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A Note from Rep. Edming

Thank you for reading this edition of my e-update. It was an eventful week down in Madison, and I look forward to sharing with you a little about what is going on at the State Capitol. This week the legislature received Governor Evers' biennial budget address, the State Assembly approved some important legislation, and more legislation continued to work its way through the committee process.

With the new session now underway, bills are starting to be circulated for support in the legislature.  As proposals are introduced, do not hesitate to contact me to share your thoughts.  Understanding my constituents' views on issues that may come before me in the legislature helps me to make better decisions on your behalf. 

State Budget Process Gets Underway

Earlier this week the state budget process got underway when Governor Evers delivered his 2021 State Budget Address to a joint convention of the state legislature. The biennial state budget is the most important bill that the legislature considers each session and will dominate much of the discussion in the State Capitol over the next few months.

After listening to the governor's address the other night and taking a first look at this 1,846-page spending plan, I am disappointed. While Governor Evers continues to talk about working together and seeking compromise, the budget he unveiled, just like his first budget proposal two years ago, is more of a Madison liberal wish list than a viable state budget. While I do see some areas of common ground such as continuing the UW System tuition freeze and continuing the effort to invest in broadband expansion in rural Wisconsin, many of the policies laid out by the governor in his budget proposal are just out of touch with the priorities of the people of the 87th Assembly District. There are a number of policy provisions put forward by the governor that I simply cannot support, such as the elimination of drug testing requirements for public assistance programs, the creation of a Red Flag law, and a repeal of Act 10. In addition, state spending under the governor's budget would increase by over $8 billion. Yes, you read that right, over an $8 billion increase in spending! His proposal also seeks to double the state's energy tax, increasing the energy bills of folks around the state.

Overall, Governor Evers' budget proposal would spend too much, increase taxes at a time when many are already struggling, and contains a number of liberal policy items that will not be supported by the Republican-controlled legislature nor most Wisconsinites outside of the liberal bubble of Dane County. In the weeks ahead, I will be reviewing the governor’s plan and working with my colleagues in the legislature to craft a budget that works for the people of Wisconsin, just as we did last session. As the budget process unfolds over the next several months, I encourage you to reach out to me and share your thoughts on what you would like to see prioritized in our state's two-year spending plan.

After the governor's budget address, his state budget proposal was introduced to the legislature as Assembly Bill (AB) 68.

Stopping a Tax on Local Businesses

One of the important parts of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was signed into law last year by President Trump was the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Since its creation, the PPP program has provided forgivable loans to businesses around our nation to keep their employees working. I have heard from a number of business owners across the 87th District who used this program to keep their employees on the payroll during the economic hardship and government-mandated shutdowns this past year.

While these loans are not taxable at the federal level, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) recently determined that they were at the state level. If allowed to stand, this tax would cost Wisconsin businesses an estimated $431 million. Since DOR announced their guidance on this matter I heard from many local small business owners who reached out to share how this added tax would negatively impact them. For some, stopping this tax on PPP loans could be the difference between staying open or having to close their doors. That is why I joined with a number of my legislative colleagues to advocate to fix this issue and treat PPP loans the same in Wisconsin as they are on the federal level, tax-free.

I am pleased to share that this important change was included as part of legislation to modernize the state tax code and operations at DOR, Assembly Bill (AB) 2.  AB 2 was approved by both houses of the legislature on Tuesday with wide bipartisan support and was signed into law yesterday as 2021 Act 1 by Governor Evers. I am glad that this important fix to our state's tax code is now law.

Audit of Elections Administration Approved

Since the election this past November, one of the top issues my office has heard from residents of the 87th District about is protecting the integrity of our elections. This issue is something that many of my legislative colleagues have heard about a lot as well. People around our state have raised questions about how our election was administered including whether our state's election laws were followed and the use of electronic voting systems.

I believe it is important that Wisconsinites are confident in our election procedures and we know our state's election laws are being followed. That is why I was pleased to see the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved an audit of elections administration in Wisconsin last week. Over the next few months, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) will conduct a thorough review of our elections processes, including how well our election laws have been followed, and will provide valuable feedback on how we can improve our election laws and procedures. The LAB is expected to release its findings later this year.

Under the Dome

Meeting with Students from CTSOs

As part of my day on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet virtually with students from some of our state's career and technical education organizations including Maleah from Athens High School. It was great to hear from her and other students how organizations like SkillsUSA, FFA, and FBLA are making a positive impact on the education of students not only in the 87th District but across Wisconsin.

Meeting with the Wisconsin Library Association

Also on Wednesday, I had the chance to chat with some of the hardworking folks that keep our libraries running, including Hollis, the director of the Rusk County Community Library. I appreciate learning more about how libraries in our area have adapted over the last year to continue meeting the needs of the community and their plans to continue innovating to find even more ways to better serve their patrons.

Stay Up to Date

One of the best ways to stay up to date with what is going on in Madison is to sign up for the legislature's notification tracking service. This service allows you to follow legislative activity in Madison. Once you create a free account you can sign up to receive notifications about specific bills or committees as well as legislative activity pertaining to a subject area (i.e. agriculture, veterans). You can sign up for this service at notify.legis.wisconsin.gov.

If you subscribed to this service over the past couple of years you will need to resubscribe to proposals, committees, and authors for the new legislative session.