Tag Archives: survey

Conservationists sound off on mines, wells, farms in survey

Wisconsin lawmakers should put future sand mines on hold, delay approval for large farms that could cause pollution and pull permits for high-capacity wells that damage state waters, an overwhelming majority of Conservation Congress spring hearing attendees told the group in its annual survey.

The congress is an influential group of sportsmen that advises the state Department of Natural Resources on policy.

It holds annual spring hearings in all 72 Wisconsin counties. A highlight of the hearings is a survey asking attendees for their thoughts on dozens of outdoors and environmental topics.

The survey is advisory only but offers insight into statewide public sentiment on some of the most pressing issues the DNR faces.

The congress held this year’s hearings earlier in April.

The questionnaire asked attendees if they would support legislation that would impose a moratorium on new frac sand mine permits until the agency completes a study of such mines’ environmental impacts.

Seventy-one counties voted yes; the vote in the lone remaining county was a draw.

The results didn’t indicate how individual counties voted.

In all, 3,226 attendees statewide said yes and 783 said no. Seventy counties said they supported a sand mine moratorium in last year’s survey as well.

The survey also asked if attendees would support legislation giving the DNR authority to suspend permit applications for large livestock farms if questions arise about potential pollution that require study.

Again, 71 counties said yes and the last county tied on the question. A total of 3,310 attendees said yes; 695 said no.

Another question asked if attendees would support legislation that would allow the DNR to suspend a high-capacity well’s permit if the well has impacted or depleted area wells, wetlands or surface waters.

All 72 counties said yes, with 3,988 attendees in support and 231 opposed.

Asked to comment on the survey results, DNR spokesman James Dick responded with an email saying the votes are non-binding.

The congress will discuss the questionnaire at its convention next month and present the results to the DNR’s board at a May 24 meeting, he said.

Dick declined to speculate on what changes the survey might drive. Still, prospects for substantial movement look dim with Republicans in control of the Legislature.

The GOP has largely left the state’s booming sand mining industry alone aside from writing a bill in 2014 that would have exempted sand mines from new local ordinances. The measure failed.

Republicans also have taken a mostly hands-off approach to large livestock farm permitting, despite a state audit last summer that found DNR staff lack the time to thoroughly monitor the operations and inspections often fell below the agency’s frequency goals.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp last year announced farms would be allowed to use consultants to draw up permit applications in hopes of reducing back-and-forth with DNR staff and creating more time for inspections.

As for high-capacity wells, the GOP is currently pushing a bill that would relax regulations on existing wells. The measure cleared the Senate last week.

A majority of attendees — 2,704 to 1,089 _ also said they would support repealing a law that relaxed Wisconsin’s iron mining regulations.

About 2,300 attendees at last year’s spring hearings approved the same question; 1,140 opposed the idea then. A repeal looks all but dead on arrival, though. The same Republican leaders who pushed for the law still control both the Senate and Assembly.

LGBT rights group releases health care index

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released its 10th edition of the Healthcare Equality Index. Of the  facilities surveyed, 303 earned HRC’s “Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare Equality” designation.

HRC also assigned numerical scores to the health care facilities — three quarters of the facilities that participated in the survey scored 80 points or above.

In a press statement, HRC president Chad Griffin said the index “reminds us again that though we have made tremendous gains over the past decade, there is still much more work left for us to do.”


A look at the scores…

In the 2017 report, 303 facilities — 51 percent of those actively participating in the survey — met HRC’s criteria to earn the “Leader” designation.

Health care facilities in Wisconsin to receive the “Leader” designation include: NorthLakes Community Clinic in Iron River, American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, UW Health at American Center in Madison, VA William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison, AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Froedtert Memorial Lutheran Hospital in Milwaukee and VA Clement J. Zablocki Medical Center in Milwaukee.

Another 144 facilities earned a “Top Performer” designation for scoring between 80 and 95 points.

In addition to the scoring criteria, the 2017 HEI included a fifth section focusing on responsible citizenship and calling out activity that would undermine LGBTQ equality or inclusive patient care. Healthcare facilities may have 25 points deducted from their score for a large-scale official or public anti-LGBTQ blemish on their records.

This year, Johns Hopkins Hospital became the first and only facility to receive this deduction.

