THU AM Update: JFC to consider income tax cut; Evers signs executive order on pardon process

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— Joint Finance is set today to take up a proposal from Sen. Dale Kooyenga that would use tax revenue from online sales to reduce taxes on income in the state’s the second lowest bracket as the committee pushes to knock out its final votes on the budget.

Kooyenga’s bill is coming before the panel as an individual bill. Still, sources have indicated the committee was looking at changes to the lower tax brackets as one option for the final tax package Republicans plan to put in the budget.

Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, told lawmakers were still negotiating the tax package Wednesday night, and he wasn’t sure if his proposal would be included.

“We’re going to focus on middle-income tax relief,” Kooyenga said. “I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet.”

Under current law, the state is set to use additional revenue from online sales by out-of-state retailers to lower income taxes. That law requires a similar decrease in each of the four income tax rates depending upon how much additional revenue the state is projected to receive, and the Department of Revenue has estimated $61 million would be available in tax year 2019 to lower rates. The law as drafted only applies to tax year 2019, though backers had intended for the income tax cuts to be permanent.

Kooyenga said the amendment to his bill Joint Finance will take up today would make several changes to current law, including ensuring the income tax reductions are permanent rather than a one-time cut.

The amendment would also concentrate all of the reduction in the second lowest bracket rather than across all four. Now, that bracket of 5.84 percent covers income of $15,680 to $31,360 for married joint filers and $11,760 to $23,520 for individuals.

Kooyenga said the size of the reduction was still being discussed Wednesday night.

The plan also would expand the definition of online sales to capture more transactions through forums such as Ebay or Amazon Marketplace that enable third-party sellers to market products. Those who hit at least $100,000 sales or 200 transactions would have to remit the tax.

That move would be expected to generate another $60 million, and the additional revenue from those sales would go toward another reduction in the second lowest tax bracket in tax year 2020.

In his budget proposal, Gov. Tony Evers had called for targeting all of the additional sales tax revenue toward a reduction in the lowest tax bracket, which is now 4 percent, rather than the across-the-board cut.

Kooyenga said his approach is designed to be a compromise and he’s discussed it with the Department of Revenue. He said it’s about creating a level playing field for online sales.

“What we want to do is make sure that’s going to middle-income tax relief,” he said.

Follow today’s Joint Finance actions in the Budget Blog:

— Gov. Tony Evers has signed an executive order creating a process for those seeking a pardon from him and an eight-member advisory board to review applications.

The move comes after Scott Walker declined to pardon anyone during his eight years in office.

Under Evers’ executive order, those convicted of a Wisconsin felony can apply for a pardon if they completed their sentence as least five years earlier and haven’t committed any new crimes. Those currently required to register as a sex offender are ineligible.

“I believe in forgiveness and the power of redemption,” Evers said. “People who have taken responsibility for their mistakes and who have worked to improve their lives and communities deserve a second chance.”

Evers also announced eight appointments to the board, his chief legal counsel Ryan Nilsestuen, who will chair the board.

The other appointees are:

*Jerry Hancock, director of the Prison Ministry Project and former administrator for the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement Services.

*Nate Holton, director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Milwaukee County Transit System.

*retired Milwaukee County Judge Jeffrey Kremers, who was nominated by AG Josh Kaul.

*Cindy O’Donnell, who served as deputy secretary at the Department of Corrections under Govs. Tommy Thompson, Scott McCallum and Jim Doyle.

*Nadya Pérez-Reyes, legislative adviser for the Department of Children and Families. She previously worked as a state public defender.

*Myrna Warrington, director of Vocational Rehabilitation on the Menominee Indian Reservation.

*former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, who now provides racial bias training for law enforcement agencies.

See the pardon application:

See the executive order:

— The Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is scheduled to exec on bill that would push back the closure of Wisconsin’s troubled state-run youth prisons and give counties more time to apply for grants to build regional facilities.

The proposal, which was heard by a joint criminal justice panel yesterday, would also make technical changes to 2017 Act 185 — a sweeping measure that restructured juvenile justice in the state.

Under that law, the newly formed Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee was intended to have received finalized applications from counties interested in building youth lockups by March 31. But the committee just last week approved a final version of an application and accepted letters of interested at that deadline instead.

