FRI AM News: WisBusiness: the Podcast with Ann Leinfelder Grove of Wellpoint Care Network; State official highlights goals of clean energy plan

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Ann Leinfelder Grove, president and CEO of Wellpoint Care Network.

This Milwaukee-based human services organization works with about 5,000 clients every day, offering mental health services and other support for children, families, young adults and others. 

“Mental health services are a big part of who Wellpoint is,” she said. “That has been true in the past; it is especially true as we navigate the pandemic and see significant increases in referrals for mental health therapy at our outpatient clinic, and in the schools where we provide mental health care.” 

Between 2020 and 2021, she said the network has seen a 334 percent increase in the number of mental health referrals within the school systems where its clinicians work. 

She also highlights an effort in Milwaukee called Project Thrive involving the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin. This effort to bring trauma-informed assessment to members of these clubs recently received a $2 million, five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 

“Trauma-informed care is something that we’re probably best known for in Wisconsin and really across the country,” she explained. “It’s a model of care that is an understanding of how early adversity affects the life course, adverse childhood experiences that can have a profound effect on the child’s future.” 

Wellpoint Care Network has trained about 65,000 people on this topic, including teachers, law enforcement, judges, legislators and other community members. 

Listen to the podcast here:  

See more podcasts: 

— The head of the Wisconsin Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy says the office is leaning toward executive and agency actions as it develops the state’s clean energy plan. 

“So we recognize that legislative might be a bit of a challenge, but we’re not totally pushing away legislative opportunities,” Director Maria Redmond said yesterday during Renew Wisconsin’s 2022 Renewable Energy Summit in Madison. 

She said the state office, created in 2019, is identifying actions that can be taken “right away” by the executive branch and state and local agencies to accomplish initial phases of the plan. Still, she added “everything’s on the table right now.” 

As the office develops the plan following the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change issuing its recommendations in late 2020, Redmond highlighted a number of strategies to meet some of the state’s top goals. These goals include reaching 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 and playing a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions economy-wide to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. 

“2030 isn’t really that far away,” she said. “It’s around the corner, and what are we going to do in Wisconsin?” 

She pointed to strategies aimed at reducing emissions such as: tapping into biodigestion, solar and wind for energy generation; supporting new energy storage options; supporting relevant innovation, research and business development; optimizing energy efficiency programs and opportunities to rescue energy bills; leveraging available federal funding and more. 

She said the plan will seek to formalize how the state will approach these goals and collaborate with stakeholders “while thinking about workforce, economy and racial justice.” She noted minority communities shoulder more of the burden for climate change impacts, typically living in areas with the “highest projected labor-hour losses” related to weather-exposed industries like construction and agriculture. 

“We really need to look at our communities, we need to really look at the data and figure out who is impacted and how we reduce those impacts,” she said. 

With millions of dollars slated to come to Wisconsin through the recently passed federal infrastructure law, Redmond said “the Clean Energy Plan will be a great tool to be able to define what Wisconsin is going to do … and be able to react to what will be coming federally.” 

See more: 

— WEDC staffers are working through a strategic planning process to expand the agency’s forward-looking efforts, according to Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. 

During a meeting of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors, Hughes said the intention of this effort is to strategize “on more than a year basis.” 

“What I’m challenging the team to start thinking about, if we start to think about two, three, four years, where do we want to go and what are the things we can do to really make sure we’re putting the taxpayer dollars to work as best we can?” she said yesterday. “Being effective, being impactful but also having a long-term view.” 

She said the process began during a two-day leadership meeting in December, and has now expanded to include staff members across the agency. While the effort is preliminary at this point, she said staff will have results to share at the next meeting of the board in March. 

“We’re right in the middle of kind of an uncomfortable moment as we work through it and really explore these things,” Hughes said. “There’s a ton of effort going into it … We anticipate a valuable result.” 

— Gov. Tony Evers is calling for using $1.7 billion of the state’s projected surplus to provide a tax rebate of $150 for each Wisconsin resident and pump millions more into education.

The guv’s call comes on the heels of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau projecting the state will finish the 2021-23 biennium with a $3.8 billion surplus. That’s $2.8 billion more than expected just a few months ago.

GOP legislative leaders indicated earlier this week they wanted to wait until next session to decide how to use the surplus. That’s, in part, because they’re hoping a Republican wins the East Wing this fall.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, rejected Evers’ call as a “reelection gimmick.” LeMahieu noted Evers has hundreds of millions of dollars at his disposal through the federal COVID-19 relief funds sent to the state and should use that money rather than “risking state taxpayer resources.”

