Keeping up with the capitol
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Now to the news.
⚖️ Keeping up with the Capitol: Here's what you need to know about Tuesday's legislative session.
- Critical race theory: Two bills banning the teachings of certain race- and gender-related concepts in public schools passed on party lines in the Assembly. While the bills don't directly reference the term "critical race theory," the phrase has been used as a catch-all term for theories and concepts surrounding racism and gender inequality. The proposal follows a national trend of GOP legislators advancing bills that essentially prohibit students from learning about divisive matters surrounding racism. The Republican-backed bill will now head to the Senate, where even if it passes, it will almost certainly face Gov. Evers' veto pen.
- Wisconsin's political maps: Republican lawmakers in the Senate voted to endorse using Wisconsin’s current political maps as the blueprint for the state's new maps over the next decade. Of course Democrats reject this idea, saying that the practice will only lead to further gerrymandering. The resolution will now go to Gov. Evers, who is more than likely to veto it.
- Abortion: The Senate voted 19-12 along party lines to approve a bill that would penalize health care workers who fail to provide care in the rare case that an abortion results in a live birth. The bill has yet to be voted on in the Assembly. But if (or more likely when) it heads to Gov. Evers, we can almost certainly expect another veto. The Governor has already vetoed multiple GOP-backed bills related to abortion since taking office.
- Administrative confirmations: The Senate voted to confirm 39 of Gov. Evers' political appointees — including several cabinet heads who have been serving in their roles since 2019. This includes Department of Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dawn Crim; state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski; state Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson; and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. CEO Missy Hughes.
👮🏽 Fitchburg's new police chief and his checkered past.
- Alfonso Morales was hired as Fitchburg's newest top cop after holding then losing the same position in Milwaukee. He's set to be sworn in Oct. 15.
- The backstory: Morales retired from the Milwaukee Police Department after being demoted to captain following complaints about his handling of police's response to and use of pepper spray and tear gas at protests surrounding George Floyd's death in 2020. A judge later overturned Morales’ demotion and said he could return as chief, but Morales reached a settlement with the city, allowing him to resign and collect $627,000.
🚓 A Dane County Supervisor wants to strip law enforcement of qualified immunity.
- District 14 County Supervisor Anthony Gray introduced the proposal that would allow law enforcement to face civil lawsuits for misconduct and malpractice.
- What is qualified immunity? Qualified immunity is a defense that grants government officials and law enforcement immunity in the case they face lawsuits seeking monetary damages for civil rights violations.
- Madison365 reports the Gray is still gathering support for the proposal before bringing it to a vote.
🏨 The Judge Doyle Square saga continues.
- Some context: The $175 million development of Judge Doyle Square has been years in the making. The project involves two blocks of downtown split by Pinckney Street and aims to develop the area with a parking garage, hotel, and apartment complex. So far, the parking garage (and bike center!) and apartment have been completed.
- Originally, the city selected Chicago's Beitler Real Estate Services in 2016 to develop two downtown blocks. Now Beitler wants out and the city wants to transfer its development rights to Minneapolis-based Mortenson, who will lead the charge on developing a nine-story, 260-room hotel, expected to be an Embassy Suites, on the 200 block of South Pinckney Street, the Cap Times reports.
🗳️ Milwaukee is ready for a DNC re-do.
- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wrote a letter to DNC chair Jaime Harrison saying his city is ready and willing to host the Democratic National Convention in 2024 after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed its opportunity to host in 2020. Nothing is set in stone yet, the formal request for proposal to host the 2024 convention will be released later this year.
📚 A record year for enrollment at UW-Madison.
- Freshman enrollment is up nearly 16% compared to last fall, making this year's freshman class the largest in school history. The State Journal reports that the university’s admissions rate increased to 60.3% this year, compared with 57.2% the previous year, the highest it has been since 2005.
🧸 Say hello to Wonderground.
- As Isthmus put it: "No, it’s not New York's hottest new underground coffee spot...it’s the brand new all-season outdoor play space at Madison Children’s Museum, which has been gradually taking shape over the summer." The play space is having its grand opening this weekend.
🦠 Covid-19 Resources
Wisconsin Vaccination Rate: 53.6%
Dane County Vaccination Rate: 70.9%
Here's where to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.
Need a COVID-19 test? PHMDC has you covered.
Are you eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna? Find out here.