Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
JANUARY 21, 2019

Throughout much of his 2018 campaign, Governor Tony Evers pledged a 10 percent income tax cut for individuals making $100,000 or less, and families making $150,000 or less. On Thursday, Assembly Republicans introduced a proposal that would allow Evers to fulfill that promise.

The plan would provide middle income earners, about 2 million Wisconsinites, with an average $170 reduction on their income taxes. The plan would use $340 million from the current $588 million budget surplus to pay for the income tax reduction.

But a spokesperson for Governor Evers said that plan "falls short."

In a statement from the governor's office, the spokesperson said GOP proposal was fiscally irresponsible because it relies on a one-time surplus to increase the standardized deduction. His office implied that their budget proposal will instead fund the 10 percent income tax cut by repealing the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit.

The legislature last week advanced a bill that would provide protections for those with pre-existing conditions, similar to those mandated in the Affordable Care Act. The plan, however, is unable to require that employers using a self-funded insurance model offer the same protections. The federal government regulates those types of plans and does not allow for state governments to do so. 

While a similar plan was passed by the Assembly late last year, but fell short by one vote in the senate, wider GOP margins in the senate make passage all but certain. The proposal would then head to Governor Evers' desk.

Evers was skeptical of the plan last week, and publicly commented that any protections for pre-existing conditions passed on the state level would need to be just as stringent as federal requirements. But because states are legally unable to regulate self-funded plans, identical protections under state law are impossible. Evers told reporters last week "We have to keep what's in federal law in place."

Governor Evers last week signaled that the next state budget would probably include the "first step" towards medical marijuana legalization in Wisconsin.

The governor has said he favors legalization, but also favors a less-rushed approach to legalization. Speaking after a meeting with the Wisconsin Technology Council board last week, he also eluded to the possibility of a statewide referendum on the issue, giving voters a chance to weigh-in on a statewide level. "I just want to make sure we do it correctly," he told reporters.

Republican leadership in the legislature is split. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has in the past said he is open to discussing medical marijuana legalization, while Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he does not support medical legalization.

In his last days as Wisconsin Attorney General, Brad Schimel offered an informal legal opinion that stated wedding barns in Wisconsin should hold full liquor licenses, the same as bars and restaurants serving alcohol. The issue has drawn much attention over the past year. Current law requires licensure for alcohol being served in public places, but Wisconsin law does not define "public," calling into question whether or not a private space for events could be considered "public."

Now, two Wisconsin farmers who rent out their barns for weddings have filed a lawsuit in Dunn County against Governor Tony Evers' administration. The two farmers are represented by the conservative group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL).

The lawsuit seeks a ruling that says private properties where events are being held in which alcohol is not sold do not require liquor licenses. Often, wedding festivities include alcohol, but the beverages are not being sold, but rather provided. Licensed bartenders are on hand to serve guests.

One attorney for WILL said "A private venue on private property hosting private events is not a 'public space' under Wisconsin law."

An spokesperson for Governor Tony Evers said the governor and Department of Revenue Secretary-designee are still learning about the issue. A spokesperson for the Attorney General Brad Schimel said the Department of Justice is reviewing the lawsuit.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is now accepting applications for its Certified In Wisconsin Program, which designates industrial parcels of 20 acres or more as being "development ready."

According to WEDC, the program has played a key role in helping communities throughout the state attract new companies by providing independent certification that a wide range of concerns have been evaluated- such as environmental and geological factors, transportation access, utility and infrastructure capacity, zoning and property rights- and that the site is ready for industrial development.

Wisconsin has 21 certified sites, with 29 development projects completed or underway that are expected to create more than 2,600 jobs and generate more than $472 million in capital investment. Some of those projects include Mills Fleet Farm's distribution center in Chippewa Falls, Diversified Manufacturing Corp in Prescott, The Little Potato Company in DeForest, and Dollar General Corporation in Janesville. For more information, visit wedc.org/certified.

Last week, PolitiFact Wisconsin rated Governor Evers' position on dissolving the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) a "Full Flop." After more than a year of campaigning and reassuring his supporters that he would defund or dissolve the entire agency, Evers told reporters earlier this month "I'm not going to be proposing anything in the budget about WEDC," indicating that the jobs agency is in the clear for now.

And on Monday, the governor called for WEDC to strengthen its focus on entrepreneurship. In his statement, Evers said "entrepreneurial traits like diversity, creativity, and resilience are critical components of success in our constantly-evolving global economy...we must foster a culture that supports entrepreneurship and innovation"

WEDC CEO Mark Hogan said that his agency will create a committee that will work directly with entrepreneurs in Wisconsin, and provide support and resources.

According to the state, the new committee will use current WEDC programs already in place which support seed funding for startups, grants, tax credits, training, mentorship, and more.

The plan is working exactly how it was intended to; Foxconn did not meet its jobs quota, therefore will not receive any taxpayer dollars. That's the message from several legislative GOP leaders after news broke that Foxconn fell short of its 2018 job creation goal, and thus will not qualify for taxpayer-subsidized incentives.

A Foxconn spokesperson in a letter to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation last week said that the company created 178 full-time jobs. The Chinese corporation would have needed to create 260 full-time jobs under its contract with the state. In their original agreement, Foxconn set the bar at 1,040 jobs, and would have been eligible for up to $9.5 million in credits for job creation.

Louis Woo, the Foxconn spokesman said that the company is still committed to creating 13,000 jobs, but that the company adjusted its hiring timeline.

As the State Journal reported; even though the company fell short this year, it is still eligible for the full $1.5 billion in job creation credits through 2032. If the company were to create 2,080 jobs in 2019, it would still qualify for $19 million in tax incentives.

US. District Judge William Conley ruled last week that when Republican lawmakers, including Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, blocked liberal group One Wisconsin Now on Twitter, it violated that group's constitutional rights to free speech.

One Wisconsin Now sued the GOP lawmakers in 2017 after three Republican lawmakers; Speaker Robin Vos, Rep. John Nygren, and Rep. Jesse Kremer, blocked the group's Twitter handle on that social media platform, for what one lawmaker referred to as "crude comments on Wisconsin politics."

Judge Conley, an appointee of President Obama, said that the lawmakers "directly or indirectly" indicated that they disagreed with the group's liberal viewpoint which factored in their decision to block the account on Twitter. A similar ruling was made against President Donald Trump, who faced a lawsuit after blocking users on Twitter.

The U.S. Supreme Court has not made any ruling on cases involving blocking on social media, but have referred to social media platforms as a "vast democratic forum." Twitter is a publicly-held company, with about 70 million users in the United States and 261 million users globally.


  The Wisconsin Medical Society has announced a new prescription savings program for Wisconsinites. Does your current health insurance include prescription drugs?  
yes it would help.

My insurance does cover drugs, but my company opted for a hideous "high deductible" plan. This means nothing is covered until I spend $5,000, which (thankfully) doesn't happen, but it also means we pay for everything now. Now if I think I should go to the doctor, I ask myself if it's worth $500.

On the face of it seems like a good simple idea to provide some help

No idea.

On medicare & advantage.

Yes, It won't help me .

This should help many, many citizens of WI

Yes, but high deductable makes it unlikely for me to use insurance benefits

my wife has Lupus takes 7 prescriptions I take 3 Hopefully it will help. It just may be another bureaucracy that costs money and does very little.

Gov. Evers said last week that he plans to address "crumbling roads" in his upcoming state budget. Are you glad to see this is going to be a priority in the next budget?
Im hoping he makes this a major priority instead of the other stuff he had first. This would help all of Wisconsin.
My hope level is slightly above average. Here's what's going to happen: Evers will propose new revenue for roads, and the GOP will recognize that some new revenue is necessary, so they'll do it and immediately send the message that Gov. Evers is taxing you to death.
I don't mind paying higher gas tax if it goes to road repair
Routine maintenance needs to be pay as you go. Major rebuilds / replacements may require borrowing. Either way Taxes pAY for these.
Democrats like to use the phrase "Wisconsin's crumbling roads"but every state has to match up the funds available tot he list of priorities. With Wisconsin's gas tax already in the top quartile of the 50 states, I'm wondering if he proposes to push for a gas tax increase.
But where is the money coming from?
I hope he does not raid the transportation budget like Doyle did.
Do something,but don't rob us!No more roundabouts! No bid rigging by the road builders!
I am hopeful, I think it's time to get some funding from somewhere
Many people voted for Evers because of the condition of the roads.
I am hopeful, put a penny tax on auto fuel.
Traveling across the US I feel our roads are pretty darn good.
If it includes Hwy 23 between Fond du Lac and Plymouth.
I am for fixing our roads, but the method he comes up to fund is really unkown so had to wait an see
get money gas tax or sale tax
This man has obviously not driven out of state very much. Most of the main highways are fine. The worst road in Wisconsin in just West of Stanley, and connects to Highway 29, and it is beaten to death by huge loads from semi's and other heavy loaded vehicles. Where is the funding for that 1/2 mile stretch? Let's not talk about the state of 90 heading into Milwaukee after Oconomowoc, either... But I don't want to see any new tax increases. Maybe you all at the capitol should start to live with the financial restrictions all of your constituents have to live with...
can you say GAS TAX?!?!
How is the key
unlikely to see any cooperation between parties.
We need to have decent roads but mostly we need oversight on the people that fix our roads. The fraud in road construction is outragious!
He is the epitomy of a tax and spend liberal that has never worked in the real world.

Assembly Republicans last week offered a list of their priorities to Governor Evers, on which they hope to find common ground. What do you think of their list?  

They will be able to work together on these small issues. The big issues, not at all, because our politics are broken and there's no incentive to work together.

I think the people of Wisconsin want our elected officials to pay attention to the high cost of insurance and medical care, the condition of our roads and keeping good quality education in our state.

I hope they work together.

I can see Gov. Evers has his own liberal agenda

Anything that helps average working folks reduce their costs

Evers spokesperson as much as told them to pound sand.

They are trying to find common ground - good luck with that you have a State government that is packed with liberal bureaucrats. Not a business man in any of Evers picks.

A bill was introduced in the legislature that would ban lawmakers from destroying public records. What are your thoughts?
Govt should be open to the public record, but not abused by over zealous party gerimandering.

Our state legislators WORK FOR THE PEOPLE. It's sickening how many laws the legislature creates to keep the public in the dark. Local municipalities must comply with every "sunshine" law. State politicians should too.

What happened to open government?

AI do not know enough about this

Just because Crooked Hilary did ,doesn't mean it's OK in WI.

We are paying our elected officials. They work for the citizens and tax payers. We have the right to know what they are up to, especially during business hours.

As a local town official I think all information should be public when you are working as a public official.

How can public records be records if they are destroyed.

I don't think Public records should be destroyed.. There are many ways to save these records

I see this as another way for liberals to file more law suits and costing us taxpapers more money

full, open and honest transparency is crucial.

Transparency would be nice for a change.

Now what is a public record?

On January 15, 1967, the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Superbowl championship. The game was held at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles with 61,946 fans in attendance. The final score was 35-10. For their victory, the Packers collected $15,000 per player and the Chiefs $7,500 per player- the largest single-game shares in the history of team sports at that time. (Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.)

What do you think of the choice of Matt LaFleur for head coach? Do you think he will have what it takes to lead the green and gold to another Superbowl victory? What do you think of the other coaching changes?

looking for a new approach to find the Packers winners next year. Something had to change after this year.

