The following editorial was contributed by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green.
“Now that our work on the State Budget is completed, I am refocusing my efforts on other legislation. As the Co-Chair for the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), I admit that most of my attention has been dedicated to working through the budget process. I am ready to shift my effort.
Early in the current legislative session, I was able to move five important bills through the legislative process to be signed into law. I am proud of my work on Acts 1, 2, 6, 11 and 13. These bills made small, but important, changes to state law and were all driven by residents of the 17th Senate District:
Act 1 included a variety of tax reforms and updates. It was amended to align state income tax code with Federal changes included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) to exclude forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from taxable state income. It also exempted grants provided by the state of Wisconsin to businesses and organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Act 2 simplified the tax treatment for partnerships and S corporations.
Act 6 updated state statutes related to the Powerball lottery game so that Wisconsin could continue to participate when the Powerball organization begins selling tickets internationally.
Act 11 changed the law to count hours of teaching on the farm or in the field toward university teaching hours. Under prior law, UW Extension specialists who taught farmers outside of the traditional college setting were not able to count this time toward their teaching time on the university’s accountability dashboard. This bill changed the law to count these hours.
Act 13 aligned penalties for those who commit battery and are being held at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston awaiting trial with the penalties for those who are officially committed at the facility and commit battery. This legislation was requested by the Juneau County District Attorney.
I have several bills that are still working through the legislative process including legislation to make the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam optional for rural EMS departments, Truth in Food Labeling bills, Tobacco21, a bill to designate Hwy 21 from Sparta to Oshkosh (through Necedah) as the Purple Heart Highway and more. But, now I need your help.
I firmly believe that the best legislation comes from you. It comes from the people who live, work and volunteer in our communities. You know how state laws and regulations impact your community, your businesses, your hobbies and interests. Often the only way that we, as legislators, know about changes needed to laws, is directly from you.
What ideas do you have? Do you face any obstacles that could be cleared by a change to state law? Are there any antiquated, outdated state statutes that stand in your way? Is there a state law that needs to be updated to keep up with new technology or techniques? Has another state passed legislation that you think we should consider?
Please share your ideas with me! I am looking for new ideas to pursue this fall and into the spring. While I cannot guarantee that the bill will pass or be signed into law, it is important to begin the legislative process, do the research and take first steps to fix problems. I look forward to hearing from you!
As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide information or assistance on any state related matter. Please call 608-266-0703, email [email protected] or write to me at PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707.”