News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin
We hope you have had an enjoyable Monday!
Below, we will introduce you to this week's Member of the Week, outline some of the top headlines from the past week, and get you up to speed on legislation.
As always, we hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
PROPERTY TAXPAYER OF THE WEEK
This week, we introduce you to our friends at Agromatic, Inc. and owner Dean Birschbach, who has owned the company since 2010.
But telling you that the company was purchased in 2010 simply doesn't do it justice, since Agromatic began more than 110 years ago in 1898 as Klinzing Manufacturing in St. Cloud, Wisconsin. August F. Klinzing was the founder, and was known as an important innovator, and inventor of early barn equipment.
The company, then-A.F. Klinzing Co. was owned and managed by a Dave Hoppman for 38 years, when in 2010 the company was purchased by our friend Dean Birschbach.
Dean grew up on a dairy farm in Lamartine, Wisconsin, and attended Rosendale High School before heading over to Moraine Park Tech in Fond du Lac to complete the Farm Management short course.
We asked Dean about the largest challenge in his industry today, especially when dairy farms are struggling quite a bit.
"Our industry is directly affected by the dairy industry, and currently the milk price is at a 25 year low, which you can image affects us because dairymen are reluctant to spend and it also has forced some dairymen to stop farming completely. We also have the challenge of educating the dairymen on why the products we sell can truly help them and their cows," he told us.
But the challenge gets even more complicated, according to Dean.
"It is also a challenge to get the agri business to promote the dairymen's products. Lastly the number of local farms as dwindled year after year," he added.
Agromatic currently employs 46 people, and Dean said he takes pride in having a happy customer when the job is complete.
"Having a great group of people that work for Agromatic," is also another source of pride.
Dean tells us that he pays close attention to tax laws, environmental issues that impact farmers, and health insurance issues that impact his employees."
On a personal level, Dean has been married to his wife, Kim, for 27 years, and they have three wonderful daughters. Dean enjoys collecting replica tractors, "the majority being Oliver," he said. He also enjoys the Packers, Brewers, and playing golf.
His favorite place in Wisconsin? "Visiting my cottage on the lake," he said.
As far as our organization goes? "I see WPT as a voice to help lobby and support small business against the large government," he added. "We have belonged for seven years."
Last week, the final version of Governor Walker's school safety plan passed through the State Legislature, and was ultimately signed into law today at Victor Haen Elementary School in Kaukauna.
Now law, the plan specifics are as follows:
Creation of an Office of School Safety within the Department of Justice. This new department with work with law enforcement and schools, and design best practices for school safety, and subsequently provide training and resources to school personnel.
Provides $100 million in a new grant program that can help schools upgrade and update their buildings' security, and help with other costs related to securing school premises.
Mandates reporting for any threats of school violence, both notification to parents, and to law enforcement.
Allows the grant funding to implement Trauma-Informed Care and Adverse Childhood Experiences in Schools. Trauma-Informed Care, as defined by several institutions, "1) Realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths for recovery, 2) Recognizes the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, or others involved, 3) Responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, and 4) Seeks to actively resist trauma from re-occurring."
Strengthens school safety plan requirements by requiring all schools to work with law enforcement and conduct on-site assessments of all pupil-occupied areas.
The legislation passed the Senate with a vote to 28-4, and the Assembly on a vote of 78-8.
Last week, we also learned that the state's unemployment rate dropped to its lowest ever level, that Rep. Lee Nerison (R-Westby) will be retiring, which means that both agriculture committee chairmen have announced their departures from the legislature, and we learned that the Senate and Assembly will remain in extraordinary session to tackle the issue of special election legislation. This report will touch on all of those items in articles below.
Additionally, WisconsinEye conducted an interview with former State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-Falls), who was recently appointed as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). Please click below to view the video and learn more about Secretary Harsdorf's thoughts on the economic state of agriculture in Wisconsin, as well as her thoughts on NAFTA and global markets.
WisEye Interview with DATCP Secretary Sheila Harsdorf
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
SALES TAX HOLIDAY, CHILD TAX REBATE DEAL REACHED, HEADS TO GOVERNOR'S DESK
The back-and-forth between legislative leaders and Governor Walker is officially over, at least when it comes to the proposed sales tax holiday, and $100 per child tax rebate. Although, some changes to the original plan were made.
In the final-approved version, the Senate approved the $122 million tax credit that will give parents a $100 tax rebate per child, one time. Families who have children who were under the age of 18 at the end of 2017 will be eligible to receive the credit. Parents who do not wish to go online and file for the rebate are also allowed to give the money back to the state, or designate a charitable donation.
The scope of the sales tax holiday was sliced to mirror Governor Walker's original sales tax proposal in last year's budget. The plan will allow sales tax to be waived on the first weekend in August for clothing purchases under $75, computer purchases under $750, computer supplies under $250, and school supplies under $75.
