WPT Weekly Insider, February 12, 2018


We hope your work week is off to a productive start, and that you had 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

Have a great week,

WPT, Inc.


Our Property Taxpayer of the Week comes from Fremont, Wisconsin this week. We introduce you to Steve Van Lyssel, owner of the Bridge Bar & Restaurant.

"I have owned the Bridge Bar & Restaurant for almost seven years," Steve told WPT. "I managed it for the previous owners while I was getting my masters degree. They wanted out at the time, and I saw it as a good opportunity, so we worked out a deal."

Like always, we asked Steve what the biggest challenge facing his business and industry is.

"One of the biggest challenges my industry faces is trying to make safe rides accessible enough so people can come out, have a good time, and not get behind the wheel afterwards," he responded.

And judging by the size of his staff, lots of people frequent the Bridge Bar & Restaurant for a good time.

"My staff varies on the season. In the summer, I have between 35-45 employees, and in the winter, it's closer to 15-20. Most of my employees are part-time."

Aside from a picturesque location, service, and staff, Steve tells us that his biggest source of pride in the business comes from the exceptional menu.

"I would say having high quality of food is one of my biggest sources of pride for my business. We have a full menu and specialize in hand-pattied burgers, homemade pizzas, hand-breaded fish, and a variety of sandwiches and wraps. We also have a built-in smoker that we are beginning to utilize a lot more so we are able to do ribs, pulled porn, brisket, and many other smoked items," he said.

But according to Steve, they scaled up their food operations even more.

"Around five years ago, we also built an area for an outdoor grill to utilize in the summer to take pressure off of the kitchen and provide more 'summery, fresh, and healthy' items such as fish and shrimp tacos, salmon, and ribeye."

Steve also added, "another thing I am proud of about the Bridge Bar is it generally is a pretty 'drama free' fun place for people of all sorts to congregate. Everyone almost always has a blast when they are here whether they come by car, motorcycle, boat, or snowmobile. We run bands every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in the summer and two to three times per month in the winter."

As far as government goes, Steve has served as a Village Trustee for Fremont for the past six years. He said it gives him a chance to keep up to date and involved with local government and get a first-hand look at how municipalities operate.

Steve and the Bridge Bar have been a member of WPT for over a year, and enjoy the WPT Weekly Insider to keep an eye on Madison happenings. In his short time with our organization, he said it seems our group is a very valuable organization.

A native of Fremont, off of Lake Poygan, Steve received his Bachelor degree in Business Management at UW-Madison, and his Masters degree in Accounting from the University of Phoenix. He not only owns a local business, but the actual house he grew up in.

He is married and has two girls, Brylie and Aubryn, and is a big fan of sports.

"I enjoy all sports, especially football, basketball, baseball, and golf. I enjoy watching all of those and playing golf and basketball," he said. "I enjoy running as well and pretty much anything to stay active and busy."

WPT would like to thank Steve and the Bridge Bar & Restaurant for their commitment to the state, their community, and their membership in our organization.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bridge Bar & Restaurant, we encourage you to visit their website at



Last week turned out to be a relatively large week for family farmers in Wisconsin, and many didn't even know what was taking place. As you know, WPT focuses on issues within the State of Wisconsin government, as we are fully licensed to lobby lawmakers and elected officials, and agencies within the Badger State. We are not, however licensed to lobby and influence federal lawmakers and policy in Washington, D.C. That doesn't mean that we can't bring you some much needed news. Last week a large budget deal was signed into law by President Trump, including a $1 billion investment in farm safety nets and some much-needed fixes to those programs. These provisions were achieved by none other than Senator Tammy Baldwin, then agreed upon and signed into law by President Trump. With milk prices seeing historically low numbers for producers, many people have turned to the Dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), a safety net designed to act as an insurance for small producers, so when margins dip to a certain level, their insurance kicks in and their coverage is paid out. But, as WPT has long pointed out, there were problems with this program that prevented people from being paid what they were owed. Not all, but some fixes were included in last week's budget deal, and we'd like to share some specifics. We are fully aware that there are still large amounts of work to be done, and WPT will do whatever it can to bring your voices directly to your members of Congress. But we hope for the time being, the following information bring some relief to some of you.

