The Study Committee on Property Tax Assessment Practices (a.k.a. the dark store study committee), met for the last time last week and voted to recommend three bills for the Joint Legislative Council to introduce this session. The bills make positive changes to the tax assessment process, but don't accomplish the League's goal of closing the dark store and Walgreens loopholes. The League commends committee members Amy Seibel and Rocco Vita for convincing the committee to make changes to the bill drafts beneficial to municipalities while rejecting changes sought by WMC's representative on the committee.

One of the committee's bill recommendations creates a process by which other taxing jurisdictions may agree to contribute to the cost a municipality incurs in assessing a particular property and/or help pay for the cost of defending the assessment against a taxpayer appeal.

Another bill authorizes the assessor to request a taxpayer to provide a specified list of documents relating to the fair market value of the property. The bill prohibits a person receiving such a request from objecting to an assessment before the board of review if the person fails to make a good faith effort to provide the requested information by March 31.

The final bill makes changes to the process taxpayers must follow when filing actions for excessive property tax assessments.

The Study Committee on the Use of Police Body Cameras is recommending introduction of a bill requiring law enforcement agencies using body cameras to develop a written policy and training requirements and retain footage for at least 120 days after it's recorded. The draft contains exceptions for longer retention in the case of an individual's death or arrest, among other things. 

The language also lays out guidelines for distributing the footage under the state's open records law. It notes footage of a minor, "victim of a sensitive or violent crime" or someone with "a reasonable expectation of privacy" may be pixelated around the subject's face and identifying features to protect him or her. 

The committee was unable to find consensus around language outlining when a police camera should be on or off. 

The Study Committee on the Investment and Use of School Trust Funds recommend introduction of two bills, none of which reduce the ability of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make loans to local governments. One of the committee's recommendations, LRB-0438/1, increases the permissible term for a promissory note. Under the bill, a promissory note issued by a municipality for any public purpose must be repaid within 20 years after the original date of the note.

Finally, the Study Committee on Alcohol Beverages Enforcement ended up not recommending any legislation on the two areas it spent the most time examining: 1) whether wedding barns need to obtain alcohol beverage licenses; and 2) industry dissatisfaction with the Department of Revenue's enforcement of alcohol beverage laws.
Last week, Speaker Vos and Senate President Roth formally invited Governor Evers to the Assembly Chambers on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 to give the State of the State address.

Sheboygan voters will have their say on 'dark store' tax loopholes in April election
"The common council voted unanimously Monday to add an advisory referendum that will appear on the April ballot, asking Sheboygan residents if the Wisconsin legislature should consider passing legislation to close perceived loopholes in the tax assessment process for businesses....

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has outlined the trend of large chain retailers trying to lower their property valuations, identifying the result as a shift of the tax burden, driving up taxes for home and landowners.

"It's us residential property tax payers that are making up the difference, and it's a substantial, substantial amount around the state," said common council member Jim Bohren during the meeting Monday." Read the full story in the Sheboygan Press here.

LRB 0140/1, Notification of changed property tax assessment for agricultural land. Creates an exception to the requirement that an assessor notify a taxpayer when the taxpayer's property is assessed at a value that differs from the prior year's assessment. Under the bill, an assessor is not required to provide notification for an assessment of agricultural land if the difference between the two assessments is $300 or less. By Sen. Feyen (R-Fon du Lac) and Rep. Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac). The League is neutral on this bill.

Organizational meeting of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. The Committee will meet on Wednesday, January 16 , to allow new members to introduce themselves, discuss the committee’s accomplishments during the previous session, as well as Chairman Macco's intent to craft tax reform legislation during this legislative session, discuss committee policy and procedure manuals and provide members an opportunity to discuss their ideas on tax reform and other tax policy. 10:00 a.m. in room 328 Northwest. No public testimony will be taken.