Friday, May 10, 2013

Sen. Tom Tiffany's E-Update

May 10th, 2013

Recap From Session

Both the Senate and the Assembly were in session this week. On Tuesday the Senate voted on the following:
  1. AB 82: The "Food Stamp Bill" passed through the Assembly on a bipartisan vote in April and passed the Senate with another bipartisan vote of 28-5. At the behest of the federal government, we came up with this legislation to prevent the illegal trafficking of food stamp program benefits. Earlier this year, a Wisconsin man was found guilty of defrauding the program of $778,000 from 2010-2013. This bill clears up uncertainty in the law and is a message to both taxpayers and program recipients alike that Wisconsin is serious about prosecuting these crimes. Fraud undermines the integrity of the program and hurts those who truly need the benefits. The legislation will now go to Governor Walker's desk to be signed into law.
  2. SB 135: As a cosponsor of this bill, I was pleased to see it pass through the Senate unanimously. This expands the reach of trucks with a Michigan-style axle configuration to Florence County. It also raises the weight limits on these trucks (like the ones currently running on Hwy 2) to conform with Michigan's current standards. The different weight limits will directly help those companies that ship wood products from this area of our district. The bill's next step is a vote in the Assembly.
  3. SB 75: Current law generally prohibits an individual from operating a vehicle on a highway while towing two or more vehicles, with a couple of exceptions. This bill provides further exceptions for those wishing to operate three-vehicle combinations and will be beneficial to those pulling recreational vehicles. This bill also passed unanimously and is now up in the Assembly for a vote.
  4. Gary Zimmer: The Senate voted to confirm the appointment of Laona-native Gary Zimmer to the Natural Resources Board after he was appointed by the Governor in April. It was another unanimous vote. Congratulations again to Gary!

Mining Update

The Department of Natural Resources announced late yesterday that they have received an exploratory drilling application from Gogebic Taconite, LLC for mining activities related to the Penokee/Gogebic deposit located in Ashland and Iron counties.

The application about the project is available for viewing on the DNR’s new web page. A link is available on the website for anyone wishing to receive updates on the progress of the application.

According to Ann Coakley, DNR Waste and Materials Management Program Director, the agency will review and make a decision regarding the application within 10 business days per Wisconsin Act 1 (Senate Bill 1), the mining bill I authored that was signed into law in March.

The Penokee/Gogebic deposit is generally defined as the 21-mile western end of the 60-mile long Gogebic Iron Range, which stretches east to west from Lake Gogebic, Michigan, to Mineral Lake, Wisconsin.

For more information feel free to contact Ann Coakley at 608-516-2492 .

Wisconsin's Business Ranking Improves Again

Chief Executive magazine announced this week that Wisconsin ranks 17th on its “Best/Worst States for Business 2013” survey, the third consecutive year Wisconsin has improved its position among the nation’s best states for business. Wisconsin improved three places from 20th in 2012, and it recently saw the largest gain of any state in the history of the survey, moving seventeen places from the bottom ten, from 41st in 2010 to 24th in 2011.

Chief Executive magazine noted Wisconsin is moving in a positive direction declaring “Gov. Walker’s reelection was a positive signal business leaders were seeking.”

Below is an excerpt from the report:

More and more states are getting the pro-growth message. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s position is typical of this new thinking. “I’ve never seen a store get more customers by raising its prices, but I’ve seen customers knock down doors when they cut prices,” he says.

Read the full report here: Chief Executive’s Best/Worst States for Business 2013

Some Seasonal Road Weight Limits Lifted
Lincoln County Highway Commissioner Jerry Jagmin advised that weight limits will be suspended at 7:00 a.m. on Monday, May 13th on all Lincoln County Highways except the gravel portion of CTH E, which will remain posted until further notice.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation North Central Region announced today the schedule for removing the springtime posted road weight restrictions on some of the region’s state highways. Posted road weight restrictions on the following highways will be removed at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 13:

• WIS 52, Langlade and Forest County, from the WIS 55 to Smith Road (Forest County)
• WIS 107, Marathon and Lincoln County, from Marathon County A to WIS 64
• WIS 107, Lincoln County, from Matthew's Road to Lincoln County S
• WIS 153, Marathon and Shawano County, from Marathon County J to US 45

Class II roadway weight restrictions are still in effect. Additional information and updates for weight restrictions can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Web site at: http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/truck/weightrestrictions.htm

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