WED AM News: Badger Institute calls for reform of occupation licensing; a third person in Wisconsin tests positive for COVID-19

— The Badger Institute is calling for regulatory reform of occupation licensing as a solution to Wisconsin’s labor shortage.

“Wisconsin has labor shortages, and we need as many workers as we can get. And we need to be attracting workers from other states,” said Collin Roth, director of communication at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. 

Iris Hentze, a policy specialist with The National Conference of State Legislatures, at a Capitol event shared a report demonstrating licensing regulation reforms “address unnecessary employment barriers that affect specific populations.”

An occupational license is a credential the government requires a worker to hold in certain occupations. According to the NCSL report, the populations most affected by the requirements are active duty military and veterans, military spouses, immigrants, people with a criminal record and borrowers who have defaulted on their student loans.

Occupational licensing changes have been supported by both the Trump and Obama administrations, said Julie Grace, a policy analyst for the Badger Institute’s Center for Opportunity.

“That’s because it’s really not a red or a blue issue,” she said. “It’s an issue that impacts nearly a quarter of our workforce and nearly every consumer in our state.”

See the full story in WisBusiness:

— UW-Milwaukee is extending its spring break to two weeks after an employee at the UWM Foundation was tested Monday for coronavirus.

According to a release put out by the university, the employee became ill after contact with someone who had been to a country with a level three travel warning, and the test results will not be known until the end of the week.

UW-Milwaukee is preparing to move most of its classes for all three of its campuses online following the extended spring break.

See the release: 

— A third person in Wisconsin has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Public Health Madison and Dane County in a release said the person was exposed while traveling in the U.S. and is isolated at home. 

State health officials yesterday announced the state’s second case. That patient is isolated at home in Pierce County.

The case announced today is the second for Dane County.  

Health officials are trying to determine who may have come in contact with both patients. 

Officials in a media teleconference said both new cases originated from domestic travel within the United States, but that the risk for community spread in the state is still low for now. 

“We expect that at some point Wisconsin will have broader spread,” said Traci DeSalvo, the section chief for the Bureau of Communicable Disease Epidemiology. 

— A Senate panel largely backed a bill that would create new regulations for middlemen between drug manufacturers and pharmacies that negotiate prices with both.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee voted 4-1 to approve a series of regulations for pharmacy benefit managers. Sen. Dale Kooyenga cast the only vote against the bill. The Brookfield Republican was not immediately available for comment.

So-called PBMs are currently regulated by federal law, but the Office of Commissioner of Insurance has no authority over them.

The proposal taken up today aims to hold down prescription drug prices through a number of measures. The bill would: require PBMS to be licensed through OCI; require pharmacies publish prices of the 100 most commonly prescribed generic prescription drug equivalents; and call for PBMs to give notice to patients of a change in drug plan unless there is a generic equivalent available, among other things.

The Assembly unanimously signed off on the bill early this year.

See the bill:

— Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler alongside state lawmakers today slammed the Trump administration for “empty promises” to boost the state’s manufacturing and dairy industries.

In a teleconference, the group cited data from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress saying President Trump’s trade war with China has increased the number of mass layoffs by 25 percent and that overall unemployment is now on the rise after historic lows.

“Ten mass layoffs that we can count have occured in the Eau Claire area since the Trump administration initiated its foolish trade war, affecting at least 410 workers,” said state Sen. Jeff Smith, D-Eau Claire. “Well my constituents in western Wisconsin deserve far better than empty promises from President Trump, and we’re hoping we will see much better results in the fall election.”

But Republican Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Alesha Guenther told the president “continues to deliver results for Wisconsin farmers and workers,” saying manufacturing jobs in the state are actually up and that the average Wisconsinite pays $1,411 less in federal taxes since he assumed office.

“Though commodity prices fell and farms were lost at a comparable rate during the Obama administration, Democrats hypocritically think they can exploit their troubles for political gain,” Guenther said. “The fact is, President Trump and Republicans respect blue-collar workers and the rural way of life. The Democratic Party doesn’t.”

See more:…isconsin-economy/

— The EPA announced it will spend up to $539,922 to conduct a hazardous waste cleanup at the former Battery and Electronics Recycling Inc. in Mt. Horeb. 

According to a release, the EPA expects it will take five weeks to remove about 75,000 pounds of discarded batteries and 40,500 pounds of hazardous chemicals.

BERI started operating in late 2016 and was evicted in December of 2017. In October 2019, the Wisconsin DNR referred the site to the EPA due to the size and cost of cleanup. 

See the release: 

— The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey found hiring intentions remain stable for Q2 as 54 percent of employers can’t find the talent to meet their needs. . 

“For some time we have seen stable hiring intentions with variations across regions and industries in a slow growth environment,” Jonas Prising, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

The survey asked 60,000 employers in 43 countries whether they intended to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter. The research was conducted in January of 2020. 

“While it is too early to predict the potential impact of Covid-19 on global hiring, the reality today is that unemployment remains low in many markets and organizations globally are still struggling to find people with the right skills,” said Prising.

See the release: 




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