WED PM Update: Lawmakers urge passage of bill to modify juvenile justice reform package

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— A bipartisan group of lawmakers today urged a joint panel on criminal justice to quickly approve legislation that would push back the closure of Wisconsin’s troubled youth prisons and give counties more time to apply for grants to build regional facilities.

Under state law, the Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee was intended to have received finalized applications from counties by March 31. But the committee just last week approved a final version of an application and accepted letters of interested at that deadline instead.

In addition to providing a six-month extension to close the youth lockups at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, the bill heard by the joint panels today would provide a three-month extension to the timeline for submitting grant applications to the grant committee and for the grant committee to in turn submit the plan for funding grant applications to JCF.

“The counties requested six more months, so it is in everyone’s best interest to make it possible for them to participate,” said Rep. Michael Schraa, author of the bill up for consideration today. “I cannot stress strongly enough that the state cannot accomplish the juvenile corrections reform without the full participation of the counties.”

The state undertook a dramatic restructuring of its juvenile corrections system last session. 2017 Act 185 mandated Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake be shuttered by Jan. 1, 2021. Serious juvenile offenders from those youth lockups would be placed in one of two so-called “Type 1” facilities run by the state, while less serious offenders would be sent to county-run ​Secure Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth, or SRCCCYs. The act also called for the expansion of the Department of Health Services’ Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center.

But the counties interested in applying for grants to building SRCCCYs raised a number of concerns with the measure, ranging from funding levels to technical language in the law they felt needed to be clarified before they could move forward to apply for funding.

Those concerns have slowed the work of the grant committee, tightening the timeline to a nearly unworkable degree. As things stand now, county grant applications are due July 1, the same day that the grant committee must pass on recommendations.

That leaves counties with less than three weeks to consult with architects, design programming and complete the application. The grant committee, meanwhile, would have roughly 12 hours to review all the information and make decisions on which applications to pass on to the JFC.

Wisconsin Counties Association Deputy Director of Government Affairs Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf warned that if such a situation was allowed to play out, counties would reconsider their applications.

“We could end up with very few counties submitting applications, leaving us in a crisis when Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake close,” she said.

The bill faces a quick turnaround and is scheduled for an exec in the Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee tomorrow.

See the bill:

— GOP state Sen. David Craig today said the budget process is going in the “wrong direction for taxpayers.”

Craig, R-West Bend, weighed in publicly for the first time on the budget process amid speculation that it was unlikely GOP leaders would be able to persuade him to support the budget amid the spending increases that Joint Finance has approved so far.

“I remain gravely concerned over the excessive levels of spending in this budget as the process continues to move in the wrong direction for taxpayers,” Craig said in a short statement.

He joins Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, in voicing public concerns over the budget. With a 19-14 majority in the Senate, Republicans can only lose two members and still pass the budget without Dem help.

Over the last week, Nass has expressed issues with the capital budget JFC approved, fee increases for transportation and the size of the structural deficit.

— AG Josh Kaul today announced Wisconsin will join a 20-state coalition in filing a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the federal government’s attempt to divert $1 billion in Department of Defense funds toward construction of a border wall with Mexico in Arizona and New Mexico.

The case, Sierra Club et. al. v. Trump, is before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The coalition’s brief implores the court to deny the federal government’s emergency motion to lift an injunction granted by the district court in Sierra Club’s case.

If successful, the suit would prevent the Trump administration from using the funds to begin construction.

“This filing is another step in our effort to defend the separation of powers and the rule of law–and to stop the president from diverting funds that should be going to Wisconsin and other states,” said AG Kaul.

The coalition includes Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

See the release:

— Kaul joined 43 AGs to urge the Federal Trade Commission to develop antitrust legislation to enhance market competition in digital platforms.

The comments submitted to the FTC today emphasize consumer protection, noting privacy is a key component of healthy competition within modern technology platform markets.

The AGs suggest two potential legislative solutions: one focusing on transparency in the collection and sales of data across platforms; and the other adding an age threshold of five years to the criteria of merger filing, preventing big entities from acquiring young competition.

“Wisconsinites use products from major tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon on a daily basis. Federal and state authorities must work together to protect competition while ensuring that consumer data and privacy are not left by the wayside,” said Kaul.

Kaul filed these comments alongside the AGs of Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

See the release:

AG Kaul: And coalition advise FTC on consumer protection on digital platforms

— A Hawaiian cruise hosted by former Gov. Scott Walker is set to go ahead after 60 people signed up to accompany the former guv and his family on the voyage.

Charlie Crull — president Cruise & Tour, the travel agency hosting the trip — told today that the company is right on track to reach its goal of 100 attendees.

The cruise, which was unveiled last month and kicks off Jan. 29, includes three nights in Honolulu followed by a week on a cruise ship traveling around the islands, according to an email previewing the trip.

The trip is occurring over Walker and former first lady Tonette Walker’s 27th wedding anniversary, Feb. 6, the birthday of President Reagan, per the email. Also attending are Matt and Alex Walker.

Cruise & Tour also runs conservative radio host Mark Belling’s annual cruise. Crull said the opportunity to work with the former guv came about through Walker and Belling’s interactions at WISN. The station hosts Belling’s conservative talk radio show and Walker has filled in as a guest host.

