2019 May

Monthly Archives: May 2019

‘Born alive’ bill passes Assembly on 62-35 vote

A GOP bill to require care for those who survive an abortion is heading to the state Senate after clearing a divided Assembly this afternoon.

The “born alive” bill passed the body on a 62-35 vote. GOP Rep. Chuck Wichgers, of Muskego, joined all Dems in opposing it.

The bill would outline care requirements for children born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion, as well as penalties for physicians who don’t adhere to the legislation. But under the bill, the mother of the child who is born alive couldn’t be prosecuted.

Dems touted Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars, as well as his call to boost health care for women and infants by $28 million. They argued those initiatives would aid people across the state instead of stymieing the care physicians provide to women.

“This bill you’re pushing today is already the law of the land,” said Dem Rep. Chris Taylor, of Madison. “What isn’t the law of the land is Medicaid expansion. And you’ve made darn sure that no lives will be saved under that.”

But Republicans charged that Dems were trying to distract from the bill’s issues by focusing on the Medicaid expansion.

And Rep. Michael Schraa countered the “born alive” bill, as well as the other three abortion-related bills the chamber will take up today, “have everything to do” with health care.

“I argue the voices of the 61 million babies that have been aborted in America since Roe v. Wade, I think their voices should be heard and counted,” the Oshkosh Republican said.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill in June. Gov. Tony Evers has said he would veto the legislation, also slamming it “nothing more than a distraction” from other priorities.

Wichgers, the sole Republican who voted against the legislation, also opposed the bill during the Assembly Health Committee executive session last week.

At the time, he introduced an amendment to the bill that wasn’t taken up. It would have targeted a portion of the legislation that outlines penalties for physicians who don’t adhere to the bill. But Wichgers sought to remove immunity for the mother and insert language saying a parent or guardian couldn’t be held civilly or criminally responsible for violations they didn’t consent to.

‘UpFront’: Cross says UW will do ‘best we can’ with 2 percent raises, Hitt says WisGOP energized

UW System President Ray Cross, who sought 3 percent raises for faculty, said “we’ll do the best we can” with expected 2 percent pay hikes, but the university is behind some peer institutions when it comes to compensation.

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

Saying the university needs to compete for top talent, Cross asked the governor and lawmakers for 3 percent raises in each year of the 2019-2021 budget.

The Joint Committee on Finance, which is dramatically reworking Gov. Tony Evers’ budget, approved 2 percent annual raises for most state employees, including UW faculty.

“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen asked Cross if UW salaries are in line with its peer institutions.

“Most research shows that we are a little behind, and some areas we’re behind more than others. But compensation is an important piece of the total overall package to make the university part of the solution for the state,” Cross said.

“We have to compete for talent, we have to compete around the world for talent. And that’s important to Wisconsin’s future,” Cross said.

“It’s really important that the Legislature and the governor recognize the importance of compensation for our employees and the role the university plays in helping the state resolve its problems,” he said.

Also on the program, new Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Andrew Hitt said party members emerged from their state convention in Oshkosh “organized and energized” and ready to work to re-elect President Trump in 2020.

“As I’ve traveled the state, meeting with grass roots leaders,” Hitt said, “many people have told me, ‘We’re working now like it’s June of 2020, not June of 2019.’”

Hitt said his focus as chairman would be on the grass roots and making sure they have the tools and data they need.

Pedersen asked Hitt if he thought Trump would win Wisconsin again.

“I think it’s very likely. I think we have to work harder than we even did in 2016,” he said. “I think it’s going to be close. Wisconsin is a purple state.”

In another segment, Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council, said his organization is moving its annual entrepreneur conference back to Milwaukee because “there’s a lot more happening (there) now.”

The conference, geared toward start-up businesses, used to be held in Milwaukee, then shifted to Madison for many years. This year’s conference is scheduled for June 4 and 5.

Still said Milwaukee, which lacked a vibrant start-up scene for years, is now “a city where you’re seeing an entrepreneurial buzz, there are more young companies starting out.”

See more from the show.

‘UpFront’: Fitzgerald says small chance Evers signs ‘born alive’ bill

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said he thinks there is a small chance Tony Evers could sign the GOP’s so-called “born alive” abortion bill – a bill the Dem governor has said he will veto.

“I know it’s a long shot. I’m not naïve,” Fitzgerald said Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“But I think there’s going to be some pressure that’s going to build, because the ‘born alive’ bill is a much different type of take on a pro-life piece of legislation than what we’ve seen in the past in Wisconsin,” Fitzgerald said.

The bill would require doctors to care for babies who survive abortion attempts, or possibly face prison time. The bill passed the Assembly last week, and is expected to be taken up in the Senate in June. Fitzgerald said it will pass the Senate.

Evers has said the bill is redundant with state law and that he objects to its criminal penalties.

Fitzgerald said Republicans are moving several pieces of anti-abortion legislation to “demonstrate and underscore the commitment that Republicans have had to making sure that Wisconsin is as pro-life as possible.”

On other topics, Fitzgerald said flatly that he doesn’t support medical marijuana, and Wisconsin should sit back and watch what happens in other states that have approved various uses of marijuana.

He said his relationship with Evers is “pretty minimal.”

He said “it just doesn’t seem necessary that we have to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin.”

About work on the next two-year state budget, Fitzgerald said “we’re on a good pace right now.”

“It’s going to be a real fiscal document that I think many of the members can get behind and say, ‘Hey, this is a responsible investment, whether it’s K-12 education, transportation, health, this is a real investment; this is reality.’ And I think because of that we’re going to have the votes and we’re going to pass through both houses in June,” he said.

He also said some Republican senators still have hard feelings over PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak being turned away from her job during court rulings in lawsuits over the extraordinary session. He said the Senate is holding up confirmation of Evers’ cabinet appointees.

Also on the program, DATCP Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff said many months of tariffs have taken a toll on Wisconsin’s agricultural community.

“These tariffs are hurting farmers, rural communities, rural residents, consumers. All of us are impacted by tariffs,” Pfaff said.

The interview was recorded before the Trump administration announced on Friday afternoon that it would end tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. Tariffs on Chinese products, and the tariffs China has imposed on U.S. products, remain in place.

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

‘UpFront’: Former DOA Secretary Neitzel says Bucks’ arena will net ‘tremendous’ payback for taxpayers

Fiserv Forum, the new home of the Milwaukee Bucks, will return a tremendous amount of money to state taxpayers who helped fund it, said Scott Neitzel, the former administration secretary for Republican Gov. Scott Walker who helped craft the arena deal.

Neitzel, who as former chairman of the Wisconsin Center District Board co-signed the Bucks’ lease agreement, appeared Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Neitzel said about half of the money needed to build the arena came from public sources, and of that, $80 million came from the state.

“For that $80 million, the state — just in income tax revenue from events that go on here, just from the basketball events actually — is estimated to be probably over $600 million over the life of the lease,” Neitzel said.

“So that payback for state taxpayers is tremendous,” he said.

Neitzel said there’s also “the pride of having a potential championship team here.” The Bucks are in the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001.

Neitzel recalled that during the time the arena deal was being negotiated, it wasn’t a slam dunk. The deal needed legislative approval, which it received in July of 2015. Walker signed it the next month.

“There was a great deal of skepticism, and I think that we had to overcome that. But once you see what’s happened here, we’ve accomplished everything that we had hoped to, and then even more,” he said.

“The development that’s going on around (the arena) is just tremendous,” he said.

Neitzel also said he always wants to thank former Democratic U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, the Bucks’ former owner, who put up $100 million to help launch the new arena.

“This team, this arena, is not here, but for Sen. Kohl,” Neitzel said.

Also on the program, WISN 12 News reporter Matt Smith investigated why Foxconn’s plans to build a new, high-tech plant in Harrisburg, Pa., never came to fruition.

In 2013, Foxconn said it would invest millions of dollars and build a facility in Harrisburg that would create hundreds of jobs. But it never happened.

Instead, the company maintains a publicly unknown number of employees working in an older building, and the nature of their work isn’t clear, Smith said.

David Black, Harrisburg Regional Chamber president and CEO, said it isn’t known why Foxconn’s plans in Pennsylvania faded away.

“I don’t think we’ll ever find out exactly what happened,” Black said. “The plant was never built, there was never any follow up.”

Smith said the people involved in Foxconn’s Pennsylvania negotiations didn’t return his phone calls.

Smith said Foxconn did give him a statement that said, in part, “The Pennsylvania state government did not present a joint investment program that would have made the project economically viable.”

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

ABC: Thanks members of JFC for state budget moves

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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.

ACS CAN: Decries budget cuts to Medicaid expansion

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American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Phone: 312.279.7284
Email: [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – May 9, 2019 – Today, the Wisconsin Legislature voted to remove Medicaid expansion funding from the state budget. In response, Sara Sahli, Wisconsin government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, released the following statement:

“On behalf of the 94 people diagnosed with cancer every day in Wisconsin, ACS CAN is concerned with the elimination of funding for increased access to Medicaid. Simply put, Medicaid matters in the fight against cancer.

“Federal funding for increased Medicaid access would provide tens of thousands of Wisconsinites with timely and lifesaving cancer screenings, early detection services and treatments. Studies have shown that cancer patients without health insurance or Medicaid coverage are less likely to use these types of services and tend to fare worse than patients with insurance. Uninsured patients are more likely to have their cancer detected at a later stage, when it’s more difficult and more expensive to treat, and are less likely to survive.

“Increasing access to care for hard-working, low-income Wisconsinites is one of the most impactful ways we can fight back against cancer. It will also create a healthier workforce, boost our economy, reduce the amount of uncompensated care in our health care system and keep Wisconsin economically competitive. We urge the Legislature to reconsider their decision and put Medicaid dollars back into the state budget.”

About ACS CAN

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

AFL-CIO Wisconsin: Senate votes to end tax breaks for outsourcing

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Contact:  Karen Hickey, 414-573-7579, [email protected]

Assembly Bill 10 ends tax deductions for moving jobs out of state

May 15, 2019 — On Tuesday, April 9, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 10, a commonsense bill to eliminate a tax loophole that allows tax deductions for companies that move jobs out of state. Under current law, companies can deduct from their taxes the cost of moving expenses when they move operations anywhere – be it within Wisconsin, outside of Wisconsin, or to another country. Today, the Senate passed Assembly Bill 10 to end this tax loophole.

“Politicians in Madison got it right today by voting to end tax breaks for companies who move jobs out of state,” said Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Stephanie Bloomingdale. “Legislators on both sides of the aisle came together to bring an end to the freebies for companies who move Wisconsin jobs out of our state. We applaud the bipartisan effort and look forward to Gov. Tony Evers signing this bill to update our tax code. We hope legislators continue to work together to protect good Wisconsin jobs, raise wages, and restore worker rights in Wisconsin.”

AFP: WI Urges Support for JFC Changes to 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.

After ’18 loss, Nicholson says he’s still committed to conservative cause

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Kevin Nicholson, who faced questions during his 2018 Senate campaign about his political background, said he remains committed to the conservative cause and to bringing more into the movement.

Whether that includes another run for office will be worked out in the future, he said.

Nicholson was president of the national College Democrats before he later served in the U.S. Marines and had what he said was a political conversion to the Republican Party. Some questioned his authenticity in the Senate race as he lost the GOP nomination to Leah Vukmir, who went on to lose to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.

But he said in an interview with WisPolitics.com at the GOP state convention that he plans to remain involved in the party even after his loss and is trying to spread the message. He has attended a string of county GOP Lincoln Day dinners around the state and emceed an event Friday night at the convention that included conservative activist Candace Owens.

“That is going to be my goal going forward,” Nicholson said. “How it works out with specific elections and so forth, I’m not sure. But for now, it’s the right thing to do.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, had pledged to serve a maximum of two terms, which would mean not seeking re-election in 2022. But he has since hedged on that. Meanwhile, Republicans will be looking for a nominee to take on Gov. Tony Evers that same year.

Nicholson said he hasn’t made up his mind about another run, nor whether he’d be interested in a bid for state or federal office. His focus now is on 2020 and helping Donald Trump win re-election.

“Then we’ll worry about 2022 after that,” Nicholson said. “That will be the right time to figure that out.”

AG Kaul: Announces Wisconsin, four other states, file lawsuits against Purdue Pharma

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Complaint Alleges Deceptive Conduct that Contributed to the Opioid Epidemic

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul announced today the filing of a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Richard S. Sackler, Purdue’s former co-chairman and president, for alleged misconduct in marketing and sales of opioids that contributed to the opioid epidemic. Five states — Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, West Virginia and Wisconsin — filed separate lawsuits Thursday.

“The opioid epidemic has shattered lives and strained communities across the state and the country,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Today, we filed suit against Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Richard Sackler, alleging that they misled the public and medical professionals about both the benefits of and the dangers posed by OxyContin and other opioids, and that the opioid epidemic is partly attributable to their conduct.”

Wisconsin’s lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, seeks a permanent injunction, abatement of the public nuisance, and civil penalties. It alleges that Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Richard S. Sackler, repeatedly made false and deceptive claims regarding opioids, including OxyContin.

Alleged in the complaint:

Purdue Pharma’s deceptive and false marketing created a shift in the understanding of the effectiveness and danger of opioids. The complaint alleges, “[i]n order to combat the concerns about opioids being abused, Purdue deployed an aggressive marketing campaign that sought to increase sales of OxyContin, while changing the accepted norms about opioid prescribing.”

The complaint alleges, “[i]n 2007, Purdue Frederick (and individual executives) pled guilty to a federal felony based on its marketing practices.” It also alleges, “Purdue Frederick specifically admitted that its supervisors and employees, ‘with the intent to defraud or mislead, marketed and promoted OxyContin as less addictive, less subject to abuse and diversion, and less likely to cause tolerance and withdrawal than other medications.’”

The complaint alleges that, after the 2007 settlement, Purdue continued to engage in false, deceptive, and misleading marketing practices, depending on Key Opinion Leaders, Front Groups, sales representatives and “patient advocacy” websites, in order to downplay the risks associated with OxyContin and other opioids. Those risks, as outlined in the complaint, include the risk of addiction, the ease of preventing addiction, the benefits of Purdue’s opioids relative to other opioids or pain relievers, the efficacy of opioids, the ability to control the effects of withdrawal, and the risk to senior citizens.

The complaint alleges that Purdue and Richard S. Sackler were fully aware of the potential profits of OxyContin. At the OxyContin launch party, Richard S. Sackler is alleged to have said, “the launch of OxyContin Tablets will be followed by a blizzard of prescriptions that will bury the competition. The prescription blizzard will be so deep, dense, and white…”

The consequences of the opioid epidemic for Wisconsin have been disastrous. As outlined in the complaint:

  • “In 2017, more people died in Wisconsin from an opioid overdose than from motor vehicle accidents, suicide, or firearms.”
  • In 2017 alone, “Wisconsin lost 916 of its citizens to the opioid epidemic.”
  • “The rate of babies born addicted to opioids and other addictive drugs in Wisconsin has quadrupled between 2006 and 2015…”
  • “Between 1999 and 2015, the volume of prescription opioids per capita in Wisconsin rose 425 percent…”
  • “…between 1999 and 2015, Wisconsin has lost 45,200 workers due to opioids,” and “cost the State approximately $37 billion in real economic output.”

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-kaul-announces-wisconsin-four-other-states-file-lawsuits-against-purdue-pharma

AG Kaul: DOJ releases new data on crimes and sex offenses for 2018

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that 2018 data on offenses, arrests, and related data reported by law enforcement agencies across the state is now available.

“Additional data on crime can help us better understand the public-safety issues our communities are facing,” said Attorney General Kaul. “By making evidence-based decisions, we can make our criminal-justice system more effective.”

The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) publishes interactive data dashboards containing information collected through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, using definitions of offenses and arrests as defined by the FBI. These dashboards include offenses by agency, arrests by agency, statewide arrestee demographics, and offense and arrest trends by agency over time. Additional incident-level information regarding sex offenses is also included in an interactive sex offense dashboard.  Data from 2018 was added to the dashboards at the end of April, and now includes information from 2014-2018.

Data is provided by law enforcement, and additional information regarding data notes and methodology is also included with the dashboards. The data can be utilized by researchers, policy makers, criminal justice agencies, and the community to understand trends in reported crime and arrest data by type and geographic area.

The dashboards were developed by the DOJ Bureau of Justice Information and Analysis (BJIA), which works to inform criminal justice policy and practice by conducting objective research, analysis, and evaluation of information. The original dashboards were first launched in 2016, and additional dashboards developed by BJIA have been added since then.

The following dashboards have been updated:

UCR Arrest Data

UCR Arrest Demographics

UCR Offense Data

UCR Offense and Arrest Data by Agency

UCR Sex Offense Data

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/doj-releases-new-data-crimes-and-sex-offenses-2018

AG Kaul: Files lawsuit to hold Purdue Pharma accountable for role in opioid crisis

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CONTACT: Aaron Collins, 608-266-2254

After years of inaction by previous administration, Kaul and Evers take decisive steps

MADISON – Today, Attorney General Josh Kaul and Governor Tony Evers announced their decision to file lawsuits against Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Richard Sackler for their role in misleading the public about their products. Purdue Pharma is the producer of the highly addictive painkiller, OxyContin. The lawsuits aim to hold Purdue Inc. accountable for these actions which have damaged communities across Wisconsin. Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) applauded the Attorney General for filing these lawsuits:

“The opioid epidemic has taken a massive toll on Wisconsin’s families and communities. As elected officials, we should be doing everything possible to confront this public health emergency,” Rep. Hintz stated. “Attorney General Kaul’s actions today show that he will not back down in the face of corporate criminals. For far too long, Purdue Pharma Inc. and former Chairman, Richard Sackler, have pushed highly addictive narcotics on Americans in every corner of our country. This lawsuit makes crystal clear that Purdue misled the public and medical professionals by overstating the benefits of OxyContin and downplaying the dangers posed by this drug.”

According to data from the Department of Health Services (DHS), in 2017 alone, 916 people in Wisconsin died from opioid overdoses, more than the number killed in car crashes. The opioid epidemic has skyrocketed since Purdue first introduced OxyContin in 1996. The volume of prescription opioids per capita in Wisconsin rose 425 percent between 1999 and 2015.

“People are dying because of the deceptive practices that Purdue utilizes. This lawsuit sends a signal that these actions will not be tolerated in the state of Wisconsin. This is what leadership looks like. Attorney General Kaul understands the human cost of the opioid epidemic in communities across our state. We must work together to fight back against this crisis, and hold accountable those who allowed it to happen.”

The previous Attorney General, Brad Schimel, refused to join the multi-state lawsuit against Purdue Pharma Inc.

AG Kaul: Urges Congress to fund legal services corporation

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul has joined a bipartisan coalition of 41 other attorneys general in urging the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Committees on Appropriations to request funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) in the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

“Legal Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Judicare provide critical legal assistance to underserved populations in Wisconsin. The federal government should continue providing funding for these organizations,” said Attorney General Kaul.

LSC is a nonprofit legal services organization established by Congress in 1974 to promote equal access to justice for all Americans by funding independent nonprofit legal aid programs across the country. LSC provides millions of dollars in funding to legal aid organizations that serve and support low-income individuals, veterans and military families, seniors, survivors of domestic violence, victims of natural disasters, and disabled individuals.

LSC distributes more than 90 percent of its funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs with more than 800 offices. It is headed by a bipartisan board of directors whose 11 members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Attorney General Kaul was joined on the letter by attorneys general from Alaska, American Samoa, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

To learn more about the programs that provide this service in Wisconsin, go to: https://www.lsc.gov/grants-grantee-resources/our-grantees

American Dairy Coalition: Applauds President Trump for lifting steel and aluminum tariffs

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For further information, contact:
920-965-6070
[email protected]

5/20/2019: The American Dairy Coalition commends the efforts of President Donald Trump and United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on their agreement to lift steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico. The removal of these tariffs is key in ending the retaliatory tariffs placed on U.S. dairy products and clears the way for ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Retaliatory tariffs hit farmers at a time when the industry was already struggling with low milk prices and a lack of work force.

The American Dairy Coalition now urges House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote on USMCA. Each day that this important agreement is not in place leads to more uncertainty in the dairy industry as we lose access to off-shore markets.

“The ongoing farm crisis transcends partisanship. It’s time for America’s farmers to contact their Congressional representatives — regardless of political affiliation — and let them know that enough is enough. It’s time to move forward,” says American Dairy Coalition Board President, Walt Moore.

Farmers need a path to stability. We need the ratification of the USMCA immediately

American Dairy Coalition: It’s time for America’s dairymen to get paid

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Laurie Fischer, CEO, American Dairy Coalition
920-965-6070
[email protected]

Hats off to Beth Ford for calling out President Trump’s questionable arithmetic.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Land O’Lakes Inc.’s chief executive noted that while tariffs have cost America’s dairies around $2 billion, the men and women struggling to save their farms only received about $250 million in aid during the first round of government payouts last year.

“The math last time wasn’t terrific,” she diplomatically understated.

Ford’s observation comes as the Trump Administration announced a $16 billion program to assist farmers caught in the crossfire of the President’s endless trade war. Retaliatory tariffs are coming tit-for-tat with China even as a still-unratified trade pact with Mexico and Canada continues to languish before Congress.

America’s farmers and dairymen are proud, hard-working people. Their mantra, from day one, has been, “Trade, Not Aid.” They’d much prefer competing in thriving open markets for their products than receiving government hand-outs.

But it’s hard not to feel insult added to injury, when the U.S. Department of Treasury is reporting the nation is on pace to collect $72 billion in customs revenue this year. It’s an unpalatable thought to see the government lining its pockets with higher tariffs even as 3,000 dairy farms across the country folded last year alone.

The farm economy in the Upper Midwest “might generously be described as struggling to tread water,” the Federal Reserve Bank’s Ronald Wirtz recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For an administration that has promised to do great things for America’s farmers, it has yet to hold up its end of the bargain for dairy farmers. So far, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has offered little insight on how it will divvy up this new allocation for direct payments.

Search here to find your legislator’s contact information. Let them know the dairy industry has showed it’s patriotic loyalty but now it’s time for a solution and end the bleeding.

The dairy industry is in the midst of a six-year downturn. With little hope of a quick resolution on the Chinese trade talks, the prospects for those hanging on to their herds grows dimmer by the day.

If Trump can’t offer open trade, it’s time we demand fair aid to dairy farmers..

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin: Announces next wave of grassroots lobbying efforts

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CONTACT: Eric Bott, [email protected]

AFP-WI Announces Next Wave of Grassroots Lobbying Efforts

MADISON, Wis. – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) on Thursday announced a new wave of grassroots investment to educate Wisconsinites and urge them to ask their lawmakers to advance the group’s legislative priorities. The group will mobilize activists throughout the state to canvass communities and have conversations with their neighbors about recent legislative action to reform criminal justice policies, expand educational opportunity, lower taxes, and decrease government spending.

This wave of the effort will thank Sen. Alberta Darling for introducing expungement reform legislation and for fighting for all students and against efforts in the state budget to freeze enrollment in Wisconsin’s educational opportunity programs. The group will also thank Sen. Dan Feyen for supporting middle class tax cuts and hold Sen. Jen Shilling accountable for supporting Gov. Evers’ tax and spend budget.

View Sen. Alberta Darling Doorhanger

View Sen. Dan Feyen Doorhanger

View Sen. Jen Shilling Doorhanger

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

“As the budget debate heats up, the time is ripe for the grassroots to double down and encourage their lawmakers to advocate for policies that open doors for Wisconsinites and pave the way toward a brighter future. Opportunity drives Wisconsin, and we remain committed to fighting for policies that help Wisconsinites improve their lives and achieve their full potential.”

The first wave of the effort thanked Sen. Patrick Testin for opposing Gov. Evers’ irresponsible capital budget and Sen. Tom Tiffany for supporting middle class tax cuts. The group also held Rep. Robyn Vining accountable for supporting Gov. Evers’ budget.

The group then launched a direct mail and digital campaign encouraging Wisconsinites to thank Rep. Evan Goyke, Rep. David Steffen, and Sen. Alberta Darling for leading on policies to reform the criminal justice system during the 2019 legislative session and urge continued action around these important reforms.

The effort includes canvassing, phone banking, digital ads, direct mail, and other grassroots tactics.

For further information or an interview, reach Lorenz Isidro at [email protected] or (703) 887-7724. 

Through broad-based grassroots outreach, Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is driving long-term solutions to the country’s biggest problems. AFP activists engage friends and neighbors on key issues and encourage them to take an active role in building a culture of mutual benefit, where people succeed by helping one another. AFP recruits and unites Wisconsinites behind a common goal of advancing policies that will help people improve their lives. For more information, visit www.AmericansForProsperity.org

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin: Pass expungement reform now

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CONTACT: Eric Bott, [email protected]

AFP-WI to Assembly: Pass Expungement Reform Now

MADISON, Wis. – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) urged the Assembly to pass The Pathways to Employment Act (AB 33) in advance of Wednesday’s floor vote. Assembly Bill 33, authored by Representatives Steffen and Goyke and Senators Darling and Risser, would make smart and meaningful reforms to our state’s current expungement process to help more people get back on their feet after completing their sentences and remaining crime free.

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

“Wisconsin’s restrictive expungement laws pose an unnecessary barrier to returning citizens who are eager to get back on their feet, reenter civic life, and be contributing members of society. Denying individuals with criminal records access to jobs, housing, education and even professional licensing makes them more likely to reoffend. Expungement reform would open doors to opportunity for folks across Wisconsin and help recognize returning citizens for what they are – wells of untapped potential.”

AFP-WI recently launched a direct mail and digital campaign encouraging Wisconsinites to contact elected officials who have led on policies to reform the criminal justice system during the 2019 legislative session and urge continued action around these important reforms.

The campaign highlighted Rep. Evan Goyke, Rep. David Steffen, and Sen. Alberta Darling’s leadership on criminal justice reform and thanked them for introducing the Pathways to Employment Act.

The group also recently announced a wave of grassroots lobbying efforts that includes canvassing communities throughout Wisconsin and educating them on criminal justice reform.

Background:

AFP-WI Backs Expungement Reform Bill (1/29/19)

AFP-WI: Senate Should Support Second Chances (2/2/19)

AFP-WI Closes Out Second Chance Month with New Campaign (4/23/19)

AFP-WI Announces Next Wave of Grassroots Lobbying Efforts (5/2/19)

For further information or an interview, reach Lorenz Isidro at [email protected] or (703) 887-7724. 

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin: Secure public defense now

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Contact: Eric Bott, [email protected]


MADISON, Wis.
 – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) on Tuesday urged the Joint Committee on Finance to address a critical due process issue by increasing the private bar rate as the committee prepares to vote on the State Public Defenders budget. Wisconsin’s reimbursement rate for private attorneys willing to take on defendants the government cannot is one of the lowest in the country, leading to defendants across Wisconsin having to wait far too long for access to a qualified attorney to work on their behalf.

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

“An accused American’s right to counsel, enshrined in the Sixth Amendment, is not optional. Every citizen should have access to the critical protection of a quality lawyer, but Wisconsin’s underfunding of its public defenders deprives many Wisconsinites of this crucial right.  Lawmakers should better prioritize spending in order to increase the bar rate and uphold every Wisconsinite’s constitutional right to an attorney.”

Last week, AFP-WI sent a memo to members of the Joint Committee on Finance to urge them to support an increase in the private bar rate. Read the memo here.

Assembly plans to take up three abortion-related bills next week

The Assembly is planning to take up three abortion-related bills when it convenes next week, according to a proposed calendar from Majority Leader Jim Steineke.

Members are also scheduled to vote on two crime-related bills as well as Marsy’s Law, a proposed constitutional amendment aiming to bolster crime victims’ rights. The provision, which cleared both houses of the Legislature last session, would need to pass through both chambers again before appearing on ballots in April 2020.

