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.
We hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
Last week, we solicited feedback on the timing of the Weekly Insider, and whether the timing makes a difference on whether or not you read the publication.
The answer was a resounding "no," though a few people did say they would like a 6AM Tuesday e-mail. Feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com if you would like us to send the e-mail at a different time, and we would be glad to accommodate your schedule.
Secondly, as you will see below, one reader takes umbrage with the use of acronyms. We take nearly all feedback and concerns from our members with a high degree of seriousness. Most uses of acronyms used in our articles are defined and literally spelled out for reference throughout the rest of the article. Others, like "DOT" for example, we do not feel the need to define, because we make the assumption that we all know this means Department of Transportation. Further, our organization both internally and externally is known as "WPT."
While we will make an effort to more clearly define acronyms before they are used multiple times in an article, we will not altogether abandon their use.
Here is a reference list of the most commonly used abbreviations in WPT's past articles:
WPT (Wisconsin Property Taxpayers)
CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)
DATCP (Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection)
BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease)
DOR (Department of Revenue)
DOT (Department of Transportation)
DNR (Department of Natural Resources)
DWD (Department of Workforce Development)
Last week, WPT saw a major policy victory transpire in the form of a very dry committee meeting. As you will read below, the state's Joint Finance Committee approved an additional $38.6 million in bridge projects. This was done through a "federal-swap" mechanism inserted into the state budget, and long supported by our organization thanks to Senator Duey Stroebel.
How it works; the state of Wisconsin takes federal transportation dollars for local projects, and swaps them with state dollars, hence "federal-swap." In doing so, the state avoids various regulations and requirements imposed by the federal government when using their dollars, such as the Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage. The cost savings are considerable.
In response, Sen. Stroebel said, "Taxpayers and drivers don't care about bureaucratic red tape, they care about results, and today's funding swap shows the benefit of using common-sense reforms to address transportation issues."
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
U.S. SUPREME COURT SENDS REDISTRICTING CASE BACK TO LOWER COURT
In a highly-anticipated decision earlier today, the United States Supreme Court handed down their decision in the Gill v. Whitford case. But the decision was not what most people were expecting.
The case challenged whether maps drawn by Wisconsin Republicans in 2011 were constitutional, because they heavily favored their party, to the point where Democrats won more than 200,000 votes more than Republicans in 2010, but only won less than 40 seats in the State Assembly.
Rather than ruling one way or another on the maps, the court held that the plaintiff's case did not quite meet constitutional muster, and sent the case back to a lower court. The decision leaves the question of gerrymandering and constitutionality wide open. The court stated that their decision would give the plaintiffs "an opportunity to prove concrete and particularized injuries using evidence that would tend to demonstrate a burden on their individual votes."
The decision allows for the current maps to remain in place in Wisconsin for the November elections.
PRESIDENT TRUMP TO ATTEND WI FUNDRAISER, FOXCONN GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY
A political event in Milwaukee later this month will be headlined by none other than President Donald Trump, according to an invitation from the event's host, Ted Kellner.
The money raised at the event will not go towards helping Wisconsin Republicans, but rather into the Trump Victory fund, and the Republican National Committee. Tickets are $2,700 for lunch, and $100,000 for a couple to be listed as a "host" for the event.
After the swanky event, President Trump will attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Foxconn industrial project in Mount Pleasant, of which the president has long been a supporter.
This news also came shortly after Foxconn officials last week received the keys to their new North American corporate headquarters, located in downtown Milwaukee, for which the company paid millions of dollars, and hopes to fill with around 500 new employees. A special assistant to the Foxconn CEO said he imagines the current building eventually becoming a skyscraper.
GOV. WALKER ANNOUNCES $38.6 MILLION FOR 70 BRIDGE PROJECTS
Governor Walker last week announced that an additional $38.6 million will go to fund an additional 70 local bridge projects statewide for the 2018-2022 Local Bridge Improvement Program cycle.
These bridges will be in addition to the 113 bridges that previously received funding in the current program cycle. The additional dollars were approved by the Joint Finance Committee, and brings the total funding for bridge projects to $115 million.
"We are making sure our infrastructure is safely and efficiently connecting people and commerce in every corner of our state," said Governor Walker. "With $36.8 million in additional funding, we are helping improve 70 more bridges on top of the 113 we are already funding."
According to Walker's office, this amounts to the largest increase in local road and bridge aid in 20 years. A list of the projects can be found by clicking here.
WI RANKS 2ND NATIONALLY IN MANUFACTURING JOBS ADDED OVER YEAR
According to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), which released the national Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers, Wisconsin added 15,100 manufacturing jobs from May of 2017 to May of 2018, which gives Wisconsin the #2 ranking nationally, and #1 in the Midwest.
Wisconsin's labor force participation rate ranked #5 nationally, at 68.9 percent.
"Wisconsin's manufacturing sector continues to drive the Wisconsin comeback, with the addition of 15,100 jobs over the past year ranking 2nd nationally," DWD Secretary Allen said. "With an unemployment rate of 2.8 percent, Wisconsin needs the talent of all individuals to fill the increasing demand for skilled workers in this state, and DWD stands ready to assist all workers, no matter your current skill level, in getting on the path to rewarding, family-sustaining employment."
OSHKOSH DEFENSE CORPORATION RECEIVES MAJOR ORDER FROM U.S. ARMY
The United States Army has ordered more than 770 new military vehicles from massive defense manufacturer Oshkosh Corporation, totaling nearly $160 million.
The order itself is for the company's medium tactical vehicles product line, which consists of 17 different models. Each vehicle is able to carry between 2.5 and 10 tons, and support an array of various missions, from combat to supply.
A company VP said they are eager to continue supplying the United States Armed Forces with "well-protected, versatile vehicles that [support] a broad range of missions, both at home and abroad."
