December 13, 2017

"Affordable Rental Housing Act of 2017" and "Development Property Modernization Act of 2017"

This week, Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) and I introduced Senate Bill 639, "The Affordable Rental Housing Act of 2017," and Senate Bill 640, "The Development Property Modernization Act of 2017." The Senate Insurance, Housing, and Real Estate Committee held public hearings on these two bills, this week.

Senate Bill 639:

Senate Bill 639 is designed to make it easier for landlords to provide Wisconsinites with quality, clean, safe, and affordable housing. Furthermore, this legislation affords owners of historic properties with greater autonomy by allowing them to use materials, during the repair and replacement process, that are substantially similar to the original. Original materials are often very costly, do not have the same warranties, and are difficult to obtain.

In an effort to establish greater statewide rental housing inspection uniformity, Senate Bill 639 maintains that municipalities are authorized to conduct inspections upon a complaint. What is more, if a complaint is made, a record related to said inspection must be completed.

Under this bill, municipalities cannot use aesthetics as a consideration for rental housing inspections. Some municipalities throughout the state have conducted rental housing inspections because they disliked the color of paint used on interior walls. Tenants have every right to personalize their living space, unfettered from government interference.

Senate Bill 640:

"The Development Property Modernization Act of 2017" seeks to lower the cost of new development by limiting the use of impact and park fees, requiring housing affordability audits, incentivizing higher density and more affordable housing. This all-encompassing legislation makes much-needed changes to Wisconsin State Statutes, and seeks to create greater statewide development unifromity.

Senate Bill 640 codifies in State Statutes the Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision Apartment Association of South Central Wisconsin v. City of Madison (2006), which prohibits inclusionary zoning as a form of rent control. Under this provision, political subdivisions would be prohibited from requiring a certain number of percentage of new housing units (rented or sold), to be "affordable," as deemed by the city.

Testifying before the Senate Insurance, Housing and Real Estate Committee, on Senate Bills 639 and 640.

Bipartisan legislation

According to the non-partisan Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, more than 90% of the bills that have been signed into law this session have been bipartisan. I make it a priority to reach out to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for input and feedback, prior to introducing legislation. For example, the two dark store bills that I have authored with Senators Duey Stroebel and Roger Roth, have 59 and 65 cosponsors, respectively. What is more, Assembly Minority Leader, Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) is a steadfast supporter of these proposals and has worked assiduously to ensure they are passed and signed into law. 

2017-18 Wisconsin State Blue Book

My office still has an abundance of 2017-18 Wisconsin State Blue Books available. If you are interested in receiving a copy of this publication, please contact my office.

Published biennially since 1853, the Wisconsin State Blue Book is the oldest publication in Wisconsin. Initially, the Wisconsin State Blue Book served as a manual for the State Assembly, a pocket-size volume of less than one-hundred pages, and designed for legislators to have information about state government at their fingertips.

According to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, the principal authors of this venerable publication, "Over the decades, the Blue Book evolved in size, scope, and purpose. The Blue Book's many iterations were caused by the increased availability of information about state government and the public." By 2015, the Blue Book exceeded one-thousand pages and was laden with dense statistical information that history buffs and political junkies would find engrossing; every day citizens, conversely, would find this information uninteresting. The newly-revised State of Wisconsin Blue Book is designed to provide non-political junkies with enthralling content about Wisconsin history and government.

Recognizing that the Blue Book was becoming too lengthy and dense, the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau undertook a Herculean effort: revamping this esteemed repository of information about Wisconsin and its history. The 2017-18 State of Wisconsin Blue Book is intended to serve as an introduction to state and local government, not the primary source for information regarding these entities. More substantive and timely information about state government can be accessed through the Internet than could ever be accessed by a team of researchers tasked with penning a book. Recognizing this, the 2017-18 State of Wisconsin Blue Book contains biographies of legislators, descriptions of executive and judicial agencies, and statistics pertaining to Wisconsin government and elections. It does not, however, reproduce information that is archaic, or can be easily obtained and accurately elsewhere.

As denoted earlier, if you are interested in obtaining a copy of the 2017-18 Wisconsin State Blue Book, please contact my office with your name and address. My staff and I will make it a priority to ensure that your copy arrives in a timely manner.

In the district

Last week, I was honored to receive Invest Ozaukee County's "Invest in Action Award" for a commitment to creating a positive difference in Ozaukee County and promoting healthy living throughout the community.

Receiving the 2017 Invest Ozaukee County "Invest in Action" Award.

If you are interested in meeting with me to discuss legislative issues or need assistance with case work, I am available to meet with you one-on-one in the district. You can schedule a time to meet with me by contacting my office: or (608) 267-2370. 

Hold on to your receipts and other return tips for the Christmas season

Despite all of your best efforts, the "perfect gift" might end up back on the store shelf mere hours after the package is unwrapped. Given that even the best gifts sometimes get returned or exchanged, planning ahead can be a great way to help a gift recipient.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection encourages shoppers to pay close attention to different stores' policies while shopping, ask for gift receipts, inquire about the business' policy before making a purchase, and keep the original sales receipt. Before wrapping the item, pack the gift receipt in the box or tape it to the front or side of the box to ensure it is not overlooked. Some stores will not honor a return or refund request without a receipt.

The following are additional tips to consider this Christmas shopping season, courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection:

  • Stores are required by law to honor the return guidelines they represent to consumers. If the store's policy is not posted, ask a salesperson or manager about the terms before making a purchase.

  • Pay attention to the timeframe allotted by the retailer for returns. Inquire if the countdown to the last day for returns begins on the date of the original purchase of the item or if there are extended Christmas return dates.

  • As you wrap gifts, leave the price tags and UPC codes intact and keep the original packaging. Some store charge a restocking fee for opened items or those without their packaging--especially electronics.

  • Review the conditions that apply when you purchase items on sale or clearance. Some stores may not allow you to return these items.

  • If you are shopping via phone or the Internet, find out who pays return shipping fees. Does the retailer pay those fees or are they the consumer's responsibility? Are shipping fees deducted from the refund amount?

If you believe a retailer is not honoring its posted return policy, file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Bureau at, send an email to or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free: 1-800-422-7128.

Have a great week,

Stay up to date

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State Capitol Room 309 North-PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708

(608) 267-2369