Legislative Alert

Legislative Alert:

4/20/18 (from Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs) 

Gov. Walker has signed many of the planning-related bills that we’ve been tracking into law.  You can find all of these Acts at the following site:  https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/related/acts

The following massive bills have been signed:

· Developer’s Bill (AB770/SB640), which is 2017 Wisconsin Act 243.

·  Landlord’s Bill (AB771/SB639), which is 2017 Wisconsin Act 317.

·  Wetlands Bill (AB547/SB600), which is 2017 Wisconsin Act 183.

There are four additional bills of potential interest to planners that have been signed into law:

·         2017 Wisconsin Act 242, which requires floodplain ordinances to be amended after each Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA).

·         2017 Wisconsin Act 223, which relates to levy limit adjustments when subtracting territory from a TIF District.

·         2017 Wisconsin Act 280, which increases the limit on historic rehab tax credits from $500K to $3.5M per project.

·         2017 Wisconsin Act 353, which allows the second and third of Class II and III legal notices to be summaries.

4/9/18 (from Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs) 

Several significant bills of interest to planners have been adopted by both the Assembly and Senate, and are awaiting action by Governor Walker.  The following bills have been adopted:

  • Developer’s Bill (AB770/SB640), first summarized in the Legislative Alert below dated 12/12/17.
  • Landlord’s Bill (AB771/SB639), which has significant rental safety implications and includes a major blow to historic preservation.
  • Wetlands Bill (AB547/SB600), which relaxes wetland protections and was vehemently opposed by environmentalists and hunting groups.

Fortunately, as one bill that APA-WI supported was adopted as well. The bill prohibiting the stockpiling of violent sex offenders from around WI in low-income communities (AB539/SB446) passed the Senate unanimously on Tuesday.  This bill requires each County to house their own offenders, and gives County planners a role in location decisions.

2/11/18 (from Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs) 

There will be a public hearing held at 1 PM tomorrow (Wednesday, 2/7/18) on Assembly Bill 713 before the Assembly Committee on Local Government in room 400 NE at the Capitol.  This bill would require local governments to amend their floodplain ordinances at the request of property owners who have obtained a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA, commonly used to show that a property is not in the floodplain.  Local governments would be prohibited from enforcing a floodplain ordinance and floodplain map that conflict with the LOMA.  The Senate version of this bill (SB601) was approved by the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, & Trade last December.

The Wetlands bill (AB547) has become quite contentious and is getting a lot of media coverage.  Here is an article from today’s Wisconsin State Journal.

Upcoming Events:

UW Extension’s annual Local Government Center WisLine presentations start next week with Brian Ohm’s Case Law and Legislative Update.  More info and registration links are available here.

APA is offering a free webinar on their federal legislative priorities next week.  More info and registration links are available here.

1/8/18 (from Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs) 

Public Hearings this Week on Bill Increasing Historic Tax Credit

Hearings are scheduled this Wednesday and Thursday on legislation the League supports increasing the historic rehabilitation tax credit limit. AB 793/SB 668  raises the limit on the per parcel historic tax credit from $500,000 (as established in the state budget) to $3,500,000. The hearing on SB 668 is Wednesday, January 10, at 1:00 in room 300 Southeast in the State Capitol.  The hearing on AB 793 is Thursday, January 11, at 1:00 in room 412 East in the State Capitol.

12/20/17 (from Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs)

Another bill relaxing wetland protections (AB547/SB600) is being fast-tracked with a joint public hearing beginning at 11 AM Thursday, 12/21/17 in Room 411 South before the Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform and Senate Committee on Natural Resources.  This bill would exempt nonfederal and artificial wetlands from certain DNR permitting requirements and requests that the EPA delegate review authority for discharge/fill permits to the DNR.

The Developer’s Bill (AB770/SB640) and the Landlord’s Bill (AB771/SB639) will continue being fast-tracked through the Legislature with a public hearing scheduled before the Assembly Committee on Housing & Real Estate at 10 AM on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 in Room 400 Northeast at the Capitol.  A summary of the Developer’s Bill was provided in the last Legislative Alert on 12/12/17.  Thanks to SW District Rep and President-elect Jason Valerius for testifying against the Developer’s Bill before the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, and Trade on December 13th.  As part of the overall strategy, these bills are often packed into marathon public hearings scheduled around the holidays, which is extremely effective at limiting public comment.  Jason waited more than 6 hours for his 2-minute speaking opportunity.  Thankfully, we have much more notice for the hearing on January 3rdPlease let me know if you’re interested and available to testify against the Developer’s Bill and/or Landlord’s Bill on January 3rd.  If there is enough interest, I may organize a breakfast briefing where we can gather ahead of time to discuss the bill and share talking points.

