Hamilton Political Tidbits – December 20, 2016

Dec. 20, 2016 - Political Tidbits
Hamilton Consulting Group
 December 20, 2016
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
Happy Holidays!
From all of us here at the Hamilton Consulting Group, we wish you a happy holiday season. We hope this newsletter finds you, your employees and your family well.
As we close out our 20th year in business, we want to take a moment to let you know how much we value our relationship with our clients and friends. We proved to be an enduring and successful lobbying firm...Thanks to you.
It seems like only yesterday that we started this journey. Although good friends and partners have left - Hough, Osborne, Franken, Cook - they remain a vital part of us. Now, our firm and clients remain in the good hands of our outstanding lobbying team: Andy, R.J., Rebecca, and Caty.
This year-end edition of Tidbits includes an exclusive infographic of Wisconsin's role in the 2016 presidential election. Also, read more on the recent transportation hearing, a preview of the expected budget challenges and the delayed decision on the state moving to self-insurance.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays - we hope the new year brings you great joy and prosperity.

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.

Wisconsin in the 2016 National Election: We're kind of a big deal

Whether you were with her, on the train, or none of the above, if you were in Wisconsin you had a front row seat to one of the wildest political years in recent memory.

Wisconsin's prominent role in the national elections cannot be overstated. Our governor was an early front runner for president, one of our congressmen is the Speaker of the House and a former head of the Wisconsin Republican Party is now chief of staff to the president. On election night, Wisconsin provided some of the biggest surprises and in the electoral aftermath we remained in the spotlight as one of the few states to have a recount.  As the state recovers from the whirlwind year, click here to take a look back.

Assembly Committee Holds Hearing on Transportation Budget

The Assembly Committee on Transportation held a hearing on the Department of Transportation's 2017-19 state budget request on Tuesday, Dec. 6. This budget request includes $500 million in new bonding, but no tax or fee increases. Committee chairperson Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi) and the committee heard from 14 groups with a stake in the transportation budget, including the Department of Transportation (DOT), Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and more.
A significant portion of the all-day hearing was dedicated to testimony from DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb. Gottlieb opened his statement by addressing the need for increased transportation funding to finish mega highway projects and to conduct future studies across the state. At current funding levels, according to Gottlieb, 21 percent of the state highway system would be in poor condition in fiscal year 2018. And in 10 years, roughly half of Wisconsin roads would be in poor condition.

2017-19 Budget Preview

Tis the season for below-zero temperatures, eggnog, and of course, the beginning of the 2017-19 budget process. And, considering the governor and legislators have been engaging in the transportation budget debate since May, this "budget-season" will likely not disappoint.

Most members of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) have been announced, except for the two Democratic Assembly members. The governor will roll-out his budget in late January/early February, kicking off the process in the legislature. As with other (recent) budgets, the major items of focus this year will be K-12 education funding, transportation infrastructure funding and Medicaid. 

Leadership Positions Announced for State Assembly Committees

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) announced leadership positions for the standing committees for the 2017-18 legislative session. The Speaker also added five new Assembly committees: Urban Revitalization; Science and Technology; Federalism and Interstate Relations; Government Accountability and Oversight; and Regulatory Licensing Reform. 

Recently, Vos announced that Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) will remain co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee. Also, returning to the committee is vice-chair Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma).  Vos added Reps. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) to the committee.

GIB Reviews Self-Insurance Responses, Delays Action

On December 13, the Group Insurance Board (GIB) convened to discuss options as it considers the nine responses received under the state's Request for Proposals 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.

On the cusp of the GIB's meeting, the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance, Sen. Darling and Rep. Nygren, wrote the GIB expressing concerns about "the possibility of regionalization as it pertains to our health care system." Specifically, the co-chairs wrote "[a] move to regionalization would create artificial government boundaries and essentially draw a map of coverage where Wisconsin already has viable, functioning marketplaces" and that the regionalization options may not save state money. 

Read more on GIB's recent meeting.

Get to Know a Freshman: Testin and Feyen Join the Senate

Thirteen new members were voted into the Wisconsin Legislature on November 9. There will be two fresh faces in the Wisconsin Senate, Sens. - elect Patrick Testin (R) and Dan Feyen (R). Also, joining the Senate from the Assembly will be Reps. Dave Craig (R- Big Bend) and LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee). 
The State Assembly has 11 new representatives (seven Republicans, four Democrats). New representatives - elect include Ron Tusler (R), Jason Fields (D), David Crowley (D), Rob Stafsholt (R), Shannon Zimmerman (R), Don Vruwink (D), Jimmy Anderson (D), Rob Summerfield (R), Chuck Wichgers (R), Patrick Snyder (R), and Treig Pronschinske (R).
Read about Dan Feyen and Patrick Testin.

2017-18 Wisconsin State Legislature

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News Clips
Ryan: GOP has to fight to win Wisconsin again: The Hill, December 19, 2016.
Trump wins Electoral College vote as insurgency fizzles: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, December 19, 2016.

Utilities and Energy
Some Wisconsin loggers holding off on timber harvests: Wisconsin Public Radio, December 19, 2016.
State Patrol assesses its work at North Dakota pipeline protests: Wisconsin State Journal, December 19, 2016. 

Economic Development
Racine County legislators united on transportation battle: Racine Journal Times, December 20, 2016.
Baraboo 'wheel tax' rolls forward: Baraboo News Republic, December 19, 2016. 
Bipartisan support shown for transportation, education: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, December 17, 2016. 

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