By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
The Legislative Process Works
Howard Marklein
Howard Marklein

The legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), which I co-chair with Rep. Mark Born, met on Thursday, June 6, 2024 to move six important initiatives through the legislative process. It is a prime example of how things go smoothly when we follow the legislative process.

Our work on June 6th included funding for three bills that moved all of the way through the legislative process without vetoes, approving actions on two settlements for the Department of Justice (DOJ) and adopting the Chapter 20 appropriation schedule. Our actions demonstrate our ongoing work for the people of Wisconsin and further illustrate how the legislative process works when your government respects the steps that must be taken to allocate funds.

When a bill that includes funding completes the legislative process, it often returns to the JFC when the agency has set up the mechanisms, policies, rules, etc. to enact the bill. The JFC is a check-and-balance that works on behalf of the legislature to ensure legislative intent. 

The three bills we acted on included funding for 2023 Act 233 related to reentry centers for newly-released individuals who are returning to society from incarceration, 2023 Act 67 related to the ATV trail and project aids appropriation and 2023 Act 19 related to opportunity attraction and promotion grants. More details on each request follows:

2023 Act 233 — Reentry Center funding — The Department of Corrections (DOC) submitted a request to transfer $4 million that was allocated in the state budget in order to implement Act 233.  This legislation requires the department contract with at least one non-profit organization, for-profit entity or public agency to establish a reentry center for newly released people who are leaving incarceration.

The reentry centers are an initial point of contact for health, identification, financial, housing, employment, education and supervision services. They are meant to be a one-stop-shop for newly released people to reestablish themselves in society. 

This bill started in a Joint Legislative Council Study Committee in 2022. It was identified as a way to help people productively reintegrate into society rather than going back to the situations that may have contributed to their incarceration. We funded this request.

2023 Act 67 — ATV/UTV Communications Equipment Grant Program — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) submitted a request to transfer $80,000 from the ATV trail and projects aid fund to the ATV communications equipment fund.

Act 67 created a dedicated appropriation for communications equipment grants, but it did not include funding. The DNR is seeking a transfer from a fund that currently has a balance of more than $7 million so that they can work with the Wisconsin ATV/UTVA Association (WATVA) on communications equipment grants.

WATVA is working on a mapping app that will provide detailed route information for ATV/UTV users throughout Wisconsin. It will include speed limit information, alerts, changing laws and regulations and other information as ATV/UTV riders move throughout our communities. This is the type of effort that the grant is meant to support.

Finally, we approved $5 million to fund 2023 Act 19 which creates an Opportunity Fund at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to help Wisconsin attract big events like the NFL Draft, Top Chef, the Ryder Cup and other major events. The economic benefits of major events ripples throughout the state.

Not only do the communities in which big events benefit from direct spending in their hotels, restaurants, etc., the new shared revenue bill we passed last year guarantees that any increases in sales tax collections is shared throughout the state. In other words, when a major golf tournament happens in Sheboygan County, increases in sales tax revenues are redistributed to every county in Wisconsin. It will benefit everyone!

Again, our work in JFC continues even when the floor calendar ends.  I am proud of our work and know that the legislative process works when it is followed by all branches of government.

As always, if you need assistance with any state-related matters, please call our team at the State Capitol — 608-266-0703 — or email me — My team is ready, and willing, to help navigate your state government, clear obstacles and receive your input.

— Sen. Howard Marklein represents Wisconsin’s 17th Senate District.