Small talk can lead to big ideas

CAPITOL CONNECTION
Joe Leibham  9th Senatorial District

As the State Senator for the 9th Senate District, it is important for me to represent the legislative ideas and concerns of the residents of the 9th Senate district. One of the more enjoyable parts of my job is listening to constituent ideas or problems they are having with their government, evaluating the merits of their proposals and introducing legislation on their behalf when appropriate. It’s rewarding to witness how a call to my office or a run in at the hardware store can start as a simple conversation but soon transform into an important change in state law.

Throughout the summer I have enjoyed the opportunity to listen to many constituents about their ideas at county fairs, parades, community events, and public listening sessions. Following are a few examples of constituent ideas that I have been working on that have been, or will soon be, formally introduced as bills and begin working their way through the legislative process.

Liability for Private Landing Strip Access - (LRB 2345/1)

Private landing strips for noncommercial aircraft exist throughout the state. Due to current law, many private landing strip owners are unwilling to make their strips available to pilots due to liability concerns. This proposal would allow a landowner to make his or her property available for noncommercial aircraft to use these private landing strips, while exempting the landowner from being held liable in case of an injury. Under this bill, pilots would assume liability for accidents and in return gain access to private landing strips. Currently, other outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, picnicking, bicycling, horseback riding, hiking, snowmobiling, skiing, to name a few, are included in this type of exemption. This issue was brought to my attention by an experienced pilot in Manitowoc and I am co-authoring this bill with Representative Paul Tittl of Manitowoc.

Parental Notification for Questioning Students - (LRB 413/1)

This bill would require school authorities to notify a student's parent or guardian prior to commencing questioning a student about alleged criminal activity, with certain exceptions related to activity involving the family. The goal of this legislation is to foster a more open and transparent process in our schools when students are questioned on the important matter of alleged criminal activities. The idea for this proposal was brought to me by a concerned parent from Sheboygan County and I am coauthoring the bill with Representative Steve Kestell of Elkhart Lake.

The Price of a Class A Raffle
Ticket - (LRB 2689/1)

Current law sets the maximum price for Class A raffle tickets at $100 per ticket. Many nonprofit organizations would like to offer higher value raffles and therefore potentially bring in more funds to help their organizations. This proposal would allow Class A raffle tickets to be sold for up to $500. A Class A raffle license permits tickets to be sold on days other than the day of the drawing.

This legislative idea came from a non-profit organization in Manitowoc that is currently dealing with this fundraising issue and is co-authored by Representative Tittl. LRB 2689/1 offers a simple fix that could have a positive impact on our community.

Extending the Time Period for Counties to Seek Reimbursement from Prisoners for Expenses Associated with Confinement in Jail

– Senate Bill (SB) 24

Currently, a county has only 12 months to commence civil action against an individual to seek reimbursement for expenses the county incurred by housing the person in jail or at a detention center. This bill extends the time limit to commence civil action from 12 months to 24 months. Extending the time period for counties to seek reimbursement increases the likelihood that taxpayer dollars will be recouped by those who violated the law.

The idea for this bill came from Sheboygan County officials and has received wide support from other counties around the area and state as a whole. The bill is co-sponsored by Representatives Kestell, Endsley of Sheboygan and LeMahieu of Cascade.

More information on the bill can be found here: https://docs.legis. wisconsin.gov/2013/proposals/sb24.

Changing the Police and Fire

Protection Fee – SB 165

As a result of 2009 Wis. Act 28, a new tax was imposed on two types of transactions as a way to fill Wisconsin’s past budget deficit under the auspices of a “police and fire protection fee”:

1. A tax of $0.38 on each retail transaction for prepaid wireless telecommunications plans; and

2. A monthly tax of $0.75 on each voice communications connection with an assigned telephone number (including landline, cellular line, and a communication service provided via a VoIP connection).

SB 165 eliminates this inappropriate and misleading charge to consumers. While the legislature initially intended to create this “police and fire protection” surcharge to provide revenue to fund specific ongoing 911 emergency coordination costs in Wisconsin, the original proposal was dramatically altered by a partial veto by Governor Doyle which eliminated the provision’s sunset, kept the funds generated ($46,233,400 in 2010, and $61,033,400 in 2011), and diverted them to the general fund, thus obliterating the purpose and logic behind the funding mechanism. These funds have not been used for their legislatively intended purpose since the tax’s inception. While a legislative discussion on an honest funding source for emergency 911 services is appropriate and necessary, the current dishonest “police and fire protection” tax should be ended.

Since its creation a few years back this issue has been a great concern to many constituents and municipalities that I represent. I have received many contacts in favor of repealing or repurposing the police and fire protection fee. Finding a proper solution to this issue remains one of my top legislative priorities.

For more information go to: https://docs.legis.wisconsin. gov/2013/proposals/sb165.


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