FRI AM Update: Pence praises military members at Fort McCoy; weekly radio addresses

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— Vice President Pence concluded his trip to Wisconsin with a visit to Fort McCoy where he praised members of the armed forces and their families and touted the Trump administration’s proposed defense budget.

“President Trump and I understand that our nation’s security depends on all of you, that foundation of American military might is the courage, tenacity, the professionalism, and the selflessness of our armed forces,” he said yesterday evening.

Pence use the duration of the 17-minute address to praise the assembled crowd and played up several honors bestowed upon the military facility in Monroe County, including the Army award for maintenance excellence.

“As long as we have patriots like all of you, we will protect this nation, we will defend our freedom and we will forge a future of security and prosperity and peace,” he concluded.

— The Legislative Technology Services Bureau emailed Capitol offices asking lawmakers to pare back the frequency which they send newsletters, after the Legislature’s bulk email server was temporarily listed as a spammer.

That listing could prevent lawmakers from sending normal emails, though the LTSB noted they have taken steps to prevent that from happening.

In the email, LTSB said multiple legislative email servers have been listed as spammers by an email reputation service after a number of recipients of newsletters either unsubscribed or marked the message as spam, junk or phishing.

The Legislature’s bulk email server is currently listed as a spammer and won’t be delisted until next week. The LTSB warned the server will be likely listed as a spammer for a 30-day period the next time it is flagged.

— Rep. Shannon Zimmerman used this week’s GOP radio address to oppose Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to hike taxes and increase welfare benefits.

The River Falls Republican touted Republicans’ focus on the economy during former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, which he said “produced an almost billion dollar surplus that has allowed the Legislature to invest in our priorities.”

He also pointed to the current biennial budget, which pumped money into education and “held the line on property taxes” — areas Zimmerman said the Legislature continues to focus on despite Evers’ priorities.

“As we move forward in the budget process, Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee stand together with taxpayers ready to defend our accomplishments and continue to move Wisconsin forward,” he said.

See the release:

— Sen. LaTonya Johnson in the Dem radio address blasted Republicans’ failure to support Gov. Tony Evers’ clean drinking water initiatives.

The Milwaukee Dem touted Evers’ proposed investment in programs that would improve water quality water across Wisconsin. Evers declared 2019 “The Year of Clean Drinking Water” in response to “years of Republican neglect and failure to address water contamination issues,” Johnson said.

“Every Wisconsinite should be able to drink clean water from their tap,” she added.

The Legislature’s budget committee this week signed off on the Evers’ proposal to pump more money into a program to provide clean drinking water. But Republicans on the panel previously pulled out $40 million in additional bonding that would’ve gone to replace lead laterals.

“Wisconsin Democrats remain committed to strengthening clean water safeguards, supporting policies that guarantee the long-term sustainability of Wisconsin’s waterways, and protect the quality of clean drinking water in every corner of the state for future generations,” she said.

See the release:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will be in Waukesha County today to unveil legislation supporting job creation for veterans.


June 13: luncheon: The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin

Transportation funding has become one of the key debating points in the two-year state budget making its way through the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers proposed an 8-cent-a gallon increase in the gas tax plus while getting rid of the minimum markup on gasoline — something the administration said would more than wipe out the increase. Republicans have removed the minimum markup provision and left in the gas tax increase for now. Where will the debate lead and will it result in a long-term solution?

Hear details from some of the key players in the debate at a issues luncheon set for Thursday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee’s Waukesha campus just off I-94.

Panelists for the discussion: Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. subscribers and members receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $20 per person, including lunch. Price for the general public is $25 per person, including lunch.

This event is sponsored by: Kapur & Associates, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is an event partner.

