THU AM News: Kaul outlines steps to combat drug epidemics; MMAC remains confident in DNC Host Committee

— Attorney General Josh Kaul says that while a decline in opioid prescriptions in Wisconsin is progress, there is still room for improvement.

“The biggest public safety challenge we face and one of the most important public health issues we face in Wisconsin is the opioid epidemic,” Kaul told reporters yesterday at a news conference ahead of testifying on a rape test kit bill.

“There has been a decline in opioid prescriptions in the last few years,” he said. But “the prescription rates for opioids remain far, far higher than they were approximately 20 years ago.”

President Trump addressed the opioid crisis in his State of the Union. He said that his administration is curbing the opioid epidemic, adding that Wisconsin’s drug overdose death declined by 10 percent.

“We will not quit until we have beaten the opioid epidemic once and for all,” Trump said.

Kaul called for three steps to combat opioids and meth, which he added is another growing challenge in Wisconsin.

“One, we need to keep working to raise awareness about these issues and educate people about these issues so that we can reduce the use of opioids and meth,” he said.

See more: 

— The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce remains confident in the DNC Host Committee after the committee’s president and chief of staff were fired amid allegations of a hostile work environment. 

The Milwaukee 2020 Board of Directors on Tuesday fired President Liz Gilbert and Chief of Staff Adam Alonso, saying in a statement members “believe the work environment did not meet the ideals and expectations.” In a statement, the board said it is continuing a third-party investigation.

MMAC and its Community Support Foundation are involved in fundraising for the DNC. MMAC President Tim Sheehy says they haven’t been engaged in “staff issues” but encouraged a “swift and fair” resolution for the alleged toxic workplace situation.

“Time is critical in continuing on the convention path for this summer,” he said in an email. “A decision by the Host Committee has been made, and we look forward to engaging with the new staff leadership to put together a world-class experience for the DNC 2020 in Milwaukee.”

See more on the host committee shakeup at 

— The first case of the novel coronavirus in Wisconsin has been announced by the state Department of Health Services. 

During a press call yesterday with reporters, state health officials said the individual has been isolated at home to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. The adult patient received evaluation and testing at UW Hospital in Madison, but had mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization. 

“I want to emphasize that at this time, the risk of getting sick with the coronavirus in Wisconsin is very low,” said Jeanne Ayers, state health officer and administrator of the agency’s public health division. 

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer in the DHS Bureau of Communicable Disease, said the individual is being actively monitored and all hospital workers who came in contact with the patient have also been notified. 

The individual reported recent contact with someone who had a confirmed case of the virus while traveling to Beijing, China. Officials did not provide more details on where the patient is currently located but said a local health department will be making an announcement later today. 

“All potential contacts of this individual have been informed and are being followed up with,” Ayers said. “If there were any risk we would anticipate from any other exposure, we would reach out to that university, dorm, employer, or whatever the potential exposure might be.” 

DHS is still awaiting test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on three other patients in the state, while results from seven patients have come back negative. 

Track the state’s ongoing investigation: 

See the release: 

— The Wisconsin Nurses Association says a bill recently signed into law by Gov. Tony Evers will help keep nurses safe from workplace violence. 

The group has identified a recent increase in violence committed against nurses in their places of work, including physical and verbal as well as sexual assault. Based on numbers from the American Nurses Association, one in four nurses experience assault at work. 

In Wisconsin, WNA says 105,000 nurses and over 60,000 certified nursing assistants experience violence at work. 

“In the face of increasing violence against health care workers, it is encouraging that a large bipartisan group of legislators and the Governor are coming together and agree that such actions are unacceptable, especially when perpetrated against the dedicated women and men who care for our families and loved ones,” said Eric Borgerding, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association. 

Pam Macari Sanberg, president of the Wisconsin Nurses Association, says nurses cannot practice safely if they don’t feel safe. 

“This newly enacted law is an important part of a larger campaign of educating and empowering nurses to report workplace violence and hopefully avoid life-threatening situations,” she said. 

