MAY 20, 2019
Due to changes in federal tax policy, the State of Wisconsin will have a one-time $750 million addition to the budget that is currently being debated between Governor Tony Evers and Republican leaders in the state legislature.

Coming as no surprise to anybody who has been following the budget deliberations, there were mixed opinions last week on what to do with the one-time cash influx. What might be surprising is the people who are disagreeing.

Governor Evers and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos would like to deposit the cash into the state's "rainy day fund," citing an impending recession. Speaker Robin Vos said in a statement, "Now is not the time to go on a spending spree."

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has indicated that some of the money should be used to pay for roads.

Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair John Nygren said in his statement that saving the money is not "fun, but it's the reasonable and responsible thing to do."

State statute requires that about one-third of the cash be put into the state's reserves.
Estimates from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau last week showed that Wisconsin can expect an additional $150 million in ongoing revenues, on top of the already $1.8 billion previously estimated.

Co-Chairs of the Joint Finance Committee cited conservative reforms over the past eight years, and emphasized that raising taxes makes no sense when the state is on solid fiscal footing.

"This re-estimate proves that our reforms are working; the state is spending less on burdensome regulation while holding the line on taxes for Wisconsinites across the state. The improved numbers are encouraging," the statement said.

The Co-Chairs of the committee also said they plan to continue to employ the same responsible fiscal planning in the current budget debate "to ensure Wisconsin continues to prosper and succeed."
The state's unemployment rate last month matched its record-low when it dropped to 2.8 percent according to the Department of Workforce Development.

DWD released its preliminary data last week which showed that while the state did lose 3,100 private sector jobs between March and April, overall jobs were up 15,100 over the same point in 2018. The unemployment rate in March was 2.9%.

Government added a net 800 jobs between March and April, according to the estimates. Local governments added 1,000 jobs, the federal government added 200 jobs, but the state government shed 400 jobs.
Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee last week voted to give $25 million in new funding to the Wisconsin Technical College System, which was $7 million more than requested by Governor Tony Evers.

Governor Evers and Democrat members of the committee offered a last minute motion to add an additional $18 million onto the request, citing the new influx of $753 million in cash.

Democrats' motion failed, and they ultimately voted against the Republicans' plan to grant the additional $25 million in tech college funding.

Tech schools around the state began talking about what they would do with the additional $25 million, including expanding dual enrollment, increase apprenticeship programs in high demand fields, expanding advising and counseling for students, and more.

The new funding amount will ultimately need to be approved by Governor Evers as part of the larger state budget which will likely be sent to his office by the legislature at end of June.
The State of Wisconsin's Group Insurance Board, which oversees government employee's health benefits decided last week that weight-loss surgeries for qualifying employees would be covered under their benefits.

Wisconsin joins forty other states in providing the coverage. Five other states are testing coverage for obese employees, and another five states do not cover the procedures at all.

The expected cost of gastric bypass and other bariatric procedures will cost the state between $1 million and $3 million, and is not expected to increase premiums, according to the Employee Trust Fund, which received feedback from employees, and insurance companies.
A bill being introduced by Republican Representatives Joel Kitchens and Mary Felzhowski would allow Wisconsin pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills.

Currently, state law only allows doctors and nurse practitioners to prescribe the medications, which would include a hormonal contraceptive patch, as well as the more common birth control pill.

The bill would mandate that patients complete a questionnaire, and also have their blood pressure checked before a pharmacist could issue the prescription. Both Kitchens and Felzkowski said it would grant women more choices when dealing with their reproductive health, and also reduce the amount of unplanned pregnancies.

The bill was introduced in the same week that Republican lawmakers in the State Assembly passed multiple bills that would restrict abortion in Wisconsin, most controversial of which was the "born alive" legislation. That bill would require that health care providers provide life-saving measures to a fetus that survives an attempted abortion.

Those bills will move to the State Senate, and if passed by that chamber, will advance to Governor Evers' desk who has said he will veto the measure.
Republican State Representative Gary Tauchen has introduced a bipartisan bill that would prohibit schools from refusing school lunch or breakfast to students who request food, but lack the necessary funds to pay.

Refusing food, which is being dubbed as "lunch shaming," has recently been the center of debate in multiple school districts around the country, with some schools going as far as taking away lunch trays from students with insufficient funds available in their meal debit accounts.