For more information and registration, visit:


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Wisconsin budget panel approves technical college increase
… Democrats, in line with Evers’ latest proposal, proposed increasing funding for technical colleges by $36 million with half of that coming from a $753 million budget surplus. … [cited] a 30 percent cut in technical college funding approved in 2011 that has yet to be recouped. … Instead, technical colleges will get $25 million more over two years under what Republicans approved Thursday. … rejected Evers’ [$17M, 2-yr] increase need-based college grants by $17 million over two years. … [WTCS pres.] Foy praised the $25 million increase, calling it a “powerful statement of support for Wisconsin’s technical college students and the employers anxious to hire them.” … Republicans also voted to increase funding for workforce development programs by about $12.5 million. [Evers wanted $15M]. JFC co-chair Nygren said new surplus did not affect JFC decisions, surplus priorities are tax cuts, debt paydown and rainy day deposit. Senate Leader Fitzgerald wants to use some of the money for roads and capital building projects. Nygren no comment on specific tax cut, but repealing personal property tax has historical support. Evers’ surplus action: $56M debt paydown, $33M for tech colleges and workforce development, the rest for rainy day. GOP earmarked $1M more for inmate work-search programs at minimum and medium security prisons, $6M for career and tech ed incentive grants, $5M for youth apprenticeships. GOP previously rejected Evers’ workforce development proposal, including min wage hike, repealing “right to work,” overhauling UI program to increase benefits. Evers has threatened to veto the entire budget if GOP alter it too much from his.

[11-4] WTCS on track to get $25 million boost
… more than the $18 million Democratic Gov. Tony Evers initially proposed in his 2019-21 budget plan. … Evers requested that lawmakers tack an additional $18 million onto the budget to fully fund the colleges’ request because Wisconsin is set to collect $753 million more … Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said the data show FY11-13 30% cut “damage and cuts that have been done.” … “There is a balance to be had,” said Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, R-River Falls. “And there is a responsibility that we have to not go to that well too often or in too great of a way because the harm can be irreparable.” MATC pres. Daniels said boost will help expand dual-credit course offerings for HS students to earn college credit and increase capacity for high-demand apprenticeship programs, such as construction, electrical and plumbing.

Exact Sciences will return WEDC tax credits for jobs created in other states
… Hours after the AP reported the name of the company Thursday [that LAB said received about $61K in WEDC tax credits for jobs created outside WI,] Exact Sciences said as “good corporate citizens” it would repay the money to the state. LAB audit last week did not name the company and WEDC CEO Hogan also declined, but open records request compelled WEDC to reveal. WEDC also revealed anonymous company who got $462K in tax credits despite losing 17 jobs – Walgreens. Rehash Foxconn, WEDC rep for poor job tracking. FOIC’s Lueders praised the revelation but panned Hogan’s reluctance. WEDC’s Callender no comment on Exact Science, still calculating Walgreens’ credits to be revoked. Details of Cologuard-maker Exact Science’s deal with WEDC. ES’ Connelly touted 1,607 qualifying employees in WI, 1,800 employees and 2 labs in Madison, planning a third, said highlighted out-of-state jobs were likely med reps or sales reps. Hogan said last week the law permits credits for creating jobs out of state and that flexibility is needed to attract and retain companies.

AG Kaul Files Suit Against Maker Of OxyContin
WI, 4 Other States File Separate Lawsuits Claiming Deceptive Marketing Led To Opioid Crisis … [WI, IA, KS, MD, VA] claim Purdue [Pharma]’s advertising strategy downplayed the harm of the popular and powerful opioid and that marketing was approved by the company’s former president Richard Sackler. “With these five state’s filing suit I hope we are sending a clear message about the seriousness with which AG’s and states around the country are taking these cases,” Kaul said in the state Capitol flanked by Gov. Tony Evers … “People we’re trying to get justice for were just trying to get the medication and health care they needed without risk of addiction or abuse,” Evers said. WI seeking injunction on ads, compensation for addict treatment. Dane Sheriff Mahoney: “This must end. In Dane County alone, we’re responding to between 12 and 15 overdoses a week.” In 2017, 916 Wisconsinites died from opioid OD, more than died in car crashes. In 2007, Purdue was ordered to pay > $19M to WI and 25 other states for violating consumer protections laws with its marketing of OxyContin, yet the ads continued. Purdue’s Josephson “vigorously denies” the “misleading attacks … part of a continuing effort to try these cases in the court of public opinion rather than the justice system.”

