Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sen Leibham's Legislative Update

This is the text of the booklet Senator Leibham hands out for his constituents at his listening sessions. Since I know that I don't have all the video available of all his listening sessions and that not all of these issues get discussed at every listening session, I wanted to post the contents of that booklet here for those who have been unable to attend a listening session. Mr. Leibham's chief of staff, Mr. Gasper, kindly sent me a pdf copy so that I could copy and paste the relevant contents here without having to type them in myself.

Mr. Leibham remarked that his fellow legislators don't understand why he provides this guide to what has been done and is being considered in our legislature for his constituents. He believes it to be part of his job. It has been reproduced here with his permission and encouragement. Read it and get involved.


Legislative Update
Actions of the Governor and the State Legislature
since January 1, 2009
This booklet contains information on many of the legislative
initiatives approved by Governor Jim Doyle and the majority of the
State Legislature since January 1, 2009. Also included is
information on various proposals that may be considered over the
next couple of months and highlights of Senator Leibham’s
legislative proposals.
For more information on the remainder of the 2009‐2010
legislative session and Senator Leibham’s efforts, please log on to:


New/Increased State Taxes = Approved
*Senator Leibham voted against each of these new taxes.

Combined Reporting Business Tax – $215 million new tax ‐ Require businesses (including many headquartered here in Wisconsin) to pay taxes on profits earned by subsidiaries in other states.
Phone Tax – $107.5 million increase – Impose a 75‐cent monthly tax on every wireless and land‐based telephone number.
Nursing Home Bed Tax – $71 million increase – Increase the tax on licensed beds in nursing homes from $75/month to $150/month in 2009‐10, and from $150/month to $170/month in 2010‐11.
Cigarette/Tobacco Products Tax – $334.7 million increase – Increase the cigarette tax by $0.75/pack (from $1.77 to $2.52). In addition, increase the general tax rate on other tobacco products like cigars and moist snuff.
Garbage Tax – $69 million increase – Increases the garbage tax from $5.90/ton to $13/ton – one of the highest in the nation.
Income Tax – $287 million increase – Create a fifth income tax bracket with a rate of 7.75% for small businesses structured as an LLC, “S‐Corp”, sole proprietorship or partnership, individuals earning over $225,000 and joint filers over $300,000.
Capital Gains Tax – $242 million increase – Decrease the individual income tax exclusion for long‐term capital gains from 60% to 30%.
Health Insurance Tax – $84.6 million increase – Postpone scheduled increases in the tax deductions for health insurance premiums.
Hospital Health Care Tax – $242.3 million increase – Increase the recently adopted hospital health care tax by $242.3 million over the next two years.
Surgical Center Tax – $44 million new tax – Impose a tax on the gross patient revenues of ambulatory surgical centers located in Wisconsin.
Sales Tax on Transactions between Related Businesses – $40.8 million increase – State sales tax was previously applied to SOME transactions between different companies with the same owner. This law specifies that ALL transactions between these businesses will now be subject to sales tax.
“Throwback Sales” for Business Taxes – $80.5 million increase – Current law taxes the sales of products made by companies in Wisconsin and shipped to a buyer in another state at 50 percent of the normal tax rate. This new law increases taxes on these “throwback” sales to 100 percent of the normal rate.
Streamlined Sales Tax – Enter Wisconsin into an agreement with other states to collect taxes when consumers purchase goods over the Internet. SST will also subject iced tea, marshmallows, chocolate chips and cloth diapers to sales tax.
iPod Download” Tax – Extend the state sales tax to “digital property” downloaded off of the Internet, like songs, books and other digital files.


Sen. Leibham’s Legislative Efforts

Job Creation Incentive ‐ Allow a company that creates or retains at least 15 Wisconsin jobs to keep a portion of the income tax revenue generated as a result of the new jobs to re‐invest in the company.
Capital Gains Reinvestment — Allow an individual to be exempt from capital gains tax if the gain is reinvested into certified Wisconsin‐based businesses.
Roth IRA Conversion ‐ Allow taxpayers to convert funds from a traditional individual retirement account to a Roth IRA without penalty. This legislation will also adopt higher contribution limits set by the IRS.
Alternative Energy Sources ‐ Allow new “light pipe” technology to be included in Wisconsin’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
Health Care Freedom Amendment ‐ Constitutionally safeguard an individual’s right to purchase private health care services/health insurance and prohibit government from forcing participation in any public or private health care/insurance program.
Improving the CIP program – Gives MA‐eligible Wisconsin seniors, who would otherwise be forced to reside in a nursing home, the option to live with more freedom in a less costly community‐based assisted living type facility.
Workplace Wellness Incentives — Provide incentives for businesses to implement workplace wellness programs to reduce the costs of health care.
Health Savings Accounts (HSA’s) — Make investments into HSA’s tax deductible. Wisconsin is one of the last states to tax these investments.
Tax Deductibility of Out‐of‐Pocket Health Expenses ‐ Allow for all out‐of‐pocket health care costs, including insurance premiums and care expenses, to be deducted from state income taxes.
Tax Relief for Seniors ‐ Exempt income from retirement accounts & pensions from state taxation.
Repeal Auto Insurance Changes ‐ Repeal the mandatory auto insurance limits that were passed as a part of the 2009‐11 state budget.
Vehicle Emissions Program ‐ Eliminate the ineffective, inefficient and discriminatory state vehicle emissions testing program.
Nuclear Moratorium ‐ Repeal Wisconsin’s moratorium on the expansion or construction of nuclear power plants in our state.
Voter Photo ID ‐ Require a voter to verify their identity by presenting a valid state issued photo ID before voting or registering to vote.
Citizenship Requirement ‐ Require proof of identification and citizenship before receiving taxpayer‐subsidized state benefits.


