2019 July

Monthly Archives: July 2019

‘UpFront’: Abele hopes to set national model for youth corrections

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said he hopes the county’s plan to renovate its existing juvenile center into a newer residential care center for young offenders will become “the new national model” for youth corrections.

Milwaukee County, one of four counties seeking to create secure residential care centers for youth and children, is seeking nearly $42 million from the state to renovate the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center in Wauwatosa and add new programming.

The four counties are putting together plans for the smaller, regional centers that are slated to take young offenders after the closure of the Lincoln Hills School in June 2021.

“We want to set the new national model,” Abele said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“We’re building on some of the ideas that work, but every bit of new programming that we’re adding, everything that is in our proposal, is based on a rigorous look at best practices around the country,” Abele said.

Mary Jo Meyers, director of Milwaukee County Health and Human Services, said the county’s new center would house and treat less serious offenders. The most serious offenders would go to one of two new secure youth detention facilities the state is planning to build.

“We will have the next level of kids, who have perhaps committed a variety of different types of crimes, but we know present less risk to the community,” she said.

Abele said the county’s facility will help save the state money by lowering recidivism. And it will help juveniles and their families because it will be closer to home for them than Lincoln Hills.

Also on the program, state Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, said her bill to prohibit pet stores from selling dogs and cats would help close a loophole in state law.

Legislation passed in 2009 attempted to crack down on puppy mills, but Myers said it has a loophole that still presents an “opportunity for puppy mill (animals) to come through that pet store operation.”

The pet store industry has said Myers’ bill will put some stores out of business, but Myers said she disagrees.

“I don’t think it will put them out of business. I think it’s actually an opportunity for them to work directly with the humane society, and work with verified rescues to have adoptions in their stores. So, it will not drive revenue from their stores, because you still have to purchase ancillary items for your pet in the local pet stores,” she said.

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

‘UpFront’: Group working to highlight UW-Madison’s economic impact

Prominent backers of UW-Madison have formed a group to educate the public about the economic value of the university.

Amber Schroeder, executive director of Badgers United, said business leaders saw a need to explain what the university means to communities around the state, and inform people about its economic impact, estimated to be about $15 billion.

I think it’s important to know that UW-Madison, for every dollar that comes in, $24 come out, and bounces across the entire state. It’s not just a Madison thing. It’s a statewide thing,” Schroeder said in an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

The board of Badgers United includes Major League Baseball Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig, former UW System President Katharine Lyall, and philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge, who have donated millions to UW.

Badgers United also will advocate for lifting the tuition freeze, Schroeder said.

“High-achieving students don’t want cheap education. They want quality education,” she said.

She said UW-Madison should “be at market rate for resident tuition” compared to other Big 10 schools.

Also on the program, WisPolitics.com Editor JR Ross said Capitol insiders expect Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to use his partial veto authority on the nearly $82 billion, two-year state budget the Republican-controlled Legislature sent to him.

“I think the going bet in Madison is that he’s going to sign it, but after reworking it with the partial veto authority,” Ross said.

Evers’ other choices are signing the budget, or vetoing it entirely, something that hasn’t been done in Wisconsin since the executive budget process began in 1931.

Republicans struck the Medicaid expansion from the budget Evers introduced earlier this year, but that means it will stay alive as a political issue, Ross said.

“By not doing the Medicaid expansion in the budget, Republicans have kept it alive as an issue for Democrats to run on next fall and say ‘Hey, the public wants this, Republicans didn’t give it to you, we’re here to address health care.’ So, it could be a potent issue for them come next fall,” Ross said.

In another segment, Matt Cordio, president of Skills Pipeline and the founder of Startup Milwaukee, said Wisconsin’s growing technology industry seriously needs workers.

“There’s a massive shortage of tech talent here in Wisconsin, and we need to really work and take every available opportunity to build and develop new tech talent,” Cordio said.

One thing that could help get more tech talent in the pipeline, Cordio said, are income-share agreements, a new type of financial arrangement that is an alternative to traditional student loans. Instead of borrowing money at a certain interest rate, students agree to have a percentage of their future earnings withheld to cover the cost of their education.

Purdue University is trying out ISA’s, said WISN 12 News reporter Matt Smith. He also reported on a local program that teaches coding to students, some of whom are using ISA’s to cover the cost of the program.

Cordio said ISA’s are a “unique new option for students to take advantage of and finance their education without going into debt.”

See more:
http://www.wisn.com/upfront

‘UpFront’: Sanders says US-Mexico-Canada trade pact should be renegotiated to help farmers, workers

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders says President Trump’s USMCA is “not good enough.”

Adrienne Pedersen asked the Vermont senator on “UpFront” how he would help Wisconsin farmers. Sanders responded, “A trade policy that is written by farmers and workers and ordinary people, not the CEOs of larger corporations.”

Sanders, along with several other presidential candidates, attended The League of United Latin American Citizens Convention in Milwaukee.

Pedersen also asked how he plans to win Milwaukee County, the most racially diverse in the state, when he didn’t win there in 2016.

“Because the issues we’re talking about are massive levels of inequality in this country where the rich are getting richer while almost everyone else is getting poorer … we’re going to focus on the issues that impact blacks, whites, and Latinos and Asian parties,” Sanders told UpFront, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “And that’s the way I think we’re going to win in Wisconsin and win the Democratic nomination.”

The Democratic primary is in April, and the Democratic National Convention is about a year from now.

Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Dem national convention in Milwaukee next summer, also appeared on the show.

He told UpFront between $10 million and $20 million of the $70 million needed for the convention has been raised.

Solmonese also said he wants to make sure the spotlight isn’t just on Milwaukee in 2020 but on Wisconsin as well. Pedersen asked, “When the convention is so focused on downtown how do you make sure that people see other parts of the state?”

“It’s a five-day event where there are going to be thousands of events happening,” Solmonese told UpFront, produced in conjunction with WisPolticis.com. “The convention is not just those three or four hours people tune into each night. There are all sorts of opportunities to bring people to different parts of the state.”

He said he also plans to involve volunteers, stakeholders, business owners, and activists from Wisconsin at the convention.

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

2020 DNC host committee releases video touting Milwaukee

The host committee of the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee released a video today touting the city’s attributes to make the beginning of the one-year countdown until the event sweeps into Wisconsin’s largest city.

A spokeswoman said the video will be spread both organically through social media along with paid distribution.

The four-minute video features a series of Wisconsin elected officials along with local business owners, Milwaukee residents and others.

It shows a series of shots of the city’s skyline, neighborhoods and festivals.

“It is the greatest city in the country,” proclaims Josh Jackson, a fourth-grade teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools and treasurer of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.

A Better Mount Pleasant: Foxconn eminent domain trial to start wednesday in Racine County Circuit Court

0

Contact: Kelly Gallaher

414/350-6858

[email protected]

MOUNT PLEASANT, WI  – Rodney and Cathy Jensen filed a lawsuit against the Village of Mount Pleasant and its Community Development Authority contesting the Village’s right to take their property under eminent domain for the Foxconn project. The Jensen’s home is located on 2.9 acres on the East Frontage Road in Area II of the Foxconn development. The Village’s road plans show they needed only .1333 acres of the Jensen’s front yard for road construction, but it took the entire 2.9 acres and their home. Work on the East Frontage Road has already been completed and the Jensen’s still live in their home. The Village didn’t need the Jensen property for the road project, the Village wanted their property because it promised to give it to Foxconn.

Trial is scheduled to start at 8:30 am on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at the Racine County Courthouse in front of the Honorable Michael Piontek. It is expected to last two days. Only two properties in the Foxconn development areas have not been acquired by the Village of Mount Pleasant. The Cruezigers own more than 400 acres including their Land of the Giants pumpkin farm in Area II. The Village initially took all of the Cruezigers’ property even though it only needed a small portion of those parcels along Highway 11 and Braun Road for the expansion of those roadways. The Creuzigers filed a lawsuit against the Village and just days before a temporary restraining order hearing, the Village rescinded its jurisdictional offers claiming it did not need the property at that time because it was delaying the Highway 11 project. Months later, the Village served new jurisdictional offers on the Cruezigers, taking only the portions of their property needed for the road expansions.

The Mahoneys still own their home and 1.1 acres in the southeast corner of Area I. While the Mahoneys have always been willing to sell their property for the project, they rejected the Village’s attempts to take it using eminent domain because their property is in no way affected by the road projects or any other public use. The Mahoneys told us the Village now says it does not need their property (after it forced their neighbors to sell and bulldozed their homes), and it will leave them there and build a chain link fence around them.

AG Kaul: Announces transparency reforms to opinion process

0

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today unveiled a new process and website for all Wisconsinites to provide information and perspectives on proposed Attorney General Opinion topics prior to the beginning of the Department of Justice drafting process. The new Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) webpage,doj.state.wi.us/OpinionRequests gives anyone the opportunity to weigh in on issues facing opinion review.

“With the changes announced today, we are making the AG opinion process transparent and open to input from the public,” said Attorney General Kaul.

With the new website, all commentary submitted will now be open to public review through the public records process. Public records requests can be made through the Department of Justice Office of Open Government by phone, mail or online. More information about making a public records request can be found here.

By statute, the Attorney General must, when asked, provide the legislature and designated Wisconsin state government officials with an opinion on legal questions. The Attorney General may also give formal legal opinions to district attorneys and county corporation counsel under certain circumstances. Wis. Stat. § 165.25(3) and 59.42(1)(c). Please see 77 Op. Att’y Gen. Preface (1988) for a more detailed explanation of the criteria for requesting a formal opinion.

Opinions of the attorney general typically provide guidance when confusion exists about the meaning of a statute and Wisconsin appellate courts have not yet definitively answered the question. Wisconsin courts do not have any obligation to follow an interpretation provided by an opinion of the attorney general, but they often do. As the Wisconsin Court of Appeals has written, “Well-reasoned attorney general’s opinions have persuasive value when a court later addresses the meaning of the same statute.”

AG Kaul: Joins coalition of 22 state attorneys general in urging Congress to act on toxic ‘forever’ chemicals

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today released a joint letter to Congress, signed by a coalition of 22 state attorneys general, strongly urging the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to pass legislation to aid states in addressing the public health threat of toxic “forever” chemicals.

“Drinking water contamination can result in serious public health problems. Congress should take swift action to protect the safety of our water, including by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance,” said Attorney General Kaul.

In the letter sent to Congressional leadership, the coalition calls for action to help states address and prevent the growing dangers of a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of super-resilient, man-made chemicals contaminating drinking water and other media throughout the nation. Additionally, the attorneys general also urged Congress to provide financial assistance to help state and local governments offset the high cost burden of cleaning up drinking water supplies.

The two most studied types of PFAS contaminants are perfluorooctane sulfonic acid/perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid/perflurooctanoate (PFOA). PFAS chemicals resist degradation in the environment and accumulate in the body. Those contaminants may be linked to serious adverse health effects in humans and animals. Human health effects associated with exposure to PFOA may include kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, and preeclampsia; exposure to PFOS is associated with immune system effects, changes in liver enzymes and thyroid hormones, and other conditions.

Across the country, PFAS contamination is most often associated with military bases, firefighting training centers, civilian airports, and industrial facilities. PFAS chemicals tend to be persistent in the environment and have been used for decades as ingredients in firefighting foam. Some states with significant PFAS contamination are currently spending tens of millions of dollars to address the contamination in public drinking water systems, and to investigate numerous areas and sources of potential contamination.

While both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have advanced legislation that addresses issues related to PFAS contamination, the attorneys general urge Congress to deal with “the most urgent legislative needs” of states as they work on a final agreement on this legislation. These urgent needs, based on states’ firsthand experience, include:

  • Designating certain PFAS chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as “Superfund.” Such designation is a key to cleaning up some of the most dangerous PFAS-contaminated sites in the country, including U.S. Department of Defense sites and so-called “orphan” sites, where the responsible parties have not been identified or located, or have simply failed to act.
  • Adding the entire class of PFAS chemicals to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), which requires certain industrial facilities to report annually the amount of specific toxic chemicals released into the environment. This would provide critical information about new potential sources of these chemicals, as well as the areas of potential contamination.
  • Providing funding for remediation of PFAS-contaminated drinking water supplies – particularly those in disadvantaged communities, where many face severe water affordability issues. Municipalities struggling to afford the high costs associated with cleaning up PFAS contamination in turn may raise water rates on local residents.
  • Prohibiting the use and storage of firefighting foam containing PFAS at military bases and other federal facilities as soon as possible and in the meantime, providing immediate protective measures, especially when firefighting foam is used.
  • Providing medical screening of PFAS exposure for appropriate personnel and members of the public, including but not limited to firefighters.

Joining Attorney General Kaul in the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.

AG Kaul: Statement in reaction to Govenor Evers signing the 2019-21 biennial budget

0

MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul released the following statement in reaction to Governor Evers signing the 2019-21 biennial budget.

“The budget signed today by Governor Evers will help make our system of justice more effective and our communities safer. This is the best budget for Wisconsin’s criminal justice system in a very long time—and perhaps ever.

“With additional funding for Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) programs, communities will have access to additional resources to combat substance-use disorder. New positions at the Wisconsin State Crime Labs will help with turnaround times for the testing of evidence. And the funding of additional assistant district attorneys means there will be more resources that can be used to fight human trafficking, to prosecute sexual assault cases, to investigate and prosecute large-scale traffickers of heroin, fentanyl, and meth, and to ensure that diversion for treatment is happening in appropriate cases.

“This budget alone doesn’t fully address the challenges to the criminal justice system that have resulted from years of inadequate funding. There are significant improvements that can and should be made. Nevertheless, this budget marks a significant and welcome change in approach to the funding of the criminal justice system in Wisconsin

AG Kaul: Urges federal government to ensure equal access to shelters

0

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Alderman Cavalier Johnson: State funding for youth summer jobs wisely restored by Governor Evers

0

Before being elected to the Milwaukee Common Council, I worked in workforce development. One of the best parts of my duties was to assist youth with their first summer job.

 

At the most recent meeting of the Common Council’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee, it was disheartening to learn that members of the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee decided to effectively reduce funding for Milwaukee’s popular summer youth jobs programming – which I also participated in when I was younger.

 

Today with a stroke of his veto pen, Governor Tony Evers made sure that those critical funding dollars will still be available to employ young people during the summer months in Milwaukee at the full amount as in years past.

 

While there may not be much to agree on in Madison I would hope that going forward, Republicans and Democrats can agree that making sure that youth in Milwaukee are occupied with opportunities to earn, learn, and be safe is a worthwhile investment – one that even had the support of both Mayor Tom Barrett and former governor Scott Walker.

Alderman Khalif J. Rainey: After one year of uncertainty, a win for the Amani neighborhood

0

After a year of legal arguments, I am pleased to report that the City of Milwaukee was successful in its fight to help the Amani area residents take back their neighborhood.

 

This story begins in July 2018 – a year ago – when the Common Council’s Licenses Committee voted to not renew the license for S&S Liquor Store, based on neighbors’ objections. The store located at 3200 N. 27th Street was an on-going topic of discussion at neighborhood meetings. I heard multiple complaints about loitering, drug-dealing, and other bad behavior occurring at this location. In addition, the Milwaukee Police Department reported that a homicide occurred outside the store, and numerous liquor license violations were also on the books.

 

Neighbors and I had had enough, and my colleagues on the Council agreed.

 

The liquor store owners took the City to court, which was their right to do so. After multiple court hearings, injunctions, filings and procedures, the court ruled in favor of the City of Milwaukee, and the business has been ordered to close.

 

My thanks to Assistant City Attorney Tyrone St. Junior for his expertise in representing the City before the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, which ultimately led to this decision in our favor.

 

And thank you to all the Amani neighborhood residents who persisted in holding this establishment and the city accountable. By sharing information and connecting with me as your alderman and with your neighbors, we are able to move forward and work together to find and support a new business at this location that will enhance and add value to the Amani neighborhood.

American Dairy Coalition: Strongly urges House members to expedite passage of USMCA

0

Contact:
920-965-6070
[email protected]

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) and its member producers across the nation are concerned that the vitality of the nation’s dairy industry will continue to be impaired if there is not swift passage of the U.S.-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) by the end of this month.

The American Dairy Coalition, is asking the House to come to a consensus with the White House on their remaining concerns with the USMCA and expedite a vote to pass this pending trade deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The fragile dairy industry cannot afford to hold off and wait while more and more dairy farms continue to go out of business. Dairy farmers continue to weather an unprecedented crisis period, suffering from low profitability due to retaliatory tariffs, low milk prices and historic rain events.

The USMCA is crucial to the future of the agriculture and dairy industry. With 43 million jobs and 20 percent of the American economy tied to agriculture, the USMCA significantly boosts the possibilities to improve trade with two of the United States’ top trading partners, Mexico and Canada. During this time of extended economic uncertainty for the dairy industry, the expedient passage of this agreement is of dire need.

A level playing field is necessary for a robust dairy industry, making necessary a solution to end the imbalanced dairy pricing structure in Canada. The USMCA would open the possibilities for U.S. products to be competitive across our borders. Passage would bring in an anticipated several hundred million dollars of trade opportunities in dairy as a result of this agreement. Further, the passage of USMCA would set the tone to improve trade prospects with other countries, most notably with Japan.

Of increased importance is prompt passage of the agreement. With the looming onset of the 2020 presidential and congressional elections, the necessary votes needed to pass USMCA may be lost if the process is carried into 2020. With $9.4 billion in total agricultural exports annually on the line, the importance of passage of this agreement cannot be understated.

“Trade will be essential to reviving commodity prices and turning the tide of the deep and prolonged recession of the dairy economy,” said ADC President, Walt Moore. “The current lack of a trade deal with Mexico and Canada is costing us. Dairy farmers need Congress to push this through and push it through quickly.”

American Family Children’s Hospital: Superheroes will wash windows at American Family Children’s Hospital tomorrow

0

Madison, Wis.- Batman, Spiderman and Captain America will be washing windows tomorrow, July 30, at American Family Children’s Hospital starting at 11 a.m.

Al’s Window Cleaning company will be cleaning the windows and to boost the spirits of the kids, the workers will dress up as classic superheroes and rappel outside down the building and wave to patients and families inside the hospital.

Patients, families and staff will gather in playrooms at the hospital and media will have access to inside and outside areas. (Note: The hospital is on UW-Madison property, so any drone use would have to be approved by UW-Madison. However, the sidewalk across the street is not on campus property.)

The event will start at 11 a.m. and go until approximately 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 30. Below is an approximate schedule. There will be four stops and no guarantee of patients in each area, so stops could be shorter or longer.  Please text or call Emily upon arrival. Meet in the lobby of the children’s hospital.

    • 11:00 a.m. – 7th floor family lounge
    • 11:15 a.m. – 5th floor family lounge/kitchen

** approximately 45-minute break to change equipment to lower rooftop**

    • 12:15 p.m.  – 4th floor playroom
    • 12:30 p.m. – 2nd floor clinics waiting area

 

Please see valet for parking. Please do not park in the hospital parking ramp.  

The American Family Children’s Hospital is located at 1675 Highland Avenue.

American Federation for Children: Wisconsin Legislature and Governor Tony Evers boost investment in K-12 education

0

Contact:
Call: (414) 469-2294
Email: [email protected]federationforchildren.org

 

This morning Governor Tony Evers bumped up funding by $65 million for K-12 education. This is on top of the $500 million increase passed by the Wisconsin Legislature. This increase in dollars, both by the Legislature and the Governor, will directly benefit families choosing to attend charter schools or participate in Wisconsin’s other choice programs

Statement from Justin Moralez, Wisconsin State Director for the American Federation for Children

“We want to thank the Republican controlled Legislature for passing a budget that invests in K-12 education. And, on behalf of all families in Wisconsin with school age children, we extend a special thanks to Governor Evers as well for investing even more funds for K-12 education. This decision will help children attending district, charter, and private schools in our state. Every child deserves the opportunity to receive a high quality education and the Governor’s decision today, in addition to the generous funding by the Legislature, puts children and families first.”

American Immigration Council: Customs and Border Protection conditions and conduct- research and expertise available

0

WASHINGTON— The Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General issued a report last Tuesday warning about “dangerous overcrowding” and calling for immediate action to address squalid conditions in Customs and Border Protection facilities at the U.S. southern border. The report follows weeks of news and growing outrage over detention conditions facing asylum seekers and inappropriate conduct by CBP officials.

The American Immigration Council has a range of resources and experts available to address:

Efforts to challenge unconstitutional conditions in CBP detention facilities.
The agency’s abusive practices, including lack of accountability in responding to complaints of abuse.
The federal funding and costs of immigration enforcement and border security.
Corruption and misconduct within CBP.
Lengthy detention, dehumanizing conditions, and abuse in CBP holding cells.
The agency’s failure to address worsening conditions in Border Patrol custody pre-exists the present moment, but meaningful oversight is long overdue. As a longtime champion of holding CBP accountable for its unlawful policies and practices, the Council has a wealth of knowledge of the facts, law, and history surrounding current border developments.

American Immigration Council: Expansion of fast-track deportations jeopardizes countless vulnerable individuals and fair day in court

0

American Immigration Council
www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/news

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration announced today plans to fast-track the deportation of thousands of individuals by expanding “expedited removal,” which allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to quickly deport someone without a fair day in court. The expansion will subject people who cannot prove they have been present in the United States for two years or more to the imminent risk of deportation without an opportunity to speak with an attorney or have a court hearing.

This expansion will have a profound effect on all communities—noncitizens and U.S. citizens alike. Under the Trump administration, five times more U.S. citizens are being approached by ICE than under the Obama administration, and this expansion could grow that number exponentially.

The following statement is from Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council:

“The Trump administration’s announcement that it plans to dramatically expand expedited removal undermines American principles of fundamental fairness. Increasing expedited removal across the country is an unprecedented expansion of the Department of Homeland Security’s enforcement authority that will put many people at risk of wrongful deportation.

“Expanding expedited removal in this manner will create a ‘show me your papers’ regime of immigration enforcement where individuals—including any U.S. citizens they encounter—will be forced to prove they should not be deported. The American Immigration Council will not stand by idly as the Trump administration continues its unlawful attacks on our communities. We will see the Trump administration in court.”

Our experts are available for comment. Our research on expedited removal and interior enforcement under the Trump administration can be found on our website, AmericanImmigrationCouncil.org.

American Immigration Council: ICE data reveals the impact of immigration enforcement under the Trump Administration

0

WASHINGTON, July 1, 2019—A report on interior immigration enforcement released today by the American Immigration Council examines newly disclosed government data on the Trump administration’s aggressive enforcement agenda. The report, “Changing Patterns of Interior Immigration Enforcement in the United States, 2016–2018,” reveals that U.S. citizens and immigrant women have become increasingly vulnerable to immigration enforcement actions under the administration.

As the president vows to conduct mass immigration arrests and deportation, this report exposes the consequences of the administration’s unfocused enforcement approach and raises important questions about who is being impacted by the wide net of increased enforcement.

The report draws on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement records of 1,199,026 encounters, 381,370 arrests, and 650,944 removals that occurred between January 2016 and September 2018. The data was obtained by the Council through Freedom of Information Act litigation.

The main findings of the report include the following:

The number of U.S. citizens encountered by ICE jumped from 5,940 during the last year of the Obama administration to 27,540 during the first year of the Trump administration.
Proportionally, ICE encountered and arrested more women during the first part of the Trump administration than it did at the end of the Obama administration.
Over 85 percent of all removals under both administrations in the period examined involved individuals either with no criminal convictions or with only non-violent convictions.
Compared to the last year of the Obama administration, the volume of both custodial arrests (those conducted in a setting such as a jail or prison) and at-large arrests (those conducted in the community) increased during the first year of the Trump administration.
The largest percentage increases in the number of at-large arrests occurred in the ICE Areas of Responsibility in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Phoenix.
Under both administrations, over 70 percent of encounters and over 60 percent of arrests were conducted through the Criminal Alien Program.
The Trump administration has cast the net of immigration enforcement wider than previous administrations in its search for individuals who may be deportable from the United States. To achieve this, it has broadened the notion of “enforcement priority,” sought to eliminate humanitarian protections that had previously shielded hundreds of thousands of noncitizens from enforcement action, and expanded its enforcement activities within communities.

“Our findings reveal that there are some structural components of the enforcement machine that transcend specific administrations” said Guillermo Cantor, director of research at the American Immigration Council and co-author of the report. “However, the elimination of enforcement priorities and expansion of the enforcement net under the Trump administration has increased the vulnerability of those who may ‘look deportable,’ women, and individuals in certain regions of the country.”

“Despite all the political rhetoric about deporting dangerous criminals, our data reveal that the majority of individuals removed under both the Obama and Trump administrations either had no criminal convictions or only non-violent convictions,” said Emily Ryo, professor of law and sociology at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and co-author of the report.

“This study makes clear that the Trump administration’s dragnet approach to immigration enforcement is not only impacting the lives of many otherwise law-abiding immigrant families, but also tens of thousands of U.S. citizens. Families are living in fear, changing the ways in which they plan and live their lives in the United States. Many U.S. citizen kids now bear the brunt of immigration enforcement activities when their parents—including those with long-standing ties to their community—become targets for deportation,” said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council.

Amy Loudenbeck: A tale of two budgets: Wisconsin vs. Illinois

0

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

We call it the Madison “bubble” – a place where the minutiae of Wisconsin politics plays out all day, every day.

When I come home to the state-line area, I don’t miss the bubble.

Sure, I think about politics when I’m home, and I still talk about politics. I must confess, when I watch the news at home, sometimes I tune in to a Rockford station to see what’s happening outside the bubble.

Illinois just wrapped up its annual budget in early June and a major infrastructure investment package was signed in late June. Wisconsin is in the final stages of our biennial budget process; the budget has passed, has been sent to the Governor and we are awaiting his signature.

The contrast between the budgets of Illinois and Wisconsin could not be more stark.

In order to fund government operations and pay for infrastructure, Illinois approved significant tax and fee increases – a total of $2.1 billion already went into effect on July 1, 2019, with another $2.5 billion authorized.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin budget contains new, significant investments in the priorities we all share such as health care, education, and infrastructure without raising taxes. In fact, it includes income tax cuts and property tax relief totaling over $376 million and when you add in the marketplace bill that we passed along with the budget, it adds up to over $500 million.

The Wisconsin budget does include modest increases in vehicle registration and title fees so we can use more cash from the segregated transportation fund to pay for roads and rely less on borrowing. If you drive a regular gasoline fueled car and keep it, your increase will be $10 per year for registration fees. Light duty trucks, some SUVS, hybrid/electric vehicles, and newly titled vehicles will see slightly larger increases.

In Illinois, the gas tax just doubled to 38 cents a gallon, with permission for certain counties and the city of Chicago to collect more gas taxes. Registration costs will increase across all types of passenger vehicles, ranging from an extra $50 per year for a standard automobile to an additional $200 per year for an electric vehicle.

Despite all these revenue increases, Illinois still does not have a balanced budget for the 19th year in a row. Their Rainy Day Fund is negligible and they are sitting on a mountain of unpaid bills.

In Wisconsin, our state finances are strong, our pension system is fully funded and our 2019-2021 budget includes a Rainy Day Fund deposit of $290 million for a total balance of $617 million!

Illinois has once again opted for a spending plan that grows government with increased taxes. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin budget includes tax relief, responsible investments, and doesn’t unnecessarily grow government.

As the Vice-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, I can attest to the work the Legislature did to craft a budget that benefits all of Wisconsin; a budget that invests in people, not programs, and focuses on areas of agreement that benefit all of our citizens. This budget reflects the priorities of Wisconsin as a whole, as well as the unique needs of individual districts served by our members.

It is my sincere hope that the Wisconsin budget is approved quickly and without significant changes. That way, both Wisconsin and Illinois residents can set politics aside, get out of their bubbles, and enjoy all the great things that a Wisconsin summer has to offer.

–Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, represents the 31st Assembly District consisting of eastern Rock and western Walworth counties.

Andrew Disch: A mainstream perspective on prevailing wage

0

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

Recently a spokesperson for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce [WMC] told the Wisconsin State Journal, “We don’t want to make it too comfortable to remain unemployed.” Currently, the maximum weekly unemployment benefit is $370. Who would describe $370 a week as ‘comfortable’? Similarly, the President of the Associated Builders & Contractors [ABC] has cited “inflated wages” in opposition to prevailing wage. Are rising wages on Main Street somehow a bad thing? The perspectives from corporate special interest groups like WMC and ABC are relevant to understand their criticism of prevailing wage laws.

Now a mainstream perspective.

Prevailing wage laws require that construction workers on public construction projects be paid wages offered on similar jobs by local Wisconsin workers. This results in rising middle class incomes for everyone in the State. It is widely recognized there is a worker shortage in the trades and in order for the next generation to pursue these careers; it needs to make financial sense. Should we expect a person who completes a multiyear apprenticeship program and performs physically demanding work in extreme conditions be paid wages so low that they are unable to obtain a middle-class lifestyle?

