Thursday, May 20, 2010

Route to Timber Rattlers Stadium modified for LZ Lambeau event

[We have just received the following press release from the state DOT and are happy to pass it along to our readers.]

Route to Timber Rattlers Stadium modified for LZ Lambeau event

Traffic from US 10 should use alternate route

(Green Bay) The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Division of State Patrol is advising motorists and especially motorcycle riders participating in the LZ Lambeau Event Honor Ride on Friday, May 21 that County CB between WIS 15 (W. Northland Ave.) and WIS 96 (W. Wisconsin Ave.) in Outagamie County is closed to through traffic due to construction. Local access is being maintained. This will only affect access from US 10.

State Patrol is advising traffic accessing Timber Rattlers Stadium from US 10 should travel US 10 to WIS 76, north to WIS 15, then east to Casaloma Dr. Motorists can also access the stadium from US 41 going west on either WIS 15 or WIS 96 to Casaloma Drive.

Motorists are advised to use caution and remain alert when driving through this or any work zone.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's up with Oshkosh gas stations - besides their prices, that is

Anyone who follows gas prices in the Fox Valley knows that the Appleton area stations are usually about a nickel less than the stations in Oshkosh. But currently the Appleton stations are selling regular unleaded for $2.729 while stations in Oshkosh are at $2.849, and a couple are at $2.829. That's a whopping 10-to-12 cents a gallon cheaper. WHY?? I've never understood how stations just to the north of us can offer gasoline for less, but this is ridiculous and makes me feel like stations in Oshkosh are just gouging people because they can.

I'm sure if you ask them they'd offer up some lame explanation for their much higher prices, but in my opinion it defies logic that they have to charge so much more than stations in Appleton. Ordinarily I would say unless you were already going to Appleton, it makes little sense to drive there just to say a nickel. But in this case, depending on the size of your tank, it might be worth it. And for sure it makes sense to fill up in Appleton if you're already heading there for some other reason.

I'd encourage people to fill their tanks in Appleton whenever possible and when it makes sense to do so, until such time that the prices here are more in line with those to the north. If station owners in Oshkosh want to charge the higher amounts, I say we let them sit with their gas. And even if the station owners in Oshkosh don't get the message, at least we're saving money in our household when we fill up.   

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Neumann Finds Ally in Gard for Irresponsible Tax Cuts Paid for By Health Care Cuts

For Immediate Release: May 12, 2010

Madison -- Former GOP U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann has found a willing advocate in divisive former GOP Assembly Speaker and twice-failed congressional candidate, John Gard, for his irresponsible tax plan that would slash income taxes only for the top one percent of income earners and reopen the corporate loophole for bankers and big business. Gard, a former business lobbyist who surrendered his license just hours ago, has endorsed Neumann's campaign for governor.

"John Gard is the perfect ambassador for Mark Neumann's irresponsible tax cuts for the rich and big business," said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. "Neumann has a history of paying for tax cuts for the rich by slashing health care for seniors and John Gard has almost as much experience."

Among the bills Gard's organization lobbied in favor of during his revolving door from the Capitol to the lobbying corps was reopening the "Las Vegas Loophole," which allows big businesses to set up phantom post office boxes in states without corporate income tax to avoid their tax obligations to the people of Wisconsin. [2009 AB478]

As a member of Congress, Neumann joined disgraced ex-speaker Newt Gingrich in voting for a tax cut plan for the wealthy that slashed Medicare by $270 billion and $180 billion from Medicaid. [HR 2491, 10/26/95; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/27/1995]

Wisconsin faces a projected $2 billion deficit, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, making Neumann's tax cut plan for big business and the rich impossible without radical cuts to critical programs like health care, education and public safety.

Despite the grave budget projection, Neumann has repeated several specific budget-busting schemes as the cornerstone of his agenda for Wisconsin, which would require $1 billion in cuts over the biennium. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has also called for identical tax cuts, including:

Slash income taxes for the top one percent of income earners who make more than $225,000 a year.

Reopen the "Las Vegas Loophole" which allows Wisconsin businesses to shelter their tax obligations to Wisconsin families through phantom "offices" in states without corporate income tax.

