Wisconsin

Commentary & Community

Scott Walker Focuses on Illegal Immigration in Re-Election Bid

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is facing off with Tony Evers to see who will lead the state for the next four years. A new ad by Walker stresses their divergent views on illegal immigration.

 

Governor Walker is hitting Evers for what Walker considers a weak stance on illegal immigration. Evers supports allowing illegal immigrants to obtain state driving permits. He also would like to see illegal immigrant children who graduate from the state’s high schools pay in-state tuition if they go to college. According to Evers, the driving permit would make the state’s roads safer by requiring that those who get the permits would pass a safety test. Allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition would treat these individuals the same as other students who graduate from state high schools, Evers notes.


In a new commercial, Governor Walker accuses Evers of wanting to provide special treatment for illegal immigrants. According to the ad, this would result in higher taxes.

 

This ad has caused some controversy, since it uses the term “illegals” to describe illegal immigrants. Evers and some other observers claim that this is an offensive term and that Governor Walker is trying to sow racial division with the ad.

 

Do you think that illegal immigrants should be able to obtain state driving permits? Should they pay the same in-state tuition as other high school graduates?

Taxes, Government Reform are Big Issues in Wisconsin Governor’s Race

Democrat Tony Evers is trying to unseat Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin. He thinks that a key part of his appeal will be changing the way the state government operates, from use of the state airplane to redistricting reform. Governor Walker, however, charges that these reform proposals are a way for Evers to distract voters from his proposals to increase taxes. 

 

Yesterday Evers unveiled a government reform package that would affect both the governor’s office and the legislature. Among his proposals were these:

  • Redistricting reform: Evers would like to see a nonpartisan commission draw the state’s congressional and legislative boundaries.
  • Economic development reform: Evers would eliminate the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, which provides subsidies to businesses. Instead, he would return the state’s economic development programs to the way they used to be run in the Commerce Department.
  • Inspector general: Evers would establish an inspector general to police the state government, but he was not clear on how this post would operate.
  • “Cool off” legislation: Evers proposed a “cooling off” period between the time that legislative committees consider legislation and the final vote on such legislation. He would like to see a 48-hour delay to give the public time to comment on bills.
  • Reduce use of the state airplane: Evers wants to see the state airplane used less, although he did not give details about the circumstances in which the plane should be used.

 

Governor Walker responded to these proposals by focusing on taxes. He claims that the election of Evers would lead to higher taxes, while Gov. Walker wants to lower taxes. One of the proposals being pushed by Governor Walker is to increase the homestead property tax credit and lower the age at which homeowners would be able to claim it. According to Gov. Walker, this would provide tax relief to homeowners on fixed incomes.

 

Evers has said that he supports “fair taxes,” but has also indicated he would support an income tax hike for some taxpayers, a higher gas tax, and a repeal of some tax cuts for businesses and farmers. Evers has given no detailed plan on what changes he would make to the state’s tax code.

 

Do you support giving a property tax break to senior citizens? Should an independent commission draw legislative and congressional district lines?

 

 

Wisconsin Will Collect Internet Sales Taxes, May Reduce Income Tax

 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that states can begin collecting sales taxes on Internet purchases. Soon after this ruling was announced, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that his state would do so beginning in October. As a result, the state’s income tax rates may be going down.

 

In Wayfair v South Dakota, the high court held that a state could charge sales taxes for items purchased online from out-of-state sellers. A previous court decision said that states could not impose a tax on purchase made by their residents from out-of-state companies, but this ruling occurred prior to the widespread use of the Internet.

 

Many states, including Wisconsin, had long desired to tax these purchases but were held back by the earlier Supreme Court ruling. With the court changing direction, Wisconsin is embracing its opportunity to tax online sales. Governor Scott Walker says that this will not be a tax increase but will merely be treating all sales fairly, regardless of whether they are made in-person or online.

 

A 2013 state budget provision held that if the state began collecting online sales taxes, then the state’s income tax will automatically be cut to offset the new income. It is unclear how this provision will be implemented, but legislative leaders say they are willing to work with the governor to cut the income tax rate in response. One study of the potential effect from taxing online sales concluded that Wisconsin could see as much as $187 million a year in new revenue.

 

Do you support states collecting sales taxes on purchases made online by state residents?

 

Wisconsin Offers Big Subsidies to Lure Foxconn

 

The Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn is getting ready to open its North American headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Understandably, Governor Scott Walker is proud of this move, which adds onto an announcement that Foxconn will build an LCD manufacturing plant elsewhere in the state. But critics say that the only thing that lured Foxconn to Wisconsin is billions of dollars in corporate welfare.

 

Gov. Walker dismisses any criticism of the subsidies provided to Foxconn, noting that they were necessary to create thousands of new jobs in the state. These subsidies passed after strenuous lobbying by the governor. He convinced the Republicans who control the legislature to pass the incentive package last year.

