We hope your work week is off to a productive start, and that you had some time to relax over the weekend. As always, this week will bring you our weekly Property Taxpayer of the Week, News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, and an all new Weekly Member Poll.
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,
There was a lot of pomp and circumstance at last week's State of the State. Just like a US President is constitutionally obligated to report on the State of the Union to his counterparts in the two other branches of government, so is the same with the State of Wisconsin.
This was an especially important speech for Governor Walker, as this essentially laid out his agenda going into what everybody agrees to be the toughest re-election campaign of his career. The midterm effect (as political wonks refer to it) means that the party that is in the White House loses elections during mid-terms- it happens like clockwork. The idea that Governor Walker and Wisconsin republicans are untouchable later this year should be avoided at all costs. Look no further than the special election results in Western Wisconsin last week-- this is why you see Governor Walker moving to the center, and having a more moderate message. A broader appeal to both his base and the center.
In the speech, the Governor talked about historic levels of school funding, historic low unemployment and high workforce participation, the elimination of the state property taxes, the overall business climate in Wisconsin, investments in workforce, and more.
But he also laid out some very important proposals yesterday which he called on the legislature to enact. I have added links to each piece that outline broader specifics of the plan. You can also read a transcript of the speech here with links to sources and fact-checks.
Dubbing it the "Ambitious Agenda," the plan would:
Increasing Sparsity Aid for rural, low-spending school districts
Developing workforce through enacting a new Wisconsin Career Creator program
Calling for a special session on welfare reform, equiring all able-bodied adults to perform (increased) work searches for all public benefits, including Medicaid
Continuing his small business agenda
Assisting farmers who are trying to break into new markets, and with rural development
He signed an executive order yesterday that grants farmers low interest loans to assist them with expanding operations
Reforming juvenile criminal justice system
Passing a Health Care Stabilization plan, that would flood the Obamacare market in Wisconsin with about $200 million to hold down premiums and lure private insurers back to Wisconsin
Creating a $100/per child tax credit for parents, handing the new surplus back to taxpayers
Further combatting of opioid crisis in Wisconsin
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 PLANS $50 MILLION FOR RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Gov. Walker last week proposed investing $50 million annually in rural economic development projects around the state. The plan, which he announced just before he delivered his annual State of the State speech would use state money to jump start private investment in rural areas, work to improve productivity, and assist in filling job vacancies in the areas. More specifically, the plan would:
Offer Wisconsin dairy businesses that are interested in increasing their capacity, introducing new products, or entering new markets the ability to apply for low-interest, value-added dairy revolving loans
Utilize existing loan program revenues to encourage research and new dairy product development for domestic and international markets.
Focus on growing domestic and international markets while working with agricultural stakeholders to support Wisconsin farmers and agribusinesses as they work to grow markets locally and regionally.
Provide technical assistance, referrals, and educational seminars for the Wisconsin agriculture industry in its effort to explore new markets and product opportunities.
Utilize the Department's International Agribusiness Center to increase efforts to market Wisconsin agriculture around the world by partnering with regional and national industry organizations, taking additional Wisconsin companies and representatives abroad, and bringing more potential buyers to the State to showcase all Wisconsin has to offer.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) would tasked with distribution of the money through currently existing programs, and would earmark the money for projects within counties with a population density of less than 155 people per square mile. According to Governor Walker's office, that's 56 of the state's 72 counties. A $200,000 scholarship would also be created to encourage students to take agriculture courses at a tech school or the UW College of Agriculture.
GOV. WALKER PROPOSED NEW CHILD TAX CREDIT
In his annual State of the State address, Governor Walker called on the legislature to create and pass a new $100-per-child tax credit, effectively handing back to some taxpayers part of a newly-announced $385 million budget surplus. Under the plan, all parents in Wisconsin with children of their own, or adopted children, under the age of 18 as of December of 2017, would quality. The total number of families benefiting from the new tax credit would be around 670,000. Those eligible would fill out a form and be paid through a rebate check this year, and then claim the credit on their income tax next year. Wisconsin would be one of six states to provide a tax credit for children, joining California, Colorado, New York, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
WESTERN WISCONSIN LEADS NATION IN FARM BANKRUPTCIES
According to new data from the Federal Court System, Western Wisconsin's district had the highest number of farm bankruptcies in the United States, totaling 28 Chapter 12 cases. That district includes 44 counties, or about half of the state geographically. Experts point to low commodity prices, particularly for corn, soy, and milk, which equates to Wisconsin's farm families earning less while input costs have stayed the same of gone up. Secondly, the amount of debt that some family farms have had to take on is also being blamed for the high level of bankruptcies. All the while commodity prices are dropping, farm land values in Wisconsin increased by nearly 10%, according to Paul Mitchell, Director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at UW-Madison. He said if land value begins to decrease, next, farmers will begin to lose their equity, which could mean further problems for an already struggling community.
