Last week, the Wisconsin State Assembly
overwhelmingly, 58-34, approved Assembly
771, "The Rental Housing Affordability Act, and its
accompanying substitute amendment. The amendment was the work of
a number of stakeholders who raised concerns about the
legislation during drafting and the public hearing.
Assembly Bill 771:
Assembly Bill 771 is designed to make it easier
for landlords to provide Wisconsinites with quality, clean,
safe, and affordable housing. Some of the bill's core provisions
Historic Preservation--This bill
allows owners of historic properties who, during the repair
or replacement of properties located in a historic
districts, to use materials that are similar in design,
color, scale, architectural appearance and other visual
qualities. It is imperative to denote that the language
pertaining to historic
preservation was provided to my office by the Wisconsin
State Historical Society. Furthermore, the language
represents United States
Department of Interior standards and those employed by the
State of Wisconsin. Like the Wisconsin State Historical
Society, I believe the language
provides clarity to those looking to preserve, purchase, or
utilize historic properties.
Rental inspections--The substitute
amendment to Assembly Bill 771 authorizes a city, village,
town, or county to establish a rental property inspection
program in designated districts in which there is evidence
of blight, high rates of building code complaints or
violations, deteriorating property values, or increases in
single-family home conversions to rental units. No
inspection of a unit may be conducted under the program if
the occupant of that unit does not consent to allow access,
unless the inspection is under a special inspection warrant.
Under such a rental property inspection, if no "habitability
violation" is discovered--for a definition of habitability
violation, see the substitute amendment--during an inspection, or if such a violation is corrected
within a period designated by the municipality, then the
political subdivision may not inspect the same property
again for at least five years. However, a political
subdivision may designate a period of less than 30days
to correct a violation if the violation exposes a tenant to
Landlord work--This section clarifies
the language contained in section 704.07(3)(a) of Wisconsin
State Statutes which states that if a tenant causes damage,
"the tenant must reimburse the landlord for the reasonable
cost" of making the repairs. This language has been
contained in Wisconsin's landlord-tenant statutes for many
years. This provision is tenant-friendly, as landlords will
not be able to charge professional rates for work they
undertake themselves. Instead of hiring a plumber at $80 per
hour to clear a clogged toilet, the landlord can do it
himself or herself at a rate of perhaps $15 per hour.
CCAP--Current law authorizes the
Director of State Courts to implement an automated
information system--referred to as the Consolidated
Automation Program (CCAP) case management system--for
circuit court records. Substitute amendment 1 to Assembly
Bill 771, to the contrary, prohibits the Director of State
Courts from removing case management information from CCAP's
Internet access site for a civil case that is not a closed,
confidential or sealed case for the following time periods:
(1) If a writ of restitution has been granted in an eviction
action, a period of 10-years (current law is 20-years).
(2) If an eviction action has been dismissed and no money
judgment has been docketed, a period of at least two years.
Emotional support animals--The
substitute amendment expands the scope of the state's open
housing law to prohibit discrimination against individuals
with disability-related needs for emotional support animals
and replaces provisions of current law relating to specially
trained animals to conform with United States Department of
Housing and Urban Development, herein referred to as HUD, guidance. Specifically, the
substitute amendment defines "emotional support animal" to
mean an animal that provides emotional support, well-being,
comfort, or companionship for an individual, but that is not
trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual
with a disability. With respect to emotional support
animals, the substitute amendment adopts an approach similar
to the one set forth by the 2013 HUD guidance, including
authorizing a housing provider to request documentation of a
disability-related need for an emotional support animal from
a physician, psychologist, social worker, or other health
professional, and incorporating certain other limitations.
However, it specifies that the health professional must be
licensed in Wisconsin and acting within his or her scope of
Assembly Bill 771 now heads to the Wisconsin
State Senate for debate and final passage.
Testifying on Assembly Bill 771 before the Senate Housing,
Real Estate, and Insurance Committee.
Senate Transportation Committees hold joint hearing on Assembly
Bill 717, "The Electric Vehicle Freedom Act."
This week, the Assembly and Senate
Transportation Committees held a public hearing on
Assembly Bill 717, "The Electric Vehicle Freedom Act," that I
coauthored with Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield). Electric
vehicle owners from communities throughout Wisconsin came to the
capitol to testify in favor of this legislation.
Current law prohibits the direct sale of
vehicles to consumers from manufacturers. Decades ago, this law
was enacted to protect franchised automotive dealerships from
having to compete directly with automobile manufacturers after
making a significant capital investment.
Rapid technological advancements are changing
the face of business and the automotive marketplace is no
exception. Some electric car manufacturers have employed
state-of-the-art business models in which vehicles are sold
directly to consumers in stores. As such, they lack affiliated
dealers with whom to compete. Current law prohibits Wisconsin
consumers to purchase these vehicles in state, resulting in them
having to travel across state lines to test, purchase, or service
their vehicles. This results in Wisconsin losing jobs, capital
investment, and the tax revenues associated with permitting
electronic vehicle manufacturers selling their vehicles in the
Assembly Bill 717 amends the existing dealer
franchise statute to permit manufacturers of solely electric
vehicles to sell their products directly to Wisconsinites. It is
imperative to denote that this legislation does not impair the
protections provided to currently franchised dealerships.
