Assembly Gives Green Light to Housing Legislation

In the Assembly floor session last week, legislators passed several housing initiatives over to the Senate. There are four bills the League opposes in the package listed below. Note that AB 608 and AB 610, the bills we are most concerned about, passed by voice vote. The fate of the housing package in the Senate is uncertain and the Governor has not indicated his position on any of the bills. The League is working to keep the bills negatively impacting cities and villages, such as AB 608 and AB 610, from advancing out of the Senate.
  • AB-603, Housing Development Sites. Creating a shovel-ready workforce housing development site program. Passed Assembly on Voice Vote. The League is neutral on this bill.
  • AB-604, Housing Grants. Creating pay for performance grant requirements, housing navigator grants, and regulating use of public lands to provide temporary residence for the homeless. Passed Assembly 55 to 39. The League opposes this bill.
  • AB-605, Requiring municipalities to use portion of ARPA moneys toward workforce housing projectsPassed Assembly 59 to 35. The League opposes this bill.
  • AB-607, Housing Rehab Loans. Creating a workforce housing rehabilitation loan program under WHEDA. Passed Assembly on Voice Vote. The League supports this bill.
  • AB-608, Mandating local approvals of certain workforce housing projects. Passed Assembly on Voice Vote. The League opposes this bill.
  • AB-609, Allowing municipalities to create and fund a local housing investment program. Passed Assembly on Voice Vote. The League worked with the author, Rep. Armstrong (R-rice Lake), to help draft this bill.
  • AB-610, Prohibiting certain well established property tax assessment practices. Passed Assembly on a Voice Vote. The League opposes this bill.

Municipal Bills Heading to the Governor's Desk

Last week, the Assembly met on Tuesday and concurred in SB-434, Municipal Raze Orders. This bill, introduced by Sen. Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) at the request of the insurance industry, modifies the process municipalities must follow to issue raze orders for certain insured dwellings. The League initially opposed the bill but worked with Sen Stafsholt and Rep. Steffen (R-Howard) on an amendment addressing our concerns. After the amendment was introduced we changed our position to neutral. The Legislative Council has written a memo explaining the bill and the changes made by the amendment to the bill. Read the memo here

The Senate and Assembly passed SB 434 by voice vote. The bill will now be forwarded to the Governor for his action.

The Assembly also concurred in SB 303 (the companion bill to AB 287 the league reported on last week) regarding Local reporting requirements related to general transportation aids. This bill reduces and caps the penalty imposed on villages and towns that miss the deadline for submitting reports relating to general transportation aids. The League supports this bill. SB 303 now heads to the Governor's desk for his action.

Assembly Passes League's Tax Refund Bill

Last week, the Assembly passed by voice vote AB 399, a bill the League worked with Rep. Brooks (R-Saukville) and Sen. Petrowski (R-Marathon) to introduce. The bill makes the following two changes to the interest municipalities must pay on property tax refunds: (1) Reduces the amount of interest municipalities must pay to a taxpayer who successfully files a claim to recover an unlawful property tax; and (2) Allows a municipality, after it has paid interest on a property tax refund, to collect from the other taxation districts (e.g., county and school district) their proportionate share of the interest paid. The League has asked the Senate Committee on Financial Institutions and Revenue to hold a public hearing on the Senate companion to AB 399 soon, so the Senate can concur in the Assembly's passage of AB 399. The Senate companion bill is SB 396.

Federal Legislation

On October 28, the new framework for the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) was released. After several months of negotiations, the revised framework includes nearly $2 trillion in funding for programs and priorities that would have a great impact in cities and villages across the country. The framework prioritizes several key areas, including workforce development, housing affordability, and recognizes childcare as a critical component to family employment. 

With $40 billion historic investment directed towards higher education and workforce development programs, the framework increases the Department of Labor’s annual spending on workforce development by 50% for the next five years while also investing in the critical training needed to meet local labor market demands by supporting community college programs, sector-based training, and registered apprenticeships. This investment will allow local workers to invest in the skills needed to access the jobs that will support local economic growth.

Funding for affordable housing is among the targeted investments identified in the framework for strengthening the middle class and fostering greater economic mobility into the middle class. The $150 billion for housing stability in the bill is forecast to bring about the construction, rehabilitation, and restoration of more than 1 million affordable homes, which will boost the supply of affordable housing units nationwide, including in rural communities, and reduce price pressures for renters and homeowners. 

The framework also contains other key provisions that will have an impact on communities rebounding from the pandemic, including: 
  • $400 billion in investments in child care and early childhood including Universal Preschool for all 3-and 4-year-olds and expanded access to high-quality child care. 
  • $150 billion to support care for those caring for older Americans or people living with disabilities in their homes. 
  • Extension of the American Rescue Plan Act’s Child Tax Credit and expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. 
  • Expanded free school meals program as well as increased support for summer meals. 
Stay tuned for action on the federal level in future bulletins.