Hamilton Political Tidbits – October 2, 2015

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Political Tidbits
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The Hamilton Consulting Group
October 2, 2015

Wisconsin politics has seen quite the shake up in the last two weeks.
With the governor back from the campaign trail, the legislature might review additional priorities, and the pending Supreme Court race just got more complicated with the unexpected passing of State Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks.  Also in this week's Tidbits , new legislation has been introduced to change the Wisconsin Retirement system, there's a new legislator headed to the Assembly, and the U.S. Supreme Court has an interesting case on unions to look at this term.

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Back from the Campaign Trail, Legislation Takes Priority

Governor Walker is back from the campaign trail after spending just 70 days running for president, and while some thought he might take a break and catch his breath after his whirlwind candidacy, he has done quite the opposite.

Governor Walker immediately started reconnecting with Wisconsinites with visits across the state and wasted no time jumping back into policy debates by calling for civil service reforms. The proposed legislation reforms how state employees are hired and fired, replaces the civil service test, changes probationary periods, and changes how layoffs are administered. The governor is pushing his legislative agenda fast - the civil service legislation was only introduced this week and hearings are already scheduled for October 6.

As to his future electoral ambitions, Governor Walker will almost certainly be leading Wisconsin until 2018. When asked about  taking a cabinet position  if the next president is a Republican, the governor said, "I'm not aiming for some Cabinet position. I'm really just focused on being governor." And when questioned about joining a campaign down the line as a running mate, Walker  called the chance of that happening a "one in a million shot" .

Supreme Court Justice Dies Unexpectedly

State Supreme Court Justice N. Patrick Crooks died of natural causes in his court chambers. Justice Crooks had announced just a few days prior to his death that he would not seek reelection in 2016.

Justice Crooks was first elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1996, and was reelected in 2006. Growing up, he attended Premontre High School in Green Bay, received his bachelor's degree from St. Norbert College, and graduated third in his class at the University of Notre Dame Law School. Justice Crooks served as a U.S. Army officer at the Pentagon, in the Office of the Judge Advocate General where he attained the rank of Captain. He enjoyed private practice from 1966 to 1977, while he taught business law at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. He served as a Judge in Brown County for 19 years and was American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Trial Judge of the year in 1994. Justice Crooks was the father of six, and grandfather to twenty-one.

Read more about how Governor Walker plans to fill the vacancy.
Bills of Note: Legal Notices, WRS Pensions and Deaths in the Line of Duty

As the legislative session heats up, bills are quickly moving through the legislature. This week's Bills of Note includes changes to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), legal notices on internet sites for municipalities, and a death in the line of duty bill for law enforcement families.

Legal Notice on Internet Sites
In late April, Senator Howard Markelin (R-Spring Green) introduced  Senate Bill (SB) 137, which would change the way local municipalities are allowed to post public notices. Under current law, a municipality must post the notice in at least three public places likely to give notice to those affected. SB 137 would change these requirements so that instead of posting the notice in three public places, the notice could be posted in one public place and also on the municipality's internet site.

The bill passed the Senate Committee on Elections and Government 3-2 in June and passed the Senate on a voice vote. The Assembly passed the bill September 24, and is now headed to the Governor's desk for an expected signature.

Wisconsin Retirement System Changes
Two bills proposed by Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) would make various changes to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS). The first bill would raise the minimum retirement age for most Wisconsin state employees from 55 to 57. Additionally, the bill would raise the minimum retirement age from 50 to 52 for State protective services jobs,such as police and firefighters.

Death in the Line of Duty
SB 192 , introduced by Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) in June, would require a municipality pay health insurance premiums of the surviving spouse and children of a firefighter, law enforcement officer, or EMT who dies in the line of duty. The state would later reimburse the municipality for these payments.

Boehner Shuts Down, Congress Doesn't

Last week, Congressman John Boehner abruptly resigned his position as Speaker of the House.  Boehner became the fifth speaker to resign in a 226-year period, and appears to be the first to resign with internal caucus turmoil being cited as the primary reason.

While some expected a competitive race to emerge to replace him, pundits are predicting Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the favorite to move into the spot, as no serious opponent has yet surfaced. The election for Speaker of the House will be October 8, which leaves limited time for a challenger to McCarthy to emerge.

Read more about the possible federal government shutdown.

Duchow Wins Special Election for 99th AD

Cindi Duchow has won the general election for the vacant 99th Assembly District seat in Waukesha County. Duchow received 1,424 votes to defeat two write-in candidates in the election. No Democrats filed to run.

Representative-elect Duchow has worked for large national retailers and owns a small business that provides watersport and boat services on Lake Michigan. Duchow has been elected to the Town of Delafield Board of Supervisors twice, and is a native of Delafield. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Read more about Representative-elect Duchow.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

While some get excited for fall because the leaves change, the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks and the temperatures drop, court watchers get excited because a new U.S. Supreme Court term is beginning. The Court is taking up a variety of interesting cases this term ranging from affirmative action in undergraduate admissions to redistricting. A particularly interesting case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al. The case involves ten nonunion public school teachers who argue their free speech rights are violated by having to pay the equivalent of union dues.

