Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 16, 2016

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Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
March 16, 2016

The Senate adjourned last night shortly before 10 p.m. after passing nearly one hundred bills on what we anticipate will be the last day of session. Included in those bills passed, which you can read about below, are legislation relating to the clarification of tourism entity that collects room tax, the regulation of auxiliary containers, changes to the Public Service Commission, social and financial impact statements, and high capacity wells. Perhaps even more significant however are the bills the Senate chose not to vote on, including regulatory reform, sanctuary cities, interest rates on judgments, the sale of water utilities to private companies, and the Assembly's version of the high capacity well bill.

We anticipate legislators will not be back in session until January 3, 2017, when the 103rd Wisconsin State Legislature convenes for Inauguration Day. In today's Tidbits, read about the issues we think will be coming up in 2017.

While you are waiting for next session, you can keep track of all the fundraisers happening across the state by using Hamilton's fundraising calendar, which you can find 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.

Interest Rates on Judgments Legislation Dies

Authored by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Sen. Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater),  Assembly Bill 95/ Senate Bill 76 sought to change the interest rate for pre- and post- judgment interest for verdicts in small claims court. As passed by the Assembly, the legislation would have revised the formula created in  2011 Act 69 (Act 69) to a rate of 8 percent per year. While introduced in March of 2015, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary passed AB 95, 5-4 in January. The Assembly passed the legislation via a voice vote in February, but the Senate did not take up the bill in their final floor session. Therefore, the bill is dead.

Read more about this legislation.

PSC Reform Bill Passes Legislature

On their last session day, the Senate concurred in  Assembly Bill 804, otherwise known as the Public Service Commission (PSC) Reform Bill. The bill now heads to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. The Assembly passed the legislation in February. Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) introduced  Assembly Bill 804 an Senate Bill 654 , however the Public Service Commission (PSC), developed the legislation through many discussions with PSC staff and stakeholders.

Read more about this legislation.

Prohibition of Regulating Auxiliary Containers Headed to Governor

On the last night of session, the Senate concurred in Assembly Bill 730. The bill now heads to the governor for his signature. The legislation prohibits a city, village, town, or county from regulating auxiliary containers (such as a bag, cup, bottle, etc.) made of cloth, paper, plastic cardboard, corrugated material, aluminum, glass, postconsumer recycled material, or similar substances.

Read more about this legislation.
Social and Financial Impact for Health Care Mandates Legislation Passes Legislature

On March 15, the Senate concurred in  Assembly Bill 543. The Assembly unanimously passed AB 543 on February 11. The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.

Authored by Rep. John Jagler (R-Watertown) and Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), AB 543 would prevent the legislature from holding a hearing on or taking a vote on legislation that creates new health care insurance mandates until after it has received a report from the Commissioner of Insurance.

Room Tax Technical Clarification Concurred in Senate

On their last day of session, the Senate concurred in Assembly Bill 714. The bill now heads to Governor Scott Walker.

Assembly Bill 714/Senate Bill 578 authored by Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) and Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton) clarifies the definition of tourism entities that collect room tax.

Read more about this legislation.

Regulatory Reform Legislation Dies in Senate

Legislation that would have been a big win for the business community died after the Senate did not take up  Assembly Bill 251 on the last day of session. Key provisions in the bill would require legislative approval of rules costing over $10 million and allow for independent economic impacts of rules.

This legislation, authored by Sen. Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) and Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee), would require agencies to stop work on rules costing more than $10 million to implement. The agency could only proceed upon passage of an authorizing bill or if the agency modifies the bill to reduce the cost below $10 million. This most controversial aspect of the legislation caused it to be coined "the state REINS Act" reflecting the major component of federal legislation known as "the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act." The federal REINS Act passed the House in 2015 but stalled in the Senate.

Without the Senate's vote, the bill dies in the legislature. However, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) has stated he wants to work on the policy and bring it back when the legislature convenes in January 2017.

Read more about the legislation.

Worker's Compensation Bill Signed into Law

On February 29, 2016, Governor Scott Walker signed the Worker's Compensation "Agreed Upon" Bill for 2016, Assembly Bill 724, into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 180. Originally introduced by Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) and Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) in January, the bill is a result of a consensus recommendation from labor and management representatives on the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Council. Most provisions in Act 180 became effective on March 2, 2016; however, certain provisions relating to judicial review and administrative review of Worker's Compensation decisions will become effective on July 1, 2016.

Read more about other Worker's Compensation legislation.
High Capacity Well Legislation Dies

On the last night of session, the Senate passed Senate Bill 239, guaranteeing the death of high capacity well legislation this session. Last month, the Assembly passed its companion, Assembly Bill 874, as adopted by amendments. This week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism, passed SB 239 and adopted Senate Substitute Amendment 2. The amended Senate bill removed a provision that allowed a person to file a nuisance action claiming they are "unreasonably harmed" by another person's groundwater withdrawal, including the lowering of a water table or the reduction of pressure from a well.

Read more about this legislation.
Legislation to Allow Out-of-State Companies to Purchase Water or Sewer Utilities Dies in Senate

Introduced by Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) in December,  Assembly Bill 554/ Senate Bill 432 would have created a new process for out-of-state utility companies to purchase or lease water or sewer utilities in Wisconsin.

The Assembly passed AB 554 on a voice vote in January. The Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works and Military Affairs passed AB 554 with a vote of 3-2, along party lines in January. However, the bill did not advance to the Senate floor. The bill is dead for this legislative session. 

Read more about this legislation.

What Can We Expect in 2017?

