TUE AM News: Tech Council applauds change to QNBV law; WMC files suit against Pewaukee over transportation usage fee

— The Wisconsin Technology Council says a newly enacted law will make it easier for early-stage companies to compete beyond Wisconsin while maintaining a presence in the state. 

The new law alters the state’s Qualified New Business Venture program, which provides investors with a 25 percent state tax credit on investments in qualifying companies. One of the conditions for businesses in the program is having at least 51 percent of their employees and a headquarters in Wisconsin, a Tech Council release shows. 

If a QNBV business fails to meet this requirement due to a merger or acquisition, it may now be granted a waiver allowing it to remain eligible for certification if it meets certain conditions. 

These include: increasing the number of workers it employs in the state following the merger or acquisition; keeping its headquarters in Wisconsin; having at least 51 percent of its employees in Wisconsin within the year after the change; and having state officials determine the merger or acquisition wasn’t done to relocate to another state or otherwise cease “the business’s efforts to further grow and expand” in Wisconsin. 

Tech Council President Tom Still is applauding Gov. Tony Evers for signing the bill, saying the change will “keep companies growing in Wisconsin and avoid a risk of them being ‘poached’” by other states. 

“Wisconsin companies, particularly those that attract angel and venture capital, cannot compete by doing business in Wisconsin alone,” Still said in the release. “They do business in regional, national and even global arenas, and often need a sales force or other hubs on the ground beyond our borders.” 

See the text of the law: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/related/acts/224 

See the Tech Council release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/wisconsin-technology-council-bill-to-improve-wisconsins-investor-tax-credit-law-signed-by-gov-evers-following-legislative-action/ 

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has filed a lawsuit against the Village of Pewaukee, arguing a transportation fee the village enacted last year is “unlawful and invalid.”

WMC says the village is charging all residential and commercial utility accounts a base fee of $15.74 along with a usage fee that varies depending on the number of vehicle trips associated with the property.

“In simple terms, this transportation user fee is just an additional tax on property owners that violates both state law and the constitution’s uniformity clause,” Scott Manley, executive vice president of government relations for WMC, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities argues such fees should not be seen as a tax and local governments will continue to collect them until directed otherwise by the governor and the Legislature.

According to Manley, the business group tried last year to obtain a copy of the manual used to calculate the usage fee but its open records request was denied by the village.

“They said they don’t have one, that they contract for engineering services from a third party, and the third party has the manual, not them … which we thought was kind of interesting,” Manley told WisBusiness.com. “So everybody is going to be paying this tax on their quarterly utility bill, and no one can know what it is … it’s got a lot of problems. Also happens to be illegal.”

He argued that because businesses that see more vehicle traffic have to pay a higher fee, it “violates the uniformity clause of the constitution, which says that all property has to be taxed at the same rate.” And he noted local governments are prohibited from levying a tax unless the legislature grants them authority to do so.

“They haven’t explicitly said you can levy this tax, so they can’t do it,” Manley said.

He said the village is applying the fee as “a way around the state-imposed tax levy limits — we would argue an unlawful way around them.”

After WMC’s initial notice of claim was denied by the village in December, the group filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County Circuit Court seeking to end the fee.

Curt Witynski, deputy executive director for the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, says other communities including Neenah and Little Chute have implemented a similar transportation utility fee, noting “this is nothing new.”

“WMC argues that this is really a tax, it’s like a property tax and therefore needs to comply with all the rules and regulations and process that apply to property taxes,” Witynski said. “And we disagree … I think it can be legitimately characterized as a fee. Until the Legislature and the governor enact legislation saying we can’t do this, that cities and villages can’t do this, we think we can.”

He pointed to an opinion written by the League’s legal team in 2020 supporting this perspective.

The village did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

See the WMC release:


See the complaint:


See the League’s legal opinion here:


— DATCP has found another case of the infectious strain of avian influenza in a commercial poultry flock. 

This is the second case of highly pathogenic avian influenza, or HPAI, found in a commercial operation. The first, identified in mid-March, was in a Jefferson County flock with nearly 2.8 million birds, the DATCP site shows. 

Two other cases of HPAI were found earlier this month in smaller non-commercial flocks in Rock and Racine counties. The latest case was identified in a flock in Barron County with about 47,000 birds. 

DATCP announced last week that all poultry shows and exhibits statewide are being suspended through the end of May in hopes of reducing the spread of the virus. And poultry flock owners are being asked to keep their birds inside when possible to limit their exposure to wild birds. 

The Department of Natural Resources has identified cases of HPAI among wild birds in at least five counties: Dane, Columbia, Grant, Milwaukee and Polk. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2022/dept-of-agriculture-trade-and-consumer-protection-highly-pathogenic-avian-influenza-identified-in-barron-county-flock/ 

— UW-Madison scientists are testing a specialized gel treatment that’s meant to keep cancer from returning after tumors are surgically removed. 

This biodegradable gel is applied to the surgical site and slowly releases two components: the drug pexidartinib, which combats cells that both increase tumor growth and reduce the effect of other cancer-fighting cells; and platelets bound to antibodies that help the immune system target and fight cancerous growths. 

Scientists led by Quanyin Hu, a professor in the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, tested the gel on mice with several forms of cancer and published their results in the journal Nature Communications. 

They found the gel “effectively kept in check” tumors that typically respond well to immune therapies, such as certain colon cancers. And it performed well against other types of cancer found in skin, bone, soft tissue and breast tissue, which are usually “less responsive to immune therapy and more prone to metastasizing,” a release from the university shows. 

“We are really glad to see that this local strategy can work against so many different kinds of tumors, especially these non-immunogenic tumors,” Hu said in the release. “We are even more glad to see this local treatment can inhibit tumor metastasis.” 

Hu partnered with Seungpyo Hong, a professor in the School of Pharmacy, on this study. Both have been exploring alternatives to chemotherapy to avoid its detrimental side effects. The mice treated with the gel showed “insignificant side effects,” per the release. 

Experiments like these lay the groundwork for further studies in animal models, as well as potential future human clinical trials. Hong said this study represents “just the initial phase of collaboration between our two labs.” 

See the study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-29388-0 

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2022/uw-madison-biodegradable-gel-boosts-immune-systems-attack-on-several-cancers-in-mice/ 

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