Thanks for returning yet again for 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 email@example.com.
Have a great week,
We have made several appeals over the past two weeks to our members for their participation in a brief survey regarding their current health insurance situation.
Many members have filled out the survey, but we're not there yet! Even if you are happy with your current health insurance plan, we still ask that you take a moment to complete the survey if you have not done so already.
WPT has been in discussions with a Wisconsin health insurance provider, and may have the opportunity for our members to purchase into a group insurance plan. This would be a major benefit to our smaller members who do not currently provide insurance to their employees, and an opportunity for any member to lower their premiums.
We ask that you visit www.wptonline.org/healthinsurance to fill out a very brief survey. It's short, multiple choice, and does not ask for any identifying information. If you would prefer to take the survey by phone, call us in Madison at 608-255-7473 and we will be glad to take your responses. We will also send out a reminder to members in the coming days.
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NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
WISCONSIN UNEMPLOYMENT HITS RECORD LOW
The Department of Workforce development last week released the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for March 2018, and the estimates for April in the State of Wisconsin. Unemployment rate declined to 2.8 percent in April, setting a record low for the Badger State.
According to the data, Wisconsin gas gained 11,000 total non-farm jobs and 8,800 private sector jobs over the past three months.
"Wisconsin's record-low unemployment rate is both great news for our economy and a reminder that we need to continue doing everything we can to keep growing the pool of available talent," DWD Secretary Allen said. "That includes developing the skills of Wisconsinites who are currently out of work and searching, attracting out-of-state talent through innovative marketing, and helping veterans, ex-offenders and others facing employment barriers skill up and skill in to good-paying jobs."
CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS STARTING OVER AFTER FARM BILL FAILS TO PASS HOUSE
President Trump along with Congressional Republicans suffered a large defeat at the end of last week, when the massive 5-year farm bill failed to pass the House of Representatives when the far-right faction of that chamber joined with Democrats in opposition.
Only 198 Republicans voted for the legislation, after much disagreement regarding major changes to food stamp benefits, and agricultural programs such as crop insurance, among others. Those farm-related disagreements, however, were largely overshadowed by a massive fight over immigration legislation known as the "Securing America's Future Act."
Following an unsuccessful attempt by the House Freedom Caucus to force GOP leaders to take action on the immigration bill, one lawmaker has circulated a discharge petition, which would force the bill out of committee and onto the House floor for debate.
The White House said President Trump is disappointed in the farm bill's failure, and said his administration "underscores the need to bring certainty to our farmers and ranchers and to the many Americans receiving food assistance." The President also said his administration will continue to work with Congress to in order to pass a farm bill on time.
APRIL MILK PRODUCTION DROPS FROM 2017
Before April, year-over-year milk production numbers have risen consistently for 45 of the past 46 months. That all ended when the USDA's monthly milk production report showed Wisconsin's total milk output at 2.52 billion pounds in April, down 0.6 percent from April of last year, and also less than March of this year, which saw 2.59 billion pounds.
Across the country, 17.3 billion pounds of milk were produced in the 23 major dairy states, a 0.7 percent increase than 2017, but also less than March of this year, which totaled 17.8 billion pounds.
California came in on top again with 3.45 billion pounds, and Colorado saw the greatest increases from its year-over-year numbers in 2017 with 378 million pounds, up 9.9 percent from a year ago.
Showing no change from the prior month, there were 1.27 million head on Wisconsin's farms, showing a 5,000 decrease from a year ago. Average production per cow was 1,980 pounds, down five pounds from 2017.
GOV. WALKER ORDERS NO NEW SPENDING
State agencies were ordered last week by Governor Walker that they should request no increases in state funding during the next budget, though some agencies such as health, public instruction, and corrections were exempted.
Among the largest impacted will be the Department of Transportation, tech colleges, and universities.
Every two years, around this time, whomever is the state's governor sends out budget instructions to state agencies. It is the first step in a long process that takes well over a year to complete.
The directive to the state's agencies came in the form of a letter accompanied by a memo. The letter begins with "Wisconsin is positioned to win the 21st century," and went on to review several major accomplishments of the Walker administration.
