THU AM Update: Evers appeals to public after JFC moves to reject Medicaid expansion

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— With GOP lawmakers now formally taking steps to squash his proposal to expand Medicaid, Gov. Tony Evers is appealing to the public to help change their minds.

The Joint Finance co-chairs yesterday released a memo outlining 131 of Evers’ proposals they plan to pull from the budget during the committee’s first meeting May 9. In the past, those memos have focused on policy items. But this year’s list includes items with a big fiscal impact such as the Medicaid expansion and Evers’ proposal to cap a tax break for manufacturers.

“Wisconsinites have made their voices clear — they want us to bring $1.6 billion in new federal funds into our state by expanding Medicaid,” Evers tweeted last night. “That’s your money, folks. Don’t let the GOP ignore the will of the people. Call your legislators & tell them you support Medicaid expansion.”

In announcing the move, Co-chairs Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and John Nygren, R-Marinette, focused on the more than 70 non-fiscal items they plan to pull from the budget, but didn’t mention the Medicaid expansion. They said the guv’s budget is “is unsustainable, irresponsible and jeopardizes the progress we’ve made in the last eight years.”

Dems charged the move to kill the Medicaid expansion was particularly callous, because it was released at the same time GOP legislative leaders were in Washington, D.C., for a fundraiser benefiting the state GOP.

The event included donations of $1,000 per person up to $5,000 to be a host.

Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will be in Milwaukee this morning to continue pushing the Medicaid expansion.

See Evers’ tweet:

— The Legislative Fiscal Bureau identified $83.5 million in earmarks Evers included in his budget.

The largest was $29 million to benefit Fincantieri Marinette Marine in the district of JFC Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay.

Evers announced plans for the earmark in January saying the shipyard expansion would help Marinette Marine keep its current working of about 1,500 and add 400 more full-time positions. The grant is intended to help fund new docks and possibly dredge parts of the Menominee River.

State law now requires the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to prepare a report on the earmarks in each budget and who they would benefit, including the legislative district, if it can be identified.

LFB notes in its summary the list includes “items that are listed identify a specific, named, non-state beneficiary of the earmark.” It doesn’t include projects earmarked within state government, such as a UW campus or a highway project.

The second largest earmark was $20 million for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in the Milwaukee area.

The report begins on page 11 of the memo:

— The Evers administration plans to restore pay and benefits to three of Gov. Scott Walker’s appointees who were temporarily pushed out of their jobs in the legal fight over the lame-duck session.

That includes: PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak; Nowak’s executive assistant Bob Seitz; and Labor and Industry Review Commissioner Georgia Maxwell.

DOA Assistant Deputy Secretary Tia Torhost said the restored pay and benefits will be from March 23, the day after Evers sought to rescind their appointments, through Wednesday, when the three were able to return to the job.

Nowak told shortly after Tuesday’s Supreme Court ruling putting her back on the job that she planned to seek back pay and benefits for the six weeks she was out of work.

The high court still has to rule on the merits of the lame-duck case.

— DNR Secretary Preston Cole has declined to overturn an administrative law judge and restore a permit for a Georgia company to fill 16 acres of wetlands in Monroe County for a frac sand operation.

The question of whether the permit should be restored is now before a Monroe County court, and Cole wrote in Tuesday’s decision that he believes the “matter is best resolved by mutual agreement of the parties or, if a mutual agreement is not reached, through judicial review.”

Former DNR Secretary Dan Meyer had agreed to review the administrative law judge’s decision to revoke the wetlands permits, raising the possibility the agency would restore them. But Cole declined to intervene.

The Wisconsin counsel for Meteor Timber said the company was reviewing the decision.

Carolyn Garnett, legislative attorney for the Ho-Chunk Nation, which appealed to an administrative law judge the DNR’s decision to award the permits said the tribe was heartened by the decision.

“The permanent destruction of these rare wetlands would have a profound impact on the Nation’s people, land, and cultural heritage,” she said.

See Cole’s ruling:

— The latest version of our weekly DC Wrap takes a look at U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s new bill to expand access to Medicare, an effort the Madison Dem says would lower health care costs.

It also features a roundup of new bills from two GOP reps, as well as U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan’s call for AG William Barr to resign from his post for protecting President Trump “at the expense of the American people.”

See more in this week’s DC Wrap and sign up for direct delivery:

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Foxconn’s Terry Gou assures Trump that Wisconsin plant is on track
At rare White House meeting, tech tycoon says facility will open in May 2020 … also saying that he will not be a “trouble maker” if elected as Taiwan’s president. … “It is not right to say our investment in Wisconsin has changed,” Gou said in a video broadcast by Taiwan media. “We suspended the work around October, November last year because the weather there was snowy and icy cold. We will continue our work in May when the weather gets warmer,” Gou said to a group of Taiwanese journalists in Washington after his Oval Office meeting with Trump.

GOP Lawmakers Plan To Kill Medicaid Expansion, Pot Legalization
… [JFC] co-chairs said in a memo on Wednesday they will remove more than 70 policy items from the budget in their first vote on May 9 [including Medicaid expansion, medical pot, voucher cap, min markup repeal, in-state tuition and DLs for illegal immigrants – most all opposed by GOP] … Evers can re-introduce the proposals as separate bills outside the budget. By AP, WPR

Immigrants, Supporters Rally At State Capitol For DL’s, In-State Tuition
Thousands Attend Nationwide Day Of Action Rally … Buses brought people from 17 cities across Wisconsin [to lobby for Evers budget provisions] … Madison police say the rally attracted 4,000 people. … filled the sidewalks around one entrance to the building, carrying signs saying “Driver’s Licenses for All” and chanting “Sí se puede.” … “Today we are joined by dairy farmers and dairy workers who work long hours and do work that many people don’t want to do, and they are here to demand dignity and drivers licenses for immigrants,” Neumann Ortiz said. … says tens of thousands of people are on strike Wednesday, forcing more than 175 businesses across the state to close. “Nuestro sacrificios pasados no han sido en vanos, no serán hoy. Our sacrifices in the past have not been in vain, and they will not be in vain today.” … Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway spoke to the crowd in Spanish, saying it was “common sense” to make driver’s licenses available to all. … Madison Police Chief Mike Koval also spoke in favor of driver’s licenses for immigrants in the country without documentation.

