Tick Tock - Time is Running Out for this Legislative Session

Capitol insiders agree that time is running short for proposals to move through the legislative process before the session is expected to end in March. The League continues working to advance several initiatives through both houses before the session ends. Both houses meet on the floor tomorrow, January 25th. The Senate takes the floor at 10:00 a.m. followed by the Assembly at 1:00 p.m. Wisconsin Eye will broadcast both sessions live. The Senate and Assembly calendars for tomorrow were published late last week.

League initiatives on tomorrow's legislative calendars include:

  • SB-396 - Interest on claims of excessive assessment and for recovery of unlawful property taxes. By Senator Petrowski (R- Marathon). SB 396 is on the Senate calendar. We are hopeful the bill will be messaged to the Assembly and action will be taken to send the bill to the Governor's desk.
  • SB-518 - Environmental pollution in an environmental remediation tax incremental district. By Senator Cowles (R- Green Bay). SB 518 is on the Assembly calendar. If the Assembly votes favorably on the bill it will be forwarded to the Governor's desk.

Last week, the Assembly passed a League supported initiative, SB-488, relating to Water Supply Service Area Plans for Public Water Systems. Senator Cowles (R- Green Bay) introduced the bill, which will now be sent to the Governor for his approval. This is the fourth bill the League has advocated for this session that lessons administrative oversight and creates regulatory efficiencies for municipal water utilities. Other water utility bills that became law this session include:

  • SB 489/WI Act 112 -  Relating to procedural changes for applications under the Clean Water Fund Program and the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program.
  • AB 300/WI Act 85 - Relating to deadlines for certain Public Service Commission actions after a water public utility application for certificate of authority or approval of lead service line financial assistance is filed. For more information see this summary.
  • AB 302/WI Act 86 - Relating to meter installation or replacement projects by water utilities. For more information see this summary.

League & Towns Association Testify Together

Last week, League Deputy Director Curt Witynski and Wisconsin Towns Association lobbyist Joe Ruth joined with bill author Sen. Petrowski (R-Marathon) in testifying together at a public hearing in support of SB 835, a compromise incorporation and annexation bill. Wrightstown village administrator Travis Coenen also made the trip to the Capitol to testify in support of the bill. Thank you Travis.

The League worked with the Towns Association to draft SB 835, which accomplishes the following:

  • Closes a loophole in the incorporation process by limiting a newly incorporated city or village from immediately adding the remaining town territory by annexation or a boundary agreement, except when adding territory by unanimous approval annexation.
  • Restores the ability of cities and villages to annex town territory across county lines by unanimous approval.

  • Limits municipal extraterritorial zoning powers, including reducing the duration of zoning freezes from 24 to 18 months within the extraterritorial jurisdiction.

  • Prohibits municipalities and towns from using condemnation to acquire blighted properties located outside a community’s borders for the purpose of transferring the property to third-party developers.  

We anticipate the Assembly Committee on Local Government will conduct a public hearing on the Assembly companion bill, AB 894, within the next couple of weeks.

ARPA Reporting

The Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo), collectively sent a letter last week to U.S. Treasury highlighting differences between the ARPA final rule and the information provided in Treasury's reporting portal. We will provide timely updates regarding any portal modifications especially since Entitlement communities and States are required to report by January 31, 2022.

ICYMI - Wisconsin DOT Announces Jan/Feb Project Solicitation

As we reported Friday in the Capitol Buzz, the state is preparing for the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding and time is of the essence. While we don't know the exact amount Wisconsin will receive, it will be significant and planning must begin. Federal Fiscal Year 2022 funding will have to be "obligated" by September 30, 2022. In a letter sent last week, DOT is providing local governments the opportunity to submit projects for two separate, yet overlapping project solicitations in January and February. Don't delay, start the process to identify an eligible project in your community today!

FEMA Free Technical Support
Short Deadline! Letters of interest due to FEMA by January 28!
Is your community considering hazard mitigation or climate resilience planning? Thinking about applying for a FEMA grant but don't know where to start? FEMA is offering free technical support for communities and tribal governments for up to 36 months. Details here.