Sunday April 30, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

State and Local
Fight for Lead-Free Water Intensifies PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Conservation Voters, Ryan Billingham   
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 15:21

lead-water-pipes-madisonWisconsin League of Conservation Voters Urges Support of ‘Leading on Lead’ Bill

MADISON – Today, the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities is holding a public hearing for Assembly Bill 78, the “Leading on Lead” bill, a proposal aimed at making it easier for communities to replace lead water pipes.

One of the state’s most pro-polluter entities – Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) – recently went public with its opposition to the bill. That decision indicates a lack of understanding of the bill itself as well as a frightening miscalculation of the magnitude of the lead poisoning crisis in Wisconsin.

In reality, the bill would give communities better resources to replace lead pipes that supply water to homes – one of the factors that left more than 200,000 kids in Wisconsin with lead poisoning from 1996 to 2014.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Kerry Schumann issued this statement ahead of the hearing:

“Assembly Bill 78 is crucial for combating Wisconsin’s lead poisoning crisis. Unfortunately, it is facing challenges from misguided and uninformed organizations such as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Despite bipartisan support for AB 78, the 'Leading on Lead' bill, WMC says they’re concerned it might cost big industrial water users some extra money – it wouldn’t – indicating they care more about big business than protecting Wisconsin’s children from permanent brain damage that results in reduced IQs, learning dysfunction, even violent behavior. Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters urges all legislators to support AB 78.”

The hearing takes place at 12:01 p.m. Room 225 Northwest at the State Capitol.

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Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable, and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin's public health and natural resources.

You can follow legislation impacting natural resources on our Conservation Vote Tracker, a real-time accountability tool that provides you with a complete picture of what conservation issues are in play and how legislators are performing:

Waters of Wisconsin and High Capacity Wells PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mark Miller, State Senator 16th District   
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 13:32

hicap-lawsuitSen. Mark Miller talks about SB