Hamilton Political Tidbits – June 23, 2017

Political Tidbits - June 23, 2017
Hamilton Consulting Group
 June 23, 2017
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
Since the 2001 budget, JFC has easily met the June 30 deadline to finish their budget work, except for last biennium, when they voted the budget out on July 2. This session, one week out from the deadline, legislative leadership remains in closed-door negotiations on the biggest sticking points: transportation, K-12 funding and property taxes. Despite the budget deadlock, last week JFC met and unanimously rejected the governor's proposal to self-insure state employees' health care. Below we recap the self-insurance vote and the latest legislative action in this week's Floor Report. Also in this week's Tidbits - an overview on the legislature's Special Session Opioid Abuse, Justice Gableman plans to leave the state Supreme Court, and Wisconsin's redistricting case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court. 
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.

Assembly Passes Legislation Prohibiting Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions

In an unplanned vote along party lines just after 1:00 a.m. on June 22, the Assembly passed legislation to prohibit plans, when setting rates, premiums, deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance, from considering whether an individual (including a dependent) who has continuous coverage has a pre-existing condition. No committee hearing or committee vote was held on the bill nor was the bill placed on the calendar. Rather, the Assembly used a procedural motion to remove the bill (AB 365, authored by Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton)) from committee and take it up.

Floor Report: June 14 & 21

Over the last two weeks, the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly convened for what is expected to be the last floor days for regular business until fall. The legislature will be back on the floor sometime this summer to take up the 2017-19 budget. The Senate and Assembly were both in session on June 14 and the Assembly reconvened this week on June 21, voting on several controversial pieces of legislation.

JFC Rejects Self-Insurance Proposal

As expected, on June 15, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) unanimously rejected the governor's self-insurance proposal. After rejecting the contracts, JFC co-chairs Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) put forth their own budget motion, which passed unanimously and still achieved the savings target ($63.9 million GPR) over the next biennium.
The JFC co-chairs' motion passed unanimously. However, as minority JFC members took the bipartisan action as an opportunity to discredit the governor's proposal, several Republican JFC members pushed back on their reasons for rejecting the proposal and acknowledged the benefits of self-insurance in the private sector.

JFC Meets Thursday, June 15 on Self-Insurance, Corrections 

On Thursday, June 15, the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) met after a weeklong break, to take up the governor's self-insurance proposal, the Department of Employee Trust Funds and the Department of Corrections. JFC has not reconvened since the June 15 meeting, as the Assembly and Senate leadership and JFC co-chairs hash out the remaining budget issues - education, transportation and property taxes.

SCOTUS to Hear Wisconsin Redistricting Case

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it will review the legal challenge to the Republicans' redistricting map. By 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court also granted Attorney General Brad Schimel's request to stay the lower court's order requiring a timely redrawing of the Assembly district map.
The redistricting case, Gill v. Whitford, was brought by Democratic voters against officials of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Last November, a panel of two federal district court judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals held 2-1 in a 159-page decision that the state assembly boundaries, drawn by Republicans in 2011, constituted partisan gerrymandering that was "intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters ... by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats." The court ordered the Wisconsin Legislature to timely enact a constitutional district plan for the Assembly districts or face having the court redraw the map.

Justice Gableman Will Not Seek Reelection

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman announced last week that he will not seek reelection to the state's highest court. His seat is up in April 2018.
Former Michael Best attorney Michael Screnock, now a sitting Sauk County Circuit Court judge, announced that he will run for the Gableman spot. Gov. Scott Walker appointed Screnock to the Sauk County bench in 2015. If he prevails, the conservatives will maintain a 5-2 majority.
Bills of Note: Marsy's Law and FoodShare Reform
Sheriff Jim Johnson testifies at the Marsy's Law hearing on behalf of WSDSA & BSSA.

Marsy's Law
On June 15, the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held a joint hearing on a bill that would elevate victims' rights under Wisconsin law. AJR 47/SJR 53, authored by Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), proposes a Wisconsin constitutional amendment that would explicitly give to victims rights equal to the rights of the accused. While many of the proposed rights in the bill already exist in Wisconsin's statutes, the bill would elevate these rights to the state constitution and strengthen those that already exist in the constitution. Similar bills on victims' rights, commonly known as Marsy's Law, have already been passed throughout the country.

FoodShare Reform
Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere) and Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) recently authored bills (AB 263/SB 174) that aim to reduce fraud in the state's FoodShare program for low-income households. The companion bills create optional incentive programs for counties to receive reward payments for identifying fraud.
In addition, the legislation allows for the removal of benefits from FoodShare accounts that have been inactive for six months, and instead stores those accounts offline. If these benefits are offline for one year, they would be permanently expunged.  Finally, the bill requires the Department of Health Services (DHS) to request a waiver to limit the number of replacement FoodShare cards a recipient may receive per year to four.

Continue reading about hearings on the FoodShare reform bill.
Timeline: Special Session on Opioid Abuse

As the Senate passed the last of the 2017 Special Session on Opioid Abuse bills last week, take a look back at the recent history of opioid abuse prevention and education legislation in Wisconsin. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) has chaired the effort to combat Wisconsin's opioid epidemic with his Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) agenda starting in the 2013-14 session. Nygren authored eleven bills as part of the HOPE agenda in this year's session. Track their progress through the legislature this year with this Special Session timeline.

Signed Into Law: Delivery Drones, Dental Hygienists

Gov. Scott Walker signed ten bills into law at the state capitol on Wednesday, June 21. Walker signed several bills passed by the legislature in the June 14 floor session, as well as some previous proposals from the legislature this session. The bills included:

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News Clips
Assembly passes chiropractor exam bill: Janesville Gazette, June 22, 2017.
Records show scant support for Walker's plan: Associated Press, June 21, 2017.

Utilities and Energy
Dominion Energy puts Kewaunee nuclear fuel into dry storage: Electric Light & Power, June 22, 2017.
Sauk County Board postpones solar bidding process: Baraboo News Republic, June 21, ,2017.
Groups oppose Monroe County frac sand facility: Wisconsin Radio Network, June 20, 2017.
County to consider next step in solar project: Baraboo News Republic, June 20, 2017.

Economic Development
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