NEWS/OPINION BRIEFS – Tuesday, May 1, 2023

Briefs are posted every weekday morning, M-F


With a single vote Tuesday, Republicans lawmakers are expected to dramatically reshape Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget.

GOP members of the Legislature’s budget committee plan to remove more than 500 proposals from the governor’s proposed two-year spending plan, ranging from a new paid family leave program to a deal to fund upgrades to the Milwaukee Brewers stadium. Other Evers budget initiatives on the chopping block include an expansion of Medicaid, the legalization of marijuana and an enrollment freeze in the state’s voucher school program.

While it’s a dramatic step, it’s also an expected one. Each year that Evers has introduced his budget to the Legislature, lawmakers have started their work on the plan the same way. On the night Evers introduced his budget, Republicans like Rep. Mark Born, who co-chairs the powerful Joint Finance Committee, were already talking about rejecting much of the proposal.

But the scope of what Republicans are removing — 545 proposals, to be exact — is greater than in years past. With the way the budget committee operates, those ideas will no longer technically be up for debate.

“Gutting 545 provisions … from even being discussed is not healthy for democracy and it is not the way Wisconsinites want their government to operate,” read a statement from the budget committee’s four Democratic members.

Other provisions Republicans are expected to reject Tuesday include:

• Evers’ tax cut for individuals who earn less than $100,000 and couples who earn less than $150,000.

• A $235 million initiative to promote mental health in schools.

• $200 million to replace lead service lines.

• Measures that would scale back tax credits for manufacturers and capital gains, which would generate more than $1 billion in revenue state government.

• Universal background checks for firearm purchases.

• The creation of an automatic voter registration system.

• A freeze on enrollment in private voucher schools.

• A cap on insulin co-pays.

• The restoration of public sector union rights that were lost under former Gov. Scott Walker’s landmark Act 10 collective bargaining law.

• The repeal of Wisconsin’s private sector “right to work” law.

Wisconsin is expected to end June with more than $7 billion in its general fund according to estimate by the Legislature’s nonpartisan budget office. If lawmakers and the governor don’t agree on a new budget by July 1, state spending will continue at levels set in the current budget.

—WI Public Radio

Wisconsin children with accounts on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok would be barred from using the apps after 10 p.m. and need parental permission to create accounts under a new bill released Monday.

Republican Rep. David Steffen of Green Bay is seeking support for a proposal that would require social media companies to adhere to new rules for Wisconsin users under the age of 18, including a requirement to verify account holders’ ages.

Steffen said in a memo to lawmakers, “The evidence is clear — social media companies benefit from unrestricted access to our children and it comes at the expense of the health and wellbeing of our kids. What’s more, both children and parents want more to be done to regulate this unfettered online environment.”

Under the bill, parents could access their child’s social media accounts and also could opt out of the bill’s requirements. Social media companies would also be required to obtain parental permission and perform age verification within 21 days of the creation of an account or from when the account was last accessed under the bill.

If social media companies did not adhere to these rules, they could be fined $100 per day.

Steffen said in a statement that he modeled the measure after a law Utah lawmakers passed in March. Questions have arisen about whether and how that law will be enforced, and it’s likely to face legal challenges.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A recent incident where girls in the Sun Prairie Area School District reportedly were in the same shower room with a trans student highlights the challenge school districts face providing appropriate services and facilities to all students.

In March, four 14-year-old freshman girls in the district were showering in the girls’ locker room when they were exposed to the male genitalia of an 18-year-old senior who is transitioning from male to female, according to the conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

WILL alleges administrators at East High School did not inform the school’s Title IX coordinator or launch an investigation. Title IX bans sex-based discrimination in any school or any other education program that receives funding from the federal government. Federal law also prohibits discrimination against transgender students.

The Sun Prairie School District responded with a statement saying the account was “ill-informed, inaccurate and incomplete.” District officials declined to comment further, citing student privacy, but said further steps were taken to ensure a similar incident does not recur.

“The Sun Prairie Area School District does not condone any student of one sex being present in a state of undress in the presence of students of another sex,” the district said in a statement. “The district does not condone a student of one sex showering in the presence of students of another sex.”

