We hope your week is off to a great start, and that you enjoyed a warm, and joyous Thanksgiving holiday this year, that bestowed upon you a great abundance of leftovers!
Below, we will introduce you to this week's Member of the Week, outline some of the top headlines from the past week, and get you up to speed on legislation.
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 email@example.com.
Have a great week,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
The Property Taxpayer of the Week is Jerry Haupt, owner of Lakeland Landscape Service in Manitowoc. Jerry is a native of Manitowoc, graduated from Valders High School, and then UW-Stout.
The business began in 1973, and they really do it all, and then some. So much in fact, that a spin-off had to be created.
"Our business began in 1979. [We] started out just doing landscaping. Over the years we added hardscape installations, fertilizing and weed control which grew into a business of its own that my brother Dan now owns and operates," Jerry told us. "We also do yard maintenance and snow removal."
Lakeland employs about ten during the peak season, and about half of that in the off-season.
"[Our biggest source of pride is that] we have been fortunately that three of our employees have been with us for over 25 years. The biggest source of satisfaction is the difference of what a site looks like before we start our work and what the site looks like after we have completed our work," Jerry said. "Meeting or exceeding customer expectations equals satisfaction."
That's a motto from which many businesses could benefit greatly.
On the government-front, Jerry said he's active when it comes to getting answers and contacting elected officials.
"We contact them from time to time if we have an issue, concern or question regarding something that could affect ours and other small businesses. We are certainly always concerned with the cost of doing business which can include anything from taxes to regulations, cost of licenses, etc," he said.
Jerry said he likes Wisconsin and they enjoy doing business in the state, but can't really make a comparison to other states.
He and Lakeland have also been a member of WPT for 19 years. When we asked him why, he said, "WPT actually gets things done. They work for small business and do all they can to promote changes that will be beneficial to small businesses."
We appreciate the nod from a longtime member, and look forward to many additional years working on Lakeland's behalf.
In his free time, Jerry likes to help out at his local church, and spend time with his two sons, one of whom lives in Idaho.
Last week, we found out that local officials might vote as early as tonight on whether property taxpayers in Racine County should hand Foxconn, a Taiwanese corporation, $764 million in local giveaways in order to build their plant in their community. Keep in mind, those near-billion local levy on property taxpayers is on top of the $3 billion that the state will be giving out in sales, income, corporate, and excise tax over the next 30 years.
WPT's message is caution. There are many things to consider, the largest being, is the local borrowing of nearly a billion dollars worth the risk that this optimistic yet massive project doesn't actually reach the scale that Foxconn says it will? A billion dollars in debt for small communities is among likely among the largest in the state's history.
The question that we have to ask ourselves is, would we want this in our own community? If the answer is no, then we can't pretend it's great for the folks in Racine County, either.
A WPT member recently said that this plant should have been built in an area of state where the jobs are most needed, not "pandering to SE Wisconsin" again, they wrote. As a southeastern Wisconsin native, I myself had to stop and think about that. Is it pandering? I've found that I agree with their sentiment.
Is there access to large airports in SE Wisconsin? Yes. Is there access to rail? Yes. Is there proximity to another major metro area? Yes. So why wouldn't it be a good idea?
Many areas in need of jobs also have the same proximity to a large metro (Twin Cities), have access to rail, and to large airports.
Local officials have pledged that Foxconn will pay property taxes as if its property is actually worth $1.4 billion. I really don't buy what these locally-elected officials are selling. And unless they can give some assurances to property taxpayers other than the word "promise" in a press release, then the time of reckoning has come, and local taxpayers need to speak up.
As always, I hope you've found this article to be informative and helpful. If you have anything you want to add or discuss, just reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org directly and I'd be glad to assist, or call (608) 255-7473.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
LOCAL EMPLOYMENT NUMBERS RELEASED
The Department of Workforce Development last week released estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities, and counties in Wisconsin. The data reflects updates for September and the preliminary numbers for 2017. Statewide, Wisconsin's private sector job growth broke another record with an added 9,500 jobs in October alone, bringing Wisconsin's total private sector job numbers to 2,553,900- the largest it's ever been in state history. As far as metro areas go, the lowest was in Madison with 2.2 percent, and the highest was Racine metro area with 3.5 percent. In municipalities, the lowest was the City of Madison with 2.1 percent, and the highest was the City of Racine with 4.3 percent unemployment. Unemployment in Wisconsin 72 counties all decreased from October 2016 to October 2017. The lowest unemployment was Lafayette with 2.1 percent, and highest in Menominee at 4.8 percent. Initial unemployment insurance claims were at their lowest level in 30 years, and continue to run at their lowest through the first 10 months of 2017. Continuing unemployment claims are also running at their lowest since 1973.
