Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.
Happy December to you all! This week will bring you news from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, and an all new Weekly Member Poll,.
We hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
There have endless headlines and heated debate over whether or not the legislature should take up several proposals ahead of the new governor's election. In the news section, you will read more about the legislative plans. For each issue, there are certainly valid arguments on both sides, but two of the bills really stood out when we conducted our analysis of the bills that are in the Joint Finance Committee today, and could reach the full legislature as early as tomorrow.
First, we took a long look at the bill which moves the nonpartisan (Wisconsin Supreme Court) election to a different date than the presidential partisan preferential election. Currently, they are both slated for April. In other words, conservative Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly will be on the ballot on the same day that Democratic voters go to the polls to choose which candidate they want to challenge President Donald Trump.
On one hand, it might not make much sense to have a nonpartisan state election on the same day as a highly partisan presidential ballot. But the costs and logistics are considerable. And it is our job to look at bills that impact property taxes. This is one of those bills.
The cost to change voting dates in 72 counties will result in a cost of around $7 million to local property taxpayers. This is not something for which the state is going to foot the bill. Last year, citing the cost to taxpayers, Governor Walker decided not to call special elections to fill two vacant legislative seats.
On the logistical level, those spring elections generally see very low turnout, and clerks already have a hard time finding poll workers to administer the races. Adding another election in March could create even lower turnout, or what is referred to as "election fatigue." The change would mean that there is an election in February, March, and April- in addition to the state primaries in August, and the general election in November.
There is undoubtedly going to be split opinions on the matter, but the question we have to ask as property taxpayers; is it worth the $7 million price tag?
Secondly, inserted into the legislation that codifies the work requirement for those receiving Medicaid (BadgerCare), is a codification of the current rules promulgated by the Department of Workforce Development pertaining to work search requirement waivers for employees temporarily laid off from their jobs.
Every year, thousands of construction workers have to stay home from their work site because of the cold weather, which makes their duties literally impossible to perform when temperatures are below freezing. Sometimes those temporary lay-offs are for two weeks, sometimes they are for two months. In the meantime, they claim unemployment insurance. Bear in mind that the cost of their unemployment is paid for through the employers of the state. Every business owner in Wisconsin knows that they pay a hefty payroll tax to the Department of Workforce Development for unemployment insurance.
The state began requiring that those receiving unemployment look for work, and through an online portal, they now have to prove that they have applied for work each week in order to receive their unemployment payments. For a while, workers experiencing a temporary layoff were granted waivers or exemptions from that process because their employer would verify their intentions to, in a short period of time, bring the employee back to work.
Now, the employees have to apply for multiple waivers repeatedly, and the verification process has required the employer to become much more involved. This results in not only a loss time and productivity while the employer has to comply with these time-consuming requirements (for their employees to receive something that the employer pays for with their own money), but we have heard from countless companies that their workers often find other employment and choose not to come back at all. This also creates a hassle and a massive hole in the company's bottom line, as the cost of hiring and training new workers is exorbitant.
The legislature will now codify this red tape into law, leaving employers and skilled workers scrambling to jump over massive hurdles in order to receive money that comes at no cost to the general taxpayer in the state, but rather the employers themselves.
As we look forward to the extraordinary ("lame duck") session this week, we wanted to bring these two items to your attention in particular. We will be monitoring committee and other legislative proceedings, registering appropriately, and making any necessary communications.
We also urge you to reach out to your lawmakers on these or any other issues you feel are of importance to you, your employees, or your family. A full list of each piece of legislation is available at the bottom of this e-mail for your convenience.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
LAME DUCK BILLS RELEASED, HEAD TO COMMITTEE THEN FULL LEGISLATUREIn what has perhaps become more contentious than the 2018 election cycle itself, Republican lawmakers on Friday released five highly-anticipated and hotly-debated pieces of legislation that would make some rather large changes to state government before Governor-elect Tony Evers is sworn into office in January.