LOCAL COMPANY PLANS MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR HEMP GROW HOUSE, AS CONGRESS COMES ONE STEP CLOSER TO LEGALIZATION
In the same week that the Senate Agriculture committee nearly unanimously approved a farm bill that would fully legalize hemp in the United States, a Wisconsin-based company announced its plans to raise $12 million to build a 48,000-square-foot hemp growhouse and lab.
iHempAlliance Medical LLC said their plan is to grow hemp for various uses, including clothes, foods, drinks, stationary, chemicals, plastics, and building supplies.
The company said they would like to break ground in July and complete their growhouse by October, and also said they would annually produce more than 12,000 kilograms of industrial hemp flower tops for wholesale to the CBD oil industry. They estimate over $40 million in annual revenue.
WISCONSIN WORKS TO ADDRESS WORKFORCE CHALLENGES
The head of the state's Department of Workforce Development (DWD) said the state is working its hardest to fill gaps in the state's workforce, and meet some of the many challenges employers are currently facing.
Ray Allen said helping employers fill vacancies, expanding the state's program to visit military bases to talk about job opportunities, and attracting more young people and veterans from other states, are among those plans.
The average age of the workforce in Wisconsin has been steadily increasing over the years, sending multiple state agencies into a scramble, and even launching advertising campaigns in bordering states in the hopes of driving millennials to the state.
Allen said education and jobs programs such as youth apprenticeship are critical to strengthening the workforce, and offering young people various options. Those skills, he said, can be learned in high school, and better-ready them for whichever path they choose.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
$160 million federal dollars awarded to Wisconsin will be funneled to the I-94 reconstruction project near the Foxconn site. Good idea or bad idea?
Pandering pandering, early and late...
Southern Eastern part of Wisconsin gets all the support from the lawmakers, obviously large metropolitan areas are a real drain on a state's economy.
From NW WI, I have no idea if good or bad
Let's not forget about other parts of the state.
Foxconn has yet to make good on any promises made - no jobs yet created. at least some roads will be repaired
Where were they diverted from? Good to get out of town money coming in
Not all of that money should be used on Foxconn, Lot of other roads need to be done first like Hwy 23 between Fond du Lac and Plymouth.
This is no way to run a state. Make a list of priorities around the ENTIRE state, fix them in order.
If they are going to build the plant(s), better build the infrastructure
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that a massive CAFO project may proceed, allowing the clear-cutting of 4,455 acres of forest land. Good move or bad move?
Some thirty plus years ago I started at my present job which was completely new to me. I had to meet with insurance and many other benefit suppliers. I soon put a large jar in the middle of the conference table. On the jar were the words You must put a dollar in the jar for every ACRONYM you use." This site uses them much too often. What is CAFO? DATCP? When using acronym in written correspondence, please identify the acronym so I don't have to go look it up. Acronyms impede communication. If the topic isn't in your field, then it makes no sense and it's impossible for the average person to know the millions of acronyms flying around. Are we English speakers so lazy that we can't sy say three or four words instead of one? Some acronyms have been around so long that they treated as words which is okay - like FBI, SCUBA, CIA etc. If you really want to get the word out about various Wisconsin issues then knock out the use of meaningless acronyms. You are not saving space, you are confusing people.
You don't get it. This means that other areas will be crowded even WORSE. And big farms are proven to be FAILURES. Check out California's dismal big farm record and don't repeat the mistake here! UH UH people!
What is the Court thinking?
the law is the law, change the law if you do not agree
These large CAFOs are the reason the small family dairies can barely keep going! I have had several customers who are dairy farmers tell me their processors are penalizing them for being too small. They are bound by quota systems put in place by their processors and basically because of their hauling costs put entirely on the individual farmers, its like working one week out of every month for NO PAY, but their fixed cost, electricity, feed etc. are still incurred. No Dairy Task Force is going to help these small farms, they will all be a thing of the past because of the greed of the large mega farms.
I support the selective harvesting of trees. Trees are a great resource; they clean the air of pollution. If small trees are left to grow; in the near future they become large trees to harvest. We should work with sustainable systems.
stay within the environmental rules and all should be fine
I understand the economical impact here, but this is over the top. I used to dairy also with a 600 head dairy. I know what goes on with the enviroment. This should be stopped.
If you don't want it next door, get out your checkbook
Just what we need more milk in a flooded market!
7.3 million gallons of water pumped out of the aquifer is going to do some damage.
Because dairy prices are so high, why not keep adding supply. So long farewell family farms.
Some items on the DOR's list of tax free items during the summer Sales Tax Holiday are turning heads. After looking at the list, what do you think?
DOR - another acronym!!!
I think this is a piss poor idea that is nothing but a mess of paperwork. To save... tiny, tiny amounts.... annoying...
Once again evidence of the swamp in Madison, just like Washington DC. The lobbyists for the wedding dress industry must have deep pockets! Diapers?
Our state needs to collect taxes if we want valuable services.
Get rid of tax free days.
It's a silly tax gimic The items don't surprise me. Just fix our roads already!
Sales tax holiday remains a boondoggle, no matter what products are on the list.
An Iowa County deer farm had its entire herd "humanely depopulated" last month, following a CWD outbreak stemming from their property. Though it's unclear how many of the animals were infected. What are your thoughts?
CWD - another acronym!!!
I would appreciate more depopulating in my back 40 as well, deer population is out of control in Northwestern Dodge County
Deer Farms should all be shut down. By having them all we are doing is further helping the spread of CWD
No deer farms in our area. We live in a CWD area already. I just wish they (DNR) would just do away with all game farms with animals that carry CWD.
Other countries have done this; the only true way of staving off CWD if one wants a wild herd to hunt for the future.