Being a contender is hard. If it was easy, and you could hire a great coach and win Super Bowls .. every team would do that.

Time will tell. They need help in training so there are less injuries.

I like what I see so far. If he will require the players to stand for the national anthem, it will be better. I'll be glad when they get rid of Aaron R as he is a BAD influence on the team

I like the choice. Not sure about letting Campen go.


I hope and kind of trust that management did their due diligence in hiring

Stopped watching football 2 years ago when they went from a 11 man team to a quarterback and referee make or breaking a game. Need more defense and teamwork. A quarterback shouldn't make or break a team, he is only 1 man.

We'll see what happens.

Time will tell.

Unless you were a Titans follower, I'm sure most of us don't know that much about Lafleur and his ability to lead us to another Superbowl. However, on the outside looking in he appears to have the charisma that gives you hope. I'll tell you next year at this time if it was the right choice.

I am not an expert on coaching. I wish the new Packers coach well. Packer fans demand the best.

Wait and see.

I thought replacing the defensive coach Capers last year would be the solution, put Wheaties back on the breakfast table.

He'll need to be a GREAT leader to get Arron Rodgers and the rest of the fat cats to buy in on his type of coaching. If he surrounds himself with some really good assistants, it can be done.

I am not into sports..

We will have to wait an see

jury is out....what are his accomplishments?

LaFleur will not make a difference in the Packer's woes. Rogers is in need of Offensive supporting cast and his inflated pay will make it difficult to pay for top tier weapons.

Maybe it'll be better

Time will be the judge

N Not having any head coaching experience isn't good.

I like LaFleur so far. Now you gotta let him do it his way. All in, or not at all. Go Pack!

Well a coach can only accomplish things if he has players. What he has is an ancient (by NFL standards) offensive line. a defensive line that is anemic, a defense as a group that does not tackle or flow to the ball, Defensive backs that are short and generally slow, a quarterback who just wants to throw 30 plus yards down field. receivers that stop their routes or do not come back to quarterback. Packers have not drafted well. SO Mike is stuck with a bunch of undisciplined has beens and never weres. Can he restore some discipline, get them coached up? What will the idiots at front office give him on the draft. We have no full back worthy of the name to help out the anemic offensive line. Where does the poor guy start! 3 years plus of drafting dumb can't be overcome by hiring a new coach! We need to clean house in the front office. Just way to many stupid draft picks. Example: Packers could have had TJ Watt but no! Packers front office looks like Dumb and Dumber. I love the Packers but their has been way to much stupid going on - one year is not going to solve it! New coach not going to solve it! We need 8 decent offensive line men and at least 6 defensive line men. With out a blitz the Packers have virtually no pass rush from defensive line. Not going to get to play offs with that!

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-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

LRB-1021  Memo  State Game Bird (Bewley, Janet ) Designating the ruffed grouse as the state small game bird. Deadline: Friday, January 25

LRB-0099  Memo  Supermajority Required (Carpenter, Tim ) Requiring a supermajority vote for bills overturning local government policies, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations. Deadline: Friday, January 25, 5 pm
LRB-0123  Memo  Prescription Drug Sales () Regulating the sale of prescription drugs below cost. Deadline: Friday, January 25, 5 pm

LRB-0393  Memo  Creative Economy Grants (Feyen, Dan ) Creative economy development initiative grants and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, January 25, 5 pm

LRB-1422  Memo  Teen Dating Violence Month (Sargent, Melissa ) Recognizing February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Deadline: Thursday, January 24, 4 pm

LRB-0361  Deer Carcasses (JCRAR) The handling of deer carcasses in the field, the transport of deer carcasses, and the suspension of portions of emergency rules of the Department of Natural Resources.

LRB-0392  Deer Carcasses (JCRAR) The handling of deer carcasses in the field, the transport of deer carcasses, and the suspension of portions of emergency rules of the Department of Natural Resources.