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— Gov. Tony Evers today charged the president’s suggestion that Wisconsin doctors “are executing babies is just a blasphemy” and called a GOP bill to require care for those who survive an abortion “nothing more than a distraction” from other priorities.
But one of the Republican co-authors of the “born alive” bill challenged Evers to lay out a specific objection to the legislation.
The guv, speaking at a WisPolitics.com and Milwaukee Press Club event, said there are already laws that make the GOP bill duplicative and the scenario it would cover “doesn’t happen.”
“If Republicans are so damn interested in making sure that moms and babies are well, they should really get behind my Medicaid expansion bill,” Evers said, responding to comments President Trump made during a rally in Green Bay over the weekend.
“The president is the president,” Evers said. “He’s going to do this kind of crap as long as he’s president.”
Evers told reporters afterward that it was “irresponsible” to use the language Trump did at the Green Bay rally. He also knocked former Gov. Scott Walker and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, the lead author of the “born alive” bill, saying if they support such language, “it is equally irresponsible.”
— Steinke fired back it was inappropriate for Evers to pledge a veto without first hearing public testimony on the bill, which he said isn’t duplicative, but addresses “gray areas” in current law.
“What is the harm in putting things in state law in making sure that these babies are protected?” Steinke asked. “Their knee jerk reaction is unfathomable. I just don’t understand it. This is not an abortion bill.”
Republicans had control of the guv’s office and both houses of the state Legislature for eight years before Evers took office other than a short time when Dems won control of the Senate in 2012 following recall elections. While they approved a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, Republicans didn’t take up a “born alive” bill.
Steineke said the legislation is coming up now in response to a national debate over late-term abortions.
Steineke attended Trump’s rally Saturday in Green Bay and praised the president that night for bringing up Evers’ opposition to the bill.
Trump’s comments have also prompted controversy nationally after he said, “The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby. I don’t think so.”
Steinke said he took Trump’s comments to be an attempt to illustrate the scenario described by Dem Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in a January interview outlining a late-term abortion.
He also insisted the blowback to the president’s suggestion that a mother and doctor can discuss whether to “execute” a baby was a “smokescreen” to obscure the issue.
See a chart from Steineke’s office on current law vs. his bill:
— The Assembly Health Committee will take public testimony May 7 on the “born alive” legislation, along with three other abortion bills.
The other bills include:
*AB 182, 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, 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, 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, said Planned Parenthood is the only private entity that would be affected.
— Evers said he’d sign bipartisan legislation that would eliminate Wisconsin’s personal conviction exemption to the state’s vaccination requirements in response to an outbreak of measles across the country.
Currently, those admitted to a school, child care center or nursery school must submit within 30 days evidence they’ve received the vaccine required for that grade. But there is an exemption for personal conviction, health or religion.
The proposal, authored by Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, would leave in place the health and religious exemptions.
The bill’s co-sponsors said just 1 percent of Wisconsin children opted out of vaccines 20 years ago. But that climbed to 5.3 percent a year ago, more than double the national average of 2.2 percent.
“We just have to understand there are some requirements the state must have to keep everybody safe, and so I would support his bill,” Evers said during today’s luncheon.
— Evers told reporters after the Milwaukee luncheon he doesn’t have a meeting or call planned with Foxconn Chairman and CEO Terry Gou.
Reuters reported today that Gou was traveling to the U.S. for a meeting at the White House related to the company’s investment in Wisconsin. Reuters reported it was unclear if Gou would meet with President Trump.
Evers said he was unsure whether the visit is related to Foxconn’s Wisconsin plans or other matters and that it isn’t essential that he be a part of the discussion.
“My goal is to continue to have ongoing discussions with the people that are working on Foxconn,” Evers said. “For me to necessarily be there today, I’d say, no, that’s not that important.”
Foxconn declined to comment on the substance of the Reuters report.
“As part of normal business operations, Foxconn regularly engages with its stakeholders in state and federal government,” the company said. “However, details of these interactions cannot be disclosed for privacy and commercial in confidence reasons.”
