Daily Archives: September 9, 2019

‘UpFront’: Walker says Biden likely to win Dem nomination

Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker said he thinks Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders “most likely” will win Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary, but former Vice President Joe Biden probably will be the Democratic nominee.

“I actually think that is a good thing for the president,” Walker said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

Walker said that’s because Biden is comparable to 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in “the sense that they will say and do anything to get elected.”

“This president, whether you agree with him or not on every issue, he is who he says he’s going to be. And I think that’s really important here in the Midwest,” Walker said.

In early 2021, Walker will assume leadership of the Young America’s Foundation, based in northern Virginia, which works to promote conservative ideas to the nation’s youth.

“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen asked Walker about President Trump’s poll numbers among young people in Wisconsin. In the most recent Marquette Law School Poll, Trump had a 63 percent job disapproval rating among people aged 18-29.

“I get it, and it’s not just young people. I tell people all the time that the president may occasionally tweet things and say things that I and people around me here in this state would not do,” Walker said.

“But Washington is filled, filled, with people who talk right but don’t do squat,” he said. “This president has done tremendous things on substance.”

Walker cited the strong economy and low unemployment and said “we just have to remind people to connect the dots.”

Walker also said his son Matt is thinking about running for the 5th Congressional District seat that will be open in 2020 with the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

“He’s had a number of people reach out to him,” Scott Walker said.

“I think in particular, what intrigues him, is he feels frustrated that AOC (U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY) somehow nationally is reflective of his generation. He’s 25, and he feels like there needs to be a counter-voice to that,” Scott Walker said.

Also on the program, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-LaCrosse, called on the GOP-run Legislature to address gun violence and pass a Democratic bill that would expand background checks to the purchase of guns at auctions, shows and online.

“We are already conducting background checks,” she said. “By expanding what we already have, I think it could lead to greater public safety.”

Expanded background checks have public support, and “is something that responsible gun owners can agree with and are calling for,” she said.

She said gun-related legislation should be a priority of lawmakers in the fall floor period. But with only one day scheduled for October and another day in November, she said Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has the option of calling a special session on gun violence.

“I think that is a grave mistake and certainly irresponsible on the Legislature’s behalf that we don’t address this issue,” she said.

“If Republicans were truly listening to voters and listening to the public, they would hear this call loud and clearly, and unfortunately they remain beholden to special interest groups such as the NRA,” she said.

“I think it’s time that we come out of our corners, that we have the courage to talk about a really tough issue here in our country, a public safety issue, a gun safety issue, so that we can address these senseless acts of violence across our country,” Shilling said.

See more from the program:

Bill Kaplan: Can a Democrat succeed Duffy?


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

Wisconsin GOP Representative Jim Sensenbrenner has joined “more than a dozen House Republicans who have already announced their retirements. … it’s yet another sign that Republicans are pessimistic about their chances to win back the House majority …” (Politico). Earlier, Wisconsin GOP Representative Sean Duffy said he was resigning in September because his expected ninth child has a heart problem. Hopefully, medical intervention will remedy this difficult situation.

“The race to fill (Duffy’s) vacated 7th Congressional District (CD) seat, both in the special election (April?) and in November 2020, is sure to be nationally watched, given the rural Wisconsin district’s importance to … Trump’s reelection hopes” (Wisconsin Public Radio). Duffy’s predecessor, Wisconsin Democratic Representative Dave Obey, won the seat in an April 1969 special election (GOP Representative Melvin Laird had resigned to become Nixon’s Secretary of Defense). Obey held the seat until he decided not to run for reelection in 2010.

Can a Democrat succeed Duffy? Yes, if the Democratic campaign is run on bread-and-butter issues. That means listening and talking with farmers, middle and working-class folks about the catastrophic impact of Trump’s trade wars, health care and retirement security. Avoid identity group politics, we are all Wisconsinites. And, embrace a big-tent Democratic Party vision that speaks to rural Wisconsin.

Trump has again escalated his trade war with China. The Chinese retaliated with more tariffs on U.S. goods and will continue not buying U.S. (Wisconsin) farm products. 7th CD cranberry, dairy and ginseng farmers are struggling. Wisconsin Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin said: “Wisconsin has been hit particularly hard by the trade wars. Our state has lost over 1,600 dairy farms since (Trump) took office. The idea that other countries have identified products like cheese or cranberries or ginseng … for retaliatory tariffs has hit us hard. … But we also have … oversupply issues; we have had horrible experiences with the weather recently; and the price of milk has been low … .” A heartfelt political roadmap for the 7th CD.

