WMC Kills Dark Stores Amendment

Last week, WMC alerted its members that the “dark stores” legislation had been given new life in the State Assembly. After negotiations with WMC, the Assembly did not end up taking up the amendment, effectively killing the dark stores legislation for the session unless the Assembly was to return for another floor period, an unlikely prospect.

Representative Kevin Petersen initially tried to add an amendment to Assembly Bill 963, the Kimberly Clark bill. WMC and our allies had significant concerns with this amendment. It would have introduced new untested concepts into our property tax system, which would have allowed tax collectors to drastically increase business property taxes with little recourse for those affected.

However, after we reached out to Representative Petersen and Speaker Vos about our issues with the legislation, they were open to working with all stakeholders to improve the legislation. After 72 hours of negotiations the end product was something that while we had concerns about, was a significant improvement over the original dark stores legislation.

Wispolitics quoted Speaker Vos as saying “while Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce was willing to consider a compromise, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities was adamant in its opposition, killing the measure in the chamber this session.”

It’s telling that the League of Municipalities rejected an opportunity to pass legislation to prevent businesses from using vacant properties that are not physically comparable due to physical deterioration or distress (i.e. the “dark stores theory”). They instead held out for their goal of making Wisconsin the only state in the nation to enact this misguided “tax to the max” assessment policy.

WMC thanks Representative Petersen and Speaker Vos for holding tough but fair discussions on this issue. We are also grateful to all members of the Assembly GOP who were willing to hear us out.

Tax collectors are already gearing up for next session and will undoubtedly attempt to push this legislation again and drastically raise property taxes under the guise of closing a “loophole.” WMC will continue to educate members of the public and elected officials on this issue and oppose property tax increases on businesses.