Just as the tulips outside the Capitol are about to come into full bloom, so has the state budget process. The Joint Finance Committee took its first executive action on the state budget this week and is taking votes on more budget items today. JFC voted on the state judiciary budget, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and in a number of other areas, all of which you can read about in our budget coverage below. Also this week, the Assembly took up a long list of bills, including legislation to address the regulation of ridesharing companies such as Uber or Lyft. Next week there will be a new senator voting on the floor, which you can read about in our coverage of the April 7 election.
There is more to find in this week's edition of Tidbits! Get an update on the prevailing wage bill, background on the Joint Finance Committee co-chairs' memo that removed non-fiscal budget items and details on the Wisconsin Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureaus' successful Tourism Day at the Capitol.
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.
|JFC Takes First Executive Action on State Budget
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held its first executive session this week on Governor Walker's proposed 2015-2017 state budget. The committee took action in a number of areas, including the Secretary of State, the Public Service Commission (PSC), State Treasurer, Department of Revenue-Lottery Administration, Department of Administration - Division of Gaming, the Supreme Court, Circuit Courts, Court of Appeals, Judicial Council, Judicial Commission and Employment Relations Commission.
On March 6, The Hamilton Consulting Group prepared a summary of the proposals made by Governor Walker for the state judiciary.
In the state judiciary budget, JFC rejected a number of Governor Walker's proposals this week, including his proposal to eliminate the Judicial Council and reallocating appropriations of the Judicial Commission. In addition, the JFC took action on proposed block grants for the Supreme Court and Circuit Court.
|JFC Chairs Set Ground Rules and Remove Non-Fiscal Budget Items
Before Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) kicked off voting this week, JFC chairs, Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) issued a memo on the budget procedures for the budget vote process. The memo included a list of 14 non-fiscal policy items that the chairs have determined will not be addressed in the budget and should be taken up as separate legislation.
|Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin President Builds Case for Prevailing Wage Repeal
Wisconsin Independent Businesses President Impugns Credibility of Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance
John Mielke, president of Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin (ABC-WI), appeared recently on Wisconsin Public Television's Here and Now
to discuss repeal of Wisconsin's 80 year old law requiring state mandated wages to be paid on public construction projects. ABC-WI is the Wisconsin chapter of a national construction industry trade association with over 800 members in the Wisconsin chapter alone. On the program, Mr. Mielke argued repeal of the prevailing wage law would open up the public construction industry in Wisconsin to more competition, provide additional opportunities for small Wisconsin construction firms to work on such projects and save taxpayer money. In particular, he highlighted a recent Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance released a report
concluding that Wisconsin's prevailing wage law costs taxpayers up to $300 million annually in inflated public construction costs.
|Bills of Note: Signed, Sealed and Soon to be Delivered in an Uber
Over the last two weeks, there has been extensive bill movement as Governor Walker signed eleven bills into law on April 8th and this week, the State Assembly took up a long list of bills. This included legislation on the ban of microbeads and a bill that would allow for popular ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, operate in Wisconsin.
At the end of March, Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) introduced AB 143, to regulate and allow for the operation of ridesharing services. The bill quickly moved through committee and passed the Assembly this week.
Gov. Walker Signs 11 Bills
Governor Walker signed 11 bills into law on April 8th, creating statutes in areas ranging from restraining orders to newspapers to the Incorporation of the town of Ledgeview in Brown County.
|Election Update: The Supreme Court and a New Senator
On April 7th, 2015 Wisconsin voters went to the polls and voted in many local races, but those who follow Wisconsin politics watched the race for supreme court justice, the special election for the 20th Senate District and the open seat for Waukesha County Executive.
|Chief Justice Abrahamson Sues to Keep Her Position as Chief Administrator
On April 7, Wisconsin voters chose to amend Art. VII §4(2) of the Wisconsin Constitution to allow state supreme court justices to elect the chief justice among themselves. The elected chief justice would have a two-year term. The amendment passed with 53% of the vote. The next morning Chief Justice Abrahamson sued her fellow justices and several other statewide elected officials in order to keep her position on the court.
|Legislation Introduced to Change Interest Rates in Small Claims Court
Under current Wisconsin law, plaintiffs who win favorable verdicts are usually entitled to recover interest on the monetary judgments awarded to them. There are two types of interest. There is post-judgment interest, which is meant to compensate the plaintiff for loss of the use of the money while a defendant appeals an unfavorable judgment. Post-judgment interest accrues from the time the judgment is made until the time the judgment is paid. There is also pre-judgment interest, which accrues from the time the plaintiff makes an offer of settlement until the settlement is paid.
Assembly Bill 95 seeks to change the interest rate for pre- and post -judgment interest for verdicts in small claims court.
|Tourism Day at the Capitol
On Wednesday April 15, the Wisconsin Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureaus (WACVB) held their annual legislative day where members of WACVB met with legislators. The event was hosted jointly by WACVB and the Association of Wisconsin Tourism Attractions (AWTA).
|Secretary Klett addresses Tourism Day at the Capitol attendees.
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