Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
FEBRUARY 18, 2019
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL  
AND AROUND WISCONSIN 
 
WPT TO ANNOUNCE HEALTH INSURANCE PARTNERSHIP ON WEDNESDAY
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc. on Wednesday will make an exciting announcement regarding members' ability to obtain health insurance through the organization and its new partnership.

In addition to partnering with a statewide law firm at the beginning of this year, as well as our newest partnership with a reputable property tax expert and consultant, the organization will further expand the benefits available to its members through this new health insurance arrangement.

The announcement will be made to members via e-mail.

HOME OF FORMER STATE SENATOR KATHLEEN VINEHOUT DESTROYED BY FIRE
The Alma home of former Wisconsin State Senator and Democratic candidate for governor Kathleen Vinehout was completely destroyed by a fire on Saturday, according to local officials.

On Facebook, the Vinehout family confirmed the tragedy, and assured the community that they were safe but all of their belongings were destroyed.

More details were not immediately available from the Buffalo County Sheriff's office, though that office did confirm it would additional information soon.Vinehout served in the Wisconsin State Senate from 2006 to 2018. She did not seek re-election in 2018, instead opting to run for Governor.

A donation page has been established for the Vinehout family. Those wishing to donate to the family's recovery efforts can follow this link.

 
LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO END MILLER PARK TAX
A bipartisan group of lawmakers in Madison have introduced legislation for co-sponsorship that would end the 0.01% sales tax that funded the construction of Miller Park in Milwaukee, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Democrat Senator Tim Carpenter of Milwaukee, Republican Senator Van Wanggaard of Racine, and Republican Representative Bob Wittke also of Racine are the lead authors of the measure.

Since 1996, five counties in Southeastern Wisconsin, incuding Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Waukesha, have been subjected to the sales tax, which was intended to generate $290 million for construction-related debts and maintenance on the facility. A private consultant for the stadium district board issued a report in 2018 that said the tax would be able to be ended by 2020.


EVERS CALLS FOR DECRIMINALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA USE
Under a plan released by Governor Tony Evers today, Wisconsin residents would be able to carry or sell 25 grams or fewer of marijuana without facing criminal prosecution.

The plan, which will be included in his first state budget slated for release next week Thursday, would also include the implementation of Wisconsin's first medical marijuana program. That program would be administered and regulated by the state's health and agriculture departments.

There are currently 17 states in the country, including Wisconsin, that have not yet legalized some form of marijuana. It is not clear whether Evers' plan has a chance in the GOP-dominated state legislature, where Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has showed some willingness to support the issue, and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald has said he does not support the legalization of medical marijuana.

Evers' plan would allow for marijuana use for certain "debilitating" conditions such as AIDS, Alzheimer's, and cancer.

An additional hurdle is the mechanism through which Evers plans to introduce the legislation- his budget. Republicans have hinted at scrapping Governor Evers' budget proposal and instead building off of a base budget, which was the maneuver they used with Governor Walker's budget in 2017. The Joint Finance Committee also removed all non-fiscal policy from the two-year $70 billion bill.

 
SHOPKO CLOSURES TO LAY OFF HUNDREDS
Eleven Shopko stores in Wisconsin are slated to close this Spring, and according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, those closures will translate into 578 employees losing their jobs.

When it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, Shopko announced it would close 38 stores around the country, but that number jumped up by an additional 178 stores last week. In total, 42 Wisconsin Shoko stores will close.

The Department of Workforce Development last week said that it would offer services to workers impacted by the closures, such as workshops dealing with interviewing skills, budgeting, resume writing, and more.

Also this week, a Shopko partner, Payless Shoes, announced they were closing all of their 2,100 stores in the United States, though continuing operations in South America and other locations. A recent report from the Pew Institute showed that 64 percent of Americans prefer buying from a physical store rather than online, though 65 percent compare the prices in stores to prices online before deciding how to buy.

U.S. retail sales saw the biggest drop in nearly a decade in December, which some U.S. economists believe indicates a slowing economy.

ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH KAUL OUTLINES BUDGET PRIORITIES
Wisconsin's Attorney General, Josh Kaul, announced some of his budget priorities last week, including additional funds for boosting the capacity for testing at the State Crime Lab, as well as modernizing the Department of Justice to better respond to digital crimes.

