Hamilton Political Tidbits – September 29, 2017

Political Tidbits - September 29, 2017
Hamilton Consulting Group
 September 29, 2017
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
The governor signed the 2017-19 state budget, closing out an extended budget season and kicking off fall session. Activity in the legislature is picking up as there may only be a handful of floor dates left this calendar year. This Tidbits previews what the rest of session is shaping up to look like post-budget. Also in this edition, Gov. Walker issues 99 vetoes before signing the budget, the Foxconn bill becomes law, and the latest Opioid Task Force meeting.
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Fall Session Preview

While most of the public was only mildly aware of the budget deliberations taking longer than usual, those who watch the legislature for a living have been wondering what the delay will mean for the rest of session.
In the past, the legislature tends to wrap up their budget work in early July and there is a month or two of recovery time before the fall session begins. This time around, the budget's delay caused it to push right into what would have been a normal fall legislative session period. 
Governor Signs Budget

At an elementary school in Neenah on Sept. 21, Gov. Scott Walker officially signed the $76 billion 2017-19 state budget. A week prior on Sept. 13, the Assembly passed the budget. Initially there was some uncertainty as to whether Senate Republicans had enough votes; however the Senate passed the budget 19-14 on Friday, Sept. 15. Prior to signing the budget bill, Walker released a list of his 99 partial vetoes of the budget. The governor's veto message included an explanation as to why he was removing each provision from the budget.

Governor Signs Foxconn Legislation

On Monday, Sept. 18, Gov. Scott Walker traveled to Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant to sign Act 58, the incentive package put together by his administration in order to bring Taiwanese technology company Foxconn to Wisconsin. The legislature passed the Foxconn bill on Sept. 14.
Bills of Note: Device Use While Driving

Last week, the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety held a public hearing on a bill that would prohibit using electronic devices while driving. The bill expands existing state law prohibiting texting and emailing while driving to include entering, transmitting, or accessing data via an "interactive electronic device." The committee hearing on the bill (AB 463/SB 380), authored by Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), took place on Sept. 21.
Lawsuit and Regulatory Reform on Gov. Walker's Small Business Agenda

On Sept. 26, Gov. Walker set forth his small business agenda while hosting the seventh annual Small Business Summit. His plan to improve Wisconsin's business climate includes lawsuit and regulatory reform.

The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) hailed the renewed commitment to litigation reform, with WCJC President Billy G. Smith noting "the easiest way to lower litigation costs for everyone, including large and small businesses, state and local governments, plaintiffs and defendants, is to address the
escalating transaction costs associated with discovery."

Assembly Holds Hearing on Bill Putting Expiration Dates on Rules

With respect to regulatory reform, the governor's small business agenda includes legislation that would sunset all regulations every seven years. He was referencing AB 384/SB 295, authored by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna).
On Sept. 19, the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform held a hearing on AB 384. Among other business groups supporting the legislation, WMC's testimony noted that "once a regulation is promulgated it stays in the books indefinitely." The bill creates an expedited process for rule promulgation and legislative review, for existing and new regulations.

Supreme Court and Governor Eliminate Funding for Judicial Council

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court sent an order to the Department of Administration (DOA) that it will no longer transfer funds to DOA in support of the Judicial Council. Separately, Gov. Scott Walker defunded the Council through a veto in the state budget.
The Supreme Court cited concerns about an "extraordinary" 38 percent salary increase for the Judicial Council staff attorney effective July 1 and the "means and manner" by which the increase was obtained. Justices Ann Walsh Bradley and Shirley Abrahamson dissented, arguing for the Judicial Council's importance to Wisconsin's judicial system.

Gov. Walker Appoints New DNR Secretary
Newly appointed DNR Secretary Dan Meyer

Gov. Scott Walker announced Monday that former Republican state Rep. Dan Meyer is taking over as Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Meyer replaces former secretary Cathy Stepp, who moved to the Environmental Protection Agency in August.

Governor's Opioid Task Force Meets

The governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse met at Sauk County Human Services in Baraboo on Sept. 22. The meeting focused on trauma-informed care and medication assisted treatment programs.

State Appeals Court Upholds Right-To-Work

Last week, the state 3rd District Court of Appeals upheld Wisconsin's right-to-work law. In the decision, the Court of Appeals said the unions challenging the law did not meet the burden of proving right-to-work is an unconstitutional taking of property.
Committee Recap: September 18-29

Fall session is officially here after Gov. Scott Walker signed the budget and Foxconn bills last week. In this week's Committee Recap, catch up with the latest action on regulatory reform, law enforcement, health, and other issues that are being addressed in bills throughout the legislature.

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News Clips
Utilities and Energy
Need for oil at center of pipeline dispute: Duluth News Tribune, September 28, 2017.
Crude oil by rail or pipeline? New studies explore the question: Midwest Energy News, September 28, 2017.
Xcel Energy announces plans for new South Dakota wind farm: La Crosse Tribune, September 27, 2017.

Former Rep. Dan Meyer tapped to be DNR secretary: River News Online, September 28, 2017.

Economic Development
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