2023-2024 Legislative Session Recap

Bills Authored by Senator Cowles that Became Law

  • Act 106 (SB 99, authored with Rep. Rodriguez): Infiltration and inflow is when groundwater or runoff from a rain or snow melt event seeps into sewer pipes, substantially increasing sewerage treatment needs. To prevent sewerage overflows and reduce the size of new treatment plants, this legislation offers existing low-interest financing for infiltration and inflow reduction projects, helping to save ratepayers money.
  • Act 43 (SB 60, authored with Reps. Duchow and Neylon): Under a 2019 initiative, if a husband or wife passes away, their spouse was exempt from needing to pay the $164.50 in fees needed to transfer vehicle ownership within the marriage. This legislation expanded those exemptions to all immediate family members, removing a financial burden during a difficult time if the vehicle will stay in the family.
  • Act 110 (SB 136, authored with Reps. Callahan and Swearingen and Sen. Felzkowski): Snowmobile clubs throughout the state provide a great service by planning and maintaining trails. These clubs are reimbursed for their expenses through snowmobile registrations and trail passes, but it often isn’t enough to cover their costs on high-use trails. This legislation simply allows more of their costs to be reimbursed.
  • Act 159 (SB 460, authored with Rep. Spiros): When reckless drivers commit certain traffic offenses in proximity to road construction crews, utility workers, and emergency responders, fines and penalties are doubled. This legislation expands those same protections to railroad crews working at crossings, encouraging more drivers to slow down and be attentive when people are working on the road nearby.
  • Act 113 (SB 415, authored with Rep. Tusler): Currently, annual passes to the Wisconsin State Park System are valid for a calendar year, regardless of when they’re purchased, meaning a pass purchased late in the year costs the same but is valid for only a fraction of the time. This legislation ensures each purchaser gets a full twelve months out of their pass, making it easier for Wisconsinites to enjoy our beautiful parks.
  • Act 44 (SB 123, authored with Rep. Snyder and Sen. Pfaff): To complete military training, service members may be required to have a valid state ID. However, as many Wisconsinites enlisting in the armed forces have shorter-term probationary driver’s licenses, it may expire before completion. This legislation allows armed forces enlistees to get a normal driver’s license, ensuring its validity throughout training.
  • Act 5 (AB 65, authored with Rep. Kitchens and others): The Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant Program helps established groups of farmers in close proximity to each other receive assistance with their collective voluntary conservation projects. This legislation makes it easier to create new groups, expands access to new members in existing groups, and provides additional grant eligibility opportunities.
  • Act 108 (SB 866, authored with Rep. Mursau): Wisconsin’s electronics recycling program has been tremendously successful in keeping valuable and sometimes toxic materials out of landfills and putting these metals and plastics to beneficial reuse. This legislation updates some of the program requirements, such as recycling targets, improving E-Cycle for manufacturers, collectors, recyclers and consumers.
  • Act 51 (SB 208, authored with Reps. Murphy and Tusler and Sen. Cabral-Guevara): Since 1990, nearly 3,000 pilots have reported wildlife strikes. Wildlife strikes on planes not only causes damage, but may be dangerous to the crew and passengers on the plane. This legislation adopts national best practices for trained personnel to dispatch nuisance wildlife at airports if required nonlethal measures are failing. 
  • Act 50 (SB 207, authored with Reps. Tusler and Murphy and Sen. Cabral-Guevara): After hearing from a village about outdated and obsolete grant eligibility requirements for the Urban Wildlife Grant Program, we learned that dozens of communities were having similar issues. This legislation updates eligibility, allowing more communities to receive assistance to address nuisance wildlife, like geese, on public lands.
  • Act 45 (SB 124, authored with Rep. Snyder and Sen. Pfaff): When a Wisconsinite buys a new vehicle and doesn’t have a license plate to transfer to a new vehicle, a dealer provides a temporary plate while their metal plates are made. This legislation adopts newer technology, allowing the temporary plate to be assigned to the owner, not the dealer, making law enforcement’s job easier and safer during traffic stops.
  • Act 111 (SB 255, authored with Rep. Mursau): Wisconsin was the only state which required public access to wetlands mitigated as a result of development. Requiring privately-funded transactions on private property to have access was proving to be a hurdle for high-quality mitigations in needed areas. This legislation removed that requirement while still requiring no let loss of access to wetlands in Wisconsin.
  • Act 6 (SB 13, authored with Rep. Penterman): When government programs end, they can often stay on the books for decades, creating confusion and administrative burdens for an agency. This legislation removes one of those defunct programs from statutes by terminating the Land Recycling Loan Program, which hasn’t been used in nearly two decades, and redistributes remaining funds for clean water projects.