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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, we have named Dan and Theresa Knaus of Knaus Cheese and Weyauwega Star Dairy in Rosendale as our Property Taxpayers of the Week.
Their company, Knaus Cheese, Weyauwega Star Dairy, Inc. have been in business since 1975.
"Dan started Knaus Cheese immediately after high school graduation," Theresa told us. "[I] graduated in Nuclear Medicine at UW LaCrosse [and] worked 34 years at Affinity Health (not Ascension) and currently working at Knaus Cheese full time."
The biggest challenge the company faces is consolidation.
"Large corporations seem to be taking over everything. The small businesses are struggling. The small farmer is struggling," they said.
Currently, the business employs 85 people at Knaus Cheese and 50 at Weyauwega Star Dairy.
We wanted to know what the biggest source of pride is for their companies.
"Definitely our quality of cheese," Dan and Theresa responded. "We strive to make the best cheese we can. We specialize in making Parmesan, Romano, and Asiago cheese, but also make other American cheeses such as Colby, Pepperjack, string cheese, cheese curds, cheddar, Havarti, provolone, and mozzarella."
We asked them if they have relationships with their lawmakers, as many small businesses do.
"Not much of a relationship," they responded. "But Scott Walker has helped us out with many of his policies. With the economy doing as good as it has for the last year, we have seen our unemployment and other taxes decrease significantly."
But there is still more work to be done.
"Property taxes on equipment is a big concern for us. One that we are seeing relief [from]."
Dan and Theresa have been members of Wisconsin Property Taxpayers for nearly two decades.
"You are doing a good job lobbying in Madison and you are addressing the right problems that small businesses face," they said.
In what free time they find, they have a few hobbies.
"Our hobbies are biking. Most weekends you can find us on our bike at one of the many organized bike rides across Wisconsin. Dan's big adventure for the year is the Race Across America (RAMM). He is one of a four person team to ride their bicycles from Oceanside, California to Annapolis, Maryland," Theresa told us.
"They are Team Wheel and Sprocket if anyone wants to go online and watch live tracking of the race," she added. "They will be starting this Saturday, June 16
th and noon. Their goal is to be in Annapolis, Maryland by Saturday, June 23
They also enjoy dirt track car racing, and Dan and his son Frank raced street stock cars for 12 years at the county fair grounds in Oshkosh.
"Unfortunately, this hobby has been put on the shelf due to Winnebago shutting the race track down to put up a stage for a 3-day event."
WPT would like to thank all that Dan and Theresa contribute to their local community, and the Wisconsin economy. We value their willingness to share a bit more about their company and themselves, and wish them continued success.
Last week, WPT began the process of compiling candidate information, as we do each election year.
Today, the Wisconsin Elections and Ethics Commissions will meet to hear challenges to the validity of campaign signatures and a host of other complaints filed in an attempt to oust candidates from the ballot. After today, a complete list of candidates should be available.
In the state legislature, there are a large number of retirements, or current elected officials seeking higher office. It should be no surprise that this means a large number of primary elections are taking place, and the highest candidate on each side will advance to the general election in November.
Also, high up on the list are candidates for U.S. Senate, namely State Senator Leah Vukmir and Kevin Nicholson, one of whom will advance to challenge sitting U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin. Governor Scott Walker will also face a challenge by a yet-to-be-decided opponent from a pool of ten or more Democratic candidates.
It is our organization's intent to survey all candidates for office and make their responses available to you via our website before the August 14th primary and November 6th general election.
Our primary election efforts will be in those districts that are entirely vacant, and districts where the incumbent is being challenged.
If there is a particular race or candidate for which you would like additional information, please reach out to WPT at your convenience to make the request.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
GOV. WALKER ANNOUNCES NEW DAIRY TASK FORCE
Calling it the "Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0," Governor Walker last week unveiled his plans to assembly a task force aimed at addressing ongoing issues within the dairy industry in Wisconsin.
In his statement, the Governor said we need to "work together to develop a strategy to maintain our state's legacy as the Dairy State."
"Dairy farmers are facing challenges due to an extended period of low milk prices and market uncertainty. By creating this task force, industry experts can work together to create real solutions that can help our farmers, processors, and allied organizations, and to ensure that our dairy industry is not only our past, but our future," he said.
The "2.0" portion of the task force makes reference to a 1985 Dairy Task Force, which included 31 individuals, which met over the course of 14 months, and made recommendations for the dairy industry. The UW System and DATCP will choose the members of the task force.
Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc., which represents countless farmers in the state, contacted DATCP Secretary Sheila Harsdorf to request her consideration for the organization serving on the task force.
In Governor Walker's announcement, he highlighted that Wisconsin his home to more dairy farms than any other state, and "about 96% of the state's dairy farms are family owned." He also mentioned that the dairy industry is responsible for 80,000 jobs, and generates $43.4 billion economically each year.
