The ever-changing landscape of state government requires businesses across all industries to stay informed on the happenings in Madison. Welcome to the November issue of the Capitol Connection.
Inside this issue
Legislature Stands Adjourned Until Mid-January
On Tuesday, both the Assembly and Senate concluded the legislature’s business until after the holidays. Three major proposals will now move on to Governor Evers’ desk for a signature or veto.
TOP THREE ISSUES OF INTEREST
1. American Family Field
The Senate amended the bills approved by the Assembly last month to fund American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers. Passage of the final $700 million deal split the Senate 19-14, although the votes were uniquely bipartisan, both in support and opposition to the plan. The Assembly later in the day voted 72-26 to concur with the changes made in the Senate, effectively sending the bill to Governor Evers, who has indicated he will approve the measures.
The final package includes a $2 tax on general admission tickets and $8 for suites. Those numbers will increase to $3 and $9 in 2033, and $4 and $10 in 2042, respectively.
Those ticket taxes will generate around $21 million more through the life of the deal.
Income and sales tax revenues generated by the Milwaukee Brewers amount to nearly $900 million over the course of the deal, which ends in 2050. Taking revenues directly from those generated by the team, the State of Wisconsin’s contribution totals $365.8 million. Through annual payments, Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee will contribute a total of $67.6 million.
In a statement released shortly after the final vote, Rick Schlesinger, President of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers praised all those involved in striking the deal.
“This vote by a bipartisan majority of the State Senate is a historic moment, not only allowing the Stadium District to meet its obligations to maintain the ballpark but paving the way for the Brewers to remain in Wisconsin for the next generation. We appreciate the leadership in the legislature and among local officials, and beginning with that of Governor Evers, as we worked with all stakeholders to help build support for a creative solution that would protect taxpayers.”
2. Alcohol Regulations
A new division within the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) will oversee and enforce liquor laws in Wisconsin, following another unique vote of 21-11, including both bipartisan opposition and support.
The legislation will overhaul the state’s “three-tier” system, originally enacted in the 1930s. In addition to a new Department of Revenue enforcement arm, breweries and wineries will now be allowed to stay open later without having “tap” or “tasting” rooms. In perhaps the most controversial provision, special event venues such as wedding barns, will be required to obtain liquor licenses. Absent the license, those venues may apply for special event permits, but will be limited to six events per year and no more than one event per month.
The Assembly earlier this year passed the bill on a 90-4 vote, but the Senate companion bill languished in a committee until Tuesday when in a very unusual procedural move, was turned into an amendment and engrossed into a different piece of legislation altogether. Wisconsin Senate President Chris Kapenga ruled that the bill was not properly before the Senate, but a bipartisan coalition overturned his ruling, paving the way for the liquor overhaul to be debated and passed.
Broad details on the new policy may be found here.
3. Gov. Evers’ Special Session Legislation on Workforce and Child Care (Amended by Senate)
The Senate’s action last month to swap Governor Evers’ Special Session legislation on workforce and childcare with completely different language, was approved by the Assembly mostly along party lines on Tuesday, 62-36. One lawmaker, Representative Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) voted against the proposal.
The bill, which now heads to the Governor for an all but certain veto, would lower Wisconsin’s third income tax rate from 5.3% to 4.4%, or $2.2 billion.
The legislation would also create a new state income tax credit for those already eligible for the federal “child and dependent care” tax credit, and raise the employment-related expense limit from $3,000 to $10,000 for a dependent. That number would be increased from $6,000 to $20,000 for two or more dependents. The bill would also allow for parents to deduct a maximum of $5,070 from their taxes for a child attending a private school, or $12,660 for multiple children.
Assembly Committee on Labor and Integrated Employment Holds Public Hearing on Employment of Minors and Waivers for Workplace Immunization Requirements
The Assembly Committee on Labor and Integrated Employment on Thursday held a public hearing on two bills that could impact Wisconsin employers.
Assembly Bill 442: Current law requires a minor who is 14 or 15 years of age from working unless they first obtain a permit authorizing their employment. Current law also prohibits a minor from being employed to work at any “street trade” unless they obtain an identification card and their employer has received a street trade permit.
“Street trade” is defined in § 103.21 (6) as selling, offering for sale, soliciting for, collecting for, displaying or distributing any articles, goods, merchandise, commercial service, posters, circulars, newspapers or magazines, or the blacking of boots, on any street or other public place or from house to house.
The legislation would remove all such requirements while still enforcing limitations on the number of hours a minor aged 14 or 15 may work per week.
