THU PM Update: Foxconn says it ‘remains committed’ to deal with state

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From WisPolitics.com …

— While Gov. Tony Evers has raised the prospect of renegotiating the Foxconn contract, the company says it “remains committed” to its deal with the state.

The Taiwanese tech company also said it’s “open to further consultation, collaboration, and new ideas.” This comes a day after the guv told reporters the current document “deals with a situation that no longer exists” given the company’s plans to scale back the original project.

When the Foxconn project was first unveiled, the company announced plans for large screen production at what’s known as a Gen 10 facility as part of a $10 billion investment with plans to hire up to 13,000 people. But it then scaled back to a Gen 6 fabrication facility.

Given that, Evers yesterday said it’s “unrealistic” to think Foxconn will create the 13,000 jobs it had pledged.

But Foxconn in a statement today countered its “commitment to job creation in Wisconsin remains long term and will span over the length of the WEDC contract and beyond.”

“We look forward to continuing to honor our Wisconsin First promise as we select partners for this next major chapter of our investment,” the company said.

In its statement, the company also referenced four innovation centers across the state and other partnerships, including the company’s pledge to invest $100 million in UW-Madison to further engineering research and create a new tech facility on campus.

Foxconn last week announced the latest innovation center will be located on the Capitol Square in Madison. During the announcement, Alan Yeung, Foxconn’s director of U.S. strategic initiatives, said the company is still in the process of staffing previously announced innovation centers in Green Bay, Eau Claire and Racine.

See more from Evers’ comments yesterday:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/evers-considering-renegotiating-foxconn-contract/

— Mark Stalker, the GOP candidate for the open 64th AD in the Kenosha area, saw his fundraising pick up significantly in the pre-election period, largely due to a RACC contribution.

Stalker, who spent several decades in the paint business, faces Dem Tip McGuire, an assistant Milwaukee County DA and former legislative aide, in the April 30 election. The winner will replace Dem Peter Barca, who resigned to become Revenue secretary.

The district has a solid Dem lean. Still, in addition to the $7,500 donation from RACC, Assembly Republicans have sent two staffers to help Stalker’s campaign.

Stalker raised $11,538 between March 19 and Monday, according to this latest campaign finance report. He spent $2,655 in the period and had $12,474 in the bank.

The RACC donation comprised the bulk of his fundraising in the most recent reporting period, along with: $750 from the Kenosha County GOP; $500 from the Racine County GOP; and $100 from the 1st CD GOP.

Between Jan. 1 and March 18, he raised $3,114.

The pre-election reports are due Monday; McGuire’s report hadn’t been filed as of this afternoon.

Turnout for recent Assembly special elections has varied widely.

In the January 2018 special election for the 58th AD to replace Rep. Bob Gannon, R-Slinger, after his death, 4,331 votes were cast. Meanwhile, 3,336 votes were cast in the September 2015 GOP primary to fill the 99th AD after then-Rep. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, won a special election for a seat in the state Senate. Cindy Duchow won that four-way primary and then faced two write-in candidates for the seat as 1,586 votes were cast.

In 2011, three GOP state reps resigned their seats to join the Walker administration. Those May special elections attracted between 9,702 and 15,596 voters.

See Stalker’s report:
https://cfis.wi.gov/ReportsOutputFiles/0106122164a1fa5416201964514AMCF-2Report.pdf

— Rep. Melissa Sargent today touted her bill to legalize medical and recreational marijuana, saying it would provide “extensive economic benefits and stimulus” to Wisconsin.

The Madison Dem in a Capitol news conference this morning said her marijuana legalization would bring “family-sustaining” jobs to the state.

She also focused on the public support for legalization in addition to the economic benefits to farmers, business owners and law enforcement. She said law enforcement stands to save up to $44 million in policing and detention costs.

This is the fourth time Sargent has proposed legislation to legalize marijuana. The effort comes as Gov. Tony Evers in his budget looks to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize possession of small amounts of it.

Sargent also highlighted the criminal justice aspect of full legalization. She said while African-American and white individuals use cannabis at the same rates, black Wisconsinites are more than six times more likely to be arrested and charged.

Craig Johnson, Wisconsin Justice Initiative president, echoed Sargent, saying “current law creates criminals out of people using cannabis for pain relief.”

“Marijuana has been called a gateway drug, and because of the unequal way in which marijuana laws are enforced, for black and brown people too often marijuana is a gateway into the criminal justice system,” Johnson said.

“The most dangerous thing about marijuana in Wisconsin is that it’s illegal.”

Asked about Evers’ decision not to include the full legalization of marijuana in his budget and Republican leadership’s opposition to the legislation, Sargent responded the prospect of legalization “is far more popular than most politicians in this building.”

“I pledge to continue to work tirelessly in my efforts,” Sargent said, adding “when we legalize cannabis, we will be legalizing true opportunity.

— The Wisconsin congressional delegation today offered mixed reviews on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, both pledged to review the report, though Baldwin tweeted that she believed “it will make a strong case for AG Barr revealing to every member of Congress what he withheld.”

By contrast, a spokesman for Johnson declined to offer comment on the report itself, saying only the senator “will comment when it’s appropriate.”

Wisconsin House Dems offered far more blunt statements. U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, labeled U.S. AG William Barr’s press conference before the release of the report a “political charade” and said it was “shameful that the Attorney General so willfully engaged in a spin effort against the findings of the Mueller report.”

“I look forward to personally reviewing the 10 separate obstruction episodes Attorney General Barr was so eager to contradict,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, tweeted that the version of the Mueller report released by Barr was “bull—-,” with the last four letters blocked out in homage to the report’s multiple redactions.

“Take #MooreAction: Demand the Justice Department release the full, un-redacted report to Congress,” she wrote.

A spokesman for U.S. Rep. Ron Kind said the La Crosse Dem “will not form his opinion on the Special Counsel’s report until he has the opportunity to read the 448-page document.”

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, said in a statement that “the American people deserve transparency.”

“I have consistently called for the report to be released and voted on the House floor to make Mueller’s report public,” he said, before noting that he had not yet finished reading the report.

Meanwhile, fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, of Wausau, tweeted: “AG Barr and Mueller just confirmed what we already knew: NO COLLUSION!”

— There’s one reference to Wisconsin in the unredacted portion of the Mueller report.

Meanwhile, there are dozens of mentions of Reince Priebus, the former state and national GOP chair who went on to serve as Trump’s first chief of staff.

The report includes details of meetings between Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik, described in the report as a longtime business associate of the president’s campaign chair. The FBI believes Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence.

In the passage on page 140 mentioning Wisconsin, the report says Manafort briefed Kilimnik on the plan to win the election.

“That briefing encompassed the Campaign’s messaging and its internal polling data. According to (deputy campaign manager Richard) Gates, it also included discussion of “battleground” states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. Manafort did not refer explicitly to “battleground” states in his telling of the August 2 discussion,” the report reads before the remaining section of the paragraph is redacted.

The Priebus references include his recollections of the president’s decision to push out former AG Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia probe to Trump’s displeasure.

Among other things, Priebus said Trump recalled being told his whole life he “needed to have a great lawyer, a ‘bulldog.'” Trump also noted to Priebus that former AG Eric Holder had been “willing to take a contempt-of-Congress charge for President Obama.”

Priebus is quoted in the report about learning Sessions offering Trump a resignation letter. The president didn’t allow him to resign but kept the letter. Priebus and former adviser Steve Bannon became concerned that it could be used to influence the Department of Justice.

“Priebus told Sessions it was not good for the President to have the letter, because it would function as a kind of ‘shock collar’ that the President could use any time he wanted; Priebus said the President had ‘DOJ by the throat,'” the report reads. Trump later returned the letter.

Priebus also recalled telling Trump before a private meeting in early 2017 with then-FBI Director James Comey, “Don’t talk about Russia, whatever you do.”

See the report:
https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf

— Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced the creation of the Division of Forensic Sciences within the Department of Justice.

The move comes at no additional cost to taxpayers and will not add any additional positions within DOJ. Rather, it restructures the state crime labs and moves them out from under the purview of the Division of Law Enforcement Services.

DOJ spokeswoman Gillian Drummond said the newly formed division will report directly to Deputy AG Eric Wilson, allowing for additional attention from DOJ leadership.

Drummond said Kaul requested the reorganization early on in his tenure, but it was not approved by the Department of Administration and Gov. Tony Evers until late yesterday evening.

While the move will not affect the day-to-day operations of the roughly 180 crime lab employees statewide, Drummond said it would “display the independence of the state crime labs.”

See the release:
https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/wisconsin-doj-reorganized-to-create-division-of-forensic-science/

From WisBusiness.com …

— The state’s unemployment rate held at 2.9 percent in March, according to the latest federal numbers released by the state Department of Workforce Development.

Wisconsin’s rate is still below the national unemployment rate, which remained at 3.8 percent in March.

See the release: http://wisbusiness.com/1008/_4.18.2019_March_Job_Number_Release_FINAL.pdf

— The Center for Dairy Research is getting a $750,000 grant from the state to support the creation of the Beverage Innovation Center, where entrepreneurs and others will be able to run small-scale trials of new beverage products.

“When the Beverage Innovation Center is up and running, there will be no other facility quite like it in the United States,” said John Lucey, director of the Madison-based dairy research center.

The new innovation center will include a processing and bottling system that small businesses and entrepreneurs can use to test small amounts of beverages. Those prototype runs can be used to support further development down the road.

Aside from the bottling system, entrepreneurs will also get access to industry experts at the Center for Dairy Research, as well as workspace and other useful equipment.

Vincent Rice, vice president of sector strategy development for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., says the new innovation center will “serve as an important resource” for companies throughout the state — particularly those in the dairy industry.

“At a time when Wisconsin is experiencing a milk surplus, this center of excellence will provide dairy farmers with new avenues to pursue innovation in the beverage industry,” Rice said.

