Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
JANUARY 14, 2019


Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.

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 info@wptonline.org.

Have a great week,

WPT, Inc.

Last week, a member called who had concerns regarding WPT's stance and public statement on the proposals released by the Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding.
The plan would allow for property tax caps to be lifted, and automatic property tax raises to be implemented on local communities. Further, this plan would all-but do away with the local referendum process which affords residents the right to discern their communities' needs instead of a committee in Madison making that determination.
Our statement was a firm and concise stance on our views on automatic property tax increases, and the removal of taxpayers' voices in the process. We also genuinely thanked the members of the Blue Ribbon Commission for their work, as school funding is a complicated policy objective for which there is no simple answer.
But our statement did not fully outline our full approach to property taxes and school funding.
In the early 1990s, the State of Wisconsin committed to funding 2/3rds of the cost of public schools in Wisconsin. Since that time, the state' contributions have dropped substantially, throwing that balance off, and the difference onto local property tax bills. Allowing the state to implement automatic property tax increases without first meeting their own obligation to kids is where the discrepancy is found.
Our group has repeatedly advocated for increases in rural school funding, and more transportation aids for getting kids to school in sparsely populated areas. Most importantly, we have supported budgets that increase the state's overall contributions to schools, while allowing property tax caps to remain in place unless approved by residents. But before holding out their hand to ask property taxpayers for more money locally, the state first needs to fulfill its full commitment to our communities.
WPT will never advocate for less funding for Wisconsin's kids. Education is not only a vital component to a strong economy, but it enriches the lives of young people, expands their future potential, and serves as a source of pride for communities both small and large alike. Local taxpayers want to fund their schools, and they have- they have gone to the ballot box repeatedly to cast a vote on whether or not to raise their own property taxes for schools. Local property taxpayers want to do their part in funding schools- and they have. Now it's time for the state to do their part before asking for more.

If you have any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns, please reach out to me directly at jjacobson@wptonline.org.


In his first executive action as Governor of Wisconsin, shortly after being inaugurated, Tony Evers on Monday issued an executive order that requires state departments and agencies to develop and enforce new policies that aim to prevent discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity.

In his second executive order, issued simultaneously, Governor Evers called upon the heads of state agencies to "recognize the valuable contributions of state employees, promote positive morale and foster a collaborative work environment."

Groups such as Fair Wisconsin, an LGBT advocacy group, lauded the executive order, saying that it "modernizes our state's internal policies to make sure Wisconsin government employees are judged solely on their job performance, not who they are or who they love."

From WMS: Patients who need help with the cost of prescription medications can now get a free prescription savings card through the state's largest association of physicians.

The Wisconsin Medical Society is making available the Wisconsin Drug Card, a discount prescription medication card free to all Wisconsin residents. The discount card generates savings of up to 75% of prescription drugs are more than 68,000 pharmacies nationwide.

Wisconsin Drug Card helps uninsured and under-insured residents afford prescription medications. This resource has already saved Wisconsin residents more than $67 million since inception.

"Wisconsin Medical Society members are committed to providing the best possible care to their patients and making available the best programs that provide the biggest impact," said Wisconsin Medical Society CEO Bud Chumbley, MD, MBA. "Wisconsin Drug Card is a prescription savings program that can help make prescriptions more affordable for those in need."

Wisconsin Drug Card discounts are available to patients whose health insurance does not include prescription benefits. Those who do have prescription coverage with their health insurance can use this program to get discounts on medications that are not covered by their insurance plan. All Wisconsin residents are eligible regardless of their current prescription coverage benefits.

Wisconsin residents can print a free card, search medication and providing and locate participating pharmacies at www.WisconsinDrugCard.com or www.wisconsinmedicalsociety.org.

The Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE) released a policy report last week that forecast the performance of the Wisconsin and the US economies in 2019.

The report, titled "Forecasting the U.S. and Wisconsin Economies in 2019," report authors Noah William and Junjie Guo, predict that "the growth rate of the national economy will slow substantially." After growing at roughly 3% in 2018, they forecast U.S. GDP growth to slow to below 1.5% in 2019. Similarly, at the state level, "employment growth will slow down and likely turn negative." According to the report, after hitting historic lows below 3% in 2018, unemployment in Wisconsin is projected to rise to over 4% by the end of 2019.

While the risk of recession has increased, according to Guo and Williams, "it is much more likely that the growth will slow but remain positive, instead of the economies (both Wisconsin and U.S. entering a recession."

The report details several other factors of national and state economies, including predictions for the Wisconsin labor market, housing market, and manufacturing sector.