SENATE WILL NOT TAKE UP KIMBERLY-CLARK LEGISLATION
Legislation aimed at preventing Kimberly-Clark from shuttering several of its operations in the Fox Valley will not be taken up by the Wisconsin State Senate, dealing a blow to Governor Walker, who proposed giving Foxconn-like credits to the paper corporation in hopes of saving 600 jobs.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that the Senate was "kind of hamstrung" with the deal, and said that his chamber would love to act on the legislation, but said without some indication that Kimberly Clark would take the deal, "we don't know what we have before us is fine-tuned enough to really deal with that."
The legislation did pass in the Assembly last month, along a party-line vote.
Some conservative organizations, such as the MacIver Institute, wrote as early as today that the Senate made the right decision, calling the policy "misguided," "bad economics," and that it would set a "troubling precedent by risking the mainstreaming of taxpayer-funded bailouts using the Foxconn template."
ASSEMBLY VOTES TO EXPAND BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR GUN PURCHASES
In somewhat of a surprise move, the Republican-dominated State Assembly last week voted (on a voice vote) to implement the state background check system for certain sales of handguns to now include purchases of rifles and shotguns.
According to one Republican lawmaker, before the federal government makes changes to its background check system, Wisconsin should run state background checks on all gun purchases in order to ensure the federal system is not allowing those prohibited buyers to make a purchase.
The State Senate confirmed late last week that they will not take up the proposal for a vote, effectively killing the legislation's changes of reaching Governor Walker for his signature.
When asked about the proposal, Governor Walker's office said that the Governor is focused on school safety, and making schools safe from any threat, just as "we made oru airports and airplanes safer after 9/11."
JUDGE ORDERS GOVERNOR TO HOLD SPECIAL ELECTIONS FOR VACANCIES, LEGISLATURE TO ACT INSTEAD
Last week, a Walker-appointed Dane County Circuit Court Judge, Josann Reynolds, determined that legally, Governor Walker had a duty to hold special elections in two vacant legislative districts, and that allowing those vacancies to remain violates the voting rights of the residents of the district.
One district was vacated by then-Senator Frank Lasee of De Pere, and one of then-Representative Keith Ripp of Lodi. Both are Republicans.
The legal challenge was sought by Obama-appointee, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been making political efforts in favor of Judge Rebecca Dallet, who is on the ballot for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice in next week's election.
Instead, one day after the ruling, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos made the decision to call an extraordinary session of the State Legislature, and take up legislation to change the laws regarding the requirements to call special elections.
While the legislation has not yet been released, Governor Walker has said he is in favor of making changes, as Republicans content that calling a special election would waste taxpayer dollars, and create confusion while nomination papers are being circulated. With the legislature having already adjourned its regular session, the leaders say that there is no need for those seats to be filled prior to the normally-scheduled elections in August and November.
STATE REPRESENTATIVE LEE NERISON TO RETIRE
State Representative Lee Nerison (R-Westby), chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, has announced he will retire from the legislature after 14 years of service. Nerison is a former dairy farmer, and was first elected to the Assembly in 2004.
The 96th District includes most of Crawford, Monroe, and Vernon Counties.
With the announcement of his retirement, Nerison now leaves the other Agriculture Committee chairmanship vacant, as last week, Senate Ag Committee Chair Terry Moulton also announced his retirement from the legislature. It leaves a big question as to who will fill those vacancies after the November elections, and what type of agenda will they have.
Two Democrats and one Republican are registered to run for Nerison's seat. The seat is in a solidly-GOP district, but Democrats are banking on the mid-term effect to carry them to victory in several marginal seats statewide, changing the make-up of the now-Republican dominated legislature.
WEEKLY MEMBER POLL RESULTS
Have you or will you be voting in a local referendum to either raise revenue limits or increase borrowing? This can include any time in recent memory.
Like a broken record, every couple of years!
Schools and I voted NO. When the districts are responsible with what they have and keep it in good repair then maybe I would consider a yes vote. Until then I am not willing to waste even more money with these political clowns!
Several years ago passed a 12 million dollar new school building, and voted yes because the community needed it, don't regret it, costs were lower and now costs are really jumping up, hind site it was an excellent decision
School Aid, voted no the first time, and yes the second time
New gym, football field, Science rooms, totally new electrical system, and new cafeteria.
I usually vote against, unless they convince me otherwise
All the referendums to exceed revenue caps should make people angry that we can't just let local voters set their levy during the regular September meeting. Not many people realize that there is a meeting each year of CITIZENS who vote to set the school tax levy in each district. But, of course, people would rather stay home and whine.
