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February 23, 2018

There was a flurry of activity in the legislature this week as various bills made their way through the Senate and the Assembly.

In the wake of the Florida school shooting, Assembly Democrats pulled from a committee a bill that would require universal background checks when purchasing a firearm that was voted down by Assembly Republicans. In the Senate, Democrats introduced an amendment to allow school revenue limit exemptions, which would let districts create the best safety plan for their schools. Democrats remain committed to ensure that every student, teacher and staff member feel safe at school.

The Governor’s Rural Economic Plan passed in the Assembly. Concerns have been raised that the plan pits 56 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties against each other as they fight for a fraction of the grants and that the money would be better spent on broadband expansion to rural areas. Republicans also voted for the Governor’s proposal to spend $6 million on advertisements in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit in an attempt to lure back millennials, rather than use that money to address the problems that are driving people away.

In the Senate, Republicans passed a bill that eliminates protections for Wisconsin wetlands and could lead to increased flooding in communities across the state. In an effort to ease the tax burden, Senate Democrats pulled from committee the “Dark Store” bill, which would close the loophole that allows big box stores to shift their tax burden onto local homeowners and small businesses. The bill was then blocked by Republicans who refused to take a vote on it.

Assembly Republicans have indicated that this will be their last week of session. The Senate is expected to have their final floor day in March.

What Democrats Are Saying

​ Democratic Proposals

LRB5564 School District Revenue Limit for Safety Expenditures (Rep. Pope, Hintz Sen. Bewley, Shilling) would permit a school district to increase its revenue limit by an amount equal to the greater of $40,000 or $100 times the number of pupils enrolled in the district for the purpose of making certain school safety expenditures.

LRB5020 Fugitive Possession of Firearm (Rep. Subeck) would provide that a person who is a fugitive from justice is prohibited from possessing a firearm. Current law prohibits felons, convicted domestic abusers and people receiving involuntary treatment for mental health from possession of firearm.  

LRB5111 Pension Benefit Taxes (Rep. Subeck) would exempt retirement payments received by an individual from the U.S. Civil Service Retirement System or the Federal Employees Retirement System from state income tax.

LRB0026 Medicare Supplement Policy Renewal (Rep. Subeck) would provide that a person who has an individual medicare supplement insurance policy may cancel his or her policy and purchase a new policy during the period beginning on the insured's birthday and ending on the 30th day following the insured's birthday.

LRB4890 Qui Tam Claim “whistleblowing lawsuit” (Rep. Subeck) would restore an individual's authority to bring a qui tam claim against a person who makes a false claim for medical assistance. This provision was eliminated in 2015 Wisconsin Act 55.

LRB0109 Open Meetings Law (Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Barca) is a constitutional amendment that would require the legislature to enact laws requiring reasonable notice of and public access to meetings of governmental bodies. This proposal would make members of the legislature subject to citations and civil penalties for violations of such laws.

LRB0111 Opens Meetings Law (Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Barca) is a joint resolution that would amend the joint rules to provide that public notice of every assembly and senate committee meeting must be given at least 24 hours before the commencement of the meeting, unless the chairperson and ranking minority member of the committee determine that for good cause such notice is impossible or impractical. In no case, however, may notice be provided less than two hours in advance of a meeting.

LRB5492 NEMT Alternative Pilot Program (Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Barca) would require the Dept. of Health Services to modify the current contract for the arrangement and reimbursement of nonemergency medical transportation for Medical Assistance recipients to exclude Medical Assistance recipients who reside in Buffalo, Eau Claire, Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Pepin, Racine, Rock, Trempealeau, Walworth, Washington, and Waukesha counties from the contract unless the county chooses to remain under the original contract.

LRB5499 Treatment-Based Drunk Driving Sentencing Options (Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Barca) would provide sentencing alternatives for persons who commit certain second, third, or fourth offenses related to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate was in session on Tuesday of this week and took up a number of bills including the Special Session welfare reform bills, nine hastily-introduced bills, that negatively affect public assistance programs. The bills create barriers for people to access food, healthcare, job-training, and transportation. The bills passed on a party line vote. 

School funding and sparsity aid was also taken up in session and ultimately passed. Senate Democrats, in seeking to provide more protections for students, teachers and staff at local schools, introduced an amendment that would provide revenue limit exemptions for expenditures made under a school safety plan. Republicans blocked the amendment. 

Amid reports that Republican leadership will conclude this session next month, it is disheartening that the majority party has chosen to spend our time on bills that attack those in need rather than addressing our state’s critical concerns of transportation funding, gun safety, public education funding, and environmental protection and management.

The entire floor session calendar can be found here.


Senate Committees

Senate Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior
The committee held a Public Hearing on Senate Bill 795, which would require the Dept. of Military Affairs (DMA) to continue paying a member of the National Guard or state defense force who is injured while on state active duty. This bill would also require the DMA to pay a death gratuity in the amount of $100,000 to the designated beneficiary of a member of the National Guard and extend eligibility for reemployment rights of individuals returning from active state service to non-state residents.