Delays for testing at the State Crime Lab have inched upward in the past five years, and according to the Attorney General, that means delays for prosecutors at trial who need access to evidence. Kaul also assured Wisconsinites that the backlog on sexual assault kits, which piled up due to years of no tests being performed, would never happen again.

The digital examiners unit would also get a boost in funding under Josh Kaul's budget request. Members of that unit are in charge of analyzing evidence recovered from items such as computers and cell phones.

Drug treatment and diversion programs, and community policing would also get more funding if Governor Evers honors Kaul's request. The Attorney General said those components actually help save local communities money in the long run, and "frees up prosecutors to focus on more serious offenders."


EVERS TO PROPOSE 'FUNDING TUITION FREEZE' AT UW SCHOOLS
While speaking at an event last week, Governor Tony Evers told attendees that his first state budget will fund the tuition freeze at campuses implemented by Governor Scott Walker and Republicans.

"We will be releasing our budget soon and we will be funding the tuition freeze," the Governor said. "We will be sure that all the campuses across the state are thriving."

Last week, the UW Board of Regents voted to increase tuition for students to whom the tuition freeze does not apply. Tuition would increase for non-resident undergraduate students at six campuses, in-state graduate students at eight campuses, and resident graduate students at seven campuses.

Evers has not yet given a specific dollar amount on his plans for UW System funding.

WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS

The Republican-sponsored 10% middle class income tax cut bill will be voted on by the State Assembly this afternoon and then head to the Senate. The legislation funds the tax cut using part of a $692 million surplus. Should Governor Evers sign the bill when it gets to his desk?   
 
Voted yes,but why not use the surplus for roads?

Wisconsin income tax is high and Evers ran on a income tax reduction

Tax cuts are popular because no one likes taxes. You know what's also popular? Fixing roads. No tax cuts until the roads and bridges are fixed.

Why help middle class an use some of surplus instead of trying to destroy the business economy of thr State

Sign it. Unless the surplus goes to roads, I want my money back

it is unappropriated over payment that needs to be returned

How will it be paid next year when there is no longer a surplus

Why not. It is going to be gone soon anyway.

No, We got the money there lets use that on roads and infrastructure , education or any where else we need it. Just spend it wisely

Tired of all of our money only going back to certain groups

We are taxed too much in this state. If there is a surplus it means we paid to much. Give it back

STOP futzing with the system. Leave it be so we have money for roads and schools without increasing taxes elsewhere.

This will just shift taxation onto business and the consumer will pay it anyway. Wisconsin is now closed for business.

Just more political manuvering by the republicans. Isn't time to actually get someting done and not play partisan politics. Give me the days of moderate politicians!

This is a tax cut that can be funded by money that is already there instead of having to increase taxes somewhere else or eliminating the manufacturing tax credit. Manufacturing in this state provides a lot of jobs for a lot of families and all I seem to hear from Tony Evers is spend, spend, spend! Doesn't he realize that business owners are not a bottomless well that he can draw from whenever he wants. In the long term it will cost jobs, and it's hard to pay ANY income tax if there is no income.

place those$$ in a cash reserves fund for emergency expenditures.

He probably won't

The surplus money actually belongs to the taxpayers of the State of Wisconsin and not a personal slush fund for the Democratic Governor to spend on stupid useless programs he envisions as being necessary as pay back to support fat cat donor to his campaign.



 
In his first budget, Governor Evers will propose paying for the replacement of lead pipes and increasing access to dental care for low income Wisconsinites. What do you think?
     
                  
Get the lead out!
 
I replaced my pipes on my farm many years ago, cities should have too! More free stuff for those who choose not to work. I'd like dental care as well, but I will not qualify for any free stuff. Here comes socialism full blown into Wisconsin!
 
People always point to Flint, Michigan as ground zero for lead poisoning issues. You know where lead levels are 5x higher? Milwaukee. Milwaukeeans would be better off in Flint. -- Elevated lead levels lead to low IQ and of course, poverty.
 
Dental care is a rip off an will cost the State in the millions and willonly increase in the furure
 
Likely any relief will be income based and thus middle-class working people will get zilch
 
we are heading to state assisted health care, this is a small step.
 
More of the nanny state. No good can come of this
 
two major problems that need fixes fast
 
Lead pipes maybe. Dental care for the low income just give more subsidies. Why work?
 