Prevailing wage and Wisconsin’s low bid law have held a close association. (The low bid law generally requires public construction projects be awarded blindly to the lowest bidder.) While opponents of prevailing wage frequently mention the “free market,” certainly they would also agree that the low bid law falls outside of it. When building a house, most consumers conduct some investigation into the credibility of the builders submitting bids rather than accepting the lowest bid sight unseen. That is the free market.

Prevailing wage protects taxpayers against the high costs of shoddy contractors: lower quality, expensive delays, less local hiring and underpaid workers relying on government assistance. It ensures a level playing field among bidders within the low bid system. It holds accountable out-of-state contractors that don’t pay Wisconsin taxes or Wisconsin wages. Since prevailing wage’s repeal, these carpetbagging shops increased their share of public work here substantially.

Mainstream perspectives support prevailing wage. A recent poll showed 83% of Wisconsin voters support companies who bid on public construction work should pay competitive wages and benefits. Additionally, the federal prevailing wage law, known as Davis-Bacon, receives broad support in Congress. The House of Representatives votes on this regularly and it is consistently passed with both Democrat and Republican support – one of the rare issues both parties agree on in Washington. In fact, former Republican Speaker Paul Ryan was an ardent supporter.

Embracing prevailing wage in Wisconsin reflects our values of supporting the middle class, respecting the taxpayer and standing up to extreme perspectives. It’s a mainstream policy that’s good for Main Street.

–Andrew Disch is the political director for the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters.

 

Arn Pearson: Lawsuit put end to abusive practice

0

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

Wisconsin’s open records law applies to all records requests, big or small. But under former Attorney General Brad Schimel, the Wisconsin Department of Justice implemented a restrictive policy that limited access based on the number of potentially responsive emails.

After being sued by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), the Justice Department rescinded its policy and turned over hundreds of records concerning the Affordable Care Act.

The case began last summer, when CMD asked for all records and communications regarding the ACA involving the Attorney General’s office and the Wisconsin solicitor general. The request covered an eight-month period.

At that time, Wisconsin held a leading role in a multi-state lawsuit aimed at striking down the ACA and eliminating health coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The department acknowledged identifying 1,940 records potentially responsive to CMD’s request, but claimed it would be “excessively burdensome” to review and redact them. It also claimed the request was not reasonably limited as to subject matter or time. It denied the request.

CMD filed suit in response and, in the course of the litigation learned that Schimel’s office had adopted a policy of rejecting open records requests based on an arbitrary 500-email threshold.

The DOJ’s rule pertained to potentially responsive emails, not actually responsive emails. Requesters are then pressured to narrow the scope of their request.

The problem? While the open records law does require requests to have “a reasonable limitation as to subject matter or length of time,” there is no “burdensomeness” exception, and the 500-email threshold is not recognized anywhere in state law.

In May, the department backed off in  a settlement with CMD that states the policy “is no longer in place and that references to this policy have been removed from the Department of Justice website.” The change came after the state elected a new attorney general, Josh Kaul.

“This is a victory for the public and journalists, and recognizes that Schimel’s policy went too far in denying the public’s right to know,” says Christa Westerberg, an attorney representing CMD. Westerberg also serves as co-vice president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.

In addition, Kaul’s Justice Department has affirmed that public officials cannot defeat Wisconsin’s open records law by using private email or other digital dodges. There has been a growing national trend in which major influence operations, such as the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), use online apps or members-only portals to evade state records retention and freedom of information laws.

In RAGA’s case, corporations that donate $25,000 or more are able to purchase access to an online site called the “Briefing Room,” where Republican AGs and their staff may review policy documents, draft briefs and regulatory letters, and convene regular policy conference calls using RAGA’s 501(c)(4) arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund.

But the CMD-DOJ settlement says materials that otherwise meet the definition of records are “not exempt from disclosure by virtue of their location on private email accounts, online apps, or file-sharing services.”

Documents obtained by CMD concerning Schimel’s ACA litigation will be analyzed and published on the group’s websites, ExposedbyCMD.org and PRWatch.org.

–Your Right to Know is a monthly column distributed by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (wisfoic.org), a group dedicated to open government. Arn Pearson is executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit investigative watchdog group focused on corporate influence and money in politics.

Badger Institute: Administration should not divert state highway funds to Milwaukee streetcar

0

Contact:
Mike Nichols, Badger Institute president
414-225-9940
[email protected]


July 19, 2019
 — State funding for local roads should be used only for projects that create better and more efficient transportation routes or spur economic development, Badger Institute President Mike Nichols said today following reports that Gov. Tony Evers might divert state highway funds to the Milwaukee streetcar.

“It suddenly appears possible that the Evers Administration will allow state tax dollars to be used to fund the streetcar,” said Nichols. “This would be an exceedingly poor use of taxpayer money, especially when there are so many better uses for the cash. Neither state taxpayer money nor additional federal dollars should be used to fund the $128 million streetcar, especially when there is no evidence it spurs economic development.

“Badger Institute research and common sense proves that the Milwaukee streetcar – which was built only because political leaders needed to find a way to spend available federal money – does not meet those criteria,” he added.

The history of streetcar funding can be found here and here.

Claims that the streetcar has been responsible for economic development in Milwaukee are rebutted here.

Ballweg criticizes DATCP secretary for failing to provide statistics on farmer mental health program

Rep. Joan Ballweg accused Ag Secretary Brad Pfaff of playing “a political game of keep away” as Republican lawmakers continue to pile criticism on the DATCP head.

Ballweg, who chairs the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention, charged that Pfaff’s office, despite multiple requests, failed to provide her office statistics on a mental health program for farmers.

A spokeswoman for the Markesan Republican further alleged that DATCP then provided those statistics to “UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen ahead of Ballweg’s pre-taped interview that will air Sunday as part of the show produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I took an interview today and was given statistics by the interviewer that I had requested from the department at an in-person meeting on July 2,” a statement from Ballweg read.

A DATCP spokeswoman declined to comment on the story.

Yesterday’s statement marked the second time in as many days that GOP lawmakers have clashed with Pfaff.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today blasted Pfaff for “offensive and unproductive” criticism of the Legislature for failing to fund programs to reduce farmer suicides.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s Joint Finance Committee hearing, DATCP issued a press release in which Pfaff knocked Republicans on the panel for “abandoning our state’s farmers.”

“As of today, DATCP has funding to provide just five more counseling vouchers to farmers in need of mental health care,” Pfaff said in the statement. “If the Joint Finance Committee doesn’t want to move this funding forward immediately, then they have a choice to make: which five farmers will it be?”

Fitzgerald on Wednesday ripped those comments as “flippant” and “beneath your position” before highlighting actions the Legislature has taken over the past two sessions to address mental health.

“If you truly care about farmers’ well-being, I hope that you will strive to work with legislators on addressing mental health in Wisconsin rather than releasing inflammatory statements,” he said.

See Ballweg’s release:
https://twitter.com/RepBallweg/status/1154484178391457792

See the DATCP release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/190723-DATCP.pdf

See Fitzgerald’s letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/190724-Fitz-DATCP.pdf

Ballweg on ‘UpFront’ calls for sustainable, comprehensive approach to addressing farmer mental health

The Republican lawmaker leading a task force on suicide prevention said struggling farmers will get the mental health help they need, but it has to be done in a sustainable and comprehensive way.

State Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, appeared on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com, after DATCP Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff and GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald clashed over the state’s response to farmers who need mental health services.

Pfaff said last week that DATCP’s Wisconsin Farm Center, which runs a hotline for farmers, had only five vouchers left for farmers who are in need of counseling. Democrats had asked the Joint Finance Committee to immediately approve more money for vouchers, but the Republican-controlled committee delayed funds.

The GOP leaders of Joint Finance asked DATCP to wait for recommendations from the Speaker’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention, a bipartisan task force Ballweg is leading.

The delay prompted Pfaff to issue a news release accusing Republicans of “abandoning” Wisconsin farmers. Fitzgerald responded with a letter to Pfaff calling his comments “flippant” and “inflammatory.”

“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen asked Ballweg if the situation was urgent and whether farmers could wait.

“Farmers will be getting the help they need. But what we’re trying to do in this bipartisan task force is to make sure that we have a long-term, sustainable opportunity do this in a comprehensive way,” Ballweg said.

The task force will hold a hearing Monday in Marshfield specifically to hear about farmer suicides, which are thought to be on the rise. The task force is looking at suicides among farmers, veterans, law enforcement officers, and youth, Ballweg said.

Ballweg after the interview criticizing DATCP for giving the “UpFront” program statistics but not responding to inquiries from Ballweg’s office. She added she hopes the agency would be providing additional information as part of its presentation at the hearing Monday.

Ballweg said the task force is learning that agencies, centers, groups and others who work in suicide prevention need to better coordinate their efforts.

“We have a lot of silos,” Ballweg said.

“There is the farm center doing things, there is a national hotline that is supported by the Department of Health Services, counties are doing things, and we need to bring everyone together to use our resources in the best way and give everyone the help that’s needed,” she said.

Ballweg said specialized training to increase awareness of the signs of someone in crisis likely will be one recommendation of the task force, which will make its report in September.

Ballweg said suicide prevention training could be given to community members who interact with people in groups or occupations that have a higher risk for suicide.

“That is the business people and the social supports that are in those communities. The bankers, the veterinarians, which also have a very high rate of suicide, actually. The people at the feed mill, the implement dealer. All of these folks, the faith-based community, all of these folks, to make sure they are aware and can see some of the signs if someone is heading toward a crisis situation,” Ballweg said.

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

Bill Kaplan: After the budget, Medicaid expansion

0

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

Governor Tony Evers wisely approved the budget passed by the GOP-controlled legislature, despite its being, “in many ways, insufficient”. Evers said: “Vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty, political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with for far too long.” Moreover, Evers ingeniously used a partial veto “to boost K-12 education funding in Wisconsin by about $65 million …” (Wisconsin Public Radio). That was on top of the $500 million increase that GOP legislators approved, having read the election-year tea leaves.

The most glaring budget omission was the failure of the GOP-controlled legislature to include Medicaid expansion. Evers decried Republican willful fiscal and moral blindness: “70 percent of Wisconsin citizens (43 percent of Republicans) support expanding Medicaid because they understand it will allow us to expand coverage to more than 80,000 Wisconsinites, save $324 million in state tax dollars, and bring in $1.6 billion in new federal investment into our health care system in Wisconsin …, and make health care more affordable by lowering premiums for folks who have private insurance.”

The June 20, 2019 JAMA Forum (Journal of the American Medical Association) supported Evers: “A series of new studies being released … are all starting to point to a single action that is behind … reducing mortality from … cardiovascular disease and cancer; addressing seemingly intractable racial disparities that plague the U.S. health care system; reducing hospital bad debt and rural hospital closures; decreasing maternal and infant mortality; lowering payday lending and housing foreclosures; creating jobs …; improving medication compliance; and lowering the cost of insurance. That action? Passing and implementing Medicaid expansion”.

Evers promised to “continue to fight for Medicaid expansion through separate legislation, future budget bills, and otherwise through every executive power I am afforded.” This can be done with a GOP-controlled legislature. Crackerjack Urban Milwaukee journalist Bruce Murphy opined that Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald exposed a division among Republicans in December, 2018 when he said he would not “rule it (Medicaid expansion) out”. Although Fitzgerald quickly walked back his comment, there are 3 GOP state senators who might support Medicaid expansion.

Republican state Senators Luther Olsen (Ripon) and Jerry Petrowski (Marathon) have both considered taking the federal money to expand Medicaid on multiple occasions. And, Republican state Senator Robert Cowles (Green Bay) showed independence in opposing the 2018 GOP power grab that limited the powers of Democratic Governor-elect Evers. All three conservatives are central to begin getting Medicaid expansion passed. Local media, business, community and religious leaders as well as doctors, nurses and hospitals need to reach out to these senators.

Former Ohio GOP Governor Kasich offers inspiration: “Ronald Reagan expanded Medicaid” and “When you die and get to the meeting with Saint Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small, but he is going to ask you what you did for the poor”. Senators Cowles, Olsen and Petrowski should consider their legacies.

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

Bill Kaplan: Democrats lead on bread-and-butter issues

0

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

“Trump launched (tweeted) another broadside Saturday …, calling a prominent black congressman’s Baltimore district a ‘disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess … no human being would want to live there’” (Washington Post). Why? “Republican officials say Trump is harnessing the anger of those who continue to feel left behind despite the strong economy, and steering their fury toward (minority) members of Congress he has accused of bad-mouthing the country and embracing socialist policies” (Post).

Trump and the GOP should be worried. Despite their “rhetorical appeals to white working-class (and rural) voters (this has) not been matched by legislative accomplishments aimed at their economic interests” (New York Times). Just tax cuts for corporations and the rich. And, notwithstanding low unemployment there is trouble: “Wisconsin, where 10 counties that (Trump) won in 2016 lost manufacturing jobs” (Times); Wisconsin’s “economy depends on manufacturers. They’re worried that a downturn is approaching” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel); and “Trump in Milwaukee says farmers are ‘over the hump’ as dairy farms continue to close (over 1600) in Wisconsin” (MJS).

Wisconsin congressional Democrats have a different approach than Trump and Republicans: pass bread-and-butter legislation, while standing up for farmers and middle and working class folks. Over the last few weeks the Democratic-led House has strengthened the Affordable Care Act (ACA), increased the minimum wage and passed pension reform. And, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin has led the way to improve and strengthen federal support for state dairy farms, while decrying the Trump trade wars and resultant pain and misery for Wisconsin farmers. Baldwin has been impressive in representing the entire state, regardless of political allegiance. Let’s look at the Democratic record.

ACA: The Democratic-led House voted to block the sale of “junk insurance” with scanty benefits and no coverage of preexisting conditions, restored funding for ACA advertising and outreach, lowered drug prices and intervened in the federal lawsuit where Trump and the GOP are trying to have the ACA declared unconstitutional. All Wisconsin Democrats stood up for the ACA, while Wisconsin Republicans voted no. Baldwin supports upholding the ACA in the federal lawsuit, but Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson does not.

Minimum wage increase: House Democrats passed an historic $15 minimum wage — “would lift the earnings of 27.3 million workers” (Post). This would cover 829,000 workers in Wisconsin, mostly adults and full-time workers (Economic Policy Institute). The Wisconsin House delegation voted along party lines. Baldwin supports, while Johnson does not.

Pension reform: The House passed a bipartisan bill to save failing troubled pension funds. 25,000 Wisconsin workers and retirees will benefit. All Wisconsin Democratic representatives and GOP Representative Sean Duffy voted yes (other state GOP representatives voted no). La Crosse Democratic Representative Ron Kind said: “Hardworking Wisconsinites deserve peace of mind and certainty that they’ll receive the benefits they’ve earned when they retire.” Baldwin has led on pension reform and is a chief sponsor of a Senate bill with 25 other senators. Will Johnson vote to help regular folks? It’s past time!

Bread-and-butter issues, morally right and politically smart.

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

 

Bill Kaplan: Don’t let Trump win in 2020

0

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

Political pundit Larry Sabato opined: “The economy got Nixon, Reagan and Bush reelected. It could do it for Trump, too.” Why? U.S. unemployment is 3.7 percent, while Wisconsin’s rate is 2.8 percent. Moreover, Trump now has the powers of an incumbent, a united GOP behind him, unwavering base voters and a fundraising juggernaut. And, the “Democratic Party may inadvertently boost Trump if it gets carried away with an impeachment frenzy that prompts a voter backlash” (Sabato). In addition, if the Democratic presidential candidate runs too far to the left, Trump could win again.

However, there are barriers to Trump’s reelection, Unlike in 2016, Trump is no longer the change candidate. All the smoke and mirrors, glitter and razzle-dazzle can’t hide the chaos, contempt for democratic values and scandals of the Trump White House. On Friday, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigned “amid the mushrooming Jeffrey Epstein investigation” (Washington Post).

But the basic facts about the Epstein sex crimes case (underage girls) and his sweet plea deal were known when the Senate confirmed Acosta. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin voted no, while Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson, oblivious to facts, voted to confirm. Acosta presented explosive problems for Trump. A tycoon (Epstein) in a sex scandal, getting off with a slap on the wrist. Then there was Trump’s having called Epstein a “terrific” guy who liked them “young”. Acosta had to go. Meanwhile, Trump is moving ahead with his reelection agenda: trade wars and bashing immigrants. But voters are catching on.

On Friday, Acosta imploded, then Trump came to Wisconsin for a fundraiser and photo-op. But the American Dairy Coalition rained on Trump’s reelection parade: “Trump has displayed a willingness to play hardball in order to secure concessions. Nonetheless, he has reached a point of rapidly diminishing returns and everyday (as) unnecessary tariffs remain in place, more and more of the very people he claims to be fighting for – American dairymen and farmers – are being pushed into bankruptcy. A good general knows when the day is won and when to remove his troops from harm’s way. If Trump can’t learn the same lesson, he may find few farmers willing – or able – to stand behind him”.

Similarly, the Washington Post found weakening support for Trump: “estimates show that between 5 percent and 15 percent of voters who picked Trump in 2016 had voted for Obama in 2012, or as many as 9.2 million voters. These Obama-Trump voters are one of the only voting groups to have had a significant change in their view of … Trump: In 2016, 85 percent of them held a ‘favorable’ view … — a rate that fell to 66 percent this year … .” Likewise, Craig Gilbert, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, found many Obama to Trump voters in rural Wisconsin. Democrats, pay attention!

Finally, Wisconsin Public Radio reports: “Some Wisconsin dairy leaders worry increased scrutiny around immigration is having an impact on the immigrant labor force the industry depends on”. Trump may not get a free ride in Wisconsin.

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

 

Bill Kaplan: July 4 belongs to America, not Trump

0

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

Acting like a tin-pot dictator, “Trump has effectively taken charge of the nation’s premier Fourth of July celebration in Washington, … (and will) address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial” (Washington Post). Trump tweeted “Hold The Date! (July 4) for a “Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!” Once again Trump trashes American norms.

A nonpartisan celebration of America’s independence will be turned into a Trump-GOP campaign rally. No U.S. president has presided at the D.C. July 4 event since the 1950s. However, Trump wants to rebrand the nation’s celebration. There will be a VIP area reserved for his high-flying cronies. So much for the “forgotten Americans”. And, Trump will have a flyover by Air Force One to satisfy his vanity.

However, all of the “Rockets’ Red Glare” and Trump’s speechifying can’t hide the misery and pain he has inflicted on regular folks. There will be little celebrating by Wisconsin’s dairy farmers. Since 2017 Wisconsin has lost more than 1,500 dairy farms. The New York Times reports: “Wisconsin’s milk farmers face extinction”. Low and falling milk prices, compounded by loss of foreign markets because of Trump’s trade wars, have sent farm income plummeting.

Similarly, other Wisconsin farmers are suffering from foreign retaliatory tariffs on corn, cranberries, ginseng, kidney beans and soybeans, as well as beef and pork. Small businesses, hospitals and schools in rural Wisconsin are facing an ongoing disaster. Pessimism is rising. Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture’s new survey shows farmers losing confidence in Trump. Moreover, a Midwestern farmer told the Washington Post: “We want the border secured, but there might be other ways to do it rather than using the farmers as a stick to beat Mexico over the head. Farm states elected him … . But if, in a year and a half, we’re still in the same boat, he’s not getting elected.”

Trump’s trademark issue is bashing immigrants and blaming them for America’s social problems. However, his bigoted and nativist rhetoric is deceptive and intended to “divide and conquer”. Case in point: “Immigrants have served in uniform since the nation’s founding and have been naturalized in uniform or as veterans for a century. Nearly 130,000 troops have been naturalized since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks alone” (Washington Post). But the Trump administration is deporting some of these veterans for sometimes serious, and more often minor crimes.

The bipartisan “Repatriate Our Patriots Act” seeks to end this injustice. The legislation would exclude veterans who committed serious crimes, but allow other deported veterans to come back to the U.S., with a pathway to citizenship. Alaska GOP Representative Don Young, a bill sponsor, said: “It is inexcusable that service members who risked it all to protect us would be put through the deportation process”. Wisconsin GOP Representative Mike Gallagher, former U.S. Marine Corps officer, should cosponsor the bill and ask all Wisconsin representatives to sign on. That would be worth celebrating.

July 4 belongs to America, not Trump.

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

 

Board of Regents 🗓

0

Details TBA.

Board of Regents 🗓

0

Details TBA.

Business Engagement Day on Campus 🗓

0

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Chairmen Johnson, Grassley: Continue push for answers from the intelligence community on FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks to media

0

WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) sent a letter to the inspectors general of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to continue their push for answers regarding messages that illustrate the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks to the media about ongoing investigations. This follows a letter the chairmen sent to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) Michael K. Atkinson in May 2019 regarding whether the IC IG conducted a review of alleged leaks from the intelligence community. The IC IG’s June 2019 response refused to confirm whether it conducted an investigation into leaks or whether it has made a referral to another agency.

In this latest letter, the chairmen request whether the principal oversight bodies of the NSA and CIA are reviewing alleged leaks from the IC.

 “On May 6, 2019, we wrote to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) about potential leaks of sensitive information by other agencies or entities to the media during the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation. The IC IG refused to confirm the existence of any investigation or referral to another entity, even though it has done so in the past, most notably when it informed Congress and the public of an 811(c) referral that started the Clinton investigation. Due to the IC IG’s lack of transparency about this recent matter, we write to you about our concerns about alleged leaks within the IC,” the senators wrote.

 

“These texts and emails raise a number of serious questions and concerns. For example, who are the ‘sisters’ and what does it mean to say that the ‘sisters have [been] leaking like mad?’  What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into ‘overdrive?’  Which ‘agency’ is he referring to, and why does Strzok believe the referenced news article highlights that ‘agency as [a] source of some of the leaks?’”

 

“Accordingly, has your office initiated an investigation into these apparent leaks? Further, has your office coordinated with the IC IG about these issues? It not, please explain why not.”

Earlier this year, the chairmen requested a briefing from the Justice Department on its review of spying on the Trump presidential campaign and raised questions about potential efforts by senior FBI officials to use briefings with the Trump transition team as intelligence gathering operations.

Chairmen Johnson and Grassley’s letter to the inspectors general can be found here and below:

The Honorable Robert P. Storch

Inspector General

National Security Agency

Ms. Christine Ruppert

Acting Deputy Inspector General and Counsel

Office of the Inspector General

Central Intelligence Agency

Dear Inspector General Storch and Ms. Ruppert:

On May 6, 2019, we wrote to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IC IG) about potential leaks of sensitive information by other agencies or entities to the media during the course of the FBI’s Russia investigation.[1]  The IC IG refused to confirm the existence of any investigation or referral to another entity, even though it has done so in the past, most notably when it informed Congress and the public of an 811(c) referral that started the Clinton investigation.[2]  Due to the IC IG’s lack of transparency about this recent matter, we write to you about our concerns about alleged leaks within the IC.

In our letter to the IC IG, we highlighted text messages between Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page discussing the FBI’s apparent awareness of leaks.  In a December 2016 text message, Mr. Strzok told Ms. Page:

Think our sisters have begun leaking like mad. Scorned and worried and political, they’re kicking in to overdrive.[3]

Then in April 2017, Strzok e-mailed FBI colleagues and once again discussed leaks by others to the press.  Specifically, with regard to the publication of an article in The Guardian titled “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia,” Strzok said:

I’m beginning to think the agency got info a lot earlier than we thought and hasn’t shared it completely with us. Might explain all these weird/seemingly incorrect leads all these media folks have. Would also highlight agency as source of some of the leaks.[4]

These texts and emails raise a number of serious questions and concerns.  For example, who are the “sisters” and what does it mean to say that the “sisters have [been] leaking like mad”?  What are they worried about, and what are they kicking into “overdrive”?  Which “agency” is he referring to, and why does Strzok believe the referenced news article highlights that “agency as [a] source of some of the leaks”?

Accordingly, has your office initiated an investigation into these apparent leaks?  Further, has your office coordinated with the IC IG about these issues?  It not, please explain why not.

Should you have any questions, please contact Brian Downey of Chairman Johnson’s staff at (202) 224-4751, or Joshua Flynn-Brown of Chairman Grassley’s staff at (202) 224-4515.

Sincerely,

Ron Johnson

Chairman

Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

Charles E. Grassley

Chairman

Committee on Finance

City of Milwaukee Health Department: Cautions establishment operators

0

Contact: Dr. Diamond D. Hanson

Cell: 414-758-0136

Office: 414-286-3548

Operators are encouraged to stay vigilant in midst of possible scamming activity

MILWAUKEE – The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) Division of Consumer Environmental Health has been notified that an operator was the intended victim of a scam to obtain money on the basis of a Health Department inspection. MHD inspectors will never ask license holders for credit card information. Additionally, Health Inspectors will never impose a fee for the completion of an inspection. Any fees incurred based on licenses or violations will be invoiced to operators through the United States Postal Service. Furthermore, all inspectors will have valid City-issued identification and will properly identify themselves before conducting an inspection.

“Our Health Inspectors are integral to protecting the community from disease and unfair sales practices (e.g. weights and measures). We are angered to learn about the latest scam to come to our attention – posing as Health Inspectors to hustle small business owners out of their hard earned money. We will cooperate with authorities to identify and prosecute these individuals to the full extent of the law.”

If there is ever any question of legitimacy of an inspection or fee, operators are strongly encouraged to call (414) 286-2238 and the MHD will assist.

City of Racine: Announces partnership with Climate Mayors Electric Vehicle Purchasing Collaborative

0

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Clean Wisconsin: Drug take back boxes gain support from Gov. Evers

0

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

[email protected]

Jon Drewsen, Communications Director, (920) 539-1772 or [email protected]

Drop boxes around city help protect drinking water from medical waste

MILWAUKEE — Clean Wisconsin joined Governor Tony Evers and Take Back My Meds Milwaukee to promote responsible pharmaceutical disposal at a press conference Wednesday announcing a new drug drop box at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center.

“When unused drugs are thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet they end up in Lake Michigan, the source of Milwaukee’s drinking water,” said Amber Meyer Smith, Vice President of Programs & Government Relations at Clean Wisconsin. “Drop boxes are the key to keeping pharmaceutical contaminants out of our drinking water.”

In 2016, Clean Wisconsin helped to form Take Back My Meds Milwaukee, a coalition of environmental organizations, health groups and law enforcement agencies working to build a network of prescription drug drop boxes in Milwaukee to reduce drug abuse and protect drinking water.

Unused medicines that are flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash can end up in drinking water, since water treatment facilities are unable to filter out pharmaceutical compounds. Research from the School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has found chemicals from prescription drugs as far as two miles from Milwaukee’s treated waste water outfalls in Lake Michigan.

“Pollution from prescription drugs threaten public health and the safety of drinking water for people in Milwaukee,” said Meyer Smith. “We applaud the leadership of Aurora Health Care and all the pharmacies committed to making drop boxes a convenient disposal option for people who want to be part of the solution to this environmental and public health problem.”

Gov. Evers also spoke in support of efforts to develop a network of drop boxes around the city. The governor declared 2019 the “Year of Clean Drinking Water” during his State of the State Address in February.

“Gov. Evers has shown a strong commitment to protecting drinking water for all Wisconsin residents during the Year of Clean Drinking Water,” said Meyer Smith. “We face many drinking water challenges in both urban, rural, and suburban areas of the state. Gov. Evers’ support of this effort is yet another example of his leadership in making clean drinking water a reality in every corner of the state.”

Clean Wisconsin: Gov. Evers shows commitment to eliminating lead in drinking water

0

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

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

New lead appointee tasked with tackling lead poisoning

KENOSHA — Clean Wisconsin praises Gov. Tony Evers for signing an executive order that creates a new interagency coordinator to tackle lead pollution in drinking water. The governor signed the executive order at Gateway Technical College’s daycare facility on Monday.

“Child lead poisoning is a real issue in every corner of Wisconsin,” said Carly Michiels, Government Relations Director at Clean Wisconsin. “Tackling lead pollution in drinking water requires a coordinated effort involving health and water experts at DNR and DHS. This is a big undertaking, and we applaud Gov. Evers for committing to eliminate lead pipes and protect public health, especially during the Year of Clean Drinking Water.”

There are roughly 176,000 lead service lines still delivering drinking water in Wisconsin. While the majority are in Milwaukee, lead pipes are a statewide issue: over 80 communities around the state still rely on lead service lines. Child blood lead levels in Wisconsin, which are around 5%, exceed the national average.

Gov. Evers proposed spending $40 million on lead pipe replacement in his state budget proposal. The Republican-majority Joint Finance Committee removed that funding from the final budget.

Earlier today, Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Kalan Haywood (D-Milwaukee) introduced a bill that would recommit that $40 million for lead pipe replacement around the state.

“There is no safe level of lead in a child’s blood,” said Michiels. “While many lawmakers have refused to solve lead pollution in drinking water, Gov. Evers and legislators like Sen. Johnson and Rep. Haywood are showing they’re committed to making sure everyone in Wisconsin has access to clean drinking water.”

Clean Wisconsin: Gov. Evers takes bold action on nitrate pollution

0

Contact: Scott Laeser, Water Program Director, (608) 251-7020 ext. 13 or [email protected]

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

Directs state agencies to start rule-making on new protections for drinking water

WATERTOWN, WI — Clean Wisconsin strongly supports Gov. Tony Evers’ announcement on Wednesday to direct state agencies to create new rules for how nitrates are applied to farm fields, an important step for protecting rural drinking water across the state.

“This announcement shows that Gov. Evers is serious about cleaning up and protecting drinking water in Wisconsin,” said Scott Laeser, Water Program Director at Clean Wisconsin. “The new standards being proposed will offer hope to thousands of Wisconsin residents with nitrate pollution in their private wells.”

The new guidelines, called targeted performance standards, are administrative rules that will stipulate how nitrates from fertilizer and manure are applied to farm fields. The governor’s announcement today directs state agencies to starts the process for creating the standards. Clean Wisconsin has been a vocal advocate for statewide nitrate guidelines that protect public health.

“This announcement is a major step to protect public health and make clean drinking water a reality for many families without it,” said Laeser. “Nitrate pollution is something we can start addressing now, and we’re glad to see the governor take this important step during the Year of Clean Drinking Water.”

Studies conducted by University of Wisconsin researchers and others have found that most nitrate pollution comes from agricultural sources such as manure and commercial fertilizer.

Based on research from the Center for Watershed Science and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Clean Wisconsin estimates that nitrogen leaching annually from corn fields is 29 times higher than nitrogen leaching annually from septic systems in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette Counties.

Nitrate pollution in drinking water poses serious health risks. Blue baby syndrome and central nervous system birth defects are potentially fatal risks of exposure to nitrates for fetuses or young children. For adults, an increased risk of thyroid disease and colorectal cancer has been associated with high nitrate exposure.

Awareness of nitrate pollution around Wisconsin has been growing. In January, results from the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater & Geology (SWIGG) study found high rates of nitrate pollution in private wells in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties, prompting Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to convene a Water Quality Task Force. High levels of nitrate pollution have also been reported in private wells in Juneau, Wood, Rock, and La Crosse Counties.

“Widespread nitrate pollution is a public health crisis in Wisconsin. We applaud Gov. Evers’ commitment to creating these new standards, but this is only the beginning of the process,” said Laeser. “We will continue to work with lawmakers and state agencies to make sure these rules protect drinking water and public health.”

###

On behalf of its more than 30,000 members, supporters and its coalition partners,

Clean Wisconsin protects and preserves Wisconsin’s clean air, water and natural heritage.

This email was sent to [email protected]
Clean Wisconsin, 634 W Main Street, Suite 300, Madison, WI 53703, USA
Unsubscribe

Clean Wisconsin: Gov. Evers’ budget vetoes good for clean water, energy

0

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

MADISON, WI — Clean Wisconsin applauded Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday for vetoing budget items that would limit local control over quarry mining operations and restrict key funding for electric vehicle charging stations and water protection efforts.

“While it’s disappointing Republicans stripped out most Gov. Evers’ strong water and energy budget proposals, this budget invests more in clean water and energy programs than we have seen in a long time. Gov. Evers’ leadership throughout the budget process and his veto actions today made that possible.”

Gov. Evers vetoed budget language that would limit towns and cities from enacting stronger ordinances on quarry mining than what is currently in state statutes. This veto is important because it allows local residents to have a say in how mining companies operate in their communities. Quarry mining can contribute to high levels of air pollution from particulate matter.

“This is a win for making sure local governments are included in the discussions about if and how quarry mining takes place in their backyard,” said Michiels. “We’re glad Gov. Evers removed this item so local governments have a say in land use and water and air quality in their communities.”

The governor also vetoed language that cut $10 million from the Volkswagen settlement fund that he had proposed to go towards establishing a network of electric vehicle charging stations. Gov. Evers’ veto reestablishes this commitment.

“The majority of our carbon emissions come from transportation, and reducing these emissions is key to tackling climate change,” said Michiels. “This veto opens the door to a future electric vehicle charging network in Wisconsin that encourage widespread EV use in the state.”

Clean Wisconsin also supports the governor’s veto of items that were added by the legislature requiring the Joint Finance Committee to control funds for the well compensation grant program and a nitrate testing program proposal. JFC control of this funding places an unnecessary burden on access to safe drinking water.

“We’re seeing drinking water pollution from nitrates all across the state, and it’s critical we make sure the programs that help get people get clean drinking water work effectively. This veto will allow for further bipartisan conversations on ways to deliver additional assistance to people who can’t drink the water from their tap because of pollution.”

Clean Wisconsin: Milwaukee takes important step to address climate change

0

Contact: Pam Ritger, Milwaukee Program Director & Staff Attorney, (646) 549-8224 or [email protected]
Jon Drewsen, Communications Director, (608) 251-7020 ext. 28 or [email protected]

City-county task force the latest effort by WI communities to tackle climate

MILWAUKEE, WI — Clean Wisconsin applauds the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors for passing a resolution on Thursday to create a Joint Task Force on Climate and Economic Equality with the City of Milwaukee. Clean Wisconsin will be one of the 13 organizations represented on the Task Force.

“We strongly support this effort by the City and County of Milwaukee to work together to address carbon emissions and spur economic opportunity through clean energy jobs,” said Pam Ritger, Milwaukee Program Director and Staff Attorney at Clean Wisconsin. “Addressing climate change is a big task, and we look forward to working with the city and county to find solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and benefit local residents.”

The Task Force will be working with area leaders to put forth proposals to help the city and county achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 while also increasing racial and economic equality through clean energy jobs.

With this passed resolution, the City of Milwaukee becomes the 6th city in Wisconsin to set a carbon reduction goal by at least 2050. On July 16, the City of La Crosse joined Madison, Middleton, Monona, and Eau Claire by passing a similar carbon-free energy target.

“Wisconsin residents want action on climate change. While state and federal lawmakers have been dragging their feet, local communities are taking bold steps to start tackling this problem,” noted Ritger.

Gov. Tony Evers has led state efforts to address carbon emissions and promote clean energy. In February, Evers joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, which commits the state to carbon reduction goals in the coming years. In his state budget, the governor proposed a state goal of carbon-free electricity by 2050 and a new Office of Clean Energy and Sustainability to serve as a hub for state clean energy and climate change efforts. Both proposals were removed from the budget by the legislature.

“The efforts by communities like Milwaukee are a sign that Wisconsin residents want lawmakers to address climate change, promote clean energy, boost our economy and protect public health,” said Ritger. “We applaud these local efforts and call on state lawmakers to commit to statewide climate change and clean energy policies.”

Cole on ‘UpFront’: DNR ‘doubling down’ on efforts to improve drinking water quality

DNR Secretary Preston Cole said the agency is “doubling down” on efforts to improve the quality of drinking water all over the state.

Water quality is the problem that “keeps me up at night,” Cole told “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Cole said two new scientists — positions added in the 2019-2021 state budget — will help the department work on improving water quality. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers had sought five additional DNR science positions. Republican lawmakers approved two.

“This is the down payment that the governor is ensuring the people of the state of Wisconsin,” Cole said.

“He made water a central issue of his campaign, and here today, we are going to be able to work with those additional staff to solve some of the most harmful crises around drinking water,” he said.

The additional scientists will work on PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) modeling “to tell us where it is, and where it isn’t,” Cole said.

Cole, who has called climate change a “real deal,” also said the agency will address it, and will once again acknowledge it in a planned website revamp.

Under the Walker administration, controversy erupted at the end of 2016 when the DNR removed or revised references on its website to climate change, rising temperatures and the relation to human activities.

Cole said the DNR will talk about the “implications of climate change and where it stems from.”

In an “UpFront” web extra, Cole said he has heard a variety of opinions from lawmakers about chronic wasting disease and what the state should be doing about it. He said he is doing the “requisite research” on CWD.

Cole said the DNR’s approach will include talking to surrounding states about what they are doing about the deer disease and trying to give hunters a faster test to see if CWD is present.

Also on the program, a family farm advocate said it’s time for an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to the high numbers of farmers in crisis.

Margaret Krome, policy director for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in Walworth County, said government at all levels can help farmers stay on their land.

Krome said at the federal level, the USDA’s credit arm could direct local offices to take specific steps to “help farms weather this very tough, long storm.”

Those steps could include refinancing, restructuring debt, or steering farmers toward diversification or conservation programs, she said.

Krome said even individuals can help.

“One thing anybody can do is, if you know a farmer, check,” she said. “Ask a farmer. Make sure you don’t leave a farmer feeling isolated in a really tough time.”

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

Common Cause Wisconsin: “Iowa Model” anti gerrymandering legislation not affected by terrible Supreme Court decision

0

CONTACT:

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

With Federal Courts Now Out of the Fight, It’s Entirely Up to We, The People

Last Thursday’s narrow (5 to 4) but terrible decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not inject itself, or other federal courts into the question of whether or not hyper-partisan redistricting of congressional and state legislative districts could deny voters equal protection under the law and infringe on their First Amendment right to have their votes count as much as any other voter (it can and does) was deeply disturbing, disappointing and disgusting. But it was not, in the least bit, surprising.

The June 27th SCOTUS decision in Rucho v. Common Cause was pre-ordained when moderate conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy retired a year a go and was replaced on the nation’s highest court by Trump’s selection, the ultra-conservative, partisan, and ill-tempered Brett Kavanaugh.

But the Supreme Court did not foreclose the possibility or ability of states to end partisan gerrymandering. Indeed, Chief Justice John Roberts decried the partisan map drawing and practically begged states to enact such reforms even as he cowardly backed away from utilizing legitimate judicial power to strike down unfair voting maps.

For years, we have been working on the advancement of redistricting reform under the assumption that we cannot depend on the courts to get this done. We have always believed that it is up to we, the people, who must eventually prevail over the hyper-politically partisan bosses of Wisconsin and their minions who have defended partisan gerrymandering, voter suppression, unlimited, secret special interest money, and anything else they can do to hold on to power – at any cost to taxpayers – the public be damned.

The U.S. Supreme Court has run away to hide. So be it. Onward and upward.

In May, Wisconsin Republican legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), and their GOP acolytes on the Legislative Joint Finance Committee (JFC) stripped the redistricting reform provision proposal that Gov. Tony Evers has inserted in his 2019-2021 state budget proposal.

Dozens of Wisconsinites testified in strong support of the “Iowa Model” redistricting reform measure at the four state budget hearings the JFC held around Wisconsin (in Janesville, Oak Creek, River Falls and Green Bay) during the month of April.

Nobody spoke against it.

The legislation is based on Iowa’s redistricting process which was developed and enacted into law in Iowa by Republican Governor Robert Ray and a Republican-controlled Legislature (both chambers) in 1980.

Now, out of the state budget, the “Iowa Model” redistricting measure has been introduced, with bi-partisan support, in the Wisconsin Legislature as “stand alone” legislation.

In the State Senate, the lead sponsor is Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), who has introduced Senate Bill 288. In the Assembly, the lead sponsor is Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Waukesha), who has introduced an identical measure, Assembly Bill 303.

Now, it is time for you to do your part to help make ending partisan gerrymandering a reality in Wisconsin before 2021, when the next redistricting process will occur, following the 2020 Census. This week, before the 4th of July, please contact both your state senator and your state representative and demand that they co-sponsor and support Senate Bill 288 and/or Assembly Bill 303. If you are not sure who your state senator and/or state representative is, go here.

These measures have overwhelming citizen support all throughout Wisconsin. Now, state legislators need to adhere to the demands of their constituents to defy Vos and Fitzgerald and do the right thing. Support fair maps! Some legislators and their staff may tell you the U.S. Supreme Court has now said that their current, partisan gerrymandering system is the only way the redistricting process can occur. That is a bald-faced lie! They absolutely could and should adopt the fair, non-partisan legislation (SB 288/AB 303), now ready for a public hearing and consideration by the full Wisconsin Legislature tomorrow, if they put the the public interest ahead of their narrow, partisan interest.

Here is more information about the “Iowa Model” reform measure and about the redistricting process in Wisconsin. You can also watch and listen to this video about the redistricting reform process in Wisconsin.

Above all, take action. Make your voices heard. Never, ever surrender. On Wisconsin!

Dairy Business Association: Dairy hub, farmer conservation funds draw praise from state dairy group

0

Contact: Jamie Mara
Dairy Business Association
(920) 209-3990 | [email protected]

New budget supports research, on-farm water quality efforts

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Wisconsin’s leading dairy lobbying organization said today the new state budget will empower farmers and others to innovate in ways that position America’s Dairyland for long-term success.
The Dairy Business Association highlighted two provisions in the budget that Gov. Tony Evers signed today — funding for a Dairy Innovation Hub and more grants for farmer-led conservation work. Both were items the association pushed for aggressively.
The two-year budget invests $8.8 million in the innovation hub, a new program to be led by the University of Wisconsin System for a broad range of research at its agricultural colleges. The budget also doubles the amount of money to $1 million for an existing grant program to help farmers find solutions to water quality challenges.
The following statements are from Tom Crave, president of the Dairy Business Association and a farmer and cheesemaker in south-central Wisconsin.

Regarding the Dairy Innovation Hub:
“Keeping our dairy community healthy requires investment — by farmers, by processors, by lenders, by the state and by many others who play vital roles in America’s Dairyland. Budgets demonstrate priorities. By including the Dairy Innovation Hub in the newly signed spending plan, state leaders have made a strong statement that our dairy economy, our rural communities and our identity as the Dairy State matter.
“Through next-generation research in areas such as land and water use, health and nutrition and integrating farm businesses, the dairy hub will keep us on a track toward long-term success. We look forward to continuing to work with the UW and lawmakers to bring the hub to life. There are a lot of great things to come for our dairy community.
“Many folks came together to make this happen. We were proud to play a leadership role in a coalition of stakeholders that included Cooperative Network, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin, the UW, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau and Wisconsin Farmers Union.
“We also want to thank lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for recognizing the importance of this program and making sure it was funded. Among them were Senator Howard Marklein and Representative Travis Tranel, who spearheaded the effort, the members of the Joint Finance Committee, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who ensured that it stayed on track. Governor Evers, of course, has our appreciation for keeping the hub in the final spending plan as he made the difficult decisions that come with finalizing a budget.”
Regarding the conservation grants:
“We applaud Governor Evers and the Joint Finance Committee for recognizing the value of empowering farmers through the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant Program. This program is one of the best ways the state can support farmers’ efforts to protect and improve water quality. The grants, which nonprofit farmer-led conservation groups must match, will go a long way in supplementing things like cost-share programs for scientific research and innovative manure management practices.
“Wisconsin’s dairy farmers are taking the lead on addressing water quality challenges in our state. A growing number of voluntary watershed-based groups are making remarkable progress in identifying solutions that make sense for their regions. Farmers are challenging each other to continuously improve through innovation and to scientifically measure results. Keeping our water clean takes a community-wide effort, and farmers are demonstrating a commitment to doing their part. We all want clean water.
“Through our involvement with the Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance, the Dairy Business Association is proud to have helped launch and now closely support several watershed groups around the state. It is exciting to see the passion in these efforts.
Photos:
Click here for a photo of Tom Crave
Tweet about this:
Dairy Business Association @DairyForward thanks Legislature, @GovEvers for #Dairy Innovation Hub funds, conservation grants to farmers in new state budget https://bit.ly/2Xlw2YU
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. More information: www.dairyforward.com

Dane County: Accepting applications for Partners in Equity Grant Program

0

July 31, 2019

Contact: Ariana Vruwink

608-267-8823

The Partners in Equity Grants (PIE) – Addressing Systematic Racial Inequities

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that community-based organizations can now apply for the Partners in Equity Grant. The Partners in Equity (PIE) Grant Program supports Dane County-based community groups that propose to use funding to address systemic racial inequities.

“The Partners in Equity Grant Program is one of many ways Dane County works to achieve equity in our growing community,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “By working together to addressed shared challenges, we can better ensure opportunity for all in Dane County.”

Grants are awarded to Dane County-based community group(s) that will use the funding to address systemic racial inequities in health, education, employment, and/or criminal justice. Individual organizations may apply for up to $15,000. Partnerships or collaborations of two or more eligible organizations may apply for up to $57,500 (the full amount).

Applicants may go to https://oei-exec.countyofdane.com/Pie-Grant to obtain the application or may contact the Tamara D. Grigsby Office for Equity and Inclusion at 608-283-1391 for a paper application or if they have questions.

The PIE Grant application must be received by the Tamara D. Grigsby Office for Equity and Inclusion by no later than 4:00 PM, Friday, August 30, 2019. Mail or drop off applications at 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, RM 356, Madison WI 53703 or email your application to [email protected]

The Office for Equity and Inclusion furthers Dane County’s ongoing commitment to addressing racial, gender, and disabilities disparities. The office guides Dane County’s Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action, Contract Compliance, and Civil Rights Compliance functions and serves as a resource for all County departments around issues of equity, disparities, conflict resolution, staff development and best practices.

DATCP: Secretary releases statement on budget

0

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

MADISON – As Governor Tony Evers signed the 2019-2021 biennial state budget, Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) commended his actions Wednesday.

“The budget Governor Evers signed today is a down payment on the People’s Budget and the priorities of the people of our state, including our farmers and rural communities,” Pfaff said. “For several years, Wisconsin farmers have faced a triple whammy of low commodity prices, trade uncertainty, and challenging weather. These conditions have caused significant financial and emotional stress for the agriculture community across our state. Governor Evers and I recognize that, and the budget he signed today is a better budget for those family farmers and the rural communities they call home.”

Among other provisions, 2019 Wisconsin Act 9 contains:

  • A record $48 million to expand broadband service to underserved areas
  • $8.8 million for a Dairy Innovation Hub in the University of Wisconsin System to encourage research and innovation in our dairy industry
  • An additional $200,000 for promoting Wisconsin foods to local buyers in local markets

“As farmers know better than anyone, there is always more work to be done. Thanks to the work of the people of our state and Governor Evers, the budget he signed is a solid step forward on the road ahead,” added Pfaff. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor and the people of our state who are counting on us to roll up our sleeves and get things done.”

###

DC Wrap: Gallagher criticizes Trump tweets as House condemns them as ‘racist’

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

Quotes of the week

“I made clear that the President’s tweets were wrong and Congress needs to get back to work. Yet today, the debate on the House floor was filled with hyper-partisan rhetoric about a resolution that does nothing to solve the problems facing our nation…Congress should do its job.”
– Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said in a tweet blasting Congress for its House resolution denouncing the president’s recent tweets aimed at four freshmen congresswomen of color as racist. See the tweet here.

“We do need to change our laws. Primarily, we need to change that initial hurdle rate on asylum claims. Nobody fully knows, but the best estimate is only about 15% of the people who are coming in from Central America over the last five years actually have a valid asylum claim.”
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” regarding his ideas for possible ways to address the influx of immigration at the southern border. See the release here.

This week’s news

— Rep. Mike Gallagher was the only GOP member of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation to directly address President Donald Trump’s tweets attacking four Dem congresswomen of color. 

But the Green Bay Republican ultimately voted against a measure condemning the comments and a motion seeking to remove Trump from office.

Gallagher on July 15 highlighted a slate of important proposals that will come to the House floor and lamented that Trump comments will inevitably mean that “the only questions we will get asked, the only questions that will be debated on TV and social media, will be about tweets we can all agree were wrong.”

“Instead of mean tweeting, let’s do our job and work to fix the looming budget crisis, a broken healthcare system, and a broken immigration system,” he said.

Trump on the morning of July 14 targeted Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan. Though three of the four women were born in the United States, Trump in a series of tweets called on them to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Those tweets drew a vote on the House floor on July 16 on a measure condemning the president’s language as “racist.” The Wisconsin delegations’ three Dems joined their Dem colleagues, four Republicans and Independent Justin Amash of Michigan in passing the resolution 240-187.

See Trump’s tweets:

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan called the House resolution condemning the president’s tweets aimed at four of his Dem colleagues a start, adding the “racist tropes that he put out there have absolutely no reason to exist.”

The House passed a resolution on Tuesday that denounced as racist the president’s suggestion that the four congresswomen should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” Three of them were born in the U.S., while the fourth is a naturalized citizen.

Pocan told reporters on a conference call on July 16 that the president’s tweets going after members of Congress in “such an unbelievably racist way” is only part of the problem. He said Trump’s entire border policy is racist, because it’s aimed at “stopping people with brown and black skin from coming into the U.S.”

“Until we can change all of that, we have a person who appears to be a racist who is the president of the United States,” Pocan said.

Pocan spoke with reporters on a conference call on Tuesday returning from Florida, where he toured an influx facility for unaccompanied minors detained at the southern border. The children are there until they can be reunited with an approved family member or friend pending immigration proceedings.

Pocan said he didn’t see the deplorable conditions that others have viewed at detention centers around the country, including one in Texas last week. Still, he spoke with four migrant girls, one who told him she’d been there more than 60 days, but officials for the first time last week made an effort to connect with a family member living in the U.S.

Pocan said the private facility he toured had 2,700 kids at its peak, but was down to 1,300. Still, he said at $750 per day per child, those running the facility have little incentive to speed up the process to reunite the kids with family members.

Pocan said he questioned those at the facility why it cost $750 a day for each child and was told a significant piece of the cost was what it took to establish the facilities. But now that they’re up and running, he questioned why the costs remained the same.

“This is warehousing children in defense of an indefensible policy,” he said.

— Dem U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, joined Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers in the House in voting against a measure that would have begun the process of ousting President Trump from office.

The resolution from Texas Dem Rep. Al Green sought to spur on impeachment proceedings against the president for a string of tweets targeting four congresswomen of color that he called “impeachable offenses.”

Green said in a floor speech that the measure was “our opportunity to punish (Trump)” and called on his colleagues in the House to begin the process of removing him from office.

But the body voted overwhelmingly against moving forward with the resolution: 137 Democrats were joined by all 194 Republicans who were present in the chamber and Independent Justin Amash of Michigan in voting to table measure indefinitely.

Of the Wisconsin delegation, only Dem U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Town of Vermont and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee voted against tabling.

— GOP U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, considering a run for guv in 2022 and reconsidering his pledge to serve only two terms in the Senate, has upped his fundraising pace slightly while he ponders his future.

The Oshkosh Republican’s latest campaign finance report shows $58,497 in receipts during the second quarter. He also spent $20,901 and finished June with $332,583 in the bank.

During the first three months of 2019, Johnson listed $28,959 in receipts.

Johnson has said his intention remains to not run for the Senate again in 2022, though the results of the 2018 elections changed his calculus. Among the options Johnson has said he’s considering is a bid for guv in 2022. Candidates are barred from converting their federal accounts to a state one in Wisconsin, though they are allowed to transfer the maximum PAC contribution, which is $86,000.

See Johson’s report:
https://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/323/201907159150862323/201907159150862323.pdf

— Johnson also spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” calling the present situation at the southern border “completely out of control.” 

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said that the goal of current policy at addressing immigration at the southern border should be to reduce the flow of migrants altogether.

“One of the things we have to do is raise that initial bar in terms of claiming asylum. Hopefully, set up centers in Guatemala, in Central America, so people can claim refugee status,” Johnson said. “We can’t take all comers.”

Johnson added he’s currently working on a pilot program in the Senate called Operation Safe Return with the aim of more quickly and accurately determining families that the U.S. believes don’t have a valid asylum claim and returning them to Central America.

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-sen-johnson-discusses-border-crisis-on-meet-the-press/

— U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse,  introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at making alternative energy options more affordable for Wisconsin dairy farmers.

Alongside U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY, Kind introduced the Agricultural Environmental Stewardship Act that would provide tax incentives for farmers and rural electric cooperatives who invest in biogas technology.

“By providing these tax incentives, we are making it more affordable and accessible for Wisconsin dairy farmers to pursue biogas technology and ensuring they can continue to create jobs and grow their businesses, while protecting our natural resources,” Kind said.

The legislation would work to promote investment by allowing biodigesters to qualify for an energy tax credit that is equal to the 30% tax credit for solar energy. This would allow for dairy farms to insulate biodigesters on their farms at a lower cost.

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-rep-kind-introduce-bipartisan-bill-to-make-alternative-energy-options-affordable-for-wisconsins-dairy-farmers/

— Gallagher and Kind introduced a resolution recognizing veteran-to-veteran programs in Wisconsin this week.

The resolution would recognize the value of veteran-to-veteran mentorship programs. Wisconsin has a number of established veteran mentorship programs which work to connect returning service members with veterans who have transitioned back to civilian life.

“When I left military service, I saw firsthand how difficult the transition to civilian life can be,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher. “Veteran-to-veteran relationships provide returning service members with a trusted resource as they reintegrate back into civilian life, and shine light on what can otherwise be a process filled with feelings of confusion and isolation.”

La Crosse Area Veterans Mentor Program and Bravo Company, N.E.W. Veterans Battalion also released statements of support for the resolution.

See the resolution here: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/reps-kind-and-gallagher-introduce-resolution-recognizing-veteran-to-veteran-programs-in-wisconsin/

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

U.S. Sen. Johnson teams up with Democratic presidential candidate to ‘Ban the Box’

Immigration, social security and tariffs among the top concerns at Steil listening session

How Wisconsin members of the House voted on resolution condemning president’s tweets

Mark Pocan’s visit to Florida migrant detention facility sparks more questions 

Tech Giants Draw Fire in Congress

DC Wrap: Sensenbrenner questions Mueller, charges former special counsel is ‘fishing’

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

Quotes of the week

“I think the fundamental dilemma — and I’ve been talking about this for a while and this is just the perspective of a rank-and-file member of Congress who tries to understand this stuff and not accordingly based on information and what northeast Wisconsin wants — is that this stuff is all negotiated behind closed doors.”
– U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher in a Twitter video calling for change to the budget process. See the video.

“Wisconsin—America’s Dairyland—has lost over 1,600 dairy farms in the last two years, and forward-looking strategies to increase the value and utilization of milk cannot come fast enough.”
– U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin wrote in a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, asking the Trump administration to direct at least $60 million in trade aid to USDA’s Dairy Business Innovation Initiatives. See the release.

This week’s news

— GOP U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner accused Robert Mueller of “fishing” without charging President Trump with a crime during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Lawmakers on Wednesday quizzed the former special counsel on his report detailing Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In the five minutes of time allotted by the committee, the Menomonee Falls Republican questioned why Mueller pushed ahead with the investigation after receiving an opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel indicating that Trump could not be indicted while in office.

Mueller responded that “you don’t know where the investigation is going to lead” and noted that the OLC opinion indicated he could continue the probe.

“If you’re not going to indict the president, then you’re just going to continue fishing, that’s my opinion,” Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner, who chaired the Judiciary panel for six years during the Bush administration, also asked why Mueller didn’t use the phrase “impeachable conduct” in his report. He noted that former special counsel Ken Starr used that phrase “on a number of occasions” in the report summarizing his investigation of the Clinton administration.  Mueller replied that his mandate “does not go to other ways of addressing the conduct” but rather “developing the report and turning the report in to the attorney general.”

Sensenbrenner was the only member of the state’s congressional delegation to question Mueller. The former special counsel also appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, but no Wisconsin lawmaker sits on that panel.

— The NRCC shared an overview of a new poll with WisPolitics.com that shows U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, neck-and-neck with a “named Republican candidate.”

But the House GOP’s campaign arm declined to release the identity of the Republican Kind was matched against.

A memo on the poll said it found the “named Republican candidate” backed by 45 percent of likely 2020 votes, while 43 percent supported Kind.

The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

According to the memo, 23 percent of undecided voters had a favorable impression of Kind, while 24 percent had an unfavorable one.

It also found a generic GOP candidate with a 47-40 edge in the district.

The poll of 400 likely 2020 general election voters in the western Wisconsin district was conducted July 7-11 using automated calls.

Kind was unopposed in 2016 as President Trump won his district by just less than 4.5 percentage points. He then won re-election last year with 59.7 percent as Dem Tony Evers beat Republican Scott Walker in the western Wisconsin district by 2.1 percentage points.

Read the memo.

— U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan says he believes Democrats in Congress can work with President Trump to secure funding for infrastructure projects that would create “good union jobs” in the state.

Speaking at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Wisconsin Laborers’ District Council’s newly expanded training center, the Town of Vermont Dem touted renovations to the nation’s energy grid, roads, bridges, broadband and water delivery systems as areas where bipartisan compromise could be found.

“I am still optimistic that despite having a president who comes from a very different place than some of us, this could be one area that we could still be able to get some funding to be able to support that,” he said.

Pocan played up his roots as a card-carrying union man for nearly three decades and said investment in infrastructure would “invest in jobs right here in Wisconsin and right here for the Wisconsin laborers.”

He indicated that House Dems were involved in a “$2 trillion conversation” with the White House on the infrastructure package.

— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson added he “doesn’t agree with” President Trump’s tweet that he doesn’t believe four Dem congresswomen — known as “the squad” — “are capable of loving our Country.”

The Oshkosh Republican didn’t condemn Trump’s tweet during an appearance Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“That’s his opinion,” Johnson said of Trump after host Dana Bush pressed him several times on the president’s knocks on the congresswomen, including that they should “go back” to the countries they’re from.

Johnson also said during the appearance that he’d “like to see us move toward a color-blind society” and wanted to see “everybody reduce the rhetoric” so the country could deal with some of the issues it faces.

Asked about the chant at a recent Trump rally — “send her back” — Johnson said he didn’t like it and the president didn’t, either.

“The whole America ‘love it or leave it’ is not a new sentiment,” Johnson said. “You know, back in the ’60s that wasn’t considered racist.”

Johnson, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, also talked about Iran and the southern border during the appearance.

Watch the appearance.

— Johnson told CNN that Iran “is playing a very, very dangerous game.”

Johnson added he thinks that Iran is “trying to divide the U.S. from our friends and allies” by “(going) after the UK.”

“They’re just uniting us in hopefully standing up to Iran once and for all demanding they never have a nuclear weapon,” Johnson concluded.

The senator then touted his Operation Safe Return while discussing the southern border and challenges with finding solutions to fix a “broken asylum system.”

See the release here.

— U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, said chants such as “send her back” that were directed at a Dem colleague during the president’s recent rally in North Carolina are “abhorrent.”

Gallagher tweeted a video in which he didn’t mention by name Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who was one of the targets of the chants at last night’s rally. A naturalized citizen, she came to the U.S. from Somalia.

In the video, Gallagher referred to a “Democrat member” who said controversial things, including “trafficking in anti-Semitism.” He said both sides politically are feeding off each other.

“This is not a good look for the United States of America,” Gallagher said. “We have to find a way to take the temperature down and to rediscover some common ground. We don’t want to spend the next year engaging in this endless tribal warfare and Twitter nonsense.”

See Gallagher’s video on Twitter.

 

Posts of the week

ICYMI

Republicans tune out Robert Mueller

Bash presses senator to disavow Trump’s attacks on Dems

Bill to expand broadband to rural Wisconsin communities passes Senate committee

Sen. Baldwin is part of bipartisan effort to build more resilient roads

Wisconsin Republicans mostly silent on ‘send her back’ chant at Trump rally

Wisconsin’s congressional races beginning to shape up ahead of 2020 cycle 

Mike Gallagher says he won’t call Trump and supporters racist, despite criticizing chant

Dem presidential contenders rip Trump at LULAC town hall

Milwaukee — Democratic presidential candidates at a League of United Latin American Citizens town hall here Thursday night ripped President Trump over his immigration policies while pledging to reform a system they described as broken.

The candidates also shared their plans on issues such as health care, education and climate change during the group’s national convention.

Speaking during the event were Julián Castro, who served as San Antonio mayor and U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary; Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Each candidate appeared separately and took questions from the moderator and several audience members.

Castro, who was first to speak, said he would repeal immigration policies enacted under Presidents George W. Bush and Trump so future administrations can’t “weaponize” the laws to detain asylum seekers and separate children from families.

He said those coming from Central America are no different than those from past generations who came from Ireland, Germany, Italy and other countries.

“Everybody was fleeing desperate circumstances,” Castro said. “That’s the common denominator.”

He called for a 20th Century Marshall Plan to improve conditions in Central America so people will want to stay in their home countries.

He also called for allowing veterans who have been deported to return to the U.S. and begin the process of gaining citizenship.

Castro responded to criticism from former Vice President Joe Biden and O’Rourke about his plan to decriminalize crossing the border saying both are “wrong on this.”

Sanders leveled the sharpest criticism at the president, calling Trump a racist, a bigot, a xenophobe and “an embarrassment to everything this country stands for.”

He pledged to provide legal status to all people eligible for the DACA program and move toward a path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants in the country.

He also said he would “develop a humane policy at the border, not one which criminalizes desperate people for having traveled a thousand miles, not one that puts children into cages, not one that rips babies out of the arms of their mothers.”

Sanders said shortly after being elected he would meet with Mexican and Central American leaders to find ways the U.S. can play a role in alleviating the poverty and violence he said is driving immigration.

“Everything being equal, nobody wants to travel a thousand miles, they’d rather live at home in peace and security,” said Sanders, who did an invitation-only event at a Milwaukee coffee shop ahead of the forum.

While he discussed immigration, he spent much of his time laying out his plans to enact single-payer health coverage for all, provide tuition-free college and cancel student debt.

Ahead of the event, the Republican National Committee touted an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for Hispanics in June, near record lows, and the president’s efforts to reach out to Hispanics with the launch of Latinos for Trump.

“The President’s policies are clearly working while the socialist platform adopted by the 2020 Democrat field would kill our economy,” said RNC spokeswoman Mandi Merritt.

Warren said she would expand legal immigration, create a path to citizenship for those already in the country, work to end the crisis at the border and provide more aid to Central America to improve conditions there “so not so many people feel they need to run for their lives.”

“No great nation tears families apart, no great nation locks up children,” said Warren, who also did a town hall at a Milwaukee high school Thursday night.

Warren said Trump’s plan to gather data on non-citizens living in the U.S. through various agencies after he dropped his effort to ask a citizenship question during the census isn’t really about collecting data, but rather sewing division.

Warren said Trump’s message for those who are struggling is to blame people who don’t look or sound like they do or come from the same place as themselves.

“He wants to build an America that pits working people against hard-working people,” Warren said. “That is not how we build a future in this country. We build a future together. That’s how we build a stronger America. ”

She also addressed her plans to provide tuition-free college, cancel debt for most students, fight climate change and reform the criminal justice system.

O’Rourke slammed Trump’s plan to conduct immigration raids and deport thousands of people starting this weekend. He said many of the people targeted pose no threat to the country and that potentially thousands of families will be separated. He added that the enforcement actions will cause distrust between law enforcement and those in targeted communities resulting in people being less likely to report crimes or cooperate with authorities.

“What he proposes to do this weekend … will not only remain a stain on our conscience if we allow this to continue, but will also make us less safe as a country,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke said he will lead an effort to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws. He said those seeking refuge should not be charged with a crime, children detained in camps should be freed and reunited with their parents “at once,” and that the U.S. must invest in strategies in Central America to fight poverty, hunger and violence. He also called for citizenship for legal residents and those eligible for DACA and legal status for undocumented immigrants.

Additionally, while praising the work of border patrol agents, he called for greater oversight and accountability for the agency.

O’Rourke also criticized Trump on foreign policy, saying the president favors strongmen and dictators over traditional U.S. allies, called for equal pay for women, and discussed his plans to fight climate change.

Asked about how he would heal the country after Trump, O’Rourke said he would work to bring people together regardless of political affiliation or whether they hail from cities or rural areas.

“It certainly can’t be with more division, more pettiness and more meanness.,” he said. “He is defining this country right now by the walls that he seeks to construct and the cages in which he has placed those kids. To that fear, we must bring our courage, our confidence, our ambition and our aspirations, and we must bring everyone.”

Both Castro and O’Rourke took questions from reporters after they left the stage.

Milwaukee is often cited as one of the most segregated cities in the nation, and Castro said he’d address that by enforcing fair housing laws, working to provide affordable housing in higher-opportunity neighborhoods and improving public schools.

Addressing the same question, O’Rourke said he would address segregation by providing equal funding for minority school districts, hiring “teachers who look like the students in front of them” and ensuring federal housing dollars are spent in ways that don’t separate people by race or income.

Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who did not participate in the town hall, also addressed reporters after the event.

Gabbard participated in a breakfast event with veterans and an awards banquet at the conference in addition to holding a town hall at the Jackson Blue Ribbon Pub in Milwaukee

Asked how she can win votes in states like Wisconsin that Trump flipped Republican in 2016, Gabbard, a veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait, pointed to her message of “service above self” that she said veterans hold dear.

She said what’s she’s heard from those who have voted Democratic in the past but voted for Trump is indicative of “leaders who’ve left the people behind” to benefit themselves and large corporations.

“Putting this focus on service above self is exactly how we best meet the needs and address the challenges that people both across the Midwest and across the country are facing,” she said.

Dem candidate Marianne Williamson was slated to address a Women’s Hall of Fame Luncheon at the convention Friday.

Democratic Lawmakers: Statement on Gov. Evers’ budget signing

0

MADISON, WI – Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse), Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) released the following statement after Governor Evers signed the 2019-2021 State Budget into law:

Governor Tony Evers laid out a bold vision for our state’s future that reflected the priorities of Wisconsinites. The Governor’s budget maximized our resources, which would not have only saved taxpayers’ money, it would have allowed for investments needed in our schools, roads, health care and drinking water. These investments are critical to ensuring Wisconsin is a place where the next generation wants to live, work and raise a family.”

While Republican politicians missed many chances to expand opportunities for students, families, and seniors, Governor Evers’ influence over the process put the people’s priorities front and center. Republican obstructionism cannot silence the will of Wisconsin voters and Democrats will continue fighting for quality schools, affordable health care, and clean drinking water.”

Department of Administration: Downtown Madison experiencing power outage

0

MADISON – As of 10 am, several State of Wisconsin buildings in downtown Madison are without electrical service. All state buildings remain open to employees, but the public is discouraged from visiting impacted buildings during the outage. The public should call ahead if visiting to determine if their destination is without power. The Department of Administration will issue additional updates as the situation changes. Next scheduled update will be at 12 pm.

Department of Administration: Housing grant to help homeless announced

0

MADISON – Governor Tony Evers, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Joaquin Altoro, and Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness Director Michael Basford announced today the availability of $500,000 for projects to help fight homelessness.


The funding application and further information was published today on the Council’s website athttps://doa.wi.gov/Pages/AboutDOA/ICH.aspx.


“Homelessness and housing insecurity affect kids in the classroom, it affects our criminal justice system, and it affects economic development in our communities,” said Gov. Evers. “I’ve always said we need to connect the dots on this important issue, so I’m incredibly pleased to see the good work and collaboration that is occurring between WHEDA and the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness.”


Applications for funding will be accepted through Friday, August 9th. Eligible uses of funds include new construction, building acquisition, rehabilitation, handicapped accessibility improvements, conversion of or additions to buildings, site acquisition, and other development activities.


“As a proud member of the Interagency Co
uncil on Homelessness chaired by Governor Tony Evers, WHEDA is extremely gratified to provide this funding to those in desperate need,” said WHEDA Executive Director Joaquin Altoro. “We will also continue to use our highly successful allocation of federal and state housing tax credits to finance rental developments in an effort to offer the most vulnerable individuals statewide stable housing and services.”


Distribution of the funds will be through a request for proposals competitive process and is open to all organizations, associations and businesses – public- and private-sector and for-profit and non-profit entities are encouraged to apply. The Council will look to fund as many projects as possible with these grants and looks to help a wide variety of projects throughout the entire state.
“I am very grateful for the funding availability from WHEDA,” said ICH Director Michael Basford. “This will help organizations all over Wisconsin with their missions to help homel
ess people in the state. The Council will be working to get the funds out as quickly as possible.”


For more information on the housing grant, please contact Michael Basford at 608-266-3633 or[email protected]

Department of Health Services: Severe weather recovery- replacement FoodShare Benefits available until August 19, 2019 for many Wisconsin counties

0

July 31, 2019
Contact: Jennifer Miller/Elizabeth Goodsitt 608-266-1683

The Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that replacement FoodShare benefits are available for an extended period of time for most of western, northern, and central Wisconsin. DHS requested and received approval from the federal Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to extend the time in which persons affected by the severe weather and power outages can report loss of benefits.

Department of Natural Resources: Warns of hunting and fishing license scam

0

CONTACT: Kimberly Currie, DNR director of customer and outreach services, 608-267-7799 or [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is urging the public to beware of online hunting and fishing license scams leaving purchasers with an empty hook and wallet.

Sample Caption and Alt Text – – Photo credit: iStockphoto
Misleading websites are preying on hunters and anglers. – Photo credit: iStockphoto
The DNR is aware of at least two websites appearing to offer fishing or hunting licenses. After paying a fee, consumers only receive information on how to apply for a hunting or fishing license. These sites also collect sensitive personal data as part of their unauthorized transactions.

“You will not receive a valid fishing license from these misleading websites. But, you will be charged non-refundable fees despite the money-back guarantee declared on the site,” says Kimberly Currie, DNR director of customer and outreach services. “The best way to make sure you don’t fall prey to these scammers is to purchase your license directly from the DNR or its authorized agents.”

Anglers can securely purchase a valid fishing license for the state of Wisconsin in the following three ways:

At a Wisconsin DNR Service Center, or
Through an independent license sales agent authorized by DNR, such as a local sporting goods store, large discount store or local bait and tackle shops, that use the Go Wild point of sale terminal, or
From the department’s only official online license sales site, GoWild.
The Wisconsin DNR values users’ online safety and provides links from its homepage to a safe, secure online purchasing site. The DNR also provides information about where to purchase licenses in person, links to free copies of Wisconsin regulations and helpful tutorials on the DNR website under Licenses & Regulations.

If you think you may have already been scammed by one of these sites, you can file a complaint with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by calling the hotline at 1-800-422-7128 or email [email protected]

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Fruit and vegetable growers encouraged to sign-up for pre-inspection review and field day events

0

MADISON – In order to meet requirements for the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is encouraging fresh produce growers to schedule a pre-inspection farm review. Referred to as an on-farm readiness review, it provides growers with information about what state and federal inspectors will look for to determine how a farm meets federal produce safety rules for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fresh fruits and vegetables. DATCP has completed several reviews in June with 30 more currently scheduled through the summer.

“Growers have told us that the review helped them to better understand the federal rules through hands-on learning,” said Shawn Bartholomew, DATCP’s produce section supervisor for the Division of Food and Recreational Safety. “Since each produce farm operates differently, we are hoping more growers will take advantage of an on-farm readiness review. It gives growers a chance to ask questions based on their operation and time to make any changes to ensure they will pass an inspection.”

Prior to having a review, growers can see what a review is like by attending a field day event. Field days are open to the public, explain the purpose of the Safe Wisconsin Produce program, demonstrate the review process, provide information about tools available to prepare for an inspection, and provide participants with an opportunity to ask questions of industry experts. In addition to DATCP’s Safe Wisconsin Produce program staff, educators from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension and industry partners are available to answer technical questions. Each field day is unique to represent the diversity of produce grown in Wisconsin. The dates and locations of the field days are:

Date Produce Focus Location
July 18

 

Tomatoes, melons, root crops, peas, and beans Hancock Agricultural Research Station
N3909 Cty Rd V
Hancock, WI 54943
July 23

 

Tomatoes, melons, and salad greens Spooner Agricultural Research Station
W6646 Hwy 70
Spooner, WI 54801
August 22

 

Apples Bushel and a Peck Orchard
18444 Cty Hwy OO
Chippewa Falls, WI 54729
September 19

 

Tomatoes, salad greens, and vine crops Sully’s Produce
7054 Cty C
Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235

Field days are free (with the exception of July 23 that includes a lunch). More information on how to register is available at https://safeproduce.wi.gov.

How to Schedule a Review

To schedule a review, growers can do any of the following:

  • Go to https://safeproduce.wi.gov and sign-up online for a date and time most convenient for them
  • Email [email protected]
  • Call (608) 224-4511
  • Request one at any event where DATCP’s Safe Wisconsin Produce program staff are at, including field day events, Farm Technology Days, Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service conference, and the Wisconsin Fruit and Vegetable conference
  • Mail a request to:

DFRS Produce Team

WI DATCP

PO Box 8911

Madison WI 53708-8911

More Information

Inspections for produce farms are based on the size of the farm. Large produce farm inspections began in June, while smaller farm inspections will not start until next year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines a produce farm’s size based on the following annual produce sales revenue:

  • Large produce farm: More than $500,000
  • Small produce farm: $250,000-$500,00
  • Very small produce farm: $25,000-$250,000

For more information about the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Produce Safety Rule, or DATCP’s Safe Wisconsin Produce program, visit https://safeproduce.wi.gov.

Wisconsin ranks 11th in the nation in number of produce farms, and second in number of organic produce farms. There are an estimated 1,100 Wisconsin farms that will have to meet federal produce safety regulations.

Dept. of Military Affairs: National Guard exercises during PATRIOT North

0

Contact:
Lt. Col. Mickey Kirschenbaum                                                                                   
Phone: 775-287-5592


VOLK FIELD, Wis. 
– A natural disaster can strike any time, and the National Guard, along with state and county emergency management agencies, will conduct a disaster readiness exercise called PATRIOT North, beginning July 16, 2019.

PATRIOT North is a joint, interagency exercise, sponsored by the National Guard Bureau (NGB), taking place at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Camp Douglas, and Fort McCoy, Tomah, Wis. July 15-18. It is a training exercise designed for civilian emergency management and responders to work with military entities in the same manner that they would during disasters. This exercise will test the National Guard’s abilities to support response operations based on simulated emergency scenarios such as a strong storm bringing high winds and the storm surge creating a collapsed building, mass casualties and the need for Search and Rescue along with evacuations of injured. The National Guard, along with local, state and federal partners will be deployed to exercise venues at and around Volk Field practicing the response.

“PATRIOT North provides our Soldiers and Airmen with a chance to improve their skills to respond to a natural disaster and work with emergency management agencies,” said Lt. Col. Roger Brooks, Exercise Director for PATRIOT North. “This exercise will allow all of us prepare for any disaster.”

Brooks added people in parts of Monroe and Juneau counties may see an increase in military equipment moving along roads and interstates, as well as aircraft flying, during the exercise.

There will be a Media tour Tuesday, July 16, 2016 at 1300 at Fort McCoy. Civilian media is invited to observe the exercise activities and get photos and video of the events. Media should contact the exercise Public Affairs office at 775-287-5592 in advance so escorts can be provided. To access the base they should have government issued ID (i.e. driver’s license or passport) and escorts will meet them at the main gate.

More than 700 civilians, volunteers and National Guard Soldiers and Airmen from over 20 states are supporting this year’s exercise. It will also include participating National Guard units from neighboring states, volunteer organizations and county emergency management agencies. The exercise provides the National Guard an opportunity to improve cooperation and relationships with its regional civilian, military and federal partners in preparation for emergencies and catastrophic events.

Dept. of Military Affairs: Sendoff ceremony set for deploying Wisconsin Army National Guard infantry battalion

0

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


MADISON, Wis.
— Gov. Tony Evers and senior Wisconsin Army National Guard leaders will join family and friends in sending off nearly 400 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan at a noon ceremony July 14 at the Johnson Fieldhouse on the UW–Stout campus in Menomonie.

The Eau Claire-headquartered infantry battalion and its subordinate companies, which are all part of the 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade Combat Team, will deploy as a security element for coalition forces operating in the region.

Soldiers from each company that make up the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, including Company A in Menomonie, Company B headquartered in New Richmond with a detachment in Rice Lake, Company C headquartered in Arcadia with a detachment in Onalaska, Company D in River Falls, and the battalion headquarters in Eau Claire with a headquarters detachment in Abbotsford will all deploy as part of the mission.

The 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry has deployed numerous times since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including multiple tours from 2004-06 and 2009-10 in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 128th has a long and distinguished lineage of service to Wisconsin and the nation dating back to its origins during the Civil War as part of the famed Iron Brigade made up of three Wisconsin infantry regiments as well as one from Indiana and one from Michigan. The 128th Infantry traces its lineage to the 1st and 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiments which earned battle streamers at places like Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor among many others. The same units would later serve in the Spanish-American War before reorganizing at the outset of World War I, when the 1st and 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry reorganized as the 128th Infantry within the famed 32nd Division.

The Wisconsin National Guard commemorated the centennial of the 32nd Division’s formation over the past two years. The now famous “Red Arrow” earned its moniker after piercing every enemy line it encountered in Europe during World War I, including the famed Hindenburg Line. The 128th played a starring role in the Red Arrow’s four major campaigns during World War I when it earned the Croix de Guerre from the French government for its tenacity in combat. It played a key role again during World War II when the 32nd fought in brutal campaigns in the Pacific Theater across New Guinea and the Philippines, where it earned the distinction of serving more days in combat – 654 – than any other American division in the war.

In the early 1960s, the 128th and the rest of the 32nd Division again mobilized to active duty at the height of the Berlin Crisis before reorganizing into a brigade in 1967. Since that time, the 128th and the rest of the Red Arrow have played a pivotal role in fulfilling the Wisconsin National Guard’s dual mission as the primary combat reserve of the Army while simultaneously serving as the state’s first military responder during times of emergency. The 128th and the rest of the Red Arrow have mobilized numerous times during the Global War on Terror and on many occasions to support civil authorities here in Wisconsin or elsewhere such as in 2017 when the battalion deployed to Florida to assist civil authorities with security, traffic control, and humanitarian assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The unit’s upcoming deployment marks the 128th’s first to Afghanistan, where the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, a fellow Red Arrow infantry battalion deployed in late 2018, marking the first Red Arrow deployment to Afghanistan.

The Wisconsin National Guard continues to maintain a high operational tempo with worldwide deployments in support of its federal mission. The nearly 400 Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry remain in Afghanistan and the Middle East, while more than 350 Soldiers from the Milwaukee-based 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery returned from their deployment to the Middle East and Afghanistan in May. Another 25 Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Military Engagement Team returned from their Middle East deployment in February, and a team of Soldiers from the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment also returned in February from its mission to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In addition, Soldiers from the 248th General Aviation Support Battalionreturned from a Middle East deployment in September 2018.

Approximately 70 Airmen from the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee celebrated the completion of a series of successful global deployments in October 2018, and a group of Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing are currently deployed in support of global contingency operations.

The Wisconsin National Guard simultaneously stands ready to complete its state mission of assisting civil authorities during times of emergency as the state’s first military responder.

Last fall, UH-60 Black Hawk medevac crews deployed to the North Carolina to assist civil authorities there in the wake of Hurricane Florence, and hundreds of Guardsmen assisted with sandbagging efforts in south central Wisconsin after torrential rains soaked the state in late August and early September.

Dept. of Military Affairs: Wisconsin Air Guard members depart for Southwest Asia

0

by Master Sgt. Paul Gorman, 115th Fighter Wing
MADISON, Wis. — The last of more than 250 members of the Air National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing and 378th Fighter Squadron active associate departed Truax Field for Southwest Asia July 21.

The Airmen, along with a number of the unit’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft, will spend the next several months based in Afghanistan conducting flying missions in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and NATO’s Resolute Support. This mission underscores the Wisconsin National Guard’s readiness to serve as the nation’s primary combat reserve.

In a brief departure ceremony, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil joined Wisconsin National Guard and 115th Fighter Wing senior leaders to relay their gratitude to the deploying Airmen and their families.

“As Americans we owe both you and your families a debt of gratitude for all that you do to keep our nation safe and secure,” Barnes said.

Steil also expressed his gratitude to the deploying Airmen.

“From supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, to supporting Hurricane Katrina. From supporting Operation Enduring Freedom to supporting Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait, the 115th Fighter Wing has always been ready to serve, and this is especially true of you today,” Steil said. “And for many of you, this is your first deployment overseas. The men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing exude the characteristics all Wisconsinites and Americans hope to embody. Leadership, determination, and honoring a greater call to duty.”

“The bravery of Wisconsinites is something that is deeply rooted and something that I know is in all of your hearts,” Steil added. “As you embark on this mission, remember your Wisconsin roots at home, On Wisconsin.”

The significance of the support Guardsmen receive from their families and employers was a recurring theme throughout the event. The message was punctuated with the introduction of 115th Fighter Wing Airman and Family Readiness Program Manager Jerry Hook, who stands available 24/7 to assist the deploying Airmen’s loved ones with any issues that may arise in their absence.

Senior Master Sgt. Holly Sieja, cyber systems superintendent for the 115th Communications Flight, attended the ceremony to send off her daughter, Senior Airman Isabella Jansen, as she departed on her first overseas deployment.

“Nothing can eliminate the worries associated with your child deploying into harm’s way,” Sieja said. “But it helps to know she is part of a cohesive team of Airmen that look out for one another.”

According to 115th Operations Group Commander Col. Jon Kalberer, the exceptional training available to pilots and maintainers at Truax Field and within the Volk Field military operating area contributes immeasurably to their readiness to deploy.

“Our Airmen have the opportunity to train with members of different services in an environment that simulates our deployed location,” Kalberer said. “This training allows our deployed Airmen to arrive in theatre and immediately provide dominant combat airpower as part of the total force.”

For Tech. Sgt. Thomas Twohig, armament systems mechanic for the 115th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the deployment represented an opportunity to put 13 years of practical experience to practice.

“Our training is precise, plentiful and extremely thorough,” Twohig said. “It’s prepared us to operate under any circumstance, or in any environment. It’s also given me the confidence to execute our mission safely and effectively.”

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, thanked the Airmen and their families for their service and sacrifice during his remarks.

“What these men and women before you have done is volunteered to serve our country,” Dunbar said. “They have endured the rigor of hard training, earned the right to wear this uniform, and they knew that when they raised their right hand that this day might come where they would have to head off to a difficult part of the world. They are simply the finest Airmen that our nation has to offer. They are exceptional.”

“To the Airmen of the 115th, I assure you when you get overseas that your training will kick in and the Airman that you are, highly skilled, highly trained, will realize you are part of something very special and ready to do your mission,” he added. “I have no doubt in your mission and your ability to accomplish it.”

Following the ceremony, Airmen spent time saying their final goodbyes to family and friends before boarding the plane that would carry them nearly 7,000 miles from home.

“So many times we take our freedoms for granted,” Barnes said to the formation of deploying Airmen. “You above all are intimately aware of the cost of freedom, and the sacrifices to preserve it.”

As the Airmen departed, dozens of Wisconsin National Guard personnel were on state active duty in northern Wisconsin assisting local authorities with storm response efforts — fulfilling the Wisconsin National Guard’s role as the state’s first military responder.

Dept. of Natural Resources: State wildlife representatives agree on top-level priorities for controlling chronic wasting disease

0

CONTACT: Sarah Hoye, DNR Communications Director, 608-267-2773 or [email protected]OR Raechelle Cline, DNR Public Affairs Manager, 608-235-7105 or [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – Expanded testing research, disease management evaluation and enhanced regional collaboration are among the top-level priorities identified by wildlife professionals from 12 Midwestern states, members of Wisconsin Tribal Nations, plus state and federal conservation groups who met this week in Madison to discuss preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The two-day working meeting hosted by the Wisconsin DNR focused on the latest data available on how CWD is affecting each states’ wild deer population as well as disease management strategies and collaboration opportunities. The meeting kicked off Wednesday with opening remarks from DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole and a video message from Gov. Tony Evers.

“Working together on CWD management and research will help all of us address how CWD is affecting our deer herd and how it’s impacting the sport of hunting we all know and love,” Evers said. “CWD not only impacts hunters, but there is also a ripple effect that touches our residents and economies. By all of us working together, we will more effectively manage this disease and reduce the impacts of CWD.”

CWD is a contagious neurological disease of deer, elk and moose that is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. These prions cause brain degeneration in infected animals and lead to extreme weight loss, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. This always fatal disease was first found in Wisconsin in 2002 through testing of hunter-harvested deer in November 2001. There are currently 56 CWD affected counties across the state.

“This type of meeting of the minds around CWD research and collaboration is unprecedented,” said Cole. “I applaud the many states, Tribal Nations and conservation groups who joined us in Madison to have a significant dialogue around the management of this disease. I am humbled by what I have heard and am hopeful the promises of a shared commitment to get ahead of this insidious disease will be kept.”

Some priorities the group established are:

  • Expanded research into testing methods – The group agreed there is a need for more advanced research into testing methodologies that do not require lymph node material. The desire is to develop live animal testing methods that use alternative tissue while still generating scientifically valid results.
  • Evaluation of management actions – While many states are initiating control actions, such as management zones and restrictions on carcass disposal, few have evaluated these actions to determine efficacy. The group agreed there is a greater need for empirical data to establish whether these actions are sufficiently effective in controlling CWD.
  • Enhanced collaboration on management and communication – There is a need for more consistent communications across state lines about each state’s CWD management rules and how to inform hunters about how to comply with those rules. This collaboration especially comes into play when new CWD detections are made near state borders.

“We are excited and encouraged by the broad participation in this meeting, not only from the many states but also by the tribal nations, deer farming industry and wildlife organizations who are ready to work together to confront this problem,” said Tami Ryan, acting director of the DNR’s Bureau of Wildlife Management. She added that word of the DNR meeting spread to the South East Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies about the success of the Midwest CWD Collaboration Meeting, which prompted them to schedule a similar event in Mississippi next month.

Dept. of Tourism Secretary-Designee Meaney: Statement on the inscription of two Wisconsin landmarks to the UNESCO World Heritage list

0

MADISON, Wis. (July 8, 2019) – On Sunday, July 7, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) named eight Frank Lloyd Wright-designed buildings to the World Heritage List. The additions include two sites in Wisconsin: Taliesin in Spring Green and the Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House in Madison.

“The UNESCO designation of not one, but two Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in Wisconsin speaks volumes of our state’s architectural heritage,” said Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney. “Wisconsin’s connection to Wright’s work is undeniable. Wright designed much of his iconic work at Taliesin in Wisconsin, including Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum. We’re also excited to see the Jacobs House on the list, as it is the embodiment of his vision for a new type of architecture accessible to every American.”

