It was a busy week in Wisconsin Government – and a productive one for PIA’s top priorities!
Tuesday marked an important day as it was the Governor’s official budget address, but it was also a session day in both the Senate and Assembly. Several bills were up for debate in each house, but most notably was 2021-22 Assembly Bill 2/Senate Bill 2, which makes various changes to laws administered and enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Most importantly, this legislation was amended during the committee process to exempt Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from state income tax. As amended, expenses paid with forgivable PPP loans are deductible for state and income franchise taxes, putting Wisconsin in line with federal intent.
Earlier this afternoon, Governor Evers signed this legislation into law, enacting one of PIA’s top priorities. We are pleased that the Legislature and Governor Evers listened to PIA and other business groups and recognized the importance of this policy for businesses across the state as they work towards economic recovery.
In addition to Tuesday’s actions, the Senate also met this morning in a Special Session to act on Governor Evers’ bill to improve the state unemployment insurance system. However, in addition to dealing with unemployment, the Joint Finance Committee also amended the bill to include civil liability protections for businesses, schools, non-profits, etc. from lawsuits stemming from COVID-19. Under the bill, unless an entity engages in reckless or wanton conduct, they will be exempt from liability when it comes to COVID-19 lawsuits. This is a centerpiece of PIA’s legislative agenda for this session, as it is imperative that protections are in place for our members and Wisconsin’s small businesses against predatory lawsuits. Now that the Wisconsin economy is open, small businesses should not have looming liability over their heads – this bill remedies that.
In a vastly bipartisan vote in both the Joint Finance Committee and by the full Senate, this legislation (January 2021 Special Session Senate Bill 1) was passed. The Assembly is expected to take the bill up for a vote next Tuesday. Given the highly bipartisan nature of the final bill and strong advocacy efforts by PIA and many organizations, we are hopeful that it will pass the Assembly and will receive the Governor’s signature. However, we will continue to push until that becomes a reality.
The session is off to a productive start for PIA and our staff is continuing to work every day to ensure that the best policies for you and your agency are enacted in Wisconsin.