Scott Walker's Back to Work Wisconsin Special Session 09/2011

Back to Work Wisconsin Special Session 

September 2011 

Access to Capital  ●  Regulatory Streamlining  ●  Workforce Development. 

Tax Relief  ●  Transportation and Infrastructure  ●  Litigation Certainty. 

 Access to Capital 

Assembly Bill 20 – Rep. Barca and Sen. Lassa 

Relating to: allowing refunds for the early stage seed and angel investment tax credits and 

making an appropriation. 


 Makes the Act 255 Angel Investment Credits refundable. 

 Making the credit refundable will make investing in these businesses even more 

attractive, particularly to out-of-state investors, increasing overall investment in early 

stage businesses. 

 The Angel Investment and Venture Capital Tax Credit programs are designed to 

encourage investment in small, high-technology businesses that have high growth 


 Early-stage businesses conducting pre-commercialization activities related to 

proprietary technology may be designated as Qualified New Business Ventures. 

 Angel investors, angel investment networks and venture capital seed funds may qualify 

for Wisconsin tax credits by investing in these designated companies. 

Assembly Bill 90 and Senate Bill 40 – Rep. Clark and Sen. Lassa 

Relating to: entrepreneurial tax credit access grants, providing an exemption from 

emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. 


 Increases access to capital for small businesses by allowing them to use existing state 

tax credits up front as equity in a financing package. 

 Can be claimed by businesses with less than 25 employees or less than $5 million in 

annual gross receipts. 

 Lenders would need to certify that the proposed loan is for activities covered under the 

applicable tax credit program. 

 Funds would be distributed directly to the lender. 

Assembly Bill 179 – Rep. Weininger and Sen. Cowles 

Relating to: authorizing the creation of a multijurisdictional tax incremental financing district. 


 Allows any number of cities and villages to jointly participate in the creation of a Tax 

Incremental Financing District. 

 Will give local governments the ability to spur development along jurisdictional border 

regions, areas which are more likely to be blighted than others.  

 The option of multijurisdictional tax incremental financing will prevent disparities and 

detrimental competition along borders, instead allowing for mutual benefit among 

participating municipalities.  


Assembly Bill 211 – Rep. Molepske, Rep. Williams and Sen. Lassa 

 Relating to: an income and franchise tax credit for investments in a community development 

financial institution. 


 Passed the State Assembly with a bipartisan vote. 

 Allows the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to certify a person making a 

qualified investment in a registered community development financial institution (CDFI) 

to receive a tax credit. 

 A person receiving the tax credits may claim 10% of the individual’s investment (if the 

investment is at least $10,000, but not more than $150,000), or 12% (if the investment is 

more than $150,000, but not more than $500,000). 

 WEDC may certify up to $1 million in tax credits in any calendar year. 

 Will help local communities attract investments in CDFIs, which will lead to increased 

assistance available to community businesses, spurring economic development in their 

respective community. 

LRB 1875 – Rep. Petryk, Bernier and Larson and Sen. Leibham 


Relating to: small business loan guarantees by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic 

Development Authority. 


 WHEDA administers the small business development loan guarantee program that 

guarantees repayment of a loan, made by a private lender to small business, which can 

be used for expenses associated with the expansion or acquisition of a business, or the 

start-up of a small business.  

 This legislation increases the cap on the amount of a loan that may be guaranteed under 

WHEDA to from $200,000 to $500,000 or 80% of the loan, increases the size of the 

business that receives a loan from 50 to 250 full-time employees, and increases the 

types of communities eligible under this program to now include all the communities in 


 Due to increased input costs, i.e. materials, licensing, etc., costs associated with 

business projects have increased and this legislation will enable WHEDA to assist in the 

resulting larger amount loans. 

 WHEDA becomes a viable financing option on larger projects that will help create more 

jobs in Wisconsin – WHEDA’s guarantees will become more attractive to a broader 

customer base. 


LRB 1877 – Rep. Nerison and Sen. Schultz 

Relating to: changes to agricultural production and loan guarantee programs administered by 

the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. 


 WHEDA administers agricultural-related loan guarantee programs designed to foster 

agricultural development, and this legislation will help increase the quality of assistance 

WHEDA is able to offer to our agricultural producers in Wisconsin. 

 This legislation increases the maximum loan principal amount for which a borrower may 

receive an agricultural production loan guarantee from $100,000 to $150,000 and 

extends the term of an eligible guaranteed loan to 12 months, and also sets the 

guarantee for an agricultural development loan guarantee at $500,000 or 80% of the 

loan, whichever is less. 

 Will be able to guarantee more loans needed to finance agricultural development, such 

as a physical plant, machinery or equipment, or marketing expenses or working capital 

associated with an agricultural commodity produced in Wisconsin. 

 Help increase economic development in the agriculture industry and positively impact 

the rural areas throughout Wisconsin. 


LRB 2861 – Sen. Wanggaard and Rep. Marklein 

Relating to: 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. 


 Creates a Next Generation Jobs Board and Reserve fund to foster the growth of small 

start-up, bioscience businesses in Wisconsin. 

 The board would be authorized to make grants, issue loans and make direct investments 

in Wisconsin bioscience businesses. 

 The Reserve fund would be funded with a continuing appropriation in the amount of 95% 

of the new payroll tax revenues from bioscience businesses. 

 The appropriation sunsets after 15 years and is capped at $50 million annually and $500 

million over the life of the program. 

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 


 Makes it easier to do business in Wisconsin and maintains wetland protections through 

clear simple regulatory process. 

 Improved and simplified wetland permitting process with clear application requirements and 

predictable review. 

 Achieve an overall increase in wetland acreage through restoration fees, banking and 


 Improve the overall quality of wetlands in Wisconsin. 

 Increase access to lands for outdoor recreational activities by requiring they be open to 

hunting, fishing, and trapping. 

 Provide more consistency with the Army Corp of Engineers by mirroring federal 

guidelines and regulations. 


LRB 1446 – Sen. Kedzie and Rep. Mursau 

Relating to: 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. 


 Makes a number of reforms in various DNR programs which will allow them to operate 

more efficiently 

 Requires DNR to create publicly accessible electronic data system for ordinary high 

water marks and navigability determinations 

 Grandfathers all existing piers and sets maximum allowable platform size placed after 

the bill at 200 square ft  

 Incorporates timelines for DNR to make determinations during the permitting process 

 Allows for web based public notice system for environmental permits 

LRB 2769 – Rep. Strachota and Sen. Zipperer & Galloway 

Relating to: 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. 


 Changes some Department of Revenue processes to be more taxpayer friendly. 

 Allows a taxpayer to rely on any published guidance or advice received from past audits. 

 Sets a timeframe for DOR to act on a petition for a declaratory ruling. 

 Allows for a decision made by the Tax Appeals Commission to be cited in future 

commission and court cases. 

 Protects taxpayer confidentiality by expanding the prohibition on DOR employees 

browsing tax returns outside their duties to include any tax information derived from a 

return or claim. 

 LRB 2854 – Governor Walker 

Relating to: the film production services tax credit application fee. 


 Reduces the application fee for the film production services tax credit from 2 percent of 

the production expenditures or $5,000, whichever is less to a flat $500 per application. 

 Will make it easier for production companies to apply for the credit and therefore attract 

more film projects to the state. 

Workforce Development 


Assembly Bill 97 – Rep. Ripp and Sen. Lassa 

 Relating to: advanced manufacturing skills grants for technical colleges. 


 Increases grants awarded by the Wisconsin Technical College System for advanced 

manufacturing skills from $2 million to $2.4 million 

 This program helps companies grow, expand and create new jobs, and helps employees 

improve their skills and compete for the jobs of tomorrow. 

 Truly bipartisan approach – this program was created by the Democrats in the last 

legislative session. 

 The original $1 million in grants were used rapidly by 103 companies to train 4,135 


LRB 2221 – Rep. Radcliffe 

Relating to: authorizing a school board to grant a vocational high school diploma. 


 Permits, but does not mandate, school districts to offer a vocational high school diploma 

in addition to a traditional high school diploma. 

 Allows the school district to develop a vocational program in an area of local interest. 

 Allows the district to develop its own curriculum, subject to DPI approval. 

 Gives interested students the flexibility they need to learn a vocational skill while still in 

high school. 

Tax Relief 

Assembly Bill 145 and Senate Bill 102 – Sen. Leibham and Rep. Klenke 

Relating to: authorizing the Public Service Commission to approve temporary electric rates to 

promote economic development. 