Governor Tony Evers last week said he will send a letter to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, and request that Wisconsin "change our stance with that lawsuit," referring to the multi-state lawsuit in federal court that is challenging the validity of the Affordable Care Act.

Both Evers and Kaul on their respective campaigns in 2018 made promises to reverse Wisconsin's stance in the lawsuit, but new laws passed in the "lame duck" session, and signed into law by Governor Scott Walker, will require that Republican lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee sign off on any changes to lawsuits in which Wisconsin is a part.

Evers told reporters that he believes that the state can change how it moves forward with respect to the lawsuit, without actually violating the new state laws.

With his new Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation designee, Governor Evers told reporters at the Wausau DMV last week that he will address Wisconsin's "crumbling roads" in his first two-year state budget proposal, which is set for release sometime in February.

Evers told reporters that our roads are "some of the worst in the country," and that he will seek to "fulfill a promise to the people of Wisconsin" by funding critical road and infrastructure needs.

Craig Thompson, the nominee to be Evers' head of transportation, has in the past advocated strongly for gas tax increases to fund road and infrastructure needs. Since his nomination by Governor Evers, Thompson has been the source of legislative Republican skepticism. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in a statement that "Governor-elect Evers would be better served by nominating someone who worked in a less controversial role during previous policy debates," calling Thompson a "provocative figure."

In Wausau, Evers stood by his choice, anf said he believes Thompson is the person to "work across the aisle" to find sustainable solutions to Wisconsin's ongoing transportation needs.

In what they called a "gesture of goodwill" to Governor Evers, Assembly Republicans last week delivered a list of priorities to the newly-inaugurated governor, outlining areas on which they hope to work together.

The letter from GOP lawmakers was very cordial, and said it was meant to be helpful to the new governor in finding common ground.

The list from Republicans included enhancing high speed internet access, expanding SeniorCare prescription drug program to cover flu shots, working to reduce homelessness, providing more options to reduce the cost of child care for working parents, increasing access to clean water, investing more in state-owned properties, doing more to attract and retain highly qualified state employees.

Governor Evers' spokeswoman said "actions speak louder than words," and reiterated Evers' hopes that Republicans will work with him on transportation, education, and health care access.

Government agencies in Wisconsin are required by law to keep all public records and communications for various periods of time, though lawmakers are not held to that same standard.

Now, State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) wants to change that, reversing the loophole that was written by lawmakers themselves which allow them to freely delete e-mails and calendars from their state computers, and along with it, information that shows who is communicating with elected officials and helping craft policy in the state.

Bill Lueders, President of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, would also like to see the law changed, telling reporters; "this is becoming more prevalent, and we do think it's an abuse, and we would like to see the legislature put an end to it."

Startup investors in 2018 drove a 90 percent increase in venture capital funding from their investment numbers a year prior, according to the National Venture Capital Association.

Wisconsin had a total of $254.3 million in venture capital investment in  Q4 of calendar '18, up 90.2 percent from $133.7 million in Q4 of 2017. Those numbers were from a total of 78 deals, ten more than the year prior.

According to the report, the top venture capital deals were in in the Madison area, with a $14.5 million deal at Engineered Propulsion Systems, and Madison-based FluGen with $11.1 million in venture capital funding. In the entire Great Lakes Region, consisting of Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Minnesota, there were 804 venture capital deals in 2018.

The League of Women Voters, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, and three individuals, filed a lawsuit in Dane County late last week, seeking to invalidate a series of new laws that curbed the authority of the offices of governor and attorney general in Wisconsin.

The suit specifically challenges the constitutionality of "extraordinary legislative sessions," which are sessions of the legislature that are called outside of the set legislative calendar. The nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Council issued a memo late last week, explaining that the legislative calendar is set by the legislature, and thus, extraordinary sessions can be called at any time by the legislature. The governor of the state can also call upon the legislature to convene.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said that the lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and said that there is "absolutely, positively no doubt" that the legislature's actions were constitutional. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said the lawsuit is "liberals yet again throwing a tantrum and running to the Dane County Circuit Court when they lose a legislative fight."

The Governor's office said that their office is still in the process of consulting with legal counsel before taking action.

State Representative Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg) last week asked the Dane County District Attorney to sue Assembly Republican leaders, who he claims did not accomodate his disability during the all-night legislative session. Anderson, who is paralyzed from the chest down, missed the bills. The lawmaker told reporters that he needs to be out of his wheelchair for certain periods of time each day, and legislative leaders told him they did not know when particular votes would take place.


  Did you pay attention to the inauguration ceremony this afternoon?  
Try as Evers might, there will be zero bipartisanship. It would utterly stun me if the GOP gives a single inch about any subject.

We'll have to give him a chance, I guess

To be totally honest, feel its now my turn to go down to Madison and protest anything Evers attempts to do, but like good conservative, I'll act like the adult in the room and watch and see. If things start going in the wrong way and my taxes start going up, I can then say "I told you so"! I have about as much contempt for Evers and the democrats in our state as shown by the unions and protestors in the state capital when Governor Walker made much needed changes to the way state employees and teachers were required to pay fees to unions not supporting their political points of view.

I hope both sides can come together on the main issues

NO! I will wait for the hot air to drift south

`All the discension he mentions comes from the Democrats, how is he going to control that in his own party. Republicans have had good legislation in place, I worry that his appointments and thoughts will not allow common ground to be found peacefully. Cooperation goes both ways and Republicans have been more than responsive to find common grounds. Lets see if the Democrats can do that.

I already see increase in our taxes

busy at that time, had hoped to listen on radio

Hold onto your hats. Here come the taxes.

I didn't listen to the inaugural speech. I don't trust the man, period. Nor do I trust or like his judgement. Good bye, good days in Wisconsin...

Had a webinar on converting a llc taxed as a partnership going to a single member LLC. More valuable to my clients than listening to political rhetoric! New governor has not one political appointee that has not been feeding out of the government trough their entire life. Why would I waste time. I did say a prayer for our State.

No, bla bla bla

I wish it would be Tony Evers has already showed he is far right wing and will not compromise!!

I'm glad Walker is gone.

Take Governor Evers at his word that he wants to work to solve problems.

Read the text of the speech. What else would we expect him to say? Time will tell but seems like too many Madison and Milwaukee people around him. Those places are totally one sided.

As of January 1, hospitals are now required to post their fees for services online. What do you think of this requirement?
This is good, but somewhat pointless. When a doctor says "you need test X" at no point is there a discussion about cost or any sort of price comparison between hospitals. Hospitals and doctors charge whatever they feel like charging. With deductibles skyrocketing, consumers are being completely hosed by egregious charges.
Will be hard to understand!
Why should outrageous medical costs be a big secret?
Good idea if it is truly the total price. What's to prevent them to adding thousands on to the total after the surgery only to say the add ons were unknown before the surgery?
Hopefully it will help lower health care costs.
Bout time we see how unaffordable health care really is. They have nice new fancy buildings though.
Good in principle, Bad on being able to interpret
It makes it a more playing field and a better understanding of their charges
It's a good idea, it'll let people see the astronomical prices of health care. The prices charged from hospitals and clinics is the place we should start to address our health care problems. Insurers next!
I've always liked Mayo Eau Claire, great customer service, and now I know they are priced lower
Public should know that the cost are.
About stinking time this happened.
If you get tossed into the hospital from a life altering event - car accident, heart atttack, stroke or low blood platelets you nor your doctor consults a website for the cheapest hospital! If you are having some elective procedure it may have some value. Not sure the cost to do it (someone has to pay to develop and update data on website is worth any economic good that can come out of it!
A step in the right direction, but it doesn't sound like it's going to help the avg person much
We need more transparency in the medical field. I wish that had to publish their financials as well!
Transparency of costs always keeps prices down.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is not releasing a $850,000 contract between legislative Republicans and a Chicago-based law firm, relating to their defense of the 2011 redistricting lawsuit. Should Vos release the contract?  

One more travesty and Vos will earn a set of steak knives.

Why would he not?

vote them out, should be a time requirement on state and Fed lawsuits or investigations

Tired of democrats running to the courts to try and legislate what they want

I say release, we the taxpayers are going by footing the bill anyway!

Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is spent.

I do not know if this falls under open record law. I see this as big issue for the liberals

Its tax payers money so the attorney-client privilege means the public has very right to know, that makes us all the client

I don't know enough facts, is it attorney client privilege? His attorney probably gave him advice on that

I think that gerrymandering should become illegal. That's like saying that your favorite NFL team can run an 80 yard field, and the other team has to go 120, just because you can hire attorneys to re-draw it. That's bullcrap. You want to win? Be GOOD in your areas. Don't re-draw them to get some votes, that's cheating.

He should release the contract but also we should get the contract from the "other side". this thing is ongoing for 8 years. By now it is time to redistrict. I am heartily sick to death of the political parties fighting over every little thing - costing tax payer dollars. Who is funding the other side? Let's start doing things bi-partisan.

depends who paying the bill

We the taxpayers are paying for it.

