News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin
We hope you had a chance to relax over the weekend, and that your work week is off to a productive start. With a large winter storm expected to blanket much of Wisconsin today through tomorrow evening, please remember to check in on your elderly and disabled neighbors, as the blowing snow, mixed with ice in some regions, will cause travel and visibility problems.
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,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, we head up to Chippewa Falls, where we will introduce you to our Property Taxpayer of the Week, Doug Darrow, partner at Allied Dies, Inc.
"I had the good fortune of working in the plastics industry all my life, traveling around the World, working for some of the leading companies in the plastics machinery business, but never having to leave Chippewa County," Doug explained. "I grew up on the family farm, which will be a Century Farm later this year, where I live today with my wife Becki of 47 years. We raised a daughter, Lisa, and have a grand daughter, Cassandra. Today, we cash crop 1200 acres, raising corn and soy beans."
But what got Doug into the plastics industry, if he grew up on a farm?
"I always liked the farm, building things, working with my hands and solving problems," he said. "But I knew that I did not want to milk cows, so I attended a local CVTC in Eau Claire and received an Associate Degree in Mechanical Design. I began work in the Extrusion Laboratory at Johnson Plastics Machinery in Chippewa falls in 1970. I had an 'inquiring mind' and wanted to learn the process and polymers related to Extrusion. I was afforded that opportunity by many great mentors along the way."
Doug's career in the industry just kept evolving after that time. He then went on to work for the largest die manufacturing company in the world where he was able to focus on the specifics of the die and associated tooling, he told WPT. If you're not familiar with the field, you aren't alone, but it's integral to every major product in the country.
"The die is an important element of the Extrusion line which is used to produce plastic parts for the electronics, packaging, appliance, automotive, construction, aircraft, and a variety of other industrial applications."
Ten years ago, Doug had the opportunity to become a partner in a die manufacturing company in Chippewa Falls, Allied Dies Incorporated.
"At the time, the company's primary business was the refurbishment of other manufacturers' Dies. They wanted to expand both their product offerings as well as their market presence," Doug said. "Since then, the company has expanded its customer base globally, introduced new products, grown domestically, supplied tooling to OEM's, obtained six patents, and increased the workforce to 50 employees."
With his impressive history in the industry, we wanted to know what Doug's biggest source of pride is when it comes to the business.
"I am especially proud that we have a very knowledgeable, well-trained workforce who understands the design and manufacture of Dies. Becoming a business owner and entrepreneur was a risk, but I am very thankful that I did," he said. "The team of employees made the challenge much easier. They are our most valued asset. We will never be the biggest, but our quality, performance, and value certainly make us one of the best."
Doug said that while there have been hiring challenges in the Chippewa Valley, he is doing his part to make sure the workforce is ready for jobs in his field.
"We have worked with the local Technical Colleges and supported educational assistance to students. Millennials have different life-needs than do our more seasoned employees, so we have to adapt to their requirements."
Doug said, though he likes to stay out of the political fray, he finds WPT valuable to addressing his concerns.
"I have found that over the past three years of being a member, an organization like WPT can be valuable in fielding our concerns and staying in front of our representatives in Madison."
And as for the future?
"I am passionate about this industry and I learn something new about it every day. God willing, I have no intentions of retiring any time soon," he said.
WPT would like to thank Doug Darrow for his commitment to his community, the workforce, and his employees and industry. If you want to learn more about Allied Dies, Inc., you can visit their website at www.allied-dies.com.
Last week, Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) opened the application period for the state's industrial hemp research pilot program. The deadline to apply for the 2018 growing season is May 1st.
Farmers in Wisconsin who want to grow or process industrial hemp in Wisconsin will need to apply for a license, and register their intentions to grow or process hemp in the state. The law also requires that those wishing to participate pass a criminal background check. Additionally, there will be a one-time licensing fee of $150 to $1,000, depending on the acreage. Processors will also need a one-time license.
DATCP would then inspect samples from each planted field, and then transport those samples to labs for analysis. The plans may not contain any more than 0.3 percent THC, and all growers will have reporting and records requirements.
You can learn more and apply by clicking here.
Additionally, last week, DATCP announced that Wisconsin dairy producers who are interested in serving on the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board should apply to fill out of the eight districts that are currently up for election.
