April 8, 2015
Personal Property Tax Phase-Out (SUPPORT) – A bill being introduced by Rep. Bob Kulp (R-Stratford) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) would exempt equipment and furnishings purchased on or after January 1, 2016, from the personal property tax. It would end property tax on all personal property in Wisconsin businesses starting on January 1, 2020.
Uniform School Start Date Exemptions (OPPOSE) – Assembly Bill 144, authored by Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), would allow school districts that have at least 20% of high school students taking at least one Advanced Placement test, to be exempted from the September 1st school start law.
$10.10 Minimum Wage + Indexing for Inflation (OPPOSE) – Senate Bill 2, by Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) and Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine), would hike the state minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, over two years, and then require annual increases tied to the Consumer Price Index.
Unemployment Insurance Reforms in State Budget (SUPPORT) – The state budget bill introduced by Gov. Scott Walker contains provisions aimed at reducing fraud and abuse in the Unemployment system:
a) drug testing – will be required of claimants who were fired from their last job for problems related to substance abuse, and those looking for work in an industry that regularly conducts drug testing of employees.
b) criminal penalties for fraudulent claims – sets up a range of criminal penalties based on the amount of benefits collected under false pretenses. Below $2500 would be a misdemeanor. Above $2500 would be a felony. Fines, in most cases, would max out at $10,000.
c) suitable work definition – DWD will define a tiered system of what constitutes “suitable work,” requiring claimants to accept job offers with less pay and responsibility if their work search drags on too long.
New Milwaukee Bucks Arena (SUPPORT) – The NBA will pick up the Milwaukee Bucks franchise and move it to a different state, if they don’t have a new arena by September of 2017. It’s that simple. If that happens, Wisconsin will lose a lot of tax revenue and Milwaukee area business owners will lose a major attraction that brings visitors to Milwaukee to spend their money. Gov. Walker, legislative leaders and local leaders in Milwaukee are working out the details of a state budget provision that would fund up to $220 million of the expected cost of a new arena. The team’s current and former owners have already put up $250 million.
Tourism Promotion Funding (SUPPORT) – For every dollar Wisconsin spends on tourism promotion in key markets like Chicagoland and the Twin Cities, $6 of new revenue is generated for state and local governments. Those are just the taxes on the new tourist dollars that flow through restaurants and other Wisconsin businesses that count on tourists to turn a profit. WRA members benefit if the tourism promotion budget is increased.
State Income Tax Deduction for Capital Losses (SUPPORT) – Assembly Bill 97, by Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), would federalize the treatment of capital losses for Wisconsin income tax purposes, increasing the allowed deduction from $500 per year to $3000 per year.
Powdered Alcohol (WATCH) – WRA has concerns about the increasing use of powdered alcohol in Wisconsin, and is tracking proposals to regulate its sale and use.
Transportation Network Companies (WATCH) – Ride-sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, have been operating in larger Wisconsin cities for some time. These companies are currently unregulated by the State, but can be regulated by cities. Assembly Bill 143, by Rep. Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) and Sen. Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee), would create limited state regulations on the companies, such as requiring insurance policies on all vehicles, background checks for drivers, and a “zero tolerance” policy on the use of alcohol or other intoxicants by drivers. The bill would also supersede local regulations in Madison that are preventing ride-sharing companies from legally competing with established local taxi and limousine services. Uber and Lyft are services that are accommodating restaurant and tavern patrons in downtown urban areas, making their legal and safe operation a good thing for WRA members.
For questions or more information on the issues noted above, contact Pete Hanson at 608.270.9950.