Hamilton Political Tidbits- September 19, 2014

Hamilton Header
Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 September 19, 2014  

As summer slips into fall, we at Hamilton Consulting are preparing for a brand new session in 2015 by tracking election news, state budget requests that will shape the budget bill in January, and following upcoming legislation changes.


In this edition we've rounded up the latest polling news as political forecasters watch Wisconsin's highly competitive gubernatorial election, and we break down on the recent court decision that has put new voter ID law into effect for the November 4th election. Also, we have the full list of legislative proposals the study committee reviewing TIF has asked for, analysis on court decisions affecting campaign finance, and our consultants explain the $1.8 billion structural deficit that has been in the news. 


As Election Day moves closer, and final revenue numbers come in, Hamilton Consulting's Political Tidbits will be the place to get the real analysis you need.


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.

Structural Deficit Pegged at $1.8 Billion but Fluctuating

Following the Department of Revenue report in August on a $281 million tax revenue shortfall for the end of FY14 (June 30, 2014) the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has re-estimated the "structural deficit" going into the 2015-17 biennium. The structural deficit is a measure of how general fund tax collections in the current 2013-15 budget match up against general purpose revenue (GPR) spending commitments in the next two-year cycle. The structural deficit calculation assumes zero revenue growth and does not take into account any potential reductions in spending appropriations. 




Election Update: Recent Polls Have Positive News for Walker


Directly following a good run of polling for Democratic challenger Mary Burke, Governor Walker has had some consistently positive poll numbers emerge in the latest round.


About a week ago, Mary Burke had taken the lead in Real Clear Politics aggregate, but after the latest Marquette Poll, Governor Walker has retaken a slight lead.

Federal Court Upholds Voter ID Law

Earlier this summer, Tidbits reported that the Wisconsin Supreme Court had issued its long awaited opinions (League of Women Voters v. Walker and Milwaukee Branch of NAACP v. Walker) upholding Wisconsin's controversial Voter ID law (2013 Wisconsin Act 23) and declaring it constitutional.

However, the law was still on hold after the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision because Judge Lynn Adelman of the United States District Court (Eastern Dist. of Wisconsin) had previously ruled that Act 23 was unconstitutional and enjoined the law from being implemented.

On Friday, September 12, 2014, The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed Judge Adelman's ruling (Frank v. Scott Walker and League of United Latin American Citizens v. Judge David Deininger) and dissolved the lower court's injunction.




Carbon Regulation of Power Plants

Over the past year the Environmental Protection Agency released a suite of three major greenhouse gas rules regulating carbon emissions from new, modified and reconstructed, and existing power plants. 


As a resource for decision-makers in Wisconsin, Hamilton Consulting has assembled a resource page for the proposed regulations. The resource page provides links to relevant EPA documents, important court cases and statute, up-to-date news articles and press releases, comments from key stakeholders, and economic and legal analysis.


See the Hamilton Consulting Carbon Regulations Resource Page.


Watch PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak discuss the Carbon Emission Rule Impact on Wisconsin.


Morning Minute: Carbon Emission Rules
Agency Budget Requests Submitted to DOA

This week, state agency budget requests for the 2015-17 biennial budget were due. The Department of Administration (DOA) and the Governor's Office will now spend the next several months reviewing agency requests and developing recommendations for the Governor on which request items should be included in the next budget bill.


Consistent with budget directions issued to state agencies earlier this year, most of the requests are related to standard budget adjustments and generally reflect the Governor's directive to hold general purpose revenue (GPR) spending at or below adjusted base budget levels or cost-to-continue.


Agency request items, approved by the Governor, form the backbone of the next biennial budget. The Governor's budget initiatives are then added to the skeleton to comprise the budget bill, which will be introduced in January/February of 2015.




41 Maps and Charts that Explain the Midwest

This week Vox.com released a collection of maps and charts to explain the Midwest to the rest of the nation. The graphics discussed everything from what states are officially considered part of the Midwest, to the geometric formula it would take to actually tip a cow, but Hamilton Consulting had a few favorites:


Part of Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law Invalidated by Federal Court

Earlier this year, Tidbits reported on a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision (McCutcheon v. FEC) in which the court struck down individual aggregate contribution limits to federal campaigns. In McCutcheon, the law in question limited how much an individual candidate could receive in total from numerous contributors. The Supreme Court held that the law was an unconstitutional limitation on free speech.


TIF Study Committee Moves Towards Possible Legislation



At the most recent meeting of the Legislative Council Study Committee on the Review of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), legislators and public members discussed bill concepts they would like drafted for review prior to the upcoming legislative session. A bill draft does not equate to approval of the concept; the drafts are preliminary and do not necessarily move forward.


