TUE AM News: $454M raised by 123 early stage companies sets state record; WMC says DNR lacks authority to impose high-capacity well permit limits

— More than $454 million was raised by 123 Wisconsin early stage companies in 2019, a record for any single year in Wisconsin.

That’s  according to a report by the Wisconsin Technology Council and its Tech Council Investor Networks. 

The report, “The Wisconsin Portfolio” also showed 123 early stage deals – up from 121 in 2018.

The largest deals reported were SHINE Medical Technologies at $132 million, NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes at $75 million, Redox at $36.1 million, Fetch Rewards at $25 million and Fasetto at $20 million.

Fifty-two Wisconsin companies each raised at least $1 million from investors, up from 46 companies in 2018.

Over the five-year period beginning in 2015, Wisconsin early stage companies have raised $1.47 billion. And a five-year rolling average shows a positive trend of growing investor participation in the state.

Also in the report, average round size is at an all-time high of $3.8 million while the median round size surpassed $700,000 for the first time. This growth in median and average round sizes comes after a slump in 2017.

“It’s hard to tell what 2020 holds for Wisconsin or any state, for that matter, due to COVID-19 and its overall effect on the economy,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “However, the solid foundation in place through 2019 should carry over in Wisconsin once the pandemic subsides.”

Other trends worth noting include that more women-led and women-owned businesses raised funding in 2019 at 22 percent of companies that raised funds. 

With the national average between 20 percent and 25 percent, Wisconsin is competitive for women entrepreneurs who seek funding, according to the Wisconsin Technology Council.

The two major industries continued to be life sciences and information technology, which combined for nearly 66 percent of all deals. But Wisconsin’s technology sector diversity showed with deals ranging from advanced manufacturing to digital health, from biotechnology to consumer products and from software to medical devices.

Investors from outside Wisconsin’s borders showed to play a significant role in funding state companies in 2019. Investors from Chicago, Boston, New York and California were in about 39 percent of deals in which the investors are known.

Read the full report here: http://wisconsintechnologycouncil.com/publications/wisconsin-portfolio/ 

— Wisconsin had 4.5 days suitable for fieldwork for the week ending June 28, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

Highs in the 80s helped support crop growth and development last week though rain and thunderstorms interrupted fieldwork. Cranberries were blooming, and strawberry picking was in full swing while farmers made hay between showers.

Northwestern Wisconsin has been missed by most of this month’s precipitation. Reporters in the area commented soils were very dry and crops were showing signs of stress. Southern and central Wisconsin experienced the opposite with heavy rains and some flooding and standing water reported. 

Corn was already knee to waist high in many fields and rated 78 percent good to excellent statewide. Soybeans emergence was 97 percent, 25 days ahead of last year, and rated 79 percent good to excellent. 

Oats headed was 63 percent, 12 days ahead of last year, and rated 79 percent good to excellent statewide. Potato condition was rated 96 percent in good to excellent condition.

Winter wheat was 89 percent headed, 11 days ahead of last year, and rated 76 percent in good to excellent condition. 

— Three Wisconsin energy companies are seeing over $20 million in loans to improve rural electric infrastructure in the state.

The money comes from the USDA as part of a $1.6 billion package, the Electric Loan Program, to provide loans and loan guarantees to rural electric cooperatives and utilities in 21 states including Wisconsin.

“Reliable and modern 21st century infrastructure, including electric infrastructure and smart grid technologies, is a cornerstone for prosperity in rural America,” USDA Rural Development Wisconsin State Director Frank Frassetto said. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities in building their futures.”

Dunn Energy Cooperative, headquartered in Menomonie, is receiving a $9.5 million loan to connect 599 consumers and build and improve 73 miles of line. This loan includes $3.3 million in smart grid technologies, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage. 

Scenic Rivers Energy Cooperative’s investment loan of $10 million will be used to connect 805 customers and improve 422 miles of line. This loan includes $493,000 in smart grid technologies. Scenic River Energy is headquartered in Lancaster.

OE WI Solar LLC is receiving a $960,000 loan to develop a 0.70 megawatt solar photovoltaic project in the town of Ashland.

