MON News Summary: State budget update; LGBTQ flag flies over state Capitol

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Tax cuts, building funding await as GOP wraps up Wisconsin budget
What’s In for K-12, UW, roads, state worker pay, health care. What’s out: Medicaid expansion, legal pot, voucher school limits, gas tax hike, in-state tuition/DLs for illegal immigrants, nonpartisan redistricting, min wage hike, manufacturer tax credit limit. What’s to come: tax cuts, capital budget buildings, DNR Stewardship program, e-cig regs, CAFO regs. By Bauer of AP, LA CROSSE TRIBUNE

GOP transportation plan would allow [JFC] to impose vehicle fees of any amount
… based on how many miles vehicles drove, starting in 2023. The rest of the Legislature wouldn’t get a say in the matter under the plan. … measure granting the committee new powers appears innocuous. It authorizes a $2.5 million study to look into mileage-based fees to pay for roads. Once completed, Evers’ [DOT] would be required to file a recommendation with the committee in January 2023 on whether such fees should be assessed. The committee could approve that plan — or write one of its own, including one with any level of fees. … “It makes it easier (to approve),” [WisDOT Sec.] Thompson said. “It’s just a matter of whether everybody’s represented.” Vos, Fitzgerald no comment. JFC Dem Erpenbach “not a fan.” Mikalsen for Sen. Nass cited “no taxpayer protection.” Rep. Loudenbeck said it may be best on unpopular solutions. Evers’-JFC road budget comparison. By Marley, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

LGBTQ Flag Flying Over Wisconsin State Capitol For First Time In History
Gov. Tony Evers Ordered Rainbow Flag Raised In Celebration Of Pride Month … will fly for the entirety of June … small crowd gathered outside the Capitol to watch the flag raising [some comment.] Evers’ EO: “Publicly displaying the Rainbow Pride Flag has become an important visual symbol of support for the LGBTQ community. The people of Wisconsin have made critical steps toward LGBTQ equity, but we recognize that there is more work to do to ensure that every person in our state is treated with respect and experiences full equality in their lives.” GOP Rep. Allen tweeted, “Is this any more appropriate than erecting the Christian flag over the Capitol?” GOP Sen. Craig tweeted: “The U.S. and Wisconsin flags are flown over us as unifying symbols for all Wisconsinites. The governor’s action today is in no doubt a statement to advance a cause. The only cause that the Capitol flags should represent is 50 states united in one republic.” Pride month in part commemorates Stonewall Riots in June 1969 in NYC, considered watershed event of gay rights movement. By White, WPR

On impeaching Donald Trump, WI grassroots Dems are conflicted
… “Anything that would harm him getting out of office would be very distressing to me,” [DPW delegate] Kushner said, leaving him exquisitely torn … “I change my mind literally every day.” … whipsawed by competing nightmares. One is that Trump’s conduct would be somehow excused and “normalized” if Congress failed to sanction him. The other [if impeached, Senate would not remove him]. 3 Dem groups: anti-impeachment for a variety of reasons, pro-impeachment, no matter the political risks and in-betweeners [like Pelosi]. RPW’s Jefferson: “It’s a pattern of pure petulance from Democrats: from the Act 10 recalls to the 2016 presidential recounts, after a loss, they try — and fail — to overturn elections and undermine the will of the voters. They think election results should be subject to the whims of their activists and protesters.” Of WI’s 4 congressional Dems, Moore-Pocan support impeachment inquiry, Baldwin-Kind called for more investigation but won’t explicitly endorse impeachment inquiry. Some DPW delegates comment. By GIlbert, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL


– John Nichols: Women voters have the power to upend Trump

– LGBTQ pride flag flown over Wisconsin Capitol for first time in history … order comes nearly five years after Wisconsin legalized same-sex marriages. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, the city’s first openly gay mayor, raised a pride flag over the Madison municipal building earlier this week. … [Rep.] Allen told the Journal Sentinel he doesn’t “have anything against the gay pride flag,” but added that he has a problem with anything other than the state and U.S. flag being flown over the Capitol. … would not rule out drafting legislation governing how flags can be used at the Capitol. WFA’s Appling: “The state capitol is a place representing all Wisconsin citizens. Singling out one group that has inordinate political power is wrong and is disrespectful to, at a minimum, those who take exception to the LGBT agenda.” Fair WI’s McDonell: “It is really great to have that visible public support from our top elected officials.” Supporters Mayans and Pevehouse comment.