The three abortion-related bills on the calendar deal with proposals to: ban abortions on the basis of a fetus’ race, gender and other qualifiers; require physicians to tell women considering taking an abortion-inducing drug the process could be reversed; and outline care requirements for children born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion.

But it doesn’t include legislation that would bar Planned Parenthood from getting money under the Medical Assistance program. There are two similar bills on that topic: one from Sen. Andre Jacque and Rep. Janel Brandtjen; the other is from Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Barbara Dittrich.

All five of those bills got a public hearing yesterday.

Assembly Rules will meet Thursday to finalize the calendar.

Platinum subscribers can read more on the abortion-related bills in Tuesday’s PM Update.

Assembly Republicans propose $500 million boost to K-12

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Assembly, Senate in session today

The Assembly and Senate are each taking up a measure aiming to bolster crime victims’ rights during the chambers’ sessions today, the Legislature’s only floor period of the month.

In addition to the proposed constitutional amendment, Marsy’s Law, the Assembly is also poised to take up four abortion-related bills.

Those would: ban abortions on the basis of a fetus’ race, gender and other qualifiers; require physicians to tell women considering taking an abortion-inducing drug the process could be reversed; outline care requirements for children born alive following an abortion or attempted abortion; and bar Planned Parenthood from getting money under the Medical Assistance program.

There are two bills on the topic of Planned Parenthood funding through the MA program, though just one is on today’s calendar, AB 183. That bill is from Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Barbara Dittrich, while the other, AB 181, is from Sen. Andre Jacque and Rep. Janel Brandtjen.

In the Senate, members are planning to vote on the confirmation of Meagan Wolfe as Elections Commission administrator.

They’ll also take up legislation to allow the DNR to certify third-party brokers to buy and sell water pollution credits.

Both chambers are scheduled to convene at 11 a.m.

Follow Briana Reilly on Twitter for updates on the Assembly session and JR Ross for Senate coverage.

Associated Builders and Contractors-Wisconsin: Thanks members of the Joint Finance Committee for investing in closing the skills gap

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Contact: Kyle Schwarm,

608-244-5883; [email protected]

 MADISON – Statement from John Mielke, president of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin:

“On behalf of the nearly 900 construction employers that make up Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin, I thank Joint Finance Committee Republicans — and specifically State Representative Mike Rohrkaste — for efforts yesterday to approve historic amounts in the Career and Technical Education Incentive Grants and Local Youth Apprenticeship Grants.  This significant investment will help address the construction skills gap and go a long way toward getting more Wisconsinites into lifelong, family-supporting careers”

Badger Institute: Growth continues

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


Milwaukee
 – The Badger Institute continues to grow its team and expand its expertise with the addition of free-market policy advocate David Fladeboe as a public affairs associate, former Department of Corrections Assistant Deputy Secretary Patrick Hughes as a corrections consultant and national transportation expert Robert W. Poole Jr. as a Visiting Fellow.

“These three possess a wealth of expertise,” said Badger Institute President Mike Nichols. “David brings both broad policy acumen and legislative experience. Patrick knows the inner workings of Wisconsin’s corrections system. And Bob is one of the preeminent experts on transportation issues. We’re fortunate to have them on our team.”

Fladeboe will serve as the Institute’s primary liaison to policy-makers in the Capitol, sharing research and reporting findings with officials and their staff. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Fladeboe worked in both the state Senate and Assembly, including serving as policy director to Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford).

In 2012, he became deputy state director and in 2015 state director for Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin, focusing on issues including right to work, the prevailing wage and tax relief. He later moved to AFP’s national office in Arlington, Virginia, to serve as director of strategy and innovation.

Most recently, Fladeboe served as senior account executive for the consulting firm Persuasion Partners in Madison.

“It is an honor to join the team at the Badger Institute and to continue my mission to advance the cause of free markets, opportunity and prosperity in Wisconsin,” said Fladeboe. “I am hoping my experience advancing good public policy will expand the great work already being done by the team here.”

Hughes will provide analysis and technical support related to the Badger Institute’s research activities and strategic objectives in the corrections and criminal justice areas. He served as administrator of the Division of Management Services within the DOC from 2017-19. Before that, he served as assistant deputy secretary in DOC. From 2012-2016, Hughes was a senior policy advisor to Gov. Scott Walker.

Poole, director of transportation policy at the Reason Foundation, has worked with the Badger Institute on transportation and tolling issues for nearly a decade. In 2011, he authored a Badger Institute report titled Rebuilding and Modernizing Wisconsin’s Interstates with Toll Financing. He has written and participated in public events for the institute several times since. An MIT-trained engineer, Poole advised the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations on infrastructure issues.

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

Bill Kaplan: Common sense on 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.

Last week, Wisconsin GOP state legislative leaders said Medicaid expansion would be deleted from Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ budget. Evers responded: “I’m going to fight like hell for Medicaid expansion and need your (voters) help to get it done. I need you to call your legislator(s) and tell them you support Medicaid expansion. … Red states and blue states and purple states all … decided years ago – years ago – that they would take this (federal) money and invest it in their citizens.” Spot-on.

Former Arizona GOP Governor Jan Brewer embraced the same common sense in expanding Medicaid in 2014, with 100 percent federal funding, declining to 90 percent in 2020 and thereafter. Brewer said: “(T)here comes a time (when) you have to look at reality. You have to do the math. …It’s not only a mathematical issue, but it’s a moral issue.” 36 states have expanded Medicaid, including 3 in process. 13 were GOP-led. And, only 3 states in the Midwest have said no, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin (Kansas is moving forward).

The nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that the enhanced (90 percent) federal Medicaid expansion funding would allow Wisconsin to substitute federal for state spending, saving $324.5 million (Wisconsin has left over $1 billion on the table for other states by not expanding Medicaid). Moreover, Medicaid expansion would cover 82,000 more Wisconsinites. But state GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos just says no.

Vos, breaking with GOP governors and legislators around the nation, calls Medicaid expansion a “massive welfare expansion”. However, Medicaid is a health care program that covers low-income (mostly working) and middle-class Wisconsinites. The elderly and disabled make up 28 percent of state enrollees, but account for 69 percent of total state Medicaid expenditures, mostly for long-term care (Kaiser Family Foundation).

On top of that, 55 percent of Republicans support “allow(ing) states to expand their Medicaid programs” (Kaiser Family Foundation). Moreover, the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association strongly support Medicaid expansion. And, while state GOP legislative leaders were saying no hundreds of Wisconsin doctors came to the Capitol to support expanding Medicaid. Finally, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network has started a $4.5 million national campaign “Medicaid Covers US” to expand Medicaid in the 14 hold-out states, including Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin spoke out: “For years, former Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans put politics ahead of progress and refused to accept a federal investment in our BadgerCare (Medicaid) program. We should no longer … foot the bill for other states to expand Medicaid. … Governor Evers’ plan to accept a federal investment in our BadgerCare program will expand quality coverage for 82,000 Wisconsinites, save taxpayers money and help close health care coverage gaps.” Amen.

It’s time for other GOP Wisconsin legislators to listen to Republican state Senator Luther Olsen: “I honestly think we have to take it (federal funding for Medicaid expansion)… We need to look with an open mind what it does for the state of Wisconsin.” Common sense.

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

 

Bill Kaplan: Democrats fix equity and health care problems

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

 

Underlying partisan gridlock and venom in Washington, D.C. (and Madison) is the collapse of the Republican Party.  The GOP has become a cult bent to Trump’s will.    The GOP is neither a party nor conservative.  Trump has put his moniker on congressional Republicans.  They have abandoned long-held principles: fiscal discipline (red ink everywhere), free trade (back to 1930s tariffs and trade wars), remaking the party of Lincoln (acquiescence and support of Trump’s racism) and not interfering with  citizens’ private lives.

For example, Republicans in Alabama have just adopted a draconian law, all but outlawing abortion.  No exception period for incest or rape.  The silence of Republicans nationally is deafening.  Meanwhile, the Democratic-led House passed legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  All Wisconsin Democratic representatives voted yes.  All Wisconsin GOP representatives voting were opposed (Representative Sean Duffy was a no-show); oblivious that Wisconsin in 1982, led by GOP Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus, passed a civil rights bill adding sexual orientation to its anti-discrimination laws.  Wisconsin Democratic Representative Mark Pocan said: “Close to four decades ago, Wisconsin led the nation as the first state to enact legislation barring discrimination based on sexual orientation … .”

Further, it is on health care that Republicans have cast aside everything.  The foundation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was built on conservative GOP principles: the individual mandate requiring Americans to have health insurance and the use of tax credits, to help those who needed it, to buy private insurance on exchanges.  Ideas supported and implemented by then Massachusetts GOP Governor Mitt Romney.

But Trump and congressional Republicans are hell-bent on eviscerating the ACA by having a federal court declare the entire law unconstitutional, or using sabotage to limit its effectiveness.  The circus ringmaster of the federal lawsuit was former Wisconsin GOP Governor Scott Walker (state Democratic Governor Tony Evers withdrew Wisconsin from the GOP multi-state lawsuit).  Millions of Americans, including 205,118 Wisconsinites covered by ACA private insurance would lose their coverage.  Moreover, 852,000 Wisconsinites with preexisting conditions would lose access to affordable comprehensive health insurance (Kaiser Family Foundation).  And, thousands of young adult Wisconsinites would lose coverage from their parents’ health insurance.

The Democratic-led House, Democratic governors and two GOP state attorneys general, Dave Yost of Ohio and Tim Fox of Montana, are fighting back in federal court to save the ACA.  Moreover, the Democratic-led House is passing legislation to end Trump’s sabotage of the ACA.  On Thursday, the House passed a number of health care provisions: blocked sale of “junk insurance” with inadequate benefits and no coverage of preexisting conditions, restored funding for ACA advertising and outreach to help Americans enroll and reformed the sale of generic drugs to lower drug prices.  All Wisconsin Democratic representatives voted yes, while all Wisconsin GOP representatives were opposed.

Wisconsin Democratic Representative Ron Kind said: “Today, the House took action … aimed at lowering drug costs, strengthening protections for people … with preexisting conditions and expanding access to care.”  Spot on.

 

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

Bill Kaplan: Rural Wisconsin is still feeling pain

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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 failure of the United States and China to reach agreement (May 10) on a comprehensive trade deal raises the possibility that … Trump’s favorite negotiating tool – high tariffs on imported goods – may be hardening into a permanent feature of the U.S. economy” (Washington Post). And, Politico reported that Iowa GOP Senator Joni Ernst “doesn’t see a (U.S.–China) trade deal happening this summer”. The escalating trade war means more pain for Wisconsin farmers and rural towns.

Even a break like Trump’s lifting tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada and Mexico may not bring much relief for Wisconsin. Yes, retaliatory Canadian-Mexican tariffs on U.S. dairy and other agricultural products will be eliminated. But here’s the rub – the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement “only opens up about 3.6 percent of Canada’s market for dairy, poultry and eggs to the U.S. and that’s not much for American farmers” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). And, Wisconsin dairy farmers may have lost much of the Mexican market permanently to foreign competitors. Moreover, will a gridlocked Congress ratify the new (still flawed) trade agreement?

Trump says don’t worry. He falsely claims that China is paying “massive” tariffs to the U.S. Treasury. However, Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow contradicted Trump, admitting that Americans are paying with higher prices and reduced U.S. exports to China. Still Trump claims “we’re winning it big” as he announced a $16 billion bailout for U.S. farmers hurt by the trade wars. Let’s hope it does more good than the previous Trump bailout. Wisconsin farmers got too little too late. Beset with low falling prices for milk, declining income, debt-bankruptcies and widespread flooding Wisconsin dairy farmers mostly got a pittance. And, there’s more.

Last week, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin issued a justifiably tough press release. “U.S. Senator Baldwin: Demands answers from Trump about $62 million going to Brazilian crooks instead of American farmers”. Baldwin said: “Allowing taxpayer funds to support foreign agricultural companies, particularly corrupt foreign companies, at a time when farmers in Wisconsin and across the country are suffering from pain caused by your trade wars is outrageous, and I’m calling on you to explain how you allowed this to happen”. (Baldwin’s hot rhetoric was supported by solid reporting from the New York Daily News).

Rural Wisconsin and its farmers are on the edge. And, Trump’s razzle-dazzle can’t mask the misery and pain. “Over the past two years, nearly 1,200 of (Wisconsin’s) dairy farms have stopped milking cows and so far this year, another 212 have disappeared …” (New York Times). Moreover, a new Federal Reserve survey showed only 52 percent of rural Americans thought their local economy was in good shape. Many rural Wisconsinites don’t have enough cash or credit to cover unexpected emergencies or needs. What to do?

Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester (lost 3 fingers on the family farm) said: “In rural America, you should start by listening. … It’s a huge mistake to pull rural America off the map.” Tester, like Baldwin, gets the pain in rural America.

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

Bill Kaplan: Trump to rural Wisconsin, drop dead

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

There’s sparkling glitter around Trump. However, beneath the pizzazz, the tycoon has scorn for farmers and rural Wisconsin. Trump’s policies effectively say ‘drop dead’. Why?

“The year was already shaping up to be difficult for Midwestern (Wisconsin) farmers. Incomes have slipped, farm bankruptcies have increased and widespread flooding (climate change) has inundated the region, killing cattle and turning some fields into unplowable pits. Then came Friday’s news from Washington: Trade negotiations with China, long a reliable buyer of Midwestern crops, ended without a deal. … Trump raised tariffs on $200 billion worth of imports (from China), and the Chinese were weighing countermeasures” (New York Times).

It was another escalation in Trump’s trade wars against China, Canada, European Union and Mexico. Wisconsin farmers are reeling from retaliatory tariffs on dairy products, corn, cranberries, ginseng, kidney beans and soybeans, as well as beef and pork. The resultant economic fallout will pulverize rural towns. Small banks, farm machinery dealers and other family businesses are at risk. And, a farm crisis will cause population declines, threatening rural hospitals and schools.

Wisconsin Democratic Representative Ron Kind said: “Unilateral tariffs will not bring China to the negotiating table. Instead of a tariff hike, we need to work together with our trade allies to hold China accountable for their trade practices, and level the playing field for Wisconsin businesses.” Earlier, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “(Trump’s) talked over time about how much he cares about … dairy farmers, but he hasn’t really followed up with any certainty. Our farmers need good trade deals, not trade wars.” Both spot on.

“Wisconsin’s milk farmers face extinction” (New York Times). Low and falling milk prices have led to increased economic misery. Wisconsin lost more than 700 dairy farms over the last year. And Trump’s trade wars led to loss of foreign markets, perhaps permanently. “In 2018, farm income nationally was $63.1 billion, the second lowest total in a decade” (New York Times). Note: Trump’s trade wars began in early 2018. Moreover, the Commerce Department reported that in the first quarter of 2019, “(p)ersonal income for farmers fell by the most in three years” (Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post ). There’s more.

Politico reported: “Economists in the Agriculture Department’s research branch say the Trump administration is retaliating against them for publishing reports that shed negative light on White House policies… .” One report had indicated that the Trump tax cuts “would largely benefit the wealthiest farmers … .” Further, the Trump budget cuts the Agriculture Department by 15 percent, including crop insurance that protects farmers from depressed prices and weather-related natural disasters. Conservation programs, rural housing loans and economic development spending are cut or eliminated. No!

Democrats must reach out to farmers and small rural towns. It’s right morally and smart politically. Former North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp has launched the “One Country Project” to listen and respond to farmers and others in rural small towns. We are all Americans. We need hope and real solutions, not drop dead policies.

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

 

Bill to overhaul state’s expungement process clears Assembly

A bipartisan bill to overhaul the state’s expungement process is heading to the state Senate after passing the Assembly this afternoon via voice vote.

The legislation, from Reps. David Steffen and Evan Goyke and Sens. Alberta Darling and Fred Risser, would change who’s eligible for expungement and the timeline, but it wouldn’t broaden the offenses that could be wiped from an individual’s record.

Under current law, expungement is only possible if an individual committed a crime — either a misdemeanor or Class H or I felony — before age 25. But the bill would remove that age limit and give individuals who committed those offenses the ability to petition a court and ask that their record be expunged after their sentence is completed. Currently, that process can only occur at the initial sentencing.

In order to have a crime expunged, the individual would need to complete an entire sentence, including paying any fines or fees. And those affected would only be allowed to petition their sentencing court twice requesting a given crime be expunged.

A similar bill failed to clear the Legislature last sentence.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands: State trust fund loans totaling nearly $8M approved by BCPL

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

MADISON – Today, the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) unanimously approved nearly $8 million in State Trust Fund Loans to support twelve community projects in Wisconsin.

The BCPL approved the following loans:

  • Town of Conover, Vilas County / Purchase highway equipment / $139-559
  • Town of Conover, Vilas County / Construct salt shed / $114,354
  • City of Cumberland, Barron County / Construct golf course maintenance building / $265,000
  • Town of Dewey, Portage County / Finance roof repairs / $36,500
  • Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School District, Sheboygan County / Finance school improvements / $800,000
  • Village of Iola, Waupaca County / Refinance library expansion loan / $350,000
  • Town of Jackson, Burnett County / Purchase fire truck / $125,000
  • Village of North Freedom, Sauk County / Finance street construction / $90,000
  • City of Omro, Winnebago County / Purchase land and building / $310,000
  • Village of Oregon, Dane County / Finance Thysee Printing development incentive / $1,000,000
  • Town of Scott, Crawford County / Finance bridge repairs / $100,000
  • Shawano County / Finance jail and 911 system upgrades / $4,506,000

The BCPL operates entirely on program revenue, without taxpayer money, and distributes more than 96 cents of every dollar of interest earned on BCPL State Trust Fund investments to Wisconsin’s public schools.  The 2019 earnings of $36.2 million provide the sole source of state funding for K‑12 public school library materials.

A list of 2019 library aid received by each public school district is available at:

https://bcpl.wisconsin.gov/Shared%20Documents/Agency%20Info/Library%20Aid%20Distribution%202019.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, Wikler file to run for state Dem chair

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State Rep. David Bowen and MoveOn.org senior adviser Ben Wikler were the only candidates to file by Saturday’s deadline to run for state Dem chair.

The two will square off at the party’s June state convention to replace outgoing Chair Martha Laning, who opted against seeking another two-year term.

Bowen, the party’s first vice chair, is running on a ticket with Sauk County Democratic Party Chair Tammy Wood for first vice chair and UW-Madison student Alicia Lorta for 2nd vice chair.

Wikler is running on a ticket with Milwaukee County Board Supv. Felesia Martin for first vice chair and former state Senate candidate Lee Snodgrass for second vice chair.

Brad Pfaff: Dairy Task Force 2.0 highlights the need to build connections

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

 

Our state’s license plates proudly read “America’s Dairyland”. Football fans often wear foam cheese heads at Green Bay Packer games. Wisconsin is known for its dairy and cheese around the world, but are especially important to residents of our state. The 31 members of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 considered this topic and recommended several ways to strengthen connections between farmers and consumers, processors, rural communities, and residents in our state’s urban and suburban areas.

 

From the very beginning, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognized that a viable and profitable dairy industry is directly connected to the vitality of our rural communities. To strengthen those communities and improve the quality of life for rural residents, members of the Task Force recommended investing in local road infrastructure as well as supporting broadband internet services, both items receiving substantial investment in Governor Evers’ budget. The need for rural families to connect via broadband is imperative to farmers to invest in technology, residents to work remotely, and children to access educational resources.

 

To strengthen the bond between dairy farmers and milk buyers, Dairy Task Force 2.0 members also recommended both parties maintain current, clear agreements with each other. Such an agreement will provide greater certainty between the milk producer and the milk buyer. It is important that the connection between the milk produced on the farm and the processor that transforms that milk into value-added products that consumers enjoy around the world remains strong. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 also recommended that dairy farmers connect with educational resources to better understand how their milk is priced.

 

Consumers want a connection to their food, and to the farmer who grew or harvested it. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommended that farmers and dairy industry associates have access to a cohesive, consistent message about dairy through resources such as a one-page reference sheet or an app. Helping to inform consumers about the pride, craftsmanship, and hard work that is done in an effort to produce high-quality, nutritious dairy products is important. The group stressed the importance of the industry being connected and speaking with a united voice. The group also asked for support of the development and marketing of agritourism opportunities, allowing consumers to connect directly with farmers on the farm.

 

With farmers making up less than 2% of the U.S. population, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognized the importance of farmers sharing their story and connecting on policy development. Dairy Task Force 2.0 members unanimously passed a recommendation encouraging dairy producers to run for local offices and commissions. The group also unanimously agreed that the dairy industry needs to engage more with state and federal government leaders to enhance their communication and education efforts about agriculture.

 

When the Dairy Task Force 2.0 completes its work, a final report will be available summarizing all 51 recommendations developed by the group. I hope that people from across the state will make an effort to connect with a member of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 to have a discussion and ask questions about their work. These recommendations will help guide Wisconsin’s dairy industry for years to come.

 

— Pfaff is the secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Brad Pfaff: Research and innovation key to Wisconsin dairy’s future

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

MADISON – From the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0’s early meetings, members highlighted the need for research and innovation to maintain Wisconsin’s world leadership in all things dairy. Across the 51 recommendations that members have developed and approved in the past seven months, there is a consistent emphasis on the need to look to the future.

One of the first recommendations that the Dairy Task Force 2.0 passed was for increased investment in research through an initiative called the Dairy Innovation Hub. Members identified four critical research areas: steward land and water resources, enrich human health and nutrition, ensure animal health and welfare, and grow farm businesses and communities. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognized that research has been crucial for the dairy industry’s advancement for more than a century, and research is key for the next century and beyond.

The Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research (CDR) has been described as our crown jewel and the nation’s dairy industry is envious of the advantage its work provides Wisconsin. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommends CDR conduct a staffing analysis to optimize the capability of the new facility. Members also recommended additional technical staff to support innovation, working with companies to develop new cheese varieties and other value-added dairy products.

To make the most of completed research, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommended increased collaboration within the UW System and with private industry. The group recognized the need to leverage the cross-disciplinary expertise and work to get research benefits out quicker to farmers and processors. To get this research done, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 also recommended additional support for public and private partnerships, such as the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grants.

Implementing new and emerging technology on the farm or in the processing plant is essential to innovation in Wisconsin’s dairy industry. Unfortunately, access to capital can be a hurdle when it comes to incorporating these new technology systems. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 passed a recommendation asking for a loan guarantee program and developer grant program for producers and processors to incorporate new technology systems and adaptations in their operation.

In the 2018 Farm Bill passed by Congress and signed into federal law at the end of 2018, there was language and authorization to establish no less than three dairy product and business innovation initiatives across the country. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommends that Wisconsin be one of those sites. In partnership with the University of Wisconsin System, DATCP, industry associations, and others, Wisconsin plans to submit an application when the opportunity is available. This will complement the work already being done in research, product innovation, and market development in Wisconsin.

In dairy, the only thing we know for certain is that the industry will continue to change. Research and innovation are key to navigating that change and setting the course for the future. The Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognized Wisconsin’s strengths and identified areas of potential growth. I hope you will take the time to read more about the recommendations on research, innovation, and other important topics at dairytaskforce.wi.gov.

— Pfaff is secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Brad Pfaff: Wisconsin dairy needs to expand its markets worldwide

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

MADISON – Consumers from around the world enjoy agriculture products that come from our state’s farm fields and agriculture processing firms. Wisconsin is consistently one of the top exporters of dairy-related products in the nation. As milk production in the United States continues to increase, it is more and more important to create value-added products and identify new markets for those products, here at home or around the world.

The 31 members of Dairy Task Force 2.0 recognize the importance of trade and international markets to our state’s dairy community. To help our cheesemakers research and develop new products targeted for export markets, the Task Force called for a study on the possible development of a Wisconsin Cheese Brand and Export Board.

Another recommendation emphasizes the importance of value-added and specialty cheese in our state. Today, nearly half the nation’s specialty cheese is made in Wisconsin by a diverse array of cheese businesses. To better understand changing consumer tastes and demands, Task Force members recommended conducting an in-depth consumer study to gain additional market understanding. They also recognized the significant up-front costs of starting a dairy processing business, and sought ways to establish incubator facilities for start-up dairy processors.

Much of Wisconsin’s specialty cheese is made by artisan cheesemakers who may produce smaller amounts of product. To help reach consumers across the country, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 recommended an analysis on consolidating multiple companies’ products for joint distribution. Other recommendations sought to increase demand for fluid milk consumption and advocated for dairy product vending machines to be placed in Wisconsin public schools.

Dairy Task Force 2.0 members also passed a recommendation asking for an increase in dairy processor grant funding, an item that was included in Governor Evers’ 2019-2021 biennial budget proposal. Increased funding will promote and encourage growth and innovation in Wisconsin dairy plants. To ensure Wisconsin’s innovative dairy products are positioned for success in the marketplace, the Dairy Task Force 2.0 also approved recommendations for truth in food labeling and asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make needed regulatory changes to product standards of identity.

Wisconsin’s dairy products are the best in the world. The best products require the best milk. Our state’s hardworking dairy farmers produce some of the highest quality, most nutritious milk every day. Recognizing this, members of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 passed a recommendation supporting the National Dairy FARM program and equivalent programs that are science-based and cow-centric. Members also recommended changes to the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) to increase our milk quality standards.

The team at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection works to develop our markets locally through Farm to School; Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin; and Something Special from Wisconsin™. The Wisconsin International Dairy Export (WIDE) initiative, in collaboration with industry partners, brings in buyers from across the world to learn more about our state and its dairy products. The work of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 will help guide the state’s marketing efforts for years to come. For more on the Dairy Task Force 2.0, visit dairytaskforce.wi.gov.

– Pfaff is secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

 

Bruce Murphy: Top CEO salaries keep rising

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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.

Bugenhagen campaign: Judge Paul Bugenhagen Jr announces run for Court of Appeals

CONTACT:
Judge Paul Bugenhagen, Jr
[email protected]

WAUKESHA – Today, Judge Paul Bugenhagen Jr announced his candidacy for the District II Court of Appeals.

Judge Paul Bugenhagen Jr: “I am honored to announce my candidacy for the Wisconsin Court of Appeals because Wisconsin deserves a judge who will uphold the rule of law and defend our Constitution — including the religious liberties of all Wisconsinites. Over the last few months, I have received an outpouring of support encouraging me to run and defend the Constitution. I look forward to earning the trust and confidence of Wisconsinites across the district.”

Judge Bugenhagen, a life-long resident of Waukesha County, was elected in 2015 to the Waukesha County Circuit Court and currently presides over the family and probate divisions of the court. Judge Bugenhagen was named head of the family court division in 2018. Before his election to the bench, Judge Bugenhagen was a bilingual attorney in a general litigation practice with offices in Menomonee Falls and Waukesha.

Outside the courtroom, Judge Bugenhagen enjoys hunting, fishing, coaching high school wrestling, and spending time with his family. Judge Bugenhagen resides in Mukwonago with his wife, Crosby, and their daughter. Judge Bugenhagen believes judges should be servant leaders on the bench and active participants in the community they represent.

For more information regarding Judge Bugenhagen and his campaign, please go to www.paulbugenhagen.com.

Center for Media and Democracy: Wins reversal of restrictive DOJ public records policy

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Contact: [email protected]


Madison, Wisconsin
: In a victory for transparency in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has agreed to reverse former Attorney General Brad Schimel’s restrictive policy automatically denying any open records request that generates more than 500 potentially responsive documents, and has turned over several thousand records to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) concerning Schimel’s legal war against the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

CMD filed suit against the DOJ on September 24, 2018 after it refused to disclose any public records relating to Wisconsin’s leadership role in a high-profile multi-state lawsuit aimed at striking down the ACA and eliminating health coverage for pre-existing conditions. Schimel’s DOJ claimed it would be “excessively burdensome” to review and redact the records.

