As 2011 draws to a close, I want to wish you all happy holidays. I also want to thank you for your participation in MMAC’s advocacy efforts. 2011 has been an historic year in Wisconsin. It is not hyperbole to state that there has not been a year in recent memory that has seen the MMAC agenda advance as far in both volume and scope as it has this year.
That progress is the result of hard – and sometimes courageous – work of elected leaders in Madison. It has also been the result of your willingness to engage in both the lawmaking and the electoral process to make the views of MMAC known, to inform lawmakers of the impact state policies have on your businesses, and to help elect and keep pro-business lawmakers in office.
Please take a moment to review the list of major public policy accomplishments from the last year. As you do, I hope it makes you proud of what MMAC has been able to do with your help this year, and I hope it motivates you to even greater levels of engagement in the process in what promises to be an extremely exciting new year.
Wishing you a prosperous 2012!
Taxes and spending
NO-TAX-HIKE STATE BUDGET – MMAC supported a two year state budget that included no new taxes and was balanced without accounting gimmicks. The plan eliminates chronic deficits and runs a surplus at the end of two years to provide stability in our economy. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)
MANUFACTURERS TAX CREDIT – MMAC supported a manufacturers tax credit that nearly eliminates income taxes paid on income generated from manufacturing in Wisconsin. The plan will dramatically reduce income tax liability for manufacturers and make Wisconsin an attractive place to create high-wage manufacturing jobs. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)
CONTROLLING PROPERTY TAXES – MMAC supported limits on property tax increases imposed by municipalities, schools, counties, and technical college districts. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)
CONTROLLING WAGE AND BENEFIT SPENDING – MMAC backed historic comprehensive collective bargaining reform that will help state and local governments control spending and balance their budgets without raising taxes or making dramatic cuts in critical services. (2011 Wisconsin Act 10)
ENCOURAGING REINVESTMENT IN WISCONSIN – MMAC supported a 100 percent exclusion for capital gains reinvested in a Wisconsin business within 180 days of the sale of the asset generating the gain, and a 100 percent exclusion for gains from the sale of a Wisconsin capital asset (real estate, person property, ownership interest in a Wisconsin business) held for at least 5 years. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)
CORPORATE INCOME TAX HOLIDAY – MMAC supported a two-year corporate income tax holiday for new businesses that locate in Wisconsin. (2011 Wisconsin Act 3)
JOB CREATION TAX DEDUCTION – MMAC backed a jobs tax deduction of $4,000 per new employee for companies with less than $5,000,000 in payroll and $2,000 per new employee for companies with more than $5,000,000 in payroll. (2011 Wisconsin Act 5)
JOBS TAX CREDIT EXPANSION – MMAC backed the doubling funding available for the state Jobs Tax Credit. (2011 Wisconsin Act 88)
TAX DEDUCTION FOR HSAs – MMAC backed state tax-deductibility for health savings accounts to help employers and employees control health care costs. (2011 Wisconsin Act 1)
EXPAND ENTERPRISE ZONE PROGRAM – MMAC backed increasing the number of state Enterprise Zones providing tax incentives for new business development from 12 to 20. (Wisconsin Act 26)
Providing fairness in our legal system
REQUIRE GUILT FOR JUDGMENTS – MMAC backed the restoration of the age-old concept that a plaintiff must prove the defendant caused the harm. Repeals a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling regarding collective liability for lead paint manufacturers. (2011 Wisconsin Act 2)
COMPREHENSIVE LAWSUIT REFORM – MMAC backed comprehensive lawsuit reforms that ensure that businesses are protected from frivolous lawsuits and predatory personal injury lawyers. (2011 Wisconsin Act 2)
PUNITIVE DAMAGE LIMITS – MMAC backed limits in punitive damage cases to $200,000. (2011 Wisconsin Act 2)
PRODUCT LIABILITY TIME LIMITS – MMAC backed common sense time limits for launching a lawsuit against manufacturer. (2011 Wisconsin Act 2)
EXPERT WITNESS REFORM – MMAC backed a change that cracks down on unqualified experts in the courtroom. (2011 Wisconsin Act 2)
Cutting red tape & reforming regulations
PROHIBITING LOCAL SICK LEAVE MANDATES – MMAC backed legislation ensure paid family and medical leave standards be uniform throughout the state, rendering the City of Milwaukee’s Paid Sick Leave Mandate void. (2011 Wisconsin Act 16)
GUBERNATORIAL APPROVAL OF NEW REGULATIONS – MMAC backed a common sense reform to require the governor to approve the development of any state agency administrative rule and allow him to reject any proposed rule. This will help cut red tape and provide accountability. (2011 Wisconsin Act 21)
COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS – MMAC backed a reform that requires a cost-benefit analysis to be conducted for any new rule. (2011 Wisconsin Act 21)
REIGNING IN RULES – MMAC backed a reform that bans state agency rules from being more restrictive than state law. (2011 Wisconsin Act 21)
PROTECTING EMPLOYER FREE SPEECH RIGHTS – Through litigation, MMAC invalidated a recently enacted state law restricting the rights of employers during a union organizing campaign. (MMAC and WMC v. Doyle and Gassman)
REPEALING OUTDATED AIR QUALITY STANDARD – MMAC successfully petitioned the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Board to repeal the Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) standard. This will help manufacturers avoid costly and unnecessary delays in receiving air permits.
ENPOWERING PARENTS – MMAC backed education reforms that eliminate the enrollment caps for both the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the virtual charter school program. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)
EXPANDING EDUCATIONAL OPTIONS – MMAC backed reforms making more than 80% of Milwaukee families income eligible for the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), and allowed schools outside of the City of Milwaukee to provide seats for MPCP students. (2011 Wisconsin Act 32)
SURPLUS SCHOOL FACILITIES – MMAC backed empowering the City of Milwaukee to sell or lease surplus MPS school properties for other uses, including Choice or Charter schools. (2011 Wisconsin Act 17)
Steve Baas is the director of governmental affairs for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC).