2019 August

Monthly Archives: August 2019

‘UpFront’: DHS Secretary Palm cautions against use of vaping products after hospitalizations

Wisconsin Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm tells “UpFront” the department strongly cautions against the use of any vaping products.

On Friday, DHS said it is now investigating 11 hospitalizations for lung damage that are linked to use of vaping products.

“Adolescents need to be really cautious about these products,” Palm said on the show, produced in conjunction with WisPolitics.com. “Obviously, this cluster is worrisome, but the health effects of vaping more broadly are much unknown.

“We do know that it changes brain development for a starter, but the long-term effects are still unclear, and so we caution very strongly against the use of vaping products,” she said.

Palm urged parents to talk to their children about the potential dangers of vaping.

In another segment, “UpFront,” reporter Matt Smith said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is renewing his push for a “red flag” law in Wisconsin.

Red flag laws allow law enforcement, and sometimes family members, to petition to temporarily have guns removed from people believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Kaul said the issue is “relatively new to the broader public debate here in Wisconsin, and I think it’s an issue where it’s worth pursuing it, because I think we can save some lives.”

At least 15 states have red flag laws, and Kaul said the laws have been effective in reducing suicides in some places.

Nik Clark, president of the gun-rights group Wisconsin Carry, said the group is worried because “I think there are some Republicans who would support it.”

“This is just about a gun grab,” Clark said.

Also on the show, Marquette University President Dr. Mike Lovell and his wife Amy said they have seen tremendous growth in a program they started in Milwaukee to help people heal from trauma.

The Lovells started Scaling Wellness in Milwaukee, or SWIM, about a year and a half ago. Mike Lovell said about 30 people attended the first meeting. A conference they held last year at Fiserv Forum drew hundreds, he said.

“If we address the trauma that people in the city were experiencing, then we can actually maybe change the trajectory of their lives, and help them be more resilient and successful,” Mike Lovell said.

“We just really felt like this could be the underpinning to a lot of mental health and opioid abuse and suicide,” Amy Lovell said.

Mike Lovell said there is significant scientific research on trauma and its effects on human health.

“Your chances for heart disease, or diabetes, or some of these other illnesses go way up,” he said.

“The good thing is, what the science also shows, is that you can actually retrain, create new pathways in your brain. Your brain is much more plastic than they thought it was,. And so through exercises and relationships and caring for each other, you can actually reprogram pathways in your brain, so you can heal from traumatic experiences,” he said.

Another conference is coming up in October. SWIM will partner with the Social Development Commission for the Summit on Poverty and SWIM Conference to be held October 7-8, 2019, at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.

See more from the show:

‘UpFront’: Elections Commission Administrator Wolfe concerned about efforts to mislead voters in 2020

Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe said one of her biggest worries heading into the 2020 elections will be organized efforts to confuse or mislead voters.

“We just need to be really cognizant of where we are getting our information from, and making sure we’re getting it from a legitimate source,” she told “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Wolfe said her agency will be working with local elections clerks to make sure they are using updated platforms and technology. The commission recently ran a test that showed a few clerks either have outdated software or hardware. The commission will be purchasing some new computers, so if clerks end up “in a position of need, we’ll be able to step in and help them out,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe also recently attended a hacking conference in Las Vegas.

She said the annual DefCon conference has been looking at voting and election technology in recent years. Wolfe said she found it “really encouraging” that there are “a lot of people out there that really want to help secure democracy and elections, not just in Wisconsin but across the country.”

Wolfe said the conference offered an opportunity to network and connect with “smart people” who can help the state strengthen its election systems.

In another segment, Josh Pade, Democratic candidate in the 1st Congressional District, said he wanted to bring his “public policy expertise and also my expertise working in the business community to Washington to make change.”

Pade recently announced he would challenge first-term Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil of Janesville.

Pade ran for Wisconsin governor last year, and drew under 1 percent of the vote. However, he said his run was successful in helping build support for the overall Democratic ticket and that it helped him establish relationships and organize in the district.

He said one of his issues would be a tax cut “that works for middle-class families and not rich corporations.”

“We have such a lack of leadership in Washington,” he said. “The people in the First Congressional District are getting lost.”

Given the district’s Republican lean, host Adrienne Pedersen asked Pade what made him think a Democrat could win there.

“We’re very independent in southeastern Wisconsin, and we want to see who is the right person and who’s bringing the right ideas for this moment in time, and I think I’m that person,” Pade said.

Also on the program, Milwaukee County Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez said a public-private partnership to grow hemp seedlings in greenhouses at the Mitchell Park Domes could help pay for the Domes’ renovation.

Ortiz-Velez, whose district includes the Domes, is on the task force that recently approved a $66 million plan to renovate the Domes and add amenities to Mitchell Park. The plan is expected to come before the full Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors next month.

See more from the program:

2020 DNC host committee announces new staff members aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion

The Milwaukee 2020 host committee has announced two new staff members aimed at promoting diversity and inclusion with the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee.

Lafayette Crump will serve as vice president of Diversity, Vendor Accountability and Growth, while Jim Milner will be the chief Diversity and Intentional Inclusion adviser.

The committee also announced it will pre-qualify vendors and suppliers with criteria that include: technical expertise, community engagement, environmental efforts such as carbon neutrality and recycling, and worker policies. The last criteria includes a $15 minimum wage and paid sick leave.

See the release here.

AG Kaul: Joins 39 state coalition in letter to Congressional leadership urging removal of federal barriers to treat Opioid use disorder


MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul has sent a letter to Congressional leadership, asking for the removal of federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder. The letter was signed by 39 attorneys general.

“We must increase access to treatment if we are going to truly fight the opioid epidemic,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and the inability to control opioid use despite its negative impacts.

The letter outlines three areas that need to be addressed:

  • Replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
  • Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and,
  • Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

Wisconsin is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Oklahoma, North Carolina, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakoda, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Read the letter here.


AG Kaul: Joins lawsuit against Trump’s dirty power rule


MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Kaul, with a coalition of 22 states and 7 local governments, today announced a lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its “ACE” – aka “Dirty Power” – rule. The ACE rule replaced the Clean Power Plan, the first-ever nationwide limits on one of the largest sources of climate change pollution: existing fossil-fueled power plants. The EPA’s rule rolls-back these limits and will have virtually no impact on these emissions, prolonging the nation’s reliance on polluting, expensive coal power plants and obstructing progress of states toward clean, renewable, and affordable electricity generation.

“Climate change is not only real; it’s a crisis,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We’re only beginning to see its effects, including severe flooding and extreme temperatures. We can’t afford to wait for 20 years or a decade to take meaningful action. We need to step up now and to start responding to the climate crisis like our kids’ future depends on it—because it does.”

Besides ignoring the science of climate change – the text of the entire ACE rule barely mentions climate change, much less recognizes the dire threat it poses to people’s health, the economy, or the environment – the rule disregards requirements of the federal Clean Air Act.  The Clean Air Act requires that limits on air pollutants, such as greenhouse gases, must be based on the emissions reductions achievable through the “best system of emission reduction.” However, in the “Dirty Power” rule, EPA has ruled out as such a “best system” the most cost-effective, proven, and successful approach to controlling greenhouse gas emissions: shifting from coal-fueled generation to less carbon-intensive generation.

In the 10-state (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based cap-and-trade program, has proven to be an effective, cost-efficient model for reducing power plant emissions of climate change pollution. Power plants in the participating RGGI states have cut their emissions by more than 50 percent, and between 2015 and 2017, these states saw $1.4 billion of net positive economic activity and the creation of 14,500 new jobs – all while maintaining reliability of service and holding the line on electricity rates.

Imprudently, the “Dirty Power” rule prohibits states from participating in cap-and-trade programs means of complying with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Significantly, the “best system of emission reduction” used by the Trump EPA in the “Dirty Power” rule – equipment upgrades at coal power plants – will reduce emissions by only 0.7 percent more by 2030 than having no rule at all, according to EPA’s own analysis.  Further, EPA found that emissions of one or more of three pollutants – carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) – will increase in 18 states in 2030 compared to no “Dirty Power” rule.

The differences in benefits provided by the Clean Power Plan compared to the Trump “Dirty Power” rule are substantial, as reflected in the table below using the agency’s own calculations when it finalized the two rules:

  “Dirty Power” Rule

(ACE Rule)

Clean Power Plan
Pollutant Reductions by 2030  
CO2 (million tons) 11




SO2 (thousand tons) 5.7




NOx (thousand tons) 7.1




Benefits by 2030 

($ millions)*

570-1,300 34,000-54,000
Costs by 2030

 ($ millions)*

280 8,400
Net Benefits by 2030

($ millions)*

300-1,000 26,000-45,000

* 3% Discount Rate; ACE rule in 2016 dollars and Clean Power Plan in 2011 dollars.

Sources: Repeal of the Clean Power Plan; Emission Guidelines for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Existing Electric Utility Generating Units; Revisions to Emission Guidelines Implementing Regulations, 84 FR 32520, 32583 (July 8, 2019); Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units, 80 FR 64661, 64964 (October 23, 2015).

The implications of the “Dirty Power” rule’s failure to achieve virtually any reductions in power plant emissions are serious.  The International Energy Agency estimates that climate change pollution from the U.S. power sector must be reduced by 74 percent by 2030, below 2005 levels, for the U.S. to be able to achieve the goal of limiting worldwide temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius. By the EPA’s own estimates, the “Dirty Power” rule falls woefully short of hitting this target with a projected reduction of only 35 percent from 2005 levels. Of that, only roughly one percent is attributable to the impact of the “Dirty Power” rule and 34 percent attributable to market factors.

Today’s suit was filed in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In addition to Wisconsin Attorney General Kaul, the suit, led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, is joined by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia, and the chief legal officers of Boulder, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and South Miami.


Alderman Johnson: Gunfire too common and too close for comfort – time for action on firearms


In communities across America and indeed in our state, gunshots ring out hourly grazing, maiming, and killing citizens of all ages, colors, and faiths. In rural areas, suicide by gun has cut short the lives of far too many. In cities, the blight that some have referred to as slow motion mass murder has altered countless lives. As normal as it may seem, it isn’t — or at least it shouldn’t be.

Still, because of inaction, woeful indifference, or a decades long misunderstanding by our elected leaders at the state and federal levels of the need to reform who can access deadly weapons and when, our fellow citizens continue to be mowed down by a barrage of bullets.

In cities across the United States (and Milwaukee is no different), too many youth have learned to be lulled to sleep by the sounds of gunfire. In fact, over the years, too many people and especially too many children have grown so accustomed to the sound of gunfire that they don’t hit the floor and don’t think to call the police.

Yesterday, at 4:50 p.m. as I was home with my three young children, I did call 911 to report gunshots that were uncomfortably close. When officers arrived and showed me just how close the bullet casings were I was shocked. I was even more shocked to learn during MPD’s investigation that my car was struck by gunfire. And like too many parents here and across this state, I wasn’t shocked as much as I was angry that my nine-year-old son who plays catch outside, rides his bike, and plays in the snow, had to hit the floor. He was frightened in his own home. He was scared in his own neighborhood because of someone else’s reckless actions with a gun.

With the exception of emotional trauma, I’m relieved that no one was hurt.

He didn’t deserve this. My daughters don’t deserve this. Boys relaxing at home on the south side don’t deserve this. Girls watching Netflix in their room on the north side don’t deserve this. Children playing on their school playground or sitting on their grandfather’s lap don’t deserve this. Children who are simply passengers in vehicles don’t deserve this. My wife and I certainly don’t deserve this, and frankly no parent, grandparent, or caretaker anywhere in this city or in this state deserves this.

What’s even more insulting to victims of gun violence and concerned parents in Milwaukee and throughout our state is that there are laws on the books allowing people with known criminal history but only misdemeanors to continue having access to guns — all the while this state’s highest level leaders in the Assembly and the Senate push back and resist common sense reforms.

In a Marquette University Law School poll just last year, 80% of Wisconsin residents favored extending background checks to private gun sales and 56% of those polled favored banning assault-style weapons.

Instead of delivering the action that Wisconsinites want, these leaders — from within the security of their safe gerrymandered cocoons, hatched a plan to instead spend $100 million hardening schools as targets. So while the market is now selling bulletproof backpacks and school children like my son across this nation have to practice code red drills to prepare for an active shooter — the legislative leadership in this state seems to refuse to even acknowledge that the elephant in the room is that people who should not have guns in the first place, have too easy access to them under current law. They refuse to even try doing something different.

You can protect one person’s second amendment rights and another’s life and liberty — those actions are not mutually exclusive.

Like my son, Wisconsin’s next generation isn’t just watching and listening. They are living through this. They are experiencing this. And they know that there are adults who could protect them but choose not to.

And whether they live in Milwaukee, Burlington, Juneau, or beyond, no kid deserves that.

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network: Wisconsin lags on tobacco control, cancer-fighting public policies


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

Report offers closer look at efforts to raise tobacco sale age to 21

MADSION, Wis. – Wisconsin continues to fall short when it comes to passing legislation that prevents and reduces suffering and death from cancer. According to the latest edition of How Do You Measure Up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality, Wisconsin still lags behind on tobacco control policies. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network released the report today.

The 17th edition of the report assesses tobacco control within four issue areas. Wisconsin only met benchmarks in two categories: cigarette tax rates and smoke-free air laws.

This year’s report also includes a special section examining efforts to stem youth tobacco use by raising the legal age of sale for tobacco to 21. In statehouses across the country, policymakers have prioritized efforts to keep tobacco products out of the hands of kids, introducing 88 bills that raised the age of sale for tobacco products. But state lawmakers’ good-faith efforts have been co-opted by the tobacco industry, who want to use these laws to advance policies that will interfere with effective tobacco control and protect their profits. In fact, 51 out of the 88 age of sale bills introduced in 2019 included provisions that advance tobacco industry interests. The special section draws attention to Big Tobacco’s agenda and outlines the principles that make tobacco 21 policies effective.

“States’ tobacco 21 efforts have shown us that the devil’s in the details, and it’s important to consider each piece of legislation carefully,” said Sara Sahli, Wisconsin government relations director for ACS CAN. “For Wisconsin, any future tobacco 21 bill must be part of a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that includes policies like adequately funded tobacco cessation and prevention programs. The last thing we want to do is pass a public health bill that ends up benefiting the very enemy we’re trying to defeat.”

How Do You Measure Up? rates states in eight specific areas of public policy that can help fight cancer. A color-coded system classifies how well a state is doing in each issue. Green shows that a state has adopted evidence-based policies and best practices; yellow indicates moderate movement toward the benchmark; and red shows where states are falling short.

How Wisconsin Measures Up:

Increased Access to Medicaid Red
Access to Palliative Care Red
Pain Policy Yellow
Cigarette Tax Rates Green
Smoke-free Laws Green
Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program Funding Red
Medicaid Coverage of Tobacco Cessation Services Yellow
Indoor Tanning Red

“This year, 34,220 people in Wisconsin will be diagnosed with cancer,” Sahli said. “We owe it to them – and to everyone at risk of developing this disease – to do everything in our power to prevent cancer and improve access to screenings and treatment. This report provides lawmakers a legislative path forward.”

To view the complete report and details on Wisconsin’s ratings, visit www.fightcancer.org/measure.

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

American Dairy Coalition: Asks EPA Director Wheeler for science review of EPA’s nitrate study


Laurie Fischer, CEO
[email protected]

The American Dairy Coalition (ADC) sent a letter to EPA Director Andrew Wheeler requesting he submit a flawed and damaging 2013 EPA nitrate report to attain the science review it never received. The ADC is concerned for the farmers that have already been severely affected by this so called scientific research study report and believes EPA must stop a dangerous precedence from being set which could impact other farmers throughout the U.S. Director Wheeler was also urged to remove the study from further enforcement action and litigation pending the review.

“It is vital that the administration demonstrate their commitment to maintaining the integrity and transparency of science. The current status of this report sets a very unfortunate precedence for the value of science-based actions and represents a profound opportunity to preserve fundamental principles and standards,” said Laurie Fischer, CEO of the American Dairy Coalition. “Support for this administration has been strong from the farm community because of positive changes in the EPA. However, the lack of action in carrying out this scientific peer review may cause that support to wane.”

The letter submitted to EPA Director Andrew Wheeler states, “This report, proven false by fifteen national agricultural science experts, was developed without the peer-review required on “influential science information” as the study was categorized. When approached about the error, staff attempted to conceal the failing by falsely claiming the report was not categorized as ‘influential’, but ‘other’, allowing for full discretion in peer reviews.”

The EPA Yakima Nitrate Report began in 2010 and was published in 2012 and 2013. Despite some of nation’s top scientists and agronomists finding the study to be deeply flawed and other government agencies cautioning its use, EPA Region 10 staff still used the study. This led to highly disciplinary enforcement and threats of federal litigation, which has devastated four large dairy farms. Specifically, these four dairies were pressured into signing a very punitive Administrative Order on Consent, resulting in the loss of one dairy and requiring the remaining to spend upwards of $15 million to comply. Further, the report has been used by an Oregon environmental attorney to force extremely costly settlements with a number of Washington dairy farms, resulting in the loss of farms and creating extreme distress within the entire Washington dairy community.

Deepening the concern, the same Region 10 leadership supported the use of $550,000 of tax payer money on public relations and lobbying campaigns against farmers. With this finding in 2016, over one third of the members of Congress were compelled to write EPA Director McCarthy complaining of this action, which prompted an Office of Inspector General investigation that found the campaign did involve state lobbying.

Also, a former senior agronomist with the USDA provided a detailed analyst of the study, finding it to be fraudulent. The documentation may be viewed at https://savefamilyfarming.org/blog/category/clean-water/clean-groundwater/epa-nitrate-study/. This has been further supported by the conclusions of fifteen prominent agricultural scientists who also deemed the study fraudulent.

American Heart Association: Health groups applaud lawmakers for bill to raise the tobacco sales age to 21

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.

BACC: Encourages community engagement in the EIS process


MADISON – The United States Air Force has posted the Draft of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Air National Guard F-35A Operational Beddown on its websitehttp://www.angf35eis.com and will be hosting an Open House and public meeting on September 12th at the Alliant Energy Center.  In an effort to ensure there is robust community engagement in this process and that the most impacted community members are aware of the process taking place, can engage in the process and make sure their voices are heard, the Badger Air Community Council (BACC) has sent a mailing to over 7,500 households in the areas surrounding the airport. A copy of the mailer is attached.


Executive Director of the BACC, and former pilot at the 115th Fighter Wing, Chris “Desi” Arenz released the following statement:


“The purpose of the EIS is to identify the maximum potential for changes in impact because of the new mission. As these potential impacts are identified, work can begin between the Fighter Wing, our federal, state and local government partners and the community in addressing and mitigating those impacts, particularly as it relates to those residents near the airport who were identified in the Draft EIS as continuing to be most affected by airport operations.


We want to make sure everyone is engaged in the process and that their voices are heard, so we can move forward together, collaboratively, and continue to build on the rich 71-year history of the 115th Fighter Wing being an active and outstanding community partner.”


We encourage all members of the public to stay engaged in the EIS process by visiting www.angf35eis.com and attending the Open House and public meeting on September 12th at the Alliant Energy Center.


September 12, 2019
Open House – 5 to 6:30 p.m.
Formal Presentation – 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center
1919 Alliant Energy Center Way, Madison, WI 53713


For additional information please visit the Together Truax website www.togethertruax.com to learn more about the community support for the mission. To learn more about the Badger Air Community Council please visit www.badgerair.org.


About the BACC:

The Badger Air Community Council (BACC) was formed in 2012 by former members of the 115th Fighter Wing and business and civic leaders, to act as a liaison organization between the community and the Fighter Wing. The BACC supports the mission of the 115th Fighter Wing by educating the public on the economic and social benefits of having the unit based in Madison while highlighting the contributions made by the more than 1,200 Airmen who serve there.

Bill Kaplan: GOP health care time bomb


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

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been a huge success. 11.4 million, including 205,118 Wisconsinites, have gained private insurance coverage. Most receive federal financial assistance to pay insurance premiums and reduce out-of-pocket costs. Another 12 million now have health coverage through Medicaid expansion. But none in Wisconsin because of GOP intransigence. Moreover, the ACA provides strong consumer protections for 52 million, including 852,000 Wisconsinites, from being denied health coverage or charged higher rates for preexisting conditions. Finally, without the ACA, uncompensated health care would increase by $50.2 billion, including $412 million in Wisconsin (Urban Institute).

Nonetheless, Trump and the GOP continue to try to roll back the ACA with a sabotage campaign: deep cuts in ACA advertising and outreach; a much shorter enrollment period; elimination of federal payment of out-of-pocket health costs; allowing the sale of useless bare-bones insurance; and eliminating the tax penalty (individual mandate) for not having health coverage. However, it gets worse.

Two defeated run-of-the-mill Wisconsin GOP politicians, former Governor Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel, orchestrated a federal lawsuit to have the ACA declared unconstitutional. A ticking health care time bomb. After they lost reelection, a federal Texas judge struck down the ACA in December 2018. The Trump administration had declined to defend the ACA, while calling for the court to eliminate all ACA protections for preexisting health conditions.

Suddenly, in March 2019, the Trump administration called on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the entire ACA unconstitutional. The American Hospital Association said: “The position is unprecedented and unsupported by the law or the facts. Millions of Americans would lose the coverage they have relied on for years. … Medicaid expansion would be reversed and protections for people with chronic and preexisting conditions would cease to exist.” Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “Here is the Republicans’ plan for your health care: … Trump and Attorney General Barr are working to win a lawsuit that would repeal health insurance (and consumer protections) for millions … .”

In April 2019, Wisconsin Democratic Governor Tony Evers withdrew Wisconsin from the lawsuit. However, Trump and other GOP-led states have continued to support the lawsuit in the federal appeals court, while Democratic-led states and GOP Attorneys General Timothy Fox of Montana and David Yost of Ohio defended the ACA. Fox and Yost said: “Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall. But the District Court’s ruling is wrong, and its errors threaten harm to millions … .” Wisconsin congressional Democrats have denounced the GOP lawsuit, while Wisconsin congressional Republicans have refused to defend the ACA.

Make no mistake: the Trump-GOP lawsuit is a ticking time bomb. Health care-legal expert Timothy Jost said: “There seems to be a real possibility … that the Fifth Circuit may affirm the lower court’s judgment (ACA is unconstitutional). It will then again be up to the Supreme Court to sort things out. … (This) will likely become a major issue in the 2020 election.”

Wisconsin Republicans brought us to this man-made disaster.

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


Bill Kaplan: Trump and GOP don’t have Wisconsin’s back


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

Trump has foolishly proclaimed: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win”. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin cut to the chase: “Wisconsin farmers have been hit hard by Trump trade wars with China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union. More than 1,600 dairy farms have gone out of business since Trump took office”. Foreign retaliatory tariffs have been imposed on Wisconsin agricultural products: dairy, corn, cranberries, ginseng, kidney beans and soybeans, as well as beef and pork. “The trade war has hit farmers already beset by years of low commodity prices … . U.S. farm income dropped 16% last year … . U.S. agricultural exports to China dropped by more than half in 2018 after the trade war began …” (Time).

Alarm bells are clanging. Julie Bomar, Director, Wisconsin Farmers Union, said: “Farmers … are confronted by an economic crisis that is more severe than any since the 1980s. Now the weather and continuing trade wars are causing even more concern as we look forward to another distressing year in farm country.” Wisconsinite “Jim Mulhern, chief executive of the National Milk Producers Federation, said dairy exports to China have dropped 54% so far this year. ‘Any step away from an agreement that further escalates tensions puts recovery of these sales further out of reach’, he said” (Wall Street Journal).

Last week, Trump escalated: 10 percent U.S. tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports to America. “The trade war between the United States and China entered a more dangerous phase …, as Beijing allowed its currency to weaken, Chinese enterprises stopped making new purchases of American (Wisconsin) farm goods and … Trump’s Treasury Department formally labeled China a currency manipulator.” The fallout and fear was immediate: the stock market lost 767 points, the worst day of the year. The plunge was followed by days of ups and downs. The Washington Post headline was scary: “Impulsive acts (by Trump) propel trade war with China”. Finally, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was blunt: “Wisconsin farmers are losing as China halts purchases of U.S. ag products”.

Trump, detached from reality, prattles on: “American Farmers know that China will not be able to hurt them …”. Despite Trump’s fanciful boast, U.S. tariffs on China don’t even cover the cost of Trump’s limited aid to farmers. It gets worse: “Richest farmers get most of bailout” (Washington Post). Meanwhile, Wisconsin farmers will again receive peanuts – and Trump’s trade wars are hurting other regular folks.

“Trump has yet to articulate a clear and coherent set of objectives. He often speaks about the revival of American manufacturing, but in talks with the Chinese, his administration has focused instead on making it easier for American companies to operate in China – something that seems unlikely to increase employment in Wisconsin” (New York Times). Moreover, economic growth is slowing around the world, but Trump is clueless about the approaching downturn. Nothing but tweets.

Trump and the faltering GOP don’t have Wisconsin’s back. Only a clean Democratic sweep in 2020 will bring change.

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


Bill Kaplan: Trump flails, McConnell blockades


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

In 2018, Trump praised Chinese President Xi: “He’s now president for life. … he’s great. … Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.” Jaw-dropping! And, acting like a tin-pot dictator, the mercurial Trump is taking the U.S. economy down. Trump said: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” The unhinged Trump has escalated his trade war with China. Predictably, the Dow Jones plunged 623 points. More than a whiff of recession in the air.

“Domestically, the manufacturing sector contracted for the first time in a decade. Sales of U.S. exports have decreased at the fastest pace since August 2009” (Washington Post). And the Wall Street Journal headlined: “China Deals ‘Body Blow’ to Struggling U.S. Farm Belt” (more than 1,600 Wisconsin dairy farms gone under Trump). Our enfant terrible (Trump) looking for a scapegoat said: “My only question is, who is our bigger enemy (Federal Reserve Chair) Jay Powell or (Chinese President) Xi?” The U.S. is becoming a banana republic.

An out-of-control Trump “ordered” all U.S. companies to leave China. Then this weekend Trump said he had “second thoughts” about escalating the trade war. He backed away from his bombast and claimed he was making progress with China. Later Trump backpedaled and said he was “misinterpreted” and “regrets not raising the tariffs higher” (Washington Post). Not a “stable genius”. Alarming.

Meanwhile, the GOP-led Senate refused to act as a check and balance on a dangerous White House. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP senators are running from microphones. McConnell craves power and will do anything to remain Majority Leader. Having held up Obama Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland until after the 2016 presidential election, McConnell no longer claims that he was “letting the people’s voice be heard”. If a U.S. Supreme Court justice were to die in 2020, McConnell said: “Uh, we’d fill it.” No shame.

Worse, McConnell has enforced a blockade on bread-and-butter and other legislation passed by the Democratic-led House. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “Generally, Senator McConnell has not shown himself likely to schedule legislation for consideration on the floor unless he personally supports it and unless he get signals from (Trump) that the (White House) supports it. Sadly, that makes the prospects low that we’ll get a chance to have a vote.” Examples abound.

House Democrats strengthened the Affordable Care Act (ACA): blocked the sale of useless bare bones “junk” health insurance, restored funding for ACA advertising and outreach and lowered drug prices. And, the House passed an historic $15 minimum wage, helping 27.3 million Americans, including 829,000 Wisconsinites. Finally, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led in passing a bipartisan pension protection bill (Butch Lewis Act), helping over 1 million Americans, including 25,000 Wisconsinites. McConnell is not allowing the Senate to vote on these bills. Time to end the GOP blockade.

The late Arizona GOP Senator John McCain implored the Senate: “Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths… . They don’t want anything done for the public good.” Unlike Trump or McConnell, always a hero.

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


Bill Kaplan: Will Johnson stand-up for retirees?


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

A politician is defined by promises to voters. In 2016, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson made three pledges to state voters (Baraboo News Republic): Johnson said he would not run for a third term if reelected (since backpedaled); emphasized that he was running on “retirement security” and declared he would “move bipartisan bills”. The time has come.

Johnson has indicated sympathy for Wisconsin retirees covered by troubled multiemployer pension funds, including the Central States Pension Fund. “The situation has been brewing since the 2008 financial crisis, as investments plummeted, leaving many plans in the red. The slow economic recovery and recent stock market rally (2017-2018) have not been sufficient to reinvigorate the plans, which are jointly funded by labor unions and employers …” (New York Times).

The Washington Post reported: “There are more than 1 million Americans (includes 25,000 Wisconsinites) who participate in severely distressed multiemployer pensions and another 9 million who are in healthier programs that could be affected by changes”. Johnson has spoken with state retirees, tweeted, issued a letter and press release. He said: “I’ve met with and heard from many of my constituents who are deeply concerned about the dismal state of the multiemployer pension system… . They’re asking for a transparent process and a fair outcome”. A solution is now on the table.

A few weeks ago, the Democratic-led House passed the bipartisan Butch Lewis Act. All Wisconsin Democratic representatives voted for the bill, as did 29 GOP representatives, including Wisconsin firebrand Sean Duffy. The pension protection legislation is named in honor of Butch Lewis, a Vietnam War veteran and Ohio Teamster, who worked to save pension coverage for retirees before his untimely death. “The measure would help pension plans sponsored by several employers and managed by a collective bargaining agreement by giving (low-cost loans) to insolvent plans (to make investments that are not risky) so they can continue to distribute the promised retirement benefits” (Washington Post).

New York GOP Representative Peter King tweeted: “As lead Republican sponsor of the Butch Lewis Act (H.R.397) to protect multiemployer pension funds I was proud to speak in support of this legislation in support of working men and women … . Solid victory for America’s middle income families.” Unlike Duffy, the other Wisconsin GOP representatives voted no. Most perplexing: Green Bay GOP Representative Mike Gallagher’s supporting Trump’s buying Greenland, but declining to help Wisconsin retirees.

However, Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin is a lead sponsor, with 28 other senators, of S.2254 – Butch Lewis Act of 2019. Baldwin said: “Now that the Butch Lewis Act has cleared the House with bipartisan support, Mitch McConnell (GOP Senate Majority Leader) should immediately bring it up for a vote in the Senate so we can get the job done protecting the pensions that these workers and retirees have earned.” And, Kenny Stribling, Co-Chair, Milwaukee Committee to Protect Pensions, pleaded: “This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of fairness… .”

Senator Johnson must stand-up for retirees and support the Butch Lewis Act.

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


Bill would end civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, require clergy to report abuse allegations

Wisconsin’s civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse cases would be eliminated and clergy would be required to report allegations of sexual or physical assault against a child, under legislation from Dem lawmakers.

Flanked by survivors of sexual assault by clergy, Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee and Reps. Chris Taylor and Melissa Sargent of Madison rolled out measures Wednesday they say are needed to address stumbling blocks that survivors of childhood sexual abuse can encounter while seeking justice later in life.

Under current law, the statute of limitations to bring allegations of child sexual abuse expires when the survivor reaches the age of 35. Additionally, while clergy are already required to report suspicions, the statute provides an exemption if the knowledge of the abuse is obtained through pastoral communications or circumstances.

In an emotional statement, Sen. Taylor described her own experience as a survivor of child sexual abuse. The Milwaukee Dem said it wasn’t until she was 27 years old and in law school that she remembered the incident.

“We know that people need time to come forward, time to process the trauma of what has happened to them,” she said. “We know that sometimes it can take 30 to 40 years to come to terms with sexual abuse.”

The elimination of the civil statute of limitations, Sen. Taylor said, would give survivors the tools and support they need to overcome “the countless obstacles on their path to recovery.”

But the legislation faces an uphill battle in the Legislature. Despite counting current Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton, and JFC Co-Chairs Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, among the bill’s initial co-sponsors when it was introduced in 2007, it has consistently failed to gain traction among GOP lawmakers in the years since. The measure hasn’t received a committee hearing since 2009 despite being introduced in every session since 2007, with the exception of the most recent one.

The bill’s backers blame opposition from faith-based organizations such as the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Family Action and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. All three have consistently lobbied against the bill since its inception.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee referred WisPolitics.com to the Wisconsin Catholic Conference for comment. That organization’s executive director, Kim Vercauteren, said it opposed the measure because of a three-year window that would be opened to allow those who were barred by the current statute of limitation to retroactively bring legal action.

“We feel that this legislation is designed more in a punitive fashion to seek out a means through which to litigate old cases against current non-profit entities, and that lacks an element of fairness,” she said.

Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling told WisPolitics.com her organization’s opposition to the proposal came down to her belief that the measure was designed to go “after an institution where the person who allegedly did this is no longer there.”

“This isn’t about putting someone behind bars. This is about money,” she said.

Both Vercauteren and Appling said they would be open to a bill that would raise or even eliminate the statute of limitations if it did not include the three-year window to seek retroactive legal action.

Sen. Taylor indicated at the news conference that she was open to negotiating the bill’s finer details to boost its chance of passage, and a Taylor spokesman told WisPolitics.com she would be willing to compromise on the three-year retroactive period.

Spokesmen for Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald were not immediately available for comment.

See the most recent version of the bill:

BizTimes Next Generation Manufacturing Summit 🗓


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.

Black Caucus: Supports disability accommodations


MADISON – Members of the Wisconsin State Legislative Black Caucus released the following statement regarding Representative Jimmy Anderson’s request for disability accommodations and equity in the state legislature:

“The voters in Assembly District 47 elected Representative Anderson to advocate for their community concerns, wheelchair and all. While working in the legislature, Representative Anderson has proven his outstanding leadership time and again for his district and those with disabilities.

“Speaker Robin Vos’ refusal to make even the simplest accommodations for Representative Anderson is inexcusable. The discriminatory response from Speaker Vos highlights the importance of the very issues Representative Anderson has dedicated his career to fighting for in Madison. Accommodating the needs of others acknowledges and celebrates that we are a diverse population with diverse needs. Beyond this, it seeks to recognize dignity and worth at an individual level. We cannot expect our state to prioritize values such as equity and inclusion while our State Assembly fails to display those very same values.

“Basic accommodations should be guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, including phoning into committee hearings and limiting the use of overnight floor sessions for emergency situations. Actions such as these would ensure that every member of the legislature is able to have a voice for their communities. It is important that we provide people with disabilities with the necessary resources so they can equally participate in our political system.

“Representative Anderson represents the voices of individuals with disabilities and all of those who must continue to fight to have a seat at the table. The Wisconsin State Legislative Black Caucus proudly supports Representative Anderson and his request for equal participation in the legislative process.”

Black Leadership Council: Statement regarding Quintez Cephus


Dr. Ruben Anthony
Urban League of Greater Madison
608.729.1208 | [email protected]

The Black Leadership Council of Dane County sent the following letter to University of Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank:

August 13, 2019

Rebecca Blank, Chancellor
University of Wisconsin-Madison
500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53719

Dear Chancellor Blank:

We are the Black Leadership Council of Dane County, Wisconsin comprised of local representatives of a variety of state, national, and international organizations with which you are likely very familiar (e.g. NAACP, Urban League, African American Sorority and Fraternities, etc.). We write this letter to urge you to re-admit Mr. Quintez Cephus who was recently exonerated of ALL charges in an alleged case of sexual assault. Many of our members have a close and longstanding relationship with the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We count among us alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. And, we expect that the University will value our sentiments regarding this situation.

Late last month, Mr. Quintez Cephus who was a student-athlete was exonerated by a court of law on charges of 2nd and 3rd degree sexual assault. The University of Wisconsin-Madison expelled Mr. Cephus in March 2018 based on its Student Code of Conduct [UWS 17.09(1)]. We recognize that the university often takes what it deems precautionary measures to ensure the safety of individuals and students as a group. However, once Mr. Cephus was cleared of all charges and had NO record of previous misconduct, it seems the university may be considering exacting additional punishment for something he did not do. In essence, Mr. Cephus may experience a kind of double jeopardy despite the jury verdict.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident of the university’s relationship with Black students. As a campus that is ranked 13th out of the 14 Big Ten institutions on diversity (only University of Nebraska-Lincoln fares worse), Wisconsin has a LONG way to go on improving campus relationships with the Black community. Several years ago many of us were present when you, Patrick Sims, Everett Mitchell, Lori Berquam, and Sue Riseling, came to the Urban League to discuss the situation with Denzel McDonald who was arrested in class for posting anti-racist graffiti on some campus buildings. At that meeting community members heard of an incident where an African American woman was spat upon and told she didn’t belong at UW-Madison. We learned that because the offending student agreed to campus disciplinary policies his identity and the adjudication of his case would not be made public. However, the aggrieved African American woman received no remedy.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison had 593 African American undergraduates and 225 African American graduate students in the 2018-2019 academic year . That is 818 African American students on a campus of 44,411. This incredible racial asymmetry means African American students are hyper-visible on the campus. Almost every African American student can report at least one incident of racial violence—racial epithets, harassments, and threats. Learning that even a legal exoneration will not provide one with a second chance does little to engender the idea that the university has a racially welcoming climate.

You have an opportunity to help Mr. Cephus begin again after what has been the most horrifying ordeal of his young life. The school-year will begin in just a few weeks and knowing the academic calendar better than most you realize how important it is for Mr. Cephus to begin at the start of the semester. We urge you to give him an opportunity for re-entry immediately so he can begin as soon as the semester commences.

We realize the issue of his continued intercollegiate athletics participation resides at the level of the Big Ten Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). But, he has no opportunity to appeal to either of those bodies without first being enrolled in the university. We trust you will concur with our strong desire to have Mr. Cephus reinstated into the university.

Members of the Black Leadership Council

Rev. Dr. Marcus Allen,
Pastor, Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Ruben Anthony, PhD
CEO and President Urban League of Greater Madison

Kaleem Caire,
CEO, One City Early Learning Center

Carola Gaines
Madison Alumnae Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Rev. Dr. Alexander Gee
Pastor, Fountain of Life Covenant Church
President, Nehemiah Corporation
Justified Anger Coalition

Greg Jones
President, NAACP
Dane County

Richard L. Jones, Esq.
Gamma Gamma Gamma Chapter
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Gloria Ladson-Billings
Kappa Psi Omega Chapter
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Theresa S. Sanders
Kappa Psi Omega Chapter
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Book excerpt: Almanac of American Politics highlights Wisconsin’s political history, Evers’ 2018 victory

The following excerpts are copyright @ 2019 The Almanac of American Politics. This feature was provided by and is included in The Almanac of American Politics 2020 edition, released August 2019. To learn more about this publication or purchase a copy, visit www.almanacofamericanpolitics.com.


Heading into the 2016 presidential election, some considered Wisconsin one of the Democrats’ “blue wall” states – a supposed bulwark against Republicans in the Electoral College. But they ignored that the state had turned to the right after the 2010 gubernatorial election of Scott Walker, who proceeded to enact a wish list of conservative policies. Donald Trump ended up winning the state, albeit by less than 23,000 votes, or about eight-tenths of a percentage point. Two years later, the state snapped back, again narrowly, as the Democrats ousted Walker, setting up perhaps the most pivotal battleground contest for Trump’s reelection bid in 2020. 

Wisconsin has long been one of America’s premier “laboratories of reform,” in Justice Louis Brandeis’ phrase — a state developing new public policies, debating them vigorously and even tumultuously, observing whether they worked, and serving as an example for other states. North of the dominant westward paths of migration, the state was sparsely settled, first by New England Yankees and then by waves of immigrants from Germany and Scandinavia. The German language is seldom heard now, but German place names and surnames are common and, like the once plainly German beer and brat brands, now seem quintessentially American. But from the 1840s into the 20th century, Germans were among the nation’s most distinctive immigrants. On the rolling dairy land of Wisconsin and the orderly streets of Milwaukee, they built their own churches, kept their own language, and maintained old customs, from country weddings to Christmas trees to beer gardens — a source of friction in temperance-minded America. Wisconsin still has an orderliness and steadiness that owes something to its Germanic heritage, evident in its excellence in precision manufacturing, respect for higher learning, and its hold on its people. About half of Wisconsin residents, more than in any other state, reported in the 2010 census that they are of German descent. 

Wisconsin’s economy has been an outgrowth of its immigrant and manufacturing heritage. Its high-skill, precision production at companies like Johnson Controls and Rockwell Automation jumped into gear in the late 1980s and helped lead the nation’s export boom of the 1990s. Wisconsin exceeded 100,000 tech jobs for the first time in 2016 and the state was poised to host an advanced Foxconn manufacturing plant near Racine (though both the billions of dollars in subsidies and doubts about the number of jobs to be created have made the project controversial). Wisconsin ranks either first or second in the nation in most categories of milk and cheese production. But due to improved productivity and competition from foreign countries — and from California’s giant agribusiness enterprises — the number of milk-cow herds fell by 50 percent from 2003 to 2019, when the total was fewer than 8,000; that rate has accelerated in recent years. Wisconsin, of course, is also a prime source of beer and sausage. Pabst, which began in Milwaukee in 1844, closed its operations there in 1996, but reopened a brewery, taproom and restaurant in a former German Methodist church in 2017. Over time, Wisconsin’s economy has ranked right around where the country is. “Wisconsin has suffered from the decline of manufacturing, but it isn’t a Rust Belt sob story like Michigan or Ohio. It hasn’t been among the places hardest hit by the opiate epidemic,” wrote Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith. 

Wisconsin’s reputation for innovative public policy was established during the Progressive Era that began around 1900 and which owes its development to an extraordinary governor, Robert La Follette Sr., and the state’s German heritage. This is one of the two states that gave birth to the Republican Party in 1854 (the other is Michigan), and Germans, then arriving in America in vast numbers, heavily favored the GOP. They opposed slavery and welcomed the free lands Republicans delivered in the Homestead Act, the educational opportunities provided by land grant colleges, and the transportation routes constructed by subsidized railroad builders. This was the seedbed from which sprouted the Progressive movement founded and symbolized by La Follette. At a time when Germany was the world’s leader in graduate education and the application of science to government, La Follette had professors at the University of Wisconsin help develop the state workmen’s compensation system and income tax. The Progressive movement favored the use of government to improve the lot of ordinary citizens, an idea borrowed partly from German liberals and adopted by the New Dealers a generation later. La Follette became a national figure and after he died in 1925, his sons, and then liberal Democrats such as Sens. William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson and Gov. Patrick Lucey, carried on his tradition — progressive at home and isolationist abroad. 

Wisconsin also has a long history of labor activism. Before the violence of the 1892 Homestead steel strike in Pittsburgh and Colorado’s Ludlow Massacre in 1914, Milwaukee saw bloodshed on May 5, 1886, when 1,500 tradesmen and Polish immigrants demanding an eight-hour workday marched on the Rolling Mills iron plant in the city’s Bay View neighborhood. Gov. Jeremiah Rusk, who had served as a U.S. Army general in the Civil War, was in Milwaukee commanding 700 Wisconsin National Guard troops and gave the order to fire on the workers if they approached the iron works. Seven people, including a young boy, were killed. After the incident, Rusk famously said, “I seen my duty, and I done it.” South of downtown Milwaukee, a memorial stands in the Bay View area not far from where the blood was spilled. Wisconsin became the first state to grant collective- bargaining rights to public employees, in 1959. 

Starting in the 1990s, Wisconsin became a laboratory for conservative reforms driven by Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson, who beat a liberal Democrat in 1986 and was reelected three times. He cut taxes, sponsored a school choice program, and passed a series of welfare reforms — the nation’s most sweeping — that cut caseloads by equipping recipients to work. The 1996 overhaul of federal welfare policy may not have passed without Wisconsin’s example to give its backers confidence. When Thompson left to become George W. Bush’s Health and Human Services secretary in 2001, Wisconsin moved back toward the Democrats. From 1992 to 2006, it elected only Democratic senators, although sometimes by narrow margins, and Democrat Jim Doyle was elected governor in 2002 and 2006. The 2010 election produced another experiment in conservative reform when Republican Scott Walker, a former Milwaukee County executive, took office and proceeded to set off a firestorm with a proposal to limit the power of unions. The effort was successful, and Walker turned back an energetic, labor-driven effort to recall him in 2012 before winning reelection in 2014. By 2017, shorn of the coercive power of closed shops, union membership in the state had fallen substantially. Walker joined two other national Republican figures from Wisconsin – Rep. Paul Ryan, the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee and later House Speaker, and Reince Priebus, the former Wisconsin GOP state chair who became chairman of the Republican National Committee and then-White House chief of staff under Trump. Two years later, all three had left public life. 

Wisconsin’s population has grown, but at a modest rate – up only 2.2 percent since the 2010 census. The city of Milwaukee grew 1.6 percent, and its suburban counties – unlike many suburbs in other states – grew between 2 and 3 percent. The state’s fastest growth has occurred in Dane County (Madison), which is home to a growing tech sector driven by the presence of the University of Wisconsin; the county has expanded by 9.4 percent since 2010, pushing growth to rural areas to the south and northeast. Another growth area has been Outagamie County (Appleton), expanding 5 percent since the last census. The state remains primarily white, with a small, if rising, foreign-born population. Overall, Wisconsin is 6 percent black, 7 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. 

Politically, the three large “WOW” counties in the Milwaukee suburbs — Washington, Ozaukee and Waukesha — have traditionally been Republican, sometimes enough to cancel out Milwaukee County and its lopsided Democratic margins. Eastern Wisconsin — the counties along Lake Michigan and two or three counties inland, with small industrial cities in the Fox River Valley like Kenosha, Sheboygan, Appleton and Green Bay — is historically Republican turf. Western Wisconsin — areas along the Mississippi River, the small inland cities such as Wausau and Eau Claire and the counties along Lake Superior — have tended to be more Democratic. These patterns stem from ethnic differences: Eastern Wisconsin is more German, and western Wisconsin more Scandinavian. 

The most Democratic region by far is around Madison. Indeed, “what’s going on in Dane County is gradually altering the electoral math in Wisconsin,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert has written in one of his fine-grained analyses of Wisconsin election results. “Dane has been growing about four points more Democratic with each presidential contest since 1980, while adding thousands more voters every year.” La Crosse and Eau Claire host University of Wisconsin campuses, as does Rock County (Janesville), which is also home to Beloit College. The arc with this university belt has leaned Democratic. With statewide races in Wisconsin often won narrowly, a significant number of Wisconsinites are swing voters. A seven-county portion of southwest Wisconsin known as the Driftless Area (for its geology) “boasts the nation’s greatest concentration of Obama-Trump counties — places that voted for Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016,” Gilbert has written. Wisconsin has elected and re-elected both conservative Republican Ron Johnson and liberal Democrat Tammy Baldwin to the Senate. 

The 2016 presidential election in Wisconsin was dramatic from start to finish. The state had not voted Republican for president since Ronald Reagan’s 1984 landslide, and for much of the contest, Trump seemed to test Republican voters’ patience. Ted Cruz easily beat him in the primary, even though his Texas stylings were not an obvious fit for Wisconsin. After it became clear that Trump was going to be the GOP nominee, he and Ryan, by then the House Speaker, engaged in an on-again, off-again, awkward dance. The full extent of Clinton’s struggles in the state were hard to spot and were largely ignored by her campaign team. Her key weakness was in the rural areas and small towns common in Wisconsin where Democrats had historically been competitive. On Election Day, a state Barack Obama had won by seven points in 2012 ended up voting for Trump by less than a point. 

Wisconsin reasserted its swinginess in 2018. Walker lost a tough battle for a third term to Democrat Tony Evers. Walker improved his performance in 16 of Wisconsin’s 20 least densely populated counties, but he lost ground in the state’s 35 densest counties, a trade that wasn’t enough to save his governorship. Then, just to stir the pot again, Wisconsin voters swung back to the right in an April 2019 judicial election. In the nominally nonpartisan judicial contest, the Republican base turned out just a little more, handing the conservative candidate a narrow win. Next up: The high- stakes 2020 presidential campaign, with both parties on tenterhooks. 


Wisconsin’s Tony Evers achieved one of the biggest Democratic victories of the 2018 midterm elections, ousting two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The low-key career educator and administrator defeated Walker by just over one percentage point. But that was enough to lead a Democratic sweep of statewide offices and vindicate the Democratic argument that Wisconsin was experiencing fatigue from Walker’s polarizing tenure. At the same time, the narrowness of Evers’ victory reinforced the notion that Wisconsin would be a pivotal state in the 2020 presidential election. 

Evers (it rhymes with “weavers”) was born in Plymouth and met his wife Kathy there in kindergarten. His father practiced medicine at Rocky Knoll, a state tuberculosis sanitarium that also treated patients with silicosis, a disease often contracted by inhaling factory dust. His father would often testify on his patients’ behalf. “It was about social justice,” Evers told the New Yorker. “He could have gone into private practice, but he didn’t. He decided to be a county employee and work with people who struggled.” Evers earned a bachelor’s, a master’s and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and began his career in education as a science teacher in Baraboo, later becoming a principal in Tomah and running school districts in Oakfield and Verona. Eventually, Evers became deputy state superintendent of public instruction; during that time, he fought and beat esophageal cancer. In 2009 Evers was elected state superintendent, a nominally nonpartisan post, and was easily reelected in 2013 and 2017. After he won his third term, Evers began considering a run for governor. “I realized that if I really wanted to make a difference for these kids in the state, I couldn’t rely on this position to do it,” he told the New Yorker. “The governor is the one who sets the tone.” 

The governor in Evers’ mind was Walker, who had spent much of his time implementing a muscular conservative agenda. Not long after winning office, Walker called for curtailing collective bargaining rights for many of the state’s public employees. Walker became an instant political celebrity – and a target. But Walker’s collective bargaining changes survived court challenges and became law. He also signed laws tightening restrictions on abortion, enacted tough voter ID rules and eased restrictions on gun rights. Neither state Senate recall elections nor a recall attempt against Walker could vault Democrats into power; the incumbent notched a 53%-46% victory in the 2012 recall, becoming the first governor anywhere to survive such a vote. Walker won a second term in 2014, then flopped as a presidential candidate two years later, pushed aside by Donald Trump, who remade the party to be more rural and less suburban – a shift that hurt Walker’s reelection bid two years later. As Walker’s approval numbers sagged, his quest for a third term became a titanic battle in a politically energized and narrowly divided state. 

As he prepared for his reelection bid, Walker touted the state’s economic gains on his watch. He knew that Democrats were energized and sought to delay special elections in order to give GOP candidates a better shot. After Democrats won a hard-fought judicial race in April 2018, Walker tweeted, “Tonight’s results show we are at risk of a #BlueWave in WI. The Far Left is driven by anger & hatred — we must counter it with optimism & organization. Let’s share our positive story with voters & win in November.” 

The Democratic primary field was larger than any in state history, and it was not predestined that Evers would prevail. His rivals included Mahlon Mitchell, president of the Professional Fire Fighters Association of Wisconsin; former legislator Kelda Roys; state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout; former state Democratic chair Matt Flynn; Madison Mayor Paul Soglin; and activists Mike McCabe and Josh Pade. (Businessman Andy Gronik and state Rep. Dana Wachs quit the race before Election Day.) Mahlon and Roys received support from progressive groups (Roys aired an ad in which she breast- fed her baby) while Evers portrayed himself as a steady pragmatist. In the end, Evers ran away with it, winning 42 percent, ahead of Mitchell (16 percent) and Roys (13 percent). Evers leveraged his decisive primary victory into fundraising gold: In the first nine days after the primary, he raised $1 million, about twice what he had collected in the previous six months. 

Education became a major campaign issue. For years, Evers and Walker had tussled over education budgets, higher education politics and legal issues. Walker’s sought to portray himself as the “education governor,” touting his advocacy for school choice, but his record on school funding was one of consistent cuts for most of his tenure. Evers painted his record on school funding as a negative. Marquette Law School pollster Charles Franklin told The Washington Post that while Wisconsin voters had previously been evenly split between those supporting higher education spending and those backing lower property taxes, voters in 2018 were running at about 60 percent in favor of more education spending and about 35 percent in favor of lower taxes – a promising sign for Evers. 

A major issue in the race was a deal Walker had negotiated in 2017 (with President Donald Trump’s backing) to subsidize the building of a new, 13,000-employee factory complex in Mt. Pleasant for Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwanese-based manufacturing partner for such tech giants as Apple, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Trump joined Walker in Wisconsin to break ground, but as time went on – and as more details of the financing became known – voters in the state became less enthusiastic about the project and its cost. Walker and the legislature had approved some $4.5 billion in tax incentives to support the project – reportedly the nation’s largest-ever subsidy for a foreign company. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau projected that a return on that investment might come as late as 2042. 

Both candidates were charismatically challenged – Madison’s newspaper, the Capital Times called the race “bland vs. bland” – but they differed sharply on policy. Evers backed driver’s licenses and in-state tuition for undocumented residents, while Walker attacked Democratic-backed proposals for reforming the criminal justice system, saying in front of photographs of violent criminals, “I want to keep them in for their full terms.” Evers, meanwhile, took Walker to task for supporting repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Several ex-Walker aides endorsed Evers, and national political figures flocked to campaign in the state – Trump, former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and a bevy of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. 

The result was in doubt until late absentee returns from Milwaukee County sealed the contest for Evers, 49.5%-48.4% — a margin of just over 29,000 votes. Walker got 35,000 more votes than he had in 2014, but the Democratic nominee amassed more than 200,000 more votes than his predecessor. Evers improved the Democratic showing in two key strongholds — Milwaukee County, with 31,000 extra votes, and Dane County (Madison), with 44,115 additional votes. Walker bled support in the Republican bastions of suburban Milwaukee. In Waukesha County, his 45-point margin in 2014 shrank to 33 points in 2018; in Ozaukee County, his winning margin shrunk from 41 points to 27; and in Washington County, it shrunk from 53 points to 45. “Exit polls showed Walker lost ground with at least two key groups of voters compared with his 2014 re-election victory,” the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Craig Gilbert wrote. “One was independents. Walker had won independents in each of his three statewide victories, including the recall, by margins ranging from 9 to 14 points. But in the 2018 exit poll, he was trailing among independents by 7 points. A second group was college graduates. Walker won voters with college degrees by 1 point in 2014, according to the exit poll that year. He was losing them by 13 points this year.” 

The skirmishing didn’t end on Election Day. To the outrage of the victorious Democrats, Republicans in a lame-duck session sought to tie Evers’ hands as much as possible. Walker signed legislation that, among other things, hampered Evers’ ability to modify the Walker-created Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; made it harder for Evers and the newly elected Democratic attorney general, Josh Kaul, to withdraw from the anti-Affordable Care Act lawsuit; and placed tighter limits on early voting. The new legislation was challenged in court, and those battles played out for months; and Evers sought to expand Medicaid under the health care law despite Republican opposition. Meanwhile, in April 2019, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau brought unwelcome budget news with an estimate that the state could face a shortfall of almost $2 billion in the 2021-23 fiscal years. 

Booker during Milwaukee stop says 2020 election ‘referendum on us,’ not Trump

MILWAUKEE — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker told a crowd at a business incubator in the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood that the way to beat President Donald Trump is not by engaging in his tactics, but by inspiring people to get off the sidelines and participate in democracy.

The Dem presidential contender said the 2020 election is not a referendum on Trump.

“This election is going to be a referendum on us, on who we are and who we must be to each other,” Booker said during the Sunday stop. “It’s not about what we’re against, it’s about what we’re for, and who we’re for. And I believe in us. I’m betting on us.”

He said some believe the way to beat Trump is by fighting fire with fire. But he noted that as someone who ran a fire department as Newark, N.J., mayor, “I don’t think it’s a good strategy.”

“We will not beat him by fighting him using his tactics, his terms on his turf,” Booker said. “That’s not our history.”

He pointed to the civil rights movement and noted those in the fight didn’t win “by bringing bigger dogs and fire hoses.”

Instead, he said activists and artists inspired others to get off the sidelines and participate in democracy.

“I’m going to beat Donald Trump, but I’m going to beat him by inspiring, by engaging, by uplifting, by encouraging, by making sure that we don’t sit on the sidelines,” Booker said. “Because democracy is not a spectator sport. It is a full-engagement participatory endeavor. We have work to do.”

He said the goal must be about more than beating Trump.

“Beating Donald Trump is the floor; it’s not the ceiling,” Booker said. “It gets us out of the valley. It doesn’t get us to the mountaintop. I’m all about the mountaintop.”

Booker gave his speech in front of a diverse crowd at Sherman Phoenix, a facility that houses a variety of small businesses. The building previously housed a BMO Harris Bank branch that was set on fire during unrest in 2016 following an officer-involved shooting.

Introducing Booker was Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, state Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, and activist and former congressional candidate Khary Penebaker.

Booker was to hold a private fundraiser and attend the 5th CD Dem Party’s BBQ fundraiser after the event. He was then to return home to Newark following a roughly two-week tour that included stops in Detroit and Philadelphia.

During his speech, he touched on climate change, health care, education and other issues. He also spent considerable time discussing gun violence, along with his plan to require licensing for firearms.

“If you need a license to drive a car, you should have a license to buy and possess a firearm,” he said.

He said that every day, Americans pledge “liberty and justice for all.”

“But where is the justice when children are being killed every single day in our nation by gun violence?” he said. “Where’s the justice that we don’t seem to have the compassion or will. Where’s the justice?”

Booker plans Aug. 11 campaign event, fundraiser in Milwaukee

Dem presidential contender Cory Booker will be in Milwaukee Aug. 11 for a campaign event and fundraiser at Sherman Phoenix in Milwaukee.

The facility was created in a former bank building that was damaged during a violent outbreak in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park during the summer of 2016. It is now home to small businesses while providing community space for cultural events.

The fundraiser, which will follow his campaign event, is being hosted by longtime donors John W. Miller and Thelma Sias, a former vice president at WE Energies.

The fundraiser includes donations of $1,000 to attend and $2,800 to be a sponsor.

See more on the campaign event: https://www.mobilize.us/corybooker/event/107561/

Braeger Auto Group: Changes name to Lake Auto Group


Contact: [email protected]

New Name Reflects Roots, Commitment to Greater Milwaukee Community

[Milwaukee, Wis.] – Braeger Auto Group today announced a name change to Lake Auto Group effective September 1. This re-branding begins the next chapter in the company’s long history serving the greater Milwaukee area. Braeger Chevrolet will become Lake Chevrolet, and Braeger Ford will become Lake Ford. The company will continue with the same ownership, management, and locations – along with the same great customer experience.

The name ‘Lake’ holds deep significance to the neighborhood surrounding Lake Auto Group. The Town of Lake, created in 1838, existed in Milwaukee County for over 116 years. Residents were known for their strong work ethic and commitment to the community – qualities that are still reflected in the vibrant neighborhood. Lake Auto Group is proud to embody those same values as a member of the Lake community, today employing over 200 hard-working individuals and actively supporting numerous local businesses and charities.

Todd Reardon, Chairman of Braeger Company of Wisconsin, released the following statement on Braeger’s name change to Lake Auto Group:

“I’m excited to announce that Braeger Auto Group will officially be known as Lake Auto Group effective September 1. Braeger has a long history of serving the greater Milwaukee community, and we’re ready to begin this new chapter as Lake. We’re proud to be the leading automotive group in Southeast Wisconsin – and Lake will continue to deliver the same world-class service and satisfaction that residents have come to expect.”

Visit LakeAutoGroup.com for more information on the company.

Bridge Project: Launches effort to expose disastrous local impact of Trump’s policies for WI


Promoted Articles Continue Series that Also Focuses on FL, MI, & PA

Today, Bridge Project announced the latest round of posts on the group’s digital media site, American Ledger, with new articles exposing the damage caused by Trump’s disastrous policies for communities in Wisconsin. The articles will be promoted through Facebook advertising targeting each to its pertinent county. Reports on Trump’s negative impact on Kenosha, Marquette, Sauk, and Winnebago counties are included in this newest release.

The promoted posts mark the latest in a five-figure campaign to detail the detrimental effects the Trump administration has had on local communities in Wisconsin as well as Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania (previous rounds of articles have already been launched in the latter two states). The promoted county-level campaign in the four states is an initial step in a major $50 million, “hyper-local,” effort to target Trump’s base in key swing states heading into 2020.

“From layoffs to increased healthcare costs to a failure to take meaningful action on the opioid crisis, Wisconsinites can’t afford any more of the disastrous Trump agenda,” said American Bridge Trump War Room Communications Director Jeb Fain. “We’re going to continue ramping our work to spotlight, county-by-county, how badly Trump’s trail of broken promises has hurt communities in Wisconsin and across the country.”

The new American Ledger articles being promoted in Wisconsin follow:

As Opioid Epidemic Ravages Kenosha County, Federal Budget Cuts Could Compound Crisis, Deaths

Lawsuit Pushed by Trump Admin Could Mean Major Health Care Costs for Marquette County

Sauk County Continues to Combat the Opioid Epidemic With No Serious Support in Sight From Trump Admin

Kimberly-Clark Corp. Shutters Wisconsin Plant Despite Reporting $3.3B in Profits



Citizen Action of Wisconsin: Applauds BadgerCare expansion legislation


Statewide: Today, Governor Tony Evers, State Senator Jon Erpenbach, and State Representative Daniel Riemer announced their intention to introduce legislation to accept additional federal money to expand BadgerCare at a news conference in Wauwatosa. GOP legislators stripped this provision from the Governor’s budget during the Joint Finance Committee process.

“It’s time for leadership of the Legislature to put the people of Wisconsin first,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “BadgerCare expansion will provide over 80,000 Wisconsinites who do not receive health insurance at work with affordable coverage, enabling them to receive life-saving treatment and redirect their hard-earned money to other necessities.”

Regional Citizen Action organizers also spoke to the benefits of BadgerCare expansion across Wisconsin.

Eau Claire: “BadgerCare expansion would mean almost 1,400 hard-working Eau Claire County residents would be eligible to receive quality, affordable care,” said Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizer Noah Reif. “In addition, the expansion would bring millions of dollars in federal healthcare investments back to northwest Wisconsin. As an individual, I have benefited from state health insurance plans when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 2 years old. Simply put, I would not be here if not for Wisconsin’s investment in me and my family. BadgerCare expansion is an opportunity to extend that life-saving investment to other people like me who need it.”

Wausau: “In rural Wisconsin, you often hear folks claim that we send our money to Madison and we don’t get our fair share back,” said Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizer  Joel Lewis. “Not accepting the Medicaid money is similar in that we sent our money to Washington, DC and when they offered it back, we turned it down. Not only does this make no sense from a budget standpoint, but it also puts people’s lives on the line. This is our money and we need to take it back.”

Oshkosh: “BadgerCare expansion would help thousands of working people in northeast Wisconsin get health coverage,” said Citizen Action of Wisconsin Organizer Jolie Lizotte. “This will help families in the Fox Valley area afford healthcare they desperately need. Expanding BadgerCare coverage to these families is the right thing to do.”

Clean Grid Alliance: Applauds WI PSC decision to support Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line


Contact:  Kelley Welf
651-644-3400 | [email protected]

ST. PAUL, MINN. – Today, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission issued its preliminary decision on the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line to grant a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN).  Cardinal-Hickory Creek is a 345 kV transmission line connecting northeast Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin and will support a growing renewable energy production area in the Upper Midwest.

Clean Grid Alliance issued the following statement:

“On behalf of our NGO members who are working on carbon reduction across the Midwest and industry members who are developing utility-scale wind and solar energy projects, we applaud the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for supporting the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line,” said Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt.  “The demand for more renewable energy is palpable and the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line will provide the ability to access and deliver renewables. We are seeing an ever-increasing stream of state governments, utilities, and corporations announcing plans for more renewable energy because of its low cost and environmental benefits.  Our members are ready to fulfill their needs.  We are grateful to the Commission for recognizing that more transmission is necessary in order to deliver the clean energy future everyone wants. Cardinal-Hickory Creek will also strengthen the grid and provide congestion relief for an efficient energy market in Wisconsin and the surrounding states.”

Today’s decision represents the preliminary decision of the Public Service Commission. The Commission will issue a final written order by September 30.  There is a segment of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line in Iowa. The Iowa Utilities Board will hear that case in December.

Clean Wisconsin: Gov. Evers continues to lead on clean drinking water


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

 — Clean Wisconsin applauds Gov. Tony Evers for signing an executive order yesterday to address the growing threat to drinking water and public health from the class of hazardous chemicals called PFAS.

“PFAS is a public health and environmental challenge that we’re only beginning to fully understand,” said Carly Michiels, Director of Government Relations at Clean Wisconsin. “This action by Gov. Evers puts the state in a strong position to address this growing pollution issue in a collaborative and comprehensive way. This is another example of the governor’s leadership on PFAS during the Year of Clean Drinking Water.”

PFAS, or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, is a group of persistent man-made chemicals that may increase the risk of health issues such as cancer, developmental issues in children and fertility issues for women. PFAS is not currently regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Among many things, the governor’s executive order directs the state to create a public information website on PFAS, work with local governments to develop wastewater screening programs to identify sources of PFAS, expand monitoring of PFAS to protect human health, and create a PFAS Coordinating Council.

“Gov. Evers recognizes tackling PFAS pollution will take all of us, including state and local governments, municipal wastewater facilities, and the public,” said Michiels. “This executive order encourages everyone to get involved and to work together to address this growing issue and acknowledges all the hard work that has already begun.”

In June, the DHS recommended a state health-based standard for two PFAS compounds, and DNR has indicated they will begin the process for setting new rules to enforce those standards. In May, legislators introduced Senate Bill 302, the Chemical Level Enforcement and Remediation (CLEAR) Act, which is one of the most comprehensive set of protections from PFAS in the country.

Currently, there are over 18 investigations into PFAS pollution in Wisconsin. Marinette has one of the highest known rates of PFAS pollution in the state. Marinette has one of the highest known rates of PFAS pollution in the state, where drinking water has been found to have tested as high as 1,900 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS, 95 times higher than the health-based standard of 20 ppt proposed by DHS.

“I am glad to see PFAS pollution continue to be prioritized and acted on. There was funding in the state budget, legislation with the CLEAR Act, and recommended health-based statewide standards,” said Michiels. “The executive order today shows Gov. Evers is again leading on this issue by bringing everyone to the table to do what’s best for both public health and the environment. It’s imperative we continue to support comprehensive, science-based solutions to this problem.”

Clean Wisconsin: Latest SWIGG study results show high levels of bacterial contamination in southwest WI wells


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

Lawmakers need to put forth comprehensive solution to protect drinking water

MADISON — Clean Wisconsin expressed renewed concern on Thursday after researchers for the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study released results showing that over 9 in 10 sampled wells in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette Counties that tested positive for coliform bacteria in prior sampling rounds contained fecal matter.

“These latest results are clear: many residents in Southwest Wisconsin are drinking contaminated water that puts their health at risk,” said Scott Laeser, Water Program Director for Clean Wisconsin. “Results like these confirm that lawmakers need to move quickly to find solutions that get residents clean, safe drinking water in Southwest Wisconsin.”

Researchers found that of the 35 wells that tested positive for coliform bacteria or nitrate above the health level of 10 parts per million (ppm) in previous sampling rounds, 32 tested positive for containing fecal matter from cows, swine or humans. Because of the fractured bedrock, researchers have noted that well conditions can change quickly, with contaminants coming and going over short time spans.

Pathogens linked to serious illnesses, such as Salmonella, cryptosporidium, and rotavirus, were detected in drinking water. These illnesses can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.

“Like nitrate pollution, this bacterial contamination can be odorless and tasteless but still present a health risk,” said Laeser. “People shouldn’t have to play roulette with their health when they get water from their taps, but that’s what the data show.

“Far too many people in Southwest Wisconsin have polluted well water, and it’s a serious issue regardless of where the contamination is coming from,” said Laeser. “This is a multifaceted problem that needs an all-of-the-above approach by lawmakers. Tackling only septic system leaching or farm runoff—and not both—is an approach that will fail to fully solve the problem.”

As the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality continues to hear from experts and citizens about well water contamination, these results should compel them to take meaningful, substantive action.

“People in Southwest Wisconsin need clean drinking water, and these results are only the latest data point showing that many do not have that simple but critical resource,” said Laeser. “If the Water Quality Task Force is serious about clean drinking water, they will put forth bold solutions that protect people from bacterial and nitrate pollution, regardless of where it’s coming from.”

Clean Wisconsin: Sues EPA over Clean Power Plan replacement


MADISON, WI — Clean Wisconsin and nine other environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday opposing the Trump Administration’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, arguing the rule unlawfully sidesteps the Clean Air Act by relaxing emission standards that will increase carbon emissions and harm public health.


“The so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule is a desperate and illegal attempt by the Trump Administration to prop up outdated and dirty coal,” said Scott Blankman, Director of Energy & Air Programs for Clean Wisconsin. “This rule will fail to bring back coal, but it will succeed in choking our air with harmful pollutants and climate-changing carbon emissions.”


The new rule allows coal plants to make minor technological improvements, which allows them to run more and for longer periods of time. This policy would lead to increased overall carbon emissions, and it fails to live up to the Clean Air Act’s edict to employ the “best system of carbon reduction” in the energy sector. EPA’s own analysis found that the ACE rule would result in over 1,600 premature deaths as compared to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.


“The writing is on the wall for coal, and this rule ignores and delays the inevitable,” said Blankman. “Wisconsin utilities understand that there are cleaner and cheaper ways to produce electricity. Many of them are already replacing coal plants with renewable energy sources like wind and solar. This rule only slows our progress towards clean energy.”


Clean Wisconsin is joined in the legal challenge by Appalachian Mountain Club, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Air Council, Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Sierra Club. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court. On Tuesday, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and 22 other states filed a similar lawsuit challenging the ACE rule.


“We all need clean air, and it’s critical we act now to reduce carbon emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change,” said Blankman. “This rule is an unlawful effort to prop up energy of the past, and we intend to defend the health and wellbeing of Wisconsinites and Americans in this legal challenge.”

You can find our filing here.

Common Cause in Wisconsin: Progress on democracy in the badger state requires a look to the past



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

Note: This opinion editorial was written for and published in the Wisconsin Examiner on August 12, 2019.

When I became the director of Common Cause in Wisconsin in 1996, this state was still very much one of the bright lights in the nation when it came to honest, transparent, accountable state government and politics.

There was bipartisan consensus here that the amount of special interest money in elections was growing and that it should be curbed. The most serious ethics problem back then was lobbyists furnishing some legislators free tickets to Packers’ games and some meals. Voting was relatively easy and voter turnout at election time was second only to Minnesota, nationally. Our state Supreme Court and judiciary at all levels was revered and respected for its impartiality and non-partisanship and was a model for the rest of the country.

Then, in 2002, top legislative leaders of both chambers and in political parties were brought down in the most serious political scandal in the state’s history, the legislative caucus scandal. A new governor, Jim Doyle, promised political reform and campaigned on it, but backed off when he saw how money flowed to power.

There was some significant reform in Doyle’s second term. The non-partisan Government Accountability Board (GAB) comprised of retired judges was established in 2007, with the power to investigate corruption in the Capitol thanks to a stream of funding not subject to legislative control. It worked very effectively. Once again, we were a role model for the nation. Then, in late 2009, full public financing for state Supreme Court candidates who limited campaign spending became law in reaction to unprecedented special interest “independent” spending on Supreme Court races in 2007 and 2008.

But in 2010, Scott Walker and a conservative, anti-reform Republican majority were swept into power and early in 2011 began the systematic dismantling of any and all political reform that had been enacted into law in Wisconsin since the Progressive Era.

And as the crowning achievement, Walker and the GOP legislature, in order to ensure Republican control of the legislature for the next decade, rammed through the most partisan gerrymander of state legislative and congressional districts in the nation in 2011. It was also rated as one of the five most partisan gerrymanders nationally in the last fifty years. In the space of a couple of months there was Act 10, of course, but also the imposition of the most extreme and restrictive voter photo ID law in the nation – surpassing in severity states like Mississippi and South Carolina. All public financing of elections (full funding for Supreme Court elections and partial public financing for other statewide and legislative elections) was completely wiped out.

It has been effective beyond their wildest hopes and expectations. Virtually no legislative or congressional seats have changed partisan hands in elections since then.

But there was more. In 2015, a freshly re-elected Walker and the gerrymandered GOP majority led by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald destroyed the non-partisan GAB and got rid of the non-partisan judges because they had the temerity to authorize an investigation into the illegal campaign coordination that occurred in the 2012 recall election between Scott Walker’s campaign and Wisconsin Club for Growth. A conflict of interest-ridden state Supreme Court facilitated this outrageous action. The Legislature also effectively, retroactively decriminalized that formerly illegal campaign coordination and for good measure exempted politicians from being investigated under the state’s longstanding and highly effective “John Doe” investigative process – which was crucial in uncovering corruption in the Capitol during the caucus scandal.

They replaced the GAB with partisan commissions to which they controlled the appointments and made any investigation of corruption, and its funding, subject to their approval. And they destroyed whatever limits still existed on special interest money, particularly that money controlled by the legislative leaders. Further, they eliminated most meaningful disclosure of third-party campaign money and transformed Wisconsin from one of the most transparent states in the nation to one of the darkest of the dark money states.

In 2018, a majority of Wisconsin voters said “enough” and threw out Walker and GOP Attorney General Brian Schimel in statewide elections not affected by partisan gerrymandering. The new governor and attorney general, Democrats Tony Evers and Josh Kaul, vowed to restore integrity and fairness to state politics and state government. More significantly, the citizens of Wisconsin have risen up and are demanding extensive and fundamental political reform.

Ten years ago, few Wisconsinites knew what gerrymandering even meant, let alone how it robbed them of genuine choices in elections. Today, overwhelming majorities of citizens of all political persuasions are demanding fair voting maps and a non-partisan redistricting process like Iowa has. County boards and citizen referendums are pressuring the Legislature to end gerrymandering and the issue is at the forefront of citizen concerns. And despite the onerous and extreme voter photo ID law that has depressed voter turnout here, citizens continue to challenge its very premise (in April Common Cause filed a suit against the Wisconsin Election Commission over the unfair restrictions placed on college and university students’ ability to vote). A vast effort is underway to help those who face high hurdles to obtain the required voter ID.

After a decade of extraordinary setbacks, the quest for genuine political reform is moving forward again in Wisconsin. With continued focus, determination and a little luck, we may get back to where we were in 1996. Then we can build on that to restore this state as the beacon of democracy for the nation that we once were.

Common Cause Wisconsin: Students should prepare NOW to vote in 2020


With just a couple of weeks left before students return to Wisconsin’s public universities and private colleges, this is a good time for students to make sure they are ready to vote in Wisconsin.

The next opportunity to cast a ballot is coming up fast. Wisconsin’s Spring Primary to whittle the field of candidates for a seat on our State Supreme Court is on February 18, 2020 – followed by the Spring Election and Presidential Primary on April 7, 2020.

If you value the integrity of our state’s judicial system – and want to have a say in who might occupy the White House next year, mark your calendar with these two important dates, and then get ready to vote now so you’re not scrambling later.

Go to this page on our website:

Three Things College Students Need to Do To Vote in Wisconsin

There, students will find straightforward information on registering to vote and voter photo ID.

If students have a Wisconsin driver’s license or Department of Transportation-issued Wisconsin ID card, then they already have an ID acceptable for voting. But, if they don’t have one of these forms of ID, we provide information on alternative IDs for voting, including if the standard student ID at their school can be used to vote – and if it cannot be used at the polls, how and where to get an acceptable school-issued “voter ID” if their school offers one.

As we have in past years, we will continually update this resource as new information is received or changes. So please check back often. And share this link widely with anyone you know who is attending a college, university or technical school in Wisconsin!

Get this done now, so you won’t have to worry about it later.

Jay Heck
Executive Director
608/256-2686 (o)
608/512-9363 (c)
[email protected]

Sandra Miller
Director of Information Services & Outreach
[email protected]

Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

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Join Common Cause in Wisconsin!

Confidentiality agreement at heart of JFC dispute over lawsuit agreement


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Customers First Coalition: Energy 2050 Power Lunch 🗓


Contact: Kristin Gilkes, 608-286-0784

Energy 2050 Power Lunch Scheduled for August 27 in Madison

MADISON – The Customers First! Coalition will host a Power Lunch in Madison on August 27, 2019, featuring futurist Rebecca Ryan and utility industry leaders, including Jeff Keebler, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Madison Gas & Electric, and John Larsen, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Alliant Energy. An agenda can be found below.

Interested individuals, legislators, staff, and members of the media can register at the following link:

Energy 2050 Power Lunch Agenda
August 27, 2019 – Madison Concourse Hotel, 1 W Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53703

11:00 am – 11:45 am – Registration and Networking

11:45 am – Lunch Seating and Welcome Remarks from State Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and State Representative Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), both members of the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee and the Wisconsin Future Caucus.

12:10 pm – Keynote from Rebecca Ryan – Trained as a futurist and an economist, Rebecca helps clients see what’s coming.

1:00 pm – Break

1:15 pm – Industry Executives Discussion, moderated by Rebecca Ryan, featuring Jeff Keebler, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Madison Gas and Electric and John Larsen, Chairman, President,  and Chief Executive Officer of Alliant Energy.

2:00 pm – Event Concludes

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


Dairy Buisness Association: Edge on-farm ‘policy picnics’ drive government affairs home for members


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

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Government policy is crucial to farmers. What happens in town halls, at state capitols and in Washington, D.C., affect all of them one way or another.

The Dairy Business Association (DBA) in Wisconsin and its Midwest counterpart, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, are focused on making sure those policies are fair, sensible and conducive to a healthy dairy community.

A key to this mission is getting the groups’ members involved in the process. Their voices are louder than any lobbyist’s could be. DBA and Edge take a unique approach to engaging their members in this mission.

In July, the groups held “policy picnics” around Wisconsin to update members on regulatory issues, to collect ideas for policy-related solutions in Madison (DBA) or Washington (Edge), and to encourage members to participate in lobbying efforts. The events, held each summer, also connect members with each other.

“These picnics are a chance for the professionals to tell me, the farmer, what they are working on and get my feedback,” said Nick Woldt, who together with his wife, Maria, own ToldYaSo Holsteins, a small dairy in Marshall, the site of one of four picnics.

The DBA and Edge government affairs teams covered topics such as the new Wisconsin state budget, a replacement to the NAFTA trade deal, immigrant labor and the fall congressional agenda. Members asked questions, offered ideas and shared everyday challenges in the group setting and one on one with the staff.

“This is a great opportunity for us to actually get on the farm and hear directly from farmers as well as our corporate partners about issues they’re facing, including those that are regional or that might otherwise be below the radar because we’re not hearing about them much in Madison or Washington,” said John Holevoet, director of government affairs for DBA and Edge.


Meeting farmers where they live and work — on the farm — in a picnic setting is casual, comfortable and efficient, said Daphne Holterman, a DBA member and dairy farmer in Watertown who attended the event in Marshall.

“It’s informal. It’s a quick pop-over during the middle of the day to check things out, talk to people and see a farm I haven’t seen before. But I think the guts is the policy and I’m always very interested in that,” Holterman said.

Heidi Fischer welcomed the chance to host one of the picnics at Fischer-Clark Dairy Farm in Hatley.

“Anytime you can get a group of farmers or people in agriculture together, there is bound to be great conversation, so I feel these are very effective in informing everyone of the current situation both at the state and national levels,” said Fischer, whose farm is larger. “Everyone hears the same message, and conversation can happen.”

Fischer has taken her interest in policy issues to the next level — a “Dairy Speaks in D.C.” trip with Edge staff to Washington this past spring.

“Our government officials need to know what is happening here at the farm level and how regulations and proposals can impact our business, especially in today’s market,” she said. “We don’t have the time or margin for error, so the more proactive you can be, the better.”

Although Nick Woldt prefers to stay on the farm and leave the lobbying to the professionals, he’s becoming more comfortable with the political aspects of dairy farming, in part because of events like the policy picnics. He said he appreciates the boots-on-the-ground approach from DBA and Edge.


DBA and Edge members can be as closely involved in policy issues as they want to be. The organizations have policy committees where members help make strategic decisions, and members are encouraged to participate in government hearings and lobbying events. In addition to Edge’s trips to Washington, DBA holds a “Dairy Day at the Capitol” in Madison.

This involvement is crucial, said Tim Trotter, executive director of the organizations.

“I can’t stress enough the importance DBA and Edge see in empowering our members, both by giving them a seat at the table when we are shaping our policy strategies and by giving them tools they can use to engage their government representatives,” he said.

“When our members are willing and able to speak up, lawmakers are likely to listen more closely.”

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: dairyforward.com

About Edge:

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

Dane County Exec Parisi: Announces Astra Iheukumere as deputy director of Human Services


Contact: Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823

Position was Created in the 2019 Budget

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Astra Iheukumere will serve as Dane County’s new Deputy Director of Human Services. The position was created in the County Executive’s 2019 budget and will focus on communications, policy and procedure development, long-term planning, and institutional practice and process development related to equity. Iheukumere previously worked for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) as the Director of Strategic Partnerships.

“I look forward to having Astra serve as Dane County’s first Deputy Director of Human Services,” County Executive Joe Parisi said. “Astra’s experience with building strong community relationships and expansive knowledge in public affairs will serve our Department of Human Services well.”

In Iheukumere’s role as Director of Strategic Partnerships for MMSD, she monitored the district’s Partnerships Policy and procedures, managed the Strategic Partnerships Team, and coordinated the implementation of various large-scale tutoring partnerships. Iheukumere also supervised the development and implementation of district-wide systems to support volunteerism in schools.

“I’m excited about this opportunity to serve the community I am from and consider it a privilege to have the chance to impact such a broad portfolio of policies and programs,” said Iheukumere. “I look forward to supporting the work of the fabulous team at Dane County Human Services.”

Prior to her work at MMSD, Iheukumere served as the Assistant Director of Community Networks and National Partnerships for UW-Madison’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program. While there, Iheukumere was the primary liaison to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded national partners. She helped determined effective community mobilization strategies between local communities and partners to create engagement opportunities around public health improvement.

For three years, Iheukumere served as Deputy Mayor and Public Safety Liaison to the Mayor of Madison, where she helped coordinate community outreach, policy development, and program management. She has also held multiple positions in state agencies, including Outreach Director for the Department of Revenue, Medicaid Benefit and Fiscal Policy Analyst for the Department of Health Services, and Assistant Affirmative Action Officer for the Department of Natural Resources. Iheukumere’s start date is September 3.

Dane County GOP: Pleased to announce its second Mobile Office Hour in Madison


Mobile Office Hours allow people to come and speak directly with members of Republican Party of Dane County’s Executive Committee. These are great opportunities to talk about the Republican Party of Dane County, learn about its activities, find out information about past and upcoming events, discuss political updates at the local, state and national level, share thoughts and concerns, ask questions, and more.

Details of the upcoming Mobile Office Hour are given below.

Date: Wednesday, August 28, 2019.
Time: 5:30pm to 6:45pm.
Location: Madison Public Library – Goodman South Madison, 2222 S. Park Street, Madison, WI 53713

The event is open to the public, no appointments are necessary, and attendees do not have to be a Republican Party member to attend.

In August 2019, the Republican Party of Dane County started holding Mobile Office Hours to grow and enhance its outreach efforts, and the first event was held on August 2, 2019, at the Madison Public Library – Sequoya Branch, in Madison.

Tawsif Anam
Executive Committee Member
Republican Party of Dane County
Email: [email protected]
Cellphone: 608-609-4772

Dane County Human Services & Centro Hispano: Receive $63,000 Wisconsin Fast Forward grant to help staff gain college credit


Dane County Department of Human Services and Centro Hispano, in partnership with Madison College, have been awarded a $63,000 Wisconsin Fast Forward grant from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to provide training to new and incumbent staff. The training—which will focus on staff of color who may not have a full college degree—includes new curriculum that incorporates certification options, college credits, and applied work hours to help foster employee recruitment, retention, and engagement.

“Our Department of Human Services staff go beyond the call of duty to serve our community and connect vulnerable residents to helpful resources,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This grant will further our efforts to improve equity in our community and provide our staff with the opportunity to advance their career goals.”

With the help of the Wisconsin Fast Forward grant, Dane County Human Services—Children, Youth, and Families and Centro Hispano will partner with Madison College to provide training to three new and 11 incumbent staff. The trainees will receive 12 credits through Madison College in the area of Human Services through a customized curriculum.

“We are excited about being able to leverage this opportunity to continue the critical equity work of the department,” said Director of Human Services Shawn Tessmann. “I’m thrilled that this partnership will allow us to incentivize and support our Children, Youth, and Families team in a way that will benefit them professionally as well as the community at large.”

DWD presented more than $1.6 million to 10 Wisconsin employers for employee training, developing in-demand, transferable skills. The grants encourage partnerships between employers, educators, workforce development entities, and economic development organizations. The grants will serve 11 businesses and at least 893 trainees across Wisconsin.

DATCP: First Wisconsin case of EEE confirmed in horse in Barron County


MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory confirm that a horse in Barron County tested positive for Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), Wisconsin’s first confirmed EEE case this year. The 22-year-old quarter horse mare had not been vaccinated against EEE, and was euthanized after showing neurological signs and becoming unable to rise. EEE and West Nile virus (WNV) are transmitted by mosquitoes that carry these viruses which can affect the nervous system, and may be fatal. DATCP encourages horse owners to vaccinate their horses against these viruses to prevent the disease symptoms and high levels of fatality associated with them. EEE is fatal in more than 90% of clinical cases in horses while WNV is fatal in 30-40%.

“From an animal welfare perspective, vaccinating horses against EEE and WNV is necessary to prevent the suffering that occurs once the horse contracts the virus,” said Dr. Julie McGwin, DATCP equine program veterinarian. “While the number of cases of EEE and WNV were down last year compared to the previous year, it is heartbreaking for all involved to see any animal suffer through deteriorating health conditions caused by these viruses. We encourage all horse owners to work with their veterinarian to get their horses vaccinated against these diseases.”

In 2018, Wisconsin had a total of two cases of EEE and three cases of WNV reported. In comparison, Wisconsin had a record 24 confirmed cases reported of each virus in 2017. There are currently no reports of WNV cases this year.

The virus is not contagious between horses. While humans may also be infected by WNV and EEE, the viruses do not pass directly between people and horses. Mosquitoes carry the viruses from infected birds and the only route of transmission is from a mosquito bite.

Because the viruses follow mosquito populations, the threat varies depending on the weather but normally starts in mid- to late summer and remains until the first killing frost. For more information about EEE and WNV including symptoms, the vaccination process, and how to limit exposure to mosquitoes, visit DATCP’s website at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Programs_Services/HorsesEEEWNV.aspx. DATCP’s Division of Animal Health monitors animal health and disease threats, promotes humane treatment of animals, and provides licensing and registration regulation for animals in Wisconsin.

DC Wrap: WI congressional delegates planning town halls; Steil says appropriations process is ‘broken’

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

“Given this flow, no one should be surprised that (the U.S. Customs and Border Protection) stations are well beyond their capacity. They are simply not designed to hold families and children in custody, and certainly not at these numbers…”
– U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in a tweet on Tuesday seeking to affirm past warnings by President Trump and DHS officials about the influx of migrants at the southern border. See the tweet here

“2 weeks ago @realDonaldTrump claimed that ‘China is going to be buying a tremendous amount of food and agricultural product . . . very soon, almost immediately’ Surprise, surprise… today he admitted that was false and there are ‘no signs that they are doing so.’”
– Sen. Tammy Baldwin in a tweet blasting President Trump. See the tweet here.

This week’s news

— As Congress heads into its August recess, several members of the Wisconsin congressional delegation have town hall events planned during the break.

*U.S. Rep. Grothman, R-Glenbeulah, will host four town hall meetings on August 6 and 7 in Wild Rose, Hancock, Saukville and Cedar Grove.

*U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, will be announcing his August town halls in the coming weeks.

*Spokeswomen for U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, told WisPolitics.com that they are still finalizing a schedule for town halls.

*Spokesmen for U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, and Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, said neither had town halls planned though both intended to be active in their districts during the August recess.

*Spokesmen for U.S Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh and U.S. Rep Sean Duffy, R-Weston, were not immediately available to provide comment on town hall plans.


— U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil called the appropriations process “broken” as a federal budget bill passed the House despite widespread GOP defections on a deal President Trump’s administration cut. 

The Janesville Republican added that the bill the House passed July 25, which would increase government spending by $320 billion over the next two years, lacks “fiscal responsibility.”

“Congress cannot continue to spend without a plan to pay for it,” Steil said in a statement. 

All five Wisconsin House Republicans joined 127 GOP colleagues and 16 Dems to vote against the measure, while 65 GOP lawmakers joined 219 Dems voting in favor.

President Trump tweeted in support of the bill, saying “House Republicans should support the two year budget agreement… I am totally with you!” after working with congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle. 

After the bill passed the president tweeted again adding, “I am pleased to announce the House has passed our budget deal…great for our Military and our Vets. A big thank you!” 

The appropriations bill is now in the Senate and reports from Washington indicate it will receive a vote today.  

See Steil’s statement here:

See Trump’s tweets here:


— U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, introduced legislation in the House to amend financial aid penalties for students who are convicted of minor marijuana charges.

Currently, a college student convicted of possession of marijuana could lose their federal student aid for an extended period of time. Moore last week introduced the Second Chance for Students Act alongside U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill.

“Losing financial aid can be devastating and often determines whether one can remain in school. This policy harms students of color, who are often targeted for low-level offenses like marijuana possession,” Moore said.

Moore’s legislation would allow college students convicted of marijuana possession to retain financial aid eligibility for six months while completing an approved drug rehabilitation program.

See the release here: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/u-s-rep-moore-introduces-legislation-to-give-students-a-second-chance/ 


— U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, voted to sustain President Trump’s vetoes of joint resolutions prohibiting arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week, while Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, supported overturning them.

The override votes failed 46-41, 45-39 and 45-40, well short of the two-thirds support needed.


Posts of the week


Ron Johnson says Donald Trump is wrong about struggling Wisconsin dairy farmers being ‘over the hump’

Ron Johnson seeks ‘common sense, obvious recommendations’ in gun control discussion

Ron Johnson says Robert Mueller’s testimony was ‘sad,’ says age took a toll

Sen. Baldwin proposes to reauthorize Great Lakes restoration

Baldwin Touts Made In America Act During Clinton Visit

Remaining Wisconsin Air Guard members leave for Southwest Asia

Reps. Gwen Moore, Mark Pocan oppose boycott condemnation bill

Rep. Pocan: Momentum builds for impeachment

Wisconsin retirees fight for pension reform

Sensenbrenner Pushes Mueller At Hearing

Rep. Gallagher hosts forum to talk flooding concerns in the community

Rep. Sean Duffy: The Steele dossier had a huge impact on the 2016 election

GOP Rep Slams Bank CEO for Refusing Business to Detention Facilities That Care for Migrant Children

Wisconsin’s Congressional Delegation weighs in on Mueller

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Chair Ben Wikler statement on the 84th anniversary of social security


Contact: Philip Shulman, [email protected]

(MADISON, WI) — Today, on the 84th Anniversary of Social Security being signed into law, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler released the following statement:

“In President Trump’s 2020 budget he proposed slashing $26 billion from Social Security programs, breaking a covenant with older Americans who have been paying into this program since the time they could pay taxes. This is a betrayal to them and the very idea that you should be able to retire with dignity and live free of poverty.

“Trump is Social Security’s number one threat, as he broke yet another promise he made on the campaign trail. In 2016, he stood in front of a crowd in Appleton and declared that he was going to ‘save your social security,’ that his opponents wanted ‘cut the hell out of it,’ and that he ‘wouldn’t do that.’

Happy 84th Anniversary Social Security, Let’s Make Sure Trump Doesn’t Get His Way

“Whether it’s Social Security, Medicare, or the Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump has been hellbent on gutting these programs to make life harder for Wisconsinites everywhere, including those who voted for him. And he does this knowing full well that Social Security reduces poverty — without Social Security 40% of Americans 65 years and older would live below the federal poverty line.

“That’s why Democrats are fighting for seniors. We refuse to go back in time to when growing older meant having to fight for scraps just to get by. We believe that after a life of hard work you should be able to live a healthy and happy life.”

Democratic Party of Wisconsin: Statement on Rep. Duffy’s resignation


Contact: Courtney Beyer, [email protected]

MADISON — The following is a statement from Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Ben Wikler on news that Rep. Sean Duffy will be resigning from Congress:

“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin sends its well wishes to the Duffy family as they face the medical challenges ahead. During the fight against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, I worked closely with the families of children born with congenital heart defects. Nurturing these children is a full-time job, and one that takes great emotional strength from the families who love them. I will be hoping for the best for Sean and Rachel as they prepare to welcome their child to the world.”

Democrats introduce bill to expand background checks for firearms

Gov. Tony Evers joined Dem lawmakers and AG Josh Kaul to introduce a bill to expand background checks covering a vast majority of firearms purchases in the state.

But Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said in a statement that is was “disingenuous” to suggest universal background checks “would have prevented the tragedies we’ve seen as a state and nation.” He instead called for expanding mental health services.

Citing the recent mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso that occurred just before the anniversary of Oak Creek Sikh temple shooting, Evers on Thursday slammed GOP lawmakers “that refuse to acknowledge gun violence is a problem” and called for “common sense” gun control legislation.

“It’s time to stop waiting for permission from the NRA. Enough is enough, folks,” he said during a Capitol news conference. “It’s time to be bipartisan and it’s time to lead.”

The proposal is one of two measures the guv backed. The other — “red-flag” laws that would allow family members or police officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person deemed to present a danger to themselves or others — was not introduced Thursday. But Evers told reporters he planned introduce the measure, which Kaul backs, “at some point in time.”

The bill introduced Thursday by co-authors Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, and Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, would close what several of the elected officials labeled as a “loophole” in current law that does not require a background check for private firearm sales or transfers. Under current state and federal law, background checks are only required for sales through federally licensed firearm dealers.

Kaul criticized those laws as well as lawmakers he accused of propping them up, saying the state has “seen far too much inaction” on gun violence.

“Our kids deserve better than that. People deserve to feel safe going to school, they deserve to feel safe going to church or temple and they deserve to feel safe when they are in our communities,” he said.

Under the bill, firearm sales or transfers would have to be conducted through a federally licensed firearm dealer, which would use the background check framework that is already in place. The purchase of a long gun in Wisconsin through a firearms dealer requires a background check run through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System while a handgun purchase requires a background check through the state Department of Justice’s Handgun Hotline.

Evers’ proposal has a number of exemptions, including sales of antiques, sales to a firearm dealer, to a member of the military or law enforcement or a transfer classified as a gift, bequest or inheritance.

Republican leaders have shown little interest in enacting gun control measures.

Speaking Thursday morning before the bill was released on WISN-AM, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said both universal background checks and red-flag laws are measures “we know are not going to be effective.”

“I think there should be common-sense, middle-ground things that would improve the actual problem,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn’t comment on the proposals, with an aide referring to comments he made earlier this week that a “constituency who vote Republican” has concerns over universal background checks, because it raises the possibility people would have to register their guns. He also said there’s already a law on the books from the 1990s that is similar to a red flag law and could be tweaked.

Department of Corrections: Media Notification on Illegal Data Release

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.

Department of Health Services: Majority of Wisconsin lung disease patients who reported vaping cite THC products

In the Wisconsin investigation of people with lung disease who reported vaping, 89% of the 27 cases interviewed so far reported using e-cigarettes or other vaping devices to inhale THC products, such as waxes and oils, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced today. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana. While most cases have reported vaping THC products, DHS is continuing to investigate all possible causes. The connection to THC products is based on interviews with cases, and the agency is working with FDA to determine the contents of used vaping products.

“Vaping cartridges containing THC may include chemicals or additives that are unknown, unregulated, and unsafe,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We strongly urge people not to vape.”

Health officials are continuing to conduct interviews with new patients as part of this investigation. Currently there are 32 cases, with 11 patients whose cases need further investigation. Fourteen counties now have cases, including: Dane, Dodge, Door, Green, Kenosha, La Crosse, Milwaukee, Portage, Racine, Sauk, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, and Winnebago. No deaths have been reported in Wisconsin.

The 32 cases include both confirmed and probable cases. A case is defined as a person who had a history of vaping and developed a severe lung disease, and did not have any infection or other causes for their illness. A probable case includes many of these factors and is likely to be confirmed, but more information is needed for confirmation. We continue to gather information from the 11 patients whose cases require further investigation.

This is a complex and ongoing investigation, and we are working to gather information about the products used, collect products for testing, and investigate new cases. Our investigation team has worked closely with FDA to coordinate testing, but we have not received results from those tests. We are also working with CDC, which is coordinating a national response to the nearly 200 illnesses in at least 22 other states. We will continue to provide updates when new information becomes available.

Anyone experiencing unexplained shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, nausea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss should talk to their doctor. People can learn more about e-cigarettes and vaping products—including what they look like, their health risks for youth, and how to talk to kids about them—at tobaccoischanging.com(link is external). There are FDA-approved medications to help tobacco users quit. Call 1-800-QUIT NOW for free help.

Department of Health Services: Shares coping tips for people affected by recent storms

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.

Department of Justice: First conviction issued after testing of backlogged sexual assault kits

WAUPACA, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that a jury in Waupaca County convicted Leroy R. Whittenberger of three counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault, class C Felonies, for the assault of a teenage victim that occurred in July 2012. The victim’s sexual assault kit was tested as part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) in 2017. This is the first conviction to result from the testing of backlogged sexual assault kits in Wisconsin. The case was presided over by Waupaca County Judge Troy L. Nielsen.

“A survivor who waited years for justice has finally received it,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Yesterday’s verdict is a result of her courage and the work of the public servants who have been dedicated to getting justice in this case.”

This conviction was the result of joint effort by civilian witnesses, New London Police Department, Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory DNA Analyst Kara Raymond, and the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Amber Hahn and Noel Lawrence, with assistance from legal associate Tiffany Briggs, paralegals Jackie Righter and Rachael Sweet, in partnership with the Waupaca County District Attorney’s Office.

Leroy Whittenberger is a serial sexual offender and has three prior sexual assault convictions from Lincoln and Marathon counties. Law enforcement and local advocacy service providers from those counties were instrumental in bringing about these new convictions.

A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled. Each count carries a potential maximum period of imprisonment of 25 years initial confinement and 15 years extended supervision.

Department of Natural Resources: Honors 27 conservation wardens for lifesaving and valor acts


CONTACT: Contact: Todd Schaller, Chief Conservation Warden, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-381-8927, [email protected]

DNR conservation wardens proudly serve their communities to protect public and natural resources often performing life-threatening acts to save lives. 

MADISON, Wis. – Officials lauded 27 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources conservation wardens Monday for lifesaving and valor acts ranging from providing medical assistance, battling a severe storm’s blinding waves to save two stranded boaters and rescuing a trapped motorist from rising floodwaters.

Lieutenant Gov. Mandela Barnes joined DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole and DNR Chief Conservation Warden Todd Schaller to present the awards at a State Capitol ceremony attended by families and friends of the wardens on Monday.

“Your communities rely on you,” Barnes said. “The state relies on you to keep our public and resources protected and thriving.”

Wardens are well-known public servants and are a vital part of their communities.

“People call, and you come,” Cole said. “As the state law enforcement service dedicated to the outdoors and the people who enjoy them, your service to the state and all its visitors cannot be overstated.”

Valor Award recipients are part of the DNR’s high-quality public servant organization celebrating its 140th year.

“Every warden nominated for an award was not thinking about being honored when they rushed to help,” Schaller said. “They were just doing their job and people are alive today because of it.”

The awards presented were selected by the DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement’s Lifesaving and Valor Award Committee made up of bureau staff. The awards were selected based upon the following requirements.

Criteria for a lifesaving award
The employee performed an act that was intended to save a person’s life.
It appeared at the time that the person in jeopardy would not have a chance of survival without the employee’s actions or assistance.
Criteria for a valor award
Extraordinary heroism while being aware of an imminent threat to personal safety.

Department of Public Instruction: Awards nearly $4 million to support students outside of school hours


Thursday, August 15, 2019
Contact: DPI Media Line, (608) 266-3559, [email protected]

MADISON — Students at 35 public and private schools across Wisconsin will benefit from new 21st Century Community Learning Center grants awarded by the Department of Public Instruction. The grants support programs that provide academic support and youth development activities outside of school hours. The 35 new schools join 97 already receiving the five-year grants.

“Students will be successful when they are provided the supports they need,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said. “Outside of school hours, our students with the greatest needs often don’t have access to the same supports their peers may have. We need to make sure everyone has access to supports that will allow them to make the most of their own potential.”

Demand for the competitive grants has consistently exceeded available funding. This year, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction awarded $4.12 million in grants for the 35 new sites. The total number of applicants, however, was 135, requesting a total of more than $16 million.

The community learning centers improve student achievement, attendance, and behaviors by providing enriching academic activities during out-of-school hours. Activities are aligned with existing academic standards and school day learning goals. To receive a grant, centers must serve a school with large numbers or percentages of children from low-income families; additionally, programming must serve students with a variety of academic or social and emotional needs. Through grant funding and by engaging community partners, the centers give students access to opportunities that might not otherwise be available, such as tutoring, service learning, arts and music, education to prevent violence or drug use, financial literacy, credit recovery, apprenticeships, environmental literacy, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The centers also provide learning to adult family members to help them support their children’s education and succeed in their own lives.
A list of 21st Century Community Learning Center grantees for the 2019-20 school year is available at dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/sspw/xls/Contacts_for_Web.xlsx.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Grant application period open for nonprofits that serve veterans, families

Grant Application Period Open for Nonprofits that Serve Veterans, Families

Applications Due by August 30, 2019

MADISON — Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) Secretary-designee Mary Kolar announced today that grant applications from registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance or other services to Wisconsin veterans and their families are being accepted.The Non-Profit Grant program includes a maximum total of up to $250,000 annually to nonprofit organizations and no more than $25,000 to each grant recipient.

The WDVA Non-Profit Grant is available to registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that provide financial assistance or other services to veterans and their dependents. The WDVA is proud partners with more than 1000 community and non-profit organizations across the state, particularly through the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program that help veterans with housing (homelessness), behavioral health, mental health, and financial and legal assistance, among other services. We encourage these groups and others who wish to join our network of organizations that provide services veterans and their families to apply.

Nonprofits interested in applying for this grant opportunity must submit their completed applications by 4:00 p.m. on August 30, 2019.

The following criteria will be evaluated as part of the grant application:

  • Background and organizational history
  • Organizational qualifications and past performances
  • Experience working with veterans and their families
  • Need for grant funding
  • Outreach and screening plan
  • Program implementation timeline
  • Monitoring and program evaluation
  • Program goals and objectives
  • Past working relationships with Veterans Service Organizations
  • Integration of outreach and employment services

Application materials for this grant are available online by clicking here.  Applications and questions about the grant application process should be directed to WDVA Grants Unit at 1-800-WIS-VETS or email at [email protected]wisconsin.gov.

Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection: Reduce your moving stress, read up on your tenant rights


MADISON – August is a time of significant migration into and out of rental properties throughout the state, especially in college towns. For some renters, this year’s new lease may be the first legal contract they have ever signed. Others may be leaving their first rental and have concerns about their security deposits.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) would like to shed some light on this often-complicated matter by helping renters understand their rights and responsibilities when entering or leaving a rental agreement.

“There are a number of financial risks and legal requirements to consider for those heading into or leaving rental properties – especially with regard to their security deposits,” said Lara Sutherlin, Administrator for the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection. “To receive as much of the security deposit as possible at the end of a lease, a renter should take the time to get educated about their responsibilities in the transaction and the steps they need to take when moving into or out of a rental.”

The simplest way to start learning about your rights as a tenant is to download a free copy of DATCP’s “Tenants’ Rights and Responsibilities” fact sheet. This document addresses a wide range of rental-related topics including security deposits, rent increases, evictions, property maintenance, and more. For even more information, DATCP’s “Guide for Landlords and Tenants” digs deeper into these topics and is a valuable resource for both property owners and renters alike.

DATCP receives more than 1,000 landlord/tenant complaints each year, with most involving issues related to security deposits. So whether you are moving into or out of a rental property, consider the following tips to protect your deposit:

Move-in tips:

  • Complete a check-in sheet when you get the keys. If your lease requires a security deposit, you have seven days from the first rental date to complete a check-in report that notes pre-existing conditions. If you fail to return a check-in sheet within seven days, you may be giving up your right to contest some security deposit withholdings for pre-existing conditions. Take photos (or videos) of any damages, submit copies of the photos to your landlord with the report, and keep a copy of all of these materials for yourself.
  • At the start of a tenancy, the landlord must provide you with the name and address of a person who can be readily contacted regarding maintenance problems. But unless otherwise agreed, tenants are usually responsible for routine minor repairs and are required to comply with any maintenance and sanitation requirements imposed on tenants by local housing codes.

Move-out tips:

  • Ask your landlord for a preliminary walkthrough before your final checkout. This will give you a chance to assess what needs special attention for cleaning or repairs in order to avoid potential security deposit deductions.
  • Be sure to provide your new address in order to receive your security deposit and any accounting statement for any withholdings promptly.
  • Take detailed photos of the property during your final walkthrough in order to document the condition in which you left it.

If you have issues regarding your security deposit or questions about your rights as a tenant, contact the Consumer Protection Hotline at 800-422-7128 or via email: [email protected]. You can also find resource materials and file a complaint online at datcp.wi.gov. Finally, look for rental assistance organizations in your area and find out if they offer walk-in services to discuss any issues you may face.

For additional consumer protection information, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wi.gov or find us at www.facebook.com/wiconsumer or on Twitter: @wiconsumer.

Dept. of Health Services: Managed care organizations selected for state Family Care programs


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

DHS announces Inclusa and Lakeland Care will provide services in Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, and Shawano Counties

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced today that based on results from a recent procurement, Inclusa and Lakeland Care managed care organizations (MCO) have been selected to provide the Family Care program in Brown, Door, Kewaunee, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, and Shawano counties beginning January 1, 2020. Incumbent managed care organization Care Wisconsin will no longer provide the program in those counties after December 31, 2019.

Care Wisconsin will continue to provide services through the end of the year. Members do not need to take any immediate action. In the months leading up to the January 2020 transition, Care Wisconsin members will receive one-on-one counseling from either an Aging and Disability Resource Center or a Tribal Aging and Disability Resource Specialist to make informed decisions about their future services. In addition, DHS will host regional member information meetings in September.

Dept. of Tourism: Announces refresh to advisory committees


Craig Trost, Wisconsin Department of Tourism

608-445-0267; [email protected]

Kristina LeVan, Wisconsin Department of Tourism

608-266-0458; [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. (Aug. 8, 2019) – The Wisconsin Department of Tourism (WDT) announces a refreshed structure of its advisory committees. Designed to support the department’s 2019-2021 Strategic Plan, the new structure aims to regularly welcome new voices, engage future tourism industry leaders, provide greater transparency to industry stakeholders, and address diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of our work.

In addition to the refresh, the Department of Tourism has developed the Outdoor Recreation and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committees, bringing the total number of advisory committees to seven. The committees are listed below:

Marketing Committee
The Marketing Committee serves as a sounding board for WDT’s brand and marketing campaigns. Their considerations include, but are not limited to, geographic impact, international market development, product offerings, arts and culture, and business to business market outreach. The committee’s involvement ensures that the stated strategy is reflected in the department’s campaigns, and technical rigor is maintained.

Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) Grant Committee
WDT administers a $1.13 million Joint Effort Marketing (JEM) grant program annually. JEM grants provide partnership funding to help non-profit Wisconsin organizations promote tourism in their area. The JEM committee reviews all applications and makes funding recommendations.

Tourism Information Center (TIC) Committee
WDT administers grants to nonprofit tourism organizations, municipalities and Native American tribes operating regional tourist information centers that provide information on cultural, recreational, and other tourism businesses. The TIC Committee reviews all applications and makes funding recommendations.

Meetings & Conventions (M&C) Committee
The M&C Committee provides the specialized knowledge and tools necessary to advance WDT’s strategic objectives within the important meetings & conventions sector, with a focus on market-related activities, collaboration, and partnership. A subcommittee is responsible for reviewing applications and making funding recommendations for Meetings Mean Business (MMB) grants, which assist destinations as they bid for national or Midwest regional meetings and conventions.

Sports Marketing Committee
The Sports Marketing Committee provides the specialized knowledge and tools necessary within the important sports marketing sector, to ensure advancement of WDT’s strategic objectives through collaboration and partnership initiatives. A subcommittee is responsible for reviewing applications and making funding recommendations for Ready, Set, Go! (RSG) grants, which assist destinations as they bid for national or Midwest regional competitive sporting events.

Outdoor Recreation Committee
The Outdoor Recreation Committee guides and supports the implementation of WDT’s strategic objectives in the important outdoor recreation sector to ensure the success of the Office of Outdoor Recreation. This ad hoc committee supports and advances the initiatives and priorities set by the Office of Outdoor Recreation.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee
The DEI Committee will advise on efforts to address the strategic plan imperative of “fostering positive travel experiences for all.” They will identify and create initiatives to ensure that WDT is taking the lead in developing a Wisconsin travel experience that welcomes everyone.

A member of the Governor’s Council on Tourism will chair each committee. Committees also include select at-large members appointed by the Secretary. Individuals interested in serving are encouraged to submit a cover letter stating your interest in a specific committee, resume, and references to [email protected]

The Governor’s Council on Tourism advises the Secretary on matters relating to tourism and serves as a sounding board to the agency as it develops and enacts the strategic plan to advance tourism. The Council aims to represent varied geography and wide-ranging expertise that includes, but is not limited to, recreation and attraction business owners, hospitality and service industry business owners, convention and visitor bureaus, economic development specialists, industry thought leaders, legislators, and leaders of arts, historic and cultural destinations.

For more information on the Governor’s Council on Tourism or the new committees, visit the Wisconsin Department of Tourism industry website.

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

DHS says cases of severe lung disease linked to vaping devices containing THC

Most of the people in the state who recently developed severe lung diseases after vaping say they used e-cigarettes or other vaping devices containing THC — the main active chemical in marijuana.

That’s according to the state Department of Health Services, which is tracking 32 confirmed or probable cases of respiratory issues linked to vaping THC products, including 11 cases that “need further investigation.” 

This comes as health groups in the state are stepping up their warnings about vaping products, while the number of related hospitalizations continues to rise in Wisconsin and around the country. 

The Milwaukee Health Department this week issued a health alert warning residents to stop vaping altogether, after individuals hospitalized for serious lung conditions reported using vape products containing nicotine or marijuana oils and concentrates. 

And the American Lung Association in Wisconsin echoed that warning, calling on all state residents to “stop using any vape and/or e-cigarette devices immediately.”

In a statement, the organization expressed concern about the “youth e-cigarette epidemic” and noted hospitalizations have now been reported in at least 22 states. 

“While much remains to be determined about the reported cases of severe lung disease as well as the lasting health consequences of vaping, the American Lung Association is very troubled by what we see so far,” the group said. 

DHS says the connection between the lung issues and THC products is based on interviews with those affected, which found 89 percent of the 27 people interviewed so far reported vaping THC products including waxes and oils. Importantly, DHS isn’t drawing a connection between the lung diseases and THC itself, but rather the products that contain THC. 

“Vaping cartridges containing THC may include chemicals or additives that are unknown, unregulated, and unsafe,” said Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We strongly urge people not to vape.” 

DHS says it’s working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is looking at more than 200 cases in 22 other states. And the agency is working with the FDA to determine what exactly was in the used vaping products. 

See the latest DHS release below. 

Track the investigation at the DHS site. 

DNR: Announces results of Madison PFAS contamination pilot study


CONTACT: Sarah Hoye, DNR Communications Director, (608) 267-2773 or [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – A pilot study commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources reveals the possibility of additional sources of PFAS contamination near two Madison drinking water wells.

In April, the DNR hired an environmental consulting firm to inventory current, former industrial and commercial activities to help determine potential sources of PFAS affecting the two wells.

Madison municipal Wells 15 and 16 were chosen for this pilot study because voluntary sampling events that occurred in late 2018 by the Madison water utility confirmed that the wells are affected by PFAS. Well 15 helps serve the city’s northeast side, and Well 16 provides water to part of Madison’s west side.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays, and certain types of firefighting foam.

These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment through accidental spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.

The pilot study showed that, in addition to known PFAS sources, there could be additional sources around Wells 15 and 16 that require further evaluation.

“Clean drinking water is a public health priority. This pilot project serves as an example of the department’s efforts to raise water quality issues to the forefront and assist Madison in its mission to provide safe, reliable water to the community,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. “The department remains committed to working collaboratively with the city, county, water utility and sewage district.”

The next steps include taking groundwater samples from existing monitoring wells to identify other potential sources of PFAS. DNR and local officials will evaluate the results and methodology of the pilot study to help with evaluations in Dane County and other locations around the state where PFAS contamination may exist.

Visit the DNR website for more information about the pilot study and PFAS. You may also visit the DNR’s website at dnr.wi.gov and type in keyword “PFAS.”

DOC: Secretary-Designee Carr appoints Ron Hermes as new Division of Juvenile Corrections administrator


Contact: Strategic Communications Office: 608-240-5060
[email protected]

MADISON, WI – Today, the Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary-Designee Kevin Carr announced the appointment of Ron Hermes as the new Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC) Administrator. Hermes will begin the role on August 19, 2019.

“Our state is at a transformative crossroads for youth justice reform, so it was critical that we appoint a DJC leader who has a passion for being a champion for our state’s most vulnerable populations,” said Secretary-Designee Carr. “Ron not only has passion for this work, he has a proven track record to match.”

Past winner of a UW-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare award, Hermes was the Director for the Bureau of Permanence and Out-of-Home Care at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) before joining the DOC in January of this year. At DCF, Hermes oversaw all policies and operations related to foster care and out-of-home care placements for at-risk youth, including the licensing and monitoring of group homes and residential care centers for children and youth and the policies and procedures related to public adoptions.

“In many cases, our children have experienced significant trauma and negative life experiences that may have led to their involvement in the juvenile corrections system. That is why it is critical that the policies and practices within the entire spectrum of Wisconsin’s youth justice system reflect the values that ALL children deserve the appropriate programs and treatment that will provide them the opportunity to live productive lives,” said Hermes.

The DJC is responsible for operating Lincoln Hills Schools and Copper Lake Schools (LHS/CLS), Wisconsin’s only Type 1 secured juvenile correctional facilities. The division also provides correctional supervision in communities for youth throughout Wisconsin.

“I am proud to have Ron at the helm of the DJC, a seasoned leader who will continue to push forward the positive, sustainable changes we have already begun to see in the DJC and in our facilities,” said Secretary-Designee Carr.

“To support Wisconsin’s youth, as well as the DJC employees who have committed their careers to serving our state, is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” said Hermes. “I am excited at the possibilities we have in front of us and look forward to tackling the challenges, as well.”

Documents: JFC co-chairs were open to confidentiality agreement with DOJ before dismissing as ‘nonstarter’

While the GOP JFC co-chairs called Dem AG Josh Kaul’s request to sign a confidentiality agreement a “nonstarter” after yesterday’s hearing, they wrote in a July letter they were open to one to ensure details of proposed settlements submitted for their review remained secret.

They also suggested their own version of a possible nondisclosure agreement after receiving one from Kaul, according to a letter the AG sent committee members yesterday and other correspondence obtained by WisPolitics.com.

But Joint Finance Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, told WisPolitics.com in a statement Republicans on the committee don’t believe they should have to sign a nondisclosure agreement because their research since the July exchange shows attorneys general typical haven’t asked the guv’s office to do so.

“As an equal branch of government, we do not believe we should be required to sign confidentiality agreements,” Nygren said.

The exchange is the latest development in a standoff that Kaul says could harm the state’s standing in a multi-state lawsuit that he sought to brief the committee on yesterday. Meanwhile Nygren and fellow JFC Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, have accused the AG of seeking to undermine a law passed during the December lame-duck session giving the Legislative oversight of proposed settlements reached by DOJ.

It also all comes against a backdrop of a request from GOP legislative leaders for the state Supreme Court to weigh in on the extraordinary session law after Kaul has indicated he doesn’t believe it impacts certain cases that come before the Department of Justice.

JFC called a hearing yesterday to review a proposed settlement and took the rare — if not unprecedented — step of going to closed session to discuss the details. Kaul wanted committee members to sign the nondisclosure agreements before sharing information on the proposed settlement, but members refused. He also warned there is a Friday deadline for the state to take action on the proposed settlement.

Among other things, Republicans complained the request was rushed with Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, asking why members hadn’t seen the confidentiality agreement well in advance of the hearing.

Kaul then followed up with a letter to all committee members detailing communications with Darling and Nygren going back to March 1 that sought to reach an agreement on how the DOJ and JFC would approach proposed settlements.

The communications include a series of sharp disagreements over the law, as well as proposals to create a working process for JFC to review settlements.

They also included a July 12 letter in which the co-chairs wrote, “We understand your desire to keep proposed settlements confidential. We are open to signing a confidentiality agreement even though we are under no obligation to do so.”

That letter included the co-chairs’ suggestion for a confidentiality agreement.

The co-chairs said after yesterday’s hearing that they told DOJ what is shared in closed sessions of legislative committees is confidential and sufficient to protect the ability to negotiate settlements.

Darling again stressed that in a statement last night, saying “Closed session is confidential, and members of both parties have raised concerns with being required to sign a confidentiality agreement.”

Dem members said yesterday they didn’t want to sign the agreements because they preferred to simply let Kaul handle the settlement as the agency had operated prior to the December changes Republicans made.

In Kaul’s letter yesterday, meeting in closed session wasn’t enough of a safeguard because a Wisconsin court decision indicated material shared in a closed session doesn’t have to be kept confidential.

“Considering confidential information and keeping that information confidential is part and parcel of the review of settlements,” Kaul wrote. “And if the information discussed in closed session will in fact be kept confidential, signing the agreement will confirm that it must be kept confidential.”

Read Kaul’s letter:

DOJ says decision no longer needed today on settlement Kaul tried to take before JFC

DOJ now says a decision is no longer needed by today on a proposed multi-state settlement AG Josh Kaul tried to take before the Joint Finance Committee earlier this week.

DOJ’s Charlotte Gibson, head of the Legal Services Division, sent committee members an email yesterday evening breaking the news. It came hours after the JFC co-chairs announced they had retained outside counsel to sign a confidentiality agreement Kaul requested and review the deal in an attempt to break an impasse.

“We don’t yet know when or if there will be another time at which a decision may be needed regarding this matter, but it is possible that it will need to be made quickly,” Gibson wrote to committee members. “If that situation arises, we will let you know right away.”

Earlier in the week, Kaul had warned committee members he needed them to each sign a nondisclosure agreement so he could brief them on a proposed deal and get their sign off before a Friday deadline. He had warned failure to act could harm the state’s interest in the unnamed case.

A DOJ spokeswoman said she couldn’t provide any details on why the deadline was now off.

“It seems that when the Finance Committee met AG Kaul’s request to sign a confidentiality agreement the urgent deadline resolved itself,” said Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette.

Nygren and fellow Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, announced yesterday they had hired attorney Andrew Phillips to review any proposed settlements reached by DOJ that needed to be approved by the committee under a lame-duck session law Republicans approved in December.

The contract with Phillips, who will be paid $290 an hour by taxpayers, states he was authorized to sign the confidentiality agreement Kaul requested on behalf of the committee, “thereby binding the JFC, its members and agents.”

But Richard Champagne, head of the Legislative Reference Bureau, wrote in a memo he couldn’t find anything in state law that would bind a lawmaker to confidentiality under such an agreement if the member hadn’t personally signed it.

Dem JFC members said they balked at that provision and weren’t consulted in the hire.

Under the contract, Phillips would review any settlements DOJ reaches, not just the one Kaul tried to bring before the committee this week. In a July letter to the co-chairs, Kaul detailed 17 proposed settlements that he wanted to submit to JFC for its review.

Champagne’s memo also says he can’t find any authority to require a lawmaker to keep confidential any information that was shared in a closed session unless state or federal law required it to remain private or a member had signed a nondisclosure agreement.

That has been part of the dispute between Kaul and the JFC co-chairs.

Kaul had insisted each committee member had to sign a confidentiality agreement before he could share in closed session details of a proposed settlement involving multiple states.

Members refused, and the co-chairs had argued it was unnecessary to sign a confidentiality agreement because lawmakers are bound to keep secret anything said in a closed session.

Champagne, however, noted there is one attorney general opinion he found that no statute imposes a confidentiality requirement on members of a state Senate committee and one would have to be imposed through state law.

“When a committee meets in closed session for the purpose of receiving confidential information, the committee chairperson may certainly poll members to determine if they intend to keep confidential information received in committee,” Champagne wrote. “If members indicate that they will not keep confidential the information, the committee chairperson may need to determine if the committee can receive the confidential information.”

Read the memo:

DOJ: Sawyer County man receives maximum sentence for threatening local criminal justice officials and family


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.

DOT’s Thompson clears committee; Nass, Stroebel raise objections

A Senate panel has unanimously backed the confirmation of Craig Thompson to lead DOT despite Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, urging Republicans on the panel to either oppose Thompson’s nomination or delay the vote.

Before Thursday’s vote, committee Chair Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon, praised Thompson as “a class act” that “will do a great job for the state of Wisconsin.” He also bemoaned the politics around Thompson’s nomination.

“I know there is constantly, in the world we live in, a lot of sniping going on for some of the secretaries. But I believe Craig has been involved in transportation for a long time and I believe he will do a good job,” he said.

The committee voted 4-0 to back Thompson and Mary Kolar to lead Veterans Affairs with Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, absent due to a pre-planned family trip.

A Nass spokesman ripped the vote, saying the Whitewater Republican would continue to oppose Thompson’s nomination. Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, also expressed opposition to the nomination.

With a 19-14 majority, Thompson would need the support of all other Senate Republicans to win confirmation without Dem support. Typically, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has avoided votes that require Dem support to pass.

A Nass spokesman told WisPolitics.com the Whitewater Republican was “extremely, extremely upset” by the allegation of sniping and bashed Petrowski for “willfully ignoring your oversight duties.”

“Anybody who’s a proper committee chairman should want to conduct oversight and ask questions. But to move it forward without even asking questions and then refer to people bringing it up as sniping just pretty much speaks to the problem of why taxpayers can’t always count on the legislature to defend them,” said spokesman Mike Mikalsen.

Nass raised concerns over the nomination over a report detailing the number of single-bid contracts approved since he became secretary.

In a release, Stroebel slammed Thompson for perceived coziness with road builders.

“There is a fundamental conflict of interest inherent in appointing the lobbyist of a group of vendors to head an agency that hands out contracts to those same vendors,” he said.

A Stroebel spokesman did not comment to WisPolitics.com when asked if the Cedarburg Republican would vote against Thompson on the floor.

But speaking with reporters after the hearing, Petrowski said he believed Thompson’s job history should be considered a benefit.

“I think your life history probably helps you to understand the issues much better than somebody else that’s not involved in transportation,” he said. “If you want the brightest and best people, I think you try to get the people that have a background and knowledge not only of managing people but managing the process.”

See Nass’ statement:

See Stroebel’s statement:

See the committee vote:

Duffy announces he will resign in September, child due in October has heart condition


U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, announced on his Facebook page this morning that he will resign from Congress Sept. 23.

Duffy wrote in his post his ninth child, who is due in October, has a heart condition.

“With much prayer, I have decided that this is the right time for me to take a break from public service in order to be the support my wife, baby and family need right now,” Duffy wrote. “It is not an easy decision – because I truly love being your Congressman – but it is the right decision for my family, which is my first love and responsibility.”

Duffy, a former reality TV star who went on to become the Ashland County DA, was elected to the House in 2010 as part of a GOP wave. He announced plans in 2009 to challenge longtime Dem Rep. Dave Obey in the sprawling 7th CD. That following spring, Obey announced he wouldn’t seek re-election, and Duffy beat then-state Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, for the seat.

Since then, Duffy has become a regular on Fox News and was seen as a possible statewide candidate in 2022.

His wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy, has also been a regular on Fox News as well as a conservative activist.

The office of Gov. Tony Evers said he plans to call a special election to fill the seat. His office was studying state law to follow the requirements under the statutes for doing so.

The district stretches from the St. Croix River in northwestern Wisconsin to the area east of Wausau and Rhinelander. It has become a deep red seat in recent years due to redistricting and a shift politically in northern Wisconsin. President Trump won the sprawling district by 20.3 points in 2016. Duffy has built one of the largest war chests in the congressional delegation with $2.2 million in the bank at the end of June.

In 2018, Duffy won re-election with 60.1 percent of the seat.

See the post.


Economic roundtable with Trump Victory and WisGOP 🗓


Contact: Mandi Merritt

Muskego, WI 
– This Wednesday, August 28th, Trump Victory and the Wisconsin Republican Party will host an economic roundtable at Inpro Corp in Muskego as part of the nationwide ‘Open for Business’ tour. The roundtable, led by Congressman Bryan Steil and Chairman Andrew Hitt will showcase how President Trump’s economy continues to work for Wisconsin’s business community and families alike. 

WHAT: Economic Roundtable  


  • Congressman Bryan Steil
  • Wisconsin Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt  
  • Inpro Corp CEO Steve Ziegler & President Marc Holland
  • Members of Wisconsin business community

WHEN: Wednesday, August 28th

TIME: 10:00 AM CDT   

WHERE: Inpro Corp North Building

Inpro Room

Corner of Janesville Rd and Mercury Dr

Muskego, WI 53150

(note, please type “Janesville Rd and Mercury Dr, Muskego, WI” into GPS instead of “Inpro Corp.”)

Edgewood College: Dr. Scott Flanagan to take new position with top national education search firm


Madison, Wis. (August 13, 2019) – Dr. Scott Flanagan, long-time Edgewood College leader, and President since 2014, announced to faculty and staff today that he will be taking a new Senior Consultant position with Academic Search, one of the most highly respected higher education search firms in the nation.

Over the last 21 years Dr. Flanagan has held a number of top leadership positions at Edgewood College, including Vice President for Planning and Enrollment and Executive Vice President. He has also served in various leadership roles in the national higher education community, including being elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent College and Universities in 2017.

“I have been extraordinarily fortunate to have been able to call Edgewood College home for so many years. It has been an honor to work with such outstanding colleagues and students and to be recognized locally, regionally and nationally as an exceptional campus for quality student learning,” Flanagan said. “I’m a better person because of my time here, and I am hopeful this is a better place because of my presence.”

Board of Trustees Chair Lucy Keane ’84 expressed appreciation on behalf of the board for Flanagan’s contributions.

“We have been so lucky to have had Scott in the Edgewood College family for as long as we have,” Keane said. “During Scott’s tenure at the College, he led enrollment management to record class sizes. After taking on the presidency he oversaw the recruitment of a more diverse student body; introduced innovative affordable pricing strategies and three new intercollegiate sports; invested in infrastructure to support philanthropic efforts; and as an excellent strategic planner he has set the stage for our future. Dr. Flanagan leaves the College in a strong financial position with a larger endowment and more reserves than at any time during the history of Edgewood College.”

Stepping into the role of Interim President is Mary Ellen Gevelinger, O.P.

“Sr. Mary Ellen is the ideal person to lead the College through a successful leadership transition,” Keane said. “We won’t miss a beat as we enter the exciting new beginnings that the start of a new academic year brings as we welcome our students, faculty, and staff back to campus. We are able to prepare for a leadership transition with the luxury of knowing there will be no operational gaps.”

Gevelinger has executive leadership experience as the Prioress of the Sinsinawa Dominican congregation, holds an Ed.D. in educational leadership, was a tenured faculty member at Edgewood College and the former director of Doctoral research in the School of Education. Most recently she chaired a task force that developed a series of actionable recommendations for accelerating the success of Edgewood College into the future.

“I am ready to roll up my sleeves and devote myself to making sure that our students have the best possible college experience in the Dominican tradition,” Gevelinger said. “I look forward to continuing the great work Scott has done, while at the same time helping the College navigate the demographic challenges facing higher education across the county.”

Flanagan will retain his position through the end of August and will advise Edgewood College through the end of the year to ensure a successful transition.

Edgewood College will begin a national search for a new president with an eye toward having a new leader in place at the start of the 2020-‘21 academic year.

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.

Edgewood College: Freshmen arrive Sunday August 18


Madison, Wis. (August 15, 2019) – This year’s freshman class arrives Sunday, August 18, to begin orientation for the Year of Partnership 2019-’20. Classes begin for the fall semester on Wednesday, August 21, 2019.

“We are honored these students will continue their academic journeys at Edgewood College,” Amber Schultz, Vice President for Enrollment Management, said. “They have already demonstrated their commitment both in and out of the classroom. They will be challenged further to build a better world through their study, their leadership, and their service. I know they will embrace that opportunity.”

While Wisconsin students continue to make up the majority of the freshman class, the students we welcome this fall also hail from Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.

About Edgewood College

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

Edgewood College: Named to Best in the Midwest for 2020


Madison, Wis. (August 19, 2019) – Edgewood College is one of the 159 best colleges in the Midwest according to The Princeton Review. The education services company lists the College in the Best in the Midwest section of its “2020 Best Colleges: Region by Region” website.

“We chose Edgewood College and the other outstanding institutions on this list primarily for their academics,” Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Editor-in-Chief, said. He noted that the company considered data from its survey of administrators at several hundred colleges in each region, information from staff visits to schools over the years, and the opinions of college counselors and advisors whose perspectives the company solicits.

“We also consider what students enrolled at the schools reported to us on our student survey about their campus experiences,” Franek added.

The website feature salutes a total of 656 colleges that The Princeton Review recommends over five regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West, and International. The colleges that made the “Best in the Midwest” list are located in twelve Midwestern states. Collectively, the 656 constitute about 22% of the nation’s 3,000 four-year colleges.

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review is a leading tutoring, test prep, and college admission services company. Every year, it helps millions of college- and graduate school-bound students achieve their education and career goals through online and in person courses delivered by a network of more than 4,000 teachers and tutors, online resources, and its more than 150 print and digital books published by Penguin Random House. The Princeton Review is headquartered in New York, NY. For more information, visit PrincetonReview.com.

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.

