Sources: GOP leaders considering tax changes, altering WEDC exec appointments in extraordinary session

Photo by Michelle Stocker, The Capital Times

Republican lawmakers are considering changes to state tax laws and a revamped WEDC board with the power to appoint the agency CEO rather than the guv, according to multiple GOP sources.

The sources also noted a growing expectation that PSC Chair Lon Roberts will resign his post, which would then open the door to DOA Secretary Ellen Nowak returning to the agency.

Roberts’ six-year term runs through 2023, and Nowak left the PSC to become DOA secretary in March.

Gov. Scott Walker’s office declined comment on the possibility.

The sources noted the final legislative package was still taking shape with the possibility both houses could be on the floor Tuesday and the Joint Finance Committee could call a public hearing Monday.

There also remained some differences between the two houses. For example, Assembly GOP leaders want to do one bill, while the Senate is looking to break it up into individual pieces that could run from a half-dozen bills to more than a dozen.

The sources also indicated consensus among Assembly Republicans to move the 2020 presidential primary off the April ballot, but Senate Republicans at this point lack the votes to do so.

GOP legislative leaders have publicly talked about several provisions they’re considering in the extraordinary session. That includes putting into state law provisions Walker implemented through executive order to ensure the state’s voter ID law complies with a federal court order. They’ve also talked about trying to ensure Gov.-elect Tony Evers can’t unilaterally end work requirements Republicans added to the food stamp program.

Leaders have also talked about adding appointments to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. board, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has said he wants changes that would protect the agency.

The sources said Republicans were looking at bringing parity to the appointments made to the board by the guv and the minority leaders in the Legislature, compared to the number alloted to the Assembly speaker and the Senate majority leader. The board would then have the power to appoint the agency’s leader rather than the guv.

Other ideas that were under consideration, according to the sources:

*ensuring new sales tax revenue from online sales goes to a tax cut. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled states can collect the sales tax on sales to their residents from businesses that don’t have a physical presence in their jurisdiction. Republicans inserted language in the 2013-15 state budget directing any revenue from those sales to an automatic reduction in state income tax rates if done by congressional action. But because the change came about via a court ruling, the incoming Evers administration could make an argument that provision doesn’t apply to the money, the sources said.

*federalizing the treatment of pass-through corporations under tax laws. The sources said the move would line up Wisconsin law to what U.S. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, pushed in the federal tax bill that passed last year.

*approving a bill providing state protections for those with pre-existing conditions. The Assembly has already approved a version of the legislation. But the sources indicated the proposal to come up in the extraordinary session would include new language.

*eliminating the office of solicitor general at the Department of Justice.

Vos told WisPolitics.com earlier this week that a 2011 executive order Walker issued was being looked at as the framework for the administrative rules changes under consideration. That order implemented the 2011 overhaul of the administrative rules process authored by Republicans and included provisions such as requiring agencies to submit a scope statement to the guv for approval before proceeding on a proposed rule.

Read the 2011 executive order on administrative rules:
https://walker.wi.gov/sites/default/files/executive-orders/EO_2011_50.pdf 

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