Much like Gov. Chris Christie's Fort Lee "traffic cones" lane closure scandal in New Jersey, Wisconsin Republicans appear willing to punish Gov. Scott Walker's re-election opponent and her family's bicycle business by enacting a sleight-of-hand $25 "registration" tax on new bike purchases in the state of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Bike Fed Excerpt:
Second, they’ve introduced a new wrinkle into the debate: a tax on bikes. What’s being proposed is a one time $25 registration fee, which would be paid upon the “initial” purchase of a bike, implying that it would be charged only on new bikes. The proceeds, which are estimated to be about $7 million over the two-year state budget, would be deposited into the Transportation Fund, but not earmarked for bicycle infrastructure.
Well, I submit that the $7 million will pay for political traffic cones. If you know what I mean.
Mary Burke, virtually unknown in the political world at the time she dared challenge the GOP's embattled star for his second term as governor, lost the election by 5 1/2 points. Burke is a former executive of Trek Bicycles and also happens to be the daughter of Trek Bicycle Corporation founder Richard Burke.
Granted, the tax pushed by state republicans is industry wide and does not specifically target an individual bicycle manufacturer. But the traffic cones set up on New Jersey highways to punish Fort Lee did not specifically target an individual either. They want as many opponent's supporters as possible to feel the pain.
Yet in the bicycle world, Trek is synonymous with Wisconsin much like Harley-Davidson motorcycles are. It would be akin to charging an extra $200 "registration tax" on top of state sales taxes paid on any new motorcycles purchased in Wisconsin. For that matter, Harley-Davidson is very fortunate that an executive of the company did not attempt to challenge Walker or other top state republicans for office.
So at this point, whether the bike tax passes or not really doesn't matter. It is in the fact that it was proposed in such a way that resentment and retribution might be legislated to punish any opponent, business or group that dares challenge the political status quo in Wisconsin. Consider yourself forewarned.