$160 MILLION IN FEDERAL DOLLARS BEING SENT TO I-94 PROJECT FOR FOXCONN AREA
While the State of Wisconsin did not receive the $246.2 million in federal funds it requested to help with state transportation projects, it was awarded $160 million last week, which will go towards the I-94 North-South project in an effort to boost the Foxconn development.
The project between Milwaukee and the Illinois border has been a WisDOT priority for years, and a massive project, but is now seen as more critical due to the large infrastructure needs placed in the region by the new Foxconn factory.
Governor Walker settled some concerns last week, assuring residents that more federal dollars were on the way, despite falling short of the originally-requested amount. DOT will begin widening nearly 20 miles of the interstate from three to four lanes, and hopes to wrap up the project in a few years.
WISCONSIN PRIVATE SECTOR JOB GROWTH RANKED 2ND IN MIDWEST IN 2017
Wisconsin ranked 2nd in the Midwest and 27th overall in private sector employment growth in 2017, up 1.32 percent from the previous year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent numbers. The state also posted a 2.74 percent bump in wage increases, though that number came in 34th nationally, and was the Badger State's worst showing since 2014.
The categories of manufacturing and education and health services added around 8,000 jobs each, growing 1.74 and 1.87 percent respectively. Trade, transportation, and utilities saw 4.961 in job increases, a near-one-percent increase.
Only Indiana had better jobs numbers than Wisconsin, posting 34,506 new jobs, to Wisconsin's 32,259. Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho held the nation's strongest job growth numbers, with Utah taking the top prize nationwide with 3.93 percent job growth.
SOYBEAN CRUSHING PLANT SLATED FOR WAUPUN
In a first-of-its-kind construction for Wisconsin, a soybean crushing facility is expected to be constructed in Waupun beginning next year, opening in 2020.
The plant would process up to 100,000 bushels of the popular beans per day, and would be a $150 million investment, expected to create 39 full-time jobs, and pay out $2.2 million per year in payroll.
The news came from the City of Waupun along with the Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, who are working in tandem to make the plans come to fruition. After a study concluded, the findings showed that the state could support the industry, and all of the necessary components exist in Wisconsin. including the growth and logistics of the bean. Additionally, the proximity to US 151 is a major selling point.
The board filed for a permit with the state DNR, and is in the next stages of acquiring all necessary approvals to move forward.
STATE SUPREME COURT GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO MASSIVE WOOD COUNTY CAFO
With an overwhelming 5-2 decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week, the Wysocki Family's plans to clear cut a 4,466-acre wooded area, build 33 high capacity wells, and pump 7.3 million gallons of water per day for their new CAFO in Saratoga, has been granted approval.
Opponents of the plan are worried about the drinking water contamination, which is estimated to impact 5,400 people directly.
The Town of Saratoga tried to stop the project by changing the area's zoning to prohibit agriculture use on the property. That set off a five-year legal battle that ended with last week's decision from the high court.
While the battle over the land use is now final, the Wisconsin DNR still needs to review and issue the permits for the dairy, and assess the environmental impacts. The company said they plan to work with the community to find solutions to concerns, though the Central Sands region of Wisconsin has seen widespread outrage in the massive expansions of large CAFOs in the region.
SOME TAX HOLIDAY ITEMS ARE TURNING HEADS
With the one-time per-child tax credit skyrocketing to nearly half a million filings, and the state's five-day-long sales tax holiday rapidly approaching, some people are turning their heads at a list of things that are exempted from sales tax during the "back-to-school" break granted to consumers by the legislature and governor earlier this year.
In the law, clothing, computers, and school supplies are all given tax exempt status during that weekend. All of those items must cost under $75 for school supplies and clothes, under $750 for computers, and under $250 for printers and other digital supplies.
The state has also included diapers, school uniforms, athletic uniforms, and tablets.
But according to the Milwaukee Journal, a few other items are also included, such as wedding apparel, garters, garter belts, girdles, pantyhose, earmuffs, jock straps, and more.
While some of the items such as athletic jocks and earmuffs could be classified as a necessity for a young student athlete, other items such as wedding dresses are raising concerns about how broad the scope of the tax holiday will actually extend.
You can view the full list from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue by clicking
IOWA COUNTY DEER FARM TESTS POSITIVE FOR CWD
More than 20 whitetail deer from a farm in Iowa county have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), according to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory.
In October, DATCP quarantined the deer farm after a deer that was shot on a ranch in Waupaca County was traced back to the location in Iowa County. Ten other deer from the same ranch tested positive for the disease. Indemnity payments from the federal government and state are currently being assessed.