In the course of the litigation, CMD discovered that Schimel had adopted a policy of arbitrarily rejecting freedom of information requests based on a 500-document threshold that is not recognized anywhere in state law. The Wisconsin Open Records Law declares that it is “the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them.”

The settlement with CMD states that Schimel’s policy “is no longer in place and that references to this policy have been removed from the Department of Justice website.”

“In addition, the DOJ has made it clear that public officials cannot defeat Wisconsin’s open records law by using private email or other digital dodges,” said CMD Executive Director Arn Pearson.

Former governor Scott Walker has been accused of instructing members of his administration to avoid using official email accounts in order to evade state transparency laws.

Under the CMD-DOJ settlement, “Defendant [DOJ] understands that content determines whether a document is a ‘record,’ not medium, format, or location; therefore, materials otherwise meeting the definition of ‘record’ and not subject to any other exception are not exempt from disclosure by virtue of their location on private email accounts, online apps, or file-sharing services.”

“This is a victory for the public and journalists, and recognizes that Schimel’s policy went too far in denying the public’s right to know,” said Christa Westerberg, who represented CMD in the lawsuit. Westerberg is a partner at the Madison law firm of Pines Bach LLP.

CMD is a non-profit investigative watchdog group focused on corporate influence and money in politics. Documents obtained by the litigation concerning Schimel’s anti-ACA litigation will be analyzed and published on the group’s websites, ExposedbyCMD.org and PRWatch.org.

Settlement Agreement and Release
Order Dismissing Claims

Chief Justice Roggensack: Statement regarding action by the Joint Committee on Finance

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Statement of Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack regarding action by the Joint Committee on Finance:

“I am pleased with today’s action by the Joint Committee on Finance. It contains elements, that if adopted by the Legislature and the governor, will strengthen and support Wisconsin’s justice system.

Increasing the rate paid to attorneys who provide constitutionally required representation to those who cannot afford a privately paid attorney to $70 per hour, additional necessary assistant district attorneys, and an increase in support for the counties who are the state’s partners in Wisconsin’s courts are welcome outcomes. I am aware of the many important considerations the Legislature has before it in developing the state’s budget, and I appreciate their favorable consideration.

I will continue to monitor the progress of these important issues as we work together to address serious concerns in the administration of Wisconsin criminal justice system.”

 

# # #

Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger: Wisconsin bill tackles PFAS crisis

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Contact: Laura Olah | Executive Director
P: 608 643 3124 | E: [email protected]

Governor Evers and Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cole accompanied Senators David Hansen (Green Bay) and Mark Miller (Monona) to announce one of the most comprehensive bills in the nation to address contamination by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The Chemical Level Enforcement & Remediation (CLEAR) Act LRB-2299-2 directs state regulators to establish acceptable levels and standards, monitoring requirements and response actions for PFAS chemicals that are determined by the Department of Health Services (DHS) to be harmful to human health for drinking water, groundwater, surface water, air, solid waste, beds of navigable waters and soil and sediment.

PFAS are a group of persistent man-made chemicals linked to health risks such as cancer, fertility issues for women and developmental issues in children. PFAS are currently not regulated in Wisconsin or by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“Without this bill, hazardous waste incinerators can burn PFAS without a permit, PFAS discharges to our rivers and streams will remain unregulated, farm fields and dairies will continue to be contaminated with PFAS in land-spread sludges, and public drinking water supplies will not be thoroughly tested for these highly toxic chemicals,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “And those most vulnerable to harm will continue to be at risk – because there is no safe level of PFAS for infants.”

Industrial sites like the Tyco/Johnson Controls facilities in Marinette, Wisconsin are sources of PFAS groundwater contamination that has spread from these sites, threatening nearby fisheries and affecting residential wells. So far, at least 36 families have been exposed to PFAS in their drinking water. The highest concentration detected in a private well was 1900 ng/L, far above the EPA’s Health Advisory Level of 70 ng/L (parts per trillion).

The potential for other similar sites in Wisconsin is unknown as there has been no statewide inventory of likely sources of PFAS contamination such as paper mills, fire training areas, airports, manufacturing facilities and landfills.

Of the more than 11,000 public drinking water systems tested in Wisconsin, only 90 have been tested for PFAS. The one‐time testing in 2013‐2015 detected PFAS in La Crosse and Rhinelander public water system and low levels in the West Bend system.

Moreover, these wells were tested for only 6 PFAS analytes in a class of thousands of chemicals. Per‐ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of more than 5,000 man‐made toxic chemicals used to make consumer products resistant to water, grease or stains.

Aqueous film‐forming foams (AFFF) containing PFAS has been used by the Department of Defense for over 40 years for suppressing liquid fuel fires, fire‐training exercises and other emergency fire response activities.

Concentrations of PFAS in groundwater at military sites like Fort McCoy, Volk Field, and General Mitchell exceed 100,000 parts per trillion. Heavy concentrations of hazardous PFAS chemicals have reached groundwater under the Truax Air National Guard base, contaminating downgradient City of Madison drinking water wells.

“We are grateful to Senators Hansen and Miller, Governor Evans, Representatives Taylor, Gruszynski and Sargent for their leadership, their responsiveness to this crisis, and for introducing this bill.  We look forward to working together with them and all of our legislators who are committed to protecting the future of Wisconsin’s water,” Olah said.

Wisconsin CLEAR Act LRB-2299-2 2019
Wisconsin Map 36 PFAS Compounds Threaten Groundwater CSWAB May 2019

City of Madison Ride the Drive 2019 🗓

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The tradition of a free event, promoting a healthy, active lifestyle continues at 11th annual Ride the Drive on Sunday, June 2 from 11:00am to 3:00pm. Each of three downtown area parks offers activities, food, and entertainment.

FOUR MILES
No matter how you experience Ride the Drive – by foot, by pedal or by wheel – there is no cost to attend. Stroll, roll, pedal or glide your way along the four-mile route to Brittingham Park, Olin Park and Law Park.

THREE PARKS
While visiting the three parks – climb a “rock” wall, try out an electronic bike or a hand-bike, test your biking skills on the cyclocross course, or try a game of nerf battledarts, disc golf or bag toss. Each of the three parks will have plenty of fun activities, bike safety checks, water refill stations, and restrooms plus several food carts and RTD merchandise. See website for the complete listing.

NEW THIS YEAR
The day of the event pick up a route map with 2019 vendor list and your RTD Prize Pass! The RTD Prize Pass is new this year and available from any Madison Parks Info Booth. Participants stop at three vendors at each of the three parks and return the completed Prize Pass for a chance to win great Parks prizes. A drawing will be held the week following RTD.

ACCESS THROUGH DOWNTOWN MAINTAINED
John Nolen Drive, from Olin Ave. to E. Wilson/ Williamson streets will be closed from 9:30am to 4:00pm. With minimal streets closures, access to and through downtown is maintained. A map of the event route and road closures is available online PDF .

See RidetheDrive.com for more information.

Clean Wisconsin: Applauds Madison Gas & Electric for carbon reduction goal

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Contact:  Scott Blankman, Director of Energy & Air, (608) 251-7020 ext. 27 or [email protected]

Jon Drewsen, Communications Director, (608) 251-7020 ext. 28 or [email protected]

Looks forward to helping utility to meet goal ahead of schedule 

MADISON, WI — Clean Wisconsin applauds Madison Gas and Electric for their announcement today of plans to reach net-zero carbon electricity by 2050. MGE is now the second utility in Wisconsin to take this critical step.

“Climate change is the most pressing issue of our time. We are encouraged by MGE’s new commitment to tackle climate change by eliminating their carbon emissions,” said Clean Wisconsin President & CEO Mark Redsten.

“We look forward to helping MGE meet this goal ahead of schedule and working with them to identify technologies that will enable the rapid achievement of this goal,” said Redsten. “We are also are pleased that public utilities are aligning with Gov. Tony Evers’ carbon-free electricity goal and efforts identified with the U.S. Climate Alliance.

“For many years, Clean Wisconsin has worked with MGE to support their efforts to transition to carbon-free energy generation. This new goal shows that MGE is both listening to its customers’ demands for clean, renewable energy and making good economic decisions for their customers and shareholders.

“Electricity from the wind and sun is less expensive than from burning fossil fuels like gas and coal. Net-zero carbon electricity will benefit MGE customers, protect public health and address climate change,” said Redsten.

Clean Wisconsin: Applauds unanimous passage of SB 91

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Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, Vice President, Programs & Government Relations, (608) 251-7020 ext. 16 or

[email protected]

Jon Drewsen, Communications Director, (608) 251-7020 ext. 28 or [email protected]

A great bipartisan step in ongoing efforts to protect water from nutrient pollution

MADISON, WI — Clean Wisconsin applauds the Wisconsin State Senate after unanimously passing Senate Bill (SB) 91, which sets up a nutrient pollution trading clearinghouse.

“Nutrient pollution, especially from phosphorus and nitrates, continues to choke our waterways and contaminate drinking water,” said Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin Vice-President of Government Relations. “This bill is another tool to use in the ongoing effort to help communities comply with water quality standards by creating innovative partnerships that protect our water from nutrient pollution. We commend the Senate for unanimously passing this bill.”

Clean Wisconsin appreciates the authors’ efforts to work with concerned stakeholders to produce a bill that has garnered such bipartisan support, and urges quick Assembly action.

Clean Wisconsin: Voices support for CLEAR Act

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Contact: Carly Michiels, Government Relations Director, (715) 923-3779 or [email protected]

One of the most comprehensive proposals in the nation to address PFAS pollution

GREEN BAY, WI — Clean Wisconsin gave remarks strongly supporting the Chemical Level Enforcement & Remediation (CLEAR) Act to address PFAS pollution unveiled at a press conference today in Green Bay.

“The release of PFAS in the air, soil, and water pose significant risks to public health and the environment, and a long-term solution is needed,” said Carly Michiels, Clean Wisconsin Director of Government Relations. “The CLEAR Act is one of the most comprehensive proposals in the nation and lays the foundation for a long-term plan to tackle PFAS pollution in Wisconsin.”

PFAS, or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, is a group of persistent man-made chemicals linked to health risks such as cancer, developmental issues in children and fertility issues for women. PFAS is not regulated in Wisconsin or by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. States like Minnesota and Michigan have also begun to address this issue.

The bill, LRB 2297, addresses all PFAS compounds that could contaminate drinking water, groundwater, surface water, air emissions, solid waste, and soils. It enables the state to more quickly establish enforceable health standards and to develop a long-term plan that simultaneously addresses PFAS pollution and protects public health.

“PFAS pollution is an emerging threat to water quality and public health in Wisconsin that many communities are still learning about,” said Michiels. “Components of the CLEAR Act, such as developing a state health standard and require response actions for spills, are all key tools we need to actually tackle this issue.”

There are at least 18 investigations across Wisconsin on PFAS contamination. In communities like Marinette, where firefighting foam from a nearby training facility has contaminated drinking water, some families rely on weekly bottled water deliveries for safe drinking water.

“Clean Wisconsin applauds these legislators for their initiative during this ‘Year of Clean Drinking Water’ in proposing a bill that recognizes and addresses the urgency of the problem, protects public health, and provides the long-term vision to address PFAS pollution,” Michiels said.

Governor Tony Evers and DNR Secretary Preston Cole also spoke in support of this bill at today’s press conference.

Committees back two bills to boost OWI penalties

The Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a pair of bills Thursday that stiffen penalties for impaired drivers.

AB 15 and 17 would require those charged with first-offense OWI to appear in court and would implement a presumptive mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for OWI homicide, respectively.

Those two bills were part of a package of four OWI-related proposals introduced by Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, earlier in the session. All four proposals were scheduled for an exec before the panel a month ago, but Chairman John Spiros, R-Marshfield, canceled the vote after a flurry of last-minute amendments left their passage in doubt.

While both sides of the aisle reached compromise on AB 15 and 17, negotiations on AB 16 and 18 continue. In their original form, those measures would create a mandatory minimum prison sentence for those convicted of fifth and sixth-offense OWI and would make first-offense OWI a criminal misdemeanor rather than a civil violation.

But Ott told WisPolitics.com Thursday that Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, proposed appropriations to both bills that the Mequon Republican couldn’t support.

According to Ott, Spreitzer introduced an amendment to add more than $3 million over the course of the biennium to AB 16 in order to provide the Department of Corrections with resources for drug and alcohol treatment classes for fifth and sixth-offense OWI convicts.

While Ott said he supports treatment options for such offenders, he noted that many are ordered by courts to attend those classes and pick up the tab out of pocket.

“I’d have trouble voting for the bill myself if we’re taking $3.3 million of taxpayer money to pay for people’s bad behavior when they already are paying for it themselves,” he said.

But Spreitzer noted that those treatment options are only available to offenders after they are released and that DOC is already paying for treatment options for those serving prison sentences.

“My stance on the amendment is that incarcerating people for an extra year – which will cost money, take people away from their jobs and families, and increase our prison population (something I am overall working to do the opposite of) – is only worth it if in doing so we are reducing the likelihood that these people commit future OWIs once they are released,” he said in an email.

As for AB 18, Ott said Spreitzer proposed an amendment totaling close to $14 million over the biennium to ensure that additional prosecutors and public defenders would be available to handle an influx of criminal referrals stemming from first-offense OWI.

Ott said the appropriation was not necessary as the Legislature already planned to provide additional funding for those positions. The Joint Finance Committee on Tuesday approved $38.4 million in general purpose revenue to boost pay for prosecutors and public defenders while adding 26.5 positions in district attorney offices across the state.

The bulk of that money — $25.7 million — would increase the rate paid to private attorneys who act as public defenders. Meanwhile, $3.6 million of it would go to helping counties cover the costs of attorneys appointed by circuit courts to represent the indigent.

But Spreitzer said that amount is the bare minimum needed to address the current caseload, and doesn’t take into account “thousands of new criminal cases” the bill would create.

“Without the amendment, this bill will overburden our criminal justice system and starve it of the resources needed to effectively prevent drunk driving and prosecute other crimes,” he said.

See AB 16:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab16

See AB 18:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab18

Common Cause Wisconsin: Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice-Elect Hagedorn’s “gratitude” to Republican party underscores necessity for stronger recusal rules

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Contact:
Jay Heck

608/256-2686 (office)
608/512-9363 (cell)

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn very narrowly won the State Supreme Court election on April 2nd to replace retiring former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. He benefited from the active organizational and financial support of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) and other partisan organizations, particularly in the last several weeks prior to the election.

In what may be an action unprecedented in state political history, Hagedorn addressed the RPW state convention in Oshkosh last week, specifically to thank Republican activists for strongly supporting his candidacy. “When I got punched, you were the ones who punched back,” Hagedorn said to the party faithful. “When I got knocked down, you grabbed the baton and kept running with it.”

Hagedorn says he will be impartial when he is sworn in as a justice later this Summer. But in the absence of stronger recusal rules for Wisconsin judges, will he really be impartial, objective, and beholden only to the law and not his supporters?

Wisconsin currently has the 47th weakest recusal rules in the nation when it comes to judges having to recuse themselves if they are the recipients of significant campaign contributions or the beneficiaries of so-called “independent” election spending. Essentially, judges decide for themselves whether to recuse themselves from a case in which a party before the court has been a campaign contributor above a certain threshold.

This very weak rule was written by two independent special interest groups – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association and adopted verbatim by conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2010.

Proposals to strengthen recusal rules since that time have been rejected, most recently in 2017 when conservatives rejected a petition submitted by 54 retired jurists for strong recusal rules and refused to hold even a public hearing on the matter.

During the campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this year, Hagedorn indicated he was not supportive of stronger recusal rules while his opponent, Wisconsin Court of Appeals Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer said she thought stronger rules ought to be considered, and supported holding a public hearing to receive input on the issue.

Now that Judge Hagedorn has expressed his deep gratitude to partisans for their help in his election, how can the public be confident that he will be strictly impartial in his application of the law? What assurance would a Democratic or progressive individual or entity appearing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court have that Hagedorn would be fair and non-partisan in his decision-making process?

That’s why strong recusal rules are so important and needed in Wisconsin.

Public confidence in the impartiality and fairness of our state courts had fallen dramatically over the last decade. Adoption of stronger recusal rules by the Wisconsin Supreme Court would help restore that necessary confidence. Judge Hagedorn could initiate that process and raise public confidence in his own upcoming first term on the court by joining the call for stronger rules.

https://www.commoncausewisconsin.org/2019/05/wisconsin-supreme-court-justice-elect.html

Consumers First: Alliance to make the healthcare system work for everyone to hold tele-briefing

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CONTACTS:

Lisa Holland | Families USA | 202-626-0640 | [email protected]

Natalia Perez Santos | AFSCME| [email protected]

Marybeth Sharpe |Pacific Business Group on Health | [email protected]

Cristi Allen | American Academy of Family Physicians | [email protected]

Jason Hammersla | American Benefits Council | 202-289-6700 | [email protected]

Jennifer Chang | American Federation of Teachers | 202-585-4360 | [email protected]

Michele Kayal | First Focus | [email protected]

Group is launching a new effort to fundamentally change the U.S. health care system’s economic incentives to provide affordable, high-quality health care for America’s families

Washington, D.C. – Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone, representing seven national organizations will hold a media tele-briefing on Tuesday, May 14 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern. During the tele-briefing, the Alliance will release its Call to Action to unify unrepresented voices to solve economic distortions in the nation’s health care payment and delivery system so the best health and health care are affordable and accessible for every person in the country.

The alliance members (Families USA, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Benefits Council, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Federation of Teachers, First Focus and Pacific Business Group on Health), want to ensure that the health care system’s economic incentives provide affordable, high-quality health care for all of America’s families, children, seniors and adults. The call to action identifies six policy areas that are ripe for a consumer-focused movement to address the fundamental distortions in the U.S. health care system that drive low-value care.

Tele-briefing Details

Title: “Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone – A CALL TO ACTION”

Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Time: 11:00 a.m. Eastern

Speakers:

  • Frederick Isasi, Executive Director, Families USA
  • Elizabeth Mitchell, President and CEO, Pacific Business Group on Health
  • Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers
  • Shaun O’Brien, Assistant Director, Research and Collective Bargaining Services, AFSCME
  • Ilyse Schuman, Senior Vice President, Health Policy, ABC

To join the call, please dial 888-205-6786 and enter passcode 426064

If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Holland at Families USA, 202-626-0640, [email protected].

Consumers First: New Alliance launches to ensure that the economic incentives of the health care system encourage affordable, high-quality health care

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CONTACTS:

Lisa Holland | Families USA | 202-626-0640 | [email protected]

Natalia Perez Santos | AFSCME|  [email protected]

Marybeth Sharpe |Pacific Business Group on Health | [email protected]

Cristi Allen | American Academy of Family Physicians | [email protected]

Jason Hammersla | American Benefits Council | 202-289-6700 | [email protected]

Jennifer Chang | American Federation of Teachers | 202-585-4360 | [email protected]

Michele Kayal | First Focus | [email protected]

Consumers, Health Leaders and Allies Must Join Forces to Ensure Consumer Interests are Reflected in National Health Care Debate, Says New National Alliance

Groups Issue “Call to Action” to fundamentally change the economic incentives of the health care system to provide affordable, high-quality health care for America’s families.

Washington, D.C, May14, 2019 – A newly formed alliance that launched today wants to ensure that the economic incentives of the health care system encourage affordable, high-quality health care for all of America’s families.

Consumers First: The Alliance to Make the Health Care System Work for Everyone, brings together powerful interests from consumers, employers, children, labor, and primary care providers. The Steering Committee of the Coalition consists of the following seven national organizations:

  • Families USA
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Benefits Council
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • First Focus
  • Pacific Business Group on Health

Consumers First aims to uproot the fundamental economic distortions in the health care system that drive high costs and low-quality care for America’s families. The alliance will work to educate Congress, the federal government and state policymakers about critical changes that are needed immediately to ensure the health care system provides higher-value care to the people it serves.

In addition, Consumers First has released a Call to Action paper

The paper asks allies to join forces to address the significant economic distortions in the health care payment and delivery system that drive high costs and low-quality care. The call to action outlines six policy focus areas in the health care system that need to be addressed immediately:

  • High and rising health care prices
  • Distortions created by provider payment systems, including Medicare
  • Increased health care industry consolidation
  • Federal tax policy for nonprofit health care Institutions and insurance plans
  • Flawed health care workforce policy
  • Inadequate access to data and lack of transparency

One of Consumers First’s next steps will be to finalize a congressional and administrative policy agenda on the key changes that are needed in health care.

“While our country has made significant gains in health care coverage in the last several decades, our health care system remains rife with inefficiencies and economic distortions that are hurting every day families. Until we change the incentives that drive low-quality, high-cost care, consumers will continue to be left behind. We have convened the Consumers First alliance and issued this paper to ensure that the economic incentives of the health care system are fundamentally changed so that families can always receive affordable, high-quality health care. This effort is not about tinkering around the edges. Over time, we aim to uproot the economic distortions that are hurting families, and drive to a more efficient, rational payment and delivery systems that puts the needs of consumers first,” said Frederick Isasi, Executive Director, Families USA.

“Affordable, high-quality healthcare is entirely possible for all Americans but will require significant changes in the U.S. health system. We have lost over 10 years of wage growth to health care cost inflation and have not seen needed gains in quality or patient outcomes. We are paying the highest prices in the world for highly variable care. We all deserve better and PBGH’s Members are prepared to be engaged and proactive to achieve better care at lower costs. PBGH is excited to partner with Families USA on a shared agenda for healthcare quality and affordability that places the health and financial well-being of employees and families first. Let’s get moving! ” said Elizabeth Mitchell, President & CEO, Pacific Business Group on Health.

“This Alliance was created because for too many American families, access to care is uneven, inconsistent and dependent on multiple variables.  While most First-World countries have managed to offer people basic healthcare, here in the U.S.—the wealthiest country in the world—patients are often caught in a maze of arbitrary regulations, payment systems and prices that vary widely.

Our members, who are nurses and healthcare professionals, see these inequities up-close understand all too well the need for greater transparency, oversight and accountability in our healthcare delivery system. But, basic health care is a right human right that should be available to all; not a privilege reserved for the wealthy few. What we need is a sea change in the drivers of our health care system so that working families — indeed all families — can access the care they need and deserve,” said Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers.

“Every single day, AFSCME health care workers see how the current system fails to provide Americans with the care they deserve. The high cost of health care and prescription drugs, coupled with decades of stagnant wages, places millions of Americans in a position where they must choose between paying for basic necessities and life-saving medications. By joining Consumers First, AFSCME will ensure that frontline health care workers are at the table as we seek to expand access to quality health care for all,” said Lee Saunders, President, AFSCME.

“Large employers, like the members of the American Benefits Council, provide the high-value, high-quality health coverage that people like. But these employer plan sponsors are consumers, too, and the high costs that plague our health care system – brought about by flawed policies and backwards incentives – are simply untenable. There is much that can be accomplished through cooperation and consensus, which is why we are proud to join with the other members of Consumers First to find practical solutions,” said James A. KleinPresident, American Benefits Council.

“Children are among the most vulnerable consumers of healthcare and their needs are often neglected. Children need special care, like pediatric surgeons, emergency medications like EpiPens and other items that often don’t receive the attention they deserve. It’s time to put consumers first, and children must be at the front of the line,” said Bruce Lesley, President, First Focus on Children.

Dairy Business Association: Dairy group applauds bipartisan support for water quality credit clearinghouse

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

State Senate unanimously OKs centralized nutrient trading system

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Dairy Business Association today commended state senators for their bipartisan support of a streamlined process for trading pollution-reduction credits that would improve the quality of water in Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes.

Senate Bill 91 would create a clearinghouse for such trades between point sources and non-point sources of phosphorous, nitrates and other pollutants. While state law already allows for this type of trading, a centralized system would make this an easier process and likely more popular.

This bill was authored and introduced by Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, and co-sponsored by more than 40 legislators from both sides of the aisle. It was approved unanimously today and now moves to the state Assembly. It would require Gov. Tony Evers’ signature as well to become law.

The following statement is from Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association:

Image

“This marks a big step forward for Wisconsin, which has a unique opportunity to create a sustainable statewide market that pays for better non-point source pollution reduction through use of new technologies, more cost-effective permit compliance for our manufacturers and industries, and improved water quality.“As an organization whose members — dairy farmers of all sizes and supporting businesses throughout the state — serve as the backbone of our rural economy, we particularly appreciate the ways in which this bill could provide rural job creation and new economic opportunities.

“It is well known that we face difficult economic times in the dairy community and other aspects of agriculture. This bill would help to address this problem while also helping us tackle water quality challenges. DBA looks forward to the continued vetting of this proposal in the Assembly.”

About nutrient trading:

Various entities, including local water treatment facilities, cheese plants and other factories are required to meet limits for what pollutants or nutrients they can discharge to the environment. Phosphorus is one of the most commonly regulated nutrients. It can be expensive for a facility to filter its discharge sufficiently to reach its assigned phosphorus target.

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

Photos:

Click here for a photo of Tom Crave. 

Tweet about this:

Dairy Business Association @DairyForward applauds state Senate’s bipartisan approval of #water quality credit clearinghouse. #NutrientTrading #innovation #solutions

About DBA:

The Dairy Business Association, based in Green Bay, 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 Association: Wisconsin farm groups see Dairy Innovation Hub as vital to future

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

  
State bill would boost investment in world-class research

MADISON, Wis. — Calling the need for next-generation dairy research critical, five Wisconsin farm groups today urged state lawmakers to increase investment in scientists and supporting facilities at the state’s agricultural colleges.

The endorsement came as lawmakers introduced Senate Bill 186, which would create a Dairy Innovation Hub in the University of Wisconsin System. The bill calls for adding researchers to focus on land and water use, human health and nutrition, animal health and welfare, and farm businesses and rural communities.

The Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Farmers Union and Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin said the proposal is vital to ensuring a robust future for the state’s dairy community while maintaining UW’s prominence in dairy research around the world.

“The hub strategy will build a world-class team of creative problem-solvers who can provide interdisciplinary solutions to the complex challenges before us,” the groups said in a joint statement after a press conference at the Capitol.

The bill makes a $7.9 million annual investment to be used at UW-Madison, UW-Platteville and UW-River Falls. The funding amounts to about 0.02 percent of the $43 billion the dairy community generates each year for the Wisconsin economy.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, and Reps. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel; Rob Summerfield, R-Bloomer; Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City; and Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls.

“We applaud the authors of this bill for championing such an important initiative,” the groups said.

The bill was the subject of a public hearing today of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions.

The following are quotes from leaders of the individual farm groups:

“As a global leader in dairy research, the University of Wisconsin System has long pointed the way toward innovative solutions that kept America’s Dairyland thriving. Today, the challenges facing our farmers, processors and others are increasingly complex and the stakes could not be higher. It’s critical that we remain at the forefront through next-generation research that would come from the Dairy Innovation Hub.”

–– Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association
“Increased investments in the University of Wisconsin System’s dairy initiatives will provide a much-needed boost to an industry challenged by international trade conflicts and a severe workforce shortage. As faculty researches new value-added products and trains the next generation of farmers and cheesemakers via the Dairy Innovation Hub, they will truly be working to ensure Wisconsin retains its title as America’s Dairyland for decades to come.”

–– John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association

“Our state is America’s Dairyland because we are a leader for the dairy industry. In order for Wisconsin’s $43.4 billion industry to continue to be a world leader we must enhance our research capabilities. The UW Dairy Innovation Hub would build upon our existing dairy data but specialize on the issues that farmers face today. This would help our dairy farmers stay competitive in the future.”