Repeal changes made to the capital gains tax deduction, despite the fact 70 percent of capital gains filings are from those earning more than $200,000 a year. [Legislative Fiscal Bureau 2/23/09, 7/8/09]

As a long-time member of the state Assembly, Gard specifically placed health care cuts as a convenient way to pay for irresponsible conservative tax policies, including:

As Speaker of the State Assembly, John Gard led the Republican effort to cut Wisconsin's successful prescription drug plan for the elderly, SeniorCare, by $10 million. [2003 SB44]

As Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee, John Gard attempted to suspend enrollment in BadgerCare, the state's health insurance program for working families. [Capital Times, 12/18/02

Gard voted against a bill that would have expanded the state's Healthy Start program and provided 130,000 more low-income women and children with health care coverage. [1994 AB1161]

Gard voted against a bill that would have expanded the state's subsidized health care insurance program for unemployed and low-income workers. [1993 AB1162]

"Mark Neumann and Scott Walker have made tax cuts for the rich and big business the cornerstones of their campaigns," said Ross. "Republicans and George W. Bush did this and it bankrupted America. How much more damage do Scott Walker and Mark Neumann want to inflict on the people of Wisconsin?"

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

Governor Doyle Signs Bill to Prohibit the Creation of False Academic Credentials

EAU CLAIRE – At a ceremony at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law several bills to protect schools and improve education in the state.

“ Wisconsin ’s institutions of higher education are the envy of the nation, and this bill takes important steps to uphold the integrity of our schools,” Governor Doyle said. “Our world-class universities have always been the engines that drive Wisconsin and we must protect our legitimate institutions, students and educators from false academic institutions.”

Senate Bill 431 addresses the problems related to the use of false academic credentials created by "diploma mills" by prohibiting the use of the terms college, university, state and Wisconsin in the name of schools that are not certified as such by the Educational Approval Board. In addition, the bill creates a penalty for issuing and using a false academic credential and/or the false use of a legitimate academic credential. The bill upholds the integrity of degrees granted by the Wisconsin Technical College System, the UW System and other institutions of higher education and prevents against fraudulent institutions and degrees.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Risser and Vinehout and Representatives Hixson and Danou for their work on the bill.

Since taking office in 2003, Governor Doyle has taken major steps to improve education in Wisconsin . In his first term, the Governor protected schools from a Republican-led State Legislature’s attempt to slash education funding by $400 million – a cut that would have devastated our schools and our students. The Governor increased funding for small class sizes, increased funding for special education, expanded school breakfast programs, expanded 4-year old kindergarten programs and invested in early childhood education. Governor Doyle also created the Wisconsin Covenant, a pathway to higher education for every hardworking Wisconsin student.

In addition to the bill to protect higher education institutions, Governor Doyle signed into law eight bills to improve education:

Assembly Bill 808 makes changes to the class size requirement for schools participating in the SAGE small class size program. The bill encourages more schools to participate in SAGE and gives schools with SAGE more flexibility to preserve their eligibility for the program.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Dexter and Hilgenberg and Senators Holperin and Kreitlow for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 146 provides certain benefits and protections to tribal schools and tribal school pupils and staff similar to those provided to private schools.

Governor Doyle thanked the Joint Legislative Council for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 250 makes changes to the Open Enrollment Program in union districts by amending policies related to how district elementary school students can count toward its enrollment cap.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Darling and Kedzie and Representatives Pasch and Nass for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 342 amends the Open Enrollment Program policies related to pupils attending a school district under Open Enrollment who are habitually truant.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Kreitlow and Lehman and Representatives Smith and Pope-Roberts for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 379 requires that, in cases where a school is closed due to a health threat, a school board must notify the Department of Public Instruction to assist the state in preventing and analyzing potential health crises.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Taylor and Hansen and Representatives Bernard Schaber and Berceau for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 407 makes change to rules determining eligibility for the Academic Excellence Higher Education Scholarship Program to equalize scholarship award criteria and provide financial assistance for high-performing students.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Miller and Taylor and Representatives Ballweg and Smith for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 598 amends the procedure for school district consolidations to provide flexibility and accelerate the process of streamlining consolidation procedures.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Vinehout and Holperin and Representatives Clark and Hraychuck for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 341 increases penalty for persons found guilty of causing reckless bodily harm to a child.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Jauch and Lassa and Representatives Hubler and Berceau for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle Signs Legislation to Protect Public Service Workers and Their Families

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law two bills that will protect firefighters, police officers and other public service workers and their families. The first bill, Senate Bill 520, requires that municipalities pay health insurance premiums for the families of firefighters who die, or have died, in the line of duty.

“Families of firefighters who have lost their lives shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their health care bills,” Governor Doyle said. “This bill ensures that these families are protected when their loved ones make the ultimate sacrifice.”

