form with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. If you were not a resident of your property on January 1, 2018, but were as of January 1, 2019, the Treasurer’s Office will also assist in completing the form to ensure that the credit is applied to your 2019 and future property tax bills.

This lottery credit can only be obtained by having a signed application on file. Please contact our lottery credit specialist at (920) 448-7620 with any questions.

To qualify for the lottery and gaming credit, the property owner must be a Wisconsin resident and must use the dwelling as their primary residence as of the certification date (January 1). If temporarily absent, typically for a period no longer than 6 months (hospital, vacation, incarcerated, etc.), it is the home to which the property owner returns. A property owner may claim only one primary residence [sec.79.10 (1) (dm), (9) (bm), Wis. Stats.]. Rental properties are not eligible for the lottery credit and should have current lottery credits removed.

Lottery credit applications and instructions can be obtained online also at:

https://www.revenue.wi.gov/Pages/Form/lottery-home.aspx 

Building Commission deadlocks on Evers capital budget

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Cain campaign: Judge Steve Cain endorsed by almost entire Ozaukee County legislative delegation

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Contact:     [email protected]

Cedarburg– After receiving almost 34% of the vote in February’s four-way Ozaukee County Circuit Court primary, Mid-Moraine Municipal Court Judge Steve Cain has received the endorsement of almost the entire legislative delegation representing the County. State Senators Alberta Darling and Duey Stroebel and State Representatives Dan Knodl and Rob Brooks have endorsed Steve in April’s election.  The four legislators and Steve offered the following statements:

“Steve’s experience as a municipal court judge and as a private practice attorney make him uniquely qualified to serve the people of Ozaukee County,” commented Senator Darling.  “Those qualifications and years of service to the Ozaukee County community and legal profession are unmatched.”

“There are far too many judges in the state who do not appreciate the principle of separation of powers,” noted Senator Stroebel.  “I am confident Steve will respect the role of the legislature as it makes policy determinations while vigorously applying the constitutional oversight that is the prerogative of the judiciary.  Steve understands the proper role of a judge – to declare what the law is, not what he wishes it to be.”

“As a former Ozaukee County Board Chairman, I appreciate the integral role circuit court judges play in addressing the opiate crisis that is afflicting far too many families,” stated Rep. Brooks.  “As a municipal court judge for over ten years, Steve is in a position to immediately contribute to ending this scourge.”

“Some candidates claim to have the right judicial philosophy and relevant experience, while others prove it by their actions,” observed Rep. Knodl.  “Steve fits the latter category – he is committed to a conservative judicial philosophy and has proven over almost twenty years in private practice he possesses the experience Ozaukee County voters demand in their judges.”

“I am thrilled to have the support of four of Ozaukee County’s most respected leaders,” said Steve Cain.  “Collectively, they have served the County honorably for decades. I am committed to serving as a humble servant of the law – one that respects their role as policy makers.  At the same time, I will not waiver in my responsibility to ensure that every legislative act comports with constitutional principles.”

About Steve. Cain has served as a municipal court judge for nearly 10 years and has practiced law in Ozaukee County for nearly 20 years.  He is an active community member having served as President of the Cedarburg-Grafton Rotary Club, Wisconsin Municipal Judges Association and Ozaukee County Bar Association.  He resides in Cedarburg with his wife Heather and two sons.

CEOs of Tomorrow empowering young entrepreneurs

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A Madison-based nonprofit is helping young entrepreneurs develop business solutions to issues in their own communities.

 

“We work with a large population of kids of color,” said Roxie Hentz, executive director of CEOs of Tomorrow. “We are empowering our young people.”

 

In the past year, she’s guided participants through the process of building companies related to social issues, such as homelessness, racial health disparities, pollution and more.

 

Last semester, nine business ideas were piloted by kids in CEOs of Tomorrow. One project involved selling earbuds and using the proceeds to support immigrants, while another focused on the use of compostable or even edible straws to mitigate ocean pollution.

 

A third project involved selling pre-made soup kits in jars. For every jar purchased, another would go to homeless people in the Madison area.

 

“They addressed ocean pollution, animal cruelty, discrimination — lots of social issues of importance to them,” Hentz said. “Just really creative ideas, and we’re excited to see that happen.”

 

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin: Statement on Gov. Evers’ proposed budget

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Statement from Peggy Troy, President and CEO:

“We are encouraged that Governor Evers’ proposed budget includes support for programs, services and partnerships that will enhance access to care for kids. Especially important are increased payments to hospitals, like Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, that serve a high volume of patients covered by Medicaid. These proposals will help support Children’s vision of Wisconsin’s kids being the healthiest in the nation. Access to health care and child safety are important bipartisan priorities. As the Legislature begins its work on the state budget, we look forward to working with lawmakers and the Governor to ensure adequate funding to support the health and wellbeing of Wisconsin’s children.”

Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin: Encourages consumers to weigh in to keep natural gas meters safe

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

Public Comment Period Coming to a Close

A pair of Wisconsin utilities are proposing changes that would permit fewer inspections of natural gas meters to ensure they are working properly and safely.

The Citizens Utility Board of Wisconsin is encouraging customers to submit public comments by noon Monday about the proposals, filed by Xcel Energy Corp.’s Northern States Power Co. and Alliant Energy Corp.’s Wisconsin Power & Light Co.

“The PSC’s short window for allowing public comments is closing in just a few days, so we encourage customers to weigh in,” said Tom Content, CUB executive director.

“Utility regulation is all about making sure that we have a system that’s reliable, affordable and safe. The utilities are looking for a small amount of savings but Wisconsin’s reputation for a safe, reliable system could be undermined if the PSC moves forward with approval of these requests,” Content said.

At issue in the cases is the frequency of meter surveys for natural gas meters that the utilities must conduct. The utilities are proposing to permit up to three years between meter inspections and to be relieved of a reporting requirement concerning gas meter hazard surveys.

When the PSC authorized utilities to install automated meter reading infrastructure, the agency expressed concerns about less frequent visits to check meters. Before installing advanced meters, a utility employee would see a gas meter on a monthly basis. Now, with advanced meters, inspections must take place at least once a year. Under the new proposal there could be up to three years between meter inspections.

The concern, CUB noted, is that with less frequent visual inspections, problems with meters wouldn’t be identified in a timely manner. That is why the PSC, when it approved advanced meters, said the utilities should “continue to view every meter annually through the use of leak surveys, corrosion surveys, and hazard surveys.”

Based on information provided by the utilities these annual inspections have identified thousands of maintenance issues per year. Under the utilities’ proposal the companies would no longer have to file annual reports about problem meters.

CUB would like the PSC to require that utilities continue to conduct annual inspections of gas meters and continue to file annual reports about hazards and problems they find with meters. CUB wants the commission to deny action on these requests and undertake a broader statewide investigation to analyze the issue in more detail, as the deployment of advanced metering infrastructure is likely to continue.

Customers of WPL and NSP are encouraged to file comments via the PSC’s website by noon Monday. NSP customers should look for the “File a Comment” link for the case number 4220-CG-136. Customers of WPL should look for the “File a Comment” link for case number 6680-CG-152.

Clean Wisconsin: Trump budget fails to protect Great Lakes, address water infrastructure needs

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Contact:  Ezra Meyer, Water Resources Specialist, Clean Wisconsin (608) 251-7020 x20, [email protected]

Brenda Coley, Executive Director, Milwaukee Water Commons (414) 763-6199, [email protected]

Funding cuts to Great Lakes programs out of touch with needs in Wisconsin

MADISON & MILWAUKEE, WI — Clean Wisconsin and Milwaukee Water Commons sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s budget proposal on Monday. The proposed budget would cut over a billion dollars in federal Great Lakes and clean water funding.

“Once again this year, President Trump’s proposal to slash funding for federal Great Lakes programs is out of touch with the needs of Wisconsinites,” said Ezra Meyer, water resources specialist for Clean Wisconsin. “We and our Coalition partners across the Great Lakes are asking our elected leaders in Washington to restore this funding to protect Wisconsin’s clean drinking water, economy, and public health. Thankfully, these priorities have had broad bipartisan support in Congress in recent years. We and our coalition partners will continue to work with Congress to see these priorities addressed in the final budget.”

Brenda Coley, Co-Executive Director of Milwaukee Water Commons said “The proposed budget would be detrimental to the health of our waterways and our communities. While we have made significant progress toward restoration of the Great Lakes, more work needs to be done. Without federal funding to do that, we will regress. ”

President Trump’s budget calls for cuts across multiple federal water programs, including a $270 million cut for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and a combined $900 million cut to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which assist communities with infrastructure improvements for sewage treatment and clean drinking water.

Last week, ten delegates from across the state Wisconsin met with their federal representatives in Washington, D.C., during the Healing Our Waters Coalition’s Great Lakes Days to share their experiences and stories about the importance of clean water and healthy drinking water in Great Lakes communities. Clean Wisconsin and Milwaukee Water Commons led the Wisconsin delegation of citizen advocates as the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition’s co-state leads for Wisconsin.

“It was clear from our discussions during Great Lakes Days that many of Wisconsin’s federal lawmakers understand how important Great Lakes funding is to boosting our state economy, safeguarding drinking water and protecting public health,” said Meyer. “While the President does not see the Great Lakes as a priority, we urge Wisconsin’s U.S. Senators and Representatives to recognize the critical benefits of this funding, and pass a budget that serves the needs of our Great Lakes and Wisconsin.”

Coley added, “At a time when aging infrastructure and advocacy for clean, safe drinking water are bringing together rural and urban communities across Wisconsin, we should be thinking of ways to do more to assist vulnerable communities to have safe and clean drinking water rather than taking away opportunities to produce meaningful solutions.”

Coalition for More Responsible Transportation: Members applaud Gov. Evers’ proposed transportation budget

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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.

Conservation Lobby Day 2019 🗓

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WHAT: Conservation Lobby Day 2019. Wisconsin Conservation Voters hosts Conservation Lobby Day at the beginning of each legislative session. Hundreds of conservationists will descend on the capitol to speak directly to legislators about their priority issues and values. Gov. Tony Evers will deliver the opening address.

Check out this year’s agenda here.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 27th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

WHERE: Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, Madison Ballroom, 1 John Nolen Drive; and the State Capitol

WHO: From duck hunters to climate change activists, hundreds of conservation-minded citizens will attend, representing over 81 organizations. Experts in the priority issues – clean drinking water, clean energy, and public lands – will brief the group, and citizens will share their personal experiences with their legislators. Gov. Tony Evers will keynote the morning program, and attendees will meet with legislative offices throughout the afternoon.

VISUALS Morning: The Monona Terrace with beautiful Lake Monona as a backdrop. At 9 a.m. attendees will be registering for the event. Buses from western and northeastern Wisconsin will be unloading about 9:15 a.m. Presentation and Gov. Evers’ keynote will begin at 10 a.m. Afternoon: citizens meeting with legislators, staging area in the Capitol rotunda at 1 p.m.

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES: Executive Director Kerry Schumann; citizens from across the state and conservation organization leaders; youth climate activists; and more.


Fore more information

Contact Ryan Billingham, Communications Director, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, 608-208-1129 (office), 608-213-6972 (mobile/text), or [email protected]

Courtney resigning as state GOP chair effective today

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Brad Courtney, who had agreed to continue on as state GOP chair on an interim basis while the party assessed what went wrong in 2018, is resigning effective today.

Courtney sent the state party’s Executive Committee and county chairs letters informing them of his decision. In an interview with WisPolitics.com, Courtney said he had agreed late last year to stay on for a couple of months, and that time was up.

“This just works well,” Courtney said.

The party constitution requires an election for officers within 45 days of the November election, and Courtney had originally indicated plans to seek another two-year term. But U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, later told the Executive Committee there wasn’t enough time to complete a post-election analysis before the required vote and Courtney had agreed to remain on an interim basis.

The review is ongoing, and Courtney’s resignation elevates First Vice-chair Andrew Hitt to acting chair until the Executive Committee votes on a replacement. Multiple GOP sources have told WisPolitics.com that Hitt is a top candidate to become the next chair.

Courtney’s announcement comes a week after the party brought back Mark Jefferson to serve as executive director. He previously held that role from 2007-11, giving the GOP an experienced hand to lead day-to-day operations.

Courtney is the longest serving chair in party history, first working in the role from 2006-07 before returning again in 2011. A close friend of Scott Walker, he led the party during the recall elections of 2011 and 2012, Walker’s re-election in 2014, and the state going red in 2016 before Dems swept statewide races last year.

In the interview, Courtney highlighted his work with the grassroots and the emphasis the party placed on identifying and turning out its voters.

“With our tremendous county party network, we helped get good people elected who did great things in office,” Courtney said.

CSDNS: Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker selected as national honorary chair of the campaign for federal balanced budget amendment

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Contact: Tom Evenson
[email protected]

Madison, WI – The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions (CSDNS) today announced its selection of former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to serve as National Honorary Chair. This summer, CSNDS will launch a 10-state campaign to support the ongoing effort to attain the final 6 states needed to call a convention limited to the proposal of a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“If the CBO’s projections hold steady, we’ll see trillion-dollar interest payments in 5 – 10 years which will account for approximately 25% of federal revenue, yet Congress has proved unable to rein in its spending,” Governor Walker said. “Where Washington has failed, the states must step up and lead – using their constitutional authority to solve the problem.”

Given the dire threat America faces and Congress’ refusal to address it, momentum is building for the states to take constitutional action. Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, it takes 34 states to call a convention to propose an amendment and 38 states to ratify it. Presently, 28 of the 34 required states have called for a convention to propose a balanced budget amendment.

“Today is a great day for America. With Governor Walker’s involvement, the national campaign for a balanced budget amendment finally has the high-profile leader it has lacked,” said Loren J. Enns, President of the Center for State-led National Debt Solutions noted. “I am now confident that we can achieve the proposal and ratification of a balanced budget amendment before time runs out.”

The national debt is now 6.5 times federal revenue—a serious imbalance which has resulted in massive interest payments. In 2018, the U.S. Government paid $523 billion, or 16% of federal revenue on interest rates rising from 1.5 – 2.25%.

Governor Walker will lead a movement that already includes such luminaries as Gov. Mike Huckabee, Admiral Bill Owens, Comptroller General David M. Walker, U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, Gov. George Allen, and U.S. Senator Norm Coleman.

Dairy Business Association: Dairy farmers will push solutions at Dairy Day at the Capitol

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

Gov. Evers, state ag chief, top legislators on agenda April 10

MADISON, Wis. — Dairy farmers will connect directly with state lawmakers on April 10 at Dairy Day at the Capitol, which is being coordinated by the Dairy Business Association.

Gov. Tony Evers and Brad Pfaff, the state agriculture secretary designee, will speak to attendees, and legislative leaders will participate in a question-and-answer session and panel discussion. DBA members will then visit with individual lawmakers and their staffs.

“This is our opportunity to share real-life experiences from the farm and other dairy businesses that will inform lawmakers as they make decisions on legislation,” said Chad Zuleger, associate director of government affairs for DBA. “It’s critical that policymakers understand the challenges facing the dairy community and the solutions that will lead to stability and long-term success.”

MEDIA

News reporters wanting help connecting with farmers or other sources at the event should contact Jamie Mara at DBA, (920) 209-3990 or [email protected].

IF YOU GO

When: April 10
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Where: Wisconsin Capitol, Room 412 East
Cost: $20, includes lunch
Register by April 3 at www.dairyforward.com

Welcome:

  • Gov. Tony Evers
  • Brad Pfaff, DATCP secretary designee

Legislative leadership introduction and Q&A:

  • Scott Fitzgerald, Senate majority leader (invited)
  • Jennifer Shilling, Senate minority leader
  • Robin Vos, Assembly speaker
  • Gordon Hintz, Assembly minority leader

Dairy panel discussion:

  • Gary Tauchen, Assembly Agriculture Committee chairman
  • Howard Marklein, Senate Agriculture Committee chairman
  • Dave Considine, Assembly Agriculture Committee ranking minority member
  • Jeff Smith, Senate Agriculture Committee ranking minority member 

AMONG KEY DBA LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

  • Nutrient trading: Support for Senate Bill 91, which would create a streamlined process for trading water quality credits by establishing a clearinghouse for buying and selling. The bill was introduced by Sens. Rob Cowles, R-Allouez, and Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, and Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay.
  • Dairy product innovation: Creation of a Dairy Innovation Hub through funding for research at the University of Wisconsin campuses in Madison, Platteville and River Falls.
  • Water quality: Address water-quality issues and sustainability practices through sensible, science-based solutions and collaboration with the governor’s office and Legislature. 

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 association’s core work is advocating for sensible state laws and regulations that affect the dairy community. For more information, visit www.dairyforward.com.

Dairy Business Cooperative: Applauds federa; bill outlawing mislabeling of non-dairy products

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Contact: Jamie Mara
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., that would prohibit mislabeling of non-dairy foods was reintroduced today in Congress.

The DAIRY PRIDE Act would make it illegal to market products using dairy terms unless those products are derived from milk that comes from a hooved animal.

The bill, which was first introduced in 2017 but failed to advance, comes amid a proliferation of plant-based food products marketed as milk, cheese, yogurt and other dairy foods. The mislabeling of these imitation foods misleads customers about nutritional value, the bill states.

Image

The following statement is from Brody Stapel, president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. Edge, branded as the voice of milk, represents farmers throughout the Midwest on federal policy issues.

“Misperceptions about non-dairy foods are real. The imitations confuse customers who rely on names and product packaging to make judgments about a food. These customers deserve transparency. Our dairy farmers and processors work hard to produce incredible food. Milk and dairy products — real dairy foods — offer almost unbeatable nutritional value, and customers deserve to know this. We thank Senator Baldwin for pushing to increase transparency for customers and fairness for dairy farm families and processors. We hope Congress moves quickly to approve this bill.”

Photo: Click here for a headshot of Brody Stapel

Tweet about this: Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative @voiceofmilk applauds @SenatorBaldwin for bill prohibiting mislabeling of dairy food imitations

About Edge:

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative provides dairy farmers in eight Midwestern states with a powerful voice — the voice of milk — in Congress, with customers and within their communities. The cooperative, based in Green Bay, Wis., is one of the largest in the country based on milk volume. For more information, visit voiceofmilk.com.

Dane Co. judge hears arguments in suit challenging lame-duck laws

A Dane County Circuit Court judge is mulling his next step in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the recent lame-duck session, after hearing arguments on blocking laws passed during the session.

The suit, filed in January by the League of Women Voters and other groups, alleges the December extraordinary session wasn’t properly convened under the Wisconsin Constitution, rendering the laws invalid.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers made their cases Monday before Judge Richard Niess, who opted not to deliver a ruling from the bench. The suit is one of four challenging the laws.

In this case, Jeff Mandell, an attorney for the plaintiffs said it’s illegal to hold extraordinary sessions, while the Legislature, represented by former Solicitor General Misha Tseytlin, countered the body is free to meet at any point over the biennium.

Specifically, Tseytlin argued legislative sessions essentially are ongoing over the course of a two-year period, and conclude at the end of the second year of the biennium. That would mean the last session, which was first convened in January 2017, lasted through the end of 2018.

And Tseytlin framed extraordinary sessions as a “routine part of government that’s been going on for decades.”

He also said if the Legislature isn’t able to meet in extraordinary session, as the League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs are arguing, the ruling would invalidate any legislation passed during previous sessions.

If that happens, he said, term lengths for district attorneys and sheriffs would no longer be valid, meaning convictions over the last two decades would be overturned.

Niess interrupted: “You’re saying if I rule against you, I’m opening the prison doors?”

“I really don’t see how you don’t,” Tseytlin responded.

But Mandell countered it “simply isn’t the case disaster will reign” if his side perseveres.

He noted the court could opt not to apply the ruling retroactively, a move he said wouldn’t be “unusual.” And he said, for the most part, the laws passed in extraordinary sessions “are not controversial” and could easily be readopted. That includes, he said, a 2003 law designating the cranberry as state fruit.

Mandell noted while the Legislature has convened in extraordinary session previously, that fact alone doesn’t imply legality.

“Unconstitutional practices, your honor, are not cured by repetition,” he said.

Mandell also pushed back on Tseytlin’s argument on the length of a session, noting state law prohibits lobbyists from making donations to lawmakers’ campaigns until the end of the legislative session. Legislators, he said, accepted those donations last year, during the time frame Tseytlin has said the session was still ongoing.