The committee also held an Executive Session on Senate Bill 771, which would require health insurance policies that cover prescription eye drops to cover refills of prescription eye drops. (Passed, 5-0)

 

Senate Transportation and Veterans Affairs
The committee held an Executive Session on Senate Bill 495, which would declare certain outdoor advertising signs along highways to be nonconforming, but does not require the signs to be removed unless certain criteria are met. (Passed, 4-0)

The committee also held a Public Hearing on Senate Bill 794, which would allow local governments or the Dept. of Transportation, to condemn or acquire land for the purpose of establishing or extending bicycle lanes or certain pedestrian ways. Currently, there is a prohibition on this practice.

 

Senate Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection

The committee held a Public Hearing on two Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 791 would remove stipulations on the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board's appointment of trustees to manage county mental health treatment institutions. The bill also would create a deadline for suggesting individuals to fill the Mental Health Board vacancies, and changes who may remove the administrator of the behavioral health division of the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Senate Bill 808 would create an exemption to state law to clarify that a uniformly distributed prize is not required to disclose the odds of receiving it. Current law requires a prize mailer to list the odds for receiving a prize in the “immediate proximity” of each prize listing. This bill would also make other changes to notices of eligibility to receive a prize, such as removing the “immediate proximity” requirement.

 

Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government

The committee held an Executive Session on Senate Bill 726 / Assembly Bill 809, which would make updates to old provisions and create some additional flexibility for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). This bill allows refinancing in Milwaukee for rehabilitation of homes, also allows rehabilitation funds to be used for down payment assistance program. (Passed, 7-0)

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session

The assembly held floor session on Tuesday and Thursday taking up a number of bills. 


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry
The committee held a Public Hearing on The committee will hold a public hearing on AB926, which exempts from Department of Natural Resources permitting requirements certain shoreline maintenance activities in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer's Harbor, and the Fox River from its mouth up to the dam at De Pere AB881, regarding DNR notification for well owners.  AB935, which allows a person who owns waterfront property (riparian owner) to remove certain material from the bed of an inland navigable water without obtaining a permit from the AB941, which provides that the definition of “solid waste” does not include certain iron and steel slags and AB946, which increases, from $3,325,000 to $3,825,000 in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years, the amount of the appropriation for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's soil and water resource management program. 

Assembly Committee on Mental Health
The committee held a Public Hearing on AB938, which requires the Department of Public Instruction to annually provide a grant to the Center for Suicide Awareness, Inc  and AB939,  removes the specifications on the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board's appointment of trustees to manage county homes, infirmaries, hospitals, or institutions providing mental health treatment in Milwaukee County.

Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions
The committee held an Executive Session on AB897, which eliminates, for Wisconsin headquartered foreign corporations meeting certain criteria, the portion of the fee for a certificate of authority to transact business in this state that is based on the amount of the foreign corporation's capital in this state.


Assembly Committee on Judiciary
The committee  held an Executive Session on AB693, which requires a law enforcement agency to report to the administrator of a school district, charter school, or private school certain information when the agency learns that a pupil who is enrolled in the school is taken into custody in connection with a felony or violent misdemeanor. 


Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage
The committee held an Executive Session on AB913,  which prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from prohibiting the taking of rough fish or catfish by hand or with a bow and arrow or a crossbow.


Assembly Committee on Ways and Means
The committee held a Public Hearing on AB952, increases the maximum life, the expenditure period, and the tax increment allocation period for Tax Incremental Districts Number One and Four in the village of Caledonia.

Assembly Committee on Ways and Means
The committee held an Executive Session on AB952, increases the maximum life, the expenditure period, and the tax increment allocation period for Tax Incremental Districts Number One and Four in the village of Caledonia.

Assembly Committee on State Affairs
The committee held an Executive Session on AB433, which makes changes relating to the hours in which wineries can make retail sales of wine and AB943, which makes a variety of changes to the laws administered by the Department of Military Affairs., AB149, which creates a sales and use tax exemption for sales of gun safes and AB963 which authorizes the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to certify a certain paper products manufacturer to claim tax credits.

Assembly Committee on State Affairs
The committee held a Public Hearing on AB142, which implements the legislative changes recommended by the Legislative Audit Bureau in LAB's January 2017 report regarding the state highway program. AB122, changes the procedure for forfeiture of property after it has been seized in relation to a crime and AB963, which  authorizes the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to certify a certain paper products manufacturer to claim tax credits. 

Assembly Committee on Mental Health
The committee held an Executive Session on AB938, which requires the Department of Public Instruction to annually provide a grant to the Center for Suicide Awareness, Inc  and AB939,  removes the specifications on the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board's appointment of trustees to manage county homes, infirmaries, hospitals, or institutions providing mental health treatment in Milwaukee County.


