December 14, 2021, 12:00-1:00 via Zoom
Zoom Information for all Roundtable calls. This week's roundtable will host Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson, Public Service Commission Chairwoman Rebecca Cameron Valcq, and Department of Natural Resources Assistant Deputy Secretary Steven Little. All of our guests will be discussing the federal infrastructure funding and it's impacts in Wisconsin.
Update on Workforce Housing Bills we Oppose

AB 610/SB 630, Prohibiting Certain Property Tax Assessment Practices. On October 26, the Assembly passed an amended version of AB 610 that eliminated many, but not all of our concerns about the bill.

The amendment narrowed the types of information that an assessor is prohibited from using when valuing real property. As modified by the amendment, the bill prohibits an assessor from doing the following:
  • Using future or anticipated benefits.
  • Using list or asking prices, or list or asking rents.

Last week, Sen. Feyen (R- Fond du Lac), the Senate author of AB 610 and its companion, SB 630, introduced a second amendment to the bill, which eliminates the first bullet point above.

Despite these changes to the bill, the League joined the Towns Association and the Wisconsin Association of Assessing Officers in testifying against the bill at last week's Senate committee hearing. We continue to have concerns about how the remaining changes to the assessment process will be interpreted by the courts. It is uncertain what the impacts of these changes may have on the assessment process down the road. Given this, and that we remain unclear as to the problem the legislation is attempting to solve, the League continues to be opposed to the bill even as amended.

AB-608Mandating local zoning ordinances include districts that permit multi-family housing. On October 26 the Assembly passed by voice vote an amended version of AB 608. The bill as amended requires that any city or village with a zoning ordinance must provide at least one district in which multi-family housing with no fewer than 16 residential units per acre is a permitted use. The Senate has not yet taken any action on the bill and will not likely do so before the session ends in March. The bill has no Senate co-sponsors and Senate leadership has not referred it to a committee for a public hearing. The League continues to be opposed to the bill.

Electric Vehicle Charging Station Legislation

In the last bulletin, we provided an update on the EV charging station legislation, AB 588/SB 573, and the anticipated Assembly committee vote on December 8th. However, during the committee meeting, the chair, Representative Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin), removed the bill from the calendar as requested by the author. The League has worked with other local government groups to form a coalition opposing the bill as amended. The Counties, Towns and the Transportation Builders have joined the League in opposing the substitute amendment. What started as a proposal the League supported turned into a prohibition against local governments and state agencies from owning, operating, managing, leasing, or controlling EV charging facilities. Wisconsin Manufacturing and Commerce is behind the push for the change and convinced the authors to introduce a substitute amendment.

We believe prohibiting municipalities from owning EV charging stations is short sighted, especially in light of the federal infrastructure dollars that have been targeted to states and localities for the build out of EV charging facilities. In order to design and develop a reliable network of EV charging facilities, including in areas where costs may outweigh benefits and thus not attract private business investment, municipalities and state agencies must be part of the roadmap for delivering reliable charging services to municipal residents, tourists and small businesses.

We will keep you updated on the proposed substitute amendment to AB 588/SB 573 and if a vote is rescheduled in the Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee.

PFAS Drinking Water Public Comment Period Closes

On December 1 the Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing on the proposed administrative rule establishing new drinking water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for the most common PFAS, PFOS and PFOA. Public comments for the rule, CR 21-088, which affects Chapter NR 809 related to drinking water, were due on December 8. Read the League's comments here and the Municipal Environmental Group-Water Division comments here.
It needs to be emphasized that the fundamental and most important goal of municipal water systems throughout the state is the provision of safe reliable drinking water to their customers. There are approximately 514 municipal water utilities in Wisconsin. Each of these systems tests its water to ensure the protection of public health. In the 2020 Annual Drinking Water Report, DNR noted that more than 98% of Wisconsin’s public water systems provided water that met all health-based maximum contaminant level standards.

The League supports the establishment of federal drinking water standards for PFAS but does not support the Department’s creation of state standards at this time. EPA is moving forward to regulate PFAS in drinking water. On October 18, 2021, EPA announced its PFAS Strategic Roadmap, which included issuing a proposed rule establishing federal maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS by fall 2022 with a final rule issued by fall 2023. The League recommends the Department wait for EPA to promulgate federal drinking water MCLs before proceeding to adopt state standards. To date, all drinking water MCLs have been first established by EPA pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) process and then adopted by the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has never adopted a drinking water MCL without a federal counterpart adopted prior to state action. 

The DNR rules would set the standard for PFOS and PFOA both individually and combined at 0.000002 Mg/L (20 parts per trillion). The rule also establishes initial and routine monitoring and testing schedules for community and non-transient non-community public water systems and outlines the methodology to be used. 

PFAS Surface Water Rules

DNR also held a public hearing on Friday, December 10 on the rule revisions to Chapters NR 105, 106, and 219 to add surface water quality criteria and analytical methods for PFAS. The rule will affect the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permitting program when the new water quality criteria become effective. The League is pleased the department is pursuing the use of non-numeric standards and a pollutant minimization/source reduction approach to the regulation of PFOS and PFOA in the surface water rule revision. We will be providing comments to the department prior to the close of the comment period on December 15. Comments will be posted on our website and in sent in the bulletin next week.