Assembly Passes ERTID Bill

Testifying on Senate Bill 518 last September

The Assembly met on January 25, and I am happy to say that it unanimously passed Senate Bill 518, the environmental rehabilitation tax incremental district (ERTID) legislation that I introduced with Sen. Rob Cowles. 

Under current law, a developer working on an ERTID may be compensated for the costs of remediating existing ground, water, or air pollution on a property – in other words, outdoor pollution.  However, many old buildings contain hazardous materials like asbestos, which is notoriously expensive to contain and remove safely, and the current ERTID law doesn’t cover the costs of handling these materials since they’re not currently polluting the environment. The result is that many developers simply won't do projects that involve demolishing or converting asbestos-ridden structures, and these properties can sit idle for years, deteriorating and blighting the surrounding community.

SB 518 expands the definition of "environmental pollution" for ERTID purposes to include materials – like asbestos or lead – that if released into the environment during the redevelopment of an existing structure could cause harm.  By allowing the costs of containing and removing these materials to be covered, our goal is to make redevelopment projects more cost-effective and therefore more attractive to potential developers. This way, more blighted properties can be put to their best use and benefit the community.

The Senate passed SB 518 on a bipartisan 29-2 vote in October, so this week's Assembly vote means SB 518 will now go to Governor Evers for his consideration.

Supporting Law Enforcement

Also on Tuesday, the Assembly passed an extensive package of bills designed to help law enforcement agencies recruit and retain officers, using funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).  Due to high levels of retirements and resignations, the current number of law enforcement officers (LEOs) in Wisconsin is the lowest it's been in a decade - just over 13,500 - at a time when crime is on the rise.  The proposals include:

  • Assembly Bill 831, which establishes a "Pro-Cop Wisconsin" marketing campaign
  • Assembly Bill 832, which increases law enforcement training reimbursements
  • Assembly Bill 833, which creates a grant program for LEO equipment
  • Assembly Bill 834, which recognizes no-knock warrants where necessary and also requires Milwaukee to spend a certain portion of the ARPA funding it receives on its police department
  • Assembly Bill 835, which requires the DNR to temporarily waive state park admission, camping, and certain hunting and fishing license fees for LEOs
  • Assembly Bill 836, which requires the Wisconsin Technical Colleges System to establish two part-time police academy programs
  • Assembly Bill 837, which establishes a grant program for signing bonuses and bonus payments for LEOs

These proposals will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

In addition to the ERTID bill and the law enforcement package, the Assembly passed Senate Bill 296, which imposes penalties for participating in riots, as well as Assembly Bill 316, which prohibits state and local governments from discriminating on the basis of COVID vaccination status, and Assembly Bill 675, which requires employers to accept documentation of natural immunity to COVID as an alternative to vaccination and testing requirements.

Record Surplus Predicted

Earlier this week, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which assists the Legislature on budget matters, released a report estimating that the state's general fund balance as of June 30, 2023 (the end of the current fiscal biennium) will be over $3.81 billion, more than $2.88 billion above the LFB's previous estimate.  This is great news for Wisconsin and could mean additional tax cuts for Wisconsin residents and businesses during the next budget cycle.

Legislative Website

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