In addition to providing a six-month extension to close the youth lockups at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, the bill would provide a three-month extension to the timeline for submitting grant applications to the grant committee and for the grant committee to in turn submit the plan for funding grant applications to JCF.

“The counties requested six more months, so it is in everyone’s best interest to make it possible for them to participate,” said Rep. Michael Schraa, author of the bill up for consideration today. “I cannot stress strongly enough that the state cannot accomplish the juvenile corrections reform without the full participation of the counties.”

The panel is also scheduled to exec on two other bills: one would ban law enforcement officers from having sexual contact with people in their custody, while the second would expand the definition of child pornography to include sexually suggestive images at the request of Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation.

See the agenda:

— The Assembly Transportation Committee is also scheduled to hold an executive session this morning.

On the docket are five measures that Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, author of the package, said will ensure transportation funding is “allocated wisely and spent efficiently.”

The New Berlin Republican said the measure represented an attempt to implement the recommendations of a recent audit of the Department of Transportation by the Legislative Audit Bureau. The package includes proposals to source materials at lower costs, create a discretionary merit fund to incentivize employees to look for cost-saving methods and require municipalities to hold a referendum before imposing a new wheel tax, among others.

See the agenda:

— Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin this morning unveiled a new mail and digital ad campaign calling on federal lawmakers to “unrig the economy.”

The effort is aimed at stopping the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and targets U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Weston, a House Financial Services Committee member.

The conservative group also aims to stop the renewal of so-called “tax extenders,” temporary tax breaks enacted by Congress to address short-term needs such as recession, mortgage market collapse, or regional weather disasters. These provisions are designed with an expiration date, but lawmakers can choose to reauthorize, or “extend” them.

The AFP mailing calls on House Ways and Means Committee members Reps. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, to oppose tax extenders up for renewal.

See the Duffy mailing:

See the Kind mailing:

See the Moore mailing:


Free event: June 17: Navigating the New Economy: The booming border

–Sponsored by WAGET, the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training in partnership with and the Kenosha News —

Even if the Foxconn development doesn’t reach its full promise, the southeastern Wisconsin border economy is booming. But that brings issues in the areas of workforce, housing and transportation. A panel of experts weigh in on how to navigate the issues and make the most of the boom.

When: Monday, June 17, 8 a.m. with breakfast served. Program from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Where: The Civil War Museum, 5400 First Avenue, Kenosha, Wis. 262-653-4141

What: Panel discussion featuring Wisconsin Revenue Secretary Barca; economics Prof. Cassie Lau of Carthage College; Heather Wessling, vice president of economic development for the Kenosha Area Business Alliance and former president of WEDA; plus area state Reps. Ohnstad and Kerkman.

Cost is free, thanks to the WAGET sponsorship.

Register in advance here:


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Evers weighing options on budget
… Evers was at the Burlington Public Library on Wednesday reading to children. But while there, he also commented on the budget process and the Foxconn development in Mount Pleasant. … “I have the option to veto the entire budget or just parts of it or none of it — unlikely, but we’ll see,” Evers said. “It’s still too early, but we are prepared for any possibility. We’re not waiting until the end to figure this out. … I’m pleased that the Republicans came up with a larger [roads] number than I anticipated,” Evers said. “[but] The proposals that they put together, and are looking at in the future, are dependent on Wisconsinites paying the whole bill. … Certainly we want [Foxconn] to bring as many jobs as possible; if that happens that’s great,” Evers said. “But transparency is important … at the end of the day they’re going to be making business decisions, and hopefully those business decisions happen in a way that (create) more jobs in the state.” Vos: “The priorities of what Gov. Evers said he wanted, we have checked every box. We’ve done it in a way that’s conservative and not liberal. Because we agree we want good schools and a good healthcare system and good roads — we just don’t think we should have had to have the massive tax increases that Gov. Evers proposed, and our budget proves that that’s true. … We’ve been talking about [road funding] now for six years, so when the Senate and the Assembly sit down and talk, it’s amazing how much we can actually get done. And we’ve done all of that in spite of having virtually no involvement from Gov. Evers.” … said Republicans plan today to unveil a middle-income tax cut, which “will send more money back to hardworking families all across the state.”