During the luncheon, Evers said “there’s absolutely more clarity” about Foxconn’s plans with the company’s statements that it would now build a smaller facility than originally proposed.
“Our goal is to make sure they are successful at this,” Evers said. “I’ve never, ever wanted to, even during the campaign, say ‘Foxconn be gone,’ because if they create 1,000 jobs or create 100,000 jobs, that’s more jobs than we’ve had in the past.”
Regarding possible changes to Foxconn’s contract with the state, Evers said he has “no preconceived notions” about whether that will involve large or small changes.
But he said he understood Republicans’ unease about possible revisions.
“They were here when the thing was created, and I understand their skittishness about talking about things being changed,” Evers said. “Well, they did change, by golly, and it wasn’t me that changed them. It was Foxconn that changed their business plan, which I do respect.
“Businesses have the authority to do that and they should be making business decisions without the state interfering.”
— Also during today’s luncheon, Evers said with some Republicans suggesting a possible compromise on accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid in the state, the onus is on them to lay out their proposal.
“We believe that negotiations work in a way that we have laid out our plan — if they have a different plan, let’s see what it is,” Evers said. “We are not going to be negotiating … against ourselves. That is not going to happen.”
Evers pointed out a recent Marquette University Law School poll showing a majority of Wisconsinites support expansion.
“We believe the people of Wisconsin have spoken on this issue and we’re looking forward to accomplishing those things,” Evers said.
On transportation, Evers was cool to a proposal from Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, to take the state’s tax on automotive products and direct it to the transportation fund.
“Essentially he would be doing what Republicans have done for the last eight years, and that is take general fund money and put it into the transportation fund,” Evers said. “It’s just that he would take even more money from the general fund and put it to the transportation fund.”
But he acknowledged there is little public support for his own plan to increase the gas tax, even while the public wants improved roads and transit.
“We have to do a better job of selling that issue,” Evers said.
And on criminal justice reform, Evers said he “strongly believes” 17-year olds shouldn’t be treated as adults in the court system.
He said he learned during his visit to Lincoln Hills, the state’s youth prison, that the offenders there are still kids.
“The thing I learned is that regardless of the egregious behavior that some of them have committed, they’re still kids — they are still kids,” Evers said. “I interacted with them. They didn’t act much differently than my kids did when they were 17- or 16-years old.”
Listen to audio from today’s luncheon:
— Evers today signed legislation that removes references to the term “mental retardation” and its derivatives from administrative rules, replacing them with “intellectual disability” and similar phrases.
Senate Bill 19 — the first Evers has signed since taking office nearly four months ago — also changes the definition of the term “intellectual disability” in rules promulgated by the Department of Health Services.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and dignity, empathy and respect every day,” the guv said during a ceremony at the Capitol. “That includes making sure our laws and codes that govern our state reflect those values.”
Today’s bill signing comes after Evers last month announced on the eve of the bill’s public hearing an executive order with a similar goal. The bill’s authors, Rep. John Jagler, R-Watertown, and Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, have said Evers didn’t reach out to them before signing the executive order.
The guv touted his executive order this morning, which he said “honors and values the folks who are differently-abled,” before thanking Jagler and Fitzgerald for their leadership.
“Today is an important step in the right direction, but it’s also a reminder that we have a lot more to do to support folks who are differently-abled,” Evers said.
Spokesmen for both GOP lawmakers confirmed they had been invited to the ceremony by the guv. Jagler attended the bill signing, but a spokesman for Fitzgerald said he wasn’t able to be at the event due to prior scheduling commitments.
Evers also signed Senate Bill 13, a measure which relates to notification of changed property tax assessment for agricultural land.
— Evers today reappointed Judge Timothy Van Akkeren to serve a five-year term on the state Ethics Commission.
