Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 6, 2015

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 March 6, 2015


"Busy" is an understatement for Capitol Square this week as the area was overflowing with activity. Right to work legislation wrapped up after 11 hours of testimony and debate in committee, followed by a marathon 24 hour debate on the Assembly floor. At the same time, the Joint Finance Committee held agency budget briefings with department secretaries for three consecutive days. Just down the street, the Monona Terrace was brimming with over 1,000 attendees in town for Business Day. In this week's Tidbits, we have the info on all three events. In addition, we have provided a budget summary on the governor's recommended state judiciary budget.


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


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.

Right to Work Passes on Party Line Vote

Earlier this morning, on a party line vote, the State Assembly passed "Right-to-Work". The bill was messaged to Governor Walker who has said he'll sign it on Monday.


This morning's vote capped a whirlwind two weeks that saw quick introduction and relatively easy passage of a bill many thought would be too controversial to move this quickly, this early in the legislative session.


Assembly members endured 24 straight hours of contentious debate before passage this morning. Some observers believed a handful of Republicans might vote against the bill, but in the end the vote was 62-35 along party lines with two votes paired for absences.


State Judiciary Budget Summary

Governor Walker submitted his 2015-2017 biennial budget to the legislature on February 3. The governor's proposed budget for the Judiciary (the State Supreme Court, the court of appeals, and the circuit courts) includes several initiatives intended to generate program flexibility and efficiencies through the creation of two block grants, Supreme Court Block Grant and Circuit Court Block Grant. The governor has also proposed the consolidation and elimination of several programs. This includes a proposal to eliminate the Judicial Council, the consolidation of appropriations for the Judicial Commission under the State Supreme Court, the creation of a Judicial Compensation Commission, and the modification of surcharge exemptions and court interpreter fees.


JFC Holds Agency Briefings for Three Days


The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) met for three days this week to hear testimony from nearly all state agencies on thegovernor's proposed budget. Legislators posed questions to the department secretaries on the implementation of budget proposals and asked other questions pertaining to agency services.


JFC members heard testimony from most agencies, however a few did not testify, including the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection , Department of Tourism, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of State Employment Relations, Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Public Service Commission.


Historic Preservation Tax Credit Report Released


The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) submitted its annual report on Historic Preservation Tax Credit Assistance program to the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC).


The report provides a summary of the total level of credits awarded under the program from its inception and details on the projects that received the credit. The historic tax credit, which began on January 1, 2014, has been awarded to 39 projects for a total amount of $41.7 million. The report, which includes both the Historic Preservation Tax Credit and the Historic Preservation Tax Credit-Qualified Rehabilitation program, is statutorily required to be submitted to the JFC by WEDC and state historical society.




Bills of Note: TIF and Screenings for Newborns

In this week's edition of Bills of Note, we update you on the tax increment financing (TIF) bill package and a bill that requires newborns be screened for lysosomal storage disorders.

TIF Bill Package
The tax increment financing bill package is a product of the 2014 Legislative Council study committee on TIF - also referred to as a Tax Incremental District (TID). The package, which includes eight bills, has been introduced in the legislature and includes a number of reforms to streamline administrative processes and increase local flexibility. After being introduced by Joint Legislative Council, the bills have been referred to the Senate committee on Economic Development and Commerce.

Newborn Screenings
Current law states all infants must be tested for some congenital and metabolic disorders before being discharged from a hospital, or if born outside of a hospital, within one week of birth. New legislation introduced by Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) and Representative Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville), would require infants also be tested for lysosomal storage disorders.

Additional Changes to Governor Walker's Administration

Last week, Governor Walker made additional changes to his staff and cabinet with the appointment of a senior advisor and new cabinet secretary.

The governor appointed Ray Allen as the Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) and Matt Moroney as a Senior Advisor in the governor's office.


Business Day in Madison 2015

Business Day in Madison 2015
Business Day in Madison 2015

Business Day in Madison is the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce largest event of the year, with record setting attendance, speakers, seminars, and legislative visits.


Prominent Political Commentator to Speak in Madison

Prominent political commentator Ezra Klein is set to speak at Memorial Union in Madison next week for a public lecture. Klein lead 
The Washington Post's Wonkblog, before leaving to create Vox.com, a general news site that provides context to complicated current events.



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News Clips 


GOP Presidential hopefuls risk Iowans' Ire on Ethanol: Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2015.

Taxpayers will pay for security for all of Scott Walker's travel: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 2015.

House committee subpoenas Clinton emails: WISN, March 4, 2015.

Budget committee questions drug testing, worker's comp changes in Scott Walker's budget: Wisconsin State Journal, March 4, 2015.

Senator says taxpayers shouldn't pay for Walker's out-of-state security: Channel3000, March 4, 2015.

Feingold plans listening tour across Wisconsin: Green Bay Press Gazette, March 3, 2015.

Scott Walker says he would sign ban on abortions after 20 weeks: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 3, 2015.

Wisconsin Assembly committee takes up right-to-work bill: WKBT, March 2, 2015.

Americans say keep politics out of the Fed: WTAQ, March 2, 2015.

Wisconsin budget panel begins agency briefings: WRN, March 2, 2015.

