Exclusively for WisPolitics Subscribers


Nov. 5: WisPolitics.com Luncheon on the 2020 DNC with Pocan, Lasry and Gilbert

Join WisPolitics.com and three major players in next year’s Democratic National Convention for lunch at The Madison Club, 5 East Wilson St., Madison, on Tuesday Nov. 5.

These three leaders will discuss how to get involved in the July 2020 convention and how it will benefit state economic development: U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, a Dane County Dem who serves as a vice chair of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee; Alex Lasry, Milwaukee Bucks senior vice president and honorary finance chair of the host committee; and Liz Gilbert, president of the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee.

The host committee recently announced its leadership structure. See more: https://staging.wispolitics.com/2019/milwaukee-2020-host-committee-announces-official-leadership-structure/

Check-in and lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., with the program going from noon to 1 p.m.

WisPolitics.com subscribers and members as well as Madison Club members and their guests receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $19 per person. Price for general public is $25 per person.

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

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-with-pocan-lasry-and-gilbert-tickets-72713892209



White house

State government

Local government


Civil liberties




Health care



Public health and safety






Governor declares energy emergency as farms, rurals hike propane demand
… With crop harvest underway and winter weather hitting some parts of the state already … [EO] issued Wednesday will exempt truck drivers carrying fuel from federal and state hours of service restrictions for the next 30 days. Allied Cooperative’s Dallmann said high demand delays trucks at terminals, “Some of these lines are so long that the drivers are only getting out one load a day and that’s just not enough to keep the tanks full,” said energy EO’s are nearly an annual event. Propane Assoc.’s Corning said EO enables drivers to “sit in the truck longer or make an extra trip if they need to to keep the propane moving.” UW prof. Lauer has been advising farmers to fill up on propane since it appeared weather would stay cold and wet all summer, causing late harvest to bump up against snowfall. By Kirwan, WPR

Evers reacts to marijuana decriminalization, Granite Peak expansion
… took a tour of Granite Peak Ski Area as the facility continues to prepare for opening day which is November 16th. … “I certainly support the tourism industry in the state of Wisconsin and especially here at Granite Peak,” said Governor Evers. “Looking at how things work behind the scene and how they care about safety, I can imagine why we wouldn’t want to have an expansion.” … DNR says they are working with Granite Peak to understand the expansion request. … “I’ll wait to see if the bill gets through but I think it’s a small piece of criminal justice reform. We have people who get in trouble with the law for very, very small amounts of marijuana and it just seems illogical to infuse them into the criminal justice system for some very small types of things,” stated Evers. By Ballard, WSAW

Lawmakers Consider Pay Bump For Wisconsin Public Defenders
JFC weighed Sen. Petrowski bill adding $4M to the $1.2M already budgeted for PD’s, hourly pay hike for private atty’s taking PD cases, $4.5M merit-based pay hike for assistant DA’s and > 60 additional prosecutor positions across the state. PD chief Thompson said the proposed increase would help curb DA’s poaching PD’s “with the promise of more increases in the next two years.” Petrowski argued funds would prevent long trial delays, “Can you imagine waiting in jail eight weeks, incarcerated, just to have a public defender appointed?” Long delays spurred a federal lawsuit earlier this year, arguing abridged constitutional rights to an attorney and speedy trial. JFC also approved a $350K settlement between the state and a Milwaukee mini-mart that sold synthetic marijuana – first case approved under lame-duck law. Rep. Goyke: “This case is an outlier because both parties agreed to waive (their confidentiality) … and to put everything out in the open. This whole process remains an absolute disaster.” JFC also approved $5M cash, $8M to get federal match and buy six single-level coach cars and three cab-coach cars for Hiawatha line, whose ridership is up 9% since 2015. JFC GOP also pushed back on new FTEs requested by DOR, DATCP and PSC for Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, industrial hemp program, managing broadband expansion grants, arguing vacant state jobs should be addressed before requesting new ones. Co-chairs’ letter to DOA Sec. Brennan: “Given the large number of vacancies across state government and the broad authority state law gives state agencies to recommend abolishing positions … Only in extraordinary circumstances will new positions without offsets be created. … This committee will be the check on wasteful spending that the Governor has shown himself to be incapable of.” Baldauff denounced “petty politics. The administration has made these requests in accordance with state statute and we will not be re-submitting them. Republican leadership … will have to own those decisions to the people of Wisconsin.” By White, WPR

