Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
APRIL 15, 2019

WPT's Government & Member Relation Director John Jacobson spent the morning at Wisconsin Public Radio studios in Madison as a guest on The Morning Show. Last week, WPT issued a statement in strong opposition to this plan.

Jacobson was interviewed live by host Kate Archer Kent for a half hour, as part of a segment on Governor Tony Evers' plan to reinstate the use of eminent domain for seizing land for bike and pedestrian trails in Wisconsin.

If you wish to listen to the Wisconsin Public Radio segment, click here.

A Federal Judge in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week granted Democrat Attorney General Josh Kaul's request to fully pull the State of Wisconsin out of the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."

The decision from the court hands Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Kaul a victory, as both men campaigned on the issue in the 2018 election. In the "lame-duck" session directly following their election, the Wisconsin legislature passed laws that required the administration and Department of Justice to seek legislative approval before removing the state from major lawsuits.

Governor Tony Evers in a statement said that "it's time for Republicans to stop blocking the will of the people and work with us to expand health care."

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos responded by saying that the lawsuit will still proceed even without Wisconsin. "Other states will take Wisconsin's place. SO I think in the end it will be fine."

The co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance last week announced the public hearing dates for the state budget bill introduced by Governor Tony Evers.

As always, WPT members wishing to attend a public hearing may request more in-depth information on the budget, or assistance with the process by calling our Madison office at 608-255-7473, or e-mailing info@wptonline.org. WPT staff can assist with drafting public testimony, and provide tips for testifying in front of the committee.

"We highly encourage the public to attended these public hearings. Hearing comments, concerns, and opinions from Wisconsin citizens is key for us to craft the best possible budget for our state," the Co-Chairs' statement said.

Written comments can be e-mailed to the committee directly at budgetcomments@legis.wisconsin.gov.

The final opportunity for public input:

Wednesday, April 24 (10AM-5PM)

UW-Green Bay Union
Phoenix Room
2430 Campus Court
Green Bay, WI

One Republican lawmaker is calling for requiring the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection to post the exact gas tax rate on all fuel pumps around the state.

State Representative Rob Hutton circulated the legislation, calling it the Gas Tax Transparency bill.

"People have a right to know how much they are paying in taxes," Hutton said. "When it comes to the gas tax that cost is often hidden because there is no requirement for that tax to be advertised separately from the cost of gas. This is a commonsense bill that will provide transparency so Wisconsin families know exactly how much they are paying each time they fill up."

The current gas tax in Wisconsin is 32.9 cents per gallon. Governor Evers' budget would raise the tax to 40.9 cents per gallon, and index the tax to inflation. The federal government also charges an 18.4 cent tax per gallon.

According to preliminary IRS numbers, individual tax refunds by the end of last month were $6 billion below that point last year. Experts have chimed in, saying that the drop, in part, is due to more Americans having less tax being withheld in their paychecks because of the tax reform passed by Congress in 2017.

At the end of March, the U.S. Treasury issued just under 72 million refunds, while a year ago, it had issued about 73 million. The average refund is only about $20 less than the average of last year, at $2,873.

According to CBS, most workers in America paid less in taxes last year, and saw more take-home. "But for many Americans, a slightly higher paycheck doesn't quite have the same visibility as a single $3,000 check in March or April," the report said. According to one source, it's not likely that average refund amounts will increase, as people who wait until the filing deadline tend to owe money for the year.

Republican State Senator Dale Kooyenga announced last week that he is working with law enforcement, hospitals, and other emergency services to draft a bill that would provide resources to those seeking a safe haven for surrendering their newborn babies.

"Last week, the Wood County Sheriff's Department received a report regarding a missing newborn. Wood County deputies and Marshfield police officers then found an abandoned vehicle in a medical center's parking lot. Inside the vehicle, a baby boy was found wrapped inside a bath towel and tied in a plastic bag," a statement read from Sen. Kooyenga's office.

"Upon discovery, the baby was rushed inside the medical center and temporarily revived by staff before passing away. It was then reported that the baby was born that same morning."

Kooyenga's statement says that his legislation would allow for the creation of newborn safety boxes to be placed at medical centers and law enforcement agencies so that parents may place their "unwanted child" in a Safe Haven baby box.

"The box is equipped with heating, cooling, and a silent alarm that notifies emergency personnel within thirty seconds of placement. These boxes have already been installed in Indiana, Ohio, and Arizona."

Lawmakers in both the Assembly and Senate last week unanimously passed legislation that would make it easier for the Department of Transportation to investigate fraudulent auto sales in Wisconsin.

The bill, sparked by alleged fraud accusations at the Standard Pre-Owned car consignment shops in Kaukauna and Suamico, was authored by State Senator Robert Cowles (Allouez) and State Representative Dave Steffan (R-Green Bay.)

