November 16, 2017Newsletter

Michael Best Strategies' Best Insights Newsletter


The Legislature wrapped up its final floor days for 2017 as the Senate and Assembly passed a number of bills, including a bill that repeals the state’s mining moratorium. The Legislature will continue to hold public hearings on bills through the end of the year, but will not be on the floor again until middle of January 2018. The legislative session lasts through March 2018.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Approves Foxconn Contract

After weeks of negotiations, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation board approved the contract between the state of Wisconsin and Foxconn Technology Group, which allows for the company to begin work on its plant in southeastern Wisconsin. Michael Best Strategies and Michael Best & Friedrich represented Foxconn on the legislation as well as the contract negotiations.

Below is the contract and handouts outlining the contract:

Mining Moratorium Legislation Passes – Goes to Governor for Signature

The Wisconsin Senate passed legislation (AB 499) authored by Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) that repeals the moratorium on non-ferrous mining in Wisconsin. Under a law enacted in 1997, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is prohibited from issuing permits for  mining a sulfide ore body until the DNR determines: 1) there is a mining operation in a potentially acid-generating sulfide ore body in the U.S. or Canada that has been in operation for 10 years without polluting groundwater or surface water from acid drainage or the release of heavy metals, and 2) a similar mining operation has been closed for at least 10 years without resulting in groundwater or surface water pollution.

The legislation makes a number of other changes and includes a number of amendments, all of which can be viewed here.

Governor Walker Nominates Senator Harsdorf as DATCP Secretary

This week, Governor Walker nominated Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) to be the next Secretary of the Department of Trade, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection. Harsdorf was first elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 1988 and served in that chamber until 1996. She then went on to serve in the Senate since being elected in 2000.

Harsdorf has a long track record working on agricultural issues, having owned a farm in western Wisconsin. She is currently chair of the Wisconsin Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism. Harsdorf replaces former Secretary Ben Brancel, who retired earlier this year.

Wisconsin Assembly Unveils Plan to Review Tax Code

While tax reform is occupying Congress in Washington, D.C., the Republicans who control the Wisconsin State Assembly announced earlier this month plans to begin reviewing ways to reform the state’s current tax code.

Earlier this year during the budget bill process, the Wisconsin Assembly Republicans unveiled a comprehensive tax reform package that sought to also address transportation funding. That proposal did not advance, but the Assembly GOP announced their plan to address taxes for the remainder of the session.

In an announcement by Rep. Jon Macco who chairs the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, he explained that four new members – three Republicans and one Democrat – will be added to the Committee.

In addition, four subcommittees will be formed to review certain taxes. Those subcommittees are:

  • Subcommittee on Sales and Use Tax (Rep. Kevin Petersen)
  • Subcommittee on Personal and Corporate Income Taxes (Rep. Bob Kulp)
  • Subcommittee on Local Government Taxes and Funding (Rep. David Steffen)
  • Subcommittee on Excise Taxes and Fees (Rep. David Shannon)

The subcommittees are tasked with reviewing the history purpose of the taxation device, current problems with the taxation, and solutions and possible changes to the code provisions. The subcommittees will present their findings to the full Ways and Means Committee and will be combined into a comprehensive plan.

Legislature Enacts “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights” Legislation

The Wisconsin Senate and Assembly passed comprehensive legislation referred to as the “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.” Assembly Bill 480 includes the following provisions:

  • Vested Rights: The law seeks to alter a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, McKee v. City of Fitchburg, where the city denied a permit based on new regulations enacted after the developer had filed the original plat design. Under AB 480, if a developer identifies the full scope of the project at the time of filing an application for approval, the existing regulations in place in each jurisdiction “freeze,” or “vest,” and the local jurisdiction may not change the regulations as they relate to the proposed development.
  • Tax Incremental Financing for Workforce Housing Developments: This legislation authorizes municipalities to create workforce housing tax incremental districts (TID). A workforce housing TID must contain newly platted residential uses, 100 percent of which must be “workforce housing.” The law defines “workforce housing” to include two factors: 1) housing costs a household no more than 30 percent of the household’s gross median income, and ) the construction cost per housing unit is no more than 80 percent of the median price for new residential construction in the county. Unlike other TIDs, the life span of workforce housing TID is 15 years (as opposed to 23 years or more for other TIDs).
  • Review of Provisions within Electrical Wiring Code: Under current law, the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) is authorized to promulgate through rulemaking a state electrical wiring code that establishes standards for installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical wiring. The legislation requires that DSPS review every six years portions of the electrical wiring code that apply to buildings that contain one or two dwelling units.   
  • Challenging Tax Assessments: The legislation repeals the current prohibition on appearing before the board of review to object to an assessment when a property has refused to allow the assessor to enter the interior of the owner’s resident. In addition, the legislation specifies that an assessor must provide written notice to the property owner of the owner’s rights regarding the inspection of the interior of the owner’s residence. In addition, an assessor may not increase a property’s valuation based solely on an owner’s refusal to allow entry to the assessor, and an assessor may not enter the property to conduct an exterior view of the real or personal property being assessed.

Join National and Regional Leaders in Health Care Transformation and Population Health Improvement at the Upcoming Midwest Forum, November 30 – December 1 in Chicago

Hosted by public health institutes from Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, the Midwest Forum on Hospitals, Health Systems, and Population Health will provide a showcase of leading practices that are working to bring health care providers and payers together with community organizations, patients and families, and policy makers.  Across the country, leading organizations are collaborating to improve health, health equity, and address the social determinants of health.  The goal of the Forum is to engage participants in a dialogue, across industries and states, to understand strategies that are working to solve complex issues related to the health of individuals, populations, and communities.  The Forum will have a special focus on integrating clinical and community health and prevention strategies. 

Plenary sessions will include:

  • Transforming the Trendline: Bridging Health and Healthcare to Achieve Health Equity and Total Population Health
  • Show Me the Money: Innovation in Health Care Financing to Address Social Determinants of Health
  • Innovative Partnerships: Collaborating for Healthy and Equitable Communities

Karen Timberlake with Michael Best Strategies will moderate the final plenary panel, Health Transformation Policy: National Trends and Direction, featuring Dr. Lisa Simpson of AcademyHealth, Dr. Anand Parekh of the Bipartisan Policy Center, and Hemi Tewarson with the National Governor’s Association.

A full list of speakers and topics, along with registration information, is available here


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