FRI AM News: Lawmakers clash over how to address workforce issues; WisBusiness: the Podcast with Ayla Annac of InvivoSciences

— Two lawmakers representing parts of Milwaukee and Appleton clashed over how to address the state’s workforce concerns. 

Rep. Evan Goyke called for greater investments in local government bodies, arguing they don’t have the tools they need to build attractive destinations for workers and their families. He said other states and regions are “way ahead of” Wisconsin on this issue. 

“Whether it’s Kansas City, Minneapolis, Indianapolis — they’re empowering local governments to create the environment locally that attract and retain talented people,” the Milwaukee Dem said yesterday during the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association’s Talent Development Conference in the Wisconsin Dells. “State of Wisconsin does not invest in local governments. We have been way behind in this area.” 

But Rep. David Murphy argued it’s disingenuous to frame the state’s labor challenges as a “Wisconsin problem,” adding a “national effort to streamline our economy” is needed to solve them. 

“Representative Goyke talked about investing more money in government to solve this problem. I don’t think that’s the way to go,” the Greenville Republican said. “I believe that we are over regulated, and this has put a real burden on our economy, and has slowed things down dramatically.” 

He also said a package of workforce bills from Republican lawmakers are likely to return next session. They seek to add certain work search requirements for unemployment benefits, and keep able-bodied childless adults from remaining on medical assistance programs if they turn down a job offer, among other changes. The bills passed both houses of the Legislature along party lines and are awaiting action by Dem Gov. Tony Evers. 

Murphy said he’s hopeful a Republican governor, if elected, would sign those bills into law. 

Goyke pushed back on what he described as “the stick approach,” referring to the carrot and stick metaphor.

“I don’t think that shortening unemployment compensation or restoring or adding additional hoops like a drug test or work search requirements will magically find tens of thousands of people and encourage them back into the workforce,” he said. 

Instead, he said providing more transportation options for workers would be a better solution for getting more people off the sidelines and back into the workforce. He slammed Republican lawmakers for cutting funding for mass transit in Milwaukee “for absolutely no reason other than there was some federal aid coming.” 

Still, both lawmakers agreed on the potential for coming together on transportation issues, with Murphy saying he’s “not against having a discussion about trying to find ways to get workers to their workplace.” 

When asked about the potential for working with Cavalier Johnson, the newly elected mayor of Milwaukee, Murphy said he’s hoping to “get a better feel for what he’s all about” over the coming months. He said he’d like to focus on how to improve education at Milwaukee Public Schools, and highlighted rising crime in Wisconsin’s largest city. 

“I mean, people want to go to a community where they think their kids are going to get a good education. They want to go to a community where they think they’re going to be safe,” he said. “If there’s crime on the streets, and their kids aren’t getting educated, they’re not going to be happy about being there.” 

In response, Goyke told Murphy to “stop talking about us like that.” 

“Let’s not mince words. It’s about race, right? … So get out of our way. Let us grow, let us thrive, we know how to solve our own problems,” he said. “Yeah, we’ve had a tough couple of years. If you don’t give us the power to raise taxes locally, you will be defunding the police.” 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Ayla Annac, co-founder, president and CEO of Madison-based InvivoSciences. 

This pre-clinical stage biotech company is developing a method for creating tissue samples from patients’ blood, urine or skin to test treatments for heart failure. By using artificial intelligence to organize patients into various categories, the company aims to improve precision medicine approaches for treating these patients. 

“We can collect the sample directly from the patient group, and we integrated artificial intelligence into our technology platform recently by the help of NIH,” she said. “What this technology does [is] specifically identifies a subgroup of heart failure patients by analyzing the diagnostic parameters for them.” 

That includes factors like age, sex, genetic conditions and more, she explained. 

“If the drug is toxic for that specific patient … it will show on their cardiac tissue that has been grown from the patient,” she said. “The drug for the right patient at the right time … can be developed effectively.” 

Annac said she is seeking partnerships and investors to help grow the business in Wisconsin. 

Listen to the podcast here: 

See a full list of podcasts: 

— A recent UW Population Health Institute report shows mortality rates in the state tend to be higher for certain racial and ethnic groups as well as those with lower education levels. 

The 2021 Wisconsin Population Health and Equity Report Card shows the state’s overall mortality rate is 720 deaths per 100,000 population. But that rate ranges from 477 deaths per 100,000 for Hispanic residents to 1,016 deaths per 100,000 for Black residents. 

While the rate for white residents is just below the state’s overall rate, the mortality rate for Asian residents is roughly in-line with that of Hispanic residents. And the rate for American Indian/Alaska Native residents is nearly as high as that of Black residents, the report shows. 

Meanwhile, mortality rates by education level vary even more widely. The rate among state residents with a college education is 568 deaths per 100,000 population. But the rate among those with less than a high school education is nearly triple that number — 1,679 per 100,000. 

Report authors note the disparities they identified were magnified by the pandemic, which “illuminated the need to address these inequities.”