The law as signed:

- Immediately directs the Secretary of Agriculture to immediately re-open the MPP sign-up period for calendar year 2018 - Immediately moves the MPP calculations and payments to a monthly basis - Immediately cuts the premium costs for Tier I enrollment by 70 percent - Raises the Tier I threshold level to the first five million pounds (now four million) - Waives the $100 administrative for enrollment - Repeals the statutory cap for the USDA's underwriting costs for livestock insurance products, including the Livestock Gross Margin-Dairy program - Makes the program more responsive to drops in prices and increases in feed costs

If you have questions regarding this program, please reach me directly at or by calling 608-255-7473. Additionally, WPT will be unveiling a new Farm Hub on our website this week. This will serve as a place for our farm members to find the latest news, resources, and happenings relating to both state issues, the 2018 Farm Bill on the federal level, and more.

Next, I would like to share some clarification from a couple of weeks ago, when WPT reported on Governor Walker's rural economic development program. One of the goals of the program, as laid out on the Governor's website, is to "increase productivity." After speaking with the Governor's office, they confirmed that they were referring to the economic productivity of rural regions in Wisconsin- they were not referring to increasing milk productivity. In fact, Governor Walker has signed an executive order than brings the 30X20 program funds into a new Family Farm Fund. You can read more about that by clicking here. Lastly, as we are talking about resources for family farmers, we would like to remind our producers out there of the DATCP Farm Center, where they can assist family farmers with all the state has to offer in terms of resources. They offer financial counseling, business planning and consulting, farm succession management, and more. We encourage you to visit the DATCP Farm Center website by clicking here. Another resource available to farmers in Wisconsin is the Ag Producer Security Program, which is also provided through DATCP. In essence, if a buyer enters into a contract with a producer but defaults on their obligations, the producer can file a claim in this program and be paid by the state. The state then takes the purchaser to court to recover the losses. If you want to read more about the Ag Producer Security Program, you can click here. As I mentioned above, WPT is in the process of creating a new Farm Hub on our website, where we will do our best to outline the resources available to Wisconsin's family farmers, as well as keep you up to date on current news regarding the farm bill and other policies in Wisconsin. Until then, if you need to speak with me directly regarding any suggestions, ideas or thoughts, please reach out to me directly at or by calling 608-255-7473.




Governor Walker last week held a press conference in downtown Milwaukee, where he unveiled a new plan to sell the current 54 year-old state office building, and open a proposal period for developers to make pitches on replacing it.

The governor called the building a prime real estate sale, and said it would open the door for new businesses "that will help fuel the revival of downtown Milwaukee." The request for proposals says that the new office building will be built within the City of Milwaukee, and set specific boundaries in which the new site would need to be located. The proposal period would end on March 9th, with the selection of the new site slated for the end of May. The estimated cost of the new building is $50 million, with the money from the sale of the existing building going directly towards off-setting costs on new construction. Additionally, a consolidation of other state locations in Milwaukee would take place. The new building would house the Department of Administration, Health Services, Revenue, Workforce Development and Public Instruction, State Public Defender, and the Board of Aging and Long Term Care. Additionally, the Governor's Milwaukee office will be located in the new building. Additionally, energy efficiency, rent, and maintenance costs are expected to be seen with the replacement of the old state office building. Currently, those savings estimates sit at about $1.2 million.


Originally, a plan was unveiled by Governor Walker during his annual State of the State speech that would provide a $100 per child tax credit to parents over the next two years. The intention of the proposal, according to Governor Walker, was to hand back the state's newly-found surplus to taxpayers in the state. After negotiations, a new plan was agreed upon by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Governor Walker, which would give parents a $100 per child tax rebate that would be sent to parents sometime this summer, and then implement the weekend sales tax holiday for all Wisconsin residents in August.

