Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 20, 2015

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 March 20, 2015


March Madness has tipped off with stunning upsets and unpredictable wins, but in the world of Wisconsin politics things are moving along as expected, especially in regards to the state budget. Public hearings for the governor's proposed budget began this week, which you can read about below, and a new proposal has emerged from the legislature on how to fund the UW System. While Joint Finance Committee members are busy in the statewide public hearings, other legislators focused on introducing new bills, which you read out about in Bills of Note.

Also not to be missed this week: Charter Schools Week, Walmart Capitol Day, a new series from WisconsinEye, and comments were submitted to the EPA on the most expensive regulatory proposal in U.S. history.


Stay up to date on the state budget process! Check our State Budget Issue Update page and follow us on Twitter.


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Bills of Note: Repealing Agency Rules, At-Will Employment, Charter Schools, and the Speed Limit

Assembly Passes Bill to Create Procedures to Repeal Invalid Rules

By a partisan 63-36 vote, the Assembly passed AB 80 (Ballweg-R) which would establish "expedited" procedures for an agency to repeal a rule that the agency no longer has the authority to promulgate. Such rules can be rendered invalid because of the repeal or amendment of the law that previously authorized its promulgation. The bill as drafted, however, requires the agency to make the determination if a rule is no longer valid.

Bill Eliminates At-will Employment; Requiring Employers Prove Compliance with Seven-Part Termination Test

Democratic legislators are circulating a bill that would generally prohibit an employer, including the state, from discharging an employee unless the employer meets a seven-part test. One element of the test requires the employer prove by clear and convincing evidence that the employee committed a violation of work rules or performance standards that were uniformly enforced and properly noticed. The bill allows the terminated employee to sue the employer and then requires the employer to prove all seven tests were met.

Bills to Increase Charter School Opportunities See Legislative Action

Bills to increase charter school opportunities in Wisconsin received legislative attention over the past two weeks.  The first bill, Assembly Bill 64, would allow each technical college district board to authorize independent charter high schools that provide a curriculum focused on occupational education and training or science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Speed Limit

In previous addition of "Bills of Note," we informed you of a bill that would increase the speed limit on freeways and expressways to 70 mph. Assembly Bill 27, introduced by Representative Tittl (R-Manitowoc), passed the State Assembly 76-22, with Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the vote.

Business Groups Oppose the Most Expensive Regulatory Proposal in U.S. History

At an estimated $1.7 trillion hit to GDP, it's been dubbed the most costly EPA regulation in U.S. history. On March 17, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) and other state business groups voiced their opposition to EPA's proposed new ozone standard.

Citing a study commissioned by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), WMC comments note that if EPA put in place a 65 ppb standard, 40 Wisconsin counties would violate the standard and be designated nonattainment.

LFB Releases Series of Memos on Gov. Walker's Proposed Budget

This week Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released three memos to provide additional analysis and information on the impact of Governor Walker's proposed 2015-2017 budget. The memos included a summary of state tax and fee modifications included in the budget, an examination of the use of certain segregated funds and a projection of the general fund condition statement for 2015-2017 and 2017-19 biennia based on the recommendations included in the governor's budget bill (AB 21/SB 21).



Budget Hearings Begin

The first of four Joint Finance Committee (JFC) public hearings for Governor Walker's proposed state budget for 2015-2017 were held on Wednesday at Brillion High School, located east of Appleton. The hearing began at 10 a.m. and over 200 people registered to testify on a variety of issues.

While much of the public's testimony focused on education for K-12, many supporters of Wisconsin's long term care option, called IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) spoke about proposed cuts to the budget.


John Doe Overhaul Bill Passes Senate Committee

A Senate bill to change John Doe proceedings in the state of Wisconsin was recommended for passage by the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on a party-line vote and is now available for consideration by the full state Senate.

The bill, Senate Bill 43, would significantly change the laws governing John Doe proceedings. Under current law, a John Doe proceeding may be used to investigate any crimes. The bill would limit John Doe investigations to only be used for drug offenses, certain listed felonies, felony murder and racketeering or continuing a criminal enterprise, if the underlying crime being investigated is one of the aforementioned crimes and is a crime listed in the statutory definition of racketeering activating. In addition, any crime committed by an on-duty law enforcement officer, corrections officers, or state probation, parole or extended supervision officer could continue to be investigated by a John Doe proceeding.


TIF Bills Get Hearing

In last week's edition of Bills of Note, we alerted you to the introduction of the tax increment financing (TIF) bill package that was introduced by Joint Legislative Council.

Three of these bills, Senate Bills 50, 54 and 57 will have a public hearing before the Senate committee on Economic Development and Commerce next week Wednesday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m. in 300 Southeast.

Walmart Capitol Day 2015

Senator Roger Roth (R) is presented with a Walmart military coin.

Walmart held its annual Capitol Day this week with over 40 store managers, regional managers, market managers and assistants.

Charter Schools Week in Wisconsin

This week Wisconsin celebrated Charter Schools Week with tours, visits from legislators, an informational hearing and presenting Governor Walker with an award for his support of charter schools.

WisconsinEye's Newest Series: WisEye Fish Fry

WisEye Fish Fry
WisEye Fish Fry

WisconsinEye has started a new series called "WisEye Fish Fry," which features senior producer Steve Walters and Jackie Johnson, a reporter from the Wisconsin Radio Network, interviewing Wisconsin political movers and shakers over the lunch hour on Fridays.

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News Clips 


JFC members get earful from public on Walker's budget cuts: Wisconsin Radio Network, March 19, 2015.

