Capitol Notes

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Gov. Scott Walker continues to plug away in tax breaks for Wisconsin families.  Last week, he and Assembly Republicans announced a deal for families to receive a $100 credit for each child -- and for the state sales tax to be waived the first weekend in August.  

Senate Republicans haven't gotten on board yet, and Democrats blasted the proposal, calling it an election year gimmick.  In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com about Walker's motives.

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Some Republican lawmakers want to revive the I-94 east-west project in Milwaukee County.  Gov. Walker didn't fund the stretch in the state budget.  But, two Milwaukee area legislators have proposed putting $25 million toward it.

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, whether shovels will be turned on this part of the freeway any time soon.

Gov. Scott Walker used last week's State of the State address to boast about his accomplishments in the past year.  They include securing the huge Foxconn deal and pouring more money into K-12 education.  And, Walker called on the state Legislature to pass a slew of welfare reform measures -- and approve a $100 per child tax credit.  

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Gov. Walker made headlines last week when he called for a special session to pass a number of welfare reform measures.  That includes one that would require parents of children on food stamps to work, or get job training, in order to receive at least three months of benefits.  

The proposal immediately touched off a barrage of criticism.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM"s Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com -- why this is such a hot button issue.

State lawmakers are holding a flurry of committee hearings this month, as they wrap up much of their work in this two-year legislative session.  Then, they'll largely turn their attention to the elections this fall. 

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says his party will be "very aggressive" in passing welfare reform measures.  But why is that a subject GOP lawmakers want to leave on voters' minds?  WUWM's Marti Mikkelson posed that question to JR Ross of wispolitics.com for this week's Capitol Notes conversation.

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State corrections officials are busy working on plans for shuttering two troubled juvenile prisons, after Gov. Scott Walker announced the closures late last week.  The announcement came as a surprise to many.  Despite lengthy probes into alleged mistreatment of inmates -- and inmate attacks on staff -- Walker had been defending the corrections department and the facilities.

For this edition of Capitol Notes, we look ahead to the big Wisconsin political stories of 2018.  JR Ross, of wispolitics.com, predicts Foxconn will top the headlines in this new year.  The state provided $3 billion in incentives for the Taiwanese company to locate here.  

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked him if he thinks it'll be smooth sailing, now that the state and the company have signed a contract.

Ross also predicts that the governor's race, the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race and the future of House Speaker Paul Ryan will make big news in 2018. 

For our Capitol Notes conversation today -- we examine the year in politics.  One of the biggest Wisconsin stories of 2017 was Foxconn, and the state's $3 billion incentives package for the Taiwanese company to locate here.  

Gov. Walker championed the deal, saying the huge LCD screen manufacturing plant in Racine County will transform the state's economy.  But, Democrats were skeptical and blasted the plan during the debate.

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com, why the governor pushed so hard to land Foxconn.

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The year is winding down, and so is activity at the State Capitol.  Lawmakers will cease much of their work there in the next couple months, before turning their attention to the fall elections.  

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson wondered whether legislators will pass any significant bills before going their separate ways, such as a measure that would ban fetal tissue research on UW campuses or allowing the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.

She asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com for his thoughts, as part of our Capitol Notes conversation.

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A lot of people are wondering about House Speaker Paul Ryan's future, after reports surfaced last week that he may leave Congress next year.  In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com what he thinks of the scuttlebutt.  He says there are some logical explanations as to why Ryan might be eyeing the exits, but there are also reasons to question the reports.

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Sexual harassment claims became public last week, regarding Democratic state Rep. Josh Zepnick.  Two women allege Zepnick kissed them against their will.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com whether he expects to learn about more harassment complaints in Madison.

Leaders in the state Assembly -- from both parties -- stated last week that they won't release records related to claims of sexual harassment within the chamber, in order to protect victims' privacy.  WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com how the decision might sit with constituents.

Ross also talks about the likelihood of the state Legislature approving Gov. Walker's request for $7 million to launch a massive ad campaign to attract Foxconn workers -- and we discuss whether the governor will appoint a conservative candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff.

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The 2018 governor's race continues to take shape.  Democrats are still entering -- or considering getting into -- the race.  And, Republican incumbent Scott Walker has officially launched his re-election bid.  For a look at where things stand today, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson checked in with JR Ross of wispolitics.com.

Ross says Democrats Tony Evers, Dana Wachs and Andy Gronik appear to be top-tier candidates at this stage of the game.

The biggest issues in the race will likely be Foxconn, Gov. Walker's jobs promise, transportation and education.

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson broke with fellow Republican lawmakers last week.  He announced he would not vote for the tax package that many in the GOP are eager to approve.  This isn't the first time Johnson has separated himself from the pack. 

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wiscpolitics.com to share his thoughts on Johnson's actions, as part of this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation.

The state agency tasked with overseeing the huge Foxconn incentives package is expected to vote on it this week.  Under the deal, brokered by Gov. Walker's team, the state will give the Taiwanese electronics giant $3 billion -- and ease environmental regulations -- to help Foxconn build a massive LCD screen plant in Racine County. 

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Wisconsin's troubled juvenile prison, Lincoln Hills, keeps making headlines.  Investigations into the state-run facility in northern Wisconsin began over two years ago, over claims that the teenage inmates were being mistreated. 

The race for governor is more than a year away. But, the field of Democratic hopefuls seems to grow just about every week. More than a half-dozen have entered the race – or are seriously considering making the move.

JR Ross of wispolitics.com says some of the candidates have overlapping constituencies, and likely will have to work to “carve out a lane” for themselves. Ross talks about the race and other matters with WUWM’s Marti Mikkelson, for this week’s “Capitol Notes.”

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Gov. Scott Walker had been expecting Foxconn officials to sign a deal with the state any day now.  The Taiwanese company plans to build a huge LCD screen manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin, with the help of $3 billion in state incentives.  But late last week, the board that will oversee the deal, delayed voting on it.

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Gov. Scott Walker signed two huge pieces of legislation into law last week -- the state budget and the Foxconn deal.  The state would give the Taiwanese electronics giant $3 billion to build a huge LCD manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin.  

While the Foxconn deal looks like a victory for Walker now, things could get dicey as we head into the 2018 gubernatorial election.  WUWM's Marti Mikkelson spoke about the developments with JR Ross of wispolitics.com in this week's "Capitol Notes" segment.

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Gov. Scott Walker will sign the huge Foxconn incentives package in Racine County today.  It will help the Taiwanese electronics giant build a massive plant, to manufacture LCD screens in southeastern Wisconsin. Lawmakers in Madison put the final touches on the deal -- and the overdue state budget -- last week.

Republican leaders faced stiff opposition from Democrats on both measures, as well as challenges from some in the GOP.  WUWM's Marti Mikkelson spoke with JR Ross of Wispolitics.com, about the developments, in this week's Capitol Notes segment.

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