Items Pending for Consideration

Minimum Wage Increase ‐ Increase the state minimum wage from $6.50/hour
to $7.60/hour and index the minimum wage to inflation.
Wage Claim Lien ‐ Raise the cap on wage claim liens from $3,000 to $10,950
and index the cap to the rate of inflation.
Driver Cards for Illegal Immigrants ‐ Provide state‐issued picture ID driver
cards to illegal immigrants living in Wisconsin.
Appointment of the DNR Secretary ‐ Change the way in which the DNR
Secretary is appointed by giving that authority to the Natural Resources Board.
Under current law, the Governor nominates the DNR Secretary with Senate
Global Warming Bill ‐ Enact many recommendations of the Governor’s Task
Force on Global Warming, including mandated reductions in the use of fossil
fuels, requiring that 25% of the state’s energy come from “renewable” sources,
instituting a low carbon fuel standard, adopting California auto emission
standards and reducing statewide electricity use by 2% each year
Allowing Felons to Vote ‐ Allow felons to vote if they have been released from
prison but are still on extended supervision, parole or probation.
Beer Tax Increase ‐ Increase Wisconsin’s beer tax from $2/barrel to $10/barrel.
Concealed Carry for Retired Police Officers ‐ Allow retired law enforcement
officers to carry a concealed firearm in Wisconsin.
Ban on Cell Phones while Driving ‐ Ban the use of wireless communication
devices while driving, including telephones, text and e‐mail devices. A driver
over age 18 would still be able to use a cell phone with a hands‐free device.
Joint and Several Liability – Allow plaintiff to recover ALL damages in a lawsuit
from a defendant even if the defendant is only 1% liable. Currently, a defendant must be at least 51% liable for an injury before having to pay all damages.
Discrimination Complaints – Make the appeal of “no probable cause” findings
in Wisconsin Fair Employment Act claims subject to appeal directly to state
circuit courts, bypassing the Labor and Industry Review Commission.
Payday Lending Law Changes ‐ Prevent payday loan companies from charging
interest rates in excess of 36%/year and require them to obtain a license if the
payday lender makes a consumer loan of $5,000 or less.
Restricting Bisphenol A ‐ Prohibit the manufacture and sale of certain baby
bottles and cups for children that contain bisphenol A.
Medical Marijuana ‐ Legalize the medical use of marijuana in Wisconsin.


New/Increased State Fees = Approved
*Senator Leibham voted against each of these new fees.

Phone Taxes ‐ $108 million increase ‐ Institute a 75 cents/month tax on each active wireless, land‐based or VOIP telephone. The tax will be called a “Police and Fire Protection Fee,” but no new funding will be directed into police and fire protection. Also, extend the state Consumer Complaint assessment and the Universal Service Fund assessment to cell phone providers, resulting in an additional 56 cents/month tax on cell phone users and including a provision forbidding cellular service providers from adding a separate line on your billing statement describing the tax.
Low‐Income Energy Assistance Fee ‐ $18.2 million increase ‐ Raise the low‐income assistance fee on utility bills to provide funding for District Attorneys.
Animal Slaughter Fee – Unknown fiscal impact ‐ Require the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to impose a new slaughter fee/food tax on farm animals after July 1, 2010.
Child Care Licensing Fee ‐ $1 million increase ‐ Increase licensing fees for group child care centers by increasing the per child biennial fee from $10.33 to $16.94.
Securities Trading Fees ‐ $22 million increase ‐ Increase fees on securities trading by raising the mutual fund filing fee from $750 to $1,500. Also, the 0.05% fee on securities sold to persons in Wisconsin will be maintained, but the minimum/maximum annual amounts of the fee are increased from $150/$1,500 to $750/$15,000.
Vital Records Fee – $6 million increase ‐ Make permanent the vital records fee increases that were enacted in 2007 on a temporary basis.
Increase Work Permit Fee – $960,000 increase ‐ Double the work permit fee from $5 to $10.
Vehicle Environmental Impact Title Fee – $16.7 million increase ‐ Under current law, the $9 vehicle Environmental Impact Title Fee was supposed to end at the end of 2009. The new budget makes this fee permanent.
Title Lien Fee – $4.7 million increase ‐ Increase the title lien fee for each notating and subsequent release of a lien on an auto title from $4 to $10.
Fee for Paper Copies of Driver Records – $130,000 increase ‐ Establish a $2 fee for providing a paper copy of a driver record upon request, in addition to the fee for the record search ($5 for a computerized request and $6 for a phone request).
Boat Registration Fee – $1.1 million increase ‐ Increase the fees for a three‐year motorized boat registration.
Handgun Background Check Fee ‐ $417,000 increase ‐ Increase the handgun purchaser record check fee from $8 to $13.