In the memo, agencies were told that they should "assume there will be zero growth in overall GPR appropriations in each fiscal year during the 2019-21 biennium," and that specific program needs should be managed within that general constraint. The zero-growth policy, according to the memo, would apply also to operations that rely on segregated funding, such as transportation, the conservation fund, environmental fund, and lottery.
Because of new legislation supported by WPT, the newly-implemented Act 212 will require that each agency submit Base Budget Review Reports. The memo outlined those requirements, as well.
SPORTS GAMBLING GIVEN GREEN LIGHT BY U.S. SUPREME COURT
With the U.S. Supreme Court 6-3 ruling last week that individual states have the right to decide whether or not to allow gambling on professional sports, many questions have arisen as to the potential of allowing such activities in Wisconsin. So, will it be allowed?
In short, the answer is no, but the door is open to the possibility in the future. In Wisconsin, sports gambling is prohibited by three relatively major road blocks.
The first of the three road blocks, and potentially the easiest to overcome, is that it is prohibited by state law. This would mean that the legislature would need to agree and act to make the changes necessary to allow and regulate sports gambling.
But the next step would be a constitutional amendment, or rather a repeal. Sports gambling is currently banned under the Wisconsin Constitution, and therefore would need to be amended. In order to amend the constitution, an identical resolution would be required to be passed in both chambers of the legislature, for two consecutive sessions. Each legislative session lasts about two years. After that happened, a statewide referendum to change the constitution would need to be approved by voters across the state.
The final step would involve changing the state-tribal compacts surrounding gaming. All eleven of Wisconsin's federally-recognized tribes would need to unanimously grant approval to change those compacts.
When we think of the potential revenue, the idea of legalizing sports gambling in Wisconsin has many people interested, though cautious due to the various issues that arise due to such gambling. Either way, it's a fascinating prospect to ponder, but a very lengthy road to make it reality.
WALKER HINTS AT STATE TAKEOVER OF MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Governor Walker last week hinted that the State of Wisconsin taking over the Milwaukee Public School district, and breaking the district up, could be on the agenda, saying "it is a moral imperative that things get better. The reality is, there's been all sorts of attempts to improve things. They haven't worked."
While giving a speech to tourism industry employees in Milwaukee, the governor took shots at the Milwaukee Public School Board, and his fellow gubernatorial candidate, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, saying Evers failed to deliver positive results in Milwaukee.
While Walker did not offer any specifics to the idea, he vowed to "talked about it" before the election, if he decides to pursue such a move.
Unions and democratic politicians were quick to sound the alarm, with some accusing the Governor of wanting to "punish" the city, and others saying it would "destroy" the public school system in Milwaukee. Each also made an effort to blame the schools' woes on the state budget, and its impacts on schools.
NEARLY 300,000 PARENTS HAVE CLAIMED CHILD TAX CREDIT AS OF THIS MORNING
After only three days, the $100-per-child tax rebate passed by the legislature and signed into law saw 200,000 claims. As of this morning, 287,504 have claimed the credit.
The rebate is expected to cost taxpayers $137 million, coming mostly from a $400 million budget surplus that was discovered earlier this year. There are about 670,000 eligible claimants in Wisconsin, or families with dependent children under the age of 18. There are just over one million children in Wisconsin.
Much to the surprise of Department of Revenue staff, who have stated they did not know what volume of participation in the rebate to expect, the agency had to hire additional people to take on the work.
The application window will close on July 2nd.
REP. ED BROOKS ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
State Representative Ed Brooks, a Republican representing Reedsburg, announced his retirement last week from the 50th Assembly District. The lawmaker called his decade in the legislature "awesome," and is the 13th lawmaker to decide not to seek re-election this year.
But after his announcement, Brooks shared a bit about his constituents' thoughts on gas tax and fee hikes for roads and bridges in Wisconsin.
Speaking to the Wisconsin Radio Network, Brooks said Wisconsin has a lot of roads in need, and a lot of bridges that need attention. He explained that the surveys conducted by his office show his constituents support a gas tax or registration fee increases in order to pay for the costs of infrastructure upgrades and maintenance.