– As smoking ban turns 10, casinos still not embracing change … “I think the last decade has gone really, really well,” Doyle told recently. “I don’t think people can even imagine going back to where we were beforehand.” … Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison remains the only smoke-free casino in the state. “I think I probably would have expected more to be honest,” Doyle said. HO Chunk’s Tracy said they took an initial revenue hit, but “We hung in there, stuck it out and shortly after the first year of being smoke-free, we started to see our revenue actually do better than where (it was) when we were a smoking facility.”

– Steil weighs in on tariffs, DACA, the Mueller Report and impeachment … Steil, R-Wis., is an advocate for USMCA and supports a wall on parts of the southern U.S. border with Mexico. But, in a phone interview … “I’d rather keep trade out of the immigration debate,” Steil said. “But ultimately, we also need to address what’s going on with illegal immigration and a broken legal immigration system.”

– Advances in ag equipment tech lead to commodity overproduction

COURTS ^top^
– Supreme Court upholds 2013 murder conviction from 1998 Oconto County homicide

– Employee-strapped businesses: How soon can you start? … “The challenge here is the lack of applicants,” said Mayers, who moved to the Fox Valley and is now the Grand Chute [PF Chang’s] operating partner. Unemployment numbers in the Fox Cities are hovering around historic lows of 2.4%. “Appleton and Oshkosh clock in at 2.4%, Neenah at 2.2%,” said [DWD’s] Long … Las Vegas, by comparison, had 4.5 to 4.9% unemployment last fall at the time P.F. Chang’s was hiring there [1,000 applicants]. … the economy is still experiencing one of the longest expansions on record, creating demand for goods and services, “which in turn puts upward pressure on the demand for workers,” said Long. Some area workers comment.

– Baldwin bill would prevent closure of Northwoods Job Center

– Petersen Elected As UW Regents President … unanimously Friday … succeeds Regent John Robert Behling, whose term ended in May. Michael Grebe was elected vice president. Petersen is TDS Telecomm VP. Petersen statement said he will strongly advocate for UW because “an investment in the UW System pays great returns to taxpayers.”

– Madison school-based police officers say they emphasize relationships as new contract considered … Madison School Board is scheduled to take up a new contract that could keep the officers in schools next year, despite protests against their presence. … As two of the four Madison Police Department officers stationed at the city’s comprehensive high schools, Franco and Turner said they emphasize building relationships with students, especially if it can prevent them from committing a crime. But those relationships sometimes don’t come easy, the officers said. Students have cussed at them in the hallways or ignored their commands when they try to break up fights. … responded to criticisms that the presence of officers in schools disproportionately impacts students of color and feeds a “school-to-prison pipeline” as opponents have argued for more than two years at School Board meetings. Freedom Inc.’s Gomez said police act differently when they are being observed, argued community policing model does not prevent or reduce youth crime. Black students make up about 18% MPS students, but 83% of physical arrests in SY17-18 we blacks, 79% of citations were to blacks. Turner, who is black, had no good answer about disproportionate black arrests, said he does not single out any group and his arrests have been for more serious violations, such as bringing a weapon to school or stealing a car. Franco blamed systemic problem of people of color lacking equal access to healthy food, stable housing, quality health care or good-paying jobs, which she said can traumatize children and result in more contact with police.

