TUE AM Update: DOC’s Juvenile Grant Committee hears concerns about youth justice system

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From WisPolitics.com …

— During a fractious meeting that spanned the better part of three-and-a-half hours, several counties that had previously submitted proposals to operate youth lockups expressed concerns about the viability of the projects to the Department of Correction’s Juvenile Grant Committee.

The state’s juvenile justice system was restructured after then-Gov. Scott Walker signed Act 185 into law in 2018. The measure set a deadline to close the youth prisons at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, mandated that the state build and operate two new facilities to house serious juvenile offenders, and established county-run Secure Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth, or SRCCCYs, for less serious juvenile placements.

The act also established the grant committee to evaluate counties’ SRCCCY proposals and allocate funds to cover the design and construction costs. But uncertainty has swirled around the process, as highlighted by five-page memo submitted to the committee by the Wisconsin Counties Association raising a number of concerns and deal-breakers, which a Brown County official labeled “serious as a heart attack.”

Yesterday’s meeting was intended to be an opportunity for counties to provide feedback, ask questions and seek clarification from the committee before the panel finalizes and approves its grant application at the next meeting in two weeks.

But several counties instead provided withering scorn of the implementation of Act 185, and threatened to follow Fond du Lac County in dropping their bids to run SRCCCYs.

Mark Mertens of Milwaukee County’s Department of Health and Human Services kicked off the presentations by slamming Act 185 as a measure that “doesn’t go far enough.”

“This creates a situation where policy and fiscal realities are at odds with each other and provides the committee with the impossible task of knitting together the statewide system that will be heavily focused on new bricks and mortar and will fail to make the policy and cultural shifts necessary to rehabilitate Wisconsin’s youth or advance public safety,” he said.

Mertens also flagged the fiscal element of the measure, which he labeled as underfunded. He highlighted that at an estimated cost of $41.4 million, Milwaukee County’s program would singlehandedly exceed the committee’s $40 million budget for allocation. Dane County representatives also told the committee they “don’t know if we’ll move forward” if funding levels were not adjusted.

But the harshest feedback came from La Crosse County officials, who labeled a section of their presentation “Why La Crosse County May Pass on Submitting an Application to Operate a SRCCCY.”

Jason Witt, the county’s Human Services director, said the state’s juvenile justice is outdated and based largely on the adult corrections system and ripped lawmakers for passing up on an opportunity to change.

Witt noted that La Crosse County had not sent a juvenile to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake in five years and touted the success of the county’s 365-day program. Witt said that in early phases of the discussions, such programs would be used to replace the beds lost by closing the youth prisons.

But Witt said based on current dynamics, he believed counties would have to choose between having a SRCCCY and operating 365-day programs under what he labeled as a “new intensive regulatory regime.” Witt noted that having an SRCCCY would more than double the county’s current annual cost and present a number of risks, such as maintaining statutorily mandated staffing levels and taking full responsibility to cover operating losses.

Representatives from Brown and Racine counties also laid out a number of concerns surrounding the shift of long-term operational costs from the state level to the county level.

Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson, a member of the Grant Committee, said in a statement the committee couldn’t address many of the concerns raised.

“Unfortunately, many of the items they shared are outside of the scope of the Grant Committee and would require legislative action and financial investment to the Act 185 legislation passed last year,” she said.

But Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, attempted to alleviate a number of the concerns, telling county representatives that Act 185’s trailer bill, will “answer a lot of your questions.”

“I would have loved to have gotten it on the floor to vote on this month, but it’s not happening,” he said. “It will happen in June. It will get done.”

Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr, meanwhile, said in a statement that “the substantial concerns we heard today are worth noting.”

— The Grant Committee also agreed to a Wisconsin model of juvenile justice after several committee members debated changes to the draft text.

The model — a requirement of Act 185 — features a series of recommendations and best practices for juvenile justice in the state. The document had to be completed at yesterday’s meeting so it could be included as criteria for the final grant applications to be unveiled at the next committee meeting.

