Minnesota/Wisconsin Tax Reciprocity Could Return

Minnesota residents who commute across the border into Wisconsin for work could soon save money on their income tax returns. The 2017 tax bill, which passed the legislature last week and was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 30, included a provision authorizing a new income tax reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Income tax reciprocity Minnesota Wisconsin

Minnesotans who travel to Wisconsin for work got some good news as part of the 2017 tax package signed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton contains a new reciprocity agreement between Minnesota and Wisconsin. (photo from the St Paul Pioneer Press)

The income tax reciprocity provision calls for a dual track approach: for tax year 2017, Minnesota residents working in Wisconsin will be eligible for an income tax reciprocity tax credit. Additionally, the bill instructs the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Revenue to work with the secretary of the Wisconsin Revenue Department to enter into a new income tax reciprocity agreement for tax year 2018. If the two states are unable to reach an agreement, the tax credit will continue for Minnesota residents.

“Income tax reciprocity is a huge issue for our area,” said Sen. Jeremy Miller (R-Winona), who authored an income tax reciprocity bill early in session. “Thousands of people live in Minnesota but commute to Wisconsin for work – in fact, Houston County is the number one county in Minnesota impacted by the lack of a reciprocity agreement. I have spent years working with Rep. Davids and others toward a bipartisan solution to make filing tax returns more convenient for these residents. I’m very happy we were finally able to get this signed into law.”

The tax bill stipulates that a reciprocity agreement must include the following:

 

  • A provision providing for suspending the agreement if either party does not pay on time
  • A provision setting the interest rate that will be applied
  • A provision stating a time for annual reconciliation
  • A provision requiring both parties to conduct joint benchmark studies about the agreement every five years
  • A provision providing for an annual application for taxpayers who request an exemption
  • A provision stating the quarterly payments must be a reasonable estimate of loss

“This was one of the most productive legislative sessions we have had in a long time,” continued Sen. Miller. “In addition to tax reciprocity, the tax relief package included targeted relief to middle income families, senior citizens, small businesses, and farmers, as well as a first-in-the-nation student loan tax credit, which I authored in the Senate. Finally, this bill included additional permanent, ongoing local aid for cities and counties. I’m proud of the things we were able to get done for the people of Minnesota.”

There was an income tax reciprocity agreement in place from 1968 to 2009, but it was terminated because Wisconsin was not making timely reimbursement payments. An income tax reciprocity tax credit was included in the bipartisan tax bill that passed at the end of the 2016 before ultimately being vetoed by the governor.

CWD sampling in southeast MN deer harvest

Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota who harvest a deer during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons are encouraged to have their deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at one of 30 locations that will be staffed.

Due to the expansion of CWD in Iowa and Wisconsin, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be conducting CWD surveillance in deer areas 339 to 349 throughout the firearm season, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas. The goal is to collect 3,600 samples. 


“Working with hunters to sample deer for evidence of CWD is our best opportunity for early detection of the disease in Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager. “Early detection is important from the perspective of limiting disease spread, and we will make the process as quick as possible to get hunters on their way.”

CWD

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be testing harvested deer this fall for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). (photo from gameamdfishmag.com)

CWD is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain. The disease is always fatal and can spread from one animal to another. Months to years pass from the time an animal is infected to when it shows signs of the disease. There is no known treatment for the disease, and the prions can persist and remain infectious in the environment. 

Recent research has demonstrated that long-term CWD infections in wild deer have led to measurable reductions in deer populations.

“We take these actions because our only real opportunity to reduce or eliminate disease is to find it right away,” Cornicelli said. “If a disease like CWD becomes established, it will be a problem for future generations.”

The DNR’s CWD management plan calls for surveillance when risk increases. That risk includes positive domestic animals or when the disease is found in adjacent states. 

“Much of the southeast has not been extensively sampled since 2009 and because of the Iowa and Wisconsin infections, it is important to aggressively conduct surveillance,” Cornicelli said. 

To further reduce the risk of CWD entering Minnesota, whole deer carcasses are no longer allowed to be imported into Minnesota from anywhere in North America. This is a new restriction this year in Minnesota. There are no restrictions on carcass movement for deer harvested in Minnesota and moved within the state.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health agencies have concluded there is no known link between CWD and any neurological disease in humans. However, both the CDC and the World Health Organization recommend that no part of a known positive animal should be consumed by humans. Additionally, there is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to species other ungulates.

