Last week, legislation closing both the dark store and Walgreens property tax loopholes was introduced as SB 130. Fifty-five legislators, nearly equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, signed on to the bill. The signers included 20 Senators and 35 Representatives. Click on the button below to see if your legislator signed onto the bill. Be sure to thank them if they did.
The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) is seeking additional written public comment on certain sections of the proposed revisions to the Water Utility Service Rules, PSC 185, that were drafted pursuant to Docket 1–AC–233. All public comments must be submitted through the online Electronic Records Filing (ERF) system to the PSC no later than 1:00 pm on Friday March 29.

The League has concerns about the proposed rewrite of the rule relating to the thawing of frozen laterals and will be submitting comments to the PSC later this week.

PSC Staff released a memo on March 15 to explain the provisions still under study. To review the proposed rule revision, see Attachment B of the August 10, 2017 hearing notice.

A PSC Staff memo, dated February 5, 2019, summarizes the comments received on the proposed rule revision and PSC Staff’s response to those comments.

Final Commission action on the proposed rule revision is anticipated for April. 
The Speaker's Task Force on Water Quality held its first hearing on March 19. Speaker Robin Vos (R–Rochester) established the committee earlier this session to gather testimony and recommendations about how to assess and improve the quality of surface water and groundwater. Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) serves as chair of the task force.

On March 19 the committee heard testimony from Jim Zellmer, DNR Deputy Division Administrator for Environmental Management; Ann Kipper, DNR Deputy Division Administrator for External Services; Sara Walling, DATCP Agricultural Resource Management Division Administrator; Roy Irving, DHS Chief, Hazard Assessment; Jon Meinman, Chief, Medical Officer and State Occupational & Environmental Disease Epidemiologist; and Kenneth Bradbury, Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey. 

The task force plans to hold its next meeting in Madison on April 3 and then hold several hearings around the state.
Senate Bill 91 would create a system, managed by a third party vendor, for buying and selling water pollution credits through a central clearinghouse. Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) introduced the bill on March 13. Currently, the DNR administers a program for trading water pollution credits between sources of water pollution, but that program has proven difficult to implement.  

Under the bill, DNR may authorize a permit holder to discharge a pollutant above the levels authorized in the permit if the permit holder purchases credits from a clearinghouse that has contracted with the Department of Administration. The purchase of credits must result in an improvement in water quality, and the increase and reduction in pollutants under the agreement must involve the same pollutant or the same water quality standard and occur within the same area, as determined by DNR. 

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy held a public hearing on the bill on March 19. The League registered in support of the bill.

Local officials say county pressuring communities to take on roads — and their cost
“Brown, Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Waukesha and Racine counties do not require jurisdictional transfers,” said Jerry Deschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, which lobbies on behalf of the state’s cities and villages. Read the story in the Wisconsin State Journal here. Comment on it on the League's LinkedIn page here.
Andy Kurtz, Administrator of the Village of Marathon City bats clean-up in the March 20 #LocalGovMatters Podcast which also includes Rep. Novak, Sen. Cowles and Rep. Shankland talking about water quality issues. Listen to #LocalGovMatters on your PC or smartphone here.
You can Register Now!
May 22 is Municipal Government & Utility Day
Learn more and register here .
(Use the Public Registration Button)
This event is free for Local Officials & Staff of League member municipalities.

SB 106, Prohibiting Local Health Departments from Charging Micro Markets Inspection Fees. Prohibits a local health department granted agent status to issue retail food establishment licenses by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection from establishing separate fees for pre-licensing inspections of micro markets. By Sen. Petrowski (R-Marathon) The League has not yet taken a position on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 85/ SB 109, Requiring the Department of Health Services to establish state health-based groundwater quality standards for PFOA and PFOS. By Sen. Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Rep. Nygren (R-Marinette). The League has not yet taken a position on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

SB 118, Placement of cigarettes, nicotine products, or tobacco products by retailers. Requires a retailer to place cigarettes, nicotine products, or tobacco products only in locations that are inaccessible to customers without the assistance of the retailer. Also allows a first class city (i.e., Milwaukee), to suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew a cigarette and tobacco products retailer license if the retailer violates the bill's restriction. By Sen. Jacque (DePere) The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

SB 129, Regulating the Operation of Electric Bicycles. The bill allows local authorities to prohibit the operation of electric bicycles, with the power unit in operation, on designated bikeways. By Sen. Roth (R-Appleton). The League is neutral on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

SB 130, Closing the Dark Store and Walgreens Property Tax Assessment Loopholes. By Sen, Stroebel (R-Saukville) and Rep. Brooks (R-Saukville). The League initiated this bill and worked closely with the authors to draft it. Comment to the League on this bill.

SB 133, Practicing Massage Therapy or Bodywork Therapy without a License. Authorizes a municipality to enact and enforce an ordinance prohibiting a person from engaging in massage therapy or bodywork without a licence from the Massage Therapy and Bodywork Therapy Affiliated Credentialing Board. The bill authorizes municipal police to issue citations for violating such ordinances and municipalities may impose forfeitures of up to $1,000 for ordinance violations. By Sen. Kooyenga (R-Brookfield). The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

SB 135, C reating two tax credits for volunteer emergency responders. The first credit equals $20 for each hour an individual who volunteers as a fire fighter, emergency medical responder, and emergency medical services practitioner spends on active duty, in training exercises, or in class completing coursework to improve skills or to obtain or maintain certification. The second credit equals the volunteer's unreimbursed expenses for purchasing gear and equipment plus an amount to reimburse him or her for using a personal vehicle to attend training. The maximum amount an individual may claim per year is $1,000 for the first credit and $400 for the second credit, except that these amounts are doubled for an individual who serves as a volunteer fire fighter and a volunteer emergency medical responder or services practitioner. By Sen. Testin (R-Stevens Point). The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

No public hearings on municipal bills are scheduled for this week.