FRI News Summary: JFC wraps up work on state budget

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Republican-Led Finance Committee Passes State Budget
On 12-4 party-line approved budget with a $457.6M tax cut overall that will save the average taxpayer about $75 in 2019, $136 in 2020, compared to Evers’ $833.6M tax cut, estimated to save about $216/yr. But Evers funded his cut in part by boosting taxes > $1B on manufacturers and capital gains, which GOP won’t support, and GOP funded their cut in part through changes in online sales taxes included in a separate bill. JFC co-chair Darling: “We can do the tax cut without losing our priorities. I think that’s really important.” GOP income tax changes would be aimed most directly at the lowest two income tax brackets [drop from 4% to 3.76 and 5.84 to 5.21], using the Lottery Tax Credit to reduce property taxes by about $59M. JFC Dem Taylor said Evers’ cut targets “low- and middle-income people who need it the most. … You favor the people who don’t need it.” GOP tax motion axed Evers’ $10M child care tax credit, bumped e-cigs by $5.5M, but $29.2M smaller than Evers’. Assembly would vote on the budget on Tuesday, June 25, and the Senate could pass it later that week. While some GOP, like Nass, oppose the total borrow and spend, including fee hikes on vehicle titles and registration. But Fitzgerald said, “I’m here to tell you this is a good budget.” Vos cited hefty boosts to road and school funding, “I am not accepting the fact that Tony Evers is going to veto this budget.” But Vos earlier said an Evers veto might not face override votes until October. While GOP budget boosts spending, the boost is smaller than Evers proposed. By Johnson, WPR

Some WI lawmakers double as landlords, passed laws that undermine renters’ rights
… Backed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos — a college-town landlord with 23 properties worth about $3.8 million — the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted five major bills [all sponsored by landlord F. Lasee, 3 by landlord Stroebel] largely benefiting landlords. … about one out of five of state lawmakers who voted on these bills owns or manages rental properties … At least five lawmakers who double as landlords sponsored the various measures, each of which passed on mostly party-line votes. … “People tend to legislate in areas that they understand the best … Wisconsin was a very bad-tenant forgiving state,” said Lasee. … Call it the Landlords’ Legislature. Vos deflected conflict of interest, “The idea of having a citizen legislature where people have experience is what everybody says they want, right? They don’t want professional politicians.” Landlord-tenant law changed little until 2010, then GOP have made at least 100 changes, most of which Vos acknowledged favored landlords. “As a conservative, I fundamentally believe in the idea of private property rights,” he said, showed 2019 Leg Council memo [Vos requested in light of media probes] green-lighting self-interested votes provided lawmaker is not sole beneficiary, reflecting similar finding in 2011 GAB memo. Beyer for Vos: “We requested the May 8th opinion after learning you were doing this story in order to provide you with a more recent one in writing.” Rehash 2012 lawsuit filed by VOs against Whitewater tenants. Vos, landlord groups claim motivated by statewide uniformity, but locals see micromanaging. Mayor Barrett: “I call it the Bad Landlord Protection Act,” argued bills “create a business model where it is cheaper to violate the law” than to follow it. About a dozen Dems since 2011 were landlords — including Hebl, Risser, Taylor – though routinely voted against the laws. Tenant advocates Kozlowski and Ramos, Risser, landlord atty. Pettit, Legal Aid’s Koneazny, Oshkosh Mayor Palmeri comment. By Spivak and Spicuzza, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL [see Regulation]


– John Nichols: The President Just Outlined the Most Damning Article of Impeachment, When Trump says he would collude with agents of foreign governments to influence US elections, he places himself in conflict with the Constitution.

– JFC has approved the two-year spending plan. What’s next? … Assembly … eyeing June 25 [floor] vote … setting up a possible Senate floor vote for later that week, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters. … isn’t ruling out making any amendments to the plan on the floor … [no complaints yet from his caucus] but rather discussions about “big targets. … We always arrive kind of at this position where you gotta have that back and forth with the individual legislators to see how we can get them comfortable to support the document,” he said. [Nass, Craig skeptical on aspects] … in comments Thursday, Vos said he refused to accept that Evers would veto it.