Good, both ideas . Dental for the low income, people need the dentist and the lead pipes should be replace, we are hurting our children by not replacing them.
 
Both items will help the health of our citizens and provide jobs.
 
Good ideas, especially the pipes. Our infrastructure is old and needs upgrades and won't be cheaper later on
 
Lead pipes is major. People can get care credit for dental work
 
Replacing lead pipes is good, skip dental care. Having nice teeth is nice, but usually not life saving
 
I don't think that is the business of the state. Fix our roads that the state is already commited to. Don't start more programs and regulations we can't afford
 
I do like both ideas... as long as it comes out of the surplus and is at reasonable prices...
 
People on badger care have access already, make them making them wait a bit for care is not a tragedy
 
Talking about lead pipes in private homes?
 
Where does he think that all of this additional funding is supposed to just appear from?
 
We're will the money come from
 
Once again this is some kind of payday back to some fat cat donor to his campaign and it takes the surplus money away from the taxpayers.
 



  
The transportation task force is again considering raising the gas tax, but now GOP leaders say they support tolls. If you had to pick...  
   

No!No!No tolls!

While they increase the gas tax, get rid of the gas tax exemption for any and all gas/disel purchases. There are now a lot of heavy pieces of equipment on our rural roads that need to start paying for the damage they do in a fuel tax as well, sorry farmers, but you know exactly what I am talking about! You can still deduct the fuel tax you pay against your income, so its a wash anyway.

Politicians hope you think toll roads aren't taxes. They are. Tolls are an inefficient way of raising road funds. In the last 6 months, gas prices have gone up and down by 90 cents. NO ONE will notice a few extra dimes in the gas tax.

And also should increase fees on vehicles. I have a friend in Illinois an toll roads have been sold to private investors because the State could longer handle them but must be a win for the investors

No amount of money is enough for the road-builders association.

We are already paying for our roads! No tolls! As vehicles become more fuel efficient, less gallons purchased. Increases are to be expected to maintain revenue..

I don't like tolls but at least then everyone pays. No more free ride for electric cars owners

tolls will take to long to implement and very costly to service ask Illinois

Let some out of state travelers pay for road repair

Forget the toll roads. Loose federal aid if that happens.

I feel if you going to do the gas tax, why not the tolls. Wisconsin needs the tolls.

The simplest change would be to raise funds through a gas tax.

I hate toll roads, but bring the arguments to the public and let us decide the best coarse

Toll roads are a stupid idea. The infrastructure needed to build and staff would eat all the money that was intended to fix the roads. I'm not a fan of gas tax increase, either, but it would certainly cost less to implement. Also, if we think we need to collect money from Illinois and Minnesota drivers as they traverse Wisconsin, I'm sure they'll have to stop for gas, so we can get their money via the gas tax. I suppose we could also mandate that they throw one dollar out the window every 20 miles. We could then create some jobs by employing disadvantaged youths to walk along the highway and collect toll money for the state. Yeah, that would work. Let's do that.

We already have the system in place to collect the tax we don't have a system to collect tolls plus the tolls just slows down traffic movement. Pay at the pump and don't worry about stopping to pay tolls. But before this is decide there should be a provision that states that the Fuel tax revenue cannot be used for anything but road construction. No light rail or any other pie in the sky programs or ideas.

I hate toll roads. I don't want gas to go higher. I don't think our legislators are listening to the people enough.

BUT MAKE SURE THE MONEY GOES FOR THE ROADS AND NOT OTHER ISSUES!!

None of the above. get control of wasteful spending and there would be enough money for everything.

Not tolls!!

Other states do it.

Toll I 94... use US 12 instead BRILLIANT

Don't like any of them

Why not raise the gas tax by a $1.00 per gallon per year for the next 25 years that way there will not be a need for toll roads. In another words, I think the raising of the gas tax is a bad idea just as creating toll roads. But if there has to be an increase of revenue why not a modest increase of the gas tax along with the modest increase of the registration fees. Toll roads are stupid and will force some vehicles off from the freeways on to the two lane roads. Then watch everyone complain about the terrible roads in Wisconsin.




Average tax refunds are down from last year at this time. Is this the case for you?
 
People were able to use more of their money right away, because they did not pay as much in each week! Those who let the government use their money for a year without paying them interest, just to get a large tax refund, need an economics class!
 
