Quotes of the Week

Mr. Gableman is coming to my county and I will attend that meeting along with my concealed carry permit, to be perfectly honest, because it keeps jazzing up the people who think they know what they’re talking about, and they don’t.
– Senate Elections Committee Chair Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, on Michael Gableman’s election probe. She called on the former Supreme Court justice to wrap up the investigation soon to preserve confidence in elections and Republicans’ chances of winning in the future.

It’s disappointing and inappropriate for a sitting state senator to inject such heated rhetoric into these important issues that so many citizens of our state are concerned about.
– Gableman.

Wasn’t he governor for eight years and had a Republican Legislature that whole time? He could’ve done that himself.
– Gov. Tony Evers on former Gov. Scott Walker backing a push to eliminate the state income tax. GOP lawmakers are considering whether to pair the income tax cut with an increase in the sales tax rate. 

Vaccine mandate means you have less staff, right? That might be a bad decision that hospitals are making. Again, it’s their choice. I don’t agree with it. I don’t think they should have a vaccine mandate, but as of right now, they can.
– Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, arguing Wisconsin hospitals are struggling to cope with rising COVID-19 cases because some workers left due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Hospital leaders have pushed back at the suggestion mandates are to blame. 

Political Stock Report

-A collection of insider opinion-
(Dec. 11–17, 2021)

Rising: Tom Barrett, William Pocan

Mixed: Assembly Dem leadership, cabinet changes

Falling: Wisconsin youth population, conservative media

Rising

Tom Barrett: The Milwaukee mayor’s nomination to be the next ambassador to Luxembourg sails through the U.S. Senate even faster than expected. Now the scramble is on to replace him. When Barrett was nominated for the post in August, it was debatable whether he’d be confirmed before the year was out. Republicans — particularly Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Josh Hawley, of Missouri — have been making life tough on some of Joe Biden’s nominees as they protest the president’s foreign policy. But after Barrett clears the committee unanimously, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, issues a statement backing the mayor for confirmation and notes he was working with his GOP colleagues to ensure no Republican objects to the nomination. Hours later, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., asked for unanimous consent to bring Barrett’s nomination to the floor, and he’s confirmed via voice vote. The speed at which things moved is surprising, with some insiders surmising senators were simply antsy to get out of Washington, D.C., for the holidays. Wisconsin insiders give Johnson credit for paving the way for Barrett’s confirmation, though some see a little bit of self-interest at play. A series of deadlines are coming up that impact the timing of a special election to replace Barrett as mayor. The longer a confirmation fight played out, the more likely that special election would coincide with the November ballot, when Johnson might be up for a third term. Some ask why risk anything that would help drive turnout for Dems next fall? Now, the challenge is for those looking to replace Barrett to put their campaigns in high gear. The short window to collect signatures and raise money likely benefits those who are already organized and actively running, insiders say. Possible candidates have been preparing for a bid just in case Barrett was confirmed before year’s end. Now, they could be looking at collecting signatures over the holidays, putting together their first campaign finance reports and ramping up their campaigns in a matter of weeks ahead of what looks to be a Feb. 15 primary. Those who have already put their names out for mayor include: Common Council President Cavalier Johnson; Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic; Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas; and former Ald. Bob Donovan. Dem state Rep. Daniel Riemer tells WisPolitics.com that he was working on his paperwork today to formally get into the race, and others have kicked the tires as well. The timing is both good and bad for Johnson, some say. He indicated shortly after Barrett was nominated that he would seek election to the office after the mayor was confirmed. And thanks to his post as Common Council president, he will take over as acting mayor between Barrett’s departure and the election to pick his replacement. But with a spring election looking likely, it means a narrow window for voters to get an impression of Johnson in the mayor’s role. A longer window could help him, insiders say.