–– Jim Holte, president of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau

“Wisconsin’s dairy industry blossomed in the late 19th century because of forward-thinking research and outreach from the University of Wisconsin. Now in the 21st century, dairy farmers face new challenges and will benefit from focused investments by University of Wisconsin to help farmers steward land and water resources, enrich human health and nutrition, ensure animal health and welfare, and build farm businesses and rural communities.”

–– Darin Von Ruden, president of Wisconsin Farmers Union 
 

“The entire world looks to Wisconsin as the dairy industry’s leader. However, America’s Dairyland is at the brink of crisis and we need help if we’re going to continue to lead the world in important research and relevant discoveries. The dairy and food world is moving so fast – we’re in dire need of researchers at the UW level to answer not only the questions of today but also to solve tomorrow’s issues. The time is now to invest in the Dairy Innovation Hub.”

–– Shelly Mayer, executive director of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin

MORE INFORMATION

Click below for videos from UW-Platteville explaining the Dairy Innovation Hub:

Video 1

Video 2

Click here to read testimony in support of the legislation from UW-Madison faculty members.

Tweet about this:

Farm groups @DairyForward @WICheeseMakers @WIFarmBureau @wifarmersunion @dairypdpw call for support for #Dairy Innovation Hub @UWMadisonCALS @uwplatteville @UWRiverFalls

Dairy Strong: Set for Jan. 22-23, 2020; Keynote speakers announced

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GREEN BAY, Wis. – Hundreds of dedicated members of the U.S. dairy community will gather again Jan. 22-23, 2020, at the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center, in Madison, Wis., for the sixth annual Dairy Strong conference.

This past January, more than 600 people from across the country listened to dynamic speakers, engaged in panel discussions and explored educational programs that focused on a wide range of issues affecting the dairy community.

Dairy Strong organizers are working hard to build content that is relevant to opportunities and challenges faced by dairy farmers today. All sessions are chosen through a public proposal process, due June 14. Topics, speakers and other exciting updates will be determined and announced in the coming months.

Four keynote speakers have already been chosen for the conference:

Dr. Kate Darling will serve as the opening keynote for Dairy Strong 2020. A leading expert in robot ethics, Kate is a research specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, where she investigates social robotics and conducts research on human-robot interaction. Her work addresses the difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers and the public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. Forever interested in how technology intersects with society, Kate will draw parallels between her work and the growth of robotics in dairy.

Michael Parrish DuDell will join Dairy Strong as the evening keynote on Wed. Jan. 22. He was recently ranked as one of the most popular business authors by Amazon.com and named “one of nation’s leading Millennial voices” by IBM. He has helped some of the world’s most influential brands, including Kraft, Visa, L’Oreal, Toyota and American Express connect with millennials. Michael will talk through how the dairy community can best appeal to a new generation of customers.

Former Army Intelligence Officer, Brett Scottio will speak on Thurs. Jan 23. As the president and CEO of Aimpoint Research, Brett will fuse best practice and Intelligence disciplines with marketing research methodologies to explain the “farmer of the future”.

Decorated combat veteran and the first female Thunderbird Pilot, Colonel Nicole Malachowski(USAF, Ret.) will close the conference. Calling on stories from her career and personal life, Nicole will encourage farmers and dairy community professionals to rethink the challenges we are facing, urging us to go beyond resilience and become resurgent.

“Dairy Strong brings farmers and dairy professionals from diverse management philosophies together to coalesce around what’s important to our community – today and in the future,” said Tom Crave, a dairy farmer from Waterloo, Wis. and president of the Dairy Business Association.

Dairy Strong provides attendees the chance to listen to unique keynotes, participate in practical sessions and engage with the nation’s leading dairy suppliers on the trade show floor.

Updates and announcements about Dairy Strong can be found at dairystrong.org. Sponsorships and exhibits are also available. Registration will open September 1.

Tweet about this: @DairyStrong scheduled for Jan 22-23, 2020 featuring Kate Darling @grok_, Michael Parrish DuDell @notoriousMPD@BrettScottio and Nicole Malachowski

About Dairy Strong: In its sixth year, Dairy Strong is a conference where all aspects of the dairy community come together to coalesce around a commitment to what’s important today and tomorrow. Farmers representing farms of all sizes and business philosophies are joined by representatives of related businesses and partners to learn, engage and explore. More information about Dairy Strong including the complete schedule and registration information, can be found atdairystrong.org

Dane County Cities and Villages Association: Elects 2019-2020 Executive Committee

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MADISON – The Dane County Cities and Villages Association (DCCVA) announces its
2019-20 Executive Committee, which was elected during the membership annual
meeting held on Wednesday evening, May 1, in the City of Sun Prairie. They are:

• President: Robert Wipperfurth, Village of Windsor president
• Vice President: Judd Blau, Village of DeForest president
• Secretary: Paul Esser, City of Sun Prairie mayor
• Treasurer: Bill Burns, City of Middleton finance director
• Past President or Member-At-Large: Gurdip Brar, City of Middleton mayor

The DCCVA promotes excellence in municipal government, provides opportunities
for officials to exchange ideas, advocates for cities and villages, and develops a
cooperative approach to municipal problems of importance in this region.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County makes history by purchasing 160 acres of property for Pheasant Branch Conservancy

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Contact:  Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

Is the Largest Conservation Preservation Investment the County Has Ever Made for a Property Acquisition; Will Prevent Flow of 2.6 Million Gallons of Rainwater Each Year into Lake Mendota

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi joined County Board and Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy representatives to announce that Dane County will acquire approximately 160 acres of property in the Town of Springfield to become a part of Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Costing nearly $10 million dollars, this is the largest conservation preservation investment for a property acquisition in the county’s history.

Restoration of the property will help the Town of Springfield maintain its rural character and reduce sediment and phosphorus runoff, improving water quality within the Pheasant Branch Watershed and positively impacting Lake Mendota. It is estimated that restoring this property to permanent vegetation will reduce more than 550 pounds of phosphorus annually and prevent the runoff of 354,000 cubic feet (or over 2.6 million gallons) of water each year. Roughly one pound of phosphorus can produce up to 500 pounds of algae.

“We are proud to make this historic investment to expand Pheasant Branch Conservancy and do our part to ensure this outdoor recreation destination can be enjoyed for generations to come,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This acquisition will further our efforts to improve water quality, mitigate flooding, and preserve outdoor spaces as Dane County continues to grow.”

A farmhouse and outbuildings can be found on the property, along with farmland and some pasture. It is bordered by Pheasant Branch Road to the west, Balzer Road to the north, and the 550-acre Pheasant Branch Conservancy to the south. The parcel sits within the Pheasant Branch and Yahara River Watersheds and contains the headwaters of an intermittent stream. This stream flows into Pheasant Branch Creek, and ultimately Lake Mendota. The 160-acre property is also located within the recharge area of the Frederick Springs, found south of the parcel. Restoration of the land will result in less nutrients and pesticides entering the groundwater recharge area directly adjacent to the springs.

“Not only does this acquisition provide unparalleled recreational and conservation opportunities, but it is also exactly the type of action we need to take to be resilient to flooding,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “Protection of this property will buffer Pheasant Branch Creek from storm flashes and erosion during big and small rain storms.”

Dane County will seek partnerships with community organizations on the planning and implementation of restoration projects, including prairie development and habitat improvements. This acquisition will add to the outdoor recreation activities visitors of Pheasant Branch Conservancy participate in, whether it be walking, hiking, biking, or viewing wildlife. One future use of the property could also be as a regional bicycle trail connector to Governor Nelson State Park.

Dane County, the City of Middleton, and WDNR all own land that is collectively managed as the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. The Friends of Pheasant Branch Conservancy is a support organization that has dedicated itself to restoring conservancy habitat and educating the public about the area’s resources. There is a 3.3-mile looped bicycle/pedestrian trail that runs through the conservancy, along with multiple hiking trails. The Frederick Springs are located on existing county property and are a beautiful natural feature that draw in many visitors.

The owners of this 160-acre property have had a long history of working with the county to maintain agricultural use and production while striving to improve and protect environmental resources through conservation implementation. The purchase price for the parcel is $9,973,900. A resolution regarding this property acquisition in the Town of Springfield will be introduced at tonight’s County Board meeting.

Dane County Exec. Parisi: Dane County will award grant to Groundswell Conservancy for land purchase in Westport, will help preserve and restore Six Mile Creek and surrounding wetlands

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Contact:  Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

Site Could Be A Future “Suck the Muck” Location

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Groundswell Conservancy will receive Dane County’s Conservation Fund Grant to help purchase approximately 84 acres of property in the Town of Westport. The parcel is dominated by wetlands and contains an approximately 1,500-foot segment of Six Mile Creek. The acquisition and restoration of this area will assist with flood storage and mitigation, protect this stretch of Six Mile Creek and adjacent wetlands, help maintain and improve water quality, and provide public access for nature-based outdoor recreation, including an existing snowmobile trail.

“We appreciate the O’Malley family’s willingness to help us preserve and restore this land,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “By partnering together, we can now work to ensure this natural space and its environmental benefits can be enjoyed for generations to come.”

Six Mile Creek supports a diverse forage, warm water sport fishery, and spawning grounds. In addition to Six Mile Creek, the parcel also has an unnamed tributary and a drainage ditch. The wetlands in this parcel are valuable for protecting the Yahara River and Chain of Lakes. A restriction covers approximately 12.5 acres on the east side of the property that was restored to wetlands as part of a mitigation project on nearby land. This coming winter, the site will also be tested for its potential to be included in Dane County’s “Suck the Muck” initiative.

“Suck the Muck” is a $12 million initiative, introduced by Parisi in his 2017 budget and implemented by the Dane County Department of Land and Water Resources, to clean up 33 total miles of streams that feed into the lakes. The sediment found in these streams is estimated to be at least 125 years old and contain 870,000 pounds of phosphorus, which can increase the frequency and extent of hazardous algae blooms. It is hoped that work from “Suck the Muck” will also improve the natural reproduction and diversity of fish populations.

“Growing up adjacent to the Six Mile Creek and this marsh, I’ve seen the tremendous amount of water the marsh can hold helping alleviate flooding downstream,” said Dane County Board Supervisor Dave Ripp. “With perimeter trails, this will be a great resource for the area.”

The property being acquired lies just east of the DNR’s Waunakee Marsh Wildlife Area, and north of Dane County’s North Mendota Natural Resource Area. The Village of Waunakee’s Ripp Park is south of the property across Highway 19. Development and a golf course are to the north and east of the parcel. Hellenbrand Road is on the west side of the parcel, along with roughly 28 acres of cropland.

Overall project costs for this acquisition are $404,770. Dane County will allocate $113,042.50 in matching funds. A Knowles Nelson Stewardship grant and a North American Wetland Conservation Act grant have been secured by Groundswell Conservancy. The Village of Waunakee has also committed funds toward the parcel purchase.

The resolution to award Dane County’s Conservation Fund Grant to Groundswell Conservancy to assist in the purchase of this parcel will go before the County Board at tonight’s meeting.

Dane County: Awards over $139,933 in grants to local arts organizations

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink

608-267-8823

Dane Arts Awards 69 Grants Supporting Arts and Cultural Activities Countywide with Public-Private Funds

Dozens of local organizations that promote community arts, history, and culture are receiving “Dane Arts” grants, County Executive Joe Parisi and the Dane County Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission announced today. Sixty-five project grants totaling $131,933 and four capital requests totaling $8,000 were recentlyawarded in Cycle 1 for “Dane Arts” project grants in 2019.

“Congratulations to all who will be receiving grants from Dane County’s ‘Dane Arts’ program,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Dane County is proud to support our thriving arts and culture communities. Investing in the arts strengthens our sense of community and is an important investment in our local economy.”

The “Dane Arts” grants are funded by county dollars in conjunction with private donations from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation, and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation.

This year, Dane County’s Dane Arts will award over $250,000 in public-private funds to nonprofit organizations, schools, individuals, and municipalities for arts, cultural, and local history projects and programs offered countywide. The next project grant deadline is Thursday, August 1, 2019, 4:00pm.

Dane County: Thanks emergency medical service personnel during national EMS week

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Contact: Ariana Vruwink
(608) 267-8823

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi is recognizing the efforts of the highly trained men and women who work to serve their communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with prompt and effective emergency services. This recognition comes as communities across the country celebrate EMS Week and honor those in the chain of survival.

“Through great coordination and teamwork, Dane County’s emergency dispatchers, fire, police, and medical service providers have been able to save the lives of many members in our community,” said County Executive Parisi. “I cannot thank them enough for their dedication to serve.”

2019 marks 42 years that Dane County EMS has provided vital public service, with the EMS system responding to 41,600 calls for service in 2018. Over 1,000 emergency medical personnel in Dane County are ready to provide lifesaving care to those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Approximately half of those individuals are volunteers.

The Dane County Public Safety Communications (911) Center has dispatchers who use a template of questions to determine the severity of an emergency medical situation and can then send appropriate help. Dane County Emergency Management helps coordinate a seamless network of emergency responders that team together, regardless of municipal boundaries, ensuring every day that those with the most critical emergencies receive the highest level of care.

“The men and women who are Emergency Medical Technicians in our communities demonstrate honorable and dedicated service to every person who calls for emergency assistance. Our utmost respect and admiration of the more than 1,000 EMTs in Dane County. Thank you from all citizens and visitors for your dedication and commitment to excellence,” said Bob Salov, County Board Supervisor and Chair of the EMS Commission. The County Board passed a resolution recognizing May 19 to May 25 as EMS Week in Dane County to recognize the hard work of EMS providers, including emergency physicians, emergency nurses, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, educators, and administrators.

Included in Dane County’s 2018 budget, the County purchased a total of 48 new automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and acquired a four year service contract for these units from Cardiac Science. When every second counts, this vital tool can help save the life of someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. Thanks to this agreement, 51 AED units are now in place at a total of 19 different County sites, with a unit on each floor. AED sites include the Henry Vilas Zoo, Highway Department, Job Center, Northport, City-County Building, ADRC, and Alliant Energy Center, just to name a few.

Last year, Dane County also acquired a new command vehicle to help coordinate emergency responses at major public safety incidents. County Executive Joe Parisi included $500,000 in the 2018 county budget to purchase the vehicle, known as CV-1, and outfit it with the most state of the art communications and public safety response equipment. The vehicle responds to severe weather, criminal investigations, power outages, and other emergencies requiring coordination of significant public safety resources.

Darling won’t be at Thursday JFC hearing following fall in Washington, D.C.

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DATCP advises farmers: Use caution when securing financing for spring planting

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MADISON – With the weather finally cooperating, farmers are working around the clock to complete spring planting. While farmers rush to get the seeds in the ground, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) cautions farmers not to make hasty decisions when securing financing for the growing season.

“During these challenging economic times, farmers are seeking operating loans to cover needed expenses. If conventional lending options are no longer available, farmers may seek an alternative,” said DATCP Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff. “Unfortunately, some alternatives may not be legitimate and often target those who are in need of funds quickly.”

“There are various opportunities for farmers in Wisconsin to seek financial help.  Wisconsin has many safe and sound financial institutions that know their communities and want to help their farming customers thrive,” said Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).

DFI encourages borrowers who are seeking a nontraditional lender to check its website to confirm that the lender is registered with the state of Wisconsin. Lists of registered payday lenders and loan companies are available at http://www.wdfi.org/fi/lfs/licensee_lists/.

DATCP’s Farm Center staff have seen offers from unregulated lenders to extend a significant line of credit to farmers as quickly as the next business day. While these lenders may offer to bridge a gap with financing, often time unregistered lenders create additional financial hardships for farmers long-term. These unregulated lenders often use high-pressure tactics, requiring decisions to be made quickly or the offer will expire.

“I encourage farmers to contact the Wisconsin Farm Center here at DATCP if they have difficulty accessing financing or if they are considering an alternative lender,” added Pfaff.

All Wisconsin Farm Center services are confidential and offered free of charge. Other services include succession planning, mediation services, and assistance accessing counseling vouchers.

Contact the Wisconsin Farm Center at 1-800-942-2474 between 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or email[email protected] at any time. Learn more about the Wisconsin Farm Center at farmcenter.wi.gov.

Dave Considine: The People’s Budget – and you – are being ignored

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

It is commonly said that budgets are about priorities. The easiest way to find out these priorities is by asking people – like you – what is important. I do this often, and I recently finished up a round of 8 listening sessions around the district. Governor Evers and Lieutenant Governor Barnes did this recently as well. Before writing the budget, they held listening sessions across the state to hear from all Wisconsinites to ensure that they had a good sense of what the priorities of the people are. This is why the 2019-2021 Executive Budget is truly The People’s Budget – it was built by Wisconsinites, for Wisconsinites, and it fully reflects the priorities of Wisconsinites.

One of these priorities is that the people of our state want us to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid. Governor Evers heard the overwhelming support for this and has included it in the budget. Medicaid expansion would help more people access affordable healthcare and would free up state dollars that could be invested in other programs, such as education.

Another priority for Wisconsinites is an economy that works for all of us – not a select few of us. Because of this, The People’s Budget puts a cap on a corporate tax credit, the majority of which goes to a small percentage of people in Wisconsin. In fact, 80% of this corporate manufacturing credit goes to taxpayers who make more than $1 million each year. By capping this credit, we will be able to fund our crumbling roads and infrastructure.

Our roads are some of the worst in the nation, which hurts our tourism, our agriculture, and our wallets. However Governor Evers heard your concerns and the budget makes the largest biennial investment in Wisconsin transportation history. This not only funds our transportation projects and infrastructure needs, but will reduce our transportation debt by 2%.

Unfortunately, on May 1st the Republican Joint Finance Committee members announced that they plan to remove 131 of the proposals from The People’s Budget, including Medicaid expansion. This is unacceptable because Medicaid expansion would allow us to invest in every Wisconsinite – not just Wisconsinites enrolled in Medicaid.

Under Medicaid expansion, millions of dollars of new investments would be possible, including increased access to mental health services, preventing childhood lead poisoning, and increased funding for providers in long-term care programs such as nursing homes.

If the Republican Joint Finance Committee members do not hear from you and continue on the path of deleting these important pieces of the budget, that would mean an incredible loss for our area. For just three of the counties I represent, we would be stripped of $45 million dollars of funding. This includes:

$23 million in Sauk County
$16 million in Columbia County
$6 million in Iowa County

The priorities of Wisconsinites are clear, but they’re still being ignored. It is time for your representatives to listen to you. I encourage you to connect with your state legislators and explain why you believe what you believe. Ask them whether they support the majority of Wisconsinites, who agree that Wisconsin needs Medicaid expansion. Call your legislators today at (608)266-9960 or (800)362-9472.

To find more information on the county by county funding under the Medicaid expansion, go to https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/budget/county.htm. For information on how to contact your legislators, call (608) 266-9960 or (800) 362-9472.

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

DC Wrap: Baldwin pushes for more funding for CWD research; Sensenbrenner slams Barr contempt vote

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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

God isn’t done with our family yet! Baby number nine coming to the crew this fall! @RCamposDuffy said it best – we aren’t crazy, we are just full of hope for America’s future!
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, announcing this week that his wife, Rachel, is pregnant with the couple’s ninth child. See the post.

Trump has spent the last two years sabotaging our health care system, raising costs and pushing junk plans that do not have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. @realDonaldTrump has no plan to protect your care. He never has and never will. #WeWontForget
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, blasting President Trump in a Twitter thread over his health care policies.

When I noticed Scott Walker didn’t win, nor Brad Schimel or obviously the lieutenant governor, I realized I was the last statewide representative. It’s a role I never sought, but it’s a responsibility I take pretty seriously.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he described waking up the day after the November 2018 general as the only Republican statewide figure — “the last man standing,” in his words.

This week’s news

— As state officials grapple with CWD, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin is aiming to pump more money into research to combat the wildlife disease.

The Madison Dem this week introduced a bipartisan bill that would set up a CWD research grant program and allocate up to $15 million annually for topics ranging from detecting the disease to eradicating it.

Under the bill, universities, state and tribal ag departments and other research facilities would be eligible for the funding.

“It’s clear we need to invest more federal resources in researching how to stop the spread of this deadly wildlife disease that threatens Wisconsin’s hunting traditions and our deer herds,” Baldwin said in a statement.

The legislation comes as Wisconsin leaders continue weighing options for addressing CWD. DNR Secretary Preston Cole and Gov. Tony Evers have drawn fire from some for the lack of CWD-related policies in the budget; but Cole has countered the plan contains $2.6 million, the same amount in former Gov. Scott Walker’s final budget.  

Cole has also said he’ll be waiting to see what other states’ research shows about CWD before calling for additional targeted funding.

CWD was first detected in the state in 2002. In all, the disease has impacted 56 of the state’s 72 counties, per DNR.

Baldwin’s bill is co-sponsored by Republican U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, of North Dakota.

 

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner joined his fellow Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee this week to oppose a Dem-backed effort to find AG William Barr in contempt of Congress.

Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, and 15 other Republicans voted against the contempt resolution, which passed with the support of 24 Dems.

The resolution targets Barr for failing to comply with a committee subpoena related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent report, per national media outlets, and now heads to the full House for a vote.

Sensenbrenner in a statement slammed the vote Wednesday as “below the dignity of this committee.”

“In my ten years as a Chairman, I never had to issue a single subpoena,” he said. “The majority’s actions today, which force the Attorney General to either break the law or fail to comply with the subpoena, are below the dignity of this committee and will have lasting consequences.”

 

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher has introduced a new bill seeking to counter what he sees as China’s many threats to the United States.

The Green Bay Republican’s bipartisan bill, the “U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Act of 2019,” would implement a number of requirements to combat Chinese-backed challenges to the U.S., according to a Gallagher release.

That includes language that would compel the feds to report on: China’s enforcement of sanctions against North Korea; the influence and propoaganda efforts of the Chinese Communist Party in the U.S.; potential risks stemming from technical cooperation between the two countries and more.

“The United States faces no greater economic, political, and security threat than China,” Gallagher said.

The bill is co-sponsored by Dem U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, of California.

 

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is out with a new bipartisan bill looking to guarantee access to hospice care in rural areas.

The La Crosse Dem said in a statement his bill looks to ensure “families can keep their local, trusted care provider and give them a little more peace of mind in a trying time.”

“As Wisconsin seniors and families make end of life care decisions, the last thing they need to focus on is finding a new care provider for their loved one,” he said.

The bill would allow rural health clinics and  federally qualified health centers to receive payment for hospice care. Currently, those facilities can’t bill Medicare for those services.

In the House, the bill’s co-sponsor is GOP U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, of Indiana.

 

— U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy’s communications director, Mark Bednar, has left the Wausau Republican’s office to take a job with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

While Bednar’s old comms director position is still open, Jeb Burchick — Duffy’s former press assistant — has been promoted to deputy communications director. Burchick began interning with Duffy’s office in December 2016 before working for two years as his press assistant.

Meanwhile in U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher’s office, Communications Director Madison Wiberg has left her post. She’s been replaced by Jordan Dunn, who previously worked in former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district office.  

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

‘Last man standing’: Ron Johnson is left to lead Wisconsin GOP while contemplating future

Tammy Baldwin authors bill authorizing $15 million for CWD prevention

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Wants To Put More Money Into Federal Shipyard Program

Wisconsin Dem: Trump committed ‘treason’ in phone call with Putin

Congressman Sean Duffy, Rachel Campos-Duffy announce they’re having 9th child

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

DC Wrap: Baldwin touts new Medicare bill; Pocan calls on AG Barr to resign

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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

My intention was second and final term. But I have said this was not the reality I thought I’d face. I really thought Scott Walker would be re-elected.
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in an interview with “UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen. The Oshkosh Republican had previously said it was his intention to retire from the Senate after his term ends in 2022. His name has been floated as a possible GOP gubernatorial candidate. See more from the program, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

While, around here, people like to ask the impeachment question, I think it’s less back home now than prior to the report. Because people understand there’s some easy, simple steps we have to do. And the president, again, will really expose himself if he doesn’t cooperate.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, in a Politico interview, where the Congressional Progressive Caucus leader noted the multiple Dem-led House committees’ ongoing investigations.  

Thank you @realdonaldtrump for visiting the great state of Wisconsin! The rally was absolutely electric. I’m looking forward to working side-by-side with the President very soon.
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, on Twitter after joining President Trump at a rally in Green Bay Saturday. See WisPolitics.com coverage of the event.

Welcome to Wisconsin @potus. Today in Milwaukee I met with folks who have pre-existing health conditions and they want to know why you are working to repeal their care, raise costs, and take away their protections. They said, instead of broken promises how about #ProtectOurCare
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, on Twitter.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says her new bill to expand access to Medicare would represent “a critical step forward” to lowering health care costs and increasing competition.

The Madison Dem, in touting her “Choose Medicare Act,” also slammed congressional Republicans and President Trump for their efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act — as well as their “failure” to be part of the discussion on upping affordability and health care options.

“It’s yet another example of how Senate Democrats are working to guarantee affordable health care for every American,” she said in a news conference in Washington, D.C. “The choice for the American people couldn’t be more clear: We want to make things better and our Republican colleagues have sadly done everything they can to make things worse.”

The bill, from Baldwin and fellow Dem U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, and Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, would allow those not currently enrolled in Medicaid or Medicare to be covered by Medicare. It would also give employers the choice to purchase Medicare for their employees.

Baldwin said the bill is just one route she backs to expand access.

“I have always supported universal health care, and it’s why I support a number of different paths to expand high quality coverage,” she said.

See the release.

 

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is calling on William Barr to resign from his post, as he slammed the AG for protecting President Trump “at the expense of the American people.”

The call came Wednesday as Barr was fielding questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on the recently released report from special counsel Robert Mueller on Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Other members of Congress also urged Barr to step down amid reports Mueller objected to Barr’s characterization of the investigation’s findings. Barr’s initial, four-page letter to Congress in March included few details on Mueller’s conclusions.

Still, Mueller’s findings didn’t reach a conclusion on obstruction of justice and it noted the report itself “does not exonerate” Trump.

Pocan, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, wrote in a tweet that “Barr lied to Congress and to the American people.”

“His blatant efforts to protect the President – at the expense of the American people – is appalling and he must be held accountable for his actions,” the tweet said.

Barr is the second agency head that Pocan has called on to step down in recent weeks. Last month, Pocan in a column urged Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to resign, slamming her as “fully unfit” to lead the federal agency.

 

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is looking to make more funding available for states to curb distracted driving.

The Green Bay Republican’s bill would create two new grants states could use to get more funding for the effort. The funding would be provided through existing appropriations.

“By giving states the resources they need to educate drivers about this threat and enforce their laws on distracted driving, the grants created in the SAFE TO DRIVE Act will help states reverse this trend,” he said in a statement.

 

— Gallagher has introduced a resolution condemning the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka.

The April 21 attacks killed some 250 following a string of explosions at three luxury hotels and three churches, according to national media reports.

Gallagher said in a statement the incident “must be forcefully condemned.”

“Acts of violence against any person of faith, in any country, cannot be tolerated, and demonstrate the need for all of us to unite against extremist ideology,” he said. “I stand with my colleagues against these heinous acts and offer my deepest condolences to the people of Sri Lanka as they recover.”

 

— U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is bringing back his bill aiming to provide more assistance to those with disabilities.

Specifically, the bill would allow Medicare to cover complex rehabilitation equipment in a separate category that would then provide targeted coverage for individuals.

Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, said many individuals with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord industries rely on complex rehabilitation equipment “to meet their needs and function on a daily basis.”

“I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that would allow for targeted coverage and payment policies that address the unique situations of people with severe medical needs,” he said in a statement.   

