2020 Walk for Hope

2020 Walk for Hope

Anderson O’Brien is proud to be Platinum Sponsor for the 14th annual Walk for Hope, a 5k Virtual Walk organized by the Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Coalition for Portage County. The funds raised support initiatives in Portage County for suicide prevention and mental health awareness. This year more than ever, we are committed to helping reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness and to raise awareness about how to seek help. Please join us on September 12, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Register for the walk and then walk with family or friends. Don’t forget to tag the event page with your picture. Links to event information and the walk registration page are below. Please help us support this very important cause!

 

For more information, please visit:
andlaw.com/walk-for-hope

To register, please visit:
www.eventbrite.com/e/2020-walk-for-hope-tickets

Attorney Donna L. Ginzl Named Fellow of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Attorney Donna L. Ginzl Named Fellow of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers

Anderson O’Brien is pleased to announce that Attorney Donna L. Ginzl has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) was established in 1962 and is the preeminent organization for family law practitioners dedicated to promoting the highest degree of professionalism and excellence in the practice of family law. AAML members are recognized as preeminent family law practitioners with the highest levels of knowledge, skill and integrity.  The AAML is comprised of 1,600 Fellows who are located in every state. Attorney Ginzl is now one of approximately 31 family law attorneys in the Wisconsin Chapter.

In order to be elected, each Fellow must successfully complete a rigorous selection process that includes interviews, examinations, and professional and judicial evaluations.  The process for Attorney Donna Ginzl consisted of a lengthy and detailed written application, recommendations from a number of family law attorneys, judges and family court commissioners, passage of a national exam and a panel interview with six current Fellows of the Wisconsin Chapter.

For more than 25 years Attorney Donna Ginzl has been helping individuals in Central Wisconsin as they battle some of the most traumatic and emotional legal challenges a person can face: divorce and family law disputes, personal injury and being a defendant in a criminal case. For the past decade, Donna’s practice has been almost exclusively devoted to Family Law, including divorce, paternity actions, child custody and placement disputes, property division, child support, maintenance, terminations of parental rights and step-parent adoptions.

 

Attorney Jacobson Testifies on New Law Relating to Local Personal Property Aid

Attorney Jacobson Testifies on New Law Relating to Local Personal Property Aid

Attorney Brent Jacobson
Many local taxing units may see less state aid than they should if a new bi-partisan bill relating to personal property aid is not revived in a future session of the State Legislature.  In 2017, the Legislature repealed a large section of the personal property tax.  The personal property tax is levied by local governments and, at the time, amounted to approximately $300 million annually across the state.

To aid local governments following the repeal, the State of Wisconsin agreed to backfill the loss with a new form of state aid.  To implement the law, the Department of Revenue came up with a formula that it thought would approximate what local governments were collecting in tax revenue prior to the repeal.  However, several local governments soon discovered that the formula failed to accurately account for how tax incremental finance districts (TIDs) collected tax revenue, resulting in significant losses for many local governments.

Anderson O’Brien, in co-counsel with another Central Wisconsin firm, brought the first and only lawsuits in Wisconsin on behalf of several local governments challenging the formula.  In June 2019, the Marathon County Circuit Court issued a statewide injunction prohibiting use of the formula and requiring the Department of Revenue to calculate actual tax levies in distributing aid.  The state did not appeal and proceeded to comply with the injunction by recalculating aids going forward.

After the lawsuit, several local governments discovered yet another error in the 2017 law.  When TIDs close, the law failed to account for all pre-2017 personal property development.  This gap in the law would effectively eliminate the aid for this development when the TIDs close and deprive cities, villages, counties, local school districts and technical colleges from receiving the benefits from the TIDs as they normally would.

Recognizing the gap, a bi-partisan group of legislators offered Assembly Bill 620 to correct the aid distributions upon the TID closure.  At the request of the Wisconsin League of Municipalities, Attorney Jacobson, lead counsel from the original lawsuit, testified before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee in December 2019.  During his testimony, Attorney Jacobson explained how dozens of local governments would be impacted in just the next several years and that even smaller communities could stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars.  He also offered suggestions on revisions to the bill to offer clarity in hopes of avoiding the need for further litigation.

AB620 easily passed the Assembly in February 2020 on a voice vote.  Unfortunately, the bill was not taken up by the Senate before it adjourned in March.  With state revenues now threatened by the economic impacts of COVID-19, there is understandably uncertainty as to whether this source of aid will be corrected.

