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— The Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines to OK 11 GOP bills to spend coming stimulus money as Dems questioned whether the proposals were allowed under federal law.

The 11-4 votes came after memos from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau suggested millions Republicans want to spend don’t meet current federal guidance on how the money can be used. That includes paying off debt, grants for local roads and covering work on an emergency communication system.

Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, said Republicans lack a cohesive plan because they don’t have final guidance from the federal government on how the money can be used. He added they also aren’t taking time to determine how the money would work with the upcoming state budget.

Goyke said it suggests Republicans have “Tony Evers fever” and were trying to catch up with the guv, who has announced an overview of how he would like to spend the money. Evers has sole authority to distribute COVID relief money.

“It just seems to be that the governor has dragged and pulled Republicans,” Goyke said. “And as he acts and he takes these initiatives and he leads, you guys are two or three steps behind.”

Joint Finance Co-chair Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, fired back Republicans watched Evers fail to lead with the first two rounds of federal stimulus money and were now trying to give themselves a seat at the table in the conversation about how this round should be spent.

He acknowledged some Republicans were uncomfortable with the amount of spending in the latest federal stimulus package, which will send $3.2 billion to the state. Still, they want to make sure the priorities their constituents have are reflected in how the money is spent.

“The money is here. So either we can ignore it and let this governor continue to stumble along as we’ve watched in the last two years, or we can invest in some priorities,” Born said. “We can put money back in the hands of the people who need it.”

According to LFB, the current federal guidance wouldn’t allow the state to use $500 million to pay off general obligation debt and retire transportation bonds or use $308.5 million to create grants to pay for local highways.

The same goes for a proposal to spend $53.2 million of the money for emergency communications and $15 million to expand psychiatric bed capacity at an Eau Claire hospital.

And the agency opined a GOP plan to use nearly $1.1 billion to send property owners a rebate equal to 10 percent of their property tax bill looks like it’s an allowable expense. But further guidance is needed to make sure the federal government wouldn’t require the state to repay the money if it went forward with the proposal.

The LFB noted the U.S. Department of Treasury could provide more guidance at a later date that would make clear which proposed expenditures are allowed.

All 11 bills in the package are scheduled to be on the Assembly calendar Tuesday.

— Republican Derrick Van Orden, who lost to Ron Kind last year in the closest race of the La Crosse Dem’s 24 years in Congress, today announced he is taking another run at western Wisconsin’s 3rd CD.

Van Orden’s announcement comes as national Republicans have listed Kind among their top targets for 2022. But it could be months before the final details on what the district will look like under a new map won’t be known for months.

Former President Trump won Kind’s western Wisconsin seat by 4.7 percentage points in November as the longtime La Crosse Dem beat Van Orden by 2.7 percentage points.

Van Orden charged voters in the 3rd CD had told him they’re not being represented by Kind and “they see the country they love being destroyed by the socialist policies that he has voted for.”

As part of his rollout, Van Orden released a 30-second video showing him riding a motorcycle as the narrator says “Washington, D.C., is a disaster and someone has to fight back” against the decisions from those in the capital to open up borders, send “COVID cash to prisoners” and make Nancy Pelosi speaker.

“I’m running to bring Wisconsin values back to Washington DC, stand up for our Constitution, and truly represent the people of the 3rd District instead of becoming rich in office by protecting personal power as my opponent has done for over two decades,” Van Orden said in a release.

See the video:

See the release:

— Both Assembly and Senate Education Committees will hear testimony today from the Department of Public Instruction, Legislative Fiscal Bureau and others on federal pandemic relief funds for K-12 education.

The hearing comes as the LFB raised doubts over which parts of the GOP 11-bill spending package would conform to the federal spending rules.

No public testimony will be taken today in this hearing.

See the hearing notice:

— The Assembly Law Enforcement Policies and Standards Subcommittee today will hear public testimony on issues such as the use of chokeholds, no-knock warrants and crisis intervention tactics.

The hearing will also cover other police standards in policies.

See the hearing notice:


April 15: WisPolitics.com virtual luncheon with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, joins a WisPolitics.com Madison virtual luncheon on Thursday, April 15 from noon to 1 p.m.

LeMahieu will take questions on the state budget and Senate Republican priorities.

The event will begin with a moderated discussion and then shift to questions from the audience.

Register here:

We will send you a link to access the webinar on the morning of the event.

This event series is sponsored by: Husch Blackwell Strategies, American Family Insurance, Xcel Energy, Walmart, AARP Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Hospital Association.