The main issues in this case are whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled and whether it violates the First Amendment to require employees to pay "fair share" fees. In Abood the Supreme Court held that public employees may be required to pay union dues, or their equivalent, to their local union affiliate even if they have opted to not join the union. This has become colloquially known as a "fair share" fee. The argument is that since public sector unions negotiate on behalf of all public sector employees, even if they are not part of the union, the union should be compensated for those negotiations by all employees.

Read more about the case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Waters of the U.S. Rule

On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its finalized Waters of the United States rule just over a year after it released its proposed rule. This rule was proposed to clarify the EPA's jurisdiction over the nation's waterways under the Clean Water Act after the Supreme Court's decisions in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. United States Army Corps of Engineers and Rapanos v. United States.

The EPA maintains the Waters of the U.S. rule is codifying the Supreme Court's holdings in  SWANCC  and  Rapanos  and that the Rule is not an expansion of the EPA's regulatory authority. The rule was finalized after approximately 400 meetings between EPA personnel and stakeholders and a 207-day public comment period that yielded over one million public comments.

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News Clips 
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson endorses Jeb Bush for president : Wisconsin State Journal, October 2, 2015.
Walker says he'll work to re-elect Johnson : Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, October 1, 2015.
New poll: Scott Walker's approval rating drops to 37% : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2015.
Longtime adviser to Scott Walker rips his presidential campaign manager: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2015.
Feingold opens 14-point lead over Johnson: Sheboygan Press, September 30, 2015.
GAB head asks lawmakers to delay overhaul of elections agency: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 30, 2015.
On third term question, Walker stays vague: Wisconsin Public Radio, September 29, 2015.
Scott Walker: Civil service hiring will be transparent : La Crosse Tribune, September 28, 2015.

Economic Development
Walker: Skills gap is state's biggest challenge: Fon du Lac Reporter, October 1, 2015.
Lambeau Field sales tax is history: Green Bay Press Gazette, September 29, 2015.
Walker to urge GE to reconsider fate of Waukesha engine plant: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 29, 2015.
Multiple steps need to work in concert on arena construction : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 28, 2015.

Plan calls for UW to drop cap on nonresident enrollment: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2015.
Baldwin disappointed as Perkins Loan Program expires: Wisconsin Radio Network, October 1, 2015.
WITC celebrates recent renovations: Business North, September 30, 2015.
New legislative task force focuses on issues in urban education: The Capital Times, September 30, 2015.
MPS meetings explore housing charter school at Pulaski High : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 28, 2015.
Participation in UW-Madison online courses outstrips national average : Wisconsin Public Radio, September 28, 2015.
UW-Milwaukee to debut cutting-edge research center : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 28, 2015.

Lassa, Krug: Keep oversight of high-cap wells: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, October 2, 2015.
Top DNR officials steps down for family reasons, agency says: Wisconsin State Journal, September 30, 2015.
Democrat looks to end hunting, trapping in state parks: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, September 29, 2015.
Bill would allow hunter applicants to retain points : La Crosse Tribune, September 28, 2015.
Struggling species again find home at Fort McCoy : La Crosse Tribune, September 28, 2015.
Uline founders want massive effort to anchor floating bog : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 28, 2015.

Appeals judge hits state on abortion admitting privileges law: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2015.
State targets prescription abuse: Beloit Daily News, October 1, 2015.
House Republicans advance bill to undo health law: Yahoo News, September 29, 2015.
AG: drug problem a public health crisis : Sheboygan Press, September 28, 2015.
Sheriff seeks more money for drug buys to fight heroin : Racine Journal Times, September 28, 2015.

Compensation law changes proposed: Stevens Point Journal, October 1, 2015.
Walker sends signals he may appoint Bradley to Supreme Court: Racine Journal Times, September 29, 2015.
State grants Amish waiver over county opposition: Eau Claire Leader Telegram, September 29, 2015.
Walker seeks applicants for Wisconsin Supreme Court : Chippewa Herald, September 28, 2015.
Prayer garden controversy may change Wisconsin law : Wisconsin Watchdog, September 28, 2015.

Democrats demand special legislative session on roads funding: Wisconsin Public Radio, September 1, 2015.
For Minnesota hazmat inspector, many railcars and not enough time: Minnesota Public Radio, October 1, 2015.
Milwaukee transit union postpones contract vote until Monday: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 30, 2015.
DOT puts brakes on 5 major road projects in budget crunch: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 29, 2015.
Repeat drunken driving remains state hazard: Oshkosh Northwester, September 29, 2015.

Utilities and Energy
WEC Energy to sell Trillium, network of natural gas fueling stations: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 1, 2015.
Electricity not as simple as throwing a switch: The Herald-Independent, October 1, 2015.
Judge blocks Obama Administration Rules on Fracking: The New York Times, September 30, 2015.
Madison Water Utility begins new 'conservation rate' increase: Wisconsin State Journal, September 30, 2015.
Energy price plunge impacts Actuant bottom line: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 30, 2015.
Milwaukee gas station adds compressed natural gas fueling: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 29, 2015.
Madison Gas & Electric plans 'community solar' pilot project in Middleton: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 29, 2015.
With eye on distributed generation market, EnSync forms Hawaii subsidiary: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 28, 2015.
US drilling states guided on handling quakes: ABC News, September 28, 2015.

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