WPT Capitol Report, August 14, 2017

News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin

Members, We hope your week is off to a great start! This week, the Capitol Report will focus again on Foxconn, the REINS Act being signed into law, prohibitions on deer hunting being lifted, efforts to bring back Midwest Airlines, newly proposed smartphone and driving restrictions, and a bill that would add more information on property tax bills. As always, 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 Have a great week, WPT, Inc.

Last week

Last week was another big week for the Foxconn deal, as more information emerged regarding the overall scope and cost of the project to taxpayers, as the Legislative Fiscal Bureau announced its numbers to the public following their analysis of the legislation as proposed. First, let's talk quickly about the timeline for the bill. As of right now, the special session bill in the Assembly is due for a vote in committee this week, with the bill headed to the full Assembly for debate and passage later this week, likely Thursday. On the Senate side, it seems the Majority Leader Fitzgerald has more hesitant with the Foxconn deal before the state budget has been passed. Regardless, it looks like this will be moving through committee and a quick pace, with Fitzgerald saying later in the week that both the budget and Foxconn could begin moving as early as next week in his chamber. Various considerations and changes will be made to the bill as it moves through committee in the Assembly, so we will keep you posted on any additional changes once those are made available to the public. Some of the highly-publicized numbers from the LFB memo show that it would take about 25 years for taxpayers to recoup their money and to start making out on the deal. That's a total of $2.85 billion. Taxpayers, according to the numbers would pay out about $1 billion more than generated taxes over the next 15 years. LFB used Foxconn and administration numbers to make their estimates, and showed that about 22,000 jobs would likely be generated as a result of the 13,000 jobs from the plant itself. This accounts for construction, housing and the like. It's also important to note that in their member, the LFB said the following; "Any cash-flow analysis that covers a period of nearly 30 years must be considered highly speculative, especially for a manufacturing facility and equipment that may have a limited useful life. Technological advances and changes in Foxconn's market share, operating procedures, or a product mix could significantly affect employment and wages at the proposed facility over time." In other words, while the numbers have been carefully reviewed, it's anybody's guess as to how things will go when a number of factors could change the entire equation. It's also for people to keep in mind that the budget is still not passed. There is still a multi-billion dollar infrastructure problem in this state, and no long-term solution that has been agreed upon. While an unpassed budget doesn't really impact things too much, and could possibly mean lower spending levels netting more revenue for the state until the budget is passed, we should still figure out where our priorities are and keep our head in the game. A bright shiny object, complete with five-figure jobs estimates, and tons of development may seem appealing and lure us away from the task at hand, but we must do what is financially sound for Wisconsin's future and the taxpayers of this state. The other upside to a delayed budget is that it gives us more time to work on the things that are most important to our members. You have made your voices loud and clear with me each week as I take your calls and respond to your e-mails. Lower property taxes, elimination of the personal property tax, sound school funding, and roads. Those are the items that we focus on each and every day. This also means you have more time to reach out to your lawmakers and tell them that you don't support using General Purpose Revenue for roads, but rather that our road funding should come from the transportation fund, which is why we constitutionally amended the law to segregate those dollars from the rest of the budget in the first place. Take the time while we still have the opportunity and let your lawmakers know where you stand on the issues. Whether it's schools, roads, taxes, or anything else, your voice goes a long way in crafting their decisions as the process moves forward. Contacting your elected representatives in Madison takes only a moment, and you can call their legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472 or visit our website and enter your address by clicking here. Thank you again for your ongoing commitment. As always, if you have any questions, comments, ideas, or concerns for me, or if you need any type of assistance, please don't hesitate to reach out directly at

Gov. Walker signs REINS Act into Law

Governor Walker last week signed the REINS Act into law at the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce. The law makes several changes to administrative rules and the rule-making process. "One of our top priorities for Wisconsin is ensuring government services are effective, efficient, and accountable, and operate at good-value for the citizens of our state," Governor Walker said. "This bill allows for more input from citizens and stakeholders before a new rule is drafted, ensures expensive burdensome rules are subject to legislative scrutiny and approval, and creates additional oversight over state agencies. I thank Senator Devin LeMahieu and Representative Adam Neylon for taking the lead on this taxpayer reform." Senate Bill 15 made several changes to the administrative rulemaking process, specifically the preparation of scope statements, economic impact analysis, approval of rules, promulgation of emergency rules, and certain hearings on proposed rules. The bill requires the Department of Administration to complete an initial review of proposed scope statements from agencies and determine if an agency has the explicit authority to promulgate the rule, prior to submitting the scope statements to the Governor for approval.