The tax cuts were aimed at the uber wealthy, and our deficit is now over $1T/year. It's a travesty.
 
How much you get in a tax refund is irrelevant without all the information
 
Federally, what did you expect? Vote people!
 
Less was deducted people, do the math!
 
I owe I owe so off to work I go
 
I never get a refund.
 
The people complaining received more money in each paycheck. Better off owing government money interest free. Just plan ahead.
 
People knew what to expect. There were examples available to compare income vs taxes, most just don't pay attention. It's on them to make sure they've paid enough. I do not feel sorry for anyone who did not.
 
It is better to pay in less to begin with rather than trying to get it back. A refund means you paid to much in the first place and the government has been using your money without intrest.
 
It just keeps going down.
 
If you are getting a refund, you are paying in too much.
 
I try to NOT have a LARGE refund. Why give my $$ to uncle sam at zero % interest.
 



Governor Evers plans to enter Wisconsin into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of states which began as a result of President Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. After reading the article; good idea or bad idea?
 
  
 
Global warming is a myth.It helped get Algore and others rich.It is a political agenda designed to give government and the elite more power over us.

The Paris Agreement was a terrible deal, Evers is really moving fast to destroy the economic gains we saw under Walker. I bet when people voted for change, they were not expecting this!

Hey, why should we care? We'll all be dead in 20-30 years anyhow, right?

Another idea that in the future going to cost the taxpayers alot of money

We must protect the enviroment in this state, even if the feds dont think so.

I hope this alliance doesn't put us at a disadvantage to other state

another money sucking dream, how about just surviving today fixing roads and infrastructure

To much controversy of global warming. To many facts are pick and choose. In the 70's we were talking going back to ice age. Unsurprisingly the govts way to handle global warming: through taxes.

Making changes to protect the environment, will also stimulate more jobs in the Green Industry.

Good idea, how long do you think we can ignore this

And so how much is THIS going to cost my business????

Waste of time and effort. Not to mention money.

Why do we have to be subjected to this bogus world wide scam. Climate has been changing since God created the earth. We can't do anything about it. This idea will take out money in the froms of regulation compliance, it will do absolutley nothing for the enviroment which we humans have little control of.

Stop the political partisan BS. There are many reasons why that Paris Agreement was not good. I do agree we need to do something about climate, but I don't think the answer is the Paris Agreement. Mr. Evers needs to focus on sharpening his pencil on the budget, not taking out huge loans, not putting in tollways, not raising taxes, and getting GOOD with the monies he has at his disposal instead!!!

Getting everyone to cooperate.

This is just another useless and unforceable agreement that has no business in state government.

Don't we have enough issues in this state to worry about? Playing to the liberal base. WI could stop all carbon emission and it wouldn't have a measurable effect on world climate. It would just make us all broke and silly looking.




If you woke up tomorrow morning and it was suddenly spring- 60 degrees, green grass, trees budding, birds chirping, what is the first thing you would do? (NOT INCLUDING WORK). Go for a walk? Take a bike ride? Sit on your porch? What are some of your favorite spring activities in Wisconsin? Are you sick of winter now and ready for warmer weather?
 
Hope we wouldn't get a late frost or snowstorm or a gullywasher rain! VERY SICK OF WINTER!
 
Sit on my deck and grill some steaks. Winter all bunched up in a 4 week period stinks! Enough to make me into a snowbird! Sick of driving on terrible rural road conditions, but give those who do plow our roads a lot of credit, not a fun job this past month!
 
People forget that it hit 51 degrees in January. Except the past 4 weeks, it's been a very mild winter and will be over soon. No, I'm not sick of winter.
 
Fix the mess this winter left on my lawn and property
 
Back on the motorcycles!
 
Walk the dog without a jacket (me not the dog). Plant corn
 
Plant garden.
 
I would sit on my porch with my coffee and newspaper
 
Definitely sick of winter! If it was spring tomorrow and 60 degrees I would take my dog for a long walk and enjoy the warm weather
 
Sick of this weather. Would go camping!!!
 
Go out walking or sit outside.. but its cold outside today.
 
I would go for a walk and breathe the spring air and hope to see some spring flowers.
 
Burn my snow shovel and go fishing!
 
Do some yard work that never got done in the fall.
 
Open all of the windows in the house and go sit on my deck!
 
