TUE AM News: Union rep urges state Legislature to tackle payroll fraud; Court rejects bid to block Evers from releasing businesses with COVID cases

— Labor representative Andy Buck is urging the Legislature to take up measures to tackle worker misclassification and payroll fraud. 

The Joint Task Force on Payroll Fraud and Worker Misclassification submitted its 2021 annual report to Gov. Tony Evers last month. Worker misclassification is illegally labeling employees as independent contractors in order to avoid giving them benefits, such as minimum wage, overtime compensation, family and medical leave, and unemployment insurance.

Evers’ budget proposal includes several provisions from last year’s task force report, including adding three new UI field auditors, recreating the Construction Contractor Registration program and providing outreach and education on worker misclassification, among others.

Buck, the director of government affairs at Painters and Allied Trades, District Council No. 7, serves on the task force as the workers representative. The union represents about 2,400 members in Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.

He said the Legislature didn’t take up any of the recommendations last year indicating to him that lawmakers don’t think this is an issue.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2021/union-rep-urges-state-legislature-to-tackle-payroll-fraud/

— The 4th District Court of Appeals has rejected a bid by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce to block the Evers administration from releasing records detailing companies that have had multiple COVID-19 cases.

The three-judge panel unanimously ruled yesterday that WMC had failed to show its members have a legally protected interest that would justify blocking release of the information to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The ruling reverses a lower court decision and sends it back to the county judge with directions to dismiss the suit and vacate an order that had held up release of the records.

According to the state Department of Justice, it will be 30 days until the case arrives back in circuit court, and the injunction would be lifted then, releasing the records. 

But WMC can petition the Supreme Court for review during that window. The group indicated it will do so.

“We are disappointed with the court’s decision, but thankfully the lower court’s injunction still remains in place and will for the foreseeable future,” said Scott Manley, the group’s executive vice president of government relations.

WMC sued last year after the Department of Health Services planned to release to the Journal Sentinel a list of businesses with more than 25 employees that have had at least two employees test positive for COVID-19 or had close case contacts investigated by tracers.

WMC alleged the information was derived from confidential medical records and thus can’t be released under state law. It also argued if any of its members are on the list, the release would violate their privacy interests.

The appeals court also found the business group couldn’t overcome a general prohibition under state law against a court challenge to the planned release of public records by a governmental authority.

Read the ruling: https://www.wicourts.gov/ca/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=354164 

— Technology solutions company Deluxe Corp. is permanently closing its Wausau facility, laying off 43 workers beginning June 30, according to a notice sent to DWD.

The company is cutting jobs as a result of corporate-wide reorganization and reduction in its real estate footprint.  

Deluxe expects the facility to be fully closed by Sept. 30.

See the notice: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dislocatedworker/warn/2021/2021040101.pdf 

— The Sow’s Ear, a yarn and coffee shop in downtown Verona, has won the inaugural WEDC Main Street Mini-Makeover contest.

An outgrowth of the popular Main Street Makeover contest, the Mini-Makeover was designed specifically to benefit retailers who want a new look in anticipation of welcoming customers back this summer. The larger makeover contest generally requires a full-scale remodel and has substantial costs, while the mini-makeover will provide a simpler merchandising refresh.

“For every business able and willing to undertake the commitment of a full makeover, there are many that would benefit equally from a simpler approach,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “Helping businesses refresh and update their look is one of the ways WEDC can help keep our downtowns vibrant.”

As the winner of the mini-makeover, the Sow’s Ear will work with WEDC staff and Milwaukee-based interior design firm Retailworks Inc. to develop the shop’s new look. It will include upgrades to paint, merchandising displays or marketing elements, such as signage. The goal of the makeover is to update the space and reflect the quality products and services offered by the shop. The improvements will be made during a 24-hour makeover event later this summer.

— A recent COVID-19 outbreak in a child care center included the U.K. variant, the Dane County health department said.

Public Health Madison & Dane County contact tracing revealed the disease spread quickly among children as well as parents and child care workers. As of today, 21 children and child care workers have tested positive, and 14 family members of these children or workers have tested positive. Several dozen more close contacts were identified from the 35 people who tested positive.

“We know the variants are more infectious, and younger children can’t be vaccinated yet, so this is an important reminder that we must all continue to take precautions,” said Janel Heinrich, PHMDC director. “The vaccines are highly effective against severe disease and death from COVID-19 infection, even with the most prevalent variants.”