Of the hospitals that did not actively participate in the 2017 HEI but were scored based on HRC’s research, only 61 percent have nondiscrimination policies that include both “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” and only 52 percent were found to have an LGBTQ-inclusive employment non-discrimination policy.

However, HRC said 95 percent of these facilities were committed to equal visitation, close to the rate of the facilities that actively participated in the survey.

HRC highlighted in the survey report the work taking place at two transgender youth clinics — GENECIS at Children’s Health in Dallas and the Center for Child and Adolescent Gender Care at Duke Children’s Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

Legislative attacks on the transgender communities in both states underscore the importance of the care and affirmation these clinics are providing transgender youth, according to HRC.

WalletHub: Milwaukee in top 10 cities most affected by ‘Trumpcare’

Source: WalletHub

With the average health-insurance premium estimated to rise 15-20 percent in the next two years and federal tax credits expected to decrease under the recently proposed American Health Care Act, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of cities most affected by the GOP health plan, which it referred to as “TrumpCare.”

To gauge the impact of the Republican-proposed health plan on people who buy their own insurance, WalletHub’s analysts compared 457 U.S. cities based on the differences in premium subsidies that the average household would receive under “Obamacare” and “Trumpcare.”

The impact on Milwaukee:

  • Average Obamacare Premium Subsidy: $5,707
  • Average Trumpcare Premium Subsidy: $5,000
  • Subsidy Difference: -$707
  • Milwaukee ranks 78th most affected overall and 10th most affected among large cities.

On the web


Fewer snowy owls seen in Wisconsin this winter than last

Wisconsin hasn’t seen the increase in the number of snowy owls this winter that have visited the state in recent winters from their usual nesting grounds above the Arctic Circle.

Many more of the white birds than normal visit some years, creating what the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources calls an irruption, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Nearly 240 snowy owls were reported in the winter of 2014-15, and nearly 250 were spotted in 2015-16. Department officials say this winter’s more than 50 owls is a more standard number.

Karla Bloem, executive director of the Houston-based International Owl Center, said researchers used to think this happened because of a lack of food in Canada, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

The traditional thought was that when you have snowy owls coming south, it’s because there’s not enough food up in Canada, and everyone is starving, and they come south,” Bloem said. “(But) they realized that a lot of the birds that are coming south are fat and doing well.”

She said the latest research has shown that it’s probably because of the stability of food in Canada. She said climate change should also be considered when studying snowy owls’ migration patterns.

“The tundra is a pretty fragile habitat, and of course the lemmings that live there (a major source of food for snowy owls) are very dependent on the vegetation there, which is dependent on the climate, and the snowy owls are dependent on the lemmings,” she said.

Northern Wisconsin favors public oversight of water supply

An overwhelming majority of residents in northern Wisconsin support public sector oversight of drinking water resources, according to a poll conducted by the Center for Rural Communities at Northland College.

Public sector includes publicly owned utilities, as well as tribal water utilities and systems managed by local, state, tribal and federal governments.

About 640 households in Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Iron counties participated in the survey, conducted after state lawmakers considered but did not pass legislation to ease the process of privatizing municipal water utilities.

About 83.9 percent of those surveyed said the public sector should be responsible for guaranteeing access to safe drinking water.

About 90 percent said the public sector should notify people of any changes to water quality or water treatment.

“Nearly all respondents — 97 percent — agreed with the statement ‘water is a human right and every person should have access to clean and safe drinking water,’” said Brandon Hofstedt, associate professor of sustainable community development at Northland and faculty director at the center.

About 55.8 percent of those polled said a private entity should not profit from supplying drinking water to households.

Also, about 75 percent said a private entity should not be allowed to extract and sell water from Lake Superior or an aquifer or tributary.

E-cig use stalls as health concerns grow

Use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new online Reuters/Ipsos poll.

About 10 percent of the 9,766 adults surveyed between April 19 and May 16 use the devices, the same percentage as in a similar Reuters/Ipsos poll in May, 2015.

This year, however, a growing percentage of participants expressed negative attitudes toward e-cigarettes. Forty-seven percent of respondents said vaping was not healthier than smoking conventional cigarettes compared with 38 percent who felt that way a year ago.

