WPT Capitol Report, November 21, 2016

News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin

Members, Happy Monday to everyone. We hope your week is off to a great start. WPT would like to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving. Whether you are staying in town, or traveling, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy holiday. We are very thankful for your support and the critical role you play in our state, its economy, and communities. This week, we will share our survey results from last week, talk about Wisconsin's new small business ranking in the nation, deer hunting and its impact on the state economy, the latest jobs numbers, and more We would also like to remind members that our Capitol Reports, Newsletters, and helpful resources are available on our website at under the Current Members tab. Just enter the member password wpt2016 and enjoy all of the latest news and information in one easy spot. As always, we hope you find the Capitol Report to be interesting and informative. If there are any topics you would like to share, or if you have any questions or comments, never hesitate to reach out to us directly at Have a great week, WPT, Inc.

Wisconsin takes #2 spot for small business activity

With constant statistics and bombardment from the media on Wisconsin's less-than-stellar numbers regarding start-ups and entrepreneurial activity, the Badger State actually took home the silver when it comes to small business activity. In a new report released late last week, The Kauffman Index of Main Street Entrepreneurship put Wisconsin at #2 nationally as it pertains to small business activity, or in other words, the percentage of small businesses that keep their door opens within the first five years. The report found that more than half of small businesses started in Wisconsin make it past their first five years, which believe it or not, is a high rate compared to other states. Also, 6.5% of Wisconsin adults own their own business for their main job. Having looked at businesses with less than 50 employees, the group found that 704 out of every 1,000 are able to stay afloat. WEDC chimed in and attributed this as evidence that there are supportive resources available to entrepreneurs in the state. And in an earlier WPT Capitol Report, according to a weekly survey result, WPT members feel that WEDC does not do nearly enough when it comes to assistance and resources for small businesses, but focus more of their attention on larger companies and corporations. While this index is great news, it's also very interesting, because in other categories, this very same group ranks Wisconsin very differently. Kaufmann also found earlier this year that Wisconsin is dead last in start-up activity, for a second year in a row. The Index of Startup Activity found that while most states are on the rise, Wisconsin doesn't make the grade among the 25 biggest states in America.

6,000 new jobs in October

6,000 more jobs were added in October, according to the new seasonally-adjusted data from the Department of Workforce Development, leaving the unemployment at 4.1 percent, a 15 year low. Manufacturing made some gains, with 2,400 jobs. Education and health services picked up 2,100, and leisure and hospitality gained 2,400, also. The state's labor participation rate was also stagnant, and 68.4 percent. Year-over-year, the state made some decent strides. 27,900 jobs added from October 2015 to October 2016. When you like at the March 2015 to March 2016 numbers, Wisconsin added over 37,000 new jobs. 2016's current unemployment insurance claims are also at their lowest level since 1989. Wisconsin was one of only 10 states in the nation with unemployment lower than 2007 levels, when the Great Recession hit the economy.

Hunting means bucks in Wisconsin...but not just the deer...

Did you know hunting in Wisconsin contributes over $1 billion annually to the state economy? Maybe it's not that big of a surprise when you think about the guns, ammunition, food, gear, and everything else it takes to prepare. As approximately 600,000 hunters made their way into the woods on Saturday for the gun hunting season, the DNR is estimating that $1 billion will be spent and circulating throughout the state between open and close next Sunday. But the billion expected to come in from every corner of the state is actually only part of the estimated $2.5 billion that the hunting of all animals brings in annually. How does it happen? Aside from all of the apparel and gear, tons of smaller events seem to add up quick. Venison burger fundraisers across the state, special deals at restaurants and bars for hunters, and even "Widow's Weekends" events. And even places like the Kalahari and Ho Chunk are throwing various extravaganzas and offering special deals. So, just remember. When you go out this week or weekend, you are driving the Wisconsin economy. Keep up the good work!

Gov. Walker and agencies seeking manure digester proposals

Anaerobic manure digesters. It's a mouth full, but that's the most recent idea from Governor Walker, the DNR, and DATCP in an effort to curb groundwater pollution in more environmentally-sensitive parts of the state. In June, state auditors found that "chronically inadequate staffing at the DNR undermined regulation of pollution from large animal feedlots." Now, Governor Walker is asking the DNR, PSC, and DATCP to send out a request for manure digester proposals, with a deadline of December 1st. According to the Governor's office, they are looking for "a tangible private sector response linking the application of digester technology to environmentally-sensitive areas of Wisconsin, specifically areas with high concentrations of dairy cattle." The digesters take manure, which would be pumped in from local farms, and convert it into natural gas and fertilizers. Some communities in Wisconsin already have the digesters, such as in Dane County, where they have had some troubles. In 2010 it was constructed for $12 million, and has spilled 400,000 gallons of manure, and actually failed to reduce harmful chemicals such as phosphorous. Citing water quality being a top priority for his administration, Walker said, "This joint effort is important progress, and we will continue working toward a sustainable solution to ensure natural resources remain viable for generations to come." Some environmental advocates, though, warn that in some areas, the problem has already contaminated drinking water. Skeptics say that implementing these digesters will take time, which will possibly result in increased contamination, and additionally, this proposal will not address air pollution or antibiotics. There are likely going to be plenty of pros and cons written about these proposals in the months to come, but it could result as a net positive for the communities with more stringent environmental needs throughout the state. Share your thoughts with WPT in the survey below.