House votes on impeachment rules: Local representatives divided along party lines
… House Resolution 660 [on 232-196 party lines, with 2 defectors each – Dems Peterson and Van Drew, GOP Amash and Walden] directs committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its Constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, and for other purposes.” US Rep. Steil: “I’m not given access to all of the information. I’m not allowed to see some of the transcripts. A lot of it is behind closed doors. … The bill put forward by Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi still allows the judiciary chairman (Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.) to unilaterally eliminate procedural protections that were afforded Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican Richard Nixon.” Racine native, US Rep. Moore: “This vote protects the rights of the president, allows Trump’s lawyers to cross-examine witnesses and guarantees open hearings throughout the process. From there, members of Congress and the American people can reach conclusions based on the evidence about the serious allegations regarding the president’s abuse of power, betrayal of his oath and other illegitimate activities.” By Torres, RACINE JOURNAL TIMES


– What Wisconsin’s representatives in Congress said after the House vote on impeachment inquiry: * Steil: “I oppose the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Impeachment is a serious power invested in Congress by the Constitution. From the start, the process has been secretive and lacked due process.” * Kind: “As a former special prosecutor, I believe that it is imperative for the House to uncover all of the facts and evidence so that an appropriate remedy can be determined. … as a co-equal branch of government, Congress has a constitutional obligation to investigate any misconduct–regardless of political party.” * Moore: “The public will be able to see and discern for themselves whether or not this president has abused his power, whether he has betrayed his oath of office and whether he has engaged in corrupt behavior.” * Sensenbrenner: “An unfair process can only lead to an unfair result, and this entire process has been fundamentally unfair to the President. Just as no American — including the President — is above the law, no one is below it either. Yet, Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff continue to rob the President of his due process rights.” * Gallagher: “From day one, Speaker Pelosi’s partisan impeachment inquiry has lacked transparency, disregarded due process, and denied fairness to the President and House Republicans. Today’s vote doesn’t change that. It doubles down.” * Pocan, Grothman: no statements

– What you need to know about Ron Johnson, Donald Trump and the impeachment inquiry

– John Nichols: Impeachment Just Got Real, In a 232 to 196 vote, the House endorsed a formal impeachment process–because the facts compel it.

– State budget committee approves DOJ settlement agreement for the first time … The state in recent months has struggled over how to handle legal settlements [under lame-duck-required JFC approval of AG Kaul actions] … But on Thursday, the Joint Finance Committee unanimously agreed to let Kaul proceed on a pending $350,000 agreement in a case alleging a Milwaukee convenience store [that] sold synthetic drugs. The case faces a Nov. 15 approval deadline. … ongoing saga over the pending settlements that’s largely left the process in limbo. … [over lawmaker refusal] to sign non-disclosure agreements [Kaul argues are required to discuss cases] … [Milwaukee’s Food Town Mini Mart] case Thursday is different … because the parties in the case agreed to allow details of the settlement to be shared publicly. Dems blame GOP for stand-off, claim case was a one-off. Rep. Taylor: “That’s why we’re stuck here, that’s why we’re stuck in no man’s land.” GOP blames partisan mulishness. JFC co-chair Nygren: “Let’s be clear: there is an opportunity for us to move these cases forward but not all sides are willing to move these cases forward at this point in time.”

