Capitol Week-in-Review – November 24, 2017

State Assembly Leader Calls for Modernizing Wisconsin’s Tax Code

Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) directed the Assembly Ways and Means Committee to undertake a comprehensive review of Wisconsin’s tax code and make recommendations for a “new tax code that is fair and simple with lower rates” for consideration as part of the 2019-2021 State Budget.

To assist in this effort, Speaker Vos has appointed four additional members to the Committee and authorized the Committee to create Subcommittees. They are:

  • Subcommittee on Sales and Use Tax
  • Subcommittee on Personal and Corporate Income Taxes
  • Subcommittee on Local Government (Property) Taxes and Funding
  • Subcommittee on Excise Taxes and Fees

Each Subcommittee will report the history and purpose of the taxation device; current problems with the taxation device; and solutions or possible changes to the taxation device. Each Subcommittee will then present their findings and recommendations to the full Committee for inclusion in a comprehensive state tax code reform plan.

State Representative John Macco (R-Ledgeview), the Chair of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, will oversee and guide this effort. Our Legislative Director, Brian Dake, recently met with him to discuss our tax policy priorities – full repeal of the personal property tax, broad-based income tax relief and tax code simplification.

Brian advised Representative Macco that WIB will be an active participant in the Committee’s work to modernize our state tax code. In turn, he asked that we solicit input from members.

We respectfully ask you to honor his request by completing the Committee’s online general tax survey.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

WIB Backs Employment Law Standardization Act

Compliance with employment-related laws and regulations is particularly challenging for small employers. There are federal requirements, state requirements and in some limited instances, local requirements.

To ease this regulatory burden, we advocate for greater conformity between federal and state employment-related laws and regulations as well as statewide preemption of local ordinances which impose additional employment-related requirements or restrictions on employers. Our goal is one set of fair and reasonable rules for employers to follow.

Last week, a group of state lawmakers led by State Senator Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) and State Representative Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) came forward with a legislative proposal which preempts local units of government from enacting or enforcing ordinances related to various employment matters.

They have dubbed their proposal the “Employment Law Standardization Act.” It would prohibit any city, village, town, or county from enacting or enforcing an ordinance regarding any of those matters:

  • Regulations related to employment discrimination;
  • Regulations related to wage claims and collections;
  • Regulation of employee hours and overtime, including scheduling of employee work hours or shifts;
  • The employment benefits an employer may be required to provide to its employees; and
  • An employer’s right to solicit information regarding the salary history of prospective employees.

WIB has joined with other small business advocacy organizations including the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, the Wisconsin Grocers Association and the Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association to back the Employment Law Standardization Act. Enactment of this legislation is on our lobbying “to do” list for 2018.

State Senator Sheila Harsdorf Appointed DATCP Secretary

Governor Walker has appointed State Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) to serve as the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). She replaces outgoing Secretary Ben Brancel who retired in August.

By way of background, DATCP has regulatory authority over a variety of commercial activities in Wisconsin including:

  • Enforcement of the state’s consumer protection laws;
  • Licensing and inspection of food-related businesses; and
  • Administration of financial security programs to protect agricultural producers.

Sheila graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science after which she returned to River Falls to become a loan officer for the Production Credit Association while farming part-time on the family dairy farm. Shortly thereafter, Sheila and her brother, Jim, became partners in family farm.

She represented the 30th Assembly District in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1989 to 1998. In 2000, Sheila was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate to represent the residents of the 10th Senate District – Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties. During her service in the Wisconsin State Legislature, she served on the legislature’s budget-writing committee as well as committees with jurisdiction over agriculture-related laws, regulations and programs.

We applaud the Governor’s appointment and look forward to working with Secretary Harsdorf on issues of importance to WIB members.