MON AM Update: Hintz, Thiesfeldt debate vaccine waiver bill on ‘UpFront’

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— Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said his bill to repeal the personal conviction waiver on vaccines is about public health and safety.

But state Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, said parental rights need to be protected.

The two appeared jointly Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with

Hintz said 90 percent of children who are getting a waiver from receiving the required vaccines before starting a daycare or school are using the personal exemption option. State law also allows parents to opt out their children for religious or health reasons.

“Public health advocates, doctors and other groups have said the number one thing we can do to increase the vaccination rate and get people to protect themselves and others is getting rid of the personal waiver,” Hintz said.

Thiesfeldt, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said he, his wife and their four children are all vaccinated.

“I am not anti-vaccination. But I am pro-parental rights and responsibility,” Thiesfeldt said. “We already have taken away too much responsibility from parents. There are few things more sacred than being able to control your own health care, and I think this is just a step too far.”

Hintz argued people should be vaccinated not just for themselves, but for others. That includes babies or people with compromised immune systems who can’t get vaccinated.

But Thiesfeldt said as a parent, his “responsibility is for my own children.” He said parents with concerns about having their children vaccinated have met with him and “are very well studied on this stuff.”

“I suspect some families know more than the doctors do,” he said.

Hintz said it was important for his bill to get a public hearing to raise public awareness about the issue and help people understand how serious the issue is.

The debate over vaccinations comes as health officials are grappling with a resurgent measles situation. But Wisconsin hasn’t seen a case of the virus since 2014.

Department of Health Services spokeswoman Jennifer Miller credits the “vigilance” of parents in the state getting their children vaccinated on time.
A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report finds 704 people have been hit with the measles so far this year, marking the largest number of cases in 25 years. This comes nearly two decades after measles was declared eliminated in the United States.

The CDC report shows more than 500 of the people infected in 22 states were unvaccinated, and more than one-third of the cases were in young children.

See more from the program at

— The Assembly will be in session May 15, according to the office of Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna.

— The ADCC has a fundraiser in Eau Claire today that it’s calling the first “road show event of 2019.”

The event includes sponsorship levels that range from $50 to $1,000.

See more in the calendar below.

— Lawmakers last week circulated 15 bills for co-sponsorship, including allowing money to be withheld from public employees’ pensions if they’re convicted of misconduct in office and the crime resulted in a loss to taxpayers.

Another bill would applying the indoor smoking ban to vapor products and marijuana.

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


Tomorrow: Luncheon: WI’s role in the Presidential Race

Join for lunch at The Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison, on Tuesday, May 7 with top pundits talking about Wisconsin’s role in the presidential race and how upcoming state party conventions could be the first sign of candidate strength.

The pundits include Republican operative Keith Gilkes, Democratic strategist Tanya Bjork and Marquette University Law School poll Director Charles Franklin.

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. 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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‘Last man standing’: Ron Johnson is left to lead WI GOP while contemplating future
… [after Priebus left White House, Ryan left Congress] … “When I noticed Scott Walker didn’t win, nor Brad Schimel or obviously the lieutenant governor, I realized I was the last statewide representative,” Johnson, who wasn’t on the November ballot, said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s a role I never sought, but it’s a responsibility I take pretty seriously.” … after first being elected in 2010 despite practically no ties to the so-called establishment he now guides. … Sources with knowledge of Johnson’s plans say the senator is contemplating a choice … [seek] third term in the U.S. Senate, run for governor of Wisconsin (or do neither and return to Oshkosh). Johnson isn’t saying … not ruling out any … “completely focused” on electing Republicans in Wisconsin during the 2020 elections by creating what he calls a “grassroots juggernaut.” Leadership evident when Johnson deplaned with Trump at GB for rally where Trump dubbed him ‘Wisconsin Tough.” Johnson suggested GOP lost elections because “longtime volunteers just didn’t have the kind of in-depth contact with the statewide campaigns,” said county party leaders suggested consultants controlled the campaigns and local groups “really didn’t feel like they were listened to.” RPW’s Jefferson agreed, “We need to get back to that.” Conservative Digest’s Dohnal: “Wisconsin is the place where people say, ‘Gee, I don’t know if I can vote for the guy — I’ve only met him four times.’ You just cannot get elected by sitting and spending millions of dollars.” Johnson seeks more training and more recruitment and not leaving “any line on the ballot unopposed,” sees himself as outside party process and averse to consultants. Walker statement did not address Johnson’s perceived detachment, “grateful to our hard-working grassroots supporters who helped us win elections in 2010, 2012 and 2014. … Looking ahead to 2020, we will need to continue to find ways to engage the grassroots in Wisconsin.” Strategist RJ Johnson cited enthusiasm gap, “This was evident at grassroots events across Wisconsin and nationally in the 2018 campaign. People simply were not turning out in the same numbers. One can psychoanalyze the tactics, but when it happens across the board it’s probably less about what did (or didn’t) happen here,” rehashed Hagedorn, Dallet wins. Ex-guv Thomspon: “You can blame it on a lot of things, but the truth of the matter is the Democrats were better organized in this election than we were — without a doubt.” DPW’s Laning: “What happened in 2018 is something we want to build on. We talked about the issues that are most important to voters. In particular, health care. And that is an issue Ron Johnson is on the wrong side of,” dismissed Johnson explanation that skyrocketing premiums for pre-existing conditions came for ACA’s ‘faulty architecture’, “He has cast votes against the Affordable Care Act and I think that’s a big concern.”