With over 40 changes to state law being sought, the bills were referred to the Joint Finance Committee, which was to meet today at 12:30PM to hold a public hearing and vote on the bills. Should those bills pass committee, they would head to the full legislature as early as Tuesday, and then on to Governor Walker for his signature, likely being his last opportunity to sign any legislation into law.
One major change would be to the powers of the Wisconsin Attorney General by granting lawmakers the power to appoint a special legal counsel to represent Wisconsin in legal matters if the legislative committee chooses to do so. In effect, this would replace the attorney general as the chief representative of Wisconsin's legal interests in larger litigation scenarios.
Another piece of legislation would codify into law a current Department of Workforce Development rule that guides the work search waivers and reporting for seasonal and laid off employees who receive Unemployment Insurance benefits. Under current law, an eight week waiver from work search requirements can be sought if the laid off employee anticipates returning to work in a reasonable amount of time. That needs to be verified by the employer for the initial waiver, and then for the subsequent four week waiver that can be granted after the initial eight weeks. Those rules would be written into Wisconsin law, essentially making them permanent.
Early voting would be restrained to two weeks before the election, barring many municipalities from continuing their current practices of opening in-person absentee voting as long as a month before the actual election date. A similar bill was shot down by a federal court in 2016, but changes have been made to the new proposal, but would still almost certainly face legal challenges before the 2020 election.
One of the pieces of legislation would also decouple the statewide nonpartisan primary from the partisan presidential preferential election. Democrats have come out swinging against this proposal, because it removes Walker-appointed State Supreme court Justice Daniel Kelly from the ballot on the same day that Democrats will choose which candidate will take on President Trump in the fall. Instead, another primary election would be held in March. Some also worry that residents will suffer from "voter fatigue," since this change would mean there are elections in February, March, April, and August, and November.
In another bill, GOP lawmakers would be granted more power over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and remove the power of the state's governor to appoint the CEO of the organization.
with Democratic leaders in the legislature, Governor-elect Evers said, "I've said all along I'm committed to working across the aisle, but I will not tolerate attempts to violate our constitutional checks and balances and separation of powers by people who are desperate to cling to control. Enough is enough. Republicans have to stop putting politics before people. Wisconsinites demanded a change on November 6th. I stand with the people of Wisconsin, and we will be taking any steps necessary to prevent power-hungry politicians from overriding the will of the people."
Also in a
, GOP leaders outlined their intentions. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said;
"The legislature will come back in extraordinary session next week to finish our work. Wisconsin law, written by the legislature and signed into law by the governor, should not be erased by the potential political maneuvering of the executive branch. In order to find common ground, everyone must be at the table.
"One of the top priorities for the special session is to pass legislation to ensure people with pre-existing conditions will always have access to affordable health insurance coverage in Wisconsin.
"Our state must stay open for business. WEDC, our economic development agency, must continue to have the ability to help spur job creation and business opportunities without fear of being shut down.
"The legislature is the most representative branch in government and we will not stop being a strong voice for our constituents."
Full text and layman terms of the legislation are available at the bottom of this e-mail.
WEDDING BARNS SHOULD HAVE LIQUOR LICENSESIf you own and operate a barn in Wisconsin where patrons consume alcohol at special events, such as weddings, you should be required to have liquor license, according to an opinion written by Attorney General Brad Schimel.
The legislature would have to act in order to uphold that opinion, so essentially the opinion is just that- a nonbinding opinion.
The conservative legal firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) slammed the opinion last week, saying that wedding barns will be at the risk of shutting down if they are required to acquire the sometimes extremely costly licenses issued by municipalities. Some farmers in Wisconsin, in an effort to bring in more revenue, rent out their barns and property for special events. The industry has exploded in recent years, but the debate has ensued over whether they should have the same requirements as taverns and bars. The Wisconsin Tavern League looks at barns as competition to traditional bars, so they support the notion.
Attorney General Schimel wrote that his intentions were not to hinder the incoming AG, and said he is open to disagreeing with his position.