Van Akkeren has been serving on the panel since 2017, when Dems nominated him and Gov. Scott Walker selected him to replace Judge Robert Kinney for one of the party’s picks on the body. Van Akkeren is a former circuit court judge from Sheboygan County and previously worked for the U.S. Army Security Agency.
See the release:
— If Wisconsin were to accept the Medicaid expansion, the state’s two most populous counties would see an additional 29,000 people covered by the program.
That’s according to a new county-by-county breakdown from the Department of Health Services, which shows an estimated 24,182 new Milwaukee County residents and 4,832 extra Dane County residents would be covered by Medicaid if the state takes the federal dollars, as Gov. Tony Evers is proposing.
Brown, Racine and Rock counties round out the top five. Brown County would have an additional 3,360 covered, while Racine and Rock counties would see an extra 3,294 and 2,792 insured, respectively.
In all, the state estimates an additional nearly 82,000 people across Wisconsin would be covered under Evers’ budget plan to take federal money available through the Affordable Care Act.
DHS Secretary Andrea Palm had previously told reporters the guv’s plan to expand Medicaid is the driver behind a $1.6 billion investment in health care programs that would help close coverage gaps in areas such as mental health and substance abuse.
And the figures DHS announced today show when the federal funding is combined with other investments for agency programs from state and federal sources, Evers’ budget would provide nearly $2.4 billion in total for investments in Wisconsin counties.
In terms of total dollars, Milwaukee and Dane counties would again see the biggest changes. Milwaukee County would see a total of $695 million invested, including $219.8 million to cover the 24,182 new county residents under Medicaid, per the DHS data.
Meanwhile, Dane County would see a $208 million total increase, including $41.7 million to cover 4,832 extra residents.
The other top counties are Winnebago County, which would log a $104 million increase in investments, including $18.1 million to expand Medicaid to an estimated 2,010 residents; Racine County, which would see an extra $100 million, including $29.8 million to cover 3,294 more residents; and Brown County, which would see $92 million more, including an estimated $29.1 million to cover 3,360 more residents.
See the data:
See a WisPolitics.com spreadsheet comparing the counties:
— Attorneys for the League of Women Voters and other groups are calling on the state Supreme Court to lift a lower court’s stay that temporarily blocked the enforcement of the lame-duck laws.
The latest filing in the case rehashes the plaintiffs’ arguments that the December extraordinary session wasn’t properly convened under the Constitution, rendering the laws invalid. Those laws were initially blocked by a Dane County judge in March, before the 3rd District Court of Appeals stayed the ruling.
Today’s filing also argues the lame-duck session wasn’t part of the Legislature’s regular session, the existence of past extraordinary sessions doesn’t make them legal, there was no quorum of the Legislature that convened the December extraordinary session, and more.
The Supreme Court earlier this month agreed to take up the case, and has set oral arguments for May 15. Briefs were due to the court today.
— Federal law prevents a woman whose mother died in a shooting at a Brookfield spa from suing in state court the website that sold the shooter the gun he used in the rampage, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled today.
Yasmeen Daniel filed suit against Armslist LLC, alleging it illegally sold the gun to Radcliffe Haughton after he responded to a private seller’s post on armslist.com.
But the court ruled 5-1 federal law bars the claim because Armslist didn’t create the ad, but only served as the publisher of the spot.
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley dissented, while Justice Shirley Abrahamson withdrew from participation following oral arguments.
— A unanimous Supreme Court also ruled today police officers are allowed to ask drivers as part of a routine traffic stop if they have a weapon in the car or hold a concealed carry permit.
The court ruled asking a “lawfully stopped motorist about the presence of weapons relates to officer safety and is negligibly burdensome.”
John Patrick Wright was charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon after officers found a gun in his vehicle’s glove box during a traffic stop for a broken headlight. Wright told police he had completed his training for a concealed carry permit, but had not yet received it.
But he filed a motion to suppress the evidence sued, arguing officers didn’t have justification to ask whether he had a weapon in the vehicle or if he had a concealed carry permit. He also argued it was improper for police to run a concealed carry permit check.