The committee discussed the following:

  • "But for" Test
  • "Blight" Definition
  • 12% Rule
  • Joint Review Boards
  • Levy Limits
  • TIDs in Crisis
  • Clarity of TIF Statutes



Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Civil Liability Cases



The Supreme Court of Wisconsin has begun to hear oral arguments for the 2014-15 term, including cases involving civil liability issues. Below is a summary of three cases of interest to Wisconsin businesses, analyzed and provided by our consultants.


Court to Determine Whether OSHA Regulations Preempt Wisconsin's Worker's Compensation and Safe Place Statutes


Court to Decide Meaning of "Owner" in Dog Bite Case


Court to Determine Whether Manure is a Pollutant for Insurance Policies


Decisions by the Wisconsin Supreme Court are expected by the end of July 2015.


3 Wisconsin Cities Top Best Places to Live in US

Livability.com has named its Top 100 Best Places to Live, and Wisconsin tops the list. Madison, Wisconsin was named #1 Best Place to Live in 2015, a move up from #5 on the 2014 list. The list, made up of small and mid-sized cities, are ranked based on amenities available, demographics, economic strength, education, health care, housing, social and civic capital, and transportation. Madison scored high in many of the criteria, but high scores in access to affordable housing and health care, and education and amenities available to citizens got Madison on top. 




Study Committee on Transfer of Structured Settlements


The Legislative Council has convened a summer study committee that has legislators and public members reviewing the transfer of structured settlement payments. The committee has been meeting since late July to hear presentations from Wisconsin and national professionals who handle structured settlement agreements. By late 2014, the committee plans to submit legislation to the Wisconsin State Legislature that would reform state structured settlement statute.




WEDA Names First Executive Director

The Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) 
has named its first full-time executive director: Brian Doudna, of the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
WEDA President Patrick Schloss said the organization was looking for a candidate who was "active in economic development" and had a "proven ability to grow an organization and proven leadership to advance a vision."
Doudna served on the WEDA board before, and was Association president in 2010. "I look forward to continuing WEDA's strong legislative, educational and member services programs, and implementing new efforts with our statewide partners that will advance the profession and field of economic development in the state of Wisconsin," Doudna said.

Hamilton Consulting: Your Government Relations Easy Button


The Hamilton team is working to make sure our clients have the tools necessary to accomplish their government relations goals. We encourage our clients to remember to make use of all the many services we provide:

  • Political Tidbits - Political Tidbits is our FREE email newsletter on political and policy developments in Wisconsin, including links to relevant news articles, policy papers, and other informative documents. We are constantly updating our mailing list and we could use your help! Please let us know if your email address is changing so you will continue to receive our newsletter. Also, feel free to forward this newsletter to others who may be interested in subscribing.
  • News Clips - President Harry Truman once wrote that you can't get all the facts from just one newspaper, and without the facts, "you cannot make proper judgments about what is going on." The right column of Political Tidbits contains a selection of the most important news stories, but did you know you can always get the latest news sorted by subject on the Hamilton Consulting website? 
  • Tracking Reports - Tracking Reports provide timely, in-depth coverage of your legislative initiatives. If your organization did not have a tracking report last session and you are interested in having one during the coming session, please contact one of our team members.
  • Political Fundraising Calendar - Hamilton's political fundraising calendar allows you to see all of the upcoming fundraising events and import them to your own calendar.
The Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits is a free newsletter on Wisconsin political and policy developments. Please forward it to others who may wish to receive this service.

If you require additional information about a topic addressed in Tidbits for your organization's board meeting or trade publication, please do not hesitate to contact a Hamilton Consulting Group lobbyist.


To ensure that Political Tidbits never gets caught in your spam filter, please add publications@hamilton-consulting.com to your address book/contacts list. If you are receiving these emails via a workplace email account, please advise your IT service desk to do this for you.  

News Clips 


Chris Christie set to campaign with Wisconsin's Scott Walker this month: NJ.com, September 17, 2014.

Ballot fight is brewing as state scrambled on voter ID: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2014.

Debate reveals chasm in views of 6th Congressional District candidates: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 15, 2014.

Federal court ruling removes limits on donations to political parties: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 15, 2014.

Absentee ballot mailings halted in push to restart voter ID law: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 15, 2014.

Gov. Scott Walker unveils plans on jobs, benefits and education: Wisconsin State Journal, September 14, 2014.

Walker promises more tax cuts in second term: Channel 3000, September 14, 2014.

Walker says ID law won’t disenfranchise voters: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 13, 2014.

DA John Chisholm denies Doe probe a political vendetta: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 10, 2014.

Gov. Scott Walker, Mary Burke both release unusual ads:  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 9, 2014.

Walker, Burke exchange blasts on projected budget shortfall: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 9, 2014.

