Hamilton Political Tidbits – October 24, 2023

Political Tidbits - October 24, 2023

October 24, 2023

Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.

Articles in this edition of Political Tidbits:

Other updates in this edition:

  • Bits & Pieces
  • PFAS Bill Amended by Senate Committee
  • News Clips

If you have additional questions, please contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting team.

Bits & Pieces:

  • DNR Secretary to Retire: Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Adam Payne will retire effective November 1 after less than one year on the job. He was appointed in January by Gov. Evers to replace Preston Cole, who served throughout the governor’s first term. Payne delivered his resignation letter to Gov. Evers on Friday. Payne’s tenure as DNR secretary was dominated by PFAS regulation and management of the state’s wolf population.

  • Record State Surplus: According to the state’s Annual Fiscal Report, Wisconsin ended the 2023 fiscal year on June 30 with a record-high positive balance of $7.07 billion, breaking last year’s record of $4.3 billion. The state’s Budget Stabilization Fund, colloquially the “rainy day fund,” also reached a record high of $1.8 billion. Check out our 2023-25 state budget page for more information about the state’s finances.

  • The Return of ROFR: Legislation to create a right of first refusal for the construction of transmission facilities has been reintroduced after dying in committee last session. AB 470/SB 481 would guarantee a transmission operator in Wisconsin (a public utility, electric cooperative, or transmission company) the first right to construct, own, and maintain a new transmission facility that connects to its existing facility and has been approved by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). A Senate committee hearing on the bill was held on October 9 and an Assembly hearing was held the following day.

  • Wisconsin Now a Regional Tech Hub: Wisconsin has been designated as one of 31 “regional technology hubs” by the U.S. Department of Commerce, specifically for the state’s leadership in personalized medicine, biohealth technology, and precision manufacturing. Per a Biden Administration press release, the tech hub designation allows “industry, state and local governments, institutions of higher education, labor unions, Tribal communities and nonprofit organizations to compete for up to $75 million implementation grants” under the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act. See press releases from Gov. Evers and UW-Madison.

  • Parisi Plans Retirement: Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has announced that he plans to retire in May of next year, 11 months before the next regular election for the office will be held in April 2025. After Parisi retires, the chair of the Dane County Board will appoint an interim replacement. The timing of Parisi’s retirement will also require a special election to be held in 2024, coinciding with the state’s regular August primary and November general elections and the U.S. presidential election. Speaking about the timing of his retirement and the subsequent special election, Parisi said: “We will have record turnout, probably 300,000 or so people voting, and so we’ll be able to have participation by basically everyone in the community.” Parisi was first elected county executive in a 2011 special and easily won reelection in 2013 and every four years since.

  • Child Care Counts: Gov. Evers announced last week that he was directing $170 million in federal funding to continue the Child Care Counts provider subsidy program at current levels through June 2025. The program was set to expire in January. The funding was drawn from reimbursed and underspent federal aid related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Evers' proposal to continue the program with state funds has not found support among Republican leadership; more here.

Senate Floor Session: October 17 (Special Session Bill, Executive Appointments, Other Legislation)

The Wisconsin Senate met once in October for a floor day to vote on bills, resolutions, and executive appointments. Perhaps most notably, the Senate voted on Gov. Evers' special session workforce package. The Senate also rejected eight executive appointments to various state boards and commissions.

Continue reading this article

Assembly Floor Sessions: October 12 and 17 (Brewers Stadium Financing, Gender Transition Regulation)

The Wisconsin Assembly met twice in October for floor days to vote on bills and resolutions. Perhaps most notably, the Assembly voted to amend and pass legislation to finance improvements to and maintenance of American Family Field. The bill has been the subject of ongoing negotiations and public statements among Gov. Evers, Republican legislative leaders, Milwaukee-area leaders, and the Milwaukee Brewers organization.

Continue reading this article

Wisconsin Supreme Court Accepts Redistricting Case; Protasiewicz Will Not Recuse

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has accepted a lawsuit challenging the legality of Wisconsin’s state legislative maps. Two petitions for original action were filed in August, each asking the supreme court to bypass the typical trial and appellate court process and rule that Wisconsin’s current state legislative maps are unconstitutional. On October 6, Justice Protasiewicz issued two identical orders denying motions seeking her recusal.

Continue reading this article

Broad Support for Regulating Nonrecourse Litigation Advances Heard by Assembly Committee

On October 11, the Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection held a public hearing on Assembly Bill 464, a proposal to regulate nonrecourse civil litigation advance payments in Wisconsin. A coalition of the state’s leading business associations testified and registered in support of the bill at the hearing.

Continue reading this article

PFAS Bill Amended by Senate Committee

Last week, the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy voted to recommend SB 312 for passage. The bill includes a variety of provisions addressing PFAS contamination, notably the creation of municipal and innocent landowner grant programs for PFAS remediation using funding set aside in the 2023-25 state budget. The bill’s authors have introduced a substitute amendment making numerous updates to the bill as originally drafted; those changes are explained in this memo from legislative staff attorneys. The committee voted 3-2 along party lines to recommend the bill and substitute amendment for passage, with Democratic members objecting to limits on DNR’s authority.


