MON AM News: UW-Madison lab researching low-protein diets; As ‘green rush’ wanes, lawmakers consider options for state hemp program

— Researchers at UW-Madison are exploring the potential positive effects that low-protein diets may have on human health and longevity. 

Dudley Lamming, a metabolism researcher at the university’s School of Medicine and Public Health, began this journey after seeing a peculiar trend in a study from 2014 on how mice reacted to various controlled diets. He noticed the mice who had the least amount of protein in their diets were healthier than the others. 

“There’s a growing realization that a calorie is not just a calorie, that a calorie has implications beyond just its caloric content,” Lamming said in a release. “What our research is showing is that protein calories are not the same as other calories.”

Since that realization, Lamming and student researchers in his lab have been honing in on specific proteins that may hold the key to improving human diets. In both animal models and human studies, they’ve found that diets containing large amounts of three branched-chain amino acids — known as BCAAs — are linked with conditions like obesity and diabetes. 

At the same time, diets with low levels of these BCAAs have been found to improve these conditions and enable mice to live longer. According to a release from UW-Madison, scientists aren’t yet sure exactly how BCAAs affect metabolism, though evidence suggests that lowering intake of these proteins “seems to encourage faster metabolisms and healthier blood sugar control.” 

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— Hemp-growing registrations fell by 48 percent for the 2021 growing season, spurring state lawmakers to look to the private sector to help the fledgling program undermined by the pandemic and an uncertain CBD market.

Meanwhile, the drop in registrations has helped fuel a deficit in the fund to help cover the cost of regulating hemp producers, prompting lawmakers to consider passing off oversight to the federal government.  

“There are some innovative things that we could do to create a synergy for the people who are blazing this trail,” said Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee. “We should be partnering with Foxconn, and say, ‘Whatever products you do, let’s get creative and try to make something with hemp.’”  

Partnerships with technology, paper and even diaper companies to make hemp products could benefit Wisconsin growers, according to Taylor.

Meanwhile, Rep. Tony Kurtz, R-Wonewoc, is trying to pass legislation to establish private and public partnerships for research on fiber. Kurtz’s optimism about hemp fiber stems from his experience in and communication with the military. A shift from polyester to fiber products, which are similar to cotton, could help prevent injuries and detection by enemy forces, Kurtz said.

See more in the WisPolitics Friday Report: 

— The latest numbers from the state Department of Health Services show Black and Hispanic communities in the state have the largest disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates. 

According to the DHS Racial and Ethnic Disparities webpage, newly updated with COVID-19 vaccination data, Black residents are about half as likely to be vaccinated compared to white residents. Hispanic residents are about 0.6 times as likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Other ethnic and racial groups are also seeing lower vaccination rates. About 315 out of every 1,000 American Indian residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 394 per 1,000 Asian or Pacific Islander residents are fully vaccinated. That’s compared to 431 per 1,000 white residents. 

For the state’s Black and Hispanic communities, those rates are even lower. Just 216 per 1,000 Black residents and 277 per 1,000 Hispanic residents are fully vaccinated against the virus. 

“The data show that we still have work to do to ensure those Wisconsinites that have been hit hardest by the pandemic have the opportunity and resources to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake in a statement. 

See the DHS Racial and Ethnic Disparities page: 

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— DHS has announced reduced hours of operation for six community-based vaccination clinics. 

Clinics in Barron, Douglas, La Crosse, Marathon, Racine, and Rock counties will adjust their hours based on demand. They eventually plan to be open one or two days a week.

Both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be available at the clinics to ensure individuals complete their vaccine series before the clinics close. Second doses of Pfizer will be available at alternative locations.

Despite DHS clinic reductions, vaccines are still available at pharmacies, health care providers, pop-up clinics and more. Through July 4, Uber and Lyft are offering free or discounted rides to and from vaccine appointments.

See the release: 

— Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is joining 23 other state attorneys general in filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of extending a CDC eviction moratorium. 

They argue the eviction ban should stay in place to protect public health as states grapple with their economic recoveries and pandemic responses. It’s being challenged by a group of property owners and trade associations representing landlords across the country. 

“With many more Americans getting vaccinated every day, now is not the time to abruptly end the CDC’s eviction moratorium,” Kaul said in a statement. “Unleashing a wave of evictions would undermine our economic recovery and the ongoing effort to fight the pandemic.” 

Originally, a 120-day eviction ban was passed in 2020 as part of federal COVID-19 relief legislation. When that expired in July of last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued another ban preventing tenants who couldn’t pay their rent due to loss of income or medical expenses from being evicted from residential properties. 

That CDC order would have expired at the end of last year, but was extended further by congressional action and another CDC order to June 30, 2021. The release notes it could be extended again. 

See the release: 

— Milwaukee is applying for funding through the Department of Natural Resources to address issues with its drinking water systems, including replacing lead pipes. 

According to a release from the DNR, the city’s Safe Drinking Water Loan Program has found the project “will not result in significant adverse environmental effects.” The agency is now seeking public comments through June 25 on the project. The SDWLP may conduct an environmental analysis before proceeding with funding, depending on the comments received. 

A city website shows Milwaukee has 164,000 water service lines, with about 74,000 of those made of lead. 

See the release: 

— Madison-based Propeller Health is expanding a partnership with Desert Oasis Healthcare, making its asthma treatment management platform available to more than 700 new patients with asthma and COPD. 

The expanded partnership aims to increase inhaler adherence, decrease emergency use and lower health care costs for its users, the company announced recently.

“Our goal is to give these patients the tools they need to take their medication on time, avoid preventable symptoms and ultimately get back to the activities they enjoy,” said Propeller Health General Manager Susa Monacelli in a statement. 

Propeller Health and DOHC first partnered in 2017 on a pilot program. As a result of the success of the pilot, DOHC expanded the program to serve its full asthma and COPD population in late 2020.

See more at Madison Startups: 

— RSVP for tomorrow’s – – Wisconsin Technology Council “From dairy to tech: How smarter immigration policy can help the Midwest workforce” virtual event.

Four speakers will talk about the prospects for immigration reform under the Biden administration and within Congress, and how bipartisan changes might help solve workforce problems in some of Wisconsin’s largest economic sectors.

Participants are: Reid Ribble, a former Republican member of Congress from northeast Wisconsin and chief executive officer for the National Roofing Contractors Association; Ankit Agarwal, president and CEO of Imbed Biosciences Inc. in Madison; Jay Heeg, of Heeg Brothers Dairy in Colby and a former president of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin; and Kelly Fortier, an attorney with the Michael Best law firm. Tom Still, president of the Tech Council, will moderate.

The program is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15.



# Wisconsin judge halts federal loan forgiveness for farmers of color

# Johnson & Johnson expiration date extension opens window to get doses out

# Tests show PFAS contamination in 500 French Island wells



– Judge pauses loan forgiveness program for farmers of color 

– State farm groups like proposed ag export legislation


– Policy Forum: $4.4B in unexpected tax collections presents “golden opportunity” for Wisconsin


– WIU revives student teaching at Wisconsin tribal schools


– Upper Mississippi River states plan for future of flooding, drought, increased sediment


– Wisconsin Supreme Court rules health departments can’t order schools to close

– Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down Dane County health department order to close schools


– ‘We’ve never seen anything like this’: Computer chip shortage continues to impact car dealerships


– Evers wanted to give $70 million to a program that helps pay for developing trails and electrifying campsites. GOP agrees to $40M less.

– YouTube suspends Sen. Johnson for COVID-19 ‘misinformation’


– ‘This is our city too’: Progress Center for Black Women moves to Capitol Square

– Homeownership gap for people of color in Wisconsin is wide; communities, nonprofits try to close it


– Organic Valley reports record $1.2 billion in sales for 2020


– New tech tool aims to remove legal barriers; expansion to Racine planned


– Things to do in Wisconsin for summer 2021: guide to concerts, festivals, farmers markets, state parks and camping


– With pent-up travel demand and stimulus money available, gas prices are going up and won’t peak until July


– City of Madison urges people to limit outdoor water use as drought continues


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

The Wisconsin Bankers Foundation: Presents Nicholas Hicken with 2021 Spring Scholarship

DHS: Community-based vaccination clinics to begin ramping down operations

Alliant Energy: Helping customers combat hot weather