HC Report

Stroebel Appointed to the Joint Committee on Finance

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) appointed Senator Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville) to serve on the Joint Committee on Finance following the vacancy left by Sheila Harsdorf. Stroebel is known a staunch conservative member of the legislature. He was one of the senators who required Governor Scott Walker to guarantee certain vetoes in order to vote for the budget bill in September. That action was heavily criticized by Assembly Republican leaders. They argued budget negotiations should be made between the two legislative bodies; not between a few senators and the governor’s office. Strobel fills the vacancy on the committee left by…


Milwaukee Legislator Stripped of Committee Assignments

Following accusations of misconduct, State Assembly leadership removed Representative Josh Zepnick (D – Milwaukee) from his standing committee assignments. The action came at the request of Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D – Oshkosh). It’s been alleged by two women that Zepnick kissed them without consent at separate events in 2011 and 2015. Despite Democratic legislators urging his resignation, Zepnick has not stepped down. “There is still a U.S. Constitution that provides something called ‘due process’ where I have the right to defend myself,” Zepnick said in a statement. Hintz told the media that removing Zepnick from committee assignments is…


Justice Department Completes John Doe Leak Investigation

Last week, Attorney General Brad Schimel urged Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge William Hue to hold special prosecutors and the former Government Accountability Board staff in contempt of court following a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation of leaked documents from the John Doe investigation of Governor Scott Walker’s recall campaign. DOJ’s investigation of John Doe documents was spurred by a 2016 article from The Guardian newspaper about the John Doe investigation that referenced a number of documents leaked to the media outlet from unknown sources. In the 90-page report issued by Schimel last week, DOJ concluded the Government Accountability Board…


Final Legislative Session of 2017

Over the past two weeks, both the State Senate and Assembly met to pass a wide range of legislation before breaking for the winter holidays. Among some of the more controversial bills was Assembly Bill 455 authored by Representative Rob Stafsholt (R – New Richmond). The bill allows children under 10 to hunt without a requirement to complete a hunter’s safety course. Proponents say the bill encourages growth in Wisconsin’s hunting heritage. Opponents expressed safety concerns for hunters of all ages. The bill ultimately passed the Assembly on a 57-32. It was a rare instance in which there was bipartisan…


Marquette Law School Poll Weighs in on Foxconn Deal

On October 24, Marquette Law School released polling results that gauged public support for Foxconn and the state’s $3 bill incentive package. The Marquette Law School polled 1200 individuals in the Milwaukee area (Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington, and Waukesha counties) from September 9th-17th. In general, the poll attempted to Milwaukee-area sentiment on a number of issues, including the economy, public education, regional policy issues, and race relations. In particular, the poll asked questions related to how a new Foxconn factory in Racine County could impact on the region. 65% of respondents said the factory will not benefit them personally. 29%…


State Budget Negotiations at Impasse

Negotiations on the state budget are at a halt. After multiple meetings, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R – Juneau) remain at odds over how to fund state road projects. Vos and the Assembly Republican Caucus are open to increasing revenues. They believe doing so will promote long-term solvency for the transportation budget. Meanwhile, Fitzgerald and his caucus oppose increasing fees and taxes. Fitzgerald sides with Governor Scott Walker’s proposal for limited bonding for road projects. The disagreement has spilled onto social media. On July 13, Senator Leah Vukmir (R – Brookfield)…


DOT Reform Legislation Introduced

On July 14, a group of Republican legislators led by Senator Chris Kapenga (R – Delafield) and Representative Joe Sanfelippo (R – New Berlin) introduced legislation to make various operational reforms at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). In particular, the bill provides DOT with multiple project delivery options. DOT currently designs a project, asks contractors to bid on the cost, and then awards the project’s construction to the lowest bidder. In addition to this method, the bill allows DOT to award a project to a contractor that will do all architectural, surveying, engineering, and construction work in a process…


U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Redistricting Case

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Redistricting Case The U.S. Supreme Court announced it would hear arguments on a case involving Wisconsin legislative districts. State Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed the case, Gill v. Whitford, to the Court after a three judge-panel ruled that Wisconsin’s legislative districts qualify as unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. The case originated in U.S. district court in 2015 after plaintiff and UW professor William Whitford filed suit alleging the legislative districts drawn in 2011 violated the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. Whitford argued the Republican-drawn maps unfairly benefited their party by placing Democratic voters into a…


State Budget Process Stalled

State Budget Process Stalled Despite the looming end of the fiscal year on June 30, the Joint Committee on Finance has not completed work on the state budget proposal. The committee only met one time in June to vote on budget provisions, leaving transportation, K12 education, and general fund taxes yet to be dealt with. The Assembly and Senate GOP members are at odds over transportation and K12 education funding, as well as general fund taxation. It is unclear how long the impasse could last. Although the new fiscal year begins on July 1, funding for state agencies and programs…


Spring 2017 Election Tomorrow

April 3, 2017 Spring 2017 Election Tomorrow Wisconsin holds its spring elections tomorrow. While turnout is typically lower during these elections, there are two statewide elections on the ballot. Incumbent Dr. Tony Evers faces Dr. Lowell Holtz of Beloit in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Evers has served in the position since 2009. Although a non-partisan office, Evers has gained a reputation for aligning himself with Democratic policy ideas on education. Holtz has been a teacher, principal, and school district administrator. Holtz has the support of conservative groups and describes himself as a “Kidservative.” Supreme Court Justice…