MON AM Update: Earth Day events; Johnson on ‘UpFront’

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From …

— Gov. Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will visit a dairy farm in Greenleaf to celebrate Earth Day.

Meanwhile, GOP representatives plan to release what they say is a market-based approach to protecting the environment.

— Both Dane County rulings on the lame-duck session are now before the state Supreme Court.

The justices late Friday issued an order taking over an appeal that had been filed in one of the cases, even though they hadn’t been asked to do so.

In that case, a Dane County judge had temporarily enjoined parts of the laws Republicans approved in the extraordinary session, including one requiring the attorney general to get legislative approval before settling cases.

Since the two decisions, AG Josh Kaul has withdrawn the state from several lawsuits filed by his predecessor, including one challenging the Affordable Care Act.

Friday’s order came several days after the court agreed to hear an appeal in the other case. In that one, a Dane County judge ruled Republicans had improperly convened in extraordinary session; therefore, all of its actions were void.

Liberal justices Shirley Abrahamson, Ann Walsh Bradley and Rebecca Dallet dissented on the court’s Friday decision, writing in the short order they would have allowed the case to proceed in the 3rd District Court of Appeals.

See more:

— Just back from a trip to the southern U.S. border, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, said the influx of migrants is “out of control” and the United States should turn back those without valid asylum claims.

Johnson visited the El Paso, Texas, sector last week. He discussed his findings and observations in an interview that aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with

Johnson said well-organized human traffickers are moving migrants, mostly from Central America, into the United States. He said the traffickers are using U.S. border security personnel as part of their “process.”

“Customs and border protection have basically been turned into a mere speed bump in this path toward permanent residency,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the migrants turn themselves in at the border, where they are detained for a while, and then turned over to churches or other non-governmental groups. He said it takes just a few days and the migrants are “in the interior of America, pretty much home free.”

“Nobody’s really keeping track of where all these people are going,” he said. “And it’s a growing crisis.”

Johnson said many of the migrants are joining family members who came here decades ago, and some already have jobs lined up.

He said an average of 700 people a day are coming in at El Paso alone, and so far this year, it’s added up to hundreds of thousands of people coming in at points all along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Only 15 percent of the migrants have a valid asylum claim, Johnson said.

He said there needs to be a “consequence” to stop the flow, and it’s a “fixable” problem.

“Let’s have that initial (asylum) determination be far more accurate, make that determination much faster, but fair, and have it be final,” Johnson said. “So, if you don’t have a valid asylum claim, we have to remove you.”

“When you start sending back people who have spent six to eight thousand dollars, almost a year’s salary in Central America, back to Central America, people aren’t going to risk it,” he said.

“You’ll see a dramatic drop off of this flow, which should be the achievable goal of our policy,” Johnson said.

— “UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen also asked Johnson if it was still his intention to retire from the U.S. Senate after his term ends in 2022. Johnson had said his current term would be his last.

“My intention was second and final term. But I have said this was not the reality I thought I’d face. I really thought Scott Walker would be re-elected,” Johnson said.

“Again, you never say never, but right now what I’m concentrating on is the next two years establishing a grass roots juggernaut” to elect conservatives, Johnson said. “2022 is a long (time) in the future.”

Johnson also has been mentioned as a possible GOP gubernatorial candidate in 2022.

See more from the program:

— Lawmakers last week circulated 11 bills for co-sponsorship, including the legalization of marijuana and creating a statutory procedure for collecting and processing sexual
assault kits.

See the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyist’s summary of last week’s bills circulated, including links to the co-sponsorship memos:


Thursday: luncheon with JFC co-chairs

Join for lunch at The Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison, on Thursday, April 25, with the veteran Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, will discuss Gov. Tony Evers’ budget plan and GOP budget priorities.

See more on the co-chairs:

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. subscribers and members as well as Madison Club members and their guests receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $19 per person. Price for general public is $25 per person.

This luncheon is sponsored by: Husch Blackwell, American Family Insurance, Xcel Energy, Walmart, AARP Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

To register, visit:


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Evers floats lowering job creation goals for Foxconn
… “Maybe those goals are too expansive,” Evers said Sunday in an appearance on WKOW’s “Capital City Sunday.” “Whether it’s 1,300 jobs or 13,000 jobs, any governor of the state, including me, wants them to be successful and create as many jobs as possible.” In 2018, the company was required to create 260 jobs in order to receive any tax credits — a goal they fell short of meeting by 82 jobs. [job-creation req] grows each year by hundreds. Evers said because Foxconn has “changed their footprint” in Wisconsin, “we need to take a look at how we can all benefit from that … it’s premature to talk about how we’re going to get there but the fact of the matter is they have made a business decision and we’re working with them and discussions are happening to consider changing the deal.” Speaker Vos appeared separately on the show, said Foxconn is becoming a part of WI’s “ecosystem,” stands by 13K jobs because Foxconn stands by it. Leader Fitzgerald unavailable.