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DHS Reports COVID-19 Cases Continue To Rise
… 581,797 confirmed cases … 6,653 have died … 2,756,357 total negative tests [727 more cases, 5 more deaths, 4,621 more negative tests since Tuesday] … 27,894 people have been hospitalized [about 4.8% of cases, 25 more since Tuesday] … [7-day avg. daily cases: 657 – 470 a week ago. 7-day avg. positivity – 3.7 including multiple testers] … 3,195,625 doses of the vaccines have been administered … 65.2% age 65 and up are fully vaccinated. … 1,227,807 [21.1%] have received both shots … 3,364,565 doses of the vaccine has been allocated across Wisconsin. … St. Croix County had “very high” level of activity … 61 counties had a “high” level of activity level … 10 counties had a “medium” level. … Door and Green counties had a “shrinking” level … 20 counties had “growing” levels … all 7 regions were listed as “high” level of activity … Western, Northeast had “no significant change,” 5 “growing.”

727 New COVID-19 Cases reported
… 268 people were actively hospitalized [65 in ICU, 377 on respirators] … decrease of 7 from the day prior and an increase of 35 from a week ago. Thirty days ago the total was 255. … 1,265 [deaths] in Milwaukee County. … 30-day average daily death total now stands at 5.73, below the December 23rd reported record of 53.43. Thirty days ago the rolling average was 14.30. Top 10 Counties for cases per 100K: Menominee 18,028.3, Dodge, Jackson, Barron, Trempealeau, Brown, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Oconto, Juneau 11,308.9 [Milwaukee 10,759.4, Dane 8,054.9]. Charts on cases and deaths, hospitalization by age, county.

Efforts ramp up to vaccinate people of color in WI
… Statewide, 13.7% of Black residents, 16.7% of Hispanics, 21% of American Indians and 23% of Asians have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 32.3% of whites. … “As part of our work to reach an 80% vaccination rate across our state, we have to ensure those Wisconsinites that have been hit hardest by the pandemic have the opportunity to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus,” [DHS Sec.] Timberlake said [announcing outreach grants]. … [grantee] Benevolent Specialists Project Free Clinic in Middleton … has been reaching out to homeless people and communities of color in the Madison area through a mobile vaccination clinic. … has provided about 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and was scheduled to give 40 at Bayview [where vaccine-hesitance lives among non-native English speakers and non-users of PCs] … [grantee BGCDC’s Johnson] scheduled vaccine clinics this Saturday and the next two Saturdays at club sites in Sun Prairie, Madison and Fitchburg. “People of color are very cautious when it comes to the health care system,” and many are concerned about side effects from the vaccine, Johnson said. … [grantee WI LatinoCoC’s Cavazos touted partnering] with UW Health to hold a vaccine clinic Monday for nearly 200 workers … plans statewide outreach, including in rural areas … [UW Health’s Bidar-Sielaff touted] a few “vaccine racial equity days” at its Arboretum Clinic … [grantee Hmong Institute’s Her noted] language and digital barriers to obtaining vaccinations … mistrust of the government and of some doctors [due to life in Laos. Her described pain, fatigue from his jabs, but] “I shoveled snow the next day,” he said.

DHS confirms WI to lose $57.5M-FED/month food aid starting in May
… for about 255,000 households … as a result of the Wisconsin Supreme Court striking down Gov. Tony Evers’ COVID-19 emergency order and mask mandate. [DHS’ Goodsitt said ruling one-day later would have covered May.] … “The ripple effects of this change will be immediate and devastating for individuals, families and entire communities,” Goodsitt said [adding recent USDA benefit boost increases WI’s loss. Hunger Task Force’s TUssler] added that state lawmakers are “overcomplicating” things by making the entire scenario political. … “We don’t have to keep having this ongoing fight.” … “It’s disappointing that Governor Evers chose to veto Assembly Bill 1 instead of working with us weeks ago. Assembly Republicans will discuss options when we reconvene in the coming weeks,” Vos said in a statement. Evers Office said guv would have signed a similar bill which did not pass Assembly. Rep. Sanfelippo said Assembly would pass authorizing bill if Vos permits. Leader LeMahieu’s office declined comment. Rep. Goyke: “Hopefully, we’ll be able to avoid the loss of the benefits, even if it’s a super inefficient use of all of our time.”