The court found neither the questions about a concealed carry permit, nor the subsequent check to see if he had one improperly extended the duration of the traffic stop. Thus, the questions didn’t violate his rights against an unreasonable search.
— With two challengers now lined up to get into next year’s race, Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly continues to move toward formally announcing he’ll seek a full 10-year term.
“I’m grateful for the support and encouragement of many friends and grassroots activists across Wisconsin and look forward to announcing my plans soon,” Kelly said in response to the report from WisPolitics.com that Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky plans to run next year.
Along with Karofsky, Marquette University Law Prof. Ed Fallone has indicated plans to get into the race.
— DNR representatives and environmental advocates are applauding a bill that would tweak the distribution of fees collected from large-scale farms.
But they said additional staff and funding are needed to adequately oversee concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
The legislation, from GOP Sens. Rob Cowles and Pat Testin and Rep. Scott Krug, would change where the annual permit fee for CAFOs goes. Now, $95 from the $345 fee is deposited into an appropriations account used by the DNR for permitting and compliance activities, while the remaining $250 goes to the general fund.
Under the bill, the full $345 fee for water pollutant discharge elimination system permit holders would be deposited into the DNR program revenue account.
The change would mean the DNR would see an additional $76,000 for CAFO oversight and regulation versus the nearly $21,000 the agency is currently collecting. Brian Weigel, deputy director with the agency’s runoff management program, told members of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee today that as of February, 305 CAFOs in the state were paying the annual fee, and the DNR has 22 CAFO-related staffers.
Cowles, who chairs the committee, said this morning that diverting the entirety of the permit fees to the DNR would help the agency reduce its permitting backlog — an issue that was highlighted in a June 2016 Legislative Audit Bureau report.
“Maintaining a large permit backlog only hinders our ability to improve water quality and creates uncertainty for the agricultural industry,” the Green Bay Republican said, adding “the simplest and most common-sense way to reduce” the backlog would be giving all the permit-fee-related funding to DNR.
Although Cowles acknowledged the additional funding wouldn’t solve the entire issue, he was optimistic it’d help produce a “noticeable impact.”
“This is the heart of the water pollution effort in the state,” he said. “If you don’t have these folks on the ground doing the permits and following up on the permits, we’re just spinning our wheels here in Madison on water quality issues.”
Clean Wisconsin’s Amber Meyer Smith, who testified for informational purposes only, said the current setup is “woefully inadequate” to support the DNR’s CAFO oversight function.
But she also called for raising CAFO permitting fees to align Wisconsin with other states — a proposal that’s included in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget.
The plan would up the $345 annual fee for CAFO owners who have a water pollutant discharge elimination system permit. That fee would be increased to $660 annually beginning in the first year of the budget. Meanwhile, the plan would also add five additional CAFO positions to the DNR.
Currently, the state collects roughly $1,700 every five years from CAFO operators, while the guv’s proposal would generate $6,570 from each CAFO every five years, DNR’s Todd Ambs said. Michigan, he added, is at $3,400, while the mid-range CAFO in Minnesota is paying $9,940 over the same period.
Adopting the changes in Evers’ budget, Ambs said, would mean Wisconisn would be “mid-range” between the other two states “in terms of the revenue that would be garnered from the CAFO industry.”
See the bill text:
— UW System President Ray Cross today announced four finalists to become chancellor at UW-Whitewater.
They are: Cheryl Green, the current interim chancellor; Guiyou Huang, a chancellor at Louisiana State University of Alexandria; Dwight Watson, provost and vice president of academic and student affairs at Southwest Minnesota State University; and Philip Way, provost and vice president of academic and student affairs at Slippery Rock University.
The candidates will have the opportunity to interact directly with students, staff and community members in separate public forums and will be interviewed by Cross and a select group of regents. The group will recommend one of the candidates, who must be approved by the full Board of Regents.
Former Chancellor Beverly Kopper resigned her post Dec. 31 amid sexual harassment allegations against her husband, Alan “Pete” Hill. Green has been serving as interim chancellor since Jan. 1.