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce claims the Wisconsin DNR lacks statutory authority to impose certain limits on high-capacity well permit applications.

“Not only did Attorney General Kaul act unethically by tacitly issuing an opinion while this matter is before the state’s highest court, now DNR is hastily forcing farmers, food producers and other employers to follow burdensome regulations that are far outside the scope of its authority,” said Scott Manley, WMC executive vice president of government relations.

This comes after the DNR’s decision in late April to request a formal opinion from Kaul, a Democrat. In his response on May 1,  Kaul rescinded an opinion written by former AG Brad Schimel that stated agencies need explicit statutory authority to place conditions on high-capacity well permit holders because of 2011 Act 21. 

WMC claims that the case, Legislature v. Palm upholds the validity of Act 21, which constrains DNR’s ability to expand its regulatory authority. 

“This decision recognized that the Wisconsin Legislature eliminated the judicial doctrine of ‘express and implied’ authority that agencies previously used to imply legal authority to regulate outside the language of the statutes,” WMC said. “It is now crystal clear that rules can only be promulgated by the agency if the agency has explicit authority to do so.”

WMC also noted that the DNR’s guidance document is a rule that came from an improper rulemaking process. WMC explained that the agency did not give the regulated community the opportunity to express concerns before the rules bound them and it did not have legislative oversight.

“So, even assuming the Supreme Court concludes DNR has broad authorities and discretion in implementing its high capacity well permit program, to do so on the permit-by-permit basis rather than rulemaking would be inconsistent with the fundamental principles behind Wisconsin’s Administrative Procedures Act,” WMC said. “It would violate Chapter 227.”

— Wisconsin’s insurance commissioner informed health insurers it is illegal under federal and state law to “exclude, limit, or deny benefits to an insured on the basis of the insured’s gender identity.”

In a bulletin to providers, Commissioner Mark Afable outlined the legal requirements banning discrimination in health insurance coverage for therapy, medical and surgical procedures, and prescription medications as they apply to those who are transgender or diagnosed with gender dysphoria. According to the bulletin, excluding, limiting or denying covered benefits on the basis of gender identity violates state law. Afable added it also violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

The bulletin comes after the U.S. Supreme Court decision that found the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on employment discrimination based on sex also applies to gay and transgender employees.

Afable wrote OCI won’t accept policy form filings that contain exclusions or limitations on benefits due to a person’s gender identity as part of the agency’s effort to enforce the law.

Read the bulletin: https://oci.wi.gov/Documents/Regulation/Bulletin20200629Nondiscrimination.pdf 

— Dane County has not met the requirements to move to phase three of its reopening plan, Forward Dane.

In order to move to phase three, more than half of the metrics in Dane County must be green, and no metrics in Dane County and the southern region of the state can be red. Yesterday, two metrics were labeled red for both the county and the southern region: cases per day and community spread.

In order to be green, cases per day must be below a threshold of 0.71 new cases per 100,000 people per day — below four cases per day for Dane County and eight cases per day for the southern region. Yesterday it was 44 cases and 67 cases, respectively. 

Public Health Madison & Dane County’s metrics show that community spread, the proportion of new cases over the most recent 14-day period who don’t know where they could have gotten COVID, is at 37 percent for the county and 36 for the southern region.

Lab reporting timeliness/contact tracing is labeled yellow for the county. All other metrics are green.

See the metrics: https://publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus/data 

See the snapshot: https://publichealthmdc.com/documents/2020-06-29_data_snapshot.pdf 

— The state is recording 315 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, the second day of decline.

In addition to a decline in cases, the percentage of positive COVID tests fell to 5.3 percent from 7.1 percent Sunday.

The new cases bring the cumulative count to 28,058. The state reported 5,927 tests yesterday, far from the state’s daily testing capacity of 18,425 tests.

As of yesterday, the state collected over 555,417 tests. Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected over 167,000 of those statewide.

The following community-based testing sites are operating at least one day this week, but may be closed for the Fourth of July holiday: the New Chester Fire Department in Adams County, Alliant Energy Center in Dane County, Kronshage Park in Grant County, UMOS and Custer Stadium in Milwaukee County, the National Guard Armory in Monroe County and Burlington High School in Racine County.

