Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.
This week will bring you news from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, and an all new Weekly Member Poll.
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Have a great week,
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
TONY EVERS INAUGURATED AS 46TH WISCONSIN GOVERNORWith all of the pomp and circumstance that goes into a gubernatorial inauguration ceremony, Governor Tony Evers took office as Wisconsin's 46th governor today. Evers was sworn into office just after noon in front of a packed State Capitol rotunda of supporters, lawmakers, and other government officials.
Evers began his speech by thanking former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and their families, as well as other dignitaries in the audience.
"This is bigger than me..." Governor Evers said. "...this is about the people of Wisconsin. It's about setting aside political interests and personal ambitions to work together on solving problems. It's about putting people first."
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, both Republicans, were also in attendance for the ceremony. Also in attendance were former Wisconsin Governors Jim Doyle, Scott McCallum, Tommy Thompson, and Martin Schreiber.
Evers spoke about families around Wisconsin struggling to make ends meet, find affordable health care, and children who deserve more funding in their education. Evers also made mention of Wisconsin's dairy farmers, who are struggling with one of the largest agricultural depressions in history.
"Like dairy farmers from Washburn to Door County losing their farms passed down for generations who have been the backbone of our state for the better part of a century," he said. But like some Wisconsin farmers, Evers faces challenges in the years ahead, with Republicans controlling the State Assembly 63-36, and the State Senate 19-14.
Still, in recent days, Evers has vowed to work with whomever necessary to tackle major issues facing Wisconsinites, including transportation, health care, education, and more. Last week, Evers said that he would not follow the new lame duck laws that curtailed his power, and later clarified that he has no intention of breaking the law.
First on Evers agenda will be writing the 2019-2021 State Budget, which will likely be released sometime next month. From there, the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee will be able to re-craft and potentially re-write the entire proposal from the Governor's office, though Evers has said he will veto the entire state budget if necessary.
"Let's polka tonight and get to work tomorrow," Evers said.
Also in today's ceremony, Mandela Barnes was sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, Josh Kaul as Attorney General, Doug LaFollette as Secretary of State, and Sarah Godlewski as State Treasurer. In a separate ceremony, the Assembly and Senate were sworn in at 2PM in their respective chambers.
A full text of Governor Evers' speech can be found here.
HEMP PILOT PROGRAM SEES HUNDREDS OF NEW APPLICANTSGrowing and processing hemp is apparently getting much more popular in Wisconsin, as DATCP received nearly double of the licensing and processing applications in for 2019 than they did for 2019.
Last week, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) released the numbers of applications that they have received so far in the process. As of then, 413 applications were received, with about 330 of them being new applications. Last year, the state received 260.
The program requires both growers and processors to obtain one-time licenses, and register each year that they intend to plant/process industrial hemp. As per the legislation that was passed, growers and processors must also pass a background check and pay fees to participate.
HOSPITALS NOW REQUIRED TO POST FEES ONLINEAs of January 1st, hospitals are now required to post their processes for procedures and services online. The new rule was thanks to a requirement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In Wisconsin, the state already has a mandate for hospitals to collect billing information. All of that information is then collected into a database, and the Wisconsin Hospitals Association operates a site called PricePoint for consumers. But the law does not require hospitals to be as thorough as Wisconsin.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) had a provision that required pricing transparency, but hospitals began collecting only certain information and putting it into excel spreadsheets. The information that is now required to be put online won't necessarily be "like a pick-and-choose menu" according to one source.
Using the Wisconsin system, one news source compared knee replacement surgery in the state among various hospitals. At Mayo in Eau Claire, the cost was $30,580, but the same surgery is $47,113 at UW Hospital in Madison. The median price in the state was $43,114.
VOS NOT RELEASING CONTRACT WITH LAW FIRMOne hot topic over the past seven years has been the gerrymandering process in the State of Wisconsin. In 2011, when Republicans were redrawing the maps, several lawsuits challenged the validity of the maps. Some lawsuits, including an ongoing suit that even made its way to the US Supreme Court, are ongoing.
In the defense of those maps, legislative Republicans contracted with various law firms through the legal process. Most recently, the firm of Bartlit Beck in Chicago was hired for a reported amount of $850,000 of taxpayer dollars.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is currently refusing to release the terms of the contract between the lawmakers and the Chicago-based firm, and open records advocates are saying the Speaker is in violation of open records laws and acting in bad faith. Still, a spokeswoman for the Assembly Speaker has said the contract would fall under attorney-client privilege and would not be released to the public.
GOVERNOR EVERS ANNOUNCES MORE CABINET APPOINTMENTSLate last week then-Governor-elect Evers made another round of announcements for additions to his administration.
Emilie Amundson will serve as the Department of Children and Families Secretary. Amundson currently serves as the Chief of Staff at the Department of Public Instruction, and previously served as the Director of Literacy and Mathematics.
Peter Barca was named Secretary of the Department of Revenue. Barca was the 64th Assembly District Representative, Assembly Minority Leader, and served a partial term in Congress in addition to working with the Clinton Administration's SBA.
