MON News Summary: Dem Party state convention coverage; Fitzgerald says GOP not considering gas tax increase

Exclusively for WisPolitics Subscribers


FRIDAY: and discussion: Closing the urban-rural health care gap

The recent 2019 County Health Rankings report showed gaps in health care between suburban-urban areas and rural counties in Wisconsin. In southwestern Wisconsin, La Crosse County was ranked 6th among the state’s 72 counties in terms of health factors that drive healthy lifestyles such as lower tobacco and alcohol use; access to quality care, education, employment and social support; plus housing and water-air quality. But surrounding counties ranked between 19th and 59th.

Join us for a discussion on coping with these gaps in rural-urban health care. The cost to attend is free, thanks to the support of Health Tradition.

But you must register in advance.

WHAT: Closing the rural-urban health care gap

WHEN: Friday June 7, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with the program going from noon to 1:15 p.m.

WHERE: The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern l 328 Front Street South Ste. 100, La Crosse WI 54601

FORMAT: Dr. Tim Bartholow, Chief Medical Officer of Health Tradition, will provide opening remarks, and then a panel of four experts will add commentary. The panelists include Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, Wally Orzechowski of the Southwest Community Action Program, Dr. Paul S. Mueller, chair of Mayo Clinic’s general internal medicine, and Dr. Erik Gundersen, medical director of Kwik Trip Center for Health and incoming president of the Wisconsin Medical Society.

The event is organized by and, non-partisan news organizations that regularly convene discussions of important public issues. Sponsored by Health Tradition.

To register, visit:



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[1,006 – 233] WI Dems Elect Wikler As New State Party Chair
… recently returned to Wisconsin, having spent several years in Washington, D.C., as a director for … complimented state Democrats for their own efforts calling their Congressional representatives and protesting. “And that became the rocket fuel for the 2018 campaigns. Tammy Baldwin’s landslide, Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes ending the Scott Walker dark ages, because you fought,” Wikler said. … Bowen called on the party to change up its grassroots advocacy … end a practice of “parachuting” organizers into unfamiliar communities, rather than deploying trained activists in their own communities. Wikler and VC Martin will also serve as DNC superdelegates. By White, WPR

‘2020 is important’: Prez campaigns seek support from WI Dems in Milwaukee
… “It’s wonderful to have a wide-open primary. As we saw last year in the gubernatorial race, it really helped to get our message out and make our nominee stronger and helped us beat a Republican, and we need to do that nationally,” said Kelda Roys, a former state representative from Madison who was part of that crowd of candidates. … just five of the Democratic presidential candidate campaigns had a presence at the Milwaukee convention [Sanders, BUttigieg, Klobuchar, Gillibrand, Warren] … Volunteers across the board stressed the importance of outreach efforts in a state that many see as one that will play a pivotal role in next year’s race. …, which traditionally operates straw polls at both state party gatherings, was barred from conducting its survey due to DNC rules, which prohibit the polls in the presidential race. … [reporter’s private poll] yielded 16 votes for Warren, eight for Sanders, three for Biden, two for Buttigieg and one each for [Gabbard and Harris] before a party spokeswoman shut down the effort. … Convention goers interviewed this weekend didn’t universally rally around one candidate and many mentioned a handful … Democrats interviewed, as well as speakers at the convention, said the eventual nominee would gain strength from the process. Evers told conventioneers to focus on issue, party unity, “I don’t care which office they’re running for, we’re going to send them packing.” By Reilly, CAPITAL TIMES

WI GOP isn’t considering gas tax increase but may boost fees, Senate leader says
… “The gas tax has lost a lot of steam and the speaker just drove a stake through it,” Fitzgerald said … [MacIver Institute reported Vos at a recent fundraiser said gas tax hike] was no longer under consideration. In a statement Friday, Vos said those comments “reflect my belief that a gas tax increase would be tough to get done in this budget. … We have to have new revenue for transportation. I’m glad to hear Sen. Fitzgerald and the Senate agree.” … “It’s encouraging we’re talking about how to raise the money rather than whether to raise the money,” [WisDOT Sec.] Thompson said. … [Fitzgerald rebuffed putting more sales, income taxes into roads] … It’s not clear how much money the ideas Republicans are considering would raise. … [Fitzgerald hoping for deals with Evers,] “I think what we can do is go back in there and say … ‘Let’s talk about you keeping your veto pen off of this’ and then avoid the whole idea of vetoing the entire budget, which I’ve told the governor now three times in his office I think it would be a big mistake and put all of us kind of in no man’s land.” … Baldauff [for] Evers [said] “it’s up to them to get on the same page with one another and bring some concrete plans to the table as a starting point for negotiations.” … [rehash GOP and gender, Evers’ female staff] Asked about his relationship with Gau, Fitzgerald said, “It’s just not — I don’t know why — it’s just not a comfortable kind of — you know, and everyone’s got their own way. We just can’t strike what that is right now. We can’t get that back and forth going that I think would be helpful.” Vos suggested 2-part budget to dodge line-item vetoes, but Fitzgerald said his caucus is “indifferent” so far, “I don’t know if it will make sense.” By Marley, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Sen. Johnson says he’ll support Mexico tariffs if used as leverage for border security
… During an interview Friday at the Milwaukee Press Club … Johnson said he met with the president last week … “The president knows my opinion on tariffs, which are taxes on American consumers,” Johnson said. “What President Trump has done with tariffs is use them as leverage either in trade negotiations or now this. I’m hoping that is what this is, is just leverage.” … pushing for the U.S. to enter into a “safe third country” agreement with Mexico … a similar agreement with Canada for almost 20 years. “Bottom line is, if you’re really fleeing danger, if you’re seeking asylum, you should seek it in the first country that is safe, which is Mexico,” he said. … but so far, the country hasn’t agreed to this … [said Mueller presser] “muddied the issue … Very good clarity on the no collusion. But unfortunately, it’s going to just continue. It’s just going to be investigations and talks of impeachment.” … being “highly encouraged” by his party to consider [Guv or Senate] in 2022. … [cited] “Looney Tune” policies and far-left Democrats … “The reality has changed,” Johnson said. “I thought the House was our firewall. Now, it’s looking like maybe the U.S. Senate is our firewall.” … [sees GOP opportunities during DNC Convention] … “A real key is a state party whose primary function is supporting the county parties … fielding a candidate for every line on the ballot. Thirty Democrats ran unopposed. This is about county boards, city councils, school boards and mayoral races. We need Republicans on every line of the ballot. Those are the ground troops.” By Hess, WPR

Kind Denounces Russian Election Meddling, Stops Short Of Calling For Impeachment Hearings
… Kind appeared at a health care town hall in Stevens Point on Friday with [Gov. Evers, Rep. Shankland … after the event, he said the Mueller report laid out “many clear instances of obstruction of justice” by the president and uncovered disturbing behavior within his campaign. … “Russia meddled in our election in 2016,” Kind said. “They’re doing it now. (And) we have a commander-in-chief today who is refusing to take action to protect our country from a foreign adversary who’s trying to attack our democracy. That should trouble every American. … Whether it elevates to the level where you have bipartisan support to pursue impeachment proceedings, that question really needs to be directed toward my Republican colleagues, who all seem to be circling the wagons and protecting this president from any type of oversight or any type of scrutiny,” Kind said. … wants to see Mueller testify … said concerns about foreign interference in the 2020 election should be an “all-hands-on-deck moment for country.” HFC-er Amash last week said Trump “has engaged in impeachable conduct,” but no other House GOP have followed suit. By Mentzer, WPR