The bill limits the department’s authority to take enforcement actions against landowners that voluntarily cooperate with state testing and remediation efforts. The bill’s authors have reasoned that they want to encourage people to test and remediate PFAS on their property without fear of being held responsible for contamination they did not cause. One author noted that, under the bill, “That person who owns a farm or a piece of land is still going to be subject to remediation orders if they don’t want to allow the DNR to do the things that need to get done.” The bill is now eligible for a vote by the full Senate; the Assembly held a public hearing in June and has not yet taken further action.

News Clips


Republicans look to fill a glaring hole in their Senate recruitment map

NBC News, October 24, 2023

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Payne resigns after 10 months on the job

Wisconsin Examiner, October 23, 2023

Republicans continue to push redistricting overhaul despite objections from Democrats

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 19, 2023

Eau Claire Democrat launches campaign for Third Congressional District

WQOW, October 17, 2023

Wisconsin Assembly approves $545 million in public dollars for Brewers stadium repairs

Associated Press, October 17, 2023

Senate Republicans oust 8 of Tony Evers' appointees, including for elections commission, natural resources board

Wisconsin State Journal, October 17, 2023

Wisconsin Republicans withhold university pay raises in fight over school diversity funding

Associated Press, October 17, 2023

Republican senators renew fights over state budget, abortion

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 17, 2023

Wisconsin Supreme Court asked to draw new legislative boundaries

Associated Press, October 16, 2023

Gov. Tony Evers directs $170M in federal funding to Child Care Counts subsidy program

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 16, 2023

Wisconsin Republicans admit vote to fire elections chief had no legal effect

Associated Press, October 16, 2023

Bice: Possible Senate candidate Eric Hovde has missed voting in 17 of last 30 elections

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 16, 2023

Utilities & Energy

Milwaukee to receive $30 million for lead service line replacement as part of statewide clean water push

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 24, 2023

We Energies asks for another rate increase, as WPS asks for a rate decrease

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 17, 2023

After failing last year, bill limiting competition for transmission lines returns

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 13, 2023


DNR Sec. Adam Payne resigns less than one year after appointment, citing aging parents

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 24, 2023

Evers, DNR announce $402 million in spending to improve drinking water

Wisconsin Examiner, October 23, 2023

Debate surrounds Wisconsin PFAS bill as senators propose amendments

Eagle Herald, October 23, 2023

Residents urge DNR to tout benefits of its proposed PFAS standards for groundwater

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 23, 2023

Republicans reject seven Evers appointees including elections commissioner and DNR board members

Wisconsin Examiner, October 17, 2023

DNR says bottled water companies aren't required to test for PFAS in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 17, 2023

Wisconsin Senate is scheduled to pass a Republican bill to force setting a wolf hunt goal

Wisconsin State Journal, October 17, 2023


Didion Milling officials found guilty of federal charges after 2017 corn mill explosion

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 18, 2023

In new Supreme Court filings, battle lines are drawn in the fight over Wisconsin's maps

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 17, 2023

What to know about a Minocqua brewery PAC’s lawsuit against school vouchers

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 16, 2023

Vote to oust Wisconsin Elections Commission chief was ‘symbolic’

The Capital Times, October 16, 2023

Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley to speak at Federalist Society conference

Wisconsin Examiner, October 16, 2023

Employer & Consumer

Wisconsin health tech hub makes the first cut for potential funding

Wisconsin Examiner, October 24, 2023

Wages in Wisconsin continue to grow more than 5% year-over-year

Milwaukee Business News, October 20, 2023

Cybersecurity incident disrupted Kwik Trip’s system. It’s not the only employer to face cyberattacks recently

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 20, 2023

Evers moves $170M to extend child care support into 2025

Wisconsin Examiner, October 16, 2023

Hospital costs should be more transparent, Wisconsin legislators say

The Capital Times, October 15, 2023

Transportation & Infrastructure

State-funded driver's education could return to Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 23, 2023

Should Amtrak stop at American Family Field? Planned new routes could make it possible

Milwaukee Business Journal, October 22, 2023

Milwaukee streetcar expansions stuck at station without new funding source

Milwaukee Business Journal, October 19, 2023

Follow Wisconsin’s school bus laws to keep students safe

Wisconsin Department of Transportation, October 16, 2023

Big federal dollars for small state projects aim to get more cars off the roads

Stateline, October 13, 2023


Madison ranks at bottom of per-resident state aid following shared revenue overhaul

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 23, 2023

Republican bill bans Wisconsin's higher ed from considering race for grants and loans

Wisconsin State Journal, October 24, 2023

With UW campuses in West Bend and Fond du Lac closing, students and staff are stunned and scrambling

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 23, 2023

Madison school absenteeism soared with COVID-19, little change since

The Capital Times, October 18, 2023

Wisconsin school districts learn how much state funding they'll receive this year

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 16, 2023

What lawmakers are planning for Wisconsin schools and what might actually pass

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 16, 2023

Minocqua Brewery SuperPAC aims to end private voucher schools in new lawsuit

Wisconsin Public Radio, October 13, 2023

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