Representative Tauchen said that students who are hungry are not in the mood to learn, and are instead focused on where their next meal is coming from. While some school districts have already implemented policies that address these types of scenarios, Tauchen said the policies need to be standardized around the state.

The legislation would not provide additional state funding to the school districts that will ultimately be on the hook for the students' free meals, but Tauchen said he is open to discussing amendments, including potential donations from community members that would difray the cost.
Jayme Closs, the 13-year-old kidnapping victim from Baron, who escaped her captor in January was honored in front of the State Assembly last week as a "Hometown Hero," a designation that comes from a nominating lawmaker to recognize a Wisconsinite's extraordinary accomplishment, contribution, or heroism.

Jayme, who has largely stayed out of the public eye since her heroic escape was present for the recognition, but did not speak. A family member accepted the award on her behalf.

Jen Smith, Jayme's aunt, said Jayme was deserving the hero designation, and that he bravery inspires her family and makes them stronger.

Her captor plead guilty to the murder of both of Jayme's parents, as well as her kidnapping, and is expected to receive life in prison at his sentencing hearing later this week.
GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill that would exempt cash tips from the income tax in Wisconsin. Good idea or bad idea?
This is nuts .. TONS of compensation would shift to "cash tips."

This is a good idea, as the waiters/waitresses are making less than minimum wage. The tips can be at times, large or small during a shift, so there are some days they are not making enough to cover any taxes that would be imposed on their tips. I know there are days where they make more than enough to cover any taxes, but from what I understand those good days are few and far between for these workers.

These people are underpaid as it is.Why should the state make them more underpaid!

Great idea until someone figures out a way to exploit this

It's largely abused anyway.

legalize something that everyone does illegally anyway? careful Wisconsin, you might get called progressive...

No one reports theexactof amount of their tips anyway. Give these people a break.

Income is income

Empl;oyers who pay the mandated minimum amount are required to "make up" the difference between that and the federal regular minimum wage. How would this impact that?

Yes. It is a tip for good service not a wage.

I think that there are too many Wisconsinites that are squeezed too hard right now. If you earn tips, cash tips at no tax sounds fair to me, and gives them a slight advantage. Let's let some of the little guys win.

Everyone should be responsible for funding our government

They count on that addition to their pay. Although I used to work for a caterer for weddings, lots of fast service, but no tips there. HA!!

I believe that cash I bet are repoted anywqy

It's a hand up not a hand out. Check the wages paid at WI Workforce Devolopment.
In-state student enrollment numbers have declined in the past nine years at UW System schools. Do you think more should be done to attract Wisconsin students to the UW System?
Make the uw schools good and competitive and kids will come. Encourage all

Kids go where kids want to go. The UW system is high quality, low cost, so I don't know what else you'd do to attract more students.

College is not for everyone. trade school can be much more beneficial

I think the cost of education has gotten out of hand, however if a resident student can find tuition cheaper as an out of state student then there is something wrong with our educational system in Wisconsin. Possibly there should be more emphasis placed on recruiting in state students at the local level. Plus not all students are able to get through college in 4 years now days it is taking 5 to 6 years to get a 4 year degree. I also think being able to take pre-college classes in both the high school and technical college is hurting some of the 4 year colleges. There is no real simple solution to this problem.

We need more people qualified for jobs that colleges do not prepare them fror.

All WIsconsin students who qualify should get priority over non-residents

I'm fine with whatever students attend our school, but we need to help out our in state students more. My son was valedictorian and an over 4.0 student and it was cheaper for him to go to a $75,000/yr private school over UW Madison after scholarships and grants. Seemed absurd to me, but totally true.

We are on top of the college population bloat right now. Would be glad to see the numbers drop some. What are we to do? State supplemented tuition for a tax dollar supported system?

I'm okay with it.

As long as the school is drawing enough students that they fiscally should be it doesn't matter where they come from.


The UW Madison political "indoctrination" environment needs to change before a number of young people I know would go there.

Tech schools. We need more trades people.

It is most likely the UW has bcome more expensive, and going to other schools

I think the UW System needs a revamp. And I think that the technical college system needs a revamp. I have seen the costs spiral out of control upwards, and it's nothing but a cash cow. Look at the UW Regent who got a huge increase in pay, despite him turning them down. That's WASTE. I can look around and find more and more and more waste on campus... And nobody seems to care... We should FIX this huge bloat. I think this news should ALARM all of us.

Keep the money there parents all spend in state.

I think we should send more students to tech schools.