Forty-three percent said they did not believe vaping could help people quit smoking compared with 39 percent who held that view in 2015. A majority of participants — 66 percent – say that vaping can be addictive compared with 61 percent in 2015. Additionally, 49 percent said this year that it could have a similar effect to that of second-hand tobacco smoke compared with 42 percent last year.

The growing concerns about the devices could hit their already slowing sales, especially for smaller e-cigarette and vaping companies. Many of these brands have lost market share to big tobacco companies, such as Altria and Reynolds American Inc. Some do not expect to survive with new U.S. rules to regulate the e-cigarette market.

“In some ways, a move away from e-cigarettes is actually positive for Altria and Reynolds,” said Morningstar analyst Adam Fleck, pointing out it may help sustain sales of conventional cigarettes, whose margins are much higher.

Sharra Morris, 42, a mental health counselor in Moore, Oklahoma, started using e-cigarettes in February despite some misgivings about their safety. She tried vaping to help her quit smoking regular cigarettes.

“The question now is: are they really safe?” said Morris, who likes to vape using liquids flavored to taste like Fruit Loops cereal and Snickerdoodle cookies. “What will they tell us in 20 years?”

E-cigarettes are metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when inhaled. The liquids come in thousands of flavors, from cotton candy to pizza.

Use of the devices has grown quickly in the last decade, with U.S. sales expected to reach $4.1 billion in 2016, according to Wells Fargo Securities. Sales were down 6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, however.

The healthcare community remains deeply divided over the devices. Some healthcare experts are concerned about how little is known about the potential health risks. They are especially worried about rising teen e-cigarette use, and fear that may get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

Some support them as a safer alternative to tobacco smoke for smokers who have been unable to quit.

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, has advocated vaping as a way to wean smokers off conventional cigarettes. He blames negative publicity for the growing concerns about the devices, and believes most are unwarranted.

“There have been public health scares, and they are working,” said Siegel. “They are dissuading a lot of people from trying these products.”


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its first rules regulating e-cigarettes earlier this month, banning their sale and advertising to minors and requiring that manufacturers submit their products for approval.

At least one lawsuit has been filed in response to the new rules and more are expected. Many smaller companies say the testing requirement is too burdensome because it will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per product, and they often manufacture dozens. They say the rules favor the large players, such as Altria and Reynolds.

Companies selling in the United States are banned from marketing the products as smoking cessation devices. About three-quarters of people who switch between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes said in the Reuters/Ipsos survey they tried them to quit conventional cigarettes, but still smoke tobacco “on occasion.”

Many are like Michael Whittaker, a 47-year-old delivery driver from Halifax, Massachusetts, who took up vaping a few months ago. “I figured it might be better for me and I might smell better.”

Now he is trying to cut back on both, which is common for dual users.

About 80 percent of people who switch between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes said they vape “in places where regular cigarettes are prohibited,” such as public buildings, or “when I’m near people who don’t like tobacco smoke.”

About half of those who currently vape or said they used e-cigarettes in the past said friends and family encouraged them to try the devices. The Reuters/Ipsos poll has a credibility interval, a measure of its accuracy, of plus or minus 1.1 percentage point for all respondents and 5.6 percentage points for questions asked of people who switch between conventional and e-cigarettes.

A concern for healthcare professionals is that while 29 percent of those who stopped vaping said in the poll they “quit all nicotine products,” almost half returned to conventional cigarettes.

Of those who went back to traditional tobacco products, 57 percent said they returned to conventional cigarettes because vaping was not satisfying, and 10 percent said it was not convenient enough. U.S.-approved smoking cessation products and strategies include medications, patches and counseling, many of which are now covered by insurance.

“We think there are certainly more and better ways to help smokers to quit,” said Erika Sward of the American Lung Association. “When you’re going to e-cigarettes, you’re not quitting, you’re switching,” she said.

(Reporting By Jilian Mincer; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Tomasz Janowski)

Enthusiast Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, popularly known as "vaping," from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces within the nation's second-largest city.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Enthusiast Brandy Tseu uses an electronic cigarette at The Vapor Spot vapor bar in Los Angeles, California March 4, 2014. The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, popularly known as “vaping,” from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces within the nation’s second-largest city. — PHOTO: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Marquette poll finds tight Democratic presidential race in Wisconsin, Trump maintaining GOP lead

A new Marquette Law School Poll finds a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination in Wisconsin.

