2019 June

Monthly Archives: June 2019

‘Boring’ Evers reminds Republicans of his veto pen’s powers

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Gov. Tony Evers shrugged off his reputation as “boring” as he addressed Dem activists Saturday night and threw some shade at Republicans in their ongoing budget standoff.

Evers opened his speech saying it was about time the convention had a keynote speaker who was a Dem guv as he became the first one in eight years to do so.

He also recounted the dig some sent his way ahead of last year’s election that he was boring before telling delegates his reaction: “to hell with it.”

Evers then dove into a list of his budget priorities, saying there was nothing boring about protecting the Affordable Care Act, filing “those Scott-holes and fixing the damn roads,” and making sure women make their own health care decisions.

Since introducing his budget in late February, Evers has watched GOP lawmakers pull out key plans such as expanding Medicaid under Obamacare or pumping $606 million more into special education.

He reminded activists he stands before them with one of the most powerful veto pens in the country before laying down a challenge to GOP lawmakers as they rework his budget.

“To them I say, ‘Who is boring now?’” Evers said.

Evers also argued that a crowded primary for president isn’t a bad thing — so long as the party comes together after it’s over and the candidates remain focused on the issues.

Evers recounted his own win in August 2018 in a primary that featured 10 candidates. He joked about the size of the field, telling activists, “It seemed most of you were running.” But he also argued the process made him a better candidate.

Still, he cautioned against allowing the primary to “devolve into divisiveness,” telling activists they need to make sure when they disagree that they don’t become disagreeable.

“That means that even when Republicans want to get in the mud, when they disparage people who they believe are different, when they want to wage a war of ideology, we can’t let them bait us,” Evers said.

Early in this speech, Evers noted that U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore had been the only person who’d ever beaten Scott Walker — in a 1990 Assembly race — until now.

“Gwen, now there are two of us,” he said.

The guv also noted the rumors of Walker running for office again in 2022 or U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, either seeking re-election or running for guv.

“If we can do these things we just talked about, I don’t care which office they’re running for, we’re going to work hard and we’re going to send them packing once and for all,” Evers said.

‘UpFront’: Baldwin urges continued investigation of Trump

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin said Congress should exert its oversight role over the executive branch and continue to investigate President Trump.

But in a weekend interview, the Madison Democrat said she did not join dozens of other Democrats who are calling for Congress to begin an impeachment inquiry.

“Congress has an oversight role. Congress has a constitutional obligation to investigate,” Baldwin told “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Baldwin said the report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller laid out more than a dozen instances in which she said Trump either lied or obstructed investigations.

“We have to get to the bottom of that,” Baldwin said.

“When you say ‘Get to the bottom of it,'” are you ready to start impeachment proceedings?” host Adrienne Pedersen asked.

“I think that we need all the facts,” Baldwin said. “And we need to do our constitutional duty, investigate and deliver the truth to the American people.

“Nobody in America is above the law. That includes the president. The president is not above the law,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin also endorsed Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to take the federal Medicaid expansion.

The Legislature’s Republican leadership opposes the Medicaid expansion and removed it from the budget.

Baldwin said voters in 2018 were motivated by health care as an issue and they were “fearful that health care would go away.”

“People should be writing their elected representatives and say ‘Expand Medicaid,'” she said.

In another segment, Greg Marcus, the president and CEO of the Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation, said there is increased national interest in Milwaukee since the Democratic National Committee announced the city as the site of its 2020 national nominating convention.

“We’re seeing increased traffic from other conventions that are interested in coming here and saying ‘What’s going on in Milwaukee?'” Marcus said.

He said the DNC, the Bucks’ recent playoff run, and the Ryder Cup coming to Wisconsin in 2020 are all chances to “expose Milwaukee to the world.”

“It gives people a new perspective on Milwaukee,” he said.

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

‘UpFront’: LeMahieu, Johnson debate transportation funding, Medicaid expansion

With the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee preparing to wrap up work on the state budget, Sens. LaTonya Johnson and Devin LeMahieu on Sunday’s episode of “UpFront” debated the committee’s actions on transportation funding and Medicaid expansion.

The JFC last week scrapped Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed 8 cents-per-gallon gas tax increase, instead approving a $95 increase in the title transfer fee, pushing it to $164.50, and a $10 increase in the annual registration fee for cars.

LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, told host Adrienne Pedersen that with an increasing shift to hybrid and electric vehicles, the gas tax isn’t a long-term solution to funding transportation.

“Raising the gas tax may be a short-term fix, but we’re looking for long-term fixes for our transportation infrastructure in the state of Wisconsin, and a fixed fee increase like this provides that long-term stability,” he said on the program, which is produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

LeMahieu also noted that under Evers’ plan, the gas tax would adjust with inflation without giving lawmakers a chance to weigh in on any increases.

Johnson, D-Milwaukee, said a gas tax increase spreads the cost to both drivers from Wisconsin and those who visit from other states.

“Proposing a title fee, that just sticks that cost to Wisconsin residents,” Johnson said, adding that the fee increases may be difficult to pay for those with low or fixed incomes.

Johnson said under the GOP’s plan, the title transfer fee will be the same regardless of the vehicle’s value, while a gas tax depends on how much people drive.

The two also addressed Evers’ proposed Medicaid expansion, which JFC Republicans removed from the budget.

Johnson said under Medicaid expansion the state would bring in $1.6 billion more in federal funds while saving the state $324 million. She said under Republicans’ plan, the state will spend $300 million more in state funds and bring in $1.2 billion less from the federal government.

“This is our opportunity to use money that Wisconsinites have already paid in taxes and to provide those services that are most needed,” Johnson said.

LeMahieu noted the state has consistently ranked in the top five in health care quality the top 10 in the percentage of those with insurance.

“Just expanding welfare … I don’t think is in the best interest of Wisconsin,” he said.

He noted Republicans put an addition $60 million into Medicaid reimbursement and increased pay for nursing home and personal and family care workers.

“We think we’ve provided a great solution to make sure the neediest in society have that coverage that they need,” LeMahieu said.

Also on the program, Gov. Tony Evers and first lady Kathy Evers in a joint interview addressed women in politics and other issues.

Kathy Evers is chairwoman of a committee that planned the state’s celebration of its 100th anniversary of ratifying the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The event will be held today from noon to 3 p.m. at the Capitol.

“You look back 100 years, or even 70 years beyond that, at how women have worked very hard to try to get the right to vote,” Kathy Evers said. “We have to keep that legacy going. We still have issues of people having the right to vote and we want to make sure that the legacy of women’s suffrage continues within Wisconsin and make sure that everybody has the right to vote.”

Asked about the relatively large number of women on his staff, Tony Evers said he’s hired women throughout his career.

“They have been a rock,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the opportunity I have had to give women voice, and frankly, power and authority, to do really important and incredible things.”

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

‘UpFront’: Ott proposes prison reserved for incarcerating drunken drivers

A minimum-security prison especially for convicted drunken drivers could get them off the road, and give them the treatment they need, said state Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon.

“That’s where you could send people to get more treatment and incarcerate them longer, keep them off the roads,” Ott said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Ott said such a prison would cost less, because fewer guards would be needed, and an existing structure could be converted into a secure detention center.

Ott, who has worked for years to strengthen Wisconsin’s OWI laws, saw some recent success when the Assembly passed two of his bills last week.

One would require a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for drivers convicted of killing someone in an OWI crash. The other would require first-time OWI offenders to appear in court.

“What I’m hoping to do,” Ott said, “is have fewer first offenders become second offenders.”

Having to stand in front of a judge, Ott said, could “really make an impression on people.”

The five-year mandatory minimum sentence is necessary, Ott said, because some people convicted in fatal OWI crashes are still getting off with light sentences.

“I’ve heard of enough cases where a drunk driver kills someone and they get as little as a year or two. And it just seems to add insult to injury to the family who lost someone,” Ott said.

Also on the program, state Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, who represents a heavily Hispanic district, said there is concern in the immigrant community over President Trump’s threat of mass deportations.

The interview with Zamarripa was done on Friday before published reports said Trump had ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to begin rounding up people with deportation orders. On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he would delay the raids by two weeks to give Democrats and Republicans in Congress time to work out a compromise agreement on federal immigration policy.

Zamarripa said Trump’s tweeted threat may be part of a political maneuver, since the tweet came shortly before he declared his bid for re-election in 2020.

“But part of me knows there is a real fear here, and we feel it in the community,” Zamarripa said.

Zamarripa said the White House and Congress need to fix the country’s immigration system.

“We have a broken immigration system in this country,” she said. “At the federal level we need comprehensive immigration reform.”

She was joined in the interview by one of her constituents, Valeria Navarro Villegas of Milwaukee, who falls under DACA — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — an immigration option for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16.

Navarro Villegas said she was brought to Milwaukee when she was 7 years old, along with her sisters. Her family was reunited with her father, who had already come to Wisconsin, she said.

Congress and President Trump have not agreed on a fix for DACA, and Navarro Villegas said she doesn’t see a solution happening any time soon.

“The DACA program is almost like a Band-Aid that’s worked so well for some of us, that the progress to make a solution for everyone, and a permanent solution, is going to take a lot longer than we would hope for, and that’s how most of us feel,” Navarro Villegas said.

In another segment, Ben Wikler, the new chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said the whole country will be watching Wisconsin, and the party will be organizing and knocking on doors year-round to deliver Wisconsin for Democrats in 2020.

“In the fall of 2020, everyone will be staying up late at night, biting their fingernails off, watching what happens in Wisconsin, and what we want them to see is that it is nothing like 2016,” Wikler said.

“This is the year when we not only stop Trump, but we also build the foundation for Wisconsin to be the blue state that I still think it is at its heart, that passes legislation that helps people, and makes the state work for everyone,” Wikler said.

Wikler, who was a senior adviser at MoveOn.org, said Democrats will be knocking on doors in all areas of the state, and reaching out to “include and respect people from all communities,” and then giving the grass roots workers the data, technology and training they need out in the field.

He said the state party also will use the Democratic National Convention, to be held in Milwaukee in July 2020, as a springboard.

“The stakes are so high, and people feel it so personally, and the question is; can we translate that energy into meaningful activity to win elections? That’s the goal of the party,” Wikler said.

“This is where the fight is. It all comes down to Wisconsin,” he said.

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

2020 DNC CEO says convention events will span city, reach outstate

The 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee is to include events in all parts of the city and in outstate areas as well, according to 2020 DNC CEO Joe Solmonese.

Solmonese, speaking at a WisPolitics.com/Milwaukee Press Club luncheon, said that while many of the events will be at Downtown venues, “every square inch of the city will have something going on.”

“One of the things we want to do … is be as creative and thoughtful as possible about bringing the convention out to diverse parts of the city, to far parts of the state, to as many places as we can so that … the world has an opportunity to really experience all of the richness and diversity of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “And that any community and anybody here, whether it’s a volunteer, an attendee or small business owner, has the opportunity to engage as well.”

Solmonese said planning and fundraising for the convention is ahead of schedule, and that the party is striving to provide information to and engage with those who will be impacted by the influx of attendees and media to help create goodwill.

He also said the party will work to build a sustainable volunteer effort to help carry Dem candidates through the November elections.

“We really want to create something here that is sustainable,” he said. “And we want to create something here that leaves a measure of goodwill when we leave here.”

A comparison of Evers’ and the GOP-controlled Legislature’s budgets

Here is a brief summary comparing major themes of Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget to the two-year spending plan OK’d by majority Republicans in the Legislature. All of the below are two-year numbers before any potential vetoes.

Medicaid

Evers: Full federal expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, resulting in $1.6 billion for a variety of health care programs.

GOP Legislature: Would continue to direct some of the state’s working poor to the exchanges offered under Obamacare while investing an additional $588.2 million in general purpose revenue into Medicaid to accomplish goals such as increasing reimbursement rates for health care providers.

Schools

Evers: $1.4 billion for K-12 education, including a $606 million increase in special education aid.

GOP Legislature: $500 million boost over the next two years. And $97 million more for special education.

Income tax cuts

Evers: Cut income taxes 10 percent for lower- and middle-income residents by about $415 million a year, or about $225 per tax filer. Help fund by capping the manufacturing component of the manufacturing-ag tax credit at the first $300,000 in annual income and limiting capital gains exclusions. Boost the earned income and homestead tax credits.

GOP Legislature: Between budget and a separate bill, Republicans would use online sales tax and the surplus to cut income taxes an average $136 in 2020, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The lowest income tax rate of 4 percent would drop to 3.89 percent in tax year 2019. It would then go to 3.76 percent in tax year 2020. The second lowest rate would drop from 5.84 percent to 5.08 percent in tax year 2019 and then 4.93 percent in tax year 2020. The state’s top two brackets of 6.27 percent and 7.65 percent would remain the same.

Roads

Evers: Boost the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon. The gas tax boost would’ve climbed to nearly 10 cents by the end of the two-year budget thanks to indexing, which Evers wanted to bring back after it was eliminated 13 years ago. He also sought to offset the impact of the tax hike by eliminating the minimum markup on gas. Proposed $10 boost in the vehicle transfer fee and $338.3 million in bonding.

GOP Legislature: Rejects minimum markup elimination. Raises the vehicle transfer fee by $95 to $164.50, and boosts the annual auto registration fee by $10 to $85. The plan also includes $326.3 million in bonding and a one-time $90 million general fund appropriation to help local governments pay for road projects. The move would come on top of the existing $87.8 million transfer from the general fund — comprised of income, corporate and sales taxes — to the transportation fund.

UW System

Evers: Fully fund the tuition freeze for resident undergraduates with $50.4 million in state aid, part of a total boost of $126.6 million.

GOP Legislature: Provides $69.7 million less in state aid than Evers but approves more than $1 billion for System building projects, slightly less than what Evers proposed.

Property taxes

Evers: The median-valued home, worth $166,967 at the end of last year, saw a property tax bill of $2,871. Under Evers’ budget, that would go up $56 to $2,927 in the first year and $48 to $2,975 in the second. Those increases amount to 2 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

GOP Legislature: Pumped another $6.2 million into the lottery credit to ensure the GOP budget would have a lower property tax bill for the median-valued home than under the version of the budget Evers proposed. The $6.2 million would result in lowering that bill by $1 in the first year and $4 in the second.

Medical marijuana

Evers: Decriminalize possession and legalize medical marijuana.

GOP Legislature: Stripped from the budget.

State employee/prison guard pay

Evers: Raise pay of state and UW System employees by 2 percent in each of the next two years. Increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all non-UW executive branch employees.

GOP Legislature: Rejects the minimum wage. OKs 2 percent annual pay bumps but adds $13.1 million more for prison guard salaries than what Evers proposed. For prison guards, the impact would be a starting wage of $19.03 an hour by the end of the biennium and push up the corrections guards pay increase to Jan. 1 rather than April 2020. The move also would create one-time bonuses that would be: $250 after 10 years of service; $500 after 15 years; $750 after 20 years; and $1,000 for completing 25 years and every five years after that.

Overall spending

Evers: $83.8 billion budget, which would amount to an 8.3 percent spending increase, and a $2.5 billion capital budget.

GOP Legislature: $81.7 billion two-year budget that would increase state spending in all funds by 5.6 percent over the base plus a $1.9 billion capital budget.

Here is the Legislative Fiscal Bureau comparison of the budget agency-by-agency:
https://bit.ly/2X6iEYJ

A day at the ballpark with Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke 🗓

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Fox Cities Stadium.
2400 N. Casaloma Drive,
Appleton.

Wisconsin Timber Rattlers vs. Beloit Snappers
Monday, July 8th – 12:05pm, First Pitch

$1,000: Grand Slam Host – Includes 2 Suite Tickets
$500: MVP – Includes 1 Suite Ticket

All tickets include ballpark food and drink.

Please RSVP to Rusty by July 3
[email protected] or 608.343.0115
Make checks payable to “Steineke for Assembly”

Abele: Wins mean results

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Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele told Dem activists since Gov. Tony Evers was elected, he sometimes feels like he’s in the greatest “Twilight Zone” episode ever.

Abele said there were times in the past when he sensed there were elected officials who had a disdain for Milwaukee.

Now, he said, statewide officials don’t only return his calls, but they come to visit Milwaukee.

“It isn’t just that Tony got elected,” Abele said. “He put together an incredible team and they care.”

Abele said Democrats need to win more, however, saying victories mean results. He noted Assembly Republicans prevented the Black Caucus members from deciding who they wanted to honor in via a Black History Month resolution.

By comparison, his administration has declared racism a public health crisis.

He said Dems are looking for allies and solutions.

“We’re not about who we’re against. We’re about who we’re for,” Abele said. “When we do that, we win all day.”

AFP-Wisconsin: Statement on budget

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CONTACT: Eric Bott, [email protected]

 

Madison, Wis. – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) released the following statement as the Wisconsin Senate debated the biennial state budget. The group highlighted improvements made to the budget first proposed by Governor Evers in February, which would have restricted educational freedomrepealed numerous pro-growth labor reforms, and increased taxes. AFP-WI believes the budget could yet be improved but applauds thelegislature for the reforms it was able to secure.

 

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

 

“This budget is a marked improvement on what Gov. Evers proposed, which would have undone many of the pro-growth reforms of the last several years and put at risk much of the economic gains Wisconsinites currently enjoy. We thank our activists for sparing no effort in contacting their lawmakers and encouraging them to help keep Wisconsin moving in the right direction.”

 

AFP-WI applauded the Assembly for removing Gov. Evers’s most egregious proposals, including:

 

  • Attacks on worker freedom, including a repeal of Right to Work and the restoration of prevailing wage laws and project labor agreements.
  • A costly Medicaid expansion, which would threaten the program’s ability to provide for Wisconsin’s most needy.
  • Restrictions on educational opportunity programs, including the Parental Choice Program, Special Needs Scholarship Program, and independent public charter school programs.
  • More than $1 billion in tax hikes on small businesses, retirees, and other Wisconsinites.
  • Large gas tax increase, indexed to inflation.

 

AFP-WI also thanked the Assembly for removing a provision added by the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), which would have granted the committee the sole authority to track Wisconsinites’ driving and impose a new mileage-based fee. AFP-WI activists had been calling and emailing their elected officials in recent days demanding that the provision be stripped.

 

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

AFSCME Wisconsin: Stands in solidarity with the March to Madison for Public Education funding

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AFSCME Wisconsin supports the union members, community allies, and civic leaders rallying in support of a just public education budget for Wisconsin families. We join students, educators, activists, and labor leaders in rebuking a state budget proposal which strips an astounding $900 million from the 2019-2021 public education budget.

 

Between June 22-25, 2019 March to Madison organizers will march sixty miles from Palmyra-Eagle to Madison to call for a 60% special education reimbursement rate and demand a solution to the hollowing out of education funding. AFSCME Wisconsin expresses its solidarity to all marchers and organizers fighting for strong schools, preserving Wisconsin’s robust educational heritage, and protecting those who serve our communities with dedication. 

 

March to Madison organizer, AFSCME Local 1954 member, and Milwaukee Public School Board member Megan O’Halloran stated, “years of chronic underfunding have left our schools struggling to meet the needs of students. We are marching sixty miles for a sixty percent reimbursement so that all our public schools can meet the needs of each student. I’m marching for 76,000 students and nearly 10,000 public school employees, ensuring that they get the resources they desperately need.”

 

AFSCME Wisconsin calls on the Wisconsin Legislature, Governor Tony Evers, and civic leaders to preserve public education funds to ensure a bright future for our students and community servants.

 

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

AG Kaul: And coalition advise FTC on consumer protection on digital platforms

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul, along with a coalition of 43 attorneys general, are urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop new antitrust policies to enhance healthy market competition in on digital platforms.

“Wisconsinites use products from major tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon on a daily basis. Federal and state authorities must work together to protect competition while ensuring that consumer data and privacy are not left by the wayside.” said Attorney General Kaul.

In their comments, the attorneys general pose several ideas for merger enforcement in technology markets, moving toward more enforcement and expanding the FTC’s recent initiatives to work closely with state attorneys general. The comments recommend that technology companies receive prior approval and/or make prior notice for future acquisitions.

The attorneys general also offer two potential legislative approaches: one adding duration-of-existence criteria to merger filing thresholds (to aid detection of anticompetitive acquisitions of nascent competition) and the next addressing transparency in the collection and sale of data, in order to facilitate an efficient and competitive market.

Attorney General Kaul is joined in filing these comments by the attorneys general of Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

A copy of the coalition’s comments can be read here.

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-kaul-coalition-advise-ftc-consumer-protection-digital-platforms

AG Kaul: Joins amicus brief opposing the federal government’s request for emergency stay of preliminary injunction in Sierra Club v. Trump

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul, as part of a 20-state coalition, joined an amicus brief filed in Sierra Club, et al. v. Trump, et al., before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The brief supports a group of plaintiffs challenging President Trump’s unlawful diversion of funds toward construction of a border wall.

“This filing is another step in our effort to defend the separation of powers and the rule of law—and to stop the president from diverting funds that should be going to Wisconsin and other states,” said Attorney General Kaul.

The brief urges the court to deny the federal government’s emergency motion for a stay of the preliminary injunction granted by the district court in Sierra Club’s case, blocking President Trump from commencing border wall construction in New Mexico and Arizona with funds that were unlawfully diverted. The federal government has now appealed that ruling.

Wisconsin is part of a coalition of 20 states in a related lawsuit and has a direct interest in seeing the preliminary injunction maintained. The coalition includes states of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Both lawsuits allege that the Trump Administration’s actions in diverting funding for construction of a border wall exceed statutory authority and violate the U.S. Constitution. In the amicus brief, the states’ support the Sierra Club in their claim that President Trump’s action to unilaterally divert $1 billion of Department of Defense funds for construction of a border wall in New Mexico and Arizona was both unlawful and unconstitutional and warrants a preliminary injunction until the case is resolved.

AG Kaul: Multistate group of AGs oppose Trump administration rule change that endangers rights of millions of workers

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul, along with a multistate group of 18 other attorneys general, today sent a comment letter opposing the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposal to narrow the interpretation of joint employment, thereby complicating how states enforce labor laws and leaving millions of workers vulnerable to labor violations.

“This proposed rule would weaken protections for working people and disadvantage employers that comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Attorney General Kaul. “The Trump administration shouldn’t adopt this rule.”

In the letter, sent today to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Alexander Acosta, the attorneys general challenge DOL’s proposed change to joint employer status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), an interpretation that governs the liability of an employer who shares with another employer control over the terms and conditions of workers’ employment. The attorneys general contend that DOL has failed to justify this new interpretation and draws on outdated analysis that does not consider the changing nature of today’s workplace relationships, including the fact that a growing number of businesses are changing organizational models by outsourcing integral functions but still maintaining control of workers.

Under DOL’s proposed rule, joint employment would be determined by whether an employer hires or fires the employee, supervises and controls the employee’s schedule and working conditions, determines the employee’s rate and method of payment, and maintains the employee’s records. But according to the attorneys general, this proposal is inconsistent with the purpose of the FLSA – to protect workers – and ignores more than 30 years of private sector development during which the economy and the workplace have changed.

Further, the attorneys general write that DOL’s proposed rule does not reflect today’s workplace relationships, where businesses increasingly share employees using third-party management companies, independent contractors, staffing agencies, or other labor providers.

If the federal standard fails to encompass companies that pay for subcontracted employees while also controlling the terms of employment, the attorneys general contend that gaps in legal compliance will inevitably increase, leaving workers at greater risk of exploitation.

Today’s comment letter was submitted by joined by California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

AG Kaul: Seeks preliminary injunction against Trump Administration to stop health care discrimination

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul, joined a coalition of 23 cities, states, and municipalities, in a motion filed Friday to seek a preliminary injunction to stop the Trump Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from adopting a rule that would expand the ability of businesses and individuals to refuse to provide necessary health care on the basis of businesses’ or employees’ “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” The motion is supported by declarations from 48 leading public health professionals from states across the country, including from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“The proposed rule could result in harm to patients and would put Wisconsin and other states at risk of losing vital funding for health care,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We are asking the district court to stop this rule from going into effect.”

This motion is part of an ongoing lawsuit that the coalition of 23 cities and states filed against HHS in May 2019.

The preliminary injunction seeks to stop the rule from taking effect in July 2019, arguing that it would undermine the delivery of health care by giving a wide range of health care institutions and individuals a right to refuse care, based on the health provider’s own personal views. The rule drastically expands the types of providers eligible to make such refusals, ranging from ambulance drivers to emergency room doctors to receptionists to customer service representatives at insurance companies. The rule makes this right absolute and categorical, and no matter what reasonable steps a health provider or employer makes to accommodate the views of an objecting individual, if that individual rejects a proposed accommodation, a provider or employer is left with no recourse.

Under the final rule, a hospital could not inquire, prior to hiring a nurse, if (s)he objected to administering a measles vaccination—even if this was a core duty of the job in the middle of an outbreak of the disease. Or an emergency room doctor could refuse to assist a woman who arrived with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, even if the woman’s life was in jeopardy.

The lawsuit filed by the coalition further alleges that the risk of noncompliance is the termination of billions of dollars in federal health care funding. If HHS determines, in its sole discretion, that states or localities have failed to comply with the rule – through their own actions or the actions of thousands of sub-contractors relied upon to deliver health services – the federal government could terminate funding to those states and localities, to the price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars. States and localities rely upon those funds for countless programs to promote the public health of their residents, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, HIV/AIDS and STD prevention and education, and substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Wisconsin DHS officials declared in the motion that should Wisconsin’s federal health care funding be terminated, the state would suffer a $6.7 billion shortfall, losing vital health services such as, long-term care services, prescription drug coverage, and opioid prevention funding, including efforts to enhance non-punitive neo-natal abstinence screening. Read the state’s declaration.

The lawsuit argues that this drastic expansion of refusal rights, and the threat of termination of federal funds, violates the federal Administrative Procedures Act and the Spending Clause and separation of powers principles in the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to Wisconsin, the preliminary injunction was filed by the City of New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawai‘i, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, the City of Chicago, and Cook County, Illinois.

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-kaul-seeks-preliminary-injunction-against-trump-administration-stop-health-care

AG Kaul: Statement on death of two police officers

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MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul released the following statement regarding last night’s deaths of Milwaukee Police Officer Kou Her and Racine Police Officer John Hetland.

“The loss of two police officers—two people who worked to keep communities safe—is a tragedy,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We mourn the loss of these courageous public servants. My condolences to their family and friends and to the Racine and Milwaukee Police Departments.”

American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: Class action lawsuit seeks to challenge USCIS’ failure to respond to FOIA requests for immigration case files

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American Immigration Council
www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/news

Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
www.nwirp.org

WASHINGTON—Three immigration attorneys and two immigrants filed a class action lawsuit today in federal court in San Francisco challenging the Department of Homeland Security and its component agencies’ nationwide practice of failing to timely respond to requests for immigration files under the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit seeks to afford immigrants and their lawyers with expeditious access to the information contained in their or their clients’ immigration files, which is often critical to assessing immigration options in the United States and potential defenses against deportation.

