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Republicans Stall “Dark Store” Bill

Bill opposed by special interests ends loophole lowering big box stores' property taxes.

By - Dec 14th, 2017 10:38 am
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Walgreens at 2625 W. National Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Walgreens at 2625 W. National Ave. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Six months ago, a group of bipartisan legislators sponsored two bills that would close a loophole that big box stores and other companies use to lower their tax assessments.

This “dark store” loophole allows them to base their tax assessments not on their stores that are in operation but on their vacant stores.

This deprives communities of tax revenue, and ends up forcing homeowners to pay higher taxes or communities to cut services.

The bipartisan measures to address this problem, Senate Bills 291 and 292 , received overwhelming support at public hearings. And on Oct. 11, a Senate committee dominated by Republicans voted unanimously for them.

But there has been a hold up. GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has not scheduled a vote on the bills.

Earlier this week, numerous communities throughout the state held a “Dark Store Day” to draw attention to the legislation. In recent years, more than 50 counties and communities have passed resolutions asking state lawmakers to address the problem.

Pleasant Prairie Village Board President John Steinbrink, a former Democratic state lawmaker, told the Kenosha News, “somebody is not calling the vote. I know they could do it overnight if they wanted to. If they could do that for lobbyists and special interests, they could do it for the taxpayers.”

Here are the special interest groups and industries that oppose one or both of these proposals to address the dark store loophole:

  • Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
  • Americans for Prosperity
  • Walmart
  • Walgreen Co.
  • Wisconsin Restaurant Association
  • Union Pacific Railroad
  • CVS Health
  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
  • Aggregate Producers of Wisconsin
  • Marathon Petroleum
  • Alliance of Wisconsin Retailers
  • Outdoor Advertising Association of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Hotel and Lodging Association
  • Wisconsin Independent Businesses
  • T. Wall Enterprises Management
  • Wisconsin Industrial Sand Association
  • Wisconsin Property Taxpayers Inc.

More about the Dark Store Loophole

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