WALKER, POTAWATOMI REACH AGREEMENTIn an agreement between Governor Walker and the Forest County Potawatomi, who own and operate the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee, the State of Wisconsin would be on the hook for $250 million if their operation were to incur losses due to a new casino being built. Their agreement will now be submitted as an amendment to the state gaming compact, and passed on the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
According to the Chippewa Herald, "The state originally agreed to liability for losses at tribal casinos because it guaranteed, through tribal gaming compacts, geographic exclusivity for casinos in exchange for payments from tribes, also known as revenue sharing. The state uses some of that money for regulation of the casino industry."
Under the current plan, the Potawatomi pay revenue shares to Wisconsin through 2031, but that number would be reduced by $250 million if their numbers were impacted any new developments within 30 to 50 miles of their Milwaukee location.
SMOKING AT A NEW LOW IN WISCONSINAccording to the Department of Health Services, statewide efforts to reduce smoking are paying off, with the state's smoking rate falling to 16% in 2017. This is according to the DHS Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.
One of the biggest reductions is among those between the ages of 35-44 years old, down 19% in 2017 from 24% in 2016. There are also signs that smoking rates may be starting to fall for some groups that have higher rates, including African Americans and people currently on Medicaid.
While the news is encouraging, e-cigarette use is increasing, and many e-cigarette users and those who use smokeless tobacco also smoke cigarettes. According to the 2017 survey, 46% of Wisconsin adults who use e-cigarettes also smoke cigarettes, and 39% of Wisconsin adults who use smokeless tobacco also smoke cigarettes.
Smokeless tobacco can lead to mouth and other cancers, increased heart disease and stroke risk, and cause mouth lesions. E-cigarettes can include harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and diacetyl, and their aerosol can contain heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals.
HEMP DEADLINE EXTENDEDThe deadline to apply for industrial hemp grower and processor licenses and registrations has been extended through March 1, 2019 from the original deadline of December 31st.
"We were hearing from growers that they needed more time to find land and seed sources, and that processors and growers needed time to make arrangements- for growers to find a market for their crop, and processors to have growers to supply them," Brian Kuhn, director of the DATCP Bueau of Plant Industry said. "We still urge applicants to get their completed paperwork in early to avoid a crunch at the end that will slow down the process."
The new deadline is for both new applicants and those renewing their registrations for the 2019 growing season. DATCP emphasizes that the December 15 deadline remains for 2018 growers and processors to file their final reports. The department will not renew registrations until 2018 final reports are filed and all 018 sampling fees are paid.
NET LENDING CONTINUES INCREASING AT STATE-CHARTERED BANKSAccording to the state's Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), net loans grew by 8.8% at Wisconsin's state-chartered banks in the nine months ending September 30, 2018. The actual numbers released came from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"The steady growth in lending activity is terrific news fo rthe state's banking industry and for the Wisconsin economy," said Jay Risch, Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions, who oversees state-chartered banks.
Compared to the first three quarters of 2017, Wisconsin's 158 state-chartered banks increased net loans to $41.6 billion, up from $38 billion; posted a net income of $486.1 million, an increase of 15.9% from $419.4 million; grew total assets by 7.6% from $50.9 billion to $55.6 billion; and maintained a strong capital ratio of 11.47% compared to 11.75%.
The continued increase in lending combined with higher net interest margins were the most significant factors in the strong growth in net income. Total interest income increased by 15.3% for the first nine months of 2018 compared to 2017.
Through the first nine months of 2018, 97% of all state-chartered banks were profitable and nearly 77% realized earnings gains compared to the prior year.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Governor-elect Evers will propose eliminating the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation after being sworn in, and likely move those powers back to the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. Do you support this plan?
To be honest, I don't know. If some smart analyst says one group is better than another, great.
This is the mess you get when the people of a state get tired of the current governor, the new one comes in and changes everything their predecessor did for the first 2 years of their term. The pendulum swings! Unfortunately a democrat will increase taxes and republican will lower them, so a vote for Evers was a vote for higher taxes, open your pocket books people, you voted for it so don't complain!
This is already showing how Evers plans on changing state government back to a good old boys club. He should leave thing status quo and over see if new leaders can fix any issues.
