Hamilton Political Tidbits – September 15, 2017

Political Tidbits - September 15, 2017
Hamilton Consulting Group
 September 15, 2017
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
The legislature is closer to finishing the budget. The Assembly passed the budget on Wednesday, and despite the possibility that the Senate Republicans may not have enough votes to pass the budget, they are scheduled to be on the floor today. As fall approaches, other matters are buzzing around the capitol as Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) officially enters the U.S. Senate race and Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) steps down from his leadership position. This Tidbits also highlights several of fall session's likely big issues including worker's compensation, mining, and regulatory reform.
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.

Legislature Moves Closer to Budget Passage
JFC finalizes their budget changes before sending the bill to the full legislature.

The Joint Finance Committee completed their budget work on Sept. 6. All the budget motions passed by JFC were incorporated into Substitute Amendment 1 to Assembly Bill 64, which replaces the entire original budget bill (Assembly Bill 64). The Assembly passed the budget on Sept. 13, sending it over to the Senate. At the time of this writing, the Senate is scheduled to take up the budget bill today, Friday Sept. 15. 
Legislature Passes Foxconn Bill

Before completing its work on the state budget, on Sept. 5, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) first took up the Foxconn bill that the Assembly had passed in August. JFC added a GOP Senate amendment that, among other provisions, would allow for the direct review of circuit court decisions relating to the manufacturing zone by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Foxconn bill as amended passed JFC in a 12-4 vote and headed to the Senate, then back to the Assembly for votes this week.
Minority Leader Barca to Step Down at End of Month
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha)

As leader of the Democrats in the state Assembly, Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) has had to push back removal attempts after each of the last two elections in which Assembly Democrats lost seats.
While none of those potential coups were enough to remove Barca from leadership, it appears his vote in favor of the Foxconn bill was the last straw for a caucus that has decreased in numbers each of the last four elections. The decrease has also resulted in a stronger partisan tilt to the left for the caucus, leaving no room for a moderate who couldn't crack the Assembly Republican machine.  Barca has been the Minority Leader in the Assembly since 2011.
State Sen. Leah Vukmir Jumps in Race for U.S. Senate
State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield)

As expected, Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) announced she is running for U.S. Senate in 2018 against Democrat Tammy Baldwin, the incumbent U.S. Senator. Vukmir, who has been in the state legislature for 14 years, will first have to win the Republican primary. Vukmir has strong conservative credentials and has been working on increasing her statewide presence for months, when she wasn't working on the state budget as a member of the Joint Finance Committee.

Bills of Note: Worker's Compensation Council Composition

Last week, the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held a hearing on a bill that would change the composition of the Worker's Compensation Council. SB 235/AB 308, authored by Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) and Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), would require the proportion of representatives on the Council for organized labor to be the same as the proportion of union members in Wisconsin.
Bills of Note: Nonferrous Mining

At the end of August, Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) introduced a bill that would make changes to Wisconsin's regulations on nonferrous metallic mineral mining. The bill (SB 395) was referred to the Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry. On Sept. 6, the Committee held an informational tour of the Flambeau Mine Site that closed in 1997, followed by a public hearing in Ladysmith the next day.

JCRAR Briefed on REINS Act

On Thursday, September 7, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCRAR) received a briefing on changes in the committee as a result of the REINS (Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny) Act (Act 57). Legislative Council briefed the committee on these changes, then answered legislators' questions. The REINS Act passed the legislature in June and was signed by Gov. Scott Walker in August.
Committee Recap: September 4-15

As the legislature moves forward with the budget and Foxconn, committee action is also picking up. Over the past two weeks, committees have held hearings and executive sessions on a wide variety of bills on issues including regulatory reform, victims' rights, and law enforcement.
LFB Releases Preliminary 2016-17 Tax Numbers 

On September 8, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released preliminary general fund tax collections for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which ended on June 30. While the 2017-18 fiscal year began on July 1, legislators are still finalizing the state budget. LFB's report shows positive news with revenue numbers increasing 2.8 percent over the previous fiscal year.


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News Clips
Wisconsin budget heads for dramatic Senate vote: McClatchy DC, September 15, 2017.
Senate plans to take up budget without votes to pass it: Wisconsin State Journal, September 15, 2017.
Robin Vos to GOP Senate budget holdouts: 'Not going to be held hostage': Wisconsin State Journal, September 13, 2017.
Walker OK with budget changes to win Senate support: McClatchy DC, September 13, 2017.
Scott Fitzgerald: State Senate lacks votes to pass a state budget: Wisconsin State Journal, September 13, 2017.

Utilities and Energy
Walker seeks loan help for area flood damage: La Crosse Tribune, September 13, 2017.

Schimel announces new DOJ Human Trafficking Bureau: Wisconsin Radio Network, September 13, 2017.

Economic Development
Robots are coming to Wisconsin: Madison Magazine, September 15, 2017.
Walmart sues Lake Hallie over property taxes: Chippewa Herald, September 14, 2017.
State's unemployment rate 3.4 percent in August: Wisconsin Radio Network, September 14, 2017.

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