The National Guard is conducting site-based specimen collection in Clyman in Dodge County, the Jackson Correctional Institution, the New Lisbon Correctional Center in Juneau County, the Lincoln Hills School and the McNaughton Correctional Center in Lincoln County, the Southern Wisconsin Center in Racine County, New Richmond in St. Croix County, the Sauk County Jail and at senior living facilities in Sheboygan Falls. 

See a map of community-based testing sites here: https://wispolitics.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c540e35869d1ba4ca61b4228e&id=e1d4b7d0de&e=63cd46885a 

— Wisconsin had no new COVID-19 deaths yesterday, keeping the state’s death toll at 777.

The number of recovered patients number 22,217 or 79 percent, while 3 percent of patients have died. Active cases, cases still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis, number 18 percent.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (389), Racine (61), Kenosha (43), Brown (42), Waukesha (38), Dane (32), Rock (23), Walworth (18), Ozaukee (15), Washington (15), Grant (13), Winnebago (11), Outagamie (8), Clark (6), Fond du Lac (6), Waupaca (6), Dodge (5), Jefferson (4), Richland (4) and Sheboygan (4).

Door, Forest, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo and Calumet counties report two deaths each.

Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Eau Claire, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Polk, St. Croix and Wood counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: https://wispolitics.us12.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c540e35869d1ba4ca61b4228e&id=7603118ee6&e=63cd46885a 

— The Wisconsin Paper Council says Pat Stevens is the council’s new vice president of environment and regulatory relations. 

“Pat’s impressive environmental experience and legal background will bring us to a new level of strategic capability for our members,” WPC President Scott Suder said. We are very pleased to have a professional of such magnitude as a member of our team.” 

Prior to joining WPC, Pat Stevens was a partner at Axley Law Firm. He also served as assistant deputy secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, where he oversaw several departments and divisions as well as the DNR Law Enforcement Bureau. Additionally, he served as Air, Waste and Remediation & Redevelopment division administrator and the Environmental Management division administrator at the DNR. 

Stevens’ trade association experience stems from his work with Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

“I’m excited to begin work on behalf of an industry that is one of the economic engines of Wisconsin which supports thousands of family-supporting jobs throughout Wisconsin,” Stevens said. “I look forward to the challenge of assisting with the Wisconsin Paper Council’s resurgence and strengthening its advocacy presence throughout the regulatory community.” 


# City of Milwaukee set to loosen restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing 50% capacity 


# Lives On Hold: Pandemic Exposes Failures Of Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance System 


# Madison police try to ‘balance the razor’s edge’ to protect right to protest, stop violence 




– Dairy in demand: Pepin County drive-thru breakfast draws big response https://www.leadertelegram.com/news/front-page/dairy-in-demand-pepin-county-drive-thru-breakfast-draws-big-response/article_c1887724-b156-5d7c-8219-9543c6723836.html 

– Lanesboro Sales Commission sees positive movement in beef https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/06/29/lanesboro-sales-commission-sees-positive-movement-in-beef/ 

– Pork Industry Supports Bill Helping Farmers Participate in Carbon Markets https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/06/29/pork-industry-supports-bill-helping-farmers-participate-in-carbon-markets/ 

– End of Livestock Backups Nowhere in Sight https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/06/29/end-of-livestock-backups-nowhere-in-sight/ 

– ‘Dairy Brain’ project asks farmers to help create smarter dairies https://news.cals.wisc.edu/2020/06/25/dairy-brain-project-asks-farmers-to-help-create-smarter-dairies/ 


– Wisconsin can seize economic opportunities in new ideas created during pandemic, state leaders say https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/29/innovative-pivots-during-pandemic-could-help-wisco.html  


– Madison School Board Votes To End Contract With Police Department https://www.wpr.org/madison-school-board-votes-end-contract-police-department 

– Lawmaker Says UW-Extension Undermining 4-H https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/06/29/lawmaker-says-uw-extension-undermining-4-h/ 


– Small businesses could begin receiving We’re All In grant money within days, WEDC chief says https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/29/wedc-says-small-businesses-could-start-receiving.html 

– DATCP & Extension to Hold Webinar on Applying for State Grants http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=697&yr=2020 