LRB-0312/1: Eliminating personal conviction exemption from immunizations. By Reps. Hintz, Vorpagel, Kolste, Brostoff, Myers and Riemer and Sen. Carpenter.
LRB-3047/P1: Proclaiming May 2019 as Paper and Forestry Products Month in Wisconsin. By Reps. Krug, Felzkowski and Edming and Sens. Tiffany, Testin and Jacque.
LRB-1224/1: Stalking. By Sens. Jacque and Carpenter and Reps. Tusler and Stuck.
LRB-2933/1: Withholding from a Wisconsin Retirement System lump sum payment or annuity to satisfy an order of restitution. By Rep. Petryk and Sen. Bernier.
SJR 27: Proclaiming November 1 as Electa Quinney Day in Wisconsin. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.
SHR 28: Proclaiming May 2019 as Lyme Disease Awareness Month. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.
SB 187: Certification of abortion providers under the Medical Assistance program. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.
SB 188: Regulating hemp, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions.
SB 189: Revocation of operating privilege for certain offenses related to operating while intoxicated. Referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
SB 190: Driver school offices in private residences. Referred to Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs.
SB 191: Creating a nonrefundable individual income tax credit for certain adoption expenses and modifying eligibility for the adoption expenses tax deduction. Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions.
SB 192: Sales and use tax exemptions for precious metals and cryptocurrency. Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions.
SB 193: Using an electronic voting machine to cast a vote with an in-person absentee ballot and providing a penalty. Referred to Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues.
SB 194: Funding for joint programming between the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and the Oneida Tribe and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families.
SB 195: The display and sale of novelty lighters and providing a penalty. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.
SB 196: Revolving loan funds administered by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for certain activities of paper mills, a paper science grant, and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and trade.
SB 197: Entering into an agreement among the states to elect the president of the United States by means of a national popular vote. Referred to Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations.
Track bills for free:
AP: Wisconsin governor calls Trump abortion comments ‘blasphemy’
State Journal: Dane County judge Jill Karofsky plans bid for state Supreme Court https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/dane-county-judge-jill-karofsky-plans-bid-for-state-supreme/article_b2414bed-ad05-5c52-80f3-f5c1ca16f873.html
Journal Sentinel: Foxconn CEO Gou visiting the White House today to discuss Wisconsin facility
WPR: Report: Gov. Tony Evers’ Marijuana Proposal Goes Further Than Other States
AP: Wisconsin honors Sikhs at temple where 6 were killed in 2012
State Journal: Tony Evers signs first bill into law removing ‘r-word’ from administrative code
Journal Sentinel: An online gun broker in Azana Spa shooting prevails in state Supreme Court
WPR: Student Activists Call On Lawmakers, MPS To Break School-To-Prison Pipeline
AP: Wisconsin governor backs pro-vaccination bill
Wall Street Journal: Foxconn Tore Up a Small Town to Build a Big Factory–Then Retreated
Politico: Schumer, Pelosi and Trump play nice on infrastructure
Politico: Stephen Moore in peril: ‘I don’t imagine he can get the votes’
Reuters: With Biden in, crowded 2020 Democratic field starts to get feisty
Reuters: Senators blast ‘insane’ Trump plan for aid cuts, seek Venezuela plan
New York Times: Asylum Seekers Face New Restraints Under Latest Trump Orders
New York Times: In a Switch, Some Republicans Start Citing Climate Change as Driving Their Policies
Washington Post: Schiff says House will make a criminal referral of Trump ally Erik Prince for possible perjury
– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.
– 10:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.: Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions executive session on SB 12 and AB 10, relating to eliminating deductions for moving expenses for businesses that move out of the state or out of the United States, and other bills.
– 12:15 p.m. – 1:10 p.m.: Madison Rotary Club event with Gov. Tony Evers. Rotary meetings are open to members, invited guests and media.
– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.
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