Hamilton Political Tidbits – Feb. 14, 2014

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 Feb. 14, 2014  

Tensions between political leaders continue to run high around the Capitol as session enters the final six weeks. Passage of the Governor's special session bill, while inevitable, has highlighted the rift between the Republican controlled Senate and Assembly caucuses as they've exchanged public barbs. Even with the apparent gridlock, there is a boatload of legislative action taking place both in committee,on the floor, and in drafting rooms.


Governor Walker has stayed above the fray and focused on the propane shortage and his packed schedule, while the national spotlight seems to be focusing in more on his future aspirations.  Hamilton lobbyists cover these things and more in this week's edition of Tidbits.....


If you require additional information about a topic addressed in Tidbits, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting Team.
Joint Committee Hears Testimony on Worker's Compensation Bills

Last week, a joint public hearing of the Assembly and Senate Labor committees was held on AB 711 and Senate Bill 550.   


These companion bills were forwarded to the legislature by the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council, a council made up of management and labor representatives who negotiate worker's compensation policy changes.  This Council has been advising the legislature on worker's compensation policy since the law's inception in 1911. 


Read more... 


Marquette Poll Measures Governor Race

The Marquette poll recently released its latest iteration helping us gauge the overall state political climate as we officially enter the election year.  


The poll measured the status of the Governor's race as well as some of the hot button issues the legislature is facing.  The major change from the last Marquette poll (done in October) to this one is that Mary Burke is the only candidate measured on the Democratic side as potential challenger Kathleen Vinehout previously announced she would not run against her in a primary.


Read more...  


Gov. Walker Asks for Obama's Help During Propane Shortage

In the wake of unusually cold winter temperatures, Wisconsin and other Midwestern states find themselves in a major propane supply shortage.


In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Scott Walker asked the President to lead a supply chain to arrange movement of propane from areas it is in excess, to where it is needed.



Read more... 


Business Day in Madison a Success

The 12th annual Business Day in Madison, hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, was recently held in Madison. Attendees heard speakers from around the United States talk and discuss the state, national, and international business climate.


Committee Passes Legislation Allowing Strip Searches - Headed to the Floor for Vote

Legislation ( AB 556/SB 447) introduced by Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukeville ) and Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) amends Wisconsin's current law to allow strip searches if a person is lawfully arrested or detained by law enforcement and if the person will be incarcerated or detained in a jail or prison with one or more persons.  


Under current Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a strip search when arrested for any felony, for certain misdemeanors, or for any misdemeanor or civil violation if there is probable cause to believe that the person is concealing a weapon or something that would constitute evidence of the offense for which he or she has been detained.


Read more...  


Public Hearing on Bill Limiting Liability for Parents Negligence of Minor Drivers

Legislation (AB 706) was introduced by Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) that would protect parents from unlimited liability when their minor child is involved in an automobile accident.


Wisconsin is currently one of only 12 states that imposes unlimited liability to parents who sign their child's driver's license application. AB 706 could cap damages for parents at $300,000.




Read more... 


Report Helps Returning Veterans Find Services

State provided services and resources can be hard to find with so many laws and initiatives being passed and discussed across the state and federal government.


In a recent report from the Wisconsin Legislative Bureau, the many services and programs available to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were compiled to help veterans find the services. The report lists nearly 40 state and federal programs to assist veterans in education, mental health, physical disabilities, transportation, and tax credits.


See the full list of services here.

Read more... 


Elections Update

Walker gains fundraising support

Fundraising totals for the last six months of 2013 were announced recently, and Gov. Scott Walker has out raised Democratic opponent Mary Burke, from July 1st to December 31st. Walker raised $5.1 million, and reported 75 percent of donations came from donors who gave $50 or less. Burke reported $1.79 million was raised in the second half of 2013.


Rep. Strachota will not seek re-election

Recently announced, Representative Pat Strachota (D-West Bend), will not seek re-election in 2014. Strachota, who has held the 58th Assembly District seat for 10 years, cited family care concerns as her reason for departure. The representative stated in a press release her pride for serving Wisconsin during such a historic time and stated she will continue to pursue her passion for good government.


Sen. Schultz announces retirement, plan for redistricting

Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) will retire from the legislature this year after 22 years in the state Senate. In stating his reasons for retirement, Schultz stated "democracy thrives when new blood is injected into the system," but he is not retiring from public life.  


Schultz also stated he is most proud of the creation of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway and WisconsinEye. Schultz does not plan to leave the Senate without making some final shake-ups.  


In a joint press release, Sen. Schultz and Sen. Cullen (D-Janesville), who also announced he will not be seeking re-election this fall  announced their plan for redistricting. 