Those districts include:
District 2 (Florence, Forest, Langlade, Marinette, Oconto, Vilas)
District 5 (St. Croix, Dunn)
District 8 (Marathon)
District 11 (Outagamie, Winnebago)
District 14 (Jackson, La Crosse, Trempealeau)
District 17 (Calumet, Manitowoc)
District 20 (Richland, Sauk)
District 23 (Iowa, Lafayette)
To qualify to run, a nominee must be an active dairy producer who sells milk into commercial channels and lives in the represented district up for election, according to DATCP. Each potential candidate must acquire at least five signatures from active dairy producers within the district, submit a completed nomination form, and have the "Affidavit of Eligibility" certification requirement notarized. All of that is due by March 31, 2018.
If you are interested in serving, call 608-224-5116, or e-mail email@example.com.
NEWS FROM THE CAPITOL
AND AROUND WISCONSIN
STATE SHIFTING $90 MILLION TO FOXCONN-RELATED PROJECTS
The state is potentially shifting up to $90 million in transportation funding away from other projects to go toward Foxconn projects in Racine County.
According to the state's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, after accounting for savings from the Department of Transportation, a loss of $70 to $90 million is still expected for other projects after shifting the funding to Foxconn projects.
Governor Walker responded by saying that no projects have been delayed because of the state tapping savings from other projects. Similarly according to DOT officials, other projects would not be impacted because of savings from other projects, but the Legislative Fiscal Bureau report found that most of the savings found in those projects have already been used in other ways.
Also according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, a reduction of $90 million would leave the state's highway rehabilitation fund as much as $870 million short of the $2.4 billion needed to maintain the state's roads at their current levels for the next decade.
GOVERNOR WALKER SAYS NO TO ARMING WISCONSIN TEACHERS
Following the shooting that left 17 people dead in a Florida high school, Governor Walker said he does not support arming Wisconsin's teachers, saying he would instead push for a legislative package to address schools safety.
While the Governor did not release any specifics for his plan to secure schools safety for Wisconsin's students, he said he has already been in contact with legislative leaders.
With the State Assembly having already wrapped up its session for the 2018 calendar year, Governor Walker would be in a tough position to convince that chamber's leaders to return to the floor to continue work this year. The State Senate is expected to meet one more day this month before wrapping up their business.
Attorney General Brad Schimel last week also said that school districts should have the option to arm teachers, and that his office would provide the proper firearms training if the legislature agreed.
DWD OFFERING A HALF MILLION MORE IN PREPARING YOUTH FOR MANUFACTURING CAREERS
Wisconsin's Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen last week announced up to $500,000 in new Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to help Wisconsin school districts fund necessary technical education equipment to prepare youth for careers in advanced manufacturing.
The grants would reimburse school districts for purchase and installation of equipment that provide students with special vocational training and technical education in advanced manufacturing fields.
Secretary Allen said that the Fast Forward program "continues to fund innovative worker training solutions to help Wisconsin business address the need for highly skilled workers now and in the future."
He said that the grants will enable school districts to provide more youth with the skills necessary to accelerate their transition into the workforce.
WISCONSIN AUTO INSURANCE AMONG LOWEST IN AMERICA
More good news for Wisconsin consumers this week, as a new report from research firm The Zebra showed that drivers in the Badger State are among the least expensive to ensure nationally.
According to the study, Wisconsin had premiums averaging $1,040 for auto insurance, lower than every state with the exception of seven others. While most of the state can boast low auto insurance premiums, the metro-Milwaukee area saw a 32 percent increase since 2011, while the rest of the nation only saw a 20 percent increase.
Insurance companies deal with different regulations based on which state they are operating in. Unlike some states, Wisconsin allows for insurance companies to consider credit scores when setting the rates for drivers. According to the data, drivers with lower credit scores are more likely to file a claim than those with higher scores. Also according to the data, when those lower-credit score drivers file a claim, it costs almost double the dollar amount than claims filed by those with higher scores.
Our neighbors to the east in Michigan had the highest premiums at $2,610 per year. North Carolina drivers have the lowest, with an average annual premium of $865.
WISCONSIN CHEESE PRODUCTION SEES GROWTH IN 40 OUT OF LAST 41 MONTHS
According to the latest summary of the dairy industry, the USDA said that Wisconsin produced 284.9 million pounds of cheese in January. That's an increase of 2.8 percent from January of 2017, and a decrease of 2 percent from December. The report marks 41 consecutive months that production numbers exceeded year-over-year levels.
In the country as a whole, 1.08 billion pounds of cheese was produced, a 3.4 percent uptick from last year at the same time, but a percent lower than December.
American Cheese saw 86 million pounds produced, Cheddar rose to 60.1 million pounds, Italian Cheese was 143.8 million pounds, and Mozarella produced 93.1 million pounds. Dry Whey output sat at 29.5 million pounds, up 6.6 percent from January 2017.
