In this update:

  • Election Updates
  • Administration Updates
  • Legislative Updates

Election Updates

State Assembly and Senate

Incumbent lawmaker re-election announcements

More lawmakers this week announced their intentions to run for re-election under the new 2023 Act 94 legislative district maps. Listed below are the latest announcements from legislators.

  • Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) announced she will run for reelection for the 26th SD. She has represented the district since 2020 and was redrawn into the district under the new maps. The new 26th SD has an 86.7% Democratic lean.
  • Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) announced her bid for the 24th AD. She was first elected to the 22nd AD in 2014 and was drawn into the 24th AD. State Senator Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) has announced his bid for the seat after being paired in the State Senate. The new 24th AD has a 57.2% GOP lean.
  • Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) announced he will run for the 31st AD. Rep. August was first elected to the Assembly in 2010 and was redrawn into the 32nd AD with Rep. Amanda Nedweski (R-Pleasant Prairie). He has decided to move into the 31st AD with Rep. Ellen Schutt (R-Clinton). She has already announced her bid for the seat. The new 31st AD has a 59.8% GOP lean.
  • Rep. Amanda Nedweski (R-Pleasant Prairie) announced her bid for the 32nd AD. She was first elected to the 61st in 2022 and was drawn into the 32nd under the new maps. The new 32nd AD has a 63.9% GOP lean.

Not running for re-election

Representatives Nik Rettinger (R-Mukwonago), Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee), and Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) announced this week that they will not seek re-election. They join 21 other incumbent lawmakers in not seeking re-election to their current office in 2024.

  • Rep. Nik Rettinger (R-Mukwonago) announced he will not seek reelection in the fall. Rep. Rettinger has represented the 83rd since 2022 and was drawn into the 84th AD with Rep. Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego) under the new maps. “I strongly believe I need to do what is best for this state by not forcing a primary,” Rep. Rettinger said. “We need all efforts focused on the critical Presidential, U.S. Senate, and State Legislative elections this November.” After the announcement, he said he is looking at a bid for Wisconsin’s national committeeman on the RNC or a possible future bid for county treasurer or executive.
  • Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) announced he is not seeking reelection. In his announcement letter, he said, “I am grateful to you for granting me this privilege. I am also immensely thankful to my family for allowing me to serve. I write this letter with my two-year-old daughter on my lap. I am glad I will get to be with her, my incredible wife, and my five-year-old son more often.” Rep. Riemer was redrawn into the 7th AD, which is now an open seat with a 58.8% Democratic lean.
  • Rep. Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) announced he is not running for reelection in the Assembly after a decade of service. “During my time in office, my top priority has been to protect Wisconsin taxpayers and I have worked tirelessly to reduce the tax burden on families and small business. I am proud of the legislative accomplishments to pass historic tax cuts and return surplus monies back to the hardworking people of Wisconsin,” Rep. Katsma said. His retirement leaves the 27th AD that he was drawn into as an open seat. He said he is looking forward to more time with “my children, grandchildren, and many friends, as well as, traveling and taking more road trips with my wife, Nancy.”

* Partisan Performance was calculated using the election results from the 2022 U.S. Senate election, the 2022 Wisconsin Gubernatorial election, and the 2020 Presidential Election.

Non-incumbent election announcements

State Assembly

  • 13th AD: Patti Granger (R-Wauwatosa) announced she is running for the 13th AD. The 13th AD has two incumbents running for the seat: Rep. Tom Michalski (R- Elm Grove) and Rep. Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa). The new 13th AD has a 57.5% Democratic lean.
  • 39th AD: Educator Chris Gordon (D-Neshkoro) announced her candidacy for the 39th AD. Rep. Alex Dallman (R-Green Lake) was drawn into the new district and will be running against Ms. Gordon. The new 39th AD has a 65.8% GOP lean.
  • 40th AD: Business owner Jerry Helmer (R-Prairie du Sac) announced his campaign for the 40th AD. The seat was left open when Rep. Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) announced his retirement. There are already two Democrat candidates in the race: Kyle Kunicki and Brad Randolph Cook. The new 40th has a 54.5% Democratic lean.
  • 65th AD: Kyle Flood (D-Kenosha) announced his bid for the 65th AD. He is a former Kenosha Unified School Board member, and he claims to be the youngest person elected to a Kenosha County office. The seat was previously held by Rep. Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha) who announced his retirement from the Assembly, leaving the seat open. The new 65th AD has a 54.5% Democratic lean.

State Senate

  • 12th SD: Small business owner Andi Rich (D-Marinette) launched her campaign for the 12th SD. Sen. Mary Felzkowski currently represents the district. The new 12th SD has a 63.3% GOP lean.

* Partisan Performance was calculated using the election results from the 2022 U.S. Senate election, the 2022 Wisconsin Gubernatorial election, and the 2020 Presidential Election.

U.S. President

VP Harris in La Crosse

Vice President Kamala Harris held two events in La Crosse on Monday: an “organizing event for reproductive freedoms” at the La Crosse Center and a “roundtable discussion on nursing home care” at the Hmong Cultural and Community Agency.

At the La Crosse Center event, Vice President Harris criticized former President Donald Trump’s role in overturning Roe v. Wade. VP Harris said freedom and democracy are at stake this fall in the presidential election. “It is only as strong as our willingness to fight, and fight we must,” VP Harris said. “And here’s the thing. When we fight, we win.”