"From 2014 to 2016, dozens of vehicles on consignment at the car dealership Standard Pre-Owned were sold despite the original vehicle owner not being notified or receiving compensation," Sen. Cowles said. "While complaints flooded into DOT, more Northeast Wisconsin residents found themselves defrauded by Standard Pre-Owned as the lengthy and tedious process of license revocation failed to protect Wisconsinites in these consignment sales."

The legislation simplifies the process for DOT to deny, suspend, or revoke certain licenses issued to motor vehicle manufacturers, importers, distributors, and dealers to better allow DOT to adequately address the most severe cases of fraud. It also establishes guidelines on what types of fraud could constitute a license denial, suspension, or revocation and provides for an appeals process.


GOP leaders on the state's Joint Finance Committee have signaled opposition to many key provisions in Governor Evers' executive budget. After reading the article, do you agree or disagree with the provisions mentioned??  
Raise the gas tax and get rid of the minimum markup law. Fix our damn roads and bridges. The revenue fairy isn't going to find any new money to do this.

He is nuts!

Oppose all but increase in gas tax.

He was a state employee and never did understand finances.Now in his leberal mind thinks money grows on trees

Most programs increase spending without balancing the income.

Everything. He is spending way, way, way too much money and just plans to take undue advantage of the state to do it.

oppose gas tax. Makes more sense to raise the sales tax 1%. Doesn't target anybody everybody pays a little. Tourist can gas up in Rockford and come to Wisconsin and back never buy gas here. but they would pay sales tax several ways while here.

I support a compromise

oppose all

Governor Evers has proposed restoring the use of eminent domain to seize private land for bike and pedestrian paths. Do you support this idea?
Never a fan of eminent domain.
For bike trails? Really? Absolutely not.
Government assuming they can take your property for a bike path is a slippery slope. Why not design the path so as not to need the private property in the first place. Or better yet ask nicely to purchase the property instead of demanding
So he could run one of these things thru my 80 acres-No Way!
Were would it end then, eminent domain would be abused
Another thought of taking rights away from individuals in his leberal mind
It is ok until it is YOUR property!
There is no way someone should be able to steal someone else's land.
Eminent Domain is THEFT. Would you approve of someone stealing money from you all the time?
property owners rights first!
What is he a communist?
Did you know the transportation fund pays for bike paths? 1% sales tax to transportation fund

It should only be used for major issues that there is no other alternative. Not a bike path..

Just plain stupid

Eminent domain is very tricky. I think each situation is different and should be addressed carefully and fairly.

Evers is proving himself to be a wingnut. How in the world did he get elected?

Don't like the idea of government taking someone's land and not paying fair value.

bike and pedestrian paths are nice but we should never take private property for fun and convenience

Voters last Tuesday approved $770 million in school referenda. Was there a referendum on your ballot?  

The system is working as planned. Starve schools for funding through restrictions, then make them ask their citizens to vote for more funding.

more wasted money because many of the school districts do not budget money from operating revenues to maintain these new buildings. they are poor stewards of OUR money

Yes it passed for the good of our students in a small rural district

FDL passed. Glad it did!

yes by a 60% majority

I supported it but it did not pass.


About sixty percent of Wisconsinites polled by AAA said that there is not enough funding to meet the state's transportation needs. They were also asked about which funding source would be best for the state. How do you feel? (Respondents could select more than one response.)
Tolls are used to trick stupid people into thinking it's not a tax. Just raise the gas tax or a mileage charge and be done with it.

NO Toll Roads.

Where is the scrutiny of the DOT? So much wasted money in my opinion. Find and use that money before asking for fee increases

What has happened to all the money we are taxed with right now. Whos pocket is it going in to?

use money more wise

No more than 5 cents gas tax.Absolutely opposed to all of the others. Professor types would probably like all of the others. Do you hear that Repubs?

State needs to share some so local roads get better

Should look at the State of Oregon they use mileage charges. Also again increase fees on electric cars to make up for lost gas taxes

Everyone seems to complain about our roads but I feel they are pretty darn good compared to many states.

Use budget money available

I hate all of the suggestions. BUT license/registration fee increases are the least irritable way to go. I also think that farm implements that drive down the roadways should be licenses, as should mennonite and amish buggies and even bicycles used for primary transportation...

funds are still not utilized for best efficiency rob one fund to fulfill another then claim shortages

Increase gas tax, BUT it can only be used for transpertation interstucture. NOTHING ELSE!

we are a tax hell. use the money you have better

1% Sales Tax for transportation fund. Everybody benefits from a good transportation system/ We all need to help clean it up. Thats 1 penny on a dollar...come on Madison figure it out. Not Rocket Science

Install rolls at the border. The state would make a lot of revenue each weekend as people enter the state.

