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.
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Have a great week,
Last week, we heard from the Supreme Court that sales tax can be collected by the states for online purchases. What a windfall! But how will the state go about doing this?
Governor Walker came out today and said that he would decide where the revenues would go in the next state budget, but he said that he thinks the money should go back to taxpayers. Then he hinted towards possibly expanding the state's child tax rebate program. There has also been talk of income tax reductions using this revenue, as well.
I'm 50/50 on his remarks, but it will be a while before we know what actually happens.
Should the money go back to taxpayers? I don't think there's any question about it. Of course it should go back to taxpayers. But in what form?
Wisconsin's roads are in terrible shape. My position with WPT takes me around the state quite a bit, and when I'm on the interstate, I often think to myself, "what's the big deal? These roads are fine!" Then I exit the interstate and begin traveling down state highways, rural county highways and roads, and the picture becomes much different. I've even had a business owner invite me to his shop along Highway 29, just so I can experience driving on a particular road between Thorp and Stanley. It was really that bad.
We need infrastructure investments, and we need them now. Additional revenues should go towards 1) reducing property taxes by increasing state funding for local infrastructure projects, and 2) providing outright infrastructure investment for roads in critical need of repair.
Should any new sales tax revenues be offset by cutting taxes elsewhere? That's up to you to decide. Your feedback dictates our approach in Madison. When we ask our members what their top issues are, roads are usually #1 or #2.
In the most recent edition of our newsletter, I penned an article about Wisconsin's roads, and asserted that our state's leaders and residents need to compromise to get this thing done. I laid out potential arguments for various types of methods, and arguments that will accompany each one. But I then said that for as long as we "stay in our lane" and can't move to the "middle of the road," we'll be dodging potholes for the foreseeable future.
Governor Walker has a real opportunity here to make the infrastructure decisions that the legislature punted on in last year's budget.
That's where I stand. Where do you stand?
Share your thoughts with me at email@example.com, or give me a call at any time to discuss at (608) 255-7473.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
U.S. SUPREME COURT: STATES CAN CHARGE SALES TAX FOR ONLINE PURCHASES
In a 5-4 decision last week, the United States Supreme Court ruled that state governments may charge a sales tax for online purchases.
The ruling reverses a previous Supreme Court decision which said that if a company had no physical presence in a particular state, then all items being shipped to consumers in that state were not subject to sales tax.
In response to the move, State Representative John Macco, who chairs Wisconsin's Assembly Committee on Ways & Means, said the decision was a "win for main street businesses in Wisconsin."
"For 26 years, Wisconsin's brick and mortar shops have had to compete on an uneven field. This landmark ruling by the Supreme Court provides Wisconsin-built businesses a market of fair play," he said.
His office also estimates, had the previous Supreme Court decision been held in place, Wisconsin would have lost out on $160 million in revenue "this year alone."
This morning, Governor Walker said the state will begin collecting sales tax for online purchases, but plans to offset any new revenues with cuts to taxes elsewhere. WPT will continue monitoring policy developments and proposals.
WISCONSIN NATIONAL GUARD MEMBERS DEPLOYED TO U.S.-MEXICO BORDER
A group of Wisconsin National Guard soldiers will assist the State of Arizona's National Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials on the country's southern border. This move comes months after Governor Walker publicly stated that he would send Wisconsin troops to assist with increased efforts if requested.
According to reports, Wisconsin taxpayers will not directly cover the cost of wages for the soldiers, but rather federal tax dollars will bear that responsibility.
As recently as 2006, Wisconsin's National Guard assisted at the southern border with about one-thousand soldiers and equipment for an extended two-year engagement.
STATE OF EMERGENCY DECLARED IN NORTHWEST WISCONSIN
Governor Walker last week declared a State of Emergency in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, and Iron Counties. Beginning on June 16, 2018, widespread and continuing severe thunderstorms producing torrential rain, damaging wind, and large hail caused evacuation of persons, downed trees and power lines, mudslides, and flash flooding that damaged roads and bridges.
"The state stands at the ready to assist local governments in recovery efforts," Governor Walker said. "I have directed all state agencies to assist and called the Wisconsin National Guard to state active duty as Major General Dunbar deems necessary. I am touring the damages this evening with Major General Dunbar. We have confidence in our communities' ability to come together and recover."
The governor's office also encouraged those in need of assistance to seek state resources. You can view those by clicking here.