Deer baiting and feeding bans expire

If you live in Vilas or Forest counties, you can begin baiting and feeding deer legally by next fall, and Oneida County's ban could be dissolved in two years under a new bill that Governor Walker signed last week. All three counties had permanent bans in place prior to the Governor's action. Due to Chronic Wasting Disease, in 2015, several counties near Three Lakes implemented the bans in the hopes of preventing the disease from spreading. The ban drew harsh criticism from hunters and sportsmen throughout the region, however, also drawing criticism from wildlife watchers. Wisconsin Conservation Congress worked to keep the bans in place, and earlier this spring, a majority of the DNR's County Deer Advisory Councils voted to keep the bans in place statewide. But when state regulators found that the levels of CWD in the Three Lakes area last fall, many dubbed the effort ineffective. Share your thoughts on this topic in the Weekly Member Poll below.

Efforts underway to revive Midwest Express Airlines

If a few investors have their way, Midwest Express Airlines could make a comeback in Wisconsin, even though the cost of reviving the former airline seems to be an uphill battle. The airline merged with Frontier Airlines in 2010, after falling into financial hardship following the Great Recession. But now former Midwest and Frontier executive Greg Aretakis and business partner Curt Drumm looking for investors, saying that "plans are under way" to get the fleet back in the air. The airline, based in Milwaukee, was known for its two-by-two seating, wide leather chairs, and signature chocolate chip cookies that were baked freshly on each flight. The airline was known by many as an "all first class" airline. Experts are now weighing-in on the plans, calling it an uphill battle, and saying it could cost about $100 million to make this vision become a reality. One of the advantages, they say, is that the airline already has a brand and a reputation in place, so loyal customers and patrons won't be unfamiliar when it comes to booking their flights. The airline would also need about $5 million to obtain an operating certificate from the feds, which could potentially take years to be approved, and the $100 million would be for capital, moving the plan from seed phase into a fully operational business. Would you fly Midwest Airlines again? Would you like to see a comeback? Share your thoughts in this week's Weekly Member Poll below.

WPT Weekly Member Poll Results:

Another insurer leaving Wisconsin, "Cheers Wisconsin" legislation, bankruptcy filings, farm costs, and your favorite beer

Wisconsin's Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace has lost another insurer, Molina Healthcare. To your knowledge, how many ACA insurers are left in your area?

Dean Gold. Don't even know how many we did have. I'm a business owner. I'm under the poverty line. I'm stuck on BadgerCare. And harassed for it, too. United Health Medicare. No but switched to Deancare because the premiums were lower. If the majority of poll responses aren't "I don't know" the results are bogus. The ACA Marketplace covers a tiny fraction of WI citizens. Not to my knowledge, I use Dean Health Plan. Security Health. I am sure they are staying because they have to be making money with their high premiums!

"Cheers Wisconsin!" legislation has been proposed which would modernize alcohol regulation in the state. From what you've read; good idea or bad idea?

The expanded hours for wineries will really help them, as will the increased micro brew limits. Too many drunks in Wisconsin. Drinking is the main sport here. Maybe we should address that? As well as the drug problems? Oh wait, Alcohol IS a drug... Taxes on alcohol should be raised. Has not been raised for years. But...why have any kind of "cap" on how much brewpubs produce? I get all of my news from WPT, so I only know what you wrote, which sounds good. THat being said, WPT also said the previous bill was horrible, and it's hard to believe pols in Madison can get anything right, so we should be suspicious.

Wisconsin bankruptcy filings are the lowest in a decade. Have you ever filed bankruptcy?

Have seen several people file bankruptcy and were able to write off their bad financial life. Then start over with a great life of new autos, homes and toys. Very unfair! Yes, it worked out well for them. Just a health problem away for most people. Yes. Sure, over spend, file bankruptcy, start over and do it again. People do it over and over! Many years ago after a divorce. Had clients have us do work, file, and still us knowing all along they were doing it. Should be penalties for that. Also know people who charge their credit cards to the limits just to file knowingly all along. Eat Arby's. I was in finance right out of college, and bankruptcy was a "dirty" word. We stipped looking at a loan app as soon as we saw bankruptcy! I have always remembered this and feel the same today. No one wins in Bankruptcy!!

Farming costs remained stagnant from 2015 to 2016. From what you know, do you think these costs are likely to increase or decrease in the next year?

Land rent is still high, fuel is low compared to past prices. Retired farmer. Yes, seed and fertilizer. The work we do ourselves. Fuel/energy I am a retired farmer and glad I am out of the business. Feed costs for my dairy cows are the biggest cost annually. Was dairy but strictly grain now. Our largest cost is seed and next in line is fertilizer.. And smallest cost would be supplies. All family here. Seed prices are ridiculous, animal health and veterinary fees keep rising, equipment and parts prices are ridiculous.

Common Many Brewery in Ellsworth WI. My alcohol consumption would fit in a thimble. Sometimes, new-years,...when with friends at their home, I raise/toast that Dixie-cup with a splash of cheap bubbly. Coke Zero. Fruit juice with sparkling water. Government should stay out of brewpubs. Get the drunks off the road. They don't go to brewpubs anyway. Don't drink much alcohol. By the way, when was the last raise that tax? Don't drink, except ice tea, milk, and water. Gin and Tonic. Mona Rose winery is terrific. Spotted cow. Bud Lite beer. Me; Diet Cherry Coke; husband: Jameson (I'm the DD!) Pabst Blue Ribbon pretty good beer again. Been drinking it for over fifty years. New Glarus Spotted Cow Wollersheim wines are wonderful. Prairie Fume and Dry Rieseling are favorites. I always enjoy a Brandy Old Fashion. Beer all the way here and like the light beers the best. Milwaukee Best Light in the Blue Can. As always at home only or if I know I don't know to drive any place either. Bloody Mary Diet Pepsi straight. Pepsi or Coke. Nearly the only wine we drink is from Wollersheim Wineries in Cedarburg. Good value, tastes fine, and it's from Wisconsin. What more could you want? Once in a while will have a brandy old fashion otherwise I mostly drink water. I am a wine drinker and enjoy a great glass of wine.

New smartphone/driving restrictions proposed

It started with texting and driving, and then expanded to e-mailing and driving, and then an outright ban was implemented while using your phone in any capacity while driving through a construction zone. But now, proposed legislation would take the ban even further. One group, the Wisconsin Association of Justice is pushing for legislation that would expand the current ban to include a prohibition on using any type of data on a smart phone, with the one exception being GPS. Drivers could still use their phones to make calls, but checking your phone for any other reason whatsoever would become illegal. Most surrounding states already have similar bans to the one being proposed. Currently, the first offense in Wisconsin for texting while driving is $20, but this bill would expand the fee to $100 for the first offense. Data shows that about 10,000 people per year are injured because of inattentive driving, stemming mostly from cell phone usage. Rep. Ron Tuser, a Republican state representative, said we should be doing whatever we can to get people to put down their phones and focus on driving.

Bill proposed to show more info on property tax bill

A bill in the state legislature would add another item to the list that you see on your annual property tax bill, as a means to provide more transparency to taxpayers, according to the bill's author. The bill would add the Wisconsin Voucher cost to every tax bill in Wisconsin, showing just how much the voucher program costs each homeowner in the state. The bill is being called the Wisconsin Voucher Taxpayer Transparency Bill, and some school districts are in support of the measure, including the Holmen School Board, which passed a resolution in support of the legislation. The bill is being circulated by Democrats in the legislature.