2019-2020 Legislative Session Recap
Bills Authored by Senator Cowles that Became Law
- Act 151 (Senate Bill 91, authored with Rep. Kitchens and Sen. Petrowski): P3: Wisconsin’s Trading Marketplace to Create a Pollution Prevention Partnership will make Wisconsin the first state in the nation to establish a third-party water quality trading marketplace. As agricultural markets continue to produce uncertainty and discharge standards for wastewater permit holders continue to be ratcheted down and require expensive upgrades for minimal water quality improvements, Act 151 can provide relief to farmers, employers, and local governments while creating net improvements to water quality.
- Act 101 (Senate Bill 310, authored with Rep. Nygren and Sen. Petrowski): Firefighting foam with PFAS is the most prolific cause of contamination in ground and surface water in Wisconsin. This effort substantially limited this foam's use to emergency situations. Overall, we create a balance between the dangers to human health and the environmental footprint that PFAS poses while also preserving the ability of first responders to use an extremely effective tool to fight flammable liquid fires.
- Act 93 (Senate Bill 125, authored with Reps. Summerfield and Kitchens): The Parks Revitalization Act 2.0 builds on last session’s effort by providing an additional $5.2 million to help clear the backlog in critical health and safety water infrastructure projects in State Parks. By replacing dilapidated infrastructure, we can help to improve visitor experience, promote parks-based tourism, and protect the health and safety of millions of State Park visitors for decades to come.
- Act 176 (Senate Bill 437, authored with Rep. Steineke): When voters in Freedom turned down a referendum for a new building, they never knew that ripple effects would cause the school district to lose part of their state aid. For this low-spending district, the statutory hiccup had adverse impacts in every classroom. This is yet another example of a district-driven effort being signed into law to ensure that Freedom schools can operate at full volume by restoring this state aid.
- Act 73 (Senate Bill 296, authored with Reps. Mursau and Milroy and Sen. Miller): Part one of the ‘Bite Back’ package, this legislation requires signs at each State Park and Forest to raise awareness about Lyme disease, inform visitors about how to prevent tick bites, and remind visitors to check for ticks after spending time outdoors. These signs will not be there to alarm, but rather inform visitors to help reduce the incidence of Lyme disease through more prevention and early detection.
- Act 74 (Senate Bill 297, authored with Reps. Mursau and Milroy and Sen. Miller): Part two of the ‘Bite Back’ package, this legislation requires the DNR to sell bug spray in each State Park and Forest with an office when that location is staffed and open, or to have a concession stand sell bug spray. After raising awareness of Lyme disease through Acts 73 and 158, this new law will help to ensure that visitors have quick access to one of the easiest tools to prevent tick bites.
- Act 158 (Senate Bill 298, authored with Reps. Mursau and Milroy and Sen. Miller): Part three of the ‘Bite Back’ package, this legislation requires that information similar to what’s put on signs in Act 73 is published in State Park pamphlets and that it’s also disseminated each May, which is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, in digital and print platforms run by the DNR. With the DNR’s wide reach to sportsmen and women, we should be looking to raise awareness of Lyme’s anyway we can.
- Act 132 (Assembly Bill 454, authored with Reps. Vorpagel and Duchow and Sen. Wanggaard): Swatting calls have been increasing in Wisconsin and throughout the nation. Not only are swatting calls a drain on police resources, but they can be dangerous for those involved. This legislation looks to ensure these violators are punished properly and others are deterred from this dangerous stunt by creating felony penalties aligning with other more serious false police calls.
- Act 4 (Senate Bill 3, authored with Rep. Steffen): This effort, drafted in response to the years-long saga of Standard Pre-Owned, simplifies the process for the Department of Transportation to deny, suspend, or revoke licenses issued to auto dealers. By streamlining licensure review, we provide DOT the ability to better protect Wisconsinites from the most severe cases fraudulent activity.
- Act 9 (Senate Bill 31, authored with Rep. Krug and Sen. Testin, and included in the Budget): A 2016 audit of Wisconsin’s wastewater permitting found a substantial backlog and numerous deficiencies in the program. Act 9 bolsters the Department of Natural Resources’ efforts to reduce this backlog by allocating the entire $345 permit fee paid by large farms to the permitting program, thereby ensuring that permittees pay a greater share of the cost of the program.
- Act 9 (Senate Bill 194, authored with Rep. Macco, and included in the Budget): This effort reinstated funding through a law previously on the books that some of the Oneida Nation’s tribal gaming revenues would be transferred to UW-Green Bay. With the $247,500 annually, UWGB can provide more first nations studies courses and events, which are a benefit to the entire region.
- Act 168 (Senate Bill 512, authored with Rep. Kitchens): This legislation was drafted in direct response to constituent concerns after their ongoing troubles with their condo association board. By establishing a statutory process that gives unit owners a seat at the table when condo associations are obstructing unit owners’ ability to maintain their condos or when unit owners question decisions that affect their property, we can ensure that Wisconsinites’ property rights are protected.
- Act 185 (Senate Bill 113, authored with Rep. Petryk, and included in the Coronavirus response bill): Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) are a crucial part of our long-term health care services, but nursing homes are having difficulties recruiting new CNAs. By reducing the required training hours to match the federal standard and that of some neighboring states, this reasonable change will help students become the caretakers sooner while still ensuring a credible licensure process.
- Act 5 (Senate Bill 4, authored with Rep. Spiros): Expanding on a 2017 law, Act 5 simply removes a statutory burden that prevented municipalities from dealing with habitual parking violators in a more cost-effective, convenient, modern, and safer manner than ‘the boot’. Immobilization devices now allowed, such as windshield covers, must be approved by the local government.