Elections Commission approves scaled-back proposal to provide loaner computers to some clerks

A divided Wisconsin Elections Commission has settled on a scaled-back proposal to provide temporary replacement computers to clerks to tighten security of the state’s voter database ahead of the 2020 elections.

Ahead of Tuesday’s special meeting, WEC staff raised concerns about clerks accessing the database on machines running on critically outdated software, leaving the system vulnerable to hackers. They also pressed commissioners to approve $300,000 to purchase 250 temporary replacement computers.

Instead, a divided commission voted 4-2 to approve $30,000 to cover 25 computers.

Commissioner Ann Jacobs argued the staff’s recommended approach would create a “perverse incentive” for municipalities who chose not to upgrade their IT systems.

“In other words, we’re literally saying keep running on the other thing because we’ll give you a free one,” she said.

Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe countered that the program would be an “emergency stopgap” to shore up security in the short term with the 2020 presidential election drawing closer.

“We want to make sure that the resource challenges faced at the municipal level don’t impact our overall security of elections here in Wisconsin,” she said.

The commission also approved: purchasing software that would allow staff to undertake a thorough review of the security posture of all users of the WisVote voter database; adding a federally funded position to support the temporary replacement program; and the hiring of a marketing firm to lay the groundwork for a public information campaign.

Election Security Lead Tony Bridges told commissioners a review of the roughly 2,7000 users with access to the WisVote database identified at least five municipal clerks accessing the system using computers that were running Windows XP.

That software program was first rolled out in 2001 and has not been supported with security updates since 2014.

Bridges added that just under 600 users were using computers running Windows 7, an operating that will stop receiving free security updates in Jan. 2020. While Microsoft will continue to provide security updates for a fee through 2023, Bridges estimated roughly half of the 600 would “not find a path to compliance.”

Quizzed by commissioners as to why so many clerks would allow their systems to fall out of date, Wolfe said software updates and IT maintenance can be a “really big decision” financially for municipalities.

“In some of these places, buying a computer and buying the IT support necessary to keep them in compliance is the same cost as keeping their lights on in a town hall for the year,” Wolfe said. “For some of them, that choice has already been made.”

Bridges added that a full-fledged software update could prevent clerks from using programs they need to fulfill other duties, such as line-of-business software, if those programs were not compatible with the new operating system.

In order to bridge that gap and get a clearer picture of security risks among all users, commissioners unanimously agreed to purchase software to conduct so-called “end-point” testing.

There was far less consensus among commissioners as to how to address the out-of-date software once its users had been identified.

Bridges said the 250 computers staff wanted to buy could be loaned out if the end-point testing revealed security threats or if a clerk’s computer was confiscated for investigation by the Division of Enterprise Technology in the wake of a cyber incident.

Commissioners balked at the request.

Several found the price — well over $1,000 per unit — to be unreasonable when scaled-down laptops could be purchased for one-tenth of the cost.

Wolfe replied that the new computers would be managed devices, meaning the vendor would be responsible for providing IT support along with the hardware and software. Bridges said the computers would likely price out around $250 per unit, with remaining cost going toward service fees such as licensing costs, office support, tech support, warehousing, delivery and warranty.

Wolfe said the long-term goal was to ensure all municipal clerks were in compliance on their own.

She also dismissed the notion that clerks in municipalities that had upgraded their computers would be aggrieved by the move. She said that WEC’s Clerk Advisory Committee was supportive of the move and had indicated concern to the commission “multiple times” that “any weakness could impact all of them.”

Still unconvinced, Jacobs and Commission Chair Dean Knudson pushed for the loaner program to be converted into a rental program in which municipalities would have to pay a recurring fee to use WEC computers. Knudson said such a move would make the program “more sustainable.”

“Wouldn’t a monthly rental fee encourage them to budget for upgraded hardware? Wouldn’t that provide an incentive for them to become independent?” Knudson asked.

Bridges argued that if the goal is to get clerks into compliance, a fee structure would likely not work. Instead, he said it would encourage clerks in cash-strapped municipalities to work around the WisVote system by maintaining separate voter databases on spreadsheets, further exacerbating the security risk.

Wolfe added that WEC likely did not have the infrastructure in place to manage payments from hundreds of municipalities and was unsure such rentals would be allowed under the state procurement system.

The commission ultimately settled on the scaled-back pilot program with a number of conditions that would add the 25 computers. In the short term, commissioners said, the security risks posed by the five clerks using Windows XP and the need for temporary replacement computers during DET investigations mandated that a small number of loaner devices be made available.

Commissioners directed staff to study the feasibility of a rental program and complete as much of the end-point testing as possible ahead of the commission’s Sept. 24 meeting to determine whether the initial proposal for 250 devices was adequate.

Emily Skor: Protect Wisconsin farmers and biofuel producers


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

In recent weeks, the nation’s top refining lobby has targeted Wisconsin airwaves and opinion pages with attacks against Midwest biofuels, made from the state’s own corn and soybeans. Their goal is to protect the indefensibly high number of oil industry handouts that have been ravaging the rural economy. That’s because President Trump has vowed to support American farmers during one of the worst agricultural downturns in modern history, and refiners fear competition from a low-carbon fuel that costs less than gasoline. For communities in Wisconsin, home to 64,793 farms and zero oil wells, it’s a fight that will make or break the rural recovery.

In the past, oil companies could block retailers from offering higher ethanol blends. They controlled the supply chain between fuel makers and retailers. The Renewable Fuel Standard changed the game in 2005, setting annual targets for biofuel blending to increase our energy independence and protect the air we breathe. More recently, the Trump Administration updated a decades-old fuel regulation to allow retailers the option to offer 15 percent ethanol blends (E15) all year-round. Wisconsin retailers like Kwik Trip offer the blend at various locations, alongside traditional options, allowing consumers to select a fuel that’s better for their cars, their families, and their wallets.

Biofuel blends like E15 help reduce emissions, boost octane, and hold down fuel costs. As analysts at GasBuddy noted, “The year-round approval of E15 will mean another outlet for corn growers, and lower prices for consumers that want to fill up with E15, which is generally offered 5 to 10 cents per gallon lower than E10 gasoline.” And the latest USDA analysis demonstrates that homegrown biofuels are cleaner than petroleum and could offer a carbon reduction of 70 percent or more by 2022.

In Wisconsin, the nation’s seventh largest biofuel producer, access to higher ethanol blends also means that more motorists can support farm income and rural manufacturing workers at the state’s nine ethanol plants. But those benefits are now being threatened by special “hardship” exemptions granted to some of the nation’s largest and most profitable refining companies. These Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) handouts allow oil companies to sidestep the RFS and lock homegrown biofuels out of the marketplace.

Over the past two years, these special exemptions have quadrupled in number, destroying demand for more than 2.6 billion gallons of biofuel — the market for nearly a billion bushels of U.S. grain. Legally, exemptions may be granted to small refineries facing “disproportionate economic hardship,” but EPA bureaucrats are reportedly approving them for refineries owned by large companies like Exxon and Chevron. We don’t even know all the recipients, because the agency has hidden the process from public view.

For rural families, it’s hard to imagine a worse time to come under attack by Washington bureaucrats. Farm income has been spiraling downward, exports are down, and flooding has demolished hopes for the next harvest in many communities. Across the heartland, 200 ethanol plants are under incredible strain. Many have already idled production due to historically low margins, driven lower by EPA mismanagement.

Oil companies justify the abuse by arguing that exemptions don’t impact ethanol demand, yet consumption fell for the first time in 20 years. Meanwhile, the EPA often ignored analysis from the Department of Energy, which found no economic justification for many of the exemptions.

According to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, President Trump recently told regulators, “We have got to take care of our farmers … How in the world does Exxon Mobil qualify as a small refiner?” That’s the same question Midwest champions like Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin have been asking for months. That’s why Growth Energy launched a new ad campaign that gives a voice to those in rural communities who are most impacted by the EPA’s failure to follow the law. We know the president is listening, and clearly, it’s time for the White House to demand the EPA end its corrosive policies.

— Skor is the CEO of Growth Energy, the nation’s largest association of ethanol advocate and producers.

Event to focus on 2020 DNC business opportunities

A Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce event set for Aug. 16 is to focus on what the 2020 Democratic National Convention means for businesses.

The event features Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee.

She is to discuss the goals, mission and mechanics of the convention more broadly, along with opportunities available for businesses.

See more on the event here.

Evers administration embraces Dane Co. interchange plan DOT secretary earlier criticized

Gov. Tony Evers’ administration is embracing a scaled-back plan for the interchange of U.S. highways 12/18 and I-39/90 — a cost-cutting move his DOT secretary was highly critical of just a year ago.

Then with the Transportation Development Association, Craig Thompson said the plan raised safety concerns and it would “be a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars to build a brand-new bottleneck.”

But DOT spokeswoman Kristin McHugh said the plan meets traffic needs while focusing on safety and “maximizes taxpayer investment.”

The state is expanding I-39/90 to three lanes in each direction between Madison and the Illinois stateline, matching the interstate’s size north of the city. But while the southbound interstate would have three lanes through the intersection with U.S. 12/18 under the DOT’s plan, there would be two lanes on the northbound side. That side would expand back to three lanes after the interchange.

According to the DOT, only two lanes are needed on the northbound side because of the amount of traffic that exits the interstates onto 12/18. McHugh said it also meets projected traffic demands through 2040 and the design is “adaptable should a more comprehensive interchange modernization be required in the future.”

The latest Transportation Projects Commission report updating the status of major highway projects noted the Federal Highway Administration in May signed off on the scaled-back plan.

The DOT had once considered rebuilding not just the interchange, but surrounding roads at a cost of $550 million. But under former Gov. Scott Walker, the DOT scaled back the project to cut costs.

The alternative approved by the feds is expected to cost $81.7 million. If the state had gone with adding a third lane through the northbound side of the interchange, the cost would’ve jumped to $93.2 million.

Other highlights of the TPC report, released late last week, include:

*projected costs for highways 50 near Kenosha and 23 between Fond du Lac and Plymouth were up from the previous estimate. All other active project costs remained flat or decreased. Overall, the highways 50 and 23 costs are now expected to be $21.7 million higher than projected in February, largely due to factors such as higher costs for hazardous material abatement and an increase in bid prices reflecting the market in southeastern Wisconsin.

*collectively, costs for the other projects included in the report are down $15.1 million compared to February. That includes a $6.5 million drop in costs to expand I-94 in Racine County.

*the expansion of I-41 and I-43 were included in the report for the first time after they were enumerated in the state budget. The I-41 project includes reconstructing 23 miles of the interstates between Appleton and DePere, while I-43 includes redoing 14 miles in suburban Milwaukee.

Read the latest TPC report:

Evers calls for gun control measures following weekend mass shootings

Gov. Tony Evers is calling for the state to tighten gun control laws and knocked Republican lawmakers in the wake of mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso over the weekend that claimed 31 lives.

Fielding questions from reporters after a news conference in Wauwatosa Monday, Evers gave his full-throated support to expanding universal background checks to all weapon sales and called on political leaders in the state to “do something proactive.”

“And I say proactive is as simple as universal background checks; that’s what people Wisconsin want,” he said.

The guv also expressed support for so-called red-flag laws, which allow family members or police officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person deemed to present a danger to themselves or others. He labeled such a measure as “a possibility” but added the caveat that “you’re taking away people’s rights to participate in democracy, that’s something we have to consider.”

AG Josh Kaul also backed those two proposals, writing in an email to WisPolitics.com that “it is time for the state Legislature to join the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites in supporting universal background checks and a red-flag law.”

In his inaugural address, Kaul pledged to push for implementation of both measures, and a spokeswoman told WisPolitics.com that the DOJ has been speaking with lawmakers on the issue.

After calling for universal background checks, Evers added that Republican leaders “haven’t made it happen in the past.”

“The bottom line is our Legislature has avoided this issue totally,” he said. “So whether it’s a special session or not, we need to know that the other side is going to take this issue seriously.”

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos were not immediately available for comment.

The guv acknowledged legislation “plays a role” in finding a solution to end gun violence, but he highlighted deeper cultural divides as the root cause. In the Texas shooting, Evers said, the gunman was a white supremacist “that didn’t like folks in El Paso.”

“People need to look inside them themselves to start with, and racism is an issue in this country and in the state,” he said, adding that the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek seven years ago Monday proved that the issue wasn’t limited Texas or Ohio.

Wisconsin’s gun laws are rated a C-, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The organization in 2016 merged with a group founded by former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the survivor of a gunshot wound to the head sustained during a mass shooting at a constituent outreach event. It ranked the state as 18 out of 50 states in gun law strength and 39 out of 50 in gun deaths.

In order to improve its ranking, the Giffords Law Center recommends Wisconsin “enact universal background checks, require waiting periods for all firearm sales, and regulate unsafe handguns” among other things. A law mandating a 48-hour waiting period was repealed in 2015 by then-Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-led Legislature.

So far this biennium, lawmakers have introduced two gun-control measures: one which would prohibit those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from owning a firearm; and a second which would reinstate the two-day waiting period before purchasing a handgun. Both of those proposals were brought forward in mid-July and are authored and cosponsored exclusively by Dems.

See the scorecard:

See the bills:

Federal panel rejects GOP lawmakers’ request for reimbursement of legal fees in redistricting case

A federal three-judge panel has rejected a request from GOP lawmakers to reimburse some of the tab they charged to taxpayers for outside counsel to defend the Assembly map Republicans drew in 2011.

Thursday’s decision leaves taxpayers on the hook for all of the nearly $1.7 million private attorneys have racked up since 2017 in defending the maps after GOP leaders approved hiring them rather than solely relying on the former attorney general to handle the case.

The Dems’ case fell apart after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that claims of partisan gerrymanders were beyond the reach of the federal courts.

Still, the three-judge panel overseeing the Wisconsin case noted the U.S. Supreme Court had sent signals in the past that such cases had a shot in the federal courts. What’s more, the panel noted it had overturned the Assembly lines in the long-running suit only to have the U.S. Supreme Court find the original plaintiffs lacked standing to sue and sent the case back for further review.

The GOP attorneys had previously argued the Dems should’ve held up the Wisconsin case after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear rulings involving maps in North Carolina and Maryland that involved similar issues. They warned that put the Dems at risk of bearing the costs of the proceedings.

But the panel noted the Dems only proceeded after it had rejected a request to stay the entire suit until after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the other cases.

Thursday’s order rejected requests from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, one of the original targets of the suit, and GOP lawmakers for court costs. The court noted the WEC and GOP lawmakers were in a better position to absorb the costs of the case than the Dems who sued.

The Elections Commission was seeking $19,309 in costs, while GOP lawmakers wanted more than $45,000 in addition to legal fees.

“To be sure, both the WEC and the Assembly incurred substantial costs in defending against Plaintiffs’ action,” the ruling noted. “But Plaintiffs, or those who supported their effort, also incurred significant costs in their attempt to eliminate a practice the Court made clear it did not condone.”

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said GOP leaders were still reviewing the decision and determining their next steps. A spokesman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, indicated Republicans may consider an appeal but were still reviewing the decision.

The GOP attorneys hadn’t specified how much they were seeking in legal fees, because the court had wanted to decide whether they should be awarded before hearing specifics on the tab. Still, they had urged the court to award “reasonable attorneys’ fees” starting Jan. 4, when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Maryland and North Carolina cases for oral arguments.

A WisPolitics.com review of legal bills shows GOP attorneys racked up $1.7 million in legal bills between early 2017 and the end of June. About half of those bills were submitted after Jan. 1, but they didn’t break down activity before and after Jan. 4.

Adding in the costs stemming from an earlier lawsuit filed over the maps, the total tab to taxpayers over the maps has hit nearly $3.8 million.

The state Legislature wasn’t originally named as a party in the suit that was filed in 2015, and former Attorney General Brad Schimel took the lead in defending the maps. But GOP lawmakers approved a motion in early 2017 to hire outside counsel as they sought to intervene in the case.

Republicans then hired additional attorneys last year, bringing in the Chicago firm Bartlit Beck. That contract included a flat fee of $850,000 for the firm’s work, not including costs such as travel.

Read the decision:

Fields campaign: Announces candidacy for Milwaukee comptroller


Contact: (414) 308-2680; [email protected]

Current state representative will bring strong financial background to City Hall

MILWAUKEE – Jason Fields, a current member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, today announced his candidacy for Milwaukee Comptroller.

“I’ve been honored to have the privilege of serving in the Wisconsin State Assembly working on financial issues that affect all Wisconsinites and where I have been able to apply my financial background and professionalism to producing real results for the people of Milwaukee.

“I’ve decided to announce my candidacy to be Milwaukee’s next Comptroller because I feel my background and financial expertise would help our city in ways we have not yet been able to achieve.

“We can all agree that Milwaukee needs a chief financial officer who understands the intersection of government, finance, and business to help move our city forward. We all want serious leadership and experience coming from every citywide office holder, and we would like to see a new era of transparency and accountability.

“I’m running for Comptroller because the true potential of this office has never been met, and we can do so much more to help city residents, community organizations, and businesses across Milwaukee. It’s time we reach that very potential and work together, as a community, to help make Milwaukee stronger than it has ever been.”

Forward Freedom PAC: New conservative Super PAC forms in Wisconsin


Greenfield, WI – Citing a desire to bring balance to political messaging in the state, Forward to Freedom PAC, a conservative leaning Super PAC, has formed in Wisconsin.

“Groups from the left side of the political spectrum have already invaded Wisconsin in an attempt to persuade voters ahead of the 2020 elections,” Tim Johnson, founder and executive director of Forward to Freedom PAC said today in a statement issued by the PAC. “We at Forward to Freedom are looking to even the playing field a little by providing the voters of Wisconsin additional information about candidates for office in Wisconsin who defend the ideals of individual freedom and small government just like the Founding Fathers intended.”

Forward to Freedom, a non connected, expenditure only PAC, is looking to raise funds from a wide variety of conservative leaning individuals, businesses, and civic groups.

More information on the PAC’s ideas and stances can be gained by email at: [email protected] or at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/forwardtofreedompac

Forward Latino: Demanding elected officials condemn domestic terrorism and pass commonsense firearm reform


Contact: Ms. Eileen Figueroa
Phone: (414) 389-7131

– The Forward Latino Board of Directors recently passed a resolution demanding state and federal legislators condemn domestic terrorism and pass commonsense firearm reform.

A recent study by the Violence Policy Center showed that nearly 54,000 Hispanics were killed in the United States by guns between 1999 and 2015, including 35,553 gun homicides and 15,593 gun suicides. Homicides is the second leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 24 with over 66% of those involving a firearm.

As hate crimes continue to increase throughout the country, recent tragedies have only confirmed the fears in our nation’s Hispanic community. Investigators in Gilroy, California discovered that the domestic terrorist shared a white supremacist manifesto online. In El Paso, Texas, the shooter openly admitted to investigators that he was “targeting Mexicans.”

Darryl Morin, President of Forward Latino stated “Over the last two years we have seen a steady increase in the number of hate crimes committed across the country. Recently we have seen what happens when followers of these violent ideologies gain access to firearms. We see Gilroy, we see El Paso and we see Dayton and Pittsburgh. We also remember the mass shootings and loss of life that occurred here in Wisconsin, in Brookfield, Middleton and Oak Creek. According to the 2018 Marquette Law School Poll, 81% of Wisconsin voters want commonsense firearm reform that closes the background check loophole. Recent national polls show support at over 90%. So today Forward Latino joins the fight and will be calling and advocating for our state and federal representatives to act and pass resolutions that condemn acts of domestic terrorism and to pass commonsense firearm reform. It is time that our state and federal legislatures, individuals we voted into office, put American lives before the wishes of special interest groups!”

Forward Latino is a non-profit, non-partisan national advocacy and service organization dedicated to assisting Latinos pursuing the American Dream. Forward Latino fulfills its mission through advocacy, civic engagement, education and service delivery. Learn more at www.forwardlatino.org.

Forward Latino: Endorses legislation to close Wisconsin firearm background check loopholes


Contact: Ms. Eileen Figueroa
Phone: (414)389-7131

FRANKLIN, WI – Forward Latino, a non-partisan, national advocacy and service delivery organization serving our nation’s Hispanic community endorses the proposed legislation to close loopholes in existing Wisconsin background check law introduced this morning by Governor Evers and members of the state legislature at the Wisconsin Capitol.

Darryl Morin, President of Forward Latino stated, “this is commonsense firearm reform that is long overdue. From the recent hate-driven tragedies in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton to last night’s attacks on our members of law enforcement in Philadelphia, to mass-shootings we suffered in Oak Creek and Brookfield, we must act now to prevent further loss of life.

This bill when passed into law will expand the current background check requirement on the sale of firearms from dealers, to include the sale or transfers of firearms at gun shows, online and between private individuals. It does not infringe on second amendment rights as it will only impact individuals who already are prevented by law from purchasing a firearm. In 2018, the Marquette Law School Poll found 81% of all Wisconsinites support this measure including 78% of households that have a firearm. This is not an issue where there is a debate. There is overwhelming consensus on the need for this legislation and we cannot allow politics to get in the way of saving innocent lives.”

Forward Latino is a non-profit, non-partisan national advocacy and service organization dedicated to assisting Latinos pursuing the American Dream. Forward Latino fulfills its mission through advocacy, civic engagement, education and service delivery. Learn more at www.forwardlatino.org .

Forward Latino: Medina appointed Policy Director for Military and Veteran Affairs


DATE: August 14, 2019
CONTACT: Ms. Eileen Figueroa
PHONE: (414)937-6454

FRANKLIN, WI – Forward Latino, a national non-profit, non-partisan advocacy and service organization dedicated to assisting Latinos pursuing the American Dream, today named Ms. Yolanda Medina of Waukesha, Wisconsin to the position of Policy Director For Military & Veteran Affairs.

Ms. Medina enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in 1981, graduated from boot camp at Parris Island, SC. and went on to become the first female aircraft system technician in the Corp working on AV8-A and AV8-B Harrier Jump Jets. Upon completing her military service with her husband Joe Medina, they moved back to Waukesha where she served as Director of the Office of Military & Veteran Student Services at Carroll University, joined and served in the American GI Forum, launched the Wisconsin Latino Veterans Memorial Foundation and assisted with the Milwaukee County War Memorial. She is currently the Director of the UW-Milwaukee’s Military And Veterans Resource Center (MAVRC).

Darryl Morin, President of Forward Latino stated “We are excited to have Yolanda Medina serving in this important role. She is a person of outstanding moral character and capacity and is truly committed to serving others. As we are dedicated to defending the rights of all, we are equally committed to ensuring our Hispanic men and women on active-duty and our Veterans, receive the full benefits and services promised. It is a sacred charge, a charge I am grateful Yolanda Medina will be leading for Forward Latino.”

Ms. Medina received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religious Studies and a Master’s degree in Adult, Community and Professional Education from Carroll University and plans to enter the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at UW-Milwaukee in the spring of 2020 to continue her research on Moral Trauma in the military.

About Forward Latino:

With members in 19 states, Forward Latino is a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy and service organization dedicated to assisting Latinos pursuing the American Dream. Forward Latino fulfills its mission through advocacy, civic engagement, education and service delivery. Learn more at www.forwardlatino.org.

Fox Cities Chamber: Announces Baer as July Ambassador of the Month


For media inquiries, please contact:
Tonya Boelter
Senior Director, Community Engagement
[email protected]

APPLETON, Wis. – The Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce has announced Megan Baer as the July Ambassador of the Month.

The Fox Cities Chamber Ambassador of the Month program recognizes a deserving person for their superior service and efforts to the Chamber organization and their dedication to helping businesses grow and prosper in the Fox Cities community.

Baer is currently an Account Executive at Building Service Inc. (BSI) located in Appleton. Although she just moved to the Fox Valley in June of 2017, Baer is familiar with area as she is a graduate of UW Oshkosh with a degree in Marketing and Sales. She finds that her position at BSI is a perfect fit given her passion for interior design. She enjoys helping their customers reinvent their spaces with new furnishings, interior construction and audio visual solutions.

Baer always enjoyed visiting the valley while at UW Oshkosh, so it was an easy decision to make the transition back. She finds the Fox Cities to be very welcoming due to its caring and positive community. She believes that the kindness of those she has met here has made both networking and her job more enjoyable.

“If you’re considering joining the Fox Cities Chamber,” Megan states, “My advice would be to do it! This group has such amazing members that all have the same goal, to help each other succeed. I’ve had so much fun getting to know everyone in this group, and they put on so many great events that give people a platform to meet new people and network.”

The Fox Cities Chamber Ambassadors serve as the premier volunteer arm of the organization. They are a group of highly visible, highly engaged Chamber members typically attending Chamber events to build relationships with members and facilitate introductions that enable networking with other members. These volunteers are a valuable resource for information and assistance. They serve as conduits for relaying member needs, questions and concerns back to the Chamber. The Fox Cities Chamber Ambassadors are an extension of the Chamber brand, existing to promote the work of the Chamber and serve as the Chamber’s primary liaison to members.

For further information about our Fox Cities Chamber Ambassador group, please contact Tonya Boelter, Senior Director of Community Engagement at the Fox Cities Chamber, by email [email protected] or phone (920) 734-7101.

FRI AM Update: DOJ says decision no longer needed today on settlement Kaul tried to take before JFC

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FRI AM Update: Evers to make clean energy announcement; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: Evers, Baldwin to participate in health care roundtable with Minnesota Gov. Walz; weekly radio addresses

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FRI AM Update: GOP leaders ask Supreme Court to clarify law regarding Kaul’s handling of settlement funds

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FRI AM Update: Immigrant-rights activists hold rally at Capitol; weekly radio addresses

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FRI News Summary: Committee advances Thompson nomination; Madison’s immigrant community rallies on Capitol steps

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FRI News Summary: Democrats unveil bill to expand background checks for firearms; Evers talks clean water in Chippewa Co.

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FRI News Summary: Evers calls GOP concerns over gun bills ‘BS’; Madison hotels won’t host 2020 DNC delegates

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FRI News Summary: Evers waiting for recommendation on when to call special election

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FRI News Summary: GOP leaders sue Kaul over handling of settlement funds; Hagedorn sworn in

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FRI PM Update: Evers issues executive orders on drinking water contamination, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council

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FRI PM Update: Records: Evers using state planes less than Walker

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FRI REPORT: DOC sees mixed results from program to boost pay at maximum-security prisons

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FRI REPORT: Evers goes own way on clean energy plan after rejection by Legislature

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FRI REPORT: Review finds Wisconsin voting equipment at times connected to internet, potentially vulnerable

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Gathering Waters: Announces the winners of Wisconsin’s 2019 Land Conservation Leadership Awards



Pat McMurtrie, Communications Specialist
608-251-9131 X14 / 608-469-0884 Cell
[email protected]

These leaders helped protect special places for people to enjoy as they live, work and play in Wisconsin.

(August 1, 2019 – Madison, Wis.)—Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts is pleased to announce the winners of Wisconsin’s 2019 Land Conservation Leadership Awards: Chambers Island Nature Preserve Executive Committee, Ben Niemann, Bryan Pierce, The Yawkey Lumber Company and Landmark Conservancy.

Wisconsin’s Land Conservation Leadership Awards recognize individuals, land trusts and other organizations that show outstanding commitment and leadership in helping to protect the state’s land, water, wildlife and way of life.

“This year’s nomination pool was incredibly competitive,” said Mike Carlson, Executive Director of Gathering Waters. “And we are pleased to announce the 2019 Land Conservation Leadership Award winners.”

Conservationist of the Year – Chambers Island Nature Preserve Executive Committee

The Chambers Island Nature Preserve Executive Committee is made up of four women who care deeply about Door County’s Chambers Island: Mary Brevard, Suzanne Fletcher, Barbara Frank and Mary Jane Rintelman. Appreciating what a unique ecological-gem the island is, the executive committee set out to create a thousand-acre preserve. With a vision, plan and unmatched resolve, the committee members demonstrated commitment and leadership. By the end of 2019, the Chambers Island Nature Preserve will permanently protect 850 acres because of their efforts.

Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award – Ben Niemann

Ben Niemann of Sawyer County has been improving conservation practices and outcomes in Wisconsin for over 50 years. A true pioneer, Ben used his background as a landscape architect and Director of Land Information and Computer Graphic Facility (LICGF), to harness the power of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to make informed decisions about land use, planning and conservation. The application of these technologies has preserved innumerable acres throughout the state, including his most notable project, the establishment of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway.

Harold “Bud” Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award – Bryan Pierce

Bryan Pierce of northern Wisconsin has built a conservation legacy throughout Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Florence, Iron, Price and northern Langlade Counties. He was a founding member of the Northwoods Land Trust (NWLT) in 2001 and went on to lead the organization for 18 years. His approach centered on sustainability, community cooperation, long-term planning and integrity. Under Bryan’s leadership, Northwoods Land Trust protected over 13,000 acres of forestland and 70 miles of shoreline.

Land Legacy Award – The Yawkey Lumber Company

The Yawkey Lumber Company of Oneida County made one of the most valuable and sizable gifts to a land trust in Wisconsin history. In 2018, the company’s shareholders, all great-grandchildren of the late Cyrus C. Yawkey, donated 431 acres of land, including woodlands, wetlands, islands, wildlife habitat and 4.4 miles of natural shoreline on Lake Katherine to the Northwoods Land Trust. The total appraised value of the Hazelhurst property was over $12 million at the time of the donation. The property’s natural shorelines and old-growth forests are now protected and available for people to view, explore and enjoy.

Land Trust of the Year – Landmark Conservancy

LandmarkConservancy, serving 20 counties in western and northwestern Wisconsin was born of a 2018 merger between two nationally accredited land trusts: West Wisconsin Land Trust and Bayfield Regional Conservancy. The birth of Landmark Conservancy is an example of what teamwork and collaboration can achieve.

“The successful merger of two strong land trusts is impressive when one thinks of all the dynamics involved in bringing together two distinct organizations,” said Carlson. “With the combined knowledge and expertise of the staff, Landmark Conservancy will continue to protect and preserve land that provides clean water, healthy soils, habitat for wildlife, sustainable food sources and spaces for public enjoyment. This is an incredible accomplishment worth honoring and celebrating.”

Event Details

Gathering Waters will honor the achievements of these land conservation leaders at its 2019 Annual Land Conservation Leadership Award Celebration. The ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. on September 26, 2019, at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin. The event which is open to the public brings together hundreds of land trust leaders, supporters and volunteers from all areas of the state.

The evening will include a raffle, string quartet, savory hors d’oeuvres, desserts and other surprises in honor of Gathering Waters’ 25th Anniversary. The Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration is also one of more than 30 Wisconsin Land Trust Days events.

Registration is required. There is a charge of $60 per person; $100 per couple. For more information or to register, visit gatheringwaters.org/ac.

The mission of Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts is to help land trusts, landowners and communities protect the places that make Wisconsin special.

GOP lawmakers push bill to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills

A trio of Republican lawmakers pushed a GOP backed-bill Wednesday that would expand access to contraception by allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills.

Reps. Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay and Mary Felzkowski of Irma and Sen. Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls touted the bill’s dual benefits: cutting the high public cost of unplanned pregnancies while addressing the “intergenerational cycle of poverty” perpetuated by lack of access to birth control.

In a public hearing before the Assembly Health Committee, Kitchens cited statistics showing nearly two-thirds of unplanned births in the state are publicly funded, costing taxpayers $313.5 million dollars per year in federal and state tax dollars. He also highlighted the myriad of additional costs of unplanned pregnancies, ranging from poor success in school to the negative impact on the child’s health and well-being.

“Knowing all of these sobering facts, we should not be putting up artificial barriers that deny women more choices when it comes to reproductive healthcare,” the Sturgeon Bay Republican said.

At the heart of the matter, all three said, was a lack of access to contraceptives.

When birth control pills were first introduced to the market, they contained much higher doses of hormones, specifically estrogen and progestin, than needed to prevent pregnancy. This increased the severity and likelihood of negative side-effects and necessitated consultation with a doctor.

But Kitchens said modern birth control pills had far lower hormone levels and noted the medical community broadly claim oral contraceptive pills are no more dangerous than ibuprofen. He added three prominent medical groups — the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association — agreed that birth control pills should be available over the counter, though the authority to make such a change lies with the federal Food and Drug Administration.

As such, the trio felt the best way to boost access to contraceptives was to allow pharmacists to write prescriptions.

While Kitchens played up the potential savings in tax dollars, Bernier focused on lower costs for young women who may struggle to get an appointment to see a doctor due to a lack of health insurance or the state’s shortage of doctors specializing in obstetrics and gynecology.

“This is going to be extraordinarily helpful for the cost involved and the time involved for young women to take care of their reproductive health,” she said.

The bill faced pushback from both sides of the aisle during the hearing.

