U.S. Senate Passes American Rescue Plan

Over the weekend, the Senate passed a slightly modified version of the latest COVID relief bill, the American Rescue Plan. The final package passed by the Senate includes full funding for cities and villages as passed by the House weeks earlier. The bill with $65 billion for municipalities is headed back to the House where it will likely pass without further amendments this week.
Last week, the Senate's initial draft of the package cut money to municipalities by $5 billion. The final package had the $5 billion restored.

Under the bill, payments to municipalities will be in tranches with two equal payments 12 months apart. Also, a Senate amendment expanded the list of allowable expenditures to include “To make necessary investments in water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure.”  

We will provide more details on the latest federal stimulus when the House concurs in the Senate's amendments and sends the package to President Biden, which we anticipate happening this week.

Supreme Court Refuses Dark Store Case

Wisconsin courts continue to reject dark store arguments presented by big box stores attempting to reduce their assessments. On February 24, 2021 the Wisconsin Supreme Court denied Lowe’s Home Centers’ petition for review of a October 29, 2020 Court of Appeals decision affirming a trial court decision dismissing an excessive tax assessment claim filed by Lowe's against the Village of Plover for the 2016 and 2017 tax years.

The League filed an amicus brief with the court of appeals in support of the Village of Plover’s assessment. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce filed an amicus brief with the Wisconsin Supreme Court in support of Lowe’s petition for review.

Read more here.

Opportunity to comment on DNR's Proposed Closure of Contaminated Sites Guidance

DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program is seeking input on the publication RR-606, Guidance on the Case Closure Process and Continuing Obligations: Wis. Admin. Code chs. NR 725 to727.

The purpose of the guidance is to guide users in preparing for a contaminated redevelopment site case closure request, particularly at sites where contamination remains after response actions are complete and continuing obligations are needed to address exposure pathways. This guidance document is intended for use by responsible parties, consultants or other interested parties, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection staff. 

The above document can also be found at the RR Program’s Public Notices & Guidance web page under the “Program Guidance” tab. Comments may be submitted through March 24, 2021 to Jane Lemcke at Jane.Lemcke@wisconsin.gov or DNRRRGuidance@wisconsin.gov.

Proposed Changes to MSA Population Threshold

The Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is seeking public comments on a proposal to change the definition of Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The change would increase the minimum urban population from 50,000 to 100,000. There are five MSAs in Wisconsin (Janesville-Beloit, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, and Wausau) that would be directly affected. 

Review the proposed changes and comment on them here. https://www.regulations.gov/docket/OMB-2021-0001/document

Municipal Transportation Funding Needs -- Tell your Story

We need your help to convince the Legislature of the need for additional transportation funding. The League is partnering with the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin (TDA) on an effort to inform legislators and the public about local transportation needs to help advocate for additional funding.

As an example, read “Communities Keep Up with Aging Infrastructure,” detailing Barneveld’s street project which was published in the March 2021 issue of The Municipality magazine on page 16.

If you have a transportation infrastructure need or funding story to share, please send an email to Gail Sumi, League Member Engagement Director, at gsumi@lwm-info.org and she will work with you to publicize the need for funding.

NOTE: This shouldn't take much time as you've already gathered the data for your MLS application! Let us share your story with legislators.