William Pocan: The Milwaukee County judge snags President Biden’s nomination to fill a vacancy on the Eastern District of Wisconsin bench. The question for some is whether his brother being a congressman had anything to do with that. To answer that, insiders say, you have to separate out the process Wisconsin uses to identify candidates for federal vacancies. The Federal Nominating Commission is charged with identifying candidates for U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, to forward to the White House for consideration whenever there’s a vacancy on the federal bench. Considering the commission is split evenly between nominees from Baldwin and Johnson, it’s hard to argue that nepotism played any role in him making it to the pool of candidates for consideration, insiders say. After all, what incentive would Johnson’s appointments to the commission have to curry favor with U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont? It requires five votes from the six-member commission to advance past the screening process, meaning at least two of Johnson’s commissioners thought William Pocan was qualified. Once it got to the final pick, though, having your brother as a congressman likely didn’t hurt. Looking at the other three candidates, some think William Pocan was the most obvious pick for a Dem president to make. For example, Brown County Circuit Court Judge Tammy Jo Hock was appointed to the bench by former GOP Gov. Scott Walker. That wouldn’t help her candidacy with the White House. In the end, some say, having a brother as a congressman probably helped Pocan’s chances of snagging the nomination, though it wasn’t the reason he got past the gatekeepers to be in the field.

Mixed

Assembly Dem leadership: Greta Neubauer appears to insiders on a clear path to become the next minority leader. Filling the No. 2 spot is going to be a little messier. Gordon Hintz’s announcement that he’s stepping down from the minority leader’s spot to focus more on his district and his family, followed by Dianne Hesselbein saying she’s leaving the assistant’s post as she runs for state Senate, sets off a rare mid-session leadership scramble for Assembly Dems. Deep in the minority and with new maps unlikely to give them a path to the majority, it’s going to be a thankless job, insiders note. Neubauer, 30, was elected to the Assembly just less than four years ago in a special election — following her father’s footsteps by serving in the chamber — and was appointed to the Joint Finance Committee at the outset of the 2021-22 session. The Racine Dem announces she’s thinking about a run for leader shortly after Hintz says he’s stepping down and gets in soon after. Those who kicked the tires and then passed on a bid suggests to insiders that she’s well-liked in the caucus and did the leg work necessary to lock down the needed support to fend off a challenge. Some ask why anyone would want the role. Still, others point out it’s likely the highest profile position in the Assembly for any Dem member, barring a dramatic turnaround for the party’s fortunes. And with Kenosha and Racine paired in a state Senate district, the rivalry between the two communities could make a path to becoming a senator tricky depending how the new maps shake out. While Neubauer looks poised to win the minority leader’s job unopposed, she’s got some challenges ahead of her, insiders note. Chief among those are building a relationship with donors and taking over recruitment efforts ahead of the 2022 elections with the filing deadline just more than six months away. That would be a more daunting task if she hadn’t been on Finance this session considering the high-profile nature of that post, some say. While not a seasoned vet in the Capitol, insiders note Neubauer isn’t alone in being fairly new to the chamber with a caucus that’s light on experience. This also might be an opportunity to inject a new perspective to leadership. The question is who’ll be helping her lead the effort. Rep. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, considered a run for minority leader. But she opts to seek the assistant’s post after Hesselbein announces she’ll step down in mid-February as the Middleton Dem gears up for a state Senate bid. Emerson tells WisPolitics.com that serving in that role would also allow her to continue her committee work and she doesn’t want to leave the Campaigns and Elections Committee while former Justice Michael Gableman is still reporting to the body about his review of the 2020 election. Insiders also suspect the math wasn’t in Emerson’s favor with Neubauer in the race first and locking up support. Along with Emerson, Reps. Jimmy Anderson, of Fitchburg, Kalan Haywood, of Milwaukee, and Shelia Stubbs, of Madison, all jump into the race. Dem sources said Rep. Supreme Moore Omokunde, of Milwaukee, has also made calls about a possible bid. And insiders expect other members of the caucus to at least put out feelers ahead of Monday’s election. The assistant majority leader’s role is much less defined than the lead spot or serving in the No. 3 post as caucus chair. The question will be what members are looking for. Insiders say geography, past caucus work and relationships all come into play. 

