Since the last edition of Political Tidbits, both the State Senate and State Assembly have met on the floor to pass and debate a number of bills.
Last week, the Senate unanimously passed four bills that came out of the Joint Legislative Council Study Committee on Tax Increment Financing Study Committee. This includes Senate Bill 51, which would require a standing Joint Review Board to be established in order for a TID to be created and remain in existence during the lifespan of the TID. In addition, this bill modifies annual reporting requirements, incorporates penalties for not reporting annually and repeals the DOR process to review industry-specific town TIDs. Also, the Senate passed, Senate Bill 50, which makes several technical changes to the tax increment financing statutes and Senate Bill 52, which allows TIF districts to donate to other TIF districts. Lastly, Senate Bill 54 passed, which removes the restriction that property standing vacant may not comprise more than 25 percent of a TIF district.
The Senate also passed a bill that would include household pets on restraining orders.
The Assembly, which met this week, met until late into the night as they debated bills which would affect those who utilize Wisconsin’s public benefit that helps low-income families and individuals buy nutritious food. The first bill affecting the FoodShare program, also known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is Assembly Bill 177, would limit the foods that could be purchased using the benefits. The bill requires that no less than 67 percent of the SNAP benefits be used for foods included on the federal authorized list of foods, which includes such things as beef, pork, chicken and fresh produce. The bill would prohibit SNAP benefits be used for purchasing crab, lobster, shrimp, or any shellfish. The bill passed 60-35, with a number of amendments. Votes against the bill included Rep. Adam Neylon (R) and Rep. Jesse Rodriquez (R).
The second bill affecting the FoodShare program, Assembly Bill 191, would require DHS to submit a waiver to the federal government that would allow the DHS to test and treat childless adults who utilize the state FoodShare program and are found to be using controlled substances without a prescription for those utilizing the state FoodShare program. The bill passed 62-33, on a party line vote with Rep. Neylon (R) voting against party lines.
The final bill that caused a debate and 16 amendments being put forward was Assembly Bill 192, which would require those receiving unemployment insurance to submit to drug tests and eligibility for unemployment insurance being decided on the results of the drug tests. The bill was passed 63-32, on party lines, except for Rep. Neylong (R) who voted nay, and Rep. Chris Danou (D), who voted yes for the bill.