At the roundtable discussion on nursing home care, VP Harris announced two new regulatory rules. The first rule, Nursing Home Minimum Staffing Rule, requires all nursing homes that receive federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid to have 3.48 hours per resident per day of total staffing, including a defined number from both registered nurses and nurse aides. The second rule, Ensuring Access to Medicaid Services Rule, seeks to improve access to home care services as well as improve the quality caregiving jobs through its new provisions for home care. There has been push back on the rules from nursing homes who are already struggling with staffing. CEO of Wisconsin Health Care Association and Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living Rick Abrams said, “It’s an unfunded mandate which we think is terribly unfair. People are concerned and it’s not because they don’t want to adequately staff, but whether they can find staff and have the resources there to pay them.”

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R) said VP Harris is unwilling to discuss the issues that Wisconsinites are really concerned about, like inflation and the southern border. State Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) said the proposed staffing rules from the roundtable would hurt nursing homes in rural areas like the ones he represents because “we simply don’t have the bodies” with the lack of available workers in the state.

Bloomberg/Morning Consult release new Wisconsin poll

Bloomberg News/Morning Consult released a new poll that found former President Donald Trump ahead of President Joe Biden among registered Wisconsin voters. The poll found 48% of voters favored Trump in a matchup with Pres. Biden, who was favored 44%. In their March poll, it showed 46% in favor of Pres. Biden and 45% favored Trump.

Bloomberg News/Morning Consult surveyed 702 registered voters in Wisconsin April 8-15. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points, and the data was weighted based on gender, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, home ownership and the 2020 presidential vote. FiveThirtyEight ranks Morning Consult a 1.8-star rating out of three stars.

U.S. House of Representatives

1st CD Race

Barca raises more than $250,000 in his campaign’s first 24-hours

First congressional district candidate Peter Barca raised more than $250,000 in the first 24 hours of his campaign. “I’m so grateful for the overwhelming support we’ve received in the first 24-hours of this campaign,” said Peter Barca. He did not announce any other details of his fundraising.


Administration Updates

Wisconsin receives $62M federal solar for all grant

Governor Tony Evers (D) announced Wisconsin is receiving a $62.4 million solar grant from the Biden-Harris Administration to fund solar projects for low- and moderate-income households across the state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $7 billion under its Solar for All initiative which is funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda through the Inflation Reduction Act. Solar power can reduce energy burdens for low-income residents, but the price to install a 5-kilowatt rooftop system is $14,000 to $19,000. EPA expects that awards to the selected applicants will be finalized in the summer of 2024, and WEDC anticipates that it will begin funding projects in late 2024 or early 2025.

PSC awards $7.8M to clean energy projects

The Public Service Commission (PSC) awarded $7.8 million from the Energy Innovation Grant Program (EIGP) to 28 projects to clean energy and investing in innovative technologies. The EIGP funding was from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). This year’s selected EIGP projects will help reduce energy burdens, increase clean energy jobs, and achieve other Justice40 priorities to support disadvantaged communities.

“I’ve always said that we don’t have to choose between mitigating climate change and protecting our environment and good-paying jobs and economic development—and through initiatives like the Energy Innovation Grant Program, we are proving that we can and will do both,” said Gov. Evers. “These projects will help strengthen energy infrastructure across Wisconsin while making significant progress in our transition to a clean energy economy, resulting in cleaner air and water and more family-supporting jobs.”

For the grant recipients with brief project descriptions, click here.

For a list and map of the EIGP award recipients, click here.

Legislative Updates

Neubauer appoints Mark Thomsen to WEC

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) appointed Mark Thomsen to another five-year term on the Wisconsin Elections Commission. He was appointed to the commission in 2016 and was reappointed for a full term in 2019. The four legislative leaders each appoint a member to the commission and are not subject to confirmation by the senate. The other two commission members are appointed by the Governor with Senate confirmation. Mr. Thomsen’s and Marge Bostelmann’s terms expire in May.

“I am thrilled to reappoint Commissioner Mark Thomsen to the Wisconsin Elections Commission,” said Rep. Neubauer. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that our elections remain free, fair, and secure. Mark has done an exceptional job on the commission and remains steadfast in his commitment to protecting and strengthening our democracy. We are grateful for Mark’s outstanding work on the commission and look forward to his continued service to our state.”

Legislature sues DPI

The legislature sued the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) last week, saying that a literacy bill partially vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin Act 100, is unenforceable. The suit was filed against Governor Tony Evers (D) and the Department of Public Instruction in the Dane County Circuit Court. The attorneys for the Legislature argued that Gov. Evers had no constitutional authority to partially veto the measure since it was not an appropriation bill, and the partial veto creates a funding program “of the Governor’s or DPI’s own invention.” The filing claims the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) cannot release the $50 million to DPI because the version of the bill Evers signed is invalid.

This week, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R – Oostburg) assured that DPI can still take the first steps toward implementing new literacy programs despite the lawsuit, so they are not delayed. “In Act 20, a bipartisan majority of the legislature and the governor explicitly allowed DPI to hire a Director for the Office of Literacy and early literacy coaches,” Sen. LeMahieu said. “Governor Evers’ illegal veto of Act 100 and the legislature’s lawsuit to undo it does not affect DPI’s ability to take the first steps in implementing these critical literacy initiatives.” He also said the court will find Gov. Evers’ partial veto was illegal.

State Superintendent Jill Underly responded in a letter to legislative leadership, saying DPI can’t implement the state’s new literacy programs until lawmakers approve funding for them. JFC approved the funding for a director of the Office of Literacy but not the $50 million set aside for the programs. “Therefore, contrary to the assertion in your letter, we do not yet have the ability to expend funds for other required activities. As time passes, it will be increasingly difficult to meet the requirements of the law,” Dr. Underly said.

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