Survey results: Election, agenda, RGA, Minimum Markup Law, your thoughts.

Last week, we shared some of the GOP agenda, results from elections, and wanted to get your thoughts on a few things, such as the Minimum Markup Law, if you voted, Governor Walker's new national position as the Republican Governor's Association Chairman, and lastly, if you're glad the election is finally over. And even though the election has concluded, it still seems to dominate the headlines on most news networks. Let's take a look at your feedback. Did you vote last Tuesday?

Nearly everybody who responded voted in last Tuesday's election. "I was proud to vote with my ID." "Had a large percentage of our township vote. (I was a poll worker.)" "Hillary." "In the long run, Trump is bad for Republicans." "I voted to Make America Great Again!!"

Do you like how the Republican agenda is shaping up for the upcoming legislative session?

Based on what we know about the agenda, and the items we shared in last week's Capitol Report, it looks like a little over 90 percent of respondents like what they are seeing so far. "As long as they don't kick the can down the road. Lower property tax, jobs, and roads are a priority to me." "Infrastructure." "Roads?" "More education in skilled trades and more money for college students." "I have not yet seen the actual agenda to know."

The Minimum Markup Law in Wisconsin prohibits retailers from selling products below cost. What do you think?

The minimum mark-up law in Wisconsin, as we shared, tells retailers that they are not allowed to edge out their competition by selling goods below cost. It's caused a bit of a rift in the Milwaukee market, where large grocery conglomerates are fighting for more of the SE Wisconsin market share. As the fiscal estimates and studies are done on this important, and inevitable hot topic in the legislature, we will release the information to you. Gov. Walker's new role as the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association: What do you think?

Governor Walker last week was elected as Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association. He is already in talks with the incoming President-elect regarding giving states more flexibility regarding things like Medicaid funds and block grants. It could be a very critical role for Governor Walker, and it looks like over 80% of respondents like the idea. "Looking for a national position." "Is he going to run for President again?" "Organizations, including trade associations, bring ideas to attendees including our Governor." Are you glad the election is over? What was the worst part to you?

Well, not surprisingly, 100 percent of respondents said that they're glad it's finally over with. But what were the worst parts? The advertisements? The mud-slinging? The lies? "Facebook posts that were not true. Too many phone calls." "The ads and negative campaigns! So glad it's over. 1.5 years of the ads is way too much." "ADVERTISEMENTS STUNK! And unfortunately the media was biased toward the Democrat candidates, including the local Madison TV stations. Media as a whole will never understand why the election results last week turned out the way they did, because they are so busy being one sided in their reporting, they do not even realize they are doing so! If the results were different and Trump supporters were rioting like they are in many cities, the narrative would be a whole different and there would be calls for Trump to say something. Where is Obama and Clinton demanding the rioting stops? That's OK, it will only embolden those who voted Republican to continue to do so and be ready with an even better ground game next time around." "Meanness." "My favorite part is that it's over and is finally starting to fade from being constantly in my face." "Advertisements especially those on election day." "ABSOLUTELY- and glad that the awful advertising is over!" "Everyday lies from both major parties." "The doom. We're more divided every cycle." "Acting in an undignified manner." "My least favorite about the election wsa so many criticism about each candidate. Man tell me about what you are going to try to do for our country. Mostly was in our advertising from what I have seen." "Lasts much too cable tv, so don't see 99.99% of nastymercials."

Milk output hits 30 straight months on the rise

Wisconsin Dairy Farmers' streak continues, now having hit 30 straight months of output gains. Last month, Wisconsin hit 2.49 billion pounds of milk, up 2.5 percent from October 2015. Nationally, 16.5 billion were produced in the 23 largest dairy states. As always, California had the highest number, with 3.3 billion pounds, and Texas had the greatest year-over-year increase, hitting 922 million pounds. That's over 8 percent higher than 2015 for the Lone Star State. Cows totalled 8.67 million head in the top 23 largest dairy states. Wisconsin had 1.28 million of those head, which is about 2,000 less than last year. October production averaged 1,950 pounds per cow.

GOP lawmaker wants Wisconsin to be hemp leader

Republican State Representative Jesse Kremer says he proposes that Wisconsin "take the lead and push to become the national leader in hemp production and processing."