We need to do something other than borrowing to pay for it like we have the past few years

Roads aren't bad in my area see lots of wasted money better management of existing money


What is the worst/regrettable purchase you have ever made? Were you able to return the item or were you stuck with it? What's the best purchase or investment you have ever made?
Every time I go to Arby's, I end up regretting it.

One vehicle purchased used was a LEMON. Best Purchase... our home.

WORST: 2005 Ford Excursion diesel. Money pit. BEST: Funding my company's 401(k) plan for over 25 years for our employees and me.

best 1998 ford windstar, 280000 plus miles

Worst-a used '74 Dodge pickup truck. Best-our farm.

Don't know.

Donating to the Democrat party at one time really regret that.

First car I bought was a lemon. Best well how else would we keep up with all the state tax and spending issues unless we read the WPT Weekly Insider!

Worst? not too many, I hate gadgets. Best - children, myself

42 Years ago when newly married my husband & I purchased a cassette tape membership because it came with "free" stereo. BUT we do still have the stereo in our barn! Best investment has been our home. We do laugh though when we remember just how "perfect" we thought it was and the numerous upgrades/changes we have made over the last 14 1/2 years!

We added a sunroom. Great 7-8 months out of the year, but got really expensive to heat and cool. Stuck with it.

The only new car ever purchased a 1972 Chevy Nova SS. The building of your home in 1974. Still live there.

Farm the best purchase we ever made.

most regrettable is purchasing health insurance. Best is a motorcycle that was bartered for a case of beer, 26 years ago...and I still ride it.

Worst-Overpriced depreciating Vehicle Best- Edvest for grandkids future

New car worst. Best is my college and post grad degree.

The worst purchase was blacktopping our driveway. We are stuck the way it looks. Best purchase is my Roomba Robot, love it.. cleans my floors for me.

It is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership each week, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.     
No bills to report.

LRB-2655  Memo  Biennial Budget Procedures (Gundrum, Rick ) Authorizing a biennial budget procedure for political subdivisions.  Deadline: Tuesday, April 16
LRB-2322 Memo Resiliency Week (Feyen, Dan ) Recognizing September 1 to 7, 2019, as Resiliency Week. Deadline: Friday, April 19
LRB-2582  Memo  Conservation Congress Rules (Smith, Jeff ) The procedure for promulgating a proposed rule that is considered at the joint annual spring fish and wildlife rule hearing of the Department of Natural Resources and county meeting of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress.  Deadline: Monday, April 22, 5 pm
LRB-2280  Memo  Selective Abortions (Testin, Patrick ) Sex-selective, disability-selective, and other selective abortions and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Friday, April 12, 5 pm
LRB-2703  Memo  Induced Abortion Information (Kapenga, Chris ) Informed consent regarding a certain abortion-inducing drug regimen and reporting requirements for induced abortions.  Deadline: Friday, April 12
LRB-2406  Memo  Abortion Provider Certification (Stroebel, Duey ) Certification of abortion providers under the Medical Assistance program.  Deadline: Friday, April 12
LRB-2392  Memo  Lyme Disease Awareness Month (Tiffany, Tom ) Proclaiming May 2019 as Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  Deadline: Tuesday, April 23
LRB-0845  Memo  Electa Quinney Day (Cowles, Rob ) Proclaiming November 1 as Electa Quinney Day in Wisconsin.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 24, 4 pm
LRB-2675  Memo  Abortion Requirements (Roth, Roger ) Requirements for children born alive following abortion or attempted abortion and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Friday, April 12, 5 pm
LRB-1180  Memo  Special Ed Licenses (Tranel, Travis) Requirements for initial licensure as a special education teacher.  Deadline: Thursday, April 18, Noon
LRB-1260  Memo  School Aids (Kooyenga, Dale ) Determining shared costs and the secondary cost ceiling for the purpose of general equalization aids for school districts. Deadline: Friday, April 19, 1 pm
LRB-1271  Memo  Sparsity Aid (Marklein, Howard) School district sparsity aid and making a appropriation.  Deadline: Friday, April 19, 1 pm
LRB-0344  Memo  Absentee Voting (Brandtjen, Janel) Using an electronic voting machine to cast a vote with an in-person absentee ballot and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Saturday, April 20
LRB-0093  Memo  DNA Expungement (Hebl, Gary) Expungement of deoxyribonucleic acid from crime laboratories if the person is not found guilty or adjudicated delinquent. 
Deadline: Thursday, April 26, 5  
LRB-1819  Memo  Municipal Ordinances (Thiesfeldt, Jeremy) Municipal ordinance enforcement and court procedures.  Deadline: Monday, April 22