– WI Dems do 2018 victory lap at annual state party convention … Hundreds gathered at the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino … “Holy mackerel — well, I guess it’s about time we had a keynote speaker at convention who’s a Democratic governor from Wisconsin,” Evers said. … used much of his speech to reflect on his win over … Walker … “We decided we weren’t going to get down into the mud with Republicans — we weren’t going to spend our time attacking personal beliefs or character. We made a decision not to be consumed by the things we were fighting against or distracted by the things that divide us.” … did not directly address continued conflict at the state Capitol over the state budget … However, Democratic legislative leaders [threw] support behind a number of Evers’ initiatives … “There’s no policy reason to reject the Medicaid expansion,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz … “It’s such a no-brainer from a moral and fiscal perspective.” Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling [said GOP] “still haven’t learned that they don’t control everything anymore. They’re struggling to work through the five stages of grief.” … Baldwin spoke at length about … health care. … said some health care plans in America “aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,” and called on GOP leadership in Congress to “stop sabotaging our health care.” … called for legislation to lower [Rx] cost … Moore took much of her time on the stage … “to do some anti-Trump dumping” … said Trump needs to “learn the principles of 4- and 5-year-old kindergarten kids,” including “share everything” and “play fair.” … in favor of impeaching the president. “We’re going to continue to investigate — that’s our duty.” … “We have a lot more work to do,” [outgoing DPW chair] Laning told convention attendees Saturday afternoon. “It is imperative the future leaders we select tomorrow help us do that.” Activist Wikler facing Rep. Bowen to replace Laning. Wikler: “I’ve spent my whole life in this work,” touted campaign slogan of “FIRE: Fight, include, respect, empower.” Bowen: “We lose when we don’t work to expand the electorate,” touted Evers win, “When we do the work, that’s when we win.” Supreme candidates Karofsky and Fallone spoke to conventioneers, touched on issues of criminal justice and the environment. Karofsky: “Our judiciary, our legal system, are being increasingly politicized. We need fair, honest and independent judges. … We must uphold laws that protect our beautiful environment.” Fallone called Kelly’s appointment “a reward for political loyalty. I’ll be a voice for working families on the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. … We’re locking up too many people of color –this is a failure of our justice system.” [see Courts]

– Evers on future of Walker, Johnson: ‘We’re going to send them packing’

– Democrats elect Ben Wikler as state party chair

– Three Downtown Hotels Will Miss DNC, Plus: Former Toys R Us becoming grocery store, Pabst Mansion auction

– Gosar [at Colorado River Tea Party Patriots meeting] accuses Ryan, McConnell of thwarting Trump’s agenda … “Paul Ryan isn’t who you think he is. … Paul Ryan was dictating what came through. … Imagine if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell … had helped him? … Our leadership is selling out. They have no mission. No strategy.” Why didn’t he speak up? GOsar: “How many people have the gumption to take on the speaker … and live to tell about it?”

– Trump’s plan for new tariffs on Mexico runs into resistance from his own party … “I think it’s the wrong move,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher [on WHBY radio Friday] said the move could blow up the president’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada and “makes Americans now pay an additional tax for illegal immigration.” … has proposed legislation (with Dem US Rep. Kind) to restrict a president’s tariff powers … Johnson [at a Milwaukee Press Club luncheon Friday] did not voice outright opposition to the move, saying he is waiting to hear the “full justification” from the White House for imposing the tariffs under the president’s emergency powers. … “Yes, I am always concerned about tariffs. I realize tariffs are taxes on consumers. … (But) what I don’t want to do is, if he is using this as a negotiating tactic, is undermine his negotiating tactic. So that’s all I’ll say on that. … “I’m hoping President Trump is just throwing this out there to get Mexico’s attention, and he has,

– How Trump’s Mexico tariffs could scare Democrats away from his trade deal … Lighthizer is expected to be on Capitol Hill next week working with party leaders in both chambers to iron out any outstanding concerns on USMCA. But … It feels as if Lighthizer “is out of the loop and we’re wasting our breath when this president is going to do whatever he wants to do. … It’s incredibly foolish and poor timing,” [US Rep.] Kind said. “We just ended the trade war with Mexico and Canada only to have a new tariff threat. With tariffs in place, it’s hard to move forward on USMCA.” … So far, Pelosi and her deputies are not altering plans to move ahead with the caucus’ working groups to help “try to get to a yes,” according to one senior Democratic aide.