Evers cabinet changes: It’s never a good thing for a guv to lose a high-profile cabinet member less than a year out from a reelection bid. But no one can blame Administration Secretary Joel Brennan for leaving his post. After all, insiders say, becoming head of the Greater Milwaukee Committee is just too good of a job to pass up. The Evers administration announces Brennan will leave in January for the new job and will be replaced by Kathy Koltin Blumenfeld, who has been Financial Services secretary since the start of the administration. Brennan, 51, was one of Evers’ first cabinet picks and continued to live in Milwaukee through the first three years of the guv’s term. With two teenage kids and a heavy interest in policies impacting his home city, it’s easy to see why he’d want to ditch the commute to Madison and take what is likely a significant pay raise for a job that’s right in his wheelhouse, insiders say. Brennan tells WisPolitics.com he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take a job that’s been open only twice since he was a teenager. He’ll replace Julia Taylor, who announced her retirement after 19 years in the job. To some, Brennan will be a loss for the administration. He has deep ties to Milwaukee officials. After a long career in policy and politics, he’s also someone who can talk to Republicans with some credibility. At the same time, insiders see the Evers administration as being East Wing-centric and relying less on its cabinet secretaries than his predecessors. The cabinet secretaries often aren’t the ones driving the train, so things will keep moving along regardless of who’s in the post. In tapping Blumenfeld for the job, the guv has a former executive vice president of special operations for Total Administration Services Corp. and both a CPA and a project management professional. The big task ahead of her, insiders say, is preparing for the 2023-25 state budget. There is no guarantee that Evers will get a chance to propose a new budget after the 2022 elections. But the legwork on the budget will begin in earnest this summer with the administration delivering budget instructions to agency heads and taking other steps to prepare for the process. There may be more ideal times for a DOA secretary to leave, insiders say. But at least Blumenfeld will have some time to get accustomed to running the “Department of All” before the budget process kicks into high gear. She will be just the third woman to run the agency, following Ellen Nowak under Republican Scott Walker and Doris Hanson under Dem Tony Earl. As she moves over to DOA in January, Deputy DFI Secretary Cheryll Olson-Collins will move up to lead that agency as part of the transition.

Falling

Wisconsin youth population: The Census made clear the state’s sluggish growth over the past decade was a troublesome trend. A new study that shows the decline of those under 18 puts a finer point on the long-term challenges facing the state. The state’s population growth of 3.6 percent between 2010 and 2020 was the slowest on record, and the nonpartisan Forward Analytics found the trend was driven by the drop in the youth population. The state’s population under 18 fell by 4.3 percent over the past decade. That’s more than double the decline over the previous 10-year period, according to the group. That feeds into a whole host of issues. There are fewer kids graduating from Wisconsin high schools, which means fewer students to fill UW System and tech system schools. The state is already struggling to fill the open jobs that it has. And the graying of Wisconsin will mean higher costs for health care programs to take care of seniors. On the workforce front, Gov. Tony Evers announces the first round of grants from $100 million in ARPA funds he set aside for the issue. The $59.5 million will go toward efforts such as a public-private partnership to train and attract health care workers to rural Wisconsin; expanding affordable, high-quality child care in south-central Wisconsin; and helping those in prison earn undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin. Meanwhile, a coalition of conservative groups calls for Wisconsin to become the 10th state to eliminate its income tax along with an increase of the state sales tax to 8 percent from the current 5 percent. Backers hail it as a way to add jobs, spur the economy to grow and attract workers to move to Wisconsin. The move also would mean revenue loss of $3.5 billion in the first budget after it took effect, according to the conservative think tank on the UW-Madison campus that wrote the report. The ever rising costs of Medicaid, increased funding for education and fixed costs such as Corrections would make that a tough pill to swallow unless the state had another bounty of general purpose revenue lying around like at the outset of this current biennium; the budget was projected to finish with a surplus of nearly $1.6 billion before Evers directed the Department of Revenue to update withholding tables, dropping that projected balance to $930.6 million on June 30, 2023. Dems also howl the proposal would be regressive with the poor less likely to afford a hike in the sales tax than the wealthy, who would likely reap the bulk of the benefit from eliminating the income tax.