Lawmakers on the committee went back and forth for nearly 45 minutes on the language and tone surrounding a number of items before agreeing to a finalized version.

“If there’s still a county that wants to do this after watching all of this, I’d be amazed,” quipped committee member Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam.

— The Assembly Health Committee is holding a public hearing today on a slate of abortion-related bills, including GOP-backed “born alive” legislation.

The bills are also getting public hearings in a number of Senate panels today: the Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection Committee, the Health and Human Services Committee and the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

The other bills include:

*AB 182/SB 173, which would ban abortions solely because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex or due to a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or another congenital disability.

*AB 180/SB 174, which would require physicians to tell women considering taking an abortion-inducing drug regiment that taking the first drug may not result in an immediate abortion. The woman also would have to be informed she may be able to continue the pregnancy, but “time is of the essence” and she should contact a physician to discuss options to counteract the effects of the drug she’s already consumed.

*AB 183/SB 187, which would prohibit Planned Parenthood from being certified to provide services under the Medicaid Assistance program. In 2011, Republicans changed state law to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving state money for family planning activities. The bill would go a step further by cutting off from Medical Assistance by July 1, 2020, any private entity that provides abortion services or is affiliated with one that does. Co-author Rep. Barb Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, has said Planned Parenthood is the only private entity that would be affected.

See more in the calendar below.

— The Senate Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues Committee is holding a public hearing and executive session on Meagan Wolfe appointment as the Elections Commission’s administrator.


Today: WisPolitics.com Luncheon: WI’s role in the Presidential Race

Join WisPolitics.com 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.

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Evers plans to restore pardons in Wisconsin, giving hope to offenders
… video includes an interview with Evers about his most contacted topic. “First of all I believe in redemption. … I believe there’s a moral issue here. Not having hope when you should have hope is the wrong thing for Wisconsin to stand for.” Rehash Walker decline to pardon. UW Law Prof. Finley, pardon seekers comment.

Evers Chats About Wisconsin’s ‘Year Of Clean Drinking Water’
… “We’re putting significant resources in to make sure that not only we have ways of fixing lead service lines, but also make sure that we focus our efforts on targeting runoff management that impacts our suburban people and rural people in the state of Wisconsin,” Evers explains. … “We’ll continue to fight. It does concern me and it should concern your listeners, too. People say, ‘Geeze, we don’t think it’s fair that we’re putting all this money into these urban areas … because it doesn’t impact us,’ ” Evers says. “Well, who can be for having kids drinking water that has lead in it?” … “It can’t be just, ‘Well, we’re going to fix wells,’ he explains. “We’re going to make sure that the runoff is contained. We’re making sure that we have good instruments in place to monitor runoff and pollution. But that is something that’s going to be ongoing.” … thinks we can all learn from the tribal nations in Wisconsin. “They have a cultural and spiritual respect for making sure that the water stays clean and we value it,” he explains. 11:47 audio.

Proposed GOP changes create $1.4 billion hole in Tony Evers’ budget plan
… [LFB analysis] roughly matches the amount by which Evers wants to increase state spending on K-12 schools, in another sign that GOP lawmakers will not embrace that proposal. Republicans already said last week that they won’t build from Evers’ overall spending blueprint. … [JFC last week vowed build off Walker’s last budget,] scrap more than 130 provisions of Evers’ budget, including an expansion of Medicaid and tax increases on large manufacturers and some high earners. … what’s chiefly responsible for creating the $1.4 billion negative fiscal impact … would reduce federal funds going into the state budget by nearly $1.1 billion in the next two years [mostly from scrapping Medicaid expansion, which Evers vowed to “fight like hell” to preserve]. Executive action begins Thu. JFC co-chairs Nygren, Darling could not be reached. Darling statement said she’ll miss Thu’s session due to doctor advice. GOP changes scrapped pot provisions, min wage hike, voucher enrollment cap, local levy cap relief, immigrant DL’s and in-state tuition, min markup and RTW repeal.

