Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Inc.
Property Taxpayers United for Fairness and Reform Since 1985
News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin
Members, We hope your week is off to a great start, and that you had the chance to relax over the weekend. First, WPT would like to express its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Wisconsin DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades, who passed away on Saturday after falling ill last week. Our thoughts are with her loved ones at this time. This week's Capitol Report will bring you the latest on Wisconsin's unemployment rate, talk a bit about how much money Wall Street is making off of overdraft fees again, go through Governor Walker's five finalists for his Supreme Court appointment, and bring you our recent interview with Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) in our weekly bipartisan interview series with lawmakers. As always, we hope you find this week's report to be interesting and informative. If there are any topics that you would like to see included in an upcoming edition, reach out to us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next week, John
Wisconsin's employment picture
It was March of 2001 when Wisconsin last saw its unemployment rate as low as it is today. In fact, kids who were born in March of 2001 are now in high school, to really put it into perspective. Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development reported that the unemployment rate in Wisconsin had dropped from 4.4 percent in April to 4.2 percent in May. The national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent last month. Wisconsin also picked up nearly 10,000 jobs in the past month, as well. Additionally, Marquette University Law School released its most recent poll on Wednesday. You might ask, "what the heck does that have to do with anything?" Well, it found that 29 percent of respondents think Wisconsin's economy is worse than it was a year ago. 25 percent think it improved. 44 percent think it's about the same as it was a year ago. But numbers very rarely lie. On Friday, the state DWD also released the data from the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Wisconsin has the second-fastest rate of private sector job growth in the United States for May 2016. According to the date, Wisconsin also had the nation's fourth-highest increase in private-sector job growth over the month, we outpaced all neighboring states in the rate of manufacturing job growth in one month, and we had a significant 12-month increase in total nonfarm jobs. To read more from the Department of Workforce Development, click here.
The Homeowners Bill of Rights and your responses
Last week, we brought you the latest news that two lawmakers, Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) introduced the Homeowners Bill of Rights. They rolled out their ten piece policy package a press conference held at the home of a man who is in jeopardy of losing his home due to eminent domain. Let's quickly recap the ten topics from the proposed Homeowners Bill of Rights. 1. Controlling Property Taxes 2. Broadband Access 3. Energy Security & Affordability 4. Eminent Domain (Takings) Reform 5. Regulatory Takings Reform 6. Reduce Regulatory Barriers to Homebuyers 7. Right to Fly the Flag 8. Privacy 9. Grandfathering 10. Smart Grown Reform All of these topics got us thinking; what do our members think? So we asked. Do you think the Homeowners Bill of Rights is long overdue?
It's a real toss-up here. Just kidding. 85 percent of those who responded said yes, a Homeowners Bill of Rights in long overdue. But why? Has it impacted you in some way? Some of you shared your thoughts. "DOT purchase for highway expansion. Went to court and won our case." "Locally, my township and county are burdensome when you want to build anything. Their fees for this permit and that permit have gotten out of hand. It makes more government jobs for people to just push a lot of red tape around." We don't have the space to share every comment, but we appreciate everybody who typed something out. Think of it this way; wouldn't it be nice NOT to have to go to court? Well, it's clear that some members of the legislature are keeping people like you in mind when they get to work researching and learning about these topics. So, which topic do you feel is most needed in this proposal?
Now, of course, you could answer more than once on this question. But it looks like about 50 percent of respondents said the eminent domain (takings) reform" was the number one issue. And that's not surprising, because the taking of land, whether "just" compensation is required or not, speaks directly to the issue of liberty in this country. Whether your land is needed for public or civic use, economic development, or any other project, it's still your land and your property. Tied for second place on this list are controlling property taxes and privacy. We are glad to see that controlling property taxes made the list of bills that these two lawmakers have introduced, and it should not go without noting, that both of them have worked to reduce the property tax burden in the past. We have no doubt that with their continued effort, we'll continue to make great strides on property tax reduction in the coming session. Just for fun, we wanted to know how many properties you own. Most of you own between one and three. A good portion own 3 or more properties.
