We would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas from WPT. From our families to yours, we hope the joy of the season and the holiday cheer reaches you, your family, friends, and loved ones.. During this season of both giving and thanks, we extend our deepest appreciation to you for your commitment to our organization and its mission.
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.
PLEASE NOTE: The WPT Weekly Insider will be sent later in the week for the next two weeks due to both Christmas and New Years falling on a Monday.
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
This week's Property Taxpayer of the Week is Greg Peterson, owner of Peterson Auto Parts in Sauk City.
Like many of the farms and businesses that WPT interfaces with on a daily basis, Peterson Auto Parts actually began decades ago, in 1965 to be exact. The original owners, Greg and Cecile, sold their shop to their son Greg in 2006. They still work at the store to this day.
Greg tells us that his biggest source of pride comes from the commitment to serving his customers.
"We try hard to go the extra mile," he added.
We asked Greg to explain some of the hardships or challenges that his industry faces.
"Loss of business due to online internet sales," he said, like so many small retailers across the State of Wisconsin.
Greg believes WPT's work helps keep property tax low in Wisconsin, and he said that helps his business regularly.
"I am sure there are many businesses like mine that operate on a very thin margin. With unnecessary taxes and regulations, we simply could not afford to stay in business."
A native of the Sauk Prairie area, Greg enjoys hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities in his free time. And as if he doesn't have enough on his plate already, Greg owns another business.
"I also own a beef cattle farm in western Sauk County," he told us. "So, I stay quite busy."
Last week, WPT registered in favor of the legislation that would close the "Dark Store" loophole in Wisconsin. There's been a lot of discussion and a lot of media attention around this issue, which seems to pit some of our frequent shopping destinations against their communities. For that, we blame the media, who did not tell the entire story, and even explain all of the implications of this legislation, which will likely give your local assessors more power over how businesses properties are assessed- and yes that means you too, small business owners. But though there are certainly implications that we feel are problematic with the legislation, one thing we cannot abide- higher tax on Wisconsin's families and property owners, and that's exactly what we feel will happen if the big box retailers like Lowe's, Menards, Wal-Mart, and others continue to sue local governments in an effort to pay less taxes than they should. Nobody should be overtaxed, we know that, and I think we all agree. But nobody should try to get out of their obligations to better their local communities, services, and quality of life. Right now, these stores are trying to wiggle out of nearly $1 billion in property tax dollars, which could be shifted onto smaller property owners and homeowners throughout the state. I think we can all agree that while property taxes have been trending downwards in our state, the last thing we need is to pick up the slack for some of the nation's most successful and financially prosperous corporations. Once the New Year is rung in, and the hustle and bustle from the holidays begins to slow down, this issue will still be in the news, and there will likely be a push to get it passed in the State Capitol. Should you want more information on the legislation, you can click here to read it. In the meantime, we ask that you take a moment to share your thoughts on the legislation. Reach out to me directly at the e-mail below to share any thoughts you might have the the "dark store" loophole. 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
FOXCONN WILL USE SIX TIMES MORE ELECTRICITY THAN THE NEXT LARGEST FACTORY IN WISCONSIN
They're planning to use so much energy that a special energy source needs to be created and run down to the Foxconn plant from the American Transmission Company, who is seeking to build $140 in infrastructure to meet Foxconn's demand. The company also told reporters that Foxconn is expected to use about six times the amount of energy as the next largest factory in the state of Wisconsin, but wouldn't identify which factory that is. The Milwaukee Journal also claims that the amount of energy expected to be drawn by Foxconn is enough to service 170,000 households, and could impact the rates of electric customers statewide. The scope of the impact is unknown, but ATC called it "marginal." Construction on the electric lines would begin in 2018, and begin operating in 2019 or 2020.
PROFESSOR CLAIMS VOTERS ARE CONFUSED BY VOTER ID LAW IN WISCONSIN
If you find our state's voter ID law complicated or if you are confused by it, then you are the person that a UW Madison political science professor is talking about. While speaking to the state's Elections Commission last Tuesday, Ken Mayer said that confusion over the law had an effect on the turnout in the presidential election in Milwaukee and Dane County during the 2016 election. According to the professor, Wisconsinites don't have a good grasp on what type of ID cards they are allowed to use at the polls, and that apparently caused nearly 20,000 people to not vote. He said they were also confused on whether or not they could use an ID with an address that is no longer current, or an expired ID.
BURIAL SITE PROTECTION BILL ADVANCES
With bipartisan support, a bill that would expand the protection of burial sites in the state, including ancient sites, burial mounds, and effigy mounds, is advancing through the legislature with bipartisan support, and property owners, scientists, and tribal leaders. The legislation would create some new means to find information on property purchases, developments, and other real estate deals, and would also broaden the geographical areas around the sites. The Rock River Valley is of particular interest because of Turtle Creek, which is home to hundreds of burial sites created by ancient ancestors of the Ho-Chunk. Also in southern Wisconsin is the largest indigenous village in the state near Beloit College, where over 20 burial mounds are found. The bill now needs to receive a hearing and clear the State Senate.
