Hamilton Political Tidbits – February 27, 2015

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 February 27, 2015


Capitol Square in Madison was an eventful place this week, as hundreds gathered in protest of the Right To Work legislation in the Senate. After a nine-hour committee session and eight hours of floor debate, the Senate passed the bill, which you can read about in this week's Tidbits. In addition, this week you can learn about the administration's decision to delay a debt payment, the state's upgraded broadband website and the recent changes in the governor's administration. We are gearing up for next week, when the Assembly will take up the right-to-work bill and the Joint Finance Committee will hear agency briefings on the governor's proposed budget. Next week Friday, watch for Hamilton's Political Tidbits to get all the updates on what will surely be another busy week at the Capitol! 


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.

Legislature in Midst of Extraordinary Session on "Right to Work"

Last week, legislative leaders announced an extraordinary session of the Wisconsin legislature to pass Right to Work legislation. Soon after the announcement, Governor Scott Walker said he would sign Right to Work into law if the bill reaches his desk.



Governor Walker Shuffles Cabinet

Last week, Governor Walker announced administrative staff changes at Department of Administration (DOA), Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), and Public Service Commission (PSC). The changes include:
  • Scott Neitzel - Secretary, DOA
  • Michael Huebsch - Commissioner, PSC
  • Cate Zeuske - Deputy Secretary, DOA
  • Tricia Braun - Chief Operating Officer, WEDC
  • Brian Schimming - Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, WHEDA
  • Ellen Nowak - Chairperson, PSC
  • Bob Seitz - Executive Assistant to incoming Chairperson, PSC

Supreme Court to Decide on PSC Wind Turbine Siting Rule

On Thursday, February 5, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case Wisconsin Realtors Ass'n v. PSC (2013AP1407). The Court will decide whether the Public Service Commission (PSC) followed state statute when promulgating PSC 128, relating to wind turbine siting restrictions.

Walmart Raises Wages

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon: Our Associates Make the Difference
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

Walmart, the largest private employer in the U.S., has announced it will raise wages for current associates to $10 an hour or higher by early next year and by this April will increase the starting rate to $9 per hour or higher. Walmart estimates approximately 500,000 associates will see a wage increase by July 2015.

Election Update: 20th Senate District and Waukesha County Exec

Statewide primary elections were held in mid-February for local candidates and referenda across the state. The two elections to follow on the state level was the special primary election for the 20th Senate District and the primary for Waukesha county executive.

Supreme Court to Determine Wrongful Death Case

On Wednesday, February 4, 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case Christ v. Exxon Mobile Corp. (2012AP1493). The Court will decide whether the discovery rule will apply to third parties in wrongful death and survival actions.


LinkWisconsin Gets Upgrade

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has announced the LinkWisconsin website has been upgraded to a new website with some new features and tools. 


Get to Know a Freshman

Since the November 2014 election, Hamilton Consulting has been introducing you to every freshman legislator in the 2015-2016 Wisconsin Legislature. With one of the largest freshman classes ever, seven new senators and 25 new representatives, there are a lot of new faces. 

Week 1: Senators Devin LeMahiu (R) and Janis Ringhand (D); Representatives Joel Kitchens (R) and David Bowen (D).

Week 2: Senators Janet Bewley (D) and Steve Nass (R); Representatives Jonathan Brostoff (D) and David Steffen (R).

Week 3: Senators Howard Marklein (R) and Roger Roth (R); Representatives Janel Brandtjen (D) and Mark Spreitzer (D)

Week 4: Senator Van Wanggaard (R); Representatives Terry Katsma (R), Tyler Vorpagel(R), Adam Jarchow (R) and Cody Horlacher (R)

Week 5: Representatives Todd Novak (R), Mike Rohrkaste (R), Amanda Stuck (D), Bob Gannon (R) and Jesse Kremer (R)

Week 6: Representatives Robert Brooks (R), Nancy Vander Meer (R), Beth Meyers (D), Romaine Quinn (R) and Lisa Subeck (D)

Week 7: Representatives Dave Considine (D), Dave Heaton (R), James Edming (R), John Macco (R) and Scott Allen (R) 


LFB: Administration to Delay $108 million Debt Payment

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has released a memo describing the administration's planned restructuring of a general purpose revenue (GPR) $108 million commercial paper principal payment in May 2015. According to the memo, the governor and Department of Administration (DOA) are planning to delay a $108 million debt payment in the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, which ends on June 30th.


State Court Decides on Municipalities Ability to Revoke Conditional Use Permit

On Thursday, January 8, 2015 the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case 
Oneida Seventh Generation Corp. v. City of Green Bay (2013AP591). The supreme court will decide whether the court of appeals properly applied the substantial evidence test, which can effect when a conditional use permit can be revoked by a municipality.

Read more... 

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News Clips 


In conservative transformation of Wisconsin, labor bill poised to pass: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 25, 2015.

Wisconsin Democrats gird for right-to-work Senate vote: Fox11, Feb. 25, 2015.

Union official urges Democrats to oust Chris Abele over pension veto: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 25, 2015.

Deadline for homeland security funding looming: Fox11, Feb. 24, 2015.

NFL players union opposes Wisconsin right-to-work bill: La Crosse Tribune, Feb. 24, 2015.

Paul Ryan reveling in policy, issues - and not the '16 campaign: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 23, 2015.

Insiders say Feingold to seek return to Senate: WTAQ, Feb. 23, 2015.

Lawmakers have yet to scratch surface on Scott Walker budget changes: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 23, 2015.

Candidate Scott Walker and Gov. Scott Walker hit bumps with state GOP: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 23, 2015.


Economic Development

Wisconsin's job creation remained sluggish in latest 12-month report: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 24, 2015.

Walker administration reports 27,500 job growth over year: NBC15, Feb. 24, 2015.

Profits for banks in Wisconsin fell in 2014: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 24, 2015.

Northwestern Mutual dividend payout to reach $5.5 billion: Milwaukee Business Journal, Feb. 19, 2015.

For many in US, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 18, 2015.

State companies pinched by West Coast shipping slowdown: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 17, 2015.

Walker seeks state park funding cuts, higher fees: Green Bay Press Gazette, Feb. 17, 2015.

Walker administration proposes 17% pay hikes for troopers: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 17, 2015.

Gov. Scott Walker's arena proposal could reach at least $380 million: Milwaukee Business Journal, Feb. 16, 2015.

Wisconsin exports hit record high in 2014: BizTimes, Feb. 16, 2015.



White House threatens veto of GOP bill to fix education law: WXOW, Feb. 25, 2015.

Milwaukee Public Schools stands to lose $159 million under House bill: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 25, 2015.

Speculation swirling at UW System campuses about programs that could be cut under Walker budget: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 25, 2015.

Blank, university faculty express optimism amid frustration at undergraduate budget forum: The Daily Cardinal, Feb. 24, 2015.

Wisconsin beats national average on four-year degree completion: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 24, 2015.

Assembly Republicans taking new approach on school sanctions: Chippewa Herald, Feb. 19, 2015.

Efforts underway to curb impact of Common Core-aligned tests: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 16, 2015.

Scott Walker's budget would allow UW System to keep research secret: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 15, 2015.

Educators, lawmakers say K-12 cuts run too deep: Appleton Post-Crescent, Feb. 15, 2015.



DNR board completes largest land conservation purchase: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 25, 2015.

Advocates urge Congress not to cut Great Lakes funding: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Feb. 25, 2015.

Comment Process On DNR Frac Sand Study Gets Off To A Rocky Start: Wisconsin Public Radio, Feb. 25, 2015.

Kind, Walz introduce bill to prep first responders for oil train disaster: La Crosse Tribune, Feb. 24, 2015.

EPA Expected to Announce RFS This Spring: Wisconsin AgConnection, Feb. 23, 2015.

Wisconsin A-G prepares to battle EPA: WSAU, Feb. 23, 2015.

