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Public Hearings – Budget 2023-25

As always, check the Official JFC Budget Website for any changes, more information and if you are not going to testify in person, please SUBMIT A COMMENT.

This might be the only time this session you will get to testify and give your statement on why legalization is important to you and the Wisconsin budget.

Still, the landscape in politics does change and coming off an election we will see which of our newly elected official stands up for our rights and which ones do not. Do not give up the fight!

Public Hearings

Wisconsinites will have four (4) in-person chances to attend public hearings of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. These hearings are some of the few chances people have to speak out on issues of the 2023-25 Budget.

The hearing schedule includes the following four hearings, all from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.:

April 5 – Waukesha County Expo Center
April 11 – UW Eau Claire – Davies Student Center
April 12 – Wisconsin Dells – Glacier Canyon Conference Center at Wilderness Resort
April 26 – Minocqua – Lakeland Union High School Theatre

Those who cannot attend an in person public hearing can still participate by Submitting a Public Comment.

If you are planning on attending one of the public hearings, here are a few important things to note:

-The primary purpose of the public hearings will be to hear from Wisconsin citizens, while committee members may ask questions of speakers, it’s not meant to be a debate.
-Speakers will be given two minutes to speak to make sure the committee is able to hear from everyone.
-We ask that once you are done speaking, you exit the room so other individuals who haven’t had the chance to speak can do so.

The Joint Committee on Finance is a statutory, 16-member standing committee of the Wisconsin Legislature, split equally between 8 Senate members and 8 Assembly members.  The majority party in each house appoints six members, while the minority party in each house appoints two members. Republicans currently hold the majority in both houses; Democrats are in the minority.

The Committee’s primary responsibility is to serve as the principal legislative committee charged with the review of all state appropriations and revenues.  It plays a major role in shaping the state’s two-year (biennial) budget. Source

Assembly Members of the JFC

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) appointed the following members:

  • Mark Born (R), Co-Chair; Rep. Born has been somewhat quiet regarding his support for medical marijuana reform and comes in as a late co-sponsor to the Republican bill to create a medical marijuana program in 2019-20, but was absent from any attempts in 2021-22. Mark Born is an American law enforcement officer. Born was unopposed in the 2022 election.
  • Terry Katsma (R), Vice-Chair (new vice-chair); Katsma said he is not in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana but noted the reports of people who benefit from medical use. Bills that have been introduced around medical use could be looked at, Katsma said, but more studies need to be done.
  • Shannon Zimmerman (R); Zimmerman is not new to talking about marijuana reform this legislative session. He, fellow Republican Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond and Democratic Senator Patty Schachtner hashed out marijuana reform in their districts in February of 2019.  2019 Spring Survey sponsored by the GOP Assembly Representatives. In the spring of 2019 after overwhelming support in the Wisconsin public marijuana referendums the previous fall, many of the Assembly GOP members held a spring survey which was posted online and sent in the email to people on their mailing list. The results of Assembly Representative Shannon Zimmerman (R-River Falls) spring survey are not surprising as 76.48% of his district supported medical marijuana.
  • Tony Kurtz (R); October 2018: On the topic of marijuana legalization, Kurtz said he’s against marijuana for recreational use. “A lot of people are intrigued by the dollar signs and the revenue they can get from that,” Kurtz said, adding there were drawbacks to legalization as well.  Oct 2018 He noted he would be open to medicinal use of marijuana if hemp proved ineffective. He is a hemp farmer, or at least tried one year… he is pretty quite about everything.
  • Jessie Rodriguez (R); Rep. Rodriguez now says she can support medical “if” so long it was not used to legalize recreational marijuana. Opposed to recreational marijuana and sites the gateway theory and sites law enforcement concerns of medical diversion to the the recreational market.
  • Alex Dallman (R) (new to JFC); Dallman said “My current stance on Marijuana Reform would be against legalization of recreational use. I am also currently opposed to medicinal, but I am more open to exploring this side of it.” He added on the topic of decriminalization: “For simple possession of small amount, I am in favor.” Wi Eye interviewed Alex Dallman on July 9; in which Dallman added the “slippery slope” theory to his list opposition, stating he is worried medical marijuana leads quickly to recreational marijuana”.  08/11/2020 On the campaign trail he said one thing, than after elected he turned into a prohibitionist. He said until the County Sheriffs on board he is not even supporting decriminalization.

Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) appointed the following members:

  • Evan Goyke (D)
  • Tip McGuire (D) (new to JFC)

Senate Members of the JFC

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) appointed the following members:

  • Howard Marklein (R), Co-Chair; After serving 12+ years in the legislature, Republican Senator Marklein has not really moved on his stance and has blocked reform efforts every chance he could.
  • Duey Stroebel (R), Vice-Chair; Most recent email from the Senator Stroebel: “I’m opposed to the legalization of marijuana for any use. Many studies have shown that marijuana may lead to the use of other drugs and a destructive lifestyle. There are currently clinically approved pain therapy methods that do not have the same negative effects as marijuana.” In the past he has issued press statements opposing reform and is always a vocal hater of the cannabis plant, even voting NO to Industrial Hemp. Senator Stroebel has blocked bills from public hearings as committee chair. Stroebel is up for re-election in 2024.
  • Mary Felzkowski (R); She is fighting an uphill battle for her legislation she authored to start a medical marijuana program in 2019.   She has sponsored a bill consecutive sessions, giving multiple positive news statements and understands a great deal about the topic of marijuana reform.  Her willingness to learn more and all the extra credit she is doing helps secure her solid rating with activists. Senator Felzkowski is up for re-election in 2024.
  • Joan Ballweg (R); Rep. Ballweg seemed sympathetic back in 2009 while the Republicans were in the minority under a Dem controlled legislature. 2010 changed as Republicans took control and basically killed everything marijuana related, always. Since then, Rep. Ballweg has really failed on the issue. NOTE: Advisory Referendums on Marijuana in 2018 passed 78% in Marquette County and 80% in Sauk County and Rep. Ballweg Constituent Surveys in 2019 had 73-83% support for marijuana reform. Ballweg is up for re-election in 2024.
  • Patrick Testin (R) (new to JFC); Medical Marijuana legislation with home grows and smoking products is supported and co-sponsored in the Senate by Republican Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point). Testin is the first Republican to have signed their name to a medical marijuana bill in nearly two decades. Senator Testin is up for re-election in 2024.
  • Eric Wimberger (R) (new to JFC); Wimberger ran in 2014 for State Assembly (lost by 18% points) and who also ran for the Wisconsin State Senate for District 30 in 2016 and only lost by 3% points will try for State Senate again in 2020 as the incumbent retires. He joined the Political Radar crew to in 2016 to discuss several key issues that are emerging in Wisconsin. They discuss the viability of marijuana legalization in Wisconsin and its challenges.  And in 2020 “It is just a plant” came from Wimbergers lips.  What does that tell us.  Over the years this candidate has made several public statements about marijuana reform in interviews. Senator Wimberger is up for re-election in 2024.

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard (D-Madison) appointed the following members:

  • LaTonya Johnson (D)
  • Kelda Roys (D) (new to JFC)

100% of the current Senate and Assembly Democrats have either authored, co-sponsored or publicly supported the legalization of marijuana.

What is the process?

Wisconsin Budget Process
Wisconsin Budget Process

If you need some pointers on how cannabis reform relates to the state budget, please see the chart below that we used in the previous budget process. We know for a fact that Governor Evers is friendly to legalization of adult use cannabis in Wisconsin and ending the failed government policy of prohibition. He has put some sort of cannabis reform in every state budget and was the first Governor to put full legalization measures in a state budget last budget cycle.

Keep Bud in the Budget by Jay Selthofner

Highlights from Gov. Evers 2023-25 budget provisions include:

  • Create a segregated fund and direct the Department of Health Services to distribute all excise tax revenue generated from the legalization of recreational and medicinal marijuana to counties to support their mental health and substance use disorder services.
  • Legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use if it is sold by a retailer holding a permit issued by the Department of Revenue and direct all resulting excise tax collections into a newly created Community Reinvestment Fund to support $44.4 million of grants to counties to provide mental health and substance use disorder services during fiscal year 2024‑25.
  • 66.04185 Cultivation of tetrahydrocannabinols. No city, village, town, or county may prohibit cultivating tetrahydrocannabinols outdoors if the cultivation is by an individual who has no more than 6 marijuana plants at one time for his or her personal use.
  • “Microbusiness” means a marijuana producer that produces marijuana in one area that is less than 10,000 square feet and who also operates as any 2 of the following: (a) A marijuana processor. (b) A marijuana distributor.
  • No marijuana retailer may display any signage in a window, on a door, or on the outside of the premises of a retail outlet that is visible to the general public from a public right-of-way, other than a single sign that is no larger than 1,600 square inches identifying the retail outlet by the permittee’s business or trade name. (6) No marijuana retailer may display usable marijuana in a manner that is visible to the general public from a public right-of-way.
  • (8) Except as provided under sub. (5), no marijuana producer, marijuana processor, marijuana distributor, marijuana retailer, or microbusiness may place or maintain, or cause to be placed or maintained, an advertisement of usable marijuana
    in any form or through any medium.
  • 139.979 Personal use. An individual who possesses no more than 6 marijuana plants that have reached the flowering stage at any one time is not subject to the tax imposed under s. 139.971. An individual who possesses more than 6 marijuana plants that have reached the flowering stage at any one time shall apply for the appropriate permit under s. 139.972 and pay the appropriate tax imposed under s. 139.971.
  • Whoever uses or displays marijuana in a public space is subject to a civil forfeiture of not more than $100.
  • The bill creates a process to review convictions for acts that have been decriminalized under the bill. If the person is currently serving a sentence or on probation for such a conviction, the person may petition a court to dismiss the conviction and expunge the record. If the person has completed a sentence or period of probation for such a conviction, the person may petition a court to expunge the record or, if applicable, redesignate it to a lower crime. Any conviction that is expunged under the bill is not considered a conviction for any purpose under state or federal law.
  • Drug screening and testing: The bill exempts THC, including marijuana, from drug testing for certain public assistance programs. Currently, a participant in a community service job or transitional placement under the Wisconsin Works program (W2) or a recipient of the FoodShare program, also known as the food stamp program, who is convicted of possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance must submit to a test for controlled substances as a condition of continued eligibility. DHS is currently required to request a waiver of federal Medicaid law to require drug screening and testing as a condition of eligibility for the childless adult demonstration project in the Medical Assistance program. Current law also requires DHS to promulgate administrative rules to develop and implement a drug screening, testing, and treatment policy for able-bodied adults without dependents in the FoodShare employment and training program. The bill exempts THC from all of those drug-testing requirements and programs. In addition, because THC is not a controlled substance under state law under the bill, the requirement under current law that DCF promulgate administrative rules to create a controlled substance abuse screening and testing requirement for applicants for the work experience program for noncustodial parents under W2 and the Transform Milwaukee Jobs and Transitional Jobs programs does not include THC.

What else do we know?

We also know for a fact that in the during the previous budget process Republicans stripped anything marijuana reform from the final budget. Republican leadership and Republican key committee chairs withheld several bills from even a public hearing. This might be the only time this session you will get to testify and give your statement on why legalization is important to you and the Wisconsin budget.

Still, the landscape in politics does change and coming off an election we can see which of our newly elected official stands up for our rights and which ones do not. Do not give up the fight!

Even if marijuana reform is again stripped out of it, there is no doubt that we still need to hold our newly elected officials accountable and make marijuana reform a priority in the 2023-24 legislative cycle.

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