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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Senator Lazich's Weekly Insight

Governor Walker Signs Vapor Recovery Act Into Law
Governor Walker signed Senate Bill 346 into law.  Senate Bill 346 is 2013 Wisconsin Act 86 and allows the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to issue grants to assist with removal of vapor recovery equipment at gas stations.

During the 2011-12 legislative session the legislature approved 2011 Act 196 directing the DNR to end Stage II Vapor Recovery June 30, 2013.  Today’s motor vehicles have onboard refueling vapor recovery systems, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finds Stage II Vapor Recovery equipment at gas stations is not necessary. 

2013 Act 20, the 2013-15 state budget, created a vapor recovery equipment removal grant program, providing petroleum inspection funds for removing Stage II vapor recovery equipment at gas stations.  Grant recipients must pay 50% of the eligible removal costs and the maximum grant allowed is $8,000.  The budget provision directed the DNR to promulgate administrative rules.  The problem is the rules process is expected to take more than a year.     

2013 Wisconsin Act 86 specifies the grant in statute and makes the lengthy rule making process unnecessary.  The new law allows grant money to be available sooner to the nearly 845 gas stations in the non-attainment zone with Stage II Vapor Recovery systems. 
Here is a list of 23 bills Governor Walker signed into law Thursday December 12, 2013.

Common Core Update
Both the Senate and Assembly Select Committees on Common Core Standards released committee final recommendations.  

The assembly committee approved eight recommendations during an executive session December 12, 2013.  The recommendations include implementing measures to protect sensitive student information, establishing a review process for academic standards, and recommending the creation of Wisconsin-based standards.   A full list of the recommendations may be found at this link.

The Senate Select Committee on Common Core released final recommendationsThe recommendations include creating guidelines about adopting standards that meet Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver requirements, creating a separate standards review board, two year Smarter Balance implementation postponement, discontinuing the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination (WKCE), ensuring only minimally required data is gathered about Wisconsin students, and creating legislation prohibiting use of bio metric style measurement devices. 

A Senate committee vote about the final report and recommendations is not scheduled.  

ObamaCare Update
The State Senate is scheduled to meet Thursday, December 19, during Special Session to save thousands of families from losing healthcare coverage due to prolonged difficulties accessing affordable health care through the federal exchanges.  Legislation expected to be approved by the Senate extends BadgerCare coverage from January 1, 2014 to April 1, 2014 providing BadgerCare recipients time to obtain health insurance via the Obamacare exchanges.

Internal Revenue Service Information about ObamaCare’s Tax Provisions
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website with information about tax provisions in the Affordable Health Care Act are at this link.

Wisconsin’s Annual Fiscal Report
The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) released the State of Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.  The CAFR is prepared each year by DOA, Division of Executive Budget and Finance, State Controller’s office. 

The CAFR report is audited by the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).  The LAB’s comments about the CAFR are at page 17.  

Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs Public Hearing December 18, 2013.
As chair of the Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs I scheduled a public hearing for Assembly Bill 225 December 18, 2013, at 10:00 AM.   

 

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