Whether consumers prefer to purchase a
gasoline-powered vehicle from an independent franchise dealer or
an electric vehicle directly from a manufacturer, they should
have that choice. Under this proposal, allowing direct sales of
these vehicles will create jobs, new stores, and bring economic
benefits to Wisconsin through tax benefits and economic
Citizens from communities throughout Wisconsin visited the
capitol to show their support for "The Electronic Vehicle
2018 State of the State Address
Recently, Governor Scott Walker delivered his
of the State" address and outlined an ambitious agenda for
Wisconsin in 2018. Wisconsin is making remarkable progress and
2018 is poised to be laden with historic legislative
Governor Walker, in his annual message,
emphasized the profound impact his reforms had on the state. In
particular, Governor Walker's speech highlighted Wisconsin's thriving
economy, its three percent unemployment rate (a record low),
continued commitment to lower taxes, the abolition of outmoded
regulations and administrative rules, and historic investment in
K-12 education that was included in the 2017-19 biennial budget.
Assembly Republicans have proposed an ambitious
agenda for 2018 that continues to build on 2017's success by
addressing the following issues:
Encouraging economic development by
eliminating barriers to growth, attracting and retaining
workers to Wisconsin, and increasing job opportunities,
especially in rural communities.
Reforming the welfare system by promoting
independence and helping those individuals looking to enter
the workforce, but need assistance to do so.
Promoting healthy families by fighting the
opioid epidemic, improving Wisconsin's foster care system,
and combating Alzheimer's disease.
Additionally, Governor Walker addressed the
myriad ways in which his administration will continue to work
around federal healthcare issues, focusing on senior healthcare,
preexisting conditions and assisting individuals stuck paying
exorbitant deductibles. We must ensure that Wisconsinites have
access to care they can afford. While it is not the state's
responsibility to clean up the Obamacare mess, I am pleased that
Governor Walker has outlined a solution to stabilize the health
insurance market and make it easier for individuals to obtain
quality, cost-effective private health insurance plans.
Governor Scott Walker delivering his 2018 "State of the
State" address to a joint session of the legislature.
How Property taxes are determined
Local governments issue property tax bills each December and
they are due January 31. The following is an explanation of how
property taxes are determined each year.
Determining the amount of property tax that will be paid by a
property owner is a year-long process. First, the local assessor
(or state assessor for manufacturing property) determines an
assessed value for the property based on its condition on
January 1. Assessing an entire municipality's property is an
arduous undertaking. Assessors have several months to complete
their work. Municipalities hold an "open book" and meeting of
the Board of Review where property owners are able to review the
assessor's work, ask questions, and appeal assessments before
the assessment role is closed and finalized. After the inspector
completes his or her work at the local level, he or she
transmits the data to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue,
herein referred to as DOR.
The goal for each municipality and its assessor is to value
property at is fair market value (100 percent), and state law
requires municipalities to be within plus or minus 10 percent of
fair market value (90-110 percent), once every five years. Since
all 1,851 municipalities submit their own data, provided
primarily by local assessors, variation in assessment levels
exists within the aforementioned range of market values. The
assessed value determines each property owner's share of the
municipality's tax burden since all property is assessed under
the same standard by a local assessor.
However, other taxation districts (counties, school districts,
technical college districts, and special districts) divide their
levy among all property owners in their respective
jurisdictions, which usually include more than one municipality.
If assessed values were the end of the story, there could be an
unequal distribution of the tax burden since municipalities'
assessments can fall anywhere from 90-110 percent of fair market
value. That would mean, for example, that if two municipalities
were located in the same county and one was assessed at 95
percent (5 percent below market value) and the other at 102
percent (2 percent above market value), the residents of the
municipality at 102 percent would have a heavier tax burden as a
result of local assessments.
Equalization is used to solve property tax disparities. DOR's
equalization process involves complex calculations that review
overall changes to property values in a municipality.
Equalization takes the assessment data and derives equalized
values (100 percent fair market values) by class of property for
all municipalities, counties, and other underlying jurisdictions
by removing assessment variation. After values are equalized,
the levies for other taxation districts are apportioned to
municipalities based on the value of all property in each
municipality compared to the entire value within the taxation
district (county, school district, etc).
The apportionment from each of the other taxation districts is
added with the municipal levy to determine how much each
municipality must collect from all their taxpayers. The total
amount of the levy is divided by the total value in the
municipality to determine the tax rate, also referred to as a
mill rate. A taxpayer's total property tax bill is the mill rate
multiplied by their assessed value.
State of Wisconsin Blue Books
Copies of the 2017-18 State of Wisconsin Blue Book are
still available. If you are interested in obtaining a copy of
this year's Blue Book, please contact my office:
Rep.Rob.Brooks@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 267-2370.