WISCONSIN FAILS IN THREE TOBACCO CONTROL CATEGORIES
According to the American Lung Association, Tobacco is still the #1 cause of preventable deaths in the state of Wisconsin, though the same organization is saying that the state is not doing all it can to bring down this deadly statistic. Wisconsin was slapped with three failing grades out of five possible categories, according to the report. The state failed to fund a state tobacco prevention program, failed to provide services to help residents quit using tobacco, and failed to raise the minimum age for buying tobacco to 21. States surrounding Wisconsin, including Minnesota and Illinois have much tougher policies on tobacco. The ALA is now is hoping to see the passage of Assembly Bill 225, which would require all tobacco products be kept behind the counter in a locked cabinet. The bill has passed the Senate, and still needs to get through the Assembly committee process.
MILK PRODUCTION STILL ON THE RISE
Milk production in December was up once again in Wisconsin, according to the USDA's monthly production report. According to their numbers, Wisconsin farmers produced 2.54 billion pounds of milk, which is up 1.0 percent from December of 2016. Nationally, 17 billion pounds were produced in 23 states, an increase of 1.2 percent in 2016, and 800 million pounds more than November. California still leads the pack with 3.3 billion pounds, with Colorado seeing the biggest year-to-year increases in production, totaling 369 million pounds in December. That's a near-10 percent increase from last year. The number of cows in the 23 major dairy states was 8.74 million head, which was 54,000 more than December of 2016, and 3,000 more than November. The average number in Wisconsin for milk cows on farms was 1.28 million in December. Each cow averaged 1.995 pounds, up 25 from last year.
DATCP: BUY LOCAL, BUY WISCONSIN GRANT APPLICATIONS NOW BEING ACCEPTED
Farmers, groups, and businesses involved in Wisconsin's food industry who are seeking to grow their local markets are encouraged to apply for grants now available through the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program. Since its inception in 2008, the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grant program has generated more then $9.4 million in new local food sales. Managed by DATCP, the grants can help farmers and businesses more efficiently process, market, and distribute food in local markets, including strores, schools, and institutions. Proposal must be received at CATCP by 4PM, March 9th. Each proposal must include a cover page, a completed budget template, and a three-page project description. You can find more information by clicking here.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Governor Walker is proposing stricter rules across the board for people on public assistance. In your opinion, do you feel Wisconsin's laws on this topic are:
If they are able bodied, they should work. Also drug tests for aid recipients Earn your money honestly. Anyone receiving taxpayer dollars needs to be held accountable. I know too many people on disability that should not be. The law needs to be used with everyone and followed thru. I see a lot of people on drugs who never get offered help and continue to do it. I have been hit by a man with no insurance who came to WI because our disability & Food Stamp benefits were better than Illinois. This is not acceptable. I also had many girlfriends out of high school who purposely did not work full time because it was easier to collect food stamps, wic, and multiple assistance programs than it was to actually work. I can't answer this question properly because I'm not sure what Wisconsin's laws are when they pertain to public assistance. I'm not against public assistance, but I would favor laws that are tough enough to keep it honest. Free money is too easy to get now. What incentive is there to make a person contribute to their own good when it's handed out? I know a lot of people who are drug users, who literally sit home and have all their bills paid and never work. But I also know families with two incomes to get public assistance. We need to weed out the drug users. And weed out those who abuse this protection. Need independent verification that an actual disability exists. Leave the drug tests out...who cares what they do in their spare/free time. Just get them to work and subsidize on the back end. Everyone should have to pull their own weight. Stricter rules make it work in some cases but in other cases might have an adverse affect. Nothing is always black and white and implementing new rules will also come with a cost. How would I know? I'm not on public assistance. My guess is that it really sucks being poor. Workforce needs require a tough stance. This opportunity to work has never been more available and the opportunity to be less dependent on government never better. Should be a temporary helping hand partnered with skills training.
Governor Walker wants to use $200 million to stabilize the Obamacare market in Wisconsin, holding down premiums, and helping to lure private insurers back to the state. Good idea or bad idea?