– GOP plan would cut income taxes by $136 per person on average in 2020

– GOP finishes budget edits, inserts $321 million tax cut [Richmond of AP]

– Joint Finance Committee approves more than $450 million income tax cut

– Here’s why Waukesha Alderman Aaron Perry switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat … partly tied to President Donald Trump — but, not as he points out, concerning the president’s policies, per se. Rather, it was Trump’s behavior, and the Republican Party’s unwillingness, in Perry’s mind, to stand up to the president that affected his choice. … also a factor: [GOP policies on] marriage equality and medical cannabis … also announced his intentions to step down as alderman for the 12th District once his three-year term ends in 2022. … “Overall reaction has been very positive,” Perry [who lost 2014 GOP primary to replace Kramer] said … “Most of the negative reaction has come from conservative media using it as a way to increase attention to them, which I do understand and certainly does not bother me.” … In a nearly 1,000-word column titled “The Independence of Politics” and submitted to media representatives and others, he tried to explain that he is, essentially, still nonpartisan, despite his stances.

– Only voters could approve new wheel taxes under GOP bill … [Sanfelippo’s AB 283] would require a municipality or county that wants to impose a registration fee to get the approval of the majority of electors who vote in a referendum during a regularly-scheduled election.

– Superior Council can select president by drawing cards, After three failed attempts to elect a council president, City Attorney Frog Prell opines the Council can turn to the luck of the draw.

– [Nutrien Ag SOlutions] plans $10 million fertilizer plant in town of Rock

– Hemp tests could ease learning curve … UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and UW-Extension are participating in a statewide project hoping to uncover best growing practices for the crop.

– Agriculture Agencies Headed to the Heartland … In a highly anticipated announcement, [USDA Sec.] Perdue said Thursday that the Kansas City region will be the new headquarters for … Economic Research Service (ERS) … and the grant-making National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

– Juneteenth Day celebrates slave freedom, events in Madison on Saturday

– Bill allowing names of students’ parents to be released prompts privacy concerns … [Rep. Born bill] modifies the state’s list of “directory data” — a provision in the open records law that allows information such as students’ addresses or their participation in a sport to be released — to include the name of parents and guardians. … said the addition would be a minor change to the decades-old law. “As a parent, why would my name not be tied to my kid?” he said. “They can release all this sort of information about my kid, but not that I’m their parent. It just sounds weird to me.” Rep. Hebl concerned about “unintended consequences … ulterior motives that are not in the best interest of the person.” Assembly Ed 10-5, with Dem Vruwink, advanced bill to floor vote next week. No hearing on Senate version. ACLU, MSD opposed; WASB, MMAC support. WASB’s Rossmiller argued bill more federalizes state law, has parental opt-out and board discretion. Born details incident that inspired bill, which was recommended by Dodge County school safety group. Dems cite 2015 voucher school seeking directory data for marketing.

– UW-Whitewater’s TKE fraternity remains in good standing after drug arrest

– Kenosha County suffrage 100 effort launches website, Facebook page

– ex-alder Tom Mortenson: Racine’s unique role in the suffrage movement

– Foxconn Judge [ALJ Hayes] Was Former Walker Aide, And donor to GOP candidates. His ruling allows huge drawdown of Lake Michigan water by Foxconn.

– Evers Brings Back Pardons Board Dropped Under Walker :Move Fulfills Campaign Promise By Democratic Governor … In a press release, Evers announced his picks to the pardon review board. [Hancock, Holton, Kremers, Nilsestuen, O’Donnel, Perez-Reyes, Warrington, Wray.] … will only consider pardons, not commutations … anyone on the sex offender registry will be ineligible, a new requirement. WISDOM’s Liners: “The first things that I think they’re going to tackle won’t necessarily so much reduce the prison population as get people out from under the cloud of having a felony conviction.” … then start looking at pardoning prisoners who may have been “over-sentenced” during the “tough on crime” era of the 1990s. … “I think it was political stance. I think Gov. Walker kind of painted himself in a corner with his tough on crime positions and didn’t take the commonsense steps that a lot of governors do. It’s just part of the job.” Corrections chair Schraa considering bill requiring Legislature-appointed Pardon Board, “I’m not a huge fan of executive decisions. I believe that is the role of the Legislature,” pardons could be useful for folks imprisoned under “the old law … I think the fear that is out there right now is that there’s going to be a mass release of individuals that are currently incarcerated and I would just caution him to be wise about the selections and to make sure that everybody is vetted in a proper way.”

