— Dem U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher are introducing legislation in their respective houses to support women in the trucking industry.
Currently, women make up 47 percent of the U.S. labor force, yet represent 24 percent of America’s trucking workforce and only about 7 percent of drivers.
The Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act would direct the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish a “Women of Trucking Advisory Board.” Under this bill, the board would identify barriers to entry for women in the trucking industry, work across organizations and companies to coordinate formal education and training programs and help identify and establish training and mentorship programs for women in the industry. The legislation also requires the FMCSA administrator to submit a report to Congress on the board’s findings and recommendations.
“In Wisconsin, we make things, and we need to ensure we have a strong workforce to transport our goods to market,” said Baldwin, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “Removing the barriers that get in the way of women pursuing and retaining careers in trucking is key.”
This legislation received widespread support from shipping and trucking organizations, including FedEx, American Trucking Associations, Women in Trucking Association and UPS. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also voiced support for the bill.
“At a time when trucking companies are struggling to find and retain workers, it’s critical we find ways to address this problem and remove barriers to entry for women in this field,” said Gallagher, a Green Bay area Republican. “I’m proud to join this effort which takes steps to examine ways we can expand opportunities for women and strengthen the trucking industry’s workforce.”
— Gov. Tony Evers has reappointed Rebecca Cameron Valcq for an additional two-year term as PSC chair and Tyler Huebner to a full six-year term as PSC commissioner.
Valcq was first appointed as commissioner to the Public Service Commission in January 2019 and chair for a two-year term in March 2019. She was unanimously confirmed by the state Senate for commissioner in November 2019. Valcq’s appointment as chair now expires March 2023, and her six-year term as a commissioner expires in 2025.
“Becky’s leadership at the PSC has been a critical force for furthering the expansion of broadband in Wisconsin and ensuring the financial health of our state’s utilities during the pandemic, while simultaneously protecting the public through the continuation of essential utility services,” Evers said. “Her continued leadership will be vital as our state bounces back and better from the ongoing pandemic.”
Huebner was appointed as commissioner by Evers last March to serve the remaining term of former Commissioner Michael Huebsch, who retired from the PSC in February 2020.
“Tyler has brought his passion and his experience to the PSC, and our state is better for it,” the guv said. “He will be a valuable contributor to our state’s continued transition towards carbon-free electricity by 2050, while preserving the PSC’s mission of providing safe, reliable, and affordable utility services.”
— The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is giving $100,000 to the Forest County Economic Development Partnership to test a tethered, drone-based system to provide high-speed internet in rural areas.
A key part of the pilot program kicked off last week with a partnership between Wisconsin TeleLift and the Northland Pines School District. The six-month project will use TeleLift’s tethered drone platforms fitted with cell phone towers to provide high-speed internet access to the roughly 10 percent of district students who currently have none.
The TeleLift program will test a system originally designed to catch poachers in South Africa’s game reserves to see if it can help the more than 1,300 students in the Northland Pines School District complete their homework.
Superintendent Scott Foster said that while the district provides students with Chromebooks and hotspots, not all students are able to use them at home and parts of the district still lack cell service.
— Developer Carl Ruedebusch, who serves on WEDC’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Committee, also contributed $100,000 to the pilot through his Eye on Entrepreneurs Network.
“The future is still these young kids and we can’t have them not having access to the internet,” said Ruedebusch, former chairman of the Vilas County Economic Development Corp. “If this proves out, then it’s replicable in any school district.”
The TeleLift technology has already been used to help support firefighter communications during the California wildfires and in Kenya to provide cell and internet access for refugee camps.
“The whole concept is we can now do dynamic networks as needed,” said Wisconsin TeleLift CEO Scott Williams. “We don’t replace infrastructure. We’re replacing the mindset that you have to have permanent infrastructure. We think it’s a truly disruptive technology.”
The system is designed to be highly portable and can be set up in minutes once it arrives on site. That portability will allow the district to move the platforms around to see where the service works best and even evaluate where to possibly invest in permanent infrastructure.
Earlier this year, Evers declared 2021 the Year of Broadband Access. His budget proposes nearly $200 million in funding for broadband, including $150 million toward broadband infrastructure in underserved areas. Broadband expansion has also been identified as a top economic development priority in WEDC’s Wisconsin Tomorrow report, the report of the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity, and the Governor’s Task Force on Rural Broadband.
“Access to broadband is really about access to opportunity,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “As has been shown again and again over the past year, reliable, high-speed internet is a necessity for everyone’s education, healthcare and business.”
— Wisconsin’s COVID-19 patient census has dropped more than 27 percent in the past two weeks, following a downward trend since record spikes in mid-November.
Intensive care unit census dropped 37 percent, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s COVID-19 dashboard. The latest WHA coronavirus update shows COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU census numbers are at levels last seen in early September.
WHA reports 290 hospitalizations and 73 ICU patients. A month ago, those figures were 718 and 166, respectively. On Nov. 17, Wisconsin hospitals had 2,277 COVID-19 patients.