What's there to hide, guess he doesn't want the taxpayers how he gerrymandered he state!

Release it if the tax payers had to fund it.

Why release the contract? Why not the release any individual's attorney or legal defense contract. Let the court decide the case but keep details of contracts out of it.

Governor Evers has releases more cabinet nominations. Thoughts?  

Seems like all of the cabinet secretaries are experts in their field. How dare he do that! These jobs are supposed to go to political hacks!

Poor out-state representation.

I don't know enough about most, give them a chance, I guess

Seems like all of them are from Milwaukee or Madison!

A bunch of Milwaukee & Madison ultra liberals

Too many from Madison and Milwaukee, the rest of the state must all be dumbells.

Its his choice, and his decisions will decide how he will do in 4 years.

Lets see how they work out. Some will probably be good and some not.

Wasnt the appointment for Health and Human Services involved in Planned Parenthood which you have conveniently forgot to mention. I think that is a bias choice.

It seems most of his picks come from the very liberal part of our state and not representative of whole state

I'd prefer more experience, but I'm willing to give them a chance

Is there no one outside of Madison or Milwaukee that are qualified?

Again we have more Milwaukee- Madison area career bureaucrats who have never ever held a real job that was not getting their pay check from the government. They have absolutely no idea as to what is going on "boots on the ground" in the private sector. Evers is turning out to be far worse than I thought. I had some hope there would be some common sense people in his appointments, it is now diminishing rapidly. Best I can telll we have absolutely no one of his picks that has ever been in charge of company or had to meet a payroll. Lets all pray and hang on tight for 4 years of professional bureaucrats running our State.

I haven't paid attention to his selections

We need business experts in the cabinet not ex-educators!

Give everyone a chance. Choose a few people outside of the metropolitan area.

Seems like a bunch if mostly Madison and Milwaukee ultra liberals.

Typical Democratic pics. There goes the STate

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-1118  Memo  Human Trafficking Driver Ed (Jeremy Thiesfeldt - R) Driver education instruction on human trafficking. Deadline: Wednesday, January 16

LRB-0856  Memo  County Jailers (Born, Mark ) Classifying county jailers as protective occupation participants under the Wisconsin Retirement System and the treatment of county jailers under the Municipal Employment Relations Act. Deadline: Tuesday, January 15, 5 pm

LRB-0812  Memo  OWI Snowmobile (Horlacher, Cody ) The intoxicated operation of snowmobiles. Deadline: Wednesday, January 16, 5 pm

LRB-1299  Memo  Sexually Violent Person Placement (Feyen, Dan ) Applicability of 2017 Wisconsin Act 184. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-0206  Memo  Workforce Training Grants (Feyen, Dan ) Workforce training grants for seminars in high-demand fields to teach new skills and provide micro-credentials and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-0300  Memo  Internship Grants (Feyen, Dan ) New internship grants and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-0203  Memo  Intern Tax Credit (Feyen, Dan ) An income and franchise tax credit for paid interns and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-0235  Memo  Education Incentive Grants (Feyen, Dan ) Career and technical education incentive grants and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-0140  Memo  Ag Land Assessments (Feyen, Dan ) Notification of changed property tax assessment for agricultural land. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-1207  Memo  Honoring Senator Chilsen (Petrowski, Jerry) Honoring the life and public service of Senator Walter John Chilsen. Deadline: Friday, January 18, Noon

LRB-0202  Memo  Tax Deduction Elimination (Feyen, Dan ) Eliminating deductions for moving expenses for businesses that move out of the state or out of the United States. Deadline: Friday, January 18, 5 pm

LRB-0350  Memo  Prescription Drug Therapies (Nygren, John ) Step therapy protocols for prescription drug coverage and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Deadline: Friday, January 25, 5 pm

LRB-1197  Memo  Well Testing (Shankland, Katrina ) Testing of private wells, compensation for well contamination and abandonment, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Monday, January 28, 4 pm
LRB-1202  Memo  Direct Primary Care (Kapenga, Chris ) Direct primary care agreements.  Deadline: Friday, January 25, Noon
LRB-0413  Memo  Direct Primary Care (Sanfelippo, Joe ) Direct primary care agreements.  Deadline: Friday, January 25, Noon
LRB-0170  Memo  Crime Victim Statements (Jacque, Andre ) Crime victim impact statements.  Deadline: Tuesday, January 29, 5 pm
LRB-0171  Memo  Victim Restitution (Jacque, Andre ) The collection of victim restitution.  Deadline: Tuesday, January 29, 5 pm