Hamilton Political Tidbits- October 17, 2014

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
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The Hamilton Consulting Group
 October 17th, 2014  

National eyes are on Wisconsin from now until November 4th to watch Mary Burke and Governor Walker battle for the governorship, becoming one of the top races to watch in the nation this election season. Hamilton Consulting's Tidbits has been following the race all along, and this week we have the latest take on the polls. Be sure to check this Tidbits and the next edition for pre-election analysis on the national elections, the state Senate and Assembly races to watch, and the Wisconsin attorney general race between Brad Schimel and Susan Happ. Don't miss the last debates of the election season: 


Gubenatorial Debate

October 17, 2014 - Milwaukee area stations

Attorney General Candidates Debate 
October 24, 2014 - Wisconsin Public Television


October 29, 2014 - WISC-TV


Election Day predictions aren't the only news being talked about in Wisconsin's political circles; the DOA released their fiscal report for FY14, The study committees on TIF and on the transfer of structured settlements are busy drafting legislation, Wisconsin's Chamber held their State of Wisconsin Business Event, and the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument on a number of different cases. 


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.

Burke and Walker Tied, Again

It may seem that much has happened in the governor's race since Mary Burke's announcement to take on Gov. Scott Walker nearly a year ago, and while that is true in some sense, the reality is that the fate of the race remains the same as it did when it began: It is toss-up that will come down to turnout on Election Day.


National Election Preview

In the 2010 midterm elections, a wave of Republicans surged into the 112th Congress, consolidating the GOP hold on the House of Representatives. Although the Republican onslaught is unlikely to be repeated, this year's midterm elections may shift the balance in the Senate, where the GOP is expecting to capture the majority.


Historically, midterm elections tend to reflect public attitudes toward the incumbent president. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Sept. 3-7 by Hart Research Associates (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R), more than half (54 percent) of those surveyed disapprove of the job President Obama is doing. "The combination of an unpopular president and a midterm election (indeed, a second midterm) can produce disastrous results for the president's party," wrote political pollster Stu Rothenberg in an article for Roll Call.




DOA Releases End of Year Fiscal Report
The Department of Administration (DOA) released its fiscal report for FY14, and reported that state expenditures are less than budgeted, and tax revenues are below budget projections.


The report detailed that while $14.8 billion was appropriated in the budget, actual expenditures came in at $68 million less than appropriated. Tax revenues for FY14 were also reported at $13.9 billion, compared to the projected $14.2 billion, or just one percent lower than the anticipated tax revenues for the first year of the 2013-2015 biennium.



Wisconsin Supreme Court Issues Split Decision Resulting in Loss for Manufacturer

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin on Tuesday, October 7, issued a split decision which resulted in a loss for Sohn Manufacturing in a worker's compensation case. The issue before the Court was whether the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) preempts the State of Wisconsin from imposing penalties for safety violations under Wisconsin laws.

In a 3-3 decision, Chief Justice Abrahamson, Justice Bradley, and Justice Crooks voted to affirm the Court of Appeals' decision in favor of the employee. Justices Roggensack, Ziegler and Gableman voted to reverse the Court of Appeals' decision. Justice Prosser did not participate, leading to the split decision.


Sohn v. Manufacturing v. Labor and Industry Review Commission, 2014 WI 112.




Court Upholds Statutory Damages Limit for UW Physicians

On September 24, the Court of Appeals, Dist. IV located in Madison held that the statutory limit of $250,000 on damage awards against state employees, including University of Wisconsin Hospital physicians, was constitutional. The case is Fiez v. Keevil, 2013AP2711 (Sept. 24, 2014).



State of Wisconsin Business Event



This week, the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce held their annual State of Wisconsin Business Event at the Monona Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin.


Keynote speakers included: Dr. Martin A. Regalia, Senior Vice President for Economic and Tax Policy and Chief Economist at the United States Chamber of Commerce; Stephen Moore, Chief Economist at The Heritage Foundation; and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. The event also featured a business panel with: Damond Boatwright, Regional President/CEO of Hospital Operatons, SSM Health Care of Wisconsin; Brad DeNoyer, Partner, Baker Tilly; and John Pfeifer, President, Mercury Marine.




TIF Study Committee October Update

In early October, the Legislative Council Study Committee on the Review of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) met to discuss further options for possible legislation, and look at drafted legislation that had been discussed at the previous committee meeting. A bill draft does not equate approval of the concept; drafts are preliminary and do not necessarily move forward.


Milwaukee Judge Strikes Down Limits for Non-Economic Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

On Friday, October 3, Milwaukee County Judge Jeffrey Conen issued an order and decision in which he struck down Wisconsin's $750,000 limit for non-economic damages medical malpractice cases. The case is Mayo v. Wisconsin Injured Patients Compensation Fund, et al., 012CV006272 (Oct. 3, 2014).

Transportation Referendum on November Ballot

The Wisconsin Legislature has successfully adopted the same proposed constitutional amendment in each of the last two sessions, to make it illegal for the government to raid segregated funds for transportation to fill holes in the state budget. This qualifies the question for a deciding vote by electors in the upcoming November 2014 general election.



Democrat or Republican? Guess the Party

This week, the  Wall Street Journal issued a fun quiz for political nerds everywhere.


"We've blurred the faces, names and other tell-tale partisan signs from these 2014 campaign ads. Can you tell whether Democrats or Republicans are behind each of these campaign ads using just the imagery?"