– The Movement To Skip The Electoral College Is Picking Up Steam

– What GOP and Dems Are Doing In The States Where They Have Total Power

– Wedge Issues: Mark Pocan on progressivism, impeachment and Wisconsin cheese

– From Montana to the Speaker’s Office … Monday’s “Montana Talks”- we’ll chat with AshLee Strong. … chief spokesperson for Speaker Ryan, along with other key roles in the federal government and on political campaigns

– Milwaukee Mulls $400K Offer To Bucks Player To Settle Suit … [alleging MPD tased] Sterling Brown … to arrest him over a parking violation.

– [Racine]-area farmers still water-logged and waiting to plant … This year’s inordinately wet and cool planting season has tilted the odds heavily against farmers in southeastern Wisconsin, who haven’t been able to get into their water-logged fields and plant their crops for this season.

– WDC: Factory Farms Oppose Clean Water Fees, Evers wants fees to fund pollution oversight. GOP legislators oppose this and got $1.4 million from Big Dairy.

COURTS ^top^
– In state government controlled by men, women on the Supreme Court stand out

– Moore analysis: Justice Dan Kelly announces re-election bid, Kelly seeks full term; but has two opponents already

– Schism over United Methodist Church’s LGBTQ stance reflected during confirmation in Wisconsin church … Kat Miller, 14, publicly declined to become a member of the United Methodist Church in light of its recent vote to uphold a ban on LGBTQ clergy and marriages. … The decision exposed a deep rift within the denomination and protests immediately broke out at the conference. While the vote was a victory for traditionalists, LGBTQ members and allies felt betrayed — one progressive Wisconsin pastor even called it a “witch hunt.”

– Promega to expand its Fitchburg facilities with $155M manufacturing building

– Official highlights changes at UW Green Bay, Marinette Campus

– Out of Order: Schools Quash Takeout Trend … Now, citing security and nuisance concerns, school districts from California to Delaware are cracking down. … [on students using] delivery services like DoorDash, GrubHub or UberEats and get takeout food sent to their schools.

– ‘Standing on the shoulders’ of suffragettes, today’s female lawmakers fight for women’s rights … “In that civics class, finding out that Wisconsin had been so unique and had been first to ratify, it just kind of lit the light,” [ex-lt. guv] Farrow said. … able to succeed as a woman in politics largely because of the women who came before her. … We stand on the shoulders of our foremothers,” [US Sen.] Baldwin said. … “there are many areas … where full equality and full equity have yet to be achieved.” … state’s first Latina lawmaker, Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa … “very much in awe and grateful to the women who led this fight way before me. I just hope that I can make them proud.” … “I am really thankful for, and quite frankly I can’t even imagine, the mountains that those women had to climb in order to allow me to be here today,” [Rep.] Sargent said. … “Any area that you look, you’re going to see that we have a long, long way to go,” [UW prof.] Tripp said. … Women currently make up only 24% of the House of Representatives and 25% of the Senate … Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said women’s access to reproductive health care is a major problem she wants to see changed. … When Sargent proposed a bill to make tampons and menstrual products free in government and public restrooms, she said people called her “hysterical” for thinking such an issue was important. Others told her to focus instead on policies that “really matter.” … Toilet paper, paper towels and soap are provided in public restrooms, so tampons should be too, she said. … so much push-back for fighting for menstrual products is an indicator that society is still “off balance” when it comes to gender equality. … [GOP pollster] Soltis Anderson … said the concerns of young liberal women often overshadow those of young conservative women. … [ex-lt. guv] Kleefisch said conservative women wouldn’t want to participate in a women’s movement that champions abortion rights. … “I think a lot of women on the conservative side feel like they can’t be a part of that movement,” [Rep.] Rodriguez said. … women in office should share their experiences so that young women understand they are “just as capable as any man.” … Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, said she thinks policies to help families — such as suicide prevention, foster care support and mental health initiatives — are the “nexus” of women’s issues. … Baldwin said many men [husbands], like her, are passionate advocates for pay equity. … [women’s greater role in child-rearing] leaves them behind in terms of equal opportunities … [cited] shortage of child care, especially in the western part of Wisconsin … One thing all of the women agreed on was the need for more female representation in state and national legislatures.