On the GOP side, Donald Trump is maintaining his lead in the state.

Also, approval of how Gov. Scott Walker is handling his job stands at 39 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. In January, 38 percent approved and 57 percent disapproved.

In the Democratic race

The Marquette poll shows Bernie Sanders with about 44 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent among those who say that they will vote in April 5 primary. In January, the school’s poll showed Clinton at 45 percent and Sanders at 43 percent. Last November, Clinton had a nine-point advantage and was at 50 percent.

In the Republican race

Trump is supported by about 30 percent in the GOP presidential preference primary in the state. He’s followed by Marco Rubio at 20 percent and Ted Cruz at 19 percent. John Kasich and Ben Carson receive 8 percent each. Jeb Bush, who suspended his campaign while the poll was being conducted, had the support of 3 percent.

The poll found about 10 percent of likely GOP primary voters undecided.

Last month, the school’s poll also showed Trump ahead, with about 24 percent, then Rubio at 18 percent and Cruz of 16 percent.


Forty-six percent of GOP voters see Trump as the most likely nominee, followed by Cruz at 25 percent and Rubio at 11 percent. Before the Iowa and New Hampshire votes, about 49 percent expected Trump to be the nominee.

On the Democratic side, 60 percent think Clinton is the most likely nominee, with 33 percent saying Sanders is most likely to win the nomination. Before Iowa and New Hampshire voting, 65 percent said Clinton would win the nomination.

Looking to the fall’s general election, here’s how the vote might go in Wisconsin: Sanders leads Rubio by 18 points and he leads Cruz by 18 and Trump by 20.

In a general election matchup, Clinton edges Rubio by 1 point and ties with Cruz. She has a 10‑point edge over Trump.

Supreme court race

The poll also asked voters about their choice for Wisconsin Supreme Court. The race is down to a choice of Rebecca Bradley, made an incumbent by Gov. Scott Walker’s appointment last fall,  and JoAnne Kloppenburg.

Both are at 30 percent with voters, while 31 percent of voters saying they don’t know how they will vote.

Among those who say they are absolutely certain they will vote in the April 5 election, Bradley is backed by 37 percent while Kloppenburg is backed by 36 percent.

Though the candidates were selected in a February voting contest, the poll shows both candidates are unfamiliar to a majority of registered voters. Sixty percent say they are unable to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view of Bradley while 57 percent say the same of Kloppenburg. Bradley is viewed favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 18 percent. Kloppenburg is seen favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 21 percent.

Among Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican party, Bradley receives 52 percent and Kloppenburg 9 percent, with 31 percent saying they don’t know how they will vote.

Among Democrats and independents who lean Democratic, Kloppenburg is supported by 49 percent and Bradley by 15 percent, with 30 percent saying they don’t know.

Among independents, 19 percent support Bradley, 22 percent support Kloppenburg and 30 percent say they don’t know how they will vote. An additional 27 percent of independents say they will not vote or will vote for neither candidate.

For U.S. Senate

Democrat Russ Feingold is supported by 49 percent of registered voters and Republican incumbent Ron Johnson receives 37 percent. In January, Feingold was at 50 percent and Johnson was at 37 percent.

The poll also asked voters about the debate over a U.S. Supreme Court nomination this year, the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, as well as favorable impressions and state issues.

About 51 percent said the U.S. Senate should hold hearings and a vote on a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy this year, while 40 percent say the Senate should wait until 2017, after the presidential election.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents say they would be willing for their senator to vote for a highly qualified nominee with whom the respondent disagreed on some policies. Thirty percent say they would want their senator to vote against any nominee with whom the respondent disagreed, regardless of qualifications.

Supporters of Senate candidates Johnson and Feingold take opposite positions on filling the Court vacancy. Among Johnson supporters, 65 percent say the Senate should not act until 2017. Among Feingold supporters, 70 percent say the Senate should hold hearings and vote.

On state questions, voters:

• Support a proposal to allow counties to add a one-half percent sales tax for four years to be used for road maintenance, if approved by a referendum.