 An electric public utility, if approved by the PSC, will be able to offer discounted rates to 

qualifying industrial customer if the PSC determines the discounted rates will promote 

economic development. 

 A current customer may qualify for discounted rates if they demonstrate that it will 

increase its energy consumption by 5% over its average energy consumption over the 

previous 36 months. 

 A customer may also qualify if they demonstrate that it will be unable to maintain 

operations in Wisconsin without a discounted rate, and the customer has received local 

or state economic development assistance or will receive such assistance within two 

years following the discounted rate request. 

 Promotes economic development and industrial expansion by providing temporary utility 

rate reductions to customers seeking to expand production, or retain production in 

Wisconsin – provides a program similar to other states to allow Wisconsin to compete for 

economic expansion. 

 A substitute amendment has been drafted to this legislation 


Assembly Bill 220 – Rep. Murtha and Sen. Moulton 

Relating to: an income and franchise tax credit for workplace wellness programs, granting rule- 

making authority, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority.  


 Creates an income and franchise tax credit equal to 30% of the cost to operate an 

employee wellness program and allows it to be collected for 3 years.  

 Results in incentives for employers to initiate workplace wellness programs, which 

increase overall employee health and eventually lower healthcare costs.  

 Though workplace wellness programs are already a good investment, savings are not 

realized for a number of years—this bill lowers the initial costs (through tax credits) that 

can serve as an impediment for smaller businesses.  

 This will help address the growing problem we face with chronic diseases such as 

obesity and diabetes through nutrition education and exercise as well as provide stress 

management and smoking cessation programs.  


AB 277 and SB 203 – Rep. Strachota and Sen. Wanggaard 

Relating to: adopting federal law as it relates to excluding from an employee’s income certain 

payments from an employer related to medical care. 


 Conforms the Wisconsin tax code to match the federal provision which excludes 

employer contributions for health insurance from an employee’s gross income for adult 


 Will help simplify an administrative burden on businesses and their employees 

 The bill first applies to tax years beginning on January 1, 2011. 


Senate Bill 171 – Sen. Taylor and Rep. Toles 

Relating to: exempting from income taxation certain employer-paid fringe benefits for mass 

transit expenses.  


 Creates an individual income tax exemption for the cost of a public transportation pass 

provided by an employer to an employee, or for the money paid by an employer to an 

employee to purchase such a pass, of up to $230 per month.  

 This will extend the existing federal income exemption to Wisconsin tax law.  

 Will make public transportation more appealing to employers and employees. 

Transportation and Infrastructure 

Assembly Bill 252 and Senate Bill 195 – Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich    

Relating to: seasonal weight limitations for certain vehicles transporting agricultural crops 


 Extends the current exemption for vehicles transporting raw agricultural products to 

December 31st.  Currently the Department of Transportation exempts certain vehicles or 

a combination of vehicles transporting agricultural crops to exceed weight limits by no 

more than 15 percent without a permit between September 1 and November 30 of each 


 Allows farmers to cut transportation costs and increase their ability to compete with other 

states and countries.   

 This increased efficiency is that more important at a time when farmers are dealing with 

rising fuel prices.   


Assembly Bill 253 and Senate Bill 189 – Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich    

Relating to: the maximum permissible length of vehicles carrying poles, pipe, girders, and 

similar materials on highways 


 Removes an unnecessary bureaucratic step by eliminating the oversize permit issued by 

the Department of Transportation for the transportation of poles, pipe, girders and similar 


 Would allow utilities, public service corporations, and pipeline companies to transport 

poles and pipes without approval for individual trips.  

 Transport of the same loads, for similar purposes, is allowed under Minnesota statutes 

without the issuance of an oversize permit.  


Assembly Bill 254 and Senate Bill 190 – Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich    

Relating to: the maximum permissible length of single vehicles operated on a highway without 

an overweight permit 


 Increases the maximum permissible length of a single vehicle operated on a highway 

from 40 to 45 feet.  

 Wisconsin is currently the only state in the region that limits most single vehicles to a 

maximum of 40 feet. 

 Increasing the single vehicle length will facilitate crossborder transport and avoid 

disadvantage to Wisconsin businesses by limiting cargo capacity without compromising 


LRB 2900 – Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich        

Relating to: permits for overweight vehicle combinations transporting sealed containers or 

vehicles in international trade 


 Allows the Department of Transportation to issue overweight permits for vehicles with six 

or more axles transporting sealed loads.  