 

Rich Fuller Elected the President of the Portage County Bar Association

Rich Fuller Elected the President of the Portage County Bar Association

Attorney Richard H. Fuller was elected President of the Portage County Bar Association for 2020. The Portage County Bar Association is a local professional association comprised of judges and attorneys who practice in Portage County. This organization is dedicated to maintaining a high standard of quality and distinction for legal professionals. The Portage County Bar Association works to serve its members enabling them to perform their duties and responsibilities to the best of their ability. Rich is proud to serve the Portage County Bar Association as its President and is proud to represent Anderson O’Brien in this organization.
2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

2019 Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

We are proud to announce that Attorneys Russ Golla, Ron Skrenes, and Nadine Davy have been named 2019 Super Lawyers.  Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.. Only 5% of all active attorneys, both public and private, comprise this prestigious list.  In addition, Attorneys Brent Jacobson and Dan Schmeeckle were listed as 2019 Rising Stars.  To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. Only 2.5% of the state’s attorneys are selected as Rising Stars.

Russ Golla (Super Lawyers: 2006 – 2019)

Russ is a trial attorney who spent the first 15 years of his practice focusing on defense work then switched plaintiff work, giving him a very balanced perspective. He is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and now focuses on complex trials and appellate cases.  He also devotes much of his time to auto and other product liability cases.

Ron Skrenes (Super Lawyers: 2011-2019)

Ronald Skrenes is a business attorney who represents large, middle-sized and small businesses located throughout central Wisconsin. He has been directly involved in the largest merger and acquisition transactions in Portage County. As an attorney and Certified Public Accountant, he understands the complexities and the tax ramifications of business transactions. His business law services include general business law, taxation, and mergers and acquisitions.

Nadine Davy (Super Lawyers 2019)

Nadine Davy is a family law attorney who represents clients on custody and placement issues and the multiple financial aspects of divorce, including maintenance, child support and property division.  Nadine is also a divorce mediator who guides couples through the complexities of divorce, assisting, facilitating and encouraging parties to reach a mutual agreement.

Brent Jacobson (Rising Stars: 2014 – 2019)

Brent Jacobson is a litigation attorney who focuses on a unique mix of insurance defense, personal injury and business litigation.  Outside of litigation, Brent has also handled arbitrations and mediation on behalf of business clients under the rules of the American Arbitration Association and the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution.

Dan Schmeeckle (Rising Stars: 2019)

Dan Schmeeckle is a civil litigation attorney who practices in the areas of worker’s compensation, arbitration, personal injury, business litigation and employment law. He also has experience drafting complex commercial contracts.

 

Attorney Jacobson Testifies on New Law Relating to Local Personal Property Aid

Attorney Jacobson Secures Statewide Injunction for Municipalities

As part of the 2017-19 State Budget, the Wisconsin State Legislature repealed a portion of the personal property tax formerly collected by local governments and dispersed to cities, villages, counties and school districts. To account for this over $70 million loss in local tax revenue, the State Legislature also agreed to backfill the loss in the form of state aid.

New state law required the Department of Revenue (DOR) to collect tax levy information from local governments so the state would know what to distribute to cities, villages, school districts and counties. The DOR created a formula that it felt would approximate the former personal property tax levies. Unfortunately, the formula resulted in substantial misallocations of tax revenue for certain communities with tax incremental finance districts, which are special tax districts created by local governments to generate development.

Numerous municipalities throughout Wisconsin took issue with the DOR in late 2018 when estimates of aid under its formula were released. In October 2018, the City of Mosinee, represented by Attorney Jacobson, became the first community in Wisconsin to file suit against the DOR to compel it to follow the plain language of the statute and preclude it from using the formula of its own creation. This would require the DOR to collect actual tax levy information from local governments to ensure that state aid was sent to the right tax entities.

In June 2019, Judge Huber of Marathon County found that the DOR’s use of a formula was contrary to state law and declared that the City of Mosinee had been shorted nearly $50,000 in state aid. Finding that Mosinee’s case applied equally to all other communities in Wisconsin, Judge Huber went on to issue a statewide injunction prohibiting the DOR from using its formula anywhere in Wisconsin.

Attorney Jacobson was honored to represent the City of Mosinee in achieving a result that benefits all local governments throughout Wisconsin. The DOR chose not to appeal the decision and is in the process of taking steps to comply with the decision statewide.

 

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