May 8, 2015

Update from the Capitol

It has been a busy time at the State Capitol over the past month. In addition to the legislature's continuing work on the state budget, the State Assembly & State Senate passed "rideshare" legislation that I authored.  The bill was signed by Governor Walker just this week and would allow innovative new app-based ridesharing companies to operate statewide.  Please read my column below that explains this new transportation option in more detail.

Next week the State Assembly is in session once again. The Assembly will be taking up a package of bills that will further reform public benefits. We will also consider the bill to raise the speed limit to 70 mph after the State Senate made slight changes to improve safety.

21st Century Transportation Solutions
By Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva)

As technology advances, it is important that our state laws are updated to accommodate new ideas. One such example exists in the transportation sector. With the rise in popularity of smartphones, a new app-based transportation option has emerged called “ridesharing.”

Ridesharing companies connect someone needing a ride with a driver who is willing to give them a ride in their own personal vehicle. Over the past couple years new rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have become a popular and safe transportation option for millions across the country.

Ridesharing companies can often provide a cheaper ride to the consumer due to low overhead costs. Ridesharing companies do not own a fleet of cars, nor do they employ drivers. They operate based on supply and demand by connecting drivers and passengers. In fact, each driver uses their own car, is a small business owner, and often keeps up to 80% of their fares.

However, this new ridesharing business model has upset the status quo of the current transportation marketplace dominated by taxi companies. Cities like Madison have tried to essentially ban ridesharing in an effort to protect the existing taxi companies from competition. In an effort to control the marketplace and collect more revenue, the City of Madison recently passed unnecessary big government regulations that would have squashed the new innovative rideshare business model.

This was unacceptable, so I authored Assembly Bill 143 to allow free market principles to prevail in Wisconsin’s ever evolving transportation system. The bill simply sets up a basic framework allowing ridesharing companies to operate statewide. My goal was to ensure consumers have access to this alternative transportation option.

Specifically, my legislation creates a statewide license for rideshare companies operating via a smartphone app. To obtain a license, the companies must conduct background checks of drivers, have a zero tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol, and provide commercial insurance of at least $1 million to protect consumers.

Last month, the bill passed on a bipartisan 79-19 vote in the State Assembly and on a voice vote in the State Senate. Just this week, Governor Walker signed the bill into law.

I believe this is an exciting opportunity to allow a new option in our transportation system with benefits to both drivers and passengers. The enactment of this bill will create thousands of job opportunities for drivers around the state. Additionally, in cities where ridesharing companies operate, drunk driving rates have been reduced up to 10%.

Before passage of my bill, rideshare companies only operated in Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay where they had to get separate licenses and follow differing rules. However, now that there is statewide certainty, I am hopeful service will expand to all areas of the state where there is demand. In popular tourist areas like our area, there is clearly a demand for additional transportation options. In fact, these ridesharing companies are already very popular in bigger cities like Chicago and will be an attractive option to those visiting our state.

2015 Spring Survey

If you have not yet taken my survey, it is available on my website. I do read every response and appreciate your feedback. In an effort to save taxpayer money, I'm conducting my survey online instead of mailing it.

I apologize to those of you that were having problems submitting my 2015 survey. The technical issues that were causing the problem have been fixed. The good news is that if you did fill out the survey, the information did go through despite the pop-up some of you may have seen. If you continue to have problems, the survey should work by going directly to my website and clicking the survey graphic there.

You can take my survey by clicking the button below, or by visiting my website at and clicking on the survey graphic in the upper right of the page.

Click the graphic above to take my 2015 Survey.

Wisconsin Improves Rank As One of Best States for Business
WI moves up two spots according to survey by Chief Executive Magazine

Wisconsin’s business climate continues to improve as we once again moved up two spots to #12 in the annual survey of CEOs. This is a significant shift compared to 2010, when Wisconsin was ranked near the bottom at 41st. Clearly, the reforms enacted by the Legislature and Governor Walker have had a positive impact upon our state.

According to Chief Executive Magazine, “CEOs are confident in Wisconsin’s business-friendly leadership. They say that low taxes and minimal regulations are creating significant new business investment opportunities.”

In the survey, Wisconsin outranked its neighboring states, beating out Iowa (13th), Minnesota (31st), Michigan (43rd) and Illinois (48th).

Wisconsin’s recent rankings are as follow:

2015: 12th
2014: 14th
2013: 17th
2012: 20th
2011: 24th
2010: 41st

The Chief Executive ranking is based on a nationwide survey conducted earlier this year in which more than 500 CEOs across the U.S. graded states on their overall business climates, as well as a variety of specific business climate factors, including taxation and regulation, workforce quality and living.

The report is published in the 2015 May/June issue of Chief Executive magazine and available at

If you do not wish to continue to receive my e-update, simply send an email to, with the subject line "unsubscribe."

Follow me on Facebook!

Follow me on Twitter!
State Capitol Room 119 West
PO Box 8952 Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-1190