State News: Tariffs, Special Election, Sea Grant

Former State AG Peg Lautenschlager Dies

Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager has died from cancer at the age of 62. Lautenschlager was elected as the first female attorney general in Wisconsin history in 2002. She served in the position from 2003 to 2007. Throughout her career, Lautenschlager held a variety of positions in state and local government. Lautenschlager served as the first woman district attorney in Winnebago County from 1985 to 1988. She was then elected to the state Assembly in 1988, serving until 1993. After that, she worked as the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, and eventually became the state’s attorney general. Her son, Josh Kaul, is currently running against Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel for the position his mother once held.


Walker Saw Himself Losing Special Election Lawsuit

Gov. Scott Walker said he decided to drop an appeal of a special elections lawsuit because it became clear he was not going to win in court. Walker was rebuked by three judges for his decision to delay calling special elections in Wisconsin’s 1st Senate District and 42nd Assembly District. Walker considered appealing his case to the state Supreme Court where conservatives hold a 5-2 majority, but he changed his mind and called special elections for June 12. Walker said he made the decision when it became clear the plaintiffs who brought a lawsuit to force him to call the elections were going to win.

The lawsuit challenging the governor’s decision to leave two legislative seats open was brought by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, on behalf of voters in the open districts. The group is chaired by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Democrats have argued Walker delayed the elections for fear Republicans would lose the districts after a surprise upset in a January special election in the state’s 10th Senate District where a relatively unknown Democrat beat state Rep. Adam Jarchow, R-Balsam Lake, by a 55-44 margin.


Wisconsin Growers Fear Chinese Tariffs

China has hiked tariffs on 128 products from scrap metal to sparkling wine, and Wisconsin growers and producers are concerned about what the tariffs may mean for their industries.

China slapped a 25 percent tariff on United States pork products, including everything from hind legs to chops.

Tammy Vaassen, Wisconsin Pork Association executive vice president, said Wisconsin producers exported about a quarter of the pork produced in the U.S. to overseas partners. Of that amount, China was the third largest market last year.

“They’re very dependent on our export opportunities,” she said. “If we take away some of those opportunities, we certainly need to add to that or we’re going to lose farmers based on the financial implications that will occur.”

More than $1 billion in U.S. pork was shipped to China last year. Wisconsin produced 305,000 hogs in 2017, according to national statistics. Vaassen hopes the tariffs will be short-lived.

China has also placed a 15 percent tariff on cranberries. Tom Lochner, Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association executive director, said they’ve been trying to grow markets in China due to an oversupply of cranberries driving down prices.

Wisconsin ranked first in the U.S. in the export of cranberries last year. China is the third largest market for Wisconsin exports, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection.

President Donald Trump is preparing to impose around $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods.


UWGB Offering Only Native Studies Doctorate Program

Wisconsin’s only doctorate program in native studies will begin this fall at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. It’s the first public campus in Wisconsin to do so.

J P Leary, an associate professor in the program, said the four-year coursework is based on “footwork,” not “bookwork.” Instead of research and dissertations, students will do community-based projects.

Leary said 24 people have already applied for the program, but only 12 will be selected. The program is designed for working professionals, such as teachers or social workers.

He said the school is well suited for the program because it is located near the homes of the Oneida, Menominee, Ho-Chunk, and the Brothertown, also known as Brotherton, tribes.

Leary said the courses will be flexible and mostly held on weekends.


Wisconsin Sea Grant Awards $2.8 Million

The University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute is awarding $2.8 million to Great Lakes research and education projects. Congress recently restored $76.5 million in Sea Grant funding nationwide. The Trump administration had proposed eliminating the program.

Wisconsin Sea Grant recently announced funding for 19 research projects and 29 outreach proposals statewide for the next two years.

“The projects that are funded through 2020 should be solid because we have that funding,” said Jennifer Hauxwell, assistant director of research and student engagement for Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Projects include efforts to develop a management analysis tool to help restore the health of the Green Bay ecosystem, said Kevin Fermanich, a geoscience and environmental science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He said they’re working to develop an online tool that would use computer models to predict how changes in agriculture and development may impact the bay.

“It’s really about building a system of tools to understand the entire Green Bay ecosystem and then how, if we change management practices, let’s say, up in the watershed or on farm fields or in our communities, how that will change how much of the pollutants are getting into the bay and how the bay will respond to those changes,” said Fermanich.


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