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— Assembly Republicans today took aim at Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr over what they labeled as a “fundamentally unfair” program to boost pay for correctional officers at six maximum-security facilities to address critical staff shortages.
“There wasn’t one person in our caucus that felt like this was a very well thought-out idea,” Rep. Michael Schraa, chair of the Assembly Corrections Committee, told WisPolitics.com.
The Critical Vacancy Add-On Pilot Program was introduced by DOC on April 28 and provides a $5- per-hour boost at six institutions: Columbia Correctional Institution, Dodge, Green Bay, Taycheedah and Waupun plus Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake schools. In a document laying out information on the pilot program, the DOC notes that the six facilities eligible for the program were selected after analyzing several factors, including security needs, vacancy rates, trends on recruitment and retention, and inmate populations plus environmental factors.
But in a letter to Evers and Carr signed by 19 GOP members with at least one correctional facility in their district, Republicans slammed the program for creating “unnecessary animosity in a system that already needs reform.”
“Singling out some officers over others to receive the benefit was not well thought out,” the letter said.
Republicans in the letter called on Carr to allow changes in compensation to occur through the state budget process “rather than providing temporary raises based on temporary department funds.”
But in an interview with WisPolitics.com before the letter was published, Carr said he couldn’t “wait until whenever the budget passed to address this issue.” He said he was recently alerted to the urgency of staffing demands at maximum-security facilities, which will only worsen in the coming summer months as correctional staff take time off for vacation.
“I have no greater responsibility than the safety and security of my staff and the people that we care for in our institution, and once I was put on notice that someone could be seriously hurt, I had to act,” he said.
But Carr did acknowledge the work that lawmakers are doing to raise staff pay across the board and said hopes those efforts continue.
“As I’ve previously said publicly, if the Legislature wants to do more, God bless them,” he said.
See the letter:
— Better Badgercare Wisconsin is running a new digital ad pushing GOP Sen. Luther Olsen to back accepting federal money to expand Medicaid but warns “party bosses” are standing in the way.
The group said the ad began today and will continue this week on digital platforms. It also expects to expand the campaign to other lawmakers.
The ad is the latest development in the fight over Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to take federal money to expand the program. The Joint Finance Committee is expected to vote tomorrow to remove the budget provision.
The spot notes recent comments by the Ripon Republican that he’d consider the expansion.
The narrator says BadgerCare invests $146 million in Olsen’s district and 70 percent of Wisconsinites support expanding the program before saying “party bosses in Madison” are standing in the way. The spot shows pictures of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.
The narrator then asks, “Sen. Olsen won’t vote against our healthcare, will he? We’re about to find out.”
See the spot:
— A new report from the liberal Citizen Action of Wisconsin shows taking the Medicaid expansion would boost the affordability of opioid treatment drugs.
Statewide, the study found the individuals between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level — those who’d be affected if the state accepts the federal dollars — are paying up to 72 times more for the medication now under the Affordable Care Act exchanges than they would be if they were moved to Medicaid.
Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to make those individuals eligible for Medicaid comes after former Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans six years ago approved a plan to make everyone below 100 percent of the federal poverty level eligible for Medicaid, rather than accepting the expansion funding.
Then, those between 100 percent and 138 percent were moved into the exchanges under Obamacare, which includes federal subsidies to help cover the costs of the private insurance.
The new study compared out-of-pocket costs for 14 tablets of the opioid treatment medication buprenorphine/naloxone statewide and across Wisconsin’s 72 counties. It found a wide variance in the regional prices of the drugs when comparing their costs for people on the ACA exchanges versus what they would pay through Medicaid.
For example, the report found La Crosse County residents between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level pay 22 times more than they would under Medicaid; in Langlade County, the difference is 111 times.
The figures are based on the health plans in the silver plan category.
The retail price for buprenorphine/naloxone is about $128 for a pack of 14 pills, per the report.
See the release and the report:
— Attorney General Josh Kaul today announced Wisconsin has joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 attorneys general calling on Congress to pass legislation extending access to the federal banking system to marijuana-related businesses.