According to 50 state road quality rankings, Wisconsin comes up short compared to other states, and Brooks said he and Governor Walker differ on the issue, and said "eventually, you get to where you can't squeeze any more moisture out of a sponge."
MATC-MILWAUKEE TO OFFER FREE COLLEGE TO SOME ADULTS
Milwaukee Area Technical College announced that they will begin offering free tuition to some low-to-middle income adults who may have begun college, but did not finish their degree, and successfully enter the state's workforce.
In a new program called the MATC Promise for Adults, the college is working towards meeting a goal set by the state's colleges and universities of 60 percent of all Wisconsin residents ages 24 to 64 holding some type of college certification by the year 2027. Wisconsin's average for adults with a college degree is 26,percent with the national average sitting at 28 percent.
To quality, you must live in the MATC boundaries, and earn less than $56,000 per year, and have already earned six college credits, but have not been enrolled for a minimum of two years.
No state tax dollars are being used to fund the program, though federal tax dollars via the Pell Grant will make up most of the funding. Donors and philanthropists, such as Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, donated to the project as well. Abele donated a half million dollars.
STATE SEES DOUBLE DIGIT DROP IN OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS
Governor Walker's office last week announced last week that opioid prescriptions dispensed over the past year have dropped by 10 percent, according to a new report released by the Controlled Substances Board on the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
In the first quarter of this year, 910,616 opioid prescriptions were dispensed, showing a more-than-100,000 prescription drop from the year prior.
Additional promising indicators were also realized from the report, including a six percent drop in the number of monitored prescriptions, a six percent drop in benzodiazepine prescriptions, a 23 percent decrease in the total number of data-driven concerning patient history alerts, and a 27 percent decrease in doctor shopping alerts.
In a statement, Walker said "Wisconsin prescribers are putting patients first and ensuring they have the information they need to make educated prescription decisions. I am proud Wisconsin has a cutting-edge resource to help prescribers and law enforcement fight the opioid epidemic."
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
The EPA has designated Racine County as having "achieved attainment," which ultimately will allow Foxconn to forego the installation of more stringent pollution control equipment. In response to Illinois challenging the EPA's ruling, Governor Walker's office stated that "Wisconsin will push back," likely hinting at a counter lawsuit.
Should Foxconn meet the same smog and pollution control standards as any other industry, or should the EPA designation be allowed to stand?
Why should they get special treatment?
No way out of the standards either.
So many Wisconsin counties that touch Lake Michigan suffer from air pollution that originates in Illinois and Indiana - so I'm glad EPA is finally recognizing the source of the pollution is NOT Wisconsin.
I rather appreciate our outdoor natural resources... let's not let Foxconn destroy them.
Did Foxconn think WI and Walker would be pushovers? Can we now say "what is good for the fox is good for the gander (everybody else)?
Foxconn should meet the same standards as anybody else in this State
Play by the rules. No-brainer.
Why should they NOT adhere to the same standards?
This is a travesty! Foxconn has paid good money to buy politicians, they shouldn't have to obey laws!
they should be concerned about our water and air the same that the people that live here should. They don't deserve any special perks
In a reversal from his previous statement, AG Schimel says farmers may produce CBD oil from their hemp. Good idea or bad idea?
Studies have shown that CBD oil may help with siezures, anxiety, cancer, alzheimers, stroke, Parkinsons, MS, acne, and other health issues. So why is it a bad idea? The government wants to help farmers so this seems like a good way to do so.
Don't know of anyone growing hemp, and do this Farmers should be allowed to produce CBD oil.
I am meeting more and more people from places where this is OK... and it is NOT okay. This stuff messes people up... be very careful....
It has beneficial effects on animals.
I don't think this is going to solve our agriculture economy
I know nothing about CBD oil. I don't know of anyone growing hemp. I might do so myself, but I don't want to spend my summer chasing hippies out of my fields.
they are providing the work to plant & grow, let them get the most benefit from their hard work
What's CBD oil? What is it used for?
Met a couple people who were interested. Not sure if they went through with it. Who cares about the oil. Let these people make money.