The sales tax holiday is expected to save taxpayers a total of $50 million, and would cover all goods under $100, which is a shift from the original proposal for a sales tax holiday that only included back to school purchases.The sales tax holiday would not apply to the sale of taxable services, prepared food, motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts, tangible or intangible property used to access telecommunications services, tangible or intangible property provided by a utility, or alcohol and tobacco products.

Although nothing is final, the plan seems to have support from critical decision-makers in the state legislature. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that the state needs to wait to see what citizens think of the plan, and did remind reporters that a similar sales tax holiday proposal was axed in the state budget.


According to leaders in Madison, Wisconsin should use toll roads as a way to raise dollars in the effort to secure federal dollars under President Trump's proposed $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan. As WPT reported last week, Governor Walker said he is now open to the idea of raising the gas tax in order to lure those federal dollars, but top republican lawmakers said they think tolls should be used on state highways to raise the revenues necessary to procure the federal money. Governor Walker said he would not for sure back the plan, and shed some speculation on the proposal, and said that taxes would need to be cut equally to the amount raised by tolls. This is an indication that the long-term future of transportation funding in Wisconsin is still a hotly-debated issue, even among Republican ranks, which control all of state government. Last year, the two-year state budget process dragged on over a seemingly large impasse over transportation funding, with a deal being struck in the end that delayed various projects and cancelled others. In order to secure toll roads, the state would need to obtain approval from the federal government, with Governor Walker saying that he has not yet spoken to the proper federal authorities about the possibility. Be on the look-out for future updates to this story as more developments are certainly yet to come.


Foxconn Techology Group last week announced that it plans to buy the 133,000 square foot office building located at 611 East Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. The building, which is currently owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., will be sold for an undisclosed price to Foxconn, which has said it plans to house its North America Headquarters at the location in the heart of Wisconsin's largest city. The assessed value of the property is $11.5 million, including $8.2 million for the land itself. The company has said it will likely have around 900 employees who serve in "business support" roles by the end of 2022, which likely come in the form of finance, IT, human resources, and marketing jobs.


A bill that would send $7 million additional in state funds to rural school districts, and allow some low-spending school districts to raise property taxes has advanced through the Joint Committee on Finance. The bill, as WPT reported last month, since 1993, some school districts have been locked into different revenue levels as others because the state froze the numbers at the time. Now, those more frugal school districts are unable to raise the same amount of money as other districts, even though they spend far less. Nearly all school districts in Wisconsin can raise around $9,100 per student through state aid and local property taxes. This bill would allow local school boards to raise that number to $9,400. The biggest concern from some fiscally conservative lawmakers and organizations such as ours, is that voters in countless districts around the state have said "no" on referenda that would raise property taxes. In the case of those districts, the schools would not be able to participate in the new increases if voters rejected a referendum within the past three years. Under this bill, schools in sparsely populated districts would also see their sparsity aid levels increase from $300 per student to $400.


The State of Wisconsin's flagship university will provide four years of free tuition to in-state students whose families earn $56,000 per year or less, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. The new program is called Bucky's Tuition Promise. Citing that the cost of college is often a major barrier to low and middle income-earners in Wisconsin, those students will now be given a free ride as far as tuition, and segregated fees. The students will still be required to purchase their own books, and housing. The average cost of tuition and fees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for an in-state resident is $26,000 per year. The minimum that a student can receive is $10,500. The University's plan will reach around 800 students in the state per incoming class, and will cost an estimated $3.3 million per year. Nearly $1 million of that will come from the University's funds, and the additional dollars will be provided from private donors. Chancellor Blank assured the UW System Regents that no state tax dollars will be used, calling this a long-overdue investment.


Industrial hemp could provide a lifeline to some family farms in need, though there's a lot of hurdles involved in the process, and the Federal government still stands in the way. Do you or anybody you know plan on exploring the possibility of growing industrial hemp on your land?

Always, too much bureaucracy in the process for farmers. Make it easier, it is a viable, good crop rotational option. It's good if they can find a market close by.

Bad idea let the other states hash it out! We all know what this will lead to. Then in 20 years we'll be asking stupid questions like this: According to the American Lung Association, Wisconsin has been given a failing grade in several categories relating to tobacco use prevention. After reading the article, do you think the government should be intervening in tobacco use prevention, or should that be up to the individual?

I like the idea of adding a crop that is currently underproduced. This could help the over production issues and low prices other of other crops as land used for growing corn and grains is rotated into hemp production.

Crop diversity is a good idea, but I don't know anyone persuing it.

I think it is great we are going to allow this in Wis. Another way for cash flow on Wis farms.

Is there any demand?

If profit is there the market will be glutted in a few years

I think it is great we farmers can have more diversity! We dairy/crop farmers are starving! Hemp is also very nutritious and delicious!

In response to the news that Kimberly-Clark Corporation plans to close two of its plants in the Fox Valley, Governor Walker has proposed offering the same tax incentives to the company that Foxconn received, in an effort to prevent the closures. Good idea or bad idea?

We got to keep our companies in Wisconsin.

Share the wealth to another local community.

It's ok if they can be successful,sell the products that they make there and be profitable.

they've already proven to be an asset to the community by providing good jobs and being a reliable employer. Foxconn is still asking for more & more without proving they will make good on any promises made

I'm in favor of keeping every job we can here in Wisconsin. But at what cost? Foxconn will be hiring. Is this just evolution or can we really keep the K-C plants open and operating long term by throwing money at them?

It's a good idea yet I'm unsure where they draw the line. I'd like someone to chunk off some state money for MY business too.

Kimberly-Clark has their reasons, not sure if it would really help or just elongate the process

Don't think it will work though.

I am a small business owner. I have never received a government handout such as these big companies get. Sure I use the infrastructure everybody else uses but I also pay taxes for that. Play hard ball with Kimberly Clark. I bet they really don't want to move their entire operation somewhere else. That would cost way too much to the shareholders.

I think that the state needs to sit down and talk to Kimberly Clark more first, and figure this out.

Plants need to be retooled to produce cardboard which is in high demand. We are going to a paperless world. These plants need to rethink what they are producing.

If that happens, watch every business line up for more.

As long as they can offer those same tax incentives to any other corporation in the same situation.

The reasons they are leaving probably go beyond taxes

If plants are unprofitable they will close eventually.

Every company that threatens closer will be given the same incentives, Let them leave

Stop corporate welfare. If a business is failing, let it fail. If you don't, other businesses will start asking for the same handouts.

More Corporate Welfare!

Governor Walker now says he's open to raising the gas tax if it means Wisconsin will received federal infrastructure dollars. Good idea or bad idea?

Electric car owners need to pay a fee too, they use the roads too. Consider yearly fee with licensing.

Only a nickel. NO TOLL ROADS PLEASE!

need infrastructure fixed, but getting taxed to death. wages aren't going up as fast as our taxes and expenses are

We need serious work on our infrastructure. But is it really free money if the taxpayers of our state have to pay more to get it?

People who talk about this think of federal dollars as "free" money. It's borrowed money. Our grandkids will pay the price.

Not really interested in paying higher dollars for fuel. I believe this will hurt the automotive industry that has come back.

We have to do something!

Bad idea. I often wonder how the roads were ever built with out all these taxes. Well my guess is too much money being spent on social programs, which is not a business the government should be in!

I said good idea. I hate the high gas prices. It's not good for any of us. But if it means we get more money for infrastructure? Yes, let's get it.

at least everyone is giving towards the cost

How many federal dollars? Where would it be spent?

i like tax raise the more you drive the more you pay +raise the sales tax

I don't like more taxation but something needs to change, the roads are bad

I support raising the gas tax. Thank

INDEX THE GAS TAX TO INFLATION. Gallons of gas is our best way of making those who use roads pay for them.

Lawmakers are planning to revive the I-94 East-West reconstruction in Milwaukee, using funds that were found through cost savings at WisDOT. Good idea or bad idea?

I think we need to get hwy 23 done first.. before more accidents happen.

These roads are still congested even though now open.

Finish it now as soon as possible. That road was built for traffic about 60 years ago. Wait and the cost will keep going up.

I live on the other side of the state near I-94. Where is my share of those newly found funds?

good if the funds actually come from there.

Have you driven that pothole infested, exits screwed up mess lately? I have. Please fix that bowl of spaghetti.

at least it will be going towards the roads, unlike Tom Barrett idea which will only feed his Milwaukee pockets.

You can't start a massive project like that and then just leave it sit unfinished!

That project needs to be finished but all our roads need help too

Spread it out

Figure out the top priorities and get them done, top to bottom. If I94 east-west is #1, go for it.

Illinois will see the greatest benefit

Did you watch Super Bowl LII? Were you surprised New England lost? Any favorite commercials? What did you think of the halftime show? Share any thoughts you have on the Super Bowl here.

Never watch Super Bowls, not interested.

What a great game to watch. Loved two songs of freedom recognizing military support in our nation. Loved the Doritoes Hot vs ICY Mtn Dew the best. And the Alexa lost her voice.

Was glad to see Philly win. Too many commercials! Super bowl halftime shows are always overdone. Hurray for Brett's backup-seems like a common sense coach.

the time of my life was best commercial. was great watching the cheating Pats lose

Halftime show. ''BAD''

For all of 2 minutes its really a waste of time! It's basically a bunch of overgrown men playing football getting overpaid and then half of them are disrespectful convicts. Half I didn't say all!

Decided to boycott it due to their refusal to run the veterans ad. Pretty much DONE with the NFL

yes surprised New England lost

Dillie, dillie. Sure did miss the Budweiser Clydesdales.

I boycotted all NFL things this year. If you cannot STAND for the national anthem, then you can leave. It is simply a sign of respect for the NATION as a whole. Not standing says you hate your friends and neighbors, not to mention all those who have given their LIFE so that we can enjoy not only the highest standard of living in the world, but also some of the safest living places in the world.

Yes, go under dogs!!! I must be old the haft-time show sucked. Having it here would bring a lot of money to Wisconsin, actually I think some money did come here in the west side of Wisconsin, but without the headaches.

Congratulations Eagles! America loves a new winner.

No, could have cared less. NFL lost my interest after the over paid players took it upon themselves to disrespect America and all freedom the flag stands for, including disrespecting our troops and all law enforcement that put their lives on the line for all of us daily!!

Yes watched and one of the best to see for some time. Not surprised New England lost cause with anything something is bound to fail. Did not like Collinsworth announcing. One of the worse I have heard him announce.

One of the best games ever right up to the last seconds. Very happy for the Eagles fans. I loved the NFL commercial with Manning and Beckham, very entertaining! The rest.... I don't remember them!

Nice to see 3 former Badgers contributing and having success, as well as former Packer backup QB

Commercials stunk! Happy Eagles won.

No, I believe any team can win on any given day! Most of the commercials were very confusing and left me not wanting to buy their product. I hate the half time! The music sounds terrible and there is just too much commotion involved!

Didn't watch.

Everyone hates the Patriots, but Philadelphia's fans are some of the worst humans on the planet. Was hoping for a 0-0 tie.

Did not watch. Preferred reruns of Puppy Bowl & Kitty Bowl

Very happy that Philadelphia Eagles won