Conservative media: Getting the U.S. Supreme Court to take any case is a long shot. Having your case rejected by a unanimous appeals court probably didn’t help. But some conservatives are disappointed the justices declined to hear the MacIver Institute’s appeal challenging Dem Gov. Tony Evers’ decision to bar the group’s reporters from a budget briefing and other media events. As it does with dozens of cases every week, the court didn’t comment in declining to hear the appeal. The case stemmed from the Evers administration not including MacIver’s reporters on its news release distribution list or allowing them to attend an invitation-only briefing before release of the 2019-21 budget. The conservative think tank argued the administration discriminated against those working for its news service because of its viewpoint. The guv’s office countered it had content-neutral criteria for those it considered legitimate media. When the case was at the 7th Circuit, the appeals court wrote it couldn’t “fathom the chaos that might ensue if every gubernatorial press event had to be open to any ‘qualified’ journalist with only the most narrowly drawn restrictions on who might be excluded.” It found the government may regulate access to media events provided the regulations are reasonable and not an effort to suppress a certain viewpoint. Those who backed the group’s suit complain politicians shouldn’t be allowed to censor news coverage by hand-picking who covers them. Others, though, counter groups like MacIver are examples of the lines that have been blurred between media and advocacy, and it’s not discriminatory to have a basic standard of who is considered a reporter.

 

Assembly staffers surveyed as part of bipartisan effort to boost retention, recruitment

Speaker Robin Vos has brought in the National Conference of State Legislatures to survey Assembly staffers about their job duties and pay amid bipartisan concerns over recruiting and retaining aides to state reps.

Vos, R-Rochester and president emeritus of the group, OK’d the project at a cost of $114,256. Oshkosh Dem Gordon Hintz, who’s leaving his post as minority leader next month, expressed his support for the endeavor.

It appears to be the first study of its kind with the Legislature’s HR office saying it couldn’t find any similar comprehensive studies on pay for Assembly aides. The HR office also doesn’t track staff turnover.

Vos said the Senate has been “very good at stealing a lot of our staffers” and that both Gov. Tony Evers and former Gov. Scott Walker pulled Assembly aides into their administrations. 

He added the Legislature faces the same pressures as other employers in a tight labor market.

The state’s unemployment rate in November dropped to 3 percent, tying the record low set in November 2018, while the state’s labor participation rate was 66.4 percent, among the tops in the country.

“The state government has to be competitive as best they can be with the private sector,” Vos told WisPolitics.com this week. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to offer higher pay (than the private sector), but it has to be competitive.”

There are significant pay disparities for Assembly aides vs. Senate staffers in the established job classifications. Still, no one WisPolitics.com interviewed over the past week was sure how the disparity developed because the pay structures were created so long ago.

For example, the salary range for a legislative assistant IV in the Assembly is $41,400 a year to $61,476. In the Senate, the same classification has a salary range of $52,980 to $84,780. The range for a graphic artist in the Assembly is $38,640 to $70,812, compared to $52,980 to $84,780 in the Senate.

Lawmakers make $52,999 a year, with per diems on top of that.

Within each pay range for staffers’ salaries is a grid that HR uses to establish their starting pay. The calculation takes into account things like education and legislative and professional experience, and the grids are separate for each house.

The process for pay increases also operates separately in each house.

For Assembly aides, they receive the general wage adjustment that’s approved in the state budget for most state employees. They are also eligible every 18 months to seek a raise.Senate staffers are also eligible for the general wage increase afforded most state employees each budget. In the 2021-23 budget, that’s set to be 2 percent in January and another 2 percent in January 2023.

Meanwhile, each Senate office is allocated a set number of positions. Of those, only the two lowest paid employees are counted toward each office’s salary budget, which is $232,500 for this two-year session. For other employees, their pay is determined by their job classification and the grid HR uses.

The survey sent to Assembly staffers, a copy of which was shared with WisPolitics.com, asks aides about their jobs as well as how long they’ve been in their positions, their work hours and their general duties.

Other questions include which of their duties “is most important to the mission of the Wisconsin State Assembly,” the consequences for someone in their position making a “serious error,” and the minimum level of education and experience needed for their jobs.

It also asks what job outside the Assembly is most like theirs and what concerns they may have about the chamber’s salary policies or classification plan for their position.

A Vos spokeswoman said the NCSL conducts these studies in legislatures across the country using HR professionals. The nonpartisan group declined to answer questions from WisPolitics.com, saying it doesn’t confirm or comment on any member-related requests.