Foxconn’s legal issues: Two lawsuits could shed light on how the business operates
… On March 8, Microsoft sued Hon Hai [Foxconn parent, for] breaching its agreement … failing to pay royalties … has been attempting to settle the dispute for months, but the lack of success led the company to take legal action against Foxconn. [Foxconn issued rare statement:. “We will continue to honor our contractual obligations while maintaining the absolute trust of our customers, as well as protecting the confidentiality of third party information. We remain confident that the current legal matter will be resolved swiftly. Further updates on this matter will be provided in due course, as appropriate.”] … another suit … [Waukegan’s] JST Corp., a electronic interconnection manufacturer based in Waukegan, Ill. In January, JST filed suit against Hon Hai, Foxconn, several subsidiaries and TE Connectivity … alleging the companies knowingly received stolen [JST] proprietary information regarding an electronic connector. JST attys. Sendek allege JST customer Bosch brought it to Hon Hai seeking a lower price for “exactly the same” design, “There’s no chance they didn’t know it was JST.” Foxconn filed for dismissal because “they would be required to defend this action in the United States legal system.” On April 12, ITC CLJ Bullock ruled that Foxconn and Bosch committed unfair trade. Foxconn, Hon Hai, Bosch declined comment.

GOP, Dems should start transpo talks now, former Gov. Thompson says
… “Communication is foremost. It’s not Einstein logic. It’s just basically common sense,” Thompson said in an interview Friday. … “I don’t see how the heat of summer is going to make it any easier,” he said. “I think the sooner they start talking, the sooner they’re going to be able to find that path forward. … I think they should have been able to work it out last time. And I think they should be able to work it out this time.” Thompson Center conference on the issue Friday at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, will feature panel discussions on road funding, public transit and freight hauling, appearances by WisDOT sec. Thompson, ex-sec. Gottlieb, Sen. Petrowski. TGT said roads need more funding, but not fair for him to say how, panel will consider tolls, “I don’t know if Wisconsin is ready for it — that’s a different question,” said unpopular gas tax hike may lead to better roads, “but the poll was pretty emphatic that the people were saying no, so you’ve got to take that into consideration.”

WI’s protections against new drinking water pollutants slowed under Walker
… Under a 1984 state water-protection law and more recent statutes, it can take more than a decade for state agencies, the governor and the Legislature to create enforceable limits for hazardous pesticides and industrial contaminants in groundwater, which is the state’s … During Walker’s administration, the process ground to a halt for several years as the governor’s appointees withheld approval to trigger the extensive toxicological review … Walker is the only [guv since 1984] whose administration never initiated the setting of health-based standards for new pollutants. … [despite Evers clean water declaration,] state toxicologists are facing a backlog of 67 pollutants needing review, including a large new class of contaminants being detected in state waters. … [DHS] will recommend 27 new and revised groundwater pollutant standards this summer, and then begin evaluating a list of 40 other pollutants. LOCV’s Giegerich and other conservationists concerned about adequately funding groundwater programs, more quickly protecting the public, stiffening pollution regs. Reviews long process of DNR listing chemicals to test, forwarding to DHS to study, set limits which DNR writes into code. Retired DNR’s Jonas could not get approval from then-sec. Stepp to forward the 2013 list, “I thought there must have been some discussion going on in the administration. We had no way to know if this happened in a purposeful way or if they had other things on their plate or if it was something else.” Jonas’ cohort Vollbrecht said they reminded Stepp deputy THiede monthly but never got response. Walker, THiede could not be reached. Roman for Stepp: “Cathy is not aware that this was ever raised to her office. Any time a public health issue was brought to her attention she acted on it. … Cathy cares about the health of Wisconsin residents.” Jonas’ successor Elmore said Stepp’s replacement, Meyer, finally forwarded the list, perhaps motivated by heightened awareness of PFAS. Review PFAS. DHS’ MILler, DATCP’s Senger comment.

DATCP Secretary: Increasing Dairy Exports Is Top Priority
… After four years of low milk prices, more farmers organizations have considered or called for managing the supply of milk. WFU continued calls, WFBF ended 2018 switching stance to consider supply management option. DATCP Sec. Pfaff: “We are flush with milk, without a doubt. But I will also say there is a tremendous demand for our product. … We want to make sure that dairy products here from Wisconsin are a choice for national consumers and as well as international consumers. … We want to be able to have a level playing field to make sure that consumers, may they be in southeast Asia or may they be south of the border in Mexico, have an opportunity to enjoy Wisconsin dairy products and Wisconsin agriculture products. That is something that almost all of us can agree upon.” … [$750K WEDC] grant will establish a Beverage Innovation Center for small businesses to test and develop new beverage products. Pfaff on clan water: “Each county is unique. Each watershed can be unique. We can put more specialists, more technicians at a local level, at a county-based level, to work with our landowners, may they be farmers or may they be suburban or rural or urban residents,” hoped Evers budget’s increased producer-led watershed protection grants could win bipartisan support from lawmakers.