Yes. Manage in and out of state student tuition wisely.

College is push to much I feel that voltec are better for more students

I believe there are too many kids that are going on to 4-year schools just because they are indoctrinated I think that's the only way to get a good job. There are a lot of people out there with a four-year degree that doesn't have any true application in the real world. I think if anything we should find a way to attract more students to attend technical schools to prepare them for careers that are in demand and sometimes higher-paying than those available with a four-year degree.

This is a nation wide trend. Would be spending money to attract what?

More should be done to attract kids to tech school.
GOP lawmakers have introduced a bill that would help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and EMS workers. Is there a shortage in your community?
It would help

I think this is a great idea. I also believe that there should be a minimum time to serve in those communities after the training or they re-pay the expenses. Too many young people use the benefits of the volunteer departments as s stepping stone to get on full time departments.

They should get something for their time

With all of the requirements placed on volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel, it is no wonder why there is currently a shortage of volunteers. I know from personal experience about the shortage of volunteers in the rural area. I am in favor of having some kind of tax credits for their training and equipment they maybe required to purchase with their own funds. Also, there should be some kind offset in real estate taxes as another incentive to volunteer for either fire fighting or EMS work.


Won't work.

Rural community backs its residents

Money makes people sit up and pay attention. sure it would help.

Good idea.

Good idea

Initial reaction is good

Probably a good idea. In rural areas, there aren't the good paying jobs where people can volunteer.

Good idea

Nursing assistants usually earn money while they are in training classes.

a great idea
A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow for individuals to share their marked ballots with others if they so choose. Good idea or bad idea?
As an employer I would not retaliate. It is their right

No one has the right to know how you voted unless you want to tell them. Making it public is wrong

It's a silly law to begin with. If you want to share your ballot with the world, who cares. If you want to do that, you probably will share your political positions on social media anyhow.

Its private and should be kept private.

I think this is a VERY BAD idea, the sole purpose of casting a ballot in private is so there is not a chance of one individual attempting to influence another individual's vote by taking a "selfie" with you showing who you voted for. I think there should be some kind of punishment for the individuals who violate this law.

It's a dumb idea.People can tell others who they voted for if they wish to do so. Sometimes I think politicians sit around and dream up dumb ideas because they have too much time on their hands. Let's go back to part time legislators.

It's your ballot and your vote, you should have the right to tell anyone what you did.

Who cares, it's their vote

it should be YOUR choice to make it public knowledge,or not.

Why do you need to show a marked ballot? Just tell people who you voted for.

Free speech issue, so if they want to, let them. Social media has gotten out of control, really stupid to show your ballot on facebook, who knows what will happen.

Who cares really?

It shouldn’t but retaliation could be real

Why waste time on this issue?

Our clerk brought up a very good argument. What if someone else is in the background...unknowingly gets in the picture. Not a good thing.

Why should it be against the law to show it.

It may be used as a way to strong arm or pay for voting for a canidate. This would be how they would prove they voted and get paid. Our vote is to be private, and if some wish to braoadcast thier choice in this way they need to understand the dangers as well.

VERY BAD IDEA!!! Kill this off! This will be used to falsify elections! This is a very manipulative idea to force an agenda! Stop this!

It should remain a private matter. If you want to tell then do so yourself, but do not document it.

Should be private info

I think it is a bad idea. I think someone or some group could pressure you to vote a certain way and want you to provide visual proof that you did.

Do people not value their privacy these days??? Not in my interest to share my ballot. Most people that know me know how I vote if they are interested.

I totally against this idea

I believe that the right to free speech provided by the first amendment should most certainly apply to sharing with others who you voted for. I don't believe an employer should be allowed to retaliate against an employee for their personal political views.

Consitant with keeping accurate ballet count.

ballots should be confidential we don't need more junk on social media
Tourists spent a whopping $13.3 billion in Wisconsin in 2018. What is your favorite place to visit in Wisconsin. If you had to recommend one spot to somebody traveling to Wisconsin for the first time, where or what would it be? Do you have a favorite place that you visit every year? Share your thoughts on Wisconsin tourism here.
Northern lakes and resorts

We go to Door County 2-3 times per year. It's the best Wisconsin has to offer. -- I only wish Door County's merchants/restaurants would stay open year round. Their season ends in November, re-opens in May. It's too bad tourism numbers drop so much during that time.


Door County

Door County or Superior; I enjoy visiting both places!