DNR Sec. Cole Urges Lawmakers To Fund PFAS Efforts, Land Buys
… [JFC on Wed.] questioned [Cole] on the agency’s actions to address clean water, the state’s stewardship program, a permit backlog for large farms, staff working remotely and a myriad of other issues. … PFAS contamination has been found at more than 50 sites statewide. … linked to serious health problems … [Evers’] budget includes $20M in one-time funding [to help] local communities affected … 11 new [PFAS action] positions … funding for testing public water … $1 million to assist with collection and disposal of firefighting foam … “You have to allow us to do that,” said Cole. “You have to give us the leg up on this particular chemical, and start to fight the good fight to get rid of it, and then focus on the places where it is.” [PFAS background, water standards, WMC opposition] … “The health of our people and the hunting heritage that we have are inextricably linked. You cannot have one without clean water and clean soil, and so we have to be prepared for folks making some determination either not to show up here, sell their properties, move, close the store,” said Cole. “There’s too much at stake, and if we have the capacity to remove these chemicals out the landscape as we have before, please trust us to do it again.” … [argued for] $70M/yr in [Stewardship] bonding over the next decade … “This will allow Wisconsin to continue its proud legacy of conserving our natural resources and promoting a sustainable economic growth pattern,” said Cole. … land purchase program has set aside around 723,000 acres of land over the last 30 years. Sen. Stroebel noted current $67.9M-GPR in debt service this year on past purchases, argued public land ownership is expensive and detrimental, “When is enough, enough? Statewide, we’re even at 20 percent of public ownership of lands. Every time that property comes off a tax roll, it impacts that local community, their ability to raise money, and their ability to progress and so on.” Cole argued need to protect myriad of lands or ecosystems, a goal to acquire around 2.2M acres.

DNR to withhold PFAS data; agreement with WMC continues sampling
… agreement, filed Tuesday in Jefferson County Circuit Court, replaces a judge’s temporary restraining order issued last week … bars the DNR from releasing any test results collected since April 1 that are tied to a facility, address or county, though the agency can publish anonymized data. … [PFAS background. DNR developing standards, which, if adopted,] facilities would have to remove the compounds from wastewater, which the DNR has estimated will cost tens of millions of dollars statewide … [and, WMC says,] “risking significant reputational harm to the businesses.” Case rehash.

Citing Underly’s Dem/union support, Vos vows to block increased DPI funding
… “… the teachers union owns the DPI; not the parents or the students or the taxpayers. Count me as someone who isn’t going to support putting another nickel into this unaccountable state bureaucracy,” Vos tweeted on Tuesday, an hour after the AP called the race for Underly … In response, Underly said she wants to work with the Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers to “help all kids — no matter how their parents vote. … supporting our local schools and our children isn’t a partisan issue. There’s plenty of common ground here.” [Rehash Kerr’s conservative backers, outside spending in DPI race.] … infighting has lessened a bit since Evers was elected governor on a platform of increasing funding for schools and following polling that showed broad support for more spending on schools. Unclear if Vos supports more $$$ direct to schools, which Underly has supported, and Vos did not respond.

Biz owners tell Lt. Gov. Barnes to expand BadgerCare, broadband
Barnes, WEDC Deputy Rikkers heard from businesses statewide at listening session, as budget begins and Evers announces more CARES funds. Barnes: “It’s not time for us to just wash our hands and walk away and think that the job is done, because it’s not. We have to make sure that the economy recovers and is even stronger than before the pandemic.” Rikkers: “This is particularly tough in a state that leads the country in racial economic disparities. So as a state and as a country, we really can’t just retrace our steps back to where we were, where things always have been. We have to follow our state’s command in charge forward.” Main Street Alliance members called for expanding BadgerCare, broadband, child care access and reconsidering the sub-minimum wage for tipped employees, among other measures. Hinterland Brewing’s Tressler addressed workers leaving company plan to join BadgerCare Plus, then pay raises bump them out of eligibility. JVR Group’s Jacobs, Circle M Farm’s Marion comment.


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– 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce discussion on federal changes to health care policy.

– 8:45 a.m.: UW System Board of Regents meeting

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Agriculture executive session on farmland preservation, UW extension services

– 10 a.m.: Senate Committee on Education joint informational hearing on federal funding distributed to K-12 education.

– 10:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.: Thompson Center: Legislative power over administrative agencies – A retrospective on 2011 Wisconsin Act 21.

– 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Milwaukee Rotary Club discussion with Urban Milwaukee President Jeramey Jannene on the future of journalism.

– 12 p.m.: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy executive session on clean sweep program

– 12:05 p.m.: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy public hearing on water quality, electronic waste recycling

– 12:15 p.m.: Marquette University Law School “On the Issues” discussion with Democracy Found founders Katherine Gehl and Austin Ramirez.

– 6 p.m.: Badger Bounceback live session with Gov. Evers on what’s best for our kids

– 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Crawford County listening session with Rep. Oldenburg.

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