While the legislators are headed home to their districts for campaign season, those staying in Madison are already speculating what to expect next legislative session. Inauguration Day is ten months out, however some legislators are already committing to their top issues for next session, and those in the majority will get to decide the legislature's agenda.
With such a large majority, it would be very difficult for Republicans to lose so many seats in the legislature that control of the house would flip to Democrats. However, the typical rules and assumptions of election season are quickly disappearing with this unusual national race. Should Donald Trump be the Republican nominee, there is no telling how his candidacy would affect down ticket races on the ballot.

Read about the issues we can expect in 2017.

Races to Watch on April 5; Stafsholt Runs for Open Murtha Seat

Wisconsin's role in helping decide both party's Presidential primary winners continues to be in flux. Barring a brokered convention or the emergence of a third party candidate, last night's results seem to have locked in a Trump vs. Clinton general election. How that affects the voter turnout here remains to be seen, and that turnout could have a major effect on some important races where incumbents are seeing significant challenges.

Read more about the competitive races.

Republican Candidate Announced for Murtha Seat

Rob Stafsholt has announced he will be running as a Republican to replace Rep. John Murtha (R-Baldwin), who will be retiring this fall. Stafsholt has worked as a mortgage loan originator, has managed his family's food manufacturing company, Scoop's Delight Salad Dressing, and currently helps run his family farm. Additionally, Stafsholt is the Manager of Landmark Mortgage Company in New Richmond.

Read more about the candidate.

Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin Win National Awards

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin were recently recognized with multiple awards at ABC's National Annual Workforce Week and the National Craft Championships in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

ABC of Wisconsin took home awards for membership retention and growth along with a Best Practices Award for their "Built on Merit" video. The video can be viewed at  BuiltOnMerit.org.

Two Wisconsin member apprentices received silver and bronze medals as well as the Safety Award in the National Craft Championships competition. Over 200 other individuals from across the country competed in the National Craft Championships, including five from Wisconsin.

Lastly, ABC Member Consolidated Construction Co., Inc. won a Pyramid Award at the Excellence in Construction Awards for their work on a Holiday Inn project in North Dakota. You can read more about the Excellence in Construction Awards  here.

Bookmark Hamilton's Political Fundraising Calendar

As the legislature finishes its work, and election season heats up, consider utilizing Hamilton's political fundraising calendar. The  political fundraising calendar provides an excellent resource to find all upcoming fundraising events. Included are all fundraising events for state and national elected officials who represent Wisconsin. Fundraisers provide a great opportunity to get to know current and prospective legislators, and other elected officials.

The information on the calendar comes from candidates and committees, so please be sure to RSVP to the person indicated in the event information, not the Hamilton Consulting Group.

The Hamilton political fundraising calendar can be found on our  website, or through  Google Calendar.

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News Clips 

Economic Development
Stocks mostly higher on economic data before Fed statement : Wisconsin State Journal, March 16, 2016.
Fox Cities Regional Partnership connects the dots : Appleton Post Crescent, March 16, 2016.
Bipartisan push for higher taxes trouble for Wisconsin companies : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 2016.
Park East area prep work begins for arena parking ramp, other projects : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 2016.
Health care is growing as a major Wisconsin industry : Wisconsin Public Radio, March 15, 2016.
After celebrity spots, Wisconsin is star of new tourism ads : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 2016.
Wisconsin businesses help build, support U.S. Navy aircraft carriers : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2016.

Baldwin introduces water-related legislation : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2016.
MMSD OKs excavation contracts for north side flood control work : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2016.
5 wildfires reported after early spring thaw : Wisconsin Public Radio, March 11, 2016.
1,700 Green Bay homes may have lead in water : Green Bay Press Gazette, March 11, 2016.
Tammy Baldwin presses EPA and USDA on groundwater : Door County Pulse, March 10, 2016.

Health report shows urban-rural divide : Duluth News Tribune, March 16, 2016.
CDC makes 'urgent' call to rein in opioid prescriptions : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 201.
With death of nephew, opioid epidemic hits home with Ron Johnson : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2016.
Food forest at Y to cultivate environment, nurture health : La Crosse Tribune, March 14, 2016.
Telepsychiatry spreading mental health help : Green Bay Press Gazette, March 14, 2016.
Federal officials award grant money to fight opioid addiction : Wisconsin Public Radio, March 11, 2016.

Oneida seek to end tribal land issue with GB : Green Bay Press Gazette, March 16, 2016.
Wisconsin Supreme Court debate marks sharp new tone : Minneapolis Star Tribune, March 15, 2016.
Rebecca Bradley, JoAnne Kloppenburg spar in pointed debate : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 2016.
JoAnne Kloppenburg stayed on case involving group that opposed her : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2016.
Wisconsin judges divided on Lynne Cheney's speech at conference : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2016.
Justice advocates cite state as treatment model : Green Bay Press Gazette, March 14, 2016.
Koss loses bid to hold bank responsible in Sue Sachdeva embezzlement : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 11, 2016.

Public meeting set for Highway 69 reconstruction in Dane County : Wisconsin State Journal, March 16, 2016.
Mitchell airport to allow Uber, Lyft pick-ups under pilot program : Milwaukee Business Journal, March 15, 2016.
Study: Closing Michigan lock would harm Great Lakes economy : Wisconsin Public Radio, March 15, 2016.
Study: Wisconsin sees increase in distracted driving crashes : Wisconsin Public Radio, March 14, 2016.
Construction starts today on Hwy. 35 project : La Crosse Tribune, March 14, 2016.
Polling shows desire for road help : HNG News, March 10, 2016.

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