DEMOCRAT LEADERS CALL FOR IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION INTO RUSSIA HACKING IN WISCONSIN
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling and Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, the state's two top Democrat legislative leaders, called on Governor Walker, Senator Scott Fitzgerald, and Speaker Robin Vos to launch an investigation into possible Russian hacking of Wisconsin's election systems.
Their letter says that "national reports" list Wisconsin as one of seven states U.S. intelligence officials "believe" was compromised by Russia hackers prior to the 2016 election. No specific reports or citations were offered, though NBC news last week said that Wisconsin was one of seven states potentially targeted.
The letter said "time is of the essence," and calls for ensuring that the Wisconsin Elections Commission have the staff and resources they need to safeguard elections in Wisconsin.
In response, Governor Walker assured voters that there is no evidence that Wisconsin was hacked, though an attempt, ultimately unsuccessful, was made to gain access to the state's online network.
"The story is Wisconsin has a vibrant cyber-security system for all our different state agencies," Governor Walker said. "We were the ones who identified those attempts on elections efforts in the state and reported that to the federal officials."
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
A bill that drastically increases the criminal penalties for fraudulent Unemployment Insurance claims is headed to Governor Walker for his signature. After reading the article, what do you think?
NO MORE "SLAP ON THE WRIST"!
enforcement...can't squeeze blood from a turnip, push a rope or get money from a poor man...better build more prisons and oh yeah...you're gonna have to pass a drug test before we can confine you.
In my store, which has not advertised to be looking for help... every week has people coming in and asking us to sign their form saying they checked with us for work. And they will tell me to my face that they're doing this so they can stay on unemployment longer. But, being in a small town area, with a cluster of towns all from 400-3,000 people, you have to do it, or you lose business... I think that the UI folks need to make sure that the people prove that the places signing their forms are actually advertising for workers, too.
I question when I see people collecting unemployment and I no they could be working
Amazing how many collect unemployment with abundant jobs available.
There are adequate penalties
I had employees that went south for the winter, but still collected unemployment. I could not have even tried to have them work part time. They still got paid.
Governor Walker's reinsurance plan, aimed at driving down premiums for those in the individual marketplace, is set to become law. Good idea or bad idea?
Should the government be in the insurance business?
Great idea.. For the insurance company... Corporate welfare!
Brad Shimmel - DA is fighting to call the mandate unconstitutional and with the last budget signed by the president goes away in 2019. the only other factor in reducing insurance premiums down is getting "Wall St." out of medicine - restore the not-for-profit/charitable status to medicine. This and the removal of the individual mandate will bring health care and health insurance costs down, way down overnight.
It will help keep people insured.
I think we need to get after the health insurance companies. I run a small business, and I have to self-regulate to keep MY prices in line so that I am competitive. Get these major hospitals and health insurance companies to get their fat trimmed. How about they all have to stop buying prime time advertising and ads in NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, etc games... how many MILLIONS will that save, and help lower premiums/costs by? Come on folks, it's OBVIOUS that we're being taken to the cleaners here!
I look at hospital cost is and drug cost, its crazy the reason is lawyers and insurance cost for claims
I'm not sure anything can fix the health care industry any more; it's just too far gone. o matter what well-intentioned fix we can implement, it will still be too expensive. Such a shame.
I sure wish the GOP could find a cheaper way to buy votes than spending $200m of our money.
The Assembly has authorized $350 million in new borrowing for a new adult prison in Wisconsin. Now the plan's fate is uncertain in the State Senate. If you were a Senator...
If we need prison lets figue out a way to build them without so much borrowed moneys.
Hand the prisons over to a private company, they'd be more efficient
we've got enough government buildings/prisons. restore the death penalty and legalize marijuana - problem solved
Need to keep our criminals locked up.
May help reduce crime.
Jobs. Many more jobs than those employed at the prison, too... Do it....
again tax payers on the hook for people in society that can't live loving their fellow man kind
Solve the problems with the prison you have
we don't even have enough employees in the prisons we currently have, we should be hiring more staff and improving the current ones before spending that kind of money on a "state of the art" prison.
I would really need to know all the facts from both sides of the argument before I could vote one way or the other. Wouldn't it be great if we had no need for prisons?
Borrow $350m for prisons before roads? Are they nuts?
Sorry, don't know enough about it, heard a little but not enough to decide
debt debt and more debt and what happens when the interest rate continues to rise?