Hintz noted the Assembly is not alone in its struggles with staff pay. Former U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, for example, recently wrote an op-ed calling for higher pay for congressional aides.

Hintz, like Vos a former legislative aide, said one challenge is establishing an appropriate market rate for Assembly staff, particularly one that takes into account their backgrounds. Some aides may work in the Capitol for much of the session, but then take leave to work on campaigns. A challenge is how to evaluate that staffer’s experience when HR establishes their pay, similar to how a master’s degree or professional experience outside of the Capitol might be considered.

“We both are trying to do everything possible to develop staff and like to keep people here,” said Hintz.

 

State seeing roughly 20K COVID-19 vaccine doses wasted each week

At least 393,810 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been wasted in Wisconsin since the vaccines became available in December 2020, according to state DHS numbers reviewed by WisBusiness.com. 

That’s about 4 percent of the more than 9.8 million total doses the state has received. The number of doses wasted each week has largely been escalating over the course of the pandemic, according to data provided by the agency in response to a public records request. Dose wastage began ramping up significantly in the spring, when the rate of new vaccinations in Wisconsin saw its steepest decline. 

Health officials attribute vaccine waste to vials or syringes being broken or lost, vials being opened but not fully used, and doses being drawn into syringes but not administered. Still, this level of waste isn’t limiting the number of available doses, as the state has plenty of vaccines available according to the Department of Health Services. The agency has been urging providers to prioritize getting people vaccinated over avoiding waste, so some clinics might open a vial only to administer several doses, leading to more waste. 

“When faced with situations in which the choice is between opening a vial for a few individuals and assuming waste, or asking that individuals return another day — DHS encourages all vaccinators to prioritize vaccination,” DHS Communications Specialist Jennifer Miller said in an email. “The ultimate goal at this point in the vaccination effort must be ‘no wasted opportunity,’ rather than ‘no wasted doses.’” 

The number of wasted doses exceeded 20,000 per week for the first time in mid-October, and has since reached a peak of 28,606 per week in mid-November. It dropped slightly to 19,878 in the last full week of November, the latest period for which these figures were available. 

Miller says changes to vial sizes may be contributing to higher levels of waste, as Moderna increased the number of doses per vial from 10 to 14 in response to higher vaccine demand earlier in the pandemic. Now that demand has waned, more doses per vial may be wasted if a clinic doesn’t have enough people show up for a shot. 

Since booster recommendations have been expanded to include more age ranges and mix-and-match dosing, providers are ordering and keeping more brands on hand rather than carrying a single type of vaccine. This may be contributing to increased waste as a clinic might have an open vial of Moderna and an open vial of Johnson & Johnson at the same time, depending on which is preferred by the recipient. 

“Vaccine wastage may also occur at smaller clinics or in rural communities where there are fewer people or less demand, but vaccinators are leveraging every opportunity to get shots in arms,” Miller said. 

Miller also explained that before the pandemic, expired vaccines weren’t counted as wastage in reporting to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry. The new reporting protocol incorporating both wasted and expired vaccines may be contributing to the higher wastage numbers, she said. 

Anna Benton, assistant administrator for DHS, said in an emailed letter that “although the number of wasted doses has increased as the rate of vaccination has slowed, DHS continues to trust our network of providers to be good stewards of the vaccine and emphasizes the importance of not wasting any opportunity to vaccinate Wisconsinites.” 

Nate Patton is a public health nurse and COVID-19 immunization coordinator for Public Health Madison & Dane County. He says the main strategy vaccinators employ to reduce waste is to hold off on opening vials until they know they’ll be needed. 

“Toward the end of the clinic day especially, if we just finished one vial of Pfizer and we know we have three more Pfizer appointments on our schedule, we won’t open the next vial until at least one more Pfizer person comes in,” Patton said in a recent interview. “Because if all three of those are no-shows and we opened the vial expecting them, then we opened the vial for nothing.” 

Some of the largest week-over-week increases in waste were seen between late March and May. The number of wasted doses nearly tripled from 1,048 in the week of April 11 to 2,922 in the following week. Less than a month later, the number of wasted doses nearly doubled from 2,681 in the week of April 25 to 4,867 in the following week. 

