Legislature Returns for Final Three Months of Session -- Hearing this Week on TIF Legislation and other Bills Affecting Municipalities
The State Legislature returns to the Capitol this week after a long holiday break. The 2019-20 legislative session, which began in January 2019, is winding down. The following are the remaining potential general-business floor periods this session: 

• January 14 to 23, 2020
• February 11 to 20, 2020
• March 24 to 26, 2020

While these days were set as possible floor days at the beginning of the session, the Senate and Assembly will likely meet only a few more times during the listed periods. Assembly leadership has indicated the Assembly will meet twice in January and February, then adjourn the session. Senate leadership similarly plans to meet a few days in both January and February, but may also meet once in March.

Lawmakers and lobbying organizations are pushing hard to advance their bills within this narrow window before the 2019-20 legislative session adjourns in March. Once both houses adjourn, they are not expected to return until the next legislative session begins in January 2021.

Numerous public hearings are scheduled for this week, including hearings on the following bills of interest to municipalities:

SB 560, Limiting Municipal TIF Powers, including limiting the amount of cash grants a municipality may make to a developer, and requiring certain approvals by the Joint Review Board be by unanimous vote. The hearing is Thursday at 12:00 noon. The League opposes this bill.

AB 691, Prohibiting assessors from changing the valuation of property based solely on a recent sale of the property. The hearing is Tuesday at 10:00. The League opposes this bill.

SB 583Regulation of all-terrain vehicles and utility terrain vehicles, including clarifying that limitations on ATV and UTV operation and equipment do not apply to an ATV or UTV owned or leased by a municipality or public utility while the operator is engaged in an emergency. The hearing is Wednesday at 10:00. The League is neutral on this bill.

AB 569 , Making changes to the conditions of liability for worker's compensation benefits for a law enforcement officer or a fire fighter who is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The hearing is Thursday at 10:00. T he League has taken a neutral position on this compromise bill. We have recommended some additional changes be made to the bill, including adding language clarifying that the new standards do not apply to duty disability claims. That change has not yet been made to the bill.

Legislation Requiring Airbnb and other Marketplace Providers to Collect and Remit Room Taxes Took Effect January 1, 2020
Last week, DOR sent a letter to Airbnb and other lodging marketplace providers informing them that effective January 1, 2020, 2019 Wisconsin Act 10 clarifies that a marketplace provider is required to collect municipal room taxes and remit such taxes to municipalities in Wisconsin imposing such a tax. The letter instructs marketplace providers to "contact each Wisconsin municipality in which you sell lodging services to determine if additional registration is required, the applicable room tax rate, and how to file and pay the room taxes."

Read DOR's letter here.
IN THE NEWS

Bill aims to clarify room-tax allocations for Airbnb, Vrbo renters in Wisconsin
For 12 years, the tax has helped municipalities to pay for roads, sidewalks, visitor centers and other public amenities to the tune of more than $16 million. But now Airbnb and Vrbo – the online lodging marketplaces that have disrupted the hotel industry during the last decade – are adding the tourism zone to the list of disrupted entities. 

In July, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a new requirement that lodging marketplaces must collect sales and room taxes on behalf of their users as of Jan. 1. Those marketplaces have indicated that they intend to remit those collections by zip code, not municipality....

Kitchens has brought forward Assembly Bill 683, which would require entities that are subject to the room tax to include certain identifying information when filing their returns, such as the addresses and total taxes collected for each property. In the event that a marketplace company does not submit the required room-tax returns in a timely fashion or neglects to pay its taxes, a municipality would have the ability to impose a forfeiture of up to $500 per day, to a maximum of $45,000 per year. Municipalities would also be able to waive any forfeiture if an appeal takes place.

The bill is now in the hands of the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. Kitchens said he’s pushing for the committee to move it to the Assembly quickly for a hearing. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has endorsed Kitchens’ legislation.  Read the story...

Report finds Madison's government structure 'fundamentally unfair' to minorities, low income residents
Over the past two years, task force member Eric Upchurch observed that the group's work demonstrated why the city lacks representation. Upchurch said task force members experienced transportation challenges and child care issues, which are top barriers that keep residents from participating in local government. 

Upchurch described the the task force's mission as re-imagining local government with access to the same systems it wants to improve.

"We’re asked to change the machine while using it," Upchurch said. 

For Upchurch, improving how the city interacts with residents is critical. He wants the city to be better at knowing who to listen to more closely before conducting public engagement efforts. 

"Our process for listening is really anecdotal, and it ends up being skewed and diluted by the opinions of the people who have the privilege and capacity to be engaged," Upchurch said. 

Overall, the report includes over 40 recommendations related to the structure of city government, the mayor and City Council. These include strategies to improve resident engagement, such as investing in technological advancements to improve participation and creating the neighborhood support office.  Read the story...

What should happen in Wisconsin in the next decade? Eight emerging leaders answer that question.
Included is Polly Dalton, 28, is a farmer in Stevens Point, part of the Rising Sand Organics Cooperative and owner of Upstream Cider. She is District 9 alderwoman in the city of Stevens Point. Read the story...

The League's Local Perspective - Tim Hanna, Local Govt Institute
Jerry talked with Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna about his plans for his new role as Director of the Local Government Institute of Wisconsin. Watch the show on the League's YouTube Channel here...
RECENTLY INTRODUCED BILLS

AB 701/ SB 631, Creating a general permit for hydrologic restoration projects and creating a hydrologic restoration and management advisory council. By Rep. Oldenburg (R-Viroqua) & Sen. Cowles (R-Green Bay) The League has not yet taken a position on this bill. Comment to the League about this bill.
PUBLIC HEARINGS ON MUNICIPAL BILLS

AB 691, Prohibiting Assessors from Changing Assessments Based on Recent Arms-Length Sale of the Property. By Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate, on Tuesday, January 7, at 10:00 a.m. in room 415 Northwest. The League opposes this bill.

SB 583Regulation of all-terrain vehicles and utility terrain vehicles, including clarifying that limitations on ATV and UTV operation and equipment do not apply to an ATV or UTV owned or leased by a municipality or public utility while the operator is engaged in an emergency. By Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, on Wednesday, January 8, at 10:00 a.m. in room 201 Southeast. The League is neutral on this bill.

SB 631, Creating a general permit for hydrologic restoration projects and creating a hydrologic restoration and management advisory council. By Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, on Wednesday, January 8, at 10:00 a.m. in room 201 Southeast. The League has not yet formulated a position on this bill.

AB 569, Claims for compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by police officers and fire fighters under the worker's compensation law. By Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, on Thursday, January 9 at 10:00 a.m. in room 225 Northwest. The League has taken a neutral position on this compromise bill. We have recommended adding language clarifying that the new standards do not apply to duty disability claims. That change has not yet been made to the bill.

SB 560, Limiting Municipal TIF Powers, including limiting the amount of cash grants a municipality may make to a developer, and requiring certain approvals by the Joint Review Board to be by unanimous vote. Joint Hearing conducted by Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection and Assembly Ways and Means Committee, on Thursday, January 9, at 12:00 noon in room 412 East. The League opposes this bill.