(WisBusiness) THURS News Summary — 24 July 2008

From WisBusiness.com …

— A set of proposals to significantly reduce greenhouse gases in Wisconsin is expected to be approved handily this morning when the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming meets in Sun Prairie.

In a 29-3 vote last month, the panel approved a draft report that would return carbon dioxide emissions to 2005 levels by 2014, trim them by 22 percent by 2020 and further cut greenhouse gases by 75 percent in the year 2050.

It also suggests increasing the use of renewables, such as wind and solar power, to 10 percent in five years and to 25 percent by 2025. It would also ramp up funding for energy efficiency and other conservation programs.

Todd Stuart, executive director of the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, predicted the final vote will be largely ceremonial, though some dissenters may speak against it.

He said his organization continues to oppose the report because it is worried that the high price of cutting C02 emissions may force struggling manufacturers to shut down. He also called a regional cap-and-trade plan for greenhouse gases unworkable.

*See story:


*See final draft of the task force report:


— A report by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute says the state’s minimum markup law is adding $278 million a year to price consumers pay for gasoline.

The study says the markup has jumped by 400 percent in the past decade.

It said state motorists currently pay 30.2 cents per gallon as a result of the minimum markup law meaning the cost of minimum markup has almost eclipsed the state’s 32.9-cent auto fuel tax (currently 9th highest in the nation).

See release: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=131870

— Gov. Jim Doyle said he’d like to ditch the minimum markup law, but he won’t call a special session unless he’s sure there are enough votes to repeal it.

Two lawmakers urged the governor this week to issue such a call to eliminate the law, but legislative leaders have been cool to the idea in the past.

“I am all for getting rid of the minimum markup law and I have been for a long time. It has never made sense to me that gasoline is the one commodity that we require has to be marked up various percentages,” Doyle said, adding that the law is a remnant of laws passed in the 1930s.

But, he said, eliminating the markup isn’t a magic potion for lower gas prices.

“Anybody who believes this would be the answer to high gas prices is mistaken. I think it would help but not significantly,” Doyle said.

Wisconsin is one of only a few states that still have a minimum markup law for gasoline, and high gas prices are a national reality, Doyle said.

“It’s not like Wisconsin is some sort of island of this. The minimum markup would help on the margins but would not really help in a major way with people paying $4-plus,” he said.

— Doyle also says he’s very optimistic that the Great Lakes Compact can sail through Congress yet this session.

Doyle, in Washington, D.C., to meet with federal lawmakers about the compact, said during a conference call with reporters that the response to the agreement has been “tremendously positive” and the plan appears to have bipartisan support.

“I am very, very optimistic about it passing,” he said.

Doyle, who has met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the biggest challenge will be dealing with the legislative calendar.


— The governor said he is also using the Washington trip to push for the federal government to provide a greater share of funds to help the state recover from floods that struck in June.

Doyle met with FEMA director David Paulison to make his case for the feds to bump up the ratio for flood recovery funds to 90 percent federal and 10 percent state and local instead of the 75 percent federal and 25 percent state and local split that is traditionally awarded.

“Particularly it’s helpful for local governments because when you get down to that level, the 90-10 split or the 75-25 split may make the difference of 50,000 or a 100,000 that can really help,” he said.

So far, the federal government has provided $37 million in assistance to individuals, $11.5 million in small business administration loans, and $85 million to $90 million in assistance to public infrastructure, he said.

Doyle is also requesting a declaration from FEMA that houses still under water be eligible for the federal buyout. Several homes in a Spring Green subdivision remain inundated more than six weeks after the floods.

Listen to Doyle’s opening comments to reporters:


— Stoughton Trailers has notified state and local officials that it plans to close its plant in Brodhead and furlough 184 workers on Sept. 17.

Company officials said they hope the closing is temporary. They said the workers aren’t represented by a union and don’t have bumping rights.


WISBUSINESS LUNCHEON: Global Warming Task Force Co-Chairs

Tuesday, August 12, 11:45 am, The Madison Club

WisBusiness.com, The Madison Club and Madison Magazine present “The Madison Business Luncheon” on Tuesday, August 12, with featured guests Global Warming Task force Chairs Roy Thilly of the Wisconsin Public Power and Tia Nelson of the Board of Public Land Commissioners.

Learn more about the Global Warming Task Force: http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/gtfgw/

Sponsored by Xcel Energy.

This event is open to the public, and the price for lunch is $19. Call the Madison Club to register at (608) 255-4861. The luncheon starts at 11:45 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.



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Press Releases
American Council on Exercise (ACE) Announces Study Findings on Fitness Benefits of Nintendo Wii
Aurora St. Luke’s Announces Construction of Rooftop Healing Garden and Conservatory
Baylake Corp. Reports Financial Results for the Three and Six Months Ended June 30, 2008
Biggest Annual U.S. Air Show to Salute NASA’s 50th Anniversary
Buell Debuts Liquid-Cooled 1125CR for 2009
Coalition Spreads the Word in Wisconsin About Free, Low-Cost Health Insurance
Fact or Fiction: Exposing the 10 Biggest Myths of Event Webcasting
Four out of Five IT Decision Makes Value Green IT
Governor Doyle Announces $4.2 million to Rental Housing Development Grants
Governor Doyle Announces More Than $6.6 Million to Benefit Homeless Population
Governor Doyle, Congressional Leaders Unveil Great Lakes Compact
Great Lakes Compact Introduced in Congress
Great Wolf Resorts, Inc. to Hold Second-Quarter 2008 Earnings Call on August 5
Harley-Davidson Rides on a New Touring Chassis for 2009
Milwaukee Mile Names Marcus Lemonis New Chairman
Regal Beloit Announces Third Quarter Dividend
Shell Celebrates Harley-Davidson’s 105th Anniversary
SoftSwitching Technologies Expands Grid Alert Service
Sonic Foundry Selected to Webcast Campus Technology 2008
UW-Madison Historian Predicts the End of ‘Science Superpowers’
Video: Carmex(R) Lip Balm Invites Amateur Filmakers to “Share The Tingle”
Wisconsin Biodiesel Producer Working to Fight Climate Change
Wisconsin Leads the Way in Biofuel Consumption