UNESCO recognizes landmarks or sites for having cultural, historical, or scientific relevance throughout the world. Also included in the recent World Heritage designation are Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles, the Robie House in Chicago, Taliesin West in Arizona and the Unity Temple in Illinois.

The newly inscribed Wright sites are one of only 24 World Heritage sites in the U.S., and the only listing of modern architecture in the country. The inclusion of Taliesin and the Jacobs House also marks the first UNESCO sites inscribed in Wisconsin.

Taliesin, which is part of Wisconsin’s Frank Lloyd Wright Trail, served as Wright’s estate and studio. Visitors to the trail can tour the 800-acre estate, which includes six Wright-designed structures and the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center.

Dept. of Transportation: Local governments now have access to $75 million in new transportation grants

0

Contact:
WisDOT Office of Public Affairs
608/266-3581, [email protected]

Following years of underfunding, Governor Tony Evers recognized the importance of increasing funding for local transportation projects to ensure that local elected officials can address the needs of their communities.

In addition to an historic 10 percent increase ($66 million over the biennium) in available funding for general transportation aids, paid to counties, towns, villages, and cities, the 2019-21 budget provides $75 million in one-time funding for transportation projects.

“Law enforcement and firefighters across Wisconsin have called on us to address poor road conditions that are putting Wisconsinites’ safety at risk. By allowing the Department of Transportation to work with local leaders to prioritize the most critical transit and transportation projects, we can ensure that local elected officials are able to respond to the needs of their communities,” Governor Evers said.

“This new program enables local communities to prioritize their most immediate transportation needs,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Secretary-designee Craig Thompson explained. “The grant program is designed to address a range of possible projects, and puts the decision-making in the hands of the locals. We expect that communities will submit the project they believe will have the greatest impact on their economic development and growth.”

Program well-received by local governments

“Throughout the budget process, there was much discussion and debate, but what everyone could agree upon was we needed additional and sustainable funding for transportation,” Wisconsin Counties Association Executive Director Mark D. O’Connell said “The budget passed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor included a 10 percent General Transportation Aids (GTA) increase and this new one-time supplemental funding. These appropriations will devote much needed resources to county infrastructure needs.”

Representatives from county, town, village and city organizations joined Secretary Thompson today at the State Capitol to highlight the features of the new program.

  • “Wisconsin’s economy requires strong first and last mile infrastructure connections,” Wisconsin Towns Association Executive Director Mike Koles said. “The 10 percent GTA increase is a solid step toward closing the significant deficiency in town road maintenance efforts, while the one-time injection of almost $29 million will help fund road and bridge construction that is critical to economic growth and public safety. Together, these strategies approved by the Legislature and Governor will begin to decrease the current 371-year town road replacement cycle.”
  • “Cities and villages statewide are grateful that the one budget issue upon which both the Legislature and the Governor agreed was the need to further boost transportation aids for local governments,” League of Wisconsin Municipalities Assistant Director Curt Wityski said. “The budget includes a 10% increase in transportation aides, an increase in transit assistance, and a one-time multi-modal transportation aid supplement. The supplement serves as an important short-term bridge to a long-term sustainable transportation funding solution. Municipalities are particularly pleased that the Governor’s vetoes improved upon the Legislature’s original concept by broadening the uses for which the supplemental aid can be used to include transit capital needs and bike paths.”

Program highlights

The program will pay up to 90% of total eligible costs with local governments providing the balance. Grants will be available for projects statewide related to:

  • Roads
  • Bridges
  • Transit capital and facility grants
  • Bicycle and pedestrian accommodations
  • Railroads
  • Harbors

Local and tribal governments are eligible for the funding. A six-year project completion will be required for approved projects.

Local Government Type Funding
County $26,669,333
City/Village $19,039,500
Town $29,291,167
Total $75,000,000

The program will mirror aspects of the Local Roads Improvement Program (LRIP). The project selection process will include local government committees. The selection will be competitive and involve stakeholder input and review. The emphasis will be on local project delivery with minimal WisDOT oversight.

DNR: Hosts “Midwest CWD Collaboration Meeting” to discuss best management practices for controlling chronic wasting disease in deer population

0

CONTACT: Sarah Hoye, DNR Communications Director, 608-267-2773 or [email protected] OR Raechelle Cline, DNR Public Affairs Manager, 608-235-7105 or [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – Wildlife biologists from several Midwestern states, members of Wisconsin Tribal Nations, plus state and federal conservation groups are meeting July 24-25 in Madison to discuss chronic wasting disease (CWD) management and research efforts across the region.

This two-day working meeting will have a heavy focus on the latest data available on how CWD is affecting each states’ wild deer population. Another goal of the meeting is to determine best practices for working together across state borders to prevent the spread of CWD.

“The many issues of CWD impact more than just the state of Wisconsin. The research shows that we need to talk to our neighbors around the Great Lakes and other nearby states so we can get in front of the spread of CWD,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. “CWD has been on the landscape for some time. By working together, by sharing research and management innovations, we can do what it takes to help slow it down. The more the science shows us, the more prepared we can be moving forward.”

CWD is a contagious neurological disease of deer, elk and moose that is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. These prions cause brain degeneration in infected animals and lead to extreme weight loss, abnormal behavior and loss of bodily functions. This always fatal disease was first found in Wisconsin in 2002 through testing of hunter-harvested deer in November 2001. There are currently 56 CWD affected counties across the state.

“As someone who has spent many mornings in a deer stand, I know firsthand how vital it is that we maintain a healthy deer herd across our state. The threat of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has the potential to devastate our deer herds, hurting the outdoor economy and outdoor traditions that so many Wisconsin communities benefit from,” said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). “Today’s meeting is a good – and long overdue – step toward tackling the CWD crisis that plagues our state. I applaud Secretary-designee Cole for putting today’s meeting together and hope that the federal government will soon follow suit by providing more support to our state wildlife agencies who are dedicated to combatting CWD.”

Attendees will spend two days discussing unique, successful approaches that states have used to engage the public, manage CWD and increase CWD surveillance efforts. They will also talk about current CWD research into management applications and determine if management actions taken in other states can be successfully replicated.

 

DPW: Statement on Gov. Evers Signing of 2019 – 2021 Biennial Budget

0

MADISON — The following is a statement from Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler on Gov. Tony Evers’ signing and partial veto of the 2019 – 2021 biennial budget passed by the legislature:

“This budget would have been impossible if Tony Evers hadn’t been elected governor. The funding increases for transportation, education, and health care reflect the core issues Governor Evers campaigned on, the priorities he and Mandela Barnes heard as they listened across the state while drafting the People’s Budget, and the issues they have fought for every day in office.

“Republicans have attacked and obstructed Governor Evers at every turn. In an act of breathtaking political spite, they have refused Medicaid expansion dollars that would have saved Wisconsinites money and expanded health care at they same time. They dramatically shrank the proposed new funding for schools, especially for special education, that their own constituents are crying out for them to provide. On issue after issue, where the governor listened, Republicans have plugged their ears.

“Governor Evers’s vision for Wisconsin’s future proved too strong for Republicans to ignore. Even though they fell short on urgent funding goals and key issue priorities, the legislature’s budget was far closer to the People’s Budget than it would have been without Governor Evers’s leadership. The budget signed today is, in fact, a down payment on the People’s Budget, and Democrats remain united in fighting for the full vision that the People’s Budget represents.”

Drift & Row aims to improve the value of play

0

Flashing lights, bright colors and loud noises… When you walk down the aisle of a toy store, that’s what you will see and hear.

Highly stimulating toys currently dominate the market. While these products are great entertainment for children, they generally don’t aim to improve language development or learning. A Wisconsin business is working to change this — one toy at a time.

Drift & Row LLC is a Milwaukee-based startup focused on designing and creating handmade toys that support language and learning in children. It was founded in 2018 by owner Brenna Davis, a speech language pathologist.

“The meaning of ‘Drift & Row’ is a reminder about what play should be. ‘Drift,’ meaning freedom and unstructured time. ‘Row,’ meaning children need to work and fail in order for it to be play,” Davis said.

After working to support children and parents in her professional career, Davis saw a need for toys parents could buy to support social skills and education.

“As a speech language pathologist, I was struggling with this disconnect as to good work happening in my therapy room and schools, and what was being translated into the home,” Davis said.

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Edgewood College: Greater Madison May audit ‘Jewish-Christian Dialogue’ course

0

Madison, Wis. (July 29, 2019) – Edgewood College is pleased to invite Greater Madison to participate in the Jewish-Christian Dialogue course offered by our Religious Studies Department during the Fall 2019 semester.

The class meets 2:00 – 3:50 pm on Mondays and Wednesdays from August 21 to December 13.  The fee to audit the course is $300. Graduates of Edgewood College and seniors aged 60 years or older may audit for $100. The course may also be taken for credit.

Co-taught by Jewish and Christian scholars Steve Olson and Rebecca Meier-Rao, this seminar explores the beliefs and practices of each religion, the complex historical relationship between them, and the major topics of concern in contemporary inter-religious dialogue.

Highlights of the course include the observation of Jewish and Christian worship/prayer services, a series of lectures on the forgotten trials of the Holocaust, and guest speakers who will share their personal experiences of anti-Semitism, Christian-Jewish dialogue subsequent to the 1960’s Second Vatican Council, and the state of Israel.

Frank Tuerkheimer, University of Wisconsin Law School Professor Emeritus who will speak at Edgewood College later this fall, says the course “filled gaps in my knowledge of Christianity, and I learned a great deal from the reactions of a mostly-Christian student body to what was their first substantive exposure to Judaism. The class was taught with the perfect blend of compassion and objectivity, a difficult synthesis to attain on the touchy subject of religion.”

The course is offered in partnership with the Sr. Rose Thering Foundation, a Wisconsin-based organization created in memory of Rose Thering, O.P., a member of the Dominican Sisters of Racine. Sr. Rose devoted her professional life to enhancing the relationship between Roman Catholics and Jews.

For more information please contact Dr. Rebecca Meier-Rao at [email protected], or at 608-663-3201.

Edgewood College: New Vice President for Enrollment Management Named

0

Madison, Wis. (July 2, 2019) – Edgewood College today announced that Amber Schultz, Ed.D. has been named Vice President for Enrollment Management.

 

Dr. Schultz currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Admissions, Marketing, and Recruitment at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn. Dr. Schultz also served as adjunct faculty member in the Higher Education Administration Master’s Program at St. Cloud State. She begins her new role at Edgewood College on July 29, 2019.

 

“We are excited to welcome Amber in this important role,” President Scott Flanagan said. “Her experience in Enrollment Management, passion for access and success, and alignment with the College’s mission and values make her an ideal fit.”

 

As Vice President for Enrollment Management, Dr. Schultz will oversee Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate Admissions, Financial Aid, and Marketing & Strategic Communications. She will also serve as a member of the President’s Council.

 

Prior to her current role, she held leadership positions in Enrollment Management at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, The University of Minnesota – Crookston, and Winona State University.  Dr. Schultz holds an undergraduate degree from UW-LaCrosse, a Master of Science in Educational Leadership degree from Winona State University in Winona, Minn., and a doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota.

 

About Edgewood College

Located in Madison, Wis., Edgewood College is a liberal arts Catholic college in the Dominican tradition. We serve approximately 2,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The College offers more than 40 academic and professional programs, including master’s degrees in business, education, and nursing, and doctoral degrees in educational leadership and nursing practice. For more information about Edgewood College, please visit www.edgewood.edu, or call Ed Taylor in Marketing & Strategic Communications at 608-663-2333.

Evers changes GOP proposals on transportation funding, vehicle fees as he signs budget

0

Gov. Tony Evers signed the two-year budget Wednesday after using his partial veto authority to make changes to Republican proposals on transportation funding and vehicle fees.

Evers said he seriously considered vetoing the entire budget GOP lawmakers sent him late last week, adding it fell short of his original plan and knocking Republicans for failing to embrace his call to expand Medicaid.

But he also said he promised voters last fall he would put politics aside as guv. And he vowed to continue pushing for the state to accept federal money under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid in the state.

The proposal was the centerpiece of Evers’ budget, but Republicans rejected the plan and dismissed it as a push to expand welfare.

Evers vowed to continue the push by whatever means available, including going to the voters next fall and targeting Republicans he said were in “Medicaid expansion denial.”

“We’re going to get them to a better place or find better legislators to get us there,” Evers said.

See more at WisBusiness.com.

Evers has until Friday to act on budget

Gov. Tony Evers has until Friday to act on the state budget lawmakers sent him last week.

Evers can allow it to become law without his signature, use his partial veto authority, or reject the document outright.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, whose signature Friday sent the budget to Evers, said he is “optimistic” the governor will sign the appropriations bill.

“There is no good reason that Gov. Evers would not choose to sign the bills that we are moving forward, especially with a budget that we’re doing today,” he said, referencing legislation to delay the closure of Wisconsin’s troubled youth prison along with the budget.

Regardless of how Evers chooses to handle the two-year spending plan, Vos said lawmakers would “probably would not come back until October.”

“If there was some kind of a dire need, of course, I’d talk about it with our leadership team and Sen. Fitzgerald to see if we could come back sooner,” he said.

But the Rochester Republican noted that government funding will continue at the previous level if Evers chose to fully veto the document and thus Republicans would be unlikely to feel pressure to quickly propose a new budget.

“Last year we didn’t pass a budget until September and nobody noticed any difference,” he said.

Evers pens letter to Hogan regarding possible changes to Foxconn contract

Gov. Tony Evers wrote departing WEDC Chair and CEO Mark Hogan he hopes they’ll “work in unison” to meet the needs of taxpayers and Foxconn as possible changes to the company’s incentive package are considered.

Evers sent the letter to Hogan Monday after visiting the site of the plant in Racine County last month, his first time at the project. It reflects some of his past comments that the deal may need to be changed after the Taiwanese company scaled back initial plans to build large flat screens.

Those past comments prompted blowback from GOP lawmakers who suggested the guv was trying to undermine the deal.

In the letter, Evers wrote his administration is “committed to supporting Foxconn’s success in Wisconsin to bring manufacturing jobs to an area of the state that has struggled for many years.” He also again said the company approached the state earlier this year about revisiting the agreement.

A Foxconn spokesman said the company was aware of the letter but didn’t have an immediate comment.

“Because the project has evolved substantially from what was originally proposed, evaluated, and contracted for, it is necessary to review the revised aspects of the project and evaluate how changes can most fairly benefit both the company and our state,” Evers wrote. “Proposed modifications to the Foxconn agreement or terms for a new agreement should be thoroughly and thoughtfully reviewed and assessed by the WEDC and my Administration.”

As the company’s initial plans for the site have changed, it has repeatedly said it remained committed to its original promise of 13,000 jobs and an investment of up to $10 billion. Both were targets in the deal signed with the Walker administration.

WEDC spokesman David Callender said the agency forwarded Evers’ letter to the full board. He said WEDC, the guv’s office and DOA have “routine discussions” with Foxconn. He also noted it is not uncommon for WEDC to amend contracts with companies during the lifetime of the deal. But he said the agency otherwise doesn’t comment on talks with a company before something would be presented to the board.

Evers offered no specifics in his letter on possible changes but noted the company’s plans “reflect a substantially smaller footprint, less capital investment, and fewer manufacturing workers than its original plans.” Foxconn originally proposed what’s known as a Generation 10.5 facility capable of manufacturing screens the size of a garage door. It now plans a Generation 6 facility, which products LCD screens for TVs, cell phones and other devices.

Evers wrote those who backed the “unprecedented incentive package” justified it with the company’s pledge to create the larger facility and bring manufacturing jobs to Racine County. But he wrote those plans have now changed.

Last year, Foxconn fell short of the minimum number of employees required to qualify for tax credits related to job creation under the state’s nearly $3 billion incentive package. The company has said it plans to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2020, and local officials have said Foxconn indicated it plans to have 1,500 employees for the initial phase of manufacturing.

Under its contract with the state, the company would need a minimum of 1,820 employees at the end of 2020 to qualify for tax credits tied to job creation. To qualify for the maximum tax credits under the contract, it would need 5,200 employees at the end of that year.

In the letter, Evers also praised Hogan, who announced he will leave the agency sometime this fall.

“As you prepare for your departure from the WEDC this fall, you can be proud of the agency’s work and the committed team you built,” Evers wrote. “I look forward to our work together in your remaining weeks at the WEDC and appreciate the professionalism and dedication with which you have approached this role.”

During the December extraordinary session, Republicans stripped the guv of the power to appoint the WEDC secretary and CEO until Sept. 1.

Hogan hasn’t specified a date for his departure but has said he had planned to leave this fall even if Gov. Scott Walker had won re-election.

Read the letter here.

Evers pumps more money into K-12 through partial vetoes as he signs budget

Gov. Tony Evers signed the two-year budget Wednesday, but only after using his partial veto authority to pump nearly $87 million more into per-pupil school aid than what Republicans had proposed.

Evers said he seriously considered vetoing the entire budget GOP lawmakers sent him late last week, adding it fell short of his original plan and knocking Republicans for failing to embrace his call to expand Medicaid.

The proposal was the centerpiece of Evers’ budget, but Republicans rejected the plan and dismissed it as a push to expand welfare.

In making his final decision, Evers said he promised voters last fall he would put politics aside as guv to get things done. And he vowed to continue pushing for the state to accept federal money under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid in the state.

That means utilizing whatever means are available, including going to the voters next fall and targeting Republicans he said were in “Medicaid expansion denial.”

“We’re going to get them to a better place or find better legislators to get us there,” Evers said.

Evers used his line-item veto authority 78 times, matching the average number of partial vetoes Wisconsin governors have used on budget bills over the last decade. Over the past 30 years, governors have issued an average of 137 partial vetoes, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Those revisions reworked everything from nixing GOP changes to heavy vehicle registration fees to undercutting former Gov. Scott Walker’s push to require able-bodied adults with school-aged children to meet work requirements to receive food stamps and for adults without kids to go through drug screening to qualify.

While the requirements remain, Evers’ moves nixed the funding so they can’t be administered.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, in a statement accused Evers of being “intent on trapping people on welfare” and “starving programs that incentivize work.”

Still, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, called the overall changes to the two-year spending plan minimal, quipping to reporters, “I told you this was a good budget.” He argued the guv hadn’t reworked the document significantly and knocked Dem lawmakers for refusing to support a plan that in the end Evers largely embraced.

Fitzgerald highlighted GOP proposals to boost funding for worker training programs, fully fund veterans programs, give raises to correctional officers and pump funding into the state crime labs — all of which were part of the bill signed into law Wednesday.

“I would say because for the most part our budget was kept intact, I think it’s a good thing for Wisconsin,” he said.

Evers also Wednesday signed a separate bill to direct additional revenue from online sales to lower income taxes. The combined impact of the income tax reductions in the budget and AB 251 total $518 million over the two-year period. The reductions would reduce the lowest two income tax brackets.

Evers’ office said typical middle-class single filers will see an income tax reduction of about $136, while middle-class married filers will see a cut of $182 when the tax rate reductions are fully implemented in tax year 2020.

Fitzgerald praised Evers’ decision to keep the income tax cuts intact and was unfazed by changes to the GOP’s education plan.

“It’s fine for the governor to make that call,” Fitzgerald said, adding he was unsure if GOP lawmakers would attempt to override any vetoes.

Altogether, schools are now in line for roughly $570 million more in state aid over the next two years, compared to the $505 million that Republicans had approved. That boost includes $97 million for special education, though that is well below the $606.1 million boost Evers had proposed.

Evers was able to direct more money to K-12 education by changing the per-pupil aid payment over the next two years.

Republicans had set it at $679 in fiscal year 2019-20, an increase of $25 over the year before, and $704 the following year.

Instead, Evers was able to set those payments at $742 per student in each year.

Typically, guvs can’t use the partial-veto authority to increase spending. But per-pupil aid is a sum sufficient appropriation, meaning the Department of Public Instruction is authorized to spend whatever is necessary to meet the cost.

That change amounted to $87 million more. But Evers also nixed a GOP proposal to provide schools grants to buy mobile devices and supporting software and curriculum. The net impact on the K-12 portion of the budget is a $65 million boost compared to the GOP plan.

Evers’ administration said the overall impact of his vetoes reduces state spending in all funds by less than $20 million over the next two years. That brings the state budget in at nearly $81.7 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over the base. He had originally called for an increase of 8.3 percent in all funds.

The impact of his vetoes also improves the state’s ending balance by $6.8 million. That leaves a projected gross balance in the general fund of nearly $130 million on June 30, 2021; it’s less than half a percent of the GPR the state expects to spend over the two-year period.

In a joint statement, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said Republicans “missed many chances” to do something for students, families and seniors. Still, they argued Evers’ original proposal influenced how Republicans approached the budget.

Every Dem lawmaker voted against the budget as it cleared both houses last week.

“Republican obstructionism cannot silence the will of Wisconsin voters and Democrats will continue fighting for quality schools, affordable health care, and clean drinking water,” they said.

Some of the other vetoes:

*nixed a $5 million earmark to begin the process of constructing a new maximum security prison to replace the aging facility in Green Bay. Evers’ veto keeps the money with the Department of Corrections “to utilize these funds for higher priority institutional needs.”

Evers has raised questions about building more prisons at a time when he also wants to cut the number of Wisconsinites incarcerated.

Still, Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, said Evers has personally told him conditions at the prison, which was first used in 1898, are “inhumane” and accused the guv of caving to “the beliefs and interests of liberal in Madison” while dismissing the views of those in Brown County.

“It’s an absolute middle finger to everyone who has worked on this issue,” Steffen said.

*wiped out a provision to spend $2.5 million to study implementing a mileage-based fee for funding roads along with another look at tolling. Evers wrote in his veto message that he objected to a study that he claimed would show his plan to boost the gas tax by 8 cents per gallon was “the most cost-effective way to collect revenue.” The Joint Finance Committee pulled that measure from the budget, and Evers on Wednesday called on the Legislature to “stop stalling and act to secure a long-term transportation funding solution.”

*kept existing registration fees on heavier vehicles. The GOP budget modified the registration fee for certain weight classes to a uniform $100. Evers’ veto means owners of trucks that weigh 6,000-8,000 pounds will continue to pay the current fee of $106, while those that are 8,000-10,000 pounds will still pay $155. The net impact is $7.2 million more to the transportation fund than the GOP plan.

*eliminated a provision that would’ve allowed electric car manufacturer Tesla to sell directly to consumers rather than through a dealer. The provision was added as Republicans sought to secure the vote of Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield. Kapenga, who has pushed a similar proposal in past legislation, owns a business that refurbishes Teslas and sells parts for the cars.

*killed limits on local restrictions on the operation of a quarry. Backers had argued the provision would’ve helped lower the costs to produce aggregate for road projects. Walker vetoed a similar measure that Republican lawmakers included in the 2017-19 state budget.

*reworked some of the bonding Republicans included in the budget. The GOP plan included $25 million in general fund-supported borrowing for non-state projects. Republicans also earmarked $3 million of that to convert the old Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune building into an economic and community hub. Evers kept the earmark, but directed the other $22 million to help construct the new juvenile corrections facilities to replace the state’s troubled youth prisons in northern Wisconsin and house the most serious offenders. He also redirected a $15 million earmark for a northern Wisconsin regional crisis center to instead help expand the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center, which is also part of the overhaul of the state’s youth prison system.

*wiped out a $6.8 million reduction in shared revenue for Milwaukee County, the only one in which the state operates the child welfare system. Under state law, Milwaukee County’s shared revenue is supposed to be reduced to account for the services the state provides. But the amount of the reduction hasn’t increased since at least 2012, according to Republicans, even as costs have increased dramatically to provide the services.

*eliminated a requirement for DOT to build a new interchange in Brown County as part of the expansion of I-41 to three lanes from two over a 23-mile stretch. He wrote the determination of whether that interchange should be built should be left to the agency, not lawmakers.

Sen. Andre Jacque, who pushed for the earmark, said he was assured by DOT Secretary Craig Thompson that the administration still supports the project. Since that’s the case, the De Pere Republican argued, the veto was unnecessary. He hoped the guv’s administration would follow through on the project.

“If it doesn’t the blame certainly lands on Gov. Evers’ feet, but I’m willing to help him fix the mistake,” Jacque said.

*wiped out $15 million in general purpose revenue that Republicans had earmarked for local road projects. The GOP budget provision had called for $90 million, but Evers reduced that to $75 million.

*eliminated a provision that would’ve capped the cost of security DOT’s Dignitary Protection Unit could provide Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes over 2019-21 to what it paid to protect him and his predecessor Republican Rebecca Kleefisch in 2017-19. JFC Republicans added the provision to the budget following WisPolitics.com reporting that DPU had logged nine times as many hours providing Barnes protection during his first two months in office as it had for Kleefisch over all of 2018.

*rejected a provision requiring the Department of Administration to study the security and safety of the Capitol and present a report with recommendations to the governor and Legislature. Evers said he objected to “releasing information about potential security vulnerabilities” in a public report, adding it would “negate the very efforts of this study.” He instead is directing Capitol Police to work with local law enforcement to review and update existing security and safety plans.

*nixed an earmark for DOT to fund repairs of a bridge in Kaukauna, home to Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke. Evers wrote in the veto message he objected to putting the project into the budget without adding funding, saying it could result in delays for other projects. Evers added his administration is reviewing other options on the Kaukauna project.

But Steineke, R-Kaukauna, tweeted the project should’ve been a “slam dunk” and vowed to continue meeting with the administration on others on a fix. “We can’t let partisan, political differences get in the way of doing what is right for Kaukauna,” the GOP lawmaker wrote.

During the budget process, the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee moved to keep funding in its supplemental appropriation with the requirement that agencies come back later to seek release of the funds.

Evers issued a series of vetoes to nix money moved to the committee’s appropriation, including nearly $2.8 million to fund anticipated increases in the use of Medicaid services rendered through telehealth technology. The guv instead plans to use existing resources to move ahead with the investment.

The guv also knocked out a provision that would’ve required JFC approval before bonds could be issued in the construction of the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison.

The provision required the museum to show fundraising of at least $30 million toward the project with a report also due to JFC on improvements to museum facilities in Madison.

Along with wiping out JFC oversight of the bonding, Evers also eliminated the report JFC ordered. Instead, he directed the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Department of Veterans Affairs to send him and the DOA secretary a plan by July 1, 2020, that outlines the long-term vision for future museum facilities in Madison.

“Finally, I object to the undemocratic increasing concentration of power in the Joint Committee on Finance,” Evers wrote in the veto message.

See Evers’ veto message:

Web version:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/63028/

PDF version:
https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/WIGOV/2019/07/03/file_attachments/1241858/Evers_2019-21%20Veto%20Message.pdf

See Evers’ press release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/gov-evers-promises-made-promises-kept-gov-evers-signs-wisconsins-2019-21-biennial-budget-into-law/

See reaction at the WisPolitics.com press release page:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/07/03/?arcf=cat:19

Evers pumps more money into K-12 through partial vetoes as he signs budget

0

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

Evers raised $656,763 over first half of 2019

0

Gov. Tony Evers raised $656,763 over the first six months of the year, his campaign says.

That’s $161,000 more than the guv raised over the first half of 2018 as he sought the Dem guv nomination.

But it’s also well short of the $2.5 million that then-Gov. Scott Walker raised during the first six months of his time in the East Wing. That happened in 2011 as he became a national figure in the fight over his proposal to strip most public employees of collective bargaining powers.

Evers’ campaign said his fundraising haul includes $259,112 from PACs. He spent $350,132 during the six-month period and finished June with $653,537.

Evers also used his inaugural events to raise nearly $500,000 for charity and didn’t direct any of the proceeds to his campaign, unlike his predecessor.

Evers’ campaign told WisPolitics.com last month his inaugural events pulled in more than $920,000. After paying expenses, the remaining $496,038 was donated to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee.

In 2011, Walker directed $17,771 from his inaugural events to his personal campaign committee with the remaining $53,315 going to the state GOP. Four years ago, all of the proceeds went to the Republican Party of Wisconsin, though a Walker spokesman couldn’t provide the total figure.

Evers’ full report hadn’t been posted to the Ethics Commission’s website by late afternoon.

Fundraising reports for state candidates detailing their activities during the first six months of 2019 are due by day’s end.

Evers says he vetoed Tesla budget provision because it was earmark, ‘payoff’ to win vote

Gov. Tony Evers says he vetoed a provision that would’ve allowed electric car manufacturer Tesla to sell directly to consumers instead of through dealers as part of a broader goal of eliminating earmarks from the budget and because it was a “payoff” to get a vote.

“It was one of many earmarks; We tried to catch as many as we could,” Evers said Monday. “And it was an earmark, and frankly, it was a payoff to get a vote to get the budget passed. But most importantly, it was an earmark and we decided that wasn’t worth having in the budget.”

The provision was added as Republicans sought to secure the vote of Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, who has pushed a similar proposal in past legislation. Kapenga owns a business that refurbishes Teslas and sells parts for the cars but has said the business is a hobby and he doesn’t profit from it.

Kapenga’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Evers’ suggestion.

Evers also said he’s confident his partial vetoes are valid and will stand.

Evers made his comments to reporters after signing a bill in Milwaukee that would allow electric scooters to be operated on roadways, sidewalks and bike paths in the state while allowing municipalities to regulate their use.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who joined Evers at the event, said the Milwaukee Common Council was to take up a measure today that would establish a pilot program for companies wanting to offer scooters for rent in the city.

See a release from Evers on the scooter bill here.

Evers says Milwaukee streetcar won’t get portion of $75M in GPR for transportation projects

Gov. Tony Evers is ruling out the possibility that a portion of the $75 million in GPR set aside for transportation projects could fund the Milwaukee streetcar.

DOT Secretary Craig Thompson on Thursday announced the administration will create a committee that includes agency staff and representatives of local government to evaluate applications for the $75 million. Thompson said possible uses of the money could include transit and indicated the city of Milwaukee could submit an application for funding its streetcar.

But after blowback on those comments from Republican leadership in the Legislature last week, the guv said Monday he recently spoke Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who pledged that the city would not put grant money towards the streetcar.

“I guess that’s kind of a dead issue,” Evers said.

A Barrett spokeswoman told WisPolitics.com that the city will “work to get our fair share of funding for local roads.”

Following the announcement last week, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, tweeted, “The governor is taking money from local road construction to fund Milwaukee’s trolley to nowhere. Rural Dems should push back – veto override!”

Later in the day, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, tweeted his chamber was “seriously” considering an override as well, calling the possibility money would benefit the streetcar “ridiculous.”

Evers knocked the two Republicans for “the knee-jerk reaction of going to that spot.” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, meanwhile, noted that “the door was just open for them just to apply” for grant money.

“I think that got totally blown out of proportion,” he said.

But a Vos spokeswoman fired back that the issue “isn’t dead.”

“The Republican Legislature allocated these dollars to fix local roads,” spokeswoman Kit Beyer said in an email. “Thanks to a Governor Evers’ veto, the DOT now has $75 million slush fund.”

A Fitzgerald spokesman declined to comment on the latest remarks from the guv.

Evers signs executive order creating ‘lead czar’

Gov. Tony Evers has signed an executive order creating a “lead czar” to coordinate efforts by state agencies to address the risks of lead contamination in drinking water.

Along with creating the position at the Department of Health Services, the order charges state agencies with informing about and protecting Wisconsinites from health risks associated with drinking lead-tainted water.

Appearing in Kenosha Monday, Evers said there is sometimes a perception that lead-tainted drinking water is an urban issue impacting largely cities such as Milwaukee. But those at the news conference stressed the five counties with the most number of lead laterals include Marathon and Manitowoc.

“We all know this is going to take a huge, collaborative effort to make sure everyone can drink clean water from their tap,” Evers said during a ceremony at a Kenosha childcare center.

Evers said the $32 million included in the budget signed earlier this month was just a “down payment” toward addressing the issue. He also backed standalone legislation from Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, that would approve an additional $40 million in bonding to cover forgivable loans to help cover the costs of replacing lead service lines.

Evers included a similar provision in the state budget, but Republicans pulled it from the bill.

A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, was dismissive of the guv’s move, noting the speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality is working on policy recommendations. Kit Beyer also pointed out communities such as Madison have taken their own initiative to address lead laterals and Republicans created a program in the last session to help property owners through their water utilities to replace lead service lines.

The GOP plan, approved last session, allows municipalities to ask the PSC’s permission to use ratepayer dollars for low- or no-cost loans or grants to replace lead service lines.

“Legislative Republicans have been working on this issue for years,” Beyer said. “After six months in office, the governor has come up with a PR position. This move is more about politics than anything else.”

See Johnson’s bill:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/190729Johnson.pdf

Fair Elections Project: Non-denial means Wisconsin should be worried

0

MILWAUKEE—After a news report yesterday morning in the Wisconsin Examiner that the Republican leadership intends to try and circumvent the Governor in the next redistricting, confirmed by top Republican activist Rick Esenberg, the GOP’s ‘not being discussed’ cannot possibly be read as ‘no, we won’t do this.’

The double-talk used by the Speaker and Majority Leader is neither an effective denial nor a promise the people of Wisconsin can count on. They can put this issue to rest by answering a simple question—will they, under any circumstance, try to pass a legislative district map without the Governor’s signature?

What the people of Wisconsin want to see — large bipartisan majorities, in fact — is a public statement that the legislature intends to work with the administration in an open and transparent way to draw the maps in 2021. Putting the Hansen/Vining independent redistricting bill up for a hearing, and then on the floor for a vote to be passed into law, is the best way to assure all Wisconsin residents that the process will be fair and result in an unrigged map.

The parties came together in 1971, compromised, and drew a fair map. With goodwill, that result can be achieved again. They’ve had 10 years with a guaranteed majority, and the time has come to return Wisconsin’s legislature back to the control of the people.

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.

Fallone raised $73,424 for Supreme Court bid, trails rivals

0

Marquette University Law School Prof. Ed Fallone reported $73,424 in receipts in eight weeks of fundraising for his Supreme Court bid.

That puts him behind the $243,794 that Justice Daniel Kelly raised over the first five weeks of his bid for a full 10-year term and the $121,000 that Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky pulled in between early May and June 30, the close of the reporting period.

Fallone spent $22,977 and finished June with $50,446 in the bank and reported a $20,000 personal loan and a $100 contribution to the campaign.

Karofsky gave her campaign $15,000, and her campaign said she would report $110,913 in the bank. Kelly, meanwhile, will report $238,484 cash on hand, his campaign said.

Fallone is the only one of the three who had filed a fundraising report for the most recent period by Monday morning.

He received $8,555 from attorney Mark Thomsen, a member of the state Elections Commission, and $2,500 from attorney Tim Burns, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Supreme Court in 2018. Burns also transferred $345 to Thomsen from his old campaign account.

Reports for state candidates covering fundraising over the first six months of the year are due Monday.

Families USA: Oppose the Ruiz Amendment and support the underlying surprise billing legislation

0

CONTACT: Lisa Holland | (202)-626-0640 | [email protected]

Washington, D.C. – Families USA released the following statement regarding the Energy and Commerce Committee’s legislation on surprise medical bills.

Oppose the Ruiz Amendment and Support the Underlying Surprise Billing Legislation

Families USA supports the Energy and Commerce Committee’s legislation on surprise medical bills as it is a critical step forward to protect families. The Committee worked across the aisle to design bipartisan legislation that includes strong protections for consumers.

However, we oppose the Ruiz amendment because it adds an unnecessary level of complexity and uncertainty for consumers and undermines the intent of the underlying legislation. We urge Members of the Committee to vote against the amendment.

In order to provide the best protection for families against surprise medical bills and against escalating health care costs, we strongly prefer a process that establishes a fair payment rate in advance of services, such as median in-network rate, which is simple and provides the greatest financial protections for families. In the event the Ruiz amendment is adopted, Families USA looks forward to working to improve the legislation. Recommendations to make arbitration work better for families as a component of the statutory framework include:

· In establishing the payment rate, the arbiter may consider the underlying value of the service and the provider’s true cost;

· The dollar threshold triggering an arbitration option should not incentivize increases in health care prices or increase in the incidence of balance billing; and

· The pricing mechanism should protect the ability of insurers to develop robust provider networks.

For far too long, surprise medical bills have been a significant problem for families and can create devastating financial consequences. They occur when insured patients, through no fault of their own, are treated by an out-of-network provider and are charged the difference between the rate their insurer pays the provider and the provider’s billed charge. This amount is often many times what the consumer’s in-network cost-sharing responsibility would be and set a price many times more than paid within network.

One person that knows the perils of surprise medical bills all too well is Sonji Wilkes of Englewood, Colorado. She testified June 12 before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce SubCommittee on Health about her family’s alarming experience with surprise medical bills, which included a $50,000 bill after her newborn son Thomas was treated for hemophilia in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the hospital in which she delivered her son. She and her husband were unaware that the hospital had subcontracted the NICU, just steps from the room in which her son was delivered, to a third-party provider that was not a part of any insurance company network. Because they made every effort to stay in-network based on the information provided to them, they refused to pay the bill. It was turned over to collections, then dismissed several years later as part of a class action lawsuit. The ordeal still ruined their credit rating.

America’s families have an important stake in the details of surprise bill legislation, and it is important for the House to get this right as we near major votes. This includes ensuring that consumers are fully protected, costs are held down, and incentives for both providers and health plans are structured in a thoughtful and balanced way.

Five Dem presidential candidates to address LULAC convention

0

Wisconsin will take another turn in the presidential race spotlight over the next two days, starting with five Dem candidates addressing the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and activist Marianne Williamson are scheduled to speak at the convention in Milwaukee.

Castro, O’Rourke, Sanders, and Warren are to participate in a town hall event tonight. Williamson is to speak at a luncheon on Friday.

A LULAC spokesman said the group invited President Trump in early spring to address the convention. But the White House turned down the request this week shortly before it was publicly announced that Trump would be in Wisconsin on Friday for a fundraiser and tour of a Milwaukee business.

LULAC spokesman David Cruz said the organization had already filled all of its speaking slots before the White House formally turned down the invitation because it had been so long since the request was first submitted.

Mandela Barnes will introduce Warren at this evening’s LULAC event. But a spokesman for the lt. guv said he it isn’t an endorsement of the Dem presidential contender.

The spokesman said Barnes was asked by Warren’s campaign to introduce her to the crowd, and he plans to welcome any candidates to Wisconsin as his schedule permits.

Four counties apply to build youth detention facilities

Four counties have submitted applications to build detention facilities for less-serious juvenile offenders.

The grant applications were due by noon Monday, and Brown, Dane, Milwaukee and Racine Counties applied.

Under a bill Gov. Tony Evers signed Friday delaying the closure of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake in northern Wisconsin by six months, there is a three-month extension for the Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee to consider applications to build county-run youth lockups that will help replace the current system.

Legislation approved last year mandated the youth prisons be shuttered by Jan. 1, 2021. Serious juvenile offenders from those youth lockups would be placed in one of two so-called “Type 1” facilities run by the state, while less serious offenders would be sent to county-run ​Secure Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth, or SRCCCYs. The act also called for the expansion of the Department of Health Services’ Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center.

But the counties interested in applying for grants to building SRCCCYs raised concerns with the measure, ranging from funding levels to technical language in the law they felt needed to be clarified before they could move forward to apply for funding.

Under last year’s law, the county grant applications were due at noon Monday and had to be passed on to the Joint Finance Committee by midnight.

That would have left the grant committee roughly 12 hours to review all the information and make decisions on which applications to approve.

The committee now has until Oct. 1 to review the applications.

The costs for the proposals submitted Monday  range between Dane County’s $3.5 million bid on the low end to Milwaukee County’s $41.8 million project.

But Mary Jo Meyers, director of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, told WisPolitics.com her county’s budget could become more flexible in the coming months. She said that Milwaukee County’s bid was based on a “ballparking” of the percentage of youth currently at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake who would be housed in Milwaukee rather than on building costs.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele indicated that due to the rushed natured of the grant application process, the county didn’t have the requisite time to contract with architects or come to agreements with providers.

“We wanted to make sure that we, you know, had a safe number,” he told WisPolitics.com in the same interview.

Meyers added that a prior estimate on refurbishing the Vel R. Phillips Youth Detention Center, a key feature to the county’s SRCCCY bid, had carried an estimated price tag around $5 million. That figure would be in line with the bid submitted by Dane County, which is also looking to remodel an existing structure.

Quizzed by WisPolitics.com on why their overall bid was more than 10 times the cost of its counterpart in Dane County, Meyers highlighted that a significant chunk of the current Lincoln Hills population comes from Milwaukee County.

Meyers also noted the Vel Phillips Center was only one piece of the grant application, which also included remodels of two or more existing community-based buildings. Those structures, Meyers said, carried a far greater cost variability.

“Our facilities manager has been very cautious in saying, ‘Look, you really can’t tell until you know which facility, how old the facility is, what it would take to secure the perimeter because every facility is different in terms of like how the road goes into the facility, how the building sits on the land,'” she said. “We wish we knew (what costs would be) because it was tough to trying to do it without.”

While Act 8 alleviated concerns about applications deadlines and JFC addressed some funding issues, several counties told WisPolitics.com they are still worried the undertaking wasn’t addressing what they consider to be needed policy and cultural shifts.

To address those, the grant committee was also tasked with developing a Wisconsin model of juvenile justice focused on creating programming that prepares youth for life after incarceration.

Much like the application process though, development of the model also is running behind schedule. The grant committee has spent a significant amount of time working on it, but all it has to show for its efforts at this point is a document encompassing considerations for what the model should look like.

County officials told WisPolitics.com that they fear the committee is ignoring that document as lawmakers charge ahead in an effort to meet the self-imposed deadline. Take, for instance, the proposed goal to serve youth “in smaller, regional facilities that are closer to their communities and foster engagement with their families to promote a successful transition home.”

That seems to be at odds with Act 185 author Rep. Michael Schraa’s assertion that the committee was looking to move ahead with proposals to build SRCCCYs in Milwaukee, Racine and Dane counties. Schraa told WisPolitics.com several times over the course of the last month that the grant committee was locked on to putting SRCCCYs in three counties located in that region of the state.

Erik Pritzl, the Health and Human Services executive director for Brown County who has been a key figure in developing the region’s SRCCCY bid, blasted that statement.

“When I go back to those early discussions, the idea was let’s change how we do youth justice services,” he told WisPolitics.com earlier this month. “It’s not just about Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake being under scrutiny; it was about where the facilities are located, the benefits of keeping youth closer to home, changing the model of service.

“I don’t think we’re seeing that play out now.”

Schraa, R-Oshkosh, countered that concentrating on the southern and southeastern part of the state made sense because a vast majority of juvenile corrections placements come from that region.

An April report from the DOC on youth in Corrections custody largely backs up Schraa. The most recent average daily population demographic shows that nearly 57 percent of juvenile offenders come from Milwaukee County while no other county reached double digits.

The numbers show Dane and Racine counties have the second and third largest populations of youth in DOC custody over the last five years. But that data also shows that Brown County’s population is ticking up year after year and overtook Dane and Racine in 2018 as the county with the second largest population.

While the proposed Type 1 facility in Hortonia would serve serious juvenile offenders from the area, Pritzl questioned what happens to young people who would be sent to SRCCCYs in the southern part of the state under the new system.

“We’ve created that distance between families and their youth. And that idea of aftercare being successful and reintroducing the youth back to the community is going to be a challenge because they’re that much farther away,” he said.

Pritzl said if the state moves ahead with southern SRCCCYs, counties in the northern and western regions of the state will likely try to use the new correctional system as little as possible. He said they will instead opt to use the so-called “365-day programming” that some counties already employ as an alternative to juvenile detention.

Schraa conceded in an ideal world, there would be funding for SRCCY facilities outside of Milwaukee, Dane and Racine counties. But he said fiscal reality doesn’t always match the ideal world and told WisPolitics.com he hoped to secure funding for another two or three SRCCCYs in the next budget cycle.

“We need one in the northern part of the state, and we need one in the central or western part of the state just so that we don’t run into the same problems as we did with Lincoln Hills and having families three, four hours away,” he said.

Wisconsin Counties Association Deputy Director of Government Affairs Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf told WisPolitics.com not to rule out Brown County as the grant committee begins to review applications.

Diedrick-Kasdorf has played a vital role in coordinating the state’s juvenile justice reboot with counties and said she believes that other lawmakers plan to approach the bid process with a more open mind.

“In talking to other members of the grant committee and the Legislature and members of the finance committee as well, we should not presuppose where we think grant dollars will be going and what counties would receive them before we even have received grant applications,” she said. “So you know, for (Schraa) to have said we’re going to fund these three I think was a bit premature.”

She also noted that she had been led to believe the $80 million figure SRCCCY allocation from the JFC was a “placeholder,” adding that the proposals from Milwaukee and Racine counties may swallow up the entirety of the funding.

“Do we tell Dane no and do we tell Brown no?” she asked. “The Finance Committee will be able to come back and is going to have to take a look at this.”

Fox Cities Chambers: Nominations open for the Fox Cities Chamber’s 2019 Pinnacle Awards

0

Tonya Boelter
Senior Director, Community Engagement
[email protected]

APPLETON, Wis.  – The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce its nomination process is open for the 2019 Pinnacle Awards.

Each year this prestigious awards program recognizes individuals who make the Fox Cities a great place to live, work and play. The award recipients are individuals who embrace principled leadership, strategic thinking, balanced workplace values and an unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Online nominations will be accepted now through September 6 at foxcitieschamber.com.

The award categories include ATHENAâ Leadership, Business Hall of Fame, Champion of the Chamber, Gus A. Zuehlke Distinguished Service and the Joyce Bytof Exceptional Mentor award. Criteria and descriptions for each award can be found on the online nomination form.

Pinnacle Award eligibility includes:
· Nominees have shown support and commitment to the business community
· Nominees are committed to the mission and values of the Fox Cities Chamber
· Nominees conduct or have conducted business within the Fox Cities
· Previous nominees are eligible for re-nomination the following year
· All nominations are considered at the discretion of the selection committee
· Awards can only be won once in the same category, except for the Champion of the Chamber Award.

Award recipients will be announced in October and recognized at the Pinnacle Awards Gala on Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Downtown Appleton. Black tie attire is admired but not required for this event.

Registration is now open for this year’s event at foxcitieschamber.com. Individual tickets are $65 each and Corporate Packages are available for $1,250 which includes 10 tickets, 10 raffle tickets and recognition as an event supporter. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce initiatives and Fox Cities Chamber Foundation which encompasses talent and workforce programming created to adapt and respond to workforce needs in our community.

Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2019 Pinnacle Awards. Please contact Nora Langolf to learn more at (920) 734-7101 or [email protected] For event information, please contact Katie Gaffney, Events Coordinator at the Fox Cities Chamber at (920) 734-7101 or [email protected] To see previous recipients, visit http://foxcitieschamber.com/community/pinnacle-awards/.

Foxconn: Announces construction awards exceeding $15 million, issues new invitations to bid

0

Media Contact: [email protected]

Foxconn issues new awards to nine subcontractors located throughout Wisconsin, subcontractor awards totaling $175 million issued to date

Milwaukee, WI – Foxconn Technology Group (Foxconn) and its construction manager, Gilbane | Exyte, today announced another round of bid awards to nine subcontractors located throughout Wisconsin for ongoing work at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. The combined total contract value for this bid package exceeds $15 million. The total value of all subcontractor awards to date is more than $175 million.

Prime subcontractors who have been awarded contracts and will commence work on Bid Release 3c – Power Substation, include:

• GESTRA Engineering Inc., Milwaukee, WI – Materials Testing for Power Substation
• CD Smith Construction, Fond Du Lac, WI – Concrete Work
• Spancrete, Inc., Waukesha, WI – Precast Concrete Work
• Daigle Brothers, Inc., Tomahawk, WI – Miscellaneous Metals Work
• CD Smith Construction, Fond Du Lac, WI – Building Enclosure and Interiors Work
• Lee Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Inc., Kenosha, WI – Mechanical and Plumbing Work
• Electric Co. Inc., Menomonee Falls, WI – Electrical Work
• Morse Electric Inc., Beloit, WI – Long Lead Electrical Equipment
• Brightview Landscape Development Inc., Milwaukee, WI – Landscaping Work

All contract award recipients have met the criteria for the Wisconsin First program established for the construction of the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park. Mobilization for this work will commence immediately.

Foxconn and Gilbane | Exyte also recently issued the next round of invitations to bid on packages set to support construction of the nearly 1,000,000 square-foot advanced manufacturing facility. Included in this most recent round of bid packages, known as #5a, #5b, & #5c, are requests for roofing systems, overhead doors, coiling doors, dock equipment, roadway lighting, asphalt paving, curb and gutter work, metal panels, siding, and louvers.

Information regarding these bid packages and all current bid opportunities for the project and bid awards at the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park to date can be found at: https://wisconnvalley.wi.gov/Pages/ScienceTechPark.aspx.

Companies interested in receiving information regarding ongoing bid opportunities are encouraged to sign up at https://foxconn-construction.gilbaneco.com/

FRI AM Update: Ballweg knocks DATCP secretary for failing to provide statistics on farmer mental health program

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI AM Update: Dem presidential contenders rip Trump at LULAC town hall

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI AM Update: Evers seeking candidates for new WEDC leader

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI News Summary: Dem presidential contenders address LULAC convention; Trump slams Ryan on Twitter

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI News Summary: Evers admin unveils transport grant program; Gallagher knocks ‘send her back’ chant

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI PM Update: State GOP continues paying down debt from 2018 elections

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI REPORT: Darling, other longtime senators gearing up for re-election in ‘20

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

FRI REPORT: Trump urges Congress to pass U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

Gov. Evers: Announces $1 Million TEA grant for Fitchburg, supporting Promega expansion and creating 200 new jobs

0

Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443

MADISON—Gov. Tony Evers announced today the city of Fitchburg will receive a grant worth up to $1 million from the Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) program of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). The funds will be used to extend Fahey Glen from Lacy Road to East Cheryl Parkway, and other improvements in Fitchburg Center. Fitchburg Center is a 400-acre, mixed-use development off of Fish Hatchery Road, south of the Madison Beltline (US 12/18).

The new 900-foot, two-lane road will provide direct access to Lacy Road, linking existing and future Promega Corporation facilities. Promega is a biotechnology company, with products used in biological research, drug discovery and genetic identification. Promega currently has 11 buildings in the Fitchburg Center, with a $190 million, 270,000-square-foot research development center under construction. The new facility is expected to be completed in 2020. According to the TEA application, the expansion efforts are expected to create 200 new jobs.

“The TEA program is designed to support economic development,” said Gov Evers. “This project is an excellent example of transportation supporting economic development. The grant will help Fitchburg support the growth of a world-class company, which is providing the community with excellent jobs, and many community benefits.”

The total cost for the project, which will include bike lanes and sidewalks, a multi-use path, utility work and improvements to the roundabout at Fahey Glen and East Cheryl Parkway, is expected to cost more than $2.8 million. The city of Fitchburg is providing the remainder of the project funding. Construction is expected to begin in August 2019 and be completed in mid-summer 2020. Additional roadway work, including mill and overlay of East Cheryl Parkway, is expected to begin May 2021 with completion in July 2021.

In 2018 the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) authorized the company to receive up to up to $1.5 million in business development tax credits. The actual amount of tax credits Promega receives is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period.

This is the third TEA grant for the city of Fitchburg. A 2016 grant for $1 million was used to improve access to Sub-Zero Parkway. The city also received a $1 million grant in 2014 for the construction of roads serving Certco Inc., Saris Cycling Group and the Arrowhead Neighborhood.

The TEA Program

The TEA program provides financial assistance to help communities with road, rail, harbor or airport improvements to attract employers to Wisconsin, or encourage a state employer to expand in the state. The program will reimburse up to 50% of the eligible cost of the transportation improvement.

A municipal or county unit of government must sponsor a TEA application. The project must have the local government’s endorsement, and it must benefit the public.

To date, Wisconsin’s TEA program has invested nearly $111 million in 213 communities, benefiting 350 Wisconsin businesses, and creating or retaining more than 46,500 jobs around the state. Each state fiscal year, the TEA program has $3.4 million available for transportation improvement projects.

For a complete listing of TEA grants and project details, visit: wisconsindot.gov/TEA

Gov. Evers: Announces Nexus Pharmaceuticals to build sterile injectable manufacturing facility in Pleasant Prairie

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

PLEASANT PRAIRIE – Gov. Tony Evers today joined with the owners of Nexus Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser, Village of Pleasant Prairie Board President John Steinbrink, Kenosha Area Business Alliance President Todd Battle, and Milwaukee 7 regional economic development officials to announce that Nexus has selected Pleasant Prairie as the location for its first sterile drug manufacturing facility.

Nexus Pharmaceuticals is a woman-owned, privately-held pharmaceutical company based in Lincolnshire (IL) that produces specialty and generic injectable drugs relied upon by hospitals across the U.S. The Pleasant Prairie manufacturing facility will support the production and supply of drugs in an array of therapeutic areas, including anesthesia, oncology, cardiovascular and neurology. Nexus’ proprietary products are currently contract-manufactured by third-party providers located primarily in Europe and the U.S.

“We are proud to call Wisconsin the new home for our company’s first manufacturing facility,” said Nexus CEO Mariam Darsot. “This investment is needed to drive the continued growth of the U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. There is increasing patient demand for high quality and accessible generic injections. The addition of our Wisconsin facility will enable Nexus to produce a more stable and reliable supply of sterile injectables, a category that is particularly susceptible to drug shortages.”

The multi-phase project is expected to be completed within ten years, with an estimated total investment of $250 million. In the project’s first phase, Nexus will invest $85 million to build and equip a 100,000 square foot, three-story production operation, construction of which will begin in August and be completed by 2021. After the facility and equipment are qualified, and subsequently approved by regulatory agencies, commercial production is expected to begin in 2022. As part of the project’s first phase, Nexus will hire 77 workers in the fields of high-tech production, engineering, quality control, and supply chain management, at an average annual salary of $70,000.

“This is one of the most significant pharmaceutical investments in Wisconsin in years,” Gov. Evers said. “Southeast Wisconsin is increasingly becoming a destination of choice for high-value manufacturing jobs that require a skilled, educated workforce.”

Gov. Evers announced today the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is supporting the project by authorizing up to $1.5 million in state income tax credits over the next four years. The actual amount of tax credits Nexus will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period.

Economic modeling analysis conducted by WEDC indicates that in addition to the creation of 77 jobs at Nexus’ Pleasant Prairie location, the project could indirectly generate 134 additional jobs in the region. Those 211 total new jobs are expected to generate up to $512,000 annually in state income tax revenue. The construction phase of the project could directly support an additional 237 jobs and a total of 379 direct and indirect jobs.

WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan thanked Nexus for choosing the Pleasant Prairie location. “We are pleased that Nexus is bringing high-paying, high-skill jobs to the state. We believe the company’s decision reflects its recognition that Wisconsin is a leader in innovative manufacturing,” Mr. Hogan said.

Nexus has purchased a 16-acre parcel of land from the Village of Pleasant Prairie in the Prairie Highlands Corporate Park, located along Interstate 94 north of Highway 165. Nexus will join German candy producer HARIBO and healthcare provider Advocate Aurora as the initial occupants of the park, which is being developed on land the Village purchased from Abbott Laboratories in 2017.

“The Village is honored to welcome Nexus Pharmaceuticals to Southeastern Wisconsin,” said Village Board President Steinbrink. “Nexus is a remarkable company with excellent jobs, strong growth, and high values. I am confident that Nexus will find Prairie Highlands Corporate Park in Pleasant Prairie to be an exceptional location to grow a business.”

Nexus is the most recent in a long line of companies that have made significant investments in Kenosha County. The company will receive financial support through the County’s High Impact Fund.

“Kenosha County is pleased to be the selected site for this impactful development,” said County Executive Kreuser. “The County worked with the Kenosha Area Business Alliance to establish the High Impact Fund precisely to secure high-quality economic development projects like this one. Nexus Pharmaceuticals is an ideal fit for this program and our community.”

The Milwaukee 7 economic development organization also worked to attract Nexus to the region.

“We’re delighted that Nexus has chosen southeastern Wisconsin for this significant investment,” said Gale Klappa, co-chair of Milwaukee 7 and executive chairman of WEC Energy Group. “Nexus brings the high-value job opportunities that our region seeks and can capably support. The company’s decision to invest here highlights – once again – our success in attracting companies that require skilled knowledge workers.”

About Nexus Pharmaceuticals

Nexus Pharmaceuticals is a U.S.-based healthcare company specializing in innovative processes that make difficult-to-manufacture specialty and generic drugs easier to use, less labor-intensive and more streamlined in practice. Nexus ensures that its high-quality FDA-approved drugs fulfill a critical unmet medical need and deliver dependable life-saving treatment options when and where they are needed most.

Since its inception in 2003, Nexus has been a pioneer in the generic drug industry. The fast-growing company has a robust pipeline featuring several recent launches of first-to-market, FDA-approved generic drugs.

Nexus is headquartered in Lincolnshire (IL), which houses the company’s state-of-the-art research and development laboratory. Nexus has nine FDA-approved lifesaving medications and six commercially available generic injectables trusted in 2,500 hospitals and health care facilities across the U.S.

For more information, visit the company’s website: www.nexuspharma.net

Gov. Evers: Announces search for next secretary and CEO of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

0
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that he will launch a search for the next secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

On September 1, 2019, Gov. Evers can make an appointment for this position, which will be the final member of his cabinet team. Republicans in the legislature changed state law during the lame-duck session following Gov. Evers’ election to prevent him from immediately appointing this position.

Gov. Evers is running a transparent process to find the best candidate to lead the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and is encouraging qualified applicants to apply online at:https://evers.wi.gov/Pages/WEDC-Secretary-CEO-Application.aspx.

“A 72-county approach to economic development is critical to creating middle-class jobs and growing the economy. The next leader at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has an incredible opportunity to foster a culture that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation while supporting the Main Street businesses, start-ups, and large-scale companies that employ people across our state and help Wisconsin’s economy thrive,” said Gov. Evers. “As we begin the transparent process to find a new secretary and CEO at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, I would also like to thank Mark Hogan for his service to our state over the last four years and the professionalism and dedication with which he has approached this role.”

 

Gov. Evers: Announces Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification appointments

0

Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers today announced several appointments to the Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification, which was recently formed by Executive Order 20 in April 2019. The task force will coordinate worker misclassification matters handled by the Departments of Revenue, Department of Workforce Development, Department of Justice, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and other agencies. The task force will report to the governor on or before March of each year on their activities. Misclassification occurs when an employer improperly classifies a worker as an independent contractor instead of an employee, denying the worker legal protections and benefits.

“Individual agencies do a great job at combating this serious issue that adversely affects some of our most vulnerable workers, but through this task force, agency efforts will be better coordinated,” said Gov. Evers. “By evaluating each agency’s approach and investigation methods and sharing best practices, our efforts to support Wisconsin workers who are left without important safeguards like unemployment insurance and labor protections will be more strategic and coordinated.”

The task force will be staffed by the Department of Workforce Development and DWD Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman will serve as chair.

“I am excited to chair this important task force and proud of the work that investigators have done and will continue to do to help eradicate worker misclassification,” said DWD Secretary-designee Frostman. “The goal of the task force is to give our front-line staff even more tools and strategies that they can employ as they continue their work to support the Wisconsin worker.”

In 2018, DWD’s Unemployment Insurance Division (UI) conducted 2,459 audits, identifying 8,877 misclassified workers and recouped more than $1.5 million in UI taxes, interest, and penalties. Worker misclassification is most commonly found in the construction industry, but service-sector workers and others are also prone to be misclassified by their employer.

Members of the task force announced by Gov. Evers today are:

  • DWD Secretary or designee: Sec. Caleb Frostman (Task Force chair)
  • Attorney General or designee: Michael Morris
  • DOR Secretary or designee: Maria Guerra Lapacek
  • OCI Secretary or designee: Andrew Stoughton
  • DWD Worker’s Compensation Division: Steve Peters
  • DWD Unemployment Insurance Division: Mark Reihl
  • DWD Equal Rights Division: Jesus Villa
  • Workers Representative: Andy Buck
  • Business Community Representative: Pete Braun
  • Senate Majority Caucus: Sen. Dale Kooyenga
  • Senate Minority Caucus: Sen. Dave Hansen
  • Assembly Majority Caucus: Vacant
  • Assembly Minority Caucus: Rep. Chris Sinicki
  • Public Member: Cynthia Buchko
  • Public Member: Steuart Wilson
  • Public Member: Jerry Shea
  • Public Member: Gary Rockweiler
  • Public Member: Tim DeMinter

Executive Order 20 can be viewed here.

Gov. Evers: Applauds WHEFA for new 2019 fiscal year in review report, saving $3.9 million for Wisconsin non-profits

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today commended the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority (WHEFA), which just issued its 2019 Fiscal Year in Review for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. The report indicates WHEFA saved Wisconsin non-profit institutions nearly $3.9 million by refinancing outstanding debt and completed 18 financings for such institutions totaling more than $1.3 billion.

WHEFA financings during this fiscal year will help create an estimated 442 new jobs and maintain 695 jobs, while an estimated 1,009 construction jobs will be created for new capital projects.

“Tax-exempt financing is an important and effective financing tool for non-profits,” said Gov. Evers. “We are extremely appreciative of the great work WHEFA does on behalf of non-profit organizations throughout Wisconsin. The ability to obtain access to capital at the lowest cost is vital to our non-profits, and we look forward to our continued partnership with WHEFA.”

Highlights from the fiscal year in review include 13 nonprofit borrowers at 33 Wisconsin locations, that benefited from the bond proceeds during the fiscal year 2019, including four long-term care organizations, five acute-care organizations, two private schools, and two non-profit facilities. These Wisconsin nonprofit organizations employ more than 52,000 people.

“This fiscal year will mark the end of another successful year assisting a variety of non-profits throughout the State,” said Executive Director Dennis Reilly. “We are proud of the important role WHEFA has in financing and refinancing critical infrastructure projects for non-profits in Wisconsin. We are also very thankful for the support of the governor as we continue to help the economy move forward by serving all nonprofit institutions seeking to expand and create jobs.”

WHEFA, created by the Legislature in 1973, has been providing active capital financing assistance to Wisconsin nonprofit organizations since 1979. Bonds issued by WHEFA do not utilize any state funds or constitute an indebtedness of the state. The state has no liability to repay any obligation issued by WHEFA under any circumstances.

Gov. Evers: Directs agencies to address nitrate contamination in ground and surface water

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

WATERTOWN — Gov. Tony Evers today announced additional efforts by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to address nitrates in ground and surface water.

“I am committed to protecting Wisconsin’s waters and ensuring every Wisconsinite has access to clean drinking water,” said Gov. Evers. “In the Year of Clean Drinking Water, I’m proud that my cabinet is working with the agricultural and environmental communities to address nitrate contamination.”

As part of the announcement, Gov. Evers directed DNR to pursue rulemaking through NR 151 to reduce nitrate contamination by establishing targeted nitrate performance standard for soils that are most likely to experience nitrogen contamination.

“No matter where they live, everyone needs clean drinking water,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. “We are dedicated to working with DATCP to ensure safe, clean water and a healthy natural environment for all Wisconsinites.”

Gov. Evers also directed DATCP to work closely with the DNR by continuing to develop the technical standards needed to meet NR 151.

“Many of our farmers are already helping to lead the way on clean water practices in their communities,” said DATCP Secretary-designee Brad Pfaff. “We look forward to connecting the dots with the agricultural community and our partners at the Department of Natural Resources to ensure our farmers have up-to-date standards and tools to help protect our water systems from nitrate contamination.”

Gov. Evers: Encourages Wisconsinites to take preventative steps ahead of expected dangerous heatwave

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today is encouraging people to remain vigilant and take steps to prevent heat-related illnesses with dangerous heat expected for Wisconsin through the weekend.

“When temperatures rise to dangerous levels, it’s important to make sure you and your family are doing everything possible to beat the heat,” Gov. Evers said. “Hot weather is especially dangerous for older adults, infants and young children, and those suffering from chronic health problems such as asthma and heart disease.”

The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for portions of southwestern Wisconsin. Heat indices ranging from the upper 90s to over 100 across all of southern Wisconsin are possible by Friday. Combined with dewpoints in the low to mid-70s, this could create a hazardous situation that may linger into Saturday.

“Be sure to check on elderly neighbors and family members regularly, to make sure they are safe,” said Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Dr. Darrell L. Williams. “Isolated individuals who may not know how to cool off, may not have air conditioning, or who are hesitant to ask for help are especially vulnerable.”

The public is urged to consider taking the following steps during the upcoming heatwave to help protect themselves and others:

  • Drink plenty of water – Do not wait until you are thirsty to start drinking. Take regular breaks to hydrate, especially if you are spending time outdoors.
  • Find a cool place – Seek air-conditioned homes or public spaces. Check with local community resources, which may open cooling centers. Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Watch for signs of heat-related illness – If you start feeling dizzy, nauseous, weak, and are sweating excessively, you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Get to a cool place and drink water. If your body temperatures spikes, you lose consciousness or experience a throbbing headache, you may be suffering heatstroke and should seek immediate medical attention!
  • Check on elderly or disabled neighbors – Friends and family who have mobility issues or other impairments may not notice temperatures rising. Make sure they have access to the resources they need to remain safe.
  • Don’t leave people, especially children, and pets in cars – The temperature inside a parked, closed car can climb 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, leading to life-threatening conditions. Never leave people or pets in vehicles, even for just a few minutes!
  • Protect pets and livestock – Hot weather can also put the lives of animals at risk. Make sure they have access to plenty of water and shaded areas to get out of the sun. Consider bringing pets inside a cool basement.

To find more tips for staying safe from the heat visit ReadyWisconsin (https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/be-informed/extreme-heat/), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/climate/heat.htm), and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/PetsWeather.aspx).

Gov. Evers: Orders flags to half-staff as a mark of respect for Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs employee Nicholas Janz

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today ordered the flags of the United States and the State of Wisconsin to be flown at half-staff as a mark of respect for Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs employee Nicholas Janz.

On July 1, 2019, Nicholas Janz, a facility maintenance specialist at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, tragically died while performing his duties at the base. The order is effective beginning at sunrise and ending at sunset on the day of interment.

“Nicholas Janz was a diligent and dedicated Department of Military Affairs employee but also a devoted husband and father, loving son and brother, and a loyal friend to many,” said Gov. Evers. “The people of Wisconsin, his family and community will remember his legacy.”

Gov. Evers: Promises Made, Promises Kept: Gov. Evers signs Wisconsin’s 2019-21 biennial budget into law

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed the 2019-21 state biennial budget, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 9, into law with partial vetoes.

“While this budget makes critical investments in areas that were included in The People’s Budget, this is a down payment on the progress we must make in the next biennial budget,” said Gov. Evers. “Vetoing this budget would have meant passing up the opportunity to provide investments in special education, the largest general school aid increase in a decade, increased revenue to fix our roads, and critical investments in broadband expansion, Wisconsin shares, child welfare, rural hospitals, and transit, among other important priorities.

“When I ran for this office, I said it was time for a change. And I made promises to the people of Wisconsin,” Gov. Evers continued. “I promised I would put people first, and that is why I am proud we were able to do as much as we did with the budget we were given.

“This budget delivers on many of the important promises I made to the people of Wisconsin and makes progress toward fixing our roads, supporting schools, increasing funding for healthcare, and cutting taxes for working families.”

Highlights from Gov. Evers’ 2019-21 budget include:

Healthy Communities

  • In recognition of the direct care workforce shortages in the state, this budget provides over $230 million to support workers who provide direct care to Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens in Family Care, nursing homes, and individuals receiving personal care services.
  • Makes important investments in Wisconsin’s rural healthcare providers by increasing funding by $9.9 million for the Rural Critical Care Hospital Supplement.
  • Invests $14.2 million in lead testing and abatement and begins to address the issue of childhood lead poisoning.
  • Provides nearly $30 million, the largest state-funded increase ever, to support programs for Wisconsin veterans.

Safe and Just Communities

  • Increases the private bar rate for the Office of the State Public Defender, for the first time since 1992, from $40 per hour to $70 per hour to provide our citizens with prompt representation and save our counties money.
  • Provides over 60 new full-time assistant district attorneys across the state, which is the first time the state has created any new full-time GPR-funded positions since 2007.
  • Provides funding to work towards meeting the state’s obligations to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake schools and moving youth into the least restrictive appropriate setting as soon as practicable.

What’s Best for Kids

  • Doubles state support for school mental health programs over the biennium to provide increased access to professionals to assist children in our schools in need.
  • Provides nearly $330 million, the largest nominal dollar increase in state general aid since the 2005-07 biennium.
  • Increases state special education categorical aid funding for the first time since 2008-09 by providing over $95 million over the biennium in additional state support.
  • Through the veto process, increases per pupil state categorical aids by nearly $100 million over the biennium.
  • Increases high cost transportation aid for rural districts by $1.6 million over the biennium to raise reimbursement rates to 90 percent of eligible costs.

Higher Education and Workforce

  • Increases state general aid for the Wisconsin Technical College System by $25 million, the largest nominal increase since at least 1993.
  • Commits over $1 billion in bonding authority, the largest nominal increase ever, to modernize aging University of Wisconsin buildings and improve learning environments, which will help the system attract and retain students, faculty, and researchers.
  • Provides $45 million over the biennium to the University of Wisconsin (UW) System for capacity building initiatives, while continuing to freeze resident undergraduate tuition to keep higher education affordable and mitigate student debt.

Agriculture, Tourism, and Economic Development

  • Provides $48 million throughout the biennium, the largest amount ever, to expand the Broadband Expansion Grant program to reach more underserved areas of the state.
  • Recognizes that the dairy industry is a critical part of our state’s economy, which is why this budget invests $8.8 million over the biennium in a Dairy Innovation Hub at the University of Wisconsin System. 
  • Provides $750,000 annually for farmers to engage in best management practices under the producer led watershed protection grant program.
  • Invests $100,000 to further research on chronic wasting disease in our state.

Transportation

  • Provides more than $465 million overall for transportation projects across the state and makes significant progress towards sustainable funding for transportation with the largest dedication of new, ongoing revenue to the transportation fund in a generation.
  • Invests more ongoing revenue than ever before in our transportation infrastructure, while at the same time maintaining bonding at our lowest level in the last 20 years.
  • Invests $320 million in additional funding for our State Highway Rehabilitation program
  • Provides an historic 10 percent increase ($66 million over the biennium) in available funding for general transportation aids, paid to counties, towns, villages, and cities.
  • Finishes off the Zoo Interchange project as it was designed.

Tax Fairness

  • Along with AB 251, a bipartisan proposal, provides $518 million in individual income tax relief in the form of income tax rate reductions targeting lower and middle income earners.
  • Overall, approximately 92 percent of these income tax cuts for non-married filers will go to filers with adjusted gross income below $100,000 annually and 76 percent of tax cuts for married-joint filers will go to filers with adjusted gross income below $150,000.
  • Typical middle class single filers will see an income tax reduction of approximately $136 annually while middle class married-joint filers will see a reduction of $182 annually when the tax rate reductions are fully implemented in tax year 2020.

Clean Communities

  • Extends the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program.
  • Further enhances our work on addressing PFAS by providing $150,000 to develop a model to identify and prioritize sites with likely PFAS contamination and adding positions to the Department of Natural Resources.

Good Government

  • Recognizes the value of our state workforce in serving the people of Wisconsin by providing almost $80 million in state funds to fund 2 percent annual general wage adjustments for most state employees.
  • Provides nearly $36 million in state funds over the biennium to institute an hourly wage increase and pay progression for certain correctional officers and youth counselor positions, effective January 1, 2020.

A copy of Gov. Evers’ full veto message can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Brown County Circuit Court Judge

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for Brown County Circuit Court Judge. The appointment will fill a vacancy being created by Judge William Atkinson’s retirement, effective August 11, 2019. The new judge will complete a term ending June 30, 2020.
The application for this position can be found on the “Apply to Serve” page on Gov. Evers’ website at evers.wi.gov. A completed “Judge or Justice” application must be sent to [email protected] Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on August 9, 2019.
Potential applicants with questions about the judicial selection process may contact the governor’s Office of Legal Counsel at (608) 266-1212.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Iron County Circuit Court Judge

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for Iron County Circuit Court Judge. The appointment will fill a vacancy created by the passing of Judge Patrick Madden. The new judge will complete a term ending June 30, 2020.

The application for this position can be found on the “Apply to Serve” page on Gov. Evers’ website at evers.wi.gov. A completed “Judge or Justice” application must be sent to [email protected]wisconsin.gov. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on August 15, 2019. 

Potential applicants with questions about the judicial selection process may contact the governor’s Office of Legal Counsel at (608) 266-1212.

Gov. Evers: Signs Act 185 Trailer Bill

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers last Friday signed Assembly Bill 188, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 8, into law. Wisconsin Act 8 makes a number of technical changes to 2017 Wisconsin Act 185, including modifying the deadlines related to county-run juvenile facilities, modifying the deadline for closing Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, and clarifying the process for transferring between facilities.

“Our top priority remains getting our kids out of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake and closer to home as soon as we safely and responsibly can, and our agencies are working to collaborate and find efficiencies in this process,” said Gov. Evers. “I look forward to having a larger conversation about reforming our juvenile justice system. We need to focus on investing in front-end prevention, alternatives, and diversion when youth intersect with the justice system, and trauma-informed, evidence-based practices.”

Gov. Evers: Signs bill to allow cellular providers to upgrade to 5G technology in Wisconsin

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed three bills into law including Senate Bill 239, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 14, which creates a regulatory framework for the deployment of wireless equipment and facilities with the intent of facilitating the installation and expansion of 5G cellular technology in Wisconsin.

“Senate Bill 239 allows us to catch up with the rest of the Midwest by bringing 5G to Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “This is an important step for investing and updating our infrastructure that will pave the way for the next generation of connectivity across our state.”

Gov. Evers today also signed Senate Bill 54 and Senate Bill 68 into law.

Senate Bill 54, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 15, allows the Department of Resources to provide financial documents such as outstanding sales tax liability to a person who is looking to purchase a business. This will increase fairness and transparency in business dealings. 

Senate Bill 68, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 16, clarifies the definition of “lewd exhibition of intimate parts” for crimes against children and codifies existing case law.

Gov. Evers: Signs bill to reform Sign Language Interpreting Licensure System in Wisconsin

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MILWAUKEE — Gov. Tony Evers today signed bipartisan legislation, Assembly Bill 250, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 17, into law. The bill allows the Department of Health Services to administer the Board for Evaluations Interpreters exam, easing the process for those entering the interpreting field. In addition to changing the licensing process, Assembly Bill 250 also creates a Sign Language Interpreters Advisory Committee composed of members of the deaf and hard of hearing community and licensed interpreters.

“We’re working to ensure deaf and hard of hearing folks across our state have access to reliable and experienced interpreters no matter the situation or circumstance,” said Gov. Evers. “This is a critical first step toward inclusion and equity for the deaf and hard of hearing community, and, perhaps most importantly, that we are committed to making sure they have a say in the issues that directly affect their daily lives and well-being.”

Assembly Bill 250, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 17:

Grants flexibility to those entering the field of interpreting to better serve the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing community by requiring the Department of Health Services or a department-approved exam administrator the Board for Evaluations Interpreters exam.
Expands and changes criteria for sign language interpreter licensing tiers ensuring sign language interpreters have additional training needed to interpret in high-risk settings like emergency rooms, mental health facilities, and legal interactions.

Gov. Evers: Signs bills relating to step therapy protocols, in-home dialysis distribution centers

0

JANESVILLE — Gov. Tony Evers today signed bipartisan legislation Senate Bill 26, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 12, and Senate Bill 38, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 13, into law. 

Senate Bill 26, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 12, relates to step therapy protocols for prescription drug coverage and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. The bill increases transparency as to how insurance companies develop step therapy protocols and it provides protection to patients seeking an exception to a step therapy protocol. This legislation places some of the control back into the hands of health care providers and patients to decide the best drug treatment regime for a medical condition.

Senate Bill 38, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 13, relates to dispensing, distributing, or selling dialysate, drugs, or devices necessary for providing home peritoneal kidney dialysis. The bill streamlines the process for in-home dialysis patients to receive their medication by removing an unnecessary regulation that requires in-home dialysis distribution centers to get a pharmacist license.

“I’ve said all along that healthcare should not be a privilege afforded only to the healthy and the
wealthy, and we have to continue doing everything we can to make sure that folks in all 72 counties can access the life-saving care they need and deserve without barrier or burden,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m proud to sign these bipartisan bills into law today that are important steps in that direction.”

Gov. Evers: Signs Electric Scooter Bill, expanding transportation options and attracting startup companies to Wisconsin

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MILWAUKEE — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Senate Bill 152, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 11. Senate Bill 152 expands transportation options and gives municipalities the ability to manage the right balance of safety and access of the right of way for all electric scooter users.

“We should be setting the floor, not the ceiling, for local governments in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “Electric scooters improve access to low-cost transportation options and can serve as a first or last-mile solution to residents and visitors in communities throughout our state. By providing clarity to a rapidly-growing industry, this bill empowers local governments to make the decisions that best fit their area.”

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Sen. Dale Kooyenga and Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, determines that:

Electric scooters are exempt from vehicle registration by the Department of Transportation;
Operators of electric scooters must observe many of the rules of the road;
Electric scooters may be operated on most roadways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and bicycle ways, however, a local highway authority may by ordinance regulate the rental and operation of electric scooters; and
Electric scooters must satisfy the same equipment requirements as Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (EPAMDs), including lighting and brake requirements.

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #34 declaring a State of Emergency and closing state agency buildings

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443


MADISON
— Gov. Tony Evers today declared a State of Emergency for the City of Madison and Dane County following two fires this morning at electric substations in the downtown metropolitan area of Madison. The declaration is to provide state support during the large power outage that is exacerbated by the extreme heat wave affecting the area.

“We are grateful that no one has been injured as a result of the explosion and fires this morning, and I want to thank emergency personnel who responded quickly to contain the situation,” said Gov. Evers. “With the power outages and the extreme heat, I have directed all state agencies to provide assistance and authorized Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, to activate the National Guard to assist local authorities if needed. Keeping folks safe remains our top priority as we continue to manage and respond to this situation.”

A copy of Gov. Evers’ executive order #34 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Signs executive order #35 declaring a State of Emergency due to extreme severe weather

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today declared a statewide State of Emergency following widespread severe storms, torrential rains, and tornadoes that have impacted Wisconsin in recent days.  Downed trees and power lines have caused major power outages in northern Wisconsin, road closures due to debris and damage to homes and businesses.

“I know many people, especially in northern and central Wisconsin have been impacted by the strong storms and power outages,” said Gov. Evers.  “The first responders and utilities have been doing a great job, working non-stop since the storms hit.  I want to make sure all state resources are available to help get the power back on and debris removed.”

The governor’s declaration directs all state agencies to provide assistance and authorizes Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, to activate the National Guard to assist local authorities as needed.

Heavy rains hit the southwest region of Wisconsin overnight on July 18, 2019, causing flash floods.  Strong storms hit mainly northern and central Wisconsin on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20.

A copy of Gov. Evers’ executive order #35 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order 36 relating to measures to abate and prevent lead exposure in drinking water

0

Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

KENOSHA — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Executive Order 36 to address the issue of lead exposure in drinking water. The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Jeanne Ayers from Department of Health Services, Mark Melotik from Kenosha County Public Health Department, and Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole.

According to the Department of Health Services, Wisconsin was among the top 10 states for the percentage of children found to be lead poisoned after blood lead level testing, with one in 13 Wisconsin children testing for dangerous levels of lead exposure. Lead poisoning has affected children in every county in Wisconsin. Since 1996, over 200,000 children have been identified as having dangerous amounts of lead in their body.

Executive Order 36 creates a position within the Department of Health Services to serve as the coordinator of the state’s efforts to address Wisconsin’s lead crisis through collaboration across state agencies and within the department. Executive Order 36 also directs DHS to provide all necessary staffing and resources to create collaboration among local health departments and community organizations to inform and protect Wisconsinites against the public health risks of lead poisoning.

“Lead poisoning is a statewide risk not just in Kenosha and Milwaukee, but in communities around the state. The Department of Health Services has identified lead-poisoned children in every single county in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “We know that it will take a collaborative effort to ensure that everyone is able to drink clean water from their tap, and I look forward to working with DHS and folks around the state to support this important step forward.”

View Executive Order 36 here.

Gov. Evers: Signs marketplace bill ensuring the collection of sales tax from all online out-of-state retailers and cutting tax rates for the middle class

0

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Assembly Bill 251, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 10. It defines a marketplace provider and requires them to collect and remit sales and use tax on taxable sales they facilitate online on behalf of third-party sellers, creating a more level playing field between brick and mortar stores and online retailers.

This bipartisan legislation reduces taxes by cutting the tax rates of the first and second tax brackets, starting with the 2019 and 2020 tax years, and each tax year going forward. Therefore, tax rate cuts will benefit everyone, particularly those in the lower and middle-income tax brackets where they are most needed.

“We are pleased to provide the online marketplace certainty with regard to tax collection in our state,” said Gov. Evers. “This legislation provides fairness in the marketplace between brick-and-mortar and online retailers and provides fairness to taxpayers, offering tax relief to everyone, particularly lower and middle-income earners.”

Howard Marklein: Crossing the border to fill the tank

0

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

Wisconsin roads were packed with out-of-state visitors around the Independence Day holiday. If you were out-and-about in the 17th Senate District, you probably saw a lot of Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa license plates. In fact, Interstate 90/94 was an artery in and out of the state throughout the holiday week and will continue to welcome visitors this summer.

Illinois drivers are now coming to Wisconsin for another reason beyond our vacation destinations, cold beer and relaxation. There is an influx of people crossing the border to fill up their gas tanks. I stopped at several gas stations in southern Green and Lafayette counties this week and asked how business was going. Every station told me that they are seeing more Illinois drivers than usual.

Illinois doubled their gas tax on July 1, 2019 from $0.19 per gallon to $0.38 per gallon. They also charge a $0.157 per gallon sales tax on gas. Every gallon of gas in IL is taxed $0.537 and some municipalities and counties add tax on top of that! Depending upon the location in Illinois, the total federal, state and local tax on a gallon of gas can be as high as $0.91.

I have no doubt that vacation travelers from Illinois filled their gas tanks in Wisconsin on their way into the state and again on the way home. But we are also hearing that Illinois residents are purposely crossing state lines to fill-up in Wisconsin, Indiana and Missouri, leaving Illinois gas stations empty. A survey conducted by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of Illinois Springfield and National Public Radio (NPR) Illinois recently concluded that the top reason people move out of Illinois is high taxes. This is just one more example of this ongoing problem south of our border.

According to Illinoispolicy.org, Illinois is at a serious disadvantage compared to Indiana, where drivers can save $0.30 per gallon and Missouri, where drivers can save $0.47 per gallon. When compared to Iowa and Wisconsin, Illinoispolicy.org claims that drivers “are expected to pay about the same as their neighbors at the border.” But this is not true.

The Wisconsin gas tax remains at $0.309 per gallon. However, we do not tack on an additional sales tax or local taxes to our gas. In fact, my team surveyed gas stations in Wisconsin and directly across the border in Illinois on June 26 before the increase and again on July 2 after the increase. On June 26, Wisconsin gas was $0.12 cheaper on average. On July 2, Wisconsin gas was $0.26 cheaper on average!

For a 20 gallon tank, consumers saved an average of $5.20 per fill-up on July 2nd! For a lot of people who have the option, this savings is worth the drive. Drivers in Freeport, IL could drive 22 miles to Monroe, WI and save $0.29 per gallon on July 2. They might do some other shopping, enjoy a meal and further contribute to our economy.

In some places like Kenosha and Genoa City, Illinois drivers saved much more. Kenosha, WI compared to Wadsworth, IL had a difference of $0.40 per gallon on July 2. Genoa City, WI compared to Richmond, IL had a difference of $0.46 per gallon on July 2. That’s quite a savings for about 2 miles of driving!

Crossing the border for gas may have a wider impact as well. On CBS Channel 2 in Chicago, a resident who was filling their tank in Hammond, IN said that they had crossed the border for cheaper gas but were also doing their major grocery shopping to save on sales taxes.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker estimated that the Illinois gas tax increase will generate $590 million a year for the state, $400 million a year for local governments and $250 million a year for transit authorities. However, Patrick DeHaan from Gasbuddy.com, a website where consumers can search for the cheapest gas, said he expects stations near the Illinois border will have a hard time keeping their doors open. I also wonder what the impact will be on other retailers.

In addition to the gas tax increase in Illinois, according to CBS2, the state’s vehicle registration fees would increase from $101 to $151 a year beginning with 2021 registrations, and electrical vehicle registration fees would go up from $34 every two years to $251 every year. Truck registration fees will rise by $50 for vehicles 8,000 pounds and less, and $100 for vehicles 8,001 pounds and more. Even by raising our registration fee by $10, to $85, we still have the lowest registration fees of our neighbors. Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan assess registration fees based on the value of the car. These fees can be as high as $260 per year in Iowa, $300 in Minnesota, and $125 in Michigan.

Motor vehicle fuel taxes are due to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) on the 15th of every month. I will be seeking data to analyze the impact of these changes across the border. Anecdotally, at least, it appears that drivers in Illinois are willing to visit Wisconsin to save some money. Even without increasing our own gas tax, I am optimistic that we will recognize increased gas tax collections and other economic impacts as a result of our prudence.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to [email protected] Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.

–Marklein, R-Spring Green, represents the 17th Senate District.

 

Howard Marklein: There is more to the vetoes than meets the eye

0

The State Budget was signed into law on July 3, 2019. On that day, Governor Tony Evers also released general descriptions of 78 vetoes that reshaped much of the legislature’s intent for the State Budget.

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) and many legislators and their teams have spent hours analyzing the vetoes to fully understand the content and impact of the Governor’s decisions. It is a complex process that requires us to cross reference the budget bill with State Statutes and other resources. Read the LFB’s analysis here.

I finally feel like I have a relatively firm grasp on the 78 vetoes and I want to share what I learned with you. Several of the vetoes will have consequences for our communities and I am working on strategies to encourage the Governor and his agencies to reconsider legislative intent and the potential impact on you. We have the opportunity to turn some things around and I am working hard to find ways to right-the-ship.

Nearly 19% of the vetoes, worth $172 million and 34 positions, changed legislative intent and gave unelected bureaucrats in state agencies the ability to decide where the funds will be spent. My biggest concern about this is that the philosophy of the current administration tends to lean toward allocating money and people to Milwaukee and Madison before sending it to rural communities.