Other weeks were outliers. A total of 708 doses were wasted during the week of Dec. 27, 2020 after just 155 doses had been wasted the week before. After that, the number of wasted doses dropped back down to 132 and didn’t exceed 600 wasted doses per week until late February. 

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered in Wisconsin on Dec. 14, 2020. The vaccines were initially available for frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities, until DHS expanded eligibility in mid-January to include police and fire personnel. Later that month, eligibility was expanded once again to include adults aged 65 and older. 

On March 1, DHS announced that more groups were eligible for vaccination, including education and child care staff, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, public-facing essential workers such as public transit and grocery store employees, non-frontline essential health care workers, and facility staff and residents of congregate living settings. 

Eligibility was again expanded March 22 to include individuals aged 16 and older with a wide array of medical conditions associated with increased risk from the virus. And DHS announced April 5 that COVID-19 vaccines were available to anyone 16 and older. Since then, younger age groups have been authorized to get the vaccine, including children aged 5-11 most recently. 

Vaccinators typically receive the Pfizer and Moderna doses frozen, but both of these vaccines can be stored in a refrigerator for about a month, according to storage and handling summaries from the CDC. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses usually arrive in a refrigerated shipping container and can be stored until a specific expiration date provided by the manufacturer. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires just one. 

Once the vaccine is mixed or the vial is punctured, the vaccine can only be used within a certain window before it must be discarded, between two and 12 hours depending on which vaccine it is and the temperature at which it’s stored, the CDC documents show. 

Miller noted that waste can happen at “a number of points” given the challenges related to vaccine storage and handling, and “does not mean a provider is negligent or doing a poor job.” 

The agency’s approach has shifted over the course of the pandemic as vaccines have become more available. When vaccine inventory was more limited earlier in the pandemic, Patton said vaccinators were requiring appointments, not allowing walk-ins and generally avoiding wasted doses when possible. That changed around May of this year, when DHS issued new guidance to vaccinators “basically saying the focus has shifted, we’re now not focused on wasting doses and we are focused on vaccines in arms,” Patton said. 

That change in guidance corresponds with some of the most dramatic increases by percentage in the number of weekly wasted doses. 

Still, in order to reduce wasted vaccine doses, DHS has been training vaccinators on how to correctly administer the various COVID-19 vaccines. When vaccinators demonstrate a “pattern of wastage,” the agency reaches out to provide coaching and support. 

Miller says providers should “continue to be good stewards of public resources,” though she added “the goal of getting vaccine into the arm of any willing, present individual must take precedence.” 

As of Dec. 15, more than 4.7 million Pfizer vaccine doses, 3.1 million Moderna doses and 321,000 Johnson & Johnson doses had been administered in the state, for a total of over 8.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. More than 1.3 million booster doses have been administered in Wisconsin. 

The DHS site shows at least 61.3 percent of the state’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 57.6 percent has completed the vaccine series. 

Since the vaccines were authorized for kids aged 5-11, over 90,000 children in this age range have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. That’s 18.5 percent of residents in that age range, while about 57,000 or 11.7 percent are fully vaccinated. 

See the breakdown of wasted vaccine doses by week here.

Political TV

(Check local listings for times in your area)

“UpFront” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show, hosted by ADRIENNE PEDERSEN, features Sen. KATHY BERNIER and Workforce Development Secretary-designee AMY PECHACEK.
*See more about the program here.
*Also see a recap of the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com 

“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS and CBS 58’s EMILEE FANNON discuss redistricting, Dem Assembly leadership elections, former Supreme Court Justice MICHAEL GABLEMAN’s election investigation and more.
*Watch the show here.

Check out WisPolitics.com’s Midday, which offers insights into the state’s top political news.
*Listen to the podcasts here

“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two consider whether Wisconsin’s bail laws need to change after a man out on low bail was charged with driving his SUV through the Waukesha Christmas parade, killing six people and wounding dozens.
*Watch the video or listen to the show here

“In Focus: Wisconsin” airs Sundays at 9:30 a.m. on Spectrum News 1 on channel 1. This week’s program features interviews with U.S. Sen. RON JOHNSON and U.S. Rep. GWEN MOORE.