CBD is notthe whole of possibilities in Canabinnoids ... There is some 600 canabinnoids in various strains / varieties of Hemp / Marijuana ... Also... the Hemp varieties being grown are very low in THC ... The plant is grown gor fiber & energy.
Let's capitalize on every possible revenue stream.
Allouez leaders have launched a petition drive, aimed at convincing state leaders to demolish the Green Bay Correctional Institute which sits on valuable land, and replace it elsewhere in the region. Would you sign the petition?
Don't know enough about this to make an informed decision.
Let's allow the community to be progressive and also make a better retention facility.
Its too bad that we need prisons but if outdated should be replaced
Leave it where it is. By the time you build another prison elsewhere, and try to develop the land where the prison currently sits, you will have spent considerably more than the land is worth.
Don't have enough info to make a decision
I imagine it is overcrowded and obsolete. Or is it?
Expand the tax base, lower property tax.
Legalize Marijuana and you won't have a need for the jail at all.
It'll cost a boatload of money to demolish, and 10 boatloads to build a new facility. Leave it where it is.
In light of their pending merger with UW-Fox Valley and UW-Fond du Lac, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is considering the possibility of changing its name. Good idea or bad idea?
If they are all merging, yes a name of all should be under one name.
More money wasted. New everything. waste waste waste, that's what UW does, piss away more and more money, and make tuition go up to cover it.
UW Oshkosh is still the anchor to the other 2year locations, leave it as is.
Oh boy, my alma mater will be smothered.
when mergers happen it seen always a name change and the they all lose their idenity
I don't care what they do with the name. Perhaps they should try to make the water at the bubblers smell better.
The name UWzero is well established and is should carry more prestige.
I think it should at least be considered.
With a state senator cited for bullying an employee, it got us thinking: What's the craziest thing you have ever witnessed in the workplace? What was the worst job you've ever had in your life? Have you ever had a boss or employee that you just could not get along with? Have you ever reported someone to human resources?
Years ago, at age 17, I started part time in an office. The other older lady did not like me. After a couple weeks, she wouldn't even look at me and would talk about me out loud to another employee. My dad told me to "kill her with kindness". I did. It didn't help her, but it no longer bothered me. She retired four years later and I took over her job.
At a job interview, shortly after my marriage, the older man on the other side of the desk asked me very sarcastically " Are you going to have babies?" I said I did want a family, of course I didn't get that job.
I've enjoyed every job I've had. Years ago, as a elementary teacher, I had a a principal who was totally incompetent. A perfect example of The Peter Principle. As an employer, I've had employees that don't get along but we have found good communication between all parties can solve differences.
I had a boss, who I started out helping as a assistant and she kept giving me jobs like cleaning bathrooms, going for lunches every day instead of letting do my work as assistant. I finally got fed up with her and quit one day when she won't give me time off for a family event. Others saw what she was doing to me and were not surprise to see me quit.
As a business owner, it's regular that someone calls up and tries to bully me. Or the public bullies me because they think I'm making unfair profits. I've had people call with ridiculous law suit claims, like formaldehyde in their new floors in the rental they moved into. I've had many people after me about my weight, which makes me wonder how they reached adulthood without learning how to get along with others.
I am a male and the worst case of watching a co worker bully another co worker was between two women. One could never do anything right in the eyes of the other employee, it was frustrating watching it go on, but in my work experience, women tend to be the worst about getting along in the workplace.
For some people having some power over others totally makes them crazy.
Some teachers in public school systems can form "bully" treatments toward certain new teachers.
I've had only one job, Dairy Farmer. Every time I have an employee I can not get along with, I call the bullshipper and send her off to work for Mcdonalds. Many of my unruly employees have become Big Macs.
Never had a job I did not like. Take the good with the bad. Some people just have attitudes that are hard to except. Never reported anybody to human resources.
No -suck it up or find a different job
Self employed. Hard to fight with myself.
Lea Taylor is a bad scene!
I had a summer job in college and the boss would leave mean notes for the employees he didn't like
Always have farmed with family. No trouble with people, but been pushed around by animals at times, no injuries.