For the Record: WI Governor Tony Evers
… Evers sits down with Neil Heinen for a chat. Some of the topics covered are the Governor’s budget proposal, Foxconn and strategies on working with the Republican Legislative Majority. 28:56 video

Scott Walker: We Now See Evidence The FBI Spied On The Trump Campaign
… Walker joined the Brian Kilmeade Show Friday … Walker on campaign spying: “We’ve seen it time and time again. Remember in the Obama administration when for years people said ‘Well I wonder if the IRS is looking into people,’ and people said ‘No, that’s not possible.’ And we learned actually they were, they were investigating conservative groups out there. Now we see people saying ‘Oh the FBI is looking into folks, no that could never happen again.’ We now see evidence and I think that’s why people have had it with institution after institution. They like a president who just tells it like it is, who stands up for the forgotten men and women of this country and that’s certainly how the president won in the great state of Wisconsin and other key battleground states, and how he’s going to win again in 2020.” Walker also comments on Trump’s Green Bay rally, Trump’s tax cuts, Trump’s overall performance, Trump trade deals. 10:15 audio

Scott Walker: Tax cuts helped put people to work
… joins “Power Lunch” to discuss strong jobs numbers for the month of April [and Foxconn.] 5:17 video

After Supreme Court election, mixed fallout for LGBT community, social conservatives
… as public opinion continues to trend in favor of LGBT rights, opponents of the gay rights movement say the culture war is not over … after the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, LGBT issues have twice followed Wisconsin voters into the ballot box in state Supreme Court races and both times voters rejected concerns brought by left-wing groups that the conservative-backed candidate held anti-gay views. [rehash college remarks made by Justices Bradley, Hagedorn, rules at Hagedorn’s Christian school]. Fair WI’s McDonell see little significance in Hagedorn’s win, said gay rights are “just too far down their list of things … that motivate them as voters,” cited Baldwin, prez Dem Buttigieg, “The fact that a person is out LGBT doesn’t seem to be a liability in an election.” Nat’l poll found 66-34 for-against gay marriage, while 2016 MU Law poll found 64-36, with 84% Dem and 43% GOP. US Rep. Pocan: “I would have a newspaper article about me running for the County Board, someone would put an X through my face and send back with the words ‘dead faggot.’ That’s 25 years ago, and you don’t really see that now,” also sees little meaning for gays in Hagedorn win. DPW’s Beyer remained cautious, Hagedorn win “has reminded Democrats how hard we have to fight to protect our values and elect leaders who believe in equity and fair treatment for all Wisconsinites.” GOP strategist Reisinger said GOP has factions who believe in traditional marriage, who say “live, let live” and open gay marriage supporters, but all unite over religious liberty. Rehash Realtors pulling support for Hagedorn over anti-gay issue, Sen. Stroebel called Realtors “anti-religious zealots.” WFC’s Appling said culture wars in not over, “because there’s other letters in that (LGBT) acronym,” referring to transgender issue, said GOP drifting away from its traditional family values plank. Gay Rep. Novak and Rep. Vorpagel bill would ban gay conversion therapy for minors. Gay, Christian conservative Brad Boivin ran for Ryan’s open seat, said GOP shows “positive” trend on the issue, sees in society many who whose party, religion and life practices don’t mesh. RPW did not respond. Pocan said GOP is fickle on the issue, “The people I know who are in Republican leadership … follow polls pretty closely, and if this issue isn’t working for them, they’re less likely to make it an issue that they run on.” Appling recalled unsuccessful 2015 bill to ban transgender bathrooms, sponsored by then-rep. Kremer, “I don’t imagine conservative candidates around the state will run on these issues. Their job isn’t to help me, I respect that.”

