June 11, 2020

  

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Investing in Wisconsin's Roads 

This week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) worked on transportation funding proposals to include in the budget. Our local and state roads play a major role in our communities and economy, so we have to make sure we are thinking of the big picture and how these funds will impact our communities. Governor Evers' transportation proposal had no long-term plan, and unfortunately it would have put our Transportation Fund in worse condition instead of improving it. His budget was balanced by reducing funds dedicated to the State Highway Rehabilitation Program by $283 million and replacing those funds with borrowing. In total, Governor Evers' budget recommendations this session included $555.8 million in total borrowing. 

As we're all aware, it's better to reduce borrowing in our daily budgets as much as possible, and that same rule rings true for the state budget as well. We need to make sure we are working within our means as a state and not just continuing to borrow more and more funds to support new projects. Instead, we need to focus on long-term solutions to reduce borrowing. To that end, Republicans are enacting a long-term revenue increase for transportation. We are providing a one-time 1% general fund transfer in year one and an ongoing .5% general fund transfer. This will give roughly $300 million in general purpose revenue to the Transportation Fund, an additional $100 million above current funding. 

A few highlights from the JFC's votes this week include: 

  • $100 million in local transportation supplement grant program, $25 million higher than the Governor's proposal
  • $700,000 to purchase body cameras and storage data for state patrol
  • Increased general transportation by $19 million
  • Approved over $300 million less in new bonding than the Governor's proposal
  • Reduced mass transit operating assistance for Milwaukee and Madison by $40 million
  • $19.2 million over the biennium from the police and fire protection fund to be used to develop Next Generation 911 emergency Services Network and GIS database
  • $500,000 for Urban Search and Rescue Task Force and a continuing appropriation for training and equipment
  • Provided $109,300 on a one-time basis to UW-Green Bay for educational summer camp programs developed in partnership w/ the Oneida Nation

Upcoming Assembly Floor Session on
Police Reform 

On top of budget work, the Assembly is scheduled to be on the floor for a vote next week on June 16th to vote on a number of mostly police reform bills. Many of these bills were a product of the work done by Wisconsin's Task Force on Racial Justice. The task force included both Republican and Democrat lawmakers, members of county and state law enforcement agencies, leaders from Native American tribes and faith, education, health, business and community leaders and activists.

The full calendar for the upcoming session, when published, can be found here, but some of the bills up for a vote include:

  • AB 108 - law enforcement agency policies on the use of force
  • AB 109 - reporting of law enforcement use of force incidents
  • AB 110 - public access to policies regarding use of force by law enforcement
  • AB 134 - prohibiting use of choke holds by law enforcement officers in use of force policies
  • AB 158 - community-oriented policing-house grant program
  • AB 329 - reporting the use of no-knock entry in the execution of a search warrant
  • AB 331 - requiring prospective law enforcement officers to complete a psychological examination prior to their employment
  • AB 332 - crisis training for law enforcement officers
  • AB 334 - drug testing of law enforcement officers involved in certain critical incidents while on duty
  • AB 299 - prohibiting proof of vaccination for COVID-19 as a condition of receiving business and government services
  • AB 195 - designating UW and technical college sports team participation based on the sex of the participants
  • AB 196 - designating public or private school sports team participation based on the sex of the participants
Question of the Week: 
Direct Sale of Electric Vehicles

Online retail has been increasing regularly over the last decade, and growing interest in online shopping isn't limited to basic retail goods anymore. One study estimates that up to 33% of new car purchases, either browsing or buying, will be conducted online by 2035.

However, Wisconsin's laws currently prohibit vehicle manufacturers from owning or controlling a dealership or selling directly to consumers. Because some electric vehicle companies don't have dealerships, if a Wisconsinite wanted to purchase a vehicle from these companies they would have to make the purchase in a different state. While this was initially meant to protect car dealerships from losses after they invest in inventory, some say this law limits consumer options and has rapidly become obsolete in the internet era. 

To address that, one legislator has introduced a bill that would allow electric vehicle manufacturers to sell directly to consumers in Wisconsin without requiring them to go through a dealership. There are currently many electric vehicle manufacturers that would be allowed to sell directly to consumers in Wisconsin: Fisker, Rivian, Lordstown, Lucid and Tesla. The bill would say that consumers would have the option of buying an electric vehicle directly from the manufacturer, whether online or at a manufacturer-owned dealership, as well as at a traditional car dealership. 

Supporters believe this bill will cut out the middle-man and provide more competitive pricing options for consumers, while also removing limits to consumer options. Opponents are concerned that it would give manufacturers a way to cut out dealerships and financially harm these local businesses around the state.

With the increasing interest in electric vehicles and the trend towards internet shopping, I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposed bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Licensing of 50/50 Raffles 

I heard from many folks around the 36th Assembly District in response to last week's question. The chart below represents the responses from constituents to the question as of Thursday afternoon. 

Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant Program Announced 

Earlier this month, the US Department of Commerce announced the availability of nearly $1 billion in grants to expand broadband access and adoption on tribal land around the nation through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. This new program was created in 2021, and grants will be available to eligible tribal entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth and distance learning. Project proposals are prioritized if they involve deploying infrastructure to unserved households.

More information on the program, grant applications and requirements can be found on the Notice of Funding Opportunity. They have also created a fact sheet on the announcement to give folks a helpful overview. A series of webinars are also scheduled to inform the public about the program. The next will be held on June 16 and 17. This grant and others from the federal level can be found on grants.gov.

Budget Survey Available Online

As I mentioned in my last e-update, the paper version of my budget survey is heading to mailboxes soon. I've heard from a number of folks already, and if you would like to fill out the survey early you can find it online on my webpage:

36th Assembly District Online Budget Survey

Request DWD Unemployment Inquiry 

With the high number of unemployment claims being filed in Wisconsin and nationwide in recent months, delays in determinations and payments have been a too common occurrence. As a legislator, I'm able to reach out to DWD and make an inquiry on your behalf if you are experiencing issues or delays with your unemployment claim.

Click here to request an Unemployment Claim Inquiry

COVID-19 Quick Links

Below are some quick links to essential COVID-19 resources and information:

Follow the Legislative Action

In order to stay up to date on any legislation, proposals, or your legislator, a free notification service is available through the Wisconsin State Legislature's website. You can sign up for nightly personalized email notifications based on our state's legislative activity. This is a wonderful way to stay informed about state politics and proposals that you are interested in.