Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 10, 2017

Political Tidbits - March 10, 2017
Hamilton Consulting Group
 March 10, 2017
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.

This week, the Senate and Assembly were on the floor and sent the first batch of bills to Governor Walker for his signature. Read more on the floor action below in Tidbits. Also in this edition, various legislative committees have been hearing the Special Session bills, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released their budget summary. In this week's Bills of Note, we highlight two key bills: "Leading on Lead Act" and elimination of the Sept. 1 school start date. Keep reading for highlights from WMC's annual Business Day in Madison.

If you wish to receive additional information about a topic addressed in Tidbits, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting Team.

Special Session Bills Update
Rep. John Nygren (R - Marinette), co-chair of the Governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse, and a leader on Heroin, Opiate, Prevention, and Education (HOPE) Agenda, introduced 11 special session bills on opioid abuse in late February. Companion bills were also introduced in the Senate. Assembly and Senate Committees have begun to hold hearings and votes on the bills. It is reported that the legislature plans to be on the floor the first week of April to take up the HOPE agenda bills. 

Continue reading about the Special Session hearings.

Floor Report: March 7 and March 9

Both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature were on the floor this week to take up a variety of bills.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted on Senate Joint Resolution 3, which eliminates the office of the state treasurer from the Wisconsin Constitution. Authored by Sen. Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Schraa (R-Oshkosh), the amendment passed 18 to 15 in the Senate. The Assembly took up the bill two days later, voting 68 to 31. Now that the proposal has successfully passed in two consecutive legislative sessions, the final decision will go to voters as a referendum in the April 2018 general election.
Several bills are headed to Governor Walker's desk, including a bill allowing for limited possession of CBD oil, a bill amending concealed weapon licenses, and a bill requiring government to be neutral regarding the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs). Also of note, the Assembly passed the "Right to Try" bill and a bill relating to advertising motor fuel prices by the half-gallon.
LFB Releases Budget Summary

This week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a summary of Gov. Scott Walker's proposed 2017-2019 state budget. The LFB budget summary provides a plain language detail of Walker's budget and will serve as the guide as the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) begin their review of the budget.
Following the release of the analysis, a tentative schedule was released outlining the JFC's review of the budget. Starting March 27-30, JFC will begin agency briefings. At these hearings, agency heads defend the governor's budget and answer questions from committee members. 

Bills of Note: Leading on Lead & School Start Date

Leading on Lead
Sen. Cowles (R - Green Bay) and Rep. Thiesfeldt (R - Fond du Lac) recently introduced SB 48/AB 78, called "Leading on Lead Act." The bill has received significant bipartisan support, with a total of 47 co-sponsors supporting the authors' efforts.

The bill allows water utilities to provide financial assistance to remove private lead laterals. Under the bill, a municipality is required to pass an ordinance allowing the water utility to provide financial assistance. In addition, it will require the PSC to include the cost of the financial assistance in the determination of water rates. 

School Start Date
It was less than 20 years ago when the tourism industry successfully lobbied the legislature to pass a law that required schools to start on or after Sept. 1.  Since its implementation, the industry has had to defend why this policy change has been good for the state of Wisconsin.
Sen. Alberta Darling (R - River Hills) and Rep. Jim Ott (R - Mequon) have introduced AB103 and SB96, bills that include a full repeal of the school start law.   

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Host Annual Business Day

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce held the 16th annual Business Day in Madison on March 1 at the Monona Terrace. Nearly 1,000 attendees heard from speakers from around the nation on business and political affairs topics.
This year's keynote speaker was Hugh Hewitt, nationally syndicated talk show host and commentator. Hewitt praised Wisconsin's successful business climate and responded to President Donald Trump's address to Congress. Gov. Scott Walker, National Association of Manufacturers President Jay Timmons and others also spoke at the conference. 

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