We hope your week and your December are off to a great start!
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
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, Governor Walker signed 36 bills into law. It might not sound like a lot, but that's a heck of a lot of bills to signed at once. A more comprehensive list will be provided in the legislation section below.
One of the bills changes the recount procedure in Wisconsin, which says that a candidate can request a recount if trailing the leading candidate by at most 40 votes in elections with 4,000 or fewer votes cast, or by 1 percent of the votes cast in larger elections.
Other bills dealt with hemp production, ginseng becoming the state's official herb, all terrain vehicles, teacher training programs, TB testing, and more.
Additionally, last week we learned that Racine County and Mount Pleasant approved their packages for Foxconn. We wish the local taxpayers in those communities nothing but prosperity and happiness with this unprecedented development project. The amount of jobs and local revenues generated will hopefully grow the area into a top notch "WisConn Valley" region, and the whole state will be better for it.
As we have been, we urge caution with this project and hope that all of our members in the region and statewide pay close attention to the fine details as more developments unfold regarding the funding mechanism. But for now, the news has been quite positive.
Foxconn last week said they would be hiring assembly line workers in 2018, and would be doing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in sales in the upcoming year. That could already translate into good things for the state and the local taxpayers. Stay tuned.
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
HEMP FARMING NOW LEGAL IN WISCONSIN
Governor Walker late last week signed the legislation into law that legalizes hemp farming and production in Wisconsin, which had previously been banned, and remains illegal on the federal level. The bill received unanimous support in the state legislature.
Wisconsin farmers will now be allowed to grow industrial hemp, joining 30 other states in the nation in allowing the practice. The plant has a variety of uses, and has given farmers in other states the mean to strengthen their operations and profits.
Under this law, plants cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC. Additionally, farmers with drug convictions will not be eligible to participate.
DEMOCRAT LAWMAKER REFUSES TO RESIGN AFTER MULTIPLE SEXUAL ASSAULT ACCUSATIONS
Representative Josh Zepnick last week was accused by two different women of kissing them without their consent on two different occasions in 2011 and 2015. In light of the accusations, the longtime Milwaukee lawmaker was urged to resign his position by Minority Democrat Leader Gordon Hintz, and Wisconsin Democrat Party Chairwoman Martha Lanning. He is refusing to do so.
Zepnick has said that no allegations were ever brought to his attention in the past, and also said that his life is now back on track after being sober for two years, and he will not step down from his post.
The calls for resignation were echoed by Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna, who said that lawmakers must lead by example, and that he agreed with the calls for resignation.
In a statement, Zepnick said; "While I have no recollection of these alleged incidents, there is never an excuse for inappropriate behavior. I take the claims seriously and respect the feelings of the women involved."
PROPOSAL WOULD BAR LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FROM SETTING EMPLOYMENT RULES DIFFERENT FROM STATE
Several Republican lawmakers in the legislature are proposing a policy that would prevent the City of Madison, Dane County and other local governments from setting employment rules and wages that are different from the state.
The 10 GOP lawmakers circulating the bill said that Wisconsin becomes a less attractive place to do business if we are forcing employers to comply with a "complex web of labor and human resources standards that differ by community."
However, some have concerns. A government official in Madison said he was "deeply concerned," and said it would hurt the city of Madison's efforts aimed at stopping employment discrimination.
The legislation would:
Bar municipalities from requiring that contractors enter into labor peace agreements with unions
Implement statewide uniform regulations for employment hours and benefits
Stop local governments from creating their own licenses for certain occupations
Give employers the right to inquire about potential employees' wage history
Ban municipalities from implementing higher wages for municipal employees
Set a statewide protocol and ban local ordinances regarding wage claims
Start a state standard for employment discrimination
REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATS DISAGREE ON GUN CRIME PENALTY BILL
If you have a criminal record and are found guilty of a gun crime, your penalty might get a bit tougher, at least if some republican lawmakers have their way. But in a bill that would punish criminals for gun crimes a bit harsher than they are now, surprisingly Democrats in the statehouse, who advocate heavily for gun control, are opposing the measure.
Under the bill, someone who commits a gun crime and has three misdemeanors or more, or a felony on their criminal record, would receive at least four years in prison.
All Democrats voted in opposition in the Assembly criminal justice hearing.
Evan Goyke of Milwaukee said that mandatory minimums contribute to overcrowding in prisons, they don't deter criminals.
