Hamilton Political Tidbits – May 15, 2015

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 May 15, 2015


Activity at the Capitol is ramping up as the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) will begin to resolve the most divisive items in the budget. With last week's announcement that there would be no additional revenue projected, JFC members are making tough decisions and focusing on their top priority - K-12 education funding. You can read about JFC's executive actions from the last two weeks and the governor's decision to pull agency mergers from the budget, in today's Tidbits.  Also to read this week, a new edition of Bills of Note , which features police grants, new reforms for the promulgation of administrative rules in Wisconsin and an update on a new law that will allow companies like Uber and Lyft to legally operate in Wisconsin.


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JFC Executive Actions - Week 4

The Joint Finance Committee continues to work their way through the governor's budget. This week, JFC voted on items relating to higher education aids, state employment relations, DHS, DATCP, the Environmental Improvement fund, information technology, DCF, tax relief, and items relating to child abuse. 


LFB: No Additional Revenue Projected

After weeks of optimistically waiting for new revenue numbers from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), legislators were faced with the bleak reality: there is no new revenue projected for the 2015-2017 budget. In the LFB memo to the members of the Joint Finance Committee, the LFB director explained that even if there was additional revenue in the current year, economic forecasts project reduced growth rates in 2015-16 and 2016-17 that will offset any growth.

JFC Executive Actions - Week 3

The Joint Finance Committee continues to work their way through the governor's budget. Last week, JFC voted on budget items affecting DHS, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor's offices, the Legislature, DOJ, DNR environmental issues and parks and forestry and DWD.

WEDC & WHEDA Merger Called Off


In the previous edition of Political Tidbits we detailed the just released bill draft that would merge the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) into one agency, the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority (FWDA).


Last Friday, Governor Walker issued a press release requesting legislators to remove the WEDC and WHEDA merger from the budget and asked the bill authors of the separate legislation to not take any further steps to advance the bill. The governor cited issues raised at recent joint WEDC and WHEDA board meeting as the reason to call off the agency merger. The governor's announcement to eliminate the agency mergers also included the proposed the merger of the Department of Financial Institutions and the Department of Safety Professional Services.




Senate and Assembly Meet: Pass TIF and FoodShare Bills


Since the last edition of Political Tidbits, both the State Senate and State Assembly have met on the floor to pass and debate a number of bills.


Last week, the Senate unanimously passed four bills that came out of the Joint Legislative Council Study Committee on Tax Increment Financing Study Committee. This includes Senate Bill 51, which would require a standing Joint Review Board to be established in order for a TID to be created and remain in existence during the lifespan of the TID. In addition, this bill modifies annual reporting requirements, incorporates penalties for not reporting annually and repeals the DOR process to review industry-specific town TIDs. 

The Assembly, which met this week, met until late into the night as they debated bills which would affect those who utilize Wisconsin's public benefit that helps low-income families and individuals buy nutritious food. The first bill affecting the FoodShare program, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is  Assembly Bill 177 , would limit the foods that could be purchased using the benefits.

Bills of Note: Changing the Rules


In this week's edition of Bills of Note, we provide an update on the ride-sharing bill, a description of major reforms being circulated to change Wisconsin administrating rule-making processes, and a bill that would increase funding for law enforcement grants.


Ride-Sharing Bill

A bill we introduced in Bills of Note in mid-April has quickly gone through the legislative process and is already signed into law. Governor Walker signed 2015 Wisconsin Act 16 into law on May 1, which will allow companies like Uber and Lyft to legally operate in Wisconsin.


Administrative Rule-Making Reforms Circulated for Introduction

Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) have circulated for introduction major reforms relating to the administrative rule promulgation process in Wisconsin and have introduced this bill at the request of Governor Scott Walker.


Law Enforcement Grants

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) is circulating a bill to increase funding for law enforcement grants from $2 million to $16 million. Currently, the Department of Justice administers the program, which is limited to cities that have a population of $25,000 or more and limits the grant awards to $150,000. Rep. Sanfelippo's bill will eliminate the $150,000 cap for each grant, allows counties to apply for a grant, allows a city or county to use grant funds to employ additional beat patrol officers or other specialized law enforcement officers and includes an annual application. 




JFC Executive Actions - Next Week

Next week, JFC will meet on Tuesday and Thursday to decide on the following items:

Tuesday, May 19
  • Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority

  • Budget Management and Compensation Reserves

  • Medical College of Wisconsin

  • Department of Employee Trust Funds

  • Drug Screening and Testing

  • Department of Corrections - Departmentwide, Adult, Community, and Juvenile Corrections 

  • Department of Public Instruction - General School Aids and Revenue Limits, Choice, Charter, and Open Enrollment, District Operations
Thursday, May 21
  • Department of Health Services - Departmentwide
  • Government Accountability Board
  • Department of Financial Institutions and Professional Standards
  • Department of Financial Institutions
  • Forward Wisconsin Development Authority/Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
  • Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
  • Department of Transportation - Transportation Finance, Local Transportation Aid, local Transportation Assitance, and State Highways Program


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News Clips 


Feingold announces run for former Senate seat: WISN 12, May 14, 2015.

Wisconsin Assembly passes changes to food stamps: Wisconsin Radio Network, May 14, 2015.