– JFC approves first settlement under lame duck laws [Vetterkind of WSJ]

– Proposal Gives Residents a Basic Income, [Alders] Lewis, Kovac back “Universal Basic Income” for 50 poorer families of $500 per month … would allocate $100,000 to establish a program to provide direct cash payments to up to 50 families. … by reducing the Milwaukee Police Department’s computer replacement fund by $100,000. … “based off of the Stockton, California model,” said Lewis … “I have no objection to look at this idea, but using property tax dollars is something I don’t support,” said Alderman Michael Murphy. “We’re basically taxing the poor to help the poor.”

– Streets, traffic concerns dominate Portage mayoral listening session

– Farmers in southern Wisconsin face difficult harvest as early snow falls [see Speirs column]

– WI Ag Officials Say New Hemp Rules Won’t Impact 2020 Growing Season, Hemp Growers Worry Stricter Regulations Will Prevent Industry From Growing

– [Oneida DA] Schiek refuses to prosecute [Supvs.] Sorensen, Jensen over open-meetings complaint [see Editorials]

– After reinstatement, Madison School District reiterates use of racial slurs by staff is not tolerated … “In spite of recent media attention, we still have a strong stance, we still believe hateful, violent language has no place in our schools or District,” [MSD’s] Nichols … wrote in an email to principals and central office staff last week. … doesn’t say what, if anything, has changed to allow Anderson to be rehired. … “Our stance is still the same,” Nichols wrote. “We do not tolerate the use of racial slurs by staff, especially the n-word, which is considered one of the most obscene words in the English language.” … On Thursday, parents of Hamilton Middle School students were told a substitute teacher was put on leave after recently “using a racial slur around a student,” Principal John Burkholder said in an email. … On Monday, School Board President Gloria Reyes said an “equity team” will design lessons for students around the historical use of the N-word. The lessons will be piloted in the spring.

– Madison middle school substitute teacher on leave for using racial slur

– Necedah Schools set levy below projections

– WI ACT Scores Drop Slightly In 2019 Compared With Past Years, Percentage Of Students Meeting College Readiness ‘Benchmarks’ Also Falls

– 12 months out from 2020 prez election. WI may end up picking the winner … You’re [already] sick of the Twitter wars, the ads and the endless debates. [bad news is 12 more months of it. Good news is:] Because Wisconsin is a critical swing state, experts say voters here could have the power to sway the outcome. … [analysis of urban-rural split, the economy, the primary, impeachment, political slogans and ads, gerrymandered districts, party conventions, voter turnout.]

– WI Elections Commission won’t name vulnerable clerks … they detected five clerks using Windows XP. Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in 2014. … [responding to open records request] commission said in a letter Thursday that releasing the names would invite hackers to disrupt election administration and chill discussions about system vulnerabilities. … added that only four clerks were using Windows XP, not five as staff originally thought. … all since received upgrades. … [3 of them] from a $7 million federal election security grant the state received in 2018.

– Several Lakes In The Wisconsin River Basin Inch Closer To New Phosphorus Standards, Site-Specific Phosphorus Criteria Move Forward For Lakes Petenwell, Castle Rock And Wisconsin … “All three lakes are too high right now. We need to make reductions, but it’s a matter of what concentration in a lake is going to allow us to recover essentially — to not have the algae problems,” said [DNR’s] Willhite … “We’re pleased that DNR was trying this. We think it offers some more flexibility and some cost reduction on compliance on our end,” said [Munies’] Witynski. … [PortageCo ag’s Schroeder] said cost-sharing through [DATCP] grants … has allowed farmers to experiment with such practices without much financial risk. … site-specific criteria for the three lakes still has to be approved by the Legislature, Gov. Tony Evers and the EPA before they take effect. The DNR hopes the standards will reach the EPA for approval sometime next spring.