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Hansen and Coggs and Representatives Hraychuck and Turner for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle also signed into law Senate Bill 429, which establishes that if a firefighter, police officer or other public service worker gets sick or dies from cancer, heart disease or a respiratory impairment, the bill assumes that person’s job duties caused the illness, as long as that person didn’t show any signs of the disease during his or her qualifying medical exam. The bill also ensures that provision is considered when determining health benefits.

“Every day, our fire fighters, police officers and others are walking into situations that could potentially be life threatening,” Governor Doyle said. “That includes contracting dangerous illnesses, and this bill goes further in protecting those workers and their families.”

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Sullivan and Coggs and Representatives Sinicki and Berceau for their work on the bill.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Governor Doyle Announces Annual Export Achievement Awards

MILWAUKEE – Governor Jim Doyle today presented his annual Export Achievement Awards recognizing Wisconsin firms and organizations that have achieved extraordinary results in international sales or have contributed to Wisconsin’s ability to compete in a global market. Last year, Wisconsin firms exported $16.7 billion worth of products.

“The strength of our international trade is a reflection of the hardworking people of Wisconsin and the outstanding products our businesses make,” Governor Doyle said. “I'm proud to recognize these Wisconsin companies and institutions that have demonstrated leadership and innovation in responding successfully to international market challenges.”

Wisconsin’s exports have grown 56 percent since Governor Doyle took office. In 2009, Wisconsin’s top five export destinations were Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and Germany. Wisconsin’s top exported products included industrial and electrical machinery, scientific and medical instruments, vehicles and paper products.

The Export Achievement Awards are presented to state companies actively involved in export trade. Criteria include degree of export-related growth; innovative techniques and approaches that resulted in the company’s success; and demonstration of extra effort in capturing worldwide markets.

The award winners are as follows:

Small Manufacturing Exporter
Alpha Source, Inc., Milwaukee
Alpha Source, Inc. is a supplier of biomedical repair parts. The firm started in 1986 supplying and servicing microfilm equipment and has grown to handle medical batteries, power protection systems, xenon lamps, oxygen sensors, medical cables and lead wires, medical fiber optics, and diagnostic equipment. The firm’s international department was launched in 2005 with one employee. The current team is fluent in Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and French. Exports represent 10 percent of gross revenue and even in a difficult year globally, export sales for fiscal year 2009 are expected to be 35 percent above 2008, which saw a 23 percent increase over the previous year.

Medium Manufacturing Exporter
ARIES Industries, Inc., Waukesha
ARIES Industries is a global leader and one of the largest full line manufacturers of Closed Circuit Television Video (CCTV) inspection/rehabilitation equipment and pipeline assessment/asset management software for the world's underground infrastructure. Within two years of initiating a focused international effort in 2004, ARIES Industries obtained orders in excess of $1 million from the Middle East. The firm has since expanded sales to South America and Australia and now has equipment across the globe.

Small Agricultural Exporter
ENRECO Inc., Newton
ENRECO Inc. is a producer of stabilized, ground flaxseed ingredients containing Omega-3s, fiber, and antioxidants for use in baked goods, pizza crusts, breakfast cereal, nutrition bars, and other segments of the food and nutritional products industries. The firm has retained all employees and made capital investments during the current economic recession. Its export sales have grown 90 percent over the last three years, and are projected to comprise 25 percent of total sales by the end of 2011. The firm ships to 14 countries.

Medium Agricultural Exporter
The DeLong Co., Inc., Clinton
The DeLong Co., Inc., a fifth generation family-owned agricultural business, was started over 100 years ago and serves the farming industry. The firm operates 15 locations in three states, supplying fertilizers and feeds and also storing and exporting feed and grains. In the mid-1980’s, the DeLong Co. was an innovator in identity preservation by loading ocean-going containers with Wisconsin-grown soybeans here in the state, rather than shipping in bulk down the Mississippi River. In 2004, the company began loading commercial corn, soybeans, and feed products for export in containers, competing directly against bulk vessels. Over the past three years, the DeLong Co. has exported over $2 billion of agricultural products. The firm is currently one of Wisconsin’s leading exporters of soybeans and DDGS and has been able to build a market share of 40 to 50 percent of U.S. containerized shipments of grain and feed products to the Pacific Rim and Southeast Asia. The DeLong Co. has added 30 new employees to handle the growth in export sales.