Along with data on mortality, self-reported health conditions and other measures, the report includes dozens of policy recommendations for addressing five priority areas: ensuring access to quality health care, expanding safe and affordable housing, increasing economic resources for children and families, expanding broadband and increasing civic engagement. 

Recommendations include expanding eligibility for BadgerCare Plus, boosting support for community health centers, providing more resources for securing housing, making the 2021 child tax credit permanent, addressing “geographic, social and economic factors” limiting broadband adoption, and many more. 

See the full report:

— After months of declining case numbers, Wisconsin’s seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases has ticked up over the last two weeks. 

The latest seven-day average is 420 cases per day, the Department of Health Services site shows. That marks a small increase from the recent low of 316 cases per day on March 23, which came after a steep decline following the peak of the omicron variant surge in mid-January. 

On the national level, cases continue to decline though some states are also seeing an increase in recent weeks as the “stealth omicron” BA.2 sub-variant continues to spread. 

Federal health officials recently announced stealth omicron has become the dominant variant in the United States, but the state’s sequencing results have yet to reflect the trend in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene dashboard shows about 22 percent of the cases from March are linked to this variant, though lower testing rates and reporting delays mean it could be more prevalent. 

Meanwhile, progress in COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters remains limited despite health officials recently approving a second booster shot for adults over age 50 and certain immunocompromised people. 

As of yesterday, 64.2 percent of state residents had received at least one vaccine dose and 60.8 percent had completed the vaccine series, the DHS site shows. And 33.6 percent of residents had received a booster or additional vaccine dose. 

See the latest case numbers here: 

Track vaccinations here: 

<i>For more of the most relevant news on COVID-19, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin, links to top stories and more, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and</i>

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— The head of the Wisconsin Farmers Union is warning that continued consolidation among dairy producers will lead to reduced food security. 

In a recent statement, WFU President Rick Adamski noted the state has been steadily losing dairy herds in recent years and called for policies to better balance milk supply with demand. 

He said a major takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic is that “diversified agriculture is a more resilient agriculture.” 

“This lesson has been learned by countries experiencing the turmoil of war or the losses caused by catastrophic natural disasters,” he wrote. “Depending upon a very consolidated supply chain is not as durable as a distributed, diverse production system. We need farms of all sizes that will be able to supply our basic needs in a very uncertain future.” 

With the federal farm bill set to expire next year, Adamski is touting an agricultural policy plan that’s been developed through meetings with local farmers and other stakeholders. 

According to the website for the plan, called Dairy Together, WFU is calling on federal lawmakers to establish a mandatory program for “managed growth” aimed at increasing profits for farmers. That would include measures to boost milk prices, prevent overproduction and reduce milk price volatility. 

“We can restore a more vibrant rural economy based upon more diverse farms,” Adamski wrote. “We can start breaking the addiction to government subsidies to prop up only the farms and agribusinesses that are ‘too big to fail.’”

See his full statement: 

— The 26 finalists in this year’s Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest are building companies in the fields of advanced manufacturing, life sciences, information technology and more. 

As part of this annual event, put on by the Wisconsin Technology Council, finalists will submit a 15-minute pitch deck to a panel of about 75 judges. Their plans include details on their product or service, target customers, market opportunity, competitors and more. 

The top 12 plans will be announced next month and company representatives will present to a live audience in early June during the 2022 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. This year’s Grand Prize winner and category winners will be announced at the Milwaukee event. 

See the full list of finalists here: 


# Wisconsin traffic, transit ridership still down two years after start of pandemic

# Madison unicorn Fetch Rewards raises another $240 million as valuation tops $2.5 billion

# ‘Waiting for this day’: Dane County preparing to restart Huber work release after 2-year hiatus



– FSA announces additional program technician openings

– WHA announces district show schedule


– Prince first exec outside family to lead Riley Construction


– How gig work helped some Wisconsin citizens through the pandemic


– Student free speech survey that led to UW-Whitewater chancellor resignation delayed

– UW System postpones free speech survey after criticism

– Evetovich named interim UW-Platteville chancellor


– Seven southeastern Wisconsin companies named finalists in Governor’s Business Plan Contest


– Green Bay startup developing technology to help banks offer crypto trading raises $1.7 million


– Report finds excessive drinking rates statewide, locally

– Mental health is a key to helping homeless, Brown County advocates say


– Madison-based Fetch Rewards raises $240 million, grows valuation to over $2.5 billion


– On the level: New Ehlers president talks bond issues, TIF


– Serta mattress manufacturer to create 100 jobs in Janesville expansion


– Crime tops other issues as Milwaukee business priorities for Mayor Johnson. How he’s responding.


– Saputo Cheese buys Franklin site for packaging facility, discloses construction timeline

– Madison-based developer purchases Third Ward office building

– Developer plans to transform part of Janesville pheasant farm to industrial greenhouse development


– Regulators give OK to $650M Dane County solar farm


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