Dawn Crim will serve as Secretary of the Department of Safety and Professional Services. She is currently the assistant state superintendent for the Division of Student and School Success at the Department of Public Instruction.
Caleb Frostman will be the Secretary of Workforce Development. Frostman served for about six months in the State Senate after winning a special election this summer. Prior to his brief stint in the State Senate, he worked on the Door County Economy Development Corporation.
Andrea Palm was named Secretary of the Department of Health Services. Palm was a senior attorney to the Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Obama Administration, and also worked for U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton.
ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHIMEL ISSUES OPINION ON 'DO NOT RESUSCITATE' IN JAILSBefore leaving office, former Attorney General Brad Schimel last week issued an opinion saying that jail staff do not have to follow inmate's "do-not-resuscitate orders."
The decision came after an inmate in the Sauk County Jail arrived in late 2017 wearing a "do-not-resuscitate" bracelet. This prompted Sauk County's attorneys to seek a formal opinion from then-Attorney General Schimel.
In his opinion, Schimel said that "under state law, only emergency medical technicians, emergency medical responders, emergency room staff, and urgent care clinic staff are required to abide by do-not-resuscitate orders. Such orders don't bind jail workers unless they fall within those categories."
In his opinion, Schimel also clarified that an administrative rule from the Department of Health Services which requires first responders to follow do-not-resuscitate orders violates statute and is not enforceable by law.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Wisconsin added around 40,500 jobs from November 2017 through November 2018. How would you rate your local job climate throughout 2018?
The right answer is not a choice to this question
It depends on the population you are talking about. If you are a low-skilled worker, there are opportunities everywhere.
My company and most restaurants in the Madison area are feverishly searching for help
Jobs are available, but we are in a heavy agricultural area and that sector is in not good at all!
Sure.. IF you are under 50 without noticable ailments. *If you have a gimpy leg... Fuggettaboutit
we need young people to learn trades instead of everybody thinking college is the future
Too many applicants won't accept the requirements of a job. We waited 8 days to get our land line repaired. The man that did the repair said that there are 3 openings where he is assigned. People don't want to climb poles even tho that is only a small part of the job.
yes, mostly part time work
Yes, lots of new hires. I wonder how many of those jobs will actually be here come February.... and not just seasonal hires?
Just about every business is lookoing for employees. Problem is why should anyone work they can go to Social Services and get the equivelant of $$45,000 per year with fully paid top of line health care. I am an accounant the problem my small businesses have is finding people that want to work. Minimum wage in my area is a joke no one works for minimum wage unless they are a high school student, and not to may of them do. .
Companies are hiring but business owners complain that it's difficult to find good help. With so many job opportunities, workers lack loyalty and longevity.
Seems nearly every business is trying to hire.
Workers who want to work are few.
Several are hiring but most are low paying
Yes if they can find people who are drug free and willing to work.
Bankers are split on their outlook for Wisconsin's economy in 2019. What is your forecast?
The economic outlook will be determined based on what the Democrats do when the Evers takes office. They are known for their tax and spend policies of the past that have brought down the state's economy.
Wisconsin will continue to lag Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan.
Good because I think WI is still recovering
Unless Evers goes crazy trying to make Wisconsin a socialist state right away
Expecting the Trump Crash
the problem we have is the farm economic is in poor condition
Low gas prices help but some farmers are struggling
Milk prices need to go up about $8 to start getting farmers to a "break even" point. We have to bring more, smaller farms back again, and stop the mega-dairy trend. If you have over 200 head of cattle you're part of the PROBLEM not the solution. Plus, with all the skyrocketing debt that continues to GROW, at some point, those bills have to get paid. How many people will be stuck, credit-wise, because they're already over their limit? I believe it's time to start re-thinking our financials....
Business owners are not sure about the business climate. If i waas going to expand my business I would long and hard before I did it in Wisconsin. All I see on the horizon is a bunch of Milwaukee bumblers in the cabinet and a tax and spend governor. There are some solid picks in the cabinet - unfortunately many come from the DPI which is the poorest run bureaucracy in WI. YIKES!
Too many unknowns in national politics and ag sector.
Hoping at least for continued growth. Nothing to say otherwise.
Probably will be paying more state taxes.
The farm economy is poor and needs to improve
The Fed is the issue! Interest rates going up too quickly.
Good Scott Walker policies
Good if Evers doesn't screw it up.
Agriculture prices are dismal at best....if they persist at this level another year things will get ugly.
Based on what you have read, what do you think of Governor-elect Evers' cabinet nominations?
It seems the picks are all based on political paybacks for his election. There is no really good qualified individuals he has picked.
I am willing to give them all a chance to do their jobs, but feel Craig Thompson is a poor choice, we need someone who is willing to work with republicans to actually do something about our roads!
I do question some his picks, looks very liberal
Veterean affairs theoretically should be a good person to help our vets. The rest are DPI cronies and people that worked for the other side against the public good. but are all card carrying Democrats and cronies of Evers. Took Walker 4 years to get our State Straightened out fiscally will take Evers less time to mess it up IF the Dems get control of the legislative branch.
Sounds like he's just plucking people from Milwaukee & Madison with no reguard for the rest of the state.