State budget panel votes to maintain ag programs: Wisconsin Ag Connection, May 13, 2015.

Education, transportation top state budget concerns for Milwaukeeans: Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, May 13, 2015.

The great Democratic crack-up of 2016: The New York Times, May 12, 2015.

Will Scott Walker's budget troubles hurt his potential 2016 bid?: The Washington Post, May 12, 2015.

The budget standing between Scott Walker and a 2016 announcement: The Cap Times, May 12, 2015.

K-12, UW system budget votes yet to come in committee: Fox 11, May 11, 2015.


Economic Development

State Debate: New report showing state will continue to lag on jobs upsets bloggers of all stripes: The Cap Times, May 14, 2015.

From tycoons to state bosses: key people in Chinese business: La Crosse Tribune, May 14, 2015.

Laid-off Wisconsin workers to get jobs at Minnesota firm: WQOW, May 13, 2015.

Optimism diminishes in UW budget debate's waning days: Milwaukee Business Journal, May 13, 2015.

Union leaders, activists press for good jobs with arena deal: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2015.

Small business confidence perks up; jobs market solid: WTAQ, May 12, 2015.

US job openings fall, hiring rises in mostly positive report: Madison.com, May 12, 2015.

Scott Walker defends troubled state economic development agency: The Chippewa Herald, May 10, 2015.

Scott Walker drops job agencies' merger after critical audit of WEDC: May 9, 2015.




Milwaukee official selected as North American director of water-quality group: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2015.

Madison water quality report available for MWU customers: Channel 3000, May 14, 2015.

Among reasons that people oppose Keystone XL, climate change ranks surprisingly low: The Washington post, May 12, 2015.

Resistance to pipeline bigger than Keystone thwarts Enbridge in Wisconsin: Inside Climate News, May 12, 2015.

DNR: elk loss disappointing but not unexpected: La Crosse Tribune, May 12, 2015.

Meeting among DNR, county and CAFOs questioned: Green Bay Press Gazette, May 11, 2015.

Waukesha continues effort to tap into Lake Michigan water: WISN, May 11, 2015.

Shift to Wisconsin state park self-sufficiency would blaze new trail: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 10, 2015.

State park, camping fees increase as state funding is cut: News 8000, May 8, 2015.



John Daly's fiancee asks US Supreme Court to dismis ex-wife's lawsuit: ABC News, May 14, 2015.

Roggensack denies creating turmoil on Supreme Court: Wisconsin Radio Network, May 14, 2015.

Tax-funded legal costs top $1 million over John Doe probe targeting Scott Walker campaign: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 13, 2015.

Abrahamson makes detailed case to remain as chief justice: The Journal Times, May 12, 2015.

Wisconsin Supreme Court reinstates homicide conviction: The Journal Times, May 12, 2015.

Dane County District Attorney: No charges for Officer Matt Kenny in death of Tony Robinson: Fox 6, May 12, 2015.

Walker appoints Judge Rebecca Bradley to District 1 Court of Appeals: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 11, 2015.


Utilities & Energy

Wisconsin Energy finalizes deal to sell Wauwatosa coal-fired power plant: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 14, 2015.

US producer prices fall in April; food, energy costs drop: Madison.com. May 14, 2015.

Why DOE says hydropower is poised for a comeback: Utility Dive, May 14, 2015.

Can high-tech companies compete with mainline utilities for energy customers?: Forbes, May 13, 2015.

Fight over profits from power line construction could lead to refunds: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 11, 2015.

Ohio State may host test of futuristic solar pavement: Columbus Business First, May 11, 2015.

Ethanol industry looks to drivers and exports for path out of a slump: Minnesota Star Tribune, May 11, 2015.

Rockford Housing Authority invests in solar panels, other efficiency upgrades: RR Star, May 10, 2015.



U.S. lawmakers seek answers soon on Gulf airline subsidy claims: WHBL, May 14, 2015.

"A lot of smoke:" Amtrak train headed into Milwaukee from Chicago catches fire, no one injured: Fox 6, May 14, 2015.

House panel passes bill that cuts Amtrak funds: Channel 3000, May 13, 2015.

Amtrak train derails killing 5 people; investigation begins: Watertown Daily Times, May 13, 2015.

USDOT's Foxx warns state transportation leaders of federal funding expiration: Progressive Railroading, May 12, 2015.

Low oil prices good news for North Dakota road budgets: The Bismarck Tribune, May 10, 2015.



Walker's Family Care plan to be rejected: Green Bay Press Gazette, May 14, 2015.

Committee plans to reject governor's Family Care plan: Channel 3000, May 14, 2015.

House is expected to pass a revised abortion bill: The New York Times, May 13, 2015.

Lawmaker sto VA: Find another way to pay for Denver hospital: The New York Times, May 12, 2015.

Marshfield Clinic joining statewide health system network: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2015.

Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation donates $2.2 million to Aurora: Biz Times, May 12, 2015.

How one hospital brought its c-sections down in a hurry: Kaiser Health News, May 11, 2015.

What's next if the Supreme Court strikes down Obamacare aid?: Kaiser Health News, May 11, 2015.

Home visits by nurses for first-time mothers help reduce government costs: Kaiser Health News, May 11, 2015.


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