Regular folks in Duffy’s district are also concerned about health care. Three of the Wisconsin counties “in the poorest health” – Forest County, Sawyer County and Vilas County – are in the 7th CD (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and UW-Madison Population Health Institute). And, the 7th CD has the highest number of Affordable Care Act (ACA) private insurance enrollees in Wisconsin (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Moreover, ACA Medicaid expansion would help the 7th CD: reducing the uninsured rate and uncompensated care, preserving rural hospitals; increasing access to treat opioid misuse and substituting federal for state expenditures, producing savings for roads, transit and schools.

Finally, I would strongly urge any Democrat running in the 7th CD to embrace Duffy’s vote for the Butch Lewis Act: “The measure would help pension plans (covering over a million, including 25,000 Wisconsinites) sponsored by several employers and managed by a collective bargaining agreement by giving (low-cost loans) to insolvent plans so they can continue to distribute the promised retirement benefits” (Washington Post).

Yes, a Democrat can succeed Duffy.

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


Bill Lueders: WILL issues report on Gov. Evers’ s record on open records


While It has not been my experience that the Evers administration is markedly less responsive to records requests than the Walker administration, it’s good that WILL is keeping the governor on his toes. Given the contempt for openness displayed by some members of the Legislature, it is vitally important that the executive branch be a paragon of transparency. Gov. Evers should continue to maintain this web portal and affirm his commitment to the executive orders issued by his predecessor. And he should always strive to improve state agency performance in this vital area.

Dept. of Administration: Gov. Evers declares September Coastal Awareness Month


Contact: Mike Friis, Division of Intergovernmental Relations
Phone: (608) 267-7982 E-mail: [email protected]

 Governor Tony Evers has proclaimed September as Coastal Awareness Month in Wisconsin in recognition of the important impact that the Great Lakes has on the state. Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are integral to Wisconsin’s economy, recreation, tourism, cultural history, and quality of life. The Governor’s proclamation is a reminder for the people of Wisconsin to protect, promote and enjoy the state’s Great Lakes.

In recognition of Coastal Awareness Month and the importance of the Great Lakes, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program (WCMP) is proud to announce the release of the 2019 Wisconsin Great Lakes Chronicle. Now in its eighteenth year, the Chronicle promotes public awareness of Wisconsin Great Lakes issues, provides a vehicle for experts to educate public policy leaders, and creates a historical record of Great Lakes events and perspectives. The 2019 edition will feature several articles including those on Accessibility in the Apostle Islands, Regional Maritime Strategy, Water Resources and the use of LiDAR, and Managing Visitor Use of coastal resources. The 2019 Wisconsin Great Lakes Chronicle, including past issues, are available on the WCMP website.

The Department of Administration’s WCMP, now in its 41st year, works cooperatively with Great Lakes stakeholders to help protect and enhance the natural, cultural, and historical resources of the Great Lakes while encouraging responsible economic development. The policy direction for WCMP is set by the Wisconsin Coastal Management Council. Members of the Council are appointed by the Governor and represent state agencies, local and tribal governments, and the general public.

To further celebrate Coastal Awareness Month, the WCMP is again pleased to announce that it is accepting grant proposals to enhance and protect resources within Wisconsin’s coastal zone. The Department of Administration’s WCMP anticipates awarding approximately $1.5 million in grant funding. Application materials and the Request for Proposals are available on the WCMP website (http://coastal.wisconsin.gov). Applications are due November 1, 2019.
Interested applicants are encouraged to contact WCMP staff early to discuss proposal ideas and application requirements.

The program is supporting the following local events highlighting the importance of the Great Lakes in the community.

3nd Annual Harbor Fest, Milwaukee
Sunday, September 8, 2019

Smart Cities Series, Racine
Conference, September 11-12, 2019
Readiness Workshop, September 19, 2019

Wisconsin Point Restoration Commemoration Event, Superior
Friday, September 20, 2019

Valley Week, Milwaukee
September 21-28, 2019

14th Annual Sturgeon Fest, Milwaukee
Saturday, September 28, 2019

The WCMP was the first program in the Great Lakes and among the first ten nationally established through the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. Its mission since 1978 is a balance of resource protection and sustainable development within Wisconsin’s 15 Lake Michigan and Lake Superior counties. To learn more about WCMP please visit http://coastal.wisconsin.gov.

