Hamilton Political Tidbits – January 22, 2016

Hamilton Header
Hamilton Consulting
Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
January 22, 2015

The capitol is busy with activity, as the end of the legislative session looms closer. This week, Governor Walker gave his sixth State of the State address to a joint session of the legislature. With only three more floor days left in 2016 for the Assembly, bills are flying through the legislative process. In this edition of Tidbits, you will find a recap of the governor's address, an update on recent legislation, and information on the recent general fund estimates released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Also in the New Year, the governor's cabinet gets a little shuffled and public unions may take a beating on the national stage from the U.S. Supreme Court this year. You can read about this and more below.

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.

Gov. Walker's 2016 State of the State Address

Gov. Scott Walker delivered his sixth State of the State address on Tuesday night before a joint session of the state legislature.

The governor highlighted Wisconsin's current economic strength, including the 20-year record lows in unemployment, income tax, and property tax rates, and 20-year record highs in the labor rate.

The governor also spent a significant part of the speech highlighting successes in education, and a workforce development package that will be rolled out in 2016. Included in these plans is funding for a new pilot program to connect academics with career plans. Beginning in 2017, all pupils in grades six to 12 will be provided career-planning services. The administration also plans to work with the UW System to create a three-year degree, which would allow students to begin a college degree program in grade 12.

The governor plans to pay for this program and provide more funding for education by reforming the  way health insurance is administered for state employees .

Finally, Gov. Walker announced the "2020 Vision Project". Throughout 2016 the governor will hold listening session throughout the state. The project will focus on identifying where Wisconsin should be in the next two decades.

2016 Wisconsin State of the State Address
2016 Wisconsin State of the State Address

Read more about the governor's address.

Election Season Heats Up: Sen. Gudex, Reps. Heaton and Knudson Not Seeking Reelection

With election season right around the corner, Wisconsin lawmakers are making important decisions on campaigning and reelections. So far, three prominent Wisconsin lawmakers have decided to not run for reelection.

30th Assembly District - Rep. Dean Knudson
Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) has announced he will not be seeking reelection to the 30th Assembly District. Knudson serves on the powerful Joint Committee on Finance (JFC). Knudson's departure will leave an open seat on the influential budget committee.

85th Assembly District - Rep. Dave Heaton
Freshman legislator Rep. Dave Heaton (R-Wausau) has also announced he will not run for reelection. In 2014, Rep. Heaton edged out Democratic incumbent Mandy Wright by 86 votes for the 85th Assembly seat, and was considered to be one of the Wisconsin GOP's biggest victories. Heaton serves on the Committee on Children and Families, Committee on Consumer Protection, Committee on Judiciary, Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, and Speaker's Task Force on Urban Education.

18th Senate District - Sen. Rick Gudex
In the Senate, Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) announced in November he would not be seeking reelection to the 18th Senate District. The first term state senator was elected in 2012 and will complete his four year term following at the end of 2016. Sen. Gudex, president pro tempore of the Senate, serves on the Committee on Universities and Technical Colleges. Additionally, Sen. Gudex is the chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Commerce and vice-chair of the Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works and Military Affairs. Gudex is also a board member for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

LFB: Smaller Surplus for State Budget than Estimated

Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released its most recent estimate of  Wisconsin's general fund for the 2015-2017 biennium. LFB previously estimated the net general fund balance would have a $164 million surplus. In the updated estimate, LFB projects the surplus will be $70.2 million at the end of the biennium (June 30, 2017).

According to LFB, the smaller surplus is a result of:
  • A decrease of $158.2 million in estimated tax collections;
  • An increase in departmental revenues of $6.3 million;
  • A decrease of $87.1 million in sum sufficient appropriation expenditures; and
  • A $29.5 million decrease in estimated lapses to the general fund.
Cabinet Shuffle in the New Year

This week, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson announced his resignation to pursue a position in the private sector. Newson was appointed Secretary of DWD in October 2011.

Newson will be replaced by current Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Secretary Ray Allen.

Allen has served as DFI secretary for one year and prior to that was deputy secretary for four years.

Filling the DFI secretary vacancy will be Lon Roberts, a retired attorney from Wausau. Roberts has served as Chair of the State Wisconsin Investment Board since 2012.
Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association - Act 10 Nationwide?

The Court is taking up a variety of interesting cases this term ranging from affirmative action in undergraduate admissions to redistricting. A particularly interesting case is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al. The case involves 10 nonunion public school teachers who argue their free speech rights are violated by having to pay the equivalent of union dues.

The case presents two issues: (1) whether Abood v. Detroit Board of Education should be overruled, and (2) does it violate the First Amendment to require that employees affirmatively object to fees subsidizing activities unrelated to collective bargaining.

Read more about the case and the oral arguments from last week.
Passed in the Senate: Limits on Liability Imputed to an Adult Sponsor of a Minor Driver

Sen. Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Rep. Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) have championed legislation to limit the liability that may be imputed to an innocent parent or other adult who sponsors a person under the age of 18 in obtaining a motor vehicle operator's license. Under current Wisconsin law, Wisconsin is one of only eight states in which a parent or other adult who sponsors a minor driver has unlimited liability for injuries caused by the minor's negligent acts while driving. Twenty-seven states impute no liability to an adult sponsor.

Both the Assembly bill,  Assembly Bill 540, and the Senate companion bill,  Senate Bill 408, were this week recommended for passage by committee. Next, the legislation must be scheduled for a vote in the Assembly.

Read more about the bill.

Bills to Overturn Nuclear Moratorium Get Hearings

AB 384, introduced by Rep. Ken Petersen (R-Waupaca) and SB 288, introduced by Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) would end the moratorium on nuclear power plants in the state of Wisconsin. The moratorium, 1983 Wisconsin Act 401, was put in place following the Three Mile Island plant accident in 1979.

The Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities approved the bipartisan legislation 13-0 in December, and was passed by a voice vote in the Assembly on January 12. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy held a public hearing on the legislation on January 5, and has yet to schedule an executive session.

Read more about the bill.
TIF Bills Get Hearing

The Assembly Committee on Ways and Means held a public hearing and an executive session on part of the tax increment financing (TIF) bill package on January 21. The bills are a product of the 2014 Legislative Council study committee on TIF. The committee took action on AB 134, AB 137, and AB 138.

Senate Votes to Eliminate State Treasurer

On January 21, the Senate voted on a party-line vote to eliminate the Office of the State Treasurer from the state constitution.

In an executive session in September, the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform passed  Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 5, which would eliminate the state treasurer position from the Wisconsin Constitution. The resolution passed on party-line, 3-2 vote.

Marathon Petroleum Partners with Local Fire Department to Meet Regulatory Needs

Marathon Petroleum, partnered with the local fire department in Green Bay to make sure an oil spill response organization (OSRO) could respond quickly to protect the public and the environment.

Read more about the partnership.

Requirements on Unemployment Benefits for Season Workers Tightened

In June, the state's Department of Workforce Development tightened requirements for people receiving unemployment benefits that are laid off but expect to be called back by an employer.
Instead of allowing people to be exempt from work searches for 52 weeks, now they will only receive a waiver for eight weeks, with a possible extension to 12 weeks.

To answer questions about the changes, Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin have provided  an in formational pamphlet with Frequently Asked Questions on unemployment insurance benefits for seasonal employees.

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 news sorted by subject on the Hamilton Consulting website? 
  • 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 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 
State revenues fall $158 million short of projections : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21, 2016.
Civil service overhaul heads to Scott Walker's desk after Senate passage : Wisconsin State Journal, January 21, 2016.
Scott Walker orders policy change after light discipline case : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21, 2016.
Sanctuary cities bill gets hearing Wednesday : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 20, 2016.
Gov't report: Budget deficit to rise to $544B this year : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 19, 2016.
Scott Walker touts state's recovery as he seeks a political rebound : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 19, 2016.
Wright touts fundraising as rival emerges : Wausau Daily Herald, January 18, 2016.
A decade of dissatisfaction : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2016.

Economic Development
Wisconsin's unemployment rate increased slightly in December : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21, 2016.
Oil crash sends Dow diving 500 points : CNN Money, January 20, 2016.
Survey shows Milwaukee area business leaders optimistic about 2016 : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 19, 2016.
Wisconsin housing market bounced back to pre-recession levels in 2015 : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2016.

Coyote hunting contest draws complaints from environmental groups : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21, 2016.
Fox Lake learns dam not covered by insurance : WiscNews, January 21, 2016.
County offers zoning code rewrite to stop Legislature's opt out bill : Wisconsin State Journal, January 20, 2016.
Agency: Take action to protect Great Lakes : Herald Times Reporter, January 19, 2016.
Republicans look to eliminate minimum hunting age : La Crosse Tribune, January 18, 2016.
Major study of contaminated water shows progress, challenges ahead : Wisconsin State Journal, January 18, 2016.
MMSD eyeing expensive fix for equipment-damaging contaminants : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2016.

By turning medical scans into adventures, GE eases children's fears : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 22, 2016.
Bill would set standards for treatment of Lyme disease : Channel 3000, January 21, 2016.
Marquette, Aurora to partner on $120 million athletic research center : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 20, 2016.
Wisconsin Senate to vote on anti-heroin bills : Wisconsin State Journal, January 20, 2016.
Some health insurance customers begin new year with delays : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 19, 2016.
Second CWD-positive deer found in Oneida County : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2016.
Baldwin pushes for new standards in regenerative medicine industry : Wisconsin Public Radio, January 18, 2016.

Government seeks dismissal of hemp suit : Green Bay Press Gazette, January 20, 2016.
SCOTUS to hear challenge to Obama immigration actions : The New York Times, January 19, 2016.
2 John Doe probe figures accuse prosecutor of ignoring court order : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 19, 2016.
Milwaukee alderman OK $5 million settlement of strip search lawsuits : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 19, 2016.
Supreme Court ruling on immigration would be felt in Wisconsin : Wisconsin Public Radio, January 19, 2016.
Bill makes lying on professional license application a crime : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2016.
What happened to the Avery bill? : Green Bay Press Gazette, January 18, 2016.

SS Badger Lake Michigan ferry gets historic landmark designation : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 22, 2016.
Waterloo board weighs in on road limits, bonding : The Courier, January 22, 2016.
Senate approves tougher drunken driving penalties : La Crosse Tribune, January 20, 2016.
Solving the road problem : Lodi Enterprise, January 20, 2016.
FAA's air traffic control operations questioned : Wisconsin State Journal, January 20, 2016.
MnDOT studies speed limits on two-lane roads : La Crosse Tribune, January 18, 2016.

Utilities and Energy
Court rejects a bid to block coal plant regulations: New York Times, January 21, 2016.
Solar outlook brightens in Wisconsin : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 21, 2016.
'Community solar' catching in Wisconsin : Wisconsin Public Radio, January 20, 2016.
Counties seek state study of wind power, health : Green Bay Press Gazette, January 20, 2016.
GOP candidates talk renewable fuels at annual summit : Des Moines Register, January 20, 2016. 
Wisconsin energy firm helps Hawaii farm go off the electric grid : Pacific Business News, January 19, 2016.
A new concern for wind farm opponents : Green Bay Press Gazette, January 19, 2016.
New Berlin Letterhead Press taps large solar project to cut power bill : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 18, 2016.

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