THU AM News: Assembly passes cocktail-to-go bill; State health care industry faces workforce challenges accelerated by COVID

— The Assembly via voice vote backed allowing bars and restaurants to sell mixed drinks in to-go cups to be consumed off the premises.

AB 32 also would allow wineries to sell wine in to-go containers for consumption elsewhere.

Under the bill, the establishments would have to put the drinks in a container with a tamper-evident seal

Sponsors introduced the legislation as a way to help bars and restaurants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifteen groups reported lobbying on the bill with the Tavern League of Wisconsin, the Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association all backing it.

Those opposed included the Wisconsin Grocers Association and the Wisconsin Public Health Association. The Grocers Association said it wanted the provision allowing to-go drinks considered alongside other pending alcohol-related bills that deal with home delivery and curbside pickup.

Tom Anderson, owner of Buck & Honeys Restaurant in Middleton and Sun Prairie, contributed a photo to as an example of a cocktail-to-go after investing in a bottling machine. 

Click here to see a lemon drop batch cocktail that Anderson said he’d love to be able to sell if the bill is passed: 

Read a recent story on the bill, “Cocktails-to-go a potential tool for restaurants to stay afloat” at 

— COVID-19 accelerated long-standing trends challenging the state’s health care workforce, according to a Wisconsin Hospital Association report.

The WHA 2020 Health Care Workforce Report includes a detailed analysis of the pipeline of workers in a broad range of health care subspecialties. Entry-level positions like nursing assistants, practical nurses and technicians registered some of the highest vacancy rates. Advanced practice clinicians also saw high vacancy levels. 

COVID-19, the report notes, magnified the impact of these shortages.

The new report draws attention to an increasing need to deliver health care services to an aging population. That same demographic trend increases the risk of a disproportionate number of retirements among health care workers relative to new people entering the field. 

This dual pressure on the state’s health care workforce has a name reflective of the concern it is creating within the industry: the “Silver Tsunami.”

“Wisconsin’s health care quality isn’t just happenstance,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “It requires a dedicated and skilled workforce, smart use of technology and regulatory and licensing reforms that help us make the best and safest use of both.”

Ann Zenk, WHA senior vice president of workforce and clinical practice, warned the state’s health care workforce must grow, but with a shrinking supply of workers, it cannot grow fast enough to keep up with growing demand. 

Based upon the report’s findings, WHA recommends health care organizations, educators and lawmakers pursue strategies to support the state’s health care workforce. These strategies include building public-private partnerships to grow Wisconsin’s health care workforce within the state and accepting and utilizing telemedicine and technology. 

WHA also asks for reducing regulatory burden, increasing regulatory flexibility and addressing outdated laws that do not recognize current licensed scopes of practice. For example, multiple statutes and rules specify that a “physician” must do a care activity even though the scope of a licensed nurse practitioner or physician assistant includes the activity.

See the report: 

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— A national investment expert told tech startup founders to build relationships, broaden networks and streamline business pitches. 

The expert addressed the 2021 Wisconsin Tech Summit, put on by the Wisconsin Technology Council. The virtual event, which wrapped up yesterday, featured speakers from tech industries and speed dating-style meetings between startups and major companies. 

Tracie Rotter, a former partner at Google Ventures, gave the opening keynote address. She addressed summit attendees about her work at Google Ventures and the way that simplifying pitches can improve a business portfolio.

“Frame it in a story — this is a day in the life of a user,” she said, adding that making it easy for potential major corporate partners to understand a product can align possible goals with investors. 

For established firms, she said pitching and relationship building “is not a spectator sport.” She told attendees from major companies to be actionable, purposeful and creative in order to have more fruitful conversations to foster global innovation.

See more: 

<i>See more coverage on the summit in today’s Health Care Report. Sign up here: </i>

— Despite declining demand for traditional on-campus MBA programs, the demand for hybrid and online MBA programs remains strong and rising, according to Carroll University. 

Amid COVID-19, Carroll has revamped its MBA program to offer a hybrid or online setting. With classes starting every eight weeks, the program offers maximum flexibility, letting students begin their studies and continue their education at their own pace.

Carroll School of Business Dean Hamid Akbari said the MBA continues to be a prime educational experience and necessity for any business professional who desires to expand their competencies in the areas of leadership, problem solving and big picture thinking.

While reports nationwide indicate universities’ enrollment numbers have been plagued by the pandemic, Carroll’s business school enrollment has not experienced any decline in its undergraduate business program. It saw higher than expected enrollments for fall 2021. 

MBA numbers have jumped and are expected to increase for fall 2021, Akbari told The university’s MBA program offers three emphases: business management, business analytics and health care administration. 

Over a year into the pandemic, Carroll business faculty have analyzed some of the emerging trends and challenges that business leaders are encountering today.

This includes employees wanting remote work, social initiatives, creative work culture and learning opportunities. 

