Spring Green state senator pushes for food label clarity

Nicole Aimone, Editor-in-Chief 

Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green

Earlier this month, Republican Sen. Howard Marklein, Spring Green, re-introduced “Truth in Food Labeling” legislation that would require food labels to reflect the use of actual dairy and meat products, prohibiting plant based products from using those descriptors.

The proposed legislation consists of three bills, all stating food products carrying a label using common terms for milk, meat or dairy products must be made from real milk, meat and dairy products, meaning terms such as “milk”, “cheese”, “yogurt” “burger” or “chicken wing” can only be given those labels if they contain cow’s milk, beef or chicken.

“This legislation is extremely important to the farmers and food processors in my district,” said Marklein. “They feel very strongly about the integrity of food labeling and are frustrated by the misleading labeling that has invaded dairy and meat cases throughout our grocery stores. It’s disappointing when you open a carton of ‘ice cream’ and discover that you mistakenly bought a flavor-less, dairy-free alternative, rather than the creamy, delicious treat you expected.”

In a press release, Marklein, along with republican Rep. Travis Tranel, Cuba City, and republican Rep. Clint Moses, Menomonie, stated the purpose of the proposed legislation is to protect and promote real, healthy and high quality agricultural products for consumers, as well as apply pressure to the federal government for action on regulating food labels, something they believe is not currently being enforced.

“Milk is from a cow. Meat is from an animal. Cheese is made from milk. Consumers, farmers and producers deserve clear labeling,” said Tranel.

The three bills, senate bill (SB) 83, in the first legislative acts passed in nearly a year, Gov. Tony Evers signed two tax bills into law last week that will provide $480 million in tax relief to businesses and families that have been affected by COVID-19.

Assembly Bill 2, signed into law as Act 1, includes tax reforms and updates to align state tax code with federal changes that exclude forgive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans from taxable state income.

Along with many other tax code reforms for self-employed individuals, businesses and municipalities.

“I was proud to author this legislation which provides tax relief and tax reforms for the citizens of Wisconsin,” said Sen. Howard Marklein, an author of the bill. “Act 1 provides more than $400 million in tax relief. It also creates uniformity between the federal and state tax codes, allows self-employed people to subtract their medical care insurance costs and continues to update our statutes for the realities of e-commerce.”

The act also made state grants given to businesses and organizations throughout the pandemic exempt from taxable income.

Through these reforms and updates, the bill provides nearly $450 million in tax relief to businesses throughout the state, and nearly $30 million in tax relief for low-income families.

“This past year has been challenging and unrelenting for so many, but since the beginning of this pandemic, we’ve been committed to providing economic relief to the folks who’ve been affected by the pandemic,” said Evers. “We know business and families across Wisconsin need help now, so I’m proud to be able to deliver $480 million in tax relief for folks across our state.”

Evers also signed Assembly Bill 3 into law as Act 2, which simplifies tax rules for S corporations and partnerships.