The state grant from WEDC supports the agency’s long-term strategy of supporting “high-growth business clusters,” according to a release. Previous examples of WEDC-supported industry centers include the Global Water Center and Energy Innovation Center, both in Milwaukee.

This beverage-focused center is also being supported by a $250,000 grant from Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

See the WEDC release:
http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=393933

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April 25: WisPolitics.com luncheon with JFC co-chairs

Join WisPolitics.com 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:
Nygren: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/89/nygren
Darling: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/08/darling

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

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To register, visit: https://eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-with-alberta-darling-john-nygren-tickets-56595231862

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BILLS CIRCULATING

LRB-0154/1: Marijuana possession, regulation of marijuana distribution and cultivation, medical marijuana, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana, requiring the exercise of rule-making authority, granting rule-making authority, making an appropriation, and providing a penalty. By Rep. Sargent.

LRB-2412/1: Transferring academic credits from military transcripts to University of Wisconsin System schools and technical colleges. By Sen. Kooyenga and Rep. Kurtz.

BILLS INTRODUCED
http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/document/proposaltext/2017/REG/top

SB 165: Transferability of courses between the University of Wisconsin System, technical college system, and tribally controlled and private colleges. Referred to Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families.

SB 166: Eligibility for physician, dentist, and health care provider educational loan assistance programs. Referred to Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families.

SB 167: Local reporting requirements related to general transportation aids. Referred to Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs.

SB 168: Facilities for holding juveniles in secure custody. Referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

SB 169: Wetland mitigation banks, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Referred to Committee on Natural Resources.

SB 170: Allowing minors to operate temporary stands without a permit or license. Referred to Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations.

SB 171: Weight limits for certain vehicles transporting maple sap or syrup. Referred to Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs.

SB 172: The use of billboards to recruit Department of Corrections employees. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.

Track bills for free:
https://notify.legis.wisconsin.gov/

TOP HEADLINES

AP: Foxconn says committed to long term Wisconsin job creation
https://apnews.com/e431ed6eaeae45da97d597aebb0c3eb3

Journal Sentinel: Wisconsin’s Reince Priebus to President Trump before pivotal Comey meeting: ‘Don’t talk about Russia’
https://jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/18/mueller-report-priebus-told-trump-dont-talk-russia/3507883002/

WPR: Lawmaker, Advocates Renew Push For Marijuana Legalization In Wisconsin
https://wpr.org/lawmaker-advocates-renew-push-marijuana-legalization-wisconsin

Journal Sentinel: Speaker Vos predicts changes to Foxconn contract won’t win approval, stands by claim company will create 13,000 jobs
https://jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2019/04/18/speaker-robin-vos-predicts-changes-foxconn-deal-wont-win-approval/3507684002/

AP: Wisconsin unemployment remains at 2.9 percent in March
https://apnews.com/134cd9937e974296812be588409ffb5f

State Journal: Search for UW-Madison’s next vice chancellor of research unsuccessful
https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/university/search-for-uw-madison-s-next-vice-chancellor-of-research/article_e0d4c03a-bdae-5615-8316-04b9a357e2f3.html

WPR: Anti-Smoking Advocates Hope Illinois Law Will Lead To Changes In Wisconsin
https://wpr.org/anti-smoking-advocates-hope-illinois-law-will-lead-changes-wisconsin

Politico: Mueller whacks Trump with evidence of obstruction
https://politico.com/story/2019/04/18/redacted-mueller-report-released-1280960

Politico: Trump claims victory despite damning Mueller details
https://politico.com/story/2019/04/18/trump-victory-mueller-report-1281143

Washington Post: Report rejects idea that Trump is shielded from obstruction laws
https://washingtonpost.com/politics/mueller-report-russia-investigation-findings/2019/04/18/b07f4310-56f9-11e9-814f-e2f46684196e_story.html

Washington Post: Trump campaign attempted to obtain Hillary Clinton’s private emails
https://washingtonpost.com/powerpost/trump-campaign-attempted-to-obtain-hillary-clintons-private-emails/2019/04/18/73a70466-61f1-11e9-bfad-36a7eb36cb60_story.html

New York Times: Mueller Left Open the Door to Charging Trump After He Left Office
https://nytimes.com/2019/04/18/us/politics/special-counsel-trump-obstruction.html

New York Times: Barr’s Defense of Trump Rewards the President With the Attorney General He Wanted
https://nytimes.com/2019/04/18/us/politics/william-barr-robert-mueller-donald-trump.html

Reuters: Mueller report leaves Democrats in a quandary
https://reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-democrats-analysis/mueller-report-leaves-democrats-in-a-quandary-idUSKCN1RU2EK

Reuters: Trump curses Mueller appointment: ‘This is the end of my presidency’
https://reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-appointment/trump-curses-mueller-appointment-this-is-the-end-of-my-presidency-idUSKCN1RU21K

FRIDAY’S CALENDAR
https://www.wispolitics.com/category/events/

– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.
http://apps.psc.wi.gov/vs2017/eventscalendar/Content/hearing.aspx?id=100416

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