The WEDC is a good idea gone bad. Not enough oversight on who gets thousands of dollars.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is a money pit
I am a business owner in a small, rural town. I've had my run-ins with WEDC. I'm not necessarily saying it should go away. But I've also had WEDC people, staff, folks who are "big wigs" with them, going around and bashing businesses and driving business AWAY from the area. If the WEDC goes away, I hope that Mr. Evers will have someone step in to do the GOOD and HELPFUL work that WEDC did in the DoC. We need MORE small businesses in this state, not less. I think Evers doesn't realize what could happen if we halted huge mega-farm operations and put another few thousand small time dairy farmers back into business... All that money... all those jobs... all those taxes! I guess nobody at the State level wants that money, huh?
We are starting to go backwards already and he hasn't even got into the office yet!!!!
Does that mean his is not concerned about job growth?
Need more information on proposed new structure before making a decision
Need to know the details.
Governemnt anything is the most inefficient
It lost alot of money under Gov. Walker
We don't need that plan, everything is working good without it.
Governor-elect Tony Evers said last week that he will explore the possibility of halting the work requirement for those on BadgerCare in Wisconsin. Good idea or bad idea?
How much does it cost to verify work requirements?
Socialism is on its way into to Wisconsin now. The gerrymandering will get busted up and the dems will take all full control and we will have everything we need, finally! We will also see a large migration into our state to reap the prize Evers will be giving to anyone in need.
Perhaps if wages were higher... there would be no need for Badger-Care for the majority ON Badger-Care.
Let's use some common sense here!
Once again here comes the Democrats who want to give everything for free. They use the same old lines of having work requirement is some form of punishment for people who have made a "career" of taking advantage of the system. It's about time these people who are able to work to get a job and begin being productive citizens.
If you're heathly, work requirement is must to get BadgerCare.We still have too many on the Gravy Train.
Let's just give it to people. They don't have to work for it. #%&*#@
There is work in WI for every able bodied person. It should be a requirement for anyone receiving government funds.
Here we go again the Democrats like to have a welfare state, I see people that are able to work and connect at food pantries, all they what is a hand out an do not have to put effort in doing some work
There needs to be a incentive to work such as health insurance and food share. help wanted signs everywhere but better government bennys if not working seriously people wake up
Why work if the govt. will pay me for doing nothing.
He's such a good little socialist!
I'm very much in the middle on this. I run a business, yet I earn garbage. My wife has severe back issues and can't work, can't get a job, but isn't "medically bad enough" for disability. We've lived on nearly nothing for ages. She cannot work, so how is she supposed to work and get BadgerCare? On the other hand, I do know a good number of people who have chosen to just not leave their homes, sit around behind a computer or gaming system all day, and sit there and just live on what they can get off the state. THOSE are the ones that need to be dealt with.
How is that a bad thing?
Able-bodied need to work for their benefits.
If they can work ,why not
Can't work if not healthy
If the person on BadgerCare, is able to work, even a desk job. Depends on whats wrong with them.
Some people can work but many can't, it would be hard to police this and I would hate to see people who need care not get it
People who are able to work should work and people who are too ill to work should be able to have Badger Care and not work.
I do feel that there should be a work requirement, however if those earnings cause a single parent to loose child care benefits or other type of benefits it may be a bad thing. Until they can get a really decent job and start earning some real money it would be a bad thing
General Motors has announced that it will close multiple plants, halt production on various models, and lay off nearly 15,000 people. DO you drive a GM-made vehicle?
They should have to pay back everything that they got from the government.
No problem many companies are looking for help, Fox Com says they will employ 13,000.
Here we go again big corportations
lower the price so we can afford and everyone can keep their job at GM
I have boycotted GM since the Government (aka you and I) had to bail them out. They should have FAILED. Nobody would have bailed my business out. Why did it bail theirs out? I didn't vote for that. Talk about "corporate welfare"
I try not to since their previous government bailout
We own 2 Chevy Cruzes. They are good cars, very surprised that the company says the model is not selling.
The Department of Health Services is urging Wisconsinites to get their flu shot as soon as possible. Last year, nearly 400 people died in Wisconsin alone from flu-related complications. Did you get your flu shot?