Last month, a team of government officials, including veterinarians, animal health technicians, and health professionals "humanely depopulated the farm's 103 whitetail deer," according to a release by DATCP. Testing was done on 79 of those deer that were 16 months or older.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Many Wisconsin industries are now fearing the impacts of foreign trade retaliation in response to new U.S.-imposed tariffs. Do you agree or disagree with the Trump administration's actions on aluminum and steel?
Menard's ALREADY raised the price of roofing steel by 25% or more in 6 weeks!!!
I would like to see more steel, aluminum made in US, but are plants still available and in working condition.
Farmers count on foreign markets to help support prices for commodities.
I reluctantly agree but the results better be worth it
Dumb policy by a dumb president
Suppliers are already increasing costs in anticipation of tariffs.
The idea is to put America first.We have massive trade deficits. However these tariffs could feed inflation with prices we pay going up which will especially hit low and middle income Americans. If these tariffs cause retaliation,it will hit our farm products hard and farm prices are already way too low.
Just trying to even the playing field. When big box stores come to town they have artificially low prices. Then once all the Ma Pa stores disappear BAM prices go up. Similar to the crummy quality chinese steel
He's laying the groundwork for a NAFTA redo. We'll see...
I disagree, as it will hurt the business & farms and I feel it should not be imposed.
I think this Country has been taken advanced by other Countries
People don't realize how we've come to this point, and they also don't realize what a Tariff really means. I think that folks need to go back into history and learn more about Tariffs and WHY they are created before answering this.
Trump has no idea what he is doing.
The Chinese have been dumping cheap, low grade steel here for years, about time someone did something
in time things will even out & it will be prove to be a good decision
president acts due to lack of productivity from congress and senate call your congressmen and senators tell them to get to work
US need to put our foot down for fair trading, but our dairy farm income will be cut. Hope we can make it another year.
In the middle - don't know enough about the specifics to comment intelligently. In the long run, I am doubtful tariffs alone will significantly impact my dairy farm.
Trump has put US back into a "position of power". That is the best place to negotiate from. I support our President 100% !!!
A new national law, modeled partially after a Wisconsin law, allows for terminally ill patients to seek experimental medicines and procedures that have not been fully vetted or approved by the FDA. Good idea or bad idea?
Drug trials take so long, we need to expidite and rule out in a better way. Hopefully this would make the drugs cheaper.
Let's help with the vetting process.
As long as there are sensible, safe safeguards.
People have the right to control their own fates.
Why not give people a fighting chance at life when they are "terminally ill ?
When the traditional treatments aren't working, these people should be given the chance to at least try an alternative, I look at these people as "heros" willing to try an alternative and even if it is not successful, they helped move closer to finding a cure for their particular illness.
The patients should have that right,, it is their life and its results may help others.
If people are willing to try a new drug why not, if might benifit other people in the future
Frankly, it's amazing we even needed this law.
Good for the terminally ill, as long as Medicare is not paying for it
give people hope, and the drug companies some pertinent data on the drugs tried
I think this puts freedom back into the court of the individual. If a person wants to buy and drink raw milk, that should be legal, too.
If it was me or a family member, I would want the option.
Wisconsin residents used April's Drug Take Back events to drop off over 60,000 pounds of unused prescription drugs. How do you dispose of your unused medications?
keep them, may come in handy somesay
If there is, it's not advertised very well in this rural area.
I drop them off at a police station, they have a disposal box.
Our local police department had a drop off event.
WE are able to drop off at local police station any day. There also are disposal days available.
We do not have a sewer system on the farm - septic
Flush. I'm sure my prescriptions are not any worse than what is already down in the septic tank.
The State of Wisconsin will begin loaning out surveillance cameras to those who suspect a loved one is the victim of elder abuse. Good idea or bad idea?
Are they going to be available to elders in home with family as well? Family may not have training, may be overworked, and may cause more harm than good, or negligence because of lack of information or direction from medical community.
As a nursing student, daughter worked in local nursing home and discovered too much theft by local people we all knew. Disturbing! Surveillance cameras are an impersonal reporter.
Its probably a good idea. Everyone wants to protect the elderly, but there is also room here for misuse.
Good for the camera makers and re-sellers.
I may need this one day as might we all.
I have had loved ones cared for in assisted living and nursing homes, and I have a lot of respect for those who care for the elderly. They show so much compassion and love for those they care for. I have never know someone close to me experience elder abuse, but unfortunately as in any situation, there are going to be some bad actors that need to be found out and removed from their position.
Good idea,its a shame that we have people that have to abuse our elderly in homes & nursing homes. Lets catch them!!!
It seems that we can not trust no one, its sad
Some day, everyone will have body cameras.
we need to do everything we can to protect our people
A camers is better than a short vidio, the camera will show the whole story,not just a snapshot.
The elderly deserve our UTMOST RESPECT