In this update:

  • MBS Events
  • Legislative Updates
  • Election Updates
  • Fundraising Opportunities

Michael Best Strategies Events

Michael Best Strategies hosts DHS Sec. Johnson for meet & greet

On Thursday, DHS Sec.-designee Kirsten Johnson visited the Michael Best Strategies office in Madison to join clients for a meet & greet. Sec. Johnson was joined by Director of External Relations Karen Odegaard, Legislative Liaison HJ Waukau and Director of Opioid Initiatives Paul Krupski.

Sec. Johnson told the group that her department’s near term priorities include increasing support for a stronger public health system, stabilizing the state’s long-term care providers, staffing the healthcare workforce, and expanding medicaid. She reiterated the message from Gov. Evers that 2023 is the year of mental health and that DHS will continue to invest in behavioral health services and programs to help people when and where they need it. The use of the state’s opioid settlement funds was also discussed with Director Krupski providing a brief on how the money is being spent on both treatment and prevention efforts across the state. Some of the initiatives include Fentanyl test strips and NARCAN, Medication-assisted treatment, and training surgeons on opioid-alternatives for pain management. Following the presentation, clients were given the opportunity to ask questions to Sec. Johnson and her team.

Please keep an eye on the Capitol Insights newsletter for future client events hosted by Michael Best Strategies!

Legislative Updates

JFC allows state to withdraw from border wall funding lawsuit

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee voted unanimously without debate to allow Wisconsin to withdraw from a lawsuit it had filed against the federal government over funding for former President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the southern border. The lawsuit had been filed against the Trump administration in 2019 after former President Trump declared a national emergency along the border with Mexico, which allowed the federal government to divert up to $6 billion in funding that had originally been allocated for military and law enforcement uses. $8 million of those reallocated funds had been designated for an Air National Guard small arms training facility at Madison’s Truax Airfield, which is why the state had filed suit against the federal government. However, in 2021 the Biden Administration cancelled all border wall projects being funded with the diverted money and returned roughly $10.5 million to the National Guard, including for the Truax training facility. Wisconsin was the last of 20 states to drop out of the lawsuit.

Two new bills circulating this week focus on families

Two news bills being circulated this week by state lawmakers look to provide families with additional resources. The bills are as follows:

LRB-3361 -Rep. David Steffen (R) – This bill creates a sales and use tax exemption for the following: 1) baby cribs, baby playpens, and baby play yards; 2) baby safety gates; 3) baby monitors; 4) child safety cabinet locks and latches; 5) electrical outlet safety covers; 6) baby strollers; 7) bicycle child carrier seats and trailers; 8) child safety restraint systems designed for transporting young children in a motor vehicle; 9) baby exercisers, jumpers, bouncer seats, and swings; 10) breast pumps, baby bottles and nipples, baby bottle sterilizers, pacifiers, and teethers; 11) children’s diapers, reusable diaper covers, and baby wipes; and 12) baby changing tables and changing pads.

According to the co-sponsorship memo from Rep. Steffen, the LFB estimates that an exemption on diapers alone would save parents roughly $37 million over the biennium.

LRB-3914 – Rep. Robyn Vining (D) – This bill requires that public buildings include at least one single-occupant restroom with a “universal changing station,” which the bill defines as a floor-mounted or wall-mounted, powered, and height-adjustable adult changing table with a safety rail that can be used for personal hygiene by an individual with a disability of either sex and the individual’s care provider. The bill specifies other requirements that a universal changing station must satisfy, including requirements regarding size, maneuverability space, weight load, adjustability, and signage.

“Universal Changing Stations are a growing reality in Wisconsin — businesses want to do the right thing and we’ve already seen community partners stepping up,” Rep. Vining said in a press release announcing the bill’s introduction. “This bill will allow state government to partner with the business community to move toward equal access for all Wisconsinites.”

Election Updates

Trump and DeSantis only GOP candidates with double-digit support in new Marquette Poll

A new national Marquette University Law School Poll found former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron Desantis were the only GOP candidates to receive double digit support from Republican voters. The poll showed that support for Gov. DeSantis has dropped to 22%, down from 25% in May and 35% in March. Meanwhile, former President Trump has maintained support at 46%, but still has not reached the 50% mark among registered Republicans and GOP-leaning independents. When participants were given a choice between former President Trump and Governor DeSantis, 54% chose President Trump and 46% chose Gov. DeSantis.

In the case of a potential 2020 presidential rematch, the poll found President Joe Biden (D) and former President Trump were evenly split with 50% support among registered voters. That’s a change from May when former President Trump edged out President Biden 52% to 47%. Meanwhile, in a matchup between Gov. DeSantis and President Biden, 51% of registered voters favored Gov. DeSantis while 48% favored President Biden, a drop in support of one point from May when Gov. DeSantis was at 52%.

The survey was conducted online between July 7-12, and interviewed 1,005 adults nationwide. The margin of error is +/- 4%. MU Law School is rated an A/B pollster by FiveThirtyEight.

Seven candidates meet fundraising requirement for first RNC debate


As of this week, seven Republican candidates for president say that they have met the fundraising requirement which is set by the RNC to participate in the first primary debate in Milwaukee next month. The fundraising criteria set by the RNC requires that in order to participate in the debate, the primary candidate must have at least 40,000 unique donors by 48 hours prior to the start of the debate. ABC News political director Rick Klein appeared on UpFront this week and said that he feels it is most likely that the debate will not have more than 10 candidates. Mr. Klein stated, “I think we’re looking at less than 10. I think seven or eight is a more realistic number.”

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, and former President Donald Trump have all said they have met this requirement, but former Vice President Mike Pence has not. Former President Trump, who is polling as the front-runner, has indicated he might boycott the Milwaukee debate. Mr. Klein believes a decision by former President Trump could be made just hours prior to the debate starting, “He’ll probably go back and forth, and there will be stories about whether he’s going to do it or not, but ultimately, he’s going to decide based on how he feels that day, how the press coverage is that day. A lot of people I’ve talked to are skeptical as to whether he would give up the massive television audience that attracts a major debate, especially that first debate in Milwaukee.”

Michael Best Strategies (Strategies) helps companies accelerate their success through a combination of strategic business consulting, lobbying, government relations, public affairs, and communications. The firm has thrived by providing a diverse team of professionals with the experience, skills, and relationships necessary to help each client achieve their goals more quickly and fully.