TUE AM News: Head of new UW-Madison school looking to expand industry-sponsored research; GOP lawmakers reintroduce bill to ban the use of fetal tissue in research

— The founding director for UW-Madison’s new School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences, Tom Erickson, aims to boost industry-sponsored research by working more closely with company partners. 

“We want to dramatically increase the collaboration we have with industry,” Erickson told WisBusiness.com. 

As a veteran entrepreneur who’s worked with more than 10 software companies around the world, he brings “a number of fresh ideas about what’s going on in business.” In a recent interview, Erickson noted the university often falls behind peers in terms of industry-sponsored studies, but he sees the new tech-focused school as an opportunity to do more. 

As an example, he says data scientists could work with researchers from the School of Human Ecology to leverage complex data on pricing and purchasing trends for retailers in the state. 

“What should Kohl’s be doing to create new pricing mechanisms based around supply and demand of certain products?” he said. “We want to open up and create ways to collaborate with faculty.” 

Erickson said the new school’s leadership has been tasked with increasing research output in high-tech areas like big data, machine learning, security and user-computer interactions. 

“These are big challenges for us, for society and for the future,” he said. “We want to increase the research output in these areas that are really relevant, that will have a significant impact on society downstream.” 

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2019/head-of-new-uw-madison-school-looking-to-expand-industry-sponsored-research/ 

— Republicans lawmakers have again introduced legislation that would ban the use of fetal tissue in research after failing to approve it in recent sessions. 

According to analysis from the Legislative Reference Bureau included in a co-sponsorship memo, the bill would prohibit certain sales and uses of fetal body parts from an induced abortion. 

It would also require the doctor who performed the abortion to arrange for “final disposition” of fetal body parts. That covers any cell, tissue or other part of a fetus obtained after an induced abortion occuring after the effective date of the bill. 

And the bill would require any care facility in which an abortion is performed to put more information in its annual required report to the state Department of Health Services. 

Under current law, that report already includes certain demographic information on the patient, the month and year the abortion was performed, how the abortion was induced, any resulting complications and other patient information. 

Under the new bill, that annual report would be required to include the sex of the aborted fetus if it’s possible to determine visually, whether the fetus had an anomaly and the nature of any anomalies. And DHS would be required to include any data on fetal anomalies in aborted fetuses into the existing birth defect registry. 

The bill’s authors claim “distinguished researchers” have testified the bill wouldn’t hinder medical research. But in previous sessions, the effort has met with resistance from medical and research groups. 

The bill’s authors include Sens. Andre Jacque of De Pere, David Craig of Big Bend, and Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls; as well as Reps. Janel Brandjen of Menomonee Falls, Rick Gundrum of Slinger, Tim Ramthun of Campbellsport, Chuck Wichgers of Muskego, Scott Allen of Waukesha, Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac and Rae Sortwell of Two Rivers. 

Legislators are circulating the bill for co-sponsorship until Sept. 18.  

See the memo: http://wisconsinlobbyists.com/resources/Co-Sponsorship%20Memos/9.6.2019/LRB-3824%20%20sale,%20use,%20and%20final%20disposition%20of%20fetal%20body%20parts,%20%5b…%5d%20Memo.pdf 

— Milwaukee officials are calling for a binding referendum to advance a 1 percent local sales taxes backers said would be used for property tax relief and countywide priorities such as investing in municipal facilities, capital projects and deferred maintenance. 

Backers said the tax would raise an estimated $160 million in the first year, with a fourth of that coming from visitors and non-residents. 

The 1 percent sales tax would be on top of the 5 percent sales tax levied by the state and the existing 0.5 percent county sales tax. The existing 0.1 percent sales tax for Miller Park is expected to sunset before the new proposal would kick in. It wouldn’t apply to groceries, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. 

Milwaukee Dem state lawmakers Rep. Evan Goyke and Sen. LaTonya Johnson plan to introduce the bill that would allow the referendum. 

A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he would discuss the proposal with the GOP caucus, but “it will be a tough sell for many of his colleagues.” 

See the release: 

— AG Josh Kaul has joined a multistate investigation into Google’s control of online advertising markets and search traffic. 

Kaul joined a coalition of 49 state attorneys general looking into whether the tech company’s control of those markets “may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers.” 