WISCONSIN OFFICIALLY BACKS COLLECTION OF ONLINE SALES TAX
In the latest fight to allow South Dakota to collect sales tax from out-of-state retailers, business groups, members of Congress, and many states have signed on to the effort- including Wisconsin. South Dakota is currently before the United States Supreme Court, in a decision that will decide whether retailers should be required to collect sales tax in states where they might not exist physically. Depending on the decision, the effects will be far-reaching into the retail industry, and sales tax policies and expenditures nationwide. According to the South Dakota Attorney General, in addition to the National Governors Association and the National Retail Federation, countless groups have filed a "friend-of-the-court" (amicus) briefs in support of South Dakota's petition. Thirty-six states in all have filed the petition in support.
HOME SALES DOWN IN APPLETON, GREEN BAY
Leaving the rural communities to hold together the regional housing market, Appleton and Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Fond du Lac have all had lower than average home sales numbers than usual, due to just not having enough homes to sell, apparently. According to the Wisconsin Realtors Association data, existing home sales through October were down 4.6 percent in Brown County, down 6.3 in Outagamie County, and down 6.9 percent in Fond du Lac County compared to the same time last year. But those rather grim numbers in the housing market in the region have been offset by increased sales in Green Lake, Manitowoc, and Marinette, which have remained on par with 2016 numbers. Despite all this, median sale prices of homes have steadily risen, topping 6.4 percent this year. Combine those increases with the fact that delinquent and past due mortgages have dropped substantially in the region, those are tell-tale signs that the market remains healthy.
DEER CARCASSES BECOMING A PROBLEM
It's likely a little-known fact, but the responsibility for scraping dead animal carcasses off of the state's highways is shifted from the DNR to the DOT, resulting in carnage piling up at faster rates than usual.
As the rut season drags on, some highway officials are calling the problem "non-stop," due also to the fact that the deer population continues to climb in the state. A budget provision that went into effect two months ago has also fueled the problem.
The DOT said that the state hires vendors to remove carcasses with two days of being reported, but a local journalist counted more than 20 carcasses in the short drive between the state's two biggest cities- Madison and Milwaukee, on I-94 alone.
To add insult to injury, no pun intended, many state officials responsible for the clean-up were not even notified that the law had changed, which means that motorists and others might be reporting the dead animals to the wrong state agency.
EXECUTIVE RESIDENCE CHRISTMAS TREE LIT
Perhaps one of the most quintessential signs of the Christmas season's return is the lighting of the tree at the Executive Residence in Maple Bluff, where Governor Walker and First Lady Tonette Walker kicked off the season last night.
"Christmas is a truly special time of the year, and Tonette and I are thrilled to light the tree at the Executive Residence with everyone," Governor Walker said. "From our family to yours, we wish the people of Wisconsin a very Merry Christmas!"
The first lady said she is always glad to show the public the stunning displays, and for people to see the beautiful decorations inside the executive residence made possible by the holiday designers.
The schedule for open house at the Governor's Mansion/Executive Residence is 12/2 10AM-2PM, 12/6 Noon-2PM, 12/7 Noon-2PM, 12/9 10AM-noon, 12/13 noon-2PM, and 12/14 noon-2PM.
FIRST RESPONDERS MAY BE ABLE TO TREAT PETS
In a potential change to state law, lawmakers in Madison are considering two bills that would give first responders immunity for treating animals, and also protect them if they do not aid the animals.
Technically, a first responder aiding a pet is illegal in Wisconsin, even though some fire departments have special equipment to help animals in need. Though the hardware is available, the protocol is not in place or the training.
22 other states allow first responders to help animals in need.