Anthony Steffek, a partner at Green Bay law firm Amundsen Davis who specializes in Title IX issues, said “You have all students who have various rights, and you have to have that communication to say, ‘We’ll support you.’ “But at the same time — using Sun Prairie — if it’s a biological male who still has a penis, 14-year-old girls have a right not to be exposed to that.”

But Brian Juchems, co-executive director of GSAFE, a Madison-based nonprofit that works with school districts across Wisconsin to work with LGBTQ+ youth, said each student presents a unique situation and many school districts have worked hard to implement best practices, even if they don’t always get it right.

“It’s hard enough to be a trans student in our schools right now without having to figure out how to take a shower,” Juchems said. “(Privacy stalls are) a simple fix school districts can do. They often don’t necessarily think about it, or they don’t have the resources available to them.”

—WI Public Radio

Twenty states across the country, including Illinois and Minnesota, have passed legislation that prohibits race-based hair discrimination. Now, Wauwatosa is set to pass a resolution that asks for Wisconsin to do the same.

The legislation, named the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, was originally proposed in 2019 in Wisconsin by Rep. Lakeshia Myers. The CROWN Act protects against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles, like braids, locs, twists and Bantu knots.

It could also pass federally — the House of Representatives passed the CROWN act in March 2022.

Wauwatosa Ald. Sean Lowe’s resolution was unanimously passed by the city’s government affairs committee on April 25.

Now the city’s support for the CROWN Act bill, cosponsored by Sen. Lena Taylor, is up for common council approval on May 2.

—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When it comes to the news media and the impact it’s having on democracy and political polarization in the United States, Americans are likelier to say it’s doing more harm than good.

Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults say the news media is increasing political polarization in this country, and just under half say they have little to no trust in the media’s ability to report the news fairly and accurately, according to a new survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

The poll, released before World Press Freedom Day on Wednesday, shows Americans have significant concerns about misinformation — and the role played by the media itself along with politicians and social media companies in spreading it — but that many are also concerned about growing threats to journalists’ safety.

“The news riles people up,” said 53-year-old Barbara Jordan, a Democrat from Hutchinson, Kansas. Jordan said she now does her own online research instead of going by what she sees on the TV news. “You’re better off Googling something and learning about it. I trust the internet more than I do the TV.”

—Associated Press

Widespread loneliness in the U.S. poses health risks as deadly as smoking a dozen cigarettes daily, costing the health industry billions of dollars annually, the U.S. surgeon general said Tuesday in declaring the latest public health epidemic.

About half of U.S. adults say they’ve experienced loneliness, Dr. Vivek Murthy said in a report from his office.

“We now know that loneliness is a common feeling that many people experience. It’s like hunger or thirst. It’s a feeling the body sends us when something we need for survival is missing,” Murthy told The Associated Press in an interview. “Millions of people in America are struggling in the shadows, and that’s not right. That’s why I issued this advisory to pull back the curtain on a struggle that too many people are experiencing.”

The declaration is intended to raise awareness around loneliness but won’t unlock federal funding or programming devoted to combatting the issue.

Research shows that Americans, who have become less engaged with worship houses, community organizations and even their own family members in recent decades, have steadily reported an increase in feelings of loneliness. The number of single households has also doubled over the last 60 years.

But the crisis deeply worsened when COVID-19 spread, prompting schools and workplaces to shut their doors and sending millions of Americans to isolate at home away from relatives or friends.

The surgeon general is calling on workplaces, schools, technology companies, community organizations, parents and other people to make changes that will boost the country’s connectedness. He advises people to join community groups and put down their phones when they’re catching up with friends; employers to think carefully about their remote work policies; and health systems to provide training for doctors to recognize the health risks of loneliness.

—Associated Press

After the American Airlines pilots union voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike on Monday, Southwest pilots also began casting strike-authorization votes the same day.

It comes despite American Airlines stating that it is close to resolving disputed contract issues with its 15,000 pilots.

The outcome of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) vote will be revealed after voting for its 10,000 members concludes on May 31.