UW’s [roughly 300] unionized trades employees pursue long, hard fight for a raise
… frustrated … fighting for a 2% inflationary raise. … in an unusual [Act 10] twist … will likely result in a lower pay boost than what other nonunion university employees receive. … earlier this month, the UW System Board of Regents approved the raise … [effective Jan. 6, not retroactive 6 months to when negotiations began, as done previous 3 years]. UW’s Lucas said negotiations began in July 2018 but offer was not ratified by union until Feb, 2019. And contract still needs legislative, guv approval. Union rep Branson: “They’re frustrated by the whole system because their raises take so long to get. And when raises come later and later each year, they’re falling further and further behind.” UW Prof. Nack studying post-Act 10 unions, “You’re always behind the 8-ball. You never catch up to where you should be in bargaining.” Evers rep did not respond. UW’s Pitsch did not directly answer several questions including this years lack of back pay, “Because negotiated contracts are subject to legislative approval, coordinating such agreements to be compatible with budget and policy considerations is critical.” Regents approved 3% for UW-ers, still need JCOER, Evers approval. Union still waiting for this year’s raise to get JCOER approval, with no hearing scheduled. More analysis. Union members Dowd and Emery, Badger Inst’s Jahr comment.

WI needs more families with children to aid workforce, study says
… [Counties’ Forward Analytics noted 30K drop in child migration, birthrate at 40-yr low,] says Wisconsin doesn’t have enough young people to take over jobs from baby boomers set to retire in the coming 10 to 15 years. “We’ve got to figure out how to turn that around and we’ve got to do it fairly quickly because baby boomers are nearing retirement,” said [Forward Analytics’] Knapp. Walker marketed state to millennials, but Knapp suggested luring families, noted successful lure of 30-50 year-olds around 1990, “So we have to figure out what makes us different, what makes us more attractive than Iowa, Illinois, Indiana or Minnesota, so we can attract those workers. Our long-term economy really depends on it.”

Appeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers
… controversy began in 2015 when Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) invited Barker to serve as a guest chaplain. Barker filed the suit in 2016, when Republicans, under former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), sided with Conroy. … [FFRF’s Barker claimed] his rights were violated when Conroy said he could not serve as a guest chaplain. … [Judge Tatel wrote,] “House’s requirement that prayers must be religious nonetheless precludes Barker from doing the very thing he asks us to order Conroy to allow him to do … even if, as Barker alleges, he was actually excluded simply for being an atheist, he is entitled to none of the relief he seeks. We could not order Conroy to allow Barker to deliver a secular invocation because the House permissibly limits the opening prayer to religious prayer. Barker has therefore failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted.”

DNR Investigating Dogs Killed By Poison
… in several counties in northern Wisconsin, including Florence, Marinette and Bayfield counties. … on public lands, including those managed by the U.S. Forest Service and Goodman Timber Company. … a veterinarian … suspected Ava may have been poisoned by fly bait. “It was mixed in with hamburger and thrown in the woods,” said Cate. “Everybody’s surmising that it was put out to kill wolves.” … “But, we can’t put any validity to it yet,” said [Warden] Zebro. … [DNR/USFWS] suspect it’s the pesticide carbofuran. … [Warden] Lundin said they’re aware of three dogs that have died, as well as several coyotes, a raccoon, a wolf and a weasel.

State Lawmakers Propose Vaccination Bill Amid [20-state] Measles Outbreak
… [Testin-Kurtz bill] would allow trained pharmacists to give shots to younger children with a doctor’s prescription. … could immunize all ages against any diseases on the [CDC] Immunization schedule without a prescription. … [DHS says] Two thirds of the state’s counties are medically underserved … Pharmacies say with their expanded hours and multiple locations they can provide preventative care people who might otherwise skip things like vaccines. … According to America’s 2018 Health Rankings, Wisconsin doesn’t meet state and federal prevention goals on a number of vaccine-preventable diseases. … Twenty-seven states allow pharmacists to vaccinate people of all ages, said Danielle Womack of the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin. Testin, pharmacist Bender comment.


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– 9 a.m.: Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference. Among speakers are former Gov. Tommy Thompson and former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

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