I get the flu shot every year. It's the least we all can do, and if more people did it, we'd have fewer cases, because science.
Never have gotten one and will hopefully never have to, never get the flu as well.
Yes first time to get one. I got the flu really bad last year and hopefully this will help.
My dad's flu shot experience was it made him sick all winter! Supposedly this is a killed vaccine,but I am still not confident. It also only covers a few strains.
I used to get the flu shot, but always got the flu. Haven't had one in 6 years, haven't gotten the flu.
I think it helps. I own a pub/grill and am in contact with a lot of people every day.
I don't see a benefit in receiving a dose of last years flu virus to build antibodies. I am also concerned about the ingredients thimerosal and formeldahyde. I'm smart enough to just keep my hands clean, and use common sense.
When I get the flu shot, I get the flu a bunch of times. When I don't, I stay healthy.
76 years old with some health problems, I got the shot.
Gives my wife peace of mind at any rate
I think everyone should have it.. I don't like seeing people coughing and looking very sick, being out in public. Have had this happen when in a store shopping and someone was so sick,, wasn't long and I was doing that, I stayed home where I belonged.
Did you do any shopping on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday? Were there any particular deals that caught your eye? If so, what'd you buy? Will you waiting to buy Christmas gifts, or do you like to get it finished early?
I did zero shopping at bricks & mortar stores, only online. Sorry. -- I will say that the advertised "deals" were not good this year. All online sellers are constantly discounting their goods. There's never a real "sale" anymore.
Did some online and ordered and store pickup to avoid crowds. A little worried about Amazon small packages being delivered by the USPS, on three occasions in the past 2 weeks I receive a tracking number and text that it is out for delivery and it does not show up. I receive a new text that it has been delayed. Order early if you are ordering from Amazon this year!
No, No, No, No, Mostly done with shopping.
Black Friday deals on the internet.
Never even went. To crowded. I like to go after the first of the year within the first two weeks. Just as good as deals and maybe better.
No,no,&no.I always get giftslater.
NO, Too many people shopping on Black Friday act like greedy animals.
Don't like shopping, try to get other people to get things that I can give to them. Works well!
It makes me sick to think that these days are so important in our lives
can not stand the sales gimmicks and crowds price products reasonable year around and they will sell
None....I think a couple of weeks of Christmas are enough. Love the Holidays but seems we live between "the holidays" and as soon as one is over, we have to get on the next one. Too much for me
No, I don't like shopping or crowds. I usually go to a mall and do it all on one day, finishing early as I have to ship some gifts. It's fun to shop when people are not in a frenzy around me.
I stayed home with my family on both days. It's Thanksgiving! You should be WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS! Not out shopping with crowds of people. I think this is another sign of America gone wrong.
Spent $100 at local hardware on Saturday.
No shopping...too busy working
I never shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. I really don't shop for Christmas, only buy gift cards.
On Black Friday, I took advantage of deals at Fleet Farm. On Small Business Saturday I purchased candy.
I did shop black friday and small business Saturday. There was nothing spectacular that I saw
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.
JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE:
PUBLIC HEARING & EXECUTIVE SESSION HELD 12/3, 12:30PM
(Vos, Robin) State and local highway projects; expenditure of transportation moneys received from the federal government; determining a reduction in individual income tax rates; and election of pass-through entities to be taxed at the entity level.
State Agency Composition
(Vos, Robin) Legislative powers and duties, state agency and authority composition and operations, and administrative rule-making process.
(Vos, Robin) Holding the presidential preference primary on the second Tuesday in March; applying for an absentee ballot in-person; and absentee ballots cast by overseas and military voters.
Federal Government Waivers
(Vos, Robin) Federal government waivers and other requests for federal approval; public assistance programs; waivers from work search and registration requirements for certain unemployment insurance benefit claimants; granting rule-making authority; and making an appropriation.
Legislative Power and Duties
(Vos, Robin) Legislative power and duties, state agency and authority composition and operations, administrative rule-making process, federal government waivers and approvals, unemployment insurance work search and registration requirements, and making an appropriation.