– MPS is hemorrhaging workers, MTEA says. Will a new salary schedule help? … [since Act 10,] MPS has been particularly hard hit. It saw a net loss of 730 teachers between 2010 and 2014, according to 2015 [PPF] report … more than 1,600 resigned, retired or were dismissed in the last four years alone … district has 330 vacant positions, 268 of them for teachers. … net effect, teachers say, is a hodgepodge system in which students are taught by fledgling teachers on emergency licenses, or teachers aides and subs — if schools can get them. … Many retired out of fear they’d lose benefits in the years after Act 10. But wages are a big part of it, they say, in part because Act 10 also cut into their take-home pay by requiring workers to pick up a portion of their health care and retirement costs. Graph compares area teacher salaries to regional avg. MTEA’s MIzialko and Anderson, some teachers comment.

– ‘Can’t pay their bills with love’: In many teaching jobs, teachers’ salaries can’t cover rent, New teachers can’t afford median rent almost anywhere. Our city-by-city analysis validates a theme in teacher strikes. But that’s not the full story

– Brito to be the first in her family to graduate high school

– Parents petition to rescind new school start times

– Could Wisconsin be the ‘Silicon Valley of Water’? UW campuses trying to make it happen … [UW System’s] Freshwater Collaborative that will bring together its 13 campuses into a first-of-its-kind research hub focused on water topics. … Democratic Gov. Tony Evers declared 2019 the “year of clean drinking water” and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, formed a task force to study water quality. Task force promised by GOP leader after study finds 42 percent of tested wells tainted … [JFC co-chair Nygren] has expressed concern about [PFAS in] drinking water wells in his district … UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone said [JFC co-chair] Darling … told him that the Freshwater Collaborative is “too good to wait until the next budget cycle.”

– Climate change causes ‘roller coaster’ mercury levels in Wisconsin fish
Researchers find that climate change-caused variations in Wisconsin lake levels have begun reversing recent gains in controlling environmental mercury … [UW/DNR’s Watras] has been measuring mercury levels in Little Rock Lake in Vilas County, Wis., for 32 years … found that mercury levels in the lake rise and fall with the water levels, which fluctuate due to climate change. … called the findings “a complete surprise. We had no idea that water levels in lakes … could affect the production of methylmercury,” he said. Power plant emissions analysis. MIT prof. Selin, USGS’ Brigham, DNR’s Knutson, We Energies’ Conway comment.

– DNR refers Johnson Controls case to state prosecutors over failing to report pollution
… saying [Tyco] failed to inform state officials it knew that so-called forever chemicals [PFAS] had been found at a fire training facility in northeastern Wisconsin and did not take steps to minimize their impact. … Johnson Controls said in a statement Friday that it believed it was not obligated to notify authorities when the chemicals were first detected because the company believed the contamination was confined to its property. … In a statement, Johnson Controls spokesman Fraser Engerman said, “we believed in 2013 that Tyco had no such reporting obligation; we stand by that position today.” … Tyco and Johnson Controls are currently providing bottled water to 125 residents. The companies have installed 38 water treatment systems on properties. … In an April 24 letter to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) Johnson Controls said that after discovering the PFAS on its property, the company “immediately conducted further investigation” and discussed the situation with a consultant. … [DNR’s HOye] declined to provide additional details on [confidential] documents … [DOJ] spokeswoman said that the agency “generally does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, except in unique public safety circumstances.”

