ABC of Wisconsin’s John Mielke (left) speaks to the study committee. Steve Klessig is pictured center and Andy Wagner is pictured right. Photo courtesy of WisconsinEye.Two Associated Builders and Contractor (ABC) members and one chapter staff member are serving on legislative council committees. These committees convene during the summer and fall after the legislative session is complete and are made up of members from both political parties and subject matter experts from the private sector to develop bipartisan solutions to pressing issues that can pass into law during the 2023-2024 legislative session.
Former national ABC Board Chair Steve Klessig is serving on the Commercial Building Permitting Process to help address the backlog at the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Stan Johnson of A.C.E. Building Services is serving on the Occupational Licenses Committee to help address the backlog of professional licenses at the Department of Safety and Professional Services. ABC of Wisconsin Training and Recruitment Director Elizabeth Roddy is serving on the Committee on Increasing Offender Employment Opportunities to increase offender employment opportunities.
Sen. Felzkowski held the first meeting of the Legislative Council Study Committee on Increasing Offender Employment Opportunities recently. The committee started with a presentation by the Department of Corrections about programs offered at DOC centers and county jails. DOC discussed the educational and training opportunities as well as the connection with the Wisconsin Job Centers. Additionally, DOC discussed the primary treatment programs they offer to inmates. When asked questions about their programs, DOC said they had issues during Covid-19 and now have some issues with capacity. After lunch the committee members heard from the Wisconsin Technical College System Employment Training and Placement Programs representative Lenard Simpson. The committee heard from the Department of Workforce Development after WTCS.
Topics discussed among members after the presentations included:
- Bringing in employers who have been successful
- Bringing in workers who have been successful
- Bringing in workers/employers who have not been successful (learn why and what barriers may be in place)
- Bringing in community-based organizations
- Bringing in community corrections
- Bringing in people to discuss housing and transportation needs/services (low-income housing)
- Bringing in local sheriffs to discuss what they are doing and what programs they implemented
- Barriers to employment for candidates
- Education completion
- Employer concerns
- Accessibility to inmates (time length of sentencing)
- Possibility of training long-term and life sentence inmates as trainers to create more space in programs for short-term inmates preparing for the workforce
- Creating more space in programs for inmates
- Reducing barriers and hoops for employers
- Mismatch between employers and available workers
- Immunity program for landlords/Incentives to landlords
- Portfolio planning for inmates upon release (DOC and WTCS)
- Chambers of Commerce and Local Business Services (to discuss local needs) – what incentives will help
- DHS – Inmates need human services (medication and treatment continuation upon release)
- Difficulty of placing sex offenders in districts (WHEDA?)
- Re-entry housing initiatives – WHEDA?
Committee members were reminded that while they can discuss the problems and look at the issue as a whole, the role of the committee is to come up with legislation which can be offered and passed in the 2023-24 legislative session. Stay tuned.
A video of the meeting can be viewed on WisconsinEye.