This post was authored by Hamilton intern Rebecca Ballweg.
Legislative Days at State Capitol

Legislative Days provides an opportunity for individuals and businesses to come to Madison to meet with their elected officials and discuss issues of importance to them. Members from Xcel Energy, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Economic Development Association, and the Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus, met with state senators, legislators, and elected officials this past week.



Read more... 


Wisconsin Court of Appeals Rules on OWI Case

The Court of Appeals for Wisconsin's Second District recently ruled on Village of Grafton v. Seatz. The case brought to issue whether an Operating While Intoxicated offense received in the past in a state other than Wisconsin could be considered as a "first offense," thus making an offense in Wisconsin a second offense and warranting the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Eric Seatz had done just this, being convicted of an OWI in Michigan in 1997, and a second over ten years later in Wisconsin. The court determined that his conviction was legally his second offense and ordered the installation of an ignition interlock device into his vehicle.




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News Clips 


'State of the tribes' speech skirts issue of Kenosha Casino: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 13, 2014

Assembly passes Scott Walker's $505 million tax cut plan: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 11, 2014.

Kenosha schools, teachers union at odds over deducting union dues: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 11, 2014.

Amid GOP division, Assembly panel approves Walker tax cuts: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 6, 2014.

Wave of moderate retirements could push Wisconsin more partisan: Appleton Post-Crescent, Feb. 6, 2014.

Assembly, Senate Republican leaders at odds over proposed tax cuts: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 5, 2014.


Economic Development and Finance

Officials: Bill barring local wage laws would cost some workers: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 12, 2014.

Consumer debt blamed for stalled economy: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 12, 2014.

Bill would ban local 'living wage' laws, shelve Milwaukee County idea: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 11, 2014.

Local industries remained steady, increased during 2013: La Crosse Tribune, Jan. 31, 2014

Walker touts state's economic recovery at FCEDC event: Fond du Lac Reporter, Jan. 30, 2014

Manufacturing sector continues growth streak: BizTimes, Jan. 30, 2014

Tax credit bill sails through Senate: Gazette Xtra, Jan. 29, 2014

Minnesota joins Wisconsin in concern over propane prices: Pioneer Press, Jan. 27, 2014

Hong Kong seeks quality Wisconsin products, says trade leader: Milwaukee Business Journal, Jan. 28, 2014.

Utilities and Energy

Homeowners could face frozen pipe expenses: WBAY, Feb. 13, 2014

Signs the propane industry crisis easing: WBAY, Feb. 13, 2014.

Huge US thermal plant opens as industry grows: The Chippewa Herald, Feb. 13, 2014

Propane pipeline shipments increasing, as Feds extend emergency action: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 11, 2014.

Using emergency powers, feds order more propane shipments to Midwest: Milwaukee

Journal Sentinel, Feb. 10, 2014.

Propane companies could face state action: Wisconsin Radio Network, Feb. 10, 2014.

Cold start to winter fuels higher Wisconsin Energy earnings: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 6, 2014.

Xcel Energy says gas conservation helped in wake of pipeline rupture: TwinCities.com, Feb. 6, 2014.

Thanks, polar vortexes! January heating costs jump 25% to 40%: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 5, 2014.

More oil leaving Superior, Wis. by rail: PrairieBizMag.com, Feb. 5, 2014.

WBI Energy starts open season for pipeline to move Bakken gas output: Platts, Jan. 30, 2014

Regulators OK We Energies conversion of Menomonee Valley coal plant: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 30, 2014

Milwaukee's Valley coal plant will switch to natural gas, PSC rules: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 30, 2014.

Municipal, business groups back measure to stall phosphorus rules: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 29, 2014.



Assembly approves bill on mental health detentions: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 13, 2014

Mayo buys land in Onalaska, hints at expanding care: Onalaska Holmen Courier-Life, Feb. 13, 2014

GE Healthcare closes ATI Healthcare acquisition: Milwaukee Business Journal, Feb. 13, 2014

Bill would limit costs for medical care under Wisconsin's worker's comp: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 9, 2014.

Private health insurance exchanges may have benefits: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 9, 2014.

Report: 55,000 Wisconsin women affected by insurance coverage gap: Green Bay Press-Gazette, Feb. 7, 2014.

Scott Walker pledges support for mental health bill: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 6, 2014.

Walker signs 7 bills designed to improve mental health services in Wisconsin: Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Feb. 6, 2014.

Pasch fears mental health reform could be used for political gain: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 4, 2014.

Genetic testing changing how doctors diagnose, treat patients: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 3, 2014.

The Price You'll Pay for Obamacare Varies Wildly Depending on Where You Live: Bloomberg Businessweek, Feb. 3, 2014.


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