Empower Wisconsin: Wisconsin’s New conservative information hub


Contact: Matt Kittle – (608) 441-5110
Email: [email protected]

Madison, WI —- A new conservative education and advocacy organization, Empower Wisconsin, launched today with a multimedia website. Conservative activists including Eric O’Keefe and former Wisconsin State Representative Adam Jarchow will lead the organization. The group has named investigative journalist and talk radio host Matt Kittle to serve as its Executive Director.

“Empower Wisconsin will amplify the voices of conservative organizations, educate and mobilize activists, and serve as a watchdog that holds our elected officials accountable through old fashioned investigative journalism,” said Adam Jarchow, President of Empower Wisconsin.

“Today we launch Empower Wisconsin, the Badger State’s premiere conservative information hub,” said Matt Kittle. “I am thrilled to be joining this organization of liberty-loving conservatives. These are critical times for our nation and state. We either stand up for limited government and liberty, or we surrender our freedoms,” Kittle said.

“Empower Wisconsin will educate, advocate and mobilize conservative voices with a strong and well-defined issue agenda. In addition, it will develop a network of like-minded organizations at the state and federal levels to maximize the power of our collective efforts,” added Kittle.

In addition to serving on the board of Empower Wisconsin, political strategist, activist, and author Eric O’Keefe will lead the Empower Wisconsin Foundation, a 501(c)(3). As a target of Wisconsin’s infamous John Doe investigation, O’Keefe knows first-hand what it means to have his liberty threatened by abusive government agents.


Empower Wisconsin, Inc. is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization that advances a conservative agenda focused on basic civil rights and limited government. Empower Wisconsin operates as a tax exempt advocacy organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Gov. Evers: Attends Midwest U.S.—Japan Association conference, meets with corporate leaders

TOKYO — Gov. Tony Evers participated in the first full day of the Midwest U.S.–Japan Association (MWJA) Conference in Tokyo on Monday and met with corporate leaders from Kikkoman, Komatsu, and Toyota to discuss their companies’ investments in Wisconsin.

The governor is in Japan on his first international trade mission to meet with corporate and government leaders, highlight Japanese investments in Wisconsin businesses and promote the state’s exports. He is leading a 28-member delegation that includes 12 officials from nine Wisconsin businesses.

In his first address to the MWJA, Gov. Evers emphasized the longstanding ties and deep relationships between Japan and Wisconsin.

“Although we are separated by considerable geographic distance, Wisconsin and Japan are close in our business, academic and cultural relations,” he said. “As Wisconsin’s governor, I appreciate this opportunity to build on those relationships.”

The governor noted that in 2018, Wisconsin exported more than $734 million in goods to Japan, including scientific and medical equipment, industrial machinery, and prepared foods and dairy products.

“We are a state of makers and growers, and we consider it a compliment to the quality of our state’s products that we are able to access the Japanese market to this degree,” he said, adding that agricultural exports to Japan alone grew 21% in 2018.

The governor highlighted the growth of organic agriculture in Wisconsin. The number of organic farms in the state has doubled in the past decade, and Wisconsin ranks first nationally in the number of organic farms growing field crops and second in the total number of organic farms.

“As concerns about the environment continue to grow, Wisconsin is leading the way to make agriculture both more sustainable and more responsible,” he said.

The state is also a global leader in developing water technology. With more than 200 businesses in the state involved in water technology, Wisconsin is recognized as “the Silicon Valley of water,” Gov. Evers said.

Wisconsin is the only state to have established a private organization, The Water Council, to support innovations in freshwater technology, he noted. The University of Wisconsin System, with support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), has also launched the Freshwater Collaborative, which will enable students to specialize in freshwater-related studies across all 13 campuses and promote cross-disciplinary research in the field.  

In introducing himself to association members, the governor discussed his own background in education – as a teacher, school administrator, and state superintendent of education. Wisconsin’s economic growth depends on a highly educated workforce, he said.

