Wisconsin legislation that could affect you and your interests
It's in business owners' and leaders' best interests to keep an ear to the inner workings of the Wisconsin State Legislature for obvious reasons. The policy lawmakers develop and consider can profoundly impact Wisconsin businesses, and in 2023 we see several items worth watching.
Wisconsin state policies in the works in 2023
Here's a look at the items that could be coming down the badger state legislative pike this year that impact your business.
Assembly Joint Resolution 3
Both houses passed this assembly resolution and provided for an advisory referendum on the question of requiring non-disabled, childless adults to look for work to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits. A non-binding advisory question related to this resolution was on the April 4 ballot, and more than 79% of voters approved the advisory referendum. While businesses struggling to fill openings may feel this represents potential alleviation of their hiring challenges, Wisconsin law currently has work requirements tied to all state welfare programs.
Assembly Joint Resolution 6
This joint resolution is related to the appropriation authority of the legislature and the allocation of funds Wisconsin receives from the federal government, so it could impact those who conduct business paid for with those funds. This issue has already had an executive hearing in the Assembly and has been introduced to the Senate. The second hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment to require that money the state receives from the Federal Government (a la ARPA) must go through the Joint Committee on Finance.
Assembly Bill 1
This bill relates to establishing a flat individual income tax rate by consolidating all income tax brackets into one and making the tax rate 3.25% across the board. The bill has been introduced in both chambers. The Speaker and the GOP heads of the Joint Finance Committee have confirmed that a flat tax is an ultimate goal, but one they believe should be handled in the budget. They have also said they do not intend to have a flat tax in this current budget, so while the issue is on the horizon, we may not see substantive movement on it this year.
Assembly Bill 2
This Assembly bill focuses on eliminating the personal property tax paid by businesses. It has been introduced in both houses and is likely to be handled in tandem with the budget rather than as a standalone bill.
Assembly Bill 14
This bill may be of particular importance for those whose occupations depend upon implements of husbandry (used exclusively in agricultural operations) for their work or those businesses which sell or repair implements of husbandry. This bill aims to create a lemon law for the repair and replacement of implements of husbandry.
Assembly Bill 22
This bill could impact any businesses that intend to bid on state projects. If passed, this measure would require that businesses demonstrate they are bondable for the term of the proposed contract and that they can obtain both a 100% performance bond and 100% payment bond to be certified as a qualified bidder. Current law for businesses to be certified as a qualified bidder requires bidders to demonstrate they have completed at least one project similar in scope and at least half the size or value of the division of the project upon which they are bidding.
Assembly Bill 39
This bill could have ripple effects for those in residential real estate sales, development, or related industries. To date, the proposal has been introduced in both houses. It would increase the annual cap of tax credits WHEDA may certify under the low-income housing credit from $42 million to $100 million.
Assembly Bill 50
This measure would increase the penalties for property theft valued between $1,000 and $2,500 from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class I felony. From a business perspective, this could be viewed as a potentially stronger deterrent to theft. The bill has been introduced in both houses, but no action has been taken.
Assembly Bill 127
This proposed bill could affect restaurants, bars or grocery stores that sell alcohol and wish to begin offering pick up or delivery of that product. Currently, Wisconsin law prohibits delivery and curbside pickup of alcohol from these businesses. This proposed bill would eliminate those prohibitions, allowing for the delivery and pickup of alcohol on retail licensed premises.
Assembly Bill 134
This assembly bill particularly applies to woman-owned businesses in relation to state procurement for architectural and engineering services. This proposal has been introduced in both chambers of the legislature, but no further action has been taken. Under this bill, the Department of Administration must strive to ensure it pays certified woman-owned businesses 5% of the total amount expended for architectural and engineering services each fiscal year. This amount matches the requirement for minority-owned businesses under current law.
Assembly Bill 155
This proposal could affect any business that works in the sale or rental of soda fountains and vending machines or rents or buys the machines. Under current law, the DATCP can regulate via rulemaking terms of selling or renting soda fountains and vending machines. This bill, which has been introduced in both houses, would prohibit DATCP intervention in selling or renting these machines.
Assembly Bill 226
This measure could affect pricing of feminine hygiene products and diapers, so it could impact any retail outlets that sell these products. While current law requires sales of feminine hygiene products and diapers to be charged sales tax and requires minimum markup law to apply to these products, this bill would eliminate both of these stipulations. The bill has been introduced to both houses.
Assembly Bill 172
If you're an entrepreneur and currently a sole business proprietor hoping to hire a staff member, this next bill could impact your business. This measure offers sole proprietorships a nonrefundable tax credit program when they hire their first full-time employee. If passed as is, the bill would allow a tax credit of up to $10,000 in year one, up to $5,000 in year two and up to $2,500 in tax credits in year three. The measure has been introduced in both houses.
LRB – 0767
This next bill could interest any business that uses retail electricity from an investor-owned electric utility. This legislation would authorize establishing a community solar program to which retail electric customers of an investor-owned utility could subscribe. Further, these customers could receive credits to their electric bills for electricity produced by the facility. This proposal is being introduced in both houses and has not yet been referred.
LRB – 0053
Sales and use taxes could be removed from diapers, undergarments for incontinence, tampons and sanitary napkins under this proposed legislation. If approved, this change could impact any businesses that purchase or sell these personal care items. The bill is being introduced in both houses and has not yet been referred.
LRB – 2594
The final measure we're looking at today is related to the regulation of tanning facilities and would primarily affect those businesses that offer tanning services. This measure has not yet been referred but is anticipated to be introduced in at least the Assembly. The bill changes current regulations by raising the minimum age from 16 to 17 unless a parent or guardian is present. It also would prohibit tanning facilities from advertising that tanning facilities are safe or free from risk. And lastly, it would create a minimum size for required signage to declare health warnings.
A full docket for the Wisconsin Legislature is on deck
From ag machinery to alcohol regulations and taxes to tanning, the Wisconsin legislature has its work cut out for them in 2023, and businesses are paying attention to see how these bills will affect them. We hope this overview of noteworthy items on the legislative horizon in Wisconsin that could impact businesses is helpful to you as you continue to grow, adapt and strategize for the future of your business.
By attorney Steve Doyle at Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC. For more information about legislation affecting Wisconsin businesses, contact the firm at 608-784-5678.