Walker plan to freeze land purchases wins support, dismay: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 22, 2015.

Water, air quality concerns heighten conflict with pig farms: Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, Feb. 16, 2015.

Scott Walker's budget restricts DNR review of timber cutting: Wisconsin State Journal, Feb. 14, 2015.

Walker budget catches DNR Board members off guard: Green Bay Press Gazette, Feb. 14, 2015.



'Mental anguish' law opposed by cop-killer debated in court: Watertown Daily Times, Feb. 26, 2015.

Civil rights alliance weighs in with high court on voter ID: Wisconsin Gazette, Feb. 26, 2015.

FCC approves new net neutrality rules: USA Today, Feb. 26, 2015.

New law cuts police out of private property towing process: Fox6 Now, Feb. 25, 2015.

Regulators asks state high court to disbar lawyer: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 24, 2015.

Court agrees part of Walker rule-making law unconstitutional: Fox 11, Feb. 19, 2015.

Wisconsin Corn Growers File Class Action Lawsuit Over Genetically Modified Seed: Wisconsin Public Radio, Feb. 17, 2015.

Walker budget would change state court funding: Green Bay Press Gazette, Feb. 12, 2015.



E.P.A. Issues Stiffer Rules on Vehicle Fuel Ratings: New York Times, Feb. 23, 2015.

States seek alternatives for highway, bridge funding: Chippewa Herald, Feb. 22, 2015.

BNSF plans $120 million capital spending in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 19, 2015.

Legislative committee hears testimony on 70mph speed limit: Wisconsin Radio Network, Feb. 18, 2015.

State elects to not double-deck freeway near Stadium Interchange: Milwaukee Business Journal, Feb. 17, 2015.

Road builders concerned about transportation fund shortfall: WTAQ, Feb. 15, 2015.

Paying to park at airport? Firm lets travelers put car to work instead: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 15, 2015.

Inspections yield scores for Wisconsin bridges: Appleton Post-Crescent, Feb. 14, 2015.


Utilities & Energy 

Oil up on Saudi demand view even as U.S. crude stocks rise: WHBL, Feb. 25, 2015.

Obama vetoes Keystone XL pipeline bill: Reuters, Feb. 24, 2015.

A disaster waiting to happen: America is awash in oil, but how do we move it around in a safe manner?: Fox6 Now, Feb. 24, 2015.

Officials continue to handle fallout from derailed train: La Crosse Tribune, Feb. 24, 2015.

Gasoline Plunge Wipes Out Profits for U.S. Ethanol Makers: Bloomberg, Feb. 24, 2015.

Union chief says U.S. refinery strike could spread: Reuters, Feb. 24, 2015.

Bill Gates and Other Business Leaders Urge U.S. to Increase Energy Research: New York Times, Feb. 23, 2015.

Another Big Reason to Think Oil Prices Aren't Going Up Soon: Bloomberg, Feb. 20, 2015.

Deal reached on operation of Upper Michigan power plant: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 18, 2015.

Derailed CSX train in West Virginia hauled newer-model tank cars: Reuters, Feb. 17, 2015.

Utility proposal could end dispute over payments in U.P.: Midwest Energy News, Feb. 17, 2015.



Both parties face risks as health care law court case nears: Portage Daily Register, Feb. 25, 2015.

Medical marijuana roadblock: Is Lydia's Law helping our kids?: TMJ4, Feb. 23, 2015.

Governors: No clear plan if health care subsidies fall: Chippewa Herald, Feb. 22, 2015.

State employees would get incentive to forego state health insurance: Wisconsin State Journal, Feb. 18, 2015.

Almost 206,000 Wisconsin residents enrolled in Obamacare: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 18, 2015.

Democrats ask Gov. Walker to take federal money for Medicaid: Fox6, Feb. 16, 2015.

After web glitch is fixed, officials launch intense Obamacare sign-up: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 15, 2015.

Millions in health care gap seek to avoid tax penalty: The Oshkosh Northwestern, Feb. 14, 2015.


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