For example, one of the most significant vetoes was to cut $15 million from funding that was allocated for local roads and to veto all of the language that described how the remaining $75 million would be distributed to local governments to fix our roads. This put all of the money we allocated for local roads into the hands of unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Transportation (DOT). They were given carte blanche to spend the money! That’s not what we wanted. You elected me to look out for rural Wisconsin and this type of veto takes away my role to represent you.

As a result, my colleagues in the Senate and I have been working hard to clarify our intent for these dollars and we sent DOT Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson a letter to encourage him to follow our original plan.

On Thursday, July 18, 2019, Sec. Designee Thompson announced that the DOT will mostly return to our plan for the remaining $75 million in the state budget after the Governor’s cut. Towns, counties, villages and cities will be eligible for the same percentages of the funding that we approved in the legislature’s version of the budget. The biggest differences are the reduced funding and that transit projects and other non-road transportation projects will also be eligible. However, they will only be funded through the allocation for the specific type of municipality that applies.

Our local towns will not be paying for Milwaukee’s trolley, but if Milwaukee wants to apply for money to expand the trolley for the upcoming Democratic National Convention, they can do so out of their own allocation. We’ll have to watch the city, village and county portions closely to ensure that rural cities, villages and counties do not lose out to their urban counterparts.

While the application process for these funds is still in development, I am hopeful that the communities I serve will be eligible and able to participate in this grant program so that our local roads get fixed. I will continue to work with the DOT and offer my assistance to ensure that the process to distribute these funds is accessible to the people I serve. We need to fix our roads now! This was the entire intent for these dollars all along and I am glad we were able to turn this around.

Another good example of this issue happened in northern Wisconsin. The legislature allocated $15 million for the Northern Wisconsin Regional Crisis Center to help northern counties with people facing mental health crises. Right now, just like in southwestern Wisconsin, law enforcement in northern Wisconsin has to transport people in mental health crisis hundreds of miles to Winnebago Mental Health Institute because it is the only option. This is not fair to the person who is in crisis. They are taken hours away from their home when they need the support of their families and friends the most.

We have the same challenges in southwest Wisconsin. I was looking forward to working with several local groups in our counties to watch the roll-out of the Northern Wisconsin Regional Crisis Center to see if we could put together something together for the next budget.

Unfortunately, the Governor vetoed the language to create the center and redirected the $15 million to expand the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Madison. This completely and utterly contradicts our intent for these funds to help a rural community with a mental health issue and further demonstrates the Governor’s proclivity to send funds to Madison instead of rural Wisconsin.

There were other vetoes that made absolutely no sense to me or seemed to be aimed at personal, political retaliation. One of these vetoes cut $100,000 to fix the section of the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail that was destroyed in the 2018 flooding. Fortunately, the nature of the veto gave the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) carte blanche to spend it on “trails or parks projects” and I am hoping to turn this back around and get the trail fixed. But I can’t figure out why the Governor would veto this project which would be really good for the people in our communities! We need this trail open for economic development and tourism! It would be very sad if this veto happened because of political retaliation.

I am also concerned about the motivation behind vetoing $3 million that the legislature intended for a Nitrate Testing Program for Private Wells. In the self-declared “Year of Clean Water,” the Governor claims that his veto was because the JFC would have to allocate the money once the program was designed and he didn’t want to give the legislature funds to “potentially use for other purposes.” However, it seems odd to me that the reason for his veto mirrors exactly what several of his vetoes do for state agencies. Why then can agencies spend money “for other purposes”?

I also struggle to understand why the Governor would veto the funding for a school focused on helping students with Autism, a Suicide Prevent Grant for a Hmong organization and funding for the wildly successful Fab Lab program that several of our schools have used to build awesome, cutting-edge educational opportunities for our students. I just can’t understand the rationale behind these vetoes.

Again, I am working on strategies to encourage the Governor and his agencies to reconsider legislative intent and the potential impact on you. I will keep you posted.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to [email protected] Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.

– Marklein, R-Spring Green, represents the 17th Senate District.

 

Isthmus Project: Nets WEDC grant to boost innovation at UW Health

0

MADISON, Wis. – The Isthmus Project recently received additional funding to support its innovation mission at UW Health and beyond.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) awarded a $75,000 grant to help facilitate innovative ideas and solutions directly related to patient and health system challenges, and to enable those ideas to advance by providing resources in product development, legal and accounting services, according to the award announcement.

“This reflects the growing impression that UW Health has a strong desire to seize upon the enormous innovation potential within its own walls, that can be scaled up and shared to improve the health of our patients, the state and beyond,” said Thomas “Rock” Mackie, Isthmus Project director.

WEDC, created by the state in 2011, provides resources, operational support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in the state.

“The Isthmus Project offers a much-needed roadmap and critical support structure for moving the innovations created by the world-class talent at UW Health to market,” said Aaron Hagar, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for WEDC.

The Isthmus Project provides a place for UW Health physicians, pharmacists, residents, nurses, staff or others to seek support for their ideas and projects that aim to achieve better health outcomes or to solve problems facing UW Health patients, providers and the health system.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Law and Entrepreneurship Clinic and WiSolve to provide legal and business market analysis for our project teams,” Mackie said.

The grant was part of WEDC’s Entrepreneurship Support Program. The program, in its third year, awarded a total of $500,000 this year to nine organizations in the state including the Isthmus Project.

To learn more about the grant and the other recipients, please visit the WEDC website.

To learn more about the Isthmus Project or if you have an innovative idea at UW Health, please visit the Isthmus Project’s website.

JFC approves moving unused ‘fast forward’ funds to youth apprenticeship grants

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

JFC Democrats: Applaud Governor’s efforts to restore the people’s budget

0

(MADISON)-Today, Governor Tony Evers signed the 2019-2021 biennial budget, using his constitutionally granted veto pen to invest in the priorities of the people of Wisconsin. After eight years of failed policies under Republican leadership, Governor Evers and legislative Democrats succeeded in setting the budget agenda and pushing Republican legislators to make investments in schools, transportation, and tax cuts for the middle class. While Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) are disappointed that Republican legislators refused to fully embrace the People’s Budget, this budget is a start and will reset our state’s direction to a brighter future for all.

“The people of Wisconsin deserved more from this budget,” said Senator Erpenbach, (D-West Point). “The Republicans refused to come to the table during the budget deliberations and never once negotiated with Democrats. Despite this, it is clear that Democrats still succeeded in pushing policies forward that matter to Wisconsinites and will continue to do just that.”

“Throughout this budget process Republicans tried to keep pace with the leadership and initiatives of Governor Tony Evers,” said Representative Goyke (D-Milwaukee). “A state budget reflects the will of the people and is a moral document. It took the election of a Democrat, Governor Tony Evers, to make the vital investments in every community across the State that we are over this biennium. The work continues and I stand with Governor Tony Evers.”

“Unlike the Republicans who were in charge over the last eight years, Governor Evers actually listened to Wisconsinites to craft the People’s Budget,” stated Representative Taylor (D-Madison).  “Governor Evers set the budget agenda and drove the policies that most matter to the people of our state. And though Republicans failed to rise to the occasion, Governor Evers was able to use the power of his veto to do as much as he could to accomplish the priorities of Wisconsinites and fulfill his promises to the people. This is a major first step, and Democrats will continue to fight for the people’s priorities going forward.”

“The people of Wisconsin voted for a governor who was going to fight for our shared values, like investing in education and health care” said Senator Johnson (D-Milwaukee). “I’m proud of Governor Evers for putting forward a bold vision for Wisconsin, ultimately resulting in a budget that will allow for ongoing conversations on how we can create strong, prosperous communities.”

JFC members debate Medicaid, Evers vetoes in moving $2 million to cover DHS shortfall

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

Jonah Goldberg: Paul Ryan is once again being cast as a pariah

0

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Karofsky campaign: Announces more than 600 donors in early campaign finance period

0

Contact: Mary McCarthy
(262) 293-6692

MADISON — The campaign of Judge Jill Karofsky, candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice, announced today that it had raised more than $120,000 in the early campaign finance period, including more than $105,000 from donors other than the candidate. More than 600 individuals donated to Karofsky’s campaign. This is significantly more than the $70,000 raised from donors reported by Justice Rebecca Dallet in July of 2017, as well as more than seven times as many donors as Judge Lisa Neubauer reported in July of 2018.

“This campaign has generated significant enthusiasm, and we have the momentum we need to be successful,” said Mary McCarthy, spokesperson for Jill for Justice. “As more and more people across Wisconsin say every day, we need Judge Jill Karofsky on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She will stand up for Wisconsin values, for the rule of law, for independent courts, and for our constitutional rights.

Judge Karofsky currently serves as a criminal court judge in Dane County, and has announced the public support of Justice Rebecca Dallet and former Governor Jim Doyle. She has earned the bipartisan support of judges, sheriffs, DAs, local elected officials, and community leaders across Wisconsin.

Karofsky raised $121,000 since early May for Supreme Court bid

0

Supreme Court candidate Jill Karofsky raised $121,000 since early May for her bid to knock off conservative Justice Daniel Kelly, her campaign says.

The Dane County judge will report $110,913 in the bank to end June and received donations from more than 600 contributors.

Karofsky, who won an open seat on the Dane County bench in 2017, and Marquette University Law School Professor Ed Fallone both got in the race to challenge Kelly in 2020.

Karofsky’s campaign says the $121,000 raised includes $15,000 in personal money, putting her fundraising from individuals in line with recent left-of-center Supreme Court candidates.

Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer, who lost this spring’s race to conservative Brian Hagedorn, reported $358,288 in receipts on her July 2018 report. But that included a $250,000 personal loan.

Justice Rebecca Dallet, then a Milwaukee County judge, pulled in $270,984 on her July 2017 report ahead of her successful bid in 2018 for an open seat on the bench. But that also included personal money in the form of a $200,000 loan. Meanwhile, attorney Tim Burns reported raising $122,751 on his July 2017 report ahead of finishing third in the three-way primary that following spring. He gave himself $1,000 in that initial fundraising period.

Fundraising reports for the first half of 2019 are due Tuesday.

Kaul joins bipartisan group of AGs in calling on Congress to combat PFAS contamination

AG Josh Kaul has signed on to a letter pushing for Congress to combat the “public health threat” posed by chemical contamination of drinking water.

As part of a bipartisan coalition of 22 state attorneys general, Kaul is urging lawmakers in Washington to pass legislation to address toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS. These chemicals, which were used for decades in products ranging from non-stick cookware to textiles with Scotchgard, have been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, immune system effects and other conditions.

“Drinking water contamination can result in serious public health problems,” Kaul said in a release Tuesday. “Congress should take swift action to protect the safety of our water, including by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance.”

A database maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources shows 21 sites contaminated by PFAS in the state, more than half of which are on active military bases. The AGs in the letter indicated PFAS toxins are found in the firefighting foam used by the U.S. military and local fire departments and called on lawmakers to ban the chemicals from federal facilities.

The letter also called on Congress to designate certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, recommend the U.S. Geological Survey conduct a nationwide sampling to determine PFAS exposure and the Environmental Protection Agency add the chemicals to its Toxic Release Inventory database.

Finally, the letter urged federal lawmakers to fund community response efforts to clean up drinking water and provide medical screenings for PFAS exposure.

A DOJ spokeswoman said Kaul joined the coalition to raise awareness about the issue and had not yet determined an appropriate federal funding level to address PFAS contamination in the state.

See the letter:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/190730-PFAS-Letter.pdf

See the DNR database:
https://dnr.wi.gov/botw/AdvSearchAction.do

Kelly campaign: Off to strong start

0

Contact: [email protected]

[Madison, WI] – Today, Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly announced his campaign raised more than $243,000 during the first five weeks of his campaign. With this strong fundraising start, Justice Kelly’s campaign enters the final six months of the year with nearly $240,000 cash on hand – far surpassing that of his opponents. More importantly, this fundraising haul is a sign of a strong campaign with a groundswell of support from across the state.

“I am truly humbled by the incredible outpouring of support I’ve received from supporters all across the state,” Justice Kelly said. “In just the short amount of time since I announced my campaign, we’ve seen an awe-inspiring amount of enthusiasm from Wisconsinites who are passionate about preserving the rule of law on our Supreme Court. That has always been my promise to the people, and I am so grateful for their support.”

After a lifetime of practicing law in Wisconsin, Justice Daniel Kelly was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2016 following the retirement of Justice David Prosser. Justice Kelly graduated from Carroll College and Regent University School of Law, where he was the founding editor-in-chief of the law review. He started his legal career as a law clerk for the late Judge Ralph Adam Fine of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Kelly then spent two decades representing clients on a wide variety of legal issues, including the Wisconsin Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court. Kelly developed a specialty working on complex cases that protect our constitutional rights.
Justice Kelly is a member of the Carroll University President’s Advisory Council and the Wisconsin Advisory Committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He and his wife Elisa (a nurse) live in North Prairie with their five children, where they are active in their church and community.

To learn more about Justice Daniel Kelly, please visit JusticeDanielKelly.com.

Kelly raises $243,794 for Supreme Court campaign

0

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly raised $243,794 over the first five weeks of his bid for a full 10-year term, his campaign said.

Over the past decade, only Lisa Neubauer and Rebecca Dallet reported more receipts on their July report ahead of their bids for the state Supreme Court. But Neubauer’s $358,288 in July 2018 included a $250,000 personal loan, and Dallet’s $270,984 in July 2017 included a $200,000 loan.

Kelly’s campaign said he didn’t put any personal money into the campaign during the period and received donations from 400 contributors. He finished June with $238,484 in the bank.

Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky and Marquette University Law Professor Ed Fallone are seeking to knock off Kelly next spring. Karofsky announced yesterday she had $121,000 in receipts since early May, though that included a $15,000 personal contribution. Fallone hasn’t announced his fundraising numbers as of Thursday morning.

LeadingAge Wisconsin: State budget is good news for long-term care

0

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Legislative Reference Bureau would draw district lines under bipartisan bill

Dem lawmakers and activists Tuesday touted a bill aimed at creating a nonpartisan redistricting process.

The proposal from Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, and Rep. Robyn Vining, D-Wauwatosa, places the responsibility for redrawing legislative and congressional maps on career civil servants at the Legislative Reference Bureau. Under the criteria laid out in the bill, the LRB lines are required to be strictly nonpartisan and political affiliations of registered voters, previous election results, or demographic information could not be used to inform the line-drawing process.

Gerrymandering opponents have pushed for nonpartisan redistricting for over a decade and this measure closely mirrors one that Hansen has floated since the 2013-14 biennium.

This year’s edition features more Republican support than any of its predecessors — Reps. Travis Tranel of Cuba City and Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay have signed on as cosponsors alongside Rep. Todd Novak of Dodgeville, who co-sponsored the measure in the previous two bienniums as well.

In a Capitol news conference Tuesday, Hansen praised the bill as “a return to our democracy.”

“It’s past time for both sides to come together, do the right thing, pass a nonpartisan redistricting law that will give the people of this state the type of elections they deserve: fair, transparent, and as importantly, competitive,” he said.

But despite the growth in support from Republicans, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was quick to scuttle the idea. In a statement released shortly after the news conference, the Rochester Republican made clear the bill stood little chance in the Assembly and labeled the effort by Dems as “sour grapes.”

“Democrats blame their minority status on gerrymandering but the reality is they were beaten fair and square,” he said, highlighting the fact that Dem U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin won just 30 percent of the seats held by Assembly Republicans.

“Wisconsin has ticket splitters and Assembly Republicans simply have better candidates with a better message that resonates with the voters.”

Advocates at the news conference acknowledged that the bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-run Legislature but pledged to continue raising awareness among the public.

Sachin Chheda of the Fair Elections Projected pointed to a January Marquette Law School Poll, which found 72 percent of Wisconsin voters supported the idea of a nonpartisan commission drawing electoral maps. Chheda pledged that advocates and lawmakers would leverage that sentiment to “shame” GOP leadership into holding a public hearing on the bill.

“Even if they don’t put the bill on the floor, we’re going to keep the pressure on,” he said. “We’re going to be knocking on doors all across the state for the next year and a half. We’re going to make sure that people understand who is rigging the maps and who wants change.”

Dems praised their GOP cosponsors and played up their willingness to sign on to the bill as evidence of shifting momentum. But when quizzed by reporters as to why none of the three showed up to the event, Hansen said that while “everybody’s invited,” he believed they were back in their districts working.

Novak in an email told WisPolitics.com that neither he nor the other two Republicans were invited to the event, which was also confirmed by a Kitchens spokeswomen.

LFB: State faces $1.4 billion structural deficit to start 2021-23 budget

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

Lowe’s, Walmart continue dark store legal campaign in new lawsuits against Plover

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

LRB: Wisconsin guvs have issued an average of 137 partial vetoes to budget bills

This content is for subscribers only. Subscribe now to get access to this and other members-only content.
Subscribe Now or Login

Or purchase access to just this article:
Single-Article Access

Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and DNR Sec.-Designee Preston Cole help Green Bay Packers plant trees 🗓

0

Titletown’s Great Lawn
1265 Lombardi Ave,
Green Bay, WI 54304

Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and DNR Sec.-Designee Preston Cole help Green Bay Packers plant trees donated from ‘First Downs for Trees’ program at Titletown Monday

Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, DNR secretary Preston Cole; Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy; Carrie Schuster, Essity marketing manager, sustainability and hygiene; Jeff Walch Green Bay Packaging vice president of corporate container board sales. Also present will be Packers alumni Gerry Ellis and Johnnie Gray.

Sarah Hoye, DNR Communications Director, CELL: 608-400-2986, [email protected]
Katie Hermsen, Green Bay Packers, CELL: 920/737-2154, [email protected]

Madison and Dance County Public Health: Dane County mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus

0

Contact: Sarah Mattes

(608) 243-0482

[email protected]

Protect Yourself Against Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes found in Dane County have tested positive for West Nile virus. Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) monitors mosquito traps across the county during summer months. This is the first positive test for West Nile virus in Dane County mosquitoes this year.

“Finding mosquitoes with West Nile virus is in our community means residents need to continue their efforts to prevent mosquito bites to protect themselves from getting the virus,” says John Hausbeck, PHMDC Environmental Health Supervisor.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus by feeding on infected birds, and are then able to pass it on to other birds and mammals when they bite.

Hausbeck says “The best ways to avoid West Nile virus are preventing mosquito bites and getting rid of places mosquitoes breed.”

PHMDC recommends the following actions to prevent mosquito bites:

• Limit time spent outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

• Apply insect repellent to clothing as well as exposed skin since mosquitoes may bite through clothing.

• Make sure window and door screens are in good repair to prevent mosquitoes from entering.

PHMDC recommends the following actions to eliminate places mosquitoes breed:

• Dispose of items around your property that hold water, such as tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or discarded tires.

• Clean roof gutters and downspouts for proper drainage.

• Turn over wheelbarrows, wading pools, and small boats when not in use.

• Change the water in birdbaths and pet dishes at least every three days.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas, and hot tubs; drain water from pool covers.

• Trim tall grass, weeds, and vines since mosquitoes use these areas to rest during hot daylight hours.

• Landscape to prevent water from pooling in low-lying areas.

Most people (80%) who are infected with West Nile virus do not get sick. Those who do become sick usually experience mild symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle aches, rash, and fatigue. Less than 1% of people infected with the virus get seriously sick with symptoms that include high fever, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, mental confusion, tremors, confusion, paralysis, and coma. Older adults and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk of developing central nervous system illness that can be fatal.

To monitor for West Nile Virus in the community, the Wisconsin Division of Public Health asks that residents report sick or dead crows, blue jays, or ravens, to the Dead Bird Reporting Hotline at 1-800-433-1610.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway: Budget statement

0

Note: If this post has anything to do with Evers, the Evers administration or lame-duck legislation and related lawsuits, please tag it as Evers Administration. Please delete this note before publishing.

Marquette University: Marquette ecology professor receives Way Klingler Fellowship in science

0

MILWAUKEE — Dr. Stefan Schnitzer, Mellon Distinguished Professor of Ecology, is the recipient of this year’s Way Klingler Fellowship Award in science.

The focus of Schnitzer’s lab has been understanding the forces that structure plant communities, maintain species diversity, control species distributions and allow species to co-exist. One aspect has been the community ecology of lianas (woody vines) and the role they play in forest dynamics.

Many deforested areas are now being replaced with regenerating secondary forest, leading to more forest cover in some areas than there was 100 years ago. The goal of Schnitzer’s research, for which he will use the Way Klingler Fellowship Award, is to learn the effects of the aggressive proliferation of lianas on secondary forests.

“We propose to test the hypothesis that liana infestation early in succession redirects tropical forests toward a recalcitrant low-canopy, low-diversity and low-carbon stable state,” says Schnitzer, the Mellon Distinguished Professor of Ecology. “If regenerating tropical forests fail to uptake carbon at the rate that was previously taken up by old- growth forests, then tropical forests could switch from net carbon sinks to net carbon sources, which would rapidly accelerate global climate change. Because tropical forests store more than 40 percent of the earth’s terrestrial carbon, the effects of lianas on the global carbon cycle could be substantial.”

The research theorizes that lianas may redirect forest succession toward a low-canopy forest dominated by lianas and tree species with low wood density, which store far less carbon and can persist for decades with potentially serious consequences for global carbon dynamics.

The conceptual framework and models which underlie this project are based on Schnitzer’s early work, which won a commendation from the John L. Harper Young Investigator’s Award from the Journal of Ecology. This paper was published before there was any indication that vines were increasing in tropical forests. Now that vines are increasing in abundance and forest regeneration is at an unprecedented level, testing these ideas is more important than ever.

The Way Klingler Fellowships are awarded to full-time regular faculty at the associate or full professor rank who have potential for significant scholarship. One fellowship in science and one in humanities is awarded. The science fellow receives $50,000 annually for three years to fund critical research that requires time, access to information and travel.

Marquette University: Plays host to COMPSAC 2019

0

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University will be the site of the 2019 Computers, Software and Applications Conference hosted by the IEEE Computer Society, July 15-19, at the Alumni Memorial Union, 1442 W. Wisconsin Ave.

This year will mark the return of COMPSAC to the United States for the first time since 2016 in Atlanta and just the third time since 2007. The conference was held in Tokyo in 2018 and Torino, Italy, in 2017.

Marquette faculty and staff have helped lead the organization of the 2019 installment: Drs. Sheikh Iqbal Ahamed (steering committee vice chair), Praveen Madiraju (local organizing committee chair), Tom Kaczmarek (sponsors chair), Carmel Ruffolo (industry chair), Chandana Tamma (social media chair) and Satish Puri (student research symposium co-chair).

The theme of COMPSAC 2019 is “Data Driven Intelligence for a Smarter World.” From the conference description: “In the era of ‘big data’ there is an unprecedented increase in the amount of data collected in data warehouses. Extracting meaning and knowledge from these data is crucial for governments and businesses to support their strategic and tactical decision making. Furthermore, artificial intelligence and machine learning makes it possible for machines, processing large amounts of such data, to learn and execute tasks never before accomplished. Advances in big data-related technologies are increasing rapidly.”

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Dr. Wendy Nilsen of the National Science Foundation; Simon Liu of the U.S. Agricultural Research Service; Dr. K. J. Ray Liu, Christine Kim Eminent Professor of Information Technology at the University of Maryland; and Dr. Laura Specker Sullivan, assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston.

The Northwestern Mutual Data Science Institute is a Platinum Supporter of COMPSAC 2019. Last year, Northwestern Mutual formed an academic partnership with Marquette University and UW–Milwaukee. The NMDSI has worked to organize local industry panels on the future of manufacturing, financial services, and healthcare. The panels will feature local professionals speaking about their experiences and how technology is influencing their industry.

The IEEE Computer Society’s annual awards will be presented at the COMPSAC banquet at the Harley Davidson Museum. Technical Achievement Awards will be presented to Professor C.C. Jay Kuo, University of Southern California, for seminal contributions to video coding technologies; Professor Radu Marculescu, Carnegie Mellon University, for seminal contributions to the science of network on chip design, analysis and optimization; and to Professor Zhi-Hua Zhou, Nanjing University, for seminal contributions to machine learning and data mining.  As well, John W. Walz will receive the 2019 Richard E. Merwin Award, the IEEE-CS’s highest level volunteer service recognition for outstanding volunteer service to the profession at large, including significant service to the Computer Society.

For more information on COMPSAC 2019, click here.

COMPSAC is the IEEE Computer Society Signature Conference on Computers, Software and Applications. It is a major international forum for academia, industry, and government to discuss research results and advancements, emerging problems, and future trends in computer and software technologies and applications. The technical program includes keynote addresses, research papers, industrial case studies, plenary and specialized panels, fast abstracts, a doctoral symposium, poster sessions, and a number of workshops and tutorials on emerging and important topics.

About IEEE Computer Society

The IEEE Computer Society is the world’s home for computer science, engineering, and technology.  A global leader in providing access to computer science research, analysis, and information, the IEEE Computer Society offers a comprehensive array of unmatched products, services, and opportunities for individuals at all stages of their professional career. Known as the premier organization that empowers the people who drive technology, its unparalleled resources include membership, international conferences, peer-reviewed publications, a unique digital library, standards, and training programs. Visit www.computer.org for more information.

Matt Cordio: The tech industry means more jobs for Wisconsin

0

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

Everyone agrees technology plays a significant role in our lives, from helping families and friends communicate better to improving a small business’s ability to reach consumers across the country. This growing role technology and innovation is playing in our daily lives is also having a positive impact on our economy, and not just for tech workers in Silicon Valley.

A new report shows traditional tech hubs like California and New York are no longer the only place benefitting from the tech industry. The growth of consumer technology is having a positive economic impact all over the country, including right here in Wisconsin. The Consumer Technology Association recently released a report completed by PricewaterhouseCoopers showing the impact of the consumer tech sector across the U.S.

According to the Consumer Technology Association: “The report, U.S. Economic Contribution of the Consumer Technology Sector , says the consumer tech sector directly and indirectly supports 18.2 million American jobs, provides $1.3 trillion in annual wages, contributes $503 billion in annual taxes and adds $2.3 trillion to the nation’s economy – representing almost 12% of U.S. GDP. The consumer technology sector’s indirect economic impact accounts for companies buying goods and services from other U.S. industries, which drives economic activity in those sectors and their supply chains.”

While it’s no surprise the tech sector is growing and is therefore responsible for creating more jobs, it’s a big deal those jobs aren’t just concentrated solely in one or two areas of the country anymore. While places like California and New York are still leading, this new report also shows that states like Wisconsin are now benefitting from the growth of the tech sector. Over 300,000 jobs were supported by tech in 2017, providing over $17 million in wages and contributing over $30 million to the state’s economy. That’s nearly 10 percent of our state’s GDP.

Taking an even closer look at the report, it shows the highest concentration of jobs is found in the 2nd Congressional District, primarily Madison and the surrounding area, with over 51,000 jobs supported by the tech industry. The next highest number of tech jobs is found in the 4th District (Milwaukee) with over 40,000 jobs, and then followed by the 5th District (north and west Milwaukee suburbs).

Many people might be skeptical of the tech sector and whether new and rapid advancements in technology are impacting jobs in the U.S. However, this new report shows that as technology continues to drive efficiency and productivity in sectors all across the U.S. economy thanks to the free market, the corresponding economic growth and job creation is spreading far beyond the nation’s tech hubs.

Not only are we able to enjoy the benefits of technology in our everyday lives more and more, but now, states like ours are seeing a greater positive economic impact with new jobs, higher wages and increased growth thanks to the direct and indirect effects of the consumer tech industry.

–Matt Cordio is president of Skills Pipeline and Startup Wisconsin.

MCTS Excellence: Video series honored with prestigious national award

0

MILWAUKEE (July 22, 2019) — The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) has awarded the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) with its 2019 APTA Innovation Award for the world–renowned ‘MCTS Excellence’ program.

MCTS Excellence began in late 2016 as a video series posted on the company’s website and official social media accounts. Each video, which is produced in-house by the MCTS Marketing Department, uses bus surveillance footage to tell a unique story that highlights an employee’s act of kindness or compassion.

Recent videos have shown bus drivers finding lost children, helping riders who are visually impaired cross the street, assisting passengers suffering from medical emergencies, pulling a crash victim from a burning car, and helping connect a homeless man with a new place to live.

“MCTS Excellence is a testament to the hard work, heroism and humanity that our employees bring to the job every day; not only to get riders from Point A to Point B, but to ensure all of our residents are safe and secure,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “I commend the dedicated men and women who work on the road and behind the scenes for this well-deserved national recognition.”

Videos highlighting MCTS employees regularly go viral and have been viewed hundreds of millions of times thanks to the broad reach of social media, TV, radio, newspapers and other media outlets.

Dozens of celebrities have shared MCTS Excellence videos online and extended special invitations to MCTS employees. One bus driver was flown to a taping of the Ellen DeGeneres Show and later participated in an on-stage Q&A session with singer Kelly Clarkson. Another driver was asked to be a contestant on a nationally televised game show.

A driver was featured as an ‘Everyday Hero’ in Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ edition and later named ‘Hero of the Year’ by the American Red Cross of Southeast Wisconsin. Other employees have received honors, awards and commendations from MCTS, the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, the State of Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Bucks, trade organizations and even from the animal rights group PETA.

“We want t