WISCONSIN CONSERVATIVE ENERGY FORUM TAKES SHAPE
Governor Tommy Thompson is heading up a new group with an unusual goal- changing conservative's mind on renewable energy, and promoting it around the state.
The Wisconsin Conservation Energy Forum, with the help of some insider groups in Madison, will promote "new sources of electricity and new technology," though the organization's Executive irector says that the group won't be doing too much work with lobbying, as much as trying to "convert" Republicans to the benefits of solar and wind.
The group started in Michigan about four years ago, and has grown to 19 states, and has increased public support for renewable energy, and helped make it easier for homeowners to install solar, and dairy farmers to have access to manure digesters to generate electricity.
LANDLORD-TENANT LAWS MIGHT SEE SOME CHANGES
Some lawmakers are taking a closer look at the state's landlord-tenant laws, and considering making some changes.
A bit controversially, one of the pieces of legislation would require that eviction records of renters would be publicly available for a decade. The idea drew sharp criticism at a public hearing last week in the Capitol. One individual alleged that this particular change could result in homelessness for some people.
Also wrapped into the legislation is the loosening of requirements surrounding historic preservation of properties, particularly in regards to repairs to homes. No longer would property owners be forced to use materials identical to the original materials of the building when making repairs.
The bill has received a public hearing but has not yet been scheduled for a vote.
LEGISLATION WOULD REQUIRE REFERENDUM BEFORE ENACTING WHEEL TAX
A bill making its way through the state legislature would require that local governments ask permission from their residents before enacting a wheel tax.
The bill would impact local governments that have already passed a wheel tax, requiring all of them to pass a referendum within 18 months of the effective date of the bill.
For example, Dane County recently enacted a $28 wheel tax as part of its tax and spend budget. Likewise for Milwaukee County, where County Executive Chris Abele continuously tries to circumvent voters, who overwhelmingly rejected a wheel tax in an advisory referendum last year.
Opponents of the legislation are citing issues with local control and state government overreach, while supporters find no problem with allowing taxpayers to decide.
LEGISLATIVE LEADERS CALL FOR RESIGNATION OF ETHICS AND ELECTIONS HEADS
Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Vos both last week wrote a letter calling for the resignations of Michael Haas, administrator of the Elections Commission, and Brian Bell, administrator of the Ethics Commission.
The call was in response to an investigation that turned up leaked material during the John Doe investigations.
Haas late last week responded by saying that he would not step down, citing the support of lawmakers and colleagues. In response, Sen. Fitzgerald said that he would take Haas' appointment up during a Senate session in January, putting it to a simple vote in the legislature. The Wisconsin Senate has to approve position appointments such as these.
If Fitzgerald brings these appointments up for a vote in January, it would effectively remove them from their jobs immediately. The Elections Commission voted on a resolution this week, unanimously supporting Haas. The commission, which replaced the Government Accountability Board, is now made up of Democrats and Republicans, all of whom support Haas.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Local and State tax trends have gone downward in the past year. Do you feel overall your state and local tax have gone down?
Have not received my tax bill as of today, but I doubt they have dropped our county and town keep raising their budgets while nothing to show for the increases. Services provided have gone down hill especially the garbage/recycling pick up that was forced on us by the town board.
Taxes go down and "user fees" go up. It is still a tax.
I really don't care any more about this fight. Frankly, I'm starting to wonder if we should have done more to cut spending, and then use the surplus to maybe fix roads or fund K-12 schools or something.
Local taxes have gone up, although below the inflation rate, yielding declines in local roads, schools, and services. State taxes have been flat.
Have you received your property tax bill yet?
our township tends to be on the slow side, treasurer/clerk paces themselves for more hours.
We own two different properties. A farm in south central part of the state. Our property tax on this property went up a little over 25 dollars from last year. Our second property 30 miles south of Lake Superior went down 4%
Down 4%, thankfully.
Down by $200, but special charges of $155.00?
Up by $150 with no improvements.
The rate went up slightly but the assessed value rose $53,400. Guess I'm paying more this year!
Ours went down from last year. It was cool to see the -100% where the State of Wisconsin tax was.
Overall up 7% due to the village portion which went up a shocking 18.5%
Up up and away!
Down, just over 7%
It will probably go up as our district built a new school to replace the old, old middle and high school which should have been used for bombing practice by the Air National Guard.
One lawmaker has proposed making a "certified Wisconsin beer" label. After reading the article, good idea or bad idea?
Do not drink beer
When all the potholes in our roads are fixed, you can waste your time with this type of nonsense.
No, sounds just like another fee.
20% hopps doesn't exactly make it Wisconsin beer. Should start at 50% and go up from there.
