State News: Asian Carp, Health Care, Foxconn

Experimental Treatment Bill Clears Senate

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is one step closer to giving terminally ill patients the ability to try experimental treatments with Food and Drug Administration approval. He has been pushing a “right to try” bill that passed the Senate by unanimous consent. It now goes to the House, where Johnson is urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to take it up quickly. Johnson proposed the bill at the request of the Wendler family of Pewaukee after Trickett Wendler died from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2015. The libertarian Goldwater Institute has convinced 37 states to adopt the “right to try” concept and the Wisconsin Assembly passed it in March. It’s still pending in the Senate.

Delayed Carp Study Released

A federal study released Monday lists additional ways to try to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan. The release comes six months after the Trump administration reportedly halted the release of the report, which looks at possible carp controls at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam along the Des Plaines River near Joliet, Ill. A summary published last Friday indicates underwater electric barriers, water jets and noise as favored ways to keep the big carp from getting closer to the lake.

Public hearings will be held during a 45-day comment period before the Corps issues a final plan for the Brandon Road Lock and Dam. Congress has been pressuring the White House to unveil the report.

In June, an Asian Carp was found upstream of an existing electric barrier system at Romeoville, Ill., just nine miles from Lake Michigan. Barge owners, whose vessels pass through the lock, and the state of Illinois, have said they don’t want boats to face additional delays.

Milwaukee Attorney Appointed to 7th Circuit Vacancy

President Donald Trump has nominated a Milwaukee lawyer to the nation’s longest standing federal appeals court vacancy. Trump announced the nomination of Michael Brennan for a seat on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 4. The seat has been open since 2010.

The president’s nomination bypassed the state’s Federal Nominating Commission, which was established in Wisconsin in 1979 by U.S. Sens. William Proxmire and Gaylord Nelson. Since then, the state’s U.S. senators have used the commission to recommend to the president judicial nominees for every U.S. attorney and federal judicial vacancy.

Brennan is currently a partner at a Milwaukee law firm. Prior to that, he served nine years as a judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

President Obama’s two nominees for the 7th Circuit, Victoria Nourse in 2010 and Donald K. Schott in 2016, never received Senate confirmation.

Trump also announced the nomination of Waushara County District Attorney Scott Blader for U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. That nomination is also subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

Molina Leaving State ACA Exchange

California-based health insurer Molina Healthcare is pulling out of in Wisconsin. On Aug. 7, Molina announced it will not be selling policies under the Affordable Care Act marketplaces in Wisconsin and Utah.

The decision affects 30 counties in Wisconsin and almost 29,000 people.

This is the third national insurer to exit Wisconsin’s federal marketplace. Earlier Anthem and Health Tradition announced they wouldn’t sell plans on

Expert Skeptical of Foxconn Job Claims

An expert on the Chinese economy said the decision by Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn to build a Wisconsin manufacturing plant could start a technology corridor in the state, but he’s skeptical of claims the plant will create 13,000 jobs.

“I would find it hard to believe that he would have those kind of numbers there,” said Einar Tangen, who works in economic development in China and has watched the growth of Foxconn closely since he moved there in 2005.

When President Trump announced the Foxconn deal, he promised it would create a minimum of 3,000 and up to 13,000 jobs. Gov. Scott Walker has consistently used the larger number, and so has the state literature promoting the Foxconn deal.

Tangen said when big companies announce an expansion there’s a tendency to “juice” the numbers to present the best possible scenario for job growth. But he expects Wisconsin’s plant, which will produce liquid-crystal display screens used in televisions, could be highly automated.

Tangen said even if Foxconn doesn’t create as many jobs as promised, a plant this size could be big for southeast Wisconsin because of all the other businesses that spring up around it.

Tangen said the benefits to the company would be substantial. He said Foxconn chairman Terry Gou likely wanted a “safety play” in case the United States government were to threaten tariffs on foreign manufacturers.

“Right now, (Gou) basically owns most of the market. He wants to keep it that way,” Tangen said. “He’s getting in ahead of the game. This is a guy who thinks very, very cleverly, very clearly 15 years out.”

Bait Big Part of Bear Diets

New research shows bear bait makes up more than 40 percent of a black bear’s diet in northern Wisconsin, and bait could be playing a role in the high density of bears up north, researchers say.

Northern Wisconsin is home to around 20,400 bears, according to a Journal of Wildlife Management article.

Dave MacFarland, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, co-authored the findings.

“It was a study designed to better understand the ecology of bears in the state and the role that the various foods on the landscape play in the population,” MacFarland said. “That gives us information on the impact of regulations. It’s sort of a first step to better understanding the role of bait in bear diet.”

Baits often consist of high-calorie foods such as meat, candy or cookies, although Wisconsin does not allow baits that contain any animal part or by-product.

The DNR estimates around four million gallons of bear bait are used annually on the landscape. The baiting period in Wisconsin is roughly three times longer than neighboring states Michigan and Minnesota. The state allows baiting from April 15 through early October.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

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