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December 1, 2017
Wisconsin's 12th Senate District contains communities in Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Shawano, and Vilas Counties.

Committee Assignments:
  • Joint Committee on Finance
  • Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry Committee (Chair)
  • Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism Committee (Vice-Chair)
  • Revenue, Financial Institutions, and Rural Issues Committee
  • Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions
Bill Signings
 
Governor Walker signed 19 bills into law on Monday. Among the bills  were three pieces of legislation that I authored. Governor Walker signed AB 323, 479, and 480 into law as 2017 Wisconsin Acts 64, 67, and 68, respectively.

2017 Wisconsin Act 64 removes the woodchuck from the protected species list in Wisconsin. The act reclassifies the woodchuck as a small game animal and establishes the year-round hunting season for woodchuck. I'd like to thank my co-author Representative Andre Jacqué (R-De Pere) for his work on this legislation.

2017 Wisconsin Acts 67 and 68 represent the legislation that comprised the Homeowners Bill of Rights (HBR). The HBR provides clarification affecting substandard lots, conditional use permits, and the review process for property tax assessments. Additionally, there are provisions in the acts geared to mitigate the "up-front" costs of purchasing a new home.
Left: Governor Walker had the chance to see a mounted woodchuck prior to the ceremonial bill signing in Madison.
Right: Members of the Murr Family drove down to Madison from St. Croix county for the signing of Act 67.
Council on Forestry

This week I attended Wisconsin’s Council on Forestry meeting, of which I am a member. The council is made up of industry leaders, legislators, private landowner groups, and the state Chief Forester. The council’s mission is to advise the Governor, the legislature, and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on forestry-related issues.
 
This month’s meeting revolved around several issues, specifically, changes that were made in the 2017-19 Biennial Budget, the creation of a Forestry Exposition Center, and an audit approved by the Legislative Audit Committee of the Forestry Account. The 2017-19 Biennial Budget made several changes to both the Forestry Division within the DNR, as well as the Forestry Account. The budget requires the Chief Forester and other members of the Forestry Division to move to a location north of Highway 29. The Chief Forester, Fred Souba, gave members of the committee an update on the progress of the move noting that he is expected be moved by January of 2018. He expects other members of the division to join him over the next year with the final moves to be completed by the beginning of 2019.
 
The budget also required an audit of the Forestry Account. The Forestry Account is a sub account within the Conservation Fund which funds the Forestry Division. The Conservation Fund is similar to a mutual fund in that it is a collection of smaller accounts that fund snowmobile trails, state parks and forests, as well as game management. Two weeks ago, members of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved the scope statement of an audit and Mike Warnke, Deputy Forestry Division Administrator, gave an update on the progress that has already been made. The approved scope of the audit will examine revenues and expenditures of the Forestry Account making sure approved expenditures directly relate to forestry in Wisconsin. The audit will also give committee members a greater understanding of program related expenditures within the Forestry Account and allow them to make recommendations on priorities in future budgets. The last audit of the account was completed in 2002 and found $4.5 million in Forestry Account expenditures by DNR on programs that had no direct relationship to forestry.
 
Another provision within the 2017-19 Biennial Budget eliminated the state property tax called the mill tax. While most property taxes are levied by local governments and school districts, the state’s portion set at 17 cents per $1,000 of property value, goes to fund the Forestry Account, totaling about $180 million over the two year budget cycle. With its elimination, the Forestry Account will now receive a majority of its funding from general purpose revenue collected on sales and income taxes. Mike Warnke gave committee members a brief overview of how the change is expected to affect the account and the Forestry Division overall. Mike did not expect the change to affect the account or the division.
 
Forestry Committee members were also introduced to the Forest Exploration Center. The Forest Exploration Center is a 50 acre forested property located in urban Wauwatosa designed to provide examples of sustainable forestry and educational outreach to people not normally exposed to forestry. The goal is to connect visitors, particularly young people, with Wisconsin’s forest resources and increase awareness of the role forest resources have in their daily lives.
Hunting Season Recap

As the nine-day gun, deer season comes to a close, the preliminary registration numbers show a significant increase in both buck and antlerless harvests in the northern counties. Statewide, 98,364 hunters were successful in harvesting antlered deer during the season, and in total, 195,738 deer were harvested.