Most of the children associated with the outbreak had very mild symptoms.

PHMDC advises that asymptomatic children with known COVID-19 exposure get tested as well as kids with symptoms of the virus, similar to that of seasonal allergies.

The first B.1.1.7 variant case was confirmed in Dane County in mid-February and in Wisconsin in January. Unvaccinated travelers returning to Wisconsin from recent travel are encouraged to follow CDC travel guidelines, which include testing and quarantining.

<i>For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.

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— An Assembly bill to create a sales tax holiday for bars, restaurants and other entertainment businesses hit by the pandemic will get a public hearing today.

AB 242 would create a sales tax holiday between June 1 and Aug. 31 for: brewpubs, movie theaters, drive-in theaters, taverns, restaurants, other food services establishments, amusement parks and arcades. It would apply to the county sales tax as well as those for premier resort areas and local exposition districts.

As of yesterday, there was no fiscal estimate attached to the bill.

So far, the bill doesn’t have any Senate co-sponsors.

Senate Republicans initially balked in 2018 when then-Gov. Scott Walker proposed a sales tax holiday for school supplies. After the bill eventually passed, Walker used his veto authority to extend it to five days rather than the planned two.

The bill will be before the Assembly Jobs and the Economy Committee along with two proposals that are part of the GOP package on the federal stimulus money.

See the hearing notice: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1608185

— Gov. Tony Evers has declared a state of emergency throughout Wisconsin in response to the high risk of wildfires.

The declaration comes after reports of more than 320 wildfires throughout the state this year, burning more than 1,400 acres. The order mobilizes the Wisconsin National Guard to assist the Department of Natural Resources and local fire departments in fire suppression efforts.

“With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” Evers said in a statement.

See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2021/gov-evers-signs-executive-order-110-declares-state-of-emergency-due-to-elevated-wildfire-conditions/


# Large Concrete Slab Falls Off UW-Madison Building As UW System Grapples With Aging Facilities 


# School Leaders: Masks Are Here To Stay At Least Through The End Of School Year 


# Milwaukee’s push to host MLB All-Star Game highlights Hank Aaron’s ties to city, financial benefits 




– Republicans Keep Grip on Legislature Despite Democratic Spending Spree https://racinecountyeye.com/republicans-keep-grip-on-legislature-despite-democratic-spending-spree/


– WI Project Aims to Help Women in Farming Navigate Conservation https://www.wxpr.org/post/wi-project-aims-help-women-farming-navigate-conservation#stream/0

– Wisconsin author shares six generations of family history in the newly published book, ‘On a Wisconsin Family Farm’ https://www.wizmnews.com/2021/04/05/wisconsin-author-shares-six-generations-of-family-history-in-the-newly-published-book-on-a-wisconsin-family-farm/


– Highway 38 construction to begin this week: Here’s what to expect from now until October https://journaltimes.com/news/local/highway-38-construction-to-begin-this-week-heres-what-to-expect-from-now-until-october/article_67c6f0f8-0007-55c1-bdc4-4517ab0d4655.html


– Gov. Tony Evers has pledged millions in aid for Wisconsin businesses still reeling from the pandemic. Data shows the help is still needed https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/money/2021/04/05/gov-tony-evers-targets-600-million-small-business-covid-pandemic-relief-jobs-business-data-point-nee/4823305001/


– Wisconsin Dells’ Upham Woods scheduled to complete $3 million facility in May https://www.wiscnews.com/wisconsindellsevents/news/local/education/wisconsin-dells-upham-woods-scheduled-to-complete-3-million-facility-in-may/article_7f922f90-6d01-5c48-9e96-c1108d3370f2.html


– Gov. Evers issues state of emergency as wildfires continue to blaze across Wisconsin https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/wisconsin/2021/04/05/evers-issues-state-emergency-wildfires-blaze-across-wisconsin/7094810002/


– Green Bay-Based Gerbers Law to Combine Practice with DeWitt LLP https://finance.yahoo.com/news/green-bay-based-gerbers-law-143400396.html

– Junior Achievement of Wisconsin receives grant https://www.hngnews.com/lake_mills_leader/community/article_c3dbeb98-00b9-5eb9-b008-c9db4ad1f2c7.html


