MON AM News: Budget provision would allow bars to remain open until 4 a.m. four weeks a year; Over 12 percent of Wisconsinites fully vaccinated against COVID

— The DNC bar hours bill is back. Municipalities could allow bars and restaurants to stay open until 4 a.m. for up to four weeks a year, under a provision in Gov. Tony Evers’ budget.

But the state’s bar industry isn’t on board this time.

The provision would ensure cities hosting large events — such as Milwaukee with the 2020 Democratic National Convention — could accommodate a late-drinking crowd without coming back to the Capitol for special permission on a case-by-case basis.

Under the plan, restaurants, taverns and other businesses operating under a liquor sales license for on-premises consumption that obtain a special event permit from the municipality, could extend closing hours to 4 a.m. for up to eight consecutive days, up to four times per year.

The provision aims to give local governments flexibility to extend hours, as appropriate, as their communities have special events. While it was a part of the DNC conversation, the proposal extends to other events happening across the state that may draw statewide or national attendance, according to the governor’s office.

The DNC bar hours bill received bipartisan support and praise from the Tavern League of Wisconsin. But this budget proposal, Tavern League lobbyist Scott Stenger argues, is a different conversation.

“I’m not aware of anybody statewide that is sitting back and saying ‘we need to be open longer,’ and frankly it has the potential to be really problematic,” Stenger said. “Rolling closing hours is not an effective way that has more unintended consequences, and I’m not sure what they’re trying to solve.”

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— More than 12 percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard. 

Gov. Tony Evers and First Lady Kathy Evers got their second dose on Friday. Both are over the age of 65. More than 68 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

The state has put nearly 2 million doses of the COVID-19 shot in people’s arms. More than 21 percent of Wisconsinites — over 1.2 million people — have gotten at least one dose of either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose series Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. 

In the state’s effort to ramp up vaccine administration, it is opening a third community-based vaccination clinic March 23 at the Regency Mall in Racine County. The site will initially administer 200 doses per day, but has the ability to give up to 1,000 doses per day. The amount depends on allocations from the federal government.

The clinic will be prioritizing vaccinations for those who are age 65 and older, educators and child care staff on the local health department’s waitlist. After those appointments are scheduled, the clinic will then begin scheduling appointments for anyone currently eligible for the vaccine. 

— Wisconsin reported 274 new COVID-19 cases coming out of the weekend and subtracted two deaths from its toll. 

The net decrease in deaths reflects corrections made from previous reports, DHS explained in a Tweet yesterday.

The state reports 6,140 active cases, 569,638 cases since the start of the pandemic and 6,536 total deaths.

The seven-day average for daily confirmed cases is 420, down from 428 cases Saturday. The seven-day average for COVID-19 deaths is eight deaths per day, down from nine Saturday.

See the Wisconsin COVID-19 Timeline

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— Madison-based health startup Otologic Technologies has a new patent for an Artificial Intelligence system developed to help doctors better diagnose ear diseases.

The system uses AI to process multiple frames from an ear exam video and create still images, according to a press release from Otologic. The company said the still images offer better lighting and focus, and digitally remove any obstructions that used to make diagnosing inner ear problems harder for doctors.

“One of the biggest challenges in diagnosing ear disease is the difficult nature of an ear exam,” said Dr. Aaron Moberly, associate professor of otolaryngology at The Ohio State University and one of the inventors of the technology. “Even experienced doctors can have trouble with a live ear exam, as patients are usually uncomfortable and the view can be obstructed.”

Otologic holds an exclusive license for the technology worldwide and is currently seeking to raise $500,000 in seed funding to integrate the technology into a telemedicine-oriented clinical support system.

— Invisible Fence of Wisconsin has expanded its area of service into Green Bay through the acquisition of Invisible Fence by Golrusk.

According to the press release from Invisible Fence of Wisconsin, this will allow the company to extend its customer service hours and offer new and innovative solutions for customers in parts of eastern Wisconsin.

This is the third acquisition of another invisible fence company by Invisible Fence nationwide in 2021, according to the release. Invisible Fence of Wisconsin has been in the Milwaukee and Madison areas since 1996 and will now serve 17,000 clients across the state.

— The Wisconsin Technology Council is hosting a webinar focusing on a state budget proposal to invest $100 million in a privately matched venture capital “fund of funds.”

“The $100-million state investment, which would require a 2-to-1 private match over time, would be a giant step forward in Wisconsin’s evolution as a welcoming state for emerging companies,” said Tom Still, president of the Tech Council. “A larger fund of funds will help put the state on par with our Midwestern neighbors.”

Still will moderate the March 24 morning event. It will feature panelists: Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin, one of four co-chairs of the Legislature’s informal Tech Caucus; Sam Rikkers, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.; and Burlington entrepreneur Karen Renee, president of eCourt Reporters. 

Register here: 

— The Wisconsin Farmers Union is hosting two workshops to encourage engagement on rural issues, focusing on securing key funding for rural priorities in the state budget. 

The Budget Organizing Workshops will overview the state budget and teach attendees how their personal stories can make an impact at public hearings, engagement with the media and deep canvassing.

“We need the State to prioritize public investments in agriculture, infrastructure, conservation, broadband, healthcare, and education,” said Wisconsin Farmers Union Policy Coordinator Bobbi Wilson. “That’s why we are gearing up to engage family farmers and rural residents across the state in the biennial budget process.”

The workshop will be offered twice. The same content will be covered in each session, so participants need only register for one date — Friday from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. or March 29 from 6 p.m.- 8 p.m.

Register here: 


# Farmers Union Feeding National Guard 

# WMC objects to Gov. Evers administration excluding factory workers from vaccinations

# State Regulators Seek A Roadmap Toward A Clean Energy Future



– WSF Dairy Promotion Board Hires New Coordinator 


– UW Credit Union selects former Bakers Square property for branch office 


– CVTC students aid with COVID-19 vaccinations 

– As Madison schools slowly return to normal, full access to vaccines helps ease anxiety 

– Wisconsin’s rural districts maintained in-person learning throughout school year with challenges 


– Environmental Groups Want Swifter Climate Change Plan For Upper Mississippi River Basin 

– $6.2 Million To Lakes, Rivers And Wetland Restoration 


– American Family gave customers $500M in premium relief last year. Insurer is offering more in 2021. 


– No one injured in fire at St. Mary’s Hospital in Green Bay, causes $100,000 in damages 


– One year after Lakefront Brewery temporarily closed, Russ Klisch reflects on the pandemic 


– Metro Milwaukee home sales dip in February with ‘desperate lack of inventory’ 

– $75M buildout would add another 1 million square feet of industrial space to I-94 corridor 

– State buys land for Milwaukee office as Madison officials prep to consider financing 


– Activist investors now push for minority representation on Kohl’s board 


– Waukesha-based Octane Coffee hopes to launch automated coffee drive-thru in City of Pewaukee 


– Florentine Opera faces unique challenges in next month’s return to stage 


– SS Badger expected to run at full capacity in 2021, with precautions 


– We Energies president leaving for return to Australia 


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– AG Kaul: Announces judgment requiring installation of pollution capture device and $65,000 penalty

– Economics Wisconsin: Qualify for the 2021 National Economics Challenge

– New North Inc.: Microsoft’s Michelle Schuler named as new co-chair