Reported Sexual Offenses Up In Wisconsin Over The Last 5 Years
Data From State DOJ Show Highest Per-Capita Rates Of Sexual Offenses Were In Sauk, Lincoln, Eau Claire Counties … 5,113 sex crimes [rape, non-consensual sodomy, sexual assaults with objects, fondling, incest, statutory rape] reported to law enforcement in 2018. … 4,777 offenses reported in 2014. The highest … came in 2017 with 5,327 reports. … reported rapes has increased steadily [from 1,180 in 2014 to 1,582 in 2018.] Hope House’s LaBroscian said Lake Delton tourism could be a contributing factor to Sauk County numbers, also credited “really great school resource officers that children feel really comfortable disclosing to and reporting to” and nat’l #MeToo movement. EC DA King also credited people becoming more comfortable going to police, touted child advocacy center with a forensic child interviewer, full-time sensitive crime detectives and four officers in a computer forensics lab. CDC 2020-12 survey found 35% of women reported sexual violence during their lives, 25% of women reported sexual violence last year. DOJ did not respond.

‘It was rape:’ Wisconsin Army National Guard officer Megan Plunkett says she was retaliated against, disciplined for reporting sexual assaults
… Plunkett said she was sexually assaulted by three different men while serving as an officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard from 2012 through 2018. … Guard investigators … concluded that Plunkett was always a willing participant. … exemplifies a system that is under growing scrutiny as numerous complaints about a culture of sexual assault and harassment … Gov. Tony Evers and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin have asked the federal government to review the Guard’s policies and an investigation is set to start this month. … [but VA] affirmed Plunkett’s experiences, concluding that she has severe post-traumatic stress disorder from “military sexual trauma.” An independent military panel later concurred … VA now provides Plunkett with free health care, which is unusual for National Guard veterans who have not been on active duty. She was also awarded $3,000 a month for living expenses and costs associated with her PTSD after undergoing multiple medical evaluations from doctors and psychiatrists. … Plunkett cannot keep a full-time job and some days cannot get out of bed. She struggles with depression and anxiety, and has attempted suicide. Details, Plunkett comments.

Wisconsin’s tourism economy continues to hum
[Tourism Dept. reported] ninth straight year of positive gains in tourism, one of the pillars of the state’s economy. … [Tourism Sec. Meaney] tours the state to tout … the 4.9% increase in spending per visitor to $118. The number of visitors in 2018 grew by 2 million people over 2017 to 112.1 million. “We’re getting more dollars out of each visitor,” said Meaney, who spent the weekend in northern Wisconsin to help open the fishing season. “It’s a fantastic indication that people are finding more ways to spend time and dollars in Wisconsin.” Data compiled by Tourism Economics and Longwoods International, released Monday at the start of National Travel & Tourism Week. More details. Mayor Rhodes-Conway, Destination Madison’s Archer, WisDells CVB’s Snyder comment.

Wolf debate howls in Hudson
… [on May 3,] Supporters and opponents of the latest effort to remove wolves from [endangered] list spoke to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson … who was joined by a panel of state lawmakers [Rep. Stafsholt, Douglas Board Chair LIebaert, Baldwin staffer] and officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). … Johnson [and Baldwin staffer] spoke in support of a USFWS rule-change proposal to delist gray wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming … “This is a heck of a conservation success story,” said [USFWS’] Wooley … “It’s only being held up by federal politics,” [Stafsholt] said. Wolf advocate Ricci feared trophy hunters will “only to take them back to the brink of extinction,” but Wooley declared “full faith and trust” in DNR management. Some residents with dead pets spoke little confidence. Liebaert, a WFU board member: “I literally beg you” to delist the gray wolf, took umbrage with a Sierra Club advocate’s comment that only a fraction of a percent of livestock deaths are attributable to wolf attacks, “Great, if they’re not yours.” USFWS accepting written comments until May 14, will make a final recommendation after May 15, 2020.