Door county

We visit the Dells often, I love Door County and I love the Minocqua area as well.

St. Croix River Valley anywhere from St. Croix Falls south! It's gorgeous.

If you are bringing kids, go to the Dells. For adults, Milwaukee and Door County. You can go boating and fishing everywhere.

Milwaukee Brewers

Too many to declare just one.

Door County, our state parks, waterfalls in Marinette County we have a wonderful state for fishing, hunting, hiking, biking and being outdoors!

Door County

Anywhere there's few to no FIBs

Wisconsin Dells or Door County.

Door County

Love the state parks for camping. Point Beach State Park (Forest) is beautiful and clean. Would recommend it to everyone!

Ashland for sailing is a great relaxing time.

Madison for the horse expo

La Crosse, The Shrine of the Virgin Guadalupe, even the trip with its tolling hills a green winding landscapes is beautiful

We enjoy the rails to trails for biking all around Wisconsin. As we get older we are spending more time at our state parks. It's nice to visit Door county and Madison a couple times a year. The state fair for a day, all of our cool small towns and pretty countryside we see just driving around. We love it in Wisconsin.

We went to Washington Island for the first time, great. Love the driftless area of state. Love the state and County parks all over the state. Want to see Eau Claire rapids this year.

A long the Mississippi River during the annual Bald Eagle migration.

Any of the summer festivals in Milwaukee.
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No bills to report.
LRB-2948   Memo  Safe Drinking Water Program Loans (Kapenga, Chris) Term and repayment for loans under the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program. Deadline: Friday, May 17, 4 pm

LRB-2554   Memo  Remote Alcohol Orders (Tauchen, Gary) Remote orders for the sale of alcohol beverages to be picked up on retail licensed premises. Deadline: Friday, May 24, 4 pm

LRB-1762   Memo  Alcohol Delivery (Tauchen, Gary) Alcohol beverages delivery and the face-to-face requirement for retail sales of alcohol beverages. Deadline: Friday, May 24, 4 pm

LRB-3228   Memo  Law Enforcement Benefits (Wanggaard, Van) Requiring political subdivisions and Marquette University to pay health insurance premiums for survivors of a law enforcement officer who dies in the line of duty and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, May 24, 5 pm

LRB-2162   Memo  Bus Lights (Shilling, Jennifer) Use of school bus warning lights. Deadline: Monday, June 3, 4 pm

LRB-2897   Memo  Tax Bill Information (Larson, Chris) Including with the property tax bill information state aid reduction to school districts. Deadline: Wednesday, May 23, 5pm

LRB-1737   Memo  Advance Directives (Snyder, Pat) Certifications for advance directives and findings of incapacity related to powers of attorney for health care. Deadline: Thursday, May 23

LRB-0325   Memo  Pharmacist Prescriptions (Kitchens, Joel) Permitting pharmacists to prescribe certain contraceptives, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and providing a penalty. Deadline: Tuesday, May 28, 5 pm

LRB-3170   Memo  Nov 11 Government Closure (Jagler, John) The establishment of November 11 as a day on which the offices of the agencies of state government are closed. Deadline: Friday, June 14, 5 pm

LRB-2176   Memo  After-School Grants (Darling, Alberta) Creating a grant program to support after-school and out-of-school-time programs, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Tuesday, May 21, 4 pm

LRB-3211   Memo  Personal Property Tax (Knodl, Dan) Eliminating the personal property tax and making an appropriation. Deadline: Tuesday, May 21, Noon

LRB-3281   Memo  Pharmacist Prescriptions (Sargent, Melissa) Permitting pharmacists to prescribe, administer, and dispense certain contraceptives, granting rule-making authority, and providing a penalty. Deadline: Wednesday, May 22, 5 pm

LRB-1750   Memo  Flood Risk Pilot (Steineke, Jim) A flood risk reduction pilot project and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, May 22, Noon

LRB-2265   Memo  Dog and Cat Sales (Myers, Lakeshia) Sales of dogs and cats by pet stores and providing a penalty. Deadline: Wednesday, May 29, 4 pm

LRB-2062   Memo  Redistricting (Hansen, Dave) Legislative and congressional redistricting. Deadline: Friday, May 24, 5 pm

LRB-3048   Memo  Electronics Recycling (Miller, Mark) Changes to the electronic waste recycling program and granting rule-making authority. Deadline: Tuesday, May 28