Many of the counties in the 12th Senate District saw significant increases in total deer harvests. In 2016, Florence County had 990 total harvests and in 2017, there was 1,721. In Lincoln County, over 800 more deer were harvested in 2017 bringing the total harvests in the county to just over 2,600 deer.

The 2017 deer hunting season is the first under the new mentored hunting rules. The age requirement to purchase a mentored hunting license has been removed. During the 2017 season, there were over 1,700 mentored hunting licenses sold to new hunters under the age of nine. 

The conclusion of the hunting season marks yet another safe season in Wisconsin. A total of seven shooting incidents occurred while over 580,000 hunters took part. None of the reported incidents involved youth mentored hunters.

For more information about additional hunting opportunities in December and January please click here.
Capitol Christmas Tree

Every year, the Wisconsin State Capitol Christmas Tree is on display in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Building for the month of December. Today, Governor Scott Walker officially flipped the switch to turn on the tree lights, commencing the holiday season in the Capitol Building. This year, the tree is a 40-foot Balsam Fir harvested in the town of Emery, in Price County. 

Adorning the tree are ornaments hand-crafted by students from across the state. I look forward to seeing the tree and its ornaments throughout the month as I come back and forth to Madison. If you are in the area, I recommend a visit to the Capitol Building to see the tree. You can see the tree and tours run on the hour, every hour.
The Capitol Christmas Tree sits in the Capitol Rotunda for the month of December.
Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry
 
On Tuesday, I chaired a public hearing for the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry. The committee heard testimony from legislators and the public on six pieces of legislation:
  • SB 506 - relating to determinations of navigability of a stream.
  • SB 372/AB 461 - relating to hunting approvals issued to certain terminally ill individuals. 
  • SB 376/ AB 464 - relating to the maximum height of pole traps.
  • SB 401/AB 490 - relating to resident deer hunting license, archer hunting license, and crossbow hunting license fees imposed for a veteran who is 70 years of age.
  • SB 508 - relating to establishing an open season for hunting deer with muzzle-loading firearms within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
  • SB 509 - relating to youth trapping, creating a mentored trapping license, restriction on taking or appropriating a trap or its contents, and requirements for tagging traps.
For more information about the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry, please click here.
2017-18 Blue Books
The 2017-18 Wisconsin Blue Books recently arrived. If you would like to request a copy of the 2017-18 Wisconsin Blue Book, please reply to this email with your full mailing address. My office will be processing the requests over the next couple weeks prior to shipping them across the 12th Senate District. 


You can view previous versions of the Wisconsin Blue Book online by clicking here.
District 12 Events
Start Date Upcoming Event Location
December 2 Christmas Parade Merrill
December 2 Village of Lights Lena
December 2 Christmas Parade & Tree Lighting Rhinelander
December 2 Wabeno Winterfest Wabeno
December 2 McCaslin Lions Children's Christmas Party Townsend
December 2 Lion's Club Kids Christmas Party Three Lakes
December 2 Holiday Home Tour Manitowish Waters
December 3 Christmas In Florence Florence
December 6 Christmas Parade Antigo
December 6 Chili Cook-Off Antigo
December 10 Christmas Crunch Bizarre Phelps
December 10 Brunch with Santa Cecil
December 15 Olde Time Community Christmas Presque Isle
December 21 Sno-Eagles Guided Snowmobile Rides Eagle River
December 25 Annual Christmas Day Dinner Amberg
December 26-31 Marvel in Manitowish Waters Manitowish Waters
December 31 Red Hot Fun New Year's Celebration Woodruff
January 1 Annual Polar Plunge Tomahawk
January 12-14 Trig's Smokehouse Vintage World Championship Derby Eagle River
January 13 Arctic Warrior Race St. Germain
January 27 Paul Bunyan Snow Fun Day Lakewood
January 27 Roberts Memorial Ski Race Florence
January 27-28 Winterfest Sled Dog Race Merrill
February 3 Bridge Runners Classic Cruise Vintage and Antique Snowmobile Ride Deerbrook
February 3 Ice Fishing Jamboree Conover
Contact Me:
Mail: Senator Tom Tiffany, PO Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707
Phone: (608) 266-2509  Fax: (608) 282-3552
Email: sen.tiffany@legis.wisconsin.gov
As always, if you have any events for our calendar, comments or thoughts regarding the subjects of this newsletter, please feel free to contact me.
Copyright © 2017 Office of State Senator Tom Tiffany, All rights reserved.


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