“Last year, Wisconsin colleges and universities awarded more than 4,500 degrees in engineering and engineering technology fields, including certificates as well as associate, bachelor’s and advanced degrees. These graduates become the high-knowledge workers that are so prized by employers,” he said.

Gov. Evers added that “to meet the demands of the global economy, Wisconsin’s next generation must be able to engage across linguistic, cultural and national boundaries” and said he is establishing the Wisconsin Language Roadmap Initiative, which aims to ensure that all students become proficient in at least one language other than English.

The governor acknowledged the contributions of the nearly 30 Japanese-owned businesses—including Kikkoman and Komatsu—that employ more than 8,000 Wisconsin residents.

Kikkoman established the first Japanese-owned production facility in the U.S. in Walworth in 1972; it now employs more than 200 workers and produces more brewed soy sauce than any other facility in the world—including at the company’s home plant in Chiba City.

Komatsu, which manufactures heavy construction equipment, is investing more than $285 million in Milwaukee to relocate and expand its headquarters. The project is considered a major driver of development in the city’s Harbor District.

Also on Monday, Gov. Evers met privately with Yuzaburo Mogi, the honorary chairman and CEO of Kikkoman; Hiroyuki Ogawa, the president and CEO of Komatsu; and Shinichi Yasui, the executive vice president of Toyota North America.

The MWJA is comprised of 10 Midwest states—Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin—and includes business and government leaders. Governors from five states, including Wisconsin, are attending this year’s annual conference. Former Governor Tommy Thompson is serving as the association’s chair this year.

WEDC is coordinating the trade mission for the governor and Wisconsin business leaders. The mission continues through Sept. 14.

Gov. Evers: Orders flags to half-staff in honor of 9/11 and state day of service and remembrance


MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order #44 which orders flags of the United States and the State of Wisconsin to be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of State Day of Service and Remembrance and out of respect for the nearly three thousand lives lost on September 11, 2001.

“On September 11, we reflect on our nation’s grit and resilience while working to honor the legacy of those we lost and the countless heroes who responded during our time of need,” Gov. Evers said. “Wisconsinites have always believed in coming together and helping our neighbors in difficult times, so it is fitting that we remember September 11 in Wisconsin through acts of service to our neighborhoods and our communities.”

Members of the governor’s administration and staff will be participating in service events on September 11 as part of State Day of Service and Remembrance. 

View Executive Order #44 here.

Kooyenga campaign: 5th Congressional District seat


I appreciate the inquiries and expressions of support regarding the 5th Congressional district seat. I will not be a candidate for the seat. The strength of our Republic does not flow from Washington D.C., but instead is rooted in families, local communities and ground-up leadership. I believe I can best serve my Country by continuing to represent my district and conservative principles in the Wisconsin State Senate, serving in the US Army Reserve, by being active in the business community as a CPA, and most importantly being an engaged husband and father to my four children.

Milwaukee elected officials and community leaders: Propose a new revenue solution to invest in our communities


[email protected]

An unprecedented partnership will move forward to pursue new revenue solutions that provide property tax relief to residents through a local option sales tax

Representative Evan Goyke and Senator La Tonya Johnson, in partnership with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and local business leaders and elected officials, today announced plans to move forward and pursue a new partnership with the State. The proposed bill would allow Milwaukee and local municipalities to pursue a binding referendum for a 1 percent local option sales tax that would be reinvested into the community through property tax relief, and countywide priorities.

“It is time to Move Forward Milwaukee,” said Wisconsin State Representative Evan Goyke, District 18. “Our local governments need the opportunity to realize a portion of the return on investment they’ve made in building strong communities. This legislation empowers the people of Milwaukee County to decide their future by shifting away from an over reliance on property taxes and uniting communities throughout the County by capturing the benefit of our shared economic success.”

The proposed plan could bring in an extra $160 million in the first year, with more than 25 percent of this income projected to come from visitors and non-residents. The additional revenue is expected to be used for local priorities including: the reduction of property taxes; investments in municipal facilities, community assets and services; and addressing capital projects and deferred maintenance.

“For years we have been doing more with less as state aids continue to decline, and having the option to generate local revenue represents a watershed moment for us to not only sustain ourselves, but to thrive for generations to come,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “This plan is the best way forward for us to give Milwaukee County taxpayers the services and programs they deserve.”