"We own a home and a commercial business property." "Residential properties and ag land." "Homes. Rental properties." And with this breadth of property ownership, finally, we asked, do you actually think the government should have the right to take private land, under some circumstances? Here's how you responded:
60 percent: no, no way. My favorite comment goes to this respondent: "Yes [under some circumstances], as long as it's not from me!" The respondent then went on to cite how the Highway 26 bypass made travel safer and faster. "Only when it's in the public's best interest." "Possibly for a major highway or other MAJOR infrastructure." We'll see how this proposal pans out in the upcoming legislative session, and we'll hear a bit more from Rep. Adam Jarchow, one of the authors of the proposal, in our interview below.
What do you think?
The jobs numbers are out, and it looks like the Badger State is doing well. But how do you feel personally? We'd like to hear from you.
- Five questions
- Less than one minute of your time
- All multiple choice
- Completely anonymous
- You know you want to
And then there were five...
Governor Walker has narrowed the field to five finalists to replace retiring State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who will retire from the state's highest court on July 31st. Among the five finalists are three judges who were originally appointed to their jobs by Governor Walker. The governor will be making his second appointment to the State Supreme Court in just one year. The finalists: Mark Gundrum, a Waukesha appeals court judge, and former Republican member of the State Assembly. Thomas Hruz, a Wausau appeals court judge. Randy Koschnick, a Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge, and father of Governor Walker's legal counsel. James Morrison, a Marinette County Circuit Court judge. Daniel Kelly, an attorney in Milwaukee. The finalists will again be interviewed by Governor Walker's Chief of Staff, Rich Zipperer, Michael Brennan, the chairman of the selection committee, and Andrew Hit, a former member of Governor Walker's legal team. Governor walker will announce Justice Prosser's successor before his retirement on July 31.
Freshman lawmaker Jarchow all about property rights
WPT had the pleasure last week to interview freshman lawmaker Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) to learn a bit about his inspiration for public office, which issues he feels most impact Wisconsinites, and to talk a bit about his plans for the future.
Jarchow was first elected in 2014, after Republican State Representative Erik Severson decided not to seek re-election. The 28th Assembly District is located in Northwestern Wisconsin, and its entire western side borders the State of Minnesota.
"The 28th District is a beautiful part of the state that relies heavily on tourism. It really is a great place to live, work, and raise a family," he said. "One place in my district that everyone should visit [is] Interstate Park in St. Croix Falls, right on the St. Croix River. [It] was the very first state park in Wisconsin, and is still destination for thousands of visitors each year. Whether you just want to drive through or take a hike, it is worth a stop." The State Rep paused for a second and backtracked, "Crex Meadows in Grantsburg is also a can't miss destination."
Jarchow, like many lawmakers, is a family man. "More than anything I enjoy spending time with my two kids and doing anything outdoors. We love to get out on the water as much as possible and take advantage of everything Northwestern Wisconsin has to offer." One big accomplishment for Jarchow, non-legislatively speaking, was this past autumn. "I got to take my son hunting with me for the first time this past fall, and we had a great time."
But what called him to serve in the legislature? With a ton of travel, added responsibilities, and a lot more work to pile on, what inspired Jarchow to commit to the more-than-four hour drive countless times per year.
"In my career representing small businesses, it seems like I come across a stupid tax, rule regulation, or law nearly every day. This inhibits the growth of business, jobs, and wages. So, when my predecessor decided not to run again, I felt I could make a difference."
And make a difference, he certainly has. Rep. Jarchow has repeatedly offered legislation that has increased property rights in Wisconsin. We asked why he focuses so much on property rights (not that we disagree). "Purchasing a home is, for most people, the biggest investment they will ever make in their entire lives. There is no reason that after working hard and being able to purchase a home should the government come in and tell you what you can and cannot do with it."
"I think that is just wrong," he emphasized.
"I have seen too many cases where bureaucrats think they know best, and end up ruining someone's property. If I can do anything to help a homeowner protect their property from the heavy hand of government, I am going to do it."