Reminders for hunters, and chances to win
Hunters in the permit areas where sampling is taking place are reminded that they will not be able to register deer by phone or the internet during the surveillance period. Deer must be registered in person at a walk-in registration station and hunters are strongly encouraged to allow sampling of their deer. 

Deer must be present at the time of registration. When surveillance quotas are met, the electronic system will be turned back on. Hunters will not be notified of individual results unless their deer is positive. The DNR will release details after deer season that explain overall surveillance results.

CWD sampling only takes a few minutes and is done while the hunter registers their deer. To help encourage samples, Bluffland Whitetails Association has donated a compound bow and a muzzleloader and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association has donated a muzzleloader. Hunters who submit a sample for testing will be entered into a random drawing for one of those items. Also, every hunter who donates a sample will be given a DNR cooperator patch as a small token of appreciation. 

DNR staff will be working at 30 sampling sites from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, and Sunday, Nov. 6, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 7. A smaller number of stations will be open the second weekend, Saturday, Nov. 12, to Sunday, Nov. 13

Sampling goals will likely not be met during the opening 3A season that runs from Nov. 5 to Nov. 13, so stations will be staffed during the 3B season, which runs from Saturday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 27.

Deer check stations where CWD surveillance is occurring are listed on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd, and hunters are encouraged to check the site for new information.

New hunters to chronic wasting disease might want to take a look at this:

Northwoods League baseball, the Honkers, and high-def

As the weather in southeast Minnesota warms up, the Rochester Honkers get busier preparing for the 2016 Northwoods League baseball season, set to start on May 31 at Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Rochester Honkers, Northwoods League baseball, HD cameras

The Rochester Honkers open their Northwoods League baseball season on May 31 at the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Express (photo from northwoodsleague.com)

The Honkers front office staff has all but wrapped up signing players for the upcoming season. Honkers General Manager and Co-Owner Dan Litzinger said the action in the front office has been ramping up in recent weeks.

“It’s been very busy,” Litzinger said. “We have a small front office staff of two or three people, so it’s a lot of work.

On a tour of the park as preparations continued recently, the first thing people might notice are new cameras being installed around the field. The Northwoods League is upgrading the Honkers video system at the ballpark to a full 1080p HD, and Litzinger said that’s unprecedented.

Rochester Honkers, Northwoods League baseball, Summer, HD cameras

The view from center at Mayo Field in Rochester is about to get an upgrade to HD in order to improve the quality of watching Northwoods League baseball online. (photo from digitalballparks.com)

“We’re installing a new camera in centerfield that’s up 25 feet just left of center,” Litzinger said. “It will give it a really pro look with the picture coming in over the right shoulder of the pitcher. There will be three more HD cameras by first base, third base, and behind home plate, so watching the games online will be a whole new experience.”

The new cameras are going to enhance video production all across the Northwoods League, and will include replay capability. You can get access to the games on the Northwoods League website or on the Honkers website as well. Click on the “Watch Now” button on either site and follow the prompts.

It’s a pay-per-view access, but pay by the game, the month, or the season, and its give you access to the entire Northwoods League and not just the Honkers

The team roster for 2016 is set with a 30-man roster, three coaches, and ten temporary players mean everything is full. Now they just wait for possible readjustments to happen.

“Things like grades, injuries, girlfriends, a grandmother dies, and other things like that will flip our roster starting soon,” Litzinger said. “So there’s a backup list of players and you hope in the first two weeks that your record is 7-7 and not 0-14, otherwise there’s no chance of making the first half championship in our division.”

The Honkers look far and wide to pull in players. This year’s roster actually has a strong California flavor to it because two of the team’s coaches have great connections in that particular state.

“Trevor Hairgove and Demetre Kokoris are both coming back,” Litzinger said. “They’re California guys (Hairgrove at UC Riverside and Kokoris at Santa Barbara City College) with connections through their colleges. So, we have a lot of kids from California colleges, but overall, the kids come from both coasts, from Florida to California up north to Washington and Oregon.”

Rochester Honkers, Northwoods League baseball, HD cameras

Dan Litzinger is co-owner and General Manager of the Rochester Honkers of the Northwoods Baseball League. He’s been the GM since 1997. (photo from northwoodsleague.com)

He added, “We have players from New York and even a couple coming all the way from Taiwan.”

