Hamilton Political Tidbits – December 11, 2015

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Political Tidbits
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The Hamilton Consulting Group
December 11, 2015

As the year winds down, legislation begins rolling out as legislators make the final push to get their bills through the legislature before they run out of time in the spring. In this week's Bills of Note, we highlight three pieces of legislation affecting policy relating to civil justice and utilities. 

Also in this week's edition, read about the first long-term transportation spending bill passed in Congress in a decade, how the state supreme court race is moving along, and the first announcement  of the year that a Wisconsin legislator will not seek reelection.

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.

Congress Passes Long-Term Transportation Bill

In early December, Congress passed the Fixing America's Transportation Act (FAST ACT) with bipartisan support. The legislation provides funding to improve surface transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit systems and passenger rail network. The bill will provide $305 billion in funding over the next five years. This is the first long-term transportation bill in a decade.

Read more about the legislation.
Bills of Note: Civil Justice and the Sale of Water Utilities

Legislation Would Limit Liability for Sponsors of Minor Drivers

A new bill that would limit the liability imputed to a parent or other adult sponsor of a minor's driver's license was reviewed during a public hearing in the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary this week.

Assembly Bill 540/Senate Bill 408, which was introduced by Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Representative Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) would amend current law that imputes unlimited liability to parents or adult sponsors of a minor's driver's license.

Read about the legislation.

Collateral Source Legislation Introduced

Assembly Bill 539
/Senate Bill 405, introduced by Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Representative Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin), would allow evidence of payments to be submitted as evidence in personal injury or underinsured motorist cases when a jury must decide on the reasonable value of a claim.

Read more about the legislation.

Legislation Introduced to Allow Purchase of Water & Sewer Utilities

Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) have introduced Assembly Bill 554/Senate Bill 432, which creates a process for out-of-state utility companies to purchase or lease water or sewer utilities in Wisconsin.

Under current law, if a municipality seeks to sell or lease any utility, the municipality must first pass a resolution that is submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) for review. The PSC sets the price and terms for the transaction. This information is included in the notice for a referendum that is held for a vote in the municipality.

Read more about the legislation.
Sen. Gudex Will Not Seek Re-election

Senator Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) recently announced he would not be seeking re-election to the 18 Senate District. The first term state senator was elected in 2012 and will complete his four year term following the 2016 fall election cycle.

Following Gudex's announcement, Fond du Lac County GOP Chair Dan Feyen announced he plans to run for the open senate seat. Feyen has served as the county chair of the party since 2007. Citing the numerous open jobs in the state, Feyen announced he wants to work on closing the skills gap and improve Wisconsin's infrastructure.

Democratic Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris announced in September that he would challenge Gudex in 2016. Harris has emphasized the need to spend more on public education funding and increase job growth. Harris challenged U.S. Rep. Glen Grothman for a U.S. Congressional seat in 2014, losing by nearly 16 percentage points.

Read more about the work Sen. Gudex did in the Senate.

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Be sure to follow the  Hamilton Consulting Group on Twitter, @HCG500, for developments and news relating to the Wisconsin legislature, governor's office, courts and regulatory arena. Additionally, you can find information on political fundraising events, Political Tidbits releases and other pertinent news from around Wisconsin and the nation.
State Supreme Court Primary Election - Feb. 16

In late October, Madison attorney Claude Covelli entered the race to create a four way primary. Covelli has represented insurance companies and accident victims, and won a case representing an insurance company before the Supreme Court this year.

The Supreme Court primary election will be held on February 16, 2016, and the general election will be April 6.

New North Summit Meets in Oshkosh

Business leaders from across Northeast Wisconsin attended the 12th Annual New North Summit in Oshkosh last week to discuss ways to develop business and recruit jobs to the area. New North Inc. is an organization comprising of business leaders in 18 counties in Northeast Wisconsin.

The summit focused on ways to recruit IT and manufacturing professions to the region, which the organization says will be in high demand in the near future. According to statistics from the group, there will be a shortage of 4,000 IT professionals in the region in the next ten years.