— The Department of Health Services has released a COVID-19 vaccine provider map to help people connect with vaccinators and improve transparency in the distribution process.
“Wisconsin continues to make great strides in vaccinating people all across the state,” said DHS interim Secretary Karen Timberlake. “We want to provide as many options as possible for people who are currently eligible to access COVID-19 vaccine. This map will help to illustrate those options.”
The map displays COVID-19 vaccine providers and community-based vaccination clinics that are actively vaccinating in Wisconsin. Vaccine sites are coded by shape and color to indicate whether they are open to all eligible populations, only open to specific eligible groups, or targeting their own clients or patients.
Users can select a site from the map to find contact information and populations served by each location, or consult the table underneath. DHS plans to update the map every two weeks with data reported by vaccine providers. All sites shown on the map require pre-scheduled appointments, and availability is not guaranteed.
— Vaccine eligibility opens up today for more people, such as teachers, bus drivers and farmers.
Eligible groups include education and child care workers, people enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline essential health care personnel, and those living and working in group housing. But DHS will be targeting distribution to educators and child care workers.
See eligibility criteria here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm
— Since mid-December, Wisconsin providers have administered more than 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
According to DHS’ vaccine dashboard, more than 486,000 of those were booster shots, meaning about 8.3 percent of Wisconsinites have completed a two-dose vaccine series and are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
More than 53 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have received at least one dose. More than 15 percent of Wisconsinites — 901,237 people — have gotten at least the first dose.
The Badger State is ranked No. 3 by Bloomberg among the 50 states for percent of vaccines used and No. 10 by global database Global Change Data Lab for the total number of doses administered compared by population.
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# Spring Training: After Season Shaped By Coronavirus, Brewers Prepare For More Normal 2021
– Evers Signs Bill Allowing Co-ops to Hold Meetings Virtually http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=204&yr=2021
– State Crop Values Rose by 33 Percent in 2020 http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=206&yr=2021
– Crop Insurance Deadline Nears for Wisconsin Farmers http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=207&yr=2021
– Madison area schools open since September say in-person learning can be safe amid COVID-19 pandemic https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/local_schools/madison-area-schools-open-since-september-say-in-person-learning-can-be-safe-amid-covid/article_3120aa3f-39fc-5027-bca3-47bd99c49898.html
– Data Shows Wisconsinites Flocked To The Outdoors As A Respite From The Pandemic https://www.wpr.org/data-shows-wisconsinites-flocked-outdoors-respite-pandemic
– Dunn County Working On CWD Eradication https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2021/02/28/dunn-county-working-on-cwd-eradication/
# FINANCIAL SERVICES
– Koss family sold another $3.5M in shares as stock briefly jumped https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/27/koss-family-sold-another-35m-in-shares-as-stock.html
– Milwaukee-area manufacturing sector grows, but labor and supply chain challenges remain https://biztimes.com/milwaukee-area-manufacturing-sector-grows-but-labor-and-supply-chain-challenges-remain/
– Waukesha County metal fabricator buys larger building in Sussex https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/26/waukesha-county-metal-fabricator-buys-building.html
– Rep. Ron Kind ‘Taking A Look’ At US Senate Run https://www.wpr.org/rep-ron-kind-taking-look-us-senate-run
– Wisconsin Representatives Say COVID-19 Relief Will Buy State, US Economy More Time To Vaccinate https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-representatives-say-covid-19-relief-will-buy-state-us-economy-more-time-vaccinate
# REAL ESTATE
– Bruce Company proposes major redevelopment of its Middleton property https://madison.com/wsj/business/bruce-company-proposes-major-redevelopment-of-its-middleton-property/article_ebe9c2af-53de-596c-a29d-a107b70d5ca6.html#tracking-source=home-top-story
– Milwaukee Bucks pleased with Covid operations for having fans back in Fiserv Forum https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/26/milwaukee-bucks-pleased-with-operations-for-having.html
– Epic Systems employees battle management for more diversity and equity initiatives https://madison.com/wsj/business/epic-systems-employees-battle-management-for-more-diversity-and-equity-initiatives/article_09e6171a-db97-5102-a862-3d4e4c1fbdb8.html
– Milwaukee Public Museum’s re-accreditation application on hold https://biztimes.com/milwaukee-public-museums-re-accreditation-application-on-hold/
– Suburban Milwaukee hotel markets faring better than downtown https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/02/26/suburban-milwaukee-hotel-markets-faring-better.html
– Renewable Energy Group Sues Regulators, Hoping To Remove Barriers To Clean Energy Development https://www.wpr.org/renewable-energy-group-sues-regulators-hoping-remove-barriers-clean-energy-development
# PRESS RELEASES
<i>See these and other press releases:
– Water Quality Network: Those responsible for bringing mining to Wisconsin’s water-rich environment
– Community Shares of Wisconsin: Hosts The Big Share, campaign will support nonprofits working for a just recovery
– DATCP: Public invited to attend virtual consumer protection summit
– DATCP: Participates in national winter policy conference