Dane County Exec. Parisi, Dane County Board chair: Express disappointment in rejection of Evers’ capital budget proposal

Contact: Ariana Vruwink Contact: Sharon Corrigan
608-267-8823 608-333-2285

Exhibition Hall Project Would Create Jobs, Generate Tourism, and Strengthen County’s Venue for Ag. Industry Shows; Commission’s Vote Puts Project at Risk of Not Receiving State Funds

Yesterday afternoon, Republican members on the Wisconsin Building Commission refused to endorse Governor Evers’ capital budget proposal. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan are disappointed in the lack of bipartisanship among commission members to vote in favor of the budget. The move to reject the Governor’s capital budget means that Dane County must redouble its efforts to find bipartisan support for including Evers’ proposed $30 million in state funds to expand the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in the budget ultimately passed by the Wisconsin Legislature.

“The state and county have a precedent of working together to enhance the Alliant Energy Center campus and bolster state tourism,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “I am disappointed commission members failed to come together and support projects like the Exhibition Hall expansion—a project that would benefit our entire state and help us further promote our agriculture industry.”

In the fall of 2018, County Executive Parisi wrote a letter to the State of Wisconsin Department of Administration’s Building Commission asking the state to help fund the Exhibition Hall expansion. Earlier this month, Governor Evers announced at the AEC that his budget proposal would allocate $30 million to support redevelopment of the Exhibition Hall. Dane County’s Alliant Energy Center is the premier venue in the country for agricultural shows, and the investment would help Dane County keep pace with shows eager to grow into more space.

In the past, Dane County received $9 million from the state to build the New Holland Pavilions, which total 290,000 square feet and have made the AEC an industry leader in agricultural shows. The pavilions have brought around two dozen new national agriculture shows to the AEC in the past few years alone and have kept the World Dairy Expo in Wisconsin, highlighting the success the state and county’s partnership can have on the Midwest.

“State investment in the Alliant Energy Center expansion will enrich Wisconsin’s position as a premiere global convener in the agricultural industry and will boost state revenues at the same time,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan.

Corrigan emphasized that investment in the Alliant Energy Center expansion would drive significant return on investment to the state. If included in the budget ultimately passed by the Wisconsin Legislature, the project would create 1,400 new jobs, generating an additional $670,000 in annual state income taxes, or $25.3 million over 20 years. It would generate $58.9 million in state sales tax. The state would also benefit with an estimated $31 million in additional state taxes.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Announces Carrie Springer as new Legislative Liason

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Carrie Springer as the County’s new Legislative Liaison. Springer has extensive experience in government relations and recently worked as the Communications Director for Governor Evers’ transition team. She is returning to work for Dane County after having previously served as Interim Communications Director for the County Executive a few years ago.

“We are excited to have Carrie come back and work for Dane County,” said County Executive Joe Parisi. “Carrie’s unmatched experience in public affairs makes her a great choice for this role, and I cannot wait to work with her on carrying out Dane County’s legislative priorities.”

For two years, Springer worked as the Strategic Communications Specialist for the University of Wisconsin—Madison. While there, she helped develop and execute strategy on the state budget process, tracked legislation, and coordinated outreach events around the state, among other duties.

Prior to Springer’s work at Dane County and the University of Wisconsin—Madison, she worked in the Wisconsin State Senate as Communications Director for the Senate Majority Leader. Springer also served for a number of years as Communications Director for Progressive Wisconsin, where she developed and implemented communication strategies around legislation for progressive issue groups and built coalitions of local governments to promote legislative initiatives.

Springer’s confirmation as the new Legislative Liaison for Dane County is pending final approval by the County Board. A resolution for her contract will be introduced at tonight’s County Board meeting and is expected to be finalized in April.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County offering free “Welcome to Medicare” seminars now through November

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink
608-267-8823

Presented by Unbiased Professionals, Held in Various Dane County Communities

Dane County is offering free “Welcome to Medicare” seminars now through November to help residents make informed decisions about their Medicare options. Medicare information is complex and complications can lead to often preventable frustration for Dane County residents, which is why it is important to get the right information at the right time.

“We are happy to offer these free seminars to Dane County residents so they can get the answers they need about Medicare and make informed decisions,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “In the coming months, our unbiased professionals will be available in a number of communities to serve residents and provide insight.”

Elder Benefit Specialist staff from the Dane County Area Agency on Aging provide these presentations as a resource to the community to educate consumers approaching age 65 on Medicare and other health care coverage basics for seniors that many employers are not able to offer their retiring staff.

Some decisions and actions about Medicare can take place three to six months before an individual turns 65, so it’s important individuals don’t wait until they are turning 65 to understand all they need to know about this important benefit. The more people that can be reached early, the more appeals that can be prevented.

The seminars are offered throughout Dane County, at various locations in efforts to reach rural or also typically underserved communities. What makes these seminars unique is that they are presented by unbiased professionals who are experts in benefits programs, as opposed to insurance agents. They will help attendees better understand what Medicare is and is not, avoid penalties for late enrollment, and learn how to get the most out of their health and prescription benefits plans.

UPCOMING SEMINAR DETAILS:

Oregon Area Senior Center
219 Park Street, Oregon
Saturday—April 13, 9 to 11:30AM
Call (608) 261-9930 to register by April 3

Mount Horeb Senior Center
107 N Grove Street, Mount Horeb
Saturday—June 1, 9 to 11:30AM
Call (608) 261-9930 to register by May 22

McFarland Municipal Center
5915 Milwaukee Street, McFarland
Saturday—July 13, 9 to 11:30AM
Call (608) 261-9930 to register by July 3

Waunakee Senior Center
333 S. Madison Street, Waunakee
Saturday—October 12, 9 to 11:30AM
Call (608) 261-9930 to register by October 2

Aging & Disability Resource Center
2865 N. Sherman Avenue, Madison
Saturday—November 9, 9 to 11:30AM
Call (608) 261-9930 to register by October 30

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Signs PARC & Ride Bike Trail Grant resolution

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

On Tuesday, March 5, surrounded by Dane County Parks staff, local bike enthusiasts, and Cambridge community members, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi signed the resolution awarding Dane County’s PARC and Ride Bike Trail Grant allocations for 2018. The grant awards the Village of Cambridge $209,250 for its CamRock/Glacial Drumlin Connector project. This 3,600 ft. trail connection will extend from the terminus of the CamRock Trail to State Farm Road and will ultimately connect to the Glacial Drumlin State Trail.

“It’s exciting to have communities come forward with plans to strengthen Dane County’s network of bike trails,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “These projects enhance our quality of life in Dane County and heighten the overall experience visitors and residents can have while enjoying the outdoors.”

When complete, the CamRock/Glacial Drumlin Connector project will provide a new bike route near the communities of Cambridge and Rockdale and improve access to Dane County parks and natural resource areas. The route will add a safe crossing to State Highway 134, a separated path along US 12 and 18, and bike lanes along local roads. The Village of Cambridge will incorporate kiosks, benches, and bike racks along the route to complement scenic viewing areas, educational points of interest, rest areas, wayfinding maps, and community information. The total cost of the project will be $418,500.

The Village of Cambridge, Dane County Parks, Jefferson County Parks, the Cambridge Community Foundation, and the Wisconsin DNR originally partnered in 2008 to create a plan to connect the Glacial-Drumlin State Trail to the CamRock Trail. A portion of this plan was implemented through a Dane County PARC grant in 2014, which helped extend the route from an existing trailhead at CamRock Park to its terminus north of State Highway 18 near its intersection with State Highway 134.

The Dane County PARC and Ride Bike Trail grant program awarded $500,000 to four municipalities for 2018. In addition to Cambridge, recipients include the Villages of Cottage Grove, Windsor, and Shorewood Hills. The program was brought back in the 2018 budget and provides matching grants to communities interested in expanding trail interconnectivity throughout Dane County. Municipalities were eligible to receive grants matching up to 50 percent of a project’s costs to offset bike trail design, engineering, and construction expenses.

Grants were awarded to capital projects that expanded bike trail interconnectivity, created destination-oriented regional bike trails, and improved bike safety. Projects needed to provide a regional shared-use trail connection, as identified in the 2018-2023 Dane County Parks and Open Space Plan, and could include associated amenities like trailheads/parking areas, signage, and safety facilities.

Other Funded Projects Include:

The Village of Cottage Grove was awarded $182,500 for its Main Street Community Trail. This extension of paved trail along Main Street will provide a trail connection between the Glacial Drumlin Trail and McCarthy County Park. In total, the project will cost $365,000.

The Village of Windsor was awarded $81,600 for its 1,000 ft. paved trail and bridge project that will provide a connection for the proposed trail from Token Creek County Park to the Upper Yahara River Trail. The total project cost will be $163,200.

The Village of Shorewood Hills was awarded $26,650 for its Blackhawk Path Extension. This project will feature a 1,400 ft. extension of the University Avenue Path that will cover a missing link between Shorewood Hills and University Bay Drive. In total, the project will cost $211,996.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Statement on County Board Committee adoption of zoo resolution

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County Executive Joe Parisi Issued the Following Statement Regarding This Evening’s Passage of County Board Resolutions 607 and 629 by the Public Works and Transportation Committee:

“Much has been said in the past 10 days about who is best to fundraise for the Henry Vilas Zoo. The differing perspectives on that resulted in a public discourse that caused unnecessary fear in our community. Earlier today, I was so grateful to see young families, grandparents, and a kids camp when I visited the Zoo along with County Board Chair Corrigan and County Board Supervisors. We were there to stand in solidarity, in support of our zookeepers and the animals they provide such great care for.

We were there to make sure moms and dads and kids know the Zoo is a place of fun, family togetherness, and education about important issues like climate change, species survival, and conservation.

That’s what this is about. These are the shared priorities of the community I grew up in and raised my daughters in.

We have a responsibility to our Zoo and all who love it to call timeout on the public discourse. The time has come for an independent, objective analysis on what truly is best for fundraising at our Zoo. We’ve heard a lot of perspectives. Let’s hear what’s been effective at other zoos across our country and then decide on a model that fits the legacy of our zoo best.

We also have a responsibility to ensure our Zoo remains accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This evening’s action in support of Resolutions 607 and 629 are the next steps in providing Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo the staff and resources necessary to remain AZA accredited.

I’m grateful to the County Board of Supervisors, our incredible county zookeepers, and the countless others in our community who have stepped forward in recent days in support of Dane County’s Henry Vilas Zoo.”

Dane County judge issues injunction preventing enforcement of extraordinary session laws

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A Dane County judge issued a temporary injunction Thursday preventing enforcement of laws Republicans passed during a December extraordinary session, ruling they didn’t lawfully convene.

While GOP legislative leaders immediately vowed to appeal, Gov. Tony Evers seized on the opportunity to pull out of the multi-state suit against the Affordable Care Act after Republicans stripped him of that power in the lame-duck session. He ordered AG Josh Kaul to “take whatever steps are necessary” to remove Wisconsin from the lawsuit, an action the guv campaigned on. Kaul filed a motion to do so shortly after.

Judge Richard Niess also refused to dismiss the suit and denied a GOP request to stay his injunction.

“There can be no justification for enforcement of the unconstitutional legislative actions emanating from the December 2018 ‘Extraordinary Session’ that is consistent with the rule of law,” Niess wrote in the decision.

The suit, brought by the League of Women Voters and other groups, alleged the December extraordinary session wasn’t properly convened under the Wisconsin Constitution, rendering the laws invalid.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a joint statement the Legislature has used extraordinary sessions for decades, adding they will appeal the ruling.

“Today’s ruling only creates chaos and will surely raise questions about items passed during previous extraordinary sessions, including stronger laws against child sexual predators and drunk drivers,” they said.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling called the decision a “win for Wisconsin voters.”

“The lame duck session was a bait and switch to rush through more partisan bills, rig elections and consolidate more power in the hands of Republican politicians,” the La Crosse Dem wrote in a tweet.

The decision also impacts the 82 nominees and appointees that were OK’d during the lame-duck session, including two new regents and DOA Secretary Ellen Nowak as PSC chair. Niess ordered those positions are temporarily vacated with his ruling.

DBA: Driver’s license for non-citizens needed

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

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Last week, Gov. Tony Evers included a provision in his proposed budget that would create a driver’s license for non-citizens. The Dairy Business Association has been working for several years to convince legislators to allow people, regardless of immigration status, to drive legally in Wisconsin if they are properly trained and insured.

DBA President Tom Crave, who is a farmer, issued the following statement in response to the governor’s proposal:

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“We appreciate the governor’s support for this concept. A person’s ability to drive legally should be based on whether that person can drive safely. This provision is about public safety more than anything else. Also, in rural parts of the state, there is sometimes little alternative to driving. An otherwise responsible person should not have to break the law to drive to work or pick up their children from school.

 

“Whether this provision ends up in the final budget or not, we hope it will highlight the need for this change and keep the discussion going. We are committed to trying to pass some version of legislation allowing for this type of license or driver’s permit.”

Photo:

Click here for a high-resolution photo of Tom Crave 

Tweet about this:

DBA @DairyForward supports @GovEvers proposed driver’s license for non-citizens

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.

DC Wrap: Johnson looks to combat child marriages by closing immigration loophole

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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

Full equality has not been won. We can’t confuse progress for victory.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, touting the “Equality Act” in an NBC News interview this week. The legislation, which aims to change the 1964 Civil Rights Act to bar discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, was reintroduced this week. While it previously hasn’t received a floor vote in Congress, Baldwin is optimistic that if votes were held in both houses, it would pass each. She added if the House passes it, it “will tell us is that the 2020 elections are really important to create and vote for a pro-equality Senate and president.”

Understanding the risk of Democrat socialistic tendencies should provide motivation to re-elect Republicans up and down the ballot in November 2020.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, saying voters will get a firsthand look at Dems’ “extreme policies” following the party’s decision to host the 2020 national convention in Milwaukee. Dem U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, of Milwaukee, said in a tweet she’s “very proud and honored” the city was selected.

I’m afraid that the president is setting us up for another budget border wall fight this fall, which could suck the air out of getting anything done.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, as quoted in Politico. The La Crosse Dem notes Trump’s 2020 budget request for more border money and cuts to entitlement programs could harm the process of getting the new USMCA North American trade deal through Congress. He said, “Realistically, if we’re going to move it, we’re going to have to be serious about pre-August recess.” Otherwise, he added, 2020 campaigning would start and “this thing could just not happen.”

In light of anti-Semitic comments by a certain member of Congress, I voted yes on a House Resolution condemning hatred.
– U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, in a tweet following the House’s 407-23 vote last week on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, bigotry against Muslims and racism against minorities. All members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation supported the measure, despite D.C. reports and a tweet from a Politico reporter showing Grothman and several other lawmakers were listed as a “no” vote during a portion of the voting period before switching to “yes.” Grothman disputed the reports, writing in a Twitter response: “I votes [sic] YES on the resolution and DO condemn hatred.” His office didn’t return a request for comment.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is looking to close an immigration loophole that has allowed individuals to bring their child brides to live with them

The legislation follows a report Johnson’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee released in January showing government officials have legally approved thousands of visa petitions from children or their adult partners to join their spouse or fiance living in the U.S.

Currently, the practice is legal under the Immigration and Nationality Act. But Johnson’s bill would ban spousal and fiance immigration if one of the applicants is under 18.

“A visa to enter the United States is a privilege, and this straightforward reform will help close a loophole that can lead to the abuse and exploitation of children,” the Oshkosh Republican said in a statement.

The bill is co-authored in the House by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, who said he’s grateful to Johnson for his efforts “uncovering this disturbing information.”

The report came about after the Senate Homeland Security Committee in 2017 requested the federal data and compiled the information. It showed that between fiscal years 2007 and 2017, more than 8,000 petitions were approved involving an adult’s relationship with a minor. Largely, the girls were the younger individual in the marriage or engagement.

“The committee’s eye-opening report shows the gruesome reality that people manipulate our immigration system to enter into child marriages,” Sensenbrenner said.

By closing the loophole, the legislation also aims to prevent and reduce child sex trafficking, child marriages and sexual abuse, according to the bill text.

See more on the bill.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is bringing back a bill to nix the carried-interest tax break, criticizing President Trump for failing to close the so-called loophole.

She also called on Trump to “stand by his word” and support her bill after the 2017 GOP tax overhaul law didn’t mention the carried-interest tax loophole, which benefits those running a hedge fund or private equity firm.  

“I want to see loopholes closed — like the one that favors Wall Street hedge funds and allows them to pay a lower tax rate than many Wisconsin workers,” she said in a statement.

Trump on the campaign trail had criticized the measure, saying “hedge fund guys are getting away with murder.”

Baldwin’s bill, called the “Carried Interest Fairness Act,” targets the tax rate of private equity fund managers’ profits, or carried interest. The top tax rate on those capital gains is 23.8 percent, while the ordinary income top tax rate is 37 percent.

The legislation would tax those capital gains at the ordinary income rates.

Baldwin two years ago offered a similar amendment to the GOP tax overhaul bill to address the loophole, but it was rejected.

 

— Johnson and Baldwin split over a resolution that cleared the Senate to bar the Trump administration from continuing to support the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The resolution cleared the chamber on a 54-46 vote, a move that national media outlets are calling a bipartisan rebuke to President Trump.

The resolution would have to pass the House before heading to Trump’s desk.

A previous version that got through that chamber last month included language that denounced anti-Semitism following comments from Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., but it isn’t part of the Senate version.

See the roll call vote.  

 

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan slammed Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s response to his request for information surrounding raids in the state, saying the agency’s reply is “abusive of what FOIA law is.”   

He also alleged ICE agents “intentionally lied” to Madison-area law enforcement officials by withholding information on the September arrests, based on documents he received from the agency last week that detailed their correspondence with Wisconsin police departments.

The Town of Vermont Dem filed a records request in October with ICE to get more information on the more than 80 individuals the agency apprehended in Wisconsin that fall. Among the information he requested was the contact between ICE officials and local law enforcement, the list of the criminal offenses committed by the detainees, and documentation that protocol was followed when making the arrests.

Pocan said ICE last week provided him with 411 pages of documents, of which 294 were fully redacted. While he said the response didn’t fully answer his questions and some of his asks were disregarded, it shed some light on the arrests and the agency’s operations in the state.

“There’s a saying that if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, you baffle them with bull … I believe that’s what occurred with ICE on this request,” he said at a Capitol news conference this week in Madison.

Pocan, who previously introduced legislation to disband ICE, said the documents show that while there was coordination between ICE officials and local law enforcement in Wisconsin up to six weeks before the raid, there was no communication between the agency and Madison or Dane County law enforcement.

The records, Pocan said, also include a list of the criminal offenses committed by the Wisconsin detainees signified by a code. The list showed at least 39 of the people apprehended in Wisconsin had no criminal history, he said, though he added he’s looking to get confirmation from ICE to ensure that’s the case.

Going forward, Pocan said he’s planning to file an appeal to try to get additional information on the lead-up to the raids, as well as who was caught up in them.

“I am willing to sue over the information I need to get. But I shouldn’t have to sue my own government and waste tax dollars to do that,” Pocan said. “So I’m going to continue to pursue every other way, but eventually I will be suing in order to get this information as well.”

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

WI senators weigh in on Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee

How Sen. Tammy Baldwin is making LGBTQ rights part of the 2020 agenda

‘We need to pass the Equality Act’: Sen. Tammy Baldwin makes case for LGBTQ bill

Why higher education is vulnerable to corruption [interview with Baldwin]

Ron Johnson praises DNC’s Milwaukee choice: ‘First-hand look at Democrats’ extreme policies’

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

Proposed legislation could help fix doctor shortage in rural areas of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Congressmen Introduce Bi-Partisan Bill Seeking To Boost Medical Training

Mark Pocan threatens to sue ICE for additional records related to Wisconsin arrests

U.S. Rep. Pocan threatens to sue ICE over September sweep records

Fixing Congress and Fighting China with Rep. Mike Gallagher

DC Wrap: Kind touts ranking as Wisconsin’s most bipartisan House member

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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

The men and women of the Wisconsin National Guard deserve an environment free of sexual harassment and assault and I beleive an impartial outside review of past actions, current protocols and future improvements is the best way to meet that objective.
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, in a letter calling for a review of the Guard’s sexual assault and harassment policies. Gov. Tony Evers also sent a similar letter last week to the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations. A Wisconsin National Guard spokesman said the Guard will provide the office any information their officials ask for and that he looks “forward to the opportunity to work together toward continuous improvement.”

