Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

May 17, 2024


Senate Overrides Governor’s Vetoes to Help People and Promote Good Policy

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the Wisconsin State Senate voted to override Governor Evers’ vetoes on nine important bills including Senate Bill (SB) 312 related to PFAS and SB 1014 related to relief funding for health care providers in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley.
I voted “yes” to override the Governor’s vetoes because, as Co-Chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), I want to release the $125 million in funding for PFAS and $15 million for health care. The Governor’s vetoes have tied our hands. He has been asking a committee of 16 people to override his vetoes but it takes a two-thirds majority of the legislature to override his vetoes and that is what we started.
The Governor is playing politics with the lives and wellbeing of the people of Wisconsin. The legislature set aside $125 million in a PFAS Trust Fund so that we could work with stakeholders and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop ways to apply these funds and address PFAS in Wisconsin.
The Governor’s big disagreement on the PFAS bill is that he wants to take enforcement actions against innocent landowners. He wants to go after farmers who spread sludge on their fields, with DNR approval, that contained PFAS. They didn’t know – but he wants to hold them responsible for PFAS that they didn’t even know existed at the time. The Governor wants to be able to go after homeowners who built their dream home in a subdivision where a manufacturer used PFAS 20, 30 or even 50 years ago!  How would you know? Should your new home be worth $0?
The DNR should not be able to bankrupt you through regulation. They should not be able to destroy the value of your home, your business, your farm or our communities. But this is what the Governor’s PFAS plan does.
The legislature wants to invest in remediation. We want to help our communities deal with pollution and make drinking water safe. But we do not want to punish innocent landowners. We want to help them.
We warned the Governor that a veto of the PFAS bill would kill our ability to send these funds to the people who need them. But he would rather continue pointing fingers than actually solve the problem. If he were serious about solving problems, he would have worked with us. 
My colleagues, Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Senator Eric Wimberger (R-Green Bay), tried to collaborate with the Governor for nearly a year on the PFAS issue with no response. Call after call after email went unanswered. Sen. Cowles actually chased the Governor into a parking lot at an event in Green Bay to request a meeting. We tried to work with him. He refused.
It is also a shame that the Governor is putting the lives of people in Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley at risk by partially vetoing SB 1014. Rather than targeting the funding where it is needed, the Governor’s vetoes would force us to send the money to an 18 county area, rather than the communities that are actually in crisis. The funds to support emergency rooms in those communities could already be there. Instead, he wanted his way. We just want to help people.
Our override votes send these bills to the State Assembly. Unfortunately, the Assembly does not have a veto-proof majority and cannot override vetoes without some Democrats joining the Republican majority. It is a shame that partisan politics is going to stand in the way of actually helping people.
In addition to PFAS and HSHS funding, we voted to override the Governor on the following bills:

  • Teacher Apprenticeships (SB 917) – allows a university to increase the amount of student teaching up to four semesters with DPI approval. This bill is permissive. It does not require this change.
  • Post-Election Audits (SB 736) – after each election, the respected, non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) would conduct a consistent audit to affirm the results and review our election processes.
  • Setting a population goal for wolf management (SB 139) – requires the DNR to set a wolf population goal for Wisconsin. It does not set the goal, it requires the DNR to do so.
  • Verifying citizenship on IDs for voting purposes (SB 98) – requires non-citizen state ID’s to include a notation that the ID is “Not valid for voting purposes” to assist election workers with identifying voters.
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) (SB 145) – would allow highly educated and trained health care professionals with a master’s degree and thousands of clinic hours to provide care independently and relieve some of our health care workforce shortages.
  • John Doe process for self-defense, primarily for public safety (SB 517) – requires a petitioner asking for a John Doe proceeding to present new evidence that the targeted individual did not act in self-defense before an investigation can be opened. This would decrease the number of frivolous suits and accusations that consume time and money in our court system.
  • Modifications to the state building program (SB 932) – innovations for the state building program such as requiring capital budget requests to be shared with the legislature, process updates to streamline design for projects and requiring energy conservation projects.

All of these bills are good policy that solve problems in Wisconsin. I voted for these bills during the session and my votes to override reaffirm my support for this good policy. The Governor’s rationale for vetoing these bills does not make sense.
Again, it is very disappointing that the Governor has decided to play politics rather than solve real problems. All of the vetoes we voted to override are harming Wisconsin. It is my hope that some of my colleagues will see the light and join us to help everyday people in Wisconsin.

As always, if you need assistance with any state-related matters, please call our team at the State Capitol – 608-266-0703 – or email me – Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. My team is ready, and willing, to help navigate your state government, clear obstacles and receive your input.