Pew drops plans for WI study after Vos breaks with other GOP over it
… In a twist, top Republicans in the Senate sided with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers over the GOP speaker in trying to get the Pew Charitable Trusts to review the program that oversees more than 65,000 people on probation, parole and extended supervision. … could save millions of dollars and make the state safer by overhauling that system. … Vos, of Rochester, refused to sign onto the request for help from Pew because he believed the [oversight] task force [to be half Dem, half GOP] … tipped in Democrats’ favor … Evers agreed to work with Vos on the makeup of the task force, but Vos wouldn’t sign onto a letter to Pew requesting the study … [Evers, Fitzgerald, Roth] sent the letter in May. … [Evers’ COS] Gau asked [Vos COS] Toftness to sign off on the arrangement, but Toftness didn’t respond … Pew informed the state Tuesday that it would not conduct the study … “We made multiple attempts to work with (Republicans) on this and compromised on several aspects in an effort to get their support,” Baldauff said by email. Emails confirm Gau outreach, reveal latest in tensions. On Tuesday, Vos criticized Evers for his plans to read to children in Vos’ district on Wednesday instead of meeting with Vos and Fitzgerald at the Capitol. But emails from Evers’ office show Evers aides tried to set up a meeting with the governor, Vos and Fitzgerald on Wednesday and the GOP leaders said they were unavailable.

Lawmakers Propose Delaying Youth Prison Closure By 6 Months
Evers Opposes Plan, Says State Needs More Time … Under the bipartisan proposal, the youth prison’s closing date would be pushed back six months, from Jan. 1, 2021, to July 1, 2021. … [sponsor Wanggaard] joked some government projects can move “at the speed of a snail. … We need a sense of urgency that everybody feels so that we get this timeline rolling.” Counties’ Kasdorf testified support, said counties need application time so we don’t “end up with very few counties submitting applications, leaving us, I think, in a crisis.” Evers spokeswoman said Guv is “giving (the bill) careful consideration as it moves through the legislative process and is committed to working with the legislature on reforming our youth justice system.”

GOP lawmakers hope to provide funding for Lincoln Hills replacements in September
… [after JFC] shifted funds to give $40 million more to counties to build regional youth prisons. … by taking way the $25 million originally allocated for new state-run, or “type 1” youth prisons and $15 million for an expansion of the Mendota Juvenile … “The type 1’s will be funded, it’s just going to be done at a later time,” said Rep. Michael Schraa … didn’t specify how much funding they’d provide. [Co-sponsor Wanggaard suggested JFC didn’t fund Type 1’s over cost and location concerns. Goyke, Dems say withholding funds could delay closing Lincoln Hills.] … $40 million increase to counties was meant to address their concerns that the original $40 million set aside for them wasn’t enough. Schraa sponsoring bipartisan bill delaying closing for 6 months to let counties finish their facilities.

Lawmakers didn’t consult Madison police before introducing Capitol security study
… [JFC] adopted the measure Tuesday night along party lines … But Democrats knocked Republicans for not first cluing in the Madison Police Department and not specifically calling on the state Department of Administration to examine whether the Capitol’s policy allowing some firearms is appropriate. MPD’s DeSpain, JFC Dem Taylor said they knew nothing in advance. DeSpain said MPD still analyzing, Central District command likely would consult with DOA. Taylor: “I don’t have any specific objection to studying security and safety at the Capitol; however, you have to consider when you do a safety study the presence of guns in the Capitol,” acknowledged no major gun problems in years. Fitzgerald unaware of a Capitol security analysis conducted “to reflect the world we live in today. … How can you oppose looking at ways to improve safety in one of the most visited public buildings in the state?” Evers spokeswoman declined comment. JFC GOP Olsen said mass shootings and bombs are primary concern, but concealed carry could be included, “If they think that’s their biggest problem … then we really don’t have a problem,” doubts banning firearms in the Capitol would alleviate mass shooting risk because most aren’t committed by concealed carryists [though Violence POLicy Center found 34 mass shootings since 2007 involving concealed carryists, none in WI]. JFC Dem Erpenbach slammed GOP for not funding MPD effort. Though co-chair Nygren said security is their job, Erpenbach noted GOP considers Capitol outside MPD jurisdiction. Olsen said study does not require MPD participation, just DOA consult with them, though MPD would likely be involved in any major event.

