FRI AM Update: Dem town hall on health care today; weekly radio addresses

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— Gov. Tony Evers, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and state Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, will be on the UW-Stevens Point campus today for a town hall on improving healthcare access and expanding Medicaid.

Evers has continued to publicly lobby for the Medicaid expansion he proposed even as Republicans have pulled it from the budget.

— The state Dem Party didn’t invite any of the presidential contenders to speak at this weekend’s convention.

But five of them took the party up on the offer to have a table at the convention hall.

A party spokeswoman said U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg all reserved tables for the convention.

The convention begins tomorrow at the Forest County Potawatomi Casino in Milwaukee, and the vote for a new state chair will be Sunday.

Follow this weekend’s convention in the Dem Convention Blog:

— Rep. Mark Born touted GOP investments in K-12 education and the UW System in this week’s GOP radio address.

Born opened the address by highlighting the Republican budget plan to make “historic” investments in K-12 education. The GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee last week approved a $500 million dollar boost to K-12 “so that every child, regardless of zip code, can get the world-class education that Wisconsin is known for.”

The Beaver Dam Republican also played up panel’s decision to make the “largest-ever increase” to special education funding and noted the plan approved by the JFC doubles current funding for mental health services.

Born also pointed to the JFC’s actions on higher education. Those included a continued freeze on tuition for in-state undergraduates across the UW System as well as a $93 million bump for the System and $25 million increase for technical colleges.

“The great news is we are making these investments while holding the line on taxes. This is possible because over the past eight years, we’ve made smart fiscal decisions,” he concluded.

See the address:…us-on-the-future/

— But in the Dem radio address, Sen. Chris Larson slammed GOP actions on Gov. Tony Evers’ UW System budget request.

“After eight years of UW System cuts under the previous administration, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee cut nearly $70 million from Gov. Evers’ reasonable budget request that targeted areas in the system that need additional dollars,” he said.

The Milwaukee Dem highlighted the key role the UW System plays in workforce development by “educating thousands of young people, eighty percent of whom will stay and work in Wisconsin after they graduate.”

Larson went on to call the UW System “one of the easiest investments in our state’s future we can make.” He said the System contributes $24 billion to the state’s economy each year, which he noted was a 23-fold return on the state’s investment.

“It’s unfortunate that instead of working with Democrats to invest in one of the state’s strongest economic engines, Republicans are choosing to drive their own political agenda by cutting it,” he said.

See the address:

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Evers Says He’ll Push For More UW Funding Before Budget Reaches His Desk
The Legislature’s Budget Committee [on 12-4 party line] Rejected Evers’ Proposed Spending Bump This Week … ” I’m hopeful to convince others as we move forward and before the final bill is actually voted on and sent to me that they’ll put some more money in for the University of Wisconsin System,” Evers said. “It’s a driver of industry in the state, and if we want a good system, we have to have a good resource base for them.” Evers also pushed for more special ed funds, “I’m happy it wasn’t zero. But to be honest with you, I think it’s not enough. … I know the people of Wisconsin feel strongly about this or I wouldn’t be sitting in the governor’s office right now.”

WI high court hopefuls to speak at Democratic convention
… Jill Karofsky and Ed Fallone are scheduled to deliver speeches Saturday afternoon at the convention [at Potawatomi] in Milwaukee … Judicial candidates are officially nonpartisan, but Republicans and Democrats typically rally behind Supreme Court candidates … appearances at overtly partisan events such as party conventions can create questions about their impartiality on the bench. … [rehash Hagedorn at RPW convention] … Sachin Chheda, a political consultant working with Karofsky’s campaign, pointed out that liberal-backed Supreme Court candidates Rebecca Dallet and Tim Burns appeared at the 2017 Democratic convention. … “A judge who’s partisan to the left is just as bad as a judge that’s partisan to the right,” Chheda said. “The question to ask is, what did the candidate say, more than the audience to which they say it.” … [MU Law prof. Fallone] plans to talk about how the state Supreme Court should not be a political prize and how judges should behave independently. “I don’t think those are partisan points,” he said. … Wisconsin’s judicial code prohibits judges from doing anything that casts doubt on their impartiality and that standard extends to judicial candidates, [UI Law prof.] LeRoy said. … “Impartiality used to matter. Now a partisan viewpoint is a selection criterion.”

Hemp Farmers, Businesses Call For Renewal Of State Regs
2018 Farm Bill made changes to definitions of the product that make Wisconsin’s law obsolete. “If we do not pass this legislation, Wisconsin hemp producers will fall by the wayside while all the other states continue to produce,” [Hemp Alliance’s] Konopacki said at a Capitol press conference on Thursday. … [DATCP said] more than 2,000 individuals and businesses have applied for licenses to grow or process hemp this year. Testin’s bipartisan bill will re-authorize hemp growing in Wisconsin and make a number of other technical changes, “Wisconsin is poised once again to be a national leader in hemp. I firmly believe hemp is the next specialty crop from Wisconsin, much like potatoes and cranberries.” Bill comes as USDA issued a new legal opinion about interstate transport of hemp, saying states cannot prosecute individuals who transport legally-produced hemp across state lines. Law enforcement concerned bill removes THC from the definition of “restricted controlled substance” in state OWI laws. Testin said that provision will likely be removed from this legislation and later introduced separately. WFU’s Enright comments.

