TUE PM Update: JFC to shift votes on taxes to Thursday; Kaul joins lawsuit to stop T-Mobile, Sprint merger

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— The Joint Finance Committee gaveled in shortly after 4 p.m. today, but won’t take up taxes today.

The posted agenda includes the capital budget, DATCP, Juvenile Corrections, the Stewardship Fund and Veterans, which Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, said the committee will take up today. That would leave taxes for the committee’s Thursday meeting.

First up is DATCP. Nygren and fellow Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, proposed a motion to cover all areas of the agency budget before the JFC.

It includes nixing fee increases that Evers proposed for companies that run confined animal feeding operations. It also would fund Evers’ industrial hemp program through program revenue rather than GPR.

See the GOP DATCP motion:

Follow today’s committee action in the Budget Blog:

— With the Stewardship Fund on the committee’s agenda, the Wisconsin Policy Forum released a report that found the 30-year-old program spent its lowest amount ever on land purchases last year.

The $2.9 million spent was well below the peak of $61.6 million in 2007.

See the release:

— The Assembly plans to be in June 18 and 20 and intends to take up several bills impacting the Department of Transportation.

The June 18 proposed calendar includes a package of bills to address homelessness, a step therapy bill and new proposals for 5G infrastructure.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, pledged last week that the Legislature would take up DOT reforms this month after the Joint Finance Committee voted on a transportation funding package.

“As we’ve shown before, Assembly Republicans are committed to making transportation reforms – especially when they lead to saving taxpayer dollars,” said Rusty Schultz, an aide to Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna. “We’re continuing to monitor these bills as they work their way through the committee process and it’s likely that a number of the reforms being discussed will be taken up on the Assembly floor next week Thursday.”

See the proposed calendar:

— AG Josh Kaul today announced he has joined the multi-state lawsuit attempting to stop the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint.

The lawsuit, which aims to preserve competition between mobile wireless networks, alleges that the “megamerger” is anticompetitive and will raise prices for consumers across the U.S.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, the telecom giants have said the merger would allow for faster data speeds and increased coverage. However, an investigation done by a coalition of state attorneys general found that many of these promises could only be delivered on years into the future and could significantly hurt consumers in the short-term.

“Maintaining strong competition helps keep prices low,” Kaul said in a release. “If this proposed merger happens, many Wisconsinites will see increased prices for their cell-phone plans.”

As two members of the so-called “Big Four” mobile wireless networks, T-Mobile and Sprint are surpassed in size only by Verizon Wireless and AT&T. With more than 79 million and 54 million subscribers respectively, T-Mobile and Sprint are the lower-cost providers of the four. The lawsuit asserts that merging the two more affordable carriers could lead to many low-income families losing their means of communication.

The complaint filed by the multi-state coalition also says the merger could result in a loss of retail jobs at independent cell phone dealers. It also references the previous “race to LTE,” and says reduced competition could slow the continued development of nationwide 5G network technology, an innovation that has been rising among wireless providers.

Wisconsin is joined in the lawsuit by the District of Columbia and eight other states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New York and Virginia.

See the release:

— The state Elections Commission today approved a measure that would allow voters who appear to have moved to a new address within the state up to two years to update their voter registration.

Under previous protocols, voters flagged as so-called movers were sent a postcard informing them of a discrepancy between their voter registration information and DMV records. Movers then needed to update their registration within a month to avoid being struck from the rolls. That process resulted in roughly 308,000 voters being deactivated in 2018.

But the new system the commission approved today stretches the timeline to up to two years.

The commission also authorized the next batch of postcards to be sent to movers later this summer. Elections staff are tasked with studying changes to the mailing, including the possibility of adding a unique affirmation code to allow movers to update their registration information online.

A process for updating mover information at the polls was also approved by the commission. The new protocol adds a watermark to poll books alerting elections inspectors that a voter may have moved. If the voter has moved, they would be given the option to register at their new address thanks to the state’s same-day registration policy. If not, they would be able to sign the poll book to affirm their address and continue with the voting process.

