It has been a busy month at the Capitol as your State Representative. I have
introduced several legislative bills to address many of our state’s pressing
needs and have heard testimony on the drug epidemic tearing across
Wisconsin. The state biennial budget process is also in full swing and the
Joint Finance Committee will soon begin public meeting throughout the state
to take public comment of our state’s budget priorities. Please stay tuned
for more information once a full schedule is finalized.
Article V Convention: A Balanced Budget Amendment
This month saw Wisconsin
become the latest state to begin the process to call for a convention of
states on a balanced budget amendment. I am a proud co-sponsor of my
colleague Senator Kapenga’s resolution and I am an ardent supporter of
restoring our founding father’s vision of federalism in this nation. It is
our responsibility as state legislatures, through Article V of the U.S.
Constitution, to take up matters of great importance facing our nation, and
there is no greater threat to our future then the out of control spending
habits in Washington and the federal debt left in its wake. I look forward
to passing Senator Kapenga’s balanced budget amendment resolution and its
companion legislation on convention rules and delegate appointments.
Currently, individuals in Wisconsin who
contribute to a 529 college savings account can deduct the contributions, up
to $3100 per beneficiary, from their adjusted gross income amount. This bill
expands that ability to businesses. It would allow businesses to contribute
to a college savings account that is in their employee’s name. The account
can be for either the employee themselves or the employee’s children. In
return businesses would receive a 25%, non-refundable tax credit for
currently up to $3100 in contributions. With unemployment levels dropping in
Wisconsin, this bill allows employers to have another benefit to incentivize
potential employees and retain current employees. With concerns about
college debt growing nationwide, this bill gives parents and students
another way to save money for their education.
For more information, watch the
Employee College Affordability Act Video
Seat Time Requirement Reform
Today’s public school districts are confined to a century-old system of
operation with little flexibility which only stifles the ability to innovate
and better educate Wisconsin’s children. School district administrators have
been asking for flexibility that would provide some of the same
opportunities that private and charter schools enjoy. This bill creates a
two year pilot program through which school districts located within the
Cooperative Educational Services Agency (CESA) 6 region, that have received
a previous year’s report card grade of “Exceeding” or “Significantly
Exceeding Expectations.” With the school board’s approval, these schools
could have even more opportunity to be innovative and expand the educational
opportunities for Wisconsin children.
This bill simply allows local municipalities to have a say in the process
before being forced to have a roundabout placed in their community. To
ensure this, the legislation would require an affirmative vote of a city
council, town or village board in order for a roundabout to be constructed
in their municipality. With the recent revelations in the audit of the State
Highway Program and the repeated need to re-engineer and rebuild flawed
roundabouts around the state, it is imperative, now more than ever, to have
another check and balance on how Department of Transportation (DOT) dictates
projects to our local governments.
Milwaukee Trolley Bill
The purpose of this bill is to protect state taxpayers and our state
transportation fund from any operational costs of a Milwaukee streetcar
system. If this issue is not addressed, the potential exists that some of
the operational costs would be funded by state transportation dollars tax
dollars. This would have a detrimental effect on all statewide mass transit
systems, especially for taxpayers who do not reside in Milwaukee. This is
particularly significant now as the Milwaukee County Board, which had
previously voted against involvement with the city streetcar, has just voted
to pursue a contract. It is only a matter of time before state taxpayers
will be asked to cover these costs.
Industrial hemp is an agricultural crop with a rich history in Wisconsin.
This commodity was primarily used in the production of rope, textiles and
paper during the early 20th century. In addition to growing and processing
hemp for the war department, Wisconsin manufacturers designed and produced
industrial hemp farm machinery. Grown in the United States through the
1950’s, industrial hemp, a dry crop that uses minimal quantities of water,
is part of the family of plant known as cannabis. Although it is a close
cousin of marijuana, industrial hemp, or cannabis sativa, is a distinctly
different cannabis from marijuana.
Currently, United States manufacturers import nearly $0.5 billion of
industrial hemp annually. Allowing this crop to grow in Wisconsin has the
potential to expand our agricultural sector, create new manufacturing and
tech opportunities, and ultimately produce new jobs and tax revenue.
Industrial hemp fibers are stronger than carbon fiber and have already been
used in protective fire gear, plastic panels in vehicles, brake pads,
building insulation, super capacitors to replace graphene in high end
batteries and to replace Kevlar in bulletproof vests. From the human
consumption aspect, the non-psychoactive CBD seed oils contain more Omega 3
than fish oils and can alleviate many more maladies than simple THC.
For a further in-depth explanation of Industrial Hemp and it's industry
uses, please watch this
Washington and Ozaukee County Farm Bureaus meet with Rep. Kremer on
Hemp on Ag Day at the Capitol
Passed Project Labor Agreement Reform
This week the
Assembly passed a bill reforming Wisconsin’s Project Labor Agreement (PLA)
law. This common sense legislation prevents government from interfering
with competition and picking winners and losers in what should be an open
market place. This reform will lead to competition and taxpayer savings to
government construction projects. This also paves the way for more quality
contractors to pursue bids for projects. The bill awaits Governor Scott
Walker’s signature, and once singed Wisconsin will join 21 other states that
have banned or enacted substantial reforms to mandated PLA laws.
Drug Prevention in Wisconsin
My colleagues and I took testimony from the State Attorney General, FBI, and
DEA officials before a joint meeting of the Assembly Committee on Criminal
Justice & Public Safety and Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety
on the growing challenges WI faces with methamphetamine abuse.