New Policies Approved by the Legislature and Enacted by the Governor

In‐state tuition for the children of illegal immigrants – Allow the children of illegal immigrants to pay in‐state tuition to UW System institutions and Wisconsin technical colleges. They currently pay higher international student tuition rates.
Domestic Partner Benefits – Extend taxpayer‐subsidized health insurance and retirement benefits to same‐sex and opposite‐sex domestic partners of state employees. Also, allow a domestic partner to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Domestic Partner Registry ‐ Establish same‐sex domestic partnerships and provide
domestic partners with many of the same rights and benefits provided to traditional husband‐wife married spouses under current law.
Smoking Ban – Ban smoking in all privately‐owned Wisconsin workplaces and establishments, with certain limited exceptions, effective July 5, 2010.
Mandatory Auto Insurance Limits ‐ Increase mandatory auto insurance limits from
$25,000/person, $50,000/accident and $10,000/property damage to $50,000/person, $100,000/accident and $15,000/property damage.
Mandatory Auto Insurance ‐ Specify that no one may operate a motor vehicle on a Wisconsin roadway unless the owner or operator has purchased an auto liability policy for the vehicle.
QEO – Repeal the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO), which allows a school district to avoid mediation arbitration if they offer their teachers a salary and benefit increase of at least 3.8 percent.
Prevailing Wage Expansion – Expand the prevailing wage law to projects not currently covered, such as certain private projects that receive public financing. Lower the threshold for projects subject to prevailing wage from $150,000 down to $25,000.
Taxpayer Funded Condoms – Extend the Family Planning Waiver program to provide taxpayer‐subsidized condoms and other contraceptives to boys as young as 15 and men as old as 44.
Expungement of Criminal Convictions – Increase the age for which a person may have a conviction expunged from their criminal record from 21 to 25. Allow certain felonies to be expunged in addition to the misdemeanors allowed under current law.
Good Behavior Credit for Inmates ‐ Repeal Truth in Sentencing by allowing certain
incarcerated felons to get reduced sentences for good behavior.
Primary Enforcement of Seat Belt Laws ‐ Allow law enforcement officers to pull over a driver for the specific purpose of enforcing seat belt laws. Increase the forfeiture for a seat belt violation from $10 to $25.
Jobs Tax Credit ‐ Create a refundable jobs credit under Wisconsin individual and corporate income taxes. The total amount of jobs tax credits that may be claimed from January 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013 is $14.5 million. In future years, the amount of total assets that may be claimed will be limited to $5 million/year.
Tax Exemptions for Biotechnology and Manufacturing Research ‐ Create exemptions from state sales and use taxes for purchases of machinery and equipment as well as tangible personal property sold to manufacturing or biotech businesses.
CORE Jobs Act ‐ Spend $15 million to spur economic growth through a series of strategies, some of which include the expansion of education and angel investment tax credits, farmshoring grants, business micro‐loan programs and funding for manufacturing skills training.
Drunk Driving ‐ Strengthen penalties for highly intoxicated and repeat drunk drivers by making third‐time OWI convictions a felony and requiring offenders to install an ignition interlock device. These changes may be funded through a 50‐ cent/quart tax increase on hard liquor products.
“Sex Ed.” Curriculum Mandate ‐ Sets the requirements for sex education curriculum through a statewide mandate, removing local control in an effort to ensure sex education curriculum is "age‐appropriate and medically accurate."
Wind Turbine Siting ‐ Direct the state Public Service Commission to determine what restrictions a municipality may impose on the construction of wind turbines.
Electronic Product Recycling ‐ Require manufacturers of household electronic devices like TV’s and computer monitors to make arrangements for the recycling of those devices when they are disposed of by consumers.
Mercury in Household Items ‐ Regulate the sale of consumer products containing
mercury, including fever thermometers, thermostats and other household items.
Sale of Home‐Canned Foods ‐ Exempt the makers of home‐prepared and homecanned pickles or other acidic fruits or vegetables from having to obtain a “food processing plant” license if they sell their products at a community or social event or a farmers’ market.
Federal Stimulus Funding Allocation ‐ Modify the way in which federal stimulus dollars are allocated to Wisconsin counties for use. This proposal seeks to cut through federal government red tape that prevented even a single dollar of these funds from being spent.
Regulation of Mixed Martial Arts ‐ Require the state government to regulate mixed martial arts fighting contests and make several changes to the way in which the state regulates boxing matches.

"And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; "~ 1 Samuel 8:10-19

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