You can’t milk an almond, and the FDA must clarify and enforce the definition of milk that’s already on the books, that milk comes from cows. Wisconsin dairy farmers and consumers across the country deserve this important clarification.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, touting his bill that would require the Food and Drug Administration to change how non-dairy beverages are labeled. The legislation is also backed by Baldwin.    

The rollout of the Green New Deal didn’t go very well. But the aspirational goal of recognizing the danger of climate change is something that we need to recognize and work toward.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, as quoted in an NBC News article. Kind’s comments came at a town hall in his district after voters called on him to back the Green New Deal. Kind declined to endorse it.

This week’s news

— Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, calling himself an “independent voice in Congress,’’ is touting his recent ranking as the state’s most bipartisan House member.

The Bipartisan Index, from the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, ranks all members of Congress based on how frequently a member introduces bills that get sponsors from the opposite party, and how often they co-sponsor legislation from the other side of the aisle.

Kind, D-La Crosse, has ranked in the top 25 of all House members since the index’s launch in 2015. Over that time, Kind has consistently finished first among the state’s congressional delegation.

For the length of the entire 115th Congress from 2017-18, he ranked 18th. His ranking for the first year of the session was 21st, according to last year’s table.

Kind in a statement pledged to “continue to put politics aside to find solutions to the problems Wisconsinites face.”

“Back here in Wisconsin, I often hear about how fed up people are with the gridlock and dysfunction in Washington,” he said in a statement. “I’m fed up too, which is why I work to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans and work together to get the job done.”

The other Wisconsin House members received the following rankings: U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, 57th; U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, 156th; U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, 210th; U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, 339th; U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, 365th; and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, 379th.

Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Janesville, was excluded from the ranking.

In the Senate, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, ranked 51st, while U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, was 62nd.

 

— The feds could move money from Dane County’s Truax Field and Monroe County’s Fort McCoy to cover wall funding along the southern border.

That’s according to a list from the Department of Defense that shows almost $6.8 billion in projects across the country that could have their funding diverted or delayed following President Trump’s national emergency declaration.

The list, posted by U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI, includes $23 million for construction of a new training barracks at Fort McCoy and $8 million for a small arms range at Truax. The lists shows the funding would be awarded in January 2020 and March 2020, respectively.

Trump in mid-February issued the declaration in order to go around Congress to fund a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Both the House and Senate voted to overturn the move, but Trump last week vetoed the measure. It’s unlikely Congress will override it, per national media reports.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who supported the resolution to block Trump’s action, said in a statement the Constitution mandates Trump can’t “spend money on whatever he wants” unilaterally.

“This is clear misuse of funding appropriated by Congress and the President should not be diverting investments in military readiness, because it will make us less safe,” she said in a statement from her office.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said he’s worked to convince Trump and others in the Senate “to fix our broken immigration system” and address the “growing humanitarian crisis,” in part by looking to secure the border.

The Oshkosh Republican was among the GOP senators who voted against the resolution on the floor.

“If Democrats in Congress do their job and work with Republicans to pass appropriation bills on time, all construction projects should proceed on schedule,” he added, according to a statement his office provided.

 

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is bringing back his bill to require members of Congress put any unused office funds toward paying down the national debt.

The bill comes as Kind announced he’s returning nearly $108,000 to the U.S. Treasury from his own budget for that cause.

In all, the La Crosse Dem says he’s returned nearly $2 million to the Treasury since first winning election to the House in 1996.

Kind’s bill, which is cosponsored by Republican U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, of Arizona, would codify that practice across both chambers. The leftover funding from each member’s budget could be used for debt or deficit reduction.  

Calling the effort “the fiscally responsible thing to do,” Kind in a statement last week said the approach should be taken by every office.

“Now more than ever, we need to re-instill a sense of fiscal responsibility in Congress,” he said. “I want to lead by example, which is why every year – with the help of my staff – I find savings in my office budget and return our unused funds to the U.S. Treasury to pay down our National debt.”

 

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is again attempting to modernize one part of the Voting Rights Act.

The Menomonee Falls Republican reintroduced his “Voting Rights Amendment Act” this week, which aims to tweak the current law by instituting an updated and constitutional practice by which to judge whether states are in compliance.

Sensenbrenner in a statement called for passing his bill before the next election.

“The right for each legal voter to cast a ballot is sacred, and we must restore and modernize the Voting Rights Act before the next election,” he said. “I am proud to have twice led bipartisan efforts to reauthorize one of the most significant civil rights laws in American history and will continue to fight to ensure that every eligible individual who wishes to cast a ballot can do so.”

 

— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, has a new press secretary.

That’s Jeanette Lenoir, who previously worked in the House from 2003 to 2005, before serving as an anchor, reporter, producer and radio talk show host for various companies.

She replaces Libbie Wilcox, who left Moore’s office to work as the press secretary and digital director to U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY.

See Lenoir’s LinkedIn page.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

National emergency declaration could divert funds from Truax Field

Tony Evers, Tammy Baldwin demand review of Wisconsin National Guard sex assault policies

Senator Tammy Baldwin Celebrates Sherman Phoenix’s Success During Visit with Business Owners

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

Baldwin, Duffy push for legislation to change labeling on non-dairy products

Congressmen Mike Gallagher and Mark Pocan discuss the importance of unity at History Museum in Appleton

Steil: ‘My vote won’t change’ on national emergency declaration

Steil announces veterans fellowship program

Congressman Bryan Steil fields Lake Geneva questions

Rep. Bryan Steil on his first few months in office

Gwen Moore Opposes “so-called” Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act, Supports Work Rights

Midwest voters in Trump country face historic floods and call for climate action

La Crosse area residents want Rep. Ron Kind’s ear on climate action, health care

DC Wrap: New Gallagher bill aims to combat ‘court packing’

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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

Congress and the American people deserve to read Mueller’s full report, and we must demand complete transparency. It’s the only way forward from here.
– U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, in a tweet joining fellow Dems in calling on the attorney general to give Congress and members of the public access to the special counsel’s full report from his investigation of President Trump. AG William Barr released a four-page summary of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation over the weekend.

Unfortunately, the investigation took almost two years and was a huge distraction from the significant problems facing our nation. Hopefully, the attorney general can quickly conclude his final report and allow us to turn our full attention to those other challenging issues.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in a tweet applauding the report’s findings that Trump’s campaign didn’t collude with Russian actors in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.

What is it that we have a problem with, with children who are in special education?
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, as quoted in an NBC News report questioning Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing this week. The federal Education Department has proposed $7 billion in cuts overall, including nixing $18 million in federal funding supporting Special Olympics. DeVos called the Special Olympics as “an awesome organization” and said the agency “had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.”

Small business owners, in particular, have shared fears that they will be unable to bear the new compliance burdens and may have to shutter their businesses.
– U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, touting his federal online sales tax bill. The bill comes after a June U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing states to collect online sales taxes from retailers without a physical presence in the state. Sensenbrenner’s bill would ensure states can’t retroactively collect the taxes on transactions before Jan. 1, 2019, among other things.

This week’s news

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is pushing a bill he says would prevent Democratic “court packing” efforts.

The effort, a constitutional amendment, would keep the U.S. Supreme Court’s size at nine justices.

The bill comes as Dem presidential candidates have expressed an openness to expanding the size of the high court. That includes U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Booker, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, per national media reports.

Gallagher said in light of those “partisan calls,” the time is now to pursue a constitutional amendment.

“Americans rely on the Supreme Court to faithfully uphold the Constitution, and with Democrats’ partisan calls to increase the Court’s size gaining momentum, it is now more important than ever to preserve the legitimacy of the highest court in the land,” the Green Bay Republican said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The House bill has three GOP cosponsors.

Constitutional amendments must pass both houses of Congress with a two-thirds majority, before being sent to the states where three-fourths have to ratify them in order for the changes to be adopted.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is bringing back her bill aiming to curb stock buybacks and give workers a bigger say in company decision-making.

The Madison Dem’s legislation, called the “Reward Work Act,” would bar corporations from being able to re-buy their own shares. It would also let employees directly elect one-third of their company’s board members.

Baldwin called for rewarding hard work in a statement touting her bill, saying stock buybacks are increasing wealth inequality.

“Corporate profits should be shared with the workers who actually create them,” she said. “It’s just wrong for big corporations to pocket massive, permanent tax breaks and reward the wealth of top executives with more stock buybacks, while closing facilities and laying off workers.”

 

— Baldwin has also been named as one of the members of a new Dem panel aimed at addressing climate change.

The Madison Dem will be one of 10 members on the newly created Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Among its responsibilities will be holding hearings and issuing findings on the consequences of climate change and the opportunities taking action to combat it would bring, according to Baldwin’s statement.

“Taking bold action to confront climate change is not just an environmental goal; it is an urgent economic necessity for us in Wisconsin,” she said.

 

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson joined all Republicans this week in shooting down the Dem-backed “Green New Deal” on the Senate floor.

The measure failed on a 57-0 vote, with Dems, including U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, opting to vote “present” on the effort.

Johnson, R-Oshkosh, called it “astonishing” that while many Dems had co-sponsored the initiative, they “unanimously failed to vote for it.”

“If Democrats hypocritically say they support their $93 trillion spending boondoggle but then don’t vote for it, no American should take them or the Green New Deal seriously,” he said in a statement.

Senate Dems, per national media reports, framed the vote as a political sham.

See the roll call vote.

 

— The majority of Wisconsin House members backed overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration again this week.

But the effort, which got a 248-181 vote, fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override Trump’s veto of legislation blocking his declaration to go around Congress to fund a wall along the southern border.

All of Wisconsin’s Dems and two GOP reps backed the effort the second time it came to the chamber’s floor — the same Wisconsin members who voted to back the measure the first time around.

They were: GOP U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Jim Sensenbrenner and Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan, Gwen Moore and Ron Kind.

The Republicans were two of 14 in their party who supported the resolution. Meanwhile, GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, of Wausau, Glenn Grothman, of Glenbeulah, and Bryan Steil, of Janesville, again opted to oppose the bill.  

See the roll call vote.

 

— Wisconsin House members, led by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, are calling for an extension of Wisconsin’s SeniorCare prescription drug program.

The eight members asked Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in a letter to provide a long-term extension to the program that expires March 31.

“Supporting this drug benefit program is in the best interest of American taxpayers, Wisconsinites, and the thousands of seniors enrolled,” they wrote. “We appreciate your consideration and attention to this request and look forward to working with you to continue to protect our states’ elderly population.”

See the letter.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

GOP lawmakers from Wisconsin welcome Mueller finding of no Trump conspiracy with Russia

Tammy Baldwin announces federal funding to help Wisconsin combat opioid epidemic

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Visits Sherman Phoenix

Democrats push for new limits on stock buybacks

Betsy DeVos grilled in Congress over proposed elimination of Special Olympics funding

Rep. Ron Kind’s student art exhibit opens to public

Rep. Sean Duffy calls out CNN’s Cuomo for media bias on Russia collusion

Evers, Barnes, Steil release March Madness brackets

DC Wrap: Republicans tout new Trump administration announcement to delist gray wolves

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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

This bill can achieve these goals cause it doesn’t just cover tuition. It covers the full cost of attending college, from room and board to books to transportation and more. In reality, tuition is just a small fraction of what it costs to go to college.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, in reintroducing his “Debt-Free College Act.” The bill, which he called “the most comprehensive and progressive legislation yet introduced” on the issue, would cap tuition and fees at public institutions at current levels with yearly adjustments tied to the Consumer Price Index. It would also require states first cover any unmet need for Pell Grant recipients, among other things. See the video.

Figuring out how we push back against the Chinese Communist Party and counter the techno-fascist Maoists in Beijing, that is the real threat we face right now.
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher in a speech at CPAC, as quoted in a Washington Examiner article. In his remarks, he said the nation has to win the technology race against China. But he also warned against going “down the road of socialism-light in America,” saying if the U.S. pursues that path, it’ll lose to China. Instead, he said, the nation should embrace free-market principles.  

This week’s news

— Wisconsin Republicans are touting a new Trump administration move to delist the gray wolf in 48 states, after repeated legislative attempts to roll back protections for the animals in certain areas failed in recent sessions.

The Department of Interior announced yesterday it’ll be proposing a rule to remove the wolves from safeguards under the Endangered Species Act in the continental United States.

The effort is similar to legislation U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy introduced last session; it cleared the House but wasn’t taken up in the Senate.

Duffy, R-Wausau, applauded the move, saying it would mean Wisconsin is able to manage its own gray wolf population.

“We know what’s better for our state’s ecosystem better than activist judges in Washington, and Wisconsin farmers deserve to be able to protect their livestock,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who’s also been vocal in his support for delisting gray wolves, called the announcement a “positive development” but noted it’d likely be challenged in court.  

That means, he said in a statement, passing legislation is “the only way to avoid legal wrangling and provide a clear resolution for Wisconsin.”

Duffy, Johnson and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin all introduced legislation in 2017 that would nix gray wolves as endangered in various Great Lakes states and Wyoming. Johnson and Baldwin last month also introduced similar language as an amendment to the Natural Resources Management Act.  

A spokeswoman for Baldwin, D-Madison, didn’t return a request for comment.

Meanwhile, State Sen. Tom Tiffany applauded the announcement, saying Wisconsin’s gray wolf population over the last few years “has gone unmanaged”

The Minocqua Republican last session introduced a bill that would ban police from enforcing state or federal law aimed at managing Wisconsin’s wolf population. The language would also prohibit the state Department of Natural Resources from spending any money to manage wolves — other than paying claims for any losses they cause.

“Wisconsin has a proven track record of successful wolf management, and it is about time the federal government returned management authority back to the states instead of forcing us to rely on bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.,” Tiffany said in a statement.

The Obama administration in 2012 first delisted the gray wolf in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In 2014, the wolves were returned to the federal endangered species list after a lawsuit, resulting in the end of wolf trapping and hunting.   

 

— Baldwin is bringing back a bill aiming to boost air travel safety, particularly for disabled passengers.

The bill, called the “Air Carrier Access Amendments Act,” would build off a law that bars discrimination based on disability during air travel. It looks to ensure new airplanes accomodate disabled individuals and tweak the passenger-filed complaint system, among other things.

Baldwin said in a statement the bill would also aid veterans.

“We need to break down the barriers that individuals with disabilities and our veterans face when they travel,” she said. “Equal access to air travel for individuals with disabilities is about fairness and freedom.”

 

— U.S. Reps. Ron Kind and Jim Sensenbrenner are teaming up to introduce a bill aimed at curbing the spread of CWD  in Wisconsin.

The legislation, which targets chronic wasting disease, would aim to support research on the disease and contain its spread by backing state and tribal efforts taken against it.

Kind, D-La Crosse, and Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said in a joint statement the bill would help protect and preserve the state’s hunting culture.

“Chronic Wasting Disease has the potential to devastate our deer herds, which is why we’re working together to introduce a bipartisan bill that brings scientists, local officials, and hunters to the table to help manage and prevent the spread of the disease,” Kind said.  

 

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is continuing his push to overhaul Congress with two new bills.

The legislation comes after the Green Bay Republican last month released bills to institute a five-year ban on lobbying for members of Congress and prevent lawmakers from going into recess without approving a balanced budget, among other things.

One bill would prevent members of Congress and others from lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, while the other would require federal political appointees sign an ethics pledge that would set limits on their ability to lobby their former colleagues, thereby codifying the Trump administration’s own pledge.

Gallagher said the effort would help slow “the revolving door between government and special interests.”

“Our most trusted leaders should be held to a higher standard,” he said in a statement. “They should use their positions of power and influence to serve the American People, not foreign interests or the swamp.”

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Medical residents in Wisconsin may get boost from proposed legislation

GOP lawmaker tells CPAC: US must win tech race against ‘techno-fascist Maoists’ in China

Rep. Mark Pocan tells Salon: “We’re looking at doing everything we can to remove this president”

Democratic National Committee: Announces CEO Of 2020 Democratic National Convention

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Washington, DC – Today, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez announced the appointment of Joe Solmonese to be Chief Executive Officer of the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee. Solmonese just recently served as the Transition Chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), and previously served as the President of the Human Rights Campaign and the Chief Executive Officer of Emily’s List.

“Joe Solmonese will be an asset in leading our convention team. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this role and will be instrumental in ensuring we have a successful event,” said Perez. “We chose Milwaukee because the city embodies who we are as a party, and under Joe’s leadership, I’m confident those values will be at the forefront as we celebrate our nominee and prepare for the general election. I am thrilled to have him as a part of the team and look forward to a unifying convention that will put our nominee in the best possible position for victory in November 2020.”

“The opportunity to lead the 2020 convention is a tremendous honor and I’m prepared to hit the ground running,” said Solmonese. “There is no better time than now to be a Democrat and next summer we will showcase the ideals and diversity that make our party, the city of Milwaukee, and our nominee special to the American people.”

For the past several years, Solmonese has been the Managing Director and Founding Partner of Gavin/Solmonese, where he directed the firm’s corporate strategy, public affairs, and policy practice.  He previously served as Transition Chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), where he was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the national office following the departure of Cecile Richards. He also served as President and Principal Spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, where he was responsible for leading the nation’s largest civil rights group representing gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans. Prior to that, he served as Chief Executive Officer of Emily’s List, where he oversaw all operations including development, membership, and communications. Solmonese has also held several campaign roles, including National Finance Director for former Congressman Les AuCoin’s Senate campaign and Finance Director for former Congressman Barney Frank.

Solmonese is a board member of several organizations fighting for core Democratic values, including the National Partnership for Women and Families and Credit Abuse Resistance Education (CARE).  He is a graduate of Boston University.

Additional details on the convention team will be announced in the coming weeks.

Democratic Party of Milwaukee: “Road to Milwaukee:

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Contact: Shyla Deacon – Communications Secretary
[email protected]

414-939-3367

MILWAUKEE- Democratic Party of Milwaukee County Chair Christopher Walton
released a statement thanking the Democratic National Committee for its decision to
hold the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. The following are his
remarks:

“This is an absolutely amazing day for Milwaukee. This decision to hold the Democratic
National Convention in Milwaukee where we will nominee the 46 th President of the
United States of America is truly an honor. It just shows the type of world class city that
Milwaukee is and just how important that the state of Wisconsin is when it comes to
deciding who will be the leader of the free world. Thanks go out to the Democratic
National Committee and Chairman Tom Perez. Thanks also go to the Milwaukee 2020
Convention Team lead by Alex Lasry that helped secure this event for the city.
The Democratic Party of Milwaukee County cannot wait to help welcome Democrats
from all over America and our next Democratic President to the Fiserv Forum. July 13-
16 2020 and we welcome the whole world to begin traveling that road to Milwaukee to
see it all happen.”

Democratic weekly radio address: A budget for the people

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CONTACT:  Rep. Jodi Emerson, 608-266-7461

Democratic Weekly Radio Address

By Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire)

 

Audio File of Radio Address

This is State Representative Jodi Emerson with this week’s Democratic Address.

Every two years, the state budget lays out the priorities for Wisconsin.

It details all of the spending decisions by our state government during that period.

Last week, Governor Evers gave his first state budget address outlining his vision for Wisconsin’s future.

I was thrilled to hear about a budget that focuses on the things that matter to everyday people.

After his election, the Governor toured the state conducting listening sessions where Wisconsinites could weigh in – to be a part of the process.

These authentic conversations lead to the budget the Governor introduced. And that is why it is being touted as “The People’s Budget”.

People told the Governor they’re concerned about the quality of their drinking water – so the budget allocates $70 million dollars in bonding to remediate contaminated wells and replace lead service lines.

People told the Governor they want strong public schools – so the budget includes historic investments in K-12 public education and our UW System.

The Governor’s education plan ensures that every child, regardless of their zip code, will receive a high quality public education.

People also told the Governor they want us to fix our crumbling roads – so the budget addresses this head on with real solutions. After eight years of inaction, the people want results – not politicians offering empty promises.

And finally, the people told the Governor they need more affordable, accessible options for health care – so the budget accepts the federal Medicaid expansion dollars that Republicans have refused for nearly a decade.