WI GOP renews anti-abortion push
… as Republican legislators push a quartet of bills designed to curtail the practice despite Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ opposition. Rehash WI’s 1894 outright ban, made unenforceable by 1973 Roe v Wade, Walker signing 20-week ban. GOP bills would ban Medicaid funds for abortion, prohibit abortions based on the fetus’ race, sex or defects, require fetal viability info before second abortion pill is given, require providers to report how many abortions a woman has had, how she’s paying for the latest one and the reason for it. “Born alive” bill is highest profile, drawn Evers veto threat. Rehash Trump remark in GB rally about Evers veto threat. Both houses holding hearings Thursday, suggesting bills on fast-track to floor vote. WAWH’s Finger sees “politically motivated” bills, while anti-abortion advocates say the bills aren’t tough enough. “Born Alive” sponsor, Majority Leader Steineke said no stats on abortion survivors does not mean none survive. Madison Dr. Laube says live births from abortions simply don’t happen in Wisconsin.

Vos must testify in Wisconsin’s gerrymandering case, [federal] judges rule
… concluded Vos had to give a deposition and turn over documents … “We acknowledge that a sitting legislator is not subject to civil process in any but the most exceptional circumstances. But this is an exceptional case that raises important federal questions about the constitutionality of Wisconsin’s plan for electing members of the Assembly,” the [2-1] majority [Ripple, Peterson] wrote. “Vos was a key figure in enacting that plan and he was involved at nearly every stage of the process. Probably no one has a better understanding of the challenged (redistricting) plan than he does.” Beyer said Vos will appeal.

Study: Wisconsin sees growth in forestry industry
… National Alliance of Forest Owners … found employment in Wisconsin’s forestry sector grew by nearly 5% from 2010 to 2016, totaling 174,848. … timber sales increased by nearly 10% to $21.6 billion in 2016. NAFO’s Tenney: “Anybody who owns and manages forests in the United States knows one thing: It’s a long-term commitment. And in order to make a long-term commitment with forests, they have to make investments today that won’t return a yield for 20, 30 or 40 years or longer.” Great Lakes Timber Pros’ Schienebeck: “Some of our forests are getting a little older. What that means is we’ve actually got more saw timber that’s growing.”

Bills mount for city of La Crosse as Mississippi River flooding continues
… This year marks the fifth highest the river has ever been, and the last 12 months have been the wettest ever recorded in Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service. … [city wastewater] staff is out there fueling pumps, monitoring hoses, making sure they have oil and coolant at all hours of the day. … “If we look back at some of the larger flood events in the recent history here, it’s been a little bit longer than those,” NWS meteorologist Logan Lee said. … “The fact that we’ve not had any issues really is a testament to all of the staff have been working on this,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said. “We’ve got some cooperation from Mother Nature too, but obviously having the river level this high is an ongoing concern.” Cost: $100K in staff and equipment, so far. “We’re expecting the river around La Crosse to fall below flood stage around Tuesday morning,” Lee said.

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– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Local Government, Small Business, Tourism and Workforce Development public hearing on SB 94, relating to changing the official bond requirements for town municipal judges.

– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Local Government, Small Business, Tourism and Workforce Development executive session on SB 118, relating to placement of cigarettes, nicotine products or tobacco products by retailers, and two bills related to youth apprenticeships.

– 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.: ADCC Eau Claire fundraiser.

– 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Rep. Zimmerman fundraiser.

– 6 p.m.: Society of Professional Journalists Madison monthly business meeting.

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