Hamilton Political Tidbits – June 17, 2016

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Hamilton Consulting
Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
June 17, 2016

The 2016 election is formally underway in Wisconsin, as state candidate nomination papers have been certified and both major national political parties have their presumptive nominees.

In this week's Tidbits, read about the results from the latest Marquette Law School Poll and check out our Elections 2016 Issue page where you can review all the candidates running for state office. Also in this week's Tidbits, read about the races in the 12th and 18th Senate Districts, and the 50th and 96th Assembly Districts.

In other state news, Gov. Walker has narrowed down the field of Supreme Court candidates to five individuals. Also, in light of the Attorney General's recent opinion, the Department of Natural Resources has made some changes to the high capacity well program, and reforms to Wisconsin's long-term care programs have stalled. You can read about all of this below.

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.

2016 Election Coverage

Get all of your election news on the 2016 Election Update page at Hamilton-Consulting.com. You can find full candidate listings for every race this year, from Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race to all 99 Assembly races.

New MU Law Poll: National Parties Divided

A recent Marquette University (MU) Law School poll found a drop in Governor Walker's approval rating in Wisconsin and big divides in the major national political parties.
In the presidential election, the poll found that 78 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats are certain they will vote in November. At the same time in 2012, 90 percent of Republicans said they were certain to vote in November, and 80 percent of Democrats reported they were likely to vote.
In the race for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat this year, the MU poll finds that despite Russ Feingold's falling favorability rating, he still beats the incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson, 45 to 41 percent.
In state politics, Governor Scott Walker's approval rating fell for the first time over the last six months. Currently, 39 percent approve of the job he's doing, while 57 percent disapprove. In March, the governor's job approval rating was 43 percent.
Read more about the divided national parties and the race between Sen. Ron Johnson and Russ Feingold.

AG Opinion Drives DNR to Act on High Capacity Well Permit Applications

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced that when reviewing high capacity well permit applications it will limit its review to the criteria set forth in the statutes. DNR cites Attorney General Brad Schimel's May 10, 2016, formal opinion finding that DNR lacks authority to require cumulative impact analysis as a condition to granting a well permit.

The prior perception that DNR needed to evaluate cumulative impacts, an analysis they acknowledge was beyond their capabilities, resulted in hundreds of well applications being sent to regulatory purgatory. Industry representatives are hopeful that permits will now be issued in a timelier manner, and without expensive and unauthorized conditions such as monitoring wells and cumulative impact analysis.

The Schimel opinion rests on 2011 WI Act 21, which requires explicit delegation of authorities to agencies. Any well approvals issued since its passage (June 8, 2011) will be reviewed by DNR for conditions inconsistent with the new policies. But it will be up to the permit holder to contact DNR.

Read more on DNR's New High Capacity Well Application Review Protocols.

Long-term Care Reforms on Hold           

After no action by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) to approve the Family Care/IRIS 2.0 concept paper, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Kitty Rhodes withdrew the concept paper from the committee's purview. In her letter, Secretary Rhodes stated that given JFC has not convened to act on the proposal and may not do so for several months, DHS is withdrawing the plan, but remains committed to the goal of integrated, outcome-based long-term care.
Applicant Field for Supreme Court Vacancy Narrowed

Gov. Scott Walker narrowed the field of Supreme Court applicants from 11 to five after the first round of interviews took place on June 13. The five finalists include: Appeals Court judges Mark Gundrum and Thomas Hruz, Jefferson County Judge Randy Koschnick, Marinette County Judge James Morrison, and attorney Daniel Kelly.

Milwaukee area attorney Daniel Kelly previously requested his name be kept confidential until the list of finalists was released.

Those who did not make it to the second round of interviews include: Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn, Public Service Commission Chair Ellen Nowak, attorney Claude Coveli and former Dane County Judge Jim Troupis.

18th Senate District Again Sees Close Election

Sen. Rick Gudex (R- Fond du Lac) surprised some when he retired after serving one term in the Senate. His retirement leaves an open seat and creates the best opportunity for a party flip this November.

