Skilled Construction Trades and Respected Contractors
Building Wisconsin Together ®
Welcome to Construction Business Group's Industry Updates.  This monthly e-newsletter will help us communicate the important initiatives that we have underway and relevant updates on issues that impact Wisconsin's construction industry.  
Message from Executive Director  Robb Kahl
There is still time to register for the CBG 2020 Winter Conference.

The conference is March 5-6 at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.  The content is timely and the lineup of speakers is impressive.  Click here for the final agenda.  Some of the most notable speakers are:  
  • Governor of Wisconsin Tony Evers
  • Peter Barca, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Revenue
  • Maggie Gau, Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Tony Evers
  • Mark Reihl, Unemployment Insurance Division Administrator, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development
If you have not RSVP'd yet, please do so by contacting Patty Barlow at or 608-240-4178 .  To make your hotel reservations, you can call the hotel (877-525-2427) and ask for the Construction Business Group block.  Or you can go online:

Building Wisconsin Together ®

Join us at CONEXPO in March

The Wisconsin Operating Engineers' innovative youth outreach is being featured at CONEXPO in Las Vegas.  Laura Cataldo will facilitate a panel that includes:
        • Jeff Vincent, IUOE
        • Kip Gutke, Local 139 Training Center
        • Matt Binsfeld, JF Brennan
        • Zach Karsten, JF Brennan apprentice

"Attracting and Training Your Workforce: 
Operating Engineers' Innovative Solutions"
Date:  Wednesday, March 11th from 9:30-10:30am

To read more about the presentation, click to read an article from CONEXPO Construction News.   

Spring 2020 Externship dates

Due to popular demand, the Spring 2020 externship will be offered on both April 22 and April 23 at the Coloma Training Center.  High school students, educators and parents are invited to join us  to explore the career pathway of an Operating Engineer.

This is an opportunity to:
  • Tour the training center, including the indoor training arena
  • Test their skill on equipment simulators
  • Gain hands-on experience with mini-excavators
  • Learn about apprenticeship opportunities
  • Interact with current apprentices and Operators
  • Hear from employers about opportunities that exist and what they are seeking in employees
Please share this invitation with school districts and families in your community .  If you or your firm are interested in participating in this event,  contact Laura Cataldo at 608-616-2835 or 

Industry News and Updates
From the News Stand
Governor Outlines Priorities in State of the State Address

On January 22nd, a Joint Session of the Wisconsin State Legislature convened for the gubernatorial State of the State address.
Governor Evers delivered a 35-minute speech that was long on substance and philosophy and short on rhetoric and style - a wise approach from our perspective. Like his predecessors, the Governor used this forum to outline his policy priorities for 2020 and beyond. They are:
Agricultural Development and Farmer Assistance
The Governor proposed a three-part plan to help farmers, agribusinesses and rural communities and the elements are: 
Special Session on Agricultural Development and Farmer Assistance
The Governor has called a Special Session of the Wisconsin State Legislature for state lawmakers to act on eight legislative proposals relating to agricultural development and farmer assistance. Of note, the Governor has proposed: 
  • Development and implementation of a Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports, which would work with the dairy industry to increase dairy exports to 20% percent of the United States milk supply by 2024; 
  • Additional funding for dairy processor grants to small dairy processors for plant modernization, expansion and innovation; 
  • Funding for UW-Extension to hire 20 county-based agriculture agents who would provide research and technical assistance on agricultural practices, business management and planning to local farmers; and 
  • Additional staffing for the Wisconsin Farm Center to assist farmers with farm succession planning, financial and business consulting services and transitioning to different farming practices.
Blue-Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity
The Governor has authorized the creation of a Blue-Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity and directed this ad hoc committee to: 
  • hold listening sessions throughout Wisconsin to learn about the issues affecting farmers, the agricultural industry, rural businesses and communities; 
  • gather input from stakeholders on current and future challenges facing the agricultural industry, rural businesses and communities as well as their ideas for addressing these challenges; and 
  • develop and submit a plan to invigorate the agricultural industry and rural businesses and communities based on the feedback received at the listening session and from stakeholders by the end of this year.
Office of Rural Prosperity
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the State of Wisconsin. The Governor has directed the WEDC to establish an Office of Rural Prosperity that would serve as a "one-stop shop" for state programs and resources available to assist rural communities, businesses and workers.
Governor Evers described his three-part plan as a starting point, not a silver bullet. 
Student Debt
The Governor has created a Task Force on Student Debt and Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld will lead this ad hoc committee.
The Task Force has been directed to assess student debt in Wisconsin and recommend long-term strategies to reduce education-related debt, prevent abusive practices by loan companies and improve financial literacy education. 
Nonpartisan Redistricting
The Governor has created the People's Map Commission and directed this citizen-led panel to utilize 2020 census data to prepare new boundaries for Wisconsin congressional and legislative districts.
The Wisconsin Constitution vests the power to redraw the boundaries of congressional and legislative districts with the legislative branch of government. The redistricting plan developed by the People's Map Commission will be submitted for legislative consideration during the 2021-2022 session of the Wisconsin State Legislature.

PSC Approves New Electric Power Plant 

In January, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) authorized Dairyland Power Cooperative and Minnesota Power to construct and operate a new power plant in Superior. The proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center is a combined cycle natural gas facility with the capacity to generate 625 Megawatts of electric power for its customers.
Dairyland Power Cooperative and Minnesota Power, like many other electric utilities, are ramping up production of electricity generated from renewable resources - solar and wind. These clean energy sources are also unreliable sources of energy. 
Solar power cannot be generated on cloudy days nor can wind power be generated on calm days. Therefore, electric utilities need a reliable energy resource to meet the needs of their customers. Natural gas is preferable because it is a low-cost resource that is readily available and less harmful to the environment than coal.
The Nemadji Trail Energy Center is scheduled to be in service by 2025, contingent on further regulatory approvals from the City of Superior, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Minnesota Public Service Commission.

State Assembly Approves Rural Broadband Investment Legislation

For Wisconsin telecommunications companies, building out the broadband infrastructure necessary to provide their rural customers with access to high-speed Internet service is very expensive. Finding the working capital to fund these costly construction projects is an ongoing priority for them and we believe there is a role for state government in that effort.
With the support of a diverse coalition of state-based advocacy organizations, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers have come forward with legislation which would provide Wisconsin telecommunications companies with more working capital to invest in rural broadband infrastructure projects.
2019 Senate Bill (SB) 321/Assembly Bill (AB) 344 creates a state telephone company property tax exemption for property used to provide broadband service to a rural area or underserved area. A city, village, or town with a population of not more than 14,000 would be considered a rural area and an underserved area is an area in which internet access service is not available from at least two wired providers.
On February 11th, the Wisconsin State Assembly unanimously approved 2019 Senate Bill (SB) 321/Assembly Bill (AB) 344 and we are expecting similar action by the Wisconsin State Senate later this month. 

Governor Appoints Marcy West to DNR Board

Governor Evers nominated Marcy West to serve on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Board.
For the past 23 years, West has served as the Executive Director of Kickapoo Valley Reserve. Prior to that, she worked as a coordinator for the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives and as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Land Conservation Association. Marcy will bring a diverse background and skill set to the Board.
The seven-member DNR Board directs and supervises the DNR. Board members are nominated by the Governor to six-year terms and subject to confirmation by the State Senate. In November, Fred Clark resigned from the DNR Board. The appointment of Marcy West fills this vacancy.

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