November 5, 2014

Greetings Constituents and Subscribers! I am excited to resume regular e-updates now that election season has ended. Yesterday, I was elected to my third term in the State Assembly representing the 31st Assembly District. The 102nd session of the State Assembly will begin on Monday January 5, 2015. In the upcoming weeks, new leadership will be elected and committee assignments will be handed out.

Over the course of the summer, the legislative service agencies updated the main website for the Wisconsin State Legislature. It is now easier than ever to track legislative proposals, look up session information and connect with information to improve your ability to engage in the legislative process. Click here to see more!

My office in Madison is here to listen to your questions and concerns regarding legislation and other issues regarding state government. We can also connect you to additional resources. As your representative I want to hear from you, so please feel free to get in touch with me or my staff with questions. Know that the constituents of the 31st Assembly District obtain the highest priority in my office and that my door is always open. Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in Madison!

Forward Agenda

For the last several months, staff and legislators have been busy working on public policy initiatives that reflect the values and goals of our caucus. A few weeks ago, we released the Assembly Republican Forward Agenda outlining our policy goals for Wisconsin’s future. The Forward Agenda includes ideas for the next legislative session and beyond. It focuses on five areas: building a stronger economy, building tomorrow’s workforce, improving the quality of life, creating a pathway to the American Dream and preparing for tomorrow. We want an even better business climate, a more efficient government and successful schools. We also want to help more people achieve self-sufficiency by opening the door of opportunity a little wider.

You can read more about the Forward Agenda by clicking here. After you have reviewed the document, please feel free to share your ideas here.

 TIF Committee Update

In the spring of 2014, I was selected to serve as the Vice-Chair of the Legislative Council Study Committee on Tax Incremental Financing. Study committees are established by the Joint Legislative Council to examine major issues and problems identified by the Legislature. The study committees are made up of legislators and citizens who are interested in or knowledgeable about the study topic. The Study Committee on the Review of Tax Incremental Financial is directed to study and review the intent behind tax incremental financing (TIF) laws and how the TIF laws are utilized by cities, villages, towns and counties. The committee shall also evaluate current TIF laws and recommend legislation that could improve their effectiveness and study how they impact a local governmental unit’s finances and property taxes; economic and community development; and job growth.

The committee has met four times - on July 17th, August 14th, September 10th and October 9th, 2014. At its first meeting, Legislative Council staff provided a brief overview of the TIF process under Wisconsin law, as well as an outline of the anticipated study committee process. The committee concluded the morning portion of its meeting with a presentation from the Department of Revenue, which highlighted the extent of local control under current TIF law and described the limited role of the department with regard to TIF oversight and data collection. Following lunch, the committee continued its meeting with invited testimony from consultants and developers familiar with the use of TIF throughout the state. During their testimony, the consultants and developers described how TIF-related development occurs, described their experience with changes to TIF law over time, and offered suggestions for consideration by the study committee.

During the August meeting, the committee heard testimony from representatives of the cities of Madison, West Bend, Oshkosh and Kenosha, regarding the use of TIF in their respective communities and suggestions for changes to current TIF law. The committee also heard invited testimony from James Spiotto, a national expert on municipalities in distress, who presented information on how state policies can help municipalities in crisis. The meeting concluded following testimony from John Kovari, a member of the Study Committee and UW-La Crosse professor who has conducted research on TIF usage in Wisconsin. Mr. Kovari shared the findings of his research, including a discussion about the overutilization of TIF in smaller municipalities. At the close of the meeting, members were directed by Chair Gudex to forward their suggestions for changes to TIF law to Legislative Council staff.

The committee held its third meeting on Wednesday, September 10, 2014. The meeting began with a presentation by Brian Quinn, Executive Policy and Budget Analyst – Senior, Division of Executive Budget and Finance, Department of Administration, who provided the committee with his analysis of trends in TIF usage based on municipal population size and property value, including trends specifically related to distressed TIDs. Following Mr. Quinn’s presentation, the committee began its review of options for potential legislation, as organized in a memorandum prepared by Legislative Council staff. The memorandum summarized options for potential legislation that were suggested by members of the committee, as well as items suggested by invited speakers during testimony at previous committee meetings.

The committee held its last meeting on October 9, 2014 which continued discussion of committee options and reviewed bill drafts that were prepared by Legislative Council staff in response to September’s committee discussion. For more information about the TIF Committee, including links to all of the agendas, minutes, handouts and bill drafts click here.

My Capitol office at 209 North is here to help you with general inquiries as well as questions and concerns regarding legislative matters. Feel free to contact me or my staff. We are always ready to assist you in your needs. Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.

If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Update, please feel free to contact me.   

State Capitol Room 209 North- PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
Toll-Free (888) 529-0031 or (608) 266-9967

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