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Ron Johnson: “I Understand The President’s Frustration” Over Two Year Witch Hunt

Sen. Ron Johnson: I am ‘concerned’ about Russian interference

Sen. Johnson defends President Trump’s comments on NBC’s Meet The Press

Sen. Tammy Baldwin meets in Milwaukee to discuss Pres. Trump’s ACA lawsuit

Families share their medical difficulties with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Ron Kind

Rep. Steil plans telephone town hall session

‘The dairy industry is in a crisis’; Steil hears from farmers, agriculture industry

Pocan: I support marijuana legalization

Congressman Ron Kind pushes for full release of Mueller Report

Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind’s Bill headed for president’s desk

DC Wrap: Johnson looks to standardize federal data surrounding sexual violence in new bill

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

NOTE: DC Wrap will not be sent out over the next two weeks. It will return the first week in June, following the Memorial Day recess. Thanks for reading!

 

Quotes of the week

Unilateral tariffs will not bring China to the negotiating table. Instead of a tariff hike, we need to work together with our trade allies to hold China accountable for their trade practices, and level the playing field for Wisconsin businesses.
– U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, denouncing the Trump administration’s latest tariff increase on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. The hike, effective May 10, rose duties from 10 percent to 25 percent.  

Steele’s intent of the meeting with the State Department was to maximize the impact of the unverified information that he had acquired in an effort to undermine the Trump campaign.
– U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, and Chuck Grassley, head of the Finance Committee, in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting documents tied to past British operative Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier on President Trump. See the letter.

This week’s news

— A new bill from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is targeting the processes key federal agencies use to collect sexual violence data.

The bill, from Johnson and fellow U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, would require the head of the Office of Management and Budget to create an interagency working group that would zero in on federal efforts to obtain such data and standardize the process for reporting it.

The legislation is based on recommendations from a summer 2016 Government Accountability Office report. It noted the wide differences in data collection efforts and estimates of sexual violence in 2011, when estimates ranged from 244,190 rape or sexual assault victimizations to 1.93 million victims of rape or attempted rape.

“We must improve the quality and consistency of sexual assault data made available across government agencies,” Johnson said in a statement. “The time to act on the recommendations of our federal watchdog is now.”

A similar bill from last session cleared the chamber via unanimous consent.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan are teaming up to reintroduce a bill looking to curb harassment and bullying on college campuses.

The legislation would compel colleges and universities to create policies to bar harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability and religion.

Called the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act of 2019, the legislation is named after a freshman at Rutgers University who died by suicide after being harassed online.

“No student should have to live in fear of being who they are,” Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a statement. “Our schools should not be, and cannot be, places of discrimination, harassment, bullying, intimidation or violence.”

Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, noted there currently aren’t federal protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“(The bill) ensures that institutions of higher learning are a place of open expression, which celebrate diversity and embrace students from all different backgrounds,” he said.

The legislation was first introduced in 2010, and has been reintroduced every subsequent session.

— Baldwin is also bringing back a bill aiming to safeguard collective bargaining rights for certain first responders.

Baldwin said the legislation, which would apply to police officers, firefighters and EMS workers, would help ensure “their right to workplace protections.”

“They deserve the same essential labor protections that so many other Americans enjoy – the right to form and join unions and the right to collectively bargain,” she said in a statement.

The Madison Dem introduced a similar bill last session, but it didn’t go anywhere.

 

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher is touting his bill to bar Chinese military scientists from receiving U.S. student or research visas.

Those targeted by the Green Bay Republican’s bill would be individuals employed or sponsored by scientific and engineering institutions affiliated with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Gallagher in a statement said the GOP-backed legislation would ensure those individuals aren’t conducting sensitive research in the U.S. to develop new military technologies and other things.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that American innovation benefits the American military–and not our adversaries,” he said.

 

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has been named to a new House rural broadband task force.

The panel aims to craft legislation to expand rural broadband access to end the digital divide between the country’s rural and urban areas by 2025.

Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a statement he’s looking to aid western and central Wisconsin communities through his involvement in the group.

“Wisconsin students, small businesses, and families in rural communities rely on broadband to stay connected in the 21st-century – but many have been left behind,” he said.

 

— Kind has also introduced a bill to encourage more veterinarians to work in rural areas.

The bill targets the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. Specifically, it would provide an exemption for the program’s 37 percent federal withholding tax for vets.

“Veterinarians are an important part of a healthy rural and farm economy, but many regions throughout our state are facing a shortage of animal care professionals,” he said in a statement.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

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

Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduces bill to increase broadband access, especially in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Senator’s bill would ease burden on caregivers

Senate Republicans really don’t want to raise taxes to pay for an infrastructure plan

Federal lawmakers reintroduce bill to protect LGBTQ college students from harassment

Ron Kind’s bill to expand funding for target ranges signed into law

Steil named to task force on financial technology

White House trade leader urges tariff-stricken Wisconsin firms to consider greater context

Trade war causing concern for central Wis. industries

Kyrsten Sinema and Mike Gallagher are still the fastest members of Congress

Democratic members of Joint Committee on Finance: GOP block Democratic efforts to protect drinking water

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Contact:   Sen. Jon Erpenbach 608-266-6670

  Sen. LaTonya Johnson 608-266-2500

  Rep. Chris Taylor 608-266-5342

  Rep. Evan Goyke 608-266-0645

Republican Politicians refuse to Address Wisconsin Lead Poisoning Crisis

MADISON, WI – Despite several proposals from Governor Evers to improve access to clean drinking water, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee blocked Democratic efforts to invest $35 million for lead service line replacement and address the contaminated water crisis. Governor Evers declared 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water with a focus on pro-active initiatives to protect our drinking water after years of Republican neglect and failure to address water contamination issues. The Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee issued the following statements following the rejection of lead contamination funding:

“Our priorities are the priorities of the people. Families all across our state deserve to trust that the water from their tap is clean,” said Representative Goyke (D-Milwaukee). “It is time to fund these critical programs and put the health and safety of our communities first.”

“For 8 years, the Republicans have cut positions and rolled back protections to safeguard clean drinking water for all Wisconsinites,” said Representative Taylor (D-Madison). “Finally, we have a governor who makes protecting our water resources and drinking water a top priority. In 2016, the statewide average of children under the age of 6 who are lead poisoned is higher than in Flint, Michigan. Republicans should be ashamed of not only voting against this $35 million for lead service line replacement, but voting against Wisconsin children.”

“Everywhere we went during the budget hearings, the people of this state asked for meaningful action to address this drinking water public health crisis,” said Senator Johnson (D-Milwaukee). “Every single family in our state should know the water they cook with, bathe with, and drink is clean and safe, no matter what region or zip code they live in. Every Wisconsin community is facing one or more water contamination challenges, and it is time that we put their health and lives first.”

“The Governor’s budget takes critical steps towards improving water quality and the health of Wisconsinites around the state,” said Senator Erpenbach (D-West Point). “Republicans should be working with Democrats and the Governor to find permanent, sustainable solutions to ensure that everyone has access to clean drinking water. It’s time to stop playing politics with public health, and put the people first.”

Dems call GOP convention wildly out of touch

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State Dem spokeswoman Courtney Beyer charged Saturday the state GOP’s convention shows it is more “out-of-touch with the people of Wisconsin than we thought possible.”

As evidence, she cited the refusal by legislative Republicans to embrace Gov. Tony Evers’ call to accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program and the party’s decision to invite conservative activist Candace Owens to speak.

“It is clear that Wisconsin Republicans have abandoned any sense of obligation to the people of Wisconsin,” Beyer said. “Instead, they are scorching the earth around them while Wisconsin families struggle with rising health care costs, stagnant wages and an uncertain economy.”

Dept. of Military Affairs: Annual SIMCOM exercise improves communications interoperability across first responder agencies, National Guard, and amateur radio operators

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CONTACT: Capt. Joe Trovato | [email protected] | 608-242-3048

To view html content with hi-res photos, copy and paste the following link in your browser: http://dma.wi.gov/DMA/news/2019news/19053

by Capt. Joe Trovato

WAUKESHA, Wis. — The annual Statewide Interoperable Mobile Communications — or SIMCOM — exercise kicked off in Waukesha May 1 with nearly 300 participants and nearly 45 agencies representing all levels of government and amateur radio operators.

SIMCOM ran May 1-3 at four different locations around Waukesha including the Waukesha County Expo Center, local parks and sports complex. The emergency operations center in Grant County and one in Michigan also participated, in addition to amateur and military auxiliary organizations from across the country — including Iowa, Illinois, and California

Now in its 12th year, this year’s edition of SIMCOM simulated a spring ice storm that impacted power lines and critical communications infrastructure forcing emergency managers, law enforcement, first responders, and Wisconsin National Guard personnel to find ways to communicate in order to provide emergency services and life support to nearly 50,000 notionally impacted Wisconsin citizens.

SIMCOM has grown into one of the Midwest’s premier communications exercises, which aims to test the ability of agencies at all echelons of government to communicate across vastly different communications platforms in a simulated emergency environment.

Capt. Marc Moonen, a patrol captain with the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department who acted as the incident commander for the exercise, said SIMCOM provides an excellent opportunity for agencies at all levels of government and even to private citizens to work together to de-conflict the obstacles and challenges posed by communicating across so many different organizations.

“The SIMCOM exercise allows us to educate, test, coordinate, and check our communications platforms capabilities throughout the community,” Moonen said. “This exercise allows us to test our assets that we have in place, work together with different disciplines from the community” as well as multiple government agencies.

Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula echoed that sentiment and noted that one of the biggest takeaways from exercises like SIMCOM are the relationships developed between partner agencies during training that then prove invaluable during real emergencies.

“We have come a long way since Sept. 11,” Satula said. “That’s when we first heard the term ‘interoperability.’ We were always operable within our groups. But this is a great example of where we’ve come. It’s not just interoperability with first responders — it’s all levels of government and with the private sector, with the non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross. We continue to improve interoperable communications with all of our partners through exercises like SIMCOM.”

Brig. Gen. Dave O’Donahue, the Wisconsin National Guard’s deputy adjutant general for civil support, said SIMCOM provides an excellent opportunity for the military, and specifically the Wisconsin National Guard, to integrate its communications platforms with the civilian agencies it supports during domestic responses. The National Guard has a unique dual-mission as the primary combat reserve for the Army and Air Force and simultaneously as the state’s first military responder in times of emergency.

“It’s important for us to be interoperable with our civilian partners,” O’Donahue said of the Guard’s mission to support civil authorities. “Sometimes our communications assets are secure, and sometimes it can be difficult. Within the military we’re able to communicate, but it’s vital for us to be able to communicate with incident commanders at all levels, so this is a great opportunity for us.”

Kevin Wernet, one of SIMCOM’s lead exercise planners from Wisconsin Emergency Management, credited the success and growth of SIMCOM to the local communities that host and support it each year. Last year’s exercise occurred in Dane County in February, but each year organizers select a different location in the state in an effort to continue building relationships before an emergency occurs.

“We couldn’t do it without those local hosts that are willing to allow us to come in and interface and support you to get ready for an incident,” Wernet said. “So we need to recognize Waukesha County, the city of Waukesha and all of the tremendous amount of support from all of the agencies that are here.”

Dept. of Natural Resources: Secretary announces leadership change

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CONTACT: Andrew Savagian, DNR Office of Communications, 608-261-6422

MADISON – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole today announced that Doug Haag, administrator of the Internal Services Division, will retire and Tim Cooke, current deputy division administrator, will assume the administrator role.

Cooke has served as deputy division administrator since 2016. He began his career in the Natural Heritage Conservation program in 2001, where he worked in several roles including financial specialist, budget manager, and Natural Heritage inventory data sharing coordinator. In 2009, Tim moved to the remediation and redevelopment program where he worked for five years managing budgets, grants, and work planning efforts. In 2014, Tim was hired as the department’s continuous improvement director, leading Lean process improvement efforts and serving as chair of the Operations Management Team.

Haag, who has served as administrator since 2016, joined the agency in 1986 spending much of his tenure in the agency’s real estate program. During his tenure, the DNR had many significant accomplishments including modernizing the Land Records System, transitioning the daily operations of the real estate program to the internet, creating an interactive mapping tool that allows the public to find and utilize public lands, publishing the Public Access Lands Atlas (PAL) and adapting to significant statutory changes that affect the department’s acquisition, disposition and management of its real estate portfolio.

Dept. of Revenue: John Dickert appointed State and Local Finance Division administrator

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

Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca announced today that John Dickert has been appointed to serve as State and Local Finance Division Administrator, effective May 20, 2019.

“John’s background as the former three-term mayor of the City of Racine along with his experience in residential and commercial real estate provides him with a unique perspective for this position. His keen understanding of local government and the issues facing local government officials will help us to better serve their needs and, more importantly, their citizens. I look forward to having him as a member of our leadership team, and I know that he will do a fantastic job in his new position,” Secretary Barca said. “With more than 30 years in both the public and private sectors, John’s broad-based executive and managerial experience will be of great value to our department. Some of the most effective administrators of the State and Local Finance division were former mayors.”

Most recently, Dickert served as President/CEO at Great Lakes St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI) where he managed staff in the United States and Canada. He advised public officials in both countries on policy issues and strategy for GLSLCI, most notably in water and infrastructure systems, an area of great focus with Governor Evers declaring 2019 as the Year of Clean Drinking Water. Additionally, he developed programming, legislation and financial plans. From 2009 – 2017, he was mayor of the City of Racine where he implemented a plan to build the economy, eliminate debt, restructure the budget, and improve efficiency and customer service for residents and businesses.

Earlier in his career, Dickert worked in residential and commercial real estate with First Weber Group and as a political consultant for Heartland Solutions Group. He also worked in government affairs for the Wisconsin Credit Union League, Foley and Lardner Law and was a staff member in the Wisconsin Legislature as well as the U.S. House of Representatives.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Mass Communication from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

Dept. of Tourism: Celebrates National Travel and Tourism Week with full line-up of events

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Tourism Secretary-designee Meaney, Deputy Secretary Sayers to reveal economic impact numbers

MADISON, Wis. (May 3, 2019) – In celebration of National Travel & Tourism Week (NTTW), Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney and Deputy Secretary Anne Sayers will travel across the state to promote Wisconsin tourism’s latest economic impact research, to be unveiled on Monday, May 6.

NTTW is the annual salute to travel in America. During the first full week in May, communities nationwide unite around a common theme to showcase travel’s contributions to the economy and American jobs.

This year’s theme celebrates why “Travel Matters.” Each day, the travel industry will spotlight a different way travel matters to American jobs, economic growth and personal well-being. The full list of events open to the media is below:

Monday, May 6: Travel Matters for New Experiences

Secretary-designee Sara Meaney joined by Governor Evers
10:30–11:15 a.m. Hike at Rib Mountain State Park
4200 Park Rd., Wausau, WI 54401
12:15–1 p.m. Tour of Great Northern Distilling
1740 Park Ave., Plover, WI 54467
Deputy Secretary Anne Sayers
11 a.m.–1 p.m. EAA Aviation Museum
3000 Poberezny Rd., Oshkosh, WI 54902
5–7 p.m. Platteville Regional Chamber Open House
275 Hwy 151 West, Platteville, WI 53818
Tuesday, May 7: Travel Matters to Our Jobs

Secretary-designee Sara Meaney joined by Governor Evers
10:45 a.m.–12 p.m. Visit to Island Outdoors
1330 Bainbridge St., La Crosse, WI 54603
1:30–2:15 p.m. Tour of Pablo Center at the Confluence
128 Graham Ave., Eau Claire, WI 54701
3:30–4:15 p.m. Tour of Sassy Cow Creamery
4192 Bristol Rd., Columbus, WI 53925
Deputy Secretary Anne Sayers
3–5 p.m. JEM Grant check presentation followed by tour of Racine Zoo
2131 N. Main St., Racine, WI 53402
Wednesday, May 8: Travel Matters to Keeping America Connected

Secretary-designee Sara Meaney
11–11:45 a.m. Joined by Governor Evers
Visit to Mitchell International Airport
5300 S. Howell Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53207
3–4 p.m. Joined by Lt. Governor Barnes
Visit to Paramount Plaza Walk of Fame
1304 12th Ave., Grafton, WI 53024
Deputy Secretary Anne Sayers
10 a.m.–12 p.m. Tour of Taliesin
5481 County Rd. C, Spring Green, WI 53588
1:15–2:15 p.m. Tour of American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Rd., Spring Green, WI 53588
Thursday, May 9: Travel Matters to our Health

Secretary-designee Sara Meaney joined by Lt. Governor Barnes
10–11:30 a.m. JEM Grant check presentation followed by tour of Thornberry Creek at Oneida
4470 N. Pine Tree Rd., Oneida, WI 54155
1:10–2 p.m. JEM Grant check presentation followed by tour of The Automobile Gallery
400 S. Adams St., Green Bay, WI 54301
Deputy Secretary Anne Sayers
10:15–11:15 a.m. Urban nature walk Wisconsin Point
Wisconsin Point Rd., Superior, WI 54874
1–1:30 p.m. Hike to Big Manitou Falls at Pattison State Park
6294 WI-35, Superior, WI 54880
2–3 p.m. Hike at Amnicon Falls State Park
4279 County Rd. U, South Range, WI 54874
Friday, May 10: Travel Matters to Hometown Pride

Secretary-designee Sara Meaney
9:30–10:45 a.m. Tour of ArtStart
68 S. Stevens St., Rhinelander, WI 54501
11 a.m.–12 p.m. Tour of Pioneer Park Historical Complex
Martin Lynch Dr., Rhinelander, WI 54501
Deputy Secretary Anne Sayers
10–10:30 a.m. JEM Grant presentation at Chippewa Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
1 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
1–2:30 p.m. Tour of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
124 E. Elm St., Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is to market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun. For more information, visit www.travelwisconsin.com.

###
MEDIA CONTACT:
Craig Trost, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
[email protected]; 608-445-0267

Kristina LeVan, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
[email protected]; 608-266-0458
MEDIA ROOM:
http://media.travelwisconsin.com

Wisconsin Department of Tourism
201 West Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53708

Dept. of Veterans Affairs: New display case commemorating D-Day 75th anniversary

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Contact: Karen Burch
608-264-6086


MADISON
 — At 9 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum will host a public unveiling of a display case commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, the pivotal campaign of WWII took place along the coast of Normandy, France.

Known almost universally as D-Day, Operation Overlord was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The museum will feature the collection of Milwaukee native Martin Gutekunst, who took part in the historic event 75 years ago. Gutekunst, only 27 years old at the time, served as a radioman with the 2nd Naval Beach Battalion on Utah Beach. His display case at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum includes his D-Day rain gear, Army-issued M1 helmet, and the boots he wore on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944.

Gutekunst’s collection is remarkable, for both its rarity and completeness. You can learn about Gutekunst D-Day experience through his artifact display case until June 30th, 2019.

WHAT: The Wisconsin Veterans Museum new display case will exhibit items worn by Navy radioman, Martin F. Gutekunst on June 6, 1944 on Utah Beach, opens to the public on June 6, 2019 at 9:00 a.m.

  • Interviews available with representatives from the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs

WHEN: June 6, 2019 at 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 West Mifflin St., Madison, on Capital Square

Despite U.S. Supreme Court action, Fitzgerald plans to proceed with bill barring selective abortions

The state Senate still plans to move forward with a bill that would ban abortions on the basis of race, sex or disability despite the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday declining to review a federal appeals court decision striking down a similar law in Indiana.

The Indiana law would prohibit doctors from performing an abortion if a woman is choosing the procedure because of the fetus’ sex or race, or because of a diagnosis of Down syndrome or “any other disability.” That language tracks closely with Wisconsin’s AB 182, which passed the Assembly roughly two weeks ago.

But the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down the Indiana law. In an unsigned opinion, the court said it intended to “follow our ordinary practice of denying petitions insofar as they raise legal issues that have not been considered by additional courts of appeals.”

The 7th Circuit is the only appeals court to consider the issue so far.

In its decision to strike down the Indiana law, a three-judge panel noted that it felt bound by the precedent set by the High Court’s decision in the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which ruled that states may not prohibit abortions or place substantial obstacles in the way of women seeking them before fetal viability.

“These provisions are far greater than a substantial obstacle; they are absolute prohibitions on abortions prior to viability, which the Supreme Court has clearly held cannot be imposed by the state,” wrote 7th Circuit Judge William Bauer in the decision on Indiana’s abortion law.

A spokesman for Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told WisPolitics.com that the majority leader was undeterred by the Supreme Court punting on the issue and still planned to bring the bill up.

The Senate plans to be on the floor June 5.

See the Supreme Court decision:
https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/18pdf/18-483_3d9g.pdf

See the 7th Circuit decision:
http://media.ca7.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/rssExec.pl?Submit=Display&Path=Y2018/D04-19/C:17-3163:J:Bauer:aut:T:fnOp:N:2142678:S:0

See the Wisconsin bill:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/proposals/ab182

devCodeCamp: Former Governor Scott Walker tours devCodeCamp, applauds income share agreements

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Contact: [email protected]
May 28th, 2019

Former Governor Scott Walker Tours devCodeCamp, Applauds Income Share Agreements

Milwaukee, WI – devCodeCamp welcomed former Governor Scott Walker to campus on Tuesday, May 28th, where he toured the education space and applauded the Income Share Agreement program. Please find quotes below from devCodeCamp founder James Brent, Startup Milwaukee founder Matt Cordio, and Scanalytics Inc. Co-Founder/CEO Joe Scanlin.

“I want to thank Governor Scott Walker for touring our campus today. He truly understands how important Income Share Agreements are to a graduate’s future. Nothing is more important than our students’ success and we are proud Governor Walker stands behind our mission and supports devCodeCamp’s efforts to provide an excellent education with zero loan debt.” – devCodeCamp founder James Brent.

“devCodeCamp educates Wisconsin’s next leaders in the tech industry.  As the founder of Skills Pipeline, I understand the struggles recent graduates face as they begin their careers. It’s obvious devCodeCamp is committed to watching its graduates succeed by offering an Income Share Agreement program and I commend their dedication to students.” – Skill Pipeline Founder Matt Cordio.

“As Wisconsin’s tech industry rapidly grows, it’s important that our state has a talented pool of skilled applicants in the job market. Coding boot camps like devCodeCamp are not only preparing graduates with the real world skills they need to succeed in our state’s tech industry, but they are also allowing students to graduate debt free by offering Income Share Agreements.” – Scanalytics Inc. Co-Founder/CEO Joe Scanlin.

About devCodeCamp

devCodeCamp is a full-stack web development school located in Milwaukee’s historic Ward 4 building. Over the course of a 12-week program, students learn the nuts and bolts of software engineering in a fully immersive environment. Based on 2016 & 2017 audited outcome reports, over 90% of devCodeCamp students find employment after graduation and have gone on to work for a number of major companies, including U.S. Bank, Rockwell Automation, Baird, and the Milwaukee Brewers, earning median annual salaries of $52k per year. Benefits provided by the GI Bill for veterans also cover tuition at devCodeCamp. For more information, visit devcodecamp.com.

To apply for the Student Investment Program also known as an Income Share Agreement, go to: https://devcodecamp.com/apply/

In an era where student loan debt now tops $1.5 trillion nationwide, ISAs like devCodeCamp’s Student Investment Program provide students the ability to pursue their careers without the burden of debt. Until students make over $40k, they will not have any payments to devCodeCamp. If students were to get laid off and lose their income or cannot find employment that pays them $40k or more, payments would stop until they found employment again.

DNC announces hires for national convention

Several people with Wisconsin connections have been appointed to positions with the Dems’ national convention in Milwaukee next summer.

Teresa Vilmain, a longtime Dem operative who lives in Wisconsin, was announced today as a senior adviser.

Meanwhile:

*Liz Gilbert, a UW-Madison grad, will serve as the host committee executive director;

*Shirley Ellis, a Milwaukee operative who’s worked with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, will serve as senior adviser to the host committee;

*Marcus Switzer, a Milwaukee native, will serve as host committee finance director;

*Martha Love, a DNC member from Wisconsin, will serve as host committee senior adviser;

*Alex Lasry, senior vice president for the Milwaukee Bucks and chair of the Milwaukee DNC bid committee, will serve as finance chair for the host committee.

DNCC and Milwaukee host committee: Announce new hires to the Milwaukee Convention

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Today, the Democratic National Committee is proud to announce new hires to the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC): Debra Alligood White as DNCC Chief of Staff, who will oversee day-to-day operations of the convention team; Jorge Neri as DNCC Director of Public Engagement; and Teresa Vilmain as a DNCC Senior Advisor.

Additionally, the Convention Host Committee announced key members of its senior leadership team: Liz Gilbert as Host Committee Executive Director, Shirley Ellis as Senior Advisor to the Host Committee, Martha Love as Senior Advisor to the Host Committee, Marcus Switzer as Host Committee Finance Director, and Alex Lasry as Host Committee Finance Chair.

These announcements are just the beginning of what will be robust convention and host committee teams. Additional hires, including members of the technical leadership team, will be announced in the near future.

“I couldn’t be more excited about the team we’ve put together to make sure next summer’s convention is a success,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “By the time the balloons drop in July, I’m confident our nominee will be in the best position to defeat Donald Trump.”

“I’m humbled and excited to work with such an experienced and diverse team,” said DNCC CEO Joe Solmonese. “While we still have a number of critical positions to fill, I have no doubt in my mind that this team will play key leadership roles in successfully organizing one of the most consequential conventions to date.”

“In order to have the best possible convention, we must make sure we have the most experienced people in place who possess the unique skill set required to ensure a convention that reflects the diversity of background and perspective that make Milwaukee special,” said Congresswoman Gwen Moore. “I’m excited about each one of these new additions to our team and look forward to working with them in showcasing our great city in 2020.”

“We look forward to welcoming these staff members who are new to our city,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “We’re excited about beginning the work to get Milwaukee ready for our moment in the spotlight.”

DNCC New Hires:

Debra Alligood White will serve as DNCC Chief of Staff, managing day-to-day operations to plan for and execute the Milwaukee Convention. Previously, Debra worked as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Planned Parenthood, where she was part of a leadership team that oversaw a staff of some 500 employees and a budget of some $175 million. She most recently played a key role in helping the organization navigate their leadership transition. Prior to joining Planned Parenthood, the Harvard University and UCLA Law School graduate spent more than two decades practicing law.

Jorge Neri will serve as DNCC Director of Public Engagement. Jorge brings a wealth of regional and national political experience, and has spent more than a decade working with democratic stakeholders at the local, state and national levels. Jorge led Hispanic outreach at the White House under President Obama and served as State Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Nevada operation. Most recently, Jorge worked as Campaign Manager for Daley for Mayor, where he led a staff of more than 50 and served as spokesperson for the campaign.

Teresa Vilmain will serve as a DNCC Senior Advisor. Widely regarded as one of the top political strategists in Wisconsin and the national progressive movement, Teresa has directed campaigns and transition efforts for public officials at every level of politics, including Secretary Hillary Clinton and serving as State Director in Wisconsin for the Gore-Liebermann campaign in 2000. She also served as the General Election Strategist for the DNC over the 2004 presidential cycle.

Host Committee New Hires:

Liz Gilbert will serve as Host Committee Executive Director, overseeing the day-to-day efforts of the Host Committee to develop the resources, technical plans, and organizational infrastructure needed for the community of Milwaukee to deliver a successful convention. This will be Liz’s third consecutive cycle working for the convention host committee, having served in 2012 and 2016 in finance and housing roles. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Liz most recently served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

Shirley Ellis will serve as Senior Advisor to the Host Committee. Shirley is a highly respected political operative in Milwaukee, having worked with Congresswoman Gwen Moore for nearly three decades. She will be taking a leave of absence from her current role overseeing Rep. Moore’s district staff and operations, and bringing her deep political network, experience, and management skills to the Milwaukee Host Committee.