In Onalaska, Sen. Ron Johnson champions secure border, immigration reform
… Johnson, who visited the Onalaska American Legion for a closed-door, hour-long forum with local law enforcement, said he hears a common refrain whenever he meets with police and sheriff’s departments. “… every time it’s problems from our unsecure border and all the drugs flowing through,” said Johnson … touted Operation Safe Return … Hopefully, we can begin that pilot program, start sending people home in a very safe way, those that don’t have a valid asylum claim, and deter further illegal immigration.” … [LC Sheriff Wolf] echoed the senator’s comments, saying the benefits of a secure border would ripple all the way up to the Coulee Region. … as it relates to drug trafficking especially … “When I talked to farmers during farm breakfasts, they said: ‘We need to fix our immigration system. We won’t be able to milk our cows without immigrant labor, so fix this,'” Johnson said. “I really believe we’re getting close to bipartisan support to solve the current crisis at the border. But right along with that, we need to have a legal immigration system that makes a lot more sense.” … would support the right of the president and Senate to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, even in an election year. Johnson also addressed tariff effect on farmers, China trade talks, Mueller statement, “Special Counsel Mueller yesterday did anything but bring closure to it. I think that’s very unfortunate.”

Delta Employees Allege Various Health Problems Due To Lands’ End Uniforms
Delta Airlines employees allege uniforms made by Wisconsin-based clothing company Lands’ End are causing multiple health problems, including rashes, respiratory issues and low white blood cell counts,, according to a federal lawsuit. Gwyneth Gilbert and Monica DeCrescentis filed the class action lawsuit May 22 in New York alleging the “Passport Plum” uniforms … causing multiple health problems, including rashes, respiratory issues and low white blood cell counts … also stain employees’ skin, sheets and towels and other possessions. Approximately 24,000 Delta flight attendants and 40,000 gate attendants are required to wear the uniforms. … seeking at least $5 million dollars from Lands’ End for negligence. Delta is not named in suit, plaintiff atty. Nagel said a case against Delta would be handled through Worker’s Comp. … The official launch of the new uniforms was May 29, 2018. … In December 2018, about 40 American Airlines employees sued the company and uniform manufacturer Twin Hill, alleging multiple health problems … similar to what is being alleged by the Delta employees. At the time, American Airlines said employees would begin wearing uniforms by Lands’ End. On Thursday, a spokesperson for American Airlines said the company is confident in [new Land’s End] uniforms that are in current development. MU prof. Miller said Lands’ End brand could take a hit, like Boeing. Lands’ End declined comment. Delta could not be reached.

Co. Exec. Abele riles neighbors with plans to raze historic Shorewood mansion
… over the objections of the family that sold him the house late last year for $2.6 million. “This was not shared with us in any way,” said Sarah Hambrook, whose parents, George W. and J. Ann Hambrook, moved out Dec. 31 … “We are hoping there is something we can do to stop it,” Sarah Hambrook continued. “This is a priceless Milwaukee landmark.” … “My fiancé, Jennifer (Gonda), and I love the neighborhood,” said Abele [text] … “That’s why we’re committed to a design that respects and honors it.”

Unions picket Vt. GOP fundraiser featuring Scott Walker
… About 100 union members marched down Battery Street toward the Hilton hotel where the fundraiser is being held. Others lined the street holding signs. Gov. Phil Scott planned to attend the event and has said that while he does not share Walker’s political ideology, they have a collegial relationship. … “Well, maybe he has a lesson learned in some respects. He lost his last election. He was a two-term governor of Wisconsin. And maybe he’ll have some thoughts about what he went through and what maybe he could have done differently,” said Scott, R-Vermont. “I think Vermonters know me. You know, I’m pro-choice, always have been. As well, we’ve had our share of disagreements with the union but there have been times when… we worked together.”

Lawyers: Docs show census changed to give Republicans edge
… The filing in Manhattan federal court said a trove of newly discovered documents revealed that Thomas Hofeller, a longtime Republican gerrymandering guru, played a key role in pushing the Trump administration to include a citizenship question on the census for the first time since 1950. … On Thursday, lawyers for groups including the ACLU said that the files show that a Justice Department official and a transition official for Trump testified falsely by hiding Hofeller’s role in asking for the question.

Death of Appleton man restrained in Las Vegas jail ruled a homicide
… Nicholas Farah of Appleton was put into a restraint chair by four Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers March 31 at the county jail. The coroner’s office said Thursday the cause of death was asphyxia during restraining procedures with other significant conditions listed as methamphetamine intoxication and obesity. … arrested after … repeatedly calling cabs and then refusing service when they arrived. Police are conducting internal criminal and administrative investigations into Farah’s death and the four officers involved are on administrative leave.

Shopko: Judge rejects retailer’s bankruptcy plan
… “This is by far the most difficult plan confirmation decision I have encountered,” [Judge Saladino] said. “Everybody involved in this case, as far as I’m concerned, went to extraordinary efforts to maximize the value of the assets of the estate.” … refused to approve it, though, because the plan would have barred creditors from pursuing legal claims against Shopko executives, directors and outside consultants. One major creditor, McKesson Corp., made a case to Saladino during the two-day hearing this week that it had a civil claim of fraud against at least four Shopko executives.


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– 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.

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