When individuals request their immigration files (known as “A files”) under FOIA with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a component of DHS, the agency must make a determination on the request within 20 business days. USCIS routinely fails to provide requested documents within 20 days, and instead can take months to respond. USCIS exacerbates these delays by referring certain documents in the immigration files to another DHS component, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for further review; ICE also routinely fails to make timely determinations on these requests.

USCIS’ backlog of FOIA requests more than doubled between FY 2015 and FY 2017. By the end of FY 2018, USCIS reported a backlog of 41,329 pending requests; a number exceeding, by a significant margin, the backlog of any other DHS component. Despite growing backlogs, neither DHS, USCIS, or ICE has allocated the resources necessary to comply with the FOIA.

The complaint in Nightingale v. USCIS alleges that routine and excessive delays cause unnecessary emotional and financial hardship for noncitizens left in legal limbo while they wait to obtain records that hold the key to assessing their immigration options in the United States.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs are asking the Court to issue a nationwide injunction ordering USCIS and ICE to make a determination on all pending FOIA requests within 60 business days of the Court’s order and to respond to future FOIA requests within the statutory period.

“USCIS and ICE must be accountable to individuals who file FOIA requests for their own immigration case files. These individuals need to have a complete and accurate picture of their immigration history to assess their options and make decisions that often have life-long consequences for themselves and family members,” stated Claudia Valenzuela, FOIA attorney at the American Immigration Council.

“The delays prevent our clients from obtaining information they need to move forward with their immigration applications. We are asking the court to enforce the law, which requires timely responses,” said Matt Adams, legal director at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin: Kicks off campaign to “Unrig the Economy”

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Contact: Eric Bott, [email protected]


MADISON, Wis.
—Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) today highlighted its role as part of an integrated, comprehensive campaign to build a strong economy by leveling the playing field for all. Called “Unrig the Economy,” this multi-year, multi-million-dollar campaign is part of a national effort that will harness the power of AFP’s grassroots activists to drive change at both the state and federal level.

The first phase of the campaign in Wisconsin kicks off with a robust direct mail and digital effort encouraging Rep. Sean Duffy, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, to oppose the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. The first phase also features direct mail and digital ads encouraging Reps. Ron Kind and Gwen Moore, who sit on the House Ways and Means Committee, to oppose the renewal of the so-called “tax extenders.”

View Rep. Duffy “Export Import Bank” Mail

View Rep. Kind “Tax Extenders” Mail

View Rep. Moore “Tax Extenders” Mail

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

“All Wisconsinites deserve to compete on a level playing field and have the same shot at success. But all too often, the government rigs the economy in favor of the well-connected through policies that pick winners and losers – as is the case with the Export-Import Bank and ‘tax extenders.’ We urge these members to help unrig the economy by rejecting these and other policies that create an unequal playing field that benefits special interests on the backs of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

Background:

According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, 62% of Americans said they thought the U.S. economic system mainly benefits those in power versus only 34% who said it mainly benefits all people. Belief that the economy is rigged is a longtime, widespread perception.

Andrietsch, Udell re-elected secretary, treasurer after being unopposed

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Dem activists re-elected Meg Andrietsch as secretary and Randy Udell as treasurer after they were unopposed for another two-year term.

Andrietsch was appointed to the office in September 2010 and then won her first two-year term in 2011, winning re-election since.

Udell won his first term in 2015.

Assembly approves 5G regulations

A bill that would set standards and fees for wireless providers when they seek to install 5G infrastructure was approved by voice vote in the Assembly today.

The bill now heads to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk after the Senate voted 25-5 to pass it earlier this month.

But the measure stirred up some controversy when it was considered on the Senate floor. Milwaukee Dem Sens. Tim Carpenter and Lena Taylor slammed the timeframe in which the bill had been taken up in this session, said the measure takes control away from local governments and highlighted potential health risks.

The bill’s author, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, said the bill was necessary because Wisconsin was quickly becoming “the hole in the donut” when it comes to 5G. The New Berlin Republican noted that all of the state’s neighbors have already enacted similar measures.

Assembly approves two drunk driving measures

The Assembly today passed a pair of bills that stiffen penalties for drunken 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.

Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, told reporters ahead of the floor session that he believed there was support for the measures in the Senate. He said he hopes to see it on the Senate calendar for a committee hearing in the fall.

Those two bills were part of a package of four OWI-related proposals introduced by Ott earlier in the session. All four proposals were scheduled for an exec before the panel a over 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.

Assembly Approves: Rodriguez legislation aimed at combatting homelessness

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MADISON – On Tuesday, the Assembly approved Assembly Bill 122, authored by Representative Jessie Rodriguez (R-Oak Creek), legislation intended to improve employment opportunities for members of the homeless community. The bill passed with unanimous support.

 

The bill requires local workforce development boards to include an advocate from a local homeless response system and to consider homeless job seekers when developing their strategic workforce development plans.

 

“Ensuring the homeless community is properly represented when plans are developed will help this population find employment,” said Rodriguez. “We learned last session, that finding meaningful employment is arguably one of the most crucial steps to ending homelessness. This initiative is an important tool to that end.”

 

Last session, the Assembly GOP brought forward legislation that included creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness, chaired by former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. The council included agency heads in addition to service providers and advocates from the homeless community.

 

The council released a comprehensive action plan last fall titled, A Hand and a Home: Foundations for Success. All four bills passed by the Assembly were based on recommendations in the council’s report.

 

“In 2017, Assembly Republicans brought forward a package of proposals to address homelessness, an issue that had largely been ignored over the previous decade,” said Rodriguez. “Today, we have once again stepped up to the plate and this legislation is the next step in the conversation to end homelessness in Wisconsin.”

Assembly passes package addressing homelessness

The Assembly today approved a package of measures stemming from recommendations made last session by the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

But the proposed funding for the measures, which comes out to roughly $3.8 million, can only be released at the discretion of the Joint Finance Committee.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Stieneke, R-Kaukauna, told reporters earlier today he was confident that the final version of the state budget would provide the necessary funding.

They include:

*ABs 119, 120, 123, 124 and 125 which allows the state’s budget panel to pump more money into a number of programs to address homelessness.

*AB 121, which provides grants for housing navigators who help remove obstacles between landlords and those seeking affordable housing.

*AB 122, which directs state and local job boards to specifically target the homeless and ensure job training is available for that population.

Assembly Republicans approve $81.7 billion budget as Dems slam ‘missed opportunities’

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Assembly signs off on transportation package

The Assembly today approved four measures from the so-called Road to Sustainability package authored by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo:

*AB 273 would offer ways for the DOT to source materials at lower cost.

*AB 275 would require the DOT to up the number of design-build projects in its pipeline to ensure projects are ready to go once resources are available.

*AB 284 would create a discretionary merit fund to incentivize employees to look for cost-saving methods.

*AB 285 would require the DOT in some circumstances to reject a bid if it was the only one received on a project.

All four measures passed 61-35 on a party-line vote. Dems previously expressed concerns that the package would be restrictive of local government’s ability to address transportation measures and that new DOT Secretary Craig Thompson was not consulted in the development of the bills.

 

Assembly signs off on tweaks to youth justice law

The Assembly signed off on a bill modifying a law passed last session that restructured the state’s juvenile justice program.

The bill, which received a joint public hearing last week, would push back the closure of the state’s troubled youth prisons and give counties more time to apply for grants to build regional facilities.

Under state law, the recently formed Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee was intended to have received finalized applications from counties by March 31. But the committee only approved a final version of an application two weeks ago and accepted letters of interest at that deadline instead.

The bill would provide a six-month extension to July 1, 2021, to close the youth lockups at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. It would also provide three-month extensions to June 30, 2019, to the timeline for submitting grant applications to the grant committee; and to October 1, 2019, for the grant committee to submit the plan for funding grant applications to the Joint Finance Committee.

The bill passed by voice vote. It now heads to the Senate, where it would need to be passed by the end of the month to avoid a rapidly approaching deadline for counties to apply for grants.

Assembly Transportation Committee approves three bills aiming to save money within DOT

The Assembly Transportation Committee has approved three bills designed to ensure spending by the Department of Transportation is “efficient and effective.”

The panel Thursday approved three measures from the so-called Road to Sustainability package authored by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo: AB 273 would offer ways for the DOT to source materials at lower cost; AB 275 would require the DOT to up the number of design-build projects in its pipeline to ensure projects are ready to go once resources are available; and AB 284 would create a discretionary merit fund to incentivize employees to look for cost-saving methods.

But two other bills in the package — which would have required municipalities to hold a referendum before imposing a new wheel tax and required the DOT in some circumstances to reject a bid if it was the only one received on a project — were pulled from consideration.

Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Kulp, R-Stratford, told WisPolitics.com that Sanfelippo asked for those measures to be removed from consideration because he felt they weren’t ready.

The three proposals that are now heading to the Assembly floor all passed 8-4 along party lines. Dems on the committee slammed the package for “restricting local government’s ability to do their job” and raised concerns that new DOT Secretary Craig Thompson was not consulted in the development of the bills.

“I think that it’s necessary for us to be hearing what’s going on in the agency right now and making new rules in accordance with that,” said Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine.

But Sanfelippo fired back that the package had represented an attempt to implement the recommendations of a recent audit of the Department of Transportation by the Legislative Audit Bureau.

The New Berlin Republican said he agreed that the DOT needed more funding. But in light of the LAB audit, he said simply pumping more money in the department would be akin to trying to fix a leaky pipe by budgeting for a higher water bill.

“You have to pay the water bill but you also have to fix the leak. What we’re doing with these bills is fixing the leak,” he said.

See the bills:
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab273
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab275
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab284

Assembly votes to end Miller Park tax

The Assembly today voted to ensure the sales tax created to pay for the Milwaukee Brewers stadium would end in 2020.

The 0.1 percent sales tax on the five-county area — which includes Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Racine counties — has been in place in 1996.

Under the bill passed today, that tax would come to an end no later than August 31, 2020.

The Miller Park District Board earlier this year certified the end of the tax by March 2020.

Any excess revenue would be returned to the counties.

Assembly votes to expand minority teacher loan forgiveness

The Assembly approved by voice vote a bill that boosts a loan forgiveness program to incentivize more minorities to pursue a career in education.

The bill, which boasted bipartisan support, would expand the program form Milwaukee to any school district in the state where at least 40 percent of the population is non-white. The expansion will make teachers in roughly 25 additional school districts and tribal schools eligible.

It now heads to the state Senate.

Audubon: Urges legislators to support Knowles-Nelson conservation program

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“The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is the best source of funding for land and water conservation in the state of Wisconsin.”

 

MADISON, WI — Nine Wisconsin Audubon chapters and the Wisconsin Audubon Council have sent a joint letter to state legislators urging them to support a ten-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

“For 30 years, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program has provided millions of dollars in funding to protect Wisconsin’s most treasured lands and waters. This program is essential to protecting Wisconsin’s natural spaces and the birds, wildlife, and people that depend on them,” said Nathaniel Miller, Acting Director and Director of Conservation for Audubon Great Lakes.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a successful bipartisan program that provides matching state funds for the protection and conservation of land, as well as maintenance and upkeep of waterways, parks, forests and trails. These efforts ensure the preservation of valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, the protection of water quality and fisheries, and the expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities. Birds and bird lovers alike in Wisconsin benefit greatly from this important program, which protects valuable wetland habitat for the Common Tern, rivers and lakes that White Pelicans and Common Loon rely upon, and opens up access for Wisconsinites to explore more areas of this amazing state.

“The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is the best source of funding for land and water conservation in the state of Wisconsin,” said Matthew Reetz, Executive Director of Madison Audubon Society. “Without this important program, we wouldn’t be able to fund projects that protect bird habitat and provide outdoor recreation opportunities like Goose Pond Sanctuary which received the first ever non-profit Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant to acquire and restore habitats to benefit birds, wildlife and the public. We need this funding to ensure that we can continue the important work of protecting Wisconsin’s lands and waters.”

Support from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program has benefitted every county in Wisconsin. Long-term funding ensures the continued protection of important bird habitat – such as forests, prairies, and wetlands, which are crucial to hundreds of species of migratory birds that rely on them for resting, feeding, and breeding sites throughout the year.

Audubon, and its more than 23,800 members in Wisconsin, urges legislators to support a ten-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, while maintaining current funding levels at least $33 million per year.

Contact:

Marnie Urso, Policy Director, Audubon Great Lakes
216-246-7150

[email protected]

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon Great Lakes is a regional office of Audubon, learn more atgl.audubon.org and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Baldwin challenges Dem activists to take on a fight that will be remembered

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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, challenged Dem activists Saturday to undertake a fight that will be remembered decades from now.

Baldwin noted the 100th anniversary is in two weeks for Wisconsin becoming the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion is next week. And later this month is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that helped sparked the LGBTQ rights movement.

“But our work is not done,” Baldwin said. “We must never mistake progress for victory.”

Baldwin asked activists how they want to be remembered, saying it could be for confronting climate change, making health care a right, doing “right by our veterans,” or addressing racial disparities.

“Or as simple as we stood up for the rule of law?” Baldwin said. “Only you can answer that question.”

She reminded the crowd that the road to the White House goes through Wisconsin and urged them to stand up to Republicans trying to overturn the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion and ignoring “the science and reality of climate change.”

“The stakes are too high for Wisconsin families and there’s too much on the line for us to simply sit back,” Baldwin said.

Barnes talks up legislative priorities; calls for marijuana legalization

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes touted the Evers administration’s priorities and slammed “hostile” Republican legislators.

Barnes highlighted the administration’s focus of education, health care, environmental protection and roads, but said the GOP has thrown up “roadblocks at every turn.”

“One side continues to play politics while real people continue to suffer,” he said.

Barnes also called for an end to mass incarceration and the prohibition on marijuana and slammed Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for calling the budgetary proposal on pot a poison pill.

The real poison pill, Barnes said, was the opioids that had flooded the state. He said there was no chance families would be torn apart by marijuana.

“You’d see them being brought closer together,” he said. “Imagine how much better Thanksgiving dinner could be.”

Barrett touts 2020 national Dem convention

Mayor Tom Barrett touted the City of Milwaukee, which will play host to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, in his address to the state Dem convention.

He gave a rollicking account of the efforts to bring the convention to the city, drawing laughs and applause from the crowd as he recalled a debate with other potential host cities. Barrett said the city of Miami was a top critic and argued that there wouldn’t be enough elites and donors in Wisconsin’s largest city.

“Good, keep going!” he recalled thinking of that argument.

Barrett also paid tribute to those in the room, who he labeled as the “true believers.”

“Democrats win elections because we understand that we embody the values that are important to Wisconsinites and Americans,” he said.

Bill Kaplan: Do Republicans support 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.

Short answer, many Republicans support Medicaid expansion. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll indicates that 55 percent of Republicans support states expanding Medicaid (federal government pays 90 percent of total cost). Fiscal prudence, state savings and increased health care coverage converge. No wonder 10 GOP governors, supported by many GOP legislators, expanded Medicaid years ago. And, 7 other GOP governors continued Medicaid expansion initiated by Democratic predecessors. In total, 36 states have passed Medicaid expansion, including most of the Midwest. Wisconsin is an outlier.

Strange. The Wisconsin Medicaid program was established by GOP Governor Warren Knowles and enlarged by GOP Governor Tommy Thompson (partially reversed by defeated GOP Governor Scott Walker). Presently, state GOP legislators are resisting “substituting federal for state expenditures for currently-enrolled childless adults” (would cover 82,000 more Wisconsinites) that the state would receive under Medicaid expansion (nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau).

However, the GOP-led Joint Finance Committee (JFC) inexplicably said no. I asked Democratic state Senator Jon Erpenbach to react: “Expanding Medicaid would not only save Wisconsin … $325 million state dollars, and pull in $1.6 billion in federal funding, but it would lower insurance premiums for every person on the individual market (Health Affairs June 6, 2019). While JFC Republicans are aware of these facts, and know that 70 percent of Wisconsinites approve … expansion, they still choose to charge taxpayers more to get less coverage. Wisconsinites know that taking … Medicaid expansion is the right choice, and hopefully it is only a matter of time before Republicans come out in support of the proposal”. Moreover, Erpenbach told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he thought some individual GOP state legislators might support Medicaid expansion.

In an exclusive interview with former GOP state Senator Dale Schultz, I asked his opinion of the current stalemate: “Medicaid expansion is an obvious opportunity, but there is a lack of open discussion in the GOP-led legislature”. He indicated he thought there are GOP legislators “open to Medicaid expansion”. And, that failure to pass Medicaid expansion “will cost Republicans down the road”. Schultz, a farmer from rural Richland Center, knows that Medicaid expansion would greatly benefit rural Wisconsin. Why?

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s new survey said: “When asked what was the most important thing that could be done to improve their health, … 36 percent of rural adults identify options related to fixing health care, including improving access, quality and reducing costs”. Moreover, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families reported that Medicaid expansion reduced the uninsured rate for low-income (most working), non-elderly rural adults by more than half. Medicaid expansion is (moral) common sense.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that “longtime Virginia Republican (state Senator Emmett Hanger) who was an outspoken supporter of expanding Medicaid … held off a primary challenger.” Hanger is “a kind of bleeding-heart conservative who see caring for the poor as a Christian imperative. For years he had wanted to expand Medicaid” (Washington Post). He won big, 57 percent!

Take heart, Wisconsin Republicans who (privately) favor Medicaid expansion.

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

 

Bill Kaplan: Moore, Pocan mistaken on impeachment

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

75 House Democrats and 1 dissident Republican support “an impeachment inquiry against Trump” (New York Times). Wisconsin Democratic Representative Gwen Moore is blunter: “we need to impeach him” (Trump). Wisconsin Democratic Representative Mark Pocan said: “Regrettably, the President’s most recent actions and continued disrespect for the Constitution are forcing us down the road to impeachment. … Stonewalling Congress on witnesses and the unredacted Mueller report only enhances the President’s appearance of guilt, and as a result, he has pushed Congress to a point where we must start an impeachment inquiry.”

Pocan’s statement clarifies that an impeachment inquiry as opposed to impeachment is a distinction without a difference. In analyzing the refusal of former Trump aide Hope Hicks to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin said: “Democrats advocating impeachment may be frustrated and disappointed with the results of the Hicks interview. However, if the hearings had the title ‘impeachment’, they would be in exactly the same position. Courts, so far, have not found that the absence of formal impeachment proceedings should be held against the House”, i.e., getting a federal court to compel a witness to testify.

Only eight federal officials have ever been impeached by the House (majority of those voting) and convicted by the Senate (two-thirds of those present). Note: Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were impeached, but not convicted. President Richard Nixon resigned after the House Judiciary Committee approved three impeachment articles. Committee member Wisconsin GOP Representative Harold Froehlich voted to impeach Nixon and lost reelection in 1974. Froehlich later said: “You have to put politics aside and vote your conscience for the good of the country” (Los Angeles Times). Today, only one lonely Republican, Michigan Representative Justin Amash, is channeling Froehlich.

The impeachment looming over Nixon was bipartisan, with seven GOP representatives, including Froehlich, voting for impeachment. Afterwards, a group of GOP congressional leaders told Nixon he had no support. Nixon resigned. Not imaginable today! Moreover, a Senate conviction would require twenty Republicans to join all Democrats (if every senator attended). An impeachment and conviction must not be seen as a reversal of the 2016 presidential election. It would tear the country apart. Only a bipartisan majority of the American people supporting an impeachment process would engender widespread acceptance of the result.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not support an impeachment inquiry. Pelosi is not blind to Trump’s misdeeds and obstruction of justice. However, she is shrewd: “What I believe is that when we go forward, if we go forward, it has to go deep. It can’t be that the Democrats impeach in the House; the Senate, in (Trump’s) view, exonerates”. Moore and Pocan should listen to Pelosi.

There has never been a magic solution to the existential threat that Trump poses. Not impeachment, the Twenty-fifth Amendment (presidential disability) or lawsuits. Only winning the 2020 presidential election will work. That will require a big-tent Democratic candidate who appeals nationwide and can govern. We are Americans and can do this.

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

Bill Kaplan: Shenanigans on McCain and disaster relief

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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 conservative Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the Trump White House tried to keep a U.S. Navy destroyer, named for Senator John McCain, out of view during Trump’s trip to Japan. The WSJ obtained an email saying: “USS John McCain needs to be out of sight.” The ship was briefly covered with a tarp to obscure McCain’s name before Trump’s visit.

Trump deflected the disgraceful shenanigans, insisting his White House staff “did it because they thought I didn’t like him (McCain), OK? And, they were well-meaning, I will say.” Then Trump vented a tirade against McCain, a decorated war hero. On Sunday, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went lower: “If a 23- or 24-year old (White House) staffer says, ‘Look, is it really a good idea for this ship (USS McCain) to be in the background?’ That is not an unreasonable question to have” (Fox News).

There used to be a taboo on this kind of abhorrent nonsense. However, it’s part of a pattern: Trump’s 2015 vicious attack against McCain – “He’s not a war hero. …”; violating a norm when the White House flag was raised from half-staff to full-staff, less than 48 hours after McCain died and trying to use the U.S. military as a political prop by having a military parade in front of the White House. GOP lapdogs, including Wisconsin Republicans, let most of it go unchallenged.

The same shenanigans for congressional passage of disaster relief for American citizens, harmed by widespread Midwest flooding, Western wildfires and hurricane destruction in the Southeast and Puerto Rico. Congress used to pass disaster relief in a swift and bipartisan manner. Politics was left aside. Not with Trump. The White House and Republicans have stalled for months, raising one phony objection after another. The worst was Trump’s despicable opposition to helping Puerto Rico.

On May 6, Trump tweeted an appeal to prejudice to derail the pending disaster relief bill: “Now the Democrats are saying No relief for Alabama, Iowa, Nebraska, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and others unless much more money is given to Puerto Rico. The Dems don’t want farmers to get any help….” It was “divide and conquer”, and a big fat lie. Ignoring Trump, the Democratic-led House, with 34 Republicans, passed $19.1 billion in disaster relief for all afflicted areas, including Puerto Rico. All Wisconsin Democratic representatives votes yes, while all Wisconsin GOP representatives were opposed.

Soon wiser GOP senators stopped stalling and the Senate passed the long-delayed disaster relief bill 85-8. Both Wisconsin senators voted yes. Vermont Democratic Senator Pat Leahy said: “I don’t care who takes credit. We’re Americans.” Later, a few GOP representatives held up final passage in the House. But it is expected to pass easily in a few days. Trump relented, saying he would sign it.

However, Trump should reflect on the 48,000 Puerto Ricans who served during the Vietnam War, and the more than 340 who died. Unlike the Puerto Rican veterans and McCain, Trump never served.

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

Black Caucus: Letter to Adoption Taskforce

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Representative Dittrich and members of the Task Force on Adoption:

We write today to urge the Task Force on Adoption to host a meeting in the City of Milwaukee. The people of Milwaukee deserve to have their voices heard on an issue that disproportionately affects Milwaukee County and the African American population.

As you may know, Milwaukee County has the highest levels of adoption in the state of Wisconsin. According to the Department of Children and Families, there were 723 children adopted in Wisconsin in FY 2018, with more than one-third of public adoptions in Wisconsin occurring in Milwaukee County. Further, in 2017 there were 2,181 children being served through Out-of-Home care in Milwaukee, compared to the 5,356 being served in Wisconsin’s other 71 counties combined.

While it is obvious that adoption is not an area that is unique to Milwaukee, it is an area that significantly affects our city. Beyond these general disparities that exist, Milwaukee’s Black population is also disproportionately affected by adoption and the foster care system. African Americans make up 9% of Wisconsin’s population but 32% of the foster care population, compared to that of White populations, who make up 71% of the total population but 45% of the foster care population. There are also disproportionate effects on low-income families of color, who are more likely to encounter challenges that increase their likelihood of facing the child welfare system.

With these disparities in mind and with Milwaukee residents and People of Color representing such a large portion of this sector, it is imperative that the community have their voices heard receive representation from the Task Force on Adoption. It is for these reasons that Wisconsin’s Legislative Black Caucus strongly urges the Task Force to host a public hearing in the City of Milwaukee.

BLS Data: Wisconsin unemployment rate remains at 2.8 percent in May

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MADISON – The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) today released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) preliminary employment estimates for the month of May. The data showed that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate remained at a record low of 2.8 percent.

In brief:

  • Place of Residence Data: Wisconsin’s preliminary, seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in May remained at 2.8 percent, down from 3.1 percent in May 2018. Wisconsin’s labor force participation rate was 67.3 percent in May 2019, down from 68.1 percent in May 2018. The national unemployment rate and labor force participation rate in May were 3.6 percent and 62.8 percent respectively.

  • Place of Work Data: Wisconsin added 19,600 private-sector jobs from May 2018 to May 2019, and 15,000 total non-farm jobs over the same time period. From April 2019 to May 2019, Wisconsin added 1,800 private-sector jobs and 1,700 total non-farm jobs.

“May’s labor numbers underscore the importance of being more creative and inclusive in our workforce recruitment, retention, and advocacy efforts,” DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said. “With national unemployment below 4 percent and Wisconsin’s below 3 percent, it is incumbent upon the state to invest in areas of the highest return: Upskilling underemployed workers, advocating for those already in the workforce, and removing barriers for those on the employment sidelines, such as the cost of childcare and inadequate transportation options in both urban and rural areas of our state.”

Today’s full report can be viewed on DWD’s premier source for labor market information, WisConomy.com.

Bowen, Wikler lay out visions for party ahead of Sunday chair vote

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Rep. David Bowen touted his work over the past four years as the party’s vice chair as he made a pitch to activists to elevate him to the chair’s office in Sunday’s race.

Meanwhile, former MoveOn.org senior adviser Ben Wikler told Dems his work to fight against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would serve as a model for how he would lead the party in seeking to beat Donald Trump in Wisconsin next year, win a state Supreme Court seat and take back the Legislature.

The two laid out their visions for activists on the eve of the Sunday election, when delegates will have a four-hour window to vote on who will succeed Martha Laning, who has led the party since 2015.

Wikler told activists while at MoveOn.org he was tasked with developing a strategy to defend Obamacare. He said considering then-House Speaker Paul Ryan had tried repeatedly to repeal the law and Trump had promised to do it on day one, “It looked hopeless. The only thing standing in the way was you.”

He then recalled the celebration as several GOP senators joined Dems in voting against the repeal.

“That became rocket fuel for the 2018 campaigns,” Wikler said, adding it led to Tony Evers “ending the Walker dark ages.”

Bowen recounted Dems’ successes in 2018 as they swept statewide races before asking how less than six months later they failed to win a Supreme Court seat as conservatvie Brian Hagedorn took an open seat on the bench.

He said Dems fail when they don’t work to expand the electorate and focus largely on Madison and Milwaukee to win statewide races without doing the work in other areas. He also was critical of “parachuting organizers” into communities in which they don’t live.

Bowen also promised to expand the party’s digital strategy, though he was mic was cut off as he hit the six-minute limit for the chair candidate speeches.