– Shipyard cleanup funds among of two EPA brownfield grants awarded to city

– Foxconn’s innovation center in Eau Claire sees little progress … last July … In a major news conference, they announced plans to create 150 high-tech jobs by opening a downtown Eau Claire innovation center … in 2019. … reached agreement to acquire the former Wells Fargo building and about half of the ground floor of the Haymarket Landing building to house the project. Eleven months later … has purchased about 15,500 square feet of commercial space on the first floor of the Haymarket Landing building, but it remains empty. No people, no desks, no construction. … [city econ dir.] White and [City Mgr] Peters met with four members of the Foxconn team a few weeks ago for an update. “They didn’t have a specific timeline they could provide, but they also didn’t give any indication that the project wasn’t going to move forward,” White said, noting that Foxconn didn’t receive any incentives from the city for the project. Foxconn statement on Sat.: “Foxconn Technology Group is proud to be moving forward with this crucial part of our commitment to Wisconsin and will continue to work with our partners in the Eau Claire area and across the state on this project. … fostering the kind of economic activity they can help create is an effort to which we and our partners are fully committed.” Contractor Market & Johnson pres. Shea said construction start date is still unknown, “We stand ready to get going when they are.” ECCoC’s Minor: “Any business that moves in here and wants to employ 150 people, that’s a good thing for Eau Claire.”

– Plans Released for Foxconn’s LCD Factory, Millwork company bringing 200 jobs to city

– Public hearing scheduled on Foxconn construction … on June 18 at the Mount Pleasant Village Hall

– Telemedicine could increase health care accessibility in rural areas … WisPolitics hosted the luncheon at The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern for nearby rural county residents to talk about health care access with experts. “If these small hospitals close people in our are will have to drive a long distance to see their doctor,” Vernon County Board Supervisor Jim Servais said. … Local legislat[or Shilling] was invited to speak about what the government is doing to combat the rural and urban health care gap. “I think there are many things we can do. One is accepting Medicaid expansion here in the state. The second is the use of telemedicine for parts of the state that just don’t have the specialists.” 2:32 video

– State line will divide legal, illegal marijuana

LABOR ^top^
– 700 former, current ShopKo workers seek severance

– Police officer’s company had ties to defendant in Wisconsin human trafficking case … Fernando U. Hernandez, a Moultrie Police Department sergeant, is the only officer of G&H Harvesting … federal case is centered on two companies — Garcia & Sons Harvesting and C&D Harvesting — that brought seasonal farm workers from Mexico to work [legally] on farms in Georgia. … many were illegally sent to work on farms in Wisconsin in 2016 … Hernandez acknowledged his ownership of G&H Harvesting … denied any wrongdoing. … has not been charged in the case, which was filed in late May in federal court in Milwaukee.

– Ex-Northwoods priest convicted of sex abuse will live in Lincoln County

– Broad Racial and Ethnic Coalitions Prompt Policing Changes … In the months after Le’s shooting, Thai persuaded other Asian Americans in Washington state to join a broad coalition of Native American tribes, black leaders and nearly 20 other ethnically and ideologically diverse groups … successfully pushed a 2018 ballot initiative that aims to strengthen police training by requiring police in Washington state to undergo more de-escalation and mental health training, administer first aid after a use of deadly force, and cooperate with an independent investigation into the use of deadly force.

– Wisconsin National Guard infantry battalion mobilizing for Afghanistan … Eau Claire-based 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry will provide security for coalition forces … includes companies from Menomonie, New Richmond, Rice Lake, Arcadia, Onalaska, River Falls and Abbotsford. Soldiers in 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry deployed to Iraq in 2004-’06 and 2009-’10 but the battalion has not yet served in Afghanistan. Another Red Arrow infantry battalion – 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry – was the first to deploy to Afghanistan, arriving this spring with around 400 soldiers.

– Modern building materials increase cancer risk for firefighters

– ‘Most fun home in Wisconsin’ on Airbnb not a hit with its town of Empire neighbors

– Dave Zweifel: Trump’s promise to make America great again doesn’t apply to working people

– Jessie Opoien: Wisconsin’s ban on same-sex marriage ended five years ago, but the magic of that day hasn’t faded

– James Wigderson: JFC budget motion could kill wedding barn industry

– Steven Walters: No manual for lieutenant governor job

– George Mitchell: The Map That Explains The Transportation Vote

– Boundary Waters’ Tom Landwehr: Save America’s most popular wilderness

– John Nichols: Dammit, Democrats! Organize a Climate Debate! The DNC has made a morally and practically wrong choice with its rejection of proposals for a debate on the existential issue of our time.

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