 

Here is how VoteSpotter described the subsidy bill, which passed 20-13 in the state Senate and 59-30 in the Assembly:

 

To allow the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to provide tax credits up to $2.85 billion in a new technology manufacturing zone. The bill also exempts the purchase of construction material in this zone from the state's sales tax.

 

The sales tax exemption is worth roughly $150 million, making the state subsidy package a $3 billion offer to Foxconn. With other government incentives included, this one company could be receiving as much as $4.5 billion directly or indirectly from taxpayers. There is also a move by a local government to use eminent domain to seize some land designated as “blighted” and turn it over to Foxconn.

 

The end result would be between 3,000 and 13,000 new jobs created in Wisconsin. While Gov. Walker touts the jobs figure of 13,000, legislators rejected a Democratic proposal that would have required Foxconn to repay its subsidies if it does not create this number of jobs.

 

Do you support Wisconsin using $4.5 billion in subsidies to lure Foxconn into the state? Should the government designate land as “blighted” so it can use eminent domain to seize it and turn it over to Foxconn or other private businesses?

 

Wisconsin Bans Local Wage and Hour Laws

 

 

Across the nation, city and county governments are passing laws that regulate how employers pay their employees or what benefits they provide. In Wisconsin, however, these local governments recently lost their power to enact such ordinances.

 

In mid-April, Governor Scott Walker signed legislation that pre-empts local authority to regulate employee wages and hour. The bill to do this passed 58 to 32 in the Assembly and 18 to 14 in the Senate. Governor Walker is a Republican, and both of the legislative bodies are controlled by Republicans.

 

This act prohibits local governments from doing the following:

  • Imposing mandatory “labor peace agreements,” which are requirements that businesses enter into agreements with unions as a condition for doing government work
  • Regulating employee hour and overtime
  • Regulating employment benefits
  • Prohibiting employers from asking job candidates their past salary information

 

Nationwide, local proposals to increase the minimum wage or mandate paid sick leave generally occur in cities led by liberal leadership but located in states that have a conservative state government. The actions of local officials in this area often prompt a backlash from state officials, such as was seen in Wisconsin. Local governments have no inherent authority to regulate these areas; states can pre-empt any efforts by cities or counties to pass laws on this subject.

 

Supporters of these pre-emption laws say that they are necessary to provide uniform labor laws across the state. They contend that a patchwork of local labor laws makes it difficult for businesses to operate. Opponents of the state pre-empting local government labor regulations say that cities and counties should have the power to adopt laws that meet needs in their jurisdiction, which may be different from what works in other jurisdictions across the state.

 

Do you think that Wisconsin cities should be able to enact laws, such as a higher minimum wage, than what state law allows? Or should there be uniform wage and labor laws that apply across Wisconsin?

 

 

Wisconsin Continues Welfare Reform

 

 

In the 1990s, then-Governor Tommy Thompson made significant changes to Wisconsin’s welfare system – measures that helped inspire federal welfare reform enacted under President Clinton. The current Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker, is continuing in Thompson’s footsteps. Legislators recently passed a series of bills put forward by the governor that would once again revamp the state’s welfare programs.

 

Among the changes facing recipients of government benefits:

  • Able-bodied individuals receiving food stamps will face a work requirement of 30 hours a month, up from 20 hours a month. This requirement would also be expanded to able-bodied individuals who have school-age children.
  • Those looking for public housing will be drug tested and receive treatment if found to be using drugs.
  • Anyone owning a home above the state’s median home value – around $321,000 – will not be eligible for food stamp or Medicaid benefits.
  • Anyone owning a car worth more than $20,000 will not be eligible for food stamps.
  • Non-custodial parents who are able-bodied Medicaid recipients will be forced to pay child support and face paternity testing.

 

Some of these reforms will require approval from the federal government, although many can be implemented without federal permission.


Gov. Walker and legislative leaders say these changes are a way to reduce long-term dependency on government programs and move people to work. Opponents of these bills contend that they will force needy people to lose benefits.

 

This is the most sweeping welfare reform package passed in the state since Gov. Thompson’s initial reforms over two decades ago. It may serve as a model for other states or inspire state policymakers to look for new ways to change the delivery of government benefits.

 

Do you support cutting off welfare benefits for people who have expensive homes or don’t look for work? Or do you think that work requirements and other mandates are just ways to end benefits for those who need them?

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 58

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 58, Make Carjacking a Specific Crime: Passed 26 to 7 in the state Senate on June 14, 2017.

 

To create the new criminal offense of using force to take a vehicle without the consent of the owner. This crime could be punished by up to 15 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Senate Bill 58!

 

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 68

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 68, Limit Deer Feeding Bans After Positive Disease Tests: Passed 20 to 13 in the state Senate on June 14, 2017.

 

To limit the ban on feeding deer for hunting or viewing in counties where they have tested positive for chronic wasting disease or bovine tuberculosis. Currently, the Department for Natural Resources sets the ban. Under this bill, the ban would last for 36 months in counties where deer have tested positive or 24 months in neighboring counties.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Senate Bill 68!