This will pay for itself in time. Other states are looking and paying for prison space.
A joint resolution has passed the Assembly, aimed at amending the constitution to allow judges to consider a variety of factors before setting bail on somebody accused of a crime. After reading the article:
are you telling me that as things currently stand, judges don't have this ability and thus the capability/judgment so to do? wow...crazy mixed-up world.
Too many times the police work extremely hard to catch a criminal only to have the judical system let them off. Maybe with this amendment we can start giving real punishment to drunk drivers especially those repeat offenders.
I did not read the key points so I do not know
Many people, especially domestic abusers should not be allowed on bail!
Well of course it sounds good on the surface, but in a world gone wrong, this new amendment could give a bad judge way too much power.
Sure, why not.
The State Assembly has adjourned its session until January of 2019. DO you feel they could have done more? If so, what else should have been done? What were some items that you are glad they accomplished this session? Is it too early to adjourn for 2018? Share any thoughts you have on this legislative session.
The State Assembly should always be available for session. How do they handle the things that might come up?
Maybe they should "do" less. Less government intrusion into our lives. More fiscal responsibility.
WOW...A YEARS SALARY...Worked TWO MONTHS!!!!
Highways-Roads-Infrastructure please quite avoiding these issues and start developing some new ideas.
I find it hard to believe they've adjourned when there's so much to do.
my first question: are they still getting paid? secondly: what is the actual schedule of a Wisconsin Assemblyman...1 year on, 1 year off...etc infinitum? don't get me wrong...I don't believe the constitution calls for a "full-time" Senate/Assembly (Wisconsin) or Congress - Nationally. Last time I read it, it said something like 2 weeks in April and 2 weeks in October with no mention of annual salary, healthcare or pension...i.e., it's not a full-time job...and if they can take 11 months off, we probably don't really need them anyway. Nobody minds a few weeks vacation, sick/personal and holidays; but are we just giving these guys time to gear up for the next election and remain on the payroll at the same time. Campaigning and governing/legislating are not the same thing. They have not done enough for property tax payers; homeowners particularly. If a government wants revenue, and they all do, then they have to grow or broaden the base. By lowering the property taxes for homeowners, they will make Wisconsin better for current residents and more inviting for others who will be glad to move here. Just like lowering the tax rates on existing businesses brings new businesses. It's really quite simple...build it and they will come. If you give out incentives (abatement/exemption/grant) to only a few specific businesses, i.e., foxconn/kimberly clark/pinnacle, you create an uneven "unfair" playing field. Eventually...gradually...systematically everyone is going to require some bailout/assistance. Voila, you've created a welfare state, i.e., as the Treaty of Versailles had done to Germany, post-WW1 to pre-Hitler. You can't just keep taking from those who have. Gradually, continually, incrementally governments tax (takes) decreasing the number of those that have until there aren't any left that have anything left to tax/take. Sidebar...when you take something from somebody against their will, it's called theft (Larceny). Politicians are smart - they know where to get the money to run for office and they know what to say to get elected. But they're not that smart; because they don't know how to fix what's broken. They just keep kickin' the can down the road. Eventually, though, they'll run out of can or road. It's only a matter of time and don't think that China, Russia or some other socialist, mega-power won't pounce when the fruit is ripe for picking.
I didn't realize that they ended their session already till 2019....they've accomplished so much in so little time (sarcasm)
When they're out of session they can't spend our money.
So these elected officials are off for the next year? Wouldn't it be nice if we all could have a paid vacation for a whole year. On the other hand, maybe we should all be thankful they're not muckin thing up for the next twelve months.
I think they need to spend less time in Madison, and more time everywhere else in the state, talking to people all over the state. They need to show up in all over the state, talking to people, and seeing what the State, as a whole, really needs. Yes, they all have districts, but gerrymandering is a nightmare that destroys the People's ability to be properly heard! I think they need to hear the entire voice of Wisconsin, and then represent it better.
Must be nice so now they an campaign instead of fixing the roads and bridges in wisconsin
We shooed be happy when lawmakers do less rather than more sometimes.
Hope they aren't getting paid for the rest of the year... maybe they should have a quarterly required meeting at least, lots can change in one years time.
I wish I could be done with work until next January. Then again, when I'm working, I'm benefitting society, not screwing it up.
Should have found a way to fund road repair, raised the gas tax.
They should have outlawed selling unborn baby parts, what's so hard about that decision?
January 2019, is this a typo? Why can't they work for their paycheck?Now I know where the "handout' generation gets the idea
They should work more like the rest of us.