Read more about the governor's visit to the New North Summit.
Hamilton's Political Fundraising Calendar

The Hamilton Consulting Group's  political fundraising calendar provides an excellent resource to find all upcoming fundraising events. The calendar lists all fundraising events for state and national elected officials who represent Wisconsin. Fundraisers provide a great opportunity to get to know current and prospective legislators and other elected officials.

The information on the calendar comes from candidates and committees, so please be sure to RSVP to the person indicated in the event information, not the Hamilton Consulting Group.

The Hamilton political fundraising calendar can be found on our  website.

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News Clips 
FBI joins wide-ranging probe at Lincoln Hills: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 10, 2015.
Walker hints at run for a third term : WEAU, December 9, 2015.
Republican Sen. Darling announces plans to run again : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 9, 2015.
Wisconsin Republicans step back from Donald Trump's Muslim comments : Wisconsin State Journal, December 9, 2015.
Talks stall as shutdown deadline nears : Politico, December 7, 2015.
Johnson-Feingold race offers stark divide on national security : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 7, 2015.
County Executive Chris Abele officially announces re-election bid : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 7, 2015.

Economic Development
November home sales keep positive streak going in metro Milwaukee: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 10, 2015.
Minnesota, Wisconsin diverge as Twin Cities outpace northern peers : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 8, 2015.
AT&T to launch ultra-fast Internet service in Milwaukee in 2016 : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 7, 2015.
Demand for farm loans surges amid low crop, cattle prices : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 7, 2015.

Sale of spill-prone Waunakee digester finalized: Wisconsin State Journal, December 11, 2015.
Fence rule allows farms to be left open to disease: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 9, 2015.
Mining sector in turmoil as Anglo American sheds 85,000 jobs : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 8, 2015.
DNR to advance Waukesha water diversion bid to Great Lakes governors : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 8, 2015.
Bald eagle numbers in Wisconsin reach new highs : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 8, 2015.
Ex-DNR professionals say state leaders endanger water quality : Wisconsin State Journal, December 7, 2015.
Push underway to let state manage wolves : Wausau Daily Herald, December 7, 2015.

VA opioid reform legislation clears Senate committee: La Crosse Tribune, December 10, 2015.
Cheesemakers, lawmakers question FDA standards for raw milk, cheese: Wisconsin Public Radio, December 10, 2015.
Speakers: Need for dementia care rising: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, December 9, 2015.
Wisconsin's health care system overall ranks relatively high : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 8, 2015.
No Obamacare break this year, government warns : NBC News, December 8, 2015.
Heroin overdoses, deaths on the rise : Beloit Daily News, December 8, 2015.

Judge dismisses taxicab firms' lawsuit over lifting of permit caps : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 8, 2015.
Attorney General won't intervene in John Doe case : Wisconsin State Journal, December 8, 2015.
Judges never evaluated, rarely challenged : HRT News, December 7, 2015.
3 judges have majority of cases reversed : Appleton Post Crescent, December 7, 2015.

Gas prices at levels not seen since 2009: Duluth News Tribune, December 9, 2015.
Critics push back on Milwaukee I-94 expansion: Wisconsin Public Radio, December 9, 2015.
Two Rivers nets federal highway bill: Herald Times Reporter, December 9, 2015.
Wisconsin DOT still evaluating some roads for 70mph speeds: Wisconsin Radio Network, December 8, 2015.
Ribble says Congress must find long term highway funding plan: Wisconsin Radio Network, December 7, 2015.
Mild winter could help Wisconsin's summer road construction: Wisconsin Public Radio, December 7, 2015.
Railroads beat back new safety rules after derailments: La Crosse Tribune, December 7, 2015.

Utilities and Energy
PSC clears sale of We Energies power plant near Wauwatosa hospitals: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 10, 2015.
Juneau electric rate increase considered: Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, December 8, 2015.
Duffy earns honors for rural support: Superior Telegram, December 8, 2015.
Marshfield water rates could increase by 15%: Marshfield News Herald, December 7, 2015.
Group wants consumers involved in study of rising energy rates: Wisconsin Public Radio, December 7, 2015.
Paris climate debate reflected in Wisconsin divisions: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 7, 2015.

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