Assembly Committee on Local Government
The committee held an Executive Session on AB748, which preempts local governments from enacting or enforcing ordinances related to various employment matters.

Assembly Committee on Rural Development and Mining
The committee held an Executive Session on AB917, which allows a city, village, town, or county (political subdivision) to apply to the Public Service Commission for certification as a Telecommuter Forward! Community.

Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry
The committee held an Executive Session on AB926, which exempts from Department of Natural Resources permitting requirements certain shoreline maintenance activities in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer's Harbor, and the Fox River from its mouth up to the dam at De Pere AB881, regarding DNR notification for well owners.  AB935, which allows a person who owns waterfront property (riparian owner) to remove certain material from the bed of an inland navigable water without obtaining a permit from the AB941, which provides that the definition of “solid waste” does not include certain iron and steel slags and AB946, which increases, from $3,325,000 to $3,825,000 in both the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years, the amount of the appropriation for the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's soil and water resource management program.

Assembly Committee on Agriculture
The committee held an Executive Session on AB765, which provides additional funding for administration of the livestock premises registration program and AB827, requires the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to make a grant to an organization that uses the grant funds to reimburse the costs of purchasing and installing rollover protective structures for farm tractors. 


Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections
The committee held an Executive Session on AB 925, regarding special voting deputies in retirement homes and AB 947, which modifies current law regarding the voting procedures for military and overseas electors so that the law is in substantial compliance with the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.


Assembly Committee on Rules
The committee held an Executive Session during recess or upon adjournment of session to schedule the Calendar for Thursday, February 22.

Assembly Committee on Consumer Protection
The committee held an Executive Session on AB635, which makes several changes related to motor vehicle manufacturers', importers', or distributors' (manufacturers') compensation of motor vehicle dealers (dealers) for certain service work for the manufacturer (covered work).


Assembly Committee on Judiciary
The committee held an Executive Session on AB773, makes certain changes to discovery procedure in court proceedings. 

Assembly Committee on Children and Families  
The committee held a Public Hearing on AB797 which allows the Department of Children and Families, as a pilot project, to award grants to organizations, including school boards, with existing four-year-old kindergarten programs for the purpose of expanding those program and AB954, which creates a new presumption of paternity and a new way to conclusively determine paternity under the law using genetic testing.

Assembly Committee on Science and Technology
The committee held an Executive Session on AB661, creates exemptions to certain boating restrictions for operators of hydro-flight devices and associates watercraft.

Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government
The committee will hold a Public Hearing on two Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 798 would create a one time sales and use tax rebate equal to $100 for each qualifying child of an individual. This proposal to give $100 dollars to parents is set to be paid right before election day in November. After years of giving billions of dollars to corporations, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans are attempting to boost their reelection chances with this campaign gimmick.

  • Senate Bill 809 would increase the maximum life, the expenditure period, and the tax increment allocation period for Tax Incremental Districts Number One and Four in the village of Caledonia.


Senate Natural Resources and Energy
The committee will hold an Executive Session on five Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 747 would exempt from permitting requirements for certain shoreline maintenance activities in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Sawyer's Harbor, and the Fox River.

  • Senate Bill 789 would allow a person who owns waterfront property to remove certain material from the bed of an inland navigable water without obtaining a permit from the Dept. of Natural Resources.

  • Senate Bill 792 would provide that the definition of “solid waste” does not include certain iron and steel slags.

  • Senate Bill 733 would reflect a number of recommendations by the E-Cycle Wisconsin program staff to improve the program. This bill would:

    • Expand the program to all schools, including charter schools, private schools and tribal schools. Currently, only electronics from public schools can get counted toward a manufacturer’s recycling target.

    • Narrow the types of consumer printers that are covered.

    • Change the thresholds for manufacturer registration fees, including eliminating fees for smaller manufacturers.

    • Make changes to the reporting requirements of manufacturers and recyclers to improve efficiencies for program participants.

    • Change the program year from the fiscal year (July 1 through June 30), to the calendar year (January 1 through December 31).

  • Senate Bill 796 would increase the amount of the appropriation for the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's soil and water resource management program.

The committee will also hold a Public Hearing on two bills:

  • Senate Bill 817 / Assembly Bill 911 would provide funding of $100,000 in each fiscal year from the conservation fund for the Southeastern Wisconsin Fox River Commission.
  • Senate Bill 816 would make changes to wetland mitigation requirements and requirements for mitigation banks.

 
Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics
The committee will hold an Informational hearing.

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 To view updated committee notices, visit the legislative website and click on Committee Schedule: Wisconsin State Legislature.

 The State Capitol Update is provided by the Senate and Assembly Democratic Caucuses. For additional information, please send an email to WisconsinDemocrats@legis.wi.gov or call toll free: 1.800.385.3385.