OCTOBER 15, 2015
On Thursday, The Department of Administration
released its annual report of the state's general fund. This report
presents statements of fund condition and operations (budgetary basis)
of the State of Wisconsin for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015.
The General Fund has an undesignated balance of
$135.6 million as of the end of the fiscal year. General-purpose revenue
taxes were $14.541 billion compared to $13.948 billion in the prior
year, an increase of $593 million or 4.3 percent. General-purpose
revenue expenditures, excluding fund transfers, were $15.334 billion.
This is $271 million less than the budgeted expenditure allocation of
In fiscal year 2015, the State of Wisconsin continued to devote the
major share of state tax collections to assistance to local school
districts, municipalities and counties. Local assistance accounted for
52.1 percent of total general purpose revenue spending. Aid payments to
individuals and organizations represented 24.3 percent of total general
purpose revenue expenditures. The University of Wisconsin accounted for
7.1 percent of total general purpose revenue spending and state
operations spending for all other state agencies accounted for 16.5
percent of the total.
A copy of the complete report is
Assembly Session Next Week
Next week, the Assembly will be in session to take up
legislation that will reorganize the Government Accountability Board
(GAB) and legislation to reform John Doe and campaign finance laws.
I plan to support these reforms.
Assembly Bill 388 creates two bipartisan commissions to replace the
current GAB Board: the Ethics Commission and the Election Commission.
Each will have six citizen members: two appointed by Republican
legislative leaders, two by Democratic legislative leaders, and the
final two are appointed by the governor from two separate lists
submitted by each party and then confirmed by the Senate. The
gubernatorial appointees for the Election Commission must be current or
former clerks, one from each party, to ensure that elections run smoothly and efficiently. The
commissioners will serve five-year terms. Each commission will have an
administrator, appointed by the commission members and confirmed by the
Senate, serving a four-year term.
The legislation also includes measures to increase accountability and
transparency. The bill introduces due process protections in the complaint
and investigation processes. Additionally, when an opinion or guidance is given, these documents
will be posted online for the public to see.
John Doe Reform
Assembly Bill 68
would reform Wisconsin's controversial John Doe law.
Wisconsin is the lone state with John Doe proceedings on the books, 49
other states use grand jury proceedings in the place of these
investigations. The state's John Doe law is used to determine whether or
not a crime has been committed as well as who is the perpetrator of the
suspected crime. The bill will ensure that a John Doe
investigation will only be used when absolutely necessary. This
necessity will be determined by state statute and the U.S. Constitution.
The current John Doe law would be preserved for investigating certain
felonies and potential crimes committed by on-duty law enforcement
Campaign Finance Reform
Assembly Bill 387 would
substantially rewrite current state laws related to campaign
finance. As Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) pointed out during his
testimony in committee this week,
Chapter 11 has not had a major revision since it was created in 1973.
Since that time the courts have developed a clearer understanding of the
governmentís ability to regulate speech. Unfortunately, Wisconsinís
statutes have not been updated to mark the boundaries of the
governmentís authority to regulate election-related speech. In the
absence of legislative action, regulators have attempted to burden
speech in ways that violate our Constitution. While the courts have
protected our First Amendment rights, they have also made it clear that
the legislature must act.
The Legislative Reference Bureau puts together the
Legislative Spotlight on a weekly basis to highlight what is going on in
the Wisconsin State Legislature. It's a great way to get information
about bills that have recently been introduced, committee proceedings,
bills that are signed into law, and other
You can read the legislative spotlight by clicking here.
Emergency Worker Legislation
Rep. Loudenbeck and Rep. Warren Petryk (R-Eleva)
introduced legislation that would simplify the process for emergency
utility workers (utility employees from another state who will
temporarily work in Wisconsin) to help Wisconsin citizens get critical infrastructure back online by
creating various tax exemptions for volunteer workers helping in
Wisconsin during a state of emergency.
Assembly Bill 405 creates an exemption from income, sales, and use taxes
for emergency utility workers deployed in Wisconsin and creates an exemption to
state or local fees, licenses, certificates, registration, and
permitting requirements that would otherwise be applicable to the
emergency work. In order to qualify for the exemption, the work must be
performed during a state of emergency, declared by the Governor, and
must help restore the stateís infrastructure or otherwise minimize the
effects of an emergency.