Reps. Chuck Wichgers, R-Muskego, and Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, expressed concerns ranging from the language used in the testimony — which drew a sharp back-and-forth between Wichgers and the three GOP co-authors — to the safety of the contraceptive. Murphy noted the pill is a known class one carcinogen for breast, cervical and liver cancers.

Kitchens countered health officials told him the potential increased risk of cancer was “very, very tiny” and said alcoholic beverages and working the late shift were also known class-one carcinogens.

Dems on the panel expressed disappointment that a more expansive birth control access bill authored by Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, was not brought up for hearing as well. Unlike the GOP proposal, the Dem bill did not place an age restriction on those seeking birth control from a pharmacy and allowed pharmacists to prescribe a wider range of contraceptives, among other things.

Quizzed on those two proposals by Rep. Deb Kolste, D-Janesville, Kitchens said he believed his bill’s age limit of 18 years old was necessary to get buy-in from his colleagues.

“There are too many people that have concerns about removing parents from this so I do not think that politically it would pass if it did not have an age limit on it,” he said.

Kitchens added that he spoke with Sargent and indicated that he was open to a friendly amendment to add vaginal rings and injectable contraceptives to the bill “if the medical community supported the safety of those types of birth control.” But he said the medical professionals he consulted with were not as comfortable with those two forms of contraception as they were with birth control pills.

See the GOP bill:


GOP leaders ask Supreme Court to clarify law regarding Kaul’s handling of settlement funds

GOP legislative leaders are asking the state Supreme Court to force Dem AG Josh Kaul to abide by their interpretation of new restrictions they placed on his power during December’s lame-duck session.

In a motion filed late yesterday, the GOP leaders say Kaul has informed them he doesn’t need to give lawmakers oversight of actions he settles in certain circumstances. The AG also informed lawmakers in correspondence this summer that he believes only settlement funds from a “narrow subset of cases” must be deposited in the general fund rather than kept at DOJ.

Attorneys for the GOP lawmakers argue in the filings that Kaul’s interpretation is wrong, and they are asking the state Supreme Court to take original jurisdiction in the case to clarify the law.

According to the filing, the AG had received about $20.2 million in settlement funds during the first five months of 2019 but hadn’t deposited any money into the general fund. Still, the brief says Republicans aren’t asking the court to determine how much the AG is inappropriately withholding from the general fund.

“This is the people’s money, not the Attorney General’s, and the Legislature has the constitutional authority to determine how this money should be spent,” the GOP attorneys argued.

But Kaul fired back, “This an attempt by the legislature to use vague and poorly written statutory language to substantially cut the budget for the Department of Justice, undermining public safety in Wisconsin. The legislature is wrong on the law, and it is simply incorrect that the Department of Justice has not attempted to involve the Joint Committee on Finance in the resolution of certain cases.”

The brief and memo submitted to the state Supreme Court yesterday were signed by private attorneys Misha Tseytlin and Eric McLeod, who Republicans have retained to represent them in a series of lawsuits.

Spokesmen for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t immediately respond to a request late yesterday to confirm the lawyers have signed a contract to represent lawmakers. Past legal bills reviewed by WisPolitics.com show Tseytlin, the former solicitor general under AG Brad Schimel, is being paid $500 an hour in other cases, while McLeod’s rate is $540 an hour.

Read the filings:

Gov. Evers: Acts on transportation-related legislation


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

— Gov. Tony Evers today acted upon three pieces of legislation. Gov. Evers signed Assembly Bill 275, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 18, requiring the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) to maintain a set of highway projects as possible selections for design-build projects. The governor also vetoed Assembly Bill 273 relating to using subbase materials and Assembly Bill 284 requiring the DOT to develop a discretionary merit compensation award program.

Assembly Bill 275, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 18:

  • 2019 Wisconsin Act 9, the biennial budget bill, created a new office in the DOT on innovative program delivery to streamline project delivery, promote efficiency, and facilitate design-build project delivery to ensure more cost- and schedule-efficient transportation projects across Wisconsin
  • 2019 Wisconsin Act 9 as enacted allows the DOT to implement a design-build program but did not require the DOT to maintain an inventory of potentially qualifying projects
  • AB 275, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 18, addresses the above concern and ensures the DOT maintains at least five design-build suitable projects

View Gov. Evers’ veto message for AB 273 here.

View Gov. Evers’ veto message for AB 284 here.

Gov. Evers: Acts on transportation-related legislation


MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today acted upon three pieces of legislation. Gov. Evers signed Assembly Bill 275, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 18, requiring the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) to maintain a set of highway projects as possible selections for design-build projects. The governor also vetoed Assembly Bill 273 relating to using subbase materials and Assembly Bill 284 requiring the DOT to develop a discretionary merit compensation award program.

Assembly Bill 275, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 18:

  • 2019 Wisconsin Act 9, the biennial budget bill, created a new office in the DOT on innovative program delivery to streamline project delivery, promote efficiency, and facilitate design-build project delivery to ensure more cost- and schedule-efficient transportation projects across Wisconsin
  • 2019 Wisconsin Act 9 as enacted allows the DOT to implement a design-build program but did not require the DOT to maintain an inventory of potentially qualifying projects
  • AB 275, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 18, addresses the above concern and ensures the DOT maintains at least five design-build suitable projects

View Gov. Evers’ veto message for AB 273 here.

View Gov. Evers’ veto message for AB 284 here.

Gov. Evers: Addresses traffic-safety advocates at the 45th annual Governor’s Conference on Highway Safety



Contact: [email protected]gov or 608-219-7443
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that Wisconsin’s seat belt use has reached over 90% overall use, a life-saving milestone. The governor addressed over 400 traffic-safety advocates today at the 45th annual Governor’s Conference on Highway Safety held at Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of law enforcement, traffic safety professionals and motorists across Wisconsin, more people than ever are making the life-saving decision to buckle-up,” Gov. Evers said.

This year represents the 10-year anniversary of the state’s primary seat belt law. When the law took effect in June 2009, the state’s seat belt use rate was 74% and increased to 89% in 2018. Preliminary information from a recent observational survey indicates that a statewide average of 90.2% of motorists is buckling up.

“We’ve reached an important benchmark, but at the same time realize there is more work to do,” said Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson. “Just 10% of motorists fail to buckle up, but this small group accounts for nearly half of the car and light truck occupants killed in Wisconsin traffic crashes every year.”

Wisconsin is finally catching up to other Midwest states where seat belt use rates are already above 90%. Wisconsin’s primary seat belt law allows law enforcement to stop and cite motorists solely for not being buckled up. Drivers can also be cited for every unbuckled passenger in their vehicle. Failure to fasten a seat belt is among the most common traffic violations in Wisconsin and resulted in 50,875 traffic convictions last year.

“Unbuckled motorists are much more likely to be ejected, injured or killed in the event of a crash,” said Wisconsin State Patrol Superintendent Tony Burrell. “To prevent needless tragedies, we continue to urge all motorists to buckle up, every seat, every trip whether they’re headed across town or across the country.”


Gov. Evers: Announces appointments to Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced 29 appointments to serve on the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving. The goal of the Task Force is to analyze strategies to attract and retain a strong direct care workforce and support families providing caregiving supports and services.

“Caregivers provide critically important care and services, and it is essential that we recognize the important contributions these unsung heroes make to families in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “These Task Force members bring a wealth of knowledge and personal experience that will be essential in helping us improve our direct care system while developing a plan to support and retain our caregivers so we can ensure folks in our communities have the resources and they need to live and age with dignity across our state.”

Serving on the Task Force will be:

Sen. Kathy Bernier – Wisconsin State Senator, Chippewa Falls
Sen. Patty Schachtner – Wisconsin State Senator, Somerset
Rep. Chuck Wichgers – Wisconsin State Representative, Muskego
Rep. Deb Kolste – Wisconsin State Representative, Janesville
Stephanie Birmingham – Advocacy Coordinator, Options for Independent Living, Inc., Green Bay
Susan Rosa – Volunteer Leader, Caregiver Challenge, Cable
John Sauer – President/CEO, LeadingAge Wisconsin, Madison
Lisa Schneider – Executive Director, Respite Care Association of Wisconsin, Appleton
Lisa Pugh – State Director, The Arc Wisconsin, Stoughton
Beth Sweeden – Executive Director, Board for People with Developmental Disabilities, Madison
Helen Marks Dicks – Associate State Director for Advocacy, AARP Wisconsin, Madison
Jane Mahoney – Caregiving Specialist, Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Madison
Irma Perez – Bilingual Community Services Coordinator, Broadscope Disability Services, Milwaukee
Michael Pochowski – CEO, Wisconsin Assisted Living Association, Madison
Todd Costello – Executive Director, Community Living Alliance, Oregon
Ted Behncke – President, St. Coletta of Wisconsin, Jefferson. Veteran.
LaVerne Jaros – Director, Kenosha County Division of Aging & Disability Services, Pleasant Prairie
Jason Endres – Retired Consumer, Eau Claire
William Crowley – Ombudsman, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Delores Sallis – Founder, Parent University, Milwaukee
Anne Rabin – Family Caregiver, Pleasant Prairie
Mo Thao-Lee – Co-founder/President, Universal Home Health Care, Inc., Sheboygan
Elsa Diaz-Bautista – Executive Director, Alianza Latina Aplicando Soluciones (ALAS), Whitefish Bay
Margie Steinhoff – Family Caregiver and IRIS Consultant, TMG/Magellan Health, Beaver Dam
Jane Bushnell – Vice President, Knapp’s Development, Inc., Prairie du Chien
Adien Igoni – CEO, Flora Homecare LLC, Glendale
Mike Lauer – Campaign Director, Services Employees International Union, Shorewood
Carol Bogda – Oneida Nation Social Services/Elder Services Coordinator, Green Bay
Sharon Cornell – Caregiver for husband, a veteran, Appleton
In February, Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #11 creating the Task Force on Caregiving. The Department of Health Services will staff and support the Task Force and will work with the Department of Workforce Development to provide data and other technical assistance as necessary.

Executive Order #11 charges Task Force members with developing strategies to attract and retain a strong workforce, improve compensation and other benefits for caregivers, and establish a provider registry to help connect more families to the care they need. Many caregivers are family members or unpaid. The Task Force looks to help address the needs of all caregivers in Wisconsin.

The first meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving is scheduled for September 25.

Gov. Evers: Announces appointments to the Board of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced three new members to the Board of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection:

Patty Edelburg is a dairy farmer from Scandinavia in central Wisconsin. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, Edelburg currently serves as the Vice President of the National Farmers Union. She has also served as the Wisconsin Farm Service Agency (FSA) State Executive Director as well as on the FSA State Committee. She played an instrumental role in the implementation of programs across Wisconsin as a result of the 2014 Farm Bill. She has been involved in numerous state and local agricultural organizations for years, becoming a vocal advocate for farmers across Wisconsin. She succeeds Nicole Hansen of Necedah.
Dan Smith is currently the President and CEO of Cooperative Network. In his years of experience working with farmers, cooperatives, and rural communities, he has also served as the Administrator for DATCP’s Division of Agricultural Development and the Chief Executive Officer of Midwestern BioAg. He is a graduate of UW-Madison and was a dairy producer for 30 years on his home farm in Freeport, IL. He succeeds Dean Strauss of Sheboygan Falls.
Carla Washington currently serves as the Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships and Shelter Services at the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee. She earned her bachelor’s of science in business and marketing from Marquette University and holds an MBA in management from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She has 20 years of experience in program development and coalition building in the human services field, serving as a valuable advocacy voice to protect older consumers and the workers who care for them. She succeeds Dennis Badtke of Rosendale.
“I am pleased to appoint Patty, Dan, and Carla to the DATCP Board,” said Gov. Evers. “Their knowledge and dedication will bring new voices to the table in a time when our agriculture community is struggling, and consumer protection is more important than ever. I look forward to working with them to find innovative ways of delivering services and implementing positive change for the citizens of our state.”

Gov. Evers: Announces appointments to the Council on Tourism

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today announced four appointments to the Governor’s Council on Tourism. The council advises the agency as it develops and enacts the strategic plan to advance tourism.

“With it’s $7 to $1 return on investment, Wisconsin’s $21.6 billion tourism industry is one of Wisconsin’s leading economic drivers,” said Gov. Evers. “The more than 199,000 individuals who rely on tourism for their livelihood and the taxpayers of Wisconsin are counting on the council to provide critical advice to ensure the prosperity of Wisconsin’s thriving, fun-filled tourism industry.”

The four appointments to the Governor’s Council on Tourism include:

  • AJ Frels, originally from Chaseburg, Wisconsin, is the Executive Director of Explore La Crosse, the La Crosse County Convention, and Visitor’s Bureau. Frels previously led tourism in Carson Valley, Nevada. AJ’s experience includes the hotel, lodge and restaurant industries. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
  • Michelle Martin, originally from Springbrook, Wisconsin, serves as the Executive Director of the Washburn County Tourism Association. Martin graduated from UW-Stout in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.
  • Krystal Westfahl, originally from Minocqua, Wisconsin, is an avid outdoor recreation enthusiast, serves as the Executive Director of the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce. A 2015 recipient of the Wisconsin Tourism Trailblazer Award and a recent nominee for the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism Rising Star award, Westfahl previously served as Event and Fundraising Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
  • Darren Bush, originally from Monona, Wisconsin, is the owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports and is a founding member of Blue Water Business Consortium. Bush also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Foundation.

Gov. Evers: Announces appointments to the Council on Tourism

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today announced four appointments to the Governor’s Council on Tourism. The council advises the agency as it develops and enacts the strategic plan to advance tourism.

“With it’s $7 to $1 return on investment, Wisconsin’s $21.6 billion tourism industry is one of Wisconsin’s leading economic drivers,” said Gov. Evers. “The more than 199,000 individuals who rely on tourism for their livelihood and the taxpayers of Wisconsin are counting on the council to provide critical advice to ensure the prosperity of Wisconsin’s thriving, fun-filled tourism industry.”

The four appointments to the Governor’s Council on Tourism include:

  • AJ Frels, originally from Chaseburg, Wisconsin, is the Executive Director of Explore La Crosse, the La Crosse County Convention, and Visitor’s Bureau. Frels previously led tourism in Carson Valley, Nevada. AJ’s experience includes the hotel, lodge and restaurant industries. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Rapids Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
  • Michelle Martin, originally from Springbrook, Wisconsin, serves as the Executive Director of the Washburn County Tourism Association. Martin graduated from UW-Stout in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.
  • Krystal Westfahl, originally from Minocqua, Wisconsin, is an avid outdoor recreation enthusiast, serves as the Executive Director of the Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce. A 2015 recipient of the Wisconsin Tourism Trailblazer Award and a recent nominee for the Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism Rising Star award, Westfahl previously served as Event and Fundraising Coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Darren Bush, originally from Monona, Wisconsin, is the owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports and is a founding member of Blue Water Business Consortium. Bush also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Outdoor Industry Association and the Outdoor Foundation.

Gov. Evers: Announces appointments to the Wisconsin women’s council

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced seven appointments to the Wisconsin Women’s Council. The Council’s mission is to identify barriers to women’s social and economic participation in the state and work with public and private-sector partners to develop initiatives and identify solutions and to disseminate information on the status of women and issues of concern to women in the state.

The seven appointments to the Women’s Council include:

Ze Yang (Madison, Wisconsin), Governor’s Designee, is a bilingual educational assistant with the Verona Area School District, who is currently attending graduate school to earn an elementary teaching license. For over a decade, she has worked to serve underprivileged and underrepresented children and families in the Hmong community, where she often finds herself serving as a gatekeeper, mentor, advisor, cultural bridge, and community leader.

Patty Cadorin (Milwaukee, Wisconsin), Board Chair, is Vice President and Senior Advisor of BMO Harris Bank. Cadorin previously served on the Women’s Council and chairs the Council’s Trailblazer Awards for Women’s in Business. She serves on the board of directors of the United Community Center; Building Brave; the Milwaukee Urban League; and is a member of the United Way Women’s Leadership Council. Among her numerous awards and recognitions, in 2016, she was awarded the Ally Award from the Hispanic Professionals of Greater Milwaukee.

Dr. Lisa Armaganian (Brookfield, Wisconsin) is a leading cardiologist with Ascension Medical Group, whose primary expertise includes cardiac diagnostic imaging, disease management, and preventive cardiology. She is passionate about advocating for women and children statewide, and, in particular, for further education in cardiovascular disease prevention.

Denise Gaumer Hutchison (Green Bay, Wisconsin) is a Communication and Event Production Consultant. Previously, she worked for WEAC (Wisconsin Education Association Council) as an outreach coordinator and WEA Trust as a Field Representative where she worked with over 100 school districts in northeast Wisconsin. Ms. Gaumer Hutchison serves on the board of the League of Women Voters of Greater Green Bay.

Alderwoman Chantia Lewis (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was elected to the Milwaukee Common Council in 2016, representing her neighbors in the city’s the 9th District. Alderwoman Lewis served in the United States Air Force and currently attending graduate school to earn a master’s degree in theology.

Dr. Rosalyn McFarland (Brown Deer, Wisconsin) is a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurse, and the CEO and Founder of MyNP Professionals Family Medical Clinic, providing primary care to patients across the lifespan.

Nerissa Nelson (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) is a Librarian and Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has been a professional librarian for over 20 years. Ms. Nelson is active shared governance and other service work on the UWSP campus, and in the arts including serving on the boards of area non-profit arts organizations.
More information about the Women’s Council is available at https://womenscouncil.wi.gov.

Gov. Evers: Announces building commission approved projects


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

WEST ALLIS — Gov. Tony Evers today at the Wisconsin State Fair announced the State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved a total of approximately $30.4 million in key projects across the state, highlights include:

Various maintenance and repair projects at the State Capitol building including tuck-pointing on the exterior dome; 3rd and 4th floor roof replacements; and ceiling restoration in the Assembly Chambers;
Construction of life safety improvements in the Behavioral Health Unit Building at Waupun Correctional Institution;
Classroom renovation/technology improvement projects at UW-Oshkosh and UW-Stevens Point; and
Various maintenance and repair projects located in 13 counties across the state for the Departments of Administration, Health Services, Military Affairs, Natural Resources, Transportation, State Fair Park, and the University of Wisconsin System.
Gov. Evers is committed to maintaining safe and reliable buildings by making smart and efficient maintenance decisions and investing in needed repairs and upgrades across the state building portfolio.

The Building Commission is chaired by Gov. Evers and made up of the following members:

State Senator Janis Ringhand
State Senator Jerry Petrowski
State Senator Patrick Testin
State Representative Jill Billings
State Representative Rob Swearingen
State Representative Mark Born
Citizen member Summer Strand

Gov. Evers: Announces federal disaster declaration for July storms


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) major disaster declaration for 17 Wisconsin counties and two tribes affected by severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding in July. The declaration comes after the governor last week formally requested a federal disaster declaration for affected areas. The counties named in the declaration are Barron, Clark, Forest, La Crosse, Langlade, Menominee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Polk, Portage, Rusk, Shawano, Vernon, Waupaca and Wood. The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin were also included. Marinette County was included in the governor’s request letter but is still under review by FEMA.

“We are glad the federal government moved quickly to approve disaster assistance for folks that were devastated by the severe storms last month,” said Gov. Evers. “This is an important step in helping communities across our state rebuild and recover.”

Today’s declaration allows local governments affected by the storms occurring July 18-20, 2019, to apply for assistance, which will help communities recover some of the costs incurred through emergency protective measures, repairing infrastructure, and removing debris.

“We will work closely with FEMA to help the impacted tribes and counties listed in the declaration receive federal disaster assistance as quickly as possible,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general and Wisconsin’s Homeland Security Advisor.

Multiple rounds of storms beginning on July 18 and continuing through July 20 brought heavy rain and flash flooding. Strong winds with speeds up to 100 mph downed hundreds of thousands of trees and numerous power lines. Two people were killed during cleanup following the storms. In addition, more than 300,000 customers were without power for days.

The major disaster declaration is for Public Assistance, which covers eligible projects submitted by counties, cities, townships, and certain private, not-for-profit organizations. The program is not for businesses or homeowners as the level of damage in these areas, unfortunately, does not currently meet requirements for federal relief.

“We are pleased that this declaration has been approved. The communities impacted by the storms have shown great resilience on the road to recovery,” said Dr. Darrell L. Williams, WEM Administrator. “This declaration is a huge step toward helping those communities rebuild after such as devastating loss.”

Local governments are now eligible for federal assistance and should contact county or tribal emergency management directors for further information. Under the program, FEMA provides 75 percent of eligible costs, while state and local agencies share the remaining 25 percent.

Gov. Evers: Announces lower rates on Wisconsin’s individual health insurance market

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that 2020 rates on Wisconsin’s individual health insurance market will be 3.2 percent lower on a weighted average compared to 2019 rates. This encouraging news further demonstrates that the individual market is stabilizing and Wisconsin residents are able to access more affordable coverage options.

The rate decrease also highlights the positive impact of that the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan (WIHSP), or the state’s reinsurance program, is having on the individual market. WIHSP was fully funded in the recently signed 2019-2021 state biennial budget. Without the WIHSP, rates in the individual market were expected to increase by 9 percent in 2020.

“This is an important step forward as we work to make quality healthcare more affordable for Wisconsin’s families, and it is encouraging to see rates continuing to stabilize after years of rate increases and market instability,” said Gov. Evers. “The WIHSP is working, that’s why I included full funding for it in The People’s Budget.”

Prior to 2019, Wisconsin’s individual health insurance market was highly unstable, with insurers leaving the market, reduced coverage areas, and double-digit premium increases. Under the WISHP, which became operational on January 1, 2019, Wisconsin is seeing insurers expand their service areas across the state, resulting in more coverage options and lower premiums for many consumers.

“This is exciting news for consumers across Wisconsin,” said Commissioner Mark Afable. “Access to quality coverage is so important, and on average, the cost of that coverage will be decreasing for Wisconsin families. We’re seeing a positive trend towards more coverage options in more places across the state, and that’s a great thing for consumers.”

In addition to declining rates, Commissioner Afable also highlighted the recently announced partnership between OCI and the Department of Health Services (DHS) aimed at expanding healthcare outreach, education, and enrollment around the state. The DHS/OCI Health Care Coverage Partnership brings together providers, insurers, agents, public health officials, enrollment specialists, and other stakeholders from across Wisconsin to help more people get enrolled in the right health care coverage for themselves and their families.

“I’m very excited about this partnership, and I know Secretary-designee Palm is as well,” said Commissioner Afable. “We’ve assembled a great advisory council from around the state, and we’re ready to get to work. The budget signed by Gov. Evers included $541,000 for healthcare outreach and education, and that money will be instrumental in helping more Wisconsinites connect the dots and find coverage that suits their families and their budgets.”

Even with these positive developments, Gov. Evers will continue to fight to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin.

“I’m pleased with where things are going, but I know we still have more work to do to ensure every Wisconsinite has access to the care they need,” said Gov. Evers. “The WISHP has helped reduce rates and stabilize the market, but premiums would be lower and more of our neighbors would have quality coverage if we expanded Medicaid. By accepting the federal money, more Wisconsin residents can get access to quality coverage under Medicaid, while improving the risk pool for those buying on the private exchange. In other words, Medicaid expansion gets more people to access to better coverage at better prices. That’s a win-win, and the kind of common-sense leadership the people of Wisconsin demanded last November.”


Gov. Evers: Appoints Angeline Winton as Washburn County Circuit Court judge


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of Angeline Winton to be Washburn County Circuit Court Judge. The appointment fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Eugene Harrington.

“Ms. Winton is a hard-working, fair district attorney who understands the challenges facing Washburn County. She will be a dedicated judge who treats everyone with dignity and respect,” said Gov. Evers.

Winton is currently the district attorney of Washburn County. She was elected to the position in 2016. Winton previously worked in private practice and served as an assistant district attorney for Washburn and Burnett counties. As a prosecutor, Winton has handled thousands of criminal cases, ranging from homicide to methamphetamine distribution to traffic offenses.

Winton graduated from Hayward High School. She graduated summa cum laude from UW-Eau Claire and magna cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law. She resides in Springbrook.

Gov. Evers: Appoints Emily I. Lonergan as Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge


MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced his appointment of Emily I. Lonergan to be Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge. The appointment fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Nancy Krueger.

“Ms. Lonergan is a very talented attorney who understands that decisions made by circuit court judges have a tremendous impact on the lives of the people who appear before them,” said Gov. Evers. “As a judge, Ms. Lonergan will ensure that everyone that appears before her is heard and treated fairly.”

Lonergan, an Appleton native, is an attorney with Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C. in Appleton. She previously was an attorney with Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP of Milwaukee. Lonergan specializes in criminal defense and personal injury law. She also has extensive experience with complex business and contract litigation, professional licensing, juvenile matters, appellate litigation, and healthcare law. Lonergan has received numerous professional accolades. She received the Gordon Sinykin Award of Excellence from the Wisconsin Law Foundation (2017), was recognized as a Rising Star by Wisconsin Super Lawyers (2013 to 2019), and was recognized as an Up and Coming Lawyer by the Wisconsin Law Journal (2015).

Lonergan is a graduate of Xavier High School of Appleton, Marquette University, and Marquette University Law School. She lives in Appleton with her family. 

Gov. Evers: Beaver Dam Commerce Park ready for development


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

Industrial site is latest addition to Certified In Wisconsin® program

BEAVER DAM — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that the Beaver Dam Commerce Park has been certified as ready for development by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) Certified In Wisconsin® Program.
“I’ve said all along that we have to take a 72-county approach to economic development in Wisconsin to ensure that communities throughout our state are able to be successful,” Governor Evers said. “Today’s announcement is critically important for our state and families in the Beaver Dam area.”

The commerce park is conveniently located between three major metropolitan markets—Madison, Milwaukee and Fond du Lac. Situated along U.S. Highway 151 at Hemlock Road and county highways A and W, it is one of Wisconsin’s largest available industrial sites.

The prime location offers exceptional access to the state’s vast and skilled workforce, with an available labor pool of more than 223,000 workers within a 45-minute drive radius. Business located in the park can reach more than half of the U.S. population within one day’s truck delivery time and 75% within two days. The Beaver Dam Commerce Park, which includes 350 acres of developable land of which 280 is certified by WEDC, offers scalable opportunities for users of all sizes.

The Certified In Wisconsin Program plays a key role in helping communities throughout the state attract new companies by providing independent certification that a wide range of concerns have been evaluated—such as environmental and geological factors, transportation access, utility and infrastructure capacity, zoning and property rights—and that a site is ready for industrial development.

“The Certified In Wisconsin Program provides businesses looking to locate in a community assurances that a site has already received critical local approvals,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “We are pleased to add the Beaver Dam Commerce Park to the list of industrial sites that are ready for relocating and expanding businesses.”

Alliant Energy holds the option on the properties that make up the Beaver Dam Commerce Park. Once development begins, the company will transfer the options to the Beaver Dam Area Development Corp. (BDADC) who will execute the purchase of the land and the development of the site. The land is currently in the town of Trenton, but it will ultimately be annexed into the city of Beaver Dam.

“We’re excited that Alliant Energy’s Beaver Dam Commerce Park is Wisconsin’s newest Certified Site, and we welcome the increased attention it will bring from new and expanding businesses,” said David de Leon, President of Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin energy company. “Now that our park is a Certified Site, we’ll have another important tool to market the park and bring future jobs and investment to the Beaver Dam area.”

Beaver Dam Mayor Rebecca Glewen thanked Alliant Energy “for realizing the great opportunities that Beaver Dam and our region bring to potential new businesses and residents.

“Beaver Dam has focused on creating a community that appeals to the urban workforce, offering a low crime rate, great schools, theater, arts and music, as well as varied opportunities for outdoor recreation. We are confident that Beaver Dam will be a great option not only for new business development but for recruiting skilled workers, as individuals from Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and beyond look for attractive, affordable options to live, work and play,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the Beaver Dam Commerce Park’s Certified Site status “will be crucial to helping our community share in the state’s success. I want to thank Governor Evers, WEDC and Secretary Hogan for their dedication and help as Beaver Dam works to attract more family-supporting jobs.”

“The announcement made today is a critical component in the transformation of Beaver Dam Commerce Park,” said Rep. Mark Born. “I have no doubt that this development will attract business and workforce into our area, making Beaver Dam an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

WEDC introduced the Certified In Wisconsin® Program in 2012 to help spur development of commercial properties throughout the state. Working with WEDC, communities can obtain site certification for properties at a much lower cost than they would pay to pursue the “development-ready” designation on their own through an independent consultant.

WEDC works with Deloitte Consulting to evaluate sites to determine if they are ready for development and meet certification requirements. By certifying that these sites meet common basic requirements for development, WEDC provides assurances for potential companies eager to get their projects completed quickly, and in the process makes Wisconsin more competitive when it comes to attracting new projects.

Once a site is certified, a potential developer has all the standard information generally needed to make a quick decision about whether that site is right for a project’s needs, such as utility and transportation infrastructure, environmental assessments, quality of nearby labor force and much more.

Wisconsin has 21 certified sites, with 29 development projects completed or underway that are expected to create more than 2,600 jobs and generate more than $472 million in capital investment.

More information about the program is available on the WEDC website.

Gov. Evers: Budget gives Wisconsin Reason to Smile, $2 million will expand dental services, $1 million for free and charitable health centers


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm today will visit two Free and Charitable Health Centers that also provide dental services. They will tour Church Health Services in Beaver Dam from 11-11:45 a.m. and Open Arms Free Clinic in Elkhorn from 1:45-2:30 p.m. Media are invited to attend.

“Healthy teeth aren’t only about appearances. The health of our teeth can affect our overall well-being,” Gov. Evers said. “Yet, many families in our state forgo visits to the dentist due to cost, limited or no insurance coverage, or limited access to services. My budget makes it easier for these families to get preventive and restorative care so their smiles stay healthy.”

More Wisconsinites have a greater reason to smile thanks to an additional $2 million dollars in Gov. Evers’ 2019-2021 biennial budget which will support the state’s oral health program. The Oral Health Program of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) served over 100,000 state residents in 2018, of which 71,000 were students.

In 2018, the Oral Health Program supported 38 school-based sealant programs known as Wisconsin Seal-A-Smile across 54 of the state’s 72 counties. In all, these programs reached 769 schools and 71,000 students during the 2017-2018 school year. The governor’s budget provides a $175,000 increase for the 2019-2020 school year, $350,000 increase for 2020-2021, and an additional $100,000 for advanced dental services, including dental fillings.

To increase access to dental services, the program also funds rural health and safety net clinics. Program funded safety net clinics served over 26,000 people last year, while rural health clinics in three Western Wisconsin counties served nearly 2,400 people in 2018. The governor’s budget increases the amount available to safety-net clinics by $425,000 in 2019-2020, and $850,000 in 2020-2021, allowing more Wisconsin residents to access dental care.

In addition to the increased funding to the Oral Health Program, the budget also includes $1 million in grants for the Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (WAFCC) to support clinics that provide oral health services to state residents who cannot afford or do not have access to this type of care.

To learn more about the Oral Health Programs and the services available, go to https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/oral-health/index.htm

Gov. Evers: Calls on President Trump to listen to farmers, end unproductive trade wars


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today called on President Donald Trump to listen to farmers and put an end to the unnecessary trade war between the United States and our international partners, including China.

The president’s never-ending tariffs are having a direct, negative impact on many industries in Wisconsin, but perhaps none more than agriculture, an $88 billion industry in Wisconsin that employs one out of every nine workers in our state.

Gov. Evers knows that when our farmers thrive, our rural communities thrive, and the ripple effect continues across our entire state.

In the letter, Gov. Evers notes that, “One Tweet can harm thousands of Wisconsin citizens who make their living in our agricultural industry. As many farmers will tell you, aid payments cannot make up for what they’ve lost financially or personally. A government check simply does not make up for the pride they felt knowing they were getting a fair price for their high-quality corn, soybeans, or ginseng.”

Gov. Evers is focused on maintaining Wisconsin’s successful relationships abroad and investing in programs that help Wisconsin producers gain access to global markets and improve their presence in local ones.

“Farmers want trade more than government aid,” Gov. Evers wrote. “They deserve better than short-sighted trade wars that do lasting damage to their businesses and their heritage. They have told us what we can do to support them, and tariffs are not on the list.”

Read the full letter to President Trump here.

Gov. Evers: Directs DNR to address PFAS contamination in drinking, ground and surface waters

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today announced he is directing the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to take additional efforts to address perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, in drinking, ground and surface waters.“I am committed to protecting our state’s natural resources 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 communities, citizens, and businesses to address PFAS contamination across our state.”

PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays, and certain types of firefighting foam.

