Governor Walker Calls Another Special Session on Jobs

MacIver News Service | September 28, 2011

[Madison, Wisc…] Governor Scott Walker has called the Wisconsin State Legislature back to Madison to focus on job creation. On Wednesday morning Walker issued an executive order calling the “Back to Work Wisconsin” special session.

According to Walker’s office, the legislation in the special session includes items to improve access to capital and loans, worker training, the regulatory process and tort reform measures.

Gov. Walker

“Wisconsin has outperformed the nation this year in job creation, but we aren’t immune to what is happening nationally.  That’s why it’s important we do even more to help get Wisconsinites back to work,” said Governor Walker.  “In traveling the state, I’ve listened to the concerns of job creators and those still looking for work.  The one thing that I hear more than anything else is that employers and workers want a sense of certainty.  That is the main goal of this special session – to create as much certainty as we can for employers and workers at the state level so that they can create jobs.”

The special session call drew immediate reaction from a co-chair of the powerful Joint Committee on Finance.

“The top priority in the Assembly has been job creation since day one,” said State Representative Robin Vos (R-Rochester). “I welcome this second special session; it reaffirms our commitment to revive our state’s economy.  It shows our citizens, job creators and the country that Wisconsin means business.”

The list of legislation included in the special session includes six proposals authored by legislative Democrats, a move welcomed by at least one lawmaker whose proposal was included.

“I was pleased to see that my job creation bill, Assembly Bill 211, is included,” said State Representative Rep. Louis Molepske, Jr. (D-Stevens Point. “It is not just important but necessary for job creation, economic growth and the stability of families and communities in Wisconsin.”

Walker’s announcement received immediate praise from Wisconsin’s business community.

“Wisconsin businesses welcome the renewed focus on job creation at the Capitol, and the special session on jobs is a positive development,” said Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President and CEO Kurt Bauer. “Governor Scott Walker is to be commended for reaching out to Democrats and Republicans to forge consensus on the top issue in our state – jobs. Now, the Legislature needs to act swiftly to pass common sense reforms that will improve our business climate so businesses will create jobs here.”

Despite the optimistic tone of job creators and even a Democratic lawmaker, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin leadership expressed disapproval of Walker’s efforts.

“Wisconsin is in a job mire that’s been exacerbated by the empty posturing that Scott Walker has shown again today,” said DPW Chair Mike Tate, “No rhetoric can hide the glaring fact that unemployment has risen on his watch.”

Despite some nay-saying, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) voiced optimism for the upcoming session.

“For both sides of the aisle, the issue of jobs should be a goal, not a political weapon,” said Fitzgerald. “We should be focused on progress, not politics, so I’m glad this special session includes bills from Republicans and Democrats both.”

Proposals included in the “Back to Work Wisconsin” special session:

Access to Capital

Assembly Bill 20-Rep. Barca and Sen. Lassa, allowing refunds for the early stage seed and angel investment tax credits and making an appropriation.

Assembly Bill 90 and Senate Bill 40-Rep. Clark and Sen. Lassa, entrepreneurial tax credit access grants, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.

Assembly Bill 179-Rep. Weininger and Sen. Cowles, authorizing the creation of a multijurisdictional tax incremental financing district.

Assembly Bill 211-Rep. Molepske, Rep. Williams and Sen. Lassa, an income and franchise tax credit for investments in a community development financial institution.

LRB 1875-Rep. Petryk, Bernier and Larson and Sen. Leibham, small business loan guarantees by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

LRB 1877-Rep. Nerison and Sen. Schultz, changes to agricultural production and loan guarantee programs administered by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

LRB 2861-Sen. Wanggaard and Rep. Marklein, creation of the Wisconsin Next Generation Reserve Board and Wisconsin next generation reserve fund, authorizing the State of Wisconsin Investment Board to provide certain advice, services, facilities, and loans to state agencies and others, and making appropriations.

Regulatory Streamlining

Wetland and Habitat Restoration-Sen. Kedzie and Rep. Mursau, Changes to wetland water quality certifications which will help streamline the permitting process while maintaining protections for our most valuable wetland resources

LRB 1446-Sen. Kedzie and Rep. Mursau, information required to be published on the Department of Natural Resources Internet Web site; identification of areas of significant scientific value for purposes of regulating the placement of deposits and structures on the beds of navigable waters and the removal of materials from the beds of navigable waters; requirements for the placement of certain piers and wharves; repair and maintenance of boat houses and fixed houseboats; permit exemptions for land grading activities and for persons who place piers and wharves in navigable waters; placement of fill or structures within a bulkhead line; procedures for issuing individual permits, contracts, and general permits and contracts for structures, deposits, and other activities in or near navigable waters; expedited procedures for plan approvals for dams and for water and sewerage systems; and granting rule−making authority.

LRB 2769-Rep. Strachota and Sen. Zipperer & Galloway, various duties of the Department of Revenue, including issuing declaratory judgments, conducting audits and assessments, asserting liability, allowing claims for refunds, awarding the costs of litigation, imposing penalties related to a taxpayer’s negligence, and requiring the exercise of rule−making authority.

LRB 2854 – Governor Walker, the film production services tax credit application fee.

Workforce Development

Assembly Bill 97-Rep. Ripp and Sen. Lassa, advanced manufacturing skills grants for technical colleges.

LRB 2221-Rep. Radcliffe, authorizing a school board to grant a vocational high school diploma.

Tax Relief

Assembly Bill 145 and Senate Bill 102-Sen. Leibham and Rep. Klenke, authorizing the Public Service Commission to approve temporary electric rates to promote economic development.

Assembly Bill 220-Rep. Murtha and Sen. Moulton, an income and franchise tax credit for workplace wellness programs, granting rule-making authority, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority.

AB 277 and SB 203-Rep. Strachota and Sen. Wanggaard, adopting federal law as it relates to excluding from an employee’s income certain payments from an employer related to medical care.

Senate Bill 171–Sen. Taylor and Rep. Toles, exempting from income taxation certain employer-paid fringe benefits for mass transit expenses.

Transportation and Infrastructure

Assembly Bill 252 and Senate Bill 195-Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich, seasonal weight limitations for certain vehicles transporting agricultural crops

Assembly Bill 253 and Senate Bill 189-Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich, the maximum permissible length of vehicles carrying poles, pipe, girders, and similar materials on highways

Assembly Bill 254 and Senate Bill 190-Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich, the maximum permissible length of single vehicles operated on a highway without an overweight permit

LRB 2900-Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich, permits for overweight vehicle combinations transporting sealed containers or vehicles in international trade

LRB 2901-Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich, annual or consecutive month permits for certain overweight vehicle combinations transporting agricultural commodities

Litigation Certainty

LRB 2670-Rep. Vos and Sen. Zipperer, factors for determining the reasonableness of attorney fees.

LRB 2890-Rep. Kooyenga and Sen. Zipperer, providing immunity from liability to drug and device manufacturers and sellers under certain circumstances

LRB 2939-Rep. Williams and Sen. Galloway, duty of care owed to trespassers

LRB 2966-Rep. Paul Farrow and LRB 2838 – Sen. Rich Zipperer, interest rates on judgments in certain civil actions