This is the first time in Southwest’s 51-year history that pilots have taken such a vote.

Even if either company’s pilots do walk off the job, it won’t happen for many months.

Aviation expert Jay Ratliff told The Epoch Times, “It’s never an immediate ‘we vote to strike today; tomorrow, everything’s toast.’”

Federal laws governing airlines require many steps between a strike-authorization vote and an actual labor strike.

By taking such a vote, the unions are “simply sending the message that we’re serious and let us show you how serious we are,” Ratliff said.

—The Epoch Times

The Biden administration is going to end a slew of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, including its requirement that foreign travelers provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination, officials said on May 1.

The mandate for noncitizen nonimmigrants arriving by air will end on May 12, as will mandates for federal workers and federal contractors, the White House stated.

The proof of vaccination required at U.S. land borders will also end on May 12, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mandates for Head Start employees and health care facilities certified by federal regulators will also be wound down in the future, the administration stated, although no specific dates were given.

Mandates imposed by some agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, will remain in place for now, the White House told The Associated Press.

The mandates were imposed by President Joe Biden and top deputies in 2021 as the administration tried to increase the number of vaccinated Americans, despite a growing body of evidence that the vaccines bestow transient protection against symptomatic infection and hospitalization.

—The Epoch Times

Just 5% of Detroit students are rated “proficient” in a district with 99% of teachers rated “highly effective” or “effective.”

The classification of students for Detroit public schools comes from the latest national testing referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.” The classification of their teachers is provided to the Michigan Department of Education by The Center for Educational Performance and Information.

Each is for the 2021-22 academic year.

Detroit’s school district was rated as the worst-performing of all the 26 large city districts reviewed by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2021-22.

—Just the News

Just last week a dead NASA satellite crashed back to Earth amid warnings it had a one in 2,500 chance of killing someone.

As it was, the spacecraft smashed harmlessly into the Sahara Desert somewhere between Sudan and Egypt, but it once again highlighted the increasing risk of space junk in our daily lives.

Such is the scale of the problem that scientists have even warned there is a 10 per cent chance that a person could be struck and killed by a falling spacecraft or spent rocket booster within the next decade.

The European Space Agency estimates that there is more than 10,800 tons of space junk currently orbiting the Earth, including 130 million objects that include a nine-ton Russian rocket, Cold War spy satellites and the 12-ton iconic Hubble.

—The Daily Mail

Call 911 — she took their breath away.

A police officer in Mexico is skyrocketing to TikTok stardom for posting videos in her uniform that have left the internet swooning.

Magda Francisca Maciel Rodríguez, 38, has been hailed a “sexy” cop by her adoring 153,000 followers, attracting thousands of views on most clips.

Viewers shower her in compliments — mostly in Spanish — calling her “beautiful,” “spectacular” and even begging to be put in handcuffs by the Culiacán policewoman.

“Arrest me, I ran the red light,” one user pleaded in the comments section of a video with over 280,000 views.

“Beautiful woman,” someone else wrote.

“You are a princess,” one person chimed in.

“With all due respect, I want you to be my girlfriend,” declared another.

—NY Post

Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot has died at the age of 84.

Victoria Lord, the musical artist’s publicist, confirmed his death on Monday, according to Pitchfork. His career spanned more than 50 years, beginning in the 1960s, during which he wrote songs that famous artists such as Marty Robbins and Peter, Paul & Mary recorded before he launched a career of his own.

Lightfoot found his greatest success during the 1970s, achieving acclaim for singles such as “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” and “Sundown.”

In 1986, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

—Just the News


The Democrat party has traditionally been thought of as the party of the “working man” – the type of guy who carries a lunch pail to work and works with his hands was the guy who voted for Democrat candidates.

But the days of Democrats being seen as caring about the working man and Republicans being portrayed as elitists are appearing to come to an end. While both parties have high dollar donors, it is the billionaire heads of tech, finance, and media that are throwing their support behind President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. It is making it pretty clear, which party the nation’s elites are behind.

