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April 14, 2010


Harsdorf Reacts to End of Session Bills


The Wisconsin legislative session has just a handful of days before adjournment and for those preferring limited government, it cannot come too soon.  One-party Democratic control in Wisconsin is leading to a rush of bills that raise taxes, build in new spending, add new unfunded mandates on local governments, and increase regulations on businesses.  The State Senate voted on 65 bills during session on April 13th.


One bill sets up a procedure for citizens to challenge race-based nicknames used by school districts.  With a single citizen challenge, a school board would have to plead to the state Department of Public Instruction (which officially opposes all race-based nicknames) that their nickname does not promote harassment, discrimination, or stereotyping.  If a local school board cannot prove to state bureaucrats that their nickname does not do these things, the school district will generally have 12 months to remove logos and other references derived from the mascot.  It orchestrates a process revolving around a “state knows best” mentality. The bill promises to keep many school boards busy and struggling with new costs.


Another bill increases taxes on hospital revenues to capture more federal Medicaid dollars.  The premise is to help rural hospitals deal with a recent Medicaid funding reduction.  There is little doubt that rural hospitals are critical to our communities.  However, I believe this bill is short-sighted in that it uses a tax scheme even as state and federal budgets are billions and trillions in the hole respectively.  The funding source is not sustainable, and even at that it merely shifts new costs to state and federal taxpayers.


Finally, state government meddled with business contracts between powersports manufacturers, like Polaris Industries of Osceola, and their private dealers.  It’s a prime example of government meddling in private business contracts.  Worse yet, a major jobs provider in western Wisconsin is now having its business model dictated to it by state government, and Polaris is predicting dire consequences to its efforts aimed to help Wisconsin dealers sell its product.


I voted no on all these bills, however, they all passed with the support of the Democratic Majority.  With just a handful of days left in session, the flurry of bills that are adding new costs to taxpayers and new burdens on local governments and businesses are unfortunately advancing through the Legislature in a mad dash toward the finish line.