What’s Left?

This week the legislature adjourned their fall floor period and Extraordinary Sessions for 2015. With the passage of John Doe, Campaign Finance, and Government Accountability Board reforms many wonder, what’s left?

Yesterday’s Marquette Law School poll identified waning support for both political parties in the legislature, which means passing policies that message well at home will become a priority as the legislature moves into campaign season.

Potential big-ticket items that are already queued up for committees to take on include Wisconsin’s minimum markup law, worker’s compensation reforms, regulatory and civil justice reform, restructuring of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and tax incremental financing legislation. However, the legislature doesn’t have much time. The first floor period of 2016 starts on January 12, and few floor periods are also scheduled for February, March, and April. But legislative leadership has already sent signals they would like to adjourn prior to April.

For the biggest of the big ticket items, moves are already being made. Senator Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) and Representative Jim Ott’s (R-Mequon) minimum markup legislation would repeal the law which prohibits wholesale and retail sales of merchandise at a price below the cost of the merchandise to the seller. The repeal also applies to the current markups on gasoline, tobacco, and alcohol. While this repeal would benefit consumers’ pocketbooks all across the state, there are entrenched opponents to the repeal of government mandated price increases. The opposition will make it their top priority to defeat any repeal.

Wisconsin’s Worker’s Compensation statutes will likely be reviewed by the legislature after the New Year. Last session worker’s compensation was bottled up by the medical providers and employers because of their disagreement over how to contain medical costs. Rep. John Sprios (R-Marshfield) has pushed ahead this session with the introduction of a bill with significant reforms, separate from the Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council bill. This issue is a priority for many, and session likely won’t adjourn without addressing worker’s compensation reforms.

With another news report coming out this week exposing additional problems with lending at WEDC, we should expect legislative action relating to the agency in 2016.

Of course, there are always unexpected items that pop up during the last months of session. Legislators will be spending a lot of time in their districts over the holidays and could bring back new ideas after visiting with constituents back home. Tidbits will be sure to keep you up-to-date as 2016 moves from legislative session to campaign season.