“We must ensure that competition over technological innovation and privacy protections isn’t stifled,” Kaul said in a release. 

See the release: 

— Twenty-four members of the Wisconsin Farmers Union are in the nation’s capital this week for the National Farmers Union Fall Legislative Fly-In. 

Nearly 400 U.S. farmers and ranchers from around the country are attending the three day event which began Monday with a USDA briefing. 

In a release, NFU President Roger Johnson notes most farmers are busy in early September with harvesting, planting winter crops and tending to their livestock. 

“The fact that nearly 400 are here this week to advocate better food and agricultural policy speaks volumes to how exceptionally challenging things are right now in farm country,” he said. 

WFU is holding two briefings on dairy economics and policy for members of Congress on Thursday, featuring remarks from Mark Stephenson, a dairy economist and director of dairy policy analysis at UW-Madison. 

“The fly-in is an opportunity for members to meet with their representatives in Congress and put a face to the issues impacting rural America,” said WFU President and Westby dairy farmer Darin Von Ruden. “Given the state of the farm economy, we need policies that support family farmers and foster a sustainable future for rural America.” 

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190909-WFU.pdf 

— DATCP is taking public comments through Sept. 16 on a new special pesticide registration that would enable corn farmers in the state to treat their seeds with a repellent for sandhill cranes. 

These birds dig into the ground to eat seed corn, and untreated fields often lose up to 60 percent of their seedlings, according to a release from DATCP. The special registration from the agency would allow for the use of Avipel, a non-lethal repellent manufactured by a Delaware company called Arkion Life Sciences. 

The release shows Arkion applied for a “special local needs registration” for the product with the support of UW-Madison, the International Crane Foundation and USDA Wildlife Services. 

The product isn’t currently registered with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but special registrations allow states to register certain pesticides for local use without EPA approval. The product’s previous special registration expired Aug. 1, the release shows. 

Avipel deters the cranes from eating seed corn by adding an unpleasant flavor and a laxative effect. DATCP claims no comparable repellents exist. 

The agency says about three-fourths of the state’s four million acres of cornfields are in “potential crane habitat.” The counties with the highest risk are Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Green Lake, Jefferson, Marquette, Waushara and Winnebago, which collectively have 60 percent of the state’s cranes. 

Public comments received by Sept. 16 will be added to the preliminary environment assessment record for the registration. 

See more: http://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190909-DATCP.pdf 

— Marshfield Medical Center has again been verified as a Level II trauma center by a committee of the American College of Surgeons. 

A release shows Marshfield Medical Center has been re-verified as a Level II adult trauma center through the end of August 2020, and as a Level II pediatric trauma center through August 2022. 

The verification comes from the Verification Review Committee, part of ACS’s Committee on Trauma. Rather than designating trauma centers — which is done by various government agencies — the program confirms trauma centers are meeting certain benchmarks for standard of care. 

The committee’s consultation and verification program for hospitals was first created in 1987, and now has five separate categories of verification, each of which includes specific criteria that must be met by facilities seeking verification. 

See the release: http://www.marshfieldclinic.org/news/news-articles/level-ii-trauma-center 

— Wells Fargo has become the newest gold founding member of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce after supporting the chamber for the past four years. 

A release shows the California-based financial services company recently increased its investment in the chamber. In return, the company will get a seat on the chamber’s leadership advisory council and other benefits. 

“We value and promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of business and at all levels, as success comes from inviting and incorporating diverse perspectives,” said Tony Nguyen, Wells Fargo region bank president. 

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/190909-LGBTChamber.pdf 


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– Milwaukee County supervisor wants to explore options to ‘moving on’ from Couture developer


– UW-Madison is top-ranked university in Wisconsin by U.S. News

– Marquette University layoffs aimed at protecting against enrollment declines


– Wisconsin charter school open to students of all abilities



– Cirque du Soleil’s ice show returning to Fiserv Forum

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– CIBC completes acquisition of Milwaukee-based Cleary Gull



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– Illing Company to relocate to new Germantown facility


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– Business group joins Milwaukee County, municipalities in seeking sales tax increase in 2020



– Sales tax increase proposed in Milwaukee County



– UW-Madison targets technology jobs with new school


– Google targeted in new investigation from 50 attorneys-general 



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