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January 17th, 2020



 Farmers Union Water Quality Update

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On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to share our findings from the Water Quality Task Force with members of the Farmer’s Union. Thanks for having me!


Legislative Day


Wednesday was very busy! In addition to speaking to the Farmers Union in the morning, I met with constituents who are members of the Green County EMS, Wisconsin Dental Association, WHEDA, Farmers Union, as well as the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association. Pictured is Donna Flannery from the South Wayne EMS & Fire, Dr. Laura Hibbard from Monroe, with Marquette Dental Students from the district, Pat Skogen, Michelle Godez, and Joe Meudt of the Farmers Union, and Collin Dean and Bob Wills from the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association. Thank you all for stopping by!


AB 445 Passes the Assembly

A bill I authored with Senator Marklein passed the Assembly on Wednesday. It creates an exception to the state building code allowing for older churches built before 1919 to install a stairway chairlift even if the stairway doesn’t meet width requirements.

We were notified about this issue by a group of constituents from Jordan Lutheran Church of rural Browntown. They reached out to my office as well as Senator Marklein’s to see if we could come up with a solution. Like many churches, Jordan Lutheran Church holds activities and meals in the church basement and unfortunately, there is no way for those who are unable to use the stairs to attend these events. If this bill is signed into law, people who were previously unable to use the stairs will be able to attend church events.

This bill, AB 445, provides an exception to the building code which would allow select, old churches to install a stairway chairlift even if the stairway doesn’t meet width requirements. Under the bill, a church may build a stairway chairlift if: the church was constructed before January 1, 1919, there is a second stairway between the floors connected by the stairway chairlift, and the stairway chairlift meets all other building code requirements. In addition, if the fire chief of the area in which the church is located determines that the installation of the chairlift would render any part of the church unsafe, the fire chief could require the church to comply with other safety measures as a prerequisite for installation.

As a legislator, I enjoy the opportunity to work with constituents when they have a problem that the legislature can remedy. It was important to me to draft a bill that addresses their concerns, and am glad that we were able to work together. I think that AB 445 creates a more accessible and inclusive environment, and allows for historic treasures like these to be used and accessed for generations to come. 

logo-final-final-final.png Water Quality Recommendations

As part of the Water Quality Task Force, I wanted to share with you the bills that we are circulating to address the Water Quality Concerns in Wisconsin. While there is no one silver bullet that will solve all of our state’s water quality issues at once, we are pleased to recommend a strong bipartisan package of legislation that addresses many of the top concerns we heard about at our hearings around the state.

  • LRB 4984 (Rep. Brooks/Sen. Marklein) – Requires that eligible projects under the Municipal Flood Control Grant program receive equal consideration and that loss of tax base and cost effectiveness is taken into account.
  • LRB 3651 (Rep. Kitchens/Sen. Cowles) – Prohibits the sale of coal tar based sealant products and high PAH sealant products beginning January 1, 2021 and prohibits the use of such products beginning July 1, 2021.
  • LRB 4806 (Rep. Felzkowski/Sen. Jacque) – Requires DNR and DHS to provide notice and a 21-day public comment period when establishing groundwater standards.
  • LRB 5062 (Rep. Shankland/Sen. Testin/Rep. Krug) - $1,000,000/Year – Provides additional funding and necessary changes to the existing Well Compensation Grant Program. This program assists households with the costs of well treatment, replacement, or remediation.
  • LRB 4489 (Rep. Ramthun/Sen. Cowles) - $250,000/Year – Requires DATCP to administer or contract to a third party a program to collect and store or dispose of voluntarily surrendered firefighting foams that contain PFAS.
  • LRB 4360 (Rep. Summerfield/Sen. Bernier) - $150,000/Year – Creates a competitive grant process to conduct bio manipulation projects on waters listed on DNR’s impaired waters list.
  • LRB 4304 (Rep. Krug/Sen. Jacque) – Extends the sunset of the POWTS grant program from June 30, 2021 to June 30, 2023. This program provides a reimbursement of eligible costs for the remediation or replacement of a failed POWTS system.
  • LRB 4751 (Rep. Kitchens/Sen. Cowles) - $1,000,000/Year – Creates a nitrogen optimization pilot program to aid farmers in reducing nitrogen loading. Collaboration among UW, DATCP, and farmers will provide recommendations on improvements to state programs.
  • LRB 4716 (Rep. Shankland/Sen. Testin/Rep. Krug) - $1,500,000/Year – Includes several provisions that support ongoing work within UW System and provide staffing and financial assistance to counties who wish to conduct a well testing and mapping study.
  • LRB 4717 (Rep. Tranel/Sen. Cowles) - $851,200/Year – Funds several important programs to help farmers implement conservation practices such as managed grazing, producer-led watershed grants, and certification in the Water Stewardship Program.
  • LRB 3915 (Rep. Novak/Sen. Testin) - $2,960,900/Year – Current law directs DATCP to attempt to fund 3 positions per county at 100%, 70%, and 50% respectively. This legislation will almost fully fund this statutory directive.
  • LRB 5061 (Rep. Novak/Sen. Darling) - $2,000,000/Year – Creates the UW Freshwater Collaborative which expands research opportunities and builds undergraduate capacity to prepare our workforce for the fastest growing sector of the world’s economy – water.
  • LRB 4931 (Rep. Kurtz/Sen. Jacque) - $150,000/Year – Creates an Office of Water Policy that will work to facilitate collaboration amongst agencies and serve as a clearinghouse for information as we continue our work to address water quality.

To view our report in full, click here.  

Have a Great Weekend!