— State Reps. Ken Skowronski, R-Franklin, and Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, will travel to the White House tomorrow to dine with President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Skowronski’s office told WisPolitics.com this afternoon that the opportunity came about after the Franklin Republican’s trip to the country last year. Along with Rep. Cody Horlacher, R-Mukwonago, Sen. Dan Feyen, R-Fond du Lac, and then-Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, Skowronski headed to Poland in October to promote trade and economic growth between the country and Wisconsin.

The governor of the Lublin province — a Polish territory the lawmakers visited on their trip — was taken with Wisconsin’s efforts to address unemployment and Skowronski’s office indicated that relationship was among the reasons he was invited to Washington.

But Felzkowski’s office indicated she was invited to travel to the nation’s capital to dine with the heads of state largely because of her Polish surname. While she had been involved in discussions around planning the trip to Poland last October, she was not among the delegation that traveled to the central European nation to meet with the U.S. ambassador, tour area businesses and hold meetings with local elected officials.

Rep. Todd Novak, who boasts a common Polish surname but traces his lineage back to the Bohemia region in the Czech Republic, was also invited on the trip but declined, citing tomorrow’s Water Quality Task Force hearing. The Dodgeville Republican chairs the task force.

— Gov. Tony Evers announced a grant to improve accessibility at Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay.

The $100,000 grant will construct an ADA-accessible walkway along the shoreline, and is part of the Department of Administration’s Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.

The program is aimed at improving public access, sustainability and resource protection, per a release from the guv’s office

“This grant for the City of Green Bay means more opportunities for everyone to recreate and appreciate the beach at the Bay Beach Amusement Park, and I believe will be economically beneficial to the entire region,” Evers said in the release.

See the release:


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 WisBusiness.com 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:



LRB-3443/P1: creating an appropriation for census activities and preparation and making an appropriation. By Reps. Crowley and Meyers and Sens. Bewley and Schachtner.

LRB-3216: Limiting Certain 2nd Class Cities’ Abilities to Designate or Regulate Historic Landmarks. By Rep. Neylon and Sen. Kapenga.


AJR 55: Recognizing June 2019 as National Homeownership Month. Referred to Committee on Rules.

AJR 56: Recognizing June 13 to 20, 2019, as National Nursing Assistants Week. Referred to Committee on Rules.

AJR 57: Recognizing July 16 as National Atomic Veterans Day in Wisconsin. Referred to Committee on Rules.

AJR 58: Recognizing June 2019 as Black Music Month in the state of Wisconsin. Referred to Committee on Rules.

Track bills for free:


AP: Buildings, tax cuts on tap for Wisconsin budget panel

AP: Voters who moved will have longer to fix registration

State Journal: Foxconn gets approval for 7-million-gallon-per-day Lake Michigan water diversion

Capital Times: Vos says GOP tax cut would counter fee increases in transportation plan, tax on e-cigs possible

WPR: Vos: Fee Increases Will Not Exceed Tax Cut In State Budget

CNN: How Trump’s ‘fake news’ rhetoric has gotten out of control

NPR: Jon Stewart Blasts Lawmakers In Hearing For Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund

Politico: House green-lights lawsuits against William Barr, Don McGahn over ignored subpoenas

Politico: Trump goes low in his insults about Biden

New York Times: Sprint-T-Mobile Merger Faces New Hurdle With Lawsuit by States


– 9:30 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Governor’s Bicycle Coordinating Council meeting.

– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 11 a.m.: Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy public hearing on SB 251, relating to exception from local levy limits for political subdivisions receiving certain utility aid payments.

– 11 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 1 p.m.: Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules public hearing.

– 1:05 p.m.: Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules executive session on EmR 1831, relating to the Wisconsin Health Care Stability Plan, and other rules.

– 1:30 p.m.: Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety public hearing on AB 188, relating to facilities for holding juveniles in secure custody.

– 2 p.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality public hearing. Mauston.

– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.

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