– After 5 Years, White-Nose Syndrome Is Devastating Wisconsin Bats, Researchers Investigate An Invasive Fungus That’s Deadly To Hibernating Species

– As Meth Use Surges, One Region Tries to Combat ‘The Pull’ … Primarily imported from Mexico by major drug traffickers, “meth 2.0” is stronger, cheaper and far more plentiful than the old home-cooked variety. And with historic levels of funding from the federal government focused exclusively on fighting opioid addiction, states and counties are scrambling to find resources to combat this most recent drug plague. … The leap in deaths has been dramatic. … In the first decade of the opioid epidemic, the number of overdose deaths rose fourfold, from 3,400 in 1999 to 13,500 in 2009 … With the advent of cheap and powerful imported meth … Meth overdose deaths increased fourfold in half as much time, from 2,600 in 2012 to 10,300 in 2017.

– DNR says Air Force F-35 study didn’t address PFAS contamination at Truax … DNR in 2018 informed the 115th Fighter Wing, along with the Dane County Regional Airport and the city of Madison, that they were responsible for possible PFAS contamination at former firefighter training sites — known as burn pits — near the base. DNR letter Wed. noted AF’s draft EIS ignored PFAS remediation. National Guard’s Trovato said PFAS testing would be done in connection with any individual construction project and remediation plans developed if necessary, “The Wisconsin National Guard appreciates the Wisconsin DNR’s comments on the draft EIS for the F-35 along with all comments from the community, legislators and other stakeholders, so that the best decision can be made not only for the Air Force, but for the surrounding communities as well.”

– Voces Buying Mitchell Street Building, After long search, immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera finds new home, space to grow.

– Marathon County nonprofits brace for proposed county budget cuts

– Banning vaping indoors unlikely after key Republican lawmakers signal opposition … [Jacques] bill to add vaping to the statewide indoor smoking ban was introduced by 45 lawmakers earlier this year amid growing evidence that vaping products have been used by those who have severe lung damage. But leaders of two legislative committees assigned to consider the proposal [Stroebel, Swearingen – who owns a supper club] said this week they have no plans to move it forward and want to leave the decision to bar vaping to business owners. … “I thought it would be a little bit of an uphill climb,” Jacque said. “At this point, certainly my hope is that we will do something to address vaping this session just because it really is something that has just skyrocketed with youth … when you are imposing health effects on someone else by your use of a product — that’s the concern.”

– DNR confirms presence of PFAS foams outside initial area of concern

– Amtrak’s Hiawatha line to get new trains for Milwaukee-to-Chicago route

– Alliant to build 1 gigawatt of solar generation in Wisconsin; 10 times state’s current generation … by the end of 2023 … would generate enough electricity to meet the annual needs of about 250,000 typical Wisconsin households.

– River Falls prepares to be first in state to power city buildings using 100% renewable energy, Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, River Falls’ city buildings will run on 100% renewable energy, an act which received support from environment-minded members of Hope for Creation at an Oct. 22 council meeting.

– PSC approves refinancing of shuttered coal plant but warns strategy not ‘a template’ … unanimously Thursday to approve negotiated agreements [with CUB, WIEG, Walmart, Milwaukee, others] covering rate cases for We Energies and WPSC that shaved about $124M off the utilities’ initial request. … “This is not to be used as a template,” PSC Chairwoman Rebecca Valcq said. Commissioner Mike Huebsch agreed, adding the commission will need to look at other ways to allocate the costs of so-called “stranded assets” — investments that utility investors made expecting guaranteed profits which no longer provide value to ratepayers. “I’m not willing to basically say this is how we’re going to handle every closure,” said Commissioner Ellen Nowak. “It works here. There will be some savings to ratepayers.” We Energies’ Conway “pleased.”

– LT editorial: Living with eyes closed, Schiek misunderstands all he sees

– Paul Fanlund: The Cap Times and trust in local news

– Casey Hoff: Policy Failed on School Guard Using N-Word, Madison school’s handling of black security guard shows absurdity of zero-tolerance policies.

– Will Flanders: Charter schools bright spot in disturbing schools report

– Bruce Murphy: Campaigning on the Taxpayer’s Dime? Changes in state law open door to abuses, campaigning by government workers.

– Gordon Speirs: What a wet year of farming costs, We have six weeks to complete eight weeks of work before freeze-up.

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