– 100 years after Wisconsin ratified women’s suffrage, activists expand fight for gender equality

– Area group’s goal is zero waste; working to prolong landfill’s usable life … Greater Racine Zero Waste Initiative promotes having restaurants avoid the use of Styrofoam containers. … [landfill] is operating the last remaining cell at Kestrel Hawk.

– How can Fond du Lac become sustainable? You can help decide: new group meeting June 5. organizer Donna Richard, locals comment

– Beloit Health System reports data breach

– Human trafficking is all over Wisconsin, but subtle. You might have seen victims and never knew, Even victims don’t know they’re being trafficked. So how can you spot the crime and the perpetrators?

– [county] Official: Walworth County not required to tell everyone about relocated sex offenders … does not plan to make public a map identifying places where sexually violent people may live in the county, partly because it could be used for “competitive” reasons … in contrast to Rock County, which made public a map of Janesville’s exclusion zones when The Gazette requested it

– Former Rock County deputy could face sentencing in July over alleged domestic abuse in Lake Delton hotel

– Panel tasked with improving criminal justice system in Sauk County seeks to reorganize

– Gov. Walz to announce state funding for new Medical District in Duluth

– City to get more aggressive with building safety

– Extended-stay hotels serve as stopgap in tight local housing market

– State officials hold final roundabout informational meeting, Construction slated to start June 10: at intersection of highways 47 and 8

TRIBES ^top^
– [BIA] Casino environmental statement complete … residents have 30 days to submit additional public comments on the final document. … “Only after the (environmental impact statement) EIS is accepted can (BIA) give a decision on the complete fee-to-trust application,” [Ho Chunk’s] Greendeer said. If approved by federal authorities, the plan would head to Gov. Tony Evers. Joint city, tribe statement. Address for written comment.

– Did you install solar panels on your house? We Energies wants you to pay a surcharge … argues that homeowners with solar panels don’t pay their full share of the fixed costs of its transmission and distribution system, thereby shifting costs to customers who don’t have solar panels. … proposed surcharge — $3.53 a month for each kilowatt of solar generating capacity — is part of We Energies’ rate case before the Public Service Commission. … would average $15.88 a month, or $190.56 a year, for the 434 residential and small business customers with solar power at the end of last year … proposing to increase [fixed monthly] charge to $17.65 a month, or $211.80 a year. … Supporters of solar power contend the proposed surcharge … penalize[es] customers who conserve energy. … utilities earn a profit … 10.2% for We Energies — when they add generating capacity. … “I’m a power plant,” said Robert Aring, who put 16 solar panels on his home in late 2017. “A very small one. But I am a power plant.” … “They can see a world where a lot more customers install solar and that presents a threat to the way they historically have done business,” said Huebner, of Renew Wisconsin. “But that doesn’t give them a right to penalize customers who have installed solar.” Some solar homeowners, CUB’s Content, Alliance for Solar Choice’s Heart comment.

– We Energies renews push for controversial solar, fixed fees

– RJT editorial: Wisconsin’s laws on data breaches need to be tougher

– Dave Zweifel: GOP budget stabs UW in the back

– Steven Walters: Will first climate change report renew debate?

– James Wigderson: Is the gas tax increase dead? The failure to increase the gas tax is perhaps a sign of Evers’ lack of any rapport with the Republicans in the legislature.

– Jessie Opoien: Fixing Congress might be pipe dream, but better scheduling would at least be a start

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