See the report: 

— The IRS is expected to push the nation’s tax-filing deadline to mid-May. 

Tax returns are normally due April 15. The tax date was extended in 2020 to July 15. 

In a story from the Washington Post, IRS representatives explain that the agency is grappling with a backlog of 24 million returns since the 2019 tax year and millions of payments from the first two rounds of stimulus. 

Now the IRS has even more on its plate with a third round of stimulus checks to get out the door and other responsibilities as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed into law last week. An agency spokeswoman told the Washington Post the IRS so far has sent out 90 million stimulus payments under the American Rescue Plan.

The massive stimulus package does include billions of dollars to help modernize the IRS, but Congressional Dems are arguing that a more permanent fix is needed to prevent future backlogs.

See more in headlines below. 

— Unemployment rates increased in all Wisconsin metro areas, and most counties and cities, according to the Department of Workforce Development.

Preliminary January 2021 unemployment rates increased in all of Wisconsin’s 12 metro areas over the month and over the year. 

Of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, only northern Ashland, Florence and Menominee counties saw a decline in unemployment over December. Northern Iron County’s rate stayed the same. 

And looking at the state’s largest cities, only northern Superior saw a smaller unemployment rate over December. De Pere, located south of Green Bay, and Muskego, just south of Milwaukee, stayed the same. 

But even though most of Wisconsin saw a higher unemployment rate in January over December, the statewide unemployment rate dropped to 3.8 percent in January from 4 percent in December. But the state’s rate is seasonally adjusted to take out expected trends, unlike the local data. Without the adjustment, the state’s unemployment rate would have been 4.5 percent in January, said DWD economist Scott Hodek.

“Seasonal adjustment of unemployment rates is only really done at the state level … so we can see whether our economic situation has improved from month to month, instead of seeing the same seasonal yearly trend,” Hodek said. He added that the adjustment shows Wisconsin’s economy is in recovery.

— Senior Management Inc. is permanently closing Neillsville Care & Rehab, a nursing home and rehabilitation facility, cutting 40 jobs, according to a notice sent to DWD. 

The company anticipates the Neillsville facility will close by June 2 or once all the current residents have been relocated. Neillsville Care & Rehab Administrator Lisa Cerven wouldn’t disclose how many residents are impacted or why the location is closing. 

See the notice: 


— Join next week for a virtual lunch hour even featuring a trio of hospitality sector representatives. 

The hospitality industry was hit the hardest during the pandemic after forced shutdowns to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 resulted in a sharp economic downturn. 

Even after the economy reopened, Wisconsin’s favorite eateries and alehouses continue to struggle as they’re faced with local capacity regulations and as people wait to get their COVID-19 vaccine before going out. 

Wisconsin Restaurant Association President and CEO Kristine Hillmer, Tavern League of Wisconsin President Chris Marsicano and Wisconsin Brewers Guild Executive Director Mark Garthwaite will discuss the state of the hospitality industry in Wisconsin and policies from a new administration that could make or break what the state’s wine-and-dine scene looks like coming out of a global pandemic.

The program, “Hospitality industry stirs after year of COVID,”  is set to run via webinar from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 25. The event will begin with a moderated panel discussion and then shift to questions from the audience. We will send you a link to access the webinar on the morning of the event.

This event is sponsored by Madison Gas and Electric Company, University Research Park, Wisconsin Technology Council and The Phelps Hamus Group.

Register here for this free event:



# IRS expected to push filing deadline to mid-May as agency grapples with backlog of returns

# Two people dead in shooting at Roundy’s distribution center in Oconomowoc

# Wisconsin agency ‘woefully behind’ on virus data cleanup 



– Teaching Hours Bill for Extension Workers Clears Senate 


– Unemployment rates increase in Milwaukee, Racine metros 


– National Report Shows State Funding For Higher Ed Flat Despite COVID-19-Related Losses 


– Black Bears Return From Hibernation 


– Lambeau Field Opens As Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic


– DWD Launches Continued $300 Unemployment Insurance Supplement


– Rodney Ferguson stepping down as head of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino 


– Wisconsin superintendent candidates spar over campaign ad

– Businessman files lawsuit challenging ballot drop boxes, other election practices in Wisconsin Supreme Court


– Wisconsin GOP opposes over $200M proposed for new museum and state office building in Milwaukee 


– Assembly passes bills allowing hair braiding without a cosmetology license and cocktails to go


– How the Milwaukee Brewers’ opening day fan capacity compares with other MLB teams 


– Potawatomi speeds casino security checks with investment in touchless system 

– New hotel by Fiserv Forum would stand nine stories tall 


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

– Carroll University: Navigating new landscape of business

– WDA: Applauds assembly’s unanimous passage of dental vaccine bill

– Arts @ Large names new CEO

– Wisconsin Technical College System: Technical colleges recognize, celebrate agriculture industry