– Madison, Capitol police to put together safety study under budget committee plan

– Gov. Tony Evers signs order to bring back pardons board

– Tony Evers reinstates pardon process for felony convictions

– ‘I believe in forgiveness’: Gov. Tony Evers re-launches pardon board

– DA: Appleton officers justified in shooting man who killed firefighter at downtown transit center

– Pritzker family member looking to acquire Somers land for military archive

– Plan for new mosque in Neenah raises land-use concerns, not religious issues

– Land Trusts Voice Mixed Feelings Over Short-Term Approval Of Stewardship Program, Budget Committee Extends Funding For 2 Years: Gathering Waters: Wisconsin’s Alliance for Land Trusts’ Carlson “happy [and] disappointed … Two years just doesn’t really create that predictability or the time horizon that’s really necessary to get good projects done,” hard to put a limit on Stewardship land “in terms of quality of life, in terms of outdoor recreation opportunities.” Sen. Tiffany said buying and managing public lands has created too much debt, paid $871M in debt service since 1989 inception, another “$800 million are on taxpayers’ credit card at this point as the result of stewardship purchases. … I believe there should be a land cap … perhaps the state needs to dispense of some of the land.” WPF found land purchases down since 2011 peak, but debt and local aid payments remain high. DNR spokeswoman pleased JFC accepted Evers’ proposal, looks forward to working with a blue ribbon commission that will provide recommendations on long-term reauthorization. Landmark Conservancy’s Remington, Nature Conservancy’s Dallman comment.

– UW-Eau Claire Foundation Sues City To Avoid Property Taxes, Student Housing Complex Owned By The Nonprofit Owes $233K In Taxes From 2018 According To City Attorney … Blugold Real Estate Foundation, an offshoot of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, is pushing to get a property tax exemption for student housing built in 2017 designed to hold 201 students. … but the exemption was rejected by the city assessor and city council. Blugold’s Way: “As I think the community knows we’ve had a chronic shortage of housing for decades. So the Blugold Real Estate Foundation has had a commitment to identify, either purchase or construct housing that would be made available to house students.” City Atty. Hoffer reminded WI law presumes taxability, “In order to qualify for a tax exemption the property needs to be owned by the state and this is owned by a private entity, which does not qualify for that exemption,” pointed to 2009 state budget amendment that provided a narrow exemption for a specific 300-bed student housing project owned by the University of Wisconsin Foundation, “A logical inference that can be drawn is that if you need to get a statutory exemption added for that particular property it’s because there isn’t an existing exemption that applies,” noted city has not been served, hopes for settlement but ready to litigate. Foundations have become more visible in the wake of UWO Foundation’s lawsuits, 2018 bankruptcy.

– 12 ways Wisconsin lawmakers dramatically rewrote rental laws to favor landlords over tenants

– Vos is landlord of 23 properties in a college town [Whitewater] — and reviews are mixed

RETAIL ^top^
– Menards plans surplus store: on EC west side

TRIBES ^top^
– Road work linked to casino on city agenda

– [Xcel’s] Solar garden grows on Ashland’s south side

– Paul Fanlund: So, if you could, would you scrap our Constitution?

– Dave Zweifel: Share your views on ATC’s proposed southwestern Wisconsin line

– DuPage prof. David McGrath: Donald Trump makes an English professor’s job nearly impossible

– Bruce Murphy: Why Republicans Hate the Gas Tax, Once they promoted this user fee, now they’d rather roads fall apart. Why?

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