Articles Posted in Government & Administrative Law

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The term “processing” in Wis. Stat. 77.52(2)(a)11. includes the separation of river segment into its component parts. The Wisconsin Department of Revenue imposed a tax on Petitioners pursuant to section 77.52(2)(a)11. for the “processing” of river sediments into reusable sand, waste sludge, and water. The Wisconsin Tax Appeals Commission upheld the Department’s determination. Petitioners filed a petition for judicial review, arguing that the term “processing” is not expansive enough to cover the separation of river sediment into its component parts. The circuit court and court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioners were liable for the sales and use tax imposed by section 77.52(2); and (2) although the Court has decided to end the practice of deferring to administrative agencies’ conclusions of law, pursuant to Wis. Stat. 227.57(10), the Court will give “due weight” to the experience, technical competence, and specialized knowledge of an administrative agency as it considers its arguments. View "Tetra Tech EC, Inc. v. Wisconsin Department of Revenue" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over unemployment compensation benefits, the Supreme Court held that the plain language of Wis. Stat. 108.04(5)(e) allows an employer to adopt its own absenteeism policy that differs from the policy set forth in the statute. Further, termination for the violation of the employer’s absenteeism policy will result in disqualification from receiving unemployment compensation benefits even if the employer’s absenteeism policy is more restrictive than the policy set forth in section 108.04(5)(e). Employee was denied unemployment compensation on the ground that she was terminated for “misconduct” - namely, absenteeism, as defined by section 108.04(5)9e). The circuit court concluded that an employer’s violation of the employer’s absenteeism rules constitutes “misconduct” under section 108.04(5)(e) barring unemployment compensation benefits. The court of appeals disagreed, holding that an employee who is terminated for violating an employer’s absenteeism rules is not barred from obtaining unemployment benefits unless the employee’s conduct violates the statutory definition of misconduct based on absenteeism. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Employee was properly denied benefits under the circumstances of this case. View "Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development v. Wisconsin Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The classification of real property for tax purposes is based on the actual use of the property, and an injunction prohibiting agricultural use of a residentially-zoned property, which is based on a restrictive covenant, does not control the property’s tax assessment classification. However, the record before the Board in this case contained no evidence that the property was used agriculturally within the meaning of Wisconsin tax law. Donald Thoma and Polk Properties LLC (collectively, Thoma) challenged the Village of Slinger’s 2014 property tax assessment for land Thoma attempted to develop into a residential subdivision. The property previously operated as a farm and received an agricultural classification for tax assessment purposes. Thoma and the Village later entered into an agreement that contained a restrictive covenant prohibiting Thoma from using the land for agriculture. The Village then obtained an injunction prohibiting any agricultural use on the property. The Board voted to uphold the assessor’s assessment, which the assessor reached by changing the use classification from agricultural to residential. The circuit court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the Board’s decision upholding the tax assessment was lawful and supported by a reasonable view of the evidence; and (2) the circuit court did not err in denying Thoma’s request to vacate the original order. View "Thoma v. Village of Slinger" on Justia Law

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The DNR appealed the circuit court’s decision restoring contested Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit conditions that the DNR had rejected. The DNR selected District II as the appellate venue. A single court of appeals judge issued an order sua sponte transferring venue from District II to District IV, noting that District IV was the proper venue because it encompassed the circuit court that issued the judgment from which the DNR appealed. The DNR then petitioned the Supreme Court for a supervisory writ requiring the court of appeals to transfer venue back to District II. The Supreme Court granted the petition for a supervisory writ, holding (1)Wis. Stat. 752.21(2) gave DNR the right to select appellate venue under the circumstances of this case; (2) it was the court of appeals’ plain duty to hear the DNR’s appeal in District II; and (3) the DNR met the requirements for the issuance of a supervisory writ. View "State ex rel. Department of Natural Resources v. Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District IV" on Justia Law

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Applying Wis. Stat. 70.47(7)(aa) and Wis. Stat. 74.37(4)(a) in a manner that required submission to a tax assessor’s search as a precondition to challenging the revaluation of their property violated Plaintiffs’ due process rights. Plaintiffs brought this case claiming that the assessment of their real property was excessive and that sections 70.47(7)(aa) and 74.37(4)(a), as applied, were unconstitutional because they conditioned their right to challenge the assessor’s valuation of the property on submission to a search of the interior of their home. The circuit court granted summary judgment for the Town. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that sections 70.47(7)(aa) and 73.37(4)(a) were unconstitutionally applied to Plaintiffs. View "Milewski v. Town of Dover" on Justia Law