Marcus Switzer will serve as Host Committee Finance Director. Originally from Milwaukee, Marcus has extensive experience in political and campaign fundraising. Marcus was Deputy National Finance Director for the Hillary for America presidential campaign, where he managed Midwest fundraising efforts. Marcus also held senior roles on President Obama’s reelection campaign and within the Obama administration. He served as National Finance Director of the African American Leadership Council (“AALC”) at the Democratic National Committee and as the Deputy Director of the AALC and the Midwest region.

Martha Love will serve as Host Committee Senior Advisor. Martha has extensive experience with the Democratic National Committee and its convention. Martha is currently a DNC member from Wisconsin and has previously served as chairwoman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party and vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Alex Lasry, who chaired the Milwaukee DNC bid committee, will now serve as Finance Chair for the Host Committee. Lasry also serves as Senior Vice President for the Milwaukee Bucks.

DOC’s Juvenile Grant Committee hears concerns about youth justice system

By Patrick Poblete
WisPolitics.com

During a fractious meeting that spanned the better part of three-and-a-half hours, several counties that had previously submitted proposals to operate youth lockups expressed concerns about the viability of the projects to the Department of Correction’s Juvenile Grant Committee.

The state’s juvenile justice system was restructured after then-Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 185 into law in 2018. The measure set a deadline to close the youth prisons at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, mandated that the state build and operate two new facilities to house serious juvenile offenders, and established county-run Secure Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth, or SRCCCYs, for less serious juvenile placements.

The act also established the grant committee to evaluate counties’ SRCCCY proposals and allocate funds to cover the design and construction costs. But uncertainty has swirled around the process, as highlighted by five-page memo submitted to the committee by the Wisconsin Counties Association raising a number of concerns and deal-breakers, which a Brown County official labeled “serious as a heart attack.”

Yesterday’s meeting was intended to be an opportunity for counties to provide feedback, ask questions and seek clarification from the committee before the panel finalizes and approves its grant application at the next meeting in two weeks.

But several counties instead provided withering scorn of the implementation of Act 185, and threatened to follow Fond du Lac County in dropping their bids to run SRCCCYs.

Mark Mertens of Milwaukee County’s Department of Health and Human Services kicked off the presentations by slamming Act 185 as a measure that “doesn’t go far enough.”

“This creates a situation where policy and fiscal realities are at odds with each other and provides the committee with the impossible task of knitting together the statewide system that will be heavily focused on new bricks and mortar and will fail to make the policy and cultural shifts necessary to rehabilitate Wisconsin’s youth or advance public safety,” he said.

Mertens also flagged the fiscal element of the measure, which he labeled as underfunded. He highlighted that at an estimated cost of $41.4 million, Milwaukee County’s program would singlehandedly exceed the committee’s $40 million budget for allocation. Dane County representatives also told the committee they “don’t know if we’ll move forward” if funding levels were not adjusted.

But the harshest feedback came from La Crosse County officials, who labeled a section of their presentation “Why La Crosse County May Pass on Submitting an Application to Operate a SRCCCY.”

Jason Witt, the county’s Human Services director, said the state’s juvenile justice is outdated and based largely on the adult corrections system and ripped lawmakers for passing up on an opportunity to change.

Witt noted that La Crosse County had not sent a juvenile to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake in five years and touted the success of the county’s 365-day program. Witt said that in early phases of the discussions, such programs would be used to replace the beds lost by closing the youth prisons.

But Witt said based on current dynamics, he believed counties would have to choose between having a SRCCCY and operating 365-day programs under what he labeled as a “new intensive regulatory regime.” Witt noted that having an SRCCCY would more than double the county’s current annual cost and present a number of risks, such as maintaining statutorily mandated staffing levels and taking full responsibility to cover operating losses.

Representatives from Brown and Racine counties also laid out a number of concerns surrounding the shift of long-term operational costs from the state level to the county level.

Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson, a member of the Grant Committee, said in a statement the committee couldn’t address many of the concerns raised.

“Unfortunately, many of the items they shared are outside of the scope of the Grant Committee and would require legislative action and financial investment to the Act 185 legislation passed last year,” she said.

But Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, attempted to alleviate a number of the concerns, telling county representatives that Act 185’s trailer bill, will “answer a lot of your questions.”

“I would have loved to have gotten it on the floor to vote on this month, but it’s not happening,” he said. “It will happen in June. It will get done.”

Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr, meanwhile, said in a statement that “the substantial concerns we heard today are worth noting.”

The Grant Committee also agreed to a Wisconsin model of juvenile justice after several committee members debated changes to the draft text.

The model — a requirement of Act 185 — features a series of recommendations and best practices for juvenile justice in the state. The document had to be completed at yesterday’s meeting so it could be included as criteria for the final grant applications to be unveiled at the next committee meeting.

Lawmakers on the committee went back and forth for nearly 45 minutes on the language and tone surrounding a number of items before agreeing to a finalized version.

“If there’s still a county that wants to do this after watching all of this, I’d be amazed,” quipped committee member Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam.

DOJ report: Effort to clear sexual assault kit backlog delayed testing in nearly 350 active cases

Efforts by the state crime lab to trim a backlog of untested sexual assault kits led to delays in testing DNA in nearly 350 active cases, a new Department of Justice report says.

The state began to clear that backlog — which peaked at over 6,800 untested kits, some of which dated back to the 1980s — after the DOJ in 2015 received a $4 million federal grant. While most of the work has been outsourced to private labs, a team made up of more than half of the DNA analysts employed by the state crime lab were assigned to review the results.

According to the latest annual report from the state crime lab, those analysts spent over 4,850 hours assisting with the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative over the course of the project. That amounted to roughly 15 percent of their time between 2016-18, when former AG Brad Schimel headed up the DOJ.

The report indicates it takes an analyst about 14 hours to review each case, diverting time away from other cases which required DNA analysis. All told, the report estimates analysts had to delay review of roughly 350 active cases, which caused the pending caseload to swell to over 1,100.

The report notes that with the completion of WiSAKI, analysts can turn their full attention towards reducing the overall number of active pending cases. The most recent data released by the DOJ indicated that 311 kits were still in the testing process, but a DOJ spokeswoman indicated to WisPolitics.com those kits were not part of the original total and were required to be added on as a condition of receiving the grant funding.

In total 4,471 kits have been designated for testing by the DOJ. Out of that sum, 1,605 kits identified foreign DNA and 496 have produced matches in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.

DOJ spokewoman Gillian Drummond said those matches have resulted in charges against eight suspects so far.

See the report:
https://www.doj.state.wi.us/sites/default/files/news-media/5.29.19_WSCL_Report.pdf 

DPI hearing on revisions to educator licensure rules 🗓

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Contact: DPI Media Line, (608) 266-3559

MADISON — The Department of Public Instruction will conduct a hearing from 1:30 to 3 p.m. May 28 at department headquarters, GEF 3, Room P41, 125 South Webster Street, Madison, to receive public testimony on emergency and proposed permanent rules related to educator licensing.

The department recently issued an overhaul of rules governing educator licensure based on
revisions recommended through a stakeholder workgroup, which became effective August 1, 2018. Upon further review, the department has identified further points of clarification within the rule to ensure the department can administer educator licensing with maximum efficiency.

Details are listed in the rule text at:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/register/2019/760A3/register/submit_proposed/cr_19_034/cr_19_034_rule_text.

Those intending to testify at the hearing will be required to present photo identification at the security desk near the Webster Street public entrance. Those using the building’s Butler Street handicapped accessible entrance should press a doorbell for admittance and check in with security. Written comments received no later than May 31 will be given the same consideration as testimony presented at the hearing.

Written comments on the emergency and proposed permanent rules may be made via the department’s form for submitting public comment, https://forms.gle/reZ3W7kz2nQ2j1Fa9.

Questions or additional testimony on the rules may be sent by email to the department’s administrative rules coordinator, [email protected], or by U.S. mail to Carl Bryan, administrative rules coordinator, 125 South Webster Street, P.O. Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707-7841.

The text of the proposed rules is available on the department’s administrative rules website, https://dpi.wi.gov/policy-budget/administrative-rules/proposed-rules, or the Wisconsin Legislature’s Clearinghouse Rules site, https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/code/chr/all/cr_19_034.

WHAT: Public hearing on revisions to rules governing educator licensure
WHEN: Tuesday, May 28, 1:30 to 3 p.m.
WHERE: GEF 3, Room P41, 125 South Webster Street, Madison

DRW: Dissapointed with JFC vote

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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.

Duffy, Grothman, Steil: Dems to bring ‘crazy’ to Milwaukee with national convention

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GOP U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, Glenn Grothman and Bryan Steil warned GOP activists Dems are going to bring their “crazy” to Milwaukee next year with their national convention and urged Republicans to help President Trump win re-election.

The decision to bring the convention to Milwaukee was seen by many as partly motivated by a desire to win back Wisconsin after Trump became the first Republican since 1984 to win the state.

The congressmen, speaking as part of a panel discussion, told delegates the decision would have the opposite effect.

Duffy, R-Wausau, reminded the crowd of the protests in the state Capitol over Act 10, saying voters were turned off by those images. Likewise, he said Milwaukee could look like Chicago in 1968, when protests and the police response to them marred the Democratic National Convention.

Duffy said he expects a brokered convention, predicting Bernie Sanders supporters likely weren’t going to go quietly if the nomination went to Joe Biden.

“They’re going to bring their crazy to the doorstep of Wisconsin, and we’re all going to see how nuts they are,” Duffy said.

Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, urged Republicans to “point out how crazy the Democrats are” every chance they get, saying it would help Trump’s re-election chances.

“If you look every day, one of their 23 candidate is selling something crazy and almost never do the other 22 candidates say, ‘Wait a minute, that’s too far,’” Grothman said.

They also got in several jabs at Dems over opposing the president’s call for a wall along the southern border, pointing out they will have a security perimeter around the convention and only those with a ticket will be allowed in. Several knocks were also sent Hillary Clinton’s way after she failed to visit Wisconsin between the April 2016 primary and the November general election.

“By default, the Democratic nominee will have to visit the state of Wisconsin” by having the convention here, said Steil, R-Janesville.

The three also praised Trump, saying he has a remarkable ability to go around the media to communicate directly with voters. Grothman said he’s never seen a politician who inspires the base more than Trump, who he said presents some “unique opportunities and challenges.” He didn’t offer specifics on the latter, though he said, “It’s got to be from our perspective a very issue-oriented campaign.”

They also acknowledged the challenges facing Wisconsin farmers amid a burgeoning trade war with China.

Duffy said he believes if Trump can push through his proposed changes to trade deals, it would make a significant difference for them.

While saying he’s not big on tariffs or subsidies, Duffy touted his United States Reciprocal Trade Act. It would give the president broad authority to unilaterally raise tariffs on specific products in response to barriers other countries place on Ameican products being imported there.

Duffy said other countries often target the agricultural industry to hurt the U.S. in trade negotiations. He said the money the U.S. is now collecting from increased tariffs on imports from places such as China should be given to farmers to help them survive the ongoing tumult.

“That’s how they get us to fold,” Duffy said. “We always call uncle because they go after our agriculture.”

Edge Dairy Cooperative: Welcomes end to tariffs on Canada, Mexico

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

Edge co-op says U.S. action will remove key trade roadblock

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, issued the following statement today after a deal was announced to end U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico.

This statement is from Brody Stapel, president of Edge and a dairy farmer from eastern Wisconsin.

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“This is certainly good news for our dairy farmers and processors. Ending these tariffs will remove a roadblock to free and fair trade with two important partners, particularly Mexico, which is by far the biggest buyer of our dairy products.

“We hope this also signals that the proposed USMCA trade pact between the countries will get the full support of Congress. That deal is critical to the long-term success of the U.S. dairy community, so we cannot stress enough the importance of our lawmakers in both parties getting behind USMCA as soon as possible. Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative will continue to work aggressively with lawmakers to see it through.

“President Trump and U.S. trade negotiators deserve credit for moving to resolve the issues that are keeping America’s hard-working dairy farmers from receiving the full benefits of doing business internationally. Exports play a key role in the future milk price. Under today’s depressed milk prices and higher production costs, our farmers are feeling the strain. Lifting the tariffs will help ease the long-term pain.”

Photo: Click here for a high-resolution photo of Brody Stapel

Tweet about this: Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative @voiceofmilk applauds end to U.S. tariffs on Mexico and Canada as critical move for #dairy #trade, and pushes for #USMCA

About Edge:

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative provides dairy farmers throughout the Midwest with a powerful voice — the voice of milk — in Congress, with customers and within their communities. Edge, based in Green Bay, Wis., is one of the top cooperatives in the country based on milk volume. For more information, visit voiceofmilk.com.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative: Short-term relief welcome; long-term success hinges on trade

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Contact: Jamie Mara, director of strategic communications
Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]


GREEN BAY, Wis.
— Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, issued a statement today after the announcement of the Trump administration’s new trade aid program for farmers affected by retaliatory tariffs.

Edge has members throughout the Midwest and is one of the largest dairy cooperatives in the country in terms of milk produced by its members.

Statement from Brody Stapel, president of Edge and a dairy farmer in eastern Wisconsin:

There is no sugarcoating the fact that rising production costs, low milk prices and disrupted markets continue to inflict serious pain on our dairy farmers. So we welcome and appreciate this new financial assistance.

But we also recognize that the aid will provide only partial and short-term relief for farmers, many who have been barely breaking even or operating at a loss for many months now.

Our farmers are looking for the sort of long-term stability and success that can come when we have access to foreign markets for our dairy products. We much prefer trade over aid.

Any trade deals need to be free and fair, so we do understand and support President Trump’s aggressive efforts to protect our interests during negotiations with international partners.

The administration’s recent deal with Canada and Mexico to end steel and aluminum tariffs removed a major roadblock to finalizing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is critical to success for our dairy community.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative’s objectives for trade are straightforward: Expand access to global markets with no net loss to existing ones by nurturing more opportunities and not disrupting favorable ones we have worked so hard to develop.

Edge will continue to work with the administration and Congress on approval of USMCA and other trade agreements favorable to our dairy farmers. The U.S. needs to move with urgency.

TRADE AID DETAILS

The trade aid package announced today provides $16 billion in the same three categories as the earlier aid program, according to this press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • $14.5 billion — Market Facilitation Program payments using a single rate per county rather than per commodity in the previous aid. Dairy farmers will receive a per hundredweight payment on production history. Details on eligibility and payment rates will be released later.
  • $1.4 billion — Food Purchase and Distribution Program to buy surplus commodities, including fruits, vegetables, some processed foods, beef, poultry, lamb, pork and milk for distribution to food banks, schools and other outlets serving low-income individuals.
  • $100 million — Agriculture Trade Promotion Program to assist in developing new export markets.

Photo: Click here for a headshot of Brody Stapel

Tweet about this: Dairy farm group @voiceofmilk welcomes new financial aid, sees trade as long-term success #TradeAid #dairy

About Edge:

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative provides dairy farmers throughout the Midwest with a powerful voice — the voice of milk — in Congress, with customers and within their communities. Edge, based in Green Bay, Wis., is one of the top cooperatives in the country based on milk volume. For more information, visit voiceofmilk.com.

Edgewood College hosts interfaith community iftar 🗓

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Contact: Ed Taylor, Director of Strategic Communications 608-663-2333

Madison, Wis. (May 1, 2019) – Edgewood College will again host an interfaith event during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. In partnership with Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and Muslim Women United for Peace, people of all faiths are invited to join in community for Iftar, beginning at7:45 pm, Saturday, May 11, 2019, in the Todd Wehr Edgedome.

The Iftar, the meal eaten after sundown every night during Ramadan, includes a food and fund drive for Second Harvest Food Bank. Guests at the Iftar are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to donate, or to make a donation to Second Harvest.

“Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice is delighted at the response of the faith community to this event,” Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, President of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, said. “It has grown every year, with participation by Muslims, Jews, Christians, people of all faiths and no faith.  Everyone brings a dish to share, and the food is amazing! It is an invaluable opportunity to learn about Islam and Ramadan, to meet new people, and to make new friendships among people of different faiths.”

“Muslim Women United for Peace co-sponsors this wonderful friendship dinner to build community bonds with our neighbors in the Madison area,” Jessica Ozalp, co-founder of Muslim Women United for Peace, said. “This is one of the core reasons we formed our organization. We are also honored to be part of the food drive for Second Harvest together with our friends of other faiths, because working together for common goals and shared values is the way to achieve a more peaceful community.”

This family-friendly event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. For more information and to register visit www.wisconsinfaithvoicesforjustice.org.

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.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: Trump administration continues attacks on immigrant families with proposal for HUD rule change and new immigration plan

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Chase Tarrier, Public Policy Coordinator
End Domestic Abuse WI
[email protected], 608.237.3985

Madison — Domestic violence victim advocates across Wisconsin are once again expressing their concern over the most recent attempts by the Trump administration to curb legal immigration in the United States. Coming on the heels of a new rule proposed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to prohibit “mixed status” immigrant families from living in public housing and other subsidized housing programs, President Trump announced his proposal for a new immigration plan last week, alarming advocates who serve immigrant victims of domestic violence.

“Time and time again President Trump and his administration have made it clear that they would rather pursue a campaign of xenophobia and outright nationalism than address the all-too-real violence and abuse impacting numerous immigrant families today, often related to US foreign policy abroad,” said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “The fact remains that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than native-born US citizens. If this administration is interested in making our country safer, it should start by ensuring that all immigrant and refugee victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking feel safe reporting crimes to law enforcement without fear of deportation and family separation. These anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric only serve to increase the fear and anxiety that immigrant and refugee families are already feeling across the country.”

Last week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed new regulations that would prohibit “mixed status” immigrant families from living in public housing and other subsidized housing programs. Currently, mixed status families receive prorated housing subsidies so that family members who are U.S. Citizens or have immigration statuses that make them eligible for housing benefits receive the assistance for which they are qualified, while ineligible family members do not receive any housing assistance. If enacted, the proposed rule would result in more family separations and higher rates of homelessness for immigrant and mixed status families, all of which increase the risk of victimization and harm for immigrant survivors of domestic violence. The public has until July 9, 2019 to comment on the harm the proposed rule would impart.

In response to the proposal, Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-16), member of the House Financial Services Committee, introduced H.R. 2716 to block the proposed HUD rule. Reps. Lou Correa (CA-46), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), and Chuy Garcia (IL-4) have joined as original cosponsors of this legislation and End Abuse is encouraging all of Wisconsin’s Congressional representatives to support the bill as well.

Compounding this potential change (which has yet to be enacted), President Trump announced his newly proposed immigration plan which would punish families by placing even further restrictions on family members of U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents trying gain lawful status in the United States. This plan is unlikely to garner support in Congress, and advocates for victims of domestic violence are urging their Wisconsin Representatives to reject the plan forcefully and publicly.

“Frankly, those of us in the domestic violence advocacy community are sick and tired of trying to make some of our leaders at the federal level understand the consequences of these bigoted policies and statements. It is long past time to reject xenophobia justified by lies and instead focus on family reunification, humane immigration policies and the protection of those who are actually in harm’s way, like immigrant victims of violence,” continued Seger. “Demonizing refugee families will not make anyone safer; it will only ensure that undocumented and immigrant victims of crime remain in the shadows while abusers continue their violent behavior unimpeded.”

The proposed HUD rule change and President Trump’s new immigration plan are both yet to be enacted. Additionally, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) is likely to announce proposed changes in their deportation policies related to immigrants who lawfully utilize public services later this month. End Abuse encourages concerned parties to look at Protecting Immigrant /families and Keep Families Together for more information and updates on the proposed HUD rule and potential proposed DOJ rule

Evers says he’s not giving up on Medicaid expansion

Gov. Tony Evers says he’s not giving up on his proposal to expand Medicaid despite JFC Republicans’ plan to pull it from the budget, but he stopped short of saying he would veto a budget that didn’t include it.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, dug in over his opposition to the plan and accused the guv of misleading the public.

During a Milwaukee news conference Thursday, Evers highlighted the federal money his proposal would draw, along with money the state would save while expanding Medicaid coverage to 82,000 residents. He was joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Dem lawmakers, city officials and supporters

He said Medicaid expansion has wide public support — 70 percent of voters backed the move in the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll — and Evers urged residents to contact lawmakers on the issue.

Asked if he would veto a budget without Medicaid expansion, Evers said he believed GOP lawmakers could be convinced to support it with enough public pressure.

“We’re not ceding one foot on this,” Evers said. “People are operating under the premise that we can’t get Republican support.”

Vos, speaking with reporters at Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport, said Evers’ proposal would undermine the private health insurance market and put the state at risk if the federal government backs off its funding commitment for the expansion.

He said about half of the people who would be covered by the expansion are already on private insurance, while the rest are already eligible for plans under the federal exchanges. He said he believes the average out-of-pocket premium cost in the Milwaukee market would be 18 cents per month with a $50 deductible.

“Yes, changes need to be made. And we are more than willing to make sure that anybody who has not taken advantage of the current offering under Obamacare has the ability to sign up for that, they have the ability to access that care,” Vos said without providing details.

Vos said Evers and Dems have been misleading in making the case for expansion.

“There are definite downsides, but the Democrats and Gov. Evers choose to only talk about half of the equation, and frankly, they’re misleading,” Vos said.

Exact Sciences highlighting new screening research

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Exact Sciences is highlighting new research showing the company’s Cologuard test can improve colon cancer screening rates for patients covered by Medicare.

 

Citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Madison company says a third of Americans aged 50 to 75 aren’t up to date with recommended screening for colon cancer, which is the second-deadliest cancer in the country.

 

In a study published recently in the scientific journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, researchers reviewed more than 365,000 Cologuard tests from Medicare patients.

 

They found 71.1 percent compliance with Cologuard screening. And 90.7 percent of patients who completed the test did so within 60 days of recommendation by their health care provider. During that period, the lab’s patient guidance system sends reminder texts and emails, and makes phone calls as well.

 

“These findings add to the growing body of real-world evidence that show Cologuard — with its high compliance and high sensitivity — can be part of the solution for patients at average risk for colorectal cancer,” said Mark Stenhouse, president of Cologuard.

 

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Family Farm Defenders: Over 200 farm, food and rural groups support agribusiness merger moratorium bills

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Contact:
John E. Peck, Executive Director
608-260-0900


Washington, D.C.
 — Today a broad-based coalition of 219 farm, food, rural, faith and consumer advocacy organizations delivered a letter to Congress endorsing food and agribusiness merger moratorium bills introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI).

The Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019 would initiate a moratorium on large agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing and grocery retail mergers to allow time to assess the impact corporate consolidation has on farmers, workers, consumers and communities. It also recommends improvements to antitrust enforcement.  The bills were also introduced in the House and Senate in 2018.

“Over the past several decades, lax antitrust enforcement has greatly reduced competition in the industries that supply and buy from family farmers and ranchers, saddling them with higher input costs, fewer choices, and less innovation,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “After a recent wave of agribusiness mega-mergers, Senator Booker and Representative Pocan’s legislation would provide a much-needed opportunity to evaluate the damage and establish stronger safeguards to prevent this level of consolidation in the future. We heartily support this merger moratorium, and we urge Congress to do so as well by passing it swiftly.”

“The hyper-consolidation of our food supply means that farmers earn less, consumers pay more and our food system is less resilient,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “With mega-deals like ChemChina-Syngenta, Monsanto-Bayer and Dow-DuPont going through in just the last few years, it’s past time for Congress to act to stop the further consolidation of our food system.”

The letter outlines the impacts of a merger and acquisition spree that has swept through food and agriculture in the last decade, with mergers between major seed, fertilizer, food processing and grocery retail giants. This wave of consolidation has contributed to falling farm prices, declining farm incomes, stagnant wages for food workers, rising food prices and economic stagnation in rural communities.

“OCM is proud to stand with over 200 organizations calling on Congress to hit the pause button on agriculture, food and retail concentration. With as much as 82 percent of agriculture markets controlled by four transnational corporations, farmers and rural communities are being preyed upon by these global giants and their opportunity for prosperity is being ripped from them,” said Joe Maxwell, Executive Director of the Organization for Competitive Markets. “With many of the recent agriculture mergers happening between foreign interests, this is not only an economic issue but a food security issue as well.”

The Booker-Pocan bill would put a strategic pause on merger combinations of over $160 million in sales or assets and establish a commission to study the impacts of consolidation in the food and agricultural sectors on farmers, rural communities, workers and consumers. The commission would also recommend any necessary changes to federal antitrust statutes or other laws and regulations to restore a fair and competitive agricultural marketplace.

“Smaller-scale and historically disadvantaged farmers who have long depended on livestock to sustain their diverse operations face disproportionate challenges marketing their products at fair prices in an increasingly concentrated agribusiness dominated market,” said Lorette Picciano, Executive Director of the Rural Coalition. “Mega-mergers are the prime driver of the downward spiral in income, wages and working conditions for this sector of producers as well as farm and food chain workers, and small businesses that erodes rural economic vitality and ecological health, and pits workers and communities against each other to survive. It is long past time for policy makers to provide them the time and statutory tools they need to build the futures they want.”

The letter, signed by groups from 46 states, urged other Members of Congress to cosponsor the legislation to stop the mergers that threaten independent family farmers, consumers and communities.

“For too long, corporate consolidation in the food and agriculture sectors has been ignored despite alarms raised by family farmers and rural communities of the negative, anti-democratic impacts of this trend,” said Jim Goodman, Board President of the National Family Farm Coalition. “Corporate domination of our rural economies and agricultural markets has undercut independent producers, exploited the workers who grow and process our food, forced rural businesses to close, and degraded our ecosystems. We are encouraged by the leadership of Senator Booker and Representative Pocan in bringing attention to this issue and taking a first step toward protecting the viability of small and mid-scale family farmers and local food systems.”

A copy of the letter is available here.

First Business Capital Corp. announces closed deal

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MADISON, WI — MAY 30, 2019 – Peter Lowney, President of First Business Capital Corp., announced a recently closed and funded $15,000,000 credit facility for a consumer finance company located in Wisconsin.

First Business Capital Corp. is a part of First Business Financial Services, Inc. (Nasdaq: FBIZ).

About First Business Capital Corp.

First Business Capital Corp. is a bank-owned specialty lender providing asset-based loans to privately held businesses with sales from $10,000,000to $75,000,000. First Business Capital Corp. provides funding to companies in transition to accomplish a turnaround, restructuring, acquisition, recapitalization, or rapid growth opportunity.

About First Business 
First Business Financial Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: FBIZ) is a Wisconsin-based bank holding company, focused on the unique needs of businesses, business executives, and high net worth individuals. First Business offers business banking, specialty finance, and private wealth management solutions, and because of its niche focus, is able to provide its clients with unmatched expertise, accessibility, and responsiveness.

 

Member FDIC, First Business’s corporate headquarters are at 401 Charmany Drive in Madison, WI. For additional information, visitwww.firstbusiness.com or call 608-238-8008.

Fitz, Vos still trying to determine ‘big number’ for K-12

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Forward Kenosha and the Kenosha Education Association: Partner to host Wisconsin non-partisan budget forum

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Contact: Jodi Muerhoff (262) 308-1943, [email protected]

Kenosha, WI – Gov. Evers and Wisconsin Republicans are disagreeing about what should be
included in Wisconsin’s budget. Forward Kenosha and the Kenosha Education Association are inviting constituents to come talk with your elected officials about what has happened so far in the budget process, what to anticipate and how they can get involved.
The following elected officials have been invited to attend: Rep. Samantha Kerkman, Sen. Van Wanggaard, Rep. Tod Ohnstad, Sen. Bob Wirch, Rep. Tip McGuire.