WISCONSIN ASSISTS JANESVILLE WITH GM PLANT DEMOLITION
With a half-million dollars last week Wednesday, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) awarded the City Janesville with funds to assist with the massive project to demolish the former GM plant that closed in 2009.
The demolition is expected to take up to two years, with about a quarter-million square feet already demolished, leaving over four-million square feet remaining. Once the site has been leveled, area leaders involved in the project expect new development, which was purchased by Commercial Development Co. Inc. in December for nearly $10 million.
The company, based in St. Louis, has a record of purchasing and redeveloping sites that were formerly used for industrial purposes. The company is currently selling all scrap metals from the demolition.
FOXCONN ANNOUNCES WATER RECYCLING SYSTEM
One of the primary outcries regarding the massive Foxconn development has been the environmental impact, which has also set off a bevy of lawsuits and claims from area residents, activists, and even the State of Illinois. But last week, Foxconn seemed to have somewhat changed course on their decision to draw 6 million gallons per day from Lake Michigan.
The company announced a new plan for a "zero liquid discharge system," with a price tag of $30 million. The plan would mean that no water from the plant would be sent back into Lake Michigan, but would instead be treated and reused in the manufacturing process. Additionally, the amount of water drawn from the lake would be cut from 6 million gallons per day to 2.5 million gallons.
Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved the City of Racine's plant to divert 7 million gallons per day to the plant.
DEER AT MARINETTE COUNTY FARM TESTS POSITIVE FOR CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
A farm in Marinette County is under quarantine this week after a white-tailed deer tested positive for the infectious Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), according to a report from the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
The animal was two years old, and is just one of 320 white-tailed deer on the property, which the state did not identify by name. DATCP said the farm is not enrolled in the CWD Herd Status Program, and is currently studying other animals on the farm.
JOBLESS RATES DECLINE IN ALL WISCONSIN METRO AREAS
According to new numbers released by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the jobless rates for the month of May declined over the year in all metro areas, and in the state's largest cities.
Using the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployment rates declined in all 12 Wisconsin metro areas when compared with May of 2017. The rates ranged from 2.1 percent in Madison to 3.1 percent in Racine. Janesville-Beloit experienced the largest year-over-year decline of 0.8 percent. Six of Wisconsin's 12 metro areas experienced or tied their lowest May unemployment rate on record in 2018, from the year 1990.
The preliminary May 2018 rates also decreased in all of the state's 32 largest cities when compared to May 2017, with Beloit experiencing the largest year-over-year decline of 1.5 percent, followed by Superior's decline of 0.8 percent since May 2017. The rates ranged from 1.9 percent in Fitchburg to 4.0 percent in Racine. Twenty of the state's largest 32 cities experienced or tied their lowest May unemployment rate on record, including Fond du Lac, Green Bay, and Janesville.
The preliminary numbers for counties showed rates declined or stayed the same in 70 of Wisconsin's 72 counties when compared to May of 2017. Rock and Florence Counties had the largest year-over-year decline of 0.8 percent since May of 2017, with the numbers ranging fro 1.8 percent in Lafayette County to 6.1 percent in Menominee County. Fifty of the states 72 counties experiences or tied their lowest May unemployment rate on record.
CHILD SALES TAX REBATE DEADLINE APPROACHING
Exactly one week remains for Wisconsin residents to claim their $100-per-child tax rebate, and the State's Department of Revenue (DOR) is urging eligible claimants to file as soon as possible. All claims must be filed by July 2. DOR is estimating that roughly 670,000 households, with 1.22 million children in total are eligible.
"Our message for people who are eligible to claim this rebate is to do it now," Secretary Richard Chandler said. "It's easy to put this off and think you'll do it later. However, after July 2, we are unable to accept claims, so if you're eligible, don't wait."
Qualified children must have been under age 18 on December 31, 2017, a dependent of the claimant for tax year 2017, a Wisconsin resident, and a United States citizen. Parents can claim by visiting childtaxrebate.wi.gov.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
A case challenging the constitutionality of Wisconsin's current legislative maps was ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court back to a lower court. What are your thoughts?
more wasted time by political courts
QUIT CHANGING THE MAPS. Gerrymandering == cheating as far as I'm concerned. It's like the Green Bay Packers saying an 8yrd gain is a first down, just cuz they say so and it's convenient. How long will THAT stand? Changing these maps is the same thing. A representative area should stay the SAME for decades without changing, period.