Team Co-Owner Kim Archer actually has a son that lives in Taiwan and met an agent that wanted to send players overseas to play baseball. One of the players coming in is a high school senior that’s left-handed and throws hard. The other coming in is also a pitcher and a high school junior.

“It was a challenge to find a host family that spoke Mandarin Chinese,” Litzinger said. “We found one that was a current host but not scheduled to host anyone this summer. Thank God they stepped up and said ‘we’ve had foreign exchange students and we’ll take both these kids.’ Hopefully, this brings us some international exposure too.”

From year to year, most of the roster typically turns over from one summer to the next. Typically, Northwoods League teams try to get four to six players back from one year to the next. It’s important for several reasons.

“One is the fan base,” Litzinger said. “They’ll have an automatic connection with guys who may have played the year before. There are always kids you want back and kids you don’t, plus, some kids can’t come back for whatever reasons.

One big reason players may not want to come back is they want to get out and see the world. Litzinger said it’s hard to tell them no when they want to travel and play in other places.

“How do you tell someone who got an offer to play in Alaska not to go there,” said Litzinger, who’s been the GM since 1997. “There are kids who may have a goal of playing in the Cape Cod League out east, and even though I think we’re a better league, they want to go and try it.

“We tell them to go and give it a try, and most come back saying playing in Rochester was a much better experience,” Litzinger said. “Those players actually become pretty good recruiting tools for the Northwoods League.”

The Honkers have four kids on the roster that return from last season.

One of the more recent additions to the roster was Jackson Douglas of Iowa Western Community College. He played his high school ball at Rochester Mayo.

The Honkers open the season on May 31 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to take on the Express. They return home to Rochester the next night for the home opener, also against the Express.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raw milk at the center of Wisconsin bacterial outbreak

It should have been one of those nights that high school students remember foryears. For students at Durand High School in Wisconsin, September 18 of 2014 was a memorable night for all the wrong reasons.

Durand, Wisconsin was at the center of a bacterial outbreak that sickened dozens of people in late 2014 (photo from best places.net)

Durand, Wisconsin was at the center of a bacterial outbreak that sickened dozens of people in late 2014 (photo from best places.net)

It’s tradition in many small towns across America to serve their high school football teams a group meal the night before a game. Thursday, September 18, the Durand football team got together with cheerleaders, parents, team managers, and friends to enjoy a night of togetherness, with a large selection of food on the menu.

The Durand, Wisconsin high school was at the center of a serious bacterial outbreak which began in late 2014, sickening over 2 dozen people (photo from weau.com)

The Durand, Wisconsin high school was at the center of a serious bacterial outbreak which began in late 2014, sickening over 2 dozen people (photo from weau.com)

The list of food items served at the potluck-style meal was innocent enough: a chicken entrée, a broccoli salad and other side dishes, a variety of desserts including cookies, bars and brownies, and a variety of drinks, including Kool-Aid, chocolate milk and white milk — a typical pregame meal you might see in small towns across the Midwest.

The following Monday, September 22, the Durand High School nurse called the Pepin County Health Department (PCHD) about an unusual increase in absenteeism related to a gastrointestinal illness in football players and team mangers, as well as the Panthers’ coaching staff. Symptoms included diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, fever and abdominal cramps.

The PCHD notified the staff in the Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section (CDES), Bureau of Communicable Diseases, Wisconsin Division of Public Health (WDPH), and a joint investigation was launched.

The gastrointestinal illness didn’t just hit the football team. During the joint investigation, a large increase in absenteeism showed up on the volleyball team, too.

The investigation noted that food at team meals is typically bought, prepared, and served by parents of team members. September 23, the PCHD learned that some of the milk was unpasteurized, and provided by a parent who brought it from his or her own farm. Thus, it was store-bought chocolate milk and unpasteurized white milk served at the dinner. Parents reported 3 one-half gallons of chocolate milk, and a 5-gallon cooler of white, unpasteurized milk, which was served after the chocolate milk was gone. That’s when the questions really began to intensify.

The US Food and Drug Administration website, fda.gov, defines raw milk as milk from cows, sheep or goats that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria. This raw milk can carry dangerous bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella and Listeria, which can cause serious food borne illnesses.

However, Wisconsin State Health Officer Karen McKeown said they didn’t necessarily assume that’s where the outbreak started.

“Even once we found out there was unpasteurized raw milk, we needed to continue to look at the whole picture,” she said. “We needed to do a thorough investigation, and not jump to conclusions. We continued to ask questions about everything that people had eaten.”