Let's get rid of Obamacare! We need that money stabilize both Obamacare & Senior Care. I agree with holding down premiums and luring private insurers back to the state, but I believe Obamacare has NOT fixed what's broken. It has increased costs for businesses and individuals, while providing less in coverage. Many of those who couldn't afford insurance, still can't afford insurance. Obamacare in general was a FAIL, it needs to be repealed at a federal level and they need to bring back the HIRSP "high risk" insurance program they had prior to Obamacare. Fund these plans by big Pharm, not our tax $'s. Need more information. Not sure how the 200 million would be used. Not sure what it means to stabilize the market. Need more info before I can offer an opinion. I'm in favor of promote more private insurers in the state. I'd like to see us go back to Badger Care and HIRSP. We had it better before Obamacare.
I think most rational people agree preexisting conditions and illness are no reasons for denying health insurance coverage. Many hard working, responsible people have carried health insurance their entire lives, and when the need arises to use their insurance, it should not be grounds for being denied coverage, shame on the insurance companies for bringing us down this road to begin with! Obamacare has ruined our healthcare system as we know it. It seems insurance companies and all the for profit healthcare empires are now working together to take it to their clients, customers for larger profits. Obamacare is going to fail under its own weight, this is what happens when Washington is not willing to solve major issue problems in a bipartisan manner. I do receive a subsidy because of Obamacare, and I hate it, but there isn't a single plan available right now that is priced fairly on the market. If and when Obamacare ceases to exist, I will no longer carry health insurance if the insurance companies think I am stupid enough to pay the kind of money they are getting for the inadequate plans they are offering! There is a "cash only" clinic in my area, and that is looking more enticing as this healthcare mess plays out. We also need more oversight in the health care market. They are not self-regulating. They need to start, or the government needs to step in and push them in stop the waste. There's too many moving parts in the current health care insurance debate for me to form a good opinion on this. Who pays and who plays. Get Wall St. out of medicine and the problem will be nearly if not completely solved. How does this help those of us who are working out butts off to pay for our insurance to take care of our families Just keep getting squeezed. His could become a cash cow for Ins. Cos. Think corporate welfare... Good idea. I pay full price. I guess all it takes is an uncertain election year to get Walker to do something right.
Governor Walker wants a law passed that protects those with pre-existing conditions from being denied healthcare or losing their healthcare. Good idea or bad idea?
As long as you can figure out a way to pay for it without everybody's premiums skyrocketing. I am a pre-existing care patient and would not care to lose my healthcare. It's scary when this would happen. IF would depend on the stipulations. You can call for homeowners insurance once your house is on fire, same should apply to health insurance. No one should be denied healthcare with pre-existing conditions if they have continuous coverage. However, you shouldn't be allowed to decide when you wait it and when you don't want to pay for it. Health insurance is "just in case', not well now I need it. Again, when we had ample number of private insurers in WI the HIRSP program served people with pre-existing conditions very well. That is one of the GOOD things about Obamacare. It needs to stay, you need to quit beating on people with COPD, Type 1 Diabetes, and other conditions that require you to have expensive care needs...Those people are being unduly taken financial advantage of because their lives depend on treatment. Having them lose coverage because it's a pre-existing condition is an Insult to our nation.
We used to have great plan here in Wisconsin...HIRSP. Obamacare laws mandated its dismantlement. But it was a good plan. Maybe we need to bring it back. Are you talking health care or health insurance. Health care is there with or without insurance and care is not the same as insurance...I.e., i wouldn't want my insurance adjuster performing an appendectomy on me. I was born with Neurofibromatosis. Why should I be required to wait on coverage if one of my tumors needs attention...I am 54 years old!...What is NEXT?...Not covering an ingrown hair because we were born with hair? Good idea They part he did not address is how much the insurance might cost people with pre-existing conditions. Hooray for election year politics.
