We hope that your 2018 is off to a great start, and that you found some time to relax and celebrate the New Year. As we embark on the journey of another calendar year, we wish you both joy and prosperity
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, we meet Chuck and Doreen McGonagle, owners of Leisure City in Woodruff.
Chuck and Doreen have been making a splash for the past 33 years, where their company (dubbed Northern Wisconsin's BackYard Headquarters) has been providing hot tubs, spas, saunas, grills, and outdoors furniture to its loyal patrons. Leisure City is also a nationally recognized award-winning dealer for the particular brands they carry.
We asked the McGonagle's what their biggest challenges for their business (which employs six) is, and like most local retailers these days, it's the internet.
"Competing with the internet, which has no customer service or rapport [is the biggest challenge]," they told WPT.
They take the rapport aspect very seriously, and in fact, it's the biggest source of pride when it comes to their business.
"We take pride in the relationship we build with our customers and their families. We provide excellent customer service because we care. Customer satisfaction is a must."
On the legislative side of things, the McGonagles tell WPT that providing healthcare for the self-employed is the issue that they pay most attention to. Again, like many small businesses around the nation, this issue is among the most monitored.
Chuck and Doreen added "we have been members [of WPT] for 20 years or more. WPT works for the common man, to ensure that our taxes are manageable."
In their free time, Chuck and Doreen take to the beautiful Wisconsin outdoors to get some rest and relaxation.
"We enjoy boating, UTVing, snowmobiling, and camping with our kids and grandkids," they said. The McGonagles have been married for thirty years, and have four kids, and seven grandkids.
"Our favorite spot in Wisconsin is the Lakeland Area in Vilas and Oneida County."
We wish Chuck and Doreen much success and prosperity in the New Year, and urge our members to get over to Leisure City for your next big backyard purchase.
Last week, I wrote the article below, with the hopes of gathering some input from those who read it. I mistakenly did not publish a question in the weekly survey, so please re-read the article, and share your thoughts in this week's survey: WPT met with several lawmakers to discuss something that is likely of interest to our more rural members- the Managed Forest Law, and some potential changes to that law. Currently, if a property owner enrolls a certain number of his or her acres into the program, they receive a property tax reduction if they leave that land open to public recreation. It's a great program. And not only does it allow for property taxpayers to get a little bit of help with their overall tax burden each year, it also allows for Wisconsin sportsmen to enjoy some beautiful natural areas that they would not otherwise have the ability to access. The changes that are being discussed would be to give the benefit of the Managed Forest program to Wisconsin residents, who live here, pay other taxes here, raise their families here, and add to the community. In other words, either only Wisconsin property owners could enroll in the Managed Forest program, or out-of-state landowners could only receive a small reduction in their property tax by enrolling in the program. We love tourism in this state, and we love people from any state in the nation or anywhere in the world that come to visit the Dairy State, but should wealthy, out-of-state Illinois residents be getting the same tax breaks as Wisconsin property owners? Could our local counties, towns, and municipalities use some new roads, or like to have some services restored? The dollars that out-of-state property owners are saving by enrolling in the Managed Forest program would go straight to local communities, not the state. The question of uniformity has been raised. The Wisconsin State Constitution says that all taxes in our state must be applied uniformly. We understand that, and we are familiar with the "uniformity clause" and its implications. But consider this- property tax would continue to be applied uniformly. We propose not changing property tax, but rather who can benefit from property tax incentives. From that side, the uniformity argument could not apply. As always, we want to hear from you. This week, we will add a question in the weekly survey specifically to address your thoughts on this topic. Take a moment to comment after you answer the multiple choice option. 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 email@example.com directly and I'd be glad to assist, or call (608) 255-7473.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
GOV. WALKER DECLARES STATE OF EMERGENCY
Like last year, Governor Walker has declared a state of emergency due to propane shortages and wait times statewide. According to the Governor, the problem is worse in Wisconsin due to persisting cold temperatures, and a shortage of drivers to transport the gas to consumers. The executive order will exempt drivers who are obtaining or transporting propane from federal and state requirements which limit their time on the road. The executive order goes one step farther and forbids motor carriers from require or allowing a driver who is sick or fatigued to drive. Any driver who has worked for more than 70 hours during eight consecutive days must take 34 hours off.
TWO REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS RESIGN POSTS
Two well-known Republican lawmakers have called it quits in the legislature, having taken positions within the Walker Administration. Last week, Sen. Frank Lasee of De Pere, and Rep. Keith Ripp of Lodi, have left to take positions in the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Agriculture, respectively. Lasee will become the head of the Workers Compensation program, and Ripp will become assistant deputy secretary under former Senator Sheila Harsdorf, who is now Secretary of DATCP. There will be no special election held to fill the vacancies, instead they will be filled during the normal November.
WALKER WANTS TO MARKET STATE TO MILLENNIALS
Governor Scott Walker wants to use about $7 million for a marketing campaign to help fill the state's ongoing worker shortage, particularly marketing the state to young millennials. Those millennials will see adds focused on commute times, a cheaper housing market, and other quality of life amenities that make Wisconsin and its population centers more appealing. Assembly Speaker Vos said that Wisconsin doesn't brag enough about where we live, or not as good as we are at bragging about Packers and Badgers, and Brewers. He said we need to brag more about our quality of life. Democrats hit back, saying that it's Walker's policies that have driven young people away from the talent pool in Wisconsin, and he should take a closer look at policies.
FAMILY OF FOUR EXPECTED TO SEE $2,500 TAX CUT UNDER NEW FEDERAL OVERHAUL
According to Governor Walker's administration last week, a typical family of four in Wisconsin will see a tax reduction to the tune of $2,508 under the law passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump two weeks ago.
The Governor's numbers looked at a family of four, eligible for the child care tax credit, and drew some sharp criticism from the left, who accused him of "cherry picking" the numbers to reflect more favorably on the plan. President of the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance said that one problem with the numbers is that it chose a "two-income, two-child family', which according to him, is no longer typical in Wisconsin.
Even so, the numbers came out correct when verified, and the Department of Revenue is expected to release a full impact of the plan in the coming months, according to Governor Walker. But right now, families with a similar make-up can expect to see over $200 per month in tax reductions under the new plan.
LARGE FRAC SAND COMPANIES TO MERGE
Unimin and Fairmount Santrol, two of the largest frac sand mining companies in the nation, and who both have land and operations in Wisconsin, will merge to create a large scale mining company.
Unimin, which is based in Connecticut, and Fairmount Santrol, which is based in Ohio, have agreed to merge to create a publicly traded company. A name has not yet been chosen. Fairmout Santrol current has mines and processing plants in Menomonie and Maiden Rock, and Unimin has operations in Tunnel City and Portage.
Both companies are known for providing supplies to oil and gas drilling corporations, however, the companies are also known for selling high purity silica sands that are used to create glass, metal casting, and other manufacturing materials.
In a statement, it was reported that the new corporation will be capable of producing up to 45 million tons of frac sand each year. The deal is expected to close by summer.
FACTORIES IN UPPER MIDWEST STRONGEST IN OVER THREE YEARS
Factory activity in the Upper Midwest region of the U.S. has improved to its strongest numbers in over three years, posting bigger and better numbers for orders and production.
Marquette University and the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee reported that seasonally adjusted numbers for manufacturing in the Milwaukee area rose to 65.57 percent in December, compared to 59.62 in November. December's numbers are the highest since November 2014, when it sat at 68.9.
According to MU and the Institute, numbers above 50 indicate that factory activity in a given region is growing. Similar readings have happened in Chicago and other upper Midwest cities.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
With the new tax overhaul now signed into law, are you expecting your federal taxes to...
I don't like the sunset for 2025...seems like a gimmick!
Happy? NO!...The low- modest income receive a few crumbs, while wealthy receive 5 PLUS digit reductions.
Definitely skewed towards the wealthy minority.
I guess if I made between 5 and 750 thousand a year I could benefit
This will be good for our economy after the Obama years of sluggish growth. I would like to know who was paid off to allow hedge fund managers to pay a lower tax rate on their commission fees or basically their income, they didn't invest their own money, they invested client's money, and so their fees should be taxed as income and not a capital gain. Still some swamp monsters out there!
I won't be happy until we can file our taxes on a post card
I don't like the fact it's adding to the nations debt.
good tax plan, should boost economy
It seems strange that so many people think it such a great idea to keep increasing our federal debt to get a few bucks in our pockets
I think I'm happy. Ask me again in a few months.
Not sure what to expect being a farmer!
The tax bill is an enormous lost opportunity. The GOP could have done what they said they wanted: Make taxes simpler. All they did was make it more complex with more loopholes that benefit the wealthy and increase the deficit. Paul Ryan should be ashamed.
Holiday spending saw a record high and the largest increase since 2011. Did you spend more this year for the holidays than usual?
Actually our household income is lower this year. We live in an agricultural community and as a former full time farmer, things aren't so rosey for agriculture. My wife owns a specialty retail store which struggled this holiday season, and the business I work for depends on agriculture for 90 percent of our business.
We, personally, spent less. My business saw the busiest Holiday season we've seen in 8 years. Not spectacular, but notably busier.
Consumer confidence is also reaching high levels in the United States. As a consumer, do you feel the economy is...
We are doing better because we finally got rid of Obama!
Stagnant wages. Unaccounted inflation.
I do not make enough disposable income to invest in the stock market, so unfortunately for me, I'm missing the bull market wealth. There are more jobs, thinking about picking up a part time job and working 16 hours a day to get caught up and maybe ahead a little. Property taxes (township taxes increased 36 percent this year) electric bills, insurance all the way around keep increasing faster than my pay per hour does.
No money in MY pocket, but all of my bills are going up!!!
The farm sector is not operating at a high level
Reduction in regulations
The low unemployment rate gives me confidence.
However, the farmers are really falling behind!!!
Sustained growth is good, but the main winners are the wealthy.
The state's prison population is overcrowded, and a new legislative taskforce will convene and make official recommendations. Do you think the state should build a new facility?
Build more than one new facility because we need to protect society from these people who do not respect lives and property. If your families and morality continue to decline, crime will only get worse. There needs to be accountability for bad/illegal behavior, so if we need more space, build it, but behavioral change can perhaps be achieved through counseling. Incarceration may not be appropriate answer to addiction related problems. Sick of these thugs getting 3 squares a day, wonderful health care, and cable TV. We need to make their vacation miserable so they wouldn't want to be there! My prison system RANT! I've been in some of our prisons, they are way too nice. We are housing criminals, not a country club. Need to look at alternative punishments to help deter people from going into prison in the first place. If we need'em we better build'em Perhaps the entire criminal justice system should be revamped. Maybe more treatment facilities are needed for mental health and drug addiction?? Need to keep criminals locked up. I think we could heavily fund a "please behave yourself" public service campaign. Yeah,that will convince the usual suspects to steer clear of prison. Subcontracting to private facilities would cost less than building new prisons. Not another dime ward "corrections"...warehousing bad people is pointless.
Did you have a Merry Christmas? What gifts did you give/receive? Do you have plans to ring in 2018? Happy New Year to you all!
Yes we had a Merry Christmas because we know that Jesus Christ came to take away our sins and He will always be with us! Happy New Year to All!
Christmas was OK. Gave wife a 2 foot step ladder (so she can move up in the world.) Received a Milwaukee* Bar-Stool...Stay home & off the roads.
The most unproductive period in the workplace, but I love it any way.
Christmas spent with the family is always good. Changed plans from going north to staying home. I don't have to drive three hours to sit inside because it's too bitter cold to go out!
Yes had a great Christmas with the family. Just thankful we could all get together this year and our health for the family is great. What more could you ak for. No big plans for bringing in the New Year. Just watch college football. GO BUCKY!!!!!!! Had a very nice Christmas, got a big mixer (kids want me to make cookies), staying home on New Years, Happy New Year everybody!
Spending time with family is the best gift I receive every year. We do a service project as a family every year with the money we would spend on gifts, we are blessed to just have a family that thoroughly enjoys the time we get to spend with each other the few times a year we manage to make it happen.
Family together...Christmas was great. usually don't stay up long enough anymore to ring in the new year. Happy New Year to all! Happy New Year! I'll sleep in 2018.
Yes, I had a very nice Christmas, but that had nothing to do with gifts that I gave or received. No, I will not be awake to ring in the new year. As an added holiday bonus, I get to rise at 4 am to milk cows, so I must be off to bed early the night before.
2018 can't be worse than 2017. Right? Right??
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
No bills to report at this time.
BILLS BEING CIRCULATED
LRB-4330 Memo Fox Cities RTA (Stuck, Amanda) Authorizing the creation of a Fox Cities regional transit authority and making appropriations. Deadline: Wednesday, January 10, 5 pm
LRB-5136 Memo Low-Income Tax Credit (Summerfield, Rob) An income and franchise tax credit for the development of low-income housing. Deadline: Friday, January 5, 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.