The central Wisconsin district encompasses Oshkosh, Fond du Lac and Waupun and it has seen its share of close state Senate races.

In 2008, Republican Randy Hopper won the then open seat by 184 votes over Democrat Jessica King in a race where over 83,000 votes were cast. King then beat Hopper in the 2011 recall in another close race by a 51-49 percent margin. In 2012, Sen. Gudex knocked off the short-term incumbent King by 600 votes in a race with over 85,000 votes cast. Starting in 2017, the 18th  Senate District will seat its fifth different Senator within a 10-year span. In contrast, over a third of the state will have seen one Senator during that time, with the vast majority having no more than two.

12th Senate District: Incumbent Tom Tiffany

The Democrats have avoided a primary in the race to unseat Sen. Tom Tiffany (R - Hazelhurst). Dave Polashek has dropped out and decided to throw his support behind Van Stippen, leaving him as the only Democrat in the race.

Rep. Ed Brooks to Defend 50th Assembly District Seat

The 50th is a good example of a rural Assembly seat where the numbers look good for Democrats at the top of the ticket, but where the Republican Assembly member is able to significantly outperform Republican numbers in their own election.

Rep. Ed Brooks (R- Reedsburg) was elected in 2008 in his southwestern Wisconsin district and re-elected three times since. In 2012, Brooks won by nearly 1,000 votes while at the same time Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney only got 44 percent of the vote in the 50th. 

Read more about the race for the 50th.

Rep. Nerison to Face Democrat Challenger Alicia Leinberger

Assembly incumbent Lee Nerison (R-Westby) continues to defy the odds in his heavily leaning Democratic district, and most expect that trend to continue in his 2016 campaign for re-election. The 96th   Assembly District, however, is one Democrats will need to win if they hope to make a dent in Republican majorities in the Assembly. Challenging Nerison on the Democratic side is Alicia Leinberger, a renewable energy entrepreneur and self-described "Bernie Sanders Democrat."

After first being elected to the Democratic leaning assembly district in 2004, Nerison has constantly been at the top of the target list for Assembly Democrats. But being on that list has not meant much. Most recently Nerison defeated Democratic challengers in 2012 and 2014 by more than 15 percentage points in each election. Even more impressive is the fact that Nerison ran 16 points ahead of Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a district that heavily favored President Barack Obama in 2012.

JFC Approves WEDC Tax Credit Reallocation

On Monday June 13, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's (WEDC) request to reallocate tax credits between two tax credit programs. WEDC proposed reallocating $8 million in unused Early Stage Business Investment Tax Credits to the Business Development Tax Credit program. Reallocating the angel and early stage seed investment tax credits to the refundable Business Development Tax Credit program will increase the amount of business development tax credits available in 2016 from $17 million to $25 million.

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News Clips 
Economic Development
Wisconsin needs more health care workers for aging population : Wisconsin Public Radio., June 17, 2016.
Zika infection not likely to be problem in Wisconsin : Wisconsin Public Radio, June 15, 2016.
Taskforce recommends improvements to dementia care : Janesville Gazette Xtra, June 14, 2016.
More help for dementia sought : Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, June 14, 2016.
Stemina raises additional funding for autism work : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 13, 2016.

Gov. Walker: Safety, maintenance transportation priorities : Fond du Lac Reporter, June 17, 2016.
Future looks bleak for giant container ships : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 15, 2016.
Local government leaders decry Wisconsin's road repair backup : Wisconsin Public Radio, June 14, 2016.
Wisconsin rated among worst states for driving : Channel 3000, June 14, 2016.
Steineke calls for long-term transportation fund fix : WisPolitics.com, June 13, 2016.
Road project delays carry higher costs : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 13, 2016.
Crude rail shipments down but not out : La Crosse Tribune, June 13, 2016.

Utilities & Energy
Menasha Utilities recognized for safety: Appleton Post-Crescent, June 17, 2016.
Appeals court upholds ruling against Minnesota power law: Baraboo News Republic, June 15, 2016.
County considers frac sand mining ban : Winona Post, June 13, 2016.
Madison has sunny outlook for residential solar : Wisconsin Public Radio, June 13, 2016.

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