TUE AM News: Evers required to submit capacity limit order as a rule; WEDC says Foxconn falls short of benchmarks for billions in tax credits

— The Joint Committee on Review of Administrative Rules voted along party lines to require Gov. Tony Evers to submit his emergency capacity limit order as a rule, kicking off a process lawmakers can use to suspend the order.

The vote starts a 30-day clock for the Evers administration to issue a capacity limit rule, a step that would then allow the panel to move to suspend it without action before the full Legislature.

The panel’s Dems slammed the move. Sen. Chris Larson of Milwaukee said it was “asinine to have an academic discussion in an ivory tower” on whether Evers’ order should be subject to the rulemaking process rather than taking measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, added yesterday’s executive session was “political theater,” noting Evers’ capacity limit order is set to expire on Nov. 2 while the 30-day timeline for DHS to issue a rule won’t expire until Nov. 11.

“So clearly this is a tactic to delay or just to have more political theater when we could be doing meaningful work,” she said.

Sen. Steve Nass, a Whitewater Republican who co-chairs the panel, countered the hearing was not about fighting COVID-19 but rather “whether government should go beyond the consent of the governed.”

“That’s why we’re here and we are here to stop that,” he said. “It’s called doing your job.”

Under state law, the panel has authority to determine if a “statement of policy or an interpretation of a statute” should be considered a rule. If the committee decides such a statement or interpretation falls into that category, as it did yesterday, it can direct an agency to enact that statement or interpretation as a rule.

Once issued, the panel has the power to suspend the rule at any time after it receives testimony at a public hearing. That action then would require the committee to introduce a bill in both chambers of the Legislature to support the suspension, but lawmakers would not be required to take up those bills until next year.

Margit Kelley, a Legislative Council senior staff attorney who focuses on administrative rules, told WisPolitics.com the panel’s move doesn’t invalidate Evers’ order.

“I approach it from the point of view that the committee has power over administrative rules and it is not currently an administrative rule,” she said.

But she added state statute doesn’t explicitly say what happens to policy in the meantime.

— Foxconn is not eligible for a multi-billion dollar tax credit this year after failing to meet the threshold for job creation and investment outlined in an agreement with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes in a letter yesterday to Foxconn Vice Chairman Jay Lee said the two entities need a new agreement that aligns with Foxconn’s plans for development in Wisconsin. WEDC contends the company scrapped a plan to build a fabrication facility outlined in the original 2017 agreement.

The Walker administration negotiated a contract with the Taiwanese tech giant that would have given the company more than $3 billion in tax incentives, if Foxconn met the job creation and investment requirements.

Foxconn’s project — starting up a Generation 10.5 LCD screen fabrication facility and supporting operations in the Electronics and Information Technology Manufacturing Zone in Racine County — was expected to create 2,080 full-time jobs and include over $3 billion in capital expenditures by the end of 2019.

WEDC’s initial review of the project reveals that Foxconn employed fewer than the minimum required 520 employees and had invested roughly $300 million, according to a project verification letter.

Foxconn argued that WEDC’s determination of ineligibility is a “disappointment and a surprise that threatens good faith negotiations.”

“To date, Foxconn has not received any tax credits from the State of Wisconsin despite achieving employment levels above 520 people and investing $750 million dollars in Wisconsin that includes over a half a billion dollars invested in Foxconn’s manufacturing park,” the company said. “Foxconn came to the table with WEDC officials in good faith to discuss new terms of agreement which have consequential impacts to Racine County and the Village of Mount Pleasant, third party partners in this development project.”

Foxconn’s Lee had expressed interest in a different type of incentive contract, according to Hughes’ letter. She told Lee that while WEDC has worked with the Foxconn team to explore those opportunities without success, her commitment “remains steadfast.”

“Dr. Lee, there is a path open for incentivizing additional development in the Zone on a win/win basis,” Hughes wrote. “Once Foxconn is able to provide more accurate details of the proposed project, such as its size, scope, anticipated capital investment, and job creation, WEDC would be able to offer support for the project with tax incentives as it does for many large and small Wisconsin businesses.”

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said yesterday’s announcement “cements Foxconn’s legacy in Wisconsin as one of broken promises” and charged lawmakers with chasing “pie-in-the-sky projects” for political gain.

He said Republican lawmakers “should be held accountable for the fact that over $1 billion of public money has already been spent to date on a project not compliant with the signed contract.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was not immediately available for comment.

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce will be promoting the state’s manufacturing industry throughout October. 

Manufacturing produces $63 billion in total output each year. That’s 19 percent of Wisconsin’s total GDP, according to WMC. Additionally, the state’s more than 9,000 manufacturers employ nearly 500,000 people.

“Manufacturers are the lifeblood of our local and state economies,” said WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer. “While this year has proved challenging for manufacturers, their response has been indescribable. Whether it was switching over production lines to manufacture PPE and testing supplies or spending countless dollars and time making changes to protect employees, our state’s top industry has shown true resiliency in 2020.”

WMC is wrapping up its annual “Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin” contest on Wednesday during its virtual Made in Wisconsin Luncheon. The organization will also be hosting multiple webinars during October focused on manufacturing, in addition to a social media campaign that will run through the end of the month.

Learn more about the Made in Wisconsin Luncheon here: https://www.wmc.org/event/state-of-wisconsin-business-event/ 

— The Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment recommends Gov. Tony Evers request an annual GPR allocation of $3.14 million to expand a youth talent development system statewide.

This was one of four budget recommendations the CWI provided yesterday on key workforce investments. The investments will help Wisconsin employers find the skilled talent they need while providing resources, training and reskilling for workers to access in-demand careers.

