Hamilton Political Tidbits – February 5, 2016

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Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
February 5, 2016

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Win, Lose, Draw: Iowa Caucus 2016

Up until now, the presidential election has been all poll numbers and speculation, but now we finally have our first results from the 2016 Iowa caucus on Monday night.

In the Republican caucus, Sen. Ted Cruz "won," although he only earned one more delegate than Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio, who came in second and third, respectively. Cruz will go into the New Hampshire primary (February 9) with eight delegates. Also picking up delegates in Iowa were Ben Carson, 3; former Gov. Jeb Bush, 1; Carly Fiorina, 1 and Gov. John Kasich, 1.

Gov. Chris Christie and Jim Gilmore (yes, he's still running) received zero delegates but are staying in the race. Gov. Christie said later in the week, "I performed exactly as I expected in Iowa." Good for you Governor.

Read more about the results of the Iowa caucus, and what to expect in New Hampshire next week.
Legislature Running Out of Time

The legislative session is quickly winding down and legislators are rushing to get their bills done before they head home for campaign season. Just this week 34 committee hearings and meetings were held in the capitol. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has repeatedly said the Assembly will wrap up its work in February. State representatives will be to the floor February 9 and 11. They will also be in on February 16-18.

The Senate will be on the floor February 9 and 16 as well, Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald says the Senate plans to use floor days at least through March 15.

Read more about the controversial bills still left in the legislative process.

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of FERC

On January 25, 2016 the Supreme Court decided the case FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has authority under the Federal Power Act (FPA) to regulate the wholesale interstate transmission and sale of electricity. FERC enacted an order which attempted to incentivize a reduction in energy consumption by retail consumers. A coalition of wholesale market participants who had unsuccessfully attempted to scuttle the rule during the notice and comment period sued arguing that FERC did not have authority to promulgate it. The coalition further argued that the rule was arbitrary and capricious because FERC did not adequately respond to the arguments put forth in the comments in opposition to the order.

Don't Forget to Vote! Supreme Court Primary - Feb. 16

The Wisconsin Supreme Court Primary will be held on Tuesday, February 16. Incumbent Rebecca Bradley, Joseph Donald and Joanne Kloppenburg will face off to determine the top two candidates who will advance to the April 5 general election. The winner of the general election earns a 10 year term to replace Justice N. Patrick Crooks, who died unexpectedly last fall.

Read more about the race.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble Announces Retirement

U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble announced his decision not to seek reelection to the 8th Congressional District, which covers large areas of northeast Wisconsin.

Elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, Ribble had previously announced he would not serve for longer than eight years, so a retirement announcement was not expected until 2018. Rep. Ribble cited his decision to retire as a desire to spend more time with his family and return to the private sector. Additionally, Rep. Ribble says he has accomplished his original goals of preserving many of President George W. Bush's tax cuts and rolling back or holding steady federal discretionary spending. Over past months, Rep. Ribble has been a vocal and frequent critic of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Legislation to Allow Out-of-State Companies to Purchase Water & Sewer Utilities Advances

A bill ( AB 554/ SB 432) that creates a process for out-of-state utility companies to purchase or lease sewer utilities in Wisconsin is advancing through the legislature. Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) introduced the legislation in December.

The Assembly passed AB 554 on a voice vote in January. Last week, the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works and Military Affairs passed AB 554 with a vote of 3-2, along party lines.

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 mandatory referendum that is held for a vote in the municipality.

AB 554 creates a new process for the sale or lease of water utilities. Under the new process, a referendum would only occur if the citizens request a referendum by petition and meet the signature and time frame thresholds set under the bill. In addition, even if a referendum moves forward, it is done before the PSC sets the price and terms.

Read more about the legislation.
Legislation Would Support New Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Trail

Bipartisan legislation to create a new "Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Trail" through Wisconsin will be on the floor of the Assembly next week, where it is expected to pass.

Assembly Bill 512/ Senate Bill 384, introduced by Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville), Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine), and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), will direct the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a trail stretching from the Wisconsin/Illinois state line, through Madison, and to Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Spring Green. The trail would promote different Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings along the trail, and would be promoted by the Department of Tourism.