For these and more releases visit http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82


State’s jobless figure rises: Unemployment rate in Appleton increases to 4.8%… An influx of people seeking seasonal work in June is what the state says is behind a jump in unemployment. The state’s jobless rate for June was 4.9 percent, a 0.7 percentage point increase from May. Appleton’s jobless rate also increased, going from 3.9 percent in May to 4.8 percent in June. The Oshkosh-Neenah jobless rate for June increased 0.8 percentage points from May, hitting 4.8 percent. Green Bay’s unemployment rate increased 0.7 percentage points, settling at 4.9 percent for June. “Wisconsin’s labor market figures from June reflect normal seasonal work force surges from students looking for summer jobs resulting in an expected bump in unemployment figures for the month,” state Department of Workforce Development Secretary Roberta Gassman said in a statement.

Study attacks gasoline minimum markup law: As gas prices have soared, so has the effect of a Depression-era state law that mandates gas stations mark up the price at the pump, a new study by a conservative research group argues. The state law requires filling stations to raise the wholesale price of gas by 9.2 percent. That was one thing 10 years ago when the wholesale price of gas was 64 cents a gallon; the effect is far greater when the price is $3.29 a gallon like it is now, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute said. “Consumers should be irate,” said Christian Schneider, the report’s author. “It shouldn’t be the government’s job to make sure that they’re paying more for gas.” The study was harshly criticized by those who see the law as a needed defense for mom-and-pop filling stations against big business, even though the full markup is often not imposed.

Stoughton Trailers expects 184 layoffs in shuttering its Brodhead site: Stoughton Trailers, LLC, of Stoughton, notified the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development that the semi-trailer manufacturer would be closing its Brodhead facility and laying off the approximately 184 employees at the facility, 302 23rd St. According to a letter dated July 16 written by the company’s Vice President of Human Resources, Patrice Gillespie, Stoughton Trailers expects the Sept. 17 closing to be temporary, though its exact duration is unknown at this time. The company laid off 120 employees in 2007. Higher fuel prices have been hitting Wisconsin’s trucking industry hard. WH Transportation Co. of Wausau announced 340 job cuts in June.

Mazomanie printing plant to close; 125 jobs will be lost: The troubles for employees at a Mazomanie printing plant have returned. Just 16 months after Synergy Graphics in Plymouth, Minn., purchased Sunny Industries out of receivership, Synergy has announced that it will close its Synergy Web Graphics plant this fall, citing debts of more than $18 million. The closing, effective Sept. 19, will put 125 people out of work. And just like in 2006, the business is back in receivership. The plant prints magazines and direct-mail pieces. “Synergy is facing unforeseen business circumstances that have occurred while it has been in the midst of seeking capital that it reasonably believed would be available,” Michael Polsky, a Milwaukee attorney who was appointed receiver, said in a letter to the state Department of Workforce Development.

AirTran adds flights from Milwaukee: AirTran Airways said it will expand service at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee by offering nonstop flights to eight cities. AirTran said it will add nonstop service to Fort Lauderdale. It also will expand service to Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas, New York and three other cities in Florida — Ft. Myers, Orlando and Tampa. The announcement comes days after Midwest Airlines announced it was cutting service to several of those cities. Orlando-based AirTran Holdings Inc. tried to take over Midwest last year, but the Milwaukee-based airline instead agreed to a deal with private equity firm TPG Capital. That sale closed in January.

Tobacco sales take hit: Tax increase boosts state’s revenue… Cigarette sales have decreased this year statewide in the wake of a $1-a-pack tax increase, but that tax is responsible for an increase in state revenue. Early estimates indicate the state has collected an additional $152.5 million for the first five months of the calendar year since per-pack taxes increased Jan. 1 from 77 cents to $1.77. “We’re running close to (what we) expected,” said Faith Russell, a fiscal analyst at the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. The totals are somewhat preliminary because taxes collected one month might not be submitted until the following month. Revenues collected go into the state’s general fund and already are accounted for in the state’s spending plan.

Lake Delton property owners to receive $2.3 million for flood-damaged parcels: State checks totaling more than $2.3 million were deposited Wednesday with Sauk County authorities to pay for property that either no longer exits or, if it does, is in the Wisconsin River. The money from the state Department of Transportation will be paid to owners of nine condemned, flood-damaged parcels along Lake Delton and Highway A. The payments required a rare tapping of a state law for emergency condemnation, a process expedited by the governor’s office to speed up highway rebuilding and payments to flood-affected property owners, said DOT officials. The recipients include owners of homes swept away when Lake Delton erupted through Highway A on June 9.


GREGG HOFFMANN: Contributor, WisBusiness.com

TOM STILL: President, Wisconsin Technology Council

JENNIFER SERENO: Senior manager, Wood Communications Group

STEVE JAGLER: Executive editor, Small Business Times

TOM BURZINSKI: IT executive and consultant

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