This decision will allow us to cover more people AND save money. That’s a good deal for our state.

This is a budget that works for all of us.

I am hopeful that Republicans will join legislative Democrats at the table to work on this budget.

After all, it was the citizens of Wisconsin, who we represent, that helped create this vision.

Thank you.

Department of Children and Families: Division and policy leadership announced

March 4, 2019

Contact: Thomas McCarthy or Gina Paige ― 608-266-9000

 

DCF division and policy leadership announced

 

(MADISON) – Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary-designee Emilie Amundson appointed agency administrators and policy advisors today.

 

“The leaders serving the department bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge,” said Secretary-designee Amundson. “They believe in our agency’s mission of protecting children, strengthening families, and building communities. I am confident that they will approach their work with a willingness to forge relationships and operate outside of siloes to better serve all Wisconsinites.”

 

Erin Arango-Escalante has been named the administrator for the Division of Early Care and Education. Erin previously served as the executive director of a child care agency and as the early childhood special education consultant at the Department of Public Instruction. Erin developed a national program to support young multilingual learners and their families in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a number of states. Most recently, she was a leader at the largest national education consortium, focused on Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 multilingual learners.

 

Erin earned her Bachelor of Science in Cross-Categorical Special Education, a teaching certificate in English as a Second Language, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although Erin is a Madisonian, she met her husband in New York City where she started her career as an early intervention therapist and director of an early childhood program within a hospital for terminally ill children with disabilities. Erin is committed to supporting and celebrating Wisconsin’s diverse children and families. She believes high-quality programs involve community and child-focused perspectives to support cultural competence, family engagement, and social and emotional development. She and her family are actively involved in the Latino and Veteran communities in Dane County.

 

Fredi Bove will serve alongside Dianne Jenkins as a senior policy advisor to the secretary. Fredi previously served as the administrator for the Division of Safety and Permanence at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families from 2011-2019. Prior to joining DCF, she worked at the Department of Health Services (DHS)  for 16 years, where she served as the deputy administrator for the Division of Long Term Care and the budget and policy director. Fredi also worked for the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents for five years as the executive assistant. Before her service in Wisconsin state government, Fredi held a number of policy positions in the federal government.

 

Fredi completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science and Economics at Middlebury College in Vermont and her graduate work at Harvard University, where she earned a master’s in Public Policy. Fredi is the mother of two adult children and relatively recent grandmother of one grandson. In her spare time, Fredi enjoys traveling and reading and welcomes any travel destination or book recommendations.

 

Charmian Klyve will remain administrator for the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS). Charmian has extensive work experience in a number of Wisconsin counties responsible for both child protective services and juvenile justice programs. In addition to her direct child welfare, supervisory, and management roles, she served as director of a large Wisconsin County for over 16 years.

 

Charmian’s education background includes a Master’s degree in Social Work, Public Policy and Administration, as well as a law degree. While in private practice she represented families in various court matters, as well as serving in the role of Guardian ad Litem. She brings a unique skill set to the work of DMCPS and is passionate about providing quality services to the children and families of Milwaukee County.

 

Wendy Henderson has been named the administrator for the Division of Safety and Permanence. Wendy Henderson began her career over 20 years ago as an advocate and attorney representing low-income families in special education cases. She joined DCF in 2009 as a child protection performance analyst, working with counties to develop local strategic improvements in their child protection work. In 2013, Wendy became the first Director of Youth Services, a position she has held since then. Wendy has managed DCF’s efforts to improve outcomes for youth and at-risk of system involvement in the areas of education, housing, employment, well-being, and permanent connections. In 2016, Wendy managed the assumption of the state supervision of the community-based youth justice system.

 

Wendy brings a collaborative approach to state policy work, rooted in a deep belief that partnership is the best way to improve outcomes for the children and families of Wisconsin. She is committed to ensuring that the voices of those effected by state policies are incorporated into policy development. Wendy earned a Bachelor in Art with high honors from Wesleyan University and a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.

 

Bob Nikolay will remain the administrator for the Division of Management Services (DMS). DMS oversees various support functions for the department, including budget, finance, information technology services, performance, regional operations, and facilities. Bob previously served as the budget director for DCF and for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. He has also worked in the budget offices of the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and the former Department of Health and Social Services.

 

Bob has an undergraduate degree in Business with an Economics minor from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a graduate degree in Public Policy and Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bob and his wife, Nancy, an administrator in the Hartland-Lakeside School District, are the proud parents of two young adult children, Kyle and Connor.

 

Connie Chesnik has been named the administrator for the Division of Family and Economic Security. Connie previously served as a staff attorney for DHS, DWD and most recently at DCF, focusing her area of practice on the state’s child support and Wisconsin Works (W-2) programs. Connie has lectured frequently on child support related issues and has authored numerous articles. Connie also has extensive experience working with Wisconsin tribes on child support and W-2 issues.

 

Connie received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association and the National Child Support Enforcement Association. Connie married her college sweetheart, Kevin, and they have three grown daughters. Connie and Kevin enjoy traveling the world and are avid Badger and Brewers fans.

Dept. Natural Resources: Public has even greater opportunities to weigh in on proposed fish and wildlife rules at this year’s Spring Hearings

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CONTACT: Kari Lee-Zimmermann, DNR WCC Liaison, 608-266-0580
Larry Bonde, WCC Chair, 608-235-5825
Andrew Savagian, DNR Office of Communications, 608-261-5422

MADISON-The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Fish and Wildlife Spring Hearings & Wisconsin Conservation Congress’ Annual County Meetings will be held in each county of the state, on Monday, April 8, starting at 7 p.m. People interested in natural resources management will have the opportunity to provide their input and testimony on proposed rule changes and advisory questions relating to conservation and fish and wildlife management in Wisconsin.

This year’s Spring Hearings will offer additional opportunity for the public to weigh in. The DNR and WCC will provide an online option for input for those people who aren’t able to attend a hearing in person or for those who’d rather provide input at the hearing using their smart phone. For security, and to ensure the integrity of the results, individuals will be required to sign in to use the online version, just as they do in person. People who want to attend in person can find meeting locations [PDF] on the DNR website.

The 2019 Spring Hearing questionnaire [PDF] is available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keywords “Spring Hearings.” An online input form will go live at 7 p.m. on April 8 on that page and remain open until 7 p.m. on April 11.

“This is the first year we have offered an alternate way for citizens to provide feedback on the Spring Hearing questions,” said Larry Bonde, Chair of the WCC. “We know there are citizens who work second shift, have little children at home, are farming, or for other various reasons can’t physically be there, but want to be heard. We are excited to provide a greater opportunity for input to those people who want to be a part of the process but otherwise couldn’t participate.”

People who attend a hearing in person but would rather provide their input using the online option instead of the paper form, can choose to get a random verifiable number (RVN) at the hearing instead of an input form. The RVN can then be entered into the online form when prompted. Providing an RVN will allow your input to be compiled along with the input provided by the in-person attendees in the county in which you attended. People who are unable to attend a hearing can still provide their input using the online tool. Responses gathered this way (without a random verifiable number) will be compiled and considered as part of the overall input (not county specific).

“We have security systems in place to identify any inappropriate use of the online system and we will continuously monitor the system for intentional misuse. The DNR and the WCC will analyze the data received from the input tool and consider any inappropriate attempts to influence the outcome when they interpret it,” said Bonde.

The Spring Hearing input process allows the public the opportunity to comment and register their support or opposition to DNR proposed rule changes as well as Congress proposals that could someday become the rules that regulate fishing, hunting, trapping and other outdoor recreation activities in Wisconsin. This year the DNR will be presenting 49 proposed rule change questions for input.

Citizens may also submit ideas to address conservation needs or concerns they observe through the WCC resolution process. County residents have the option to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and to vote for the WCC delegates to represent them on the Conservation Congress. However, providing input on resolutions or participating in the WCC election will continue to require in-person participation.

People interested in attending the hearings are encouraged to review the questionnaire online prior to the April 8 hearings and should arrive at the hearing location early to register before the hearings begin at 7 p.m.

For additional information on the Spring Hearings, please visit dnr.wi.gov and search key words “Spring Hearings.”

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection:  Reminds farmers to report storm losses, offers resources

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

MADISON – With more snow in the forecast this weekend, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) reminds farmers to report winter storm losses to their county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office as soon as possible. These reports are essential to making the determination whether to seek a disaster designation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary.

“This week, I had the opportunity to talk directly with farmers and tour their farms that have suffered extensive barn and shed damage due to the ice, snow, and wind,” said DATCP Secretary Brad Pfaff. “It is devastating to hear about the livestock losses and extreme stress the farmers are working under to take care of their animals in this very difficult situation.”

A disaster designation in their county would make farmers eligible for low-interest loans if they cannot access private financing. 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.

Contacts for county FSA offices are available online. Farmers should also report all property damage and losses, including photographs when possible, to their insurers. In some communities, local officials may direct farmers to report damage to additional area contacts.

“Our team at DATCP continues to work with Governor Evers and his staff to share information, support farmers, and provide assistance,” added Pfaff. “We are working to connect the numerous agencies, collaborating with Wisconsin Emergency Management, the Department of Transportation, and others, to ensure farmers can access all available services.”

DATCP is available for farmers needing resources. Farmers can contact the Wisconsin Farm Center staff at 800-942-2474 for assistance with mediation, financial analysis, and emotional stress. Farmers can also contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection staff at 800-422-7128 for advice on hiring contractors and checking their complaint history before signing a contract.

“Thank you to all the farmers, families, friends, and neighbors who are working to help each other as they work through the immediate challenges and make decisions for the future,” concluded Pfaff. “Please be safe out there as the snow continues to fall.”

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Ginseng Board nomination period open until April 1

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Media Contact: Rick Hummell, Senior Communications Specialist
608-224-5041 [email protected]

MADISON – Nominations are being accepted for two open seats on the seven-member Ginseng Board of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will accept nominations postmarked by April 1, 2019. Completed nomination forms must include signatures from at least five eligible growers other than the nominee. The affidavit of eligibility, located on the nomination form, must also be completed and notarized.

DATCP will mail nomination forms to eligible growers. Growers who have not received nomination forms by March 15 or who have other questions about the nomination process can contact Debbie Gegare, DATCP Market Order Coordinator, at 608-224-5116 or [email protected]

DATCP will conduct the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin election from May 15 through June 10, 2019. Elected producers will serve three-year terms beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2022.

DATCP administers elections for Wisconsin commodity marketing boards. To learn more about the market order boards, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/MarketingBoards.aspx

Find more DATCP news in our Newsroom, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Nominations accepted for Cherry Board until April 1

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Media Contacts: Rick Hummell, Senior Communications Specialist
608-224-5041 [email protected]

MADISON – Wisconsin tart cherry growers may now nominate candidates for two board member positions on the Wisconsin Cherry Board.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will accept nominations postmarked by April 1, 2019. Completed nomination forms must include signatures from at least five eligible growers other than the nominee. The affidavit of eligibility, located on the nomination form, must also be completed and notarized.

DATCP will mail nomination forms to eligible growers. Growers who have not received nomination forms by March 15 or who have other questions about the nomination process can contact Debbie Gegare, DATCP Market Order Coordinator, at 608-224-5116 or [email protected]

DATCP will conduct the Wisconsin Cherry Board election from May 15 through June 10. The elected producers will serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2022.

DATCP administers elections for Wisconsin commodity marketing boards. To learn more about the market order boards, visit https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/About_Us/MarketingBoards.aspx

Dept. of Children and Families: Honors six social workers for outstanding service to families

Contact: Tom McCarthy or Gina Paige ― 608-266-9000

(MADISON) – In recognition of Gov. Tony Evers declaring March as Social Work Month in Wisconsin, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) honored the efforts of six child welfare professionals with the 2019 Caring for Kids award.

DCF Secretary-designee Emilie Amundson presented the awards during a ceremony today at the State Capitol. The six professionals represent Lutheran Social Services, University of Wisconsin – Madison’s School of Social Work, and Milwaukee, Racine and Winnebago counties. The individuals exemplify dedication and passion in service to the people of their communities.

“Child welfare professionals are devoted to helping people overcome difficult situations and cope with the trauma they have experienced,” said DCF Secretary Amundson. “They are the unsung heroes within our communities and I am proud to honor such amazing and compassionate individuals – many of whom dedicated their entire professional lives to the children and families of Wisconsin.”

Presented with awards were:

  • Emma Lutzke of Lutheran Social Services
  • Dutch Leydel of Racine County Human Services Department
  • Jeanne Nutter of UW-Madison’s School of Social Work
  • Sara Strong of DCF’s Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services
  • Pam Weber and Corey Roth of Winnebago County Department of Human Services

Award selection criteria included years of service and experience, adapting to new initiatives, advocacy, leadership and a proven record of ensuring the well-being of children and families.

To learn more about the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, visit www.dcf.wisconsin.gov or follow @WisDCF on Twitter.

Dept. of Health Services: Relaunches tobacco prevention campaign to address youth e-cigarette epidemic

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

In early 2019, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) issued a rare health advisory on youth e-cigarette use in response to new data showing skyrocketing vape use among Wisconsin teens (from 8% of high school students in 2014 to 20% in 2018). DHS is continuing to build on the awareness created by the advisory with the relaunch of their Tobacco is Changing media campaign across the state.

Tobacco is Changing, which originally debuted in November 2017, focuses on providing education to Wisconsin parents on the candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products enticing today’s kids.

“We’re concerned about kids using any tobacco product. Tobacco can harm developing minds and bodies, and teens are more likely to stay addicted as adults, leading to harmful and fatal health consequences down the road”, said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

View the entire news release.

Dept. of Justice: Files brief in U.S. Supreme Court defending Wisconsin’s implied consent impaired driving law

MADISON, Wis. – On behalf of the State of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Justice today filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court defending the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s implied consent law, Wis. Stat. § 343.305, as it applies to an unconscious intoxicated driver.

“We need to reduce drunk and drugged driving in Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “The state law DOJ is defending provides a tool that law enforcement officers can use as they work to keep our roads safe.”

Like the other 49 states, Wisconsin has an implied consent law that deems an intoxicated driver to have consented to a blood test if police have probable cause of intoxicated driving. The present case concerns a challenge by a defendant, Gerald Mitchell, who argued that the law’s application to him while unconscious violated the Fourth Amendment.

In July 2018, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld Wisconsin’s law. The court approved of the statute’s presumption that an unconscious intoxicated driver has not withdrawn consent for a blood draw, allowing police to administer a test. Mitchell then sought review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Today, in Mitchell v. Wisconsin, DOJ filed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm Wisconsin’s Supreme Court and uphold the implied consent laws application to unconscious, intoxicated drivers. Wisconsin’s brief points to the toll impaired driving takes on Wisconsinites and the statute’s importance to law enforcement for combating drunk and drugged driving on our roads.

A copy of the brief can be found here.

Dept. of Justice: Office of School Safety releases comprehensive school security framework

WEST MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul announced today the release of the Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocoland Wisconsin Comprehensive School Security Framework, providing educators and partners a comprehensive set of policies that support school safety efforts. The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of School Safety (OSS) is also this week hosting a free school threat assessment conference for educators, behavioral health professionals and law enforcement.

“The Comprehensive School Security Framework and the Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol can assist teachers, administrators, and others who are working to make our schools safer,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We hope that schools across the state will use these resources.” 

The Wisconsin School Threat Assessment Protocol provides schools access to a threat assessment process developed by subject matter experts from Wisconsin, and reviewed by the National Threat Assessment Center, a division of the United States Secret Service. School Threat Assessments can be applied as an early intervention tool to help identify students that may need additional resources or support, in order to prevent them from committing violence. The use of a school-based threat assessment and team is recommended by the U.S. Department of Education and United States Secret Service. 

“Keeping our schools safe is a priority for the U.S. Secret Service.  We appreciate the opportunity to have worked with the Wisconsin Office of School Safety on this initiative, which will greatly enhance prevention efforts in the state. We remain committed to furthering this partnership, and we applaud the Wisconsin Department of Justice for recognizing the importance of threat assessment and early intervention,” said Dr. Lina Alathari, Chief of the National Threat Assessment Center at the U.S. Secret Service.

The Comprehensive School Security Framework provides a comprehensive set of policies, practices, and procedures to help guide local efforts to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from violence. The framework provides best practices for preventing violence through climate and culture, student engagement, school policies, and physical structure. The framework also provides guidance on assessing potential violence indicators and diverting identified hazards before violence takes place. When violence occurs, the framework addresses how proper planning, preparation and training can minimize the severity of the incident and help the school recover more quickly.

“These resources provide critical policies and tools to keep our students, families and staff physically and psychologically safe. These materials provide the framework to develop, improve, and implement best practices in threat assessment. Systems guidance is provided to increase the collective capacity of school and community members to recognize the risk factors and warning signs that indicate when further stabilization and support of an individual is necessary,” said Trish Kilpin, a school social worker in Greendale. “These materials empower and support threat assessment teams to make decisions, mitigate threat, and take actions, and are in the best interest of our schools and community.” 

Each of these guides were developed in partnership with educators, law enforcement, and mental health professionals, including the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin School Psychologists Association, Wisconsin School Safety Coordinators Association, Wisconsin Safe and Health Schools Center, U.S. Secret Service, and many others. 

“The Comprehensive School Security Framework and the School Threat Assessment Protocol each provide school districts throughout the state important tools in ensuring the safety of their students and staff. The framework is an easy to use, proactive resource for districts developing a comprehensive school safety plan. Plans developed using this framework will be based on the most recently identified effective practices. TheSchool Threat Assessment Protocol also provides a methodical approach for districts to use in evaluating and responding to potential threats making sure they are neither ignored nor handled in a one size fits all manner. When districts use this protocol, they will find they are not just identifying threatening behaviors but also the underlying causes of the behavior,” said State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor. 

The Office of School Safety is also holding a school threat assessment conference in Lake Geneva, Wis. this week. More than 250 educators and law enforcement from around the state will receive training from state and national exerts on how to establish a comprehensive safety framework in schools. Topics at the conference include threat reporting, school-based threat assessments, and interviewing children with disabilities, information sharing, and training from the National Association of School Psychologists on the effects of trauma in a critical incident.

Learn more about the DOJ Office of School Safety here: https://www.doj.state.wi.us/office-school-safety/office-school-safety

Dept. of Military Affairs: Annual Governor’s Conference on Emergency Management & Homeland Security to highlight communications in times of disaster

Contact: Andrew Beckett (608) 527-6073 or Lori Getter (608) 516-0293 | [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – The 52nd Annual Governor’s Conference on Emergency Management & Homeland Security will take place March 21-22 at the Kalahari Resort & Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells. Among the many speakers at the event will be a keynote presentation on the response to the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, which killed 58 people and injured 851 others.

More than 400 people from emergency management, fire, law enforcement, homeland security, and other first responder agencies are expected to attend this year’s conference. Some of the presenters and topics include:

-Former Clark County Emergency Management staff member Irene Navis and Misty Robinson, a senior public health preparedness planner for the Southern Nevada Health District. They will discuss lessons learned during the response and recovery to the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.
-Sun Prairie Fire Chief Christopher Garrison, who will discuss the response to a gas leak explosion in downtown Sun Prairie that killed one person and destroyed multiple buildings.
-Emergency Management officials and first responders from Dodge County, where an explosion at a Beaver Dam apartment building killed one person and forced officials to burn down the structure.
-Several breakout sessions featuring presentations from experts in fields such as cybersecurity, emergency communications, and public health, along with representative from the National Weather Service.

The conference agenda is available at https://wigcot.eventsair.com/wem2019/agenda

Media interested in covering the conference can call Andrew Beckett at (608) 572-6073 or [email protected]. You may also contact Lori Getter at (608) 516-0293 or [email protected]

Be sure to follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ReadyWisconsin) and @ReadyWisconsin on Twitter for updates from the conference. We will be using the hashtag #wigovconference2019 for this event.

Dept. of Natural Resources: National Groundwater Awareness Week highlights importance of water resource found deep within Wisconsin

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CONTACT: Bruce Rheineck, DNR Groundwater Section Chief, 608-266-2104 (desk), 608-235-0489 (cell)

MADISON – Underscoring the importance of Wisconsin’s valuable groundwater resources, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is reminding state residents to protect and conserve water as part of National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 10-16. The agency will provide resources to help people learn about the importance of groundwater and how it impacts our daily lives.