He isn't kidding around. Just last week, Representative Jarchow, and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) publicly rolled out what they've dubbed the "Homeowners' Bill of Rights." If it sounds familiar, that's because WPT has been praising this policy initiative since the announcement.
"Senator Tiffany and I are both passionate about property rights, and helping prospective homebuyers secure their first home [but] currently government regulation accounts for 24% of the cost of building a new home. That statistic leaves out a large section of the potential homebuyers who can only afford a modest home. Streamlining rules and regulations on new homes would increase housing stock, lowering the cost of homes."
He touched a bit on Governor Walker's work on property tax over the past five years, citing the decrease in every year since 2010. "We intend to do what we can to hold the line on property taxes, and lower them where we can."
And what about the Personal Property Tax? I asked Rep. Jarchow if he had strong feelings on the PPT. He immediately responded, "I do."
"In fact, this past session, I co-authored a bill to repeal the Personal Property Tax in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it did not get to the floor for a vote, but I still support the idea and will consider re-introducing the bill in 2017."
We like to hear that.
"I believe that businesses should not have to pay taxes simply for owning the items necessary to conduct business." That's a very uncommon way to put it, but couldn't be closer to the truth. "They already paid sales tax to purchase those items, and that should be where it ends. [It's] a particular drain on small business, creates unnecessary red-tape, and it stifles growth."
Although the bill to repeal the PPT didn't make it to the floor last session, Jarchow says his biggest accomplishments have been the Right to Hunt Act, his Shoreland Zoning reforms, and two property rights bills. "They are common sense reforms that have already begun to help hunters and property owners all around the state. Protecting hunting and property rights is a big accomplishment, and I am glad I could get it done."
And his plans moving forward are pretty bold: get working on the Homeowners' Bill of Rights. "[This] will be on the front burner early in the session. I will also continue to advocate strongly for streamlining rules and regulations, repealing dumb laws, and holding the line on taxes. The nanny state mentality must end. We are a free people."
It's clear that we need to get to work with Rep. Jarchow while he's still in the legislature, and fighting for property taxpayers, because doesn't think this should become a career.
"I intend to do this for a while, represent my constituents to the best of my ability, then step aside and let someone else do it. When the time comes, I will be happy to fade quietly back into private life."
American Packaging Corp. will expand
They make flexible packaging for food, healthcare, and household products, and they are planning to build a plant in DeForest, bringing about 300 employees over the next ten years. The announcement came last week with the plans to build the first phase of the plant, which alone costs $50 million. On hand were Lt. Governor Kleefisch, and President Judd Blau for the press conference. The company is receiving a leg-up from taxpayers to the tune of $750,000 in tax credits from the Wisconsin Economy Development Corporation, and almost $2 million in land subsidies from the village of DeForest. Let's hope this works out, that's a lot of taxpayer money. American Packaging employs about 600 currently, and have three plants in Columbus, Rochester, NY, and Story City, IA. Their sales have boomed to about $500 million as companies nationwide are switching to cheaper, and environmentally-friendly packaging. The final phases of the project will increase the size of the plant to about 400,00 square feet by 2026, and will host up to 300 jobs.
Wall Street raking in the cash on overdraft fees
The largest banks in the nation have increased the fee amount on overdrafts. This increase is taking place as the feds decide whether to issue new rules that would limit their use of these fees. Wells Fargo customers paid Wall Street a 16 percent increase in the first quarter, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase depositors paid 6 percent more. That's $2.7 billion. Let's write that out. $2,700,000,000.00. The banking industry said that this jump might just be because they have more customers. But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau isn't necessarily buying it. That agency is currently taking a look at how banks apply these fees on customers who bounce checks, use ATMS, or debit cards. The bureau also asked that the largest banks in the country offer accounts that do not charge overdraft fees. According to a Pew Charitable Trust report, the "heavy overdrafter," defined as person who overdrafts their account at least three time per year, paid nearly one full week's worth of their annual household income. Wow.