The bill was introduced by Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, and Rep. Gale Magnafici, R-Dresser. Now that Evers has signed the legislation, attacking nurses or other health care providers will result in a Class H felony — a lower tier of felony crime. 

See the release: 

— The state chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business is warning that raising the minimum wage in Wisconsin to $15 per hour would harm small businesses. 

Democratic lawmakers this week began circulating legislation that would raise the minimum wage to $15 in the state over a five-year period. One the bill’s proponents, Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, argues state residents working 40-hour weeks should not be living in poverty. 

But NFIB State Director Bill Smith charges this effort is “more about the politics of the moment” than about economic realities. 

“A government mandate that increases the wage rate for entry level workers may score political points, but it will have a serious negative impact on the ability of our small member employers to provide meaningful job opportunities for a vital share of our workforce,” he said in a release. 

NFIB says small employers would take a hit from a higher minimum wage, as they’re less likely to have the cash on hand or profit margins to absorb the higher labor costs. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the proposal is unlikely to move forward. He said a $15 per hour minimum wage would create an “artificial wage floor that would treat everyone the same regardless of their skills.” 

The state’s minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour. Under the Assembly Dem proposal, after it hit $15 an hour, the minimum wage would then be required to annually adjust the minimum wage for inflation under the proposal. 

Watch a recent news conference on the effort: 

— A team of UW-Stout students has won a state-level Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which simulates the experience of defending a small company from hacking. 

The event was hosted by Madison College last week and included 40 students from five schools in Wisconsin. After taking first place, the UW-Stout team advances to the regional competition in Illinois next month. 

Competing students had to defend a mock business network from outside infiltrators for eight hours, and were scored based on their ability to repel attacks while maintaining internal systems. 

“The team has to lock down the system to make it as secure as possible, while also having to complete tasks, called injects, that are sent out periodically,” said UW-Stout co-captain Christina Kimball. “The team has to accomplish all of the injects and keep the red team, which is trying to break into our system, from getting in.”

The digital onslaught was conducted by cybersecurity professionals who based their strategies on actual hacking methods. The teams prepared for months by developing defensive strategies. 

The UW-Stout students beat out teams from Madison College, Southwest Wisconsin Technical College, Milwaukee School of Engineering and Waukesha County Technical College.

See more on the competition: 

See the release: 


# Major business supporters of DNC Host Committee remain on board despite ‘toxic work environment’ investigation

# DNC host committee moves forward with interim leader

# Wisconsin Republicans hopeful about bill to set later bar time during Democratic convention

# Wisconsin has case of new coronavirus from China; Dane County, Madison officials to address it



– State cheese production up for fourth time in 2019

– State’s sheep, dairy goat herds grew last year


– Report: Milwaukee ranks 4th for U.S. cities with youngest entrepreneurs


– UW-Eau Claire Diversity Task Force makes recommendations following racist incidents

– Phonics gains traction as state education authority takes stand on reading instruction


– Dane County officials plan continuation of North Mendota Trail


– Wisconsin resident who traveled to China is state’s first confirmed coronavirus case


– Critics complain bill could block new occupational licensing


– Haribo acquires nearly 137 acres from Pleasant Prairie for manufacturing facility


– John Michael Kohler Arts Center’s new museum to open this fall


– GOP lawmakers to roll out legislation for boosting agriculture

– 2 leaders of Democratic convention host committee fired


– Wantable planning new corporate office in Walker’s Point building

– Apartment building planned near Columbia St. Mary’s on Milwaukee’s East Side


– Madison City Council moves to prevent ‘involuntary’ use of plastic straws in restaurants

– Madison City Council denies applications for Silk Exotic strip club


– VISIT Milwaukee is creating a sports division


– Sen. Patty Schachtner: Farming is our future


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Wisconsin Nurses Association: Thanks Governor Evers for signing legislation to prevent workplace violence

Associated Bank: Announces leadership changes

Clark Dietz, Inc.: Announces leadership changes