Current federal law prohibits banks and other financial institutions from providing services to marijuana businesses regardless of whether those businesses are legal under state law. Consequently, these businesses are forced to operate under a cash-only model, which a release from the DOJ claims “poses serious safety threats” by creating “targets for violent and white-collar crime.”
“Ensuring that businesses that are operating lawfully under state law have access to the banking system will improve public safety,” Kaul said in the statement.
A DOJ spokesman told WisPolitics.com that Kaul heard from Wisconsin businesses that had dealings with marijuana-related companies in other states, raising his awareness of the issue.
In a letter sent to congressional leaders, the National Association of Attorneys General strongly backed the SAFE Banking Act — a rare move for an organization that typically endorses fewer than a dozen policy proposals each year. The organization also touted the impact the measure would have on the banking industry, tax agencies, law enforcement and marijuana regulators.
“An effective safe harbor would bring billions of dollars into the banking sector, enabling law enforcement; federal, state and local tax agencies; and cannabis regulators in 33 states and several territories to more effectively monitor cannabis businesses and their transactions,” the letter said.
See the release:
See the NAAG letter:
AJR 38: The Mississippi River System. Referred to Committee on Rules.
AJR 39: Proclaiming May 2019 as Paper and Forestry Products Month in Wisconsin. Referred to Committee on Rules.
SJR 29: Honoring Wisconsin native Megan Gustafson for an incredible college women’s basketball career. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.
SJR 30: Proclaiming May 2019 as Wisconsin Motherhood Month. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.
SJR 31: Proclaiming May 2019 as World Trade Month. Referred to Committee on Senate Organization.
SB 198: Records of certain offenses related to operating a motor vehicle with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration. Referred to Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.
SB 199: Certification of abortion providers in the Medical Assistance program. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.
SB 200: Storage and processing of sexual assault kits and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Referred to Committee on Insurance, Financial Services, Government Oversight and Courts.
SB 201: Using taxes collected from a large lottery prize for building and improving local roads and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions.
SB 202: Privacy of lottery winner. Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions.
SB 203: Issuance by municipalities of alcohol beverage operator’s licenses. Referred to Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-federal Relations.
SB 204: The procedure for promulgating a proposed rule that is considered at the joint annual spring fish and wildlife rule hearing of the Department of Natural Resources and county meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. Referred to Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection.
SB 205: Transferring academic credits from military transcripts to University of Wisconsin System schools and technical colleges. Referred to Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families.
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AP: Wisconsin Assembly plans vote on victims amendment
Journal Sentinel: UW System audit shows more out-of-state students, continued concerns at UW-Oshkosh
WPR: Report: Medicaid Expansion Would Make Opioid Addiction Treatment More Affordable
AP: DNR: No buck-only counties for 2019 deer season
New York Times: Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses
Politico: House Judiciary holds Barr in contempt as Trump moves to block access to Mueller report
Politico: Dems to decide Thursday whether to go to court for Trump’s taxes
Reuters: Trump ‘happy’ to keep tariffs on Chinese goods; Beijing threatens retaliation
Reuters: Under pressure from Trump, GM in talks to sell idled Ohio plant
Washington Post: House Democrats defeat GOP effort to impose requirements on ‘born-alive’ abortions
Washington Post: Pelosi says revelations about Trump’s finances show the need to see his tax returns
– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Health executive session on a series of abortion-related bills.
– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection public hearing on AB 147, relating to caller ID spoofing; and AB 186, relating to allowing minors to operate temporary stands without a permit or license.
– 11 a.m.: Joint Committee on Finance executive session on first budget items.
– 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Tech Council Innovation Network luncheon with developers of drug to offset menopause effects.
– 11:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities executive session on AB 51, relating to the minority teacher loan program.
– 11:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities informational hearing. Members are to hear from UW System President Ray Cross, Wisconsin Technical College System President Morna Foy and Wisconsin Independent Colleges and Universities President Rolf Wegenke.
– 1 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Rules executive session on the calendar for May 15.
– 6 p.m.: Millennial Action Project Red and Blue Dialogue: Water Quality in Green Bay.
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