“I step up today after being in the front passenger seat of the last four years to say, ‘Hey, Chair Laning did an amazing job. I think I know how to drive,’” Bowen said.

Chief Judge Morrison: Selected to chair Committee of Chief Judges

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Madison, Wis. (June 21, 2019) – Chief Judge James A. Morrison, Marinette County Circuit Court, has been selected by his fellow chief judges from across the state to chair the Committee of Chief Judges, effective Aug. 1.

Morrison will replace outgoing committee chair, Chief Judge Maxine A. White, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, who is wrapping up a one-year term at the post.

“I would like to thank Chief Judge White for her skillful leadership of this vital committee, and I look forward to working with Chief Judge Morrison as he steps into the role,” said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack. “The Committee of Chief Judges is a crucial part of our administrative leadership team and helps guide the work of circuit courts statewide,” she said.

Morrison is chief judge of the Eighth Judicial Administrative District, which includes Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Oconto, Outagamie, and Waupaca counties.

Morrison was appointed to the Marinette County Circuit Court in 2012. He was elected to a six-year term in 2013 and re-elected in 2019. He previously worked as an attorney in private practice.

“I am honored to have been selected for this role by my colleagues, and I will rely on their knowledge and support to help keep the circuit courts running smoothly,” Morrison said.

Morrison serves on the Supreme Court Finance Committee, the executive and legislative committees of the Judicial Conference, and is former chair of the Board of Bar Examiners. Morrison is one of six circuit court judges statewide who handle cases in the Wisconsin court system’s commercial docket pilot program.

White will continue to serve on the committee as chief judge of the First Judicial Administrative District (Milwaukee County). She was first appointed chief judge in 2015 and was re-appointed to two-year terms in 2017 and 2019. White was first appointed to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 1992. She was elected in 1993, and has been re-elected four times.

The committee chair presides over approximately seven committee meetings per year. The Committee of Chief Judges is composed of one chief judge from each of the state’s nine judicial administrative districts.

Working with the district court administrator, chief judges are responsible for the administration of judicial business in circuit and municipal courts within their respective districts. As needed, the chief judges convene subcommittees to consider administrative issues, address problems, and find solutions to improve operation of the trial courts.

With the exception of the First Judicial Administrative District, where the chief judge is a full-time administrator, chief judges and their deputies maintain court calendars in addition to handling administrative matters.

More information about the Committee of Chief Judges, including a list of current chief judges and deputy chief judges, can be found here.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Health advocates in 9 Wisconsin cities urge lawmakers to expand BadgerCare

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Contact: Robert Kraig (414) 322-5324 [email protected]

Full Legislature has the opportunity this week to override disastrous Finance Committee rejection of federal Medicaid expansion

Statewide: A day before the full Legislature begins voting on the state budget, Citizen Action members led a statewide health care day of action urging lawmakers to accept federal Medicaid money to expand Wisconsin’s popular BadgerCare program. Citizen Action members also trekked to Madison from across the state to lobby their legislators one last time before the big votes in the Assembly and Senate.

Showing the breadth of public support, there were twelve BadgerCare expansion events in nine cities, including Eau Claire, Green Bay, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Minocqua, Ladysmith, Wausau, Brown Deer, and Madison.

Over 80,000 working people in Wisconsin living just above the poverty line are denied access to affordable health coverage through no fault of their own. They hold jobs that do not provide affordable health coverage, the kind of jobs that have grown the fastest since the Great Recession, in retail, home care, restaurants, child care, agriculture, and many other professions.

“It’s time for leadership of the Legislature to stop playing politics with the health of working Wisconsinites, listen to the people, and work with Governor Evers to expand BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “If the budget that emerges this week does not include the federal Medicaid expansion dollars, Governor Evers will be justified in using his veto pen to force Republicans to the table to work out a budget that serves the interests of the people of Wisconsin.”

City of Delavan: Receives $250,000 state grant to redevelop new downtown apartment building

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MADISON, WI. – The City of Delavan is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help finance the redevelopment of the historic George W. Borg Corporation facility into a new mixed-use apartment building.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support the renovation and adaptive reuse of an important historic building into the new Brass Works Apartments, located at 820 East Wisconsin Street in Delavan.
“Community success is directly linked to quality services and infrastructure, including access to affordable housing options,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “The Brass Works Apartments is a prime example of how WEDC is helping communities invest in revitalizing their downtowns to encourage economic growth.”

The mixed-use project, which represents a $16 million direct investment, will include 73 loft-style apartments as well as 1,000 square feet of commercial space on the street level. Renovations will include the complete gutting of the building, full structural stabilization and renovation, replacement of historic windows, a new roof and remediation of existing environmental contamination.

“General Capital is grateful to WEDC for its support of the Brass Works Apartments,” said Sig Strautmanis, partner at General Capital, the developer behind the Brass Works project. “This is a very complicated adaptive reuse project with numerous layers of financing. Each piece is critical to bringing this project to fruition.”

The Brass Works Apartments will be located just a short walk from Delavan’s downtown business district and represent the first new multi-family housing to be built in the area. Local officials believe this project will support community revitalization through the direct investment in an underutilized historic resource.

“The City of Delavan has been focused on downtown revitalization for several years,” said Mel Nieuwenhuis, mayor of Delavan. “Each new project adds to the vibrant fabric of our community. In this case, the historic Borg building would have faced an uncertain future without the direct investment of the city and WEDC. We are pleased to see the public and private sectors work so effectively together.”

The 75-year-old industrial building was originally built in 1943, with a third-story addition built in 1956. The building originally housed an armaments factory, which made fuses during World War II.

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, WEDC has awarded more than $24 million in Community Development Investment Grants to 101 communities for projects expected to generate more than $500 million in capital investments statewide.

About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing and maximizing opportunities in Wisconsin for businesses, communities and people to thrive in a globally competitive environment. Working with more than 600 regional and local partners, WEDC develops and delivers solutions representative of a highly responsive and coordinated economic development network. Visit wedc.org or follow WEDC on Twitter @WEDCNews to learn more.

Clean Wisconsin: Applauds Great Lakes Governors & Premiers for uniting to protect drinking water, tackle invasive species

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Contact:  Jon Drewsen (608) 251-7020 ext. 28
[email protected]


MILWAUKEE, WI
 — Clean Wisconsin is praising the Great Lakes Governors & Premiers for detailing regional actions to protect drinking water from PFAS and lead in communities across the Great Lakes Basin and to address the threat of invasive species around the Great Lakes. These actions were announced at their annual Leadership Summit in Milwaukee on Friday.

Mark Redsten, Clean Wisconsin’s President & CEO, made the following statement:

“We applaud the Great Lakes Governors and Premiers for their commitment to address PFAS and lead pollution in drinking water and to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species. The Great Lakes are the crown jewel of North America, supporting communities, businesses, and our way of life in the region. Every day, 40 million people rely on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. Today’s showing of unity to protect Great Lakes communities from drinking water pollution and invasive species demonstrates the kind of leadership we need to sustain this important resource for future generations.

“This united effort is a testament to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ commitment to lead the region in protecting our Great Lakes by recognizing that environmental protection and economic development go hand in hand. Gov. Evers has been a champion for clean water in Wisconsin, and his leadership is moving the region into an era of strong protections for the Great Lakes and the communities that depend on them every day.”

Clean Wisconsin: Legislature misses opportunity to address water, energy challenges in budget

MADISON, WI — Clean Wisconsin expressed disappointment in the state budget passed by the legislature on Wednesday, which cut millions of dollars in clean water and energy program funding proposed by Gov. Tony Evers.

Carly Michiels, Government Relations Director for Clean Wisconsin, made the following statement:

“Many people do not have access to clean drinking water due to issues like nitrates and lead pipes. Many residents and communities are still grappling with millions of dollars in damage from major flooding last summer, indicating we are now facing the real impacts of climate change.

“The legislature missed an opportunity to seriously invest in clean drinking water and a carbon-free energy future to protect public health and move our state’s energy economy forward by funding these critical programs at levels proposed by Gov. Evers.

“Meanwhile, many people will continue to struggle to gain access to clean drinking water. Investments in clean energy will continue to grow, but not as quickly as needed to address the state’s carbon footprint and take advantage of the current energy market.

“We want to thank our many members who voiced their support for clean water and energy funding in the budget. Clean Wisconsin will continue to encourage our elected officials to protect our water, air and land and to enact legislation that addresses the many environmental challenges facing residents around the state.”

Clean Wisconsin: New state PFAS standard will protect public health

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Contact: Carly Michiels, Government Relations Director
(608) 251-7020 ext. 30 or [email protected]


MADISON, WI
 — Clean Wisconsin applauds the State Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a proposed state health-based groundwater standards for 27 pollutants including PFAS, which the departments announced at a press briefing on Friday.

“PFAS pollution is a threat to water quality and public health across Wisconsin that many communities are still learning about and not yet testing for,” said Carly Michiels, Clean Wisconsin’s Government Relations Director. “This proposed groundwater standard is a great first step to tackle this issue head on. We’re pleased that PFAS pollution is a priority for the Evers Administration during the Year of Clean Drinking Water.”

DHS has proposed a combined groundwater standard of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) for two common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFOA and PFOS. This standard is more stringent than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed health advisory level of 70 ppt and is one of the more protective standards in the nation. DNR asked DHS to review these contaminants for potential groundwater quality standards in 2018.

“This proposal shows how science-based decision making can begin to address environmental and health challenges we face today,” said Michiels. “We applaud DHS for their extensive scientific review to inform how Wisconsin can begin to address PFAS pollution to protect drinking water and public health. Gov. Evers has pledged to make sound science a focus of his administration, and this effort to update groundwater health standards for the first time in a decade is a great example of that renewed focus.”

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

The next step is for DNR to begin formulating rules to enforce the proposed standard. DNR has committed to start the rule-making process. Clean Wisconsin will continue to work with the decision makers to encourage progress towards fully addressing PFAS pollution. Clean Wisconsin also strongly supports the Chemical Level Enforcement & Remediation (CLEAR) Act, a bill that would lay the foundation for a long-term plan to tackle PFAS pollution in Wisconsin.

“PFAS pollution has tainted drinking water and threatened the health of many Wisconsin residents,” said Michiels. “Today’s announcement is a great step that provides a long-term vision for addressing PFAS pollution in our state.”

Clean Wisconsin: Trump’s ‘Dirty Power Plan’ won’t turn back clock on energy

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MADISON, WI —Clean Wisconsin criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s rewrite of the Clean Power Plan Wednesday, saying the new rule does not change the reality that clean energy like wind and solar are more economical than coal and natural gas.

“Energy utilities are already seeing the writing on the wall for coal and natural gas, and they are making the shift to cleaner, cheaper, home-grown wind and solar energy,” said Scott Blankman, Clean Wisconsin’s Energy & Air Program Director. “Trump’s ‘Dirty Power Plan’ is an attempt to delay the renewable energy transition in Wisconsin and the U.S. Rather than investing time in delaying the inevitable, we should be working to address how quickly we get to 100% clean energy.”

While the Trump Administration’s plan seeks to prop up outdated energy sources, Wisconsin utilities have already made commitments to embrace clean energy. Xcel Energy and Madison Gas & Electric have both committed to achieving carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy by 2050. Earlier this year, the Public Service Commission approved the Badger Hollow Solar Farm, which will be the largest utility-scale solar project in the Midwest when built.

“Local communities, utilities, and investors understand that wind, solar, and energy storage are the future of energy, and they’re making investments that reflect this understanding,” said Blankman. “Home-grown wind and solar energy is good for Wisconsin, meaning jobs and capital investments that will boost state and local economies.”

Despite the economic benefits clean energy brings to the state, legislators in the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee stripped Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to set goal of achieving carbon-free electricity by 2050. Capitalizing on clean energy will require state elected officials to prioritize wind and solar growth in Wisconsin to keep up with states like Illinois and Minnesota, which have set similar carbon-free energy goals.

“It’s critical elected officials in the legislature recognize that the future is in wind and solar and act to make carbon-free energy a reality,” said Blankman. “We can’t afford for to lag behind neighboring states by not taking full advantage of the economic, environmental, and health benefits wind and solar provide as soon as we can.”

CNN’S Raju says despite Senate GOP opposition, Trump’s Mexico tariffs could move forward

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Manu Raju, senior congressional correspondent at CNN, says he can foresee a scenario in which President Donald Trump’s proposed wide-ranging tariffs on Mexico could move forward despite outcry from Senate Republicans.

Trump has proposed rapidly escalating levies against Mexico in an effort to pressure Mexican authorities to ratchet up interior immigration enforcement to slow what has become an overwhelming flood of migrants seeking to enter the United States via the southern border.

Speaking at a WisPolitics.com luncheon in Washington on June 5, Raju said the plan faced stern pushback at a closed-door Senate GOP meeting with administration officials. While Republicans in the Senate have previously expressed concerns with Trump’s actions only to later support the administration’s goals on the floor, Raju said he feels “this is a little bit different.”

Republicans, Raju said, are philosophically opposed to tax increases and made the case that the tariffs would essentially be a tax on consumers. Raju pointed to a confrontation between Sen. Ted Cruz, who has proven to be a Trump ally in the aftermath of the 2016 campaign, and administration officials at the meeting. According to Raju, Cruz said the administration’s proposal would be a $30 billion tax increase on his home state of Texas.

But despite uproar from the Senate GOP conference, Raju said he foresees legislative efforts to block the plan proceeding in a similar fashion to Congress’ attempt to stop the president from unilaterally reappropriating funds to build a wall on the southern border. That led to a resolution of disapproval that passed both chambers but lacked the support to withstand Trump’s veto authority.

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson warned that “this would be a different vote.”

“Tariffs are not real popular in the Republican conference,” Johnson told reporters after the meeting.

But Raju said while the Senate might come close to having a veto-proof majority to block Trump’s action, “the House is a different story.”

“Republicans in the House conference tend to line themselves much more with the president and you have not heard as much outcry from House Republicans,” Raju said.

Raju also predicted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is not going to bend” on impeachment despite growing calls from her caucus to move forward with proceedings that could remove Trump from office.

Raju said Pelosi was concerned the move would be politically advantageous for the president. Even if the House voted to impeach, Raju said, the proceeding would “die in the Senate,” where a conviction would require support from two-thirds of the body.

“The Senate would exonerate Trump, and Trump would campaign as being exonerated and the Democrats just wasted a year going through a fruitless impeachment proceeding,” Raju said.

But Raju said House Dems are ratcheting up pressure on Pelosi to move forward with an impeachment inquiry as Trump continues to instruct administration officials to defy subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee. Raju noted that defying congressional subpoenas were among the articles of impeachment drafted against President Richard Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.

Raju said Dems pushing for impeachment are in the minority in the House at the moment, largely due to Pelosi’s resistance to the move.

“I think she’s going to win. She tends to win these fights,” he said.

Hear audio from the luncheon:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/wispoliticscom-dc-breakfast-with-cnns-manu-raju

Coalition of Aging and Health: Commends Joint Finance Committee action on vaccine education

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MADISON, WI, June 5, 2019—The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging and Health Groups today commended Assembly Speaker Vos, Joint Committee on Finance Co-Chairs Senator Darling and Representative Nygren and the Committee membership for the inclusion of funding to conduct a statewide, science-based public outreach and educational campaign related to vaccinations.

With measles north and south of us it’s only a matter of time until we start seeing cases here in Wisconsin. I thank and commend the Speaker and the Joint Committee on Finance for their forward thinking in addressing this issue before it gets here” said Rob Gundermann, President and Executive Director of the Coalition.

A recent study conducted at Brigham Young University showed that a majority of vaccine hesitant people will change their minds when presented with science-based evidence.

The key is to provide science-based evidence and let people decide for themselves. Truth will always shine more brightly in the end,” Gundermann added.

Coalition of Wisconsin Aging & Health: Calls on communities not to forget elderly when vaccinating against diseases

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MADISON, WI (June 6, 2019) – The Coalition of Wisconsin Aging & Health Groups (CWAG) today asked community leaders, families and health care professionals statewide not to forget seniors in their communities when vaccinating against diseases.

 

“We’ve heard a lot of discussion lately over the need to vaccinate children against measles outbreaks in many states, which is extremely important, but those who are over 65 also need to be protected against diseases and now is a good time to do that,” said Rob Gundermann, president and executive director of CWAG. “When you are taking in a child to be vaccinated, offer to take along a grandparent, parent or aging next door neighbor so they too can update their vaccinations. Too often we forget that the elderly can also be among the most vulnerable to preventable diseases and now is a good time to help them to stay healthy.”

 

Some of the most common vaccinations recommended for seniors by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include flu shots, shingles (50+), Tdap(tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and pneumococcal pneumonia. The CDC indicates each year around 50,000 people die from pneumococcal pneumonia, many who were not vaccinated and a majority being Hispanic and African American.

 

Gundermann said knowing that, he was recently concerned to learn that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) will soon be considering potentially removing or changing the current recommendation for seniors to be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. He thinks that’s a terrible idea.

 

“I think ending or altering the pneumococcal vaccination recommendation would be a disaster for all of us,” said Gundermann. “The reality is that vaccination rates are already low among the elderly and pneumonia can be highly contagious. There’s not a senior out there in Wisconsin or elsewhere who doesn’t know that. But, because of the CDC recommendation, they do know to get these shots and keep themselves protected and healthy. Why, during outbreaks of other diseases due to a lack of people being vaccinated, would we remove this recommendation? It simply doesn’t make sense and it is not good health policy.”

 

CWAG represents many aging and health groups statewide and supports strong health and vaccination policies. For more information visitwww.cwagwisconsin.org

Community Immigration Law Center: Celebrates 10-year anniversary, highlights successes of first year of pioneering deportation defense work

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Contact: Grant Sovern at 608-354-3223


Madison
– At a reception and event held Wednesday evening in Madison, the Community Immigration Law Center (CILC) celebrated the 10-year anniversary of CILC and reflected on the newest phase of our work – the first year of our publicly-funded legal defense work for Madison/Dane County community members facing the threat of deportation.
Throughout the past decade, CILC has served the community by providing bi-weekly free legal clinics to provide immigration advice and referral services through local volunteer immigration lawyers. Starting in 2017, CILC and Dane County and the city of Madison helped to launch a pioneering legal defense initiative, which is part of the Vera Institute of Justice’s SAFE Network of more than a dozen cities and counties across the country dedicated to providing publicly-funded representation for people facing deportation.
At last night’s anniversary event,CILC Board President Grant Sovern explained that, “in the face of increased threats from ICE to deport community members, our government and neighbors have stepped up to ensure due process for anyone who can’t afford an adequate defense in this complicated area of law.  No one should be forced to defend themselves in court alone.”
Additionally, Anne Ocando Rincon spoke and shared her personal experiences as a client of CILC who relied on the new Madison/Dane County legal defense initiative. She explained the hardships being detained brought to her and her family after applying for asylum.  She kept in touch with other women who she was detained with, all of whom didn’t have attorneys and were ultimately deported. She said, “I am so lucky to have the support of CILC.  I would have been deported just because I didn’t know the law.”
CILC also released several statistics about the first year of the new legal defense program that underscore the timeliness, early successes, and incredible potential of the initiative:
  • 56 percent of all detained clients served by the Dane County legal defense fund have been released from detention, given the ability to reunite with families as their case proceeds
  • 64 percent of represented clients whose cases have concluded have achieved a successful outcome in immigration court – compared to just 3 percent of detained persons nationwide who achieve a successful case outcome without legal representation. While based on only 11 cases fully concluded thus far, the statistic shows the importance of representation.
CILC Managing Attorney Aissa Olivarez, said, “After a year of representing people in immigration court we are seeing that our community can stand up and make a difference – it is changing lives.”
Concluded Sovern, “The early successes of our community’s legal representation efforts are a testament to the leadership of Dane County and the city of Madison and a reminder why this new phase of CILC’s work is so important and beneficial to all of our community. No local resident to be deported away from their family and our community just because they don’t have access to an attorney.”
  • To learn more about CILC, visit https://cilcmadison.org/
  • To request a copy of a 2-page summary highlighting details about the first year of the legal defense partnership, or to access photos and additional details about CILC’s 10-year anniversary event, please contact Grant Sovern at 608-354-3223 or e-mail him at [email protected].

Craig becomes second GOP senator planning to reject budget

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Dairy Business Association: State dairy group applauds inclusion of innovation hub in budget

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

Joint Finance Committee earmarks $8.8 million for UW-led research

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A dairy group representing farmers and related businesses across Wisconsin today praised lawmakers on the state’s budget-writing committee for designating money for a Dairy Innovation Hub.

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee earmarked $8.8 million for the University of Wisconsin System proposal, which would add researchers at the system’s three agricultural colleges –– in Madison, Platteville and River Falls. The research would focus on land and water use, human health and nutrition, animal health and welfare, and farm businesses and rural communities.

The following statement is from Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association and a farmer and cheesemaker in south-central Wisconsin.

Image“We have been fortunate to be home to the world’s leading dairy research for decades through the University of Wisconsin System. These efforts were critically important in building America’s Dairyland. Today, farmers, processors and others need the same commitment to next-generation research to help them overcome increasingly complex challenges and find new innovative ways to move forward.
“It has been great to see the bipartisan support this proposal has enjoyed. Members of both parties have shown their support for increased dairy research. The approval by the Joint Finance Committee demonstrates an understanding of this vital component to long-term success for Wisconsin’s dairy community. We applaud the lawmakers for their dedication and we urge the full Legislature and Gov. Evers to keep the Dairy Innovation Hub funding in the final budget.”

Background:

The Dairy Innovation Hub was among recommendations of the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0, a joint effort between the UW System and state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to identify ways to keep the dairy community viable. The group included a wide range of participants from the farming community and elsewhere.

The Joint Finance Committee’s plan designates $1 million in the first year of the two-year budget and $7.8 million in the second. UW officials would need to present a more detailed plan before any funds would be dispersed.

What’s next:

The committee’s budget plan now moves to the Legislature where it will need approval from both the Assembly and Senate before heading to the governor, who has veto authority.

Photo: Click here for a mugshot of Tom Crave

Tweet about this:

Dairy Business Association @DairyForward praises Joint Finance Committee for #Dairy Innovation Hub funding https://bit.ly/2KewDJQ

About DBA:

The Dairy Business Association is the leading dairy lobby group in Wisconsin, focused on advocating for sensible state laws and regulations that affect the dairy community. The nonprofit organization is comprised of dairy farmers, milk processors, vendors and other business partners who work collaboratively to ensure that dairy farms of all sizes have the support they need to keep America’s Dairyland strong. For more information, visit www.dairyforward.com.

DC Wrap: Baldwin battles Trump’s closure of job corps; Gallagher introduces trauma-informed care proposal

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

Quotes of the week

“It’s important that our State Department and our embassies and consulates across the globe take a stand on human rights, which of course includes LGBTQ rights.”
– Sen. Tammy Baldwin in a Monday interview on The View in response to the State Department denying embassies’ requests to fly the rainbow pride flag. See a clip of the interview here.

“Mexico announced that it will send 6,000 National Guard troops to help secure the southern border. Just a few months ago, Governor Evers pulled all of Wisconsin’s National Guard troops from the border. Is Mexico more concerned about our southern border than Tony Evers?”
– Rep. Sean Duffy in a pointed tweet earlier this week to the guv. See the tweet here.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin urged the Trump administration to reconsider the closure of Blackwell Job Corps in Laona.

The facility in Forest County provides job training for disadvantaged youth and employees 54 people. President Trump has proposed closing nine of the 25 Civilian Conservation Centers within the U.S. Forest Service and replace operations at the remaining 16 facilities with new contract operators.

The Madison Dem wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue expressing her opposition to the administration’s decision.

“When I travel around Wisconsin… I hear from employers who are turning away work, or are unable to compete for business, because they can’t find the skilled workers needed to fill open jobs. I also hear from students who are anxious to work and start a career but are unable to get the training they need to secure employment.” Baldwin wrote in her letter.

The administration’s actions have caused bipartisan pushback in Congress, including from Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston.

This follows Baldwin’s moves last week to introduce the Job Corps Protection Act with a  bipartisan group of senators, led by Jon Tester, D-Mont. The legislation blocks the administration from using federal government funds this year or next to close any Job Corps centers while prohibiting any federal government agency from changing operational agreements for privatization.

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.,  Steve Daines, R-Mont., Tim Kaine, D-Va., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

 

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont,  joined fellow House Dems to condemned Volkswagen’s move to suppress worker unionization.

Pocan joined Michigan Dem Reps. Dan Kildee and Debbie Dingell in sending a letter earlier this week imploring the Volkswagen Group of America to remain neutral as employees at the Chattanooga, Tenn. plant decide this week whether to join the United Auto Workers union.

The coalition says they were “heartened” by the German auto manufacturer’s initial commitment to neutrality. But letter highlights “anti-union campaigns” occurring at the plant, which the coalition says has caused members of Congress to doubt Volkswagen’s impartiality.

The letter also pointed to a closed-door address Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, an overt opponent to kunions, delivered to employees at the Chattanooga plant. He also noted the company recently consulted with Littler Mendelson a “notorious union avoidance firm.”

“These actions make us question Volkswagen’s neutrality,” said the coalition in a Friday letter.

The plant’s employees narrowly rejected unionization in 2014. The new election is open to VW employees through Friday.

 

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses of Congress to introduce a proposal that would increase support for children and adults that have been exposed to traumatic events.

The bill, known as the RISE from Trauma Act, would boost funding and education to further develop trauma-informed workforce in schools, health care settings, social services, first responders, and the justice system.

“Traumatic experiences and toxic stress have far-reaching effects throughout our schools, workforce, and veterans’ community, and this bill ensures that we have the resources necessary to strengthen our trauma-informed workforce and address the unique challenges victims of trauma face,” Gallagher said in a statement.

Under the proposal, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would be provided funding to establish a grant program to establish both hospital and community-based trauma response.

The measure also increases funding for Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Health Service Corps loan repayment program to recruit more mental health clinicians and enhances trauma-informed care education at HHS, and the U.S. departments of Justice and Education.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

LGBT Senate pioneer warns against complacency in era of Trump

Senator Ron Johnson praises president’s tariff tactics with Mexico

3 Reforms To Congress Rep. Mike Gallagher Says Will Reduce The Dysfunction

Steil weighs in on tariffs, DACA, the Mueller Report and impeachment

Sen. Ron Johnson wants to bring whole milk back to school lunches

Rep. Mark Pocan on Impeachment

Wisconsin Congresswoman introduces bill to reimburse doulas and midwives

DC Wrap: Johnson pushes for border action; Gallagher weighs in on Dem debate

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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

“We’re not going to solve this overnight, but we can make some improvement in the situation. We have to start doing something – Congress. The men and women of DHS are doing what you can do with limited resources. Congress has to act and it has to start with an honest and open discussion and conversation.”
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said in opening committee on Wednesday in an attempt to urge Congress to take action in response to the migrant crisis at the southern border. See the release here

“It’s good @POTUS says he doesn’t want war with Iran, the American people don’t either. The Trump administration should work with our international partners to de-escalate tensions with Iran diplomatically and not escalate conflict in the Middle East militarily.”
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a heated tweet directed at President Trump on Saturday. See the tweet here

“Why is a Congressional pay raise still up for discussion? Until Congress gets its work done, the answer should be clear: no.”
– Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, weighed in on House discussions of a pay raise. See the tweet here.