MENTORED HUNTING LICENSE SALES UP
According to the DNR, 1,100 more mentored hunting licenses were sold by the end of opening weekend for the state's traditional 9 day gun deer hunting period.
The mentor program in Wisconsin allows children to participate in the hunt as long as they are accompanied by an adult hunting mentor. Prior to two weeks ago, a child had to be 10 years old to take part in the program, but that age requirement was eliminated when Governor Walker signed a slew of pro-hunting bills into law.
A total of 17,267 mentor hunting licenses were sold, which is up from 16,139 last year.
On a different note, Wisconsin hunters registered 102,903 deer during the opening weekend this year, which was down nearly 14,000 from last year.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Driverless car lanes are being explored near the Foxconn plant. Generally speaking, would you ride in an autonomous vehicle?
Really don't like the idea of spending more money looking into plans or possibilities as we found out a few weeks ago how much went into the planning of the I-94 Marquette and zoo project, only to decide to drop it. We need that kind of money to go into actual road repairs, the cities have to start realizing they need to start paying for their projects as rural roads are going to have to start being gravel if something does not change
Not a chance! If the government is involved it is doomed to fail. Also look at how many problems you can have with your personal computer. Now put that computer in a car. Stock up on body bags!
I get carsick, so I prefer to drive.
Not sure I need to commit time to considering this question - by the time I'm able to afford an autonomous vehicle, I'll be too old to drive...oh, wait, I guess I won't have to drive...hmm...
It is what it is. Driverless cars are coming, and will unemploy hundreds of thousands of truckers, delivery people, cab drivers. -- Wisconsin should ignore Foxconn's request for driverless lanes. That's utterly stupid and unnecessary. Driverless cars are designed to drive with regular cars around them.
Computers never work the way they are supposed to!
Rent-to-own is back in the limelight with some lawmakers circulating a bill that would do things like determining the information that is disclosed to customers, etc. Have you ever "rented to own" an item?
I feel rent-to-own is predatory, if we really want to allow those with limited resources to purchase these types of items, we should regulate the kind of interest that is charged. The same goes for credit card interest rates, these rates are predatory as well.
A giant rip off! If people could learn to save their money then they could buy the same item in the store much cheaper.
Rent to Own is NOT predatory. It is FOUNDATIONAL. It is a source of wealth generation for the nation's 99%. Many farmers sold farms for over 100 yrs on land contracts, or rent to own agreements. Rent to Own isn't the issue - it's the rights of the one doing the sale that is in question. Those who oppose this have NO clue what's really going on in the economy.
If you can't afford it, save up for it, or don't buy it. These legal loan sharks just get people that already have money problems, in even deeper.
It is unbelievable this continues to be an issue. Legislators should be actively looking to protect consumers, not throw them under the bus.
Gives them a chance if it isn't big time usury.
Governor Walker said that America's Dairyland will not be removed from Wisconsin's license plates...
just add industry symbols along with the barn
I'm proud of the fact that Wisconsin is one of the top manufacturing states in the country as well. It seems to be a lost occupation when one can create something using their hands that has a value. There are way too many "service" orientated jobs that have been created by government mandates that basically make for people just push papers back and forth and doing a job that is not really necessary.
Wisconsin: At Least We're Not Iowa
WisDOT is asking travelers to be extra cautious as they travel for Thanksgiving this year. How far are you traveling this year?
To a sibling's home... They are hosting the Thanksgiving gathering. ... All attending bring something to eat.
Driving, to Oostburg
I'm not traveling and we are staying home
Driving from Northern Sauk Cty to Marshfield WI.
Driving to my Dad's house, five miles down the road.
Going to Michigan. Please don't rob us while we're gone.
Reflecting on 2017, for what are you most thankful in the past year? (P.S. From our families to yours, WPT wishes you a very Happy Thanksgiving.)
Dodged some health bullets.
My family, health.
Thankful for our health, the beautiful weather we have had, for our family.
I am thankful that I have a job I enjoy going to everyday. I get to work with people I like and enjoy and customers who for the most part are all around good people. I'm thankful for many answered prayers and although it may seem our society is in a downward spiral, I can still say with confidence that God has my back and is and always will be in control!