Why are they all from Milwaukee and Madison?
I am satisfied with all of them
Way too many people from Milwaukee and Mad-town.
Too many Milwaukee and Madison appointments.
Speaker Vos does not support the Racine City Council's directing law enforcement to only issue a municipal citation for first time offenders of marijuana possession. What do you think of municipal citations for first time marijuana possession?
Marijuana is considered a gateway drug to other substance abuse. Besides it is still illegal to use in this state.
Repeat after me: Marijuana sales and use in Wisconsin is inevitable. Legalize, regulate and tax it as soon as possible.
Let local government decide punishment
This whole marijuana for enjoyment purposes is a big stinkin' joke. Its fine to smoke a joint, but not a cigarette? I know people who use weed, and they have told me, it is a gateway drug to the harder stuff, we already of a opioid epidemic, this is pure lunacy!
Would not the citation show up on the record, affecting job hiring?
ridiculous waste of money jailing pot smokers
I know a fair number of officers that work on the streets and they also say virtually ALL meth Cocaine users start on Marijuana.
Why worry about it? As is said "It is no worse than alcohol!!"
The amount of product must be set by the State of Wisconsin.
Marijuana is an entry drug to drug addiction.
WPT wishes you all a very happy and prosperous 2019! Overall, was 2018 a good year? Why? What are some of your highlights? What are you most thankful for in 2018? Are you looking forward to anything in particular in 2019? Do you stay up until midnight to ring in the New Year?
As a dairy farmer there have been better years and they will come
The political outcomes of 2018 were positive, but 2018 also showed how broken our country is. The future will be worse.
2018 was our best year ever in our 10 years in business! I'm thankful for the way the people of Sun Prairie came together after the explosion downtown.
Never make much out of the whole New Years Eve thing, just a reason for people to go out and get drunk and act stupid. I stay home where I am safe from all the drunks and crazies. Do not have much reason to think things will get any better in 2019 unless you enjoy watching politicians and our gov't in constant deadlock, we will be paying people to get nothing done for two more years! Yah! The news media will continue be a bully pulpit for the democrat party and influence the 2020 Presidential election so we will be electing a fully entrenched socialist gov't in Washington DC next year. Unfortunately, the current President is only helping their cause because of his arrogant demeanor. My only hope is that he is impeached and we get President Pence!
Yes, I was up for the new year. I am looking forward to retiring this year... so yes, 2019 will be a good year for me
THankful that the health and welfare of our family (extended). No, we old foggies were in bed by 10:00p.m.
Thankful for good health and a full time job
2018 was a good year. Things will continue to get better until/unless the Liberal's start an investigation circus...then you'll see this economy tank! People are sick and tired of political posturing! Get it done or get out of the way! Happy New Year to all! Lets find some common ground and move ahead.
My health and the health of my family! You can have all the money in the world and if you don't have your health you have nothing!
Rang in the new year with the Blues Brothers in Welch MN. A great concert.
I am thankful for the Affordable Care Act which has provided our farm family with affordable insurance, before our enrollment we were paying $1500 a month premium with a $10,000 deductible in the open market. People are miss informed of its benefits.
In spite of the weather out crops turned out ok. Thankful for Jesus our Savior, family, friends, and neighbors. We go to bed. Had to get up early to plow snow.
Looking forward to a good year... slept the 2019 New Year in.
Hoping for health, prosperity and the Badgers back in the NCAA tournament
Positive, minus Ever's election.
Better stock market results
I peacefully sleep in the new year.
Thankful for good health, family, and a great community
It is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership each week, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.
Crime Victim Mental Health Records
(Petrowski, Jerry) Obtaining crime victim mental health treatment records.
Deadline: Monday, January 7, 5 pm
Supermajority for Bill Passage
(Tim Carpenter) Supermajority vote required for passage of bills, adoption of resolutions, and confirmation of appointments taken up after general election.
Deadline: Friday, January 11, 5 pm
(Larson, Chris) Requiring an ignition interlock device to be installed for committing a drunken driving offense.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, Noon
Vehicle Dealer Licenses
(Rob Cowles - R) Denial, suspension, and revocation of certain licenses related to motor vehicle dealers.
Deadline: Friday, January 11, Noon
(Andre Jacque - R) Coverage of individuals with preexisting conditions.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, 5 pm
OWI First Offense
(Jim Ott - R) Penalties for offenses related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and providing a penalty.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, Noon
OWI Mandatory Appearance
(Jim Ott - R) Requiring persons accused of violating traffic laws and ordinances related to driving while intoxicated to appear in person in court.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, Noon
OWI Repeat Offenses
(Jim Ott - R) Committing a fifth or sixth offense related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and providing a penalty.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, Noon
LRB-1150 Memo Legislature Open Records (Chris Larson - D) Management and preservation of records and correspondence of members of the legislature. Deadline: Monday, January 21, Noon
(Jim Ott - R) Mandatory period of confinement for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and providing a penalty.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, Noon
Vehicle Immobilization Devices
(Rob Cowles - R) Motor vehicle immobilization devices.
Deadline: Monday, January 14, 5 pm