Many of these more moderate proposals and stances from Governor Walker are likely due to a very competitive election coming up. If the election were held today:
He's has done a lot of good things for the state and we don't need another Doyle! I will never vote for a Democrat, they have ruined our country and will continue to tax us to "spread" the wealth to all, even people who don't work for it. I have not forgotten the mess Doyle made of our state, we are still suffering because of what the last democrat governor did to our state! Gov. Walker has done a lot to LISTEN to the constituents, and pursue the change they asked for. I don't see his competition doing that right now. They are instead pushing some other agenda that does not seem rooted in reality. Heck - Tammy Baldwin has a letter in the papers a month or two back where she TWICE used the same sentences as Hitler. Did you not notice? The People of this state need to wake up, and pay attention, and figure out who is the liar, and who is listening to them and representing them. And then go vote. Sounds like he's continuing to cave to special interests at the expense of the tax payers, communities, economy and environment- foxconn, pinnacle...etc. I would vote for an independent! I voted for Walker through a dozen of his various primaries and elections. I supported Act 10 for a couple years, but him and the GOP's cuts to education have lost me permanently.
With all of the talk about historically low unemployment, we want to know: What was your first job? How long did you have it? How old were you?
Work on the home farm. Setting pins at a bowling alley at age 15. I worked at Miller Park in Milwaukee, making freshly squeezed lemonade during Brewers games. Farming. All of my life. From out of high school. Laudromat attendant (before coin op), 16 years old, held for two years on part-time basis. Work on my family's farm at age 5 My first job when I was 17 had it for the summer. I babysat 4 boys full time after school and worked at a movie theater on the weekends. I was 15-16 years old. A waitress, I worked it for 4 years- 15-19...I also worked at our family business from 15 years to current. Babysitting for neighbors- 12 years. Part time telephone operator at sixteen for a couple of years- old fashion switchboard- "Number Please" McDonalds- age 16. Kept it until college and then moved on to a job in the field I studied in. I started doing farm work as soon as I could walk. I am 51 now, still doing farm work. Have been farming all my life. Worked on my family's farm from the time I was able, but when I was 14 I worked for a seed company and hoed and detasseled corn for a summer. Once I could drive, I worked at a canning factory during the summers until I graduated from college. Good hard work to develop a strong work ethic, something every kid needs to experience! My true first job was working on our family farm started at about age 5. It was what we did as a family and it was there was some great times and some not so great! My first paying job was detasseling corn, 3 summers in a row, I was 14 years old and was paid $2.65 an hour. My work experiences taught me many life lessons one of them was you can only accomplish something if you never give up and if you get rid of the word can't. Because you can. As Babe Ruth said: "It's hard to beat a person who never gives up." At 16, I worked at Boy Blue. Thought I'd get sick of ice cream...not a chance. Still love it at 60! Historically low unemployment means nothing with pathetic pay rates. I run a business, and I'm living under the poverty line. My first job was on the family dairy farm, and I grew up working. Off the farm, I first worked for farmers, then worked in restaurants. Cutting laws starting at age 12. Dairy farm chores/milking cows for a neighbor. Worked 4 years until getting my drivers license. Started when I was 12 and took 4-wheeler to work after school every day. ACCOUNTANT, 4 MONTHS Delivering newspapers, 11 years old. at 14 I moved on to washing dishes in a local restaurant. mowed lawns for my math teacher when I was about 10 or 11. he paid me and made sure i paid taxes too. $25 a week for 5 lawn jobs - great life lesson...got a little safe and started saving. been working and slaving, building and saving ever since. the American dream until government got in the way and gave away the family store to Wall St, (special interest) and welfare rats. if a man doesn't work, neither shall he eat...exceptions to the truly disabled and pensioners, who have already fed the Fed. Factory work, one year, 18, self employed after that. Office work- less than 1 year- Age 19. Washing dishes in the High School Kitchen. 16...1 1/2 years (graduated...thus no school lunches). Detasseling corn for $2 an hour when I was 14. Which would be 44 years ago. Pick green beans- one summer for $3.00 a day. I was 16...worked as a bagger at a grocery store. I worked there thru high school, summers during college. I worked hard and it gave me a sense of pride to be recognized as a good worker. I was 12 living in a suburb of Chicago; took the train in to work at a switchboard answering service Friday nite, and all day Saturday, taking the train home Saturday night. My sister owned the business and would pick me up from the train station, I was a runner - running errands and answering the TV commercial ads, "as seen on TV". It was fun, and I enjoyed having spending money, got to visit and stay with my big sister. My first job was seasonal. Worked in the Dells for the summer ( 3 months) when I was in High School back in the 70's. I am 61 years young now. " Age is merely the number of years the world has been enjoying you."
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
No bills to report.
BILLS BEING CIRCULATED
LRB-5082 Memo Telecommuter Forward (Marklein, Howard) Telecommuter Forward! community certification and creating a Telecommuter Forward! council. Deadline: Wednesday, January 24, 5 pm
LRB-5211 Memo Eyeglass Recycling Month (Tittl, Paul) Proclaiming April 2018 as Wisconsin Lions Eyeglass Recycling Month in Wisconsin. Deadline: Thursday, January 25, 5 pm
LRB-2700 Memo Window Replacement (Taylor, Chris) Claiming the historic rehabilitation tax credit for replacing windows to remediate a lead hazard. Deadline: Monday, January 29, 5 pm
LRB-1891 Memo Lead Testing (Taylor, Chris) Testing for lead in facilities serving certain children and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Deadline: Monday, January 29, 5 pm
LRB-0572 Memo Home Lead Testing (Taylor, Chris) Testing for lead in homes of certain children, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and providing an exemption from rule-making authority. Deadline: Monday, January 29, 5 pm
LRB-5013 Memo Earned Income Tax Credit (Riemer, Daniel) Changing the rate of the earned income tax credit. Deadline: Wednesday, January 31, 5 pm
LRB-5313 Memo Teacher Appreciation Week (Bewley, Janet) Recognizing May 7 through May 11, 2018, as Teacher Appreciation Week. Deadline: Thursday, January 25, 5pm
LRB-4752 Memo Parenting Classes (Mursau, Jeffrey) Mandatory parenting classes. Deadline: Friday, January 26
LRB-5047 Memo Organizations Speaking to Pupils (Petryk, Warren) Allowing certain youth membership organizations to speak to pupils during the school day. Deadline: Friday, January 26, 5 pm
LRB-1597 Memo Bowfishing Catfish (Tiffany, Tom) Taking rough fish or catfish by hand or with a bow and arrow or a crossbow. Deadline: Friday, January 26, 4 pm
LRB-4899 Memo Vital Records (Ballweg, Joan) Changes to vital records references and procedures. Deadline: Thursday, January 25, Noon
LRB-4749 Memo Lead Line Replacement (Larson, Chris) Providing funding, creating an individual income tax credit, and providing a levy limit exception for lead service line replacement and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, January 31, 4 pm
LRB-4895 Memo Housing Discrimination (Hebl, Gary) Discrimination in housing based on prior evictions and providing a penalty. Deadline: Tuesday, February 6, 5 pm
LRB-5126 Memo Eviction Moratoriums (Hebl, Gary) Repealing the prohibition against certain local governments from enacting or enforcing an eviction moratorium on a landlord. Deadline: Tuesday, February 6, 5 pm
LRB-4755 Memo Regional Transit Authority (Barca, Peter) Authorizing the creation of a Southeast Regional Transit Authority and making appropriations. Deadline: Wednesday, January 31, 5 pm
LRB-5333 Memo IRS References Update (Marklein, Howard) Updating references to the Internal Revenue Code relating to certain individual income tax provisions, limiting the income tax deduction for certain tuition payments, clarifying the duties of the College Savings Program Board, a sales and use tax exemption for title holding entities for certain tax-exempt charitable organizations, and computing depletion for income and franchise tax purposes. Deadline: Monday, January 29, Noon
LRB-5347 Memo Turkey Tag Transfer (Kleefisch, Joel) The transfer of wild turkey hunting authorizations. Deadline: Monday, January 29, Noon
LRB-4886 Memo UW Reporting Requirements (Marklein, Howard) Various University of Wisconsin System reporting requirements and commencement of the system's falls semester for graduate health science classes. Deadline: Tuesday, January 30, 5 pm
LRB-1720 Memo Tech College Grants (Shankland, Katrina) Funding for Wisconsin grants for technical college students and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, February 1, 4 pm
LRB-3441 Memo Physician Certification (Murphy, Dave) Prohibiting requirements for maintenance of certification by physicians. Deadline: Thursday, February 1, 4 pm
LRB-4531 Memo Low-Income Assistance (Bowen, David) Eligibility for certain low-income energy assistance. Deadline: Friday, February 2, 5 pm
LRB-5338 Memo Dental Therapists (Felzkowoski, Mary) Licensure of dental therapists and granting rule-making authority. Deadline: Friday, February 2, Noon
LRB-2226 Memo Parental Choice Program (Pope, Sondy) The requirements for participation in a parental choice program and the percentage of pupils who may attend a private school under such a program. Deadline: Thursday, February 8
LRB-1460 Memo Industrial Classification Codes (Kulp, Bob) Changing industrial classification codes. Deadline: Friday, February 9, 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.