The fact that America’s millionaires and billionaires are jumping in to support Joe Biden and the Democrats speaks volumes as to how in touch they are with the rest of their fellow Americans. In March, a U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse survey showed that 38.5% of Americans said it had been “somewhat,” or “very difficult” to afford household items in the seven days prior to the survey.

It tells you everything you need to know about billionaires who continue to promote and fawn over disastrous Biden policies, as long as they think it will achieve their childlike liberal utopia, and be so horribly out of touch with the everyday plight of regular Americans under the Biden administration, and really just don’t care.

—-Becky Noble, RedState

Biden is wildly unpopular, with a super-majority of his own party telling pollsters they don’t want him to run.

So, why do ambitious Democrats tolerate this and sit on the sidelines when there is clear indication Joe is not up to the job and there is blood in the water?

First, the entirety of the Democrat Industrial Complex is lined up to “Weekend at Bernie’s” Joe Biden for as long as humanly possible. Joe’s whole life has been trying to become President and attain all the trappings that go along with it, he will never walk away from that without a fight. But he also has no core beliefs other than blind ambition and making himself and his family richer, so he’s an empty vessel. This allows activist leftists to get him to do pretty much anything, as long as they don’t challenge him in any way.

He has achieved his lifelong goal, there is no way he’s walking away. He will take all the slings and arrows, suffer any public humiliation, be viewed less favorably than toenail fungus to maintain it.

Biden’s executive actions also allow the left to get a lot of what they want advanced without having to argue for it themselves, insulating them, to a degree, from fallout.

There is also another reason…It is the firm belief, and higher than normal probability, that Joe Biden simply won’t make it to the nomination.

If he’s on the ballot and has to drop off, whatever the reason, Vice President Kamala Harris would be there. But if he has to drop out, resign the office, or pass away (and I’m not wishing for it, but he is a frail 80-year-old man and things happen) before being re-nominated, it would be better politically to jump in to “save the day” at that point than it would be to be seen as having pressured him or perhaps having “driven” him to one of those ends.

Biden won’t be booted by the party because he chose the one candidate less popular than any other, while also being “historic,” as his running mate to insulate him from a coup.

No one seriously will challenge him because it could be seen as abusive and disrespectful, plus there’s a better than average chance he won’t make it to the nomination, which would free up someone waiting in the wings.

Joe Biden is as “safe” from a Democrat challenge as he is unpopular. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t players making moves behind the scenes waiting for the wheels to fall off, one way or another, ready to step in at a moment’s notice.

—Derek Hunter

While liberals tried to destroy our kitchens, they’ve now moved on to leaf blowers. No, I’m not kidding. Leaf blowers and lawnmowers could be the next items on the hit list to save Mother Earth. Another bad idea pitched by people who don’t get that we’re never going to revert to a neo-paleolithic lifestyle.


Your lawn may be the next climate change battleground. And parks. And playgrounds.

Regulators and clean-air advocates are increasingly eyeing the pollution emitted by small gasoline engines used to power lawn mowers and leaf blowers as they seek to blunt climate change. Environmentalists say using a commercial gas leaf blower for an hour produces emissions equal to driving from Denver to Los Angeles.

While many critics first attacked the small engines for the noise they make, experts say these small, two-stroke engines release shockingly large amounts of pollution – two problems that modern and increasingly affordable electric-powered equipment solves.


And to no one’s surprise, the electric equipment to maintain one’s yard is more expensive. To landscapers and those wishing to start similar businesses, expect a three-times increase in the cost to purchase such equipment to comply with these acts of green authoritarianism.

Another aspect of these new local ordinances against efficiency is that they’ve grandfathered in those who already own gas-powered lawnmowers and landscaping equipment, so spare us the saving the planet nonsense. What’s the point? It’s about control and the left being nuisances and busybodies about what we do in our homes. The only exception is when someone gets pregnant. Then, it’s no one’s business

The abortion debate is messy. But Lord have mercy, what a terrible idea: declaring war on lawns. What’s next?

—Matt Vespa, Townhall

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY – In 2011 Osama bin Laden—founder of the militant Islamist organization al-Qaeda and mastermind of numerous terrorist attacks, notably the September 11, 2001, attacks—was killed by U.S. forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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