28th Assembly District E-Update
Legislature Makes UTV Pilot Program Permanent
Senate Bill 354 (SB 354) passed the Senate and the Assembly Tuesday by votes of 33-0 and 90-4 respectively. I joined with Sen. Joe Leibham to author this bill which replaces the four-year pilot program for Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV) with a permanent program.
The four year pilot program showed that UTVs do not adversely affect our trails and it was important that Wisconsin establish a permanent program that will allow the riders of the more than 3,800 registered UTVs to continue to enjoy Wisconsin’s trails. ATV and UTV riding has grown dramatically in Wisconsin and is estimated to contribute over $295 million annually to the state’s economy.
SB 354 mirrors the UTV program after to the already existing ATV program while allowing for local units of government to determine which ATV routes can be designated for use by UTVs. The pilot program for UTVs was set to sunset on June 30th of this year, making passage of this legislation necessary for UTVs to continue to be operated in Wisconsin.
It is vital that Wisconsin statutes remain up-to-date with the trends of the tourism industry here in the state. This legislation not only supports the riders of UTVs, but also the manufacturers, dealers, distributors and other businesses that depend on tourism revenues in order to create jobs here in Wisconsin.
GAAP Bill Passes Assembly
Tuesday’s session also included the passage of Assembly Joint Resolution 100 (AJR 100) by a vote of 69-25. AJR 100 is a constitutional amendment that would require that the state account for and report all funds it receives or expends in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
The amendment further authorizes the legislature to establish the budgetary basis of accounting, requires that any deficit of a state fund affected by a budget bill be reduced annually by 10 percent of any projected increase in tax revenues in that fund, and requires that once the deficit is eliminated, the legislature may not pass any bill that would result in a projected deficit.
Accounting on a cash basis, Wisconsin’s current method, distorts the true financial health and performance of the state and is very easily manipulated. GAAP budgeting is about honest, responsible, and responsive government. You, the taxpayers, expect the same honesty in accounting from government that is utilized by families and businesses.
As a constitutional amendment, the bill must pass two consecutive legislatures before being put to a state-wide referendum. With the lengthy process involved we would likely not be able to implement GAAP until the 2015-17 biennium budget at the earliest.
Licenses Fee Waiver for Veterans
The Assembly passed Senate Bill 338 that would require the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to establish a program under which state licensing agencies grant fee waivers to qualified veterans who apply for certain professional or occupational licenses.
It is important that we support our military service men and women as they transition back into civilian life. This is a great way to allow veterans to get family sustaining jobs for veterans to utilize the skills, training, and education they gained while serving their country. This is a great way to honor Wisconsin’s commitment to its veterans.