Capitol Buzz
October 23, 2020
Wisconsin Elections Commission Releases Guidance on Polling Place Physical Security Issues
Earlier today, the Wisconsin Elections Commission posted a memo on its web site providing guidance to local governments on election site physical security issues, including regulation of firearms at polling places. 

Regarding firearms the memo points out that:

  • Local officials can lawfully place limits on the open carry of firearms in the polling place should they deem it necessary. The law states that, “Any person who goes armed with a firearm in any building owned or leased by... any political subdivision of the state is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.” Wis. Stat. § 941.235(1). This excludes those with a concealed carry license or current or former law enforcement officers), but does apply broadly to those voters considering the open carry of a firearm in a municipally owned or leased building. This statute formally puts individuals on notice that the open carry of firearms in government buildings is prohibited, but it is still recommended that a sign be properly posted at all entrances. The signs can indicate that both the concealed and open carry of firearms is restricted, or it can simply indicate that there is a complete ban on firearms.

  • Likewise, local governments may prohibit conceal carry of firearms in facilities owned or leased by the local government by posting signage near all entrances where an entrant can be reasonably expected to see the posting. A firearm prohibition cannot apply to parking areas/facilities, provided the firearm remains in the vehicle driven to or parked in the lot. Wis. Stat. § 943.13.

  • Local governments may also restrict the right to carry concealed weapons in polling places, even if the election site is not in a posted governmental building, by relying on the special event provisions of the Trespass to Land statutes. Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1m)(c)3. A special event is an event open to the public for a duration of not more than three weeks. The event must also have designated entrances to and from the event that are locked when the event is closed, or be an event that requires admission. Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1e)(h). Organizers of special events, such as an election day polling place, may prohibit access to persons with concealed weapons. 

  • Firearms openly carried or concealed are prohibited from school buildings, which are frequently used as polling places. Wis. Stat. sec. 984.605.

The memo also discusses the broad authority Chief election inspectors have to maintain order at polling places and to have persons causing a disruption removed from the polling place.

To read the entire memo, click here.
DOR Announces CPI for ERP Purposes
Earlier today, the Department of Revenue certified that the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) at 1.4 percent for the 12 months ending September 30, 2020. Note: this percentage was rounded to the nearest 0.10 percent.

Expenditure Restraint Program (ERP)
Per state law, DOR uses this 1.4 percent CPI-U (inflation factor) in ERP to determine the allowable general fund budget percentage increase for qualifying municipalities from 2020 to 2021 (Wis. Stat. sec. 79.05(1)(am)).

To qualify for a 2022 ERP Payment:
  • Your 2020 municipal TID Out property tax rate must exceed five mills.
  • Your net general fund budget increase from 2020 to 2021 must be less than the sum of the 1.4 percent CPI-U increase, plus 60 percent of your net new construction percentage during 2019 (up to a maximum 2 percent).
  • Note: By November 1, 2020, DOR will send ERP budget limit letters providing allowable budget percent increases to municipalities with a 2019 mill rate that exceed five mills.