– Health Care Workers Renew Call For Hazard Pay As COVID-19 Cases Rise https://www.wpr.org/health-care-workers-renew-call-hazard-pay-covid-19-cases-rise 

– In EC County, new virus cases swell over weekend; not distancing at gatherings a likely culprit, official says


– Bars, weddings, parties: County says people 21 to 30 caused biggest spike in coronavirus https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2020/06/29/brown-county-residents-asked-take-more-responsibility-against-coronavirus/3278100001/ 

– Wisconsin nursing homes want to keep testing regularly for COVID-19, but get little specifics on how https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2020/06/29/wisconsin-nursing-homes-know-they-have-test-covid-19-keep-staff-and-residents-safe-but-specifics-how/3221985001/ 

– Two more La Crosse PD officers test positive for COVID https://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/two-more-la-crosse-pd-officers-test-positive-for-covid/article_3bc466eb-a821-52f8-9f14-9b078778efec.html

– Settlement reached in lawsuit against UnityPoint Health over data breaches https://lacrossetribune.com/news/state-and-regional/settlement-reached-in-lawsuit-against-unitypoint-health-over-data-breaches/article_e3475431-a19c-5e26-9a42-c9a617bf8c1c.html 

– 1 new case of COVID-19 in Northwestern Wisconsin on June 29 https://www.superiortelegram.com/newsmd/coronavirus/6554971-1-new-case-of-COVID-19-in-Northwestern-Wisconsin-on-June-29 


– American Family Insurance Data Science Institute awards “mini grants” to advance data science https://news.wisc.edu/american-family-insurance-data-science-institute-awards-mini-grants-to-advance-data-science/ 


– Briggs & Stratton production change will also eliminate 120 temp jobs https://biztimes.com/briggs-stratton-production-change-will-also-eliminate-120-temp-jobs/ 


– Fannie Lou Hamer’s declaration ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired’ is still a rallying cry for Black people in Milwaukee https://www.jsonline.com/in-depth/news/special-reports/2020/06/25/milwaukee-has-made-little-progress-toward-equity-how-can-change/3181671001/

– Appeals court shortens early voting, makes other changes that revert state to stricter election laws https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/politics/2020/06/29/wisconsin-early-voting-limited-appeals-court-tightens-election-law/3283006001/ 


– Homebuyers Face Fierce Competition As Market Inventory, Affordability Slide https://www.wpr.org/homebuyers-face-fierce-competition-market-inventory-affordability-slide 

– Construction begins on third building at Sturevant’s Enterprise Business Park https://biztimes.com/construction-begins-on-third-building-at-sturevants-enterprise-business-park/ 

– Balancing act: Washington County emerges as a place for development https://biztimes.com/balancing-act-washington-county-emerges-as-a-place-for-development/ 


– Pick ‘n Save parent Kroger makes decision on ‘hero pay’ https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/29/kroger-makes-decision-on-hero-pay.html 


– NFL decision on stadiums could cost Packers over $7 million as fans lose seats https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2020/06/29/nfl-decision-game-attendance-green-bay-packers-7-million-year/3277739001/ 


– Marcus Corp. To Lay Off More Than 400 In Milwaukee, Elsewhere https://www.wpr.org/marcus-corp-lay-more-400-milwaukee-elsewhere 

– La Crosse Oktoberfest celebrations cancelled for 2020 https://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/la-crosse-oktoberfest-celebrations-cancelled-for-2020/article_15007e84-5ed4-58b1-b406-ed8f944915a6.html#tracking-source=home-the-latest 

– Following DNC announcement, Wisconsin Center District begins bringing back employees https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/29/wisconsin-center-district-bringing-back-employees.html 


– Coronavirus: State Utility Regulators Discuss Response https://www.wpr.org/coronavirus-state-utility-regulators-discuss-response 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>

– WMC: Disputes DNR’s authority to enact high capacity well restrictions https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wmc-disputes-dnrs-authority-to-enact-high-capacity-well-restrictions/ 

– Wisconsin Paper Council: Announces new addition to its executive leadership team https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisconsin-paper-council-announces-new-addition-to-its-executive-leadership-team-2/