Large Agricultural Exporter
CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, LaFarge
CROPP Cooperative is the parent company of Organic Valley and is the largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative in North America. Organic Valley produces organic dairy products, juice, eggs, meat, soy products, and produce. The cooperative started with seven Wisconsin family farms in 1988 and has grown to 1,652 members around the country. Wisconsin farms still make up nearly 40 percent of the current total. Organic Valley began exporting non-fat dry milk powder to Switzerland in 1999 and hired its first employee dedicated to exporting in 2007. Last year, export sales amounted to $1.4 million. Organic Valley products can be found on store shelves in Mexico, China, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, various Caribbean islands, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Export Assistance Provider
The Geo Group Corporation, Madison
The Geo Group provides professional translation services, assisting exporters in preparing marketing materials for a global market in print, audio/video, and on-line media formats; interpreting during face-to-face or teleconference meetings; and designing labels and multilingual manuals. The Geo Group employs 38 people and works with over 800 professional native speakers in more than 60 countries around the world. It is one of the few translation companies that have taken the steps to become ISO 9001:2008 certified for their quality management systems.

Export Assistance Provider Plus
Cooperative Resources International, Shawano
Cooperative Resources International (CRI) provides a variety of services to cattle, swine, horse, sheep, and goat livestock operations, including marketing information, analysis and testing lab services, reproductive services, online auctions, and bovine embryo and semen sales. CRI and its predecessor companies have exported products for over 30 years and currently does business in 60 countries. While other companies experienced decreased sales during 2009’s global recession, CRI maintained sales and even increased market share. CRI now sells more beef semen internationally than domestically. CRI is the largest international beef semen supplier in Canada and Argentina as well as one of the biggest players in Brazil and Australia. CRI has actively promoted new technology such as genomics and sexed semen.

Governor Doyle Signs Electronic Medical Record Bill

LA CROSSE – At Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse today, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law 10 bills, including important electronic medical record legislation. Assembly Bill 779, the WIRED for Health Act, will strengthen the ability of Wisconsin health care providers to securely share electronic patient data in order to avoid duplicative tests, improve health outcomes, and decrease costs.

“If someone from La Crosse gets sick in Milwaukee, they should be able to access all of their own personal medical information electronically,” Governor Doyle said. “Without it, doctors have to run tests that have already been done, raising both the costs and possibility of errors. Creating an electronic exchange where medical records can be safely shared and patients’ privacy rights can be protected is a critical part of reforming health care in America.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included funding to plan and develop the infrastructure for exchanging electronic medical records, as well as incentive payments for health care providers to start using electronic medical records. The State of Wisconsin is receiving $9.4 million for the planning and development of a statewide network. The legislation signed by the Governor today also paves the way for hospitals to receive between $500 million to $800 million in incentive payments to help them establish and use electronic medical record systems.

To be eligible for federal funding, states must have the technological infrastructure in place to allow providers to exchange health records. The WIRED for Health Act creates a framework for a state-level, private-public structure to govern and coordinate the implementation of the statewide network. Governor Doyle thanked the bill’s authors – Representatives Richards and Dexter and Senators Kreitlow and Vinehout – for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle said an exchange will also help support the creation of new high-tech jobs in the state. Wisconsin is home to some of the top medical record technology companies in the country, from Epic Systems to GE Healthcare to Marshfield Clinic. These companies provide software to hospitals and clinics across the nation, and a statewide exchange will mean increased business – and new jobs – in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Governor Doyle Signs Legislation to Ban Texting While Driving

MADISON – Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law legislation that will prohibit texting while driving in Wisconsin . Assembly Bill 496 prohibits sending an e-mail or text message while driving, with certain exceptions, and imposes a fine of between $20 and $400, effective December 1, 2010. Twenty-three other states and Washington , D.C. have all enacted similar legislation.

“For far too long, inattentive driving has been a serious problem in Wisconsin and across the country,” Governor Doyle said. “This bill is an important step to make our roads safer and save lives.”

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Barca, Turner and Bernard Schaber and Senators Lehman and Lasee for their work on the bill.

Since taking office, Governor Doyle has taken several important steps to make citizens safer on Wisconsin ’s roads. In 2003, Governor Doyle signed into law a bill that lowered Wisconsin ’s allowable blood alcohol level for drivers from .10 to .08, making Wisconsin ’s highways safer for families. In December 2009, the Governor signed legislation that makes a fourth drunk driving offense a felony and requires ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders. In addition, Governor Doyle’s most recent budget allows a law enforcement officer to stop a vehicle solely on reasonable suspicion that the driver is not wearing a seat belt.

Thanks to the Governor’s efforts, the number of fatalities on Wisconsin roadways has dropped significantly. Last year, 545 people were killed in Wisconsin crashes, the lowest total since 1944.