Marti Mikkelson

News Reporter

Marti, a Waukesha native, joined the WUWM news team in February of 1999. She is also host of WUWM's weekly political podcast, Capitol Notes.

Previously, she was an anchor and reporter at WTMJ in Milwaukee, WIBA in Madison, and WLIP in Kenosha.

Marti’s work has been recognized by RTNDA, the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, Associated Press, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, and the Milwaukee Press Club.

Marti earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. Marti currently lives on her favorite side of town – Milwaukee’s east side.

» Contact WUWM News

Althouse

Gov. Tony Evers is calling lawmakers into special session to pass a package of bills designed to help struggling farmers and rural communities. The idea drew mixed reviews from Republican leaders after the Democratic governor announced it in his State of the State address. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he's "all ears" on the plan and seems open to a special session. But, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appears wary, saying Evers has ignored rural Wisconsin until now. 

EMILY HAMER / WISCONSIN CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is urging lawmakers to work together to address the state’s farm crisis. In his annual State of the State address Wednesday night, the Democrat said struggling farmers need help now. So he called for a special session to begin next week.

pinchof

The voter purge case took some more turns last week. An Ozaukee County judge again ordered the Wisconsin Elections Commission to immediately drop more than 200,000 names from the voter rolls. It's suspected that those voters may have moved and haven't re-registered. Then, an appeals court sided with the commission and again put the purge on hold while lawsuits continue. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided not to take the case for the time being.

White House / United States Senate / White House

The first Marquette Law School poll of the 2020 election year was released Wednesday. It shows the needle hasn’t moved much in terms of Wisconsin voters' views on impeachment, support for President Trump and the Democratic presidential field. It was, however, the first poll taken since the Iran conflict and voters had plenty to say about that.

Prostock-studio / stock.adobe.com

Wisconsin is seeing a pretty severe flu season. State health officials say more than 600 people have been hospitalized since October, and 15 have died, including a child. Flu seasons typically span from October to May.

Tom Haupt keeps track of influenza cases for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. He says hospitalizations increased dramatically over the holidays, and the numbers so far are higher than the state has seen in the previous five seasons. Haupt says one thing is different this year: younger people are being hit harder.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republican and Democratic leaders met at the State Capitol last week to place names on the state presidential primary ballot. Democrats approved 14 names for the April 7 election. They include Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. But GOP officials submitted and approved only one name — that of President Donald Trump, even though other Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring.  

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com about the decision in this week's Capitol Notes conversation.

Courtesy of TJ Meyers-Jansky

Every summer on Father’s Day weekend, a huge festival used to take place in West Allis. It was called “West Allis Western Days.” It started in 1964 and saw its heyday in the '80s and '90s. Its signature event was an elaborate parade that included up to 500 horses and dozens of marching bands.

And then one day, it just ended.

Phil Reimer grew up going. He still wonders what happened to the festival, so he reached out to Bubbler Talk to find out.

Courtesy of Jill Karofsky and Daniel Kelly

Updated April 2 at 12:59 p.m. CT

On April 7, Wisconsin voters will decide which candidate will earn a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly faces a challenge from Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky.

Although the office is non-partisan, the court currently has a 5-2 conservative majority. Kelly is supported by conservatives. Liberals have endorsed Karofsky.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For this week's Capitol Notes, we look ahead to the political stories that'll likely make headlines in Wisconsin in 2020. Probably the biggest is Wisconsin's role in the presidential race. President Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, which means the spotlight is on Wisconsin this year, along with a few other swing states. 

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com what he thinks the presidential race will look like in Wisconsin.

Courtesy of Daniel Kelly

Updated on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 at 12:35 p.m.

When Wisconsin residents cast votes in the spring primary next month, they'll find three candidates on the ballot for state Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly faces a challenge from Marquette University Law School professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky. The top two vote-getters will advance to the April election.  Liberals are supporting Fallone and Karofsky, while conservatives are backing Kelly.  

We interviewed all three candidates.

MAAYAN SILVER

A conservative law firm is asking a judge to find the Wisconsin Elections Commission in contempt for not purging more than 200,000 voters from the rolls.

A judge last month ordered the purge because the voters may have moved.

The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty says the Elections Commission is violating state law and must immediately drop the voters from the rolls or face fines.

Courtesy of Jill Karofsky

Updated on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 at 12:36 p.m.  

Not only will Wisconsin be a battleground in the presidential race this year, it may also see a contentious campaign for State Supreme Court. Marquette Law Professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky are looking to replace incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly. The primary is next month, with the general election in April.  

Liberals have endorsed Fallone and Karofsky. Kelly, who was appointed in 2016 by then-Republican Gov. Scott Walker is supported by conservatives.

Courtesy of Ed Fallone

Updated on Monday, Jan. 6, 2020 at 12:38 p.m.  

This spring, Wisconsin voters will decide which candidate will earn a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court. Incumbent Justice Daniel Kelly faces a challenge from Marquette Law professor Ed Fallone and Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky. 

The primary will be held Feb. 18, followed by the general election on April 7. That's the same day as Wisconsin's presidential primary.

For this week's Capitol Notes, we examine the top political stories of the year.  It began with the inauguration of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.  He defeated Republican Scott Walker the previous fall. 

