Hamilton Political Tidbits – December 2, 2016

Dec. 2, 2016 - Political Tidbits
Hamilton Consulting Group
 December 2, 2016
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.

The election is over, recounts are underway and the 2017-18 Wisconsin legislative session is fast approaching. In this week's Tidbits, read about the legislative leadership elections and the recent Joint Finance Committee appointments. Also in this edition, find out more about how state agency budget requests exceed expected revenues for the next biennium. This edition also includes a recap on the Wisconsin presidential recount and Shilling-Kapanke recount. Read more on the Group Insurance Board's meeting on moving state employees' health care to a self-insurance model and an update on the Governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse. All this and more below! 

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.

Caucus Leadership Elections Held

Sen. Majority Leader Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Vos
Wisconsin legislators have held their caucus leadership elections for the 2017-18 legislative session. In the Senate, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R - Juneau) was again selected to be Senate Majority Leader. Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D - La Crosse) was re-elected as Senate Minority Leader, even with the ongoing recount in her Senate district.

In the Assembly, Rep. Robin Vos (R - Rochester) will be re-elected Assembly Speaker. Rep. Jim Steineke (R - Kaukauna) prevailed over challenger Rep. Kevin Petersen (R - Waupaca) to remain as Assembly Majority Leader. In the Democratic Assembly caucus, Rep. Peter Barca (D - Kenosha) ran unopposed and was re-elected as Assembly Minority Leader for the fourth straight legislative session. 

Fitzgerald, Vos, Shilling Announce JFC members

GOP legislative leaders officially chose who will lead the all-powerful Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) through next session's budget process.
Despite being amid a recount, Sen. Minority Leader Shilling (D-La Crosse) announced today her reappointment of Sens. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and John Erpenbach (D-Middleton) to the JFC.
On Dec. 1, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) announced he plans to add Reps. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) to the committee and remove Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh). There was one vacant spot due to the retirement of Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson).
Prior to Thanksgiving, Vos announced that Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) will remain co-chair. Also, returning to the committee is vice-chair Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma).
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) announced in November that he would keep the same GOP members on the JFC next session. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) will return as co-chair of the JFC, joined by returning vice-chair Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Berlin). Sens. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls); Leah Vukmir, (R-Brookfield); Thomas Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst); and Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), will also keep their seats on the committee.

State Agency Budget Requests Exceed Expected Revenue by $693 Million

On Nov. 21, the Department of Administration (DOA) released a report on agency budget requests and revenue estimates for the 2017-19 biennium.

As in previous years, these budget requests exceed the revenue projections for FY 2017-19. DOA Secretary Scott Neitzel notes this "imbalance" in the opening letter of the report, stating as in the past, not all state agency budget requests will be included in the governor's budget.

DOA estimates revenues will increase by 2.9 percent in FY 18, totaling $15.888 billion and by 3 percent in FY 19, totaling 16.370 billion. However, general fund agency budget requests exceed the revenue estimates by $250.2 million in the first year of the upcoming biennium (FY 2018) and $442.8 million in the second year. 

Presidential Recount Begins Across Wisconsin

A recount of presidential election ballots began Thursday across Wisconsin. The recount, initiated and funded by Green Party candidate Jill Stein's campaign, will be the first presidential recount in Wisconsin since 2004. The recount will cost approximately $3.5 million and is set to be completed by Monday, Dec. 12.

Sen. Shilling Faces Recount in District 32

Sen. Jennifer Shilling and Dan Kapanke
The recount of the District 32 Senate race began Monday. After the Nov. 8 election results showed that Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) finished just 56 votes ahead of her challenger, former Republican Sen. Dan Kapanke requested the recount.
The recount is expected to last up to six days. So far, unofficial results show that Kapanke picked up two votes in Crawford County and lost one vote in Monroe County. La Crosse and Vernon counties have not yet released any results.
Despite the looming recount, Shilling was re-elected as Senate Minority Leader for next session. Shilling and various county clerks have expressed confidence that the recount will not change the outcome of the election.

DNR Announces Realignment

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced on Wednesday plans to reorganize its staff and resources to provide better oversight of the department.
According to the press release, the realignment will not reduce environmental standards or the number of jobs at the DNR, but will change job descriptions, reporting structure and division assignments for approximately five percent of employees. The DNR will reduce its structure from seven to five operational units: Forestry; Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Environmental Management; Internal Services and External Services.

GIB Reviews Self-Insurance Responses 

On November 30, the Group Insurance Board (GIB) convened to discuss the nine responses received under the state's Request for Proposals (RFP) to move employees to a self-insurance model. Under a self-insurance model, the state would assume the risk for claims and directly pay benefits. Currently, the state contracts with and pays a fixed monthly premium to 17 health insurers.
Prior to the meeting, the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) released a report outlining the current State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance Program (GHIP), benefits and concerns with self-insurance, and the RFP results. The report cited possible concerns to include increased risk for the state under the self-insurance model and potential administrative costs. As a benefit, ETF cited the elimination of Affordable Care Act (ACA) Market Share Fees, which would not apply under the self-insured model. 

Governor's Opioid Abuse Task Force Convenes

The governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse convened for their first meeting on Oct. 28 in Green Bay and their second meeting on Nov. 22 in Weston.

In September, Gov. Walker issued Executive Order 214 to establish a task force to gather data, analyze actions of Wisconsin and other states, and recommend additional action items for the state to take to combat the opioid epidemic. A September 2015 report from the Department of Health Services found more Wisconsin citizens died due to drug overdoses than from motor vehicle crashes, suicide, breast cancer, colon cancer, firearms, influenza, or HIV. 

Continue reading about updates from the Opioid Task Force.
Update on Med 24, the Telemedicine Rule

In the fall of 2015 the Medical Examining Board (MEB) submitted an order to create Med Chapter 24 related to telemedicine to provide greater clarity for physicians with regards to the practice of telemedicine in Wisconsin.

In November, the MEB held a public hearing on the redrafted rule. The amended draft received written support from groups like the Alliance of Health Insurers, the Wisconsin Medical Society, and the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

With no signs of opposition to the new language, the MEB approved the updated Med 24 unanimously.  

Continue reading about the Telemedicine Rule.

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News Clips
No major surprises as presidential recount begins in Wisconsin: Wisconsin State Journal, December 2, 2016.
Wisconsin Assembly GOP members named to budget committee: Wisconsin Public Radio, December 1, 2016
Sean Duffy joins Trump transition team: Superior Telegram, December 1, 2016.
Presidential recount kicks off in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 1, 2016.
Brown County ballots arrive for recount: Green Bay Press-Gazette, December 1, 2016.
Head of state Democratic Party leaving post: Wisconsin State Journal, November 30, 2016.
What Stein is getting from recount: The Hill, November 30, 2016.

Utilities and Energy
DNR: Large farms could write own permit applications: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, December 1, 2016.
DNR Will Step Back From Writing Large Farm Permits: Wisconsin Public Radio, November 30. 2016.
Walker seeks USDA help for area orchards, berry growers: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, November 30, 2016.

Economic Development
Economy added 178,000 new jobs in November: Politico, December 2, 2016.
Midwest economic survey shows improvement in November: Madison.com (AP), December 1, 2016.
Wisconsin bank profits slip, while banks nationwide earn more: Wisconsin State Journal, November 30, 2016.
Trump's economic team taking shape: The Hill, November 30, 2016.

Scores sound off on proposed rail plan: Beloit Daily News, December 1, 2016.
Public comment on proposed Amtrak expansion extended: Racine Journal Times, November 30, 2016.

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