Capitol Week-in-Review – September 15, 2016

Momentum Builds for “Back to School” Sales Tax Holiday

Last week, Governor Walker and the Republican-led State Assembly announced their support for a “Back to School” Sales Tax Holiday.

Under their proposal, a sales tax holiday would last two days beginning on the first Saturday of August 2017 and apply to school supplies, computers costing less than $750, and clothing items costing less than $75 each. This targeted tax relief is projected to save Wisconsin families about $14 million annually. Governor Walker plans to include this proposal as part of his 2017-2019 state budget recommendations.

Eighteen states held a sales tax holiday in 2015. The majority of these states exempt clothing, computers and school supplies from their state’s sales tax for a limited period of time – less than one week. Iowa’s Sales Tax Holiday applies to clothing, protective equipment and select sports equipment.

Wisconsin’s overall tax burden is among the highest in the nation. Reducing this burden via a Sales Tax Holiday is a step in the right direction. With that said, we still believe it is more important for state lawmakers to repeal the state’s Personal Property Tax.

Public Comment Period Open on UI Reform

Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council (UIAC) is now taking public comments on suggested reforms to Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) program.

By law, the UIAC is required to: advise the Department of Workforce Development in its administration of the state’s UI law; report its views on pending legislation affecting the UI program to legislative committees; and submit its recommended changes to Wisconsin’s UI law to the Wisconsin State Legislature every two years.

We encourage members to share their concerns, ideas and suggestions for UI reform with the UIAC. In particular, we urge seasonal employers to comment on the impact that the new work search waiver requirements are having on their business. The public comment period ends on November 18.

Comments may be submitted by email to or via the U.S. Postal Service to:

Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council
Attn: Janell Knutson, Chair
P.O Box 8942
Madison, WI 53708

The UIAC will also take public comments at a statewide public hearing on November 17, 2016 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The hearing will be administered in Madison and broadcast live through web video at the following locations throughout the state.

Eau Claire: UW-Eau Claire, Old Library; 105 Garfield Avenue, Room 2110

Green Bay:UW-Green Bay, Instructional Services Building; 2420 Nicolet Drive, Room 1034

La Crosse:Western Technical College, Health Science Center; 1300 Badger Street, Room 2002

Madison:UW-Extension, Pyle Center; 702 Langdon Street, Room 227

Milwaukee:UW-Milwaukee, Lubar Hall; 3202 North Maryland Avenue, Room S250

Superior:WITC-Superior Campus, Conference Center B; 600 North 21st Street, Room C-108

Wausau:Northcentral Technical College, Center for Business and Industry; 1000 West Campus Drive, Room 127

2017 Broadband Expansion Grant Recipients

Last Thursday, Governor Walker joined with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) to announce the 2017 Broadband Expansion Grant recipients. This program provides reimbursement for equipment and construction expenses incurred to extend or improve broadband telecommunications service in underserved areas of the state.

Seventeen local broadband expansion projects will receive $1.5 million in grant funds which will be matched with over $2.2 million in private and local funding. The recipients (expansion project locations) are:

Amherst Telephone Company: $150,000 (Rural Portage County)
TDS/Black Earth Telephone Company: $156,500 (Rural Dane County)
CenturyLink: $39,900 (Peshtigo)
CenturyLink: $134,625 (Oconto County)
CenturyLink: $25,000 (Bayfield County)
CenturyLink: $10,000 (Southern Eau Claire County)
Chibardun Telephone Cooperative: $38,477 (Barron County)
ChoiceTel, LLC: $131,475 (Land O’Lakes in Vilas County)
Ethoplex, LLC: $7,886 (Rural Waukesha County)
Frontier North, Inc: $201,750 (Marathon County)
Hagar Telecom, Inc: 43,775 (Pierce County)
Iron County Resource Development Association: $79,101 (Iron County)
Lafayette Development Corporation: $86,084 (Lafayette County)
MH Telecom, LLC: $55,360 (Dodgeville in Iowa County)
Oneida County Economic Development Corporation: $180,566 (Oneida County)
24-7 Telecom, Inc.: $67,500 (Dunn County)
Wittenberg Telephone Company: $92,000 (Langlade County)

For more details about the specific projects click here.