Wisconsin shortfall projected at $1.8 billion: Madison.com, Sept. 8, 2014.

Judge orders state not to enforce PAC limits law: Manitowoc Herald Times, Sept. 8, 2014.


Economic Development and Finance

Wisconsin Economic Development Association names executive director: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2014.

Doudna to lead Wisconsin Economic Development Association: Leader-Telegram, September 16, 2014.

More Milwaukee-area employers plan to hire in fourth quarter: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 9, 2014.

The Best And Worst Cities For Jobs This Fall: Forbes.com, Sept. 9, 2014.

1 in 4 Wisconsin employers plans to add staff, ManpowerGroup finds: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 9, 2014.

Wisconsin officials launch 2014 fall color report: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Sept. 8, 2014.


Utilities and Energy

Q&A: Tea Party star heads to Wisconsin to fight for solar: Midwest Energy News, Sept. 11, 2014.

Feds Open Up the Renewable Highways: Investing Daily, Sept. 11, 2014.

Wind tower orders secured for Manitowoc plant: Milwaukee Business Journal, Sept. 10, 2014.

As wind power expands footprint, opposition gains strength: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 10, 2014.

Waupun Utilities sells transmission system to ATC: Beaver Dam Daily Citizen, Sept. 9, 2014.

Study: Want Lower Gas Prices? Ship More Oil Abroad: Bigstory.ap.org, Sept. 9, 2014.

Wisconsin Energy's Klappa: Walker vs. Burke outcome won't affect strategy: Milwaukee Business Journal, Sept. 8, 2014.

Customers urged to fill up propane tanks because supplies could be tight again: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 8, 2014.

We Energies' push for fixed charges would hurt MMSD: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 6, 2014.

Prairie du Sac Hydroelectric Dam celebrates 100 years of power, history in Wisconsin: Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Sept. 6, 2014.

Legislative roundtable looks at options for reducing Railbelt power costs: Alaska Dispatch News, Sept. 6, 2014.



Mitchell International earns perfect score on FAA inspection: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 3, 2014.

GM Brings Bike Sharing To Technical Center: CBS News Detroit, Aug. 26, 2014.

Evaluating & Drafting Motor Repair Specifications for Improved Reliability: Product Design and Development, Aug. 20, 2014.

Wisconsin judge rules Amish to comply with permits: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 20, 2014.

Journal Times editorial: It's worth kicking the tires on wheel tax: Racine Journal Times, Aug. 20, 2014.

Gas tax increase for road work? Scott Walker, Mary Burke leave door open: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Aug. 18, 2014.



Wisconsin DNR under Scott Walker gets mixed reviews: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2014.

EPA Extends Comment Period on Climate Rules: Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2014.

EPA Pushes Back Deadline For Comment on Carbon Rules: Huffington Post, September 16, 2014.

Federal carbon-emission rule could cost $20 billion, PSC says: GazetteXtra, September 15, 2014.

Judge rules against DNR on high-capacity well issue: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 5, 2014.

Three more companies want frac sand mines in Chippewa County: Madison.com, Sept. 11, 2014.

15 GOP governors to Obama: Climate rule breaks the law: The Hill, Sept. 10, 2014.

Weston planners say no to mining near river: Wausau Daily Herald, Sept. 8, 2014.


Health law enrollment now 7.3 mil: The Journal Times, Sept. 18, 2014

Health departments, schools send Enterovirus warning: Green Bay Press Gazette, Sept. 18, 2014

New effort, Dane 1 in 4, seeks to integrate mental health care with primary care: The Cap Times, Sept. 18, 2014

Rep. Debra Kolste: Walker should accept Medicaid money: Gazette Xtra, Sept. 18, 2014

Zywave buys health plan document software business: Milwaukee Business Journal, Sept. 17, 2014

State needs $760 million more for health care over next two years: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, September 16, 2014.

Proposed outpatient mental health funding raises concerns: WMTV, Sept. 15, 2014

Must small business owners offer group health care: Appleton Post Crescent, Sept. 13, 2014

Feds announce new grants for Obamacare "navigators" in Wisconsin: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept. 9, 2014.

One temp staffing agency's take on the Affordable Care Act: Milwaukee Business Journal, Sept. 8, 2014.

E-cigarette debate heats up in Wisconsin: Chippewa Herald, Sept. 7, 2013.


Contact Us 
For further information on these or other initiatives, contact a  Hamilton Consulting Group lobbyist.



Visit our blog 

Wisconsin Civil Justice Council

Promoting Fairness and Equity in Wisconsin's Civil Justice System


Great Lakes Legal Foundation Regulatory Watch

A web site for timely updates and analyses of federal and Wisconsin regulatory programs.