Water Utility Bills Become Law

Last Friday, Governor Evers signed into law the following two bills the League worked to get enacted:

Assembly Bill 300, now Act 85 provides 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 so that these projects can begin in a timely manner saving ratepayers money and utilities time.
Assembly Bill 302, now Act 86 allows meter installation or replacement projects without PSC approval. This act aligns the way electric utilities and water utilities are treated when dealing with meter projects. 

Thank you Senator Cowles and Representatives Thiesfeldt and VanderMeer for authoring these important water utility initiatives. Thanks to the local officials who testified before the legislative committees. Thank you Governor Evers for recognizing the importance of these bills for Wisconsin municipalities.

Infrastructure Bill on President's Desk

Late last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure bill by a bipartisan vote of 228-206. The impending modernization of the nations infrastructure includes investments over five years touching on everything from bridges and roads to the nation's broadband, water, and energy systems. The bill marks the largest transportation spending package in U.S. history. The package was passed by the Senate in August and after Friday's vote, will now be sent to the President, who will sign it into law. 

Components of the infrastructure bill include:

  • $110 billion for roads and bridges, with $307 billion provided through formula programs to states. More than 45,000 bridges nationwide are rated in poor condition. The bill also includes $16 billion for major projects that are too large or complex for traditional funding.
  • $66 billion for passenger and freight rail. The bill aims to eliminate Amtrak’s maintenance backlog and modernize the Northeast Corridor.
  • $65 billion to expand broadband internet access. The White House estimated as many as 40 million Americans lack broadband access. $48 billion is for deployment, $14 billion for affordability, and $2.7 billion for digital equity and inclusion.
  • $65 billion to rebuild the electric grid with renewable energy and thousands of miles of new resilient transmission lines.
  • $55 billion to upgrade water systems and expand access to clean drinking water, with a goal of replacing the country’s lead service pipes.
  • $21 billion to clean up Superfund and brownfield sites and tackle legacy contamination, reclaim abandoned mine land and cap orphaned gas wells
  • $10 billion for PFAS remediation
  • $42 billion for airports, waterways and port infrastructure. Airports would receive $25 billion.
  • $39 billion for public transit. The bill aims to repair and upgrade transit systems and make stations more accessible to elderly and passengers with disabilities.
  • $7.5 billion for charging stations for electric vehicles and $7.5 billion for electric buses.
  • $2.25 billion for the Port Infrastructure Development Program.

As we gain a better sense of what this legislation means specifically for Wisconsin, we will be sure to share it with you.

Senate and Assembly Floor Sessions this Week

The State Senate are on the floor this morning at 11:00 a.m. See the bills they are voting on here and follow along on Wisconsin Eye. The Assembly also plans to be in this week on Thursday. However, the final calendar has not yet been released. Both chambers will take up the legislative maps for legislative and congressional redistricting bills.

Vaccine and Testing Mandates

As reported in Friday's Capitol Buzz, the Biden Administration, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) mandating vaccinations or weekly testing for workers of employers with 100 or more employees. Last week the federal Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also published an interim final rule imposing vaccine mandates on Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers. In addition, on September 9th, President Biden issued an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to comply with vaccine mandates. With this flurry of activity, the League has received questions from members about whether these mandates apply to Wisconsin municipalities. Read the League's analysis in the Capitol Buzz here.

Note: On Saturday, November 6, 2021, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in New Orleans, LA, issued a stay of the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate. The states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah are among the plaintiffs in this case, however more than two dozen states have filed legal challenges in federal court against the vaccinate-or-test mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees.