Hamilton Political Tidbits – January 16, 2015

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 January 16, 2015


Praise for the green and gold ran deep in Governor Scott Walker's State of the State address this week, as did the growing speculation around whether he will be running for President. The governor's short speech, which you can read about in this week's Tidbits, included a pledge to continue to lower property taxes, a plan to merge four state agencies into two, and a push for the legislature to act on legislation not requiring school districts to use Common Core.


Also in this week's Tidbits, find out about the education accountability bill that packed a hearing room and the ongoing discussion on the future of DOT's proposed gas tax increase. In addition, there is an update on the spring election and a recap on the proposed constitutional amendment to change the chief justice selection process.


Finally, keep reading to find out about The Hamilton Consulting Group's two newest team members: R.J. Pirlot, lobbyist and Michelle Wagner, office manager.


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.

New Team Members Join Hamilton Consulting

R.J. Pirlot has joined The Hamilton Consulting Group is its newest lobbyist. R.J. has over 20 years of experience in government and regulatory affairs, including nearly four years with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission where he managed day-to-day operations as Executive Assistant to Chairman Montgomery. Previously, he represented the business community on health care, transportation, energy policy, and telecommunications as the Director of Legislative Relations for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) for over eight years. Before joining WMC, R.J. worked as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Medical Society. He also worked as policy director and legal counsel for the Office of the Wisconsin Assembly Speaker, under Republican Scott Jensen. R.J. received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1994. More on R.J...

Michelle Wagner joined The Hamilton Consulting Group as Office Manager at the beginning of 2015. Michelle has over 20 years of experience in accounting and office administration, which includes accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, general ledger, and benefits administration. 


DOT Budget Proposal: Gas Tax Update

There are only three weeks until the governor's budget address on February 3rd, leaving plenty of time for speculation around what agency budget proposals will or will not make the cut in the governor's budget proposal. One of those key proposals is Department of Transportation Secretary Gottlieb's budget request, which includes a proposal to modify and increase taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. Last week, Governor Walker stated that he's "not particularly keen" on a gas tax increase, which has raised questions regarding the status of his transportation secretary's proposal on the gas tax and other aspects


Gov. Walker's 2015 State of the State Address

State of the State Address Highlights
State of the State Address Highlights

Governor Scott Walker delivered his fifth State of the State address Tuesday night, his first for his second term. Running just twenty-four minutes long, one of his shortest state of the state addresses, the governor said the state of Wisconsin is strong. He highlighted Wisconsin's economic situation, including an ever-improving unemployment rate, growth in private sector jobs, and budget reforms that saved taxpayers $2 billion.

Legislators React to Walker's State of the State

Reactions to the State of the State are always mixed, with people typically splitting along party lines. WisconsinEye once again provided video coverage of both prepared and off-the-cuff reactions following the governor's speech.




Legislation on Chief Justice Selection

The Assembly Judiciary Committee passed legislation yesterday that would change how the Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice is selected. The legislation will be on the floor of the Assembly as soon as Thursday, January 22nd.

If passed by the legislature, the legislation would be one step closer in the process to becoming a constitutional amendment. The amendment would state the chief justice must be selected through a peer election among the justices. The chief justice would hold the position for two years, and would be eligible for peer re-election. Under current law, the chief justice is selected by seniority.



Get to Know a Freshman: Week 5


As we continue our "Get to Know a Freshman" series, we again bring you information on five incoming legislators. With one of the largest freshman classes ever in the Wisconsin Legislature, it may be harder to get to know the newly elected senators and representatives.


This week, Political Tidbits highlights the following new legislators - State Representatives Todd Novak, Mike Rohrkaste, Amanda Stuck, Bob Gannon, and Jesse Kremer. For the 2015-2016 Wisconsin Legislature, the State Senate has seven new senators (five Republican, two Democrat), and the State Assembly has 25 new representatives (18 Republican, seven Democrat).




Election Update

Special Election for the 20th Senate District
The 20th Senate District senate seat will remain vacant as of now, as Congressman Glenn Grothman (R) resigned from the seat shortly before being elected to Congress this January. The governor called a special election for the seat to align with the spring election.

Election for State Supreme Court Justice
This spring one spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court is open for election and final nomination papers for candidates were filed at the end of December. The two candidates for the seat, which has a 10-year term, will be incumbent Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of Wausau and Rock County Circuit Court Judge James Daley of Janesville.


Walker and DNR Work to Boost Elk Population


Governor Walker, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources have finalized an agreement to boost Wisconsin's elk population.


In 1995, a small experimental herd was introduced in Clam Lake, Wis. through a gift from the State of Michigan. The herd has grown to around 160 animals. Since 1995, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Jackson County Wildlife Fund and other stakeholder groups have been working to expand the elk population in Wisconsin.




Gov. Walker's Cabinet Members

After being sworn in for his second term, Governor Scott Walker announced there would be no immediate changes to his cabinet. Although it was previously speculated some positions in the executive branch might change, Walker chose the status quo for now.

Read more for the full list.

Assembly Increases Per Diems for Some

On a party line vote, the Assembly approved changes in their house's rules that would change how much a legislator could collect for travel and overnight stays in the capital city. Prior to the change, Assembly members could receive $88 a day for working in Madison and $44 if you live closer to the Capitol. 



Gallup: Record 43% of Americans are Independents

The Trend Line: More Americans Identify as Democrats Than Republicans
The Trend Line: More Americans Identify as Democrats Than Republicans

A new 
poll from Gallup has reported a record high number of Americans identify as politically independent and not associated with either of the two major political parties. The poll results show that 43% of Americans identify as independent, 30% as Democrats and 26% as Republicans.


FiveThirtyEight: The Most Conservative and Most Liberal Elite Law Schools

In response to a recent article by 
Dahlia Lithwick in The New Republic, Oliver Roeder of FiveThirtyEight has written an article analyzing statistics on the ideology of Supreme Court clerks, their law schools, and how they align with the justices they served.

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News Clips 


Walker says Romney not best GOP candidate in 2016: NBC15, Jan. 15, 2015.

Obama to Seek Spending Boost of Nearly 7 Percent, Setting Up Fight With Congress: Bloomberg, Jan. 15, 2015.

Mike Tate to step down as chairman of Wisconsin Democratic Party: Racine Journal Times, Jan. 15, 2015.

Gov. Scott Walker to speak at national GOP meeting in San Diego tonight: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 15, 2015.

GAB announces new officers for 2015: GAB Office, Jan. 14, 2015.

Scott Walker proposes combining agencies in first State of the State in second term: Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 14, 2015.

GAB overhaul could retain former judges running it: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2015.

GAB removes candidate from ballot in race to succeed Grothman: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 13, 2015.

Poll finds strong support for right-to-work, and unions, in Wisconsin: Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 13, 2015.

GAB member Franke recuses himself from Walker campaign probe: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 13, 2015.

Paul Ryan says he is not running for president in 2016: Chippewa Herald, Jan. 12, 2015.

Senators would be barred from using cameras during debates: Channel 3000, Jan. 12, 2015.

Walker sees end to sky-high spending in governor's race:  (Opinion) Green Bay Press Gazette, Jan. 11, 2015.

Gov. Scott Walker to attend Iowa conservative event: Fox11, Jan. 8, 2015.

Scott Walker hires consultant for possible presidential run: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 7, 2015.

Lawmakers' per diems would rise 56% for overnight stays: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 7, 2015.

Economic Development

Foundation makes investments in Wisconsin companies: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2015.

US retail sales fell in December: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2015.

Local businesses on front lines against trade deficit with China: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 13, 2015.

Wisconsin economic development officials visit downtown Eau Claire to get ideas to share: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Jan. 13, 2015.

Packers win gives state's economy a boost: WISN12, Jan. 12, 2015.

Arts, culture add $700B to US Economy: WBAY, Jan. 12, 2015.

Report: US added 252,000 jobs in December, unemployment fell to 5.6%: WTMJ4, Jan. 12, 2015.

US stocks open lower; crude oil price falls again: Fond du Lac Reporter, Jan. 12, 2015.

Why US inflation stays ultra-low while job growth is surging: Madison.com, Jan. 12, 2015.

Critics claim SEC acting as judge, jury in deciding its cases: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 10, 2015.

Investors Community Bank expected to go public next week: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 9, 2015.

Developers wonder what is next for Wisconsin's historic tax credit program: Milwaukee Business Journal, Jan. 9, 2015.

Gardner Denver to move as many as 200 jobs to Milwaukee: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 7, 2015.



Walker, Vos at odds over sanctions for failing schools: Associated Press, Jan. 15, 2015.

Walker says school bill doesn't need to have sanctions: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Jan. 15, 2015.

Assembly GOP drops key provision of school accountability bill: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2015.

Low-performing schools would not be turned into charters in Senate school bill: Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 14, 2015.

Senate Republicans introduce school accountability bill: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 13, 2015.

Republicans clash on school accountability: Appleton Post-Crescent, Jan. 13, 2015.

Education secretary expected to outline central federal role in policy: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 12, 2015.

Education Secretary says he backs annual testing: WSAW, Jan. 12, 2015.

Wisconsin colleges react to President Obama's free tuition proposal: WJFW, Jan. 12, 2015.

Student tuition now outweighs state funding at public colleges: WUWM, Jan. 5, 2015.

Six education stories to watch in 2015: WUWM, Jan. 3, 2015.



EPA set to regulate oil and gas methane emissions: Wall Street Journal, Jan. 14, 2015.

One of most energy efficient neighborhoods in nation gains peer recognition: Pierce County Herald, Jan.

12, 2015.

Project will cut pollution from coal plant near Portage: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 12, 2015.

DNR reports no slowing in Wisconsin frac sand mining despite oil slump: The Cap Times, Jan. 11, 2014.

Senate 4 votes short on Keystone: WISN Milwaukee, Jan. 11, 2015.

Enbridge pipeline expansion, larger than Keystone, drawing some Dane County skeptics: Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 11, 2015.

Lawmaker again proposes 5-year Great Lakes cleanup extension: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Jan. 9, 2015..

Large crowd wants environmental study of new rail line: La Crosse Tribune, Jan. 8, 2015.

Milwaukee County strives to save water, energy, money: Agri-View, Jan. 8, 2015.

For States That Don't File Carbon-Cutting Plans, E.P.A. Will Impose âModel Rule: New York Times, Jan. 7, 2015.

White House: President Obama would veto Keystone XL pipeline bill: The Guardian, Jan. 7, 2015.

Billings, Shilling, Doyle ask for LaCrosse Environmental Impact Study: WKBT, Jan. 7, 2015.

Top Stories of 2014 - and what happened next: Chem.Info, Dec. 6, 2015.

Onalaska applies for 31 percent rate increase to residents' water bills: WKBT, Jan. 6, 2015.



Police killings prompt array of bills in state legislatures: Wisconsin Law Journal, Jan. 15, 2015.

Wisconsin Supreme Court accepts three new cases: Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Jan. 12, 2015.

Group delivers urine sample cups to lawmakers in protest of plans to drug test those on welfare: NBC15, Jan. 12, 2015.

Supreme Court delays action on gay marriage: USA Today, Jan. 9, 2015.

Supreme Court candidate has no opinion on retirement age: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Jan. 8, 2015.

Schimel joins brief asking court to strike down San Francisco gun law: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 8, 2015.

Supreme Court to meet again to decide on hearing gay marriage: WTAQ, Jan. 8, 2015.

Groups ask Supreme Court to hear Wisconsin voter ID case: Fond du Lac Reporter, Jan. 7, 2015.

Legal fight between UW-Milwaukee, student group moves to federal court: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 6, 2015.



US increases security measures at airports after al Qaeda releases bomb recipe to followers: WQOW, Jan. 14, 2015.

Johnson Controls readies automakers for self-driving cars: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 12, 2015.

U.S. Transportation Dept official Feinberg to lead rail regulator: WHBL Sheboygan, Jan. 11, 2015.

GM to unveil electric car that can go 200 miles on single charge: Channel3000, Jan. 10, 2015.

Walker, lawmakers walk away from gas tax hike: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 10, 2015.

Honda hit with $70 million in fines for failing to report accidents over 11 years: Channel3000, Jan. 8, 2015.

Man pleads guilty to violating safety regs in Mitchell Airport fuel leak: WHBL Sheboygan, Jan. 8, 2015.


Utilities & Energy 

Drilling declines in North Dakota on low oil prices: Star Tribune, Jan. 14, 2015.

Obama pushes universal broadband access: WKBT La Crosse, Jan. 14, 2015.

In Wis., renewable energy advocates reluctantly take on underdog role: E&E Publishing, Jan. 13, 2015.

We Energies agrees to sell Upper Peninsula power plant: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 13, 2015.

Growing competition, tougher rules haunt U.S. coal market -- study: E&E Publishing, Jan. 12, 2015.

Biden to host Caribbean leaders for energy summit: WXOW La Crosse, Jan. 12, 2015.

Walker declares energy emergency due to propane supply: WISN, Jan. 9, 2015.

RENEW Wisconsin honors clean energy installations: Wisconsin State Journal, Jan. 7, 2015.

Milwaukee County strives to save water, energy, money: Agri-view, Jan. 7, 2015.



Obamacare enrollment in Wisconsin running ahead of last year: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 14, 2015.

New tax forms to fill out on health insurance coverage:Oshkosh Northwestern, Jan. 13, 2015.

New report: Tobacco-related health problems costing Wisconsin: WEAU, Jan. 13, 2015.

Medicare aims to improve coordinating seniors' chronic care: Madison.com, Jan. 13, 2015.

Medical College of Wisconsin pays $840,000 to settle federal case: Milwaukee Business Journal, Jan. 9, 2015.

Health care sign-ups steady as uninsured rate hits new low: The Journal Times, Jan. 8, 2015.

h insurance costs should be at top of state's agenda in 2015 (opinion): Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jan. 7, 2015.

Healthcare.gov sign-ups rise to 6.6 million as of Jan. 2: U.S. government: WHBL, Jan. 7, 2015.

Wisconsin schools encouraged to apply for fitness grant: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, Jan. 6, 2015.


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