Governor Signs into Law Eleven Bills Helpful to Municipalities
Last week, Governor Evers signed into law several bills the League lobbied for that are beneficial to municipalities, including allowing clerks to issue operator's licenses, creating a new water quality trading option to help communities comply with phosphorus standards, cleaning up the confusing process for filling vacancies in local elective offices, and allowing municipalities to conduct levy limit referendums earlier in the year than November. These and other new laws positively impacting municipalities are described in more detail below. Upon signing two of these bills, Governor Ever's quipped "Common sense prevails." Indeed.

SB 91 -- (now Act 151). Authorizes water quality credit trades to be facilitated by a central clearinghouse. This bill creates another option for communities to use when attempting to find affordable ways to comply with phosphorus and other water pollution standards that apply to wastewater treatment plant effluent and stormwater. The League thanks Sen. Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Rep. Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) for introducing this bill.

SB 203 -- (now Act 166) Allows municipal governing bodies to delegate to the clerk or other appropriate official the authority to issue operator’s (bartender’s) licenses. This bill will speed up the time it takes for a person to obtain an operator’s license and free up more time on the governing body’s agenda for policy actions. The League thanks Sen. Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Rep. Knodl (R-Germantown) for introducing this bill.

SB 108 -- (now Act 164) Makes the process for filling vacancies in elective city and village offices clearer and easier to follow. The bill eliminates confusing dates in current law while retaining the flexibility local governing bodies need for determining how best to fill a vacancy. The League worked with Rep. Brooks (R-Saukville) and Sen. Stroebel (R-Saukville) to draft this bill and we thank them for introducing it.

AB 310 -- (now Act 126) Makes it possible for a municipality or county to conduct a referendum to exceed levy limits earlier in the year than November, which is the earliest such a referendum could occur under prior law. November is too late to inform the annual municipal budget writing process. The League worked with the authors and the Wisconsin Counties Association on this bill. The League thanks Rep. Novak (R-Dodgeville), Rep. Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and Sen. Marklein (R-Spring Green) for introducing AB 310.

AB 472 -- (now Act 133) Treats joint emergency medical services districts the same as joint fire departments under the levy limit law. The bill expands the joint fire department levy limit exception to also include payments for charges assessed by a joint emergency medical services district. The League thanks Rep. Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Sen. Nass (R-Whitewater) for introducing this bill.

SB 637 (now Act 175) Allows for the reconstruction of or improvements to nonconforming homes in a floodplain even if costs exceed 50% of the property's assessed value if certain conditions apply. The League thanks Sen. Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Pronschinske (R-Mondovi) for introducing this bill.

AB 661 -- (now Act 140) Clarifies that notice of governmental body meetings to the public under the open meetings law must be accomplished by using one of the following methods:

  1. Posting a notice in at least 3 public places likely to give notice to persons affected.
  2. Posting a notice in at least one public place likely to give notice to persons affected and placing a notice electronically on the governmental body's Internet site.
  3. By paid publication in a news medium likely to give notice to persons affected.

Rep.Quinn (R-Rice Lake) and Sen. Jacque (R-DePere) introduced this bill at the request of the Wisconsin Towns Association.

AB 532 -- (now Act 136) Allows a taxpayer to decrease the amount of capital gains subject to income and franchise taxation by investing in a Wisconsin qualified opportunity fund holding at least 90 percent of its assets in property that qualifies under the federal opportunity zone program and is located in one of Wisconsin's 120 opportunity zones. Rep. Vandermeer (R-Tomah) and Sen. Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) introduced this bill with the strong encouragement and support of the City of Racine.

AB 607 -- (now Act 139) Increases the amount of total funding for the length-of-service award grant program for volunteer fire fighters and EMTs from $2.5 million in a fiscal year to $2.8 million in fiscal year 2019-20 and $2.9 million in 2020-2021 and each subsequent year after. Rep. Mursau (R-Crivitz) and Sen. Testin (R-Stevens Point) introduced this bill.

AB 818 -- (now Act 146) Authorizes DOT to issue permits for the overweight transport of residual material to and from municipal sewage treatment facilities. Rep. Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) and Sen. Petrowski (R-Marathon) introduced this bill.

SB 369 (now Act 159) Requires the adjutant general to pay to a local government the state’s share of federal emergency management grants for major disaster recovery assistance within 30 days after: (1) the state receives the federal emergency assistance funds; (2) the adjutant general has received all required state and federal forms from the local government; and (3) the local unit of government has fulfilled all other state and federal requirements. Sen. Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Kurtz (R-Wonowoc) introduced this bill.
Governor Signs Police Body Camera Legislation into Law
On February 28, Governor Evers signed SB 50 into law as Act 108, creating standards for law enforcement agencies that use body cameras on police officers. The Legislative Council Study Committee on the Use of Police Body Cameras recommended the bill. Under the Act, if a law enforcement agency uses a body camera, the agency must have a written policy on the use, maintenance, and storage of the cameras and the data recorded by the cameras. The bill also requires that the law enforcement agencies retain data from the recordings for at least 120 days and specifies the circumstances in which that data must be retained longer. The Act took effect March 1.

A Legislative Council memo provides more information about Act 108, here.
Briefing call on COVID-19 (coronavirus)
NOTE: This call is intended for county and municipal officials.
On Wednesday, March 11, at 12:00 PM CST , please join Senior Administration Officials for a briefing call on COVID-19 (coronavirus). Please feel free to share this invitation with your county and/or municipal colleagues as well as public health officials.