“Senate Republicans will not gamble with a projected state surplus to fund Tony Evers’ re-election gimmicks,” LeMahieu said.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, noted former Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, referred to a similar move in 2018 by then-Gov. Scott Walker as an election year bribe. Vos said Republicans “are committed to permanent, generational tax reform, as also seen in every Republican budget over the last decade.”

The guv said he hasn’t heard any good reasons to sit on the money.

“There sure as hell aren’t excuses for failing to help families afford rising costs, for refusing to help reduce barriers to employment, and for letting our kids and schools lose out on more than $2 billion,” Evers said.

See more at 

— More Wisconsinites enrolled in plans in the 2022 open enrollment period than in either of the previous two years, according to federal data.

A report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows 212,209 people in Wisconsin got enrolled for health coverage this year between Nov. 1, 2021, and Jan. 15, 2022. 

That’s compared to 191,702 during the 2021 enrollment period and 195,498 in the prior year. But the enrollment period for those years was several weeks shorter, running from Nov. 1 to Dec. 21. 

Meanwhile, CMS reports that a record 14.5 million Americans signed up for or were automatically re-enrolled in individual market health insurance coverage for 2022 over the same period. That’s nearly 2 million more than the previous record from 2016, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

See the CMS report: 

— A new study led by UW-Madison researchers finds the drugs used in antiviral COVID-19 pills are “very effective” against omicron in lab tests with non-human primate cells. 

But scientists still aren’t certain how well these antiviral medications will work against the variant in human patients. The study also reinforced previous findings that certain antibody treatments are “substantially less effective” against omicron. 

Antibody treatments made by Lilly and Regeneron were recently pulled from approved treatment lists by the FDA as they have “entirely lost their ability to neutralize omicron at realistic dosages,” a release from the university shows. 

“The bottom line is we have countermeasures to treat omicron. That’s good news,” said Yoshihiro Kawaoka, a UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine virologist and lead on the study. “However, this is all in laboratory studies. Whether this translates into humans, we don’t know yet.”

Findings of the study were published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. Other collaborators at UW-Madison and the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo contributed to the research. 

While the antibody treatments pulled by the FDA were completely ineffective at typical dosages, the researchers tested two other treatments that “retained some ability” to stop the virus. Still, the GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca treatments required from three to 100 times more of the drug to be effective against omicron compared to earlier variants. The AstraZeneca treatment is not approved for use in the United States, according to UW-Madison. 

The release shows Kawaoka’s lab is looking into new antibody candidates that might be effective against omicron, but the process of producing drugs using any potential candidates could take months. 

See the full study: 

— The Biden administration has appointed Geri Sanchez Aglipay as SBA Regional Administrator for Region 5, which includes Wisconsin. 

Before coming to the SBA, Aglipay was director of the Midwest region and national manager of women’s entrepreneurship for Small Business Majority. According to a release from the White House, she brings more than 20 years of experience in economic development, workforce and entrepreneurship to the position. 

Region 5 includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

See the release: 


# Evers proposes $150 checks under plan to spend surplus

# New indoor farm opens in Kenosha using refurbished shipping containers, hydroponics

# 570 tech jobs committed to region in 2021: MKE Tech Hub Coalition



– Alice in Dairyland applications due next week

– CentralStar recognizes dairy herds for reproductive efficiency


– Contact tracing in Wisconsin schools has scaled back as COVID-19 cases continue to rise


– ‘I was talking to them through a screen window’: Wisconsinites share the ways COVID-19 has changed their lives

– Health care staff to pitch plan for pandemic help to Dane County Board


– Roundy’s hiring for 300 e-commerce positions in Wisconsin


– Rockwell Automation CEO thinks ‘we are still early’ in multi-year economic expansion


– Marcus Investments teams with Michels for new restaurant at R1ver development


– Goodland Extracts launches CBD-infused seltzer water

– An intellectual property firm and the owner of Belk: Get to know the Kohl’s bidders

– Inside look at first Milwaukee-area Dave’s Hot Chicken


– The Peloton of basketball? Investors, NBA players are betting on this Milwaukee startup

– Cream City Cocktail Bar, other additions coming to American Family Field this season


– PSC deadlock leaves third-party solar financing in legal limbo


– Viewpoints: Despite Intel rejection, southeastern Wisconsin remains fertile ground for tech business expansion


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

Benson’s Restaurant Group: Announces joint venture restaurant development at R1VER campus

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation: The Veteran Collaborative announces the creation of the Veteran Loan Fund