Baldwin hosts roundtable discussion on health care
… Friday Baldwin came to Green Bay to hear the concerns of her constituents – over efforts by the Trump administration to repeal the Affordable Care Act. … In a court filing this week, the White House argued the ACA should be overturned … “The idea that he would ask the attorney general to go into court and argue a case that would result in 20 million people to lose access to health care, it defies my imagination,” Baldwin said. … “We’ve got to keep on fighting. I think that is the alarm bell I’m trying to ring as I host these roundtables across the state.”

Judge denies motion to dismiss criminal case against the Milwaukee County Jail’s health care provider
… Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. is charged with seven misdemeanor counts of intentionally falsifying a health care record. … which prosecutors say contributed to the dehydration death of an inmate in 2016. … Judge Joseph Wall said evidence cited in criminal complaints clearly showed … “The employees served a corporate goal of minimizing staffing cost at the workplace,” Wall said before denying the motion. Defense attorney Patrick Knight said Armor would appeal … status conference on both cases was scheduled for July 10. … inquest jury recommended seven people should face criminal charges in Thomas’ death, but prosecutors charged three … Since being charged, Armor has lost its contract … now being provided by Wellpath of Nashville, Tennessee.

Ald. Witkowski accuses colleagues of making decisions based on race, not best interests of city
… made his explosive charge in his quarterly, taxpayer-funded newsletter to the residents in his south side district this week. “In my first eight-month term, the council seemed to vote by race,” wrote Witkowski, who was first elected in July 2003. “My next three terms under (former Ald. Willie) Hines and (Ald. Michael) Murphy as president, the councils voted on issues and the best interest of the city. “This term is more an anti-mayor/color-of-our-skin council,” Witkowski wrote. “Fairness and issues don’t seem to matter much.” … [Alders Coggs, Borkowski shocked.] … The most measured response came from Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, the clear target of Witkowski’s criticism. … “Despite this truth, few if any votes have fallen completely along racial lines,” Hamilton said via text. “And the suggestion belittles the time, energy and thoughtfulness that all council members go through to make tough decisions for our city.” Af-Ams hold 7 of 15 seats. More excerpts, more comment. “I’m sorry Terry feels that way,” Borkowski said.


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– 7:30 a.m.: Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists: Joint Finance Committee budget briefing with Sens. Luther Olsen and Jon Erpenbach; and Reps. Chris Taylor and Amy Loudenbeck.

– 9 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Health public hearing on AB 179, relating to requirements for children born alive following abortion or attempted abortion, along with three other abortion-related bills.

– 9 a.m.: Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues public hearing on Meagan Wolfe’s appointment as Elections Commission administrator; SB 48, relating to allowing an elector to show his or her marked ballot; and other bills.

– 9 a.m.: Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues executive session on Meagan Wolfe’s appointment as Elections Commission administrator.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Local Government public hearing on AB 159, relating to the operation of electric scooters on highways, other bills.

– 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.: Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection public hearing on SB 179, relating to displaying gas taxes on gas pumps; SB 174, relating to informed consent regarding a certain abortion-inducing drug regimen and reporting requirements for induced abortions; SB 187, relating to certification of abortion providers under the Medical Assistance program; other bills.

– 11 a.m.: Senate Committee on Health and Human Services executive session on SB 110, relating to pharmacists and pharmacy students administering vaccines; SB 26, relating to step therapy protocols for prescription drug coverage; other bills.

– 11 a.m.: Senate Committee on Health and Human Services public hearing on SB 173, relating to sex-selective, disability-selective and other selective abortions.

– 11 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: WisPolitics.com Luncheon: Wisconsin’s Role in the Presidential Race. Panelists include Republican operative Keith Gilkes, Democratic strategist Tanya Bjork and Marquette University Law School poll Director Charles Franklin.

– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety public hearing on SB 175, relating to requirements for children born alive following abortion or attempted abortion; other bills.

– 1:30 p.m.: Senate Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families public hearing on SB 165, relating to transferability of courses between the University of Wisconsin System, technical college system, and tribally controlled and private colleges; other bills.

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