Feds raid one of Milwaukee’s largest pain clinics as pressure on pain doctors increases
… A recently unsealed search warrant reveals that agents gathered hundreds of patient, medical and business records from Milwaukee Pain Treatment Center … owned by physician David Stein and his wife, Sharon Stein, of Mequon and has been in operation almost 25 years. … The Steins deny any illegal activity and accuse the government of trying to shut them down via bad publicity, despite the couple’s cooperation. … The affidavit for the warrant at Milwaukee Pain Treatment Services indicates the investigation began last May, even though Stein had been the subject of a variety of complaints and suspicions for years and had been suspended from Medicaid in 2016. … The affidavit says nine of Stein’s patients have died from overdose-related causes over the past four years and that seven of them had gotten prescriptions from Stein within days of their deaths. They appeared to be identified only by initials, which were blacked out of the court record. … witnesses described to agents how after their initial visit, Stein typically did not ask how they were reacting to the medications or take vital signs, but would just renew prescriptions after visits some patients said lasted less than a minute. … many patients were required to submit to monthly injections — procedures billed to Medicaid — before they could get prescriptions for pills. … Investigators felt the clinic’s’ payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the couple’s daughters from 2010 to 2018 suggested money laundering. Some former staff said the daughters did occasionally do filing work in the office during breaks from high school and college. Both have lived out of state in recent years.

Pence In Altoona Pushes For Congressional Support Of Mexico-Canada Trade Deal
… Pence took part in a roundtable with manufacturers at J&D Manufacturing in Altoona before speaking to supporters. … “The USMCA is actually going to end programs in Canada that allow low price products to undercut the incredible dairy farmers here in Wisconsin. The USMCA is a win for Wisconsin dairy and American dairy and we need it to pass. … Men and women of Wisconsin I’m here to tell you we’ve got to get it done. The clock is ticking. It’s time. We need the Congress to approve the USMCA and we need the Congress to approve the USMCA this year.” USDA Deputy Censky added trade details on dairy, poultry, eggs and wheat. Recent Lighthizer-Pelosi meeting suggests USMCA could pass this year. DBA, WFBF, other groups have called for end to tariffs, passing USMCA.

Walker urges Washington conservatives to prepare now for a Republican majority
[Ex-guv addressed Washington Policy Center’s Statewide Policy Conference in Spokane on Tuesday.] … said the state could be at a tipping point, just like Wisconsin was when he first ran in 2010. … said he wasn’t necessarily anti-union, but instead supported giving local elected officials the ability to manage employees without having to deal with restrictive union-negotiated contracts. … “Every state has to adapt it differently,” he said. “I don’t think there’s one cookie-cutter approach.” … said Wisconsin Republicans had prepared policies and talking points years before winning control, a feat Washington Republicans could achieve as well.

Study finds Madison area needs national partnerships to thrive
… MadREP presented a synopsis of Advance Now 2.0 to nearly 150 community and business leaders at the Edgewater Hotel on Thursday. … “When we compare ourselves to the rest of the country, we look awfully good. When we compare ourselves to the cream of the crop, we still have a long ways to go,” said [MadREP pres.] Jadin.

‘He hit the lottery’: How ex-Sheriff Schmidt cashed in with a $1M [“backdrop”] bonus
… on top of his monthly pension of $75,474 per year — just under $6,300 per month — from Milwaukee County. … Schmidt’s bonus would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars higher had he won the sheriff’s race, said [Deputy] Ostrowski, who also ran unsuccessfully for sheriff. … Last year, Schmidt declined even to say whether he would seek a bonus payment or waive the option, as some other county politicians have done. … The largest backdrop payment so far was a $1.51 million check written in 2017 to Gale Shelton, a former senior assistant district attorney. More than half of those receiving $1 million-plus retirement bonuses had worked for the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. … It appears that Schmidt was contemplating leaving the county early in 2017, months before Clarke quit his job. … “It’s just a shame,” Ostrowski said, noting the department could have hired 10 more deputies with Schmidt’s backdrop payment. “Just think of all the stuff $1 million could do.”


– 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Madison Region Development and Diversity Summit. Featured speakers include: Gov. Tony Evers; Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman; Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway; POLICOM President William Fruth; McPherson Strategies Director of Multicultural Strategy Paulita David, former head of multicultural at Google; and corporate inclusion advisor, educator and former NFL player Wade Davis.

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