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August 18, 2017

The Assembly met Thursday in special session and approved a $3 billion tax credit package for Foxconn, a foreign-based electronics manufacturer. In addition to the tax breaks, the proposal includes $252 million in borrowing for road projects and exemptions from environmental regulations and oversight.

While Gov. Walker has promised this project would create thousands of jobs, significant concerns over taxpayer costs, worker wages and environmental damage continue to be raised. The Foxconn bill passed the Republican-controlled Assembly largely along party lines and now heads to the Senate where it has been referred to the Joint Finance Committee.

While the Foxconn proposal has drawn much of the recent media attention, Republican lawmakers continue to struggle with a state budget that is now seven weeks overdue. Funding for local schools and road projects is now in jeopardy as Republicans have failed to make any progress on transportation funding, school aid and state revenue.

Follow Along!

Follow the Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as they finish up the budget:

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Budget Update

The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee hasn’t met publicly since June 15th as Republican infighting derailed the committee process and caused the state to miss its July 1st budget deadline. The failure to pass a budget on time has resulted in several transportation project delays, with additional worker layoffs and cost increases likely to impact the state if a new budget is not adopted. 

As families prepare to send their children back to school, Republican inactivity has also made it more difficult for communities and school districts to budget for the upcoming academic year. The Department of Public Instruction recently stated that school sparsity aid payments could be delayed if a budget is not signed into law by Aug. 31st. Additional school aid payments to local communities will be delayed if the budget impasse continues into September and October. These delays will have a significant impact on local school district budgeting, school funding levels and classroom resources in the 2017-18 school year. 

You can view all of the previous motions and votes on the state budget by visiting the Legislative Democrats website here:  

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/democrats/jfc-votes


 

There is no executive session scheduled at this time. The committee must still address budget provisions related to the following agencies:

What Democrats Are Saying
Democratic Proposals

LRB4079 & LRB4131 PANDAS Awareness (Sen. Erpenbach, Rep. Pope) PANS/PANDAS is a clinically defined disorder characterized by the sudden onset of obsessive compulsive symptoms. This resolution that would proclaim October 9, 2017 as PANS and PANDAS Awareness Day.

LRB4135 Telecommunication Land Lines (Sens. Vinehout, Bewley) would require a telecommunications provider that is an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) under federal law to comply with requirements regarding the availability of basic voice service.

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate did not conduct a floor period this week. The next floor session will take place when the Senate takes up the budget. The entire floor session calendar can be found here


Senate Committees

 Senate Health and Human Services
The committee held a Public Hearing to discuss four Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 258 would require dental offices to preserve patient records for the amount of time to be determined by the examining board and would require dental practices to transfer patient records if requested by patient.

  • Senate Bill 381 would require the Department of Health Services to establish rules and policies for access to complex rehabilitation technology for patients who qualify for Medical Assistance. 

  • Senate Bill 209 / Assembly Bill 96 these bills would allow a physician to prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) to a person who has completed training, regardless of their own personal need, allowing them to administer it to a person having a severe allergic reaction.

  • Senate Bill 84 / Assembly Bill 69 these bills would permit terminally ill patients legal access to investigational drug and treatment options that are in the process of obtaining FDA approval, but are not yet available on pharmacy shelves. 

Senate Committee on Education
The committee held a Public Hearing to discuss three Assembly Bills and four Senate Bills: 

  • Assembly Bill 280 would direct each school board to adopt academic standards for financial literacy and incorporate instruction in financial literacy into the curriculum.

  • Assembly Bill 71 would require the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to create, maintain, and post a pupil data inventory on the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) website. 

  • Assembly Bill 72 would require the Superintendent to provide guidance and training to school districts and schools in implementing and administering a data privacy. 

  • Senate Bill 105 would create a pilot program for a school board located in the Cooperative Educational Service Agency 6 region that received a rating of significantly exceeds expectations may opt out of the requirement to provide a minimum number of hours of direct pupil instruction at schools.

  • Senate Bill 253 would specify that it is immoral conduct for a licensee to help a school employee, contractor, or agent obtain a new job if the licensee knows or has reason to believe that person has committed a sex offense and the victim was a minor or a pupil. 

  • Senate Bill 299 would expand the teacher education programs that satisfy a requirement for obtaining an initial teaching license under the alternative teacher licensure program. 

  • Senate Bill 301 would expand the types of online classes offered to high school pupils as summer classes that qualify for state aid.

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session

The Assembly held a special session this week to consider legislation on the floor Thursday. The Assembly heard arguments relating to Special Session Assembly Bill 1, a bill that would award approximately $3 billion in incentives to Foxconn.

Democrats proposed a resolution to refer the bill to joint finance, but the motion was not taken up. Democrats also proposed three amendments. The first amendment would require hiring preferences for Wisconsin workers, suppliers and contractors, as well as additional funds for job training. The second amendment would ensure environmental protections and get rid of the environmental regulation exemptions in the bill. The third amendment would provide protections for taxpayers and ensure clawbacks if Foxconn doesn’t follow through on promised employment. All the amendments were voted down.

The legislation passed 59-30.


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy
The assembly held an executive session on Special Session Assembly Bill 1, a bill that would award approximately $3 billion in incentives to Foxconn. Democrats offered several amendments, including requiring clawbacks if Foxconn doesn’t deliver on jobs, better environmental oversight and preference for Wisconsin workers, contractors and suppliers. Of the 23 amendments offered by Democrats, all were voted down on a party line. The bill was voted out of committee 8-4 on party lines with every Democrat voting no.

 

Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

There are no committee meetings scheduled for next week at this time.

Assembly Committees

Assembly Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care
The committee will hold a Public Hearing at the Marathon County Public Library in Wausau. Testimony will be accepted from invited speakers and the general public on matters relating to the foster care system.

Assembly Committee on Education
The committee will hold a Public Hearing on Assembly Bill 423, Assembly Bill 382 and Assembly Bill 471.


 To view updated committee notices, visit the legislative website and click on Committee Schedule: Wisconsin State Legislature.

 The State Capitol Update is provided by the Senate and Assembly Democratic Caucuses. For additional information, please send an email to WisconsinDemocrats@legis.wi.gov or call toll free: 1.800.385.3385.