• Are divided on allowing landlords more freedom to evict tenants for a variety of reasons, with 46 percent supporting such an approach.

• Are divided on the value of housing subsidies for the poor. Fifty percent say rent subsidies would help stabilize low-income families while 41 percent say such subsidies will have little effect on the situation of low-income families.

About 52 percent say Wisconsin is on the wrong track while 44 percent say it is headed in the right direction.

Also, 36 percent say the state budget is in worse shape now than several years ago.


Editor’s note: About the Marquette Law School Poll: The Marquette Law School Poll is the most extensive statewide polling project in Wisconsin history. This poll interviewed 802 registered Wisconsin voters, by both landline and cell phone, February 18-21, 2016. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points for the full sample. For Republican presidential primary voters, the sample size is 297, with a margin of error of +/-7.5 percentage points. For Democratic presidential primary voters, the sample size is 343, with a margin of error of +/-6.9 percentage points. The partisan makeup of this sample, including those who lean to a party, is 40 percent Republican, 49 percent Democratic and 10 percent independent. The long-term estimate over the previous 32 statewide Marquette polls, with 27,533 respondents, is 42 percent Republican and 47 percent Democratic, with 9 percent independent. The partisan makeup of this sample, excluding those who lean to a party, is 26 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 40 percent independent, compared to the long-term estimate of 27 percent Republican, 31 percent Democratic and 39 percent independent.


Poll: Veterans reject Koch brother’s push to privatize VA health care

A poll released just before Veterans Day shows veterans don’t support the push by Concerned Veterans for America, a Koch brothers front group, to private the VA health care.

CVA is pressing the Republican candidates for president to take up its call to replace the VA health care system with a voucher system.

The poll released on Nov. 10 and published in the Military Times shows two-thirds of veterans surveyed oppose a voucher system.

The poll also showed that 57 percent of veterans surveyed would be less likely to support a candidate who backed “privatizing the VA health care system.”

The poll was conducted for Vet Voice Foundation by Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, with a goal of having bipartisan results.

The survey found a majority of veterans opposed to privatization, regardless of party, age, or branch of military.

Most Americans believe in heaven and hell

About 72 percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, as defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.”

This is according to Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study.

The same study found that 58 percent of adults in the United States believe in hell, as defined as a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

Pew said the percentages haven’t changed much since 2007, when the question was last asked.

Pew said about 95 percent of Mormons and 93 percent of those affiliated with historically black Protestant denominations believe in heaven. About eight in 10 evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and mainline Protestants also say they believe.

About 89 percent of Muslims say they believe in heaven and 76 believe in hell.

Pew said roughly a third or less of Buddhists, Hindus and Jews believe in hell and half or fewer believe in heaven.

Among atheists and agnostics, about 37 percent believe in heaven and 27 percent believe in hell.

Tea party support falls

Support for the tea party movement has fallen to an all-time low, according to a recently released Gallup Poll.

Only 17 percent of adults surveyed nationwide consider themselves tea party supporters, according to the poll. That’s down by nearly half from the 32 percent support that the movement enjoyed in 2010. On the other hand, opposition to the tea party has dropped to 24 percent after peaking at 31 percent ahead of last year’s midterm elections.

The drop was fueled not by a switch to opposition but rather an increase in the percentage of people who say they neither support nor oppose the tea party. That number’s risen to 54 percent. 

Liberal Democrats are the movement’s strongest opponents. 

The tea party arose during 2009 as a reaction against the 2008 victories of President Barack Obama. In 2010, the movement played a key role in electing standard-bearers such Scott Walker, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Although the tea party has positioned itself as a grassroots movement, studies have shown it was funded by the tobacco industry and the Koch brothers, who’ve used it to enact an anti-tax and anti-regulatory agenda.

In its report, Gallup noted that support for the tea party could ratchet up again as the 2016 elections heat up. 

Opposition to the tea party has increased most among Americans with postgraduate educations, whose disapproval has grown from 36 percent in 2010 to 53 percent. Opposition has dropped among several groups, including: 18-29 years olds, people with low incomes and unmarried women. But most of the people in those groups have moved from opposition to no longer having an opinion about the movement.