The signage is expected to cost DOT a little more than $40,000, and the Department of Tourism is expecting to spend $500,000 per biennium to promote the trail. These marketing funds would come out of the marketing funds already available to the Dept. of Tourism under the 2015-2017 State Budget.
Trading Companies Say They Need More Workers

Forty plumbing, HVAC, carpentry and electrician apprentices took part in the 26th annual Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin Skill Comp January 22 at the Washington County Fair Park and Conference Center in West Bend.  Four winners at the event will be moving onto the national contest to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.  U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman and representatives from Sen. Ron Johnson's office and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce development also attended to support the competition.

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News Clips 
Poll: Rubio, Cruz gain on Trump in N.H. : Politico, February 5, 2016.
Wisconsin lawmaker aims to ban late-night budget votes : La Crosse Tribune, February 5, 2016.
Term limits proposed for Wisconsin governor, lawmakers : Wisconsin Radio Network, February 4, 2016.
Gorski, Krug to vie for 72nd Assembly seat : Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, February 4, 2016.
Ron Johnson's identity challenge with voters : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 3, 2016.
Scott Walker sets $20 million bar for spring legislation : Wisconsin State Journal, February 3, 2016.
Scott Fitzgerald wants to bar county executives from Legislature : Wisconsin State Journal, February 2, 2016.
State Rep. Nygren says he may seek seat held by Ribble : Janesville Gazette, February 1, 2016.
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble to retire later this year : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 1, 2016.

Economic Development
How the minimum markup law hampers competition : (Opinion) Right Wisconsin, February 5, 2016.
US added just 151k jobs in Jan.; unemployment at 4.9 pct. : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 5, 2016.
Minnesota company working to buy Wisconsin caterpillar plant : Wisconsin Public Radio, February 4, 2016.
Home Depot to hire more than 80,000 workers for busy spring : Milwaukee Business News, February 3, 2016.
Wauwatosa approves $54 million for Mayfair Collection expansion : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 3, 2016.
GM, city meet to talk marketing plan for car plant : Janesville Gazette, February 2, 2016.
Midwest economic survey figures rise for first time in months : La Crosse Tribune, February 1, 2016.
Low oil prices are a sinking feeling for some Wisconsin companies : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 2, 2016.

Green Bay has $150 million storm water problem : Green Bay Press Gazette, February 5, 2016.
DNR identifies 82 parcels to sell per budget mandate : Janesville Gazette Extra, February 4, 2016.
Committee OKs changes to state's logging tax credit program : Wisconsin Public Radio, February 4, 2016.
Lead content carefully monitored in Ashland water system : Ashland Daily Press, February 3, 2016.
Petitioners skeptical of new DNR water rules : Green Bay Press Gazette, February 2, 2016.
Lawmakers push bills on public benefits fraud, waterway regulations : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 2, 2016.
Sand mining, health troubles link downplayed in report : Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, February 3, 2016.
Wisconsin Assembly panel passes major rewrite of water protections : Wisconsin State Journal, February 3, 2016.
Second Senate bill has wolf delisting amendment : Duluth News Tribune, February 1, 2016.


David Clarke sues Chris Abele alleging violation of free speech : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 3, 2016.
Assembly asks AG about high-capacity wells : Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, February 2, 2016.
Rebecca Bradley campaign footage featured in outside group's ad : Wisconsin State Journal, February 2, 2016.
County Sheriffs speak out against civil forfeiture restrictions : Wisconsin Public Radio, February 1, 2016.
Party politics color governors' judicial picks : Appleton Post Crescent, February 1, 2016.

Automakers to recall 5M vehicles for another air bag problem : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 4, 2016.
GOP Senators waiting on DOT audit before moving on road funding : Wisconsin Public Radio, February 3, 2016.
Lawmakers propose bill to privatize air traffic control : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 3, 2016.
Wisconsin lawmakers want to address Amish safety on roads : La Crosse Tribune, February 2, 2016.
Amish deaths roil debate over traffic laws : Wausau Daily Herald, February 1, 2016.
Feds push for lower BAC for drivers : WKOW, February 1, 2016.

Utilities and Energy
Air monitoring station operating near power plant : Racine Journal Times, February 5, 2016.
Integrys acquisition drives earnings growth for WEC Energy Group : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 4, 2016.
Counties ask for wind farm health study : Fond du Lac Reporter, February 3, 2016.
Okla. company to buy CNG fueling business from We Energies parent : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 2, 2016.
Concerns raised about bill allowing purchase of municipal water systems : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 1, 2016.

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