“Together we are focused on a solution that empowers local voters to decide how our fiscal challenges are addressed,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “With their approval, we can ease the squeeze on local budgets for police, firefighters, and roads.”

Under this plan, Milwaukee County taxpayers will have the option to raise the sales tax to 6.5 percent, still among the lowest nationwide. The proposed 1 percent local option sales tax will not be added to essential items including groceries, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

The State of Wisconsin currently gives local governments the fewest alternatives in the country to levy local taxes alternative to a property tax. According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF), a statewide nonpartisan, independent policy research organization, Wisconsin ranks seventh in the nation and first in the Midwest for its reliance on property taxes for funding municipalities. A recent report shows that while most states more frequently rely on sales tax to fund operations, Wisconsin’s is the lowest in the Midwest. The report follows up on one from 2017 that suggested the funding structure for Milwaukee was outdated and ineffective. The On the Money report can be found at https://wispolicyforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/OnTheMoney_Full.pdf.

This effort is supported by an unprecedented level of bipartisan legislative, community and business leaders in Milwaukee County. The plan to introduce a local option sales tax to the Wisconsin State legislature this fall, and bring the referendum to voters in Spring 2020.

“This plan starts to address an outmoded state revenue structure which resulted in Milwaukee having the highest municipal rate of property tax as percentage of local tax revenue amongst all our peer cities in the country,” said Julia Taylor, President of the Greater Milwaukee Committee. “The GMC commissioned the Wisconsin Policy Forum reports in 2016, “Making Ends Meet” and the 2017 “On the Money?” report to look in-depth at our unusual revenue structure with comparisons to peer cities which brought the revenue structure issues to the forefront of the discussion. We are pleased to support these next steps in changing our revenue structure to allow for equitable growth for our neighborhoods, our municipalities and our county.”

“This new partnership is a critical step in moving the Milwaukee area forward,” said Timothy Sheehy, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. “Milwaukee County and its municipalities house 60 percent of the jobs in our metro area. To provide property tax relief, maintain critical services and support our infrastructure, MMAC supports making a case to voters that this is necessary and sound investment in the future of the entire metro area.”

The Milwaukee County Board will vote once legislation passes to determine if the referendum will go on the ballot. Milwaukee Common Council is not required to consider the measure.

“The unprecedented unity among Milwaukee County and its 19 municipalities demonstrates just how urgently we as local elected officials recognize the need for a renewed partnership with State government,” said Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. “The idea of a new source of revenue responds to the call of citizens across our county who want to see critical investments in transportation, parks and necessary public services in their communities and it gives them the power to make it a reality.”

“Milwaukee has unique challenges but we are also in a unique position to provide opportunities to create economic growth for our region and the entire state,” said Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton. “The current revenue structure constrains our full economic potential. We want to be a part of the solution and be able to stand on our own two feet, and we see enormous opportunity for growth and service enhancement if given the ability.”

Milwaukee County officials including County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb and County Executive Abele launched the Fair Deal Workgroup in 2018 to explore new revenue options to address the structural deficit. In conjunction with state and local community and business leaders, the Fair Deal Workgroup proposed recommendations that included allowing local control to generate new revenue and reduce the current reliance on property taxes through a binding referendum process.

Milwaukee County recently measured local support for a sales tax using Balancing Act, an interactive online tool simulating the process to balance municipal budgets. More than 1,000 residents participated in Balancing Act, which provided direct insight and feedback on the 2020 budget and support for sustainable revenue options including sales tax.

For more information, visit www.moveforwardmke.com.

MON AM Update: Tiffany plans ‘special announcement’ on 7th CD tomorrow; Walker, Shilling on ‘UpFront’

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MON News Summary: Sports gambling inches closer to Wisconsin; views of the economy worsen in state

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MON PM Update: Johnson aide Church considering 7th CD bid

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Petrowski campaign: Statement on decision regarding possible run for Congress – 7th District



“I want to thank all the people from around the state that have reached out to me and my family offering their support and endorsement. Thank you for your faith and trust – that means the world to me.

I’ve done some soul searching in the past couple of weeks. In making my decision, I thought about two main things: what is best for my family and what is best for the people of this district and state.