 

 

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 306

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Assembly Bill 306, Require State Approval for Pseudoephedrine Purchases: Passed 96 to 1 in the state Assembly on June 21, 2017. 

 

To establish an electronic system that would track the sale of pseudoephedrine and deny the sale to those who are in violation of state limits. Sellers of pseudoephedrine must record the identification, identification number, and the date and time of the sale in electronic format, then submit it to a state system that would monitor if the purchaser is in violation of limits on the sale of pseudoephedrine.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 306!

 

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 293

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 293, Make Changes to School Choice Programs: Passed 67 to 30 in the state Assembly on June 21, 2017.

 

To require that private schools participating in school choice programs conduct background checks on employees, to remove certain requirements such as high attendance standards for private schools participating in the program, and to eliminate testing requirements on private schools that have a small number of school choice students attending, among other things.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Senate Bill 293!

 

 

Wisconsin House Bill 356

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

House Bill 365, Mandate Insurance Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions: Passed 62 to 35 in the state House on June 22, 2017.

 

To mandate that health insurance policies regulated by the state cannot exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions if there has been no gap in someone’s insurance coverage.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin House Bill 365!

 

 

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 10

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Assembly Bill 10, Consider Obamacare legislation: Failed 35 to 62 in the state Assembly on June 22, 2017

 

To require the Committee on Assembly Organization to consider state legislation that would codify the health insurance regulations contained in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 10!

 

Wisconsin Assembly Joint Resolution 63

 

Check out this key bill voted on by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Assembly Joint Resolution 63, Call special session of legislature to consider economic matters: Failed 34 to 62 in the state Assembly on June 14, 2017

 

To call a special session of the General Assembly starting on June 21 for “the consideration of legislation to increase average household income, accelerate job growth, and encourage entrepreneurship in this state.” This is a vote to call up the bill from committee.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Joint Resolution 63!

 

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 240

 

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Assembly Bill 240: Strengthen school attendance requirements for Wisconsin Works recipients’ kids: Passed 62 to 35 in the state Assembly on May 10, 2017

 

To impose penalties on Wisconsin Works participants if their children are habitually truant or fail to meet school attendance requirements. Current law requires that children of Wisconsin Works participants must be enrolled in school.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 240!

 

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 238

 

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Assembly Bill 238, Seek work requirement to receive housing assistance: Passed 61 to 35 in the state Assembly on May 10, 2017

 

To request that the federal government allow Wisconsin to impose a work requirement on recipients of the Housing Choice Voucher Program.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 238!

 

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 242: Expand drug testing for government benefits

 

Check out this key bill passed by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Assembly Bill 242, Expand drug testing for government benefits: Passed 62 to 35 in the state Assembly on May 10, 2017

 

To allow more state programs to test recipients for drug use. The new state programs where recipients will be drug tested under this bill are the Temporary Employment Match program, the Community Service Jobs program, and Transitional Placement program.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Bill 242!

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 15: Require legislation for expensive regulations

 

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Senate Bill 15, Require legislation for expensive regulations: Passed 19 to 14 in the state Senate on May 2, 2017

 

To mandate that any regulations that impose a cost of $10 million or more over a two-year period can only be implemented upon passage of legislation. The bill also requires more oversight from legislators during the writing of new regulations.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Senate Bill 15!

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 10: Allow wider use of cannabidiol oil

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Wisconsin, check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted, and comment below to share what you think!

 

Senate Bill 10, Allow wider use of cannabidiol oil: Passed 31 to 1 in the state Senate on February 8, 2017

 

To allow the possession of cannabidiol oil with the certification from a physician that the oil is for the treatment of a medical condition. Current law allows the possession of cannabidiol only for the treatment of seizures.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Senate Bill 10!

 

Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 4: Prohibit Using Private Lawyers to Defend Redistricting

 

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Assembly Resolution 4, Prohibit using private lawyers to defend redistricting: Failed 35 to 62 in the state Assembly

 

To prohibit the legislature from contracting with private legal services to defend legislative redistricting efforts. In January, a federal court found that the legislative districts drawn by the legislature were unconstitutional. This bill would prohibit using tax revenue to pay private-sector attorneys to appeal. This vote was to withdraw the bill from committee to allow the entire Assembly to vote on it.

 

Comment below to share what you think of Wisconsin Assembly Resolution 4!

 

Wisconsin Senate Bill 3: Ban Project Labor Agreements

 

Check out this key bill recently passed by elected officials in Wisconsin, and check-in to the VoteSpotter app to see how your legislators voted.

 

Senate Bill 3, Ban project labor agreements: Passed 19 to 13 in the state Senate on February 8, 2017

 

To prohibit the state or local governments from requiring the use of project labor agreements in bids for contracts. Project labor agreements require that non-union contractors bidding on a government project must pay employee union dues and contribute to union pension and health insurance benefit funds, even though their employees are not union members.

 

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