Capitol Buzz
November 4, 2020
State Republicans Retain Strong Majorities in Both Houses

It appears, based on unofficial results, that state Senate Republicans have expanded their margin from 19-14 to 21-12 by picking up two Democrat seats and assuming Republicans will successfully defend Senator Fitzgerald’s seat after he vacates it. Republican incumbents Sen. Pat Testin (R–Stevens Point) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R–River Hills) won their seats and the parties split the open seats with Republican Eric Wimberger beating Jonathon Hansen in Green Bay and Democrat Brad Pfaff defeating Dan Kapanke in La Crosse. Also, Republican Rob Stafsholt defeated incumbent Democrat Patty Schachtner in the northwest Wisconsin 10th Senate district.

In the Assembly, Republicans held off an attempt by Assembly Democrats to pick up seats. Capitol insiders had Assembly Republicans losing five seats or more but it appears only two Republican incumbents have been defeated: Representatives Rob Hutton (R – Brookfield) and Jim Ott (R – Mequon). This would make the new Assembly margin going into the 2021-2022 legislative session 61-38 in favor of Republicans.

Senate Republicans are scheduled to meet tomorrow, November 5, to select new leadership. Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) and Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton) are vying to replace newly-elected Congressman Scott Fitzgerald as Senate Majority Leader.

The Assembly Republican and both Democratic caucuses are convening on Tuesday, November 10, to select their leaders.
Court of Appeals upholds Big Box Assessment Against Dark Store Challenge

On October 29, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals (District IV) issued a decision affirming a trial court decision dismissing an excessive tax assessment claim filed by Lowe's Home Centers against the Village of Plover for the 2016 and 2017 tax years. In Lowe's Home Centers, LLC v. Village of Plover, the village had assessed an open and thriving Lowe's store at $7,356,600. Lowe's argued the property should be assessed at $4,620,000. The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court properly rejected 8 sales of vacant or dark big box stores offered by Lowe's expert as evidence that the village's assessment was too high. The Court said that Lowe's argument fails "because it is contrary to the Property Assessment Manual's explicit directive that the assessor "should avoid using sales of improved properties that are vacant ('dark') or distressed as comparable sales unless the subject property is similarly dark or distressed.""

The League of Wisconsin Municipalities filed an amicus brief in the case.

Read the Court of Appeals decision here.
Post Election Lunch with the League -- Virtual Roundtable -- November 10

Municipal staff and officials are invited to join the League's regular monthly all member Zoom roundtable next week.

What: Regular Zoom meeting each 2nd Week of the month on Tuesday from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm.

When: Tuesday, November 10. 12:00 to 1:00 pm

Zoom participation information: is here and always on our website here.