The other recommendations include: 

* support programs to assist students in paying for materials associated with the apprenticeship program;

* support flexible job training options along with employment-related support to maximize efficient use of resources to meet customers’ employment needs;

* and direct the Department of Workforce Development to coordinate with the Wisconsin Broadband Office to focus resources on improving broadband expansion access in rural and underserved areas of Wisconsin. 

“I’m grateful for the work of the Council and Chairman Mark Tyler for his continued service,” Evers said. “These are critically important issues, and I look forward to reviewing the Council’s recommendations.”

View the full report of CWI recommendations: http://www.wi-cwi.org/resources.htm

— Wisconsin reported 1,956 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, down from last week’s peak days of over 2,000 and 3,000 single-day new cases.

However, the case count still brings the seven-day average to 2,547, a new record more than double that of a month ago.

During the week of Oct. 4, preliminary data show the 25-34 age range brought in more confirmed cases than any other age group for the third consecutive week, according to the Department of Health Services’ coronavirus dashboard. 

DHS also reports the 25-34 age group has the highest infection rate for the week of Oct. 4 at 256 cases per 100,000 people. The preliminary data is also showing the infection rate and weekly case counts slowing in all age groups.

The 18-24 group continues to have the greatest amount of cumulative confirmed cases at 30,763 and cumulative case rate at 5,635 infections per 100,000 population.

Breaking down the data differently, 24 percent of Wisconsin’s confirmed coronavirus cases are in the 20-29 age group. The closest group following is the 30-39 age group at 15 percent. 

Individuals under the age of 18 account for the least amount of confirmed cases and the lowest infection rate of all other age groups.

Yesterday’s new confirmed cases were out of 9,771 people tested. The seven-day average of new confirmed cases per total people tested is at 19.1 percent, up from 13.3 percent a month ago. In terms of total tests collected, the average positive test percentage is at 9.9 percent, up from 7.8 percent last month.

The state reports 152,192 cumulative COVID-19 cases with 121,204 of those people recovered. The death rate for Wisconsin residents who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 is at 1 percent.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: https://www.wispolitics.com/wisconsin-coronavirus-resources/  

— The state also reported nine new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s toll to 1,474.

People ages 70-79 and 80-89 with confirmed cases together account for 54 percent of the state’s deaths at 371 and 431 deaths, respectively. The age groups had an increase of 23 and 24 deaths, respectively, over the past seven days.

Milwaukee County leads the state’s count with 549 reported deaths followed by Racine County with 100 deaths.

Counties reporting deaths in the double digits include: Waukesha (98), Brown (75), Kenosha (68), Winnebago (45), Dane (43), Outagamie (37), Washington (37), Rock (36), Walworth (36), Marathon (30), Waupaca (24), Ozaukee (21), Sheboygan (20), Dodge (19), Grant (19), Fond du Lac (15), Portage (14), Calumet (10) and La Crosse (10).

Eight counties in Wisconsin haven’t reported any COVID-19 deaths: Chippewa, Crawford, Douglas, Iowa, Lafayette, Menominee, Pepin and Price.

— Outside of mink, Wisconsin has reported two dogs that tested positive for COVID-19, according to DATCP.

Wisconsin is not seeing any cases in production agriculture outside of a fur farm in Taylor County where at least nine mink have died due to the virus. 

DATCP spokesman Kevin Hoffman said mink have a protein receptor in their lungs that may make them more vulnerable to coronavirus. Currently, no evidence suggests that mink can spread COVID-19 to humans.

The Taylor County farm is under quarantine — no animals or animal products are allowed off of the farm. DATCP is offering guidance for composting carcasses, which Hoffman said is an effective method for destroying SARS-CoV-2, the COVID-19-causing pathogen. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released guidance over the summer for mink farms on preventive and biosecurity measures. DATCP has shared the guidance with veterinarians, who in turn shared it with mink farmers. 

According to the recommendations, mink workers should take the same precautions they would with other people when around healthy animals. This includes maintaining a social distance of six feet when possible, minimizing close contact and wearing a cloth face covering when feasible.


# Wisconsin, Dane County set COVID-19 hospitalization records again 


# Epic, Lyft partnership allows health system staff to arrange non-emergency medical transportation


# Judge denies GOP effort to end Tony Evers’ mask mandate, upholding governor’s ability to issue health orders 




– Agronomist says soybean yields have been a pleasant surprise https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/agronomist-says-soybean-yields-have-been-a-pleasant-surprise/ 

– Court Orders Divestiture of Former Dean Foods Plants http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=1088&yr=2020 

– Dairy Innovation Hub Releases First Annual Report https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/10/12/dairy-innovation-hub-releases-first-annual-report/ 

– U.S. Dairy Advances Journey to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/10/12/u-s-dairy-advances-journey-to-net-zero-carbon-emissions-by-2050/ 

– Retail Demand for Beef Remains Strong https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/10/12/retail-demand-for-beef-remains-strong/ 


– Fewer colleges than expected close because of Covid-19 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/12/higher-ed-school-closings-less-than-expected.html 


– Wisconsin’s Johnson says COVID-19 ‘is not a death sentence’ https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-wisconsin-archive-f884f9603fa1cf60ad15f4525ea5564b

– Wisconsin Nursing Home Outbreaks May Be Contributing To Limited Hospital Capacity https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-nursing-home-outbreaks-may-be-contributing-limited-hospital-capacity 


– Why Wisconsin’s largest business group endorses mask-wearing campaign while opposing Evers’ mandate https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/12/why-wmc-opposes-mask-mandate-but-wants-masks-worn.html 


– Big Ten Football To Open With Badgers On Oct. 23 https://www.wpr.org/big-ten-football-open-badgers-oct-23 


– Northwestern Mutual to hold Women in Tech conference later this year https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/12/northwestern-mutual-to-hold-women-in-tech-conferen.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

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