Prices for the trip start at $5,499, according to the Cruise & Tour website.

From ….

— After a year and a half of behind-the-scenes construction at the former Oscar Mayer facility in Madison, developers are set to begin working on front-facing elements of the repurposed site.

“We’re about ready to start a project where we redo the lobby and continue to do things that will be visible to the community as they drive by the project,” said Nate Ellis, vice president of real estate at Rabin Worldwide, one of two companies preparing the location for new tenants.

He joined MadREP President Paul Jadin, Rep. Melissa Sargent, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, WEDC officials and others today to announce a $250,000 state grant supporting part of the $18 million redevelopment project.

The press conference was held in Building 20, a long, segmented industrial space that makes up part of the Madison site, which has been unused for about two years. Ellis said the building has been split into four suites, three of which already have tenants lined up.

In the past 18 months, Rabin Worldwide and Reich Brothers have been working on all new pipes, wiring and sewer systems at the site — “things that are not very visible, but very critical to having tenants,” Ellis said.

Across the entire site, Ellis said 700,000 square feet of space have been separated off for occupancy. Aside from Building 20, which he described as a “flex industrial space,” he said a cold storage facility and revamped offices are also ready for lease.

Ellis said the state grant is “fantastic” and provides important support for the ongoing project.

“There’s a lot of heavy lifting to do,” he said.

Other speakers emphasized the potential for community impact, also touching on the historical role the Oscar Mayer site has played in the Madison area. Before leaving in 2017, the company had been at the location since 1919, and it served as headquarters for the processed meats producer since 1957.

“I remember seeing trucks come in with animals on them, and knowing when there was smoking happening,” said Sargent, a Madison Dem who represents the 48th Assembly District, covering north and east portions of the city. She grew up in Madison, and saw firsthand how the plant supported jobs and families in the community.

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Free event: June 17: Navigating the New Economy: The booming border

–Sponsored by WAGET, the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training in partnership with and the Kenosha News —

Even if the Foxconn development doesn’t reach its full promise, the southeastern Wisconsin border economy is booming. But that brings issues in the areas of workforce, housing and transportation. A panel of experts weigh in on how to navigate the issues and make the most of the boom.

When: Monday, June 17, 8 a.m. with breakfast served. Program from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Where: The Civil War Museum, 5400 First Avenue, Kenosha, Wis. 262-653-4141

What: Panel discussion featuring Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Barca; economics Prof. Cassie Lau of Carthage College; Heather Wessling, vice president of economic development for the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and former president of WEDA; plus area state Reps. Ohnstad and Kerkman.

Cost is free, thanks to the WAGET sponsorship.

Register in advance here:



LRB-2053/1: Telephone company tax exemption for property used to provide broadband service. By Sens. Marklein and Testin, and Reps. Quinn, Ballweg, Edming, Kitchens, Krug, Kulp, Kurtz, Mursau, Oldenburg, Petryk, Plumer, Pronschinske, Snyder, Spiros, Stafsholt, Summerfield, Swearingen, Tauchen, Tranel, Tusler, VanderMeer and Zimmerman


AJR 59: Commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 2019. Referred to Committee on Rules.

AJR 60: A statement in support of 2019 H.R. 832. Referred to Committee on Rules.

Track bills for free:


WRN: Wisconsin Supreme Court takes over another lame duck case

State Journal: A look at where Wisconsin’s lame-duck laws, challenges stand

State Journal: Former Oscar Mayer property gets another redevelopment boost

Capital Times: Dane County looking to investigate why Public Safety Building cannot hold extra weight

Journal Sentinel: Pew drops plans for study after Vos won’t back it

Journal Sentinel: Foxconn may expand what it will make at Wisconsin factory

POLITICO: House panel votes to hold William Barr, Wilbur Ross in contempt

POLITICO: Adam Schiff threatens to subpoena FBI director Chris Wray

POLITICO: Warren leapfrogs Sanders in pair of 2020 polls

The Hill: Trump asserts executive privilege over subpoenaed census docs

CNN: House Oversight votes to hold Barr, Ross in contempt over census dispute

CNN: Donald Trump Jr. says there was ‘nothing to change’ in testimony before Senate panel

CBS: Fighter jet conducts rare flyover of White House in honor of Polish president

CBS: Puerto Rico governor looks to move up 2020 Democratic primary

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– 7 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Family and Closely Held Business Summit.

– 10 a.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality informational hearing. La Crosse-area wetland tour.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety executive session on AB 71, relating to possession of child pornography; AB 171, relating to sexual contact by a law enforcement officer with a person in his or her custody; and AB 188, relating to facilities for holding juveniles in secure custody.

– 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Education executive session on AB 194, relating to requirements for initial licensure as a special education teacher; and AB 195, relating to a license to teach based on reciprocity.

– 11:05 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Education public hearing on AB 223, relating to supplemental state aid for consolidated school districts; and AB 224, relating to determining shared costs and the secondary cost ceiling for the purpose of general equalization aids for school districts.

– 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: luncheon: “The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin.” Panelists include: Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

– 12:30 p.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality public hearing. La Crosse.

– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.

– 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Rep. Magnafici listening sessions.

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