Reps in the News: Feb. 7-14

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Joel Kitchens criticized Gov. Tony Evers’ use of a special session to pass an $8.5 million package of bills aimed at improving Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.

“While it’s nice that the governor is finally showing an interest in helping people outside of Milwaukee and Madison, a special session – for many reasons – is not the right way to do it,” Kitchens said. “First, it’s not the role of the governor to write legislation. That is the responsibility of the state Legislature.

“By holding a special session, we are also not being given the chance to properly vet and evaluate the proposed bills through the normal legislative process. That means no public hearings, which also robs you of your chance to let us know how you feel about the bills.

“Plus, it doesn’t give us any time to consult with stakeholders to see if the legislation will help farmers and if it is something they actually want.”

Source: Kitchens e-newsletter

Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers, joined by Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld, signed Executive Order #67 to create the Governor’s Task Force on Student Debt. Blumenfeld will chair this task force, which will be tasked with assessing student debt in Wisconsin and providing long-term strategies to reduce education-related debt, prevent abusive practices by loan companies, and improve financial-literacy education. 

“For too many Wisconsinites, additional education or job training is out of reach,” Evers said. “We need to address college affordability and ensure that a great education doesn’t come at the cost of decades of crippling debt.” 

Source: Evers press release

Senator Tammy Baldwin

U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Gary Peters led a bipartisan group of senators to urge the administration to include adequate funding for the Coast Guard to acquire a new Great Lakes icebreaker. 

In their letter the senators requested that the administration prioritize funding in the 2021 budget request to Congress. They sent the letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and United States Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz.

“The current maintenance condition of the existing icebreaking fleet has resulted in 182 lost operating days last winter primarily due to engine failures,” Baldwin said. “We respectfully request adequate funding for the acquisition of a Great Lakes icebreaker in your FY 2021 budget request.”

Icebreaking capacity in the Great Lakes supports more than 90 million tons of cargo annually. A study commissioned by the Lake Carriers’ Association found that during the 2018-19 ice season, businesses that depend upon the Great Lakes maritime industry lost more than $1 billion in revenues because of delays caused by inadequate icebreaking.

Source: Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson, Chuck Grassley, John Barrasso and 12 of their colleagues sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig to request information to better understand how the IRS enforces the electric-vehicle tax credit in light of a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) audit report that detailed what appear to be systemic problems with the tax-credit program.

“On Sept. 30, 2019, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released an audit report finding that taxpayers improperly claimed $72 million in tax credits for electric vehicles and that the IRS ‘does not have effective processes to identify and prevent [these] erroneous claims,’” the senators wrote. “Notably, in 2011, TIGTA released an audit finding $33 million in tax credits for plug-in, electric-drive motor vehicles – one in five of every claimed tax credit – were awarded to individuals who owned vehicles that did not qualify. In other words, despite recognizing this fraud eight years ago, it has not only persisted, but become even more widespread.”

Source: Johnson press release