Assembly Bill 612: This law would enact new statutes in 242.045 relating to an employee’s or prospective employee’s rights to receive a waiver from immunization requirements.
According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, the bill requires any employer that requires any employee or prospective employee to receive an immunization as a condition of employment to waive the immunization requirement for the employee or prospective employee if the employee or prospective employee objects to the immunization for reasons of health, religion, or personal conviction.
Under the bill, no employer may require that an employee or prospective employee provide any explanation or justification of the employee’s or prospective employee’s objection to an immunization.
Further, the bill requires an employer to inform an employee or prospective employee of the employee’s or prospective employee’s right to a waiver from the employer’s immunization requirements in writing at any time the employer informs the employee or prospective employee of the employer’s immunization requirements.
Governor Evers v. Senator Marklein, Rep. Born, Senator Kapenga and Rep. Vos, Sen. Nass, Rep. Neylon
by Attorney Ian Colby
The administration of Governor Evers has sued to stop the Wisconsin Legislature’s use of “legislative vetoes.”
In accordance with the Wisconsin Constitution, a law must be enacted through a specific lawmaking process. You may remember it from your high school civics lesson. A proposed law (“bill”) is enacted by the approval of both the Senate and Assembly of the Wisconsin Legislature, then presented to and signed by the Governor. The executive branch, led by the Governor, then carries out those laws. That process is meant to ensure power in government is separated among many branches, and to ensure proposals for laws have the required consent from the State’s elected officials.
A legislative veto attempts to return control over how laws are implemented back with the Legislature. It is a mechanism whereby certain subsections of the Wisconsin Legislature are allowed to prohibit the actions of the Governor and the executive branch.
The three challenged actions in this case involve:
- the awarding of funds by the Department of Natural Resources,
- implementation of new safety and license standards by the Department of Safety and Professional Services, and
- required pay raises for workers at the Universities of Wisconsin.
In all these cases, both the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly passed a law requiring certain actions, and the executive agencies took those actions to implement the law.
However, three existing “legislative veto” mechanisms allow certain committees in the Legislature to block those executive actions. For example, a legislative committee consisting of only eight members is permitted to block the required pay raises for Universities of Wisconsin staff. Essentially, until six out of these eight members approve the pay raises, the Universities’ staff get no pay raises. The legislative veto blocks the pay raises despite those pay raises already being approved by the full membership of the Legislature.
This legislative veto mechanism is not explicitly permitted in the Wisconsin Constitution. Theoretically, if the legislature wants to change how the law is implemented, they should pass another law to amend the previous one through the constitutional process: approval of the full membership of both houses of the Legislature.
The Governor is suing the Wisconsin lawmakers to explicitly determine that this legislative veto mechanism fails to follow that process and is therefore unconstitutional. If the Wisconsin Supreme Court agrees, it would prevent the legislature from exercising this veto mechanism. The petition states “The power to create the law and to execute the law must be separated again.”
Unlike normal suits, which typically start at a lower court level, the Governor’s administration has petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court directly to hear the case. Doing so avoids the delay in going through the appeals process, as delays caused by these legislative vetoes are a central argument in the Governor’s petition. A response from the Wisconsin lawmakers is expected on November 21. The decision of the Wisconsin Supreme Court could have substantial effect on how laws are implemented in the State of Wisconsin.
RUDER WARE TRACKER
- Senate Bill 275/Assembly Bill 280: Statutory recognition of specialized treatment court and commercial court dockets.
- Senate Bill 312/Assembly Bill 312: Programs and requirements to address perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
- Senate Bill 382/Assembly Bill 384: An increase and expansion of the retirement income subtraction.
- Senate Bill 409/Assembly Bill 419: Creating an online, interactive carbon calculator for farmers.
- LRB-4164: Temporary limited easements for construction crane booms that pass over adjacent real property.
- LRB-3750: Requiring retail sellers to accept cash and providing a penalty.
- LRB-3589: Construction contractor registration and granting rule-making authority.
This document provides information of a general nature regarding legislative or other legal developments, and is based on the state of the law at the time of the original publication of this article. None of the information contained herein is intended as legal advice or opinion relative to specific matters, facts, situations, or issues, and additional facts and information or future developments may affect the subjects addressed. You should not act upon the information in this document without discussing your specific situation with legal counsel.
© 2023 Ruder Ware, L.L.S.C. Accurate reproduction with acknowledgment granted. All rights reserved.