This week’s news

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson says it’s “well past time” for Congress to address a rapidly increasing influx of Central American migrants at the southern border.

In his opening statement at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on migrant exploitation, the Oshkosh Republican addressed a photo of a migrant father and his 23-month-old daughter who recently drowned in the Rio Grande.

“I don’t want to see another picture like that on the U.S. border,” Johnson said. “I hope that picture alone will catalyze this Congress, this Senate, this committee to do something.”

The Senate approved a bipartisan $4.6 billion package to provide emergency humanitarian aid for the southern border. This comes after the U.S. House of Representatives voted largely along party lines on Tuesday to pass a similar package.

The House version includes more restraints on how the Trump administration could use the funds. The two measures need to be reconciled before heading to President Trump’s desk.

Media reports from Washington indicate congressional leaders hope to settle on a compromise before lawmakers leave town for the July 4 recess.

See the release here:

https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-sen-johnson-on-border-crisis-we-have-to-start-doing-something/

 

–Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, compared former Gov. Scott Walker’s challenge of standing out on a crowded debate stage during his 2016 presidential run to this week’s 2020 Democratic debates. 

During an interview on the “The Hugh Hewitt Show,”  Gallagher discussed his time as a national security adviser for Walker and his role in debate prep. Gallagher recalled the simulations Walker’s team practiced in the weeks leading up to the debate, adding he sees the Dem debates this week as far more difficult in terms of “the sheer size of the… stage.”

“It’s gonna be hard to get noticed. So, I think this will create a bizarre pressure to have a viral moment, and if people overplay their hand in that respect, I think their just gonna look foolish,” Gallagher said.

He added he expects Dems will go “overboard” in their arguments and doesn’t see this faring well in the long run. The Green Bay Republican stressed the need instead to have well-timed and thought-out arguments.

 

–U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and a bipartisan coalition in the Senate secured an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act protecting rail and bus manufacturing from Chinese imports.

While NDAA is currently being considered on the Senate floor, the amendment would prevent federal funds from being used by transit agencies to purchase rail cars or buses manufactured by Chinese state-owned, controlled, or subsidized companies.

“China has made clear its intent to dismantle U.S. railcar and bus manufacturing in its ‘Made in China 2025’ plan—our economic and national security demands that we address Chinese attempts to dominate industries that build our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin charged the Chinese government uses various state subsidies and predatory practices to support its market ascension in specific sectors of the United States’ economy, two of these being rail and bus manufacturing.

The amendment would also ensure transit agencies develop and execute a cybersecurity plan.

See the release here:

https://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/baldwin-protecting-rail-and-bus-manufacturing-from-china-threat

 

–Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, introduced a bill with Wisconsin House Republicans that would allow students to obtain a bachelor’s degree in less than four years if they can demonstrate mastery of course material.

The Competency-based Education Act seeks to alleviate student debt, which sits at $30,000 on average in Wisconsin by the time a student graduates. Reps. Gallagher and Steil are both cosponsors on the House bill.

“Making sure our students receive the best education possible to prepare them as future leaders of the country has long been one of my top priorities,” said Grothman. “Equally as important is giving students educational options that do not leave them with a mountain of debt.”

The CBE program allows a student who demonstrates mastery of the subject to take an exam early and complete the course ahead of schedule, leaving them time to begin another class. Student could possibly complete several classes in the CBE program within the same time it takes a student in a traditional college model to complete one.

See the release here:

https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-rep-grothman-introduces-competency-based-education-act/

 

–U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, reintroduced legislation to restore merit to members of the U.S. armed forces discharged due to sexual orientation.

The Restore Honor to Service Members Act would correct the military records of service members discharged due to their sexual orientation to reflect their service and reinstate the benefits they earned.

“We must correct the wrongs that the government committed when it dishonorably discharged veterans from the armed forces due to sexual orientation and ensure that these veterans receive the recognition and benefits they deserve,” said Pocan, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.

Over 100,000 Americans since World War II are estimated to have been discharged from the military because of their sexual orientation and many of these individuals are disqualified from accessing certain benefits due to their inability to claim veteran status. A negative discharge can prevent some veterans from voting or make it more difficult for them to acquire civilian employment.

Pocan reintroduced the bill with U.S. Reps. Katie Hill, D-Calif., alongside U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

See the release here:

https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/rep-pocan-with-reps-hill-schatz-and-gillibrand-reintroduce-legislation-to-restore-honor-to-service-members-discharged-due-to-sexual-orientation/

 

Posts of the week

 

ICYMI

Northwoods Job Center Spared After Trump Administration Reverses Course

Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduces resolution commemorating Stonewall uprising

Photos of migrant father and daughter spark global anguish

Steil focused on the ‘wins’: Authors two amendments on vets and dairy farms

House Passes $4.5 Billion Bill for Humanitarian Assistance at Border

A Minnesota robotic dairy survives amid trade war

US Congressman Mike Gallagher Calls For Tough Action Against Chinese Officials After Violence in Hong Kong

DC Wrap: Johnson, Gallagher slam POTUS’ proposed Mexico tariffs;  Baldwin reintroduces Maternal CARE Act

Quotes of the week

Tariffs make life more difficult for Wisconsin farmers and could snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on USMCA. … We should focus on passing USMCA, which would be a huge win for Wisconsin and the president.
– Rep. Mike Gallagher on President Trump’s proposed tariffs via Twitter. See the post here

Your Admin so far: banned patriotic, trans Americans from serving in military, gutted protections for transgender ppl in health care, housing & schools, said you would veto #EqualityAct…I could keep going. Want to honor #PrideMonth? You’ll have to do better than this.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin said in a fiery tweet in response to President Trump’s post honoring Pride Month. See the post here.

 

This week’s news

— Two Republicans from Wisconsin’s congressional delegation joined fellow GOP lawmakers in Congress in questioning President Trump’s plan to impose new tariffs on Mexico because of an immigration dispute.

Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, voiced his opposition to the president’s proposal in an interview with WHBY on Friday, saying the tariffs would force Americans to “pay an additional tax for illegal immigration.”

“I just don’t understand that move,” he said. “I don’t think it will do anything to solve the crisis at the southern border. “

GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson also expressed hesitancy to embrace the president’s latest proposal to stem the tide of immigration at the southern border by using tariffs.

“Republicans don’t like taxes on American consumers, which is what tariffs are,” he told reporters in Washington on Tuesday.

Speaking at a WisPolitics.com/Milwaukee Press Club luncheon, the Oshkosh Republican said Trump is aware that he is not a supporter of tariffs in the long-term. But he said was holding off voicing criticism of the measure until he learned more from the president.

“My first reaction was, if you use it as leverage to get agreement either with Mexico or Democrats to solve the problem, I’ll consider it,” he said.

White House officials met with Mexico’s top diplomats on Wednesday to discuss potential avenues to strike a deal and avoid the 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods set to begin Monday. But reports from Washington indicated the two parties failed to reach a deal and negotiations are scheduled to continue today.

 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin joined with a coalition of Senate Dems to reintroduce the Maternal CARE Act.  

The bill, spearheaded by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, aims to fund implicit bias training for OB-GYN health care professionals.

“Maternal and infant mortality rates are tragically high in Wisconsin, and they are even higher in the black community. We need to do more to make sure women and families have access to quality, affordable health care,” said Baldwin.

The proposal, first introduced in August 2018, would create a new $25 million program targeting racial bias in maternal health care. It would also allocate an additional $125 million to assist up to 10 states in developing pregnancy medical home programs.

These programs would be required to prioritize the care of Medicaid enrollees.

The legislation is cosponsored in the Senate by several prominent 2020 Dem presidential candidates including: Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

 

Posts of the week

 

 

ICYMI

Rep. Ron Kind Denounces Russian Election Meddling, Stops Short Of Calling For Impeachment Hearings

Talking with Mexico hasn’t worked, GOP Rep. Sean Duffy on tariffs

Trump’s plan for new tariffs on Mexico runs into resistance from his own party

Combating human trafficking, Rep. Bryan Steil announces first bill

Rep. Moore Introduces Mama’s First Act

 

DC Wrap: WI congressmen call for farming extension; Kind pushes for upping Medicare reimbursement rates

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

“He’s growing the economy. He’s put my people back to work in Wisconsin. They have higher wages, lower unemployment. We’re killing it in Wisconsin. You want to impeach that guy?”
– U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, said on the possibility of impeachment of President Donald Trump in a fiery back and forth during an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes. Watch the full interview here.

“Big polluters have so much power in Washington that they not only get the Trump administration to deny science, they get them to roll back progress reducing carbon pollution and ensuring our children have clean air to breathe. #ClimateCosts”
– U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin tweeted in response to the EPA’s rollback on an Obama-era plan limiting coal emissions. See the tweet here.

This week’s news

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, fellow members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation, and a broad bipartisan coalition of federal lawmakers sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting a time extension on planting after heavy spring rainfall across the Midwest.

The letter implored USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to make an accommodation for Wisconsin farmers that would give farms affected by the weather flexibility for the harvest and grazing of specific crops.

The letter added that in addition to the delays caused wet weather, dairy and livestock farmers across the Midwest are predicting substantial feed shortages this year due to winterkill of alfalfa.

“Farmers still have the opportunity to recover from these challenges and plant crops that will allow them to put up feed for their livestock,” the letter said. “However, USDA regulations are preventing farmers from being able to respond to these difficult growing conditions.”

See the letter:
https://gallagher.house.gov/sites/gallagher.house.gov/files/3.27.19%20Dairy%20Implementation%20Letter%5B1%5D.pdf

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, introduced bipartisan legislation to increase Medicare reimbursement rates for rural Wisconsin health care providers.

The Keep Physicians Serving Patients Act of 2019 would adjust the geographic practice cost index to increase the estimated costs of labor and practices expenses in rural areas. The current formula produces lower Medicare payments to rural providers when compared to their urban counterparts.

“Rural communities have unique needs when it comes to health care. Physicians and health systems in rural Wisconsin provide high-quality care, but the flawed Medicare reimbursement formula is harming Wisconsin providers and putting pressure on rural health systems,” Kind said.

The legislation was introduced by Kind along with Reps. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, Adrian Smith, R-Neb., and Darin LaHood, R-Ill.


— Baldwin also has introduced a bill to restore funding for navigators, which help rural residents and other underserved populations enroll in health insurance.

Since 2017, federal funding for navigator programs has been reduced more than 80 percent, making it harder for state-level organizations to help people secure coverage.

In Wisconsin, that funding drop has significantly diminished resources for Covering Wisconsin and the Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, two of the state’s largest official navigator agencies. Because of the loss of federal support, in-person navigator assistance services have been cut in the Fox Valley region, Kenosha and Racine County, as well as rural southwestern, northern and western counties and other areas.

The ENROLL Act was introduced alongside U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat. It would allocate $100 million in annual funding for the program, and would also require that states have at least two navigator programs located in the state, including one “community-based organization.”

Covering Wisconsin is backing the new legislation along with more than 60 health care and patient advocacy groups around the country.

See the release: http://www.baldwin.senate.gov/press-releases/baldwin-casey-introduce-enroll-act

See the bill text: http://www.baldwin.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/ENROLL%20Act_%20Baldwin%20Casey.pdf

See a previous story on navigator funding in Wisconsin: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2018/navigator-program-director-hopeful-about-enrollment-numbers/

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Wants Steady Funding Increases For Science & Biomedical Research

Duffy presses for support of Trump’s request for more beds to immigrant children

Rep. Gallagher Questions Shanahan Vetting Procedures

Sen. Tammy Baldwin Asks President Trump For Details On Promised Help For Farmers

IoT bill advances as Sen. Johnson cautions against government certification programs for private sector

Bill to allow schools to serve whole milk introduced

Ron Kind: Celebrate June Dairy Days

Commentary by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil: Exposing the financing of human trafficking

House of Representatives rejects move to cut foreign aid, including to Israel

DCF: Increases YoungStar bonus payments to attract and retain high-quality child care providers

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Contact: Tom McCarthy or Gina Paige ― 608-422-7800

(MADISON) – The Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced an increase in YoungStar bonus payments today for all providers with 4 and 5 Star ratings. The changes go into effect on July 1, 2019.

“With roughly half of our zip codes classified as child care deserts, we need to be aggressive in attracting and retaining child care providers,” said DCF Secretary-designee Emilie Amundson. “Providing access to affordable, quality child care is an economic issue, a moral issue, and it’s what is best for the kids and families of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin Shares is the state’s child care subsidy program, designed to help low-income families access affordable child care. YoungStar is Wisconsin’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System which provides the public with information about participating providers. YoungStar uses a rating system with five being the highest quality. Ratings are assigned based on a facility’s staff qualifications, learning environment and curriculum, business practices, and child well-being.

Child care providers who accept Wisconsin Shares subsidies must participate in the YoungStar program. Providers who reach the 4 and 5 Star levels receive increased Wisconsin Shares payments which can be spent on improving quality, training of staff, or reducing cost for families. Previously, 4 Star providers received an 11 percent adjustment and 5 Star providers received a 27 percent adjustment. Today’s action by the department increases those amounts to 15 and 30 percent, respectively.

The department is also interested in identifying ways to increase the number of highly rated providers throughout Wisconsin. Our stakeholders consistently report that they need additional support to increase their YoungStar ratings. Any positive change we can realize will have a tremendous impact on the children and families they serve.

“As a non-profit, public, early childhood care and education program, with over 50% of our total enrollment from low-income households, we have been so very grateful to receive the fiscal incentives for our 5 Star main center,” said Paula Koelsch, Administrator of Parkside Preschool Centers in Merrill, Wisconsin.

The additional funding to cover these costs comes from sound budgeting decisions made by DCF in implementing changes to Wisconsin Shares and YoungStar and active support of the programs by the governor and legislators.

Dee J. Hall: Bill would block scrutiny of lottery winners

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

When University of Wisconsin-Madison student journalist Peter Coutu investigated frequent lottery winners in Wisconsin in 2018, he uncovered a pattern: the owners and clerks of stores that sell lottery tickets seemed to have more luck than normal.

In his article for Wisconsin Watch, Coutu consulted a statistical expert, who concluded that the lucky streaks among some of the frequent winners of the Wisconsin Lottery defied any reasonable explanation.

In all, Coutu found that three of the top 13 frequent winners had close ties to the retailers selling them the winning tickets. Another expert noted in the article that retailers get a cut of the winnings, providing additional temptation to cheat.

When Coutu joined the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk, Virginia, later in 2018, he conducted a similar investigation. He found that many of the frequent winners in that state also were lottery retailers. One, the owner of a Newport News store, had cashed in 140 lottery tickets worth more than $400,000, including 23 tickets purchased at his own store.

The findings prompted policy changes in the Virginia Lottery, including scrutiny of frequent lottery winners — which Wisconsin already does — and a requirement that winners disclose any ties to lottery retailers. It also sparked criminal investigations into some potentially fraudulent winnings.

But such independent examination of suspicious lottery activity would no longer be possible in Wisconsin under the recently introduced Lottery Privacy Act. AB 213, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Rep. Gary Tauchen, R-Bonduel, would allow winners to shield their names from the public.

In announcing the bill, Tauchen said he was responding to concerns that jackpot winners could be targeted for fraud, abuse and harassment. “Just because you win the lottery,” Vos said, “it shouldn’t mean you lose your right to privacy.”

Virginia recently passed a bill to shield the names of some lottery winners — but only those who claimed a ticket worth $10 million or more. In 2017, Texas allowed lottery winners of $1 million or more to conceal their identity. Delaware, Ohio and South Carolina all let anyone who wins remain anonymous. But in New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a similar measure, saying it would “undermine the transparency that provides taxpayers confidence in the integrity of the Lottery.”

To be sure, privacy issues are important — but so is public integrity. And the Wisconsin Lottery is big business.

Since it launched in 1988, the lottery has generated $4.3 billion in property tax relief. Players have won $8.2 billion in prizes. And retailers have gotten $920 million in bonuses for selling winning tickets.

Customers buy tickets with the assumption that their odds of winning are the same as anyone else’s. Politicians should not be chipping away at that trust.

Lottery spokeswoman Patty Mayers told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in April that the agency favors the current policy, which “protects the integrity of the lottery” and is “rooted in a tradition of transparency.”

That is the right approach. Shielding the names of winners would make it hard for the public and the media to figure out whether the lottery is on the up-and-up — or whether we are being bamboozled.

–Your Right to Know is a monthly column distributed by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (wisfoic.org), a group dedicated to open government. Dee J. Hall is the council’s secretary and managing editor of Wisconsin Watch.

Dem activists approve resolution calling for end of physical proof to register, vote

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Dem activists on Sunday approved a resolution calling for the end of requiring proof of a physical address to register or vote.

Instead, there would be no requirement “other than spoken or written” proof from someone seeking to register or vote. The resolution would also allow a voter to complete a change of address online or by phone.

The resolution was approved 39-36; there were some 1,400 delegates, alternatives and guests who attended the convention this weekend. All are eligible to vote on resolutions.

Currently, state law requires proof of residence, such as a Wisconsin driver’s license or utility bill, to register. Wisconsin also has a voter ID law to cast a ballot.

Other resolutions delegates approved include:

*banning presidential candidates from the ballot unless they provide their last seven years of tax returns.
*backing “red flag” laws and universal background checks.
*creating a panel of county residents to investigate officer-involved shootings and banning DAs from ruling on such issues in their own counties. The panel of residents would be chosen from a jury pool.

The delegates also got into a lengthy debate about a resolution calling for Medicare for all with some pushing to change the language to health care for all. The proposed amendment was rejected and the resolution was approved.

And they approved a resolution calling on the state party to provide “living wage compensation” for all hired positions, including internships and fellowships. Activists got into a lengthy debate on whether to amend the resolution to instead calling for a minimum wage, but it was rejected.

The debate exceeded the allotted time for resolutions, resulting in those that hadn’t been considered being sent to a committee that will next review them.

Dem Party bars WisPolitics.com from conducting presidential straw poll

The state Dem Party is barring WisPolitics.com from conducting its convention straw poll this year, citing DNC rules.

WisPolitics.com conducted a straw poll at last year’s convention with 789 delegates, alternates and registered guests indicating their preference for guv.

But national party rules prohibit them in the presidential race, a state party spokeswoman said. The party had informed WisPolitics.com ahead of the convention that national party rules prohibit straw polls. But the political news service decided to try approaching delegates to ask their preference rather than conducting a poll at a convention table as it traditionally does.

A state Dem party official approached a WisPolitics.com reporter who was collecting responses and asked him to stop, citing the DNC rule.

Earlier in the week, however, some Bernie Sanders supporters advocated for a straw poll. Jim Carpenter, who identified himself as a Sanders supporter, said “blocking straw poll votes is anti-democratic and feeds into the perception, accurate or not, that the DNC is beholden to establishment politics controlled by big money interests.”

The WisPolitics.com reporter had been taking responses for about 20 minutes, and 31 people — all delegates, alternates or guests — indicated a preference, while one wrote in “undecided.” Participants included a contingent of those congregating at a table for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Warren received 16 votes, while Sanders received eight.

Others who received votes included:

–Former Vice President Joe Biden: 3 votes
–South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 2 votes
–U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: 1 vote
–U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris: 1 vote

WisPolitics.com has regularly conducted straw polls at both the Republican and Democractic conventions, though the Dem Party prohibited WisPolitics.com from conducting a straw poll in 2016. A 2015 WisPolitics.com state Dem convention straw poll showed Hillary Clinton narrowly defeating Sanders, who nearly a year later won the Wisconsin primary. The 2015 poll made national news as an early indicator of Sanders’ strength as a challenger.

Dem Party chair candidates say party has to do more to compete with Republicans

The two candidates to become the next Dem state chair — Rep. David Bowen and former MoveOn.org senior adviser Ben Wikler — both say the party needs to do a better job of competing with its GOP counterpart.

They each, though, have a slightly different emphasis.

In separate interviews with WisPolitics.com this week, both candidates were asked to identify the party’s biggest weakness.

Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said he’d like to see the party do a better job of going into “red” areas of Wisconsin rather than focusing so much on Madison and Milwaukee. He also believes the party needs to rebuild its credibility with communities of color by showing up more than just around election time.

Wikler said the party has “an enormous wealth” of energy, experience and resilience from its recent fights in the state. Still, he said the party has fallen behind the GOP in how it organizes and provides information to the grassroots.

Wikler said he would try to take the party to “the very cutting edge of how to win elections in the 21st century” if elected.

“Democrats should be leapfrogging Republicans when it comes to text messages, social media and data, rather than struggling to catch up,” Wikler said.

Bowen and Wikler both said they would want to see the party compete in every legislative seat next fall, not just the ones where they’d have a better chance of winning. Wikler said letting Republicans run up margins in red counties would result in President Trump winning Wisconsin again, pointing out Waukesha County has the third most number of Dem voters in the state despite voting reliably for Republicans as a whole.

Bowen, though, says the party has focused too much on the state’s “blue” areas, leading to divisions. Focusing on areas such as Madison and Milwaukee, he said, can be just enough to get over the top in a statewide race.

But he said it leads to people feeling neglected when the party doesn’t do a better job of trying to turn out Dems no matter where they live. Likewise, he said the party needs a more regular presence with minority voters.

“We know in certain areas of the state they are the only ones that have a message and ground game,” Bowen said of Republicans. “There are a number of communities, especially communities of color, when they are given access to engagement and support, it’s at the very, very, very last minute. We are having transactional conversations with folks and people are only expecting us to come around at election time, and it kills our credibility in those areas with those communities.”

Voting in the chair’s race runs from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday with the party hoping to announce a winner by early afternoon. Only delegates are allowed to vote, and some 1,800 have expressed an interest in attending the convention, according to a party spokeswoman.

But fewer than that are expected to cast ballots. In 2017, when outgoing Chair Martha Laning won re-election during a convention in Middleton, there were about 1,400 votes.

Laning said she isn’t endorsing in the race. Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, also aren’t publicly backing either candidate.

Listen to the Bowen interview:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/190530_0832a/s-CaNJx 

Listen to the Wikler interview:
https://soundcloud.com/wispolitics/190529_1203a/s-5LNnK

Follow this weekend’s convention in the WisPolitics.com Dem Convention Blog:
https://www.wispolitics.com/category/dem-convos/

Democratic party of Wisconsin: Welcomes new leadership team

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MADISON — The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is thrilled to announce that Ben Wikler, former Senior Advisor at MoveOn.org, has been elected Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin by DPW delegates. Felesia Martin and Lee Snodgrass have also been elected as 1st Vice Chair and 2nd Vice Chair, respectively.

“I extend my enthusiastic congratulations to Ben and his team for their victory this weekend,” said Martha Laning, outgoing Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “I would also like to thank Rep. Bowen and his ticket for making our Party stronger by sharing their vision for the future of our Party with us and for their continued support of our Democratic values.

“I have the utmost confidence that Ben and his team will make Wisconsin Democrats proud. Their leadership will guide us through future victories, particularly as we work to deliver Wisconsin and its ten electoral votes to our future Democratic presidential nominee.”

“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin voted today to embrace a vision that can defeat Trump, elect Democrats up and down the ticket, and end the GOP’s assault on Wisconsin values and Wisconsin families,” said Ben Wikler, incoming Chair. “We are so grateful for the extraordinary work of the outgoing leadership team: Martha Laning, David Bowen, and Mandela Barnes.

“Felesia, Lee, and I ran on a crystal clear platform: fight on our issues; include and respect all communities, across race and geography; and empower the grassroots. Now, it’s all hands on deck.”

“The Democratic Party has a heart for everyone, and whether you live in rural Wisconsin or the heart of Milwaukee, we are finding for you,” said Felesia Martin. “We are humbled to serve.”

“As a county party chair and former candidate, I know the power of a unified and effective party. We are going to organize across this state 24/7, 365,” said Lee Snodgrass.

Democratic Radio Address: Republican Budget Misses the Mark

MADISON, WI – Senator LaTonya Johnson (Milwaukee-D) offered the Democratic weekly radio address on the Republican state budget passing through both the Assembly and Senate this week.

The audio file of this week’s address can be found here:

https://sen-dem.cms.legis.wisconsin.gov/media/1303/senator-latonya-johnson-weekly-democratic-radio-address-_-republican-budget-misses-the-mark.mp3

A written transcript of the address is below:

“Hi, this is Senator LaTonya Johnson with this week’s Democratic Radio Address.


“This week, both houses of the legislature voted on the state budget. Democrats continued to fight for the People’s Budget to expand opportunities for all, strengthen communities across the state, and create a level playing field where everyone who works hard can get ahead. 

 

“The budget that passed the Assembly and the Senate is a Republican budget that misses opportunity after opportunity to invest more money into classrooms, increase access to quality affordable health coverage, and ensure every Wisconsinite has access to clean drinking water.

 

“Throughout this entire budget process, Republicans have tacitly admitted the failure of their policies over the past eight years, but have refused to pass the People’s Budget and make the necessary investments to protect our schools, health care, and drinking water.

 

“We need bold, innovative solutions in order to make Wisconsin a place where the next generation wants to live, work, and raise a family. The People’s Budget was a chance to achieve all of those goals in a fiscally responsible way that would pay dividends for generations to come. The Republican budget simply misses the mark.”

# # #

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Dairy Task Force 2.0 adopts final report

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MADISON – The Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0 voted unanimously to adopt their final report at a meeting in Madison on Friday, June 21, 2019. This report includes the 51 recommendations approved by the group at previous meetings.

“I am pleased to accept the final report of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 as their recommendations for the long-term success of Wisconsin’s dairy industry,” said Governor Tony Evers. “While the group’s work has completed, it is now time for all of us to consider how these recommendations could be implemented to maintain Wisconsin’s world leadership in dairy.”

The Dairy Task Force 2.0 Chair Dr. Mark Stephenson compiled the 51-page report. In addition to the recommendations, the report provides information about milk production, milk price volatility, and changing farm structure across the country.

“For nearly a year, Dairy Task Force 2.0 members have come together to roll up their sleeves and find consensus on recommendations,” added Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff. “We at DATCP are already finding ways to implement these recommendations. Our state’s dairy farmers are facing a triple whammy of low prices, uncertain international trade markets, and wet weather. Enacting policies that assist them in both the short and long term is of paramount importance.”

After more than 45 in-person meetings and teleconferences, the final report concludes the work of the Dairy Task Force 2.0. Recommendations highlight the need for additional investments in research, increased innovation, expanded market development, and strengthened connections across the industry.

“Our universities can play a role in helping Wisconsin’s critical dairy industry innovate and identify opportunities to succeed in an especially challenging environment,” said University of Wisconsin System President Dr. Ray Cross. “Dairy Task Force 2.0 was diligent in its work, and we are hopeful that the recommendations can improve the lives and work of farmers throughout our state.”