 Increases the ability of Wisconsin companies to enter the international market by cutting 

their transportation costs without damaging the infrastructure. Currently, shippers often 

have to truck their products to IL or MN to be transported in a sealed container for an 

international destination. That makes it extremely difficult for Wisconsin producers to 


 Subject to federal concurrence, includes operation on the interstate system.  

 Consistent with the Wisconsin Truck Size and Weight Study 

LRB 2901 – Rep. Petrowski and Sen. Lazich        

Relating to: annual or consecutive month permits for certain overweight vehicle combinations 

transporting agricultural commodities 


 Creates a new permit that will allow specific agricultural products originating at a field or 

farm, destined for a farm, initial processing or storage facility to be transported at 

90,000lbs on 6 axles. The current limit is 80,000lbs on 5 axles outside the annual 

harvest exemption.   

 Allows farmers and agriculture producers to cut transportation costs and increase their 

ability to compete with other states and countries. 

 Consistent with the Wisconsin Truck Size and Weight Study 

Litigation Certainty 

LRB 2670 – Rep. Vos and Sen. Zipperer 

 Relating to: factors for determining the reasonableness of attorney fees. 


 Requires a court to consider certain factors to determine reasonable attorney fees 

 Factors include, but not limited to the following: 

o amount involved in the dispute 

o actual outcome of the dispute 

o novelty and difficulty of the questions involved 

o complexity of the case 

 Would limit attorney fees to three times the award with certain limiting factors and 

exemptions including whether nonmonetary relief is awarded or in cases involving both 

compensatory damages and nonmonetary relief 


LRB 2890 – Rep. Kooyenga and Sen. Zipperer 

Relating to: providing immunity from liability to drug and device manufacturers and sellers 

under certain circumstances 


 This bill provides immunity to manufactures and sellers of medical devices/drugs from 

lawsuits if their product received approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration 

at the time the device/drug left the control of the manufacturer or seller. 

 Also provides immunity from liability to a manufacturer or seller of a drug/device for any 

claim based on the failure to warn of the risk of the drug/device if labeling was made 

available to the consumer, the person who prescribed the drug/device, and the labeling 

was in compliance with established FDA standards 

 Legislation covers defects in design, which undergo a strenuous FDA approval process 

 Does not cover defects that occur in the manufacturing process 


LRB 2939 – Rep. Williams and Sen. Galloway 

Relating to: duty of care owed to trespassers 


 Current law in WI does not hold property owners and outdoor employers liable for 

trespassers who are injured on their property through no fault of the property owner. 

 Under the Third Reinstatement of Torts spreading across the country, landowners have 

a duty to exercise reasonable care to all entrants on property, including unwanted 


 This bill would pre-empt courts in WI from adopting this Third Reinstatement 

 Current law in WI would be protected 

LRB 2966 – Rep. Paul Farrow and LRB 2838 – Sen. Rich Zipperer      

Relating to: interest rates on judgments in certain civil actions 


 Currently, Wisconsin allows interest on judgments involving the recovery of money at the 

rate of 12% per year from the date of entry judgment.  This is one of the highest interest 

rates in the country and was established in the 1979-1980 legislative session.  

 Changes the interest rate on judgments for the recovery of money in certain civil actions 

to an annual rate of 1 percent plus the prime rate in effect on the day the judgment is 


 Improves the legal climate for job creators.  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Vestibulum bibendum, ligula ut feugiat rutrum, mauris libero ultricies nulla, at hendrerit lectus dui bibendum metus. Phasellus quis nulla nec mauris sollicitudin ornare. Vivamus faucibus. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos hymenaeos. Cras vulputate condimentum ipsum. Duis urna eros, commodo id, sagittis sed, sodales eu, ante. Etiam ante. Cras risus dolor, porta nec, adipiscing eu, scelerisque at, metus. Mauris nunc eros, porttitor nec, tincidunt ut, rutrum eget, massa. In facilisis nisi. Sed non lorem malesuada quam egestas bibendum. Quisque bibendum ullamcorper purus. Integer id diam vel elit adipiscing consectetuer. Phasellus vitae eros. Vivamus laoreet consectetuer tortor. In congue dignissim quam. Suspendisse nec purus vel velit ultricies bibendum.