– Wisconsin hits vaccine milestone on path toward herd immunity https://wxow.com/2021/04/04/wisconsin-hits-vaccine-milestone-on-path-toward-herd-immunity/

– All Wisconsin residents 16+ now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine https://www.fox6now.com/news/all-wisconsin-residents-16-now-eligible-for-covid-19-vaccine


– Green Bay wants former President Donald Trump to pay legal fees in dismissed election lawsuit https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2021/04/05/green-bay-wants-trump-campaign-pay-legal-fees-dismissed-lawsuit/7089761002/


– Pat Simms, longtime Wisconsin State Journal reporter, dead at 75 https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/pat-simms-longtime-wisconsin-state-journal-reporter-dead-at-75/article_0e1e0f6c-5679-5391-bfff-348a1ff2d867.html


– Advocates For The Blind, Visually Impaired Say Wisconsin’s Absentee Ballots Are Not ADA Complaint https://www.wpr.org/advocates-blind-visually-impaired-say-wisconsins-absentee-ballots-are-not-ada-complaint

– Evers, Romanski discuss future of rural Wisconsin https://www.leadertelegram.com/country-today/politics-policy/evers-romanksi-discuss-future-of-rural-wisconsin/article_864e5b9b-6bed-52e4-a622-d03c6eabbb9b.html


– The Couture apartment tower’s long-awaited groundbreaking is moving closer. New building permits indicate an early May start. https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/real-estate/commercial/2021/04/05/coutures-long-awaited-milwaukee-groundbreaking-moving-closer/7089065002/

– Artist Greg Gossel selected for large Schlitz Park mural facing downtown https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2021/04/05/artist-greg-gossel-selected-for-schlitz-park-mural.html?cx_testId=40&cx_testVariant=cx_33&cx_artPos=0#cxrecs_s


– Milwaukee Black Restaurant Week returns this month. Here are the restaurants that are taking part. https://www.jsonline.com/story/entertainment/dining/2021/04/05/milwaukee-black-restaurant-week-returning-soul-food-and-more/7088637002/


– State, Tribal Agencies Warn Against Harassing Tribal Spearfishers As Spring Harvest Begins https://www.wpr.org/state-tribal-agencies-warn-against-harassing-tribal-spearfishers-spring-harvest-begins


– Adjusting, adapting and entrepreneurial drive helped buoy Wisconsin tourism in 2020 https://madison.com/wsj/business/adjusting-adapting-and-entrepreneurial-drive-helped-buoy-wisconsin-tourism-in-2020/article_67577ac2-b3cb-5b75-99b2-de1b27bbd57d.html

– Travel Wisconsin: Shawano https://wtmj.com/travel-wisconsin/2021/04/05/travel-wisconsin-shawano-6/


– Logging truck proposal would make Wisconsin roads safer, decrease emissions, advocates say https://www.superiortelegram.com/business/transportation/6968418-Logging-truck-proposal-would-make-Wisconsin-roads-safer-decrease-emissions-advocates-say

– Lamers marks 15 years in Waupaca https://waupacanow.com/2021/04/05/lamers-marks-15-years-in-waupaca/


– Utility disconnection moratorium ends April 15 https://www.hngnews.com/sun_prairie_star/news/covid-19/article_a3c23b4c-aac1-52b8-a509-52124bf33025.html


– Broadband expansion is critical to health care access in Wisconsin https://www.kenoshanews.com/opinion/columnists/commentary-broadband-expansion-is-critical-to-health-care-access-in-wisconsin/article_e1e3e9ff-53e4-5598-a489-f40ed3e6436d.html

– Colby, ‘basically the ultimate cheese,’ should be Wisconsin’s official cheese https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/in-depth/news/2021/04/05/colby-wisconsin-original-should-our-state-cheese-column/4803630001/


<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>

– Opportunity Wisconsin: “Gov. Evers announces investments in small business, broadband services thanks to american rescue plan funds” on WFRV Green Bay

– Dept. of Military Affairs: Wisconsin National Guard makes COVID-19 vaccines available to all military dependents and military retirees

– Meijer: Strengthens diversity & inclusion efforts, invests $1 million in multiple urban league chapters across the midwest, including Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha

– M3 Insurance: Jason Haglund joins as account executive