12/12/17 (submitted by Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs

On Friday, a massive bill known as the “Developer’s Bill” (Senate Bill 640) was introduced on a fast tracked schedule.  Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that the bill would have its public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, December 13th at 10 AM in Room 411 South of the Capitol before the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, and Trade.  The bill can be viewed here:  https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/proposals/reg/sen/bill/sb640

The Developer’s Bill:

  • Prohibits expiration dates for approvals related to planned development districts of less than 5 years.
  • Expands the subdivision exception that enables CSM’s of more than 4 lots to include land zoned multifamily.
  • Allows levy limit exceptions up to $1K per unit for cities and villages that issue occupancy to affordable single-family homes.
  • Repeals 60-day window for appealing fee amounts to tax appeals commission.
  • Prohibits new and additional stormwater service charges for properties that retain 90% of stormwater.
  • Prohibits local prohibition of weekend construction work.
  • Prohibits local building codes that don’t conform to the Uniform (1-2-family) Dwelling Code.
  • Authorizes the creation of Workforce Housing TID’s.
  • Allows exemptions or reductions in Impact Fees for Workforce Housing.
  • Requires refunding of impact fees not used in 8 years and requires annual impact fee reporting.
  • Requires building inspections within 14 days of the request date or allows state substitution.
  • Prohibits inclusionary zoning ordinances.
  • Changes the process and requirements for security instruments related to new infrastructure in subdivisions.
  • Allows parkland fees in lieu of parkland dedication in new subdivisions.
  • Prohibits local regulation of banner signs on construction fences.
  • Prohibits stormwater management ordinances that don’t comply with statewide standards.
  • Changes methods used in calculating value in eminent domain actions.
  • Increases statutory limits on payments to those displaced by eminent domain actions.
  • Requires preparation and posting of reports detailing development fees charged.
  • Reduces Common Council approval threshold of protested zoning amendments from ¾ to simple majority.
  • Includes an unfunded mandate requiring an annual Housing Affordability Report.

Note that the hearing also includes the “Landlord’s Bill,” which is SB639.  The “Landlords Bill” would prohibit systematic or proactive rental inspections (except by complaint) and would make numerous changes to this area of law.  It would also require the approval of replacement materials on historic properties if they appear the same as originals to “an ordinary observer.”

Please consider testifying during tomorrow’s hearing (12/13/17 at 10 am, Room 411 South of the Capitol).  The Legislative Committee is still discussing these bills.  Personally, I am opposed to both.  There are some interesting ideas in the “Developer’s Bill” relating to housing affordability, but it’s overall an attack on local control and full of ill-advised and inconsistent policies, such as prohibiting inclusionary zoning altogether.

11/12/2017 (updated 11/29/17)

Three of the bills that we discussed during the Legislative Update presentation at the conference were approved by the Legislature this past week and two have been signed by the Governor.

Homeowner’s Bill of Rights (AB479/SB387) [signed as Act 67], which will:
  • Prohibit cities, villages, towns, and counties from prohibiting development on nonconforming lots;
  • Prohibit cities, villages, towns, counties and state agencies from using merger provisions for nonconforming lots;
  • Require issuance of a Conditional Use Permit if the applicant meets or agrees to meet all conditions imposed;
  • Require CUP decisions to be based on substantial evidence, not public testimony;
  • Codify standards and reaffirm property owner’s burden in variance requests;
  • Prohibit cities, villages, towns, and counties from requiring a variance to replace nonconforming structures; and
  • Exempt small privately owned ponds from DNR permitting.
Random Roundup (AB480/SB388) [signed as Act 68], which will:
  • Require DSPS review of state electrical code every 6 years;
  • Add sewers to list of easements that need not be legally described to be recorded;
  • Authorize workforce housing TID’s;
  • Re-word vested rights statute;
  • Allow homeowners to refuse assessor visits and still challenge assessed values;
  • Require Housing Impact Analysis for proposed bills or rules affecting housing; and
  • Give illegal structures in shoreland setbacks legal nonconforming status after 10 years.
Repeal of “Prove It First” Mining Law (AB499/SB395), which will:
  • Repeal prohibition on new sulfide ore mining permits in place since bi-partisan 1998 law;
  • Change groundwater monitoring standards;
  • Repeal admin. code specific to wetland impact;
  • Treat “bulk sampling” differently than “prospecting” for permitting/review purposes; and
  • Significantly change the application, review, and permitting process.

