Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 17, 2023

Political Tidbits - March 17, 2023
March 17, 2023
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
Articles in this edition of Political Tidbits:

Other updates in this edition:

  • Bits & Pieces
  • Supreme Court Race Reaches Record Spending Levels
  • WCJC Releases Fifth Wisconsin Supreme Court Guide and Judicial Evaluation
  • Capitol Visits and Advocacy Days

Bits & Pieces:

Republican Abortion Legislation: On Wednesday, a group of Republican legislators (including Speaker Vos, Rep. Duchow, and Sens. Felzkowski and Cabral-Guevara) circulated a proposal to amend the state law prohibiting abortion in Wisconsin in most circumstances. The bill, according to legislative attorneys, “amends three aspects of the abortion prohibition by: resolving certain questions relating to the exception in current law for a therapeutic abortion; explicitly excluding removal of fetal remains; and adding a new exception during the first trimester of pregnancy for cases of rape or incest.”
  • In an interview, Gov. Evers said he would veto the bill, explaining: “I haven't changed my mind on anything. I've always said it's important to get back to what this state did before Roe v. Wade was dumped by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

  • In a statement, Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu responded to the bill and Gov. Evers’ interview: “There are deeply held beliefs on both sides of the abortion debate. Unfortunately, the Governor is only willing to entertain legislation that allows broad access to late-term, elective abortion. … Further discussion on this specific proposal is unnecessary. The bill will not be considered on the floor of the Senate.”
Medicaid Unwinding: Last week, the Department of Health Services announced the beginning of its “unwinding” process for the state’s Medicaid programs. Under the COVID-19 public health emergency, the federal government implemented temporary changes to Medicaid including increased funding and a pause on disenrollment of ineligible members. As those changes phase out, the department will begin issuing renewal notices to and reviewing the eligibility of the more than 1.6 million Wisconsinites currently covered by Medicaid programs.
Federal PFAS Rulemaking: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week announced draft public drinking water standards for several PFAS compounds. The proposed rule would set an enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level of 4 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS, with a goal of 0 ppt. The agency also proposes a hazard index limit for water systems of 1.0 for any mixture containing one or more of PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, and GenX Chemicals. Under NR 809, Wisconsin has an enforceable standard of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS in public drinking water. The Department of Natural Resources says it “will work to align the state’s standards with the federal standards” once the federal rule is finalized.
Supreme Court Race Reaches Record Spending Levels
With less than three weeks left until the April 4 election, the race for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has already broken national spending records. Former Justice Daniel Kelly, a judicial conservative, and Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a judicial liberal, were the top two finishers in a four-way primary.

Currently, judicial conservatives enjoy a 4-3 majority on Wisconsin’s elected supreme court. Justice Patience Roggensack, a judicial conservative, is retiring at the end of her term on July 31, leaving an open seat which will decide the ideological balance of the court for several years. Because of this, the race is hotly contested, attracting a significant amount of attention.

According to one report, candidates and outside groups have spent $22.4 million on television advertising alone over the course of the race, with at least $13.2 million spent since the February 21 primary. The previous record for political spending in a state judicial race, $15.2 million, was set in a 2004 supreme court race in Illinois.

Also on April 4, Republican Rep. Dan Knodl will face Democratic candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin in a special election for the 8th Senate District. The seat is currently vacant after Sen. Alberta Darling retired in December in the middle of her eighth term.

For more information about the upcoming elections, see the following articles:

Fiscal Bureau Issues Budget Analysis; Finance Committee Schedules Agency and Public Hearings
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released its plain-language summary of Gov. Evers’ executive budget. Meanwhile, the Joint Finance Committee has invited four cabinet secretaries from the Evers Administration to testify and answer questions from the committee about their agency’s budget.

Assembly and Senate Floor Sessions: March 2023
The 2023-24 legislative session has been off to a relatively slow start, with the Assembly and Senate each holding only one day of floor votes each in January and none in February. The Assembly voted earlier this week and each house is expected to meet one day next week.

Tracking the Senate Confirmation Process for the Evers Administration Cabinet
In a January interview, Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu said that the Senate would work to hold confirmation hearings on department secretaries and other agency heads appointed by Gov. Evers. During Gov. Evers’ first term, the Senate chose not to take confirmation votes on about 185 of the governor’s appointments, including many cabinet positions.

Capital Budget 2023-25 and “Vision 2030” Highlights
Gov. Evers released his 2023-25 capital budget recommendations on February 28. The capital budget includes plans for purchasing, constructing, maintaining, and disposing of state-owned buildings and other facilities, including University of Wisconsin System properties.

Alliance of Health Insurers Urges CMS Not to Cut Medicare Advantage
The Alliance of Health Insurers recently urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reconsider deep cuts to the Medicare Advantage program which CMS had proposed. If the cuts take effect, AHI expressed concern that over 608,000 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in Wisconsin alone will experience major premium increases and lose many important services.

WCJC Releases Fifth Wisconsin Supreme Court Guide and Judicial Evaluation
The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) this week released its 2023 Guide to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Judicial Evaluation. This Judicial Evaluation reviews the most important decisions issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that affect the Wisconsin business community. The 2023 Judicial Evaluation covers the 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 terms of the court.
The Judicial Evaluation scores the justices on the percentage of reviewed cases in which their positions aligned with WCJC’s positions. Based on a comprehensive review of Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions since 2009, Justice Rebecca Bradley scored the highest at 82 percent. Chief Justice Annette Ziegler scored 81 percent. Justice Patience Roggensack scored 80 percent. New to the court in 2019, Justice Brian Hagedorn scored 67 percent. New to the court in 2020, Justice Jill Karofsky scored 55 percent. Justice Rebecca Dallet scored 56 percent and Justice Ann Walsh Bradley scored 33 percent. Former Justice Daniel Kelly scored 76 percent.
Capitol Visits and Advocacy Days
It has been a busy month at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Associations that have recently held advocacy days include the Badger State Sheriffs' Association and Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, Destinations Wisconsin, Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association, and Wisconsin Bike Fed.
Badger State Sheriffs' Association
From left to right: Richland County Sheriff Clay Porter, Lafayette County Sheriff Reg Gill, Representative Todd Novak, Iowa County Sheriff Mike Peterson, Green County Sheriff Jeff Skatrud

Wisconsin Bike Fed

Destinations Wisconsin

Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association
News Clips
Utilities & Energy
Employer & Consumer
Transportation & Infrastructure
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