WHO: Forward Kenosha and the Kenosha Education Assoc.
WHAT: Wisconsin Nonpartisan Budget Forum
WHEN: Thursday, May 23rd – 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Kenosha Union Hall, 3030 39th Avenue Kenosha, WI 53144

“Gov. Evers and Wisconsin Republicans don’t agree on what’s best for the citizens of
Wisconsin. There are fundamental differences in their priorities: whether to accept Medicaid
expansion, which could bring an additional $63 million to Kenosha County alone; whether or not to legalize medical marijuana; whether manufacturing should pay their fair share of taxes; whether a non-partisan redistricting board should determine Wisconsin’s voting maps; and many other important budget items. These were issues which brought voters to the polls in November. Constituents need to understand where their elected officials stand, where there is room for compromise and how constituents can get involved in the process.”

-Jodi Muerhoff, Forward Kenosha

“Strong public schools are the foundation of strong communities; we know that parents and the broader Kenosha community care deeply for the welfare of our students, but the lack of funding being proposed, especially for special education services, will ultimately result in the loss of necessary classroom resources they need to be successful, including access to meaningful mental health services. The state budget is a moral document that should reflect the people’s values to invest in children in our public schools. It’s time for community members and lawmakers to set aside their respective differences and come together to have meaningful discussions that put us on a path towards a brighter future for our schools and communities.”

-Kendra Koeppen-Mulwana, Kenosha Education Association

Forward Wisconisn: Launches petition in support of Medicaid expansion

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Contact: Elizabeth Shimek, 608-237-9166

Madison – Today, Forward Wisconsin launched an online petition urging legislators to accept the Medicaid expansion. This petition aims to build on the support shown in the latest Marquette Poll, in which 70% of Wisconsinites backed Medicaid expansion. Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) expressed enthusiasm about this next step in an effort to organize people in our state in support of expanding Medicaid:

“Medicaid expansion is about improving the lives of everyone in Wisconsin. This petition gives people a quick and easy way to reach out to their legislators and tell them that Wisconsin needs to expand Medicaid in this budget,” Rep. Neubauer stated. “I hope people will sign this petition and then share it with their networks, post it on social media, and use it as a tool to amplify our message.”

In the short time since it was launched, Forward Wisconsin has built a statewide effort with organizing meetings, a strong social media presence on Facebook and Twitter, and an interactive website. In the coming weeks, people around the state are continuing to organize with action meetings, trainings, and door-to-door petition gathering.

“Forward Wisconsin is off and running. It’s clear people are engaging because they believe in the “People’s Budget”. They want to see their priorities reflected in our state government. This petition is one more tool that will allow the citizens of Wisconsin to engage with their legislators and make their voices heard.”

Under Governor Tony Evers’ proposed budget, completing the Medicaid expansion would provide affordable, accessible healthcare to an estimated 82,000 people in Wisconsin and reduce private insurance premiums by 7 to 11% statewide. It would save over $300 million, and the reinvestment of that money in evidence-based health programs would bring $1.6 billion in new federal dollars to Wisconsin and improve quality of care for all Wisconsinites.

Forward Wisconsin’s next Strategy & Action Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 20th, 2019 from 7:00 to 8:30pm at Fox Point Village Hall. Participants can RSVP online at the link below: https://actionnetwork.org/events/north-shore-strategy-and-action-meeting.

Forward Wisconsin is a project of the Wisconsin Legislative Democrats aimed at lifting the voices of Wisconsinites who support the Medicaid Expansion and the broader People’s Budget proposed by Governor Tony Evers. For more information and to get involved, visitwww.forwardwisc.com. Find Forward Wisconsin on Facebook at facebook.com/forwardwisc/ or Twitter at www.twitter.com/forward_wisc.

Forward Wisconsin: Full house at the Waukesha Strategy and Action meeting

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Contact: Elizabeth Shimek, 608-237-9166

Wisconsin is Ready to #Fight4Medicaid

Madison – Yesterday, Forward Wisconsin held its inaugural in-person Strategy & Action Meeting in Waukesha County. Over thirty people attended the Monday night event at the Unitarian Universalist Church West in Brookfield.

Participants heard updates from Joint Finance Committee Member Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), strategies for advocacy by Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine), and a discussion of Wisconsin’s struggles with a lack of affordable, accessible health care by Dr. Kathy Hardtke and Representative Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa). Participants then worked together on projects designed to push legislators to support the Medicaid expansion and activate the 70 percent of Wisconsinites who support the Medicaid expansion.

Rep. Greta Neubauer said, “We had an incredible crowd tonight in Brookfield. 30+ community members came ready to fight for the Medicaid expansion. It was wonderful to work with so many people on actions they can take in their own neighborhoods to fight for affordable, accessible healthcare in Wisconsin.”

Under Governor Tony Evers’ proposed budget, completing the Medicaid expansion would provide affordable, accessible healthcare to an estimated 82,000 people in Wisconsin and reduce private insurance premiums by 7 to 11% statewide. It would save over $300 million, and the reinvestment of that money in evidence-based health programs would bring $1.6 billion in new federal dollars to Wisconsin and improve quality of care for all Wisconsinites.

Forward Wisconsin’s next Strategy & Action Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 20th, 2019 from 7:00 to 8:30pm at Fox Point Village Hall. Participants can RSVP online at the link below: https://actionnetwork.org/events/north-shore-strategy-and-action-meeting.

Forward Wisconsin is a project of the Wisconsin Legislative Democrats aimed at lifting the voices of Wisconsinites who support the Medicaid Expansion and the broader People’s Budget proposed by Governor Tony Evers. For more information and to get involved, visit www.forwardwisc.com. Find Forward Wisconsin on Facebook at facebook.com/forwardwisc/ or Twitter at www.twitter.com/forward_wisc.

Forward Wisconsin: Launches statewide initiative lifting the voices of the majority supporting Medicaid expansion in WI

Contact: Elizabeth Shimek, 608-237-9166

Madison – Forward Wisconsin launched today with a video featuring State Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine). Forward Wisconsin is a project of the Wisconsin Legislative Democrats aimed at lifting the voices of Wisconsinites who support the Medicaid Expansion and the broader People’s Budget proposed by Governor Tony Evers.

Forward Wisconsin will highlight Republican attempts to dismantle the budget and provide Medicaid Expansion supporters with concrete ways to support the expansion in their communities and in the legislature, including opportunities to engage across the state.

Rep. Greta Neubauer said, “70 percent of people in Wisconsin support expanding Medicaid. Forward Wisconsin will amplify their voices. For the last year and a half, I have been speaking with people in my district and across the state, and healthcare access and affordability has been a top concern. People have been asking how to get involved, so we started Forward Wisconsin to make sure their voices are heard.”

Neubauer continued, “Healthcare isn’t a partisan issue. It shouldn’t even be a question whether we accept the full Medicaid expansion. Democrat or Republican, everyone in the legislature ran on improving healthcare access and affordability. But now that they are in office, my Republican colleagues are hell-bent on ignoring the people and tearing down a solution that expands access, saves money, and draws $1.6 billion in new federal dollars to our state.”

Under Governor Tony Evers’ proposed budget, completing the Medicaid expansion would provide affordable, accessible healthcare to an estimated 82,000 people in Wisconsin. It would save over $300 million, and the reinvestment of that money in evidence-based health programs would bring $1.6 billion in new federal dollars to Wisconsin and improve quality of care for all Wisconsinites.

Forward Wisconsin will provide the 70% of Wisconsinites who support the Medicaid expansion with resources to hold their legislators accountable in their own neighborhoods and at the Capitol. For more information and to get involved, visit forwardwisc.com. Find Forward Wisconsin on Facebook at facebook.com/forwardwisc/ or Twitter at twitter.com/forward_wisc.

Forward Wisconsin: To launch statewide initiative lifting voices of the majority supporting Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin

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Contact: Elizabeth Shimek, 608-237-9166

Madison – Forward Wisconsin, a project of the Wisconsin Legislative Democrats aimed at lifting constituent voices supporting the Medicaid Expansion, will launch with a video featuring Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) May 7th, 2019 at 3:30 pm.

Who: Forward Wisconsin; Representative Greta Neubauer

What: Forward Wisconsin Launch

When: TUESDAY, MAY 7TH, 2018; 3:30pm

Where: ForwardWisc.com;

facebook.com/forwardwisc;

twitter.com/forward_wisc

Under Governor Tony Evers’ proposed budget, completing the Medicaid expansion would provide affordable, accessible healthcare to an estimated 82,000 people in Wisconsin. It would save over $300 million, and the reinvestment of that money in evidence-based health programs would bring $1.6 billion in new federal dollars to Wisconsin and improve quality of care for all Wisconsinites.

Forward Wisconsin will highlight Republican attempts to dismantle the budget and provide Medicaid Expansion supporters with concrete ways to support the expansion in their communities and in the legislature, including opportunities to engage across the state.

Contact Representative Neubauer’s office with questions at 608-237-9166.

Fox Cities Chamber: To host luncheon on wage & hour rules June 18

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For information contact:

Emily Feagles

Director, Marketing & Communications

[email protected]

Presentation will feature representative from U.S. Department of Labor, Wage & Hour Division

APPLETON, Wis. – The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce will welcome Corey Walton, Community Outreach and Resource Planning Specialist, from the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, as the presenter at its upcoming June Public Policy Luncheon.

The presentation, “Stay of out trouble – know your wage and hour rules,” will provide attendees with a refresher on the basics of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, including minimum wage, overtime, recordkeeping and child labor. ‘Hot-button’ issues such as how to spot red flags and best practices for achieving and maintaining compliance with federal wage and hour laws will also be covered.

For many business owners and managers, deciphering all of the laws and regulations that apply to their business can be challenging, and knowing where to access current and accurate information can be equally as challenging. In order to ease the frustration, Walton’s presentation will also cover the following topics:

What are the most common wage and hour violations?
In what areas of wage and hour laws have employers expressed the most uncertainty?
When must break time be paid?
When should training time be paid?
Which employees are exempt from overtime?
How late can minors work?

Registration is open for this upcoming Public Policy Luncheon, Stay out of trouble – know your wage & hour rules, at foxcitieschamber.com. The event will be held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at The Fox Club at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Stadium in Appleton. Individual tickets are $20 each for Fox Cities Chamber members or $30 each for general admission. To register for the event, visit foxcitieschamber.com or call (920) 734-7101. Media are encouraged to attend.

Foxconn: Announces awards for construction of foundations of Gen6 advanced manufacturing facility

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Media Contact: [email protected]

Awards another $13 million in contracts to Wisconsin-based companies

MILWAUKEE, WI – Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) and its construction manager, Gilbane | Exyte, today announced three Wisconsin-based sub-contractors who have been awarded contracts to commence construction of the foundations of the Gen6 advanced manufacturing facility at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Racine County, Wisconsin. The contracts, which carry a combined total contract value of nearly $13 million, represent the first awards for vertical construction of the Gen6 building.

“Foxconn is very excited to announce the first awards for the vertical construction of the Gen6 advanced manufacturing facility – the heart of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park,” said Peter Buck, Executive Director of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. “We’re proud to be delivering on our ‘Wisconsin First’ commitment by awarding these contracts to outstanding Wisconsin-based companies. These are the first of many forthcoming bid awards for the vertical construction of our advanced manufacturing facility, and we’re excited to drive further the construction progress at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in the coming weeks and months.”

Prime Subcontractors who have been awarded contracts and will commence work on Bid Package #4a, Foundations & Related Work, are listed below:

· PSI Intertek, Waukesha, WI – Materials Testing for Foundations and Related Construction
· CD Smith Construction, Fond du Lac, WI – Excavation and Concrete Foundation Work
· Otis Elevator Company, Milwaukee, WI – Elevator Work

Last month, Foxconn announced $34 million in contracts for work now underway on vital utilities and roadways at the Wisconn Valley campus. Information regarding the project, process and bid packages as well as information about how contractors can participate was shared at a series of public information sessions held throughout the month of April in communities around Wisconsin. Information presented during those sessions can be found at: https://wisconnvalley.wi.gov/Pages/General-Info-Sessions.aspx.

Companies interested in receiving information regarding ongoing opportunities to bid are encouraged to sign up at https://foxconn-construction.gilbaneco.com/.

FRI AM Update: Dem town hall on health care today; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Elections Commission to certify 64th AD results; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Evers, Nygren talk education in radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Foxconn says it will continue to work ‘collaboratively and productively’ with Evers administration

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FRI AM Update: Pence praises military members at Fort McCoy; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: Evers ‘not giving up’ Medicaid expansion, meets with Foxconn’s Gou

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FRI News Summary: Evers says he’ll continue push for more UW funding

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FRI News Summary: GOP lawmakers begin process of rejecting Evers’ budget

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FRI News Summary: JFC approves tech college funding boost; Pence visit coverage

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FRI News Summary: JFC passes GOP K-12 ed plan; Kaul says he would defend Act 10 in court

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FRI PM Update: Johnson says he hopes Trump’s Mexico tariff threat just a leverage tactic; Dem convo preview

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FRI PM Update: WEDC Board members visiting Foxconn site; Hagedorn to address GOP state convention

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FRI REPORT: Ethics forms show leggies traveled to Poland, Taiwan as Vos topped colleagues for costs

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FRI REPORT: Sanders tops Dem prez field in Wisconsin donations

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FRI REPORT: State Patrol hours to protect Barnes skyrocket compared to Kleefisch

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Fundraiser for Rep. August 🗓

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At the Home of Larry & Sue Larkin
W3170 S Lakeshore Drive.
Lake Geneva, WI
Reception for Representative Tyler August with Special Guest Congressman Sean Duffy.
Please RSVP to Tyler by June 18th at [email protected]
Host $1000 per couple
Sponsor $500 per couple
Suggested contribution is $100 per person to attend.
Please make check payable to: Citizens for August
PO Box 572
Delavan, WI 53115

Fundraiser for Rep. Tony Kurtz with U.S. Senator Ron Johnson 🗓

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Fundraiser for Rep. Tony Kurtz with very special guest
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson

Thursday May 30, 2019
5:00 – 7:00 PM

The Cargill Room
332 Front Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601

Host Levels:
Gold – $1000
Silver – $500
Bronze $250
Suggested Donations is $50 per person

Please make check payable to:
Kurtz for Assembly
W9648 Gehri Road
Wonewoc, WI 53968

Please RSVP by calling (608) 520-0218 or email [email protected]

Fundraiser for Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly 🗓

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Wisconsin Firearms
Training Center
12730 W Burleigh Rd
Brookfield, WI

Suggested Host Levels:
• 50 Cal M2HB: $5,000
• .25 ACP: $2,500
• 10 MM: $1,000
• Attendee $100
*All levels are per couple*

R.S.V.P to Colleen Coyle
[email protected] (608) 239-5601

General fund would see $1.4B less under JFC motion

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GOP activists oppose ‘red flag laws,’ ‘gender transitioning & mutilation of minors’

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Republican activists voted Saturday to oppose “red flag laws,” universal background checks on gun sales and the “gender transitioning & mutilation of minors.”

Dem AG Josh Kaul and Gov. Tony Evers have expressed support for red flag laws, which allow police or a family member to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from someone who may present a danger to themselves or others.

The resolutions denounced such laws as “‘prior restraint’ laws that violate our basic civil rights, taking away a person’s Second and Fourth Amendment rights.”

The resolutions originate with local parties, are reviewed by a state committee and then make their way to the convention floor. Often, the resolutions spark passionate debate. This year, activists approved a motion to pass the resolutions en masse and there was no debate.

They included staples of past conventions, including opposing abortion. The party also expressed opposition via the resolutions to allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.

The resolution on gender transitioning stated those under 18 don’t have the ability to give consent to the consequences of the “possibility of being sterilized and of permanently changing their physical bodies to ‘transition’” to another gender.” It called for laws to ban anyone under 18 from being allowed to receive medical therapy for the purpose of transitioning.

GOP lawmaker displayed holstered gun to Democratic aide in area of Capitol where weapons are banned

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

GOP leaders looking at splitting budget into two bills to get around Evers partial veto

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Gov. Evers and Secretary-designee Kolar: Break ground on new, state-of-the-art skilled nursing facility at King

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
KING — Gov. Tony Evers joined Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary-designee Mary Kolar today to break ground on a new, state-of-the-art 192-bed skilled nursing facility at the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. The construction of the $80 million facility represents a historic investment in the campus that has served veterans and their family members since the Civil War.

“King has been a beautiful and important place for generations of veterans to live following their service to our nation,” Gov. Evers said. “I’m proud to be investing in King’s future. We are looking forward to serving Wisconsin’s veterans and their family members for years to come in this modern facility on this incredible campus.”

“We are proud to have earned a distinguished reputation nationally for our excellent safety record and highest quality of care ratings here at King,” Sec. Kolar said. “This new facility will usher in a new era of WDVA service to veterans and their families.”

The new building has been named the John R. Moses Skilled Nursing Facility. John R. Moses, a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient who served as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs for 23 years, was devoted to serving veterans and dedicated to the making sure that King was a place that veterans can be proud to call home.

Moses Hall will have amenities that will create a home-like setting such as private rooms with views of Rainbow Lake. It will boast the most modern technology and nursing tools available. It will also include a memory care unit. View a building rendering.

The total cost of John R. Moses Hall is $80 million, which is split with the federal government paying for 65% of the project. Construction is expected to last two years.

The Moses Hall project is part of an overall investment in the campus of $104 million. The investment includes improvements to provide an honorable resting place for Wisconsin’s veterans at the Central Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery at King, which opened in 1888. Additional projects include a retaining wall replacement on Rainbow Lake, water system improvements, electrical and other safety upgrades, and an overhaul of food service.

The Wisconsin Veterans Home at King is located on Rainbow Lake one mile southwest of the town of Waupaca and spans 42 acres of the richest, most picturesque scenery. The facility was founded in 1887 by the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Veterans Organization.

In addition to skilled nursing care, King offers top-notch medical services such as dental, mental health services, social services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, respiratory therapy and more. King also offers amenities not typically found in skilled-nursing settings such as a barber/beautician, café, bar, bowling alley, commissary, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum at King. Members are provided daily activities such as boat trips on Rainbow Lake, as well as annual special activity bus trips such as outings to see the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs operates the Wisconsin Veterans Homes which reside on three campuses located at King, Union Grove, and Chippewa Falls.

Gov. Evers: Announces staff appointments for governor’s office in Milwaukee

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MILWAUKEE — Gov. Tony Evers today announced staff appointments for the governor’s office in Milwaukee.

Dr. Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams will serve as the Milwaukee Director, Edwin Huertas will serve as the Milwaukee Deputy Director, and Revelle Williams will serve as the Milwaukee Constituent Services Manager.

“These folks are really talented, and I am excited to announce they’ll be leading our team in Milwaukee,” said Gov. Evers. “Our state’s success is tied to Milwaukee’s success, so it’s critically important that we work to rebuild the relationship between Milwaukee and our state, and that starts with these exceptional folks we’re announcing today.”

The Milwaukee Office staff will be attending community meetings, building new relationships, advising on policy as it relates to Milwaukee, and assisting constituents with a variety of issues.

Dr. Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, Milwaukee Office Director
A resident of the Thurston Woods neighborhood in Milwaukee, Dr. Hendricks-Williams is a graduate of Custer High School, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Springfield College, Cardinal Stritch University and earned her doctorate degree from National Louis University. Most recently she served as the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Director of Wisconsin Education Opportunity Programs and she brings 25 years of experience in public, private, charter, and higher education. Dr. Hendricks-Williams is also involved with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Project Hope Inc., and is the mother of two.

Edwin Huertas, Milwaukee Office Deputy Director
Native Milwaukeean and MPS alum, Edwin has worked on connecting underrepresented populations to private and government sectors to find common ground and solutions to social issues. Edwin graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in Community-Based Organizations Policy & Leadership and later worked as an AmeriCorps Public Ally. Most recently, Edwin has assisted with constituent and neighborhood relations and policy research for Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy and is currently completing his MBA from Marquette University as part of the Trinity Fellowship program, with an emphasis on social and economic justice.

Revelle Williams, Milwaukee Office Constituent Services Manager
Native Milwaukeean, Revelle has worked for the past 10 years as a Legislative Assistant and Constituent Relations Director for State Senator Lena Taylor. A former educator, Revelle has a background in youth and community programming and has worked to assist constituents with issues such as corrections, child welfare, and healthcare. Revelle is known for her personalized level of service and has been recognized in the past for her dedication to the community. In her free time, she is pursuing a degree in social work and loves to spend time with her beautiful family.

Gov. Evers: Announces unprecendented state debt payment

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today responded to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s (LFB) updated revenue projections, showing general fund tax collections will be higher than projected by $753 million over the next three years. As the Department of Revenue noted yesterday, the increased projections are largely attributed to one-time federal corporate tax policy changes.

In light of these increased projections, the governor today announced he will be making an additional payment on state debt that would pay off $56 million of state debt with an estimated future debt service savings for Wisconsin taxpayers of nearly $70 million.* The governor is also requesting the Joint Committee on Finance use some of the additional funds during the 2019-21 biennium for an estimated additional $15 million in worker training and an additional $18-million increase in the Wisconsin Technical Colleges System. Once the above critical investments have been made, the governor supports transferring the ending surplus balance at the close of the fiscal year to the budget stabilization fund (a.k.a. the “rainy day fund”).

“It’s pretty simple—this is about putting people first,” said Gov. Evers. “After eight years of Republicans racking up debt on our state’s credit card, today we’re making one of the most significant additional debt payments in state history. I’m also calling on Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature to work together to support my proposal to make additional investments in our workforce. Saving taxpayer money and investing in the future is a win-win.”

*These figures are estimates based on initial analyses from the State Budget Office.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Brenda Yaskal to serve as Columbia County District Attorney

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of Brenda Yaskal to serve as Columbia County District Attorney.

Ms. Yaskal, a resident of Portage, is currently an assistant corporation counsel for Sauk County. As an assistant corporation counsel, Ms. Yaskal handles mental health commitments and child in need of protective services petitions. In addition, she serves on Sauk County’s Juvenile Justice Committee, Child Death Review Team, and the Drug Endangered Children Team. Prior to that, Ms. Yaskal served as an assistant district attorney for Columbia County for 10 years. Ms. Yaskal prosecuted hundreds of cases, which ranged from speeding violations to sexual assault and homicide.

“Brenda Yaskal is a seasoned criminal prosecutor who will bring more than a decade of experience with her to this important position,” said Gov. Evers. “She has a smart approach to criminal justice and a strong relationship with local law enforcement. I am confident Ms. Yaskal will serve the people of Columbia County well.”

Gov. Evers’ appointment of Ms. Yaskal fills a vacancy created by the resignation of the previous district attorney, who resigned on April 9, 2019. Ms. Yaskal will fill the remainder of the unexpired term that ends in January 2021.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Connie Cobb Madsen as Racine County Register of Deeds

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced the appointment of Connie Cobb Madsen as the new Racine County Register of Deeds, replacing Tyson Fettes who resigned effective April 26th.

“With her impressive record of public service and her commitment to Racine County, I am confident that Connie Cobb Madsen will be an exceptional Register of Deeds,” Gov. Evers said. “She has the background and vision necessary to continue and expand upon the innovative, efficient work seen at the Racine County Register of Deeds’ Office.”

Connie Cobb Madsen has two decades of experience in public service and local government, many of which were spent in Racine County. From 1993-2000 she worked in law enforcement, first as a Deputy Sherriff in the Racine County Sherriff’s office and later in the Racine Police Department as a Patrol Officer. From 2000-2011 she served the Racine County District Attorney’s Office as the Program Coordinator for the Victim Witness Assistance Program. Most recently, Madsen worked in various local government roles throughout rural Alabama, and after returning to Racine in 2018 she ran for Clerk of Circuit Court.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Israel Ramón as Milwaukee County register of deeds

Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
Gov. Evers: Appoints Israel Ramón as Milwaukee County register of deeds
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced the appointment of Israel Ramón as the new Milwaukee County Register of Deeds, replacing John La Fave who resigned effective April 12th.

“Israel Ramón is the kind of principled, organized, and thoughtful leader needed to run the Milwaukee County Register of Deeds Office,” Governor Evers said. “With his deep ties to the community and decades of service in the private sector, often serving some of the most vulnerable populations, I am confident Israel will be an exemplary public servant and is the best candidate to lead the Register’s office.”

Israel Ramón is a litigation attorney with 25 years of experience practicing in Wisconsin State Courts. He is a Partner and Shareholder in Ramón & Medrano S.C. and a supplemental court commissioner for Milwaukee County Circuit Court. In his free time, Ramón volunteers as a consultant for the Mexican Consulate in Chicago, is a pro bono lawyer for the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, established the Voces de la Frontera’s Free Legal Clinic, and has previously served on the executive boards of the Milwaukee LGBT Center and the Spanish Center of Milwaukee.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Joaquin Altoro to serve as WHEDA executive director

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of Joaquin Altoro to serve as executive director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

Mr. Altoro, a Milwaukee native, currently serves as vice president of commercial banking for Town Bank. In addition to his experience in commercial banking, Mr. Altoro has a strong background of success in establishing and enhancing public and private partnerships, working with diverse neighborhoods to serve their unique economic development needs, and advising community development projects.

“Access to affordable housing is another important part of how we think about economic development in a more holistic way and connect the dots to attract new businesses and encourage existing businesses to grow,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m proud and excited to have Joaquin Altoro serve in this critical role ensuring that the state’s commitment to housing remains strong and solid. With his background in commercial lending and community development, coupled with his track record of fostering effective, successful public-private partnerships, Mr. Altoro is a great fit to ensure the ongoing success of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.”

Gov. Evers also announced that Kim Plache will serve as the chief operating officer of WHEDA and the appointment of Raynetta Hill to serve as one of the governor’s designees on the WHEDA board. Ms. Plache, a resident of Mt. Pleasant and former state legislator, has served as the business and community engagement officer at WHEDA since 2003. Ms. Hill, a resident of Milwaukee, currently serves as the regional manager of housing and services for CommonBond Communities Wisconsin, working to drive large-scale economic growth and maximize the development of healthy neighborhoods. Ms. Hill’s term commenced on May 7th, 2019, and continues through January 1st, 2022.

Mr. Altoro will begin as executive director of WHEDA on June 3rd, 2019. Ms. Plache will transition into her new role at WHEDA effective immediately.

Gov. Evers: Appoints John Tate II to serve as chairperson of the Parole Commission

Gov. Evers Appoints John Tate II to Serve as Chairperson of the Parole Commission
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of John Tate II to serve as chairperson of the Parole Commission.

Mr. Tate, a lifelong resident of Racine, has been a 3rd District Alderman in Racine since 2017 and holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Social Work. He has professional experience as a social worker, case worker and mental healthcare provider within the criminal justice system and in community health settings.

“Improving our parole system is an important part of reforming our criminal justice system and eliminating the racial disparities that have led to increased incarceration rates for people of color,” said. Gov. Evers. “I know that John Tate II will be a strong advocate for the change we need to ensure our criminal justice system treats everyone fairly and focuses on rehabilitation. We can improve public safety and empower returning citizens at the same time.”

The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Senate. Mr. Tate will begin his work as Parole Commission chairperson on June 3, 2019.

 
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Gov. Evers: Appoints Michael Basford to the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced Michael Basford’s appointment as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness. The governor has made addressing homelessness and housing insecurity a top priority for his administration and announced in February he would be chairing the Council himself.

“Homelessness and housing insecurity affect kids in the classroom, it affects our criminal justice system, and it affects economic development in our communities—we really have to start connecting the dots,” said Gov. Evers. “I look forward to working with Michael, the other Council members, legislators, and stakeholders to get to work on addressing these issues in Wisconsin.”

Basford will serve at the pleasure of the governor beginning Mon., May 13, 2019. The Council will confirm Basford’s appointment at their next scheduled meeting.

Basford has an extensive background on homelessness issues with his work at Housing Initiatives, Inc., where he has served in his current role as Associate Director since 2006. His experience with community organizations includes the Dane County Homeless Services Consortium, the Dane County Homeless Issues Committee, and the Dane County Poverty Task Force. Basford holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Gov. Evers: Authorizes Pepin County to lower flags to half-staff in honor of firefighter Kyle R. Hayden

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today authorized Pepin County to lower the United States and the State of Wisconsin flags to half-staff as a mark of respect for Firefighter Kyle R. Hayden, who was a volunteer firefighter of the Durand City Rural Fire Department and faithfully and honorably served and protected the people of Durand and the state of Wisconsin. The order is effective beginning at sunrise and ending at sunset on May 20, 2019.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of Kyle R. Hayden, a volunteer firefighter, and valued member of his community who was just getting started in his career of service to the state of Wisconsin,” Gov. Evers said. “Kathy and I are keeping the Durand City Rural Fire Department and the Durand community in our thoughts during this difficult time.”

A copy of Gov. Evers’ executive order #25 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Delivers Democratic weekly radio address on education

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

The following is Gov. Tony Evers’ radio address on education:

“It’s no secret: education is in my DNA. I’ve had a chance to serve the kids of this state my entire career, working my way up from a high school science teacher to the state superintendent and now governor. From seeing firsthand the impact a high-quality education has on Wisconsin’s kids, I can confidently say that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state.

A few weeks ago, Lt. Gov. Barnes and I wrapped up a budget listening session tour where we heard from people across our state about what The People’s Budget means for them and their families.

At every stop, I met educators and heard from parents and grandparents about how important their local schools are. We have a chance to give kids the best education possible.

That’s why The People’s Budget includes a $1.4 billion increase for our public schools, including a $600 million investment in special education. We have the chance to ensure schools have the funding they need, and that kids who need an extra lift can get that extra lift.

It’s time to recommit to investing in our kids, our educators, and in K-20 education across our state, because every kid deserves a high-quality, public education—from early childhood to our universities and technical colleges system—regardless of their ZIP code.

I hope I can count on your support as the Joint Committee on Finance takes up The People’s Budget education plan. The stakes are high here, folks. It’s time to do what’s best for our kids.”

Gov. Evers: Orders flags to half-staff in honor of Major General Raymond A. Matera

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today ordered the flags of the United States and the State of Wisconsin to be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Major General Raymond A. Matera, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army. Major General Matera served as the Adjutant General for the State of Wisconsin and oversaw the federal and state missions of the Wisconsin Air and Army National Guards from 1979 to 1989. The order is effective beginning at sunrise on Friday, May 24, 2019, and ending at sunset on that date.

“Major General Matera served the state of Wisconsin and our country with distinction,” said Gov. Evers. “Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and fellow service members as they honor the life of such an exceptional member of our Armed Forces. Major General Matera’s legacy of service will not be forgotten.”

Gov. Evers: Orders flags to half-staff on Memorial Day

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today ordered the flags of the United States and the State of Wisconsin to be flown at half-staff for Memorial Day. The order is effective beginning at sunrise on Monday, May 27, 2019, and ending at 12 p.m. CDT on that date.

Gov. Evers: Releases Memorial Day statement

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers today released the following Memorial Day statement:

“On this day of remembrance, and always, we honor those who left their mark on history. We memorialize the sacrifices they made for the sake of our freedom, our children’s generations, and our nation’s future. As the benefactors of their legacy, we must ensure that the achievements and sacrifices of those who served are never forgotten. Today, and always, we will think of our service members, their families, and their friends and the role they have all played in protecting our values and the things we hold dear.”

Gov. Evers: Secures advantage for Wisconsin citizens applying for USDA’s ReConnect program

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Office of Governor Tony Evers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2019
Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sec. Sonny Perdue in support of Gov. Evers’ administration’s goal of providing reliable and affordable broadband service to all Wisconsin citizens.

Gov. Evers’ budget proposes an historic investment in broadband grant funding, which is to be targeted to those parts of the state that are unserved or underserved by reliable internet access. The governor’s budget proposes a $78 million investment in the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which quadruples the amount previously provided for this program critical to the economic and educational success of Wisconsin citizens.

Upon taking office, the governor charged his agencies to connect the dots on important issues like broadband service to ensure the state is maximizing its efforts. The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) have been doing just that to ensure Wisconsin rural residents are well positioned to benefit from both federal and state broadband funds.

“Access to reliable broadband service is critical to the livelihood of our rural economy, education of our youth, and access to vital public safety services,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Valcq said. “We will work to access every single dollar to expand broadband in Wisconsin.”

One such opportunity the agencies identified is ensuring Wisconsin rural residents are poised to be the most qualified applicants for the inaugural round of USDA’s ReConnect Program funds. Applicants receive 20 additional points if their states have taken actions demonstrating support for broadband service.

The letter from Gov. Evers is a key part of securing this advantage, as well as the PSC’s publication of Wisconsin’s Broadband Plan, which can be accessed here: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/Programs/WBO.aspx

The Wisconsin Broadband Office, which is housed at the PSC, will provide additional support and guidance to ReConnect Program applicants to ensure the greatest chance of being awarded USDA funding.

Gov. Evers: Secures advantage for Wisconsin citizens applying for USDA’s ReConnect program

Gov. Evers Secures Advantage for Wisconsin Citizens Applying for USDA’s ReConnect Program
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Sec. Sonny Perdue in support of Gov. Evers’ administration’s goal of providing reliable and affordable broadband service to all Wisconsin citizens.

Gov. Evers’ budget proposes an historic investment in broadband grant funding, which is to be targeted to those parts of the state that are unserved or underserved by reliable internet access. The governor’s budget proposes a $78 million investment in the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which quadruples the amount previously provided for this program critical to the economic and educational success of Wisconsin citizens.

Upon taking office, the governor charged his agencies to connect the dots on important issues like broadband service to ensure the state is maximizing its efforts. The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Public Service Commission (PSC) have been doing just that to ensure Wisconsin rural residents are well positioned to benefit from both federal and state broadband funds.

“Access to reliable broadband service is critical to the livelihood of our rural economy, education of our youth, and access to vital public safety services,” said PSC Chairperson Rebecca Valcq said. “We will work to access every single dollar to expand broadband in Wisconsin.”

One such opportunity the agencies identified is ensuring Wisconsin rural residents are poised to be the most qualified applicants for the inaugural round of USDA’s ReConnect Program funds. Applicants receive 20 additional points if their states have taken actions demonstrating support for broadband service.

The letter from Gov. Evers is a key part of securing this advantage, as well as the PSC’s publication of Wisconsin’s Broadband Plan, which can be accessed here: https://psc.wi.gov/Pages/Programs/WBO.aspx

The Wisconsin Broadband Office, which is housed at the PSC, will provide additional support and guidance to ReConnect Program applicants to ensure the greatest chance of being awarded USDA funding.

 
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Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Coroner of Jackson County

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for appointment as coroner in Jackson County.

The appointment will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Karla Wood, effective June 30, 2019. The new coroner will complete a term through January 2, 2023.

If you are interested in applying for the position, please submit an online application. The application can be found on Governor Evers’ website: www.evers.wi.gov (In the center of the page, click “Apply” and then scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Register of Deeds or Coroner”).

If the online application is not functioning, please send a cover letter and resume to [email protected]

Applicants should outline in their cover letters what professional and academic experiences qualify them to be a coroner and describe their civic activities and community involvement. Application materials must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, June 14, 2019. Potential applicants with questions about the appointments process may contact Cassi Fenili, Director of Gubernatorial Appointments, at (608) 267-3675.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Court of Appeals – District I

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for the Court of Appeals – District I. District I consists solely of Milwaukee County.

The appointment will fill a vacancy being created by Judge Kitty Brennan’s retirement, effective September 6, 2019. The new judge will complete a term ending July 31, 2020.

The application form for this position can be found on the “Apply to Serve” page on Gov. Evers’ website atevers.wi.gov. Click the application form link for “Judge or Justice” and send completed applications to[email protected]wisconsin.gov. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on June 10, 2019.

Potential applicants with questions about the judicial selection process may contact the governor’s Office of Legal Counsel at (608) 266-1212.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Marquette County district attorney

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applications for appointment as Marquette County District Attorney.

The new appointee will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of District Attorney Chad Hendee, effective July 31, 2019. The new appointee will serve for the remainder of the unexpired term that ends January 2021.

To apply, please email a completed application form and supporting materials to[email protected]. Applications must be submitted by May 31, 2019.

The District Attorney application form is available on the “Apply to Serve” page of the governor’s website:www.evers.wi.gov.

For questions about the appointments process, please contact the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel at (608) 266-1212.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Washburn County Circuit Court Judge

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for Washburn County Circuit Court Judge.

The appointment will fill a vacancy being created by Judge Eugene D. Harrington’s retirement, effective August 2, 2019. The new judge will complete a term ending July 31, 2020.

The application form for this position can be found on the “Apply to Serve” page on Gov. Evers’ website at evers.wi.gov. Click the application form link for “Judge or Justice” and send a completed application to[email protected]wisconsin.gov. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on June 14, 2019.

Potential applicants with questions about the judicial selection process may contact the governor’s Office of Legal Counsel at (608) 266-1212.

Gov. Evers: Signs bills relating to designating highway interchange, changes to motor vehicle licenses

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

NEENAH — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Senate Bill 1, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 3, during a public ceremony at the Neenah City Council Chambers. Act 3 designates the interchange of I-41, U.S. Highway 6 10, and State Highway 441 in Winnebago County as the “Michael G. Ellis Memorial Interchange” to honor former State Senator Michael Ellis, who served in the Wisconsin State Legislature for over four decades.

“Mike was a fierce advocate for his constituents during his 44 years in the legislature and this commemoration honors his career of service to the state of Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “It also calls Democrats and Republicans alike to remember that what unites us is our promise of service and to do what’s best for the people of our state. That’s the kind of public servant Mike was, and what we must all aspire to be.”

Gov. Evers today also signed Senate Bill 3, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 4. Act 4 makes changes to the denial, suspension, and revocation procedures of certain licenses related to motor vehicle dealers.

Gov. Evers: Statement on JFC action

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
 
 
MADISON — Following is a statement from Gov. Tony Evers on today’s Joint Committee on Finance action.

“Folks voted for a change in November. They want us to bring Wisconsin’s federal tax dollars back into our state to invest in healthcare for all Wisconsinites and they want to see Democrats and Republicans work together to get it done.

“But all we hear from Republicans is ‘no’. They refuse to listen to the will of the people or work together and Wisconsinites will pay the price. Today Republicans took a fiscally irresponsible and morally reprehensible vote to blow a $1.4 billion hole in The People’s Budget.

“Every Republican must be held accountable for their decisions on healthcare, not just here in the Capitol, but back in their communities. They need to go back home and explain to moms in Rock County why Republicans won’t support our efforts to improve maternal health or address rising infant mortality rates. They need to tell families in central Wisconsin and around the state why they won’t invest in mental health and substance use disorder treatment that would help curb the opioid epidemic. They need to explain to folks in Horicon and Juneau that Dodge County is going to miss out on $26 million in new healthcare investment, including more funding for programs like SeniorCare and Family Care. They need to let people in communities like Reedsburg and Richland Center know that they voted against funding to expand access to dental care for kids, seniors, and people with disabilities.

“Today’s vote was disappointing but it’s not the end. I’m going to keep reminding Wisconsinites what’s at stake and I’m going to keep fighting to expand Medicaid.”

Hagedorn thanks GOP activists for Supreme Court win

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Supreme Court Justice-elect Brian Hagedorn on Saturday thanked GOP activists not just for his April victory, but for “fighting for what’s right.”

Hagedorn, who will take office in August, told delegates he faced a campaign unlike any other candidate for state Supreme Court. He said his character, his integrity and his faith were attacked.

But when that happened, he said, GOP activists came to his rescue, and he credited them with his win over fellow Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer.

“When I got punched, you were the ones who punched back,” Hagedorn said to applause. “When I got knocked down, you grabbed the baton and kept running it with it.”

Hagedorn faced a series of questions in the leadup to the April election over his past writings in law school that some labeled anti-gay and his association with a Christian school that prohibits staff and students from being in same-sex relationships.

Following those revelations, some traditional GOP groups decided against spending money in the race. Hagedorn said those “insiders” decided the Constitution wasn’t fighting for.

“All of you stood up and said ‘Yes, yes, it is,’” Hagedorn said.

State Dem spokeswoman Courtney Beyer criticized Hagedorn’s decision to address a partisan event.

“It is highly inappropriate that an elected judge would risk his integrity and the trust of Wisconsin voters by speaking at a blatantly partisan event,” Beyer said.

Liberal Supreme Court candidates Tim Burns, an attorney, and Rebecca Dallet, then a Milwaukee County judge, addressed the Dem state convention in 2017 as they prepared to run in the 2018 election.

The state GOP has become a significant player in recent Supreme Court races and was the biggest donor to conservative candidate Michael Screnock in the 2018 race, making $412,905 in donations as the Sauk County judge lost to Dallet.

This year, the party made $134,168 in in-kind donations to Hagedorn, who transferred $150,000 to the state GOP in the weeks leading up to the April 2 election. By law, a donor can’t earmark money given to a committee, and Hagedorn’s campaign said it was transferred for GOTV and party activities.

Hagedorn pledged once he gets to the court, he will defend the Constitution, the freedom of speech, the right to bear arms and “yes, I will defend everyone’s religious liberty.” He also warned some of his rulings might not please the crowd because he will adhere to the Constitution, not politics.

He also called on activists to help conservative Justice Daniel Kelly win a full 10-year term on the court next year. Kelly, who was appointed to the bench by former Gov. Scott Walker, faces the prospect of being on the ballot at the same time as the Dem presidential primary.

Hagedorn told activists they can’t take elections off and they need to keep Kelly on the court. He also acknowledged it will be a tough race.

“But because we won this race, I think it becomes a winnable race, and I don’t want you to forget you can do hard things, so we can win this race,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn told WisPolitics.com after his speech that he was attending the convention as an extension of his campaign, not as an elected official. He doesn’t plan to attend political events while he’s a sitting justice unless he’s asked to campaign for someone else or as a candidate again.

“I’m here as a candidate, not a justice,” Hagedorn said.

Hagedorn, Republican leaders to address GOP state convention  

Supreme Court Justice-elect Brian Hagedorn will be among those who address the GOP state convention tomorrow in Oshkosh.

The party is also switching to a panel discussion format for several of its speakers rather than having them give individual speeches. For example, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Junueau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, will be part of one panel. Meanwhile, U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, of Wausau; Glenn Grothman, of Glenbeulah; and Bryan Steil, of Janesville; will be on another.

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, the dean of the Wisconsin House delegation, will address the convention on his own.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, will be interviewed by conservative talk show host Jay Weber and then do a presentation to the convention on the postmortem the party conducted on the 2018 elections.

Johnson is also hosting a reception and will provide remarks tonight.

Follow the convention this weekend in the WisPolitics.com GOP Convention Blog.

Hemp businesses on the rise in Wisconsin, lawmaker says

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Hemp-related businesses are on the rise in Wisconsin, following the state’s first growing season for the crop in more than 60 years.

 

That’s according to Sen. Patrick Testin, who touted his recently introduced hemp bill yesterday before an audience of about 200 bankers, as part of the Wisconsin Bankers Association’s Capitol Day event.

 

The Stevens Point Republican co-authored the bipartisan bill with input from DATCP as well as farming groups including the Wisconsin Hemp Alliance. He says the bill would align the state’s hemp pilot program with the recent federal farm bill. It also includes a “truth in labeling” provision to give processors, retailers and consumers more peace of mind about the products they’re buying or selling.

 

“I think the legislation that we have introduced is going to make this program more user-friendly; it’s going to open up even more doors,” Testin said. “This is really about opportunities for Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers, as well as our financial institutions. I’m hoping you guys get some customers out of this.”

 

Testin told WisBusiness.com the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions. He said it’s likely to get a public hearing sometime next month.

 

As the hemp legislation proceeds through the Legislature, companies that deal with hemp are planning expansions and adding jobs, building on the enthusiasm seen for last year’s growing season. After the pilot was announced, DATCP was inundated with requests about growing and processing hemp.

 

Last year’s harvest didn’t exactly live up to that enthusiasm, according to Testin, due to grower inexperience, wet conditions and other factors.

 

Still, businesses are popping up all over the state that aim to capitalize on the opportunity hemp represents.

 

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Hintz, Thiesfeldt debate vaccine waiver bill on ‘UpFront’

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said his bill to repeal the personal conviction waiver on vaccines is about public health and safety.

But state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, said parental rights need to be protected.

The two appeared jointly Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Hintz said 90 percent of children who are getting a waiver from receiving the required vaccines before starting a daycare or school are using the personal exemption option. State law also allows parents to opt out their children for religious or health reasons.

“Public health advocates, doctors and other groups have said the number one thing we can do to increase the vaccination rate and get people to protect themselves and others is getting rid of the personal waiver,” Hintz said.

Thiesfeldt, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said he, his wife and their four children are all vaccinated.

“I am not anti-vaccination. But I am pro-parental rights and responsibility,” Thiesfeldt said. “We already have taken away too much responsibility from parents. There are few things more sacred than being able to control your own health care, and I think this is just a step too far.”

Hintz argued people should be vaccinated not just for themselves, but for others. That includes babies or people with compromised immune systems who can’t get vaccinated.

But Thiesfeldt said as a parent, his “responsibility is for my own children.” He said parents with concerns about having their children vaccinated have met with him and “are very well studied on this stuff.”

“I suspect some families know more than the doctors do,” he said.

Hintz said it was important for his bill to get a public hearing to raise public awareness about the issue and help people understand how serious the issue is.

The debate over vaccinations comes as health officials are grappling with a resurgent measles situation. But Wisconsin hasn’t seen a case of the virus since 2014.

Department of Health Services spokeswoman Jennifer Miller credits the “vigilance” of parents in the state getting their children vaccinated on time.

A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds 704 people have been hit with the measles so far this year, marking the largest number of cases in 25 years. This comes nearly two decades after measles was declared eliminated in the United States.

The CDC report shows more than 500 of the people infected in 22 states were unvaccinated, and more than one-third of the cases were in young children.

See more from the program at http://www.wisn.com.

Hispanic population supporting Milwaukee region’s workforce

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Milwaukee’s Hispanic population has been growing steadily over the past two decades, supporting the region’s workforce and balancing out population losses in other demographics.

 

Still, Hispanics are largely underrepresented in higher-paying occupations, according to the latest report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum.

 

The report, titled “Upward Mobility,” shows the four-county Milwaukee area has gained nearly 76,000 Hispanic residents between 2000 and 2017, accounting for all of the region’s net employment growth during that time.

 

Over the same timeframe, the region lost nearly 69,000 white residents, while other groups increased moderately. As noted by WPF, the region’s overall population would have largely stayed flat without the boost from the growing Hispanic presence.

 

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, WPF has created a chart comparing the concentration of Hispanic workers to median annual wages. For all the occupations listed on the chart, the concentration of Hispanic workers is higher in jobs that tend to earn less.

 

For example, farming, fishing and forestry jobs have the highest concentration of Hispanic workers, and the median annual wage for these jobs is between $30,000 and $40,000.

 

The concentration of Hispanics is much lower in jobs with higher median annual wages. That means Hispanics are underrepresented in management, architecture and engineering, legal, computer science and other high-wage jobs.

 

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Hitt leading GOP through postmortem on road to 2020

New state GOP Chair Andrew Hitt says the road to the White House in 2020 runs right through Wisconsin.

It’s his job to make sure the state party is ready.

Hitt goes into his first state convention this weekend as party chair with Republicans looking to rebound from their losses in 2018. Beyond that, he’ll be tasked with implementing the recommendations of a party postmortem finding it had lost touch with the grassroots activists and now needs to focus on congressional and county parties.

Part of that also will be building an infrastructure that can help President Trump as he looks to win Wisconsin in back-to-back elections — the first time a Republican would do that since Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

Trump’s campaign is starting to pitch in on that front with plans to hire regional directors along with nine state directors across the country. Hitt said Wisconsin will be one of the nine, though that hire hadn’t been announced yet.

He also said he’s in contact with the Trump campaign almost weekly to work in unison toward 2020.

Wisconsin was one of the last stands for “never Trumpers” in the 2016 GOP primary as the state went for Ted Cruz, and Trump struggled that fall in traditional Republican strongholds such as the Milwaukee suburbs.

But Hitt said he believes that has faded away, thanks in part to the success of the economy and the stock market.

The latest Marquette University Law School Poll found 91 percent of self-identified Republican voters approved of the job Trump is doing.

“We’re really working hand in hand,” Hitt said. “I don’t see that schism. I’m talking with donors all over the state. I’m talking with grassroots leader all over the state. It just doesn’t exist in Wisconsin. I don’t know about anywhere else, but not here.”

Still, former Gov. Scott Walker struggled in the Milwaukee suburbs last fall, failing to capture as large a share of the vote in counties such as Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington as he had in the past. That was seen by many as a sign that Trump had damaged the GOP brand with some Republican-leaning voters, particularly suburban, college-educated women.

Hitt said he’s sensed that has started to fade away, pointing to the state Supreme Court race last month as evidence. Conservative Brian Hagedorn hit the more traditional levels of support in the WOW counties that Republicans are used to seeing for their candidates.

“We saw people more unified, more organized, fighting like crazy to get him elected because of the overreach that the Democrats did on attacking his religious beliefs,” Hitt said. “I think to the extent there is any image problem, it’s fading and we can overcome it by working hard.”

After the convention this weekend in Oshkosh, Hitt said the party will really start moving on the recommendations from the postmortem. He’s already started on some of that work by doing grassroots events around the state.

And that includes fundraising as well.

At the end of April, the party had $638,454 in its federal account, according to FEC filings. That’s more than the $378,899 it had cash on hand at the end of April 2017, the last off year.

But its state fundraising is lagging. The party reported $518,439 in that account in mid-April, its most recent report filed with the state. By comparison, the party had $1.7 million in the bank at the end of June 2017. That more robust cash on hand number was likely helped by having Walker in the guv’s office and donors willing to contribute as he geared up for re-election.

Hitt acknowledged it will be more of a challenge for the party to raise money without Walker in office. But he believes there’s a renewed excitement among the party faithful as the party begins the process of re-tooling.

“They’re very excited about the direction of the party,” said Hitt, 41. “They’re excited to have a younger leader full of energy. There’s not donor fatigue; there’s not any issues that are popping up when I’m talking to them. So I’m very bullish on it. I think we’re going to do very well this cycle raising money.”

Listen to the interview:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/190509_0918a/s-Ttxm5

Institute for Reforming Government: Wisconsin’s state-based alternative on Medicaid reform: What other states can learn

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Contact:[email protected]


Madison, Wis. 
— The Institute for Reforming Government issued a policy paper today regarding Wisconsin’s state-based reforms that covered everyone living in poverty under Medicaid without taking the temporary financial incentives for Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Enacted by Governor Walker and the Wisconsin State Legislature, these reforms are an example for states around the country as they debate Medicaid expansion.

“The state-based reforms enacted under the leadership of Governor Walker and the legislature continue to provide health care coverage without depending on the federal government to expand Medicaid that could leave taxpayers at risk. Wisconsin chose innovative reforms to cover everyone living in poverty under Medicaid rather than risk the potential for fleeting incentives that would leave taxpayers vulnerable to future costs. As other states continue to debate Washington’s costly Medicaid expansion, Wisconsin offers a beacon of hope in the form of bold state-based reform,” said Rob McDonald, Chairman of the Board for the Institute for Reforming Government.

Highlights of Governor Walker’s Medicaid Reforms:

Wisconsin’s 1115 Demonstration Waiver allowed for “Wisconsin to provide the Medicaid standard benefit plan to adults without dependent children and who have household incomes up to 100 percent of the federal poverty level.”[1]  This was Wisconsin’s alternative to accepting the financial incentives of Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, which could have set Wisconsin up for future costs as the federal government backed away from its commitments and Wisconsin was left with the bill. Details of Wisconsin’s approved BadgerCare Reform Demonstration Waiver Amendment approved in October of 2018 include:[2]

●      The program included the opportunity to reduce a member’s premium by supporting healthy choices.

●      If a member chooses to go to the emergency room for non-emergency uses, then they might be charged a copayment.

●      “For those childless adults between the ages of 19 and 49 who do not meet an exemption, eligibility for benefits is limited to 48 months.”

●       A requirement for members “to submit a health risk assessment which provides information on their health and wellness, including any drug use.”

The Medicaid Policy Paper can be found here.

The Institute for Reforming Government is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that seeks to simplify government at every level by offering policy solutions to thought leaders in American government in the areas of tax reform, government inefficiency, and burdensome regulations.

Learn more about the Institute for Reforming Government here.

[1] https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/badgercareplus/clawaiver-finalapp.pdf

[2] https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIDHS/bulletins/2050098

JAC: Audit examines WEDC’s operations

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JAC: Reviews Adult Corrections Expenditures

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Jay Heck: Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice-Elect Hagedorn’s “gratitude” to Republican Party underscores necessity for stronger recusal rules

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The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com. 
Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn very narrowly won the State Supreme Court election on April 2nd to replace retiring former Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson. He benefited from the active organizational and financial support of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) and other partisan organizations, particularly in the last several weeks prior to the election.
In what may be an action unprecedented in state political history, Hagedorn addressed the RPW state convention in Oshkosh last week, specifically to thank Republican activists for strongly supporting his candidacy. “When I got punched, you were the ones who punched back,” Hagedorn said to the party faithful. “When I got knocked down, you grabbed the baton and kept running with it.”
Hagedorn says he will be impartial when he is sworn in as a justice later this Summer. But in the absence of stronger recusal rules for Wisconsin judges, will he really be impartial, objective, and beholden only to the law and not his supporters?

Wisconsin currently has the 47th weakest recusal rules in the nation when it comes to judges having to recuse themselves if they are the recipients of significant campaign contributions or the beneficiaries of so-called “independent” election spending. Essentially, judges decide for themselves whether to recuse themselves from a case in which a party before the court has been a campaign contributor above a certain threshold.

This very weak rule was written by two independent special interest groups – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and the Wisconsin Realtors Association and adopted verbatim by conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2010.

Proposals to strengthen recusal rules since that time have been rejected, most recently in 2017 when conservatives rejected a petition submitted by 54 retired jurists for strong recusal rules and refused to hold even a public hearing on the matter.

During the campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this year, Hagedorn indicated he was not supportive of stronger recusal rules while his opponent, Wisconsin Court of Appeals Chief Judge Lisa Neubauer said she thought stronger rules ought to be considered, and supported holding a public hearing to receive input on the issue.

Now that Judge Hagedorn has expressed his deep gratitude to partisans for their help in his election, how can the public be confident that he will be strictly impartial in his application of the law? What assurance would a Democratic or progressive individual or entity appearing before the Wisconsin Supreme Court have that Hagedorn would be fair and non-partisan in his decision-making process?

That’s why strong recusal rules are so important and needed in Wisconsin.

Public confidence in the impartiality and fairness of our state courts had fallen dramatically over the last decade. Adoption of stronger recusal rules by the Wisconsin Supreme Court would help restore that necessary confidence. Judge Hagedorn could initiate that process and raise public confidence in his own upcoming first term on the court by joining the call for stronger rules.

— Jay Heck is the state director of Common Cause in Wisconsin. For more information call 608-256-2686 or go to www.commoncausewisconsin.org