DNR Won’t Overrule [ALJ DeFort’s] Decision To Invalidate Frac Sand Wetland Permit
… “This matter is best resolved by mutual agreement of the parties or, if a mutual agreement is not reached, through judicial review,” [DNR Sec.] Cole said in the statement. Meteor Timber, Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin have already gone to circuit court in Monroe County over the matter. … DNR officials approved Meteor Timber’s permit application in May 2016, but it was immediately challenged by [MEA, Clean Wisconsin, on behalf of Ho-Chunk members] … open records request showed DNR wetland staff in Madison felt pressured to issue the permits despite internal objections. MEA’s Kamp said “incredibly concerning” wetland filling is stopped for now. Meteor Timber attorney John Behling said in a statement the company was reviewing the DNR’s decision.

Foxconn executive, wife pay quarter-million dollars to man in home purchase scam
… Alan S. Yeung, Foxconn director of U.S. strategic initiatives, and his wife, Stella F. Chan, thought they had wired $260,146.93 to Landmark Title of Racine Inc., according to an affidavit for a search warrant … The couple had been communicating via email with someone they thought was a representative of the firm when they wired the payment on Feb. 7 … to the account of a “John Tata” that was set up at Chase Bank. … [MPD found] that Tata is actually Charles E. Kuti, who is in custody in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for a similar scam … does not indicate whether the stolen funds were returned to the couple. Foxconn, Yeung unavailable.

Foreclosure crisis eroded Milwaukee voter turnout, study says
… [profs. Shah and Wichowsky] study not only found a decline in voting at the level of individual homeowners, but also evidence that it occurred in whole neighborhoods that were hard hit by foreclosures … foreclosures depressed voter turnout regardless of race or income level, and it was unrelated to affected homeowners’ likelihood of voting in previous elections. … neighborhood housing blight depressed turnout mostly in middle-class neighborhoods. The authors believe a more refined analysis is needed on how factors related to housing insecurity drive community impacts and contribute to political inequality. … More research is needed to determine the efficacy of grassroots mobilization. … “Rather than being a mobilizing force, the study’s results pointed to this idea that people facing insecurities didn’t have the efficacy to go to the polls,” said Wichowsky.

Milwaukee plans to extend The Hop route before 2020 DNC Convention
… Mayor Tom Barrett on Wednesday unveiled plans to extend The Hop to Wisconsin Avenue by next summer. He also announced engineering plans for two additional legs that would stretch the streetcar route north past Fiserv Forum into Bronzeville and south into Walker’s Point. Would add 2.4 miles to a 2.1 mile circuit. Needs Council approval.

Unionization effort at Marquette leaves organizers, administration in a stalemate
… started as an International Labor Day rally … Shortly after noon, about 70 [non-tenure-track staffers, grad students, supporters] marched and chanted their way to Zilber Hall … the second such rally by the group in 3 weeks … where acting provost Kimo Ah Yun met them in the lobby. … presented Ah Yun with a letter asking that the university recognize the results of a [SEIU unionizing] vote. … Ah Yun did not sign the paper. “Our commitment is that we will stay in the lanes of federal law,” Ah Yun told the crowd … asked that the group work with the [faculty] task force. … compensation and job security for non-tenure-track faculty and graduate students has mushroomed as an issue on campuses across the country. … He then got in an elevator and returned to the fourth-floor administrative offices. The crowd marched up the stairs, chanting and pounding on the locked fourth-floor door, asking to speak with university President Michael Lovell. Lovell was not in the building, but Ah Yun returned and reiterated his statement. … about 50 remained in the stairwell for about an hour, telling stories of how lacking benefits, pay and job security affected them.

Nearly half of police, firefighters now live outside the city, Milwaukee alderman says
Six years after a state law invalidated Milwaukee’s residency requirement for city employees … Ald. Michael Murphy said as he understood the numbers from the Department of Employee Relations, 42% of Milwaukee police officers don’t live in the city and the number for firefighters is about the same. … you can extrapolate the trend to probably towards 50% by the end of this year in terms of our police force and firefighters,” he said. For other employees, he said, it’s about 15%.

‘It can be too much’: Outagamie County social workers burning out
… In the past year, Outagamie County saw a turnover rate of 16 percent. County employees say strict demands, stress and secondary trauma from being exposed to difficult situations are causing workers to abandon their field. … state requires more and more documentation from the county’s Department of Health and Human Services as employees continue to face higher demands with no increase in funding. … [county mgr.] Blom estimated that mandates added since 2009 have increased the time spent on each case by 50 to 80 hours. [several] workers have sent several letters to Gov. Tony Evers


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– 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.: Sustain Dane’s Sustainable Business Network Quarterly Breakfast Meeting. Speakers are Lauren Yang, StartingBlock’s Give Back team leader; and Jay Patel, Impact investor and social entrepreneur.

– 11 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety executive session on several bills related to operating while intoxicated.

– 11 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety public hearing on AB 143, relating to violations of the law relating to the practice of massage therapy or bodywork therapy; AB 104, relating to battery or threat to an officer of the court in a tribal proceeding; and AB 135, relating to going armed with an electric weapon by private security personnel.

– 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.: Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce Legislator Meet and Greet.

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