DATCP and UW System established the Dairy Task Force 2.0 in June 2018 to enable stakeholders to come together to make recommendations on actions needed to maintain a viable and profitable dairy industry in our state. The 31 members of the Dairy Task Force 2.0 included farmers, processors, and representatives of allied organizations.

To access the Dairy Task Force 2.0 final report, visit dairytaskforce.wi.gov.

Dept. of Tourism: Celebrate National Selfie Day throughout Wisconsin

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Contact:
Craig Trost
[email protected]; 608-267-3773
Kristina LeVan
[email protected]om; 608-266-0458


MADISON, Wis.
– Say cheese! June 21 is National Selfie Day, and Travel Wisconsin is on the lookout for smiling selfies showcasing travelers’ favorite places around the state. The Department of Tourism encourages selfie-takers to tag @TravelWisconsin within their posts for a chance to get reposted on the Department’s social media.

For those who visit a Wisconsin State Park, Travel Wisconsin has made taking a selfie easier (and safer), by installing selfie stands. All are perfectly located for achieving an optimal Insta-worthy, scenic background. The stands can hold any size or style of mobile device, and they swivel from left to right and tilt upward, allowing you to capture your best angle.

“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to connect with travelers in the state,” said Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney. “This National Selfie Day, Travel Wisconsin is encouraging people to share their memories enjoying Wisconsin’s summer scenery with friends, family and other fans of the Wisconsin State Park System.”

In addition to our picturesque State Parks, other popular roadside attractions ideal for selfie-snapping include the World’s Largest Fish in Hayward, goats on the roof at Al Johnson’s in Sister Bay and the Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha. Visit our website to find more photo-worthy roadside attractions.

Whether you’re taking a photo at a selfie stand or at your favorite Sconnie spot, we’d love to see your shots! So, create a wonderful memory for yourself(ie), and tag @TravelWisconsin and use the hashtag #NationalSelfieDay for a chance of Travel Wisconsin repurposing your photo.

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

Dept. of Workforce Development: Project SEARCH promotes bright futures for young adults with disabilities

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Contact: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

Guest Column by Caleb Frostman; Secretary, Department of Workforce Development

Wisconsin’s Project SEARCH recently concluded another remarkable year where 92 percent of program participants graduated from the program, gained valuable workplace and life skills, and put themselves on a path to economic independence and brighter futures. Nearly 230 individuals with disabilities graduated from the program this year, many of whom were hired by their host employer or another community business before or immediately after graduation. As my tear-soaked sleeves can attest from attending multiple Project SEARCH graduations, these students and their families, their employers, and their communities dedicate themselves to this impactful program, ensuring its participants’ personal growth and future economic success.

Project SEARCH was developed in 1996 at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. At the time, Erin Riehle was Director of Cincinnati Children’s Emergency Department and felt that, because the hospital served individuals with developmental disabilities, they should commit to hiring people in this group. She believed it was possible to train people with developmental disabilities to fill some of the high-turnover, entry level positions in her department, which involved complex and systematic tasks such as stocking supply cabinets.

Since the program started in Wisconsin in 2008, it has expanded from a single site in Dane County to 27 sites across the state. The program is popular among healthcare facilities, manufacturers, distribution centers, and insurance companies. Participants enroll in the program and receive either high school or college credit, while also completing multiple 10-week internship rotations in different departments, which helps them identify their likes and skills, helping them make informed career choices. They also receive support from community organizations and DWD’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) to assist participants draft their resumes and prepare for job interviews. The goal of the program is for the participant to earn competitive integrated employment that pays at or above minimum wage.

With strong collaboration among DVR, community-based service providers, local school districts, and great Wisconsin companies, Wisconsin has become an international leader in Project SEARCH. Multiple sites have been recognized for their employment outcomes, and this year the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin will receive special recognition, receiving the Spotlight on Innovative Employment Award at this year’s Project SEARCH National Conference. The award recognizes the quality of jobs that a site’s graduates obtain. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was chosen because “… graduating interns consistently succeed in rewarding careers that make full use of the skills and experience they gained in their internships.”

I count many highlights in the first six months as DWD Secretary, but among the top are the Project SEARCH visits and graduations. This program helps talented individuals overcome potential barriers to employment, grow personally and professionally, while also developing valuable, marketable essential job skills that today’s employers are seeking.  With life-changing results for the participants, their employers, and their communities year after year, Project SEARCH is a program deserving of continued high praise and significant investment.

Divided Supreme Court sides with GOP lawmakers in lame-duck lawsuit

A split state Supreme Court today upheld the Legislature’s power to meet in extraordinary session and rejected a challenge to the actions Republicans took in December to undercut powers of the incoming Dem guv and AG.

In a 4-3 ruling, the court found the Legislature has the power to set its own work schedule and the judicial branch can’t overturn an action for perceived violations to the body’s rules.

A coalition of Dem groups challenged the extraordinary session actions, arguing Republicans had improperly convened to take the actions following former GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s November loss.

But the conservative majority concluded extraordinary sessions are constitutional “because the text of our constitution directs the Legislature to meet at times as ‘provided by law.'”

The court found the Legislature is the sole authority for its “self-imposed statutory or procedural rules” and is only accountable to the voters for failing to follow them.

“Provided the Legislature acts in accordance with its mandates, the constitution confers no power on the judiciary to enjoin or invalidate laws as a consequence for deficiencies in the implementation of internally-imposed legislative procedures,” conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote for the majority.

Today’s ruling vacated a Dane County decision that had overturned the Legislature’s actions, including the confirmation of 82 appointments. The justices ruled the “circuit court invaded the province of the Legislature in declaring the extraordinary session unconstitutional.” Today’s ruling sends the case back to circuit court to be dismissed.

Writing for the minority, Justice Rebecca Dallet argued the Wisconsin Constitution placed limits on when the Legislature can meet, and the December lame-duck session violated those provisions. She wrote the drafters sought to limit “where, when and how often” the Legislature can meet. She also argued the courts must step in when the Legislature violates the constitution.

“That is exactly what happened here: the Legislature violated the plain constitutional text, and this court must act as a check,” wrote Dallet, who was joined by fellow liberal Justices Shirley Abrahamson and Ann Walsh Bradley.

Read the decision:
https://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=242640

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald in a statement praised the court’s “common sense” decision.

“The Court upheld a previously non-controversial legislative practice used by both parties for decades to enact some of the most important laws in the state,” they wrote.

Erin Grunze, executive director for the plaintiff League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, expressed disappointment in the court ruling in favor of the Legislature’s extraordinary session, which she said “undermined the Wisconsin Constitution’s limit on its power.”

Gov. Tony Evers called the decision “disappointing,” “predictable” and one “based on a desired political outcome, not the plain meaning and text of the constitution.”

“The state constitution is clear. It limits when the legislature can meet to pass laws,” Evers said. “Our framers knew that no good comes from lawmakers rushing laws through at the last minute without public scrutiny. The lame-duck session proves the framers were right. This was an attack on the will of the people, our democracy, and our system of government.”

See the statements:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/190621-VOS-FITZ-LD.pdf
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/190621-LWVW-LD.pdf
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/gov-evers-statement-relating-to-wisconsin-supreme-court-decision/

Read more on the case in the FRI AM Update.

DOJ: AG statement following U.S. Supreme Court decision in Mitchell v. Wisconsin

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MADISON, Wis. – Today, in a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court issued a favorable decision for the State of Wisconsin in Mitchell v. Wisconsin.

Attorney General Josh Kaul issued the following statement in response:

“This law helps protect communities from impaired drivers. We are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a Wisconsin law that promotes public safety. Thank you to the many people at DOJ who contributed to this victory.”

This case was argued by Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Division of Legal Services (DLS) Assistant Attorneys General Hannah Jurss, Anthony Russomanno, and Michael Sanders, along with DLS Administrator Charlotte Gibson.

Door County Land Trust: New land conservation protects headwaters and springs within Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp

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Contact:
Tom Clay, Executive Director: [email protected]
Cinnamon Rossman, Development Director: [email protected]
Door County Land Trust: (920) 746-1359

Ephraim, WI – The Door County Land Trust is pleased to announce a newly protected property containing wetlands, springs and streams within the Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp State Natural Area. The 80-acre property is the second property in the area to be protected this year, and brings the total protection of these headwaters and springs to 277 acres. These lands serve as a core piece within a larger wildlife corridor that includes the headwaters of several creeks which drain westward into Ephraim’s Eagle Harbor and the bay of Green Bay. In addition to the wetlands and ponds that connect to the headwaters of multiple creeks, this purchase also protects a mature white cedar swamp forest—a fragile and vital ecosystem that supports many unique plant and animal species.

Door County Land Trust purchased the property from landowners, Dennis and Sue Bhirdo, who wanted to conserve the property and chose the Door County Land Trust to ensure their property remained in its natural state. The property holds many memories for the couple. Dennis recalls memories from his youth hunting and exploring the property with his father. Sue planted trees on the land shortly after her marriage to Dennis in 1962.

Conservation partners recognize that Gibraltar-Ephraim swamp contains some of the best remaining coastal wetland habitat in northern Door County. Coastal wetlands absorb waters that would otherwise create flooding events and help prevent sedimentation in the bay.

According to Door County Land Trust Director of Land Program Julie Schartner, “The cedar swamp naturally filters water before flowing into Eagle Harbor and the bay of Green Bay. Protecting wetlands is important to maintain the diversity of natural communities, but also plays a vital role in providing benefits to our human communities, such as filtering water and flood control.”

Door County Land Trust is actively working to expand land protection within the Gibraltar-Ephraim Swamp State Natural Area due to its high ecological value and its rare ecosystems, as well as habitat for wildlife like migrating birds and spawning fish. This property serves as protected breeding habitat for numerous bird species known in the area, black throated green warblers and black and white warblers.

Funding for this purchase was provided by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Wisconsin’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. Door County Land Trust seeks to raise $19,000 towards endowment contributions for the long-term care of this and another nearby property, as well as additional funding for other costs of permanently protecting the property. Contributions from the community and donors make projects like this possible. To help protect and care for these places, Door County Land Trust encourages community members to make a contribution of support at www.DoorCountyLandTrust.org.

Access to nature doesn’t happen by accident! It takes a community to make the vision of protected healthy lands and waters a reality. Whether you hike, birdwatch, hunt, fish or enjoy a walk with your family, Door County Land Trust is here to Protect What You Love. The community is invited to join the effort to protect special places throughout the county by making a donation online.

For more information about giving to protect what you love, please contact Door County Land Trust Development Director Cinnamon Rossman, (920) 746-1359 or [email protected].

DWD Secretary Frostman: Submits letter of support for Blackwell Job Corps Center

MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Caleb Frostman today submitted comments to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) urging them to reconsider its closure of the Blackwell Job Corps Center located near Laona. Oversight for Civilian Conservation Centers, or Job Corps Centers, was recently transferred from the United States Department of Agriculture to USDOL, which then announced the closure of Blackwell and eight other facilities.

Secretary Frostman released the following statement:

“Facilities like Blackwell change lives. They provide individuals who often times come from toxic situations a release from that environment and introduction to a beautiful Northern Wisconsin community where they can pursue education and vocational training at no cost. Taking this avenue away from the individuals who volunteer for the program risks leaving more young, disadvantaged youth on the sideline, and that is a risk I urge the federal government not to take.”

Read Secretary Frostman’s complete letter of support here.

 

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DWD Secretary Frostman: Submits letter of support for Blackwell Job Corps Center

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MADISON – Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Caleb Frostman today submitted comments to the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) urging them to reconsider its closure of the Blackwell Job Corps Center located near Laona. Oversight for Civilian Conservation Centers, or Job Corps Centers, was recently transferred from the United States Department of Agriculture to USDOL, which then announced the closure of Blackwell and eight other facilities.

Secretary Frostman released the following statement:

“Facilities like Blackwell change lives. They provide individuals who often times come from toxic situations a release from that environment and introduction to a beautiful Northern Wisconsin community where they can pursue education and vocational training at no cost. Taking this avenue away from the individuals who volunteer for the program risks leaving more young, disadvantaged youth on the sideline, and that is a risk I urge the federal government not to take.”

Read Secretary Frostman’s complete letter of support here.

Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative: Midwest dairy farmers back waivers for early harvest of cover crops

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Contact: Jamie Mara
Director of strategic communications
(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 introduction of a federal bill that would allow early harvest of cover crops in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s prevented planting program.

The Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act (FEEDD Act) would provide emergency flexibility to help alleviate livestock feed concerns caused by this year’s wet weather.

U.S. Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-South Dakota, and Angie Craig, D-Minnesota, late Monday announced the bill, which would give the agriculture secretary authority to provide a waiver to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop before Nov. 1 in the event of a feed shortage due to wet or drought conditions. Farmers would avoid taking a further discount on their crop insurance.

Many Edge members and other farmers throughout the Midwest have been affected by the extraordinary weather conditions.

The following is a statement from Mitch Davis, treasurer of Edge and general manager of Davis Family Dairies in south-central Minnesota, Rep. Craig’s home state:

“I want to thank Representatives Johnson and Craig for their leadership on this issue. Our cooperative represents dairy farms throughout the Upper Midwest, and many of them are struggling to get a crop in and are concerned about what the feed outlook is for the coming year. The FEEDD Act will give dairy farmers and other livestock producers much needed flexibility as we work through the challenges caused by an unusually wet spring.”

Edge’s policy team has been raising the issue with lawmakers and agencies in recent weeks as an option for members in need of additional livestock feed. Under current rules, farmers cannot utilize cover crops before Nov. 1 if they choose to receive the prevented planting indemnity.

Click here for a press release from the lawmakers.

Tweet about this: #Dairy farm group @voiceofmilk supports emergency waivers for cover crop harvesting

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: Midwest dairy farmers praise decision to move up cover crop harvest date

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Contact: Jamie Mara
Director of strategic communications
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, one of the largest dairy co-ops in the country, today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to allow farmers to harvest cover crops early as they work to ensure adequate feed supplies for livestock.

The USDA said today it will move the allowable harvest date for acres in its prevented planting program to Sept. 1, up from Nov. 1, due to the impact of this year’s unusually wet weather.

The decision also says that cutting for silage, haylage and baleage will be treated the same as haying or grazing. This applies to this cropping year only. Click here for a Q&A.

The following is a statement from Mitch Davis, treasurer of Edge and general manager of Davis Family Dairies in south-central Minnesota:

“The wet spring has made the risk of a shortage of livestock feed for the coming year very real for many of our dairy farmers throughout the Midwest who are struggling to get a crop in. This will give all livestock producers options to deal with the extraordinary conditions.

“The decision-makers at USDA and the many lawmakers who pressed this issue deserve much credit for listening to our farmers and recognizing the unique challenges they’re facing this growing season.”  

After hearing members’ concerns, Edge raised the issue with the USDA’s Risk Management Agency in a letter last month.

Edge would also like to thank Reps. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota and Angie Craig of Minnesota for their leadership on introducing the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act. The FEEDD Act was announced June 11 in the House of Representatives. Additionally, Edge would like to thank Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Dick Durbin of Illinois who led a Senate letter to USDA, and the Wisconsin congressional delegation for a letter to the agency which all helped to elevate this issue.

More details:

Today’s decision provides an emergency waiver to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop starting on Sept. 1 without producers taking a further discount on their prevented planting insurance claims. This adjustment is only available for livestock producers’ own use or harvested crops that will be donated.

Photo: Click here to download a photo of Mitch Davis

Tweet about this: #Dairy farm group @voiceofmilk praises @USDA decision on Sept. 1 date for early cover crop harvesting https://bit.ly/2ZuztOy

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.

Evers announces partnership to boost Medicaid enrollment

With Republicans rejecting his call to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, Gov. Tony Evers announced a new partnership aimed at boosting the number of state residents enrolled in the existing program.

In a news conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Evers said the new partnership between the Department of Health Services and the Office of Commissioner of Insurance was designed to more widely distribute information about BadgerCare and private insurance options offered in the marketplace created by ACA.

“Getting our two agencies to work together to help ensure a smooth transition into private insurance and keeping a robust insurance marketplace vibrant will benefit all of Wisconsin,” he said.

Evers used the opportunity to continue lobbying for his Medicaid proposal. He noted that an estimated 82,000 people would be covered with an influx of federal dollars, which he said the general public overwhelmingly supports.

“Seventy percent of the people in Wisconsin indicated in the most recent polls that they support Medicaid expansion,” he said. “We’re going to continue to fight for that.”

JFC Co-chair John Nygren said in a statement he agreed with Evers’ push to “connect more Wisconsinites to coverage” but said his proposed Medicaid expansion was not the way to go about it.

“I do not believe that expanding welfare is the right path for our state to expand access to care and increase affordability,” the Marinette Republican said.

Under current law, the Medicaid program covers those making up the federal poverty line, which stands at just under $12,490 per year. Evers’ budget proposed expanding coverage to those making up to 138 percent of the poverty line.

But Nygren in his statement noted that those making between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty line in Brown County were eligible for health care plans with deductibles as low as 18 cents per month.

“Instead of forcing individuals into government-run healthcare, we should prioritize connecting those who qualify for this highly-subsidized healthcare that they already are eligible for,” he said.

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm indicated the program’s “most intensive and important focus” would be on Wisconsinites who fall between 100 percent and 200 percent of the poverty line, who can fluctuate between Medicaid eligibility and private insurance.

Quizzed on whether the partnership could move forward without new Medicaid dollars, Palm said the program was designed to build on each other, but the two agencies could “operate them independently” should Medicaid expansion remain stalled.

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/gov-evers-dept-of-health-services-and-insurance-commission-announce-health-care-coverage-partnership/

See Nygren’s statement:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/NygrenStatement-OCI-DHS-Partnership.pdf

Evers calls for lawmakers to send him budget; Republicans warn against full veto

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Evers campaign: Delivers keynote address at DPW convention

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MILWAUKEE — Gov. Tony Evers will today deliver the keynote address at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s 2019 state convention. Below are Gov. Evers’ remarks as prepared for delivery:
 
Good evening, Democrats!
 
Holy mackerel. Well, I guess it’s about time we had a keynote speaker at convention who’s a Democratic governor from Wisconsin.
 
Before I get started tonight, I just wanted to extend a few thank yous:
 
Potawatomi Tribal Nation and the staff here at the hotel & casino for hosting us this weekend–everyone please give a round of applause for these folks and thank them every chance you get. 
 
Martha, you were with us every step during the campaign, spreading the word, doing everything possible to lead us to victory.
 
Our senator, Senator Tammy Baldwin, is also here tonight—thanks, Tammy, for fighting for us in Washington, D.C.
 
Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive Chris Abele are also here—thanks for hosting us here in Milwaukee tonight. And we look forward to the big DNC gig in 2020!
 
We heard from Congresswoman Gwen Moore earlier—folks, she’s a titan in Washington. And she’s been singing about sending Scott Walker packing and up until recently, she was the only person who’d ever beaten Scott Walker. Well, Gwen…now there are two of us.
 
Finally, everybody give another round of applause for my pal, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes!
 
Mandela and I are coming up here on our first anniversary. We went on our first blind date on August 15th. We’ve been nearly inseparable since breakfast that morning before we set off on a unity tour across our state. And the good thing is, Mandela brings down our average age about twenty years, so, between the two of us, we’re in our late 40s. Which is great. I haven’t been this young in 20 years. 
 
Mandela and I like to say we’re a dynamic duo. It’s like we have our own sitcom—he’s got an Instagram story of himself eating pizza and I’m just trying to figure out how a person is supposed to sell their car when they’re the governor of a state. I can’t just put it on Craigslist or park it out in front of the house with a “For Sale” sign in the window. So, I guess the long and short of it is, if you know anyone who’s looking to buy a car, I’m your guy. 
 
Anyway, the bottom line is that Mandela and I make a great team. But a lot of people said during the campaign that we were too Wisconsin Nice–a lot of folks even called us, especially me, boring. And you know what we said? To hell with that.
 
There’s nothing boring about protecting the Affordable Care Act and the 2.4 million Wisconsinites who have pre-existing conditions. 
 
There’s nothing boring about filling those Scott-holes and fixing the damn roads.
 
There’s nothing boring about paying people a livable wage and building an economy that works for all of us. 
 
There’s nothing boring about fighting for our kids so that every kid, regardless of their zip code, has access to a high-quality, public education from kindergarten through 20.
 
There’s nothing boring about making sure that women in Wisconsin get to make their own healthcare decisions.
 
There’s nothing boring about believing science exists and telling everyone that climate change is real.
 
And here I am tonight standing before you as governor of the great state of Wisconsin with one of the most powerful veto pens in the country, so to them I say: Who’s boring now?
 
In all seriousness, here’s the deal, folks: Mandela and I couldn’t have done this without your help. 30,000 votes, not quite a landslide, but close. That’s all that separated us from four more years of the same old song and dance. 
 
Occasionally, people will ask why we were successful this past November. And let me tell you: if sweeping five statewide offices doesn’t tell you how important this Party is, how important our field program is, and how important all of you are, I don’t know what does. But I also want to mention two other critical features of our campaign that I believe were essential to our success.
 
The first thing is that we had a robust and spirited primary.
 
Some of you might recall a guy who asked for your votes in a tough primary with, oh, a handful or 20 other candidates. We had spirited debate and dialogue, and sometimes we even disagreed, and maybe you voted for me in the primary or maybe you didn’t, but at the end of the day, I was a better candidate because we had a field of great Democrats running for the nomination. I was more thoughtful, better prepared, and Democrats across our state were more energized because of that primary.
 
Then, once the primary was over—and folks, this part is key—we put the primary behind us, and everyone worked together to make sure we had Democratic victories up and down the ticket this past November.
 
And the second element of our campaign that I think was essential is that we focused on the issues.
 
We decided we weren’t going to get down into the mud with Republicans—we weren’t going to spend our time attacking personal beliefs or character. We made a decision not to be consumed by the things we were fighting against or distracted by the things that divide us. We made a decision to spend our time talking about the things that were at stake about the things that unite us and the things we were fighting for.
 
So, we built our campaign on the issues: healthcare, roads, and education. And everywhere we went, we talked about healthcare, roads, and education. And there were some people who thought it was annoying that we didn’t talk about anything other than healthcare, roads, and education. 
 
But that’s what we did. That was our message. And, folks, it worked. 
 
And I think these are two lessons we have to take with us going into 2020 as we head into an important Supreme Court race and a presidential election.
 
First, we shouldn’t be afraid to have a spirited primary so long as, when all is said and done, we remember we’re all on the same team. And second, our message has to be about the issues—it cannot be solely about the things we’re fighting against, it has to be about what we’re fighting for. 
 
We’re going to have spirited and robust primaries next year. And that’s important. That means we have more folks out there talking to different circles about the issues we care about and the values we share. But equally important is that we don’t let a primary that inspires dialogue and debate devolve into divisiveness. And we have to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Because once those primaries are over, we have to work together to win. 
 
And that means that even when Republicans want to get in the mud, when they disparage people who are different, when they want to wage war of ideology, we aren’t going to let them bait us. Republicans’ words and actions speak for themselves. So, quite frankly, they don’t need any help from us. That’s why we have to focus our time, our energy, and our message on the issues. 
 
I think if we remember these two takeaways from 2018, November 2020 is going to be a year full of successes for Democrats in Wisconsin.
 
I hear rumors all the time about Scott Walker running again or what office Ron Johnson is running for, and I’ll tell you something—if we can do these things, I don’t care which office they’re running for, we’re going to work hard and send them packing. 
 
So, enjoy this weekend, Democrats, and then let’s get to work!
 
Thank you!

Evers says he’s waiting for final version of budget before determining potential vetoes

Gov. Tony Evers says he will not make a decision on how to use his partial or full veto authority on the state budget until lawmakers present him with a finalized version.

The Joint Finance Committee last week wrapped up its deliberations on the guv’s original proposal. The panel approved a number of GOP-backed measures and largely rejected Evers’ proposals on health care, education and transportation.

The JFC version of the budget now heads to the state Assembly and Senate, where it is expected to be taken up on the floor in the last week of June.

When quizzed by reporters Monday, Evers refused to tip his hand as to what he plans to do with GOP-backed document.

“At the end of the day, we won’t be making any decisions until we see what comes out of both houses,” he said.

Evers also said he has yet to meet with Republican legislative leaders to negotiate changes to the budget, but added that he plans to reach out to them before the bodies meet to take up the JFC’s proposal.

Fair Elections Project: Statement on U.S. Supreme Court decision on partisan gerrymandering

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Contact: Mary McCarthy
815-236-2845

MILWAUKEE – “We are disappointed the Supreme Court ignored the overwhelming evidence in the Rucho case, which proved the constitutional rights of citizens were violated. We agree with the majority that now this issue is most likely to be addressed in the legislative process, as flawed as that solution is, especially for states like Wisconsin that don’t have citizen initiative.

“Importantly, though, something has changed because of these cases decided today, the Wisconsin case that started this decade’s trend, and the immense interest and activism of citizens across the country. People now know that partisan gerrymandering exists, and they hate it. Three-quarters of Wisconsin citizens want reform, and they are willing to hold elected officials accountable on this issue. So our work continues.” -Sachin Chheda, Director, Fair Elections Project

Sachin Chheda serves as director of the Fair Elections Project, which organized and launched the Whitford case, and as chair of the WI Fair Maps Coalition, which includes 15 organizations committed to nonpartisan, independent redistricting reform. 

More information about the lawsuit and campaign can be found at the Fair Elections Project website at fairelectionsproject.org, at Facebook.com/wifairelectionsand on Twitter at @WIFairElections and @FairElections.

Farm Groups: Call on Legislature, governor to pass Dairy Innovation Hub

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MADISON, Wis. — As the state Assembly began debating the budget today, six groups representing dairy farmers, processors, cooperatives and other related businesses in Wisconsin called again for support of a university-based Dairy Innovation Hub.

The proposal would add researchers at the University of Wisconsin System’s three agricultural colleges — in Madison, Platteville and River Falls. The research would focus on four areas: land and water use, human health and nutrition, animal health and welfare, and improving and integrating farm businesses and rural communities.

The groups — Cooperative NetworkDairy Business AssociationProfessional Dairy Producers of WisconsinWisconsin Cheese Makers AssociationWisconsin Farm Bureau and Wisconsin Farmers Union — distributed a joint letter to legislators and the governor’s office emphasizing the critical importance of the dairy hub proposal.

“The hub intends to attract the world’s best research talent to our state and provide the tools for making important new discoveries. It will train industry leaders, who will help transfer that new knowledge to farms, processing plants, watershed groups and beyond,” the groups said in the letter.

In its proposed state budget, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee designates $1 million in the first year of the two-year spending plan and $7.8 million in the second for the dairy hub. Both the Assembly and Senate must agree on a budget before sending it to the governor, who has veto authority.

The groups said the hub would be a long-term investment but urgent nonetheless, pointing to financial problems many farmers are facing due to depressed milk prices, increasing operating costs and disruptive trade policies. They also noted the need for more research on water quality and soil health.

“The state cannot afford to wait on this,” they wrote.

Click here to read the full letter.

Tweet about this:

Farm groups @DairyForward @dairypdpw @WICheeseMakers @WIFarmBureau @wifarmersunion @MemberOwned call for budget support for #Dairy Innovation Hub @UWMadisonCALS @uwplatteville @UWRiverFalls https://bit.ly/2ZG9CTG

Finance Committee: Doubles dollars to aging and long-term care providers, addresses dramatic workforce needs

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Madison, WI – Following through on his promises to assist nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and personal care workers with a much-needed rate increase, Representative Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) today joined Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance in voting for a budget motion that more than doubles the increases proposed by Governor Evers. This vote builds upon an increase from the last state budget cycle, and is targeted at the workforce needs that have led to a number of facility closures over the past decade.

 

“I have been hearing from homes in my district and throughout the state that they are desperate to attract and retain quality employees,” said Rep. Rohrkaste. “All along, I’ve made it a top priority of this budget to do whatever we can afford to come to their aid. Today we delivered. We are giving a big raise to the men and women who care for our elderly and those with disabilities – a raise they desperately need and truly deserve.”

 

Today’s omnibus Department of Health Services motion included:

  • $66,537,400 for Family Care Direct Funding (Paper #368) [$27,000,000 GPR, $39,537,400 FED]. This builds upon a $60.7 million increase from the 2017-19 budget, for a total of $127.2 million in the two most recent state budgets.
  • $73,992,200 for the Nursing Home Reimbursement (Paper #369) [$30,000,000 GPR, $43,992,200 FED], for a 7% reimbursement rate increase in this budget, counting a 1% acuity rate increase.
  • $91,046,900 for the Personal Care Reimbursement Rate (Paper #370) [$36,900,000 GPR, $54,146,900 FED], which amounts to a 9% reimbursement rate increase in this budget.

All of this amounts to $231,576,500 in new funding, a total of $158,866,900 above the Governor’s budget recommendations.

First responders call for road repair, maintenance funding increase

A coalition of first responders is calling on Wisconsin lawmakers to increase funding for road repair and maintenance.

In a Capitol news conference Tuesday, first responders said lawmakers need to find solutions so they can more effectively and safely do their jobs.

“We stand here as a united group focused on public safety, and we’re asking the state Legislature to find some common-sense, sustainable solutions to transportation funding,” said Racine Fire Department Lt. Mike DeGarmo.

Gov. Tony Evers Monday said he would be open to paying for road work without increasing a gas tax boost if the funding was sustainable. The guv included an 8-cent gas tax increase in his budget, but legislative Republicans have indicated they will not support the measure and have instead pushed for increased registration, title and heavy truck fees.

A group of Senate Republicans today was to announce plans to pump more than $130 million into local road funding, according to sources with knowledge of the plan. The package would be one-time money, taking advantage of new revenue projections the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released last month.

The coalition of first responders did not offer specific policy solutions or endorse any of the proposed revenue generators. Instead, they advocated for a “sustainable” boost to funding in order to improve roads and highways statewide.

Jim Brigham, a Dane County Sheriff’s deputy and a representative from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said poor road conditions often lead to lane closures and accidents that can put first responders in danger.

“Anytime someone is on the side of the road, whether it’s a citizen or a first responder, you’re putting those people’s lives at risk,” Brigham said.

Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Brandon Ferrell said emergency lane closures caused by poor road conditions often impact his work patrolling highways. He recalled a situation this spring in which a section of I-94 buckled, rendering the busy freeway undrivable.

“They had to close a lane in the middle of the day on a Friday, which is not ideal,” Ferrell said. “The subsequent backup due to that delay caused two more secondary crashes.”

The first responders also highlighted that deteriorating roads have become a pressing concern for the general public. They referenced a recent WPPA poll that found road conditions had surpassed education, local economy, protecting the environment and taxes on a “high priority” list.

They also noted that poor road conditions have led to increased wear and tear on their vehicles and the cost of frequent maintenance was being passed on to taxpayers.

The Joint Committee on Finance is set to take up the Department of Transportation’s budget on Thursday.

See the WPPA survey:
https://wppa.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-Poll-Summary-1.pdf

Former guv candidate Gronik looking for best avenue to keep pushing issues

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Businessman Andy Gronik, who dropped out of the guv’s race nearly a year ago, said he’s still looking to push some of what he advocated during his campaign.

He’s just looking for the best avenue to do it.

Gronik created Stage W as an issues group and eventually launched his bid for guv. He then dropped out in June 2018, a little less than two months before the primary.

Gronik said he still wants to advocate on issues such as workforce development and education, both of which he focused on with Stage G.

“What I spend every day thinking about is how do I make that happen?” Gronik said. “Because that needs to happen.”

Gronik said he’s not sure whether he will run for office again.

Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC): Response to Alderman Nik Kovac’s comment

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In a recent Urban Milwaukee article, “City Will Raise Its Water Rates“, Alderman Kovac is quoted as saying “That’s a major investment and, based on the Madison experience, would achieve almost nothing,” during the confirmation hearing of Karen Dettmer as the new Superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works in January 2019.
Clearly Kovac is not informed enough to know that the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the State regulate paint with lead concentrations greater than 0.5% by weight as being “hazardous” and contributing to lead poisoning.  Lead contaminated sediment and particulate found in lead service lines (LSLs) generally contain 70-90% lead by weight, yet is ignored due to lack of awareness and regulatory lobbying by the water utility industry.
The article points out that “a 2008 study of Madison’s effort to replace all of its lead laterals found that only 49 percent of the lead in water as coming from the lateral, with 38 percent coming from interior faucet or other sources on the premises.”
So, by Alderman Kovac’s logic lead lateral replacement is insignificant except for the fact that it is the biggest contributor of lead in water.
What Alderman Kovac fails to understand, or is unwilling to understand because of his undying devotion to Mayor Tom Barrett, is that in a July 2018 study by the EPA, in which Madison, WI was the case study, “overall, this research showed that controlling lead exposure from water is more complicated than simply adding corrosion control chemicals to reduce the solubility of lead minerals.”
Lead in water resulting from LSLs is highly dependent on age of pipes, water supply chemistry (differs based on source raw water) and disturbance of LSLs.  Regardless, majority of lead in water comes from LSLs AND no level is acceptable.
It is also important to note that the mere presence of lead-based paint in a home DOES NOT necessarily pose a health risk to occupants (only peeling, chipping and lead-based painted friction surfaces do).
The same cannot be said for lead service laterals (LSLs) in which there presence ALWAYS poses a health risk to  residents consuming water in properties having them present.
It is imperative to remove LSLs, but instead Kovac is more interested in bickering as to how much lead they contribute and at what cost!  Very short sighted on the part of a policy maker who is clearly putting money before public health prevention (ironically and unarguably the most cost-effective strategy).
Finally, we ask Ald. Kovac if he is OK with his young children, pregnant wife or young nieces/nephews drinking water from LSLs routinely if he is so sure there is little impact in replacing LSLs. Is Ald. Kovac willing to guarantee to citizens of Milwaukee that our water flowing through lead pipes and through our taps is safe?
Ald. Kovac should refrain from being so spurious and careless in his remarks and research a little deeper.

FRI AM Update: Committee approves Baldwin legislation on drug pricing; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Divided Supreme Court sides with GOP lawmakers in lame-duck lawsuit

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FRI AM Update: JFC approves boost to transportation, DOJ; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Summit with Great Lakes, St. Lawrence leaders kicks off today in Milwaukee

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FRI News Summary: JFC approves registration, title fee increase

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FRI News Summary: JFC wraps up work on state budget

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FRI News Summary: Supreme Court upholds lame-duck laws; Assembly approves increased drunken driving penalties

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FRI News Summary: U.S. Supreme Court gerrymandering, drunken driving decisions have Wisconsin impacts

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FRI PM Update: Evers vetoes four abortion-related bills; three lame-duck suits remain after Supreme Court decision

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FRI REPORT: Budget watchers see options, challenges for JFC with final votes on tap next week

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FRI REPORT: GOP legislators rack up $1.5M in legal bills in first five months of 2019

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FRI REPORT: Vos: Medical marijuana could return as Assembly bill

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Fundraiser for Rep. Robyn Vining 🗓

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Rep. Robyn Vining
A Toast to 6 Months
Sunday June 30, 3:30 – 5 pm
Miss Molly’s Bakery & Cafe, 9201 W. Center St. Milwaukee.
Sponsorships: $1000, $500, $250, $100

Ginsburg, colleagues praise Abrahamson during farewell ceremony

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg praised retiring Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Shirley Abrahamson as “the very best, the most courageous and sage, the least self-regarding” judge she had encountered.

“As lawyer, law teacher and judge, she has inspired legions to follow in her way, to strive constantly to make the legal system genuinely equal and accessible to all who dwell in our fair land,” Ginsburg said in a moving video.

The message was delivered at a packed farewell ceremony for Abrahamson in the Capitol Rotunda yesterday evening.

Gov. Tony Evers, former Dem Gov. Jim Doyle, former Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske and federal appeals court judge and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Diane Sykes all joined Ginsburg in paying tribute to the outgoing 85-year-old Abrahamson.

She became the first woman to serve on the Wisconsin Supreme Court with her appointment in 1976 and then rose to chief justice. In poor health, she declined to run for re-election, and her seat was won in April by conservative Brian Hagedorn. She will leave the court in August.

Abrahamson, who spoke briefly at the event, touted her electoral record, noting that while she was always challenged, she won full, 10-year terms on the bench.

“I have always been opposed in an election; that’s a record,” Abrahamson said. “But the other record is I won, and I never received less than 55 percent of the vote.”

Along the way, she earned a reputation as a trailblazer for female judges and built a national fundraising network that was unique among state Supreme Court justices.

But her time as chief justice was also marked with controversy. Voters approved a GOP-authored constitutional amendment in 2015 to allow the justices to select who leads the court rather than bestowing that honor to the longest-serving member.

Despite conservatives flipping control of the high court, Abrahamson had continued to hold onto the chief justice’s office. She filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the amendment from taking effect until after her 10-year term ended in 2019. That effort was rejected, and conservative Pat Roggensack has served as chief justice since 2015.

Godlewski calls ‘BS’ on GOP as party of fiscal responsibility

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State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski called “BS” on Republicans being the party of fiscal responsibility, saying the GOP has made irresponsible decisions in rejecting Gov. Tony Evers’ plans to expand Medicaid and legalize medical marijuana.

And she called President Donald Trump “one of the worst spenders of them all.”

Godlewski said expanding Medicaid as Evers has proposed would increase access to health coverage while saving the state more than $300 million and help generate a $1.6 billion in new health care spending.

Meanwhile, she said legalizing hemp and cannabis goes “beyond dollars and cents,” saying she was on a congressional task force while working at the Pentagon that looked at the epidemic of post traumatic stress disorder. She said the research found allowing vets access to CBD and cannabis helped them address their symptoms. Godlewski also argued medical marijuana can help reduce opioid dependency.

But Republicans are standing in the way.

“Does this sound like the Repulican Party is the party of fiscal responsibility?” she asked as the crowd shouted back, “No!”

Godlewski said the national debt has reached $22 trillion under Trump, an increase of $2 trillion. But he gives tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations and then turns around to argue the growing debt requires cuts to public education and health care before going on Fox News to blame Dems for the problems he created, she said.

“President Trump says he’s fighting for America. That’s nothing more than fake news,” Godlewski said, riffing on one of Trump’s favorite attacks on the media.

Godlewski says BCPL can be part of solution to student debt problem

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Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is looking for solutions to Wisconsin’s student loan debt problem.

And she’s thinking the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands that she chairs could be part of the solution by facilitating student loans at cheaper rates.

Godlewski said under the approach she’s looking at, the BCPL wouldn’t lend money to college students directly. Instead, it would provide assets to lenders. The assets could be provided to the lender at a rate that would match what the board makes on current investments such as a bond. The BCPL would also negotiate the rates at which lenders could then turn around and use the money for student loans.

The BCPL oversees a fund created more than 100 years ago following the sale of most school trust lands and manages the remaining property that wasn’t sold. With $1.2 billion in assets, the agency provides funding to public school libraries and loans money to municipalities and school districts for public projects.

She believes the BCPL already has the power to take on such an initiative on student loans.

“I think we as a state can be doing more things where we have good, strong financial returns but at the same time are doing good things for our community. And so that I think is something that’s really important for us to be looking at as fiduciaries,” Godlewski told WisPolitics.com.

It’s one of several efforts Godlewski has undertaken even as GOP lawmakers have shown little interest in providing additional resources to the office after voters last year rejected a constitutional amendment that would’ve eliminated it.

The guv proposed adding three positions to the single position now approved for the office. But the Joint Finance Committee nixed that move with its first votes in early May. That vote also pulled from the budget Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals to have the treasurer sit on a study committee to look at creating a private retirement investment option for Wisconsin residents under the Department of Employee Trust Funds and one to study the creation of a state authority to refinance student loans.

Godlewski said she and Evers, a fellow Dem, believe they can still create the study committees without legislative approval. And she’s already meeting with the heads of the Department of Financial Institutions and the Higher Educational Aids Board to lay the groundwork for an expected study of creating a state-based refinancing authority.

While lawmakers so far have rejected additional funds for her office, Godlewski said she found a grant that had been on the office books for nearly a decade, but not used, to fund additional staff.

One of the few remaining responsibilities for the office is promoting the state’s unclaimed property program, so she’s also making a pitch to lawmakers: Give her the staff she’s requested; in return, she’ll give back $5 million to taxpayers over two years through the program. If she fails, they can take the staff back.

Godlewski is confident she wouldn’t. Though her office still promotes the program, oversight of unclaimed property was moved to the Department of Revenue in 2013 under the belief that agency would better be able to connect citizens to unclaimed funds, because it has access to the tax identification system. But she said that doesn’t account for municipalities and nonprofits that don’t have the typical tax ID number. She said her office has identified more than $200,000 that should be going back to municipalities and nonprofits that wasn’t caught by the current system.

“I just think that is the tip of the iceberg quite frankly,” she said.

Some of the other initiatives Godlewski is taking on include:

*creating a “citizen friendly” annual report on the state’s finances. The Department of Administration each year produces the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is prepared using generally accepted accounting principles. But Godlewski said it’s not something her “mom who is a hard working, very intelligent school teacher in Eau Claire is going to be reading” to understand where her tax dollars are going. She hopes to produce the first report by year’s end.

*creating universal child savings accounts as another option for parents beyond a 529 college plan. Other states have set them up, and Godlewski said she’s looking for a way to create one that would be self-sustaining and be a better investment option than the interest rates available on a typical savings account. One option she’s studying is creating a Roth IRA for kids. Money put into those funds can be withdrawn years later tax-free.

“To me, why you want to start a universal child savings account is because you want to set your kid up for financial success,” she said. “So they can use that for whether it is for school, but if school’s not for them, maybe they want to buy a home, maybe they want to use it for medical emergencies or more or less. Maybe they actually want to save it for actual retirement.”

GOP budget amendment proposes more money for DAs, towns

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GOP JFC nixes Evers’ CAFO fee hike

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GOP legislators rack up $1.5M in legal bills in first five months of 2019

GOP legislators racked up $1.5 million in legal bills over the first five months of the year as they relied on outside counsel to represent them in lawsuits over the lame-duck session, abortion restrictions and the environment.

And taxpayers aren’t just covering the costs to draft briefs or appear in court in the more than half-dozen cases now winding their way through the legal system.

A WisPolitics.com review of the legal bills submitted so far this year shows a Chicago firm charged taxpayers $6,719 for a plane ticket to fly a witness in from Madrid, Spain, for the upcoming redistricting trial in July.

That same firm included $1,617 for meals, according to the bills it submitted to the Legislature. Bartlit Beck, which lawmakers retained in the fall for the redistricting case, signed a contract that capped its legal fees at $840,000. But there are no limits on the expenses it can charge taxpayers while working on the suit with a provision in the contract that states out-of-pocket costs “will be passed through to you dollar for dollar.”

Among the firms retained in the suits, Bartlit Beck was the only one to regularly list meals among the expenses it submitted for reimbursement outside of when lawyers were traveling. There were eight charges for what were billed as “working meals.”

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, called the $6,719 charge for a plane ticket “outrageous” and challenged GOP legislative leaders to defend sticking taxpayers with the bill for such an expense.

The legal bill doesn’t include details of the flight other than the dates of July 17-20 and the name of one attorney working on the case. The trial is currently scheduled for July 15-18 in federal court in Madison. A WisPolitics.com check of Expedia.com found several flights leaving Madrid, Spain, July 17 for Madison and returning July 20 for less than $2,500 with a single stop in Atlanta for both legs of the trip.

“The Republicans just have an insatiable appetite of using taxpayer dollars to pay their attorneys at a time when they’re not fixing our roads, they’re cutting our schools and cutting our university system,” Shilling said.

But Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the ticket is for a redistricting expert who is teaching in Spain. Because the courts “set their own timetable, it had to be a refundable ticket that could be changed,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, meanwhile, continued to place the blame for the legal bills on those who brought the suits.

“We didn’t pick any of these fights – liberal groups suing us did,” said Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. “We wouldn’t need any lawyers at all if Democrats and their front groups would drop their numerous lawsuits against bills enacted by the duly elected Legislature.”

And those bills will only climb higher. Republicans in recent weeks signed a new contract with outside counsel in a union lawsuit over Act 10, while several other suits continue to wind their way through the courts.

Republicans have turned to outside counsel in several cases, charging they can’t trust new Dem AG Josh Kaul to adequately defend state law and represent their interests.

Still, the biggest drivers of the legal bills this year have been an ongoing redistricting lawsuit and several lame-duck lawsuits. The redistricting contracts pre-date Kaul, and the Dem AG has declined to represent any parties in the extraordinary session suits because they deal with the powers of his office and he would have a conflict representing others.

With the federal redistricting case scheduled for trial in July, lawyers have turned in legal bills totaling $834,492 since Jan. 1, according to a WisPolitics.com records request.

Most of that has been billed by Bartlit Beck. The firm has now hit its cap of $840,000 in legal fees with $600,000 of that rolling in since Jan. 1.

The firm has also charged $71,000 in expenses since Jan. 1, including the plane ticket from Spain and the meals. The biggest expense, however, has been $33,214 for transcript fees.

The firm’s flat fee of $840,000 is also based on a trial date occurring before Sept. 1. If it comes later or there is an appeal, the Legislature and firm would negotiate any additional fees.

This month, a federal appeals court put off deciding whether Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has to provide a deposition in the long-running suit until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two cases involving similar issues. Those decisions are expected sometime this summer.

The firm also has indicated it would seek to have the plaintiffs reimburse taxpayers for its legal fees if GOP lawmakers prevail.

Meanwhile, GOP attorneys have turned in legal bills for work since Jan. 1 charging:

*$510,042 in a pair of lame-duck lawsuits filed in state courts. Those contracts have no caps on the legal bills, and former state solicitor general Misha Tseytlin is making $500 an hour for his services.

*$120,420 in a federal lawsuit Dems filed over the extraordinary session actions. Last week, a federal magistrate granted a request from GOP lawmakers to stay discovery in a trial challenging actions taken in the December lame-duck session as a judge decides whether to dismiss the case. The lawsuit, filed by the state Dem Party, is currently expected to go to trial in late summer or early fall 2020. Tseytlin is also the lead attorney in that case, and his contract includes no cap.

*$50,350 as GOP lawmakers look to intervene in a lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed seeking to overturn abortion restrictions. Last month, GOP lawmakers asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to hear oral arguments in a judge’s decision denying legislators’ motion to intervene in a lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed challenging abortion restrictions. It is the first time a federal court has rejected a motion to intervene from lawmakers since Republicans gave themselves the power during the lame-duck session to step into lawsuits challenging a state law. The contract with the Virginia law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park includes a rate of $500 an hour for all attorneys and two caps on the expected legal fees. If the courts ultimately deny the Legislature’s motion to intervene, the costs would go no higher than $100,000. But if the motion is ultimately granted, they could climb as high as $500,000.

*$22,071 in two environmental cases before the state Supreme Court. One deals with the DNR’s decision to allow a Kewaunee County dairy farm to expand to more than 6,000 cows in an area where concerns have been raised over groundwater pollution. The other addresses the agency’s approval of eight high-capacity wells. Eric McLeod, a partner at Husch Blackwell, signed a contract that doesn’t include caps on legal bills. It also doesn’t clearly lay out his hourly fee, instead noting that Husch Blackwell partners make between $310 and $820. Still, a WisPolitics.com check of the bills he’s submitted so far shows he’s being paid $540 an hour.

So far, there have been no bills submitted in the lawsuit Operating Engineers Local 139 filed challenging Act 10. The union argues the 2011 law violates the First Amendment, because it has to represent workers who aren’t paying dues.

Republican leaders signed contracts with McLeod and Tseytlin, of Troutman Sanders, to represent them in that suit.

Tab for 2011 maps nears $4 million

With the latest legal bills submitted to the Legislature, the overall tab to defend the maps Republicans drew in 2011 is now nearly $3.8 million.

The biggest chunk of that is the $2.1 million Republicans spent to defend the maps in an initial suit, according to a 2013 story from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That suit resulted in a three-judge panel ordering a change to two Assembly districts on Milwaukee’s south side, finding the original districts violated the rights of Hispanic voters.

Along with legal bills, that tab included covering the attorneys’ fees for those who sued as well as other charges.

The latest legal bills stem from the lawsuit Dems filed in 2015 challenging the maps as an unconstitutional gerrymander.

A three-judge panel agreed with those suing, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Dems didn’t have standing to file the suit and sent that case back to the lower court. A trial is scheduled for July, though that could depend on a pair of cases the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on this summer. Both deal with similar issues, and if the justices rule against those challenging the maps in those states, it could undercut the challenge filed by Wisconsin Dems.

Legal bills WisPolitics.com obtained through the open records law show taxpayers have been charged more than $1.6 million in the second case.

That includes $912,979 in bills from the Chicago firm Bartlit Beck, as well as $429,701 that former Deputy Attorney General Kevin St. John has charged the Legislature while presenting GOP leaders since early 2017.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said Republicans should be feeling the heat from taxpayers over the mounting legal bills. But he said the very maps they’re spending taxpayer money to defend ensure they won’t, because they’re so tilted in the GOP’s favor.

“The fact that these guys don’t feel any of the consequences speaks to the fact they know they’re insulated from this,” Hintz said. “They’re increasingly comfortable doing whatever they want as they remain intoxicated with power.”

GOP Legislators: Urge Evers to sign budget

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Contact: Alec Zimmerman
(608) 266-5660


[Madison, WI] 
 On Thursday, Republican legislators held events throughout Wisconsin to tout their budget’s impact on individuals in their communities and to urge the governor to sign the bill. The responsible budget crafted by Republicans meets the state’s needs in education, local roads, and health care – while taxing and spending billions of dollars less than the plan put forward by Governor Evers.

Check out what they’re saying about The Wisconsin Budget:

From Fox 6 in Milwaukee: Surrounded by members of the Republican caucus, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos praised his colleagues for passing a budget that meets the needs of the people on Thursday, June 27. “The budget is done,” Vos said. “We made historic investments and we did it all by keeping our spending in check and about the rate of inflation and making sure we do not spend beyond our means.”

From WPR in Madison: GOP lawmakers held multiple press conferences across the state Thursday to call on the governor not to issue a full veto of the roughly $82 billion budget…”I think it would be a big mistake for him, for Wisconsin, for the Legislature, if he vetoed the entire document,” Fitzgerald said. The senator said returning the document to the Legislature would lead to major delays. “Because I think at the end of the day it’s going to be very difficult to get together to build something that he would find acceptable,” he said.

From WSAW in Wausau: “More money for education, more money for health care and more money for transportation. We have met those priorities while also not having a $2 billion dollar deficit and we are not increasing taxes,” explained Republican State Senator Tom Tiffany of District 12.

From WBAY in Green Bay: Republicans believe the budget proposal satisfies Governor Evers’ major spending priorities. “Nobody is going to get 100% of what they want, but if you look at the main principals that Governor Evers built on–education funding, health care funding, transportation funding, and middle-class tax cuts–we’ve been able to deliver all of those priorities,” said Nygren.

From WKBT in La Crosse: Republican Representatives say they’re confident the state budget responds to what the public asked for in the last election. “Healthcare, education, access to healthcare, transportation. These were the issues that the people that we serve asked us for in the last election, and I feel that our budget really delivers on many of these issues,” said Republican Rep. Nancy VanderMeer.

From WQOW in Eau Claire: With the state budget only needing a signature from Governor Tony Evers, Republicans from the area were in Altoona Thursday highlighting areas they say the budget addresses. Republicans say the budget prioritizes K-12 education, college and tech schools, healthcare, transportation and tax relief. 

GOP squandered opportunity to fund EV charging station infrastructure

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MADISON, WI — Clean Wisconsin’s Government Relations Director Carly Michiels issued the following statement after the majority Republican members of the Joint Committee on Finance rejected Governor Tony Evers’ proposal to use $10 million from the Volkswagen (VW) settlement fund for public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations:

 

“The Joint Finance Committee squandered a great opportunity to encourage and enable EV travel in Wisconsin. EVs are cheaper, cleaner, and better for our health than gas- and diesel-powered vehicles. They’re the way forward in Wisconsin. Using $10 million from the VW settlement fund presented an opportunity to create a significant positive benefit for Wisconsinites without using any taxpayer dollars.

 

“Wisconsin is one of four states that submitted VW settlement plans that has not used the VW funds for EV charging stations. This was a wasted chance to help lay the groundwork for an easy and fast network of EV charging stations across the state.”

Gov. Evers: Announces $100,000 coastal grant for Green Bay

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced a $100,000 grant that will improve the shoreline at Bay Beach Amusement Park by constructing a new, ADA-accessible shoreline walk.

Administered by the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, this and previously announced coastal grants will be used by local, state and tribal governments, regional planning commissions, universities, and nonprofit organizations to assist with projects throughout Wisconsin.

“Everyone should be able to enjoy our state’s natural resources. This grant for the City of Green Bay means more opportunities for everyone to recreate and appreciate the beach at the Bay Beach Amusement Park, and I believe will be economically beneficial to the entire region,” said Gov. Evers.

The intergovernmental and private sector collaborations aided by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program advance Wisconsin and regional Great Lakes priorities such as enhancing public access, sustainable use practices, community development and resiliency, fostering future stewards, and resource protection.

Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, and DOA Secretary-designee Joel Brennan will make additional grant announcements and presentations in the coming weeks.

Gov. Evers: Announces 19th Amendment Centennial Web Portal with First Lady

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with the Committee to Celebrate the Centennial of Wisconsin’s Ratification of the 19th Amendment and its Chair, First Lady Kathy Evers, today announced the launch of a new website to share resources about events and programming relating to the 19th amendment taking place across Wisconsin.

WomenVoteWI.wi.gov is a one-stop place to help individuals, teachers, and organizations find information, resources, and events across Wisconsin commemorating and celebrating this historic event and exploring its relevance to the issues today.

