Wednesday, September 30
As we reflect on nature's colorful transition in the seasons, it's hard not to consider what the legislature is doing to protect our environment. I believe we're moving in the wrong direction. Read more about my efforts to protect our environment in the column to the right.
Autumn is a season of change. For the legislative majority, that change can't come soon enough. Below, you'll find my thoughts on the desperate need to rein in corruption in state government.
Please remember that I am here to serve YOU. Do not
hesitate to contact me regarding state issues that concern you. My door
is always open to you. Please stop by and visit to discuss any state
Weeding Out Government Corruption
This legislative session, we have witnessed a seemingly unending effort to upend good government practices in Wisconsin.
Shielding politicians from John Doe corruption investigations. Replacing nonpartisan judges on the Government Accountability Board with partisan appointees. Eliminating the Legislative Audit Bureau. Gutting Wisconsin's open records laws.
Taken independently, these seem like bad governance
proposals. Considered together, we see a clear effort by Wisconsin
Republican leaders to make it harder to weed out government corruption.
Earlier today, I joined my Democratic colleagues in
calling on the Republican majority to end their efforts to usurp good
government in Wisconsin.
You can read more here.
It's time to get serious about protecting our environment
During the last two legislative sessions, the legislature has lost its way when it comes to protecting our environment.
Take, for example, a law passed last year that stripped many of Wisconsinís environmental protections in order to cater to a single mining company that has since left the state without creating any jobs.
I have introduced legislation to repeal this destructive new law. My bill would restore our stateís stronger environmental standards that were replaced in 2013 by relaxed rules for iron mining in Wisconsin. For example, my bill eliminates language which states that when considering a mining permit, the Department of Natural Resources should presume that significant adverse impacts to wetlands is necessary. The bill restores previous language directing the DNR to presume significant adverse impacts to wetlands to be unnecessary. My bill also eliminates new statutory language that allows the filling of lakebeds or other navigable waters.
A West Virginia coal mining company was able to convince the legislative majority to abandon our stateís environmental legacy and repeal generations-old environmental standards. That company Ė which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that benefited Gov. Walker and legislative Republicansí campaigns Ė has now abandoned the state. It is time to do right by our environment and restore our previous conservation standards.
If a company is going to attempt to mine in Wisconsin, that company should be required to live up to our previous, stronger environmental safeguards. As we have seen already, it is not worth it to potentially sacrifice our world-renowned natural resources in order to bend the knee to a mining company.
It is imperative that we protect our natural resources, especially our water. So I was shocked during the last budget cycle to see the majority party strip away control of local governments to craft their own shoreland zoning standards which meet the unique needs and demands of local bodies of water.
Shoreland zoning law is in place to protect Wisconsinís lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams from irresponsible shoreland development which could deteriorate coastlines and lead to polluted waters. Who knows the complexities of bodies of water better than local governments?
Environmental impact and tourism often go hand in hand. Providing greater protections over our lakes and rivers means a more marketable tourism industry. Considering that Wisconsin tourism generates nearly $19 billion each year, protecting our natural resources isnít just good for our environment Ė itís good for our economy.
Imposing a one-size-fits-all approach on shoreland zoning doesnít work. Thatís why I have introduced legislation along with Senator Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) to repeal this statewide restriction and restore local control over shoreland zoning standards.
Wisconsin has a long and proud conservation legacy. Continued efforts to strip away environmental protections will undo the life work of such conservation champions as Gaylord Nelson, Aldo Leopold, and John Muir. I will continue to fight to protect Wisconsinís environment and uphold our conservation tradition.
Please do not hesitate to contact me at:
Rep. Gary Hebl
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