Hamilton Political Tidbits – January 19, 2018

Political Tidbits - January 19, 2018
Hamilton Consulting Group
 January 19, 2018
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.

Things are moving quickly in the legislature with just a few months left of the 2017-18 session. From bills to administrative rules to elections, this Tidbits covers the latest action from the capitol. In this edition:
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Wisconsin Special Election Results Draw National Headlines

While only 15 percent of voters turned out to elect a new senator in Wisconsin's open 10th state Senate District last Tuesday, the results have caused a stir nationwide.

Democrat Patty Schachtner won the western Wisconsin seat with 55 percent of the vote over Republican Assembly Rep. Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake).  Schachtner's margin of victory is a 27 percent difference from what President Trump beat Hillary Clinton by in the district and an over 30 percent difference in former Sen. Sheila Harsdorf's (R-River Falls) margin over her Democratic opponent in 2016. 

Gov. Walker Calls Special Session on Welfare Reform

Gov. Scott Walker issued an executive order on Thursday calling for a special session of the legislature on welfare reform. As part of the special session, the legislature will take up a package of 10 bills authored by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield).

Floor Report: Assembly Votes on First Bills of 2018 and Unveils 2018 Agenda

The Assembly met on Jan. 16 for the legislature's first floor session of 2018. In the relatively short calendar, most of the bills passed on a bipartisan basis with little discussion. Before the session began, Assembly Republican leadership met for a press conference to discuss what's to come in the rest of 2018 session.
Governor's Task Force on Opioid Abuse Meets, Reviews Pew Recommendations

Gov. Scott Walker's Task Force on Opioid Abuse met at North Central Technical College in Wausau on Jan. 5. The bulk of the meeting was a presentation from Pew Charitable Trusts, informing the committee of their recommendations for substance use disorder treatment and prevention.
Bills of Note: Protective Status for County Jailers, Occupation Credential Fee Waivers, Apprenticeships, Talent Attraction
Representatives from the Badger State Sheriffs' Association and Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association met at the capitol to testify in support of AB 676.

Protective Status for County Jailers
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Assembly Committee on Corrections held a public hearing on AB 676 to provide protective status for county jailers. Testifying in support of the legislation were representatives from the Badger State Sheriffs' Association and Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, among others.
Continue reading about the protective status bill.

Occupation Credential Fee Waivers
Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) have authored legislation (AB 733/SB 616) that would waive fees for initial occupation credentials for people whose incomes are beneath 180 percent of the federal poverty line. The bill also eliminates the provision in the veterans fee waiver program that says veterans may only receive one fee waiver under the program. The Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform and the Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations have both held public hearings on the bill.
Continue reading about the fee waiver bill.

On Jan. 10, the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development held a public hearing on three bills that promote apprenticeships in Wisconsin: AB 745, regarding apprenticeship participation for high school seniors, AB 734 regarding tax deductions for apprenticeship tuition expenses, and AB 124 regarding marketing employment and training programs.

Talent Attraction
The Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy held a hearing on Jan. 10 on AB 811, authored by Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) and Sen. Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac), that directs the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), in coordination with other agencies, to develop and implement talent attraction initiatives in Wisconsin.

CMS to Allow States to Implement Medicaid Work Requirements

On Jan. 11, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance to allow states to incorporate work requirements in their Medicaid programs. States pursue changes to Medicaid eligibility through Section 1115 Demonstration Waivers. As outlined in the guidance, CMS requires state proposals to describe strategies to assist individuals in meeting work requirements, comply with disability and civil rights laws, and make modifications for individuals with substance abuse disorders.
Ten states, including Wisconsin, have already submitted demonstration waivers proposing work requirements to CMS.
Rep. Spiros Named Interim Transportation Committee Chair

Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) was appointed Thursday as interim chairman of the Assembly Committee on Transportation. Spiros replaces former Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi), whom Gov. Scott Walker recently appointed to be the assistant deputy secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Governor's Autonomous Vehicle Committee January Meeting

The Governor's Steering Committee on Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Testing and Deployment met at the Capitol on Jan. 17. Created under Executive Order 245, the Committee continues to collect a variety of information on autonomous vehicles that will inform a final report due to the governor by June 30, 2018.
LFB Projects Surplus at the End of the 2017-19 Biennium

On Jan. 17, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released their latest projections for the 2017-19 biennium. LFB increased their ending general fund balance projection assumed in the state budget by $137.5 million, leaving the state with a net balance of $385.2 million. The 2017-19 biennium ends on June 30, 2019.
EPA Designates Much of Southeastern Wisconsin as Nonattainment for 2015 Ozone Standards

In November 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated most of the country as either attainment/nonattainment under the 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. Nonattainment areas are those that do not meet (or contribute to ambient air quality in a nearby area that does not meet) the national primary or secondary ambient air quality standards, which were changed to 0.70 parts per billion (ppb) from 0.75 ppb for ozone. Portions of eastern Wisconsin along Lake Michigan were not included in EPA's original ozone designation. 

On Dec. 20, 2017, EPA sent a letter to the state of Wisconsin which included a technical support document, explaining its rationale for designating large portions of eastern Wisconsin as nonattainment.


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News Clips
Ron Johnson links Medicaid to opioid crisis during hearing: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 17, 2018.
GOP leaders pitch children's health funding in plan to avert shutdown: The Hill, January 16, 2018.

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