I decided to get into politics because I wanted to make a difference and help the people of this community. That sentiment and my family has always been my compass when making decisions. So, the question is this – Can I make a greater difference representing my constituents in Washington? After giving it considerable thought and talking to other legislators, the answer is no. While I would relish the chance to overcome the constant gridlock in Washington D.C., I know that I will have a larger impact on the people I represent by continuing to serve in the State Senate.

So, in the interest of doing what’s right for my family and for being able to do more for my constituents, I have made the decision to not run for Congress and continue to serve as your State Senator.

God bless the State of Wisconsin, and God Bless America.”

Sen. Kooyenga & Rep. Kulp: Introduce MSA / HSA exemption bill


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.

Sen. Kooyenga: Statement on local option sales tax proposal


Contact: Sen. Dale Kooyenga
[email protected]
(608) 266-2512

MADISON—In response to today’s announcement by a coalition of Milwaukee area elected officials and business leaders that they will pursue legislation authorizing a 1 percent local option sales tax, state Sen. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) issued the following statement:

“I appreciate the thought and time various parties have put into the Milwaukee local funding announcement. I strongly believe Wisconsin’s overall tax burden is already too high. I will continue to listen to my constituents and to the parties that have worked on the proposal to see if there are opportunities to realize a win-win scenario for the Milwaukee area and all state taxpayers.”

U.S. Sen. Johnson: HSGAC hearing at 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York reflects on national security challenges


Austin Altenburg

 The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee heard from three former homeland security secretaries at a field hearing at the National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York Monday to discuss how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has evolved to address an ever-changing threat landscape since 9/11, how it can adapt to new and emerging threats, and what role Congress plays in addressing the dynamic nature of identified threats.

“After 18 years it’s necessary to ask some hard questions based on experience,” noted Senator Johnson in his opening statement. “For example, is DHS too big? Does it have too many missions? Can we expect one department to be responsible for natural disasters, preventing domestic terror attacks, cyber security, protecting critical infrastructure, enforcing immigration laws, securing our borders, investigating counterfeit currency, protecting government officials? Not only does the list go on, but in addition to its operational responsibilities, DHS also reports to 92 congressional committees and subcommittees of jurisdiction, plus another 27 caucuses, commissions and groups. The complex set of problems our nation faces will not be solved with heated rhetoric in the midst of political squabbling. It will require individuals working together in good faith as members of this committee have done so often in the past. That’s why I am grateful that a bipartisan group of senators has an opportunity to be here today to learn from a bipartisan group of former secretaries. I hope that through this work we can fairly evaluate past successes and failures and use these assessments to guide future actions and policies designed to secure our homeland.”

Video of the hearing is available here.

UW-Madison: Computer, data and information sciences


MADISON – The University of Wisconsin-Madison has established a School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences (CDIS) in the College of Letters & Science to strengthen research and education on campus, prepare tech-savvy graduates to fill new kinds of jobs, support a wave of Wisconsin entrepreneurs and partner with industry to provide them with the competitive advantage of the latest technology.

“As technology becomes more pervasive in our world on all levels – from smart devices to algorithms shaping the global flow of information and commerce – it is critical that our university continue to lead in this field,” says UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “The new School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences is a place where top researchers will shape the way the world uses technology, and where Wisconsin’s students can learn how digital-age tools enrich their lives and careers.”

The new school will include the Department of Computer Sciences, the Department of Statistics and the Information School. Tech entrepreneur and UW-Madison graduate Tom Erickson has just arrived as the school’s founding director. Kristin Eschenfelder, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and former director of the iSchool, is CDIS associate director.

The university and UW Foundation will follow the school’s establishment with a major fundraising campaign.

“Our commitment to computing, data and information sciences recognizes their importance to the local and national economy, the extraordinary research opportunities in these fields, and the exploding demand from students for training in these areas,” says Provost Karl Scholz, who was dean of the College of Letters & Science in 2018 when a nine-member “Wisconsin in the Information Age” committee compiled a report recommending the creation of a new school. “Our efforts will open new research and collaborative opportunities and help our students become more literate in the ways of data and information science and how they interact with the subjects they’ve chosen to study.”