Briefing Call Registration
Date: Wednesday, March 11
Time: 12:00 PM CST
Call-In Registration : CLICK HERE
Note: You must RSVP to join the call. Upon successful registration, you will receive dial-in details to the email address you use to register. Note that multiple people cannot dial-in using the same registration information.

The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
William F. Crozer
Special Assistant to the President/Deputy Director
White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

Milwaukee County sales tax referendum proposal gets hearing in Madison
The legislation would give Milwaukee County voters a chance to decide whether they want a 1% sales tax increase through a binding vote.

The proposal was unveiled in October 2019 by Move Forward MKE, a coalition of local government officials, business leaders and community leaders intent on “rebalancing Milwaukee’s public funding mechanisms” by allowing local government “to generate the revenue it needs to adequately fund public services, maintain facilities and invest in the future,” the organization’s website states.

The organization’s proposal would bring in an additional $160 million in tax revenue in its first year – 25% of that would come from visitors and non-county residents, according to the group. However, voters would need to approve the plan before it would take effect. Read the article... Watch Jerry Deschane's testimony on Facebook live... Watch Rebecca Grill, West Allis Adminstrator's testimony on Facebook live...

Multimodal Local Supplement (MLS) infrastructure grant program grantees were announced March 4. Below is a sampling of the media coverage. In case you missed the Special Edition of the Capitol Buzz on the MLS, you can read it here...


U.S. NEWS and World Report 

Chippewa Herald (I think this may have run in Eau Claire as well)
Daily Citizen
Door County Daily News

As Spring River Flooding Nears, Wisconsin Communities Deal With High Groundwater
Bernie Lenz, utilities manager for the city of La Crosse, said the pressure from elevated groundwater levels has been pushing on the city’s pipes and manholes. That's causing more collapses of older infrastructure and higher costs to fix the problem.

"When we try to fix an infrastructure problem with high groundwater, we have to de-water all the ground around that before you dig. Otherwise, it's like digging a hole at the beach: you dig down and the water comes in and it just collapses. So it becomes a much more expensive problem to fix," Lenz.

He said the city has already exceeded its budget for sewer repairs so the department is dipping into money that would have gone toward maintenance projects. Read the story...

Viroqua Chamber Main Street, city of Hillsboro announce economic development pilot program partnership
he Viroqua Chamber Main Street, a nationally accredited Main Street program and the city of Hillsboro, announced March 4 that they have joined forces to strengthen opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses in their communities, with the launch of a pilot partnership-the first of its kind for the Viroqua Chamber Main Street and for southwestern Wisconsin.

As part of the pilot program, the city of Hillsboro will join the Viroqua Chamber Main Street as a municipal member. During the pilot year, Hillsboro businesses will have access to resources as members of the Viroqua Chamber Main Street. Read the story...

Oshkosh to consider proposal to ban vaping indoors that wouldn't exempt vape shops
The Oshkosh Common Council will vote Tuesday on a proposal that bans using vaping devices and e-cigarettes indoors at places open to the public, such as taverns, restaurants and stores. Mayor Lori Palmeri and Councilor Jake Krause both expect the ordinance to pass. Read the article...

Wisconsin PFAS Action Council works to develop action plan
The first phase of plan development will focus on collecting input from a broad audience to identify priorities in the response to PFAS. The final plan is to be completed by June 30, 2020. Read the article...

WisDOT Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson on the League's Local Perspective From weight limitations, to favorite potholes, to rail and ports, bikes and buses, from the DMV and Real ID to the State Patrol, Jerry Deschane, talks with WisDOT Secretary Thompson about all things transportation. Watch it on the League's YouTube Channel here... Comment on the League's Facebook page here... Thanks to FACTv in Fitchburg for hosting!

Your REAL ID & DMV Stats - LocalGovMatters 2.0
In accordance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005, if you plan to fly within the United States, visit a military base or any other federal buildings, the Department of Homeland Security will require identification that is REAL ID compliant (or show another acceptable form of identification, such as a passport) beginning October 1, 2020. The Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues these REAL ID compliant products.

We talk with Kristina Boardman, Administrator of the Wisconsin DMV and learn more about the history of REAL ID, why it is important and what citizens need to do to get their REAL ID by October 1, 2020 Listen here and subscribe on your favorite podcast app.

Since the 2019-2020 legislative session is nearly over and no bills introduced at this time will have a chance of passing both houses, no newly introduced bills will be reported in the remaining issues of the Legislative Bulletin for this session.

AB 869, Authorizing Communities in Southeast Wisconsin to extend Tavern Closing Hours during Democratic National Convention. By Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade, on Wednesday, March 11 at 10:30 in room 330 Southwest, State Capitol. The League has no position on this bill.

AB 895, Creates a $5 million grant program to assist in constructing or making improvements to public or private indoor, athletic or aquatic athletic facilities statewide. By Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, on Wednesday, March 11 at 10:00 a.m. in 201 Southeast, State Capitol. The League supports this bill.

AB 48, Increases the permissible term for a promissory note issued by a municipality from 10 years to 20 years after the original date of the note. By Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions, on Wednesday, March 11 at 1:00 p.m., room 330 Southwest, State Capitol. The League supports this bill.