Despite no formal announcement, Gov. Walker finds his way into presidential politics: WEAU, March 1, 2015.

Wisconsin's Walker adjusts to rigor of presidential politics: Fox11, Feb. 28, 2015.


Economic Development

Wisconsin's unemployment rate drops to 5.0 percent: WEAU, March 5, 2015.

Milwaukee police welcome ambassadors for job training, outreach: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 2015.

With right-to-work poised to pass, Minnesota Republicans target Wisconsin businesses: The Cap Times, March 4, 2015.

Survey: US businesses add 212K jobs in February: Madison.com, March 4, 2015.

Target CEO: Company will cut several thousand jobs: WTMJ, March 3, 2015.

White House threatens to veto Senate labor board measure: WTAQ, March 3, 2015.

State to repay $16M for past economic development projects: Wisconsin State Journal, March 2, 2015.

Buffet says US economy continues growing at moderate rate: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 2, 2015.

State historic tax credits awards climb to $41.7M, including $34M in Milwaukee: Milwaukee Business Journal, March 2, 2015.



UW System president Ray Cross asks for smaller cuts, more autonomy: Chippewa Herald, March 4, 2015.

Addressing racial disparity in schools (opinion): Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 2015.

Budget hearing centers on education cuts: The Daily Cardinal, March 3, 2015.

UW System president offers performance-based model in exchange for guaranteed funding: WKOW, March 3, 2015.

GOP education chairman anticipates vote on education bill: WXOW, March, 2015.

Concerns arise over Board of Regents power with UW System changes: Badger Herald, March 2, 2015.

Several area parochial schools among voucher applicants: Green Bay Press Gazette, March 2, 2015.

Wisconsin black suspension rate highest in U.S. for high schools: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 1, 2015.



Exclusive: Post-it note maker 3M unveils new paper sourcing policy: Reuters, March 5, 2015.

Senate fails to override Obama's Keystone PipelineVeto: The New York Times, March 4, 2015.

McConnell Urges States to Defy U.S. Plan to Cut Greenhouse Gas: The New York Times, March 4, 2015.

Q&A: In Michigan, conservatives make a case for clean energy: Midwest Energy News, March 4, 2015.

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp defends Scott Walker's changes to advisory board: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 3, 2015.

Wind turbines have positive effect on crops: WHOtv, March 3, 2015.

Rio Ruckus: IOC, Olympics targeted by environmental protest: Chippewa Herald, Feb. 28, 2015.

Mining company closing office in northern Wisconsin: Green Bay Press Gazette, Feb. 27, 2015.


U.S. Supreme Court split over Obamacare challenge: WTAQ, March 5, 2015.

State high court may hold John Doe arguments in secret: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 2015.

49 Wisconsin law blogs: Attorneys writing their way to new business: State Bar of Wisconsin, March 4, 2015.

Alabama Supreme Court halts gay marriage licenses: WQOW, March 4, 2015.

Supreme Court allows challenge to Colorado Internet tax law: Chippewa Herald, March 3, 2015.

Supreme Court case against Obama's health law: Beloit Daily News, March 2, 2015.

High court case threatens independent electoral map drawers: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 2, 2015.

AP Explains: Supreme Court case against Obama's health law: WiscNews, March 2, 2015.

Committee questions proposed changes to courts budget: Wisconsin Law Journal, March 2, 2015.

Insurance must pay max in death of undocumented Mexican teen worker: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 27, 2015.


Utilities & Energy 

PSC nears decision on power line: The Tomah Journal, March 4, 2015.

Supreme Court backs farmers in CapX2020 powerline fight: MPR News, March 4, 2015.

Painful transition ahead, but can utilities handle the pending disruption? (opinion): Forbes, March 3, 2015.

US running out of room to store oil; price collapse next?: Associated Press, March 3, 2015.

Proposed Upper Peninsula refinery remains a mystery: Midwest Energy News, March 3, 2015.

Many, but not all, are energized to oppose proposed Illinois power line: Tribune Star March 2, 2015.

Scott Walker wants to end funding for renewable energy program: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Feb. 28, 2015.

Coal company says EPA climate rule already hurting industry: The Hill, Feb. 27, 2015.

Palisades Nuclear Plant to receive increased NRC oversight after radiation-exposure violations: MLive, Feb. 27, 2015.



Local clinics face federal funding cliff, reduced services: Wausau Daily Herald, March 5, 2015.

U.S. hospitals optimistic they'll dodge bullet with Obamacare ruling: WHBL, March 4, 2015.

Health care at the high court: 5 ways this time is different: Journal Times, March 4, 2015.

Bill would create state-run health insurance exchange: La Crosse Tribune, March 4, 2015.

Aurora Health Care pays $12.7 million for clinic building on Mayfair Road: Milwaukee Business Journal, March 3, 2015.

Lawmaker asks about plan for possibly losing health care subsidies: WMTV, March 3, 2015.

$73,000 to expand mental health services: Sawyer County Record, March 2, 2015.

GOP: Our plans would help people losing health subsidies: The Journal Times, March 2, 2015.

High court nixes quick release of health care argument audio: WXOW, March 2, 2015.

Texas nurse Pham sues Dallas hospital over Ebola infection: WTAQ, March 2, 2015.


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