In the wake of Super Storm Sandy, Wisconsin utility workers as well as
workers from across the country volunteered to go to the storm ravaged
area to repair and rebuild critical infrastructure and restore power and
phone service. While the efforts of these volunteers highlight the very
best of human nature, the situation also brought to light some
unintended flaws in the regulatory and government systems.
Unfortunately, some of these volunteers were prevented from immediately
helping due to rules that required them to go through a duplicative
licensing procedure and even worse, some are now subjected to paying
income tax in the state they volunteered to help.
During any tragedy, we do not want overly bureaucratic
regulations standing in the way of getting the help we need as quickly
as possible With this legislation, Wisconsin will get the necessary help
it may need if a state of emergency were to be declared and our business
and families can resume their normal operations as quickly as possible.
Gathering Waters Policymaker of the Year
I was thrilled to join my Assembly colleagues Rep. Joel Kitchens
(R-Sturgeon Bay) and Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville),
in being honored for our work on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program
in the state budget. Together we worked with members of our caucus
and other interested parties to negotiate a compromise to restore the
Above: Rep. Joel Kitchens, Rep. Loudenbeck
and Rep. Todd Novak
In addition to my
award, Harold Friestad, from Williams Bay was awarded the Harold "Bud"
Jordahl Lifetime Achievement Award for his work and dedication to
Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy. Harold was instrumental in the
purchase, restoration and protection of the 231 acre parcel on Geneva
Above: Rep. Loudenbeck and Harold Friestad
Gathering Waters: Wisconsinís Alliance for Land Trusts is a statewide
land conservation organization founded in 1994 to strengthen Wisconsinís
private non-profit land trusts. Through technical assistance, outreach
and public policy advocacy, Gathering Waters helps land trusts,
landowners, and communities protect the places that make Wisconsin
Hope Agenda & Dose of Reality
This session, Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette)
introduced four new bills as a continuation of his HOPE Agenda. Instead
of focusing solely on heroin, these four bills target the root of
Wisconsinís epidemic: prescription drug abuse and addiction.
In the majority of cases, heroin addiction begins with an
addiction to prescription medications. Whether these medications are
obtained legally or not, we need to do our best to curtail the illegal
use of these dangerous substances. I have signed on as a co-author
of all four bills in the HOPE Agenda package.
The following are summaries of each of the four HOPE Agenda bills
being worked on this session:
1. Change the requirement for those who dispense certain
prescription drugs to submit information to the prescription drug
monitoring program (PDMP) from 7 days to 24 hours. It will also require
a practitioner to review a patientís record when initially prescribing a
monitored prescription drug (for example, a Schedule II drug).
2. When law enforcement encounters an inappropriate use or an
infraction of the law concerning scheduled drugs, they upload that
information into the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and
have the PDMP notify the physician. There are exceptions for on-going
3. Give the Department of Health Services (DHS) oversight over
the operation of pain management clinics across the state. The
departmentís oversight would not be regulatory, but would be a way of
providing safeguards so ďpill millsĒ donít pop up in our state.
4. Methadone is a drug assisted treatment run in methadone
clinics around the state. It is not uncommon for a patient to regularly
go for treatment at a methadone clinic for 5 to 10 years. These clinics
are for-profit and receive Medicaid reimbursement. This legislation will
have methadone clinics gather data such as staffing ratios, the number
of patients receiving behavioral health services with the medication,
and average mileage an individual is traveling to come to a clinic. It
will then be reported to DHS on an annual basis to give public health
and treatment professionals a chance to analyze outcome data.
In addition to Rep. Nygren's HOPE agenda, Attorney
General Brad Schimel introduced "Dose of Reality" which is an awareness
campaign to alert Wisconsinites to the dangers of misusing opioid pain
medications Ė an abuse that now exceeds deaths involving heroin and
As part of the Dose or Reality campaign, the
Department of Justice has announced Drug Take Back Day on October 17,
2015. For more information,
New Blue Books
Blue Books have arrived! If you would like a complimentary copy, please
send an email including your first and last name and complete mailing
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you live outside the 31st
Assembly District we will gladly forward your request to the appropriate
office at 306 East 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.