TUE AM News: Drought conditions again worsen, impacting crop quality; Dem bill aims to establish expanded small business clearinghouse

— Drought conditions in the state have once again worsened, impacting crop quality going into the fall. 

The USDA’s latest crop progress report shows some rainfall in northern Wisconsin has helped to improve the persistent arid conditions, but most of the state remains dry. Both topsoil and subsoil moisture levels declined over the past week. 

According to the report, which covers the week ending Sept. 10, the condition of Wisconsin’s corn crop was rated 50 percent “good to excellent,” which is 4 percent lower than the previous week. Plus, soybean condition was rated 47 percent good to excellent — an 8 percent drop over the week. 

Still, harvesting of several crops is proceeding ahead of last year’s rate and the five-year average. 

The report shows the harvest of corn for silage as 18 percent complete, which is six days ahead of last year and one day ahead of the average. And 42 percent of the potato crop has been harvested, which is four days ahead of the average. 

Plus, the fourth cutting of alfalfa was 69 percent complete — one day ahead of last year, and eight days ahead of the average. 

Meanwhile, the National Integrated Drought Information System website shows drought conditions have gotten worse in Wisconsin over the past several weeks. 

The percentage of the state experiencing “exceptional” drought conditions — the worst category — has risen from 0.7 percent on Aug. 22 to 2.4 percent as of yesterday. Over the same period, the percentage with “extreme” drought has grown from 10.6 percent to 22 percent. 

The driest areas in the state are somewhat scattered, though the largest of these spans parts of southwestern and central Wisconsin. The exceptional drought zone covers parts of Crawford, Vernon, Richland, Sauk, Juneau and Monroe counties. Areas of extreme drought encircle that area, and are also located in the state’s northwestern, northern and south central regions. 

Another 33.9 percent of the state is currently under severe drought conditions, while 26.3 percent is seeing moderate drought and 12.2 percent is abnormally dry. 

A total of 4.2 million people in the state live in areas of drought, which is 5.4 percent higher than last week. 

See the USDA report: https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2023/WI-Crop-Progress-09-11-23.pdf 

See the NIDIS site: https://www.drought.gov/states/wisconsin 

— Dem lawmakers are circulating legislation to establish an expanded online clearinghouse  of small business resources. 

In a cosponsorship memo sent to legislators, they say they’re hearing from small business owners who need help finding resources for starting and growing a company in Wisconsin. Nearly half of the state’s entire workforce is employed by small businesses like these, they note. 

“It can take up to 10 different website visits to coordinate the needs of a small business,” they wrote in the memo. “We can do better!” 

Under the bill, the state Department of Administration would be directed to establish and maintain an online platform for common small business needs. According to the memo, the state previously had a portal called “Open For Business,” which was later updated to the “One-Stop Business Portal.” 

But the bill authors say existing information isn’t centralized or “coordinated to best fit” the needs of business owners. The legislation would require DOA and other agencies to improve and expand the business portal site. These include the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Departments of Workforce Development and Revenue, local governments and others. 

In its updated form, the site would provide information on bidding opportunities for government contracts, economic development programs, educational and networking events, licensing and permit requirements, as well as relevant taxes and fees. 

“From the dedicated entrepreneurs in the Driftless Region, to the hustling urban Milwaukee restaurateurs, and nursing suburban mothers juggling a new business during naptime and late into the night, everyone deserves a chance to follow their dreams with more ease and opportunity than small business owners face right now,” the lawmakers wrote. 

They include: Reps. Robyn Vining of Wauwatosa, Francesca Hong of Madison and Kalan Haywood of Milwaukee; as well as Sens. Brad Pfaff of Onalaska and Melissa Agard of Madison. 

The cosponsorship deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

See the memo: https://www.wisconsinlobbyists.com/resources/Co-Sponsorship%20Memos/9.8.2023/LRB-2925%20online%20clearinghouse%20of%20information%20for%20small%20businesses%20in%20Wisconsin%20Memo.pdf 

— Majority Leader Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, says Assembly Republicans will likely release their version of a Brewers stadium maintenance funding bill in the next week or so.

“There’s a lot of people talking about it, to be honest with you,” August said on WISN’s “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “The speaker will come out with what we believe is a good plan for us, and the negotiations will continue once we have a bill to negotiate on, but there’s been members of both parties and a lot of meetings from both houses talking about this.”

August said the Assembly GOP plan will forgo Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to use $290 million from the state surplus and instead rely on revenue from the tax collected on player’s salaries, sales tax revenue from the games itself like concessions and a local buy-in requirement.

“We haven’t spoken to the governor yet,” August said. “We’re trying to make sure we’ve gotten some buy-in from both political parties and again our local partners here in the city and county.”

Meanwhile, a new poll by Public Policy Polling shows 56 percent of Milwaukee County residents oppose using tax dollars to pay for improvements for the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.

The poll was commissioned by the nonprofit Milwaukee Works.

When asked if residents would be more likely to support paying for improvements if it meant the Brewers would leave Milwaukee, 26 percent said they would be more supportive, 48 percent were not more likely to support the plan and 26 percent were unsure.

“In 2023 it’s very hard to get a consensus on any policy issue,” Dan Adams, the director of Milwaukee Works and a local defense attorney, said on the show. “Everything usually breaks down GOP versus Dems, and this poll shows there is a consensus on the issue of a stadium subsidy, and the taxpayers are saying loud and clear we don’t want to pay for this.”

The poll, though, did find Milwaukee County residents would be more likely to support a subsidy if the tax money came statewide as opposed to just Milwaukee County, with 59 percent saying they would be more likely to support a plan; 29 percent said it wouldn’t make a difference.

“The voters are saying we don’t want any subsidy, but if we are going to do a subsidy, it should come from the state coffers, not from Milwaukee County only,” Adams said.

See more from the show: https://www.wisn.com/upfront 

<br><b><i>Top headlines from the Health Care Report…</b></i> 

— A new GOP bill seeks to allow people suffering from mental health crises to stay in facilities closer to their homes while reducing the burden on police officers who transport them by establishing regional mental health facilities.

<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 WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.</i> 

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— Thirteen Milwaukee-area nonprofits are getting $2.2 million in grant funding announced by the Zilber Family Foundation. 

According to yesterday’s release, funding supports local efforts related to affordable housing, community economic development, basic human needs and more. Several of the grants are aimed at improving quality of life for Black residents. 

Recipients include the African American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee, Black Leaders Organizing Communities, the African American Roundtable and other groups. 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2023/zilber-family-foundation-awards-2-2-million-in-grants-to-milwaukee-nonprofits/ 


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<i>See these and other press releases: 

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

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