To me, it sounds like the future requirements are high, yes, it could bolster a surge in local production of hops. But if the high requirements may harm the beer sales of such a high level of Wisconsin grown hops does not produce an excellent beer.
Really? THIS is what's on the agenda? FIX OUR ROADS FIRST. Or figure out how to lower healthcare.
Was it his idea. Or the manufacturer of it.
I don't do beer.
One lawmaker is hoping to increase the state's Historic Tax Credit from $500,000 per project to $3.5 million, after Governor Walker cut the program in the budget from $5 million to the current $500,000. Do you think the program should be increased?
At the rate our society is going, they will be deemed unfit and be razed in a few years anyway. Private money can support these types of things. Tax payers are paying too much already. I think this tax credit can benefit almost every community. Current amount is too low, should be somewhere in between. I have seen in past years historical buildings remodel on our tax dollars only to stand empty today. I'm not even sure what this is.
The PSC has approved a rate hike for Xcel Energy customers. Regardless if you have Xcel or not, have your energy costs gone up this year?
Have MGE. Basically stayed the same. WE us NG from We Energies. Our facility charge was raised. We have geothermal for our heat/cooling. Best investment I ever made. Adams/Columbia Electric Coop. Alliant, we heat with lp gas. Electric and Clark Electric. We have LP and yes, that price went up again this year after dropping last year. Electric heat, We energies. Most energy companies are poorly run monopolies, similar to how the state is run. Always up. Always, always costs go up. We Energies provides us natural gas for heat. Heat the home with wood, but We Energies really socks it to us with the electric bill.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
No bills to report at this time.
BILLS BEING CIRCULATED
LRB-4957 Memo College Credit in High School (Kooyenga, Dale) Excluding certain college credit in high school programs from the Early College Credit Program. Deadline: Friday, December 15, Noon
LRB-1527 Memo Individuals with Disabilities Employment (Macco, John) Employment of individuals with disabilities enrolled in long-term care programs and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, December 20
LRB-4425 Memo BCPL Reform (Hutton, Rob) The authority of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make trust fund loans and delegate authority to invest trust fund moneys, the use of common school fund income moneys, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, December 21, 4 pm
LRB-4973 Memo Ignition Interlock (Larson, Chris) Requiring an ignition interlock device to be installed for committing a drunken driving offense. Deadline: Wednesday, December 20, Noon
LRB-4811 Memo Counting Pupils for School Aid (Pope, Sondy) Counting low-income pupils for state school aid purposes; calculating the amount to be appropriated for state general school aid; school aid factors; special adjustment aids; hold harmless aid; per pupil aid; school district revenue limits; the first dollar and school levy property tax credits; and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, December 20
LRB-5079 Memo Financial Institution Reforms (Marklein, Howard) Confidentiality of financial institution information maintained by the Department of Financial Institutions; periodic examinations of financial institutions; savings bank loan limitations; interest on residential mortgage loan escrow accounts; capital of state banks; security provided by public depositories; insurance company liquidation proceedings; and modifying an administrative rule of the Department of Workforce Development related to an exemption from overtime pay requirements for outside salespersons. Deadline: Wednesday, December 20, 5 pm
LRB-4739 Memo Vehicle Following Distance (Petrowski, Jerry) Distances between motor vehicles. Deadline: Thursday, December 21, 3 pm
LRB-4298 Memo Navigable Water Permit Exemption (Craig, David) An exemption from permit requirements for certain riparian owners who remove material from the bed of a navigable water. Deadline: Friday, December 22, 5 pm
LRB-4227 Memo Multifamily Dwelling Sprinklers (Subeck, Lisa) Automatic fire sprinkler systems in multifamily dwellings. Deadline: Friday, December 22, 5 pm
LRB-4910 Memo Education Savings Program (Darling, Alberta) An education savings account program for gifted and talented pupils, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, December 29, 5 pm
LRB-4583 Memo Employee Rights (Hebl, Gary) The rights of employees to request and receive work schedule changes; predictable work schedules for retail, food service, and cleaning employees, granting rule-making authority; and providing a penalty. Deadline: Friday, December 29, 5 pm
LRB-0548 Memo Child Safety Restraints (Taylor, Chris) Use of child safety restraint systems in motor vehicles and providing a penalty. Deadline: Friday, December 29
LRB-3896 Memo OWI with ATV (Jacque, Andre) Intoxicated operation of all-terrain vehicles, utility terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, snowmobiles, motorboats, and motor vehicles, snowmobile safety instruction for persons under 16 years of age, providing a penalty, and providing a criminal penalty. Deadline: Friday, December 29, 5 pm
LRB-4801 Memo OWI Snowmobile (Horlacher, Cody) The intoxicated operation of snowmobiles. Deadline: Friday, December 29, 5 pm
LRB-4802 Memo Open Intox ATV (Horlacher, Cody) Open alcohol containers in or on all-terrain or utility terrain vehicles and providing a penalty. Deadline: Friday, December 29, 5 pm
* 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.