“Groundwater is one of the most widely used and valuable resources on the planet, used for drinking, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing and many other purposes, so it’s important to protect it,” said Bruce Rheineck, DNR groundwater section chief.

Safe groundwater means safe drinking water for Wisconsin families. – Photo credit: DNR
Safe groundwater means safe drinking water for Wisconsin families. Photo credit: DNR
Approximately two thirds of the people living in Wisconsin, or nearly 3.9 million, get their drinking water from groundwater. Adequate supplies of safe groundwater are crucial not only to the health of those families, but also for the continued growth of agricultural production and cutting-edge industries in Wisconsin. In fact, the importance of safe drinking water is the foundation of Governor Evers’ declaration that 2019 is the Year of Clean Water and the reason for several initiatives included in his biennial budget proposal.

During this week, homeowners with private wells are reminded to “Test, Tend, Treat” their well. It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure their well water is safe to drink. The “Test, Tend, Treat” method provides some insight to understanding when to hire a water treatment professional.

Test – Water should be sampled on a routine basis, as water quality can change over time. Well water pollutants are often colorless and odorless, making detection at home difficult. The DNR’s well water testing web page has ample information on drinking water supply testing procedures and how to understand the results.

Tend – Regular inspections of wells can protect and reduce the possibility of future issues. Annual inspections should be completed by a licensed or certified water well system professional. Between professional inspections, well owners are encouraged to visually inspect the well to look for any warning signs which might include a cracked well cap, debris on or around the wellhead, or ponding or flooding around the well after storm events.

Treat – Based on the type of contaminants reported in the test results, several types of treatment options are available. Information about water supply treatment options is available from the University of Wisconsin Extension. Wisconsin has established a product approval program for home water treatment devices. Be certain that any treatment unit you purchase or lease has been approved by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

For more information about National Groundwater Awareness Week, visit www.ngwa.org. More information about groundwater in Wisconsin is available at the DNR’s groundwater web site.

Dept. of Natural Resources: Public hearings provide opportunity to provide feedback for proposed aquaculture rule

CONTACT: Meredith Penthorn, DNR fisheries management policy specialist, 608-316-0080

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will host a public hearing to collect feedback regarding a permanent rule pertaining to aquaculture Monday, March 18.

The proposed aquaculture rule states that the department aims to maintain the natural genetic boundaries of native and stocked fish populations, and that fish stocking activities are meant to restore or enhance naturally reproducing fish populations and should not interfere with natural reproduction. If this permanent rule is approved, DNR staff will implement a policy to accept donations of live fish or fish eggs from private partners to contribute to stocking efforts in waters with public access. This policy will provide continued quality fishing opportunities to the people of the state

The aquaculture rule meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 18 at the Fitchburg DNR Service Center, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road.

Written comments will be accepted through March 18. For more information regarding the aquaculture rule, contact Meredith Penthorn, DNR fisheries policy specialist, or visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “proposed permanent rules.”

Dept. of Natural Resources: Public hearings provide opportunity to provide feedback for proposed permanent catfish rule

CONTACT: Meredith Penthorn, DNR fisheries management policy specialist, 608-316-0080

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff will host public hearings to collect feedback regarding a proposed permanent rule pertaining to catfish harvest.

The proposed permanent rule follows an emergency rule, which was implemented to protect wintering catfish from overharvest, sets size and bag limits, season dates and gear restrictions to regulate catfish harvest with a bow and arrow, crossbow or by hand. This rule does not impact hook and line regulations for catfish.

Public hearings will be held at 5 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Tuesday, March 19, La Crosse – State Office Building Room B-19 and B-20, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road;
  • Wednesday, March 20, Oshkosh – Coughlin Center, 625 E County Road Y; and
  • Wednesday, March 27, Fitchburg – Fitchburg DNR Service Center, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road.

Written comments will be accepted through March 27, 2019. See the hearing notice for contact information. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “proposed permanent rules.”

Dept. of Revenue: Brings back the Wisconsin Economic Outlook

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

Newest Report Forecasts Steady Growth

Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca announced earlier this week in a speech to the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) that the Department of Revenue (DOR) has resumed publishing the Wisconsin Economic Outlook.  Published quarterly from the late 1970s until 2015, the report provided an overview on the state’s current economic conditions and a forecast of critical economic metrics.  Today, theWisconsin Economic Outlook March 2019 Report is now available.

“Our department has a talented team of economists, and they work hard to provide the best economic and tax data possible for Wisconsin businesses, government, media, and academia.  This publication provides decision makers with a window into where the Wisconsin economy is now and, more importantly, where it’s headed,” notes Secretary Barca.  “This kind of information is essential for planning and forecasting. We believe groups such as WEDA who are promoting growth and economic development should find this information valuable.”

The Wisconsin Economic Outlook is one piece of a broader collection of reports and interactive data tools assembled by the Department of Revenue designed to provide more information to the public.

The Wisconsin Economic Outlook examines a variety of metrics including employment, housing, and personal income. The March 2019 Report forecast shows:

  • The U.S. and Wisconsin economies will continue growing in 2019, but at a slower pace as the impact of the federal fiscal stimulus starts to fade. Tight job markets and lower oil prices continue to support personal consumption growth.
  • Wisconsin’s unemployment rate will remain below the national rate, while both stay near historical lows.
  • Wisconsin employment grew 0.8% in 2018.  The forecast calls for similar growth in the next two years.
  • Wisconsin personal income grew 3.6% in 2017, somewhat below growth nationwide. It is expected to increase 3.8% in 2018 and 3.9% in 2019, compared to 4.5% growth nationwide in both years.

Dept. of Revenue: Collections, February FY2019

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Contact:  Patty Mayers, 608.266.2300
[email protected]

 

General Purpose Revenue ($ in thousands – rounded)

  Collections for Month Collections to Date
Revenue Source FY18 FY19 % change FY18 FY19 % change
       
Individual Income          284,274          374,775 31.8%      5,296,834      5,392,945 1.8%
         
General Sales & Use          390,591          387,620 -0.8%      3,195,639      3,309,399 3.6%
         
Corporate              4,025            28,024 596.3%          412,615          512,864 24.3%
         
Excise Taxes            50,044            54,112 8.1%          403,856          404,954 0.3%
         
Other              4,854              4,903 1.0%          232,639          241,378 3.8%
         
Total GPR          733,787          849,433 15.8%      9,541,583      9,861,540 3.4%

Notes:

  1. Individual Income includes 66.0% of pass-thru withholding. Corporate Income includes the remaining 34.0%.
  2. The Other category includes estate, utility, and real estate transfer tax collections.
  3. Total does not include insurance premium taxes.
  4. This report is generated from the STAR Accounting System. Timing differences may cause the amounts in this report to differ from reports produced by the Department of Administration.
  5. All data are preliminary and unaudited.

Dept. of Revenue: Notices sent to owners of $4.6 million in unclaimed property

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CONTACT: Patty Mayers, Communications Director

608.266.2300 or [email protected]

Earlier this week, the Department of Revenue (DOR) sent 20,312 unclaimed property checks worth $2.2 million to people matched with unclaimed property. Additionally, the department sent 301 letters to potential claimants for properties worth more than $2,000 each. If all they all respond, the payout will be worth a total of $2.4 million.

“We want people to know about this,” says Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca. “More importantly, we want people to respond for their own benefit – to claim what’s rightfully theirs. If you receive one of these letters, be sure to follow the instructions and claim your property.”

CHECKS: If the matched unclaimed property value is $2,000 or less, you will receive a check that you may cash because DOR has already verified you are the owner of that unclaimed property.
LETTERS: If the matched unclaimed property value is more than $2,000, you will receive a letter with instructions on how to claim the property. Follow the instructions on the letter to make an official claim.

In June 2015, DOR launched the matching program. It makes the process more efficient and benefits those taxpayers who may not even be aware they have unclaimed property. In total, the agency has returned $24.6 million in unclaimed property since 2015.

Unclaimed property includes funds from savings or checking accounts, uncashed dividends, insurance policies, or other accounts that the owner may have forgotten. Institutions such as banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and other businesses are required to report unclaimed property to the department each year by November 1. The department then holds the property for safe keeping until it is claimed by the owner.

Visit DOR’s Unclaimed Property webpage for more information about the program. You can also search an online database for unclaimed property in Wisconsin.

Dept. of Tourism: Gov. Evers honors five for excellence in tourism industry at annual conference

GOVERNOR EVERS HONORS FIVE FOR EXCELLENCE IN TOURISM INDUSTRY AT ANNUAL CONFERENCE

MEDIA CONTACT:
Craig Trost, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
[email protected]; 608-267-3773

MADISON, Wis. (March 20, 2019) – Governor Tony Evers presented five recipients with the Governor’s Tourism Award for their outstanding contributions to the state’s hospitality and travel industry. The awardees were recognized during the closing dinner at the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Wisconsin Dells.

“Talent is what drives success and these five honorees are examples of Wisconsin’s biggest tourism assets – the hardworking people in our hospitality industry,” said Governor Evers. “While Wisconsin’s scenic beauty and iconic attractions continue to bring travelers to the state, it’s the hospitality industry and the way they treat our visitors that keeps people returning here year after year.”

Sponsored by the Governor’s Council on Tourism, the Governor’s Tourism Awards recognize individuals, organizations and businesses for their excellence, dedication and impact on Wisconsin’s travel and hospitality industry.

“We congratulate this year’s nominees on their enthusiasm, creativity and determination in promoting Wisconsin as a top tourism destination,” said Tourism Secretary–designee Sara Meaney. “We appreciate and acknowledge each and every nominee’s contribution to our state’s tourism industry. Tonight’s five honorees should be proud to have been selected from such a strong pool of talent.”

The five recipients are as follows:

Rising Star Award Winner
Cambria Mueller, Door County Visitor Bureau

Cambria joined the Door County Visitor Bureau in 2018. With a unique ability to understand the needs of the 11 county communities, Cambria jumped into her new role with an impressive level of professionalism and leadership. She is always willing to assist with marketing plans, make suggestions on industry practices and arrange meetings to clarify uncertainties. She has spearheaded a project that involves working with each individual community to create a county–wide wayfinding design program. With Cambria’s support, the brands of Door County’s communities have been enhanced and each community organization has grown stronger.

Governor’s Tourism Stewardship Award Winner
Frog Bay Tribal National Park, Bayfield

Located on Lake Superior, Frog Bay Tribal National Park is the first tribal national park in the U.S. It was created with the goal to permanently protect the area, which has ecological and cultural importance, for future generations of Red Cliff tribal members and visitors alike. Frog Bay Tribal National Park is within a conservation management area that protects the headwaters of the Frog Creek and conserves a stretch of Lake Superior shoreline. The park is also part of a larger effort to restore original reservation lands back to tribal ownership. The creation of the park sends the message that Native Wisconsin is open for business and invites the world to explore its lands.

Governor’s Tourism Award for Arts, Culture & Heritage Nominees
Peninsula School of Art, Fish Creek

For over half a century, Peninsula School of Art in Door County has been dedicated to the belief that everyone deserves access to the arts. PenArt’s education programs, exhibits and events open doors for curious minds of all ages and abilities to learn, discover and explore through the visual arts. Recently, PenArt has focused on increasing the reach and quality of its programs. Among them are PenArt’s annual Door County Plein Art Festival which attracts nearly 10,000 attendees for free, family–centered events, and the Family Art Days outreach program which provides accessible art experiences to residents and visitors of all backgrounds, serving more than 3,000 people each year. PenArt’s history, reputation and unique programming have enhanced Door County’s economic and cultural life and put Wisconsin on the map as an arts destination.

Service Excellence Award Winner
Lars Johnson, Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik

Now in its 70th year of business, Al Johnson’s is Door County’s famous goats–on–the–roof restaurant and a top restaurant destination in Wisconsin. From his earliest days as a businessman, Al recognized the importance of service to customers, employees and the local community. Al never asked his employees to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself, and was often found serving food, clearing tables and washing dishes when needed. When Al’s grandson passed away from a blood ailment, the restaurant created a nonprofit organization to fundraise for medical research, which has raised over $220,000 since 2013. Every year, Al Johnson’s also donates to individuals in need, nonprofits and youth organizations.

Governor’s Tourism Legacy Award Winner
Trisha Pugal, Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association

Since 1994, Trisha has served as the president and CEO of Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association. Tricia is totally committed to Association members and their concerns and is always willing to lend a helping hand no matter the size of the property or the position of the person asking. Her work moving forward hotel room tax reform and legislation has positively impacted tourism marketing budgets throughout the state, with the end goal of providing these communities with the money they earned through tax dollars generated from overnight stays. Trisha is recognized locally and nationally and is often called upon to speak on tourism related topics and issues both in Wisconsin and across the country.

About the Wisconsin Department of Tourism
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the State as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships. The Department plays a significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin. The portal for traveler information can be found at: www.TravelWisconsin.com.

Dept. of Transportation: Nightly lane closures planned on I-39/90 southbound near WIS 26/US 14 interchanges in Janesville

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Motorists are advised to drive with caution and be alert for crews and equipment in this area.

Nightly lane closures are scheduled for I-39/90 southbound near the WIS 26 interchange (Exit 171A) and US 14 interchange (Exit 171B) in Janesville. The overnight lane closures will start Saturday (March 9) from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and continue into next week. No ramp closures are anticipated this weekend (March 8-10) at the WIS 26 and US 14 interchanges.

Motorists are urged to plan ahead and allow extra time to safely reach their destination. Motorists are also reminded to be alert for crews and equipment, and drive with caution in all work zones.

These operations and overnight lane closures are weather dependent and subject to change.

For more information regarding traffic impacts, transportation news and improvement project updates in Wisconsin’s southwest region:

Travel information on Wisconsin highways can be found at www.511wi.gov.
Follow us on Twitter: @WisDOTsouthwest for regional alerts from the Traffic Incident Alert System, construction project updates and more.
Visit the Southwest Region’s 511 website: projects.511wi.gov/region/southwest.
Alerts and updates provided via these sites are not intended for use while driving. When driving, your focus should always be on the road.

-WisDOT-

Dept. of Transportation: Southbound I-39/90 expansion to start this week, Madison to Edgerton

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For more information, contact:

Steven Theisen, WisDOT Project Communications Manager

(608) 884-1230, [email protected]

Southbound I-39/90 expansion to start this week, Madison to Edgerton
Motorists encouraged to plan ahead, be alert and drive with caution.

This week, crews will begin to reconstruct and expand Interstate 39/90 southbound from County AB, just south of Madison, to East Church Road, about two miles north of the US 51 interchange (Stoughton Exit 156) in Dane County. Nighttime single lane closures are anticipated during the first few weeks of construction, and will occur between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Monday through Friday. During these operations, traffic shifts are anticipated within these project limits to accommodate future traffic staging.

By mid-April, all Interstate traffic will shift onto the northbound side via crossovers, while the adjacent ten-miles of southbound Interstate is reconstructed and expanded. Two lanes of traffic will remain open in each direction, with northbound and southbound traffic separated by a median barrier wall. Please stay in your lane and follow the posted speed limits to safely navigate these areas.

During construction, all ramps will remain open at the County N interchange (Exit 147). Occasional nighttime ramp closures may occur and message boards will provide advanced notice of the overnight closures.

Local roads under I-39/90 (i.e., County MN, Drotning Road, County W and County B) are anticipated to be closed during the construction season for bridge work. Motorists must use alternate local routes during these closures. Access for emergency vehicles will be provided.

All lane restrictions and work operations are weather dependent and subject to change. Motorists are reminded to be alert, eliminate distractions when driving and do not tailgate.

The $41.4 million project is expected to be completed in mid-November 2019.

Visit the I-39/90 Expansion Project website, www.i39-90.wi.gov, to register for project email updates and follow the I-39/90 Project on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WisconsinI3990Project.

Dept. of Workforce Development: Secretary-designee Frostman visits Milwaukee’s Gen. Mitchell Airport to highlight project SEARCH program, discuss budget

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CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce
 
Gov. Evers’ budget fully funds Project SEARCH program
MILWAUKEE – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman today visited Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport to highlight Wisconsin’s commitment to Project SEARCH while also touting Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 Wisconsin State Budget which fully funds the Project SEARCH program. Secretary-designee Frostman toured the airport, met with Project SEARCH interns and sat-down with officials from General Mitchell, Milwaukee Public Schools and Goodwill to discuss the program.
 
“Preparing our future workforce through innovative programs like Project SEARCH is vital to Wisconsin’s success, and I applaud General Mitchell, Goodwill Industries, Milwaukee Public Schools and DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation staff for the commitment they demonstrate to the success of these talented Project SEARCH interns every day,” Secretary-designee Frostman said. “I am proud that Governor Evers’ budget continues to fund Project SEARCH, recognizing the value that individuals with disabilities bring not only to Wisconsin’s workforce, but our communities and state as a whole.”
 
Project SEARCH is an international program operating in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland. The program partnership includes a local business, a school or schools, DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and a vocational services agency. The business provides onsite training in both a classroom and work setting while the school provides the instructor and DVR works with the service agencies to provide job coaches and other supports to the students while they participate in the program. During the 2017-2018 school year, 197 individuals with disabilities participated in Project SEARCH Wisconsin, with 191 graduating from the program (97% graduation rate).
 
For more information please visit DWD’s Project SEARCH website.

Disability Rights Wisconsin: Applauds judge’s ruling invalidating extraordinary session laws

 

For Immediate Release

March 21, 2019

Contact: Kit Kerschensteiner, Director of Legal/Advocacy Services (608)-267-0214

 

Disability Rights Wisconsin Applauds Judge’s Ruling Invalidating

 Extraordinary Session Laws.

 

DRW was pleased with the ruling of the Dane County Circuit Court today which struck down the entirety of the “extraordinary session” as unconstitutional.  As part of this ‘extraordinary session’ provisions were adopted that made dramatic changes to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. Those changes put Wisconsinites with disabilities at risk and undermine DRW’s ability to effectively carry out its federally designated protection and advocacy functions as well as have wide-reaching negative effects on Wisconsin voters, including those with disabilities who rely on early voting.

“As an organization dedicated to the rights of people with disabilities we feel encouraged that the court saw fit to enjoin the legislature’s ‘extraordinary session’ which stops the immediate effect that these laws would have had on individuals who rely on Medicaid services through programs such as Family Care for their well-being and very survival”  stated Kit Kerschensteiner, Director of Legal and Advocacy Services at Disability Rights Wisconsin.

While multiple lawsuits have challenged various provisions of the legislation, this lawsuit is the only one that sought to invalidate the entire “extraordinary session” as unconstitutional. It was also the first to reach a hearing on the merits.

 

Disability Rights Wisconsin is the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy system for the State of Wisconsin, charged with protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and keeping individuals free from abuse and neglect.

 

 

Disability Rights Wisconsin: Turn out the disability vote April 2nd

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Contact:
Barbara Beckert
[email protected]
414-292-2724

The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition is working to ensure a strong turnout of voters with
disabilities at the polls, and to address barriers that voters with disabilities may encounter when exercising this important civil right. People with disabilities accounted for over 35 million eligible voters in 2016, according to Rutgers University. That figure jumps to over 62 million eligible voters when you count family members in the same household – over 25% of eligible voters.

Although the impact of the disability vote is significant, voter participation among people with disabilities decreased in recent presidential elections — from 57.3 percent in 2008 to 56.8 percent in 2012 and 55.9 percent in 2016. An October 2017 study by the US Government Accountability Office found nearly two-thirds of the polling places inspected on Election Day 2016 had at least one impediment to people with disabilities. Other factors include a lack of training for poll workers, limited access to registration materials, and requirements for photo ID.

To ensure that Wisconsinites with disabilities can fully participate in the electoral process, the law provides these protections:

• By law, an accessible voting machine must be available in every polling place. This machine will allow voters to independently mark the ballot.
• If a voter needs help marking the ballot, he or she may have a person assist them. A voter may not receive assistance from an employer or a representative of that voter’s labor
organization.
• If a voter inside the polling location cannot sign the poll list due to a physical disability, they should inform a poll worker.
• Curbside voting should be available if a voter cannot enter the polling place due to a disability on Election Day. Contact the municipal clerk for information.
• Other reasonable accommodations can be requested. Speak to the chief inspector at the
polling place or the municipal clerk.
• Homeless voters are eligible to vote in Wisconsin. When registering, they may use a letter
from a social service agency as proof of residence. They will need to show a photo ID.
https://elections.wi.gov/node/3622

For more information on disability related voting, visit www.disabilityvote.org and the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition Facebook www.facebook.com/wisconsindisabilityvote/.

