Screen capture from Gov. Walker's YouTube channel.

Gov. Scott Walker gave his eighth State of the State Address Wednesday afternoon. Speaking to the full Legislature, the Republican governor told lawmakers that 2017 was a "historic" year for Wisconsin, and that the state is in an amazing period of prosperity and promise.

"And you know what? We're just getting started. Foxconn, for example, will begin construction this year on a $10 billion campus," Walker said.

January is human trafficking month -- a time when groups trying to eradicate the crime, raise awareness about it. Across the world, it’s estimated that around 27 million people are being trafficked for sex. Most of them are women. The numbers here are hard to pin down. But some experts say Milwaukee is a hotbed for the activity. 

WUWM caught up with a couple people working to fight sex trafficking in Wisconsin.

Marti Mikkelson

The city of Milwaukee is holding free clinics this week for children who may need additional testing for lead levels in their blood. The city sent out more than 5,000 letters Monday to people whose children tested positive for lead exposure in the past few years.

The correspondence went out as a precautionary measure, after it was discovered that the Health Department may have failed to send the follow-up letters years ago. That led to the resignation of Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker earlier this month.


Gov. Walker made headlines last week when he called for a special session to pass a number of welfare reform measures.  That includes one that would require parents of children on food stamps to work, or get job training, in order to receive at least three months of benefits.  

The proposal immediately touched off a barrage of criticism.  In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM"s Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com -- why this is such a hot button issue.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

As Steering & Rules Committee chair Ashanti Hamilton opened Wednesday's special meeting, he described the moment as pivotal to Milwaukee.  He called for thoughtfulness and urgency.

“The more we learn about the consequences of lead exposure, the clearer it is that the highest degree of care and caution must be given, especially to our most vulnerable communities,” Hamilton said.

Members of the public and media in the room expected to be ushered out. The word around town was the committee would move to a closed session.

State lawmakers are holding a flurry of committee hearings this month, as they wrap up much of their work in this two-year legislative session.  Then, they'll largely turn their attention to the elections this fall. 

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says his party will be "very aggressive" in passing welfare reform measures.  But why is that a subject GOP lawmakers want to leave on voters' minds?  WUWM's Marti Mikkelson posed that question to JR Ross of wispolitics.com for this week's Capitol Notes conversation.

It appears Gov. Walker’s proposal to close two troubled juvenile prisons in northern Wisconsin is on a fast track. He says he wants the Republican-controlled legislature to approve his plan this year, after saying earlier this month that lawmakers could take it up next year. Legislative leaders plan to meet Wednesday to discuss the feasibility.

Susan Bence

Update: During Tuesday's press event, Freshwater for Life Action Coalition, or FLAC, spokesperson Robert Miranda called for action.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Today the nation celebrates the life of the late civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The holiday highlights King’s activism during the days of Jim Crow and segregation.

One Milwaukeean who’s been impacted by King’s work is Reggie Jackson, head griot of America’s Black Holocaust Museum. He says that King’s teachings hold as much weight today as they did more than half a century ago.

"I’ve always been a big fan of Dr. King and his dedication to social justice work, racial justice work," Jackson says.

Susan Bence

Updated 1/12/18, 5:20 p.m.:

The City of Milwaukee health department is under fire -- amid a management shake-up. It became public Friday afternoon that the department failed to properly notify thousands of families, whose children tested positive for elevated blood lead levels. It also became public that health commissioner Bevan Baker has left his post.


State lawmakers are considering a bill, they say, would help make schools safer -- for teachers. The bill would alert schools when students have a run-in with the law, but some teachers say the proposal would do more harm than good.

The Teacher Protection Act seeks to open juvenile criminal records to school officials. Currently, all juvenile records are confidential, but the proposal would allow teachers access the files. 

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is the latest hopeful to join the crowded field of Democrats who want to challenge Gov. Walker this November. This brings the number to 17 Democrats who’ve either formally announced their bids or are considering a run.

As of Friday, January 12, here's who have formally announced their campaigns:

Dr. Miha Krofel

A bill making its way through committee would end the Wisconsin DNR’s monitoring of wolves. The legislation would also prohibit law enforcement officers from taking action if a wolf is poached or harmed by things like traps.

At a heated public hearing Wednesday before the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage, Senator Tom Tiffany (R) of Minocqua said the bill is designed to force Congress to remove wolves from the federal endangered species list.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A military veteran in Philadelphia started JDog Junk Removal & Hauling seven years ago. Business boomed so he decided to offer franchises to fellow veterans and their families. That’s where Wisconsin native Andrew Weins enters the picture. 

“This business allows me to take care of the environment,” he says.

Weins served in both Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Marti Mikkelson

The chair of the Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Safety committee didn’t mince words Tuesday, when he outlined the qualities he would like to see in the next police chief. Ald. Bob Donovan has been a longtime critic of Chief Edward Flynn, who announced he’ll be retiring next month. 

Donovan gave what he called the “State of Public Safety in the City” address at City Hall on Tuesday. It included what he wants to see in the next police chief, and also a broader plan for reducing crime.