Posted on behalf of Drew Pennington, VP-Chapter Affairs

10/18/2017 Update:
There is a public hearing tomorrow (10/17) beginning at 10 AM in Room 411 South at the Capitol on the proposed “Homeowner’s Bill of Rights.”  This is joint hearing of the Assembly Committee on Housing & Real Estate and the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, & Trade. This bill (AB479/SB387) is a response to the Murr decision as well as recent mining-related court decisions, and includes the following:
· Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and counties from prohibiting development on nonconforming lots;
· Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and state agencies from using merger provisions for nonconforming lots;
· Requires issuance of a Conditional Use Permit if the applicant agrees to meet all conditions in the ordinance;
· Requires CUP decisions to be based on substantial evidence, not public testimony alone;
· Codifies standards and reaffirms property owner’s burden in variance requests;
· Prohibits cities, villages, towns, and counties from requiring a variance to replace nonconforming structures;
· Exempts small privately owned ponds from DNR permitting; and
· Codifies that fair market value in takings shall be calculated on a per-parcel basis.
The Legislative Committee of APA-WI is opposed to this bill.  We feel that it includes numerous ill-advised provisions and will have numerous unintended consequences, especially as it relates to taking CUP’s out of the planner’s toolbox.  If you are available & willing, please consider testifying against this legislation. 


10/16/2017 Update:

There is a public hearing today on Senate Bill 425, which is another pre-emption bill that will limit municipal authority over small cell wireless facilities in the public right-of-way.  Sorry for the last minute notice, but if you’re in the Madison area and engaged on this issue, the hearing begins at 9 AM today in Room 411 South of the Capitol before the Senate Committee on Elections & Utilities.  SB425 is one of the last bills of a packed meeting agenda.

The APA-WI Legislative Committee has voted to remain neutral on this bill.  While most of the bill relates to right-of-way, there is a provision in the bill that would restore the ability of municipalities to impose setbacks on towers outside of the right-of-way in single-family zoning districts, but would limit the setback to the height of the tower and would allow neighboring property owners to waive the setback.

More info is available at: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2017/proposals/reg/sen/bill/sb425

9/18/2017 Update: Both the state Assembly and Senate approved the state budget last week that included the ill-advised provision to remove all local control over quarries.  Fortunately, according to the League of WI Municipalities, Governor Walker has agreed to veto this provision in its entirety.  Thanks to those of you who have been active on this issue, but our work is not over.

There are two other significant policy items that were tucked into the budget by the Joint Finance Committee:

  • A provision that would prohibit municipalities from banning home rentals for 7 days or more.
  • A provision that would prohibit use of eminent domain to acquire land for bike paths and recreational trails.

These provisions are both unnecessary attacks on local control, and may have many unintended consequences on housing affordability and multi-modal transportation networks.  Please consider contacting Gov. Walker’s Office today to thank him for preserving local control over quarries and to ask him to preserve local control over home rentals and bike/pedestrian paths.

Finally, the Foxconn legislation has been approved and is expected to be signed today.

The APA-WI Legislative Committee has voted to oppose the proposed federal budget that has been introduced by the new administration.  The proposed budget has already received a lot of attention due to the draconian cuts that have been proposed.  The American Planning Association (APA) has been very active in opposing the budget, and has released the following statement in opposition: APA Statement on FY 2018 Federal Budget Proposal
According to APA’s analysis of the proposed budget, the following are just some of the programs familiar to planners that are proposed for total elimination:
·         Transportation:  TIGER, New Starts Transit
·         Housing:  CDBG, HOME, Choice Neighborhoods
·         EPA (31% overall cut):  Brownfields, Clean Power, Great Lakes
·         Commerce:  EDA, NOAA grants
·         Homeland:  Hazard Mitigation grants, NFIP flood mapping
The cuts to other key programs are too numerous to list.  Please contact your elected representatives and voice your support for these and other vital programs that are facing drastic cuts and even elimination.  APA is also asking membership to sign the following letter (due today) in support of community development and transportation funding.  I have signed on behalf of the APA-WI Legislative Committee.

Planners are encouraged to contact Drew Pennington, VP of Chapter Affairs, with information, questions or concerns about proposed legislation.

APA-WI  Bylaws

Bylaws (revised November 2016)

Legislative Report

Legislative Update March 2017

The website for APA members in Wisconsin.