• Our Frequently Asked Questions for the April 2nd Election and other resources are available at www.disabilityvote.org/
• For disability related questions about voting, or help addressing a concern or filing a complaint, contact the Disability Rights Wisconsin Voter Hotline at 1-844-DIS-VOTE / 844-347-8683.
• The Wisconsin Election Commission toll free help line is available to answer all voting related questions at 1-866-VOTE-WIS.

The Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition is a project of
Disability Rights Wisconsin and the
Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities.

DNC: Milwaukee to host Democratic National Convention

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DNC Press Contact:

Brandon Gassaway

National Press Secretary

[email protected]

The Democratic National Committee announced today that Milwaukee, WI, will host the Democratic National Convention on July 13-16, 2020. This is the first time the Democratic Party has held a national convention in the Midwest outside of Chicago since 1916.

After a decade of Republican attacks on working people, labor unions, and communities of color, Democrats saw some of their biggest and most historic gains last year in Wisconsin with the election of Governor Tony Evers, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, and Attorney General Josh Kaul, and the reelection of Senator Tammy Baldwin. Today’s announcement signals that the party is doubling down on its winning strategy in this critical battleground state.

“If we’re going to take back the White House, restore the guard rails of our democracy, and make government work for American families, we need to earn it,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “We need to fight alongside our brothers and sisters in labor to build a brighter future together, and empower the diversity of our party and country. This choice is a statement of our values, and I’m thrilled Milwaukee will host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The Democratic Party is the party of working people, and Milwaukee is a city of working people. We saw in this last election what we can accomplish when we come together, invest, and fight for working people, and that was proven right here in Wisconsin. I want to thank the leaders in Houston and Miami for all their hard work throughout this process. They both put forward competitive proposals that I’m sure will lead them to hosting future conventions.”

“This is a great day for the city of Milwaukee and for the state of Wisconsin,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “Milwaukee is a first-class city, and we are ready to showcase Milwaukee on one of the largest stages in the world.”

The site selection process was led by Jess O’Connell and consisted of a Technical Advisory Group, which included seasoned veterans who have worked several cycles of conventions and are experts in the areas of housing, transportation, infrastructure, security, accessibility, and arena and production logistics.  These experts spent at least six months traveling to Milwaukee, Miami and Houston to see what each city had to offer. The RFP process was led by Leah Daughtry, which consisted of reviewing bids and determining the three finalists for this process.

The Milwaukee bid committee included Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Governor Tony Evers, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Milwaukee Bucks Senior Vice President Alex Lasry.

For updates as they become available, we are encouraging people to register here.

DWD: Rewarding Wisconsin workers

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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

 

Being a relative newcomer to politics and government, I’m astonished at how often the word “agenda” is thrown around. Listening to soundbites and reading headlines, apparently, everybody has one and they’re something to be afraid of. From a professional communication standpoint, I just hope everyone’s agenda is neatly formatted with bullet points and is less than a page.

Having sifted and winnowed through what’s true from what’s false when it comes to bluster and hot air, I’ve come to interpret “agenda” as meaning a collection of values or a set of proposals that reflect, or when put into action would manifest, those values. The values reflected by Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 budget proposals include equal opportunity, strategic investment, and ensuring that all participants in Wisconsin’s workforce and economy have a fair shot at sustained economic wellbeing.

One of the specific proposals that most clearly articulates the values of investing wisely and providing opportunity for economic wellbeing is the restoration of prevailing wage in Wisconsin.

Wisconsinites have clearly stated that when their tax dollars are being used in public projects, they want the wages paid and benefits provided on those projects to stay in their community. And they want the wage to be a fair, living wage and the benefits to be family-supporting, representative of what is typical for that work in that area.

Too often, after the repeal of prevailing wage, out-of-state contractors are able to win bids on public projects by under-cutting local businesses.  They pay their workers a low wage and provide inadequate benefits, while likely maintaining their top-line profit.

The result is Wisconsin communities missing out on the long-term impact of fair wages paid to local workers who would have invested in their homes, their vehicles, and their communities. When the out-of-state workers finish their project and go home, they take their wages and accrued benefits, however meager, with them.

And although one might expect higher wages to lead to higher taxpayer costs, that’s not the case. Research reveals that high-wage contractors attract higher skilled and more productive workers that can use the industry’s most advanced equipment and technology. Their improved efficiencies offset their higher labor costs.

Rather than enabling out-of-state companies to exploit their workers whose wages aren’t invested in Wisconsin communities, restoring prevailing wage is smart policy for our state’s businesses, it’s working families, and our economy. It is an important part of Governor Evers’ economic agenda.

Edgewood College Hatheway Lecture 🗓

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Contact: Ed Taylor, Director of Strategic Communications 608-663-2333

Madison, Wis. (March 6, 2019) – Edgewood College is honored to welcome award-winning filmmaker Keith A. Beauchamp for the 12th Annual Hatheway History Lecture.

The lecture, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” takes place at 6:00 pm, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Anderson Auditorium. Tickets are not required, and seating is limited.

In 1999, Beauchamp founded Till Freedom Come Productions, a company devoted to socially significant projects that can both teach and entertain. He has devoted the past 22 years of his life telling the story of Emmett Till and has traveled extensively between New York, Chicago, and Mississippi to investigate the historic murder.

Through his journey he tracked and spoke with witnesses who had never before spoken about the case, befriended Mamie Till Mobley, worked with such influential figures as Muhammad Ali and Reverend Al Sharpton, and persistently urged both the State of Mississippi and the federal government to reopen the Emmett Till murder investigation.

On May 10, 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice reopened this 50-year-old murder case citing Beauchamp’s documentary “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till” as both a major factor in their decision and the starting point for their investigation.

The Annual Hatheway History Lecture is presented with support from the Heideman Crossing Educational Boundaries Fund.

About Edgewood College

Located in Madison, Wis., Edgewood College is a liberal arts Catholic college in the Dominican tradition. We serve approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students at our Monroe Street and Deming Way campuses, and online. The College offers more than 40 academic and professional programs, including master’s degrees in business, education, and nursing, and doctoral degrees in educational leadership and nursing practice. For more information about Edgewood College, please visit www.edgewood.edu, or call Ed Taylor in Marketing & Strategic Communications at 608-663-2333.

Evers administration working ‘as quickly as possible’ to fill 82 rescinded appointments

Gov. Tony Evers says his administration is working “as quickly as possible” to fill the 82 appointments he canceled last week after a Dane County judge ruled the Legislature’s actions during the December lame-duck session were unconstitutional.

But he told reporters Monday that he was not sure if it could be done before an appeals court acts on a GOP-requested stay of the Dane County judge’s ruling.

While several of the appointments the guv invalidated were high-profile — including Ellen Nowak at the Public Service Commission and UW System Regents Scott Beightol and Torrey Tiedeman — Evers said that many of the appointments were to nonpartisan positions.

He noted it was likely he will re-appoint some of the appointees he rescinded on Friday, though he said his administration is currently prioritizing positions on board or commissions that have meetings scheduled soon.

The move drew criticism from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. The Juneau Republican questioned why the appointees were invalidated in the first place.

“If the governor plans to re-appoint these positions, why the rush to vacate all of the appointments late on a Friday night?” he said in a statement. “[Evers] actions created instability and chaos across committees handling all sorts of issues important to Wisconsin – from massive new utility projects to the Domestic Abuse Advisory Council.”

Evers also said that he had no plans to replace WEDC CEO Mark Hogan.

Last week’s ruling appeared to give the guv an opportunity to restructure the state’s economic development agency after December’s lame-duck laws limited his role. But Evers said Monday he didn’t expect to see any changes at the agency.

Evers asks court to dismiss wedding barn suit; spokeswoman says administration won’t require liquor licenses

Gov. Tony Evers is urging a court to dismiss a suit filed by two wedding barns, signaling for the first time that his administration won’t require such operations to have a liquor license for private parties.

The wedding barns, with the help of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, filed the suit in January, urging a Dunn County judge to declare they don’t need a liquor license for private parties that rent their facilities.

In the alternative, they want a judge to invalidate a state law requiring those in charge of a “public place” obtain an appropriate liquor license before allowing consumption of alcohol on the premises. The suit argues “public place” isn’t appropriately defined in state law.

But representing Evers, the state Department of Justice wrote in its Thursday filing the suit should be dismissed, because there was “no case or controversy between the parties” and the issue “is not ripe.”

Still, Rick Esenberg, president and general counsel for WILL, accused Evers of punting on the issue, adding the suit will continue.

In its response to the suit, DOJ admits that state law doesn’t define a public place. But the filing also doesn’t respond to WILL’s contentions that the statute should be invalidated for vagueness.

“It would have been easy for the Department of Justice and the Evers administration to admit that the law is exactly how it has consistently been interpreted and enforced so that wedding barns and couples across the state could proceed with their business and plan for their special days,” Esenberg said.

Part of the controversy erupted after former AG Brad Schimel, shortly before leaving office, opined that wedding barns should have a liquor license to allow guests to rent the facilities to provide alcohol at no charge to their guests. But it was an informal opinion, which doesn’t carry the weight of law, and would be a break with past practice.

Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the administration won’t move to require wedding barns to have liquor licenses.

“We are not deviating from the Department of Revenue’s long standing practice on this issue,” Baldauff sasid.

Read the filing here

 

Evers proposed $2 billion in new borrowing as part of capital budget

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Evers proposes $109 million for new UW-Eau Claire science building

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Evers re-appoints 67 after lame-duck ruling

Gov. Tony Evers has moved to re-appoint many of the people he sought to pull off state boards and commissions last week even as the attorney for GOP lawmakers suggested the guv was violating an “unambiguous court order” in doing so.

In all, Evers announced 67 appointments Thursday, all of whom were on the list of 82 he rescinded last week after a Dane County judge nixed their appointments.

Those who didn’t make the cut included two members of the UW Board of Regents and Ellen Nowak, who tried unsuccessfully to return to the Public Service Commission Thursday morning, but was blocked from doing so.

Ahead of Evers’ move, GOP attorney Misha Tseytlin wrote a letter to the guv’s attorney warning against such action. The 3rd District Court of Appeals Wednesday issued a stay of Dane County Judge Niess’ ruling while the merits of the case are decided, and Tseytlin argued that order was “clear beyond any doubt” that the original 82 appointments be put back in place pending completion of the appeal.

Tseytlin noted Evers may believe his actions last Friday rescinded the appointments.

“But all that matters at the present time is that the Court of Appeals has clearly required that these appointments to be put back into place, meaning that the Governor would be in direct violation of the Court of Appeals’ order if he were to deny these 82 individuals their ‘potentially valid … appointments,'” he wrote, quoting from the 3rd District Court of Appeals’ stay.

Evers’ office continued to argue Thursday the guv acted legally when he overturned those appointments while Niess’ ruling was still in effect.

See the list of appointments and a list of the 15 individuals who were rescinded Friday and not named in the letter Thursday:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/letter-of-gov-evers-appointees-to-senate-chief-clerk-renk/

See the letter from Tseytlin:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/190328Letter.pdf

Evers rescinds 82 appointments

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Gov. Tony Evers today rescinded 82 appointments his predecessor made after they were overturned by a Dane County judge who found GOP actions in the December extraordinary session were unconstitutional.

The state Senate confirmed the appointments during the December lame-duck session, but yesterday’s ruling overturned them. Citing that decision, Evers signed a letter today identifying the appointments he’s withdrawing, including Ellen Nowak at the Public Service Commission and UW System Regents Scott Beightol and Torrey Tiedeman.

A spokeswoman for Evers said the seats are now considered vacant and the guv will move quickly to fill them.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, slammed the move, noting the 3rd District Court of Appeals set a Monday deadline for parties to respond to the GOP request for an emergency stay. He said the move showed a “disrespect for the law and for the courts.”

“We absolutely believe that these nominees were nominated and confirmed legally and will continue to serve in those positions once the constitutionality of the extraordinary session is upheld,” Fitzgerald said.

Evers says capital budget will include $30M for Alliant Energy Center expansion

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Evers says he stands behind Crim despite 2005 child abuse charge

Gov. Tony Evers says he stands by Dawn Crim, his choice to lead the Department of Safety and Professional Services, despite a more than decade-old child abuse charge.

Evers told reporters Tuesday he didn’t know about the 2005 charge, which was later dismissed, when she joined the Department of Public Instruction in 2017 following a stint at the UW System. But it surfaced during the vetting process before she was named as a cabinet secretary, the guv said.

Praising Crim as an “extraordinary human being,” Evers said Tuesday at UW-Madison the charge wasn’t substantiated and added he’s looking “forward to her having the opportunity to talk to the Legislature.”

Evers’ comments came after the Wisconsin State Journal first reported Monday on the case, in which Crim was charged with reckless physical abuse of a child after she repeatedly poked her 5-year-old son’s hand with a pen, causing it to bleed. The charge was eventually dismissed and is no longer on the state’s online court records system.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, called the news “deeply unsettling” in a statement, adding it would “almost assuredly raise questions from members of my caucus surrounding the secretary’s ability to serve in that role.”

The Senate Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations Committee, which Sen. Chris Kapenga chairs, originally scheduled a confirmation hearing for Crim today. But the Delafield Republican’s office Monday afternoon pushed it back to March 13.

Kapenga’s office said the delay stemmed from a scheduling conflict, rather than knowledge of the child abuse charge. A spokesman said the committee is still plans to proceed next week with the confirmation hearing.

The incident, according to the criminal complaint, happened after Crim’s son poked a classmate with a pencil during school. School officials sent a note to his parents, and Crim in the complaint said after she read the message, she picked up a pen on her son’s desk and poked his hand with it four times.

The child said the incident had hurt him and caused his hand to bleed and him to cry, per the complaint, and a teacher at school the next day noticed the bandages on Crim’s son’s hand.

The case was eventually dismissed following a deferred prosecution agreement, per court records reviewed by WisPolitics.com.

During the time of the incident, Crim was working as UW-Madison’s assistant to the director for community relations, according to the university’s School of Education release in 2017 announcing her move to DPI.

See the criminal complaint:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/190305CriminalComplaint_Crim.pdf 

See more on her bio:
https://www.education.wisc.edu/soe/news-events/news/2017/05/15/school-of-education-s-crim-accepts-leadership-post-with-wisconsin-dpi 

Evers selects Milwaukee, Outagamie counties for new youth prisons

Gov. Tony Evers says two state-run youth prisons that’ll replace the embattled Lincoln Hills facility will be in Milwaukee and Outagamie counties.

The Milwaukee facility will be built at the intersection of Teutonia Avenue and Mill Road, while the second facility will be located in the Appleton area, the guv’s office said.

While the guv announced the locations for two Type 1 facilities, Evers’ budget, though, is looking to build up to three and secure an extra $90 million to do so, for a total $115 million in funding to construct them.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Correction referred questions to the guv’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Evers’ announcement comes after lawmakers last year approved a plan to close Lincoln Hills by 2021. The plan, known as Act 185, created a study committee to develop recommendations and examine locations for Type 1 facilities, which will house the most serious juvenile offenders.

The Milwaukee and Hortonia locations picked by Evers were both identified by the study committee as potential sites.

Corrections and Administration representatives, Evers said, intend to work with local officials in both places to plan listening sessions for community input.

Evers has received some early pushback following the announcement.

The president of the Milwaukee Common Council blasted Evers for making a decision on the Milwaukee location without seeking input from local stakeholders.

“It is hard to imagine that a decision made without community input can bring about the results that the community wants,” said Council President Ashanti Hamilton in a statement.

And GOP state Rep. Michael Schraa, who has been working on legislation that would push back the closure of Lincoln Hills, said Evers’ selection of a site in the Appleton area “makes no sense” for one of the first Type 1 facilities.

He said the majority of youth prisoners come from Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties, so it would be more appropriate to locate a second Type 1 facility there to make sure those offenders can be near family and friends. Schraa said Evers’ budget envisions a third Type 1 facility if lawmakers go along with his plan to move 17-year-olds back to the juvenile system. Should that happen, Schraa said, then maybe it would make sense for a third Type 1 facility in the Appleton area.

“I kind of understand his thinking with all the northern counties … and so he wanted one centrally located,” Schraa said. “But just because of the numbers, the second one should be built in the southern part of the state.”

Evers’ budget calls for removing the Jan. 1, 2021, deadline for Lincoln Hills to close. But Schraa’s bill, which he said is in the final drafting stages, is only looking at a six-month delay. At one time, lawmakers working on the legislation were considering adding an additional three months if the Evers administration came back to the Legislature seeking it. But Schraa said that’s been dropped from the latest version.

The bill lawmakers approved last year putting the deadline in place also created a timeline for counties to apply for grants to build regional facilities they would run. Schraa’s bill would also push back that March 31 deadline to apply for the grants. But lawmakers aren’t scheduled to be on the floor until at least April.

Schraa said lawmakers are still considering ways to address that situation.

Evers touts labor-related budget priorities in front of pro-union crowd

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Evers, Baldwin call for review of Wis. National Guard’s sexual misconduct policies

Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin want a review of the Wisconsin National Guard’s sexual assault and harassment policies.

The pair sent separate letters to the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations Thursday requesting the office also look into the state National Guard’s process for investigating those allegations.

The request comes as some Wisconsin National Guard members have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. One female guard member wrote to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in January that her sergeant had sexually harassed her and her colleagues. But the complaints weren’t properly investigated, according to AP.

Evers wrote in his letter Thursday a review of the state National Guard’s handling of past sexual misconduct cases would “help us ensure the safety of men and women” serving.

“As should be the case in all workplaces, the service members of the Wisconsin National Guard deserve a work environment free from sexual assault and harassment, fear of retaliation for reporting sexual assault and harassment when it occurs, and inadequate accountability for perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment,” Evers wrote.

Wisconsin National Guard spokesman Joe Trovato said the Guard will provide the Office of Complex Investigations any information their officials ask for and that he looks “forward to the opportunity to work together toward continuous improvement.”

He added the National Guard takes all sexual misconduct allegations seriously and maintains “a robust program focused on protecting victims” and educating members, while working to “create a culture that encourages reporting inappropriate behavior immediately.”

“Our first priority is ensuring victims are protected, treated with dignity and respect, and provided support, advocacy and care, but we also use all available resources to investigate crimes and pursue justice,” he said.

Thursday’s news comes after Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, last month sent a letter to Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar requesting details on the National Guard’s sexual harassment and assault policies and recommendations to strengthen them.

Dunbar last week in a four-page response wrote there’s a “zero-tolerance policy” regarding those offenses. Individuals can either confidentially disclose an assault allegation without kicking off an investigation or file an “unrestricted report,” which is then referred to the state Department of Justice, per the letter. From there, Guard members could be charged with a crime under the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice.

In cases of sexual harassment, allegations are handled by a commander. Punishments may include loss of rank, letters of reprimand or being let go from the National Guard, Dunbar wrote.

“The best way to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment is to avoid it, and we seek to do that through training and standards,” he wrote. “We have the highest standards, which are centered on core values associated with our parent service.”

Dunbar also wrote the National Guard has “an extensive program that fosters an environment of trust” and is committed to eliminating sexual assault and harassment within its ranks.

Fitzgerald, who retired from the U.S. Army Reserve in 2009 as a lieutenant colonel, said in a statement he still has concerns about the sexual assault and harassment procedures, as well as their enforcement. And he said he’s directed his staff to work with the guv’s office regarding Dunbar’s response.

Evers in a separate release announcing his and Baldwin’s letters said he’s been in touch with both Fitzgerald’s and Baldwin’s offices on the issue.

“I appreciate their leadership and know they share my belief that an independent review of Wisconsin’s National Guard’s past responses, current protocols, and recommendations for best practices will help us ensure the safety of the men and women in our National Guard,” he said.

See Evers’ letter here.

See Baldwin’s here.

See Fitzgerald’s letter here.

See Dunbar’s response here.

