Hamilton Political Tidbits – September 1, 2017

Political Tidbits - September 1, 2017
Hamilton Consulting Group
 September 1, 2017
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
September is here, which means football, changing leaves and possibly, a finished state budget. JFC reconvenes on Tuesday after Labor Day to take up the long-awaited transportation budget. Meanwhile, the Senate gears up to move the Foxconn legislation through, and committee action has picked up with the onset of fall legislative activity. In this Tidbits, we have a recap of recent committee hearings on administrative rule reform and property tax legislation. Also in this edition of Tidbits: Worker's Compensation Advisory Council proposes a medical fee schedule, Secretary Cathy Stepp leaves DNR, and more!
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.

JFC Resumes Budget Work

After a two-month break, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) have resumed their work on the state budget. JFC met on August 24 and 28 to vote on some outstanding issues including Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Public Instruction (DPI). JFC will meet again on Tuesday, September 5, to finish up their work, taking up taxes and the most contentious budget area - transportation.
Continue reading about JFC's actions this week and votes to come.
Bills of Note: Occupational Licensing Review & Regulatory Reform

Several bills regarding occupational licensing review and regulatory reform are currently moving through the legislature. In this edition of Bills of Note, we highlight three bills that would change the process of reviewing both occupational licensing and administrative rule regulations in Wisconsin. Assembly Bill 369 / Senate Bill SB 288 would create a council to regularly review occupational licensing rules. Assembly Bill 384 / Senate Bill 295 would provide for the expiration of administrative rules after seven years. Assembly Bill 317 / Senate Bill 322 would create a new process for agencies to review and repeal administrative rules.
Wisconsin Businesses Oppose Property Tax Increase Bills at Senate Hearing

On August 30, the Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions, and Rural Issues held a public hearing on a pair of bills that opponents argue would increase property taxes for Wisconsin businesses. Senate Bills 291 and 292, authored by Sens. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Roger Roth (R-Appleton) and Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), aim to close the "dark store loophole" that claims businesses are using old, run-down, "dark" properties as comparable value to modern, occupied properties. The businesses targeted say the bills are designed to make it easier for assessors to tax them at higher rates with practices that are currently in violation of Wisconsin's Uniformity Clause.

Worker's Composition Advisory Council to Recommend Medical Fee Schedule

On Aug. 23, the Wisconsin Worker's Compensation Advisory Council came to an agreement on proposals to recommend to the legislature.  This biennial activity provides the legislature ideas for reform in the worker's compensation system that have been agreed to by both management and labor. Historically, the policy recommendations to come out of the Council are adopted by the legislature with few questions asked, but that won't likely happen this year.  While the proposal includes a variety of rate increases and other small items, the most significant component to the agreement is the inclusion of a medical fee schedule. 
JFC Holds Public Hearing on Foxconn

Legislation on incentives for Foxconn continues to move its way through the legislature. After passing the Assembly on August 17, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held a public hearing on the bill on August 22 at Gateway Technical College in southeast Wisconsin, the area of the state considered the likely location of the Foxconn site. Concerns raised echoed testimony from the Assembly public hearing on August 3. 

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp Moves to EPA

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Cathy Stepp is resigning from her position to move to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Stepp will serve as deputy administrator for EPA, covering the region including Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and nine tribal nations.
DWD To Hold Fast Forward Grant Application Training Session

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) will hold a free informational grant application training session on Wednesday, September 13. The goal of the training session, "Submitting a Successful Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant," is to increase applicants' understanding of the Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) grant application process, goals of the WFF grant program, process for funding and information on what makes a successful WFF grant application. 

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News Clips
Ryan holds discussion on opioid epidemic in Janesville: Wisconsin Radio Network, August 31, 2017.

Utilities and Energy
Wisconsin National Guard getting ready to go to Texas if needed: Wisconsin State Journal, August 30, 2017.
Wisconsin grocery chains helping Harvey relief effort: Wisconsin State Journal, August 30, 2017.

Milwaukee County judge wants seat on high court: Door County Pulse, September 1, 2017.
Milwaukee's conservative firebrand Sheriff David Clarke resigns: Wisconsin State Journal, September 1, 2017.
AG Schimel creates temporary crime lab positions: Channel 3000, August 31, 2017.

Economic Development
Economy adds 156K jobs in August: The Hill, September 1, 2017.
Handwritten agreement secured $3B deal with Foxconn: Wisconsin State Journal, September 1, 2017.
State's incentive offer more than doubled as Foxconn project grew: Milwaukee Business Times, August 31, 2017.
Ryan promotes tax plan to Wisconsin manufacturing company: Wisconsin Public Radio, August 31, 2017.

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