On September 23, the CDES staff began conducting phone interviews with all students, parents and staff associated with the football team. While the various health workers were doing their jobs, the community was asking a lot of questions, including why school wasn’t closed for the week following the outbreak.

“We were in constant contact with the county and state health departments as soon as we first learned about it,” said Durand Superintendent Greg Doverspike. “I posed that question to the State Health Department and they said there was no need to close school. This is confined to a cohort (group), and there’s no evidence to show it’s spreading beyond that cohort. There’s also no evidence it’s airborne, either.

“They did say to encourage students to use good hygiene by hand washing. We were also doing extra cleaning and disinfecting things like door handles, water fountains, bathrooms, desks and buses, so we were going above and beyond our normal routines.”

One of the concessions the school did make to the illness outbreak was to cancel several athletic and extracurricular activities, including the football game on September 26.

As the investigation continued, McKeown said the Wisconsin Department of Health reached out to the State Department of Agriculture for help.

“We asked the Department of Agriculture to go to the farm (where the raw milk came from) and do a test of the milk in the bulk tank,” she said. “They did not find any bacteria that would match what we had found in the investigation.”

Sixty-five people were interviewed for the investigation, and testing stool samples showed that 26 of them were infected with laboratory-tested cases of campylobacter jejuni infection. But the bacteria hadn’t shown up in the milk at the farm, which McKeown said wasn’t unheard of.

“Cows do not always shed this bacteria,” she said. “It can happen intermittently, and milk can also be contaminated after the cow has been milked, too.”

After the milk had been tested, McKeown said the Department of Health asked the Ag Department to head back to the farm for more testing. This time, they collected manure samples.

“With no bacteria in the milk, we couldn’t conclude that the milk was the source, said McKeown. “We needed additional information.”

Questions began to be answered after the manure test results came back from the lab. “We found a match between the manure samples and the samples that we received from the sick individuals,” said McKeown.

“Once we did our complete analysis, looking at what people had eaten, what thestatistical analysis showed us and looking at information from the lab, we did feel that the raw milk was the common factor in the outbreak,” said McKeown.

Raw milk, which is illegal in Wisconsin, was determined to be at the center of the campylobacter outbreak in Durand, Wisconsin (photo from campylobacterblog.com)

Raw milk, which is illegal in Wisconsin, was determined to be at the center of the campylobacter outbreak in Durand, Wisconsin (photo from campylobacterblog.com)

The farm owners who supplied the raw milk came from pointed out that chicken alfredo was served at the meal, and may have been a possible source of the contamination

“We looked at that as well, but since everybody ate that, there was nobody to compare it to who did not eat the food,” said McKeown. “But there were also nowhere near the percentages of people who became ill. When we ran the numbers in the statistical analysis, that helps us to pinpoint that it was the (raw) milk rather than the Chicken Alfredo.”

McKeown credited the quick thinking of the Pepin County Health Department for helping to find answers to what was affecting students and staff at Durand High School.

“As soon as Heidi (Stewart, Pepin County Health Officer) started hearing about these sick children, she moved very quickly to begin those interviews and start the identification work, and she called us in very quickly,” said McKeown. “I do think that Heidi acted well in beginning a prompt investigation of this illness.”

The dangers of raw milk cannot be over-emphasized. Despite the investigation concluding, students are still trying to recover from a very serious illness.

One student shared the timeline for their illness, and it’s scary. The student preferred to remain anonymous because of a pending court case.

September 19, the student attended the team dinner. Sunday night, September 22, the student became seriously ill, with chills, fever and vomiting. The parents initially dosed the student with NyQuil, thinking it may be the flu.

September 23, the students fever was up to 104, and immediately was taken to the hospital. The examining doctor dispensed with the initial examination, and the student was immediately admitted to the hospital and given IV fluids.

That same morning, the State Health Department interviewed the student. Parents were not allowed in the room without hospital gowns and gloves.

As the day went on, more and more students were admitted to the hospital.

When the student went to the bathroom, everything had to be kept for the State of Wisconsin Health Department to examine.

September 25, the state confirms it’s a campylobacter outbreak after testing the fecal matter of the students and manure from the farm.

September 26, the student is released from the hospital, but would be home until September 30.

The student lost 30 pounds from the illness, and suffered for months from loss of feeling in limbs, joint pain, and trouble sleeping and concentrating.

The moral of this story is simple: don’t take any chances with raw milk.