If Democrates get in office hte maps will change and it continues with each party. I have seen information on the State of Iowa and it seems tobea fair system
I like the ruling but I'm not so sure I like the maps either
Frankly I get sick of the redistricting, my representatives in the state gov't keep changing, but at least my district, which is close to Madison liberalville, isn't lumped together with all those looney people
It will never be perfect since these maps are gerrymandered by whatever party is in power in the year following the official census census.
To the victor go the spoils.
There are many things that doom our country. Gerrymandering is a scourge on our country.
IT slandered to the Republicans
Foxconn will break ground at their Mount Pleasant factory later this month, and last week received keys to their new North American headquarters in Milwaukee. Do you feel Foxconn is committed to Wisconsin long-term?
A local company is planning a substantial hemp grow house in Wisconsin, in the same week that the United States Senate committee passed a farm bill that included full industrial hemp legalization (removing hemp from the definitions in the Controlled Substances Act). Do you support the full legalization of industrial hemp?
times change the future is here
Yup. Legalize it. Then EVERY operation will jump in. Then the price will drop. Then a mess of them will go out of business. Gee, sounds like our dairy industry...
The many uses, increased tax income and potential for new jobs just makes sense.
Why not made legal across the US
We need another market to hopefully improve the farm economy
let farmers have another crop to make money - they work very hard
Another source of farm income.
I support it as long as it doesn't result in an increasing supply for the dopers thru some new innovation to squeeze THC out of industrial hemp. After teaching and coaching for many years,I saw a lot of young people turned into walking dishrags by marijuana and the other drugs that they moved into for a "better" high.
Regulate and tax the industry, the market will sort it out.
DWD Secretary Ray Allen said his department is working to help meet the state's workforce challenges. In your IMMEDIATE area, do you feel there is a workforce shortage?
PAY is lacking.
skilled labor and agriculture is short
Health Care, manufacturing, trades people (carpenters, plumbers, electrician, flooring installers who are worth their salt, etc...)
Manufacturing in Dane County
Skilled labor, and people who want to develop a work ethic.
The shortages are in manufacturing, but not everyone is cut out to work in a factory. My brother labors in a factory, and is required to work 6 days a week and are strongly encouraged to work 7. Four workers just quit because they could no longer handle the schedule without a break. New workers are hired, but many must leave after a month or 2 because they can't pass the drug test.
Lets stop subsidizing those that have learned how to make a living by not working and mooching off of those of us that do work. It's too easy to collect unemployment, welfare and family support (ie. single moms who keep having babies so they can collect more$)
There is a shortage of qualified, willing to work workers. Welfare was meant to help a person get "back on their feet". Too bad it is a way of life for too many families
Many job postings list requirements that do not pertain to the particular job i.e. weight lifting of heavy amounts; therefore eliminating many skilled workers that would be excellent employees.
Agriculture, plumbers, electricans and carpenters, middle of state
Construction, ag/farm, factory seem to be lacking good people
lacking people with a work ethic in all areas
Shortage of trained & willing workers.
What does DWD stand for,spell it out.
Just about any industry in our area is advertising for workers. I wonder what kind of salary or hourly rate that they are willing to pay to a good employee.
Workforce shortages are BS. Pay higher wages, people will work for you.
I think there is a shortage of people who want to work.
Everything. Nobody wants to work.
Mostly just a willing to work shortage.
Last week was Flag Day! Did you attend a parade or celebrate the red, white, and blue in any way? Do you fly an American flag at your home? Always, or just during the holidays?
I proudly fly the American flag at home.We didn't attend any parades this year but usually do.
Holidays only for me but few in my neighborhood do (Verona). I recently took a road trip through three states and noticed many homes in all types of neighborhoods flying flags. Very charming.
Yes, I display a flag at home, always
We celebrate the 4th of July more than Flag Day.
We have 3 American flag flying always. Check them everyday to see which way the wind is blowing and honor our country.
I did not any kind of celebration but fly a American flag at my home
Always fly a United States flag
No celebrations around that I was aware of. Yes, we fly our flag during holidays.
No because there was no Flag Day event to attend. I do not have a flagpole at my residence. Flag day is too close to Memorial Day and July 4th and therefore get short shrift.
I always have an American flag flying proudly!
We fly an American flag, a Wisconsin flag and a Marine flag, always!
No, I carry the Flag in my heart.
My wife tries to fly an American flag all of the time.We even found one that wasn't made in China!
We fly the flag most every day!
I fly old glory 365 days per year.
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 enjoys our responsibility for fostering dialogue within our membership, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.