PBS Wisconsin’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. This week’s program with anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG features Marathon County Public Health Officer LAURA SCUDIERE on COVID-19; Urban League of Racine and Kenosha Interim President and CEO JAMES HALL on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict; state Sen. KATHY BERNIER on election investigations; Republican Party Chair PAUL FARROW and Democratic Party Chair BEN WIKLER on their views of the upcoming campaign season; and political panelists SCOT ROSS and BILL McCOSHEN on the 2022 midterm elections. 

“Capital City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. This week’s program with host A.J. BAYATPOUR features interviews with Assembly Speaker ROBIN VOS and Assembly Minority Leader GORDON HINTZ.

Week Ahead

Monday: Assembly Dem caucus to elect new minority, assistant minority leaders.
– 1 p.m.: GAR, state Capitol.

Thursday: Hearing on lawsuit to quash Gableman subpoena.
– 1:30 p.m.: Dane County Circuit Court.

Names in the News

Save the date for these upcoming events with WisPolitics.com and the Milwaukee Press Club:

* A Jan. 13 Newsmaker luncheon with Milwaukee Police Chief JEFFREY NORMAN.

* A Jan. 26 Newsmaker Luncheon with UW-Madison Athletics Director CHRIS McINTOSH.

More information and registration details to follow soon.

* Also save the date for a Feb. 3 breakfast at American Family Field on “making the most of new federal infrastructure dollars” with DOT Secretary CRAIG THOMPSON, Milwaukee Co. Exec. DAVID CROWLEY, former GOP lawmaker and PSC official JEFF STONE and others. Details to be announced.

* Audio is now available from a Tuesday in-person panel discussion at The Madison Club on “Rising worker activism and what it means for the Wisconsin economy.” A panel of experts will discuss today’s workers who are seeking greater flexibility, increased pay and new career goals. All of these factors are changing the labor market. The panel includes: STEPHANIE BLOOMINGDALE, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO; KRISTINE HILLMER, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association; and MICHAEL CHILDERS, professor in the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

* Video is available from a December WisPolitics.com, WisBusiness.com and Wisconsin Technology Council trade policy virtual event on “The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Post-COVID — How Trade Helps the North American Recovery.” Panelists include: AARON ANNABLE, representing the Canadian consulate in Chicago; JULIAN ADEM, representing the Mexican consulate in Milwaukee; and STANLEY PFRANG, senior market development director at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. 

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary RANDY ROMANSKI appointed former Department of Health Services employee FRATNEY L. MILLER as DATCP’s new general counsel.

GOP guv candidate and former Lt. Gov. REBECCA KLEEFISCH expanded her campaign leadership team to include statewide Chair BRIAN WESTRATE, along with campaign chairs for each of the state’s congressional districts. See the complete list here

A celebration of life is scheduled Jan. 8 for longtime Madison LGBTQ+ activist DICK WAGNER, who passed away at age 78 on Monday. He was the first openly gay member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. Read his obituary here.

Endorsements: The following is a list of recent endorsements, based on emails received by WisPolitics.com:

Governor

REBECCA KLEEFISCH: Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police. 

Lt. Governor

SARA RODRIGUEZ: Former Lt. Gov. BARBARA LAWTON. 

State Treasurer 

ANGELITO TENORIO: New endorsements include: Milwaukee County Executive DAVID CROWLEY; Milwaukee County Clerk GEORGE CHRISTENSON; Milwaukee Alder and former State Rep. JOCASTA ZAMARRIPA; Milwaukee County Supervisors JOHN WEISHAN and SHAWN ROLLAND; MPS Board Director ERIKA SIEMSEN; WAWM School Board President NOAH LEIGH; and WAWM School Board Member KRISTEN KEYSER.

U.S. Senate

TOM NELSON: United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America Western Region.

3rd CD 

DEB MCGRATH: Eau Claire City Council Member EMILY BERGE.

Lobbyist Watch

Eight changes were made to the lobbying registry in the past 10 days.

Follow this link for the complete list.

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