November 6, 2017          No. 42
2017-18, No. 42
November 6, 2017

In this Issue:

Dark Store Delayed Until 2018

Municipal Bills Advance

Assembly Committee to Explore Reforming State and Local Tax System

Recently Introduced Legislation

In the News

Public Hearings
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
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Action on Dark Store and Walgreens Reversal Bills Delayed Until 2018 

The Senate is not taking up the League's Dark Store ( SB 292) and Walgreens Reversal ( SB 291 ) bills when it meets tomorrow for its final floor period of 2017.  There are a number of reasons for this, but it's not because municipal officials didn't pressure their legislators sufficiently. The League thanks the many city and village officials who emailed, called, or met personally with their Senator during the last several weeks on the dark store and Walgreens bills.  Your efforts were amazing and noticed in the Capitol. 

As of late last week, 16 GOP Senators said they would vote in support of the bills. A 17th GOP Senator , Steve Nass, offered to vote yes on the bills only if they were amended to include a three year sunset. Under such an amendment the changes made by the bills would automatically be repealed within three years unless the Legislature  passed another bill before that time deleting the sunset provision. Rep. Rob Brooks, the Assembly author of our bills, would not, for good reasons, go along with such an amendment. 

There were other reasons the bills were not scheduled for a Senate floor vote this week. Chief among them remains the fact that WMC and other business groups strongly oppose the bills. We anticipated it would be tough to convince GOP leadership in both houses that passing these bills is worth angering their friends . And that has proven to be true.

Nevertheless, we are convinced of the merits of our legislation and we will continue to try to make our case and work toward obtaining a floor vote in both houses in early 2018 when the Legislature returns to finish out the 2017-2018 Session. Your continued engagement will be critical to this effort.
Lead Service Line Replacement; Increase in Competitive Bidding Threshold, and other Municipal Bills Advance 

Last week the Senate passed the following municipal bills that the League supports:

SB 48, Enabling municipalities and their water utilities to establish financial assistance programs to help home owners replace lead water service laterals. The vote was 33-0. The Senate bill differs from a similar bill that the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities recommended for passage last spring.  The Assembly bill ( AB 78) sets the maximum grant a municipality could offer to a property owner at 50% of the cost of replacement.  SB 48 limits the maximum grant to two-thirds of the cost of replacement.  We are urging the Assembly to either concur with SB 48 or pass AB 78, but to not let the legislation die over this difference between the bills. 

AB 229 , Allowing municipalities to invest surplus cash in certificates of deposit that exceed 3 years in duration. The League worked with Rep. Katsma (R-Oostburg) and Sen. Testin (R-Stevens Point) to introduce this bill, which was recommended to the League by the City of Stevens Point comptroller/treasurer, Corey Ladick. The bill has been sent to Governor Walker for his signature.  

SB 177, Municipal representation on drainage district boards. The bill has been messaged to the Assembly, which plans to take it up on November 7.  

SB 202Prohibiting adults from allowing underage drinking on property they own or control. The bill was sent to the Assembly and is available for the Assembly to schedule for a floor vote.

SB 236, Increasing the competitive bidding threshold on non-road public construction contracts from $25,000 to $50,000. The bill has been sent to the Assembly where its fate is uncertain.

SB 392, Authorizing municipal ordinances to allow ATV and UTV vehicles to operate on state highways  with speed limits of 35 mph or less. The bill has been sent to the Assembly where its fate is uncertain.

AB 151 , Authorizing community paramedics, community EMTs and community EMs providers. The assembly passed this bill last spring. This bill has now  been sent to the Governor  for his signature.
Assembly Committee to Explore Reforming the State and Local Tax System 

Last week, the chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Rep. John Macco (R-DePere), announced that the committee will focus on researching and proposing a new revenue neutral state and local tax plan. The committee may submit the plan next session for the Legislature to consider as part of the next state budget.

Rep. Macco has delegated the research responsibilities for this project between the following four sub-committees:
  • Personal and Corporate Income Tax
  • Sales and Use Tax
  • Local Taxation and Funding
  • Excise Taxes and Fees
The chair of the Local Taxation and Funding subcommittee is Rep. David Steffen (R-Howard).  Rep. Steffen is a former Village of Howard Trustee and a strong advocate for local governments within the Assembly. Indeed, last week Rep. Steffen spoke to the League's lobby team and we presented him with a token of our appreciation for being a municipal champion.
Recently Introduced Legislation  

No new bills affecting municipalities were introduced last week.  
In the News
Assembly Republicans announce review of state tax system
In the past two budgets, the focus has been on lowering property taxes. Walker proposed cutting income taxes in his latest budget proposal, and Assembly Republicans came forward with a proposal to raise transportation revenue while moving toward a 4 percent flat income tax, but both proposals were ultimately scuttled.

Macco pointed to other efforts to rewrite the tax code in 1997 and 2004 that didn't work out, but he said the difference this time is he will be driving the process with the support of legislative leadership.   Read the full story...

Transit and Foxconn: Legislators weigh in on RTA, other solutions
As the region prepares for a Foxconn manufacturing campus expected to employ hundreds of construction workers in the short term and up to 13,000 employees in long term, The Journal Times asked area lawmakers and leaders how the region should address the looming transportation need, and if there might be the political will in Madison to allow for regional transit authorities. Read the full story... 
Public Hearings this Week  

No pubic hearings on municipal bills are scheduled for this week.