Obama claims 'a little credit' for recovery, slams GOP plans: WXOW, March 18, 2015.

Obama's budget would put Walker's arena finance plan in doubt: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 17, 2015.

Scott Walker's light-on-details drug testing plan a hit on the stump: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 17, 2015.

Property tax relief in Walker budget overshadows higher taxes, fees: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 16, 2015.

Ok, fine: Here's the 2016 election if it were an NCAA bracket: The Washington Post, March 16, 2015.

Huckabee, Bush well-known, well-rated among Republicans: Gallup, March 16, 2015.

Hillary Clinton crushed all Democratic challengers in the 2016 invisible primary. Or did she?: The Washington Post, March 16, 2015.

State budget proposal subject of Joint Committee on Finance hearings: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2015.

Assembly Speaker Vos 'comfortable' with $120M-$150M in state funds for arena: Milwaukee Business Journal, March 13, 2015.


Economic Development

Wisconsin judge declines to block new right-to-work law: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 19, 2015.

Wisconsin job creation rank falls to 38th in U.S.: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 19, 2015.

Scott Walker's first four years as governor: 137,400 jobs added, 55 percent of goal: Madison.com, March 18, 2015.

Walker says tourism is booming in Wisconsin: WEAU, March 17, 2015.

Madison MSA ranks among top metros nationally for new, expanded corporate facilities: Wisconsin State Journal, March 17, 2015.

Unions trying to appeal right-to-work law: WSAW, March 16, 2015.

Obama: care more about jobs, war and peace-less about weed: WTAQ, March 16, 2015.

Jobs reports may wring liquidity out of market: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14, 2015.



Study shows charters outpacing traditional Milwaukee schools: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 18, 2015.

UW autonomy plan 'on life support' in Legislature: Green Bay Press Gazette, March 17, 2015.

Republican Senate head says he doesn't see UW cut going down: NBC26, March 17, 2015.

Senate to vote on delaying reporting of test scores: Channel 3000, March 17, 2015.

Obama says he's prepared to fight GOP over education: Fox11, March 16, 2015.

Charter school proposals are a hot topic in legislature: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 16, 2015.

University of Wisconsin System needs accountability for everyone (opinion): Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 16, 2015.



USDA seeks applications to improve water systems: La Crosse Tribune, March 18, 2015.

Bipartisan group in Congress urges no Great Lakes fun cuts: Channel 3000, March 18, 2015.

Obama administration wants more renewable energy, tighter pollution controls on public lands: The Washington Post, March 17, 2015.

Another year of water restrictions likely in dry California: The Chippewa Herald, March 17, 2015.

Wisconsin Senate to vote on banning microbeads: WEAU, March 17, 2015.

Revamped environmental law raises hope for cleanup in China: WAOW, March 15, 2015.

Walker draws scrutiny from GOP Rivals for changing positions: WCCO, March 14, 2015.



Cyberstalking bill sent to Walker: Green Bay Press Gazette, March 18, 2015.

Supreme Court incumbent says she's running to defeat partisan politics: Hudson Star-Observer, March 16, 2015.

Supreme Court candidate James Daley campaigns by backing policies such as Act 10, voter ID: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 2015.

John Doe investigations: Lawmakers considering bill that would alter scope, scale of these probes: Fox6, March 15, 2015.

Court candidates differ in campaign contributions: WiscNews, March 14, 2015.


Utilities & Energy 

Study shows advanced energy growth spurt: Agri-View, March 19, 2015.

Focus on Energy program cuts costs - and energy: Agri-View, March 19, 2015.

Report: Energy companies, big banks reap big federal assistance: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 18, 2015.

Removing U.S. oil ban would create jobs beyond drilling: reportl; Reuters, March 17, 2015.

EPA listens as select group weighs tools for carbon rule compliance: E&E Publishing, March 16, 2015.

DOT quietly floats overhaul for aging U.S. oil pipeline network: E&E Publishing, March 16, 2015.

Wisconsin regulators to decide soon on power line projects: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15, 2015.



Bill would streamline feds' environmental permitting for rail projects: Progressive Railroading, March 19, 2015.

New tank car standards needed now, Canada's Transportation Safety Board says: Progressive Railroading, March 18, 2015.

GOP looks for answers on highway funding: The Hill, March 17, 2015.

Minnesota DOT begins environmental study for Rochester-Twin Cities high-speed rail project: Progressive Railroading, March 17, 2015.

Safety concerns grow along paths of oil tanker train traffic: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 15. 2015.

Hintz, Schraa find common ground on UW cuts, transportation: The Northwestern, March 14, 2015. 



Most Americans unaware Obamacare subsidies are at risk: Kaiser Health News, March 19, 2015.

Health service aids uninsured: Beloit Daily News, March 18, 2015.

Health care law paperwork costs small businesses thousands: Madison.com, March 18, 2015.

Curbing prescription med abuse is theme of middle school contest: Fond Du Lac Reporter, March 18, 2015.

GOP charging hospitals with Medicaid expansion's future: Governing, March 17, 2015.

More states looking to ban microbeads: Chem.Info, March 17, 2015.

Administration: 16.4M gain health insurance: The Chippewa Herald, March 16, 2015.

VA clinic has great doctors, just not enough of them: Green Bay Press Gazette, March 16, 2015.

Special healthcare enrollment period for Wisconsin residents: WKBT, March 15, 2015.

Baldwin disciplines top two aides for Tomah VA missteps: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 13, 2015.


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