The bill also adds tougher penalties for people who purchase guns for those are aren't allowed to have them, known as straw purchasing. Those penalties will be enhanced to up to 10 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
RACINE COUNTY CREDIT RATING DOWNGRADED DUE TO INCENTIVE PACKAGE FOR FOXCONN
Reuters is reporting that Racine County's credit rating took a hit because of its recent decision to offer a massive incentive package to Foxconn on the backs of local property taxpayers.
Moody's, which rates government credit standings nationwide, dropped the rating by a single notch down to Aa2, saying that the debt burden due to the near-$800 million package for Foxconn will grow the county's debt. Imagine that.
Racine officials did not respond or offer any comment on the downgrade, but last week Racine County decided to sell $79.2 million of taxable notes to finance land for the Foxconn project. Mount Pleasant will do the same for $113 million in bonds.
Moody's said, "Based on current borrowing plans, we expect the county's direct and overlapping debt burdens will remain in line with the current rating. Additional borrowing would present more significant credit challenges."
GINSENG NOW WISCONSIN'S OFFICIAL HERB
Another state sybol has been added to the books, this time in plant form, making ginseng as Wisconsin's official state herb. Sure, it's not as exciting as kringle becoming the state's official pastry, but we're willing to bet it generates much more to the economy.
The Marathon County lawmakers who pushed for the new symbol said that 95 percent of the ginseng produced in America comes from Wisconsin, and that there are nearly 200 small to medium sized businesses involved in the production of ginseng. That means $20 million in gross income for those businesses.
Earlier in 2017, cheese became the official state dairy product in Wisconsin. Go figure.
UW-MADISON RANKED SIXTH NATIONALLY FOR RESEARCH
The UW Badgers Football team weren't the only UW-Madison program ranked 6th nationally, as the National Science Foundation has kept the Wisconsin flagship university as 6th in the nation for its research.
Over 900 universities responded to the survey that generated the rankings, with UW Madison having been in the top 5 in the country since 1972, the school dropped to sixth because of research spending in 2015. In 2016, UW Madison spent $1.116 billion on research, half of that coming from federal awards.
According to the foundation, much of the research at UW turns into startup companies in healthcare tech or biotech. In 2016-2017, there were 362 startups with ties to university research, and contributed $2.3 billion to the state economy, and 25,000 jobs.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
A case is before the US Supreme Court that will decide whether online retailers must collect sales tax. Do you think they should collect the tax?
I don't like the idea but it's not fair to be the "offline" business who must collect sales taxes.
Should be treated just like regular retailers.
Puts them on the same level as local merchants.
I'm an online retailer. We are OK with collecting tax-- but it should be a flat 5% tax across all 50 states, all jurisdictions. Instead, it's about 30,000 different tax rates and filing hundreds of forms per year. SIMPLIFY IT. 5% flat, one form per year, per state.
We pay enough tax in state, let us have some free tax items online.
Deer carcasses are becoming a problem as the responsibility for cleaning them off the road has shifted from DNR to DOT. Have you noticed more dead deer on the side of the highway?
Yes...2 business days...Yes 2...Along HWY 53 there are few that have rotted to mere bone piles!
I live where there are many deer and if I drove like a lot of people do when I'm driving at night, I would have had many accidents with deer. Too many drivers do not use common sense when they are driving. The highways are littered with dead animals much more than they were 20 years ago. Whoever is in charge of taking care of the problem aren't too effective
I don't mind if it's DNR, DOT, or who takes care of them. No matter what, it's a nasty job... And the police force of this nation has enough to do already...
Why is EVERYTHING the governments problem. Deer carcass keep the crows happy and healthy.
Yes, from what I can tell nobody has been picking dead deer up for the past 5-10yrs. Somebody always takes the time to spray paint them orange but nobody picks them up in my neck of the woods.
I would think response time should be within 3 working days in the cold weather and a not more than 1 or 2 days in the warm weather, like summer time.
72 hours winter, 24 hours summer.
They should be reported and pick up in a week.. look terrible to see a deer with a red X on it. I have never hit a deer, but have been in a car that has.
First responders may be able to treat pets in Wisconsin if two bills are passed. One bill grants the first responder immunity if they aid the pet, and the other bill protects the first responder should they choose not to help a pet. Good idea or bad idea?
Similar to a good samaritan aiding (First Aid) someone or their animal.
Think a vet should be helping pets- people take precedence.
People First and only people
I am a pet owner. I am pro pets. But if it's save a person or save a pet...I'd say save the person first, and the pet can be sacrificed. Sorry...
First responders should treat people, not pets.
I think it's a good thing, they are family pets and if it's possible to save them I say save them
Though the age requirement for mentored hunting has been lifted, there do not seem to be any reports of incidents involving young hunters. To see if feelings have changed, we will ask again: Do you support there being no age requirement for the mentored hunting program?
4 year olds wielding a weapon? (Hunting...NOT practice on the "Range")...Ummmm NO!!!
Kids under 12 and even some over 12 are not physically big enough to handle a rifle. You wan tto do a mentor hunt @ 10, fine. But they should not be able to pull the trigger, there should be a requirement to observe for 2 years before carrying a gun and getting a license if you are under 18.
I guess it is ok as long as it is "mentored"
With all the games today where kids are taught to go and kill with weapons... I think the age requirement shows a level of maturity and responsibility on both the side of the state and on the side of the voter, as well as the parent.
Children used to hunt at very early ages. They needed to in order to feed their families. Now we think that they cant think for themselves. Well parented children will rise to their expectation - maybe this is where the issue is - we dont want to be responsible to be accountable parents.
We've gone from too many rules to nearly none when it comes to deer hunting. Any aged person can hunt, no tag needs to be fastened to the deer, no backtags needed, no gun cases needed, print multiple copies of the same tag thus allowing shooting of many deer on the same tag, crossbow hunting is legal for everyone. It's turned into a free for all.
There needs to be a age limit. All the DNR is looking for is revenue.
Just what we need, even more immature humans running around with guns.
Did you hunt during this year's 9 day gun deer season? Did you bag any game? Do you hunt anything other than deer? If so, what? Do you eat venison? How? Share any thoughts on hunting in Wisconsin.
Have not hunted in 35+ years...Do not 'miss' the experience (or expense)!
Hunt and eat.
I used to enjoy deer hunting, but as long as it became more expensive for th elicense and bad experiences with a few crazy neighbors I no longer deer hunt.
Yes. No. No, just deer. We love venison! We really enjoy our 10 days at hunting camp. Great family, friends, food + beverages!!!
I no longer hunt, but do support our hunters. Family had a fair season, and filled most of their tags. Favorite story of this season: Grandpa and cousins drove out a swamp bottom, kicked up a small herd of deer, and several of our teenage hunters got their FIRST deer ever out of that drive.
I didn't hunt.
Yes, did not bag anything but could have. I hunt nearly everything that moves. My wife and i live on venison.
I did hunt and did not bag any deer yet. Mostly hunt deer. And yes we can our venison and grind the rest for hamburger. Some thoughts on the hunt in WI, they need to get the age limit put back to 10 or 12 years of age and a mandatory hunter safety course to be taken before any hunting of any kind.
Never hunted, never will. I get it, some people really enjoy killing helpless animals.
No hunting again this year. Too busy finishing corn harvest.
Don't hunt or eat venison.
BILLS SIGNED INTO LAW
Click here for more information on the 19 bills Governor Walker signed into law on November 30th.
BILLS BEING CIRCULATED
LRB-1530 Memo Veteran Health Care Aid (Erpenbach, Jon) Health care aid for certain veterans and their family members. Deadline: Thursday, November 30
LRB-4653 Memo Active Duty College Requirements (Stroebel, Duey) Requirements for colleges when service member students are called into active duty. Deadline: Thursday, December 7, 4 pm
LRB-4083 Memo Apprenticeship Grants (Jacque, Andre) Grants to technical college students for apprenticeships expenses and making an appropriation. Deadline: Monday, December 11, 5 pm
LRB-2019 Memo Dog Tags (Stafsholt, Robert) Required tags for a dog hunting bear or wolf. Deadline: Friday, December 1
LRB-4872 Memo Vehicle Salvage (Rohrkaste, Michael) Buyer identification cards, motor vehicle salvage pools, and the definition of junk vehicles. Deadline: Tuesday, December 5, Noon
LRB-4780 Memo Historic Rehab Tax Credit (Rohrkaste, Michael) The limit on tax credits that may be certified under the historic rehabilitation tax credit. Deadline: Friday, December 8, Noon
LRB-4943 Memo Waste Facility Exemptions (Cowles, Rob) Exempting certain facilities from solid waste facility regulations. Deadline: Friday, December 8, 1 pm
LRB-4220 Memo Tractor Rollbar Grants (Kulp, Bob) Grants for obtaining farm tractor rollover protective structures and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, December 8, 5 pm
LRB-4173 Memo Commission Membership (Marklein, Howard) Membership of the Mississippi River Parkway Commission technical committee. Deadline: Monday, December 11, Noon
LRB-4797 Memo Investment Tax Credit (Shankland, Katrina) An income and franchise tax credit for investments in a community development financial institution. Deadline: Friday, December 15, 4 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.