Transfer of Structured Settlements Committee Update

The Legislative Council Study Committee on the Transfer of Structured Settlement Payments met last week to discuss the bill draft that would create a statute for the issue. Currently, Wisconsin is one of only two states that does not have state statute addressing the transfer of structured settlements. The committee's discussion of the bill draft included changes to the bill sections on definitions, disclosures, approval standards, procedures, and initial applicability.


View the meeting on WisconsinEye.


The next committee meeting will be held at 9 AM on Nov 6,. 2014, in Room 225 Northwest, State Capitol.




Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Case Dealing with Non-Compete Agreements

On Wednesday, October 1, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin heard oral argument in a case that involves an important issue to Wisconsin employers who hire employees on an at-will basis and seek to protect themselves with non-competition, confidentiality, and non-solicitation agreements (hereinafter, "Non-Competes" or "Agreements").


The opinion of a Milwaukee County Circuit Court that is under review invalidated a Wisconsin employer's Non-Competes with its at-will employees in Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Circuit Court held if an employer seeks to update its Non-Competes with existing at-will employees, it cannot simply make the signing of such agreements a condition of the at-will employees' continued employment.




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News Clips 


Scott Walker and Mary Burke tied among likely voters, Marquette poll finds: Wisconsin State Journal, Oct. 16, 2014.

Wisconsin Governor's Race Seen as 2016 Bellwether: Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2014.

President Obama to campaign for Burke ahead of election: WISN12.com, Oct. 15, 2014.

State ends fiscal year with $517 million on hand: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 15, 2014

Walker says not sharing Act 10 plan was a mistake: Green Bay Press Gazette, Oct. 15, 2014.

Burke says dispute over jobs plan slowed momentum: Madison.com, Oct. 15, 2014.

Meet the Candidates: Wisconsin Governor: Appleton Post-Crescent, Oct. 13, 2014.

A state polarized over Gov. Walker has become even more so since 2012: (opinion) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 11, 2014. 

Wisconsin's Burke, Walker try to win over women: Appleton Post-Crescent, Oct. 5, 2014.

New records prompt GOP to question Burke's Trek sales claims: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 8, 2014.

Walker, Burke to debate: Here's what you need to know: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 9, 2014.

Madison school officials, MTI say claims regarding union dues, teachers' rights don't belong in Act 10 lawsuit: Madison Cap Times, Oct. 9, 2014.

Walker administration denies complaint seeking to raise minimum wage: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 7, 2014.


Economic Development and Finance

Fabrication helps Oshkosh overcome layoffs: Oshkosh Northwestern, Oct. 15, 2014

Colleges seen as key in business’ growth: Racine Journal Times, Oct. 15, 2014.

US retail sales fell in September on autos and gas: Fond du Lac Reporter, Oct. 15, 2014.

Walker says minimum wage doesn't serve 'a purpose': Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 14, 2014.

Businesses feel left out as railways shift trains toward frac sand, oil: Wisconsin State Journal, Oct. 13, 2014.

Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board to host job fair featuring 800 jobs: Milwaukee Business Journal, Oct. 10, 2014.

Factories open doors to 3,000 youths on jobs tour: Wausau Daily Herald, Oct. 9, 2014.

7 must-see moments from the 2014 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit: Fortune, Oct. 9, 2014.

Land use change opens door for Falls Kwik Trip: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 9, 2014.


Utilities and Energy

Broadwind Energy lands $11 million contract: Milwaukee Business Journal, Oct. 15, 2014. 

Wisconsin receives $92.9 million in heating and home energy assistance funds for winter: FOX6Now.com, Oct. 15, 2014.

Hortonville pipe company rides energy boom: Appleton Post-Crescent, Oct. 15, 2014.

Utility rate proposals are about fairness for all customers: (Opinion) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 15, 2014.

MGE opposes Madison's effort to grow solar energy: The Isthmus, Oct. 15, 2014.

Targa buying Atlas Pipeline, Atlas Energy: Madison.com, Oct. 13, 2014.

Three Wisconsin utilities propose electric rate hikes: Fond du Lac Reporter, Oct. 13, 2014.



As barriers disappear, fish are darting up Menomonee River: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 15, 2014.

Ryan: Humans might not be cause of climate change: The Star (Sun Prairie), Oct. 14, 2014.

As water quality worries grow, Wisconsin plots strategy on phosphorus: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 3, 2014.

Regulators cite wrong company in Trempealeau sand mine pollution: Leader-Telegram, Oct. 15, 2014.

Trempealeau County shuts down sand mining operation: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 8, 2014.



Dane County commits $225k to bring mental health services to schools: Wisconsin State Journal, Oct. 15, 2014.

Local health care providers plan Ebola drill: Channel3000.com, Oct. 15, 2014.

Supervisors hit new Mental Health Board on budget process: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 15, 2014.

Medical College addresses doctor shortage: Green Bay Press Gazette, Oct. 14, 2014.


Transportation and Construction

Governor Walker gives the go towards Solon Springs Municipal Airport improvements: NNCNOW.com, Oct. 15, 2014.

Gov. Scott Walker pitches gas tax change for road funds: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 14, 2014.

Constitutional amendment on transportation fund goes to voters Nov. 4: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 9, 2014.

Home construction continues to slow in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Oct. 9, 2014.

Paul Ryan confident lawmakers will reach deal to fund Interstate expansion: GazetteExtra.com, Oct. 4, 2014.


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