Family and forgiveness
good friends & family, steady jobs with employers who treat us well so we can continue to support our family, opportunities here in WI
Most thankful for my health. Also my dear wife and children and grand children.
I thankful for the bold, common sense leadership of our President and the effect it's had on our economy. And family, friends, ect.
Freedom, health, my family, safety, etc.
2017 has been a terrible year.
Health and safety (we don't live in Milwaukee). Level headed grandchildren, intact marriages among all of our kids. Crooked Hillary losing the election. Our freedom even though some would take it away. God's blessings on us.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
Click here for more information on the 19 bills Governor Walker signed into law today.
BILLS IN COMMITTEE
10 am: Assembly Campaigns And Elections, 300 NE
Executive Session on:
AB-332 School Board Candidate Signatures (Thiesfeldt, Jeremy) The signature requirement for nomination of candidates to school board in school districts that contain territory lying within a second class city.
Public Hearing on:
AB-637 In-Person Absentee Voting (Brandtjen, Janel) Using an electronic voting machine to cast a vote with an in-person absentee ballot.
10 am: Assembly Corrections, 412 E
Public Hearing on:
AB-539 Sexually Violent Persons (Krug, Scott) Plans for supervised release of sexually violent persons, representation of sexually violent persons by the state public defender, and making an appropriation.
10 am: Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining & Forestry, 300 SE
Public hearing on:
SB-506 Stream Navigability (Moulton, Terry) Determinations of navigability of a stream.
AB-461 Hunting Approvals (Milroy, Nick) Hunting approvals issued to certain terminally ill individuals.
SB-372 Hunting Approvals (Moulton, Terry) Hunting approvals issued to certain terminally ill individuals.
AB-464 Pole Traps (Edming, James) The maximum height of pole traps.
SB-376 Pole Traps (Petrowski, Jerry) The maximum height of pole traps.
AB-490 Veteran Hunting License Fees (Skowronski, Ken) Resident deer hunting license, archer hunting license, and crossbow hunting license fees imposed for a veterans who is 70 years of age or older.
SB-401 Veteran Hunting License Fees (Testin, Patrick) Resident deer hunting license, archer hunting license, and crossbow hunting license fees imposed for a veterans who is 70 years of age or older.
SB-508 Apostle Islands Deer Hunt (Tiffany, Tom) Establishing an open season for hunting deer with muzzle-loading firearms within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
SB-509 Youth Trapping (Moulton, Terry) Youth trapping, creating a mentoring trapping license, restrictions on taking or appropriating a trap of its contents, and requirements for tagging traps.
Noon: Assembly Environment And Forestry, 328 NW
Public Hearing on:
AB-558 Reformulated Gasoline (Kremer, Jesse) Sales of reformulated gasoline.
AB-599 Stream Navigability (Quinn, Romaine) Determinations of navigability of a stream.
10 am: Assembly Health, 225 NW
Public Hearing on:
AB-522 Animal First Aid (Considine, David) The rendering of first aid to animals by emergency medical technicians or first responders.
AB-582 Podiatry (Murphy, Dave) Delegation of the practice of podiatry.
AB-608 Pharmacy Practice (Rohrkaste, Michael) Delegation of the practice of pharmacy and granting rule-making authority.
AB-627 Dental Reimbursement Pilot (Bernier, Kathy) Dental reimbursement pilot project in the Medical Assistance program.
BILLS BEING CIRCULATED
LRB-3972 Memo Health Care Pricing (Stuck, Amanda) Mandatory health care pricing disclosures. Deadline: Monday, December 5, 5 pm
LRB-4882 Memo Bilingual Education Funding (Zamarripa, JoCasta) Funding for bilingual-bicultural education programs and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, December 1
* PLEASE NOTE: ALL LISTS ABOVE ARE NOT COMPLETE LISTS OF COMMITTEE PROCEEDINGS OR BILLS BEING CIRCULATED FOR CO-SPONSORSHIP. IF YOU WOULD LIKE A COMPLETE LIST OF EITHER, OR INFORMATION ON ANY LEGISLATION LISTED ABOVE, E-MAIL INFO@WPTONLINE.ORG.