Evers' relationship with the GOP-controlled legislature was contentious from the start.  Republicans passed laws before Evers took office, limiting Evers' powers, as well as those of new Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.  The move sparked protests at the State Capitol and a number of lawsuits.  

State Capitol/Adobe stock

Foxconn is back in the news, with questions about whether it will qualify for up to $3 billion in state tax credits in coming years.  The Taiwanese electronics giant signed a contract with the state when the company was planning to build large LCD screens at a huge plant in Racine County, creating up to 13,000 jobs.  But Foxconn has since reduced the size of its plant and has said it'll manufacture smaller LCD screens.  It's not clear how many jobs will be created.

Screenshot / City of Milwaukee

The Milwaukee Common Council Tuesday filled a spot on the city’s powerful Fire and Police Commission. Aldermen confirmed retired Milwaukee police officer Raymond Robakowski to serve on the city’s public safety oversight board. The council gave approval to Mayor Tom Barrett’s nominee despite objections from community groups.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Wisconsin National Guard's top commander recently agreed to resign after a scathing federal report found he violated laws in investigating sexual assault complaints. Gov. Tony Evers asked Major General Donald Dunbar to step down. In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com if there could be more political fallout from the incident.

Althouse

Concerns about school safety rocked Wisconsin last week. In both Waukesha and Oshkosh, authorities shot and wounded a student who brought a weapon to school. Threats were made in a number of other school districts. The events prompted Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to call for more mental health services and more police officers in the schools. Republican leaders welcomed Evers' proposals — after rejecting his call last month for a special session to take up gun control measures.  

Marti Mikkelson

We haven’t heard much from former Republican Gov. Scott Walker since he narrowly lost to Democrat Tony Evers more than a year ago. But on Tuesday, Walker answered questions on a variety of topics in downtown Milwaukee.

Walker spoke to a small crowd of about 40 people at the Milwaukee Press Club luncheon. He updated the gathering on what he’s been doing these days, which includes leading a national effort for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Marti Mikkelson

Milwaukee County continues to fight an opioid crisis. Overdose deaths peaked in 2017, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner. But fatalities could be trending down — as the number recorded last year dropped more than 10%, to 302. In the hope that the numbers continue to decline, the Milwaukee Fire Department recently rolled out a unique approach to stemming the opioid crisis.

Results of the latest Marquette poll raised some eyebrows last week. It shows support for impeaching President Trump — and removing him from office — is slipping in Wisconsin. It also indicates that Trump holds a slight lead over the Democratic front-runners in the 2020 presidential race. Up until now, some national polls were showing at least three challengers beating Trump if the election were held today.

In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com what he makes of the results.  

Matt Sullivan / Getty Images

Support for impeachment is declining in Wisconsin, according to the latest Marquette Law School Poll released Wednesday. The survey also shows Republican President Donald Trump leading the Democratic front-runners in the 2020 race. 

The poll of 801 registered voters was taken Nov. 13-17. It shows 40% of respondents support impeaching and removing President Trump from office, a drop from 44% in October.

Althouse

Last week saw a war of words at the State Capitol, at least on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' part. Evers apparently was still reeling from the Republican-led Senate's failure to confirm Brad Pfaff as state Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary. Evers reportedly told state workers that Republicans are "amoral and stupid" for essentially firing Pfaff.

Andy Manis / Getty Images

The Republican-controlled state Legislature last week essentially ignored Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' call for a special session to take up gun control measures, such as universal background checks and passage of a "red flag" law. 

In each house, only one or two GOP members came to the floor, called the session to order and then immediately adjourned it. Republican leaders say neither house had the votes to pass, but Evers says they did this at their own peril because now they have to explain their actions to voters.  

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Democrats at the State Capitol introduced yet another marijuana bill last week. This one would decriminalize possession of smaller amounts of the drug — 28 grams or less. Democrats say decriminalization would decrease racial disparities in the criminal justice system. 

Marti Mikkelson

Thursday is the deadline for people living in a massive homeless camp in downtown Milwaukee to leave, so the state can begin work on a stormwater runoff project. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) passed out notices a few weeks ago to campers in the "tent city" near 6th and Clybourn streets, telling them they have to vacate by the end of October. State and county officials have been working with different agencies and have vowed that everybody will get the services that they need. 

Althouse

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald joined the chorus of rebukes last week of President Trump's likening the impeachment probe to a lynching. Fitzgerald called lynching a "terrible word" and instead called the impeachment probe a "political witch hunt." 

Fitzgerald is running to replace Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who is retiring in 2020.  He's rarely criticized Trump.

promesaartstudio / stock.adobe.com

An increasing number of Midwestern states are legalizing marijuana in some form or another. Will Wisconsin do the same? State lawmakers have mixed opinions on the issue.

Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, has been a member of the state Assembly for six years — and that's about how long she's been working on a bill that would fully legalize marijuana in Wisconsin. While she's authored legislation three times, it's never gone anywhere in the Republican-controlled Legislature. But with neighboring states approving recreational cannabis, she feels like it's time to try again.

Marti Mikkelson

Updated on Oct. 21 at 12:40 p.m.

Strauss Brands is no longer looking to build a slaughterhouse at Century City, which is on Milwaukee's north side, the company's president and CEO announced Monday afternoon.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The unprecedented powers of the Wisconsin governor went under a microscope last week. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear a case seeking to dramatically scale back the ability of governors to use partial budget vetoes to change the intent of the Legislature. 

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