Evers’ unemployment plan reverses some GOP changes, sidesteps advisory council

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Evidence Based Health Policy Project briefing on medical marijuana 🗓

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Just the Facts:
What the Evidence Says (and Doesn’t) About Medical Marijuana
An EBHPP Capitol Briefing

When

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM CDT
Add to Calendar

Where

State Capitol, Room 411 South
2 E. Main St.
Madison, WI 53703


Driving Directions

Contact

Sam Austin
Evidence-Based Health Policy Project – UW-Madison Population Health Institute
6082654851
[email protected]

States across the country are implementing legislation on medical and recreational marijuana use, and local ballot initiatives in Wisconsin show support for discussion of the issue here. Join the EBHPP for a Capitol Briefing that aims to help inform this discussion in Wisconsin by taking a look at what we know (and don’t know) about the health effects of cannabis, and a look at the implementation of these laws in other states.

Featuring presentations from…

Mike Queensland, JD
Senior Staff Attorney, Wisconsin Legislative Council
Mr. Queensland will provide a brief overview of current law in Wisconsin

Robert Wallace, MD, MSc
Professor and Irene Ensminger Stecher Professor in Cancer Research, University of Iowa College of Public Health
Dr. Wallace will discuss the evidence on the health effects of cannabis, and his involvement in a 2017 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on this topic

Karmen Hanson, MA
Behavioral Health Program Director, National Conference of State Legislatures
Ms. Hanson will discuss the implementation of medical and recreational cannabis laws in other states, public health and public safety considerations, issues of revenue and taxation, and other considerations

Exact Sciences CEO calls for creation of new corporate investment fund

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Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy is calling on business leaders in Milwaukee and statewide to help create a new corporate investment fund to drive startup growth.

 

Addressing the Milwaukee Rotary Club yesterday, Conroy cited data from a Kauffman Foundation analysis showing most new companies that survive for a year start shedding jobs at that point.

 

“What this says is, you need a huge number of startups to keep the American economic engine going, ultimately lifting people up out of poverty, providing economic growth,” he said. “There aren’t enough startups that are being created, and the problem in Wisconsin is particularly dire.”

 

He noted other states in the Midwest have seen much more venture capital investment in recent years. Wisconsin has seen some movement in the right direction, he said, pointing to the $100 million fund started last year by Northwestern Mutual, Advocate Aurora Health, Foxconn and Johnson Controls.

 

“That’s a really great start. We need to do more,” he said.

 

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Fair Elections Project: Statement on WI Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ refusal to testify under oath on map-rigging

Contact: Sachin Chheda
414-412 6099

MILWAUKEE – “This is astonishing. For years Robin Vos has proclaimed his messianic leadership as the reason his party has taken many more seats than the votes suggest they should get, but now that he might have to swear to his position under oath, he is scurrying away as fast as he can. They’ve spent millions of taxpayer dollars, and they’ve refused to release data, contracts, and comply with open records requests and discovery, but now he won’t put up his right hand and swear that he’s telling the truth. This tells you what you need to know—the federal court that ruled their rigged district maps unconstitutional was correct. It’s time to return power to the people, and make our redistricting process nonpartisan and independent.”

-Sachin Chheda serves as director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the Whitford case, and as chair of the WI Fair Maps Coalition, which includes 15 organizations committed to nonpartisan, independent redistricting reform.

Fight for $15: At hearing, unions argue GOP power grab in Wisconsin violates the state constitution

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Contact: Sara Lonardo, 202-412-2153 [email protected]
Jennifer Owens, 312-218-8785, [email protected]

MADISON- Local union leaders along with community supporters, including fast food workers in the Fight for $15 and a Union, appeared in Dane County’s Circuit Court on Monday morning at oral arguments in the first hearing of their lawsuit. They filed a complaint in early February opposing the Republican legislature’s unconstitutional power grab after working people voted to remove Scott Walker from the Governor’s mansion and elect a pro worker Governor.

The plaintiffs, including SEIU Local 1, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, individual SEIU member plaintiffs, Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH), Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, and the American Federation of Teachers – Wisconsin, worked hard to elect Governor Tony Evers and intend to help preserve the rightful duties and responsibilities of the governorship.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is simple. It’s about the basic rules of democracy” said Ramon Argandona, President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. “The legislature’s actions to take power away from the Governor we just elected were unconstitutional and that’s why we’re continuing with this lawsuit. The citizens of Wisconsin want the power of the governorship permanently restored. We’re here to make sure that gets done.”

The hearing comes after last week’s court decision in a different case that the entire lame duck session was unconstitutional. The unions have vowed to keep up their fight to get a ruling that the power grab was unconstitutional.

“We were present in the courtroom today because our votes and our voices matter” said Wanda Lavendar, fast food worker in the Fight for $15 and a Union. “Working people like me want to make sure Wisconsin is a state that wins. That’s why we voted and contributed largely to the election of Gov Evers and we’re not going to give up on this fight until we win.”

Union leaders and members believe that the hearing went well today.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the judge will do the right thing and agree with the unions that the law passed by the legislature and signed by Scott Walker violated the state constitution,” Argandona said. “We were heartened to see that the judge took the case so seriously.”

Fight for $15: Wisconsin Court sides with unions, blocks GOP power grab

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Contact:
Sara Lonardo, 202-412-2153 [email protected]
Jennifer Owens, 312-218-8785, [email protected]org


MADISON
– Today, a Dane County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of Wisconsin unions and working people in their lawsuit challenging the Republican legislature’s unconstitutional power grab rammed through during the last days of former Gov. Scott Walker’s Administration. The judge immediately blocked most of the unconstitutional laws from taking effect, restoring to the Governor and Attorney General most of the powers that were stripped away from them and handed to the state legislature.

In his ruling, Judge Remington wrote: “In December, 2018 the Legislature and then Governor Scott Walker upended the balance that this State has had for most all of its 171 years. The time has come to right this ship-of-state so Wisconsin can resume smooth sailing ahead.”

“This is a victory for democracy for the working people of Wisconsin,” said Ramon Argandona, President of SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. “We filed this complaint to ensure that union members and working people who elected Gov. Tony Evers into office have their voices heard and have a fair shot at a decent future. We can’t move forward in Wisconsin when power grabs like this block progress.”

The judge found that the unions’ argument that the most significant and sweeping parts of the lame duck bills stripping power from the Executive Branch and handing it directly to the Legislature are unconstitutional is likely to succeed and warranted an immediate injunction. An injunction against the laws was granted last week in a separate case brought by the League of Women Voters that argued that the entire lame duck session itself was convened improperly in violation of the state constitution. That case was about the process of how Gov. Walker and the Legislature took action, while today’s ruling was on the constitutionality of the power-grab bill itself.

“Today’s ruling sends a strong message to politicians everywhere that when you lose an election, you can’t go back and change the rules to thwart the will of the voters,” said Mary Kay Henry, International President of SEIU. “This victory shows the power that working people have when they join together in a union.”

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by SEIU Local 1, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH), Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, the American Federation of Teachers – Wisconsin, and a number of individual SEIU members and leaders.

The unions argued that after the people of Wisconsin voted to change the state’s leadership, the outgoing government sought to change the rules and concentrate power in the hands of a smaller number of people, violating the Separation of Powers doctrine set forth in the Wisconsin Constitution, which gives the Executive Branch the exclusive authority to enforce the laws passed by the Legislative Branch. According to the judge, “One could scarcely design a better way to concentrate the power to suspend the law outside either of the two other branches of state government.”

“As workers and as voters, we want to make sure that our state’s constitution is upheld,” said Solo Littlejohn, Kenosha fast food worker and Fight for $15 and a Union leader. “Former Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican legislature did everything they could to minimize the power of Gov. Tony Evers, and disrespect the voters’ rights. We refuse to be ignored and tolerate a rigged system and we believe our voices have been heard.”

Former Gov. Walker: Statement regarding Brad Courtney stepping down as chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin

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“Brad Courtney did an incredible job as the chair of our state party! Against amazing odds, he helped us retain a Supreme Court Justice, fight off recall elections against our state senators and helped Rebecca Kleefisch and me win historic recall elections. Then, he helped us win re-election, elect another Supreme Court Justice, re-elect Ron Johnson, help the Republican ticket (Trump/Pence) carry Wisconsin for the first time since 1984, keep our Republican members of Congress and grow our Republican majorities in state Legislature.
“Through it all, Brad never lost sight of the grassroots as the key to winning elections. Then, he gave us plenty of support so we could show that the R doesn’t just stand for Republican – but for Reformer. Wisconsin and America are better off because of Brad Courtney’s leadership.”

Fox Cities Chamber: Partners with Fox Valley Technical College to offer customer experience seminar

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For information contact:
Emily Feagles
Director, Marketing & Communications
[email protected]

Discounted rate available exclusively to Fox Cities Chamber members

APPLETON, Wis. (March 1, 2019) – The Fox Cities Chamber is partnering with the Venture Center of Fox Valley Technical College to offer a seminar that provides attendees with skills and tactics to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

This seminar, ‘Communication and the Customer Experience,’ emphasizes the value of key customer service principles by allowing attendees to dig deeper into building customer rapport and relationships; communicating effectively; handling difficult situations; resolving concerns; and ultimately, achieving customer loyalty.

The morning seminar will be offered on Friday, April 12, 2019 from 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at Fox Valley Technical College’s D.J. Bordini Center. The seminar is open to the public; however, an exclusive discount is available to Fox Cities Chamber members.

Refreshments, materials, books and one-on-one coaching will be provided to attendees for $159. Fox Cities Chamber members are being offered an exclusive rate of only $139 total. For more information, please visit foxcitieschamber.com.

Seminar attendees will learn skills to:

go above and beyond what is minimally expected
create an amazing experience for customers
utilize critical communication components
handle difficult and challenging customers
work with difficult customers and what tools to use

‘Communication and the Customer Experience’ is being offered at Fox Valley Technical College in the D.J. Bordini Center at 5 N. Systems Drive in Appleton. For questions, please contact MiKayla Kunde, Member Programs Manager, by email [email protected] or phone (920) 734-7101.

Foxconn announces next phase of construction for ‘Gen 6’ facility

After a series of reports raised questions about the company’s plans for a southeastern Wisconsin facility, Foxconn announced today it will begin the next phases of construction this summer on a “Generation 6” facility to produce LCD screens.

The company said it expects the plant to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2020. It also plans to award bid packages by April 1 for utilities at the site, along with roadways and storm drainage. In May, the initial bid packages will be issued for construction of the Gen 6 fabrication facility and ancillary buildings.

When the project was unveiled, the company originally announced plans for much larger screens at what’s known as a Gen 10 facility as part of a $10 billion investment with plans to hire up to 13,000 people.

Since then, the company scaled back plans for the plant to a Gen 6 facility, at least initially. Media reports earlier this year then raised the prospect the company would move away from a factory altogether and use the site for research and development, assembly and packaging.

But Foxconn then re-affirmed its commitment to the Gen 6 plant six weeks ago.

“We’re investing in Wisconsin because we know manufacturing here is going to drive even greater success and growth for Foxconn and for the community,” said Dr. Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn founder and CEO Terry Gou.

Tony Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said the announcement shows the guv “is getting results” and he will continue conversations to “ensure that Wisconsin taxpayers see a good return on their investment.”

During last year’s campaign, Evers was critical of the up to $3 billion incentive package his predecessor signed with the company. He also has had the Department of Natural Resources review environmental permits issued to the company.

“The governor will continue to make good on his promise to protect the taxpayers by making sure that Foxconn is transparent and accountable as they move forward,” Baldauff said.

See the release. 

Foxconn Technology Group: Awards $34 million in contracts to Wisconsin-based businesses, construction on Gen6 campus to commence immediately

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Media Contact: [email protected]

Announces series of public information sessions for next round of bid packages

MILWAUKEE, WI – Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) and its construction manager, Gilbane | Exyte, today announced five Wisconsin-based sub-contractors who are set to immediately commence construction at its Gen6 advanced manufacturing facility campus located in the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Racine County, Wisconsin. The contracts, which carry a combined total contract value of close to $34 million, will jumpstart the construction of vital utilities and roadways on the site.

“Foxconn is proud to announce these successful Wisconsin based subcontractors who will help make the Gen6 facility a reality,” said Dr. Woo. “This investment will continue to provide new economic development to the local community and throughout the state. Our Wisconsin First approach guides how we conduct business in the Badger state, and we look forward to having a positive impact on a range of industries and sectors in the community. This is only the beginning.”

Prime Subcontractors who have been awarded contracts and will commence work on site utilities, roadways, and associated storm drainage are listed below:

·        Giles Engineering Associates Inc – Waukesha
·        Staff Electric Company Inc – Menomonee Falls
·        Hoffman Construction Company – Black River Falls
·        A.W. Oakes & Sons, Inc. – Racine
·        Payne & Dolan, Inc.  – Waukesha

In addition to today’s announcement, Foxconn will be taking several key steps in the coming months and will also be issuing initial bid packages for the construction of the Gen6 fabrication facility and ancillary buildings in May 2019.

Additional information regarding the project, process and bid packages as well as information about how contractors can participate will be shared at a series of public information sessions, scheduled to be held:

·        April 3, 2019 at the SC Johnson iMET Center in Sturtevant Wisconsin
·        April 10, 2019 at the MATC TRUAX Campus in Madison, Wisconsin
·        April 17, 2019 at the Chippewa Valley Technical College/Gateway Campus in Eau Claire, Wisconsin
·        April 18, 2019 at the Northwest Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, Wisconsin

More detailed information about each session and how to register can be found at: https://wisconnvalley.wi.gov/Pages/General-Info-Sessions.aspx. Companies interested in receiving information regarding bid opportunities are encouraged to sign up at https://foxconn-construction.gilbaneco.com/.

“Foxconn is delivering on its ’Wisconsin First’ commitment and it will continue to be our priority as we expand our presence around the state and further establish Wisconsin as a leader in the advanced manufacturing sector creating employment opportunities locally, while continuing to invest in the future,” said Dr. Woo. 

FRI AM Update: Midwest Growth Fund pitches in to help Hagedorn; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: New Hagedorn ad; Holder stumps for Neubauer; Supreme Court debate tonight

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FRI AM Update: Republican leaders dismiss Evers’ budget, say they’ll build own plan

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FRI AM Update: WI congressional delegation unanimously backs anti-hate resolution

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FRI AM Update: Wisconsin waiting for federal guidance after judge blocks Medicaid work requirements in two states

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FRI News Summary: Baldwin, Evers call for review of Wis. National Guard sexual misconduct policies; Holder stumps for Neubauer

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FRI News Summary: Evers proposes $2.5B capital budget

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FRI News Summary: Evers re-appoints most board members Walker selected; bill would delay Lincoln Hills closure by 6 months

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FRI News Summary: Judge blocks lame-duck laws; liberal groups focus on Wis., other key 2020 states

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FRI News Summary: Reaction to Evers’ budget plan; Walker addresses CPAC

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FRI PM Update: Evers touts budget plan in front of pro-union crowd; Political Stock Report

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FRI REPORT: Despite shared goals, gulf remains between Evers, GOP leaders over key policy areas

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FRI REPORT: Evers rescinds 82 appointments as Republicans seek emergency stay of lame-duck decision

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FRI REPORT: Evers’ budget would allow districts to rehire retired teachers

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FRI REPORT: Experts say strong cybersecurity, decentralization, paper trails bolster Wis. election security

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Genrich campaign: Genrich with commanding lead over Buckley in new PPP poll

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Contact: Jered Vogeltanz, (920) 621-3084

Poll reveals a 22 point lead for Genrich

Green Bay… According to a new public opinion survey conducted after the February 19 primary in the race to be Green Bay’s next mayor, former State Representative Eric Genrich maintains a substantial 47-25 lead over his opponent, Patrick Buckley.

“These poll results demonstrate that our campaign continues to set the pace,” said Genrich.
“There’s a lot of race left, but our message continues to resonate with folks all across Green Bay.”

The opinion survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling, also showed that Genrich is viewed
favorably by 56% of the electorate. The poll consisted of 607 surveys of Green Bay residents and has a margin of error of +/- 4%. There are more details available in the poll memo attached below.

Girl Scouts of Southeast Wisconsin: Girl Scouts in STEM present Design and Discovery Day with Milwaukee Area Technical College

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Contact: Brenda Vento
Chief Marketing Officer
Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast
(414) 443-3977
cell: (262) 781-9072
[email protected]

More than 100 Girl Scouts will explore hands-on learning in non-traditional careers


Milwaukee, March 12, 2019
 — Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast (GSWISE) will connect more than 100 Girl Scouts with female faculty and student mentors from Milwaukee Area Technical College for Girl Scouts in STEM Design and Discovery Day, presented by GE Healthcare. Girls will explore a variety of non-traditional careers experiencing hands-on activities in electronic technology, HVAC, machining, welding, diesel and powertrain, carpentry, police science, architecture, and more. The event will be held on Saturday, March 16 from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Center for Energy Conservation and Advanced Manufacturing (ECAM), 6665 S. Howell Avenue, Oak Creek.   

Girl Scouts in grades 6-12 will receive specialized learning in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers while earning badges and participating in a day of hands-on science and technology experiences. They’ll discover technologies needed to create a robot, practice wiring and circuitry, gas metal arc welding, tool and die machining, and learn more about becoming an engineer, designer, scientist, innovator, entrepreneur, and leader.

In 2018, Girl Scouts of the USA released 30 new badges to give girls even more opportunities to experience hands-on programming in robotics, space science, mechanical engineering, cybersecurity, computer science, environmental stewardship, and college exploration. The new badges were designed to prepare girls to empower themselves and unleash their inner strengths, while giving them a foundation to pursue non-traditional careers and advocate for their communities. Girl Scouts’ unique approach to girls and STEM learning is grounded in the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, which ensures that activities are girl-led, involve learning by doing, and cooperative learning. 

GOP lawmakers seek emergency stay of lame-duck decision

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GOP lawmakers Friday went to the 3rd District Court of Appeals seeking an emergency stay of a Dane County judge’s ruling holding up enforcement of legislation Republicans approved during a December extraordinary session.

The filing argues Thursday’s injunction was “indefensible” and was creating chaos. Republicans are asking for a stay to be issued as early as Friday.

“There is no telling how the decisions that such bodies or the Governor or Attorney General are already making will be unwound once this meritless lawsuit is rejected on appeal,” the brief argues.

But Gov. Tony Evers’ attorney in a letter to the Appeals Court countered the brief “grossly misstates the issue” and argued the appeal should be filed in Madison’s District 4 rather than Wausau’s District 3.

Dane County Judge Richard Niess ruled Thursday Republicans failed to lawfully convene December’s extraordinary session. His issued a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the laws and overturned 82 appointments the state Senate approved during the lame-duck session.

Evers quickly moved after the decision was issued to order AG Josh Kaul to withdraw Wisconsin from a lawsuit their predecessors backed seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

The brief argues Niess’ ruling will cause confusion over four decades of laws adopted during past extraordinary sessions, from those impacting child sex offenders to right-to-work.

It also focuses largely on the argument that the Legislature can adopt any work schedule it chooses for the legislative session and is free to call itself into extraordinary session under the Wisconsin Constitution. The brief also argues Niess didn’t have jurisdiction to review the statute that governs how the Legislature meets each session.

In pushing for the stay, Republicans noted Kaul had already filed motions to withdraw the state from the Obamacare suit and one challenging an Obama-era rule that interprets sex discrimination to include “gender identity” and termination of pregnancy.

One of the 82 appointments impacted by Thursday’s order was Gov. Scott Walker’s move of Ellen Nowak from DOA secretary to the Public Service Commission during his final days of office. The brief notes the PSC canceled a hearing that was scheduled for Friday following Niess’ decision, saying there was no public reason offered. But an agency spokesman told WisPolitics.com Thursday it was put off as the PSC studies the impact of the ruling on Nowak’s appointment.

“There is no telling how many future meetings of important boards will need to be cancelled, and how these eighty-two individuals’ lives will be harmed, by the Circuit Court’s erroneous order,” the brief argues.

League of Women Voters Executive Director Erin Grunze said this morning she’s confident in the plaintiffs’ position, adding the group’s attorney, Jeff Mandell, “has laid a very solid course for this case.” She said from the beginning, the group didn’t see the issue as partisan, but rather one about how the state should be governed.

“This is not how the state constitution was meant to be enacted, and we stand by that,” she said.