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An employee is not eligible for benefits under Wis. Stat. 102.42(1m) if the disability-causing treatment was directed at treating something other than the employee’s compensable injury. Plaintiff suffered from a soft-tissue strain, which was work-related, and a degenerate disc disease, which was not work-related. In the belief that it was necessary to treat her soft-tissue strain, Plaintiff underwent surgery, which, in actuality, was treating the unrelated degenerative disc disease. The procedure left Plaintiff with a permanent partial disability. Plaintiff filed a workers’ compensation claim, which the * Commission denied. The circuit court affirmed. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that, based on its interpretation of section 102.42(1m), an employee need only have a good faith belief that the treatment was required. The Supreme Court reversed the court of appeals and affirmed the Commission’s order dismissing Plaintiff’s claim for disability benefits, holding that Plaintiff’s claim must be allowed because her surgery treated her pre-existing condition, not her compensable injury. View "Flug v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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The thirty-day period under Wis. Stat. 68.13(1) during which certiorari review may be obtained for a town board’s highway order to lay out, alter, or discontinue a highway begins to run on the date that the highway order is recorded by the register of deeds. In this case, the circuit court granted the town boards’ motions to dismiss Appellant’s petitions for certiorari review of highway orders recorded in Rock and Walworth Counties. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded for certiorari review in either Walworth County Circuit Court or Rock County Circuit Court because Appellant’s petitions were filed within thirty days of the dates on which the highway orders were recorded by the registers of deeds. View "Pulera v. Town of Richmond" on Justia Law

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The circuit court affirmed a determination by the Labor and Industry Review Commission (LIRC) that Appellant was ineligible for unemployment benefits because she was terminated for substantial fault. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Appellant was entitled to unemployment compensation because her actions did not fit within the definition of substantial fault as set forth in Wis. Stat. 103.04(5g)(a) where she was terminated for committing “one or more inadvertent errors” during the course of her employment. Remanded to LIRC to determine the amount of unemployment benefits Appellant was owed. View "Operton v. Labor & Industry Review Commission" on Justia Law

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Madison, Wis., Gen. Ordinances 3.14(4)(h) created the City of Madison’s Department of Transportation and Transit and Parking Commission and empowered the Commission to establish rules and procedures. In 2005, The Commission adopted a Rule prohibiting passengers from bearing weapons on the Metro Transit. Petitioners sought to harmonize the Rule with the Concealed-Carry Statute, Wis. Stat. 175.60, which authorized Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons upon obtaining the required license. Petitioners filed an amended complaint arguing that Madison, Wis., Gen. Ordinances 3.14(4)(h) offended the Local Regulation Statute, Wis. Stat. 66.0409. The circuit court dismissed the amended complaint, and the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Local Regulation Statute has withdrawn authority from the City, either through its governing body or its sub-units, to regulate the subjects identified in the statute in a manner more stringent than an analogous state statute; and (2) the Concealed-Carry Statute preempts the City’s authority to restrict a licensee’s right to carry concealed weapons on the City’s buses so long as the licensee complies with the statute’s requirements. View "Wisconsin Carry, Inc. v. City of Madison" on Justia Law

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The circuit court dismissed an action brought by Vilas County District Attorney Albert Moustakis who sought to restrain the Wisconsin Department of Justice from releasing records pertaining to Moustakis in response to a public records request by The Lakeland Times, a newspaper located in Minocqua. The request sought records of any "complaints or investigations regarding Vilas County District Attorney Al Moustakis" and records "regarding any investigation of [Moustakis's] conduct or handling of cases while district attorney." The request also sought "information related to complaints and investigations regarding Mr. Moustakis that were completed or ended without any action taken against him[,]" as well as "any communications between Mr. Moustakis and [Department of Justice] since he took office in 1995." The court of appeals affirmed the order of the circuit court. Finding no error in the circuit or appellate courts' decisions, the Supreme Court also affirmed. View "Moustakis v. Wisconsin Department of Justice" on Justia Law