March 27, 2017          No. 13

2017-18, No.13
March 27, 2017

In this Issue:

Update on Cell Tower Bills

State Budget Hearings Scheduled

In the News

Join the Lobby Team

Recently Introduced Legislation

Public Hearings
League of Wisconsin Municipalities
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Update on Cell Tower Bills    
In recent weeks two bills have been introduced giving municipalities limited authority to regulate the location of cell towers in residential areas. Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) has introduced AB 130authorizing a municipality to prohibit any person from placing a new cell tower within, or within 750 feet of the boundary of, a residential zoning district that is the least dense of all such districts in the community. The bill also prohibits any person from placing such a structure within, or within 200 feet of the boundary of, the next two least dense residential zoning districts in the municipality. The bill defines density to be the number of housing units per acre in a municipality.  

Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon) recently introduced AB 161, allowing local governments to impose setback requirements on cell towers in areas zoned for residential use. Under the bill, the setback requirement must be based on the height of the proposed structure, and the requirement may not exceed the height of the proposed structure

Both bills have been referred to the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities. No public hearings have been scheduled yet on either bill.

The League supports both bills. Given the fact that many legislators who voted four years ago to preempt municipal authority to regulate the location of cell towers are still in office, it will be a challenge to advance either one of these bills through the legislative process.  

The only way it will happen is if municipal officials and the general public express strong support for the bills. Once public hearings are scheduled on the bills, we will be recruiting municipal officials to come to Madison to testify at the hearings in support of the bills. If the placement of cell towers is a big issue in your community, please testifying at any yet to be scheduled hearings.

Meanwhile, ATT and other telecommunication providers are talking to legislators about passing legislation preempting municipal regulation of placing micro cell antennas in the public right of way to accommodate 5G networks. 

League staff is monitoring this fluid state of affairs. Ideally, we seek restoration of municipal power to regulate the location of macro cell towers in return for the industry receiving the assurances they need to place micro cells in the right-of-way.
JFC State Budget Hearings Begin Next Week   

The Joint Finance Committee begins holding public hearings on the Governor's 2017-2019 state budget bill, AB 64/SB 30, next week.  The full schedule of public hearings dates and locations is provided below. The hearings begin at 10:00 a.m. and typically last all day.
  • Monday, April 3 - UW-Platteville, Platteville
  • Wednesday, April 5 - State Fair Park, Milwaukee
  • Friday, April 7 - Berlin High School, Berlin
  • Tuesday, April 18 - Spooner High School, Spooner
  • Wednesday, April 19 - Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth
  • Friday, April 21 - Marinette High School, Marinette 
Municipal officials planning to testify at these hearings should review the League's recommendations on the state budget bill, here

View the Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary  of Governor Walker's budget bill,  here
In the News
"We're taking our cues from what other states have experienced, specifically Indiana," says Jerry Deschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, an advocacy group that played a key role in prompting lawmakers to write the legislation tightening the assessment requirements. Read the article in the National Real Estate Investor here...
Join the Lobby Team
Our next Lobby Day is Wednesday, May 10 and is combined with our Legislative Luncheon. We will extend an invitation to all Legislators to join us for lunch.  This year for the first time, we are joining forces with the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, the Municipal Environmental Group - Water, the Municipal Environmental Group - Wastewater, the Wisconsin Rural Water Association and the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin. You can sign up for the Lobby Team here .    
Recently Introduced Legislation  

AB 151Authorizing the Creation of a Community Emergency Medical Services Program in Wisconsin.  By Rep. Loudenbeck (R-Milton). The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 161 , Allowing Local Governments to Impose Setback Requirements on Cell Towers in areas Zoned for Residential Use. Under the bill, the setback requirement must be based on the height of the proposed structure, and the requirement may not exceed the height of the proposed structure By Rep. Ott (R-Mequon) The League supports this bill. Comment to the League on this bill

AB 168/SB 122, Making Official Bonds for Municipal Officials Optional. Under current law, certain city and village officials, such as the treasurer, comptroller, chief of police, and 
municipal judge, are required to execute and file an official bond.
 This bill allows village boards and city councils to choose to eliminate the bonding requirement as long as the city or village obtains an employee dishonesty or other appropriate insurance policy that covers the officials. By Rep. Rob Brooks (R-Saukville and Sen. Stroebel (R-Saukville). The League worked with the authors to draft and introduce this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.

AB 169/SB 123, Eliminating the Cap on the Amount of a surety bond that municipal treasurers must obtain to protect the county.
Under current law, unless the municipality enacts an ordinance obligating  the payment of state and county property taxes to the county, a municipal treasurer  must execute a surety bond guaranteeing the payment of the taxes to the county  treasurer. Under current law, the amount of the surety bond must be  twice the amount of the taxes, but no more than $500,000. If, however,  the bond is executed or guaranteed solely by a surety company on the municipal  treasurer's behalf, the amount of the bond must be the amount of the taxes, but no  more than $250,000.  This bill eliminates the caps on the bond amount and provides that the  amount of the bond must be no less than the amount of the taxes. Introduced by Rep. Rob Brooks and Sen. Stroebel at the request of the Wisconsin Counties Association. The League is neutral on this bill. Comment to the League on this bill.  
Public Hearings  

There are no public hearings on municipal bills this week.