CDIS joins the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute, a research center created in the spring and likely to be associated with many CDIS faculty. These are critical components in the university’s strategy to meet Wisconsin’s needs and the interests of faculty and students. Computer Sciences grew in recent years to be UW-Madison’s most popular undergraduate major, with more than 1,560 students in 2018. Last year, nearly 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students were pursuing degrees in majors offered by Computer Sciences, Statistics and the iSchool.

Developing ever-better hardware and software has been the focus of computer scientists and engineers for 50 years, empowering exponential growth in the collection of data and the rise of data science in almost all aspects of society. At the same time, the pervasive assembly and application of big data has created challenges – issues of privacy, ethics, security and more – that the new school will address at the intersections of computing and data with the humanities. A home for CDIS in the College of Letters & Science allows interdisciplinary programs to be developed with disciplines like psychology, journalism and mass communications, biology and physics.

“Every university has had to decide how to respond to the growth in these fields and growing demand from researchers and students excited about the possibilities it presents,” says Eric Wilcots, interim dean of Letters & Science and a professor of astronomy. “The needs of disparate fields like astronomy and history can drive advances in computer, data, and information sciences. Our core principle is that these disciplines are inseparable from the natural and social sciences and humanities.”

“What we’re doing is something unique across the nation, putting these three areas together in a public land grant institution,” Erickson says. “We’re taking three very strong programs and putting them together in a university that also has unmatched breadth and opportunities for collaboration in medicine, engineering, life sciences, nursing, education, and more.”

Erickson, who grew up around the family hardware store in Mondovi, Wisconsin, graduated with a degree in computer engineering from UW-Madison in 1980, and has been part of at least 10 software companies around the world in the last four decades.

His work has taken him from installing software on the first computer system aboard an offshore platform – in the Indian Ocean in the ’80s – to providing products and services for open-source platforms for web content management at Boston-based Acquia.

He helped found Acquia in 2008 and retired from the international firm in 2017 as its CEO. During Erickson’s tenure, Acquia was among the fastest-growing private companies in the country. He sees CDIS helping Wisconsin tap its potential for technology-aided growth by increasing the number of graduates with the skills to fill thousands of tech-heavy jobs and by offering training to the existing workforce.

“We have a desire to really open up to Wisconsin industry, to help their people get up to speed on the evolving way they can use data and computing,” Erickson says. “Strong parts of the state’s economy – agriculture, health care, manufacturing – are learning how advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data collection and analysis can make them more competitive and successful.”

CDIS can help the state add to its traditional strengths with a resurgence in startups in new sectors of the economy.

“With partners in government and industry, we can connect people with new ideas to the support they need to turn those ideas into new companies,” Erickson says. “We have a chance to create a strong ecosystem of innovation, to create jobs and bring significant recognition to Wisconsin as a place where entrepreneurs thrive.”

To Erickson, building a thriving School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences means growing its faculty and boosting the university’s already lofty reputation in computing, statistics and information sciences. It means expanding the way CDIS offers related coursework to other majors on campus – and expanding degree offerings, beginning with proposals for a planned undergraduate program in data science and a master’s in information studies.

“We have thought of literacy for a long time in terms of letters and numbers, but a university education and participation in our society demand a new level of computing and information literacy,” Erickson says. “What we can offer the whole campus are new ways to engage with computing concepts and a revolution in data, to see how they affect privacy, security, the flow of information – many of the challenges that will define their future.”
-Chris Barncard, 608-890-0465, [email protected]

WisDOJ: AG Kaul joins 49 attorneys general in Google multistate bipartisan antitrust investigation


MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced that Wisconsin is joining 49 attorneys general in a multistate, bipartisan investigation of tech giant Google’s business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws.

The bipartisan coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, announced plans to investigate Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers. Legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with Federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.

“The tech sector is an important part of the U.S. economy, and tech companies have access to a lot of personal information,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We must ensure that competition over technological innovation and privacy protections isn’t stifled.”

Past investigations of Google uncovered violations ranging from advertising illegal drugs in the United States to now three antitrust actions brought by the European Commission. None of these previous investigations, however, fully address the source of Google’s sustained market power and the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power.


WisPolitics Midday – September 9, 2019


In today’s WisPolitics Midday update, brought to you by Spectrum:

  • Another Walker running for office in Wisconsin?
  • Two Republicans announce that they will not seek Congressional seats.


September 10, 2019 | September 8, 2019
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