Gov. Evers and AG Kaul: Announce that Wisconsin joins multistate lawsuit challenging President Trump’s national emergency

Office of Governor Tony Evers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednedsday, March 13, 2019
Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
Gov. Tony Evers, Attorney General Josh Kaul Announce that Wisconsin Joins Multistate Lawsuit Challenging President Trump’s National Emergency
MADISON  –  Governor Tony Evers today announced that he has authorized Attorney General Josh Kaul to join the State of Wisconsin as a plaintiff in California, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., which challenges the president’s declaration of national emergency.

Attorneys general from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont also today joined the coalition challenging President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and his attempt to divert funding appropriated by Congress for other purposes.

With these states, the coalition challenging the declaration is now 20 attorneys general. The coalition alleges that the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration and diversion of funds is unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful. The group seeks to block the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration, the unauthorized construction of the border wall, and any illegal diversion of Congressionally-appropriated funds.

“The president’s declaration is reckless and unconstitutional,” said Gov. Evers. “This isn’t how a democracy is supposed to work. There is simply not ample evidence to support the president’s contention that there exists a national security crisis at our southwestern border. The real crisis at our border is the separation of children from their families.”

“Diverting federal funds away from Wisconsin to pay for a border wall would do little to enhance our security but have real consequences for communities in Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “If Congress had chosen to divert those funds, that would simply be bad policy. Here, however, the President issued an unfounded emergency declaration after Congress decided not to fund the border wall. That action is inconsistent with the constitutional mandate of separation of powers.”

The complaint amended today alleges that the Trump Administration’s action declaring a national emergency due to a purported border crisis is unlawful and unconstitutional. President Trump’s hyped crisis is a pretext to justify redirecting congressionally-appropriated funds to pay to build a wall along the southern border after he failed to get Congress — or Mexico — to pay for it. The facts do not support President Trump’s rhetoric or his declaration. Unlawful southern border entries are within historic lows, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry. There is no credible evidence to suggest that a border wall would decrease crime rates.

The coalition alleges that the Trump Administration’s action exceeds the power of the executive office, violates the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes, and would illegally and unconstitutionally divert federal funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to block the emergency declaration, the construction of the wall, and any illegal diversion of congressionally-appropriated funds.

The coalition, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, includes the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

 
###

Gov. Evers, AG Kaul: Announce that Wisconsin joins multistate lawsuit challenging President Trump’s national emergency

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
MADISON  –  Governor Tony Evers today announced that he has authorized Attorney General Josh Kaul to join the State of Wisconsin as a plaintiff in California, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., which challenges the president’s declaration of national emergency.

Attorneys general from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont also today joined the coalition challenging President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and his attempt to divert funding appropriated by Congress for other purposes.

With these states, the coalition challenging the declaration is now 20 attorneys general. The coalition alleges that the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration and diversion of funds is unconstitutional and otherwise unlawful. The group seeks to block the Trump Administration’s emergency declaration, the unauthorized construction of the border wall, and any illegal diversion of Congressionally-appropriated funds.

“The president’s declaration is reckless and unconstitutional,” said Gov. Evers. “This isn’t how a democracy is supposed to work. There is simply not ample evidence to support the president’s contention that there exists a national security crisis at our southwestern border. The real crisis at our border is the separation of children from their families.”

“Diverting federal funds away from Wisconsin to pay for a border wall would do little to enhance our security but have real consequences for communities in Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “If Congress had chosen to divert those funds, that would simply be bad policy. Here, however, the President issued an unfounded emergency declaration after Congress decided not to fund the border wall. That action is inconsistent with the constitutional mandate of separation of powers.”

The complaint amended today alleges that the Trump Administration’s action declaring a national emergency due to a purported border crisis is unlawful and unconstitutional. President Trump’s hyped crisis is a pretext to justify redirecting congressionally-appropriated funds to pay to build a wall along the southern border after he failed to get Congress — or Mexico — to pay for it. The facts do not support President Trump’s rhetoric or his declaration. Unlawful southern border entries are within historic lows, immigrants are less likely than native-born citizens to commit crimes, and illegal drugs are more likely to come through official ports of entry. There is no credible evidence to suggest that a border wall would decrease crime rates.

The coalition alleges that the Trump Administration’s action exceeds the power of the executive office, violates the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes, and would illegally and unconstitutionally divert federal funds appropriated by Congress for other purposes. The suit seeks declaratory and injunctive relief to block the emergency declaration, the construction of the wall, and any illegal diversion of congressionally-appropriated funds.

The coalition, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, includes the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Barnes: Complete 2019 NCAA Tournament brackets

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes recently filled out their 2019 NCAA Men’s Tournament brackets, ahead of today’s first-round match-ups.

As a University of Wisconsin alumnus and lifelong Badgers fan, Gov. Evers picked the Wisconsin Badgers to beat Duke to win the national championship, with Texas Tech and North Carolina also advancing to the Final Four.

“We’re getting revenge from a couple years ago,” Gov. Evers said. “Ethan Happ clearly is a dominating player but they can use that to get open shots. If they make those open shots, they could win a lot of games.”

Lt. Gov. Barnes picked the Badgers and the Marquette Golden Eagles to advance to the Final Four but has Kansas beating Maryland in his title game.

“I have Kansas winning it all but there’s a historical context to it,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said. “I have an uncle that was a recruiter there. But I would love to see either Wisconsin or Marquette win it all and prove me wrong.”

This year’s NCAA Men’s Final Four semifinal will be held in Minneapolis April 6th with the title game April 8th.

Gov. Evers, U.S. Sen. Baldwin: Call for comprehensive review of Wisconsin National Guard processes on sexual assault and harassment

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
—Gov. Tony Evers today requested that the National Guard Bureau’s Office of Complex Investigations (OCI) conduct an independent, comprehensive review of the Wisconsin National Guard’s sexual assault and harassment reporting procedures, investigation protocols, and accountability measures.

The governor’s request comes as Sen. Tammy Baldwin has also requested a comprehensive assessment, citing concerns that Wisconsin constituents and National Guard service members have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault, retaliation and inadequate accountability for those who commit sexual misconduct.

“As should be the case in all workplaces, the service members of the Wisconsin National Guard deserve a work environment free from sexual assault and harassment, fear of retaliation for reporting sexual assault and harassment when it occurs, and inadequate accountability for perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment,” said Gov. Evers. “My office has been in communication with both Sen. Baldwin and state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald about this issue. I appreciate their leadership and know they share my belief that an independent review of Wisconsin’s National Guard’s past responses, current protocols, and recommendations for best practices will help us ensure the safety of the men and women in our National Guard.”

View Gov. Evers’ letter here. View Sen. Baldwin’s letter here.

Gov. Evers: Advocates for expanding Medicaid in visits to Janesville, Beloit

Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
Gov. Evers: Advocates for expanding Medicaid in visits to Janesville, Beloit
 
MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers and Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm visited the HealthNet Rock County Dental Clinic and the Rock and Walworth Counties Head Start highlighting the governor’s dental and “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiatives in his 2019-21 biennial budget.

“By expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin, our budget improves access to quality, affordable health care for people across our state,” said Gov. Evers. “Today we saw firsthand the kind of impact our budget can have folks right here in Rock and Walworth Counties through expanding basic dental care, investing in preventative health screenings, and supporting families through increased pregnancy and birth services funding.”

Wisconsin ranks 45th in the nation for dental care for children enrolled in Medicaid. Gov. Evers’ budget includes significant investments in programs to increase access to basic dental services, expanding the Seal-A-Smile and the Donated Dental Service Programs, respectively, in the Division of Public Health’s Oral Health Program, and increasing provider payments for Medicaid providers and health care providers for persons with disabilities. The governor’s “Healthy Women, Healthy Babies” initiatives includes funding targeting birth outcomes and preventative care services like cancer screenings, STI prevention, testing, and treatment, and health screenings.

“These are critically important services and we have to put in the resources to make sure health care is affordable and accessible. That’s why we’re going to be fighting for Medicaid expansion in our budget and why we need support for these initiatives going forward.”

Gov. Evers: Announces $109 million capital investment at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Office of Governor Tony Evers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7th, 2019
Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
EAU CLAIRE — Governor Tony Evers today announced that his capital budget will include a $109 million investment to help the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire replace Phillips Hall with a new Science and Health Sciences building, ensuring their ability to maintain world-class research and teaching in STEM and health sciences fields.

The project, a collaboration with Mayo Clinic, is critical to ensuring the stability of northwestern Wisconsin’s science teaching, research, and healthcare needs.

Mayo Clinic’s contribution to the project will allow their top researchers to work alongside UW-Eau Claire’s talented students and faculty in a visionary, flexible research building, helping Wisconsin recruit physicians and researchers eager to be involved in the creation of new knowledge in addition to clinical practice.

“This partnership embodies the Wisconsin Idea, benefiting not only students but the communities they go on to serve after graduation,” Gov. Evers said. “The state’s investment will leverage taxpayer dollars to support the Chippewa Valley’s emergence as a healthcare innovation hub, while also investing in a visionary campus that is tackling some of the most pressing healthcare and technology issues facing rural Wisconsinites.”

Since 2013, more than 225 organizations, government agencies, and businesses consulted programs in Phillips Hall for their expertise or collaborated with student researchers.

A new facility will ensure northwestern Wisconsin has state-of-the-art research capabilities to support entrepreneurship in healthcare fields while educating the next generation of doctors and nurses Wisconsin needs.

Gov. Evers: Announces $30 million investment in Alliant Energy Center expansion

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers, joined by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, and Urban League of Greater Madison President Ruben Anthony, today announced that the 2019-2021 Capital Budget will include a $30 million investment to help fund the expansion of the Alliant Energy Center to the Exposition Hall, a project that will expand the capacity of existing events and attract additional events that will bring increased national prominence to Wisconsin.

The funding will come through a non-state grant program that provides state bonding support for non-profit or local government projects that have a statewide public purpose. Typically, the grantee provides at least a 50% match.

The current facility does not offer the spaces necessary to accommodate today’s meetings and events. This project will convert the Exhibition Hall from being a regional exposition center to a full-service convention center for all of Wisconsin and the upper Midwest.

“The expansion of the Alliant Energy Center will catalyze hundreds of millions of dollars in private development generating $1.7 million in new property taxes and boost our local economies throughout the state,” Gov. Evers said. “I’m excited to see this project move forward and I know it will add value to our entire state.”

“Thanks in part to past support from the state, Dane County’s Alliant Energy Center is now the premier venue in the country for agricultural shows. Expanding the ability of these grounds to host national and even international events is exactly what Wisconsin’s farm economy needs right now to preserve jobs and our agricultural heritage,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “I applaud Gov. Evers for capitalizing on this opportunity, bolstering our reputation as a true destination for the state and region.”

“This is a testament to Gov. Evers’ focus on economic development and job growth. Investment in the Alliant Energy Center will drive a significant return for the state – estimated to be $670,000 in annual state income taxes, more than $1 million in annual state sales taxes and 644 net new jobs,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “I appreciate the governor’s commitment to collaborating with Dane County in an effort that benefits the whole state.”

Additional capital budget projects will be announced later this week.

Gov. Evers: Announces 2019-2021 Capital Budget Recommendations

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443

 

MADISON — Governor Evers released his 2019-2021 Capital Budget today, recommending historic investments in state-owned vertical infrastructure. State agencies submitted approximately $3.4 billion in requests to address a growing backlog of deferred maintenance and counter low levels of funding in recent budgets. Governor Evers responded by recommending a $2.5 billion Capital Budget which represents the strongest investment in our state’s facility infrastructure.

These Capital Budget Recommendations aggressively and responsibly address deferred maintenance and life safety issues in state-owned buildings and provide suitable and safe facilities to support institutions of higher education and other important agency programs that were neglected in recent budgets. This historic investment will also help grow the economy by providing family-supporting jobs and supporting Wisconsin businesses.

Highlights of Gov. Evers’ Capital Budget Recommendations include:

  • Investing in correctional and health services facilities, including those that support Juvenile Justice Reform
  • Significant statewide investment in UW-System facilities that support higher education
  • Protecting our natural resources in state parks and forests including upgrades to Fire Response Ranger Stations
  • Honoring and caring for Veterans by funding upgrades to the Veterans Homes and improvements to Veteran Cemeteries
  • Reinvigorating the energy conservation investment in state facilities by providing substantial funding with an emphasis on installation of renewable energy projects such as solar, wind, and geothermal, to provide alternative energy power sources throughout UW-System campuses and state agency facilities
  • Fully funding the agency requests for small to mid-sized capital maintenance and repair projects in the All Agency Program
  • Grants to support Alliant Energy Center Exhibition Hall, Medical College Cancer Research Facility, Greater Green Bay Visitor Education Center, and the Incourage Tribune Economic and Community Hub

The State Building Commission will meet March 20, 2019, to vote on the Governor’s Capital Budget Recommendations. Then, the Building Commission’s Capital Budget Recommendations are statutorily required to be submitted to the Joint Committee on Finance by the first Tuesday in April.

The Building Commission is chaired by Gov. Evers and made up of the following members:

• Senator Janis Ringhand;

• Senator Jerry Petrowski;

• Senator Patrick Testin;

• Representative Jill Billings;

• Representative Rob Swearingen;

• Representative Mark Born; and

• Citizen member Summer Strand.

 

To get more information about the 2019-2021 Capital Budget, click here.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Dr. John Willett as Green Lake County Coroner

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Today, Gov. Tony Evers announced the appointment of Dr. John Willett as the new Green Lake County Coroner, replacing Amanda Thoma who resigned effective March 4, 2019.

“Dr. Willett will be an excellent Coroner and will serve the people of Green Lake County well,” Gov. Evers said. “Through his experiences as an emergency room physician, paramedic trainer, and hospital director, Dr. Willet possesses both the medical expertise and the compassion necessary to lead the coroner’s office.”

Dr. Willett has spent over 30 years as a physician, working throughout both Wisconsin and Colorado. Before his retirement in 2008, he served in several prominent roles including as an ER physician at Green Lake Medical Center, as the Director of the Berlin Memorial Hospital Emergency Services, and as the Co-Director of Theda Clark Hospital Emergency Services. Dr. Willet is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Fred Clark to Natural Resources Board

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers announced the appointment of Fred Clark to the Natural Resources Board, replacing a seat formerly filled by Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole.

“As a lifelong conservationist and a highly respected former legislator who has spent his life dedicated to protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources, Fred will be an excellent addition to the Natural Resources Board,” Gov. Evers said. “Fred values the importance of science and brings the experience and expertise needed to connect the dots between protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources and economic development.”

Fred Clark is a forester and conservationist who is marking his 30th year working outdoors in Wisconsin. Fred is the part-time Executive Director of Wisconsin’s Green Fire, an organization dedicated to natural resources conservation. Previously Fred was the owner and principal of a forestry consulting, contracting, and custom logging business, Clark Forestry, Inc. based in Baraboo. Fred served three terms as a Representative to the Wisconsin State Assembly between 2009-2014. He was appointed by both Gov. Doyle and Gov. Walker to the Wisconsin Council on Forestry from 2004-2014.

Gov. Evers: Declares State of Emergency for flooding

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
MADISON—Governor Tony Evers today declared a statewide State of Emergency in Wisconsin due to flooding caused by rapid snowmelt and rain.


“Many residents and communities across our state have been responding to flooding that has impacted homes, businesses, and cities and towns across Wisconsin,” Governor Evers said. “The warm temperatures and rain the last few days have caused much of the heavy snowpack and ice to melt resulting in flooding, ice jams, and rivers and creeks to rise. I would like to thank all the first responders who have been helping those in need.”


Executive Order #16 directs state agencies, including the Wisconsin National Guard, to provide additional personnel and resources as needed to assist in emergency response and recovery operations.


A copy of the Executive Order can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Moves forward on plans to close Lincoln Hills

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON –Governor Tony Evers today announced that the Department of Corrections, in cooperation with the Department of Administration, will begin construction on two Type 1 juvenile facilities as directed by 2017 Wisconsin Act 185.

One facility will be located in Milwaukee at the intersection of Teutonia and Mill Road. This neighborhood was identified for ease of families to visit youth residing in care of Corrections and in cooperation with the City of Milwaukee. It is located near the site recommended by the Act 185 study committee.

The second facility will be located in Hortonia, Wisconsin in Outagamie County. This location was identified by the Act 185 study committee for its proximity to families with youth in care of Corrections.

“We are committed to getting kids out of Lincoln Hills and closer to home as soon as we safely and responsibly can,” said Gov. Evers. “Today’s announcements show significant action towards our shared goal of ensuring kids get the education, programming and mental health treatment they need in supportive settings that are closer to their families and communities.”

Additionally, Governor Evers announced that he is appointing Rep. David Crowley as chair of the Act 185 Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee and Sharlen Moore the nonprofit representative to this committee. This committee will determine grants to counties to being construction of Secure Youth Residential Centers for Children and Youth, as outlined in Act 185. The governor urges the committee to convene on Monday, March 18 to begin working with counties on grant applications.

Following today’s announcement, DOC and DOA leadership will be working with local leaders in both locations to schedule and facilitate community input gathering sessions.

“Research shows that children in incarceration make significant strides toward positive change when they are closer to their communities and loved ones,” said DOC Secretary-designee Kevin Carr. “I look forward to working with the Grant Committee and Wisconsin counties to develop a network of local opportunities to support our youth.”

Members of the Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee:

  • Representative David Crowley (Governor’s designee)
  • Sharlen Moore, co-founder of Urban Underground
  • Emilie Amundson, DCF Secretary-designee
  • Kevin Carr, DOC Secretary-designee
  • Senator Alberta Darling
  • Senator Lena Taylor
  • Senator Van Wanggaard
  • Representative Mark Born
  • Representative Joe Sanfelippo
  • Representative Michael Schraa

Gov. Evers: Releases statement on Dane County Court’s ruling on lame-duck session

Office of Governor Tony Evers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2019
Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
Gov. Evers Releases Statement on Dane County Court’s Ruling onLame-Duck Session
 
MADISON—Governor Tony Evers today released the following statement in response to Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess’s decision to issue a temporary injunction blocking the state Legislature’s lame-duck session:

“Today’s ruling is a victory for the people of Wisconsin and for preserving the Wisconsin Constitution. The Legislature overplayed its hand by using an unlawful process to accumulate more power for itself and override the will of the people, despite the outcome of last November’s election. I look forward to putting this disappointing chapter behind us so we can move forward together to put the needs of the people of Wisconsin first.”

 
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Gov. Evers: Releases statement on state Building Commission meeting

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Yesterday, the State Building Commission took up Governor Tony Evers’ 2019-2021 Capital Budget, which makes historic investments in state and University of Wisconsin System infrastructure after eight years of neglect. Republicans on the Commission voted against Gov. Evers’ Capital Budget projects, departing from the Commission’s decades-old institutional tradition of recommending respective governors’ project requests to the Legislative Joint Finance Committee. Republican Commission members’ move comes only a day after the same Republicans voted unanimously with Democrats to recommend the governor’s project requests for adoption. Gov. Evers released the below statement following today’s Building Commission meeting:

“Disappointed is an understatement. Republicans on the Commission voted to support this Capital Budget a day ago—they were for it before they were against it. This was about playing politics, plain and simple, not doing what’s best for the people of our state. Republicans would rather have us sit here in gridlock than do the jobs we were sent here to do, and that’s a shame.”

Gov. Evers: Responds to ruling in SEIU v. Vos

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Below is a statement from Gov. Tony Evers in response to today’s decision in SEIU v. Vos:

“For the second time in less than a week, an impartial judge ruled against legislative Republicans and their lame duck session. This is an important victory for the people of Wisconsin and our constitution. Today’s decision upholds our constitution’s separation of powers, which has guided this state since 1848.

“It is now abundantly clear that the lame duck session was nothing more than an illegal power grab intended to override the will of the people. It is time to move beyond this chapter and work together to build a Wisconsin that puts the people first.”

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #15 relating to inclusive language in administrative rules

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
– Governor Tony Evers today signed Executive Order #15 relating to inclusive language in administrative rules.

Numerous sections of the Wisconsin Administrative Code contain provisions which use outdated and derogatory terms to refer to particular groups of people. This kind of outdated, derogatory terminology minimizes and devalues these groups.

The governor’s executive