These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment through accidental spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants, and certain types of firefighting foams.

As part of the announcement, Gov. Evers directed the DNR to pursue rulemaking using science-based recommendations from the Department of Health Services (DHS). Today’s announcement is the first step in the process for DNR amending the following administrative codes to create enforceable standards to protect public health:

  • NR 105 surface water quality standards to reduce PFAS contamination in the state’s surface waters by establishing discharge limitations for certain PFAS substances.
  • NR 140 to set groundwater quality standards to reduce PFAS contamination in the state’s primary source of drinking water, the state’s groundwater.
  • NR 809 safe drinking water standards for public water supplies to reduce certain PFAS substances in drinking water.

Gov. Evers also directed DHS to work closely with DNR by continuing to develop the standards needed to address PFAS contamination. Members of the public and interested parties will have opportunities to provide input throughout this process. 

“We cannot live without clean drinking water. It is too important for the human existence,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. “We are fortunate to be working with DHS and will be in collaboration with them for this most important crisis. There is no substitute for clean drinking water.”


Gov. Evers: Gulfstream opens Appleton Service Center


APPLETON – Gov. Tony Evers today joined local and company officials as Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation (Gulfstream) unveiled its new Appleton Service Center, a $39.5 million project that is bringing 171 new jobs to the community.

“This is good news for Appleton, for Outagamie County, and for Wisconsin,” Gov. Evers said. “We are pleased that Gulfstream has chosen to build its future in Wisconsin and to create opportunities for our highly educated, talented workforce.”

The nearly 180,000-square-foot maintenance, repair and overhaul facility is located just northeast of the Appleton International Airport’s main terminal. The new building includes a hangar, offices, back shops and support space. The expansion will bring the number of employees at Gulfstream Appleton to more than 1,000.

“This is the most significant expansion we’ve had in Appleton in the nearly 20 years we’ve been here,” said Derek Zimmerman, president, Gulfstream Product Support. “The demand for our outstanding service business is growing, so this added maintenance capacity and additional jobs are great news for our customers and the community. These added resources will further enhance the world-class service and support this site is known for in the industry.”

“Gulfstream is one of many companies that put the Fox Valley on the map on a global scale,” said Rep. Mike Rohrkaste. “Their decision to expand at Appleton International Airport, bringing their employee count here to over one thousand people, is great news.”

Senate President Roger Roth added, “The Gulfstream expansion is great news for the Fox Valley and we will definitely feel the positive ripple effect from this. Gulfstream values local connections creating community and educational partnerships – like the Student Leadership Program which is in collaboration with the Appleton Area School District and Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce. When a company deeply roots itself into the community, you know they are dedicated to supporting our hard-working citizens and their families.”

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is supporting the project by authorizing up to $1,100,000 in state income tax credits over three years. The actual amount of tax credits Gulfstream will receive is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment during that period. The tax credits are split between $750,000 for job creation and $350,000 for capital investment.

“In addition to the jobs created by this project, this expansion will allow Gulfstream to take advantage of a growing market and increased demand for its services,” said Mark R. Hogan, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the state’s leading economic development organization. “This significant investment is a testament to Wisconsin’s strong business climate and dedicated workforce, and WEDC is proud to provide support to make this a viable project for the company.”

In addition to the 171 jobs expected to be created by Gulfstream, an economic modeling study estimates the project could indirectly generate 492 additional jobs in the region. Those 663 jobs new jobs are expected to generate over $1.4 million in state income tax revenue through the end of the project. 
Outagamie County also received $1 million from the Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) program of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) for construction of construct a roundabout that provides better and safer access to the new site.

Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, designs, develops, manufactures, markets, services and supports the world’s most technologically advanced business-jet aircraft. Gulfstream has produced more than 2,800 aircraft for customers around the world since 1958. Gulfstream Appleton offers a wide variety of services, including major inspections, structural modifications and major avionics installations and safety upgrades.

Gov. Evers: Highlights transportation investments during stops in Wausau, Green Bay


MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers this week met local officials and public works staff in Wausau and Green Bay to highlight the important role that a quality transportation system plays in public safety, Wisconsin’s economy and quality of life.

“The recently approved state budget contains the highest level of transportation investments in more than a generation,” Gov. Evers said. “With support from the legislature and the collective voices of people across Wisconsin, we’ve finally made significant progress in the one area that truly connects us all – our comprehensive transportation network.”

The 2019–2021 state budget invests in all transportation modes including state and local roadways, coupled with the lowest level of borrowing in 20 years. Key provisions include:

  • An additional $320 million in State Highway Rehabilitation funding to improve existing highways and bridges across the state
  • A 10% increase ($66 million over the biennium) in General Transportation Aids. This funding helps offset the costs of transportation-related expenses in Wisconsin’s counties, cities, villages, and towns 

“Along with investing in the state highway system, we’re providing municipalities with additional resources to help them prioritize and complete badly needed improvements to local roadways,” Gov. Evers said. “While the recently approved state budget represents an important step forward in addressing transportation needs, my hope is to work cooperatively with elected state officials to identify a sustainable, long-term transportation funding solution.”

Gov. Evers also helped debut the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s podcast “Transportation Connects Us.” In the first episode, Gov. Evers and WisDOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson discuss Wisconsin’s transportation challenges and opportunities. The podcast is available athttps://wisdot.libsyn.com.

Gov. Evers: Launches back to school health resource for parents


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today launched a back to school webpage for parents to learn about resources to ensure their kids and families have a healthy start to the school year.

The Department of Health Services’ (DHS) webpage contains essential information for parents about promoting kid’s physical health, accessing health care, understanding immunization requirements, accessing free or reduced school meals for qualified students, finding childcare services, supporting children living with mental health challenges, and encouraging healthy social behavior during the school year.

“A kid’s ability to succeed in the classroom can be impacted by both their physical and mental health,” said Gov. Evers. “If a kid doesn’t feel well, it can affect their attention, behavior, ability to make friends, and ultimately their school performance. That is why it’s critical for us to connect the dots so parents can access all of the resources they need to help their kids succeed.”

The webpage includes information from DHS, Department of Public Instruction, Department of Children and Families, and other family-serving organizations. It also includes a video message from Gov. Evers encouraging parents to get their kids vaccinated and a back to school checklist for parents which recommends the following health tips:

Physical Health

Make sure your child has the required immunizations.
Find a health care provider that can support your child’s needs.
Promote physical activity and a healthy diet.
Find a dental care provider for your child.
Understand health-related conditions that affect children. For example, asthma, diabetes, influenza, head lice, and childhood lead poisoning.
Mental Health

Learn about mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and suicide prevention strategies.
Learn how to support children who have experienced trauma and help them build resiliency.
Support LGBT students who are at higher risk of living with a mental health condition.
Healthy Social Behavior

Promote children’s social and emotional learning.
Understand ways to prevent and address bullying.
Promote healthy screen time use by prioritizing face-to-face communication with family members and peers.
Learn strategies to prevent and address risky behavior like e-cigarette use, underage drinking, and other substance use.

Gov. Evers: Make emergency preparedness part of back-to-school planning


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

– As the end of summer approaches, students are getting ready to go back to school. ReadyWisconsin is also encouraging students and parents to make family emergency preparedness part of their back to school planning.

“While folks across our state are getting ready to kick off another great school year, we want to make sure we’re talking with kids about safety before they’re back in the classroom,” said Gov. Evers. “By taking the time before the semester to talk about and plan for what happens in an emergency, we can help make sure our kids have a happy and safe school year.”

Consider discussing these topics below and review information available from schools:

  • Write a family communications plan. Kids should know who to contact in an emergency and have a written copy of those phone numbers in their backpack or wallet. Keep a copy of your emergency plan on file at your student’s school, and check out ReadyWisconsin’s website for sample communication plans.
  • If your local school allows students to have a phone, program it with important contact numbers.
  • Text first, talk second. Getting a phone call through during an emergency may be difficult because of call congestion. Students should know that text messages may be the best option to get in contact with each other.
  • Know your school’s evacuation plan and where students will be taken during an emergency, along with how to reunite with them after they are safe.
  • If your school allows you to designate additional people who are authorized to retrieve your student if you are unable to do so yourself, ensure that information is current.
  • Students who drive to school should have an emergency kit in their vehicle with items such as snacks, warm blankets, extra clothing and jumper cables.
  • If you have a student heading to college, make an emergency kit for their dorm or apartment that includes items such as water, non-perishable food, a first aid kit, flashlight, and a portable radio.
  • Suggest your student sign up to receive any text alert notifications their campus may send out during an emergency or when there is severe weather.

“Now is the time to develop those emergency communications plans and put together emergency kits,” said Dr. Darrell L. Williams, Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator. “We want everyone prepared so when an emergency happens, everyone knows what to do and where to go.”

Find additional tips for talking about safety with your kids on the ReadyWisconsin website. Receive daily safety tips by following ReadyWisconsin on Facebook and Twitter.

Gov. Evers: Opposes USDA’s proposal to boot kids, farmers, families from food assistance


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today, along with governors from 16 other states, signed and submitted a letter voicing opposition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposal to essentially eliminate Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility (BBCE) from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), effectively rendering kids, farmers, and families ineligible for critical food assistance.

Since it was established 55 years ago, SNAP has proven to be one of the most effective anti-hunger programs in the country. The USDA’s proposal is expected to affect more than three million people across the United States, and will make it harder for nearly 40,000 people in Wisconsin to make ends meet and put food on their table. The rule not only affects working Wisconsinites, but will also put thousands of Wisconsin’s kids in jeopardy of losing access to free and reduced-price meals at school while making it more difficult for working families to provide for healthy food for their kids at home.

“What’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. We cannot afford to have nearly 12,000 children in our state go hungry,” Gov. Evers said. “We should be making it easier for our kids, farmers, seniors, people with disabilities, and working families to have access healthy foods, not harder.”

Earlier this year, Lt. Gov. Barnes testified in opposition of the rule at a hearing before Congress.

“Broad-based categorical eligibility helps lift families out of poverty: it’s helping farmers, caregivers, and factory workers all across our state,” Lt. Gov. Barnes said in his testimony. “These individuals are contributing members of our society and taxpayers—but unfortunately, low-wages and high expenses like childcare and rent, are making it hard for them to make ends meet. Broad-based categorical eligibility provides needed relief for these families—and it promotes work. Eliminating it would have dangerous repercussions in our state.”

BBCE is a policy that requires states to enroll eligible applicant households in SNAP for food assistance if they’re already qualified for other benefits limited to low-income people, most notably benefits funded under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant. States utilize BBCE to adopt less restrictive income and asset tests and to better coordinate SNAP with other state-operated programs, resulting in an increase in low-income households accessing the food assistance they need while also making SNAP easier and less costly for states to administer.

Gov. Evers: Proclaims August ‘National Water Quality Month’ in Wisconsin


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today proclaimed August as ‘National Water Quality Month’ throughout the state of Wisconsin as part of his commitment to improving water quality.

Earlier this year, Gov. Evers declared 2019 as the Year of Clean Drinking Water because today the drinking water for tens of thousands of Wisconsin families does not meet acceptable health standards.

“Everyone should be able to drink water straight from their tap. It is time for our state to fund restoration projects, incorporate science into our natural resource policy, address widespread water contamination, and acknowledge the real and imminent threat of climate change,” said Gov. Evers. “By investing in conservation and protecting our natural resources and taking proactive action to prevent pollution, we can work to restore our waterways and ensure clean drinking water for every community in the state.”

Wisconsin’s natural resources include 88,000 miles of rivers and streams, 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 5 million acres of wetlands, numerous coastal and inland beaches and 1.2 quadrillion gallons of groundwater.

Gov. Evers: Requests Federal Damage Assessments for storm damage


MADISON — Gov.Tony Evers has requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) later this month for 19 Wisconsin counties and tribes hit hard by severe storms, flooding, straight line winds and tornadoes. This is the first step in potentially requesting federal disaster aid for local governments as they recover from the storms.

“Since the storms hit two weeks ago, I have traveled the state, meeting with disaster victims and local officials, and viewing damage,” said Gov. Evers. “Our first responders, emergency managers, utility workers, the Wisconsin National Guard, volunteers, and local, tribal and state officials have been working tirelessly to help those affected by the storms. I look forward to having FEMA in our state to work with Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) officials to validate the severe damage we have seen and possibly seek federal assistance.”

Teams comprised of officials with FEMA and WEM will work with local, tribal and state officials in viewing public infrastructure damage in Barron, Clark, Forest, La Crosse, Langlade, Marinette, Menominee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Polk, Portage, Rusk, Vernon, Waupaca, and Wood counties. In addition, FEMA will assess damage on tribal lands of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.

“The storms caused major damage across the northern half of Wisconsin,” said Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general. “The Wisconsin National Guard continues to support local governments as they work hard to remove debris left from the storms.”

A series of severe storms moved across parts of western and northern Wisconsin beginning late on July 18 and continuing through July 20. The first round brought over 5” of rain causing flash flooding in the Vernon and La Crosse county area. Storms Friday and Saturday resulted in strong winds with speeds up to 100 mph in portions of northern Wisconsin, downing hundreds of thousands of trees and numerous power lines. In addition, the storms spun up 17 tornadoes. Another line of storms moved through central Wisconsin on Saturday causing significant damage to the Fox Cities area.

Current local damage assessments show more than $14 million in damage to public infrastructure. Most of the costs are for emergency protective measures, debris removal and damage to electrical equipment owned by municipal and rural electric cooperatives.

“We value our relationship with FEMA and look forward to working with them through this process as we provide support to those impacted and still recovering from the storms,” said Dr. Darrell Williams, WEM Administrator.

FEMA will not be assessing damage to individual homes, cabins or businesses. Much of the reported damage by individuals is either covered by insurance or would not qualify for federal disaster assistance such as downed trees on private property.

Gov. Evers continues to be updated about the cleanup and recovery efforts. The information gathered in the PDA will be provided to the governor to determine if the state would qualify for a federal disaster declaration for public assistance for local governments.

Gov. Evers: Requests federal disaster aid for July’s severe storms


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today has requested a federal disaster declaration for 18 Wisconsin counties and two tribes for damage sustained from severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding in July. The request would provide federal disaster assistance to help local governments and electric cooperatives recover some of their costs from responding to the storms, protecting citizens, removing debris, and repairing roads and other infrastructure.

“Damage assessments by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) verified more than $19.5 million in eligible damages,” said Gov. Evers. “We need federal disaster assistance to help these Wisconsin communities recover from the widespread damage and debris removal caused by the devastating July 18-20 storms.”

Gov. Evers sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting the federal disaster declaration for Barron, Clark, Forest, La Crosse, Langlade, Marinette, Menominee, Monroe, Oconto, Oneida, Outagamie, Polk, Portage, Rusk, Shawano, Vernon, Waupaca, and Wood counties and for the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin.

“Approval of this declaration will go a long way to help those communities recover from the loss suffered during the devasting storm,” said Dr. Darrell L. Williams, WEM Administrator.

A series of severe storms moved across parts of western and northern Wisconsin beginning late on July 18 and continuing through July 20. The first round brought over five inches of rain causing flash flooding in the Vernon and La Crosse county areas. Storms Friday and Saturday resulted in strong winds with speeds up to 100 mph in portions of northern Wisconsin, downing hundreds of thousands of trees and numerous power lines. In addition, the storms spun up 17 tornadoes. Another line of storms moved through central Wisconsin on Saturday causing significant damage to the Fox Cities area.

Two people were killed during cleanup following the storms. Emergency rooms across the impacted areas also reported several cases of individuals sustaining injuries as a result of moving downed trees and other debris. In addition, more than 300,000 customers were without power for days.

Throughout the last month, several state, local, tribal and volunteer agencies helped with the cleanup. The Wisconsin National Guard assisted with debris removal in Barron, Polk, and Langlade counties from July 22 to August 11. In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Corrections also provided resources to help remove downed trees and debris.

If approved, FEMA’s Public Assistance Program would help communities recover some of the eligible costs incurred including emergency protective measures, infrastructure repair and debris cleanup from the storms. FEMA provides 75% of eligible costs. The state of Wisconsin and local communities impacted share the remaining 25%.

The program is not for businesses or homeowners as the level of damage in these areas, unfortunately, does not currently meet requirements for federal disaster relief. Residents and businesses that may have impacted should check municipal, county and tribal government or emergency management websites and social media pages for information on possible resources that may be available.

A copy of the letter is available here.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for part-time register of deeds of Menominee County


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers announced today that he is seeking applicants for appointment as register of deeds in Menominee County.

The part-time appointment will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Louise Madosh, effective July 30, 2019. The new register of deeds will complete a term ending December 31, 2020.

Interested applicants must submit an online application with a cover letter detailing professional and academic qualifications, civic activities, and community involvement. Application materials must be received no later than 12 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 22, 2019.

The application can be found on Gov. Evers’ website: www.evers.wi.gov by clicking “Apply” in the center of the page, scrolling to the bottom of the page and clicking “Click here to apply for the Register of Deeds, Coroner or Sheriff positions”. If the online application is not functioning, please send a cover letter and resume to [email protected]

Potential applicants with questions about the appointments process may contact Flora Csontos, Director of Gubernatorial Appointments, at (608) 267-3675.

Gov. Evers: Seeks applicants for Washburn County district attorney


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that he is seeking applications for appointment as Washburn County District Attorney.

The new appointee will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Washburn County District Attorney, Angeline Winton, whose resignation was effective August 19, 2019. The new appointee will serve out the remainder of the unexpired term that ends January 2021.

To apply, please email a completed application form and supporting materials to [email protected] Applications must be submitted by September 9, 2019.

The District Attorney application form is available on the “Apply to Serve” page of the Governor’s website: www.evers.wi.gov.

For questions about the appointments process, please contact the Governor’s Office of Legal Counsel at (608) 266-1212.

Gov. Evers: Signs executive order #38 Relating to Clean Energy in Wisconsin


MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Executive Order #38 to address the issue of clean energy in Wisconsin. The governor was joined by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Public Service Commission Chairperson Becky Cameron Valcq and Department of Natural Resources Secretary-designee Preston Cole.

Executive Order #38 orders the Department of Administration to create the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy and in partnership with other state agencies and state utilities, achieve a goal of ensuring all electricity consumed within the state of Wisconsin is 100% carbon-free by 2050. The Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy will be charged to promote the development and use of clean and renewable energy across the state, advance innovative sustainability solutions that improve the state’s economy and environment, and diversify the resources used to meet the state’s energy needs.

“A transition to a clean energy economy will generate thousands of family-supporting jobs in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “Our state has a responsibility to current and future generations of Wisconsinites to act to prevent continuing damage to our climate and to invest in solutions that help to mitigate the changes that have already occurred.”

“Today, our administration is taking a step that promises an opportunity to create cleaner and safer jobs, to stimulate the economy, to once again have an abundant and prosperous agriculture industry, and the opportunity to restore and enjoy the beautiful natural resources our state has to offer,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes. “It is my goal and priority to ensure that this work is done in a manner that’s inclusive and those who have been most impacted by climate change are part of the conversation and the solution. As a state, we must strive for economic and environmental justice.”

“I’m honored to work for a governor who understands that moving towards a more sustainable future is not only good for our planet; but is also crucial for our state’s economy, our workers, our innovators and our children—and I applaud Gov. Evers for taking action to secure a cleaner future for all of us,” said Public Service Commission Chairperson Becky Cameron Valcq. “Setting a goal of zero-carbon generation in Wisconsin paves the way towards a future with plentiful, inexpensive clean energy.”

View Executive Order #38 here.

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #39 relating to creating a task force on reducing prescription drug prices


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers yesterday signed Executive Order #39 creating a task force on reducing prescription drug prices in Wisconsin.
“Picking up a medication shouldn’t break the bank, but it often does for our families and our seniors with the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs,” said Gov. Evers. “We have to do more to make sure that healthcare is affordable and accessible, and I’m looking forward to our Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices helping us get to work on reducing costs for prescription drugs in Wisconsin.”

The Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices is charged with gathering and analyzing data on development, pricing, distribution, and purchasing of prescription drugs, analyzing other states’ strategies in reducing prescription drug prices and identifying opportunities to work with other states and the federal government, and making recommendations for reducing prescription drug prices in Wisconsin.

The governor’s executive order can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #40 relating to PFAS in Wisconsin


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers yesterday signed Executive Order #40 to address the issue of PFAS in Wisconsin. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays, and certain types of firefighting foam.

These contaminants have made their way into the environment through accidental spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants, and certain types of firefighting foams.

“Everyone should have access to clean drinking water, and Wisconsinites should be able to trust the water coming out of their tap,” said Gov. Evers. “I’ve been working alongside governors and stakeholders from across the Great Lakes region to address this issue, but we have to start taking this issue more seriously here at home. I’m proud that my administration is ready to get to work to address PFAS contamination.”

Executive Order #40 directs the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to take additional steps to address PFAS contamination. The DNR is charged with coordinating with the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to:

• Establish a public information website to properly inform the public on the matter of PFAS and the risk these chemicals pose to public health and Wisconsin’s natural resources.
• Collaborate with municipalities and wastewater treatment plants on screening programs to identify potential sources of PFAS into the environment.
• Expand monitoring and consideration of PFAS in the development of fish and other wildlife consumption advisories to protect human health.
• Develop regulatory standards to protect public health and the environment from PFAS contamination.
• Modify the Voluntary Party Liability Exemption law, which provides future liability exemptions after successful completion of hazardous substance cleanup, to protect Wisconsin taxpayers from uncertain and costly liability associated with PFAS.
• Assess opportunities for using natural resources damages claims under state or federal law to address compensation for PFAS impacts to natural resources.

“This Executive Order is another tangible example of the governor doubling down on his commitment to clean drinking water across Wisconsin where clean drinking water is a public health priority,” said DNR Secretary-designee Preston Cole. “This is also another large step forward in protecting the people and the land from harmful contaminants. It may be overwhelming to some, but it’s too important not to begin addressing this issue.”

Executive Order #40 also directs the DNR to create the PFAS Coordinating Council in partnership with other state agencies.

The PFAS Coordinating Council is charged with the following:

• Develop a multi-agency PFAS action plan for the State of Wisconsin.
• Develop protocols to effectively inform, educate, and engage the public about PFAS.
• Identify and prioritize likely known PFAS sources and incorporate this information into the PFAS action plan.
• Evaluate the public health risks of PFAS in addition to any impacts to Wisconsin’s natural resources, agriculture, wildlife, and fisheries.
• Develop best practices and protocols for identifying PFAS sources to ensure that the materials are managed in a way that protects natural resources and human health.
• In partnership with stakeholders, develop standard testing and treatment protocols that are both cost-efficient and effective.
• Engage academic institutions and experts to identify and collaborate on joint projects, and further identify technical resources necessary to implement a PFAS action plan.
• Explore avenues of funding for the state, local governments, and private parties to aid their effort to address PFAS.

View Executive Order #40 here.

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #41 recreating the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers yesterday signed Executive Order #41 recreating the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

“The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council plays a vital role in connecting the dots between crucial decision makers and entities within the criminal justice system,” said Gov. Evers. “This Council will continue to help Wisconsin move toward sound, evidence-based practices that focus our resources on programs that work, while moving away from solely punitive programs that have been shown to do little to rehabilitate offenders or make our communities safer.”

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council is co-chaired by Attorney General Josh Kaul and Department of Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr. Council membership includes:

• Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes
• Department of Workforce Development Secretary-designee Caleb Frostman, or a representative
• Department of Children and Families Secretary-designee Emilie Amundson, or a representative
• Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, or a representative
• Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority Executive Director Joaquin Altoro, or a representative
• Hon. Randy Koschnick, Director of State Courts
• Hon. James Morrison, Chair of the Committee of Chief Judges, Marinette
• Hon. Maxine White, Chief Judge of the First Judicial District, Milwaukee
• Kelli Thompson, State Public Defender
• John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney
• David O’Leary, Rock County District Attorney
• Dave Mahoney, Dane County Sheriff
• Daniel Hardman, Lake Delton Police Chief
• Mark Abeles-Allison, Bayfield County Administrator
• Jorge Fragoso, Assistant Public Defender, Milwaukee
• Tiana Glenna, Eau Claire County Criminal Justice Collaborating Council Coordinator
• Jane Graham Jennings, Executive Director of The Women’s Community, Inc., Wausau
• Patti Jo Severson, Mental Health Advocate, La Crosse
• Vanessa McDowell, CEO of YWCA Madison
• Fran Deisinger, Past President of the State Bar of Wisconsin

A copy of Executive Order #41 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Signs Executive Order #42, authorizes Wisconsin National Guard to aid with Hurricane Dorian response

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed Executive Order #42 as Hurricane Dorian approaches Florida, authorizing Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, to call elements of the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty to assist civil authorities in Florida. The order also directs all state agencies to assist the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs in responding to the situation.

“Coming together and helping others in their time of need is what Wisconsinites do. The members of the Wisconsin National Guard stand ready to help Florida as the state and its people prepare to face this dangerous storm and recover from the damage it may inflict upon them,” Gov. Evers said. “I would like to thank Major General Dunbar and the brave folks in the Wisconsin National Guard for being ready to answer this call to action.”

Gov. Evers’ executive order declares a State of Emergency under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) in response to a request from the state of Florida. The EMAC is an aid agreement between United States states and territories, which can be utilized to enhance federal emergency response efforts.

Hurricane Dorian is currently located off the east coast of the United States and reached Category 3 strength on Friday. The major hurricane is expected to make landfall on the Florida coast by early next week, while the National Weather Service forecasts the state may see the onset of tropical storm force winds as early as Sunday morning.

A copy of Executive Order #42 can be found here.

Gov. Evers: Wisconsin Democrats announce Universal Background Checks bill, call on Republicans to act


Contact: [email protected] or 608-219-7443

Gov. Evers, Lt. Gov. Barnes, Attorney General Kaul join Rep. Sargent and Sen. Johnson in supporting universal background checks.

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, and Attorney General Josh Kaul today joined Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) and Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) announcing LRB-3949, a bill closing the background check loophole in Wisconsin, and released the below statements.

Gov. Evers: “We have to stop ignoring the problem of gun violence in our state and our country, and it’s time for our elected officials to find the courage to do what is right. Addressing gun violence doesn’t have to be a false choice between the 2nd Amendment and keeping our kids and our communities safe—we can walk and chew gum at the same time, and a majority of Wisconsinites agree that no matter what kind of firearm is being purchased or where it’s being purchased from, the process should be the same.”

Lt. Gov. Barnes: “Gun violence is an issue that’s personal for me as a citizen and as an elected official. Growing up, I lost classmates and friends to gun violence, while experiencing the pain and grief it brings to entire neighborhoods. During my time as a state legislator, I fought for common-sense gun laws that would keep Wisconsin safe. Now, as lieutenant governor, I support this legislation that will require background checks for those purchasing or transferring firearms. Only then will we have communities where every woman, man, and child have a chance to thrive.”

Attorney General Kaul: “Background checks are conducted for the vast majority of firearm purchases in Wisconsin. But because we don’t have universal background checks, people who are a danger to others—including people who have been convicted of a dangerous felony or are subject to a domestic violence restraining order—currently can buy a firearm without going through a background check. This legislation would change that—and make Wisconsin safer.”

Sen. Johnson: “As elected officials, those we serve want to know that we are prioritizing the safety of their families. No parent should be afraid for their child’s life when they are walking down the street or in school, yet that is exactly what is happening. 90% of Americans support background checks for all gun sales. This bill is a common-sense start to a needed conversation about how we can protect our children and make our communities safer.”

Rep. Sargent: “Everyone deserves to live in a safe community and without the fear of gun violence. Yet, here in Wisconsin, many firearm sales continue to be conducted without necessary background checks due to this egregious loophole in our laws. Closing this loophole ensures that all firearm sales are vetted and properly checked, working to keep our kids, our communities, and our state safe. Continued inaction is complicity. We must listen to the voices of the people of Wisconsin and take tangible steps to reduce gun violence by closing the background check loophole in our state.”

Background on LRB-3949:

Under current law, only licensed gun dealers must conduct background checks when selling a firearm, which means that someone attempting to purchase a firearm can circumvent the background check process by purchasing a firearm from an unlicensed seller. LRB-3949 unifies the background check process under the Wisconsin DOJ for all firearm purchases, including requiring the Wisconsin DOJ to conduct background checks on frames and receivers.

Under LRB-3949, firearm sales or transfers (including frames and receivers) must be made through a licensed firearms dealer, and a background check is required for all firearm purchases with some limited exceptions, including transfers to a family member by gift, bequest, or inheritance (if the family member is otherwise not prohibited from possessing a firearm) and any firearm classified as an antique by regulations of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Find a copy of LRB-3949 here.

Hogan to leave WEDC Sept. 3

WEDC Secretary and CEO Mark Hogan will formally step down from the job Sept. 3, telling Gov. Tony Evers in a letter serving in the role has been “one of the great privileges of my life.”

Hogan’s departure will come shortly after Evers regains the power to appoint the agency head. Republicans during the December lame-duck session approved a provision giving that power temporarily to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Board and adding more GOP appointees to the body in a move that was seen as an effort to protect Hogan from being replaced in the early days of the Evers administration.

In his letter, Hogan wrote that some thought his relationship with Evers couldn’t work or “simply did not want it to work.” But he praised the support he’s received from Evers Chief of Staff Maggie Gau and DOA Secretary Joel Brennan.

“I appreciate the trust you have shown me over the past eight months to lead WEDC in a way consistent with my basic belief of trying to do the right thing for the right reason,” Hogan wrote.

Hogan also noted in his letter that he was first appointed to the position by then-Gov. Scott Walker on Sept. 3, 2015, making his tenure with the agency precisely four years.

He first announced this summer that he planned to leave the job sometime this fall, but hadn’t previously specified a date. Walker tapped him to lead WEDC after the agency struggled in its early years after replacing the old Commerce Department amid stories about questionable loan practices and other troubles.

Hogan testified last week before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee on the most recent review of the agency’s practices, touting what he said are successes in addressing recommendations state auditors have made in recent years.

Meanwhile, multiple sources tell WisPolitics.com that the Evers administration has begun interviewing candidates to replace Hogan. The guv’s office declined comment.

Read the letter.

Howard Marklein: Delete it!


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

I just authored a bill to delete 19 pages of state law. I want to remove it; erase it; toss it.

The Wisconsin State Statutes are currently 7,689 pages long and are contained in six printed volumes. In an effort to clean-up the statutes, this bill would remove 19 pages by deleting language associated with seven obsolete tax credits and obsolete Illinois income tax reciprocity criteria.

The elimination of these statutes will not impact any claimant eligibility for these credits or any other function of state government. They are 19 pages of unnecessary statutory language that continues to be printed year after year.

The tax credits to be deleted were sunset in the 2013-2015 state budget bill. These old tax credits include six refundable tax credits that ended in tax year 2014 and another that ended in tax year 2015. The legislature sunset these credits with the goal of simplifying the tax code. Wisconsin still has at least 401 active tax credits for a wide variety of purposes including 102 individual income tax exemptions, 132 sales and use tax exemptions, 13 property tax exemptions, 35 real estate transfer tax exemptions and more!

My bill repeals the following obsolete refundable tax credits that can no longer be claimed such as the Woody Biomass Harvesting and Processing Credit. In addition, this bill repeals the obsolete provision that limits the amount the state may pay to Illinois under income tax reciprocity for taxable years between December 31, 1997 and January 1, 2000. This obsolete law has been left in statute for nearly 20 years after it no longer applied.

These credits can be deleted because taxpayers cannot file for these credits anymore. Generally, taxpayers may file an amended return to claim a credit for up to four years beyond the un-extended due date of the tax year. For six of the seven tax credits, an eligible claimant could have filed an amended return until April 15, 2018. Corporate filers have extra time to file amended returns and could have done so until April 15, 2019 on six of these seven credits. With the seventh credit, taxpayers have until April 15, 2020 to file an amended return. This bill would set the repeal date on this credit to be July 1, 2020. As a result, these statutes could be deleted without affecting any claimant eligibility to file an amended return.

While it may seem like a small thing, deleting 19 pages of obsolete tax law is one way to clean up our state statutes. It also exposes the sheer volume of tax credits we still have and the complexity of our tax system. If we sunset a tax exemption, we should also include language to delete it from statute. I will encourage my colleagues to keep this in mind. As your State Senator, I am always looking for ways to reform our government and will continue to work toward simplification of the tax code to benefit all taxpayers in Wisconsin.

– Marklein, R-Spring Green, represents the 17th Senate District.


Howard Marklein: Dump your deer right here


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

In just a few short months, hunters will return to the woods in pursuit of the whitetail deer. In the communities of southwest Wisconsin, the deer hunting season is our opportunity to thin the herd, fill our freezers and continue the tradition of deer hunting with family and friends.

It is also another opportunity for us to continue our work to eradicate Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), CWD is “a fatal, neurological illness” occurring in deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It was discovered in 1967 and has spread rapidly through animal-to-animal contact and indirectly through the environment. CWD takes 18-24 months before there are noticeable signs of the disease such as weight loss, behavioral changes, increased drinking, urination and excessive salivation. No treatments or vaccines are currently available.

Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not warn against eating CWD-positive animals and has not found a direct link between the disease and human impacts, many of us who hunt in the counties where CWD is prevalent are concerned about it. We want a healthy deer herd!

I recently introduced a bill with State Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) on behalf of several active and engaged constituents who have been working on ways to manage, study and control the proliferation of CWD in our deer herd. In Iowa, Richland and Sauk counties, CWD impacts 55% or more of wild adult male deer. Dr. Elizabeth Baker and Mitch Baker in Sauk county and Doug Duren in Richland county, have led the effort to expand, fund and formalize a Deer Carcass Dumpster program in southwest Wisconsin.

Senate Bill (SB) 325 and Assembly Bill (AB) 384 requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish a grant program for deer carcass disposal dumpsters and provides money to administer grants to County Deer Advisory Councils (CDACs). This bill allocates $205,200 annually from the Conservation Fund for this purpose.

Grants would be available to CDACs in counties that the DNR has identified as having one or more wild CWD positive deer and counties that the DNR has identified as being within 10 miles of a CWD positive deer in an adjacent county. Currently, 38 counties would qualify for a grant under this program.

Under this grant program, CDACs would be responsible for finding locations to place the dumpsters and contracting with private companies for dumpster rental, transportation and disposal. Grant money may be used by CDACs for dumpster rental, transportation and disposal as well as to purchase a plastic liner and other necessary materials such as tie-downs. Grant funding would be limited to $5,400 per county, or enough money for six dumpsters in each affected county.

The Bakers, Duren and other volunteers piloted a Deer Carcass Dumpster program in Richland, Sauk and Dane County in 2018 with private donations and volunteers. The goal was to encourage hunters to dispose of deer carcasses in a safe way that prevents the re-introduction and spread of CWD positive animal matter into the landscape. The dumpster program was very successful last year, but the model is unsustainable and ultimately should be supported by the State of Wisconsin. As Duren and the Bakers have said, “this resource is held in trust by the state to be kept and managed.” They are right.

Biologists, outdoor clubs, hunters and landowners have been recommending proper carcass disposal activities since 2008. Our bill, if passed, will provide the formal support and funding for leaders and volunteers like the Bakers and Duren to pursue this goal.

Since our bill was circulated for co-sponsorship, the DNR has announced plans to continue the Adopt-a-Dumpster program. However, our legislation goes further. We provide the funding for local CDACs to fully operate the dumpster program. We also provide flexibility for the local CDAC to determine locations, make arrangements and decide disposal options. This is what they asked for.

Rep. Kurtz and I are hopeful that we will be able to move this legislation through the legislative process before the deer hunting season begins this fall. We sincerely appreciate the tireless advocacy and hard work of local sportsmen and women who have invested their time and passion in this issue. We share their goals – we want to protect our wildlife and hunting heritage for future generations.

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: Raise the age to purchase and possess tobacco and vaping products to 21


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

Ask any parent or teacher of high school students and they will tell you that vaping is the new threat to the health and wellbeing of young people. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin recently reported eight cases of hospitalized teenagers with “seriously damaged lungs” who reported vaping in the weeks and months prior to their hospitalization. This story was closely followed by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announcing that doctors have confirmed 12 cases of adults with lung disease tied to vaping marijuana oils, extracts or concentrates and another 13 cases under investigation!

Vaping or JUULing (named after a brand of products) uses an electronic device to deliver nicotine, flavorings and other chemicals into a person’s lungs. The devices heat liquid and produce an aerosol, or mix of small particles in the air, which a person inhales. The practice is similar to smoking tobacco-based products. But it is an alternative way to deliver nicotine to the body that some users consider “safer” or “healthier” than smoking tobacco.

The rampant use of vaping products among our youth is a demonstrated public health crisis that I hope to address by introducing legislation to increase the age of purchase for vaping and tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Between 2017 and 2018, the use of vaping products increased by 78% for high school students and by 48% among middle school students, according to figures from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Studies have shown nearly 40% of 12th graders report using a vaping product in the past 12 months.

It is widely accepted that vaping products, and the nicotine they deliver, uniquely impact adolescent brain development, including parts of the brain most responsible for decision making, impulse control, and sensation seeking. Additionally, a study by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found “substantial evidence” that vaping use among youth “increases the risk of transitioning to smoking conventional cigarettes.”

The vast majority of high school and middle school students obtain vaping products from social sources, such as a classmate, friend or sibling. Obtaining the products has proven far too easy for youth, in part because 80% of their classmates turn 18 before they graduate. Parents and educators across the state have passionately voiced their concerns about the prevalence of youth vaping at listening sessions and have urged lawmakers to take action.

To address this troubling trend, Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield) and I have introduced legislation with a strong list of bi-partisan co-authors. Senators Janet Bewley (D-Mason), Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), Jennifer Shilling (D-LaCrosse) and Representatives David Crowley (D-Milwaukee), Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc), LaKeshia Myers (D-Milwaukee), Loren Oldenburg (R-Viroqua), Jessie Rodriguez (R-Oak Creek), Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah), Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), and Don Vruwink (D-Milton) have proposed a bill that would increase the age for sale, purchase, and possession of cigarettes, nicotine and tobacco products, including vapor products, from 18 to 21.

Seventeen states, including neighboring Illinois, have increased the age to 21. Minnesota passed similar legislation in their House last spring, but it did not make it through the Senate. More than 50% of the country’s population is currently subject to Tobacco 21 laws.

Demonstrating the effectiveness of the policy, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found raising the minimum legal sales age nationwide would reduce tobacco initiation, particularly among adolescents aged 15 to 17, lead to a 12% reduction in smoking over time, and immediately improve the health of adolescents and young adults.

Increasing the age to 21 will ensure fewer social access points to the products in high schools, while aligning e-vapor and tobacco products with other adult products, including beer, wine and distilled spirits. It is true that in most circumstances, the age of 18 is accepted as the entry point to adulthood. However, I believe those concerns are outweighed by the public health consequences of youth vaping, and that an age 21 policy aligns Wisconsin with the direction other states and the federal government are headed.

I am also very concerned about the potential for illegal drugs and narcotics to be added to vaping products with – or without – the consent and knowledge of a user. We are already seeing this issue manifest in emergency rooms and hospitals throughout the state. Teenagers, who acquire their vaping products from others, may be more subject to this type of threat to their health and well-being.

This bipartisan legislation has broad support from public health organizations and officials, youth groups, educators, health care providers, and the law enforcement community. It is also strongly supported by the largest manufacturers of tobacco and vapor products – JUUL Labs, Inc., RAI Services (parent company of Newport, Camel, Pall Mall cigarettes and VUSE vapor cigarettes) and Altria Client Services (parent company of Marlboro cigarettes, Black & Mild cigars and JUUL Labs, Inc.)

Other supporters include the American Heart Association; Wisconsin Association of School Boards; Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association; Association of Wisconsin School Administrators; Boys & Girls Clubs of Wisconsin; Wal-Mart Stores; Aurora Health Care; Marshfield Clinic Health System; Marshfield Children’s Hospital; Altria Client Services; JUUL Labs, Inc.; RAI Services (formerly Reynolds American Inc.); Wisconsin Association of School Business Officials; Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators; Wisconsin Association of School Personnel Administrators, Wisconsin Council for Administrators of Special Services; Wisconsin Retired Educators Association.

I am proud to be part of the solution to this growing problem in our state and will continue to work with my colleagues to move the Tobacco21 bill through the legislative process.

– Marklein, R-Spring Green, represents the 17th Senate District.

IBEW Local 494: Labor Day statement


Contact: John T. Zapfel
414.870.2081 Cell
[email protected]

– IBEW Local 494 business manager Dean Warsh today issued the following statement in commemoration of Labor Day:

“This Labor Day, many of us will spend time with close family and dear friends at a barbecue, picnic or other community event. While we enjoy the fellowship of our loved ones, it is important to reflect on what strengthens and nurtures the lives and communities of working people, and how we can continue to protect our ability to make a good living that will sustain our families.

Labor Day is the only national holiday that officially recognizes the contributions of American working men and women. While there is still work to do, IBEW Local 494 and its partners in the labor movement are proud of the numerous strides we have made for workers’ rights and safety on the job. You can thank unions for the eight-hour workday, weekends and the end of child labor, and yes, paid holidays such as Labor Day.

On Labor Day, I will march side by side with my brothers and sisters in downtown Milwaukee, as I have for decades. I will renew my promise to fight for working men and women every single day and thank labor for what they continue to do for all of us – for all boats rise with a strong labor movement.”

ICYMI: ‘Can you stop recording?’ Wisconsin Republicans dodge reporters’ questions on guns


MADISON –  In the wake of two mass shooting tragedies, Wisconsin Republicans refuse to engage in conversations on meaningful, common-sense gun reform laws. After years of blocking proposed Democratic legislation to keep Wisconsinites safe, Republicans are now resorting to ducking and dodging simple questions on the issue from members of the media.

According to reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, numerous Republican Senator declined to voice their positions on expanding background checks on gun purchases in the state. Sen. Dan Feyen (R- Fond Du Lac) not only declined to respond when questioned in person, but requested Journal Sentinel reporter Patrick Marley stop recording their conversation when asked about background checks in the halls of the state Capitol.


“An overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites, including gun owning households, support universal background checks,” said Katie Iliff, SSDC Executive Director. “Similar mass shootings like we saw in El Paso and Dayton have happened right here in Wisconsin communities like Middleton, Brookfield, Oak Creek and Wausau. Protecting the lives of our families and neighbors should be a bipartisan issue and a number one priority for senators like Dan Feyen. Refusing to answer simple questions from the press won’t keep our school children safe, only meaningful action to reform gun laws in our state can do that. It’s time for Sen. Feyen and the rest of his Republican colleagues to find the political courage to do what’s right and work with Democrats to pass meaningful reform.”


Expanding background checks remains a popular policy proposal in Wisconsin. A recent Marquette Law School Poll found 81 percent of Wisconsinites – including the vast majority of gun owners – support universal background checks and efforts to close Wisconsin’s gun show loophole.

Immigrant Workers Union (IWU) 11th Annual Black Latino Unity Picnic 🗓


Contact info:

Clarissa Pearson (608) 576 5230

Alex Gillis (608) 345 9544

[email protected]

11th Black Latino Unity Picnic, all ready for Sunday August 25th

Immigrant Workers Union (IWU) is excited to announce the 11th Annual Black Latino Unity Picnic on Sunday August 25th.

The picnic will be held at Penn Park (2101 Fisher St., Madison WI) from 1-5pm. The event is part of an overall grassroots effort to promote unity and collaboration between the Black and Latino Communities.

The event is open to all communities, 100% free and 100% family friendly and besides free food and kid activities the event will also feature folk dances, DJ Latino Fresh, Spoken Word by Damion, life performances by local artists introspective Prodigies.

Event Data Sheet

Name 11TH Black Latino Unity Picnic
Host Black & Latino Unity Project by the Immigrant Workers Union
This Year Theme Building Towards a United Front
Purpose of the Event: An event for the whole community, focusing on the common struggle of Black and Latino Workers for better working, housing, employment and living conditions in our neighborhoods.
Featuring: Live music, dances, free food, music, children activities, information and unity. 100% Free and family friendly
Type Picnic
Date 8/25/2018
Start time 1:00 PM
End Time 5:00 PM
Avenue Name Penn Park
Avenue Address 2101 Fisher St
Madison WI 53713
Kids Friendly Yes
Photo Opportunity Around 3pm participants will participate in a Solidarity Photo
Video PSA https://youtu.be/XijmjjzsUkE
Sign UP http://bit.ly/blacklatino19signup
Facebook Event http://bit.ly/blacklatino2019
Donations http://bit.ly/blacklatino19donate
Video Contest http://bit.ly/blacklatino2019contest
Contact Info Clarissa Pearson
(608) 576 5230
[email protected]

Alex Gillis (608) 345 9544
[email protected]

IRG: Releases policy recommendations to reduce the tax burden on Americans


Contact: [email protected]

How other states have paved the way for tax reform that spurs economic prosperity. 

Madison, Wis. — The Institute for Reforming Government issued, “Growing Economic Prosperity – Lessons from Tax Reforms in the States,” which evaluates tax reform efforts in other states and provides four policy recommendations to ease the tax burden on Americans. In its first report detailing new policy recommendations released today, IRG highlights lessons learned from other states that successfully lowered taxes, provided greater transparency to taxpayers, broadened the tax base in their state, and created taxpayer controls. These types of reforms built stronger economies that created more businesses and jobs for working families while also producing more revenue for the state.

“The American people deserve to keep more of what they earn – plain and simple. Reducing the tax burden and effectively putting more decision-making power into the hands of the American people will not only spur economic growth, it increases transparency in government, inspires job creation, and benefits working families,” said Rob McDonald, Chairman of the Board for the Institute for Reforming Government. “Recommendations in this report should serve as a roadmap for lawmakers because it evaluates successful tax reform policies and the process to achieve them, while illustrating the need for tax reform around the country.”

IRG Tax Policy Recommendations: 

To inspire economic growth, below are four recommendations that are a result of the policy analysis in the Growing Economic Prosperity – Lessons from Tax Reforms in the States report.

1. Enact taxpayer controls that put more decision making directly into the hands of taxpayers to approve spending or other policy changes, before lawmakers are able to increase taxes. This would help:

·       Provide much greater transparency to taxpayers.

·       Restrain government spending and keep governing bodies in check by the people who elected them.

·       Increase economic growth leading to taxpayers keeping more of their hard-earned money.

·       Limit tax increases by having parameters set by taxpayers, not lawmakers.

2. Ease the taxpayer’s burden of compliance by making tax laws simpler through fewer tax brackets and reduced steps in calculating the total tax bill. This would help:

·       Give taxpayers more opportunity to save their own hard-earned dollars through lower taxes and simpler tax laws.

3. Reduce tax rates on personal income and business income. This would help:

·       Contribute to bottom-up and top-down economic growth, which benefits everyone.

·       Inspire job creation and create more stability for working families.

4. Broaden the tax base. This would help:

·       Lower tax rates so that Americans can keep more of what they earn.

·       Contribute to growth and build revenue.

·       Level the playing field among businesses and job creators while facilitating the collection of tax revenue.

·       Minimize preferential treatment in the tax code.

The Growing Economic Prosperity – Lessons from Tax Reforms tax report can be found here.

The summary of the report can be found here.


The Institute for Reforming Government is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that seeks to simplify government at every level by offering policy solutions to thought leaders in American government in the areas of tax reform, government inefficiency, and burdensome regulations.

Learn more about the Institute for Reforming Government here.

JFC grinds to halt as Kaul takes proposed settlement to committee

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Jill Karofsky for WI Supreme Court: Women lead endorses Judge Jill Karofsky for WI Supreme Court


Contact: Mary McCarthy
(262) 293-6692

MADISON – Judge Jill Karofsky, candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court, announced today the endorsement of Women Lead, a grassroots organization which aims to support and promote strong women candidates running for office in Wisconsin.

“Endorsing Judge Karofsky was an easy decision,” said Patti Keating Kahn, a business owner in Milwaukee and active member of Women Lead. “Jill has the depth of experience and commitment to our values that we look for in a candidate.”

“Judge Karofsky has the tenacity and integrity to win this race, and be an excellent Supreme Court Justice,” said former State Rep. Barbara Notestein, also an active member of Women Lead. “We look forward to supporting her race in the months to come.”

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Women Lead,” said Judge Karofsky. “Women Lead does excellent work to build a bench of strong women candidates, and I am proud to accept their endorsement for Supreme Court Justice.”

Judge Karofsky currently serves as a criminal court judge in Dane County, and has also 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.

Joe Sanfelippo: The hypocrisy of gun control


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

Over the years, my dad had many wise sayings, and one that always stuck with me was that “all fences do is keep honest people honest.” This meant that an honorable person with good intentions will respect the fence and leave the property alone, while a dishonest person up to no good will simply ignore the fence, rendering it useless.

I could not help but be reminded of this life lesson as Governor Evers and legislative Democrats turned the recent tragedies in El Paso and Dayton into a political opportunity to prey upon the emotions of Wisconsinites sympathetic to the victims and their families by recycling worn-out ideas that they knew would have little chance of preventing similar tragedies in the future. So why, you might ask, would Democrats propose solutions that they know would not work? The answer is simple: they are trying to hide their culpability for the erosion of public safety that we are experiencing throughout our communities.

We are all moved to tears whenever such tragedies occur, and it is easy for Democrats to exploit these events to divert attention away from the crime epidemic sweeping the urban centers of our state. Democrats seem to have plenty to say about mass shootings that occur in the suburbs, yet they remain silent on rampant inner-city crime. Those proposing stricter gun laws that would primarily burden law-abiding citizens are the same people advocating for summarily reducing our prison population and releasing violent criminals back onto our streets.

Over the past several legislative sessions, Republicans have proposed numerous bills to keep our citizens safe by cracking down on crime, stiffening penalties for repeat violent offenders, and requiring mandatory revocation hearings for convicted criminals who commit new offenses while out on parole or supervision. Democrats in the Legislature fought us every step of the way on these reforms. Sadly, the problem does not lie solely with liberals in state government: our criminal justice system, which is composed largely of Democrats in more populous urban areas, goes out of its way to avoid holding criminals to account for their crimes by ignoring even the most clear-cut offenses. For instance, from 2011 to 2015, while over 3,600 felons were arrested for illegally possessing a firearm—a felony in its own right—an investigation by Fox 6 News found that three out of four of these criminals were never even charged. More recently, two West Allis Police officers were injured while apprehending a felon caught with cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. As it turns out, the suspect already had an outstanding warrant for bail jumping from a prior arrest, having skipped out on a $1,500 bond, never showing back up in court, and returning to continue his life of crime. Nevertheless, last week, a court commissioner inexplicably set bail for the new charges at a mere $2,000, teeing the suspect up for a continuation of his criminal career. Another old saying about the definition of insanity comes to mind.

Democrats are advocating for greater protections for criminals at the expense of the rights of law-abiding citizens. Ask yourself who is more likely to undergo a background check prior to purchasing a gun: a person who goes through legal channels or one of the 3,600 felons arrested for possessing a firearm that they already were not allowed to have? Which one is the real threat to public safety?

The mass shootings that occur are horrific and we should honestly consider proposals that will have a meaningful effect and a real likelihood of averting future tragedies. Unfortunately, an individual here in Wisconsin has a greater chance of being killed driving through certain parts of Milwaukee than in a mass shooting, and until Democrats stop ignoring the crime epidemic destroying our urban neighborhoods and start treating criminals as criminals rather than victims, I have a hard time believing that they are serious about protecting our citizens. We can work together to address both issues, but we will make no progress when tragedies like these are used as a pretext to target law-abiding citizens’ rights. Politicians can grandstand through press conferences and releases advocating for tighter gun controls, but those tighter controls will merely serve as fences respected only by the law-abiding and ignored by criminals.

–Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, represents the 15th Assembly District.


Jon Erpenbach: Democrats give Republicans a second chance to expand health care


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

Last week, I stood with Governor Tony Evers to announce that I was introducing stand-alone legislation to increase the eligibility limit of the Wisconsin Medicaid program to 133% of the federal poverty level. I was happy to have Representative Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) with me, as the author of the Assembly companion.

Today in Wisconsin, if you are a single person who makes $12,500 a year, you do not qualify for health care assistance. That is not a lot of money. That is not enough money to afford basic necessities. By increasing the number to 133% of the federal poverty level, individuals making up to $16,612 would be able to qualify for assistance. That change would make a huge difference in the lives of real people. What we are doing with this proposal is helping real people take an extra shift, without fear of losing their health care, and not making them choose between school supplies and insulin.

Expanding Medicaid goes beyond numbers and percentages. Democrats and Republicans heard stories and personal testimony from Wisconsinites who asked for us to put politics aside and expand health care. One of these families reached out to us after a town hall in Stevens Point to tell us their story.

The Hamman family had identical twins, who were born premature, at 27 weeks, and required extensive medical care, spending several months in the NICU. They feared that they might lose one or both of their babies, as they were told on several occasions that they would not make it through the night. Thankfully, both of the twins survived and, for the most part, are healthy.

Their family had health insurance, and their 3 million dollars in pre-insurance charges was reduced. However, they still faced $20,000 in out-of-pocket costs for the twins. Due to their extreme health complications, both twins qualified for Medicaid. Without it, they could have lost their home trying to pay their medical bills.

They had a message that they wanted to share: even though they don’t often speak up and prefer to remain quiet on politics, this subject is near and dear to their family. Both of the parents have college degrees from UWSP, and both of them have jobs, but they would have struggled without Medicaid. This is what Logan Hamman had to say: “I want to share my story because I want people to know that individuals who need Medicaid are not always the poor, the homeless or the helpless; individuals like my wife and I need Medicaid.”

Their message is plain and simple, Medicaid is health care, not welfare; and their family is not alone in their support. According to a recent Marquette Law School Poll, 70% of Wisconsinites support the expansion.

One reason for the broad support is that it goes beyond benefiting families who are uninsured and underinsured, it would benefit every single person in Wisconsin while strengthening our health care system. This is because by expanding Medicaid, premiums on the individual market will decrease as well. The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) confirmed this fact by releasing a report that established that premiums are 7-11% lower in states that have expanded Medicaid – that’s a difference of between $57 a month, or $684 per year.

Instead of facing the facts, Republicans are using scare tactics and dog whistles, such as “welfare” and “government-run insurance,” in order to muddy the water. When arguing against the expansion, I often hear people quoting studies that are published by unreliable sources, such as the conservative, billionaire-funded law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), which has gone out of their way to spread misinformation in order to keep money in the hands of insurance companies, and not the pocketbooks of Wisconsinites.

There is no way to refute the fact that the Medicaid expansion is good for our state. Wisconsin is among a minority of states that have chosen to save their taxpayers $2 billion. Instead, we are sending that money to other states, such as Illinois and New Jersey, to expand their health care. Wisconsinites deserve better.

In summary, the Medicaid expansion would make health care affordable for everyone. It will give 40,000 uninsured Wisconsinites health insurance. It will reduce the cost of premiums on the individual market, save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, and would keep $2 billion of our federal taxes in Wisconsin. These are proven facts, substantiated by the Department of Revenue, Commissioner of Insurance and Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

This issue is not and should never be political. It is time for us to take action, and join 37 states in expanding health care for our residents. Medicaid is not welfare, it is an investment in Wisconsin and in our health care system. It is the fiscally smart thing to do, and we no longer have the opportunity to ignore this issue. The time to expand health care in Wisconsin is now. The time to cover more Wisconsinites for less is now. Republicans have their second chance, and we should all be putting pressure on them to do what is right.

– Erpenbach, D-West Point, represents the 27th Senate District.

Jon Erpenbach: Governor’s leadership moves Wisconsin forward


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

Now that the budget has come and gone, it should be a time that we both remember the missed opportunities, and celebrate the long-overdue and historic investments that were made in Wisconsin. Due to Governor Evers’ bold vision for our state, Republicans were forced to confront their failed policies over the last eight years, and come up with solutions to make Wisconsin a place where people want to live, work, and raise a family. Unfortunately, even though Governor Evers took the high road, and signed the budget, after weeks of speculations on whether he would veto the entire budget for missing key people-driven priorities, Republicans are continuing to fight against the people of Wisconsin.

It was announced that the conservative, billionaire-funded law firm, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) is seeking legal action against Governor Evers for using his constitutionally granted ability to use vetoes on the State Budget. The Governor used his partial vetoes to restore priorities of the people of Wisconsin, after many were silenced during the budget process, and even though Republicans voted overwhelming for the budget, they are sending taxpayers into, yet another, long and drawn-out legal process.

The People’s Budget was crafted through a vision put forward by the people of Wisconsin. It reflected the priorities of students, families, and seniors, who engaged and asked for change. Everyone was welcome to take part in shaping the budget, regardless of your political affiliations, zip code, or financial situation, and the budget put forward would have benefited everyone in the state.

Unfortunately, Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) stripped key proposals from the budget on their first vote during budget deliberations, and continued to cut and remove proposals throughout the budget process. Ultimately, Wisconsin ended with a budget that, in comparison to the People’s Budget was less effective, less efficient, and, in many places, financially irresponsible. Today, Republicans are taking things a step farther with an ill-intentioned lawsuit that is aimed at dismantling our ability to work for the people of Wisconsin, and gaining more power for themselves at the expense of Wisconsinites.

Regardless of the continued Republican hissy-fits over lost elections, under the Governor’s leadership, Wisconsin is in a better place today than we have been over the past 8 years. In areas such as education, infrastructure, and health care, Wisconsinites will see an increase in investments and steps forward to improve our state for everyone.

For education, we saw the first increase to special education reimbursement in more than a decade. On top of that, Governor Evers was able to restore nearly all of the special education dollars cut from the first year with his veto pen, by adding over $50 million in new state aid that year alone. Additionally, with the 2019-2021 budget, total school aids will see an increase of over $500 million compared to the year prior. Our schools have been woefully underfunded, causing tax payers to raise their own taxes in order to make up the difference, and Wisconsin’s increased funding will go a long way towards helping our schools and communities succeed.

For transportation, overall spending on Wisconsin’s long-neglected roads will see a much-needed increase, while at the same time, lowering our state’s borrowing. The funding includes $465 million for our highways, local roads, and transit aids, with $320 million going directly for state highway rehabilitation. In addition, these funding increases are not expected to cause any delay in major highway development projects, and our state is ready to get to work on fixing our crumbling infrastructure. Notably, this budget recognizes the importance of returning power to local governments to respond to needs, by increasing funding for local transportation and transit projects. While Governor Evers put forward a bold and innovative plan to fix our crumbling infrastructure, this budget is a big step forward to accomplishing those goals and making Wisconsin work for everyone.

For health care, I continue to be extremely disappointed that Republicans rejected the Medicaid Expansion. The expansion would have been the fiscally-responsible steps towards making sure everyone in Wisconsin had access to the care they need. However, the Governor was able to make investments in many great programs that protect the people of our state. The budget includes investments in mental health and substance abuse care, increased funding for veterans and seniors, and investments in the health of women and children. Whether you live in rural area or a city, the budget takes everyone into account to protect safety net programs, and invest in communities. Wisconsinites still deserve to get back their federal dollars in order to fund programs long-term and ensure that increased funding will be there for future generations, but the Governor worked hard to make sure Wisconsinites see investments today.

The budget that our Republican colleagues sent to the Governor falls short in many areas, and sacrifices some of the priorities of many Wisconsinites, but it is still leaps and bounds from where we were last year. Republicans missed opportunities to increase the quality of life for many of their constituents, but with the Governor’s influence, we were able to work together to improve programs and invest in areas of need. While this could be a time for the celebration of bi-partisanship, with more Republican power-grabs through undue lawsuits, I guess that’s just another missed opportunity.

–Erpenbach, D-West Point, represents the 27th Senate District.

Kelly Ruh: Biden pledges to restart Obama’s war on coal, which will devastate the midwest all over again


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

During his administration, President Obama started a war on U.S. energy independence and manufacturing jobs, hitting the Midwest especially hard — now Joe Biden wants to finish it.

During the second Democratic presidential debate in Detroit, the former vice president revealed that his radical environmental agenda would not only build on Obama’s promise to “bankrupt” the U.S. coal industry, but would also train the federal government’s destructive sights on numerous other industries that collectively employ millions of American workers.

“My plan calls for 500,000 charging stations around the country so by 2030 we’re all electric vehicles,” Biden explained, later adding that he would also “end any subsidies for coal or any other fossil fuel.” When CNN’s Dana Bash asked him to clarify whether there is “any place for fossil fuels, including coal and fracking, in a Biden administration,” he quickly replied that the answer is “no.”

“No, we would — we would work it out,” Biden insisted. “We would make sure it’s eliminated and no more subsidies for either one of those, either — any fossil fuel.”

In an apparent effort to soften the blow of eliminating all those jobs, Biden also promised to invest $400 billion in technology research — a move he claims would create some 10 million U.S. jobs. Of course, this is a thoroughly misleading claim considering that there are only 6.3 million Americans currently looking for work — meaning a Biden economy would have to hemorrhage nearly 4 million jobs before his promise of creating 10 million jobs would even be feasible.

No matter what promises Biden makes about renewable energy, his radical environmental agenda will have devastating consequences for the American people. He is more than willing to usher in an era of fewer jobs and higher energy bills in order to appease the radical Democrat base. Biden is not proposing a job-creating alternative to President Trump’s pro-growth economic policy — he is peddling a scam that will destroy the American economy.

Remarkably, though, most of the Democrats who participated in the presidential debates this week didn’t think Biden’s unhinged agenda went far enough. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington, for example, argued that Biden’s plan was too little too late, while Senator Kamala Harris insisted that Washington must adopt the $93 trillion Green New Deal.

In 2008, President Obama promised that his plan would put U.S. coal out of business and raise electricity costs across America. “If somebody wants to build a coal-fired power plant, they can,” he warned. “It’s just that it will bankrupt them.” This wasn’t just an empty threat either — the coal industry was nearly destroyed under his regime, losing tens of thousands of jobs.

Thanks to President Trump, the coal industry and the millions of Americans who rely on it for good-paying jobs and affordable energy were saved. But if Joe Biden, or indeed any Democrat for that matter, is handed the reins of power, the war on coal will be renewed and expanded to include the entire fossil fuels industry.

-Kelly Ruh, of De Pere, is the 8th Congressional District chair for the Republican Party of Wisconsin.

Kids Forward, Badger Institute: Dental therapy would provide access to the many Wisconsinites who lack dental care


Wisconsin is one of the worst-performing states in the country at providing dental care for disadvantaged kids

CONTACT: Julie Grace, Badger Institute policy analyst, at 414-225-9940 or at [email protected]

By Julie Grace and Ken Taylor

If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how debilitating it can be. Everyday activities like eating, working and sleeping become a challenge. Unfortunately, this is a painful reality for thousands of children in Wisconsin — one of the worst-performing states in the country at providing dental care for disadvantaged kids. Fortunately, other states have modeled a reasonable and effective solution: dental therapy.

We have a dental access problem in our state. In 2017, only 43% of children receiving dental benefits through Medicaid received care. That’s among the lowest rates of dental treatment nationwide for children who receive care through public insurance. In 2018, over 1.2 million residents (more than 20% of the state’s population) lived in communities designated by the federal government as dental care shortage areas. Sixty-four of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have at least one designated dental shortage area.

Lack of dental care often leads to excessive, ineffective and costly visits to the emergency room. Children who lack access to dental care especially suffer. Studies have found that a child’s academic performance is negatively affected by dental problems.

There’s a simple solution to this wide-reaching health care problem. Allowing dental therapists to practice would give more Wisconsinites — especially children of color and children furthest from opportunity, rural and low-income residents — access to care that was previously out of reach for them financially and/or geographically. It also would allow experienced dentists more time to focus on complicated cases and procedures.

Similar to nurse practitioners and doctors, dental therapists are licensed mid-level professionals who work under dentists to provide basic oral treatment at a lower cost. If dental therapists were allowed to practice in Wisconsin as both Gov. Tony Evers and some Republican legislators have proposed, the benefits would be wide-reaching and monumental.

Dental therapists are already practicing with measurable success in Minnesota and other states. Since they began practicing there in 2011, patients are seeing reduced wait times, especially those in rural areas. Dental therapists also saw nearly 90% of uninsured or publicly insured patients, and research has shown that the quality of care received from dental therapists is at least as high as that received from a dentist.

According to a Pew survey, 71% of Americans said they would be willing to receive dental care from dental therapists. In addition to support from both Wisconsin Democrats and Republicans, the policy has the backing of health care groups and insurers, hospitals, local governments, schools, businesses and think tanks.

These days, it seems like there are few societal problems that can bring together such bipartisan support, but this is one of them. When groups as diverse as ours can agree that we are facing a problem and how to solve it, what can possibly stand in the way? Now is the time to pass this common-sense legislation and get people the dental care they deserve.

Our broad coalition of more than 50 Wisconsin-based organizations is ready to continue educating the public and policy-makers on this issue. Our newly launched website (dentalaccesswi.org) has information about how increasing access to dental care would benefit our state.

Now that the budget process is complete, Wisconsin legislators should look for a bipartisan win. Fortunately for them, there’s already one awaiting them.

Ken Taylor is executive director of