The first thing I would do is try to determine how I overslept for four months. I may need to see a doctor! After a long, hard, winter on the farm, my favorite spring activity is to watch the cows go out on their first day into the pasture. Then I sit down on a rock and have a long sigh of relief...before I start to worry about how I'm going to make it through next winter.
 
Sit on porch and appreciate the change of the seasons
 
Go FISHING! On a BOAT! I think God puts ice on the lakes to keep me off of them, and give the fish stocks time to replenish themselves. (ha ha joking)
 
Maple sapping
 
Say a prayer and start picking up the lawn from our winter weather...(sticks, tree limbs etc!!)
 
Go for a walk, then sit on deck with coffee.
 
Prepare for the FLOOD from snow-melt .... Sandbag the house...
 
Sit on porch,
 
Put away the winter clothes, shovels, scrapers etc
 
soil sample my farm fields
 
I've had enough at this point.
 
Try to deal with the flooding from the snow melt
 
Go for a run
 
THIS WEEK'S MEMBER POLL
 
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.     
 
LEGISLATION  
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW  
No bills to report.
BILLS IN CIRCULATION

LRB-1152  Memo  Bill Passage Prohibition (Spreitzer, Mark ) Prohibiting the assembly and senate from passing certain bills following a general election (first consideration),  Deadline: Monday, February 18, 5 pm
 
LRB-1811  Memo  Black History Month (Taylor, Lena ) Proclaiming February 2019 as Black History Month.  Deadline: Monday, February 11, 5 pm
 
LRB-1127  Memo  Child Pornography (Jacque, Andre ) Possession of child pornography and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Friday, February 22, 5 pm
 
LRB-0175  Memo  Autocycles (Jacque, Andre ) Registration and operation of vehicles defined as autocycles.  Deadline: Friday, February 22, 5 pm
 
LRB-1404  Memo  Voter Registration (Smith, Jeff ) Automatic voter registration, deceptive election practices, voter intimidation and suppression, voter rights, polling place posting and language requirements, election manual requirements, granting rule-making authority, and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Monday, February 25, 5 pm
 
LRB-1058  Memo  Juvenile Electronic Monitoring (Stuck, Amanda) Prohibiting the use of electronic monitoring for juveniles in truancy cases.  Deadline: Monday, February 18, 5 pm
 
LRB-1122  Memo  Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (VanderMeer, Nancy ) The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.  Deadline: Monday, February 25, 4 pm
 
LRB-1831  Memo  Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (Testin, Patrick ) The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.  Deadline: Monday, February 25, 4 pm
 
LRB-1230  Memo  Vapor Product Sales (Brandtjen, Janel ) Prohibiting the sale of vapor products to minors and the purchase of those products my minors. Deadline: Wednesday, February 20, 5 pm
 
LRB-1649  Memo  Unemployment Insurance Benefits (Taylor, Lena ) Eligibility for and charging of unemployment insurance benefits to certain employees and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Thursday, February 21
 
LRB-1495  Memo  Veteran Status Indication (Jacque, Andre ) Indication of veteran status on an operator's license or identification card.  Deadline: Tuesday, February 26, 5 pm
 
LRB-0172  Memo  State Mandates Committee (Jacque, Andre ) Creation of a Joint Committee on State Mandates and required funding of state mandates. Deadline: Wednesday, February 27, 5 pm
 
LRB-1771  Memo  Retail Seller Requirements (Tauchen, Gary ) Requiring retail sellers to accept cash and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Thursday, February 28, 5 pm
 
LRB-1865  Memo  Social Media Identity (Kulp, Bob) Creating a false identity on social media and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 20
 
LRB-1990  Memo  Youth Apprenticeships (Oldenburg, Loren ) Youth apprenticeship programs and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Thursday, February 21, 5 pm
 
LRB-0725  Memo  Marking Highway 33 (Considine, Dave ) Designating and marking STH 33 in Columbia County as the Staff Sergeant Daniel D. Busch Memorial Highway.  Deadline: Thursday, February 28, 5 pm
 
LRB-1893  Memo  Groundwater Quality (Nygren, John ) State health-based groundwater quality standards for certain groundwater contaminants.  Deadline: Thursday, February 28, 5 pm
 
LRB-1505  Memo  Baseball Park Tax (Wanggaard, Van ) Lease terms and the imposition of sales and use taxes related to a local professional baseball park district.  Deadline: Friday, February 22