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A Note from Rep. Edming

Thank you for taking some time out of your day to read this week's edition of my e-update. It was another busy week serving the hardworking folks of the 87th Assembly District with another floor session, a committee hearing, and more. I hope that you find this update informative.

I would also like to share that my office continues to see a high volume of contacts on a number of different issues. My staff and I are doing our best to respond to constituents of the 87th Assembly District as quickly as we can.

A Check on Executive Overreach

As you have likely heard, the Wisconsin State Assembly met yesterday and approved Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 3 which repeals Governor Evers' unlawful emergency declaration. While many will try to make this vote about masks, it's not. Passing SJR 3 is about providing a check on the actions of the governor who has acted outside of his authority under the law. Under Wisconsin State Statute 323.10, a state of emergency called by the governor shall not exceed 60 days, unless it is extended by a joint resolution of the state legislature.

Back on March 12, 2020, Governor Evers issued Executive Order # 72 declaring a public health emergency related to COVID-19. This state of emergency remained in effect for 60 days and allowed the governor to do many things on his own without the need for legislative approval. However, when this state of emergency expired this authority ended and we returned to the normal order of business where the governor must work with the legislature. However, instead of working through the administrative rule process outlined in state law, Governor Evers has continued to issue new executive orders on the same public health emergency without legislative approval.

Again, yesterday's vote was not about masks. Prior to yesterday's vote, I joined with a number of my Assembly Republican colleagues to send a letter to Governor Evers asking him to work with the legislature to develop reasonable health and safety measures through the rule-making process. If Governor Evers believes that statewide health orders such as a mask mandate are necessary he needs to stop governing through executive order and instead work through the lawful rule-making process, where the people of Wisconsin have a say through their elected legislators.

Let me finish by saying I support the right of individuals to wear a mask if they choose to do so. I also support the right of business owners to require the wearing of masks in their establishments if they choose to do so. However, I cannot stand by as the governor repeatedly ignores state law which is why I voted to approve SJR 3 yesterday. Unfortunately, just a short time after the Assembly voted to approve SJR 3, Governor Evers again issued a new executive order declaring a public health emergency. There is currently a case pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court questioning the legality of the governor's authority to issue multiple public health emergencies on the same issue without legislative approval. It is my hope that the court issues its ruling soon.

Easing the Burden on Those Serving Our Country

It was a busy day in Madison on Thursday. Prior to heading to the Assembly floor, I had the opportunity to testify before the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Revenue. I spoke in support of Senate Bill (SB) 43, a bill I authored with Senator André Jacque that exempts active-duty military pay from state income taxes. Of the 41 states with a state income tax, Wisconsin is one of only 15 states that have no income tax exemption for active duty pay. Because of this fact, many Wisconsin service members change their legal residence to a more tax-friendly state while they are stationed out of the state. However, when these folks transition back to civilian life, it is more difficult for them to re-establish themselves in Wisconsin after they have officially relocated to another state.

SB 43 brings Wisconsin out of the minority of states by exempting active duty military pay from state income tax and into line with our neighboring states of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota who all exempt active duty pay from income taxes. By providing this exemption we are not only saying thank you to those who are willing to serve our nation in the armed forces, we are also making it more likely that our servicemen and women will return home when they complete their military service by encouraging them to keep their legal residence in Wisconsin. If you would like to read my full testimony you can do so by clicking here.

Also, I am pleased to share that after yesterday's public hearing the committee voted unanimously to recommend SB 43 for passage by the full Senate. I hope to see this bill approved and on the way to the Assembly soon.

DBA Legislative Excellence Award

Earlier this week I was honored to accept the Legislative Excellence Award from the Dairy Business Association (DBA) for my support of issues important to the dairy industry during the 2019-2020 Legislative Session. With the dairy industry being one of the driving forces of both our state's economy and many local economies in the 87th District, I am proud to advocate for policies that will strengthen this important industry.

Last session I was proud to author the bipartisan Act 167 with Rep. Don Vruwink and Sen. Howard Marklein that fixed our state's manufacturing and agriculture tax credit (MAC) by including crop insurance payments into the definition of "production gross receipts", which is used to calculate the credit. Thank you to the DBA for its
recognition of my efforts to support our dairy industry. It is always great to hear that the legislation I author has made a difference.

Good News on the Budget Front

Recently our state received some good news on the budget front from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). According to the general fund revenue and expenditure projections released by the LFB, it estimates that Wisconsin will have a $1.85 billion surplus at the close of the two-year budget on June 30, 2021. Not only that our state's Budget Stabilization (rainy day) Fund will now be nearly $1 billion, a record high. During my time in the legislature, I am proud to have supported conservative budgets that have helped keep the fiscal health of our state strong. 

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.