On June 10, 1919, Wisconsin made history by becoming the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution granting women the vote. This Centennial year offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commemorate Wisconsin’s leading role, paving the way for other states to follow. The Amendment became part of the Constitution in August 1920, after ratification by the necessary 36 states.

“Now more than ever, it’s important that we celebrate and elevate women and their contributions to our communities and our state while also acknowledging the important work we still have yet to do for equity, equality, and the inclusion of women across our state,” said Gov. Evers. “I know this committee will serve as an important effort to educate folks and celebrate women’s suffrage and the 19th  Amendment in Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s public centennial celebration kick-off, co-hosted by the Wisconsin Historical Society and the women of the 104th Legislature, will take place on Monday, June 10, 2019, from 12-3 p.m., at the Wisconsin State Capitol. The event includes the unveiling of Wisconson’s original 19th Amendment document, a speaker program, and public reception with the women who are members of the 104th Legislature. These events are free and open to the public.

Gov. Evers: Announces appointment of Linda A. Hall as Director of the Office of Children’s Mental Health

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of Linda A. Hall to serve as director of the Office of Children’s Mental Health.

Ms. Hall currently serves as executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Family & Children’s Agencies (WAFCA) where she works with human services leaders to support a vibrant human services sector focused on opportunities for all Wisconsin families to reach their full potential. Since 2006, Ms. Hall has led WAFCA’s mental health and child welfare best practice, policy, and legislative agendas. Ms. Hall has been actively engaged with the Office of Children’s Mental Health since 2014 and has served as a member of the Children’s Mental Health Collective Impact Executive Council that works to create an integrated system of care by convening stakeholders to design strategies to bring increased well-being to Wisconsin families. Ms. Hall has extensive experience and expertise in children’s mental health policy, as well as Medicaid and child welfare, and has worked to advance mental health policy priorities.

“Our children are our future, and it is essential that every child has access to the services and support that they need, particularly mental health,” said Gov. Evers. “That’s why it is critical for us to have an office that is dedicated to helping connect the dots related to children’s mental health to ensure that we are all working together to support Wisconsin’s children in achieving their optimal social and emotional well-being. I’m very proud and excited to announce that Linda Hall will be joining my team to serve in this vital leadership role to support the well-being of our families.”

“I am honored to be selected for this position and look forward to working with partners across the state to continue to strengthen children’s access to the supports they need for healthy minds and futures fill with promise,” said Ms. Hall.

The Office of Children’s Mental Health was created in the 2013-2015 biennial budget to innovate, integrate, and improve Wisconsin’s child and family service systems so our children, youth, and families thrive. The Office of Children’s Mental Health works to:

  • Improve children and families access to services, with a focus on resources provided by the Department of Health Services, Department of Children and Families, Department of Public Instruction, and Department of Corrections, in addition to other Wisconsin organizations;
  • Facilitate communication with all child- and family-serving state agencies, coordinate initiatives, and monitor program performance focused on children’s mental health; and
  • Support administrative efficiencies to reduce duplication among child- and family-serving state agencies.

Ms. Hall will begin as director of the Office of Children’s Mental Health on July 8, 2019.

Gov. Evers: Announces drinking water protections for emerging health contaminants

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-279-5648


MILWAUKEE
— Gov. Tony Evers, who declared 2019 the “Year of Clean Drinking Water” today announced the passage of two resolutions designed to protect Wisconsin’s drinking water from toxic chemicals.

As Chair of the 2019 Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers’ Leadership Summit, Gov. Evers introduced resolutions addressing lead service lines that likely contribute the greatest amount of lead to drinking water and PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), an emerging hazard known as a “forever chemicals” because the compounds take thousands of years to degrade.

“We strongly believe that a strong environment translates into a strong economy, and that includes clean, safe water for every citizen to consume and enjoy. Unfortunately, clean water is not something available to all Wisconsinites,” Gov. Evers said. “The same way I am working to do my best to connect the dots across Wisconsin, we are also working hard to connect the dots across the Great Lakes region.”

The Great Lakes hold 90% of the United States’ supply of fresh surface water, according to the Great Lakes Commission. More than 48 million Americans and Canadians depend on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River for drinking water.

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers PFAS Strategy Coordination Resolution focuses on PFAS. Among those substances are legacy contaminants such as PFAS, chemicals found in household products such as clothing, cooking pots, and pans, rugs and carpets as well as firefighting foams, which can lead to several health issues including liver damage and birth defects. There is growing concern about PFAS in Wisconsin, with high levels of groundwater and soil contamination found in Marinette, Wisconsin where firefighting foam products were used.

Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers Protecting Against Drinking Water Contaminants Resolution addresses lead service lines (a.k.a pipes). These pipes are an important source of lead in drinking water, contributing 50-75% of the total lead measured in tap water within homes. One study estimates that there are approximately 240,000 lead service lines across Wisconsin. Lead in pipes and plumbing can leach lead into drinking water, causing serious health problems, especially in children.

“Tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin are afraid to turn on their tap to drink water. That is unacceptable, and we must fix it,” Gov. Evers said. “Ensuring safe and reliable drinking water is not only fundamental to the health of our communities, but it is also a public health priority.”

The Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers unite the chief executives from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania, and Québec. The Governors and Premiers have worked together for more than 30 years as equal partners to protect, restore and grow the region’s $6 trillion economies and protect the world’s largest system of surface fresh water. This year’s Leadership Summit is being held June 14-16, 2019, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Gov. Evers: Announces grants for Wisconsin’s coastal communities

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers this week announced more than $100,000 in grants to support the quality of life and foster economic development to protect and improve the Great Lakes resources in Wisconsin’s coastal communities. Administered by the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, these grants will be used by local, state and tribal governments, regional planning commissions, universities, and nonprofit organizations to assist with projects throughout Wisconsin.

The intergovernmental and private sector collaborations aided by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program advance Wisconsin and regional Great Lakes priorities such as enhancing public access, sustainable use practices, community development and resiliency, fostering future stewards, and resource protection.

“The WCMP is a great example of how we can protect our Great Lakes natural resources while supporting sustainable economic development along the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. These grants help local and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations fund projects that sustain and enhance the quality of life for Wisconsin’s coastal communities,” said Gov. Evers.

The governor stopped in Hurley, Wisconsin on Tuesday, June 4, to announce details of the Iron County coastal grant and on Wednesday, June 5, he announced the Ozaukee Coastal grant in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, and DOA Secretary-designee Joel Brennan will make additional grant announcements and presentations in the coming weeks.

Recipients for this year’s grants were recommended by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Council, a Governor-appointed citizen, and governmental advisory group. The funds are part of Wisconsin’s federally-funded Coastal Management Program.

The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program balances sustainable economic development enhance and resource protection along Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coasts. The program awards federal funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management in the U.S. Department of Commerce to local governments and other entities for innovative coastal initiatives.

Announced coastal grants information:

Project Name: Iron County Land and Water Resource Management Plan
Iron County Land and Water Conservation Department
Grant Amount: $12,995
Details: This project will result in an update to Iron County’s Land and Water Resource Management Plan. Coastal Resources would be a new element in the plan.

Project Name: Little Menomonee Corridor Ecosystem Restoration – Wetland Habitat Construction
Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department
Grant Amount: $100,000
Details: This project will convert a portion of the Little Menomonee River from a straightened channel back to natural channel geometry including constructing several wetlands adjacent to this reach of the river.

Gov. Evers: Announces Pardon Advisory Board, establishes pardon process

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order #30 creating a pardon process and Pardon Advisory Board.

The Governor’s Pardon Advisory Board will review eligible applications and make recommendations to Gov. Evers on who to grant a pardon to.

“I believe in forgiveness and the power of redemption. People who have taken responsibility for their mistakes and who have worked to improve their lives and communities deserve a second chance,” said Gov. Evers.

Gov. Evers appointed eight people to the Board, including one member nominated by Attorney General Josh Kaul:

  • Jerry Hancock is the Director of the Prison Ministry Project. He previously served as a public defender, deputy district attorney, and an administrator for the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement Services.
  • Nate Holton is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Milwaukee County Transit System. He previously served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office and the Director of the Milwaukee County Justice Council.
  • Judge Jeffrey Kremers, Attorney General Josh Kaul’s nominee, served as a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge for 26 years, serving as chief judge for seven of those years. He retired in 2018.
  • Ryan Nilsestuen is Gov. Evers’ Chief Legal Counsel and will chair the Board. Nilsestuen previously served as an attorney and Chief Legal Counsel for the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Cindy O’Donnell served as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Corrections under Govs. Thompson, McCallum, and Doyle. She also served as a Division Administrator under Attorneys General Lautenschlager and Van Hollen.
  • Nadya Pérez-Reyes is the Legislative Advisor for the Department of Children and Families. She previously worked as a state public defender and as an attorney for Legal Action of Wisconsin.
  • Myrna Warrington is a Director of Vocational Rehabilitation on the Menominee Indian Reservation. Warrington, a U.S. Army veteran, has been a member of the Menominee Tribal Legislature for 11 years.
  • Noble Wray served with the Madison Police Department for almost 28 years, including as Chief of Police from 2004 to 2013. Wray led the U.S. Justice Department’s Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative and currently provides racial bias training for law enforcement agencies around the nation and world.

The Wisconsin Constitution grants the governor the power to pardon individuals convicted of a crime. A pardon is an official act of forgiveness that restores some of the rights that are lost when someone is convicted of a felony, including the right to serve on a jury, hold public office, and hold certain professional licenses. A pardon does not result in an expungement.

Under the new pardon process, individuals convicted of a Wisconsin felony may apply for a pardon if they completed their sentence at least five years ago and have not committed any new crimes. Individuals currently required to register on the sex offender registry are ineligible for a pardon.

A copy of the pardon application and instructions for applying are located on the Governor’s website: www.evers.wi.gov/Pages/pardon-information.aspx.

A copy of Executive Order #30 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Brian Juech as Marquette County District Attorney

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of Brian Juech to serve as Marquette County District Attorney.

Mr. Juech currently serves as assistant district attorney in the Waukesha County District Attorney’s Office. He has more than eight years’ experience as a prosecutor, trying every type of case from misdemeanors and traffic cases to sensitive crimes and other serious felonies. Mr. Juech heads up the misdemeanor and traffic unit and represents the District Attorney’s Office in the county OWI treatment court.

“I am confident Brian Juech will be a great district attorney for the people of Marquette County. He is fair, honest, and highly respected among his peers. His broad criminal law experience will translate perfectly to this role,” said Gov. Evers.

Gov. Evers’ appointment of Mr. Juech will fill the upcoming vacancy created by the resignation of current district attorney Chad Hendee, who was elected to circuit court judge in the county. Mr. Juech will fill the remainder of the unexpired term that ends in January 2021.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Julie Gleeson as Ashland County register of deeds

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today his appointment of Julie Gleeson as Ashland County Register of Deeds, replacing Karen Miller who is resigning effective July 12, 2019.

“Julie Gleeson’s 16 years of public service in Ashland County make her an exceptional choice for the Register of Deeds position,” Gov. Evers said. “I am confident that with her dedication to the Ashland community and years of experience, including as Deputy Register of Deeds, that Gleeson has the skills and vision necessary to continue the excellent work at the Register of Deeds’ Office.”

Julie Gleeson has worked for Ashland County for the last 16 years. She has served in the Register of Deeds Office since 2012 and has been the Deputy Register of Deeds since 2016.  Previously, she also spent several years as an Assistant Real Property Lister and GIS Mapper for the county. Gleeson is also a Certified Title Examiner with the Wisconsin Land Title Association.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Matthew Allen to serve as Iowa County District Attorney

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today his appointment of Matthew Allen to serve as Iowa County District Attorney.

Mr. Allen, a resident of Dodgeville, is currently the assistant district attorney for Iowa County, handling the criminal caseload for the entire county. In addition, Mr. Allen serves as corporation counsel for Iowa County, representing and advising the county, its board, and agencies. He represents the county in all family law and commitment proceedings, as well as the wide array of legal needs of a county, including contracts, real estate, the county budget, drafting of ordinances, and litigation.

“Matthew Allen is the ideal person for the job. He is energetic, enthusiastic, and highly respected throughout the community. With his experience in the district attorney’s office, he will provide the continuity and expertise the people of Iowa County deserve,” said Gov. Evers.

Gov. Evers’ appointment of Mr. Allen fills a vacancy created by the unexpected passing of Larry Nelson on April 16, 2019. Mr. Allen will fill the remainder of the unexpired term that ends in January 2021.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Rachel A. Graham to the Court of Appeals

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers announced today his appointment of Rachel A. Graham to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV. The appointment fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Gary Sherman.

“Wisconsin deserves fair judges who respect the law and understand the people that come before them. Rachel A. Graham has the temperament, experience, and ability to do just that for the people of Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers.

Graham is a commercial litigator with the Quarles and Brady, LLP, where she represents a wide variety of clients, including renters and landlords, small and large businesses, employees, and shareholders. She has extensive experience representing clients in appellate courts. In addition, Graham has received numerous awards for her pro bono work, where she has defended the constitutional rights of incarcerated individuals. Graham clerked for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and worked as a special education teacher.

Graham is a graduate of Stevens Point Area Senior High School, Northwestern University, and the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Gov. Evers: Appoints William H. Smith to Natural Resources Board

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of William H. Smith to serve on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.

Mr. Smith currently serves as the board director of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Foundation, as well as the emeritus director of the International Crane Foundation. He also serves as the board chair of his local Zoning Board of Appeals in Shell Lake.

In 1978, Mr. Smith began a 35-year career at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources when he was hired as an environmental engineer and program supervisor. He served in various roles at the DNR in Spooner, Rhinelander, and Madison, eventually serving as the department’s Deputy Secretary until 2007, and was the Natural Resources Manager until 2013.

He has extensive experience working with conservation and environmental organizations and has dedicated his career to the preservation of natural resources and environmental quality.

Mr. Smith will begin serving on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board on June 27, 2019.

Gov. Evers: Dept. of Health Services and Insurance Commission announce health care coverage partnership

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MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) today launched a Health Care Coverage Partnership aimed at enrolling more Wisconsinites in high-quality, affordable health insurance coverage. The partnership will focus on supporting outreach and enrollment, improving coordination between DHS and OCI, and promoting overall wellbeing.“As I’ve said before, this administration is committed to connecting the dots,” said Gov. Evers. “We are helping Wisconsin residents get connected to quality affordable health coverage through the individual market or Medicaid.”

“Through Medicaid expansion, Wisconsin has a great opportunity to improve coverage and access under this budget,” said Secretary-designee Palm. “While we continue to work with the legislature to enact the Governor’s budget, this partnership will inject new energy into efforts to enroll individuals and families in high quality, affordable health coverage.”

“Not only will expanding Medicaid extend health care coverage to 82,000 Wisconsinites, but it will also strengthen the individual health insurance market,” said Insurance Commissioner Mark V. Afable. “The more we educate consumers, the more likely they are to either find an individual health plan or to enroll in Medicaid. Working families need to know their options, and we are committed to making sure they are prepared to select the health insurance plan that works best for them.”

The Health Care Coverage Partnership will:

  • Support an outreach and enrollment initiative to educate consumers on their options by promoting the use of HealthCare.gov and availability of support through insurance agents and navigators;
  • Engage with stakeholders, which will include DHS, OCI, consumer and community organizations, health insurance companies, and health care systems, to guide the partnership’s efforts to strengthen health insurance markets;
  • Work with members of the legislature, federal officials, and other partners to implement Gov. Tony Evers’ Medicaid expansion proposal in a fiscally responsible way; and
  • Promote health and reduce costs for Wisconsin families. The partnership will support individuals with Medicaid coverage and help individuals smoothly transition from Medicaid to private coverage.

A letter announcing the partnership was sent to the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance today.

Medicaid expansion would cover 82,000 Wisconsinites, draw down $1.6 billion in new federal funding, and strengthen the individual market. OCI recently released a report from an independent actuarial firm originally hired by the Walker administration that found expanding Medicaid could help lower health insurance premiums on the individual market by 7 to 11 percent.

 

Gov. Evers: Extends deadline for coroner of Jackson County

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers announced on May 30, 2019, that he is seeking applicants for appointment as coroner in Jackson County. The deadline to send application materials has been extended to 5 p.m. on Monday, July 8, 2019.

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.

Potential applicants with questions about the appointments process may contact Cassi Fenili, Director of Gubernatorial Appointments, at (608) 267-3675.

Gov. Evers: Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin would lower premiums for those with private insurance

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin would not only cover 82,000 more people and save Wisconsin taxpayer dollars by drawing down $1.6 billion in new federal funds to reinvest in health and wellness initiatives, but it would also reduce health insurance premiums for those with private insurance purchased on the federal marketplace.

That’s according to new research released by Health Affairs, a nonpartisan leader on health policy, which showed that expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin would likely lower health insurance premiums substantially for individuals purchasing coverage on the federal marketplace.

The study compared marketplace premiums in Wisconsin to marketplace premiums in neighboring states that expanded Medicaid.

Controlling for a range of county-level demographic, market, and policy characteristics, the study found that expanding Medicaid produced individual marketplace premiums that were 19 percent lower among Wisconsin’s neighbors than in Wisconsin over the 2014-2018 time period. This means that Wisconsin residents who purchase coverage on the individual market are paying up to $57—or $684 per year—more for their premiums than people who live in neighboring states that expanded Medicaid.

“Expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin is not just the morally and fiscally responsible thing to do — it’s what the people want, and for good reason,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “By bringing $1.6 billion of Wisconsin’s federal tax dollars back into our state to cover more people and improve healthcare for all Wisconsinites, we can also reduce healthcare premiums for folks with private insurance. This should be the easiest decision in the budget. I urge Republicans in the legislature to pay attention to the facts, pay attention to the people of Wisconsin, and work with me to get this done.”

Previous research has also shown that Medicaid expansion improves the risk pool and lowers premiums in the individual marketplace. That’s because when states expand Medicaid to more low-income populations, some of these newly eligible individuals move from the individual marketplace onto public coverage. Since this group is relatively less healthy than higher-income groups that remain in the marketplace, the risk pool improves, costs go down, and premiums are lower.

Gov. Evers: Orders flags to half-staff in honor of Officer John D. Hetland

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 Patrol Officer John D. Hetland of the Racine Police Department, who tragically died in the line of duty on June 17, 2019. The order is effective beginning immediately and ending at sunset on the date of interment.

“The people of Wisconsin mourn with the Racine community that Officer Hetland served faithfully for over 24 years,” said Gov. Evers. “Officer Hetland was a loving father and son, a valued member of his community, and leaves behind an honorable legacy of service. His heroism and bravery will never be forgotten.”

A copy of Gov. Evers’ executive order #31 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Orders flags to half-staff in honor of Officer Kou Her

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 Officer Kou Her of the Milwaukee Police Department, who was tragically killed in a car crash on June 18, 2019, on his way home after completing his shift. The order is effective beginning on Saturday, June 29, 2019, and ending at sunset on Monday, July 1, 2019.

“Officer Her was a devoted son and brother, a role model in the Hmong community, and a valued member of the Milwaukee Police Department,” said Gov. Evers. “Officer Her leaves behind an honorable legacy of service to his community and his state. He will be missed.”

A copy of Gov. Evers’ executive order #32 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Proclaims June 19th ‘Juneteenth Day’ in Wisconsin

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers issued a proclamation declaring June 19th as Juneteenth Day throughout the state of Wisconsin.  Juneteenth commemorates the day, in 1865, where the last slaves were informed of their freedom, effectively ending slavery in the United States.

“Juneteenth is recognized throughout the United States and Wisconsin is proud to be a part of this important day,” Gov. Evers said. “This is a time to recognize the struggles of African Americans in our country’s modern history. While we use this time to reconcile with our past, we must also continue to make progress by moving forward in solidarity and strength.”

Juneteenth is recognized as the day Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to declare the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, slavery was still an active practice in Texas and other Confederate states because of the lack of Union soldiers to enforce the proclamation.

Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will attend Milwaukee’s 48th annual Juneteenth Day Festival opening ceremony Wednesday, June 19th starting at noon at the main stage on the intersection of North Martin Luther King Drive and West Locust Street. The ceremony will include the presentation of a certificate of commendation from Gov. Evers to MacArthur Weddle, executive director of Northcott Neighborhood House, for his 40 years of service to the Milwaukee community.

The Juneteenth Day Festival will include state agency booths from the Department of Children and Families, Natural Resources, Workforce Development, Financial Institutions, Veterans Affairs, and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The festival is free and open to the public.

Gov. Evers: Proclaims June 19th ‘Juneteenth Day’ in Wisconsin

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers issued a proclamation declaring June 19th as Juneteenth Day throughout the state of Wisconsin. Juneteenth commemorates the day, in 1865, where the last slaves were informed of their freedom, effectively ending slavery in the United States.

“Juneteenth is recognized throughout the United States and Wisconsin is proud to be a part of this important day,” Gov. Evers said. “This is a time to recognize the struggles of African Americans in our country’s modern history. While we use this time to reconcile with our past, we must also continue to make progress by moving forward in solidarity and strength.”

Juneteenth is recognized as the day Union Army Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to declare the end of slavery. Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, slavery was still an active practice in Texas and other Confederate states because of the lack of Union soldiers to enforce the proclamation.

Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will attend Milwaukee’s 48th annual Juneteenth Day Festival opening ceremony Wednesday, June 19th starting at noon at the main stage on the intersection of North Martin Luther King Drive and West Locust Street. The ceremony will include the presentation of a certificate of commendation from Gov. Evers to MacArthur Weddle, executive director of Northcott Neighborhood House, for his 40 years of service to the Milwaukee community.

The Juneteenth Day Festival will include state agency booths from the Department of Children and Families, Natural Resources, Workforce Development, Financial Institutions, Veterans Affairs, and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The festival is free and open to the public.

View the official proclamation here.

Gov. Evers: Releases statement relating to Supreme Court ruling on partisan gerrymandering

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
 — Gov. Tony Evers released the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on partisan gerrymandering.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling on partisan gerrymandering is devastating for our democracy, our system of government, the right to participate in the democratic process, and the notion that people should come before politics. Partisan gerrymandering is exactly how we end up with a majority party in power that doesn’t care that 70% of our state supports things like Medicaid expansion.

“The people should get to choose their representatives, not the other way around. If the Supreme Court chooses to sleep on the job and ignores its duty to remedy the widespread constitutional harms across our country, then in Wisconsin we will do everything we can to ensure elections in our state are fair, accessible, and free. That includes fighting for nonpartisan redistricting and vetoing gerrymandered maps that arrive on my desk.”

Gov. Evers: Releases statement relating to the March to Madison for Public Education Funding

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Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today released the following statement relating to the March to Madison for Public Education Funding:

“These educators and advocates marched all the way to Madison because they believe, as I do, that doing what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. There’s still time for Republicans to put politics aside and to do the right thing for our kids, our schools, and our educators, and I hope they’ll listen to what the people of our state are saying loud and clear today.”

Gov. Evers: Releases statement relating to today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers released the following statement in response to today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision:

“This issue was already decided three years ago in Coyne v. Walker. Both conservative and liberal justices agreed then that the constitution prevented the governor from vetoing rules overseeing public schools.

“The facts didn’t change in the last three years and neither did the meaning of the constitution. Only the composition of the court did.”

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge.

The appointment will fill a vacancy being created by Judge Michael Dwyer’s retirement, effective September 25, 2019. The new judge will complete a term ending July 31, 2021.

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]. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on June 28, 2019.

Completed applications must be sent to [email protected]. 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 bipartisan bills relating to equal treatment of liquor sales, improving Wisconsin’s competitiveness by eliminating tax benefits

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MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed bipartisan bills Senate Bill 83, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 6, and Assembly Bill 10, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 7, into law.

Senate Bill 83, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 6, creates the equal treatment of retail sales of all types of liquor for off-premises consumption. Current law allows licensed retailers to sell beer and wine in any quantity for off-premises consumption, but the quantity of distilled spirits is limited, which can create confusion and an additional burden for customers. 2019 Wisconsin Act 6 will apply the same treatment to all types of intoxication liquor. The law signed today retains the authority for municipalities to determine by ordinance if a “Class B” license holder may sell intoxication liquor for off-premises consumption.

SB 83 is a bipartisan bill authored by Sens. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), David Craig (R-Big Bend), and Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), and Reps. Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth), Lisa Subeck (D-Madison).

The second bill, Assembly Bill 10, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 7, improves tax fairness by ensuring that businesses moving out of state are not able to reduce their taxes through expenses incurred in moving out of the state. The new law will improve Wisconsin’s competitiveness by eliminating tax benefits for reducing or eliminating Wisconsin operations.

AB 10 is a bipartisan bill authored by Sens. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and Janet Bewley (D-Mason), and Reps. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and Chris Taylor (D-Madison).

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #29 relating to the Rainbow Pride Flag flown in recognition of Pride Month

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers signed executive order #29 relating to a proclamation that the Rainbow Pride Flag be flown over the east wing of the State Capitol building and throughout the state of Wisconsin in recognition of Pride Month beginning on Friday, June 7, 2019, and ending at sunset on June 30, 2019.

“Publicly displaying the Rainbow Pride Flag sends a clear and unequivocal message that Wisconsin is a welcoming and inclusive place where everyone can live without fear of persecution, judgment, or discrimination,” said Gov. Evers.

A copy of Gov. Evers’ executive order #29 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Statement relating to Wisconsin Supreme Court decision

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Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today released the following statement on today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision:

“Today’s decision is disappointing and, unfortunately, all too predictable. It is based on a desired political outcome, not the plain meaning and text of the constitution.

“The state constitution is clear. It limits when the legislature can meet to pass laws. Our framers knew that no good comes from lawmakers rushing laws through at the last minute without public scrutiny. The lame-duck session proves the framers were right. This was an attack on the will of the people, our democracy, and our system of government.

“The people of Wisconsin deserve better than this.”

Gov. Evers: Vetoes legislation restricting reproductive healthcare

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today vetoed AB 179, AB 180, AB 182, AB 183, legislation that would limit access to reproductive healthcare and needlessly interfere with and inject politics into patient-provider relationships.

“Everyone should have access to quality, affordable healthcare, and that includes reproductive healthcare,” Gov. Evers said. “Politicians shouldn’t be in the business of interfering with decisions made between patients and their healthcare providers.”

Veto message for AB 179.

Veto message for AB 180.

Veto message for AB 182.

Veto message for AB 183

Gov. Evers: Wisconsin residents will pay more than $2 billion to support Medicaid expansion in other states

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MADISON —  A new analysis from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue shows that Wisconsin taxpayers will pay more than $2 billion over the next biennium in federal income taxes for other states to expand their Medicaid programs. Because Wisconsin has not expanded Medicaid, state residents experience no return on these investments.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services estimates that if the state expands Medicaid coverage to nonelderly adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, Wisconsin will save $324.5 million in general purpose revenue, and draw down approximately $1 billion in new federal funding. Under the governor’s budget, the state then proposes to reinvest these savings into the health care system to draw down a total of $1.6 billion in new federal funds.

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce: Accepting applications for sixth annual Pressure Chamber Competition

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Contact: Erik Greenfield, Communications Manager, 608-443-1952 (office), 608-669-7884 (cell)

Region’s apex live pitch contest returns Aug. 27 during eight-day Forward Fest

MADISON – The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce announced today it is accepting applications for this year’s Pressure Chamber startup initiative, which returns Aug. 27 during Forward Festival, an eight-day celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation in Madison. The popular program includes participation and support from active regional investment firms, as well as the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

Applicants for Pressure Chamber go through a screening process that may include presentations with prominent Wisconsin investors. From there, a select number of companies will be chosen to pitch in front of a panel of out-of-state investors, business executives and a live audience during Forward Fest. The winning company is decided based on a combination of judges scoring and audience votes. In addition to receiving the coveted “golden suitcase,” the winning company will also earn a spot on the Chamber’s exclusive Madison-area startup delegation to San Francisco this fall for meetings with top Silicon Valley investment firms.

“Pressure Chamber is about highlighting the best of Greater Madison’s startup scene and enhancing the economic connection between two of the fastest-growing technology job creators in the country,” said Chamber Vice President Kevin Little. “This year’s competition represents another golden opportunity to showcase Greater Madison’s thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem and give our community an up-close look at the innovative ideas driving the future of our economy.”

Past Pressure Chamber winners have credited the initiative for helping their company close successful funding rounds. Additionally, Pressure Chamber has been recognized by both the International Economic Development Council and Steve Case’s Rise of the Rest Summit as an entrepreneurship and economic development best practice. Participating companies have included EatStreet, Propeller Health, Redox, Datica, Fetch Rewards, HealthMyne, Cardigan, AkitaBox, Moxe, LÜM, DotCom Therapy, Fishidy, bluDiagnostics, POLCO and more.

Pressure Chamber is open to any industry, as long as the company meets the following requirements:

Must be a member of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce or support local entrepreneurial partner organizations
Must be located in Dane County or plan to locate to Dane County by Aug. 27, 2019
Must have raised at least $25,000, excluding personal investment by company founders
Application must be received by 5 p.m. on Monday, July 15, 2019

The full application can be accessed at bit.ly/Pressure19

Pressure Chamber is presented by Michael Best & Friedrich, with support from the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, American Family Ventures, Baird Capital, 4490 Ventures, HealthX Ventures, Lindsay Stone & Briggs and Rock River Capital Partners.

For more information about Forward Fest, visit forwardfest.org.

About the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce:
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business with nearly 1,300 organizations – ranging from one-person shops to corporations with more than 10,000 employees – working to bring the Greater Madison area to its full potential. The Greater Madison region is a leader in innovation. From cutting-edge technologies to distinctive retail shops to inventive services and products, our members vary greatly but are united by the region’s entrepreneurial spirit. More information can be found at madisonbiz.com.

Health Affairs study: Medicaid expansion lowers insurance premiums

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MADISON — A new study by Health Affairs, a nonpartisan research leader on health policy, shows that Medicaid expansion in Wisconsin would lead to substantially lower private health insurance premiums for individuals purchasing through the federal marketplace. The study compared marketplace premiums in Wisconsin to marketplace premiums in neighboring states that expanded Medicaid. It found that expanding Medicaid produced individual marketplace premiums that were 19 percent lower among Wisconsin’s neighbors than in Wisconsin over the 2014-2018 time period. Wisconsin residents who purchase coverage on the individual market are paying up to $57 per month—or $684 per year—more for their premiums than people who live in neighboring states that expanded Medicaid. Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) reacted to the latest study pointing to the positive impacts of accepting the Medicaid expansion.

“This study proves, once again, that Medicaid expansion will help Wisconsin families in a very real way. The Governor’s plan reduces healthcare premiums for people with private insurance in addition to saving the state hundreds of millions of dollars and drawing down $1.6 billion in federal funds,” Rep. Hintz stated. “Republicans are out of excuses for not accepting the expansion, and it is clear their objection is purely partisan in nature. This is exactly what people hate about politics. It’s time to stop the obstructionist tactics and focus on what’s best for our state. 36 states have expanded Medicaid across the country. Not one has decided to go back on their decision to increase health care access.”

 

Last month, Representative Robin Vos stated, “We are never going to do it (Medicaid expansion) in a way that undermines people who have private sector health insurance, drives up their costs, all while putting the taxpayers of Wisconsin at greater risk.” Based on the Health Affairs study and numerous previous studies, these statements are not true.

“The Health Affairs research shows that Medicaid expansion isn’t just the right thing to do morally, it’s the right financial decision for Wisconsin. Democrats will continue to stand with Governor Evers to fight for Medicaid expansion,” Rep. Hintz concluded.

Hintz blasts GOP leggies over lame-duck laws

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz slammed Speaker Robin Vos for GOP actions during December’s lame-duck session.

Hintz recalled Vos telling reporters less than 24 hours after the election of Dem Gov. Tony Evers that he would “strip power” from the incoming guv and attorney general.

“Imagine being so insecure that your first action in divided government is to undermine & upend the balance of power with the new democratically elected Governor, instead of simply looking for common ground to work together on,” he said

He also criticized GOP legislative leaders for what he labeled as “unfair” maps that “insulated their members from accountability.”

“They don’t have to listen to you,” Hintz said.

But moving forward, he said Evers would ensure non-partisan maps for the 2022 election and urged Wisconsin Dems to stay engaged and involved.

“Remember, it’s not a movement unless your moving, so let’s go,” he said.

Hogan planning to leave WEDC in fall

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WEDC CEO Mark Hogan today said he will step down from his role in the coming months.

Hogan confirmed his plans at the Milwaukee Rotary Club this afternoon but failed to provide a specific date for departing the state’s jobs agency.

WEDC spokesman David Callender told WisPolitics.com today that Hogan’s plan dating back to former Gov. Scott Walker’s time in office was to leave sometime in the fall of 2019. Callender added that Hogan still has a number of projects in the works, and his departure would be based on the completion of those projects.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Tony Evers noted that he has “a good and productive relationship” with Hogan and “appreciates both his leadership at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and his service to the people of Wisconsin.”

A bill Republicans approved in the lame-duck session stripped Evers of the power to appoint the WEDC leader until September.

“The staff at WEDC do great work promoting economic development of all shapes and sizes,” said spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff. “Ensuring that those efforts continue in the future is a top priority for the governor.”

Housing navigator grant bill passes assembly

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Madison –Today, Representative Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc) was pleased to join her fellow Republicans in support for initiatives to find a permanent solution to homelessness as part of the new “A Hand for the Homeless” initiative. The package of eight bills was passed on the Assembly Floor this afternoon with bipartisan support.

 

“I am excited to see AB 121 pass the Assembly with support from both sides of the aisle. Preventing homelessness is a priority for everyone. The “A Hand for the Homeless” package, including AB 121, will take measurable steps in funneling resources towards initiatives in every aspect of the issue including preventing homelessness, providing job skills training to low-income individuals at risk for homelessness, and helping individuals facing chronic homelessness avenues to find long-term stability,” shared Rep. Dittrich.

 

AB 121, authored by Rep. Dittrich, would create a Housing Navigation Grant to work with landlords to find permanent house units for individuals with difficulties in maintaining permanent, stable places of residence. The funds will also be used to mediate any disputes that may arise between these tenants and landlords.

 

“A Hand for the Homeless” initiative is part of the “A Hand and a Home: Foundation for Success a statewide, comprehensive plan from theInteragency Council on Homelessness, created with bipartisan support, aimed at addressing homelessness in Wisconsin.

HSGAC: Advances FEMA, DHS, USPS, MSPB nominees, 14 bills during business meeting

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Contact:

Austin Altenburg (Johnson), (202) 224-4751

Allison Green (Peters), (202) 834-2281

WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced four nominees and 14 bills during a committee business meeting Wednesday. The bills, amendments, nominees, and four postal-naming bills were passed by voice vote unless otherwise noted.

Nominations:

1. Jeffrey C. Byard to be Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security;

2. Troy D. Edgar to be Chief Financial Officer, U.S. Department of Homeland Security;

3. John M. Barger to be a Governor, U.S. Postal Service;

4. Chad Bungard to be a Member, Merit Systems Protection Board.

Legislation:

1. S. 1867, DHS Countering Unmanned Aircraft Systems Coordinator Act;

2. S. 1877, Government Shutdown Accountability Act (roll call vote 10-2);

· Lankford/Hassan/Johnson/Rosen/Sinema substitute as modified

· Scott amendment (roll call vote 9-5)

· Sinema second degree

3. S. 1869, Secure Federal Leases from Espionage and Suspicious Entanglements Act;

· Peters/Portman substitute

4. S. 1539, Protecting Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act of 2019;

5. S. 1419, Early Participation in Regulations Act of 2019;

· Lankford substitute

6. S. 1151, Venezuela Contracting Restriction Act;

· Scott substitute

7. S. 1521, a bill to amend section 327 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to clarify that National Urban Search and Rescue Response System task forces may include Federal employees

8. S. 1004, Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act of 2019

9. S. 1846, State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act of 2019;

· Peters/Portman amendment

10. S. 1874, Bulb Replacement Improving Government with High-Efficient Technology Act of 2019;

· Johnson/Peters substitute

11. S. 979, Federal Advanced Contracts Enhancement Act;

· Peters amendment

12. S. 731, Anti-Border Corruption Improvement Act;

· Johnson amendment

13. S. 734, Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019;

· Johnson substitute as modified

14. H.R. 150, Grant Reporting Efficiency and Agreements Transparency Act of 2019.

· Lankford/Peters/Hassan/Enzi substitute

Husch Blackwell: Bill White joins Husch Blackwell’s Madison office

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Steve Renau
816-983-8783
[email protected]

MAY 28, 2019—Husch Blackwell is pleased to announce that noted real estate lawyer William F. White has joined the firm as counsel. A fixture of Madison’s business community for over three decades, White counsels clients primarily in the areas of real estate development and land use and has also served as general counsel and principal legal advisor for a wide variety of business clients.

White has significant experience litigating land use and development issues on behalf of property owners, developers, municipalities and businesses. He has served as special counsel on land-use issues to a variety of government entities and agencies and has participated extensively in the development of cooperative plans, boundary agreements, comprehensive master plans, municipal incorporations and tax increment financing.

“We are excited to welcome Bill to Husch Blackwell and to make available to our clients his unique market knowledge and perspectives,” said Mindi Giftos, Husch Blackwell’s Madison office managing partner. “Few lawyers in private practice can match the depth of his experience and his thorough understanding of how to get things done in Madison.”

A former long-time partner with Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, White has significant ties with the Madison business community. He is a Past Chairman and Executive Committee Member with the Madison Region Economic Partnership and a Past Chairman of the Dane County Regional Airport Commission. Since 1995, he has been recognized in the Best Lawyers in America directory and has been listed in Wisconsin Super Lawyers since 2005 in the area of Land Use and Zoning Law/Litigation.

Ian Smith & Buzz Davis: VA healthcare hit with one-two punch! Veterans and unions fight back

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

First vets were hit with the massive privatization program called Choice passed by the Republican Congress in 2014 and signed by Pres. Obama. But 70 House Democrats thought the Choice program was NOT the way to improve VA veteran healthcare. They voted NO.

The second punch was President Trump’s hitting unionized VA workers with a “bad faith” proposed bargaining contract to replace the present contract covering 260,000 VA workers. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union members are more than half the VA’s 460,000 workers and one-third are veterans.

Trump & VA Top Management Follow the Koch Brothers Plan to Privatize Veterans Healthcare

In 2010, the Koch brothers, two of the world’s wealthiest men, decided they wanted to close down the VA, send all seven million veterans who use the VA for healthcare, into private care, and sell VA hospitals. They have spent hundreds of millions to have Congress do this. Private healthcare costs about 30% more than VA care and produces tremendous profits for insurance, drug and hospital corporations. The Koch’s and Wall-Streeters intend to make billions off sick vets.

They want to destroy the VA – America’s only Single Payer/Single Provider healthcare system to ensure America will NOT enact Single Payer healthcare in the future.

Republican’s designed the VA Choice program to massively privatize the VA – pushing vets out of VA care into private care.

By the end of 2017, more than 40% of all VA outpatient appointments had been pushed into the private sector. We believe that today, 1.5 years later, this percentage is even higher.

On June sixth, VA management kicked off the reorganized Community Care Program (CCP). Republicans designed this program under the MISSION Act of 2018 to send more veterans into private care.

In March, over 50 Democratic Congressional members signed a letter asking the VA to slow down, postpone the introduction of CCP until it is fully tested and until dollar costs are known, budgeted for and until the current unsatisfactory regulatory proposal is rewritten.

President Trump and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie refused to work with Congress and veterans groups on Democratic concerns.

These very important new CCP federal regulations were written in secret without the input from Congressional VA committees and veteran service organizations like Veterans of Foreign Wars or Disabled American Veterans. The regs were hurriedly presented to the public for comment, poorly written, are possibly illegal and include cost estimates off by billions of dollars. These regs endanger veterans’ health, provide care without proper supervision by a VA primary physician and do not guarantee private care quality will match that of VA care.

The health of millions of veterans is at risk.

Over 7.2 million vets use VA healthcare (an increase of 85% since 2001.) Nearly half are combat vets with serious physical, mental and emotional wounds/injuries and diseases. Many are low income. Many are disabled.

In surveys, 92% of America’s vets say they want the VA fixed and do NOT want private care. Vets want care from their VA doctors and nurses. Vets need the VA’s high quality specialized expertise.

Trump Presents “BAD” Faith Bargaining Proposal to AFGE Union

Now Wisconsin’s 7,600 VA workers in Milwaukee, Madison and Tomah and across America have received the second punch from Trump.

VA management’s proposed labor contract guts worker rights and even prevents medical staff from reporting serious medical errors or threats. Trump proposes that a disciplined worker would be prohibited from filing a grievance against an unjust disciplinary action.
AFGE locals across America continue organizing rallies, press conferences and town halls helping workers, veterans and citizens understand what is happening at the VA.

The Madison VA union and Veterans for Peace will hold an informational rally Monday, June 24th from 11-1PM at the VA Main Gate on Highland just north of Campus Drive. We invite the public to join us in showing support for veterans and VA workers. Press conference starts at 11 AM.

To help veterans, please call your U.S. senators and representative. Just say Stop Privatizing the VA — fix, fund, staff it, and fill the 50,000 VA vacancies!

–Ian Smith, of Madison, was an Army medic during the 1950’s, is a retired 40 year VA worker, is presently a vice president of AFGE (Am. Fed. of Govt. Employees) Local 1732, Madison VA union and has been working with Davis to stop va privatization since 2014.

–Buzz Davis, formerly of Stoughton, WI now of Tucson, is a long time progressive activist, a member of Veterans for Peace and a former VISTA volunteer, Army officer during the 1960’s, elected official, union organizer, retired state government planner, presently helping to lead the 26 state VFP effort to stop VA privatization.

Ike Brannon: A new approach for economic development in Wisconsin

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

The Wisconsin community with the most compelling economic narrative is not Madison or Greater Milwaukee Area, but Fort Atkinson.

Fort Atkinson (or Fort, as the natives call it) is a town of 12,500 situated halfway between Milwaukee and Madison. Because of its location many households with a spouse working in each city choose to live there.

But for dual-city couples, the choice of Fort Atkinson is not an obvious one. Fort is a dozen miles south of Interstate 94, and a house near the interchange would shorten the long commute in either direction. But people gladly make the longer drive because Fort Atkinson is a great community, because its residents and government have worked hard to make it so.

The most welcoming part of Fort is the walkway along the Rock River. Exploiting a source of natural beauty may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve lived in other communities with a similar resource that never figured it out.

The town also has a first class high school (which my wife attended, incidentally), along with interesting shops, excellent restaurants (I highly recommend Cafe Carpe), and a surprisingly robust live music scene for a town its size. A level of civic engagement that is remarkable in this day and age helps to make this all possible.

Fort’s dedication to making the town a vibrant, livable community–and investing its resources to do so–does more than just keep its residents content. In the long run, these sort of investments are the only economic development plan that pays off.

In the last few decades most small towns and rural areas across the state (and U.S. as well) have lost jobs, which have migrated towards larger communities across the country at an ever-increasing pace, which has left many wondering if small communities have a viable economic future.

A main reason that companies locate in large cities is that they worry about attracting skilled, talented workers in small towns. And new college graduates who hail from small towns are hesitant to return home because of the perceived lack of opportunity, which exacerbates the problem.

Wisconsin has devoted a lot of resources to stem this trend, mainly by giving businesses billions of dollars to move to the state or to deter businesses already here from moving elsewhere. However, most of these programs have proven to be expensive, short-term salves that accomplish little. Foxconn is the latest manifestation of this failed strategy.

Fort Atkinson suggests an altogether different approach. It has made its town more livable, which has led to more people moving there–and these people happen to predominantly be educated, affluent, and more likely to start businesses than the average Wisconsin resident. And some of them have done precisely that.

While the town’s location and natural beauty give it an advantage not all communities have, it nonetheless offers a model for an altogether different economic development strategy for the state that is worth exploring–one that focuses on attracting people and not businesses.

Madison has benefited from this strategy. Its biggest employer of skilled workers, the health care IT concern Epic, was established in the town because its founder wanted to live there, and remaining in Madison has made sense for Epic because it’s easy to sell UW grads–and lots of other talented people–on the idea of living in Madison. That most of Epic’s employees choose to remain in the city after attriting from Epic is more relevant to the state’s economic future than anything Foxconn could ever do.

There are myriad lessons to be learned from the Foxconn debacle, but the one I hope resonates with our politicians is that to preserve Wisconsin’s economic future, we would be better served by investing in making our communities welcoming, inclusive, and hospitable places in which to live and raise a family first and foremost. If we combine such efforts with the rest of our state’s resources–which includes its remarkable physical beauty–people will flock to the state. And the jobs will follow.

— Brannon is a senior fellow with the Jack Kemp Foundation and a former professor at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

 

Institute for Reforming Government: Wisconsin’s bold solutions for regulatory reform

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Madison, Wis. — The Institute for Reforming Government issued its second policy paper today highlighting Wisconsin-based reforms for reducing burdensome regulations. Since Governor Walker and a reform-minded Legislature were elected in 2011, executive and legislation solutions have saved taxpayer dollars, reduced waste, fraud and abuse in government programs and promoted strong economic growth.

“Cumbersome regulations created by a bureaucratic government creates a burden that suffocates capitalism and makes it harder for businesses to create jobs for working families. Governor Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature hit the nail on the head with regulatory reform. They helped the government get out of the way to promote strong economic growth, while reducing waste, fraud and abuse in government spending. If other states around the country want to reform their regulations, look no further than Wisconsin,” said Rob McDonald, Chairman of the Board for the Institute for Reforming Government.

Highlights of Governor Walker and the Legislature’s Regulatory Reforms:

Act 21:

  • “…Act 21 provides that no agency may implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold, including as a term or condition of any license issued by the agency, unless that standard, requirement, or threshold is explicitly required or explicitly permitted by statute or by rule…” [1]

Reducing Waste, Fraud and Abuse in Government:

  • 2011 Executive Order #7, which “…require[d] that the appointed heads of each administrative department and independent agency create a team within their departments and agencies to assist the Commission on Waste, Fraud and Abuse to identify waste, fraud and abuse within each agency and recommend steps to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse…” [2]
  • The Commission on Waste, Fraud and Abuse published a report “…detailing more than $370 million in potential savings to the state…” [3] and it found:
  • “…Efforts to combat tax fraud and increase collections have shown results. Overall, anti-fraud collections are up $74 million, based on figures published by the state Department of Revenue…” [3]
    • “…The commission’s report talked about ways to get state agencies to return, or ‘lapse,’ unspent funds back to the state treasury… we think $112 million better reflects true savings in that category…” [3]
    • “…Similarly, anti-fraud efforts in state welfare programs have brought in $48 million more…” [3]

Lean Government Initiative:

  • This initiative was implemented to“…eliminate waste, save time, standardize workflow, and decrease process complexity… [e]stablish measurement criteria for the services the agency performs with a focus on processes that…[r]educe workload, improve customer satisfaction, and improve processes…” [4]

The Regulatory Reform 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.

Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee: Announces Pardeep Singh Kaleka as new executive director

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Contact: Elana Kahn, IFCGM Chair
414-403-3705
[email protected]

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin –The Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, which represents the regional leaders and adherents of 18 faiths and denominations, announced yesterday that Pardeep Singh Kaleka will be its next executive director.

Kaleka was hired after a long search process that included many candidates. He will begin July 1. Retiring executive director Tom Heinen will retire after a short transition period.

Pardeep Singh Kaleka is a first-generation immigrant from India. He received a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Sociology from Marquette University and a master’s in Clinical/Community Psychology from Alverno College. He has served the community through multiple positions, as a police officer, educator for at-risk high school students, community consultant, and trauma therapist. He is one of the co-founders of Serve2Unite, a nonprofit organization founded after the 2012 white supremacist attack on the Oak Creek Sikh Temple, to counter extremism. In 2018, he co-authored a memoir, “The Gift of Our Wounds.” His columns on mental health and community trauma appear regularly in the Milwaukee Independent. He serves on the City of Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force’s Steering Committee and the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin’s board of trustees. An accomplished public speaker and advocate, he has spoken with groups locally and across the globe. He is married with four children.

“The hiring committee agreed that Pardeep is the right person to lead the Interfaith Conference into the future,” said IFCGM Chair Elana Kahn. He is creative, energetic, innovative, and a proven community builder. We’re excited to go through this period of transition with Pardeep at the helm. Tom Heinen has accomplished so much over the last decade, and we will properly thank him for his faithful stewardship.”

The IFCGM will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020, which will include unveiling transformative new initiatives that are now being planned.

About the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee
Founded in 1970, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee is a 49-year-old nonprofit organization through which the regional leaders and adherents of 18 member faiths and denominations: Dialogue to build personal relationships; conduct public programming to counter hate and fear while fostering interfaith, intercultural and interracial understanding, tolerance and friendship; and work together on hunger, unemployment, environmental challenges and other social issues to create a better society for everyone. The Conference’s underlying emphasis is “to uphold the dignity of every person and the solidarity of the human community.”

Jacque says he’s received assurances on DA positions, prosecutor pay to secure his budget vote

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JFC approves $1.9 billion capital budget, $600 million less than Evers proposed

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JFC approves $10.1 million GPR boost for DOJ, but pares back Evers proposal, Legal Services

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JFC approves $72.7 million GPR for reinsurance program, but rejects more positions

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JFC approves adding GOP tax plan to budget

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JFC approves boost for DCF, including child care reimbursements

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JFC approves GOP Medicaid plans, bickers over guv’s expansion proposal

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JFC approves GOP transportation plan

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JFC approves Stewardship Fund extension

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JFC Republicans add earmarks to WEDC, reject Dem accountability motion

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JFC Republicans plan to vote on $500 million in tax cuts

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JFC Republicans unveil $483.7 million transportation package

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JFC unanimously backs using increased sales tax collections to reduce income taxes

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Joint Finance Committee: Transportation package

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Senator Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) issued the following statement regarding the Joint Finance Committee Transportation Package.  The package includes $483.7 million in fee increases and a transfer from the General Fund to the Transportation Fund.  The proposal also includes $326 million in new transportation bonding.  The proposal didn’t include any required cost savings or reforms in the operations of the Department of Transportation.

 

“Tonight is a big win for the road building specials interests and a big loss for the taxpayers.  The Joint Finance Committee package contains excessively high levels of new revenues with no accountability or reform measures.  We may see a separate bill containing a few reforms at some point, but it is likely the Governor will veto any stand-alone bill relating to taxpayer accountability at the DOT.

 

I don’t support this transportation package and have serious concerns over the current level of structural deficit (*currently between $1 billion and $1.5 billion according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau) created by the JFC version of the budget.  These key factors are jeopardizing my support for the 2019-21 biennial budget.”   

 

 

Key pieces in the package:

 

-Increases the light truck and auto annual registration fee from $75 to $85.

-Increases the Titling Fee by $95 to a cost of $164.50.  Currently it is $69.50.

-Transfer of $90 million GPR from the General Fund to the Transportation

Jon Erpenbach: The facts behind the Republican budget: A story of missed opportunities

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

On Wednesday, the Senate voted on the Republican version of the State Budget. The GOP budget removes Wisconsin’s opportunity to make historic investments in our communities and keeps in place massive tax breaks for the wealthy. After Democrats on the Joint Committee on Finance fought for Governor Evers’ proposals, Senate Democrats followed lead and introduced amendments to keep in place the most crucial and the most requested aspects of the People’s Budget, including Medicaid expansion, fully funding education, protecting drinking water, and enacting tax fairness.

The Republican decision to not expand Medicaid is the most baffling, and financially irresponsible decision that they have made during the current budget process. The GOP’s budget spends 317.4 million more of your state dollars, and rejects bringing home 1,236.6 billion in federal dollars compared to the People’s Budget. Additionally, according to an analysis by the Department of Revenue, by not expanding Medicaid, Wisconsinites will pay over a billion a year to support the expansion in other states, without seeing any financial benefit or return. Wisconsin taxpayers will bear this cost regardless.

The financial benefits of the Medicaid Expansion are clear and indisputable; but the impact it will have on the health of our state is what is truly remarkable. Wisconsin would have been able to cover an additional 82,000 people, while protecting the 1.2 million residents who already rely on the program for high quality care. Additionally, Wisconsin would be able to use the federal dollars to eliminate health disparities, invest in behavioral health and substance abuse services, and bring down prescription drug prices for seniors.

From an overall lowering of insurance premiums and keeping hospital doors open, to making incredible investments in programs that improve health outcomes in Wisconsin, the arguments for the Medicaid expansion far outweigh any that Republicans construct against it. That is why Democrats continue to fight for the proposal and introduced an amendment that would restore several important health care programs that the GOP eliminated and bring our federal Medicaid dollars home to Wisconsin.

The second amendment that Senate Democrats introduced was to invest in education at all levels; from preschool to college. After 8 years of massive cuts to our education system, we know that the Republican budget doesn’t even come close to repairing the damage they’ve done or filling the hole they dug. Governor Evers recommended increasing funding for special education for the first time in a decade; a $600 million investment. Republicans slashed that proposal by 83%, cutting $509,251,500 from special education compared to the People’s Budget.

The amount that the Republicans removed from special education funding, was eerily similar to the amount of the corporate tax credits that Republicans protected, at $516,600,000 for the Manufacturing Credit. The GOP’s priorities became clear as they announced that their current proposal was the “best they could do,” and largely ignored the fact that communities are raising their own property taxes in order to make up the difference and keep their school doors open. Once again Republicans put an ineffective tax break, which has resulted in less jobs compared to prior to the credit, before our children.

It shouldn’t be ignored that Republicans allowed their own districts to take a hit in the education budget. The GOP JFC cut $10.1 million from sparsity aid for rural schools compared to the Governor. 83 school districts all over Wisconsin will be hurt by this decision. This is also the second budget in a row the GOP reduced sparsity aid. Last session they cut $18 million from former Governor Walke