Sexual assault evidence kit bills aims to prevent another WI backlog, Kaul says
… According to the proposed bills [AB 214, SB 200] no statutory framework for the collection and processing of sexual assault evidence kits currently exists under Wisconsin law. With no uniform procedure to follow, 6,000 kits sat unanalyzed for years. “This legislation is designed to ensure survivors get justice in their cases and that those cases are given the priority they deserve,” Kaul said as he gave a status update on the legislation in Green Bay. … “Governor Evers said that he will sign this legislation if it passes the Legislature, so the one critical step that remains is for hearings to be held and legislature to move forward,” Kaul said. … [Sen. Jacque] said his own proposal has a higher likelihood to end the backlog … “I certainly hope that he takes my proposal as a friendly amendment,” Jacque said. “I think my proposal could move very well in concert with his.”

WI joins eight other states to try to stop merger of Sprint and T-Mobile
AG Kaul in DOJ release: “Maintaining strong competition helps keep prices low. If this proposed merger happens, many Wisconsinites will see increased prices for their cell-phone plans.” … “Any theoretical efficiencies that could be realized from the merger would be outweighed by the transaction’s immediate harm to competition and consumers,” the release said. … [CA, CO, CT, MD, MI, MS, NY, VA, WI] concerned that further consolidation of these companies would lead to a loss of retail jobs as well as lower pay for workers in the near future.

Health Care Scorecard Ranks Wisconsin 12th In US
Study Ranks WI Highest On Access, But State Continues To See Disparities … Commonwealth Fund, ranks WI’s system … best in the Great Lakes … WI’s best rankings came in access and affordability, and prevention and treatment. … uninsured rate fell for both adults and children between 2013 and 2017. Its lowest rating came in health care disparities, where it ranked 27th. Commonwealth Fund’s Collins said WI has a lower uninsured rate than other states that opted out of ACA Medicaid expansion, but “you maybe see disparities like that becoming increasingly entrenched.” Study found the percentage of low-income residents who smoke fell between 2013 and 2017, while the obesity rate went up, as did adults who went without health care because of cost, Collins said, “These costs eventually trickle down to employees who bear the burden of higher premiums and also higher deductibles.”

Ex-Gov. Walker secures enough fellow travelers to launch Hawaiian cruise this winter
… Unlike his failed [religious] Alaskan cruise two years ago, more than 60 people have already signed up to go on the [non-religious] January excursion with Walker and his family — meeting the target for the [Pride of America] to launch. … “We have already hit our minimum and can take a maximum of 200,” said Charles Crull, president of Cruise & Tour [which also runs Belling’s cruise] … 12-day excursion … from $5,499 to $9,299 per passenger … will feature a three-night stay in Honolulu, a trip to Pearl Harbor, a luau and opportunities to watch whales and witness volcanoes. … And, of course, there will also be karaoke. The Walkers met for the first time during a karaoke night … “We love karaoke,” Tonette Walker says in a video promo for the trip set for Jan. 29 to Feb. 9. OWN’s Eicher cited failed Alaskan cruise while he was guv, “I guess we’ll find out what the market is for a failed, ex-governor in Hawaii.” … easier and cheaper way to rub shoulders with Walker … On Saturday, Indian Motorcycle of Metro Milwaukee in Muskego is teaming up with Iron Town Harley-Davidson in New Berlin to host what has been dubbed “Gov. Walker’s Ride.” … an escorted ride from Muskego to New Berlin to the State Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $20 per bike.


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– 7 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.: Family and Closely Held Business Summit.

– 10 a.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality informational hearing. La Crosse-area wetland tour.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety executive session on AB 71, relating to possession of child pornography; AB 171, relating to sexual contact by a law enforcement officer with a person in his or her custody; and AB 188, relating to facilities for holding juveniles in secure custody.

– 11 a.m. – 12 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Education executive session on AB 194, relating to requirements for initial licensure as a special education teacher; and AB 195, relating to a license to teach based on reciprocity.

– 11:05 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Education public hearing on AB 223, relating to supplemental state aid for consolidated school districts; and AB 224, relating to determining shared costs and the secondary cost ceiling for the purpose of general equalization aids for school districts.

– 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: luncheon: “The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin.” Panelists include: Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

– 12:30 p.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality public hearing. La Crosse.

– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.

– 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Rep. Magnafici listening sessions.

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