Governor Signs into Law Bill Creating Community-Oriented Policing House Grant Program

Last week, Governor Evers signed into law SB 124 as Act 51, creating a community-oriented policing house grant program to be administered by the Department of Justice for communities over 30,000 in population. The grants may be used to help establish and operate a house for police to reside within city neighborhoods. The Legislature has not yet funded the program. Sen. Wanggaard (R-Racine) authored the bill along with Rep. Spiro (R-Marshfield). The League supports this legislation.

The Governor also signed into law last week three other law enforcement bills introduced by Sen. Wanggaard.

  • SB-121, Prohibiting use of choke holds by law enforcement officers in use of force policies. (Act 48)
  • SB-122, Public access to policies regarding the use of force by law enforcement. (Act 49)
  • SB-123, Reporting of law enforcement use of force incidents. (Act 50)
Legislature Passes Several Bills Affecting Municipalities, Including two League Initiated Bills

Last week, both houses of the Legislature passed the following two League initiated bills which we have requested the Governor sign into law:

  • AB 56, Clarifying that personal property aid payments the state makes to a TIF district continue after the TIF district terminates, but transfer to the municipality and other taxing jurisdictions. The bill was amended to apply retroactively to TIF districts that had closed since 2018. The bill also, at DOR's request, clarifies that computer aid payments being made to a TIF district transfer to all other taxing jurisdictions when the district closes rather than transferring only to the municipality as current law provides. The computer aid part of the bill does not apply retroactively, but only to TIF districts that close after the bill takes affect. The League worked with Rep. David Steffen (R-Howard) and Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) to introduce AB 56. The bipartisan bill passed both houses by voice vote. The bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.

  • SB 187, Allowing village board members to be employed by the village and receive an hourly wage, not to exceed $15,000 each year as a village employee. The bill mirrors a current law provision allowing town board members to be hired by the town and earn wages up to $15,000 annually. The league worked with Rep. Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz) and Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) to introduce SB 187. Both chambers passed the bipartisan bill by voice vote. The bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature. 

Also last week, both houses of the Legislature passed the following bills impacting municipalities. Each of these bills has been sent to the Governor for his signature or veto.
  
  • SB 119, Mandating Maintenance of Effort on Public Safety Spending. The bill, which applies only to communities that regularly employ and retain 30 or more law enforcement officers, paid fire department members, or emergency medical responders, reduces the amount of shared revenue a municipality receives if the municipality decreases its budget for hiring, training, and retaining law enforcement officers, paid fire department members, or emergency medical responders, as compared with the previous year’s budget. Sen. Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Rep. Spiros (R-Marshfield) introduced this bill, which both houses passed by near party line votes. The League opposes this bill and has asked the Governor to veto it. Read the League's veto letter here. Action Step: Municipal officials from communities affected by this bill are urged to ask the Governor to veto SB 119. Send your veto message, which could mirror the League's, to Jenni Dye, Governor Evers' policy director, jenni.dye@wisconsin.gov.

  • AB 369, Local redistricting deadline extension. The bill adjusts the statutory deadlines by which counties and municipalities must accomplish various steps in the local redistricting process following the 2020 federal decennial census. The League joined with the Wisconsin Counties Association in developing this legislation to provide local governments with certainty as to when the process must be finalized given the uncertainty as to when the state will receive the 2020 census data from the US Census Bureau.

  • AB 374, Relating to the settlement of the multidistrict opiate litigation. Under the bill, if a municipality is not a party to the multidistrict opiate litigation on or before June 1, 2021, it may not maintain a claim to proceeds of a settlement of the multidistrict opiate litigation and may not maintain any claim or commence any action against a person that is a defendant in the multidistrict opiate litigation and that would be released in a settlement agreement of the multidistrict opiate litigation. The League has not lobbied in support or opposition of this bill. If your community is concerned about the bill, we recommend you contact the Governor's office and urge that he veto the bill. Send your email message to Jenni Dye, Governor Evers' Policy Director, jenni.dye@wisconsin.gov.

  • SB 91, Hydrologic restoration. The bill requires DNR to issue a new general permit relating to hydrologic restoration. The general permit must authorize wetland, stream, and floodplain restoration and management activities that will result in a net improvement in hydrologic connections, conditions, and functions. The League supports this bill, which was introduced by Sen. Cowles (R-Green Bay).

Legislature set to Pass GOP Authored State Budget and Repeal Personal Property Tax this Week

Tomorrow, the Assembly is expected to pass the version of the 2021-2022 state budget recommended by the Joint Committee on Finance. The Senate is expected to concur on Wednesday.

Both houses are also expected to pass SB 189/AB 191, repealing the personal property tax on businesses. The Substitute Amendment to the bill, incorporates the technical changes that the League, the Counties Association, and other local government stakeholders had recommended to the authors earlier in the year relating to taxation of buildings, fixtures and improvements on leased land as well as mobile homes. Each of the latter will be treated as real property subject to property taxes. 

The state budget contains a $202 million appropriation for making payments to local governments in 2023 to hold them harmless for the lost revenue caused by repeal of the personal property tax.
The League has consistently taken the position that as long as the Legislature provides for a reimbursement program that is adequately funded, like computer aid, we would not oppose repealing the personal property tax. We feel the Legislature has done that in this instance. We have had discussions with Sen. Stroebel's staff, the main architect of the bill, about the unusual strategy being employed to avoid the Governor’s line item veto pen. Sen. Stroebel’s chief of staff has assured us that the goal is to create a permanent personal property aid program next session. 

ARPA Update

The U.S. Treasury released several new documents related to ARPA last week including: