THU AM News: Novak, Shankland confident water quality bills will pass Assembly; Farming and manufacturing groups cheering USMCA bill signing

— Two legislators who led a bipartisan water quality task force said their proposed legislation will pass the Assembly but stopped short of promising the 13 bills will become law this session.

Reps. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, and Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, while hopeful, suggested passage in the Senate remains uncertain. The two chaired the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality.

“These bills will hit the Assembly floor, and I have no doubt they’ll pass,” Novak said yesterday at the Wisconsin Water Alliance’s event in Madison.

Their fate in the Republican-run Senate? Unclear.

“We’ve been talking to many senators who are not on the task force,” Shankland said. “On my side, colleagues want to see more water strategies for prevention and investment, but these are a great start.”

Novak believes the new revenue estimates might help the bills pass through the Senate by giving them more leverage.

“Senators are concerned with finances,” said Novak, adding the bills’ $10 million price tag is modest compared to the possible half-billion surplus projected to be available.

Novak is hopeful that the Senate will work in his favor so that they can “start working on the bills for the next session.”

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— Agriculture and manufacturing groups in Wisconsin are expressing optimism and relief after President Trump signed legislation finalizing the United States Mexico Canada Agreement. 

“The deal has been a long time in the making and we can finally celebrate,” said Amy Penterman, vice president of the state Dairy Business Association and a dairy farmer in north-central Wisconsin. 

The bill was approved by Congress late last year after the legislature of Mexico passed the deal. Canada’s legislative body is expected to move on the deal soon, marking the final step before the deal takes effect. 

Penterman, who was invited to yesterday’s signing ceremony, noted that trade relationships between the United States, Canada and Mexico flourished under NAFTA. 

“We need our neighbors, and they need us,” she said in a statement. “Trade is a key to farmers and processors succeeding in the long term. Farms of all sizes and business models benefit when we have opportunities for free and fair trading.”  

Brody Stapel, another Wisconsin dairy farmer and president of Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, says the USMCA preserves established markets and creates opportunities to boost exports. Now that the agreement is one step closer to becoming reality, he says “the outlook is far brighter today” for farmers and rural communities. 

According to a release from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, one in four manufacturing businesses in the state relies on trade with North American neighbors. And more than 231,000 jobs depend on trade with Mexico and Canada, including 44,000 jobs in manufacturing alone. 

“This trade deal will grow Wisconsin’s economy, provide greater opportunity for Wisconsin manufacturers and farmers, and help expand the Badger State’s reach throughout North America,” said WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer. 

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— Marquette University has announced plans for a new $70 million business school building largely funded by alumni donations. 

The university’s fundraising team raised more than $44 million for the project in under 18 months including a dozen gifts over $1 million. Fundraising will continue for the new building, and a groundbreaking is planned for fall 2021. 

Joseph Daniels, Marquette’s dean of business administration, says the business school has three of the university’s top 10 undergraduate majors. 

“Our curriculum is infused with experiential learning opportunities, which is what our students and employers demand,” he said. “This new facility will mirror our collaborative applied learning style and position us as a convener of important conversations on the future of business in our region.”

The design process for the new facility is ongoing, though it’s expected to include a new event space, upgraded laboratories and classrooms, and a stage for business pitches. 

See the release: 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and some 30 other Democratic senators are requesting more information about the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. 

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the senators expressed concern about the evolving situation, noting the Trump administration has cut the budgets of “core public health programs” both in the United States and abroad. 

“Yet, outbreaks like this serve as a solemn reminder of the need for an unwavering commitment to global health security and the need for strong public health programs worldwide,” they wrote. 

The senators are requesting information on the country’s diagnostic capacity for the new coronavirus, potential impacts on health workers, screening practices at airports, and any progress in the development of a vaccine. 

At least 132 people have died from the virus and more than 6,000 cases have now been confirmed in mainland China. Of the 91 confirmed cases outside of China, five are in the United States. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is testing five people for the new coronavirus and results are pending, according to a recent release. Test results from a sixth patient came back negative. 

Jeanne Ayers, state health officer, says DHS is actively monitoring the outbreak and working with local, state and federal partners to control the spread of the virus. 

“While all the information we have so far shows there is low risk to the general public, we take new infectious diseases seriously and are taking precautions,” she said in a statement. 

See the full letter here: 

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— St. Croix Hospice has announced the opening of a new location in Sheboygan to meet the growing demand for services. 

“Decades ago, the majority of hospice patients had a cancer diagnosis,” said Sarah Holst, St. Croix Hospice regional director of clinical operations. “Today, patients with many life-limiting illnesses are enrolling in hospice, including individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, congestive heart failure and pulmonary disease.” 

As part of this model of care, specialists will go to where patients live including nursing homes, assisted living facilities or private residences. 

According to Holst, hospice care has been found to extend life for these patients by about a month. Plus, patients in hospice care are admitted to hospitals less frequently and spend less time in the intensive care unit near the end of life, a release from the company shows. 

St. Croix Hospice has more than 30 branches in Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Nebraska. 

See the release: 

— Orion Energy Systems, a manufacturer based in Manitowoc, expects to increase its revenue for this year by up to $20 million after expanding an existing project with a “major national account.” 

Installations for the project are planned to be completed between the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2021. LED lighting fixtures will be installed and connected to a smart control system to give facility managers more control. The name of the customer was not provided. 

“Orion’s on-time, on-budget performance with this national customer over the past year paved the way to extend our role in their LED lighting retrofit plans,” said Mike Altschaefl, CEO of Orion. 

See the release: 

— Applications are now open for the Wisconsin Family Business of the Year awards program, organizers recently announced. 

Now in its 17th year, the program is accepting nominations for companies based in the state. Grant Awards will be given to family businesses in various size categories, while Special Awards will go to companies excelling in a specific area. 

The deadline for nominations is June 15. This year’s awards will be presented at a banquet in late September. 

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# WEC Energy Group pledges $2 million to kick-start Milwaukee 7’s next campaign

# More than $29M planned to clean up Milwaukee estuary

# Very few Molson Coors employees in Denver choosing to move to Chicago or Milwaukee

# Marquette to build new $70 million business school building



– UW-Madison veterinary school featured in Super Bowl ad


– Last chance to apply for Alice in Dairyland


– Building Blocks: Froedtert in Wauwatosa


– UW releases expanded graduate student workplace policies

– ‘Uncertain and precarious:’ UW graduate students fight for improved workplace protections

– UW-Whitewater considers layoffs to offset enrollment decline


– Thin ice cancels several upcoming events, but outdoor enthusiasts still have plenty of options


– Eastek to eliminate 36 jobs in Menomonee Falls


– Harley-Davidson’s smaller motorcycle expected to debut in China in 2020

– Harley rival Indian sees motorcycle sales surge 37% following rollout of Challenger


– Executives encourage visits to downtown Milwaukee businesses despite DNC security zone

– Evers signs bill increasing money for homelessness shelters

– Governor signs order creating student debt task force


– Pair of industrial buildings proposed in Waukesha


– Plan Commission denial of Amazon plan raises concerns about demolition permit process

– Property tax payments due on Friday


– Bucks agree to $15 minimum wage at Fiserv Forum; new labor group hails victory


– WE Energies, community partners join MKE Tech Hub Coalition


– Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport saw single-digit decline in passengers in 2019


– Wisconsin schools asked to plan for solar projects


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

FBLA: Regional Leadership Conference features Wisconsin business leaders

Murphy Associates: PR-PDQ celebrates eighth year as public relations resource 

WMC: USMCA will grow Wisconsin’s economy