WalletHub has ranked Wisconsin's overall tax burden high compared to other states, though all indicators show that Wisconsin's tax burden is decreasing. Do you think Wisconsin taxes are headed in the right direction?
I haven't seen any decrease
If the liberals had their way the state would be going further in the red
Yes, Wisconsin has higher taxes than other areas. Yes, I pay MORE in taxes in wisconsin that my friends and family outside of the state pay. Makes me wonder where all this money goes???
Taxes seem to be not increasing for a change, keep it up
More work needs to be done, go WPT!
Not headed in the right direction. Our roads and bridges are terrible due to the GOP starving the state of revenue.
The roads are still a issue to be figured out
Governor Walker has called for a special session and introduced a $100 million school safety plan in Wisconsin. After reading the article; Good idea or bad idea?
We can arm teachers for little cost (on an individual voluntary basis). The only reason schools are getting shot up is they are "gun free zones". If the shooter knows there is a possibility of armed teachers, I believe the threat would be seriously reduced.
Did you mean 100 mil? Too much waste of tax dollars. If all were doing their jobs, I E: parents, counselors , administrators, teachers, security, staff etc, I don not believe we would have such a mess in the schools.
It is a start, but I am afraid it will add some unnecessary positions in districts, most of the problems in our schools today start in the home, people have lost respect for each other.
I'd like to explore more methods of making schools safer. I believe it all starts in the home with the parents. We need to hold parents and students accountable before their behavior can reach such acts of violence. We can't keep turning our backs on bullying and disruptive behavior.
Quit taking away teacher's ability to do anything to enforce rules in their own classrooms. Let them not only be teachers, but get back to mentoring too.
if gun purchase laws were adhered to we wouldn't need so much security. need to address the mental health issues underlying the problem
Again, throwing money at an issue doesn't guarantee a good outcome
Parenting should be left to parents/educators in their respective community's not state politicians
We do not need $100m for "security theater." A gunman who wants to enter a school will get in. No amount of cameras or door locks or metal detectors will solve that. Walker would not spend this if it wasn't an election year, he's trying to buy votes.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has introduced a resolution, aimed at preventing future budget impasses from delaying the state's spending plans. After reading the article; Good idea or bad idea?
Anything to throw a stick in the spokes of bipartisan impasse and stalling.
Sounds like a plan that would allow things to get pushed through without proper consideration. I think that instead, it should say that if the budget is not passed, that the folks working on it must stay on site, without extra pay or extra benefit, until it is passed.
The really answer is for them to do their jobs on time
Get the job the politicians are hired to do done in a timely fashion
That's inside baseball. You know what would fix the budget process? Get both parties to compromise on solutions. Pick a budget that will make people on the far left, and far right unhappy and end up with a moderate solution.
They just need to get their job done. This would probably just create different problems
Easter weekend is rapidly approaching (April 1st), so we want to know what your Easter traditions are, and we'll share next week. Is there a certain meal that you eat? Do you attend church service? Did you/do you put out Easter baskets for the kids? Does anybody in your family still get their photo taken with the Easter Bunny? Do you have a favorite Easter candy? If you don't celebrate Easter, please share with us any other traditions you take part in, such as Passover, or others.
Church, ham at Grandparents, ham at parents, ham at in-laws. Its actually my favorite day of the year (mmmm Ham!)
Whole family get together. 9 grand kids and 8 adults. Always get to church. Very special time of year for sure. Non traditional meal. Potato soup and finger food.
No. 1 is church, after church the family gets together for a Easter Egg hunt for the grand children. After that we eat, visit and relax. (Its Sunday)
My wife and me attend church and I think some of my children will also. We have Easter meal. Also have Easter egg hunt
Grandsons find their Easter basket, we all go to church, kids go to inlaws, they all come back for egg hunt. We have corned beef and cabbage for Easter and hope for leftovers!
As our children age our traditions have slightly changed. Something that will never change is attending church services to enjoy worship and the beautiful music then we share an extended family lunch. We try to invite someone who can not be with their family.
Sunrise service then a big breakfast at church
I will be in Fl and attending a sunrise service on the beach. It's a lovely tradition.... lucky me.
Family gathers for Easter ham.
Holy Thursday service, Good Friday, the Easter Tridium - and we celebrate with a turkey dinner with all the trimmings; it's a time to remember who you are and what your life purpose is; and to spend quality time with family - immediate and extended, to practice your new habits you want to embody. Spring and Easter brings new beginnings.
Always go to church (I do that almost every Sunday, so that's not an Easter-only activity...) Special meal might be ham? Yes, easter baskets for kids....and dad. What? The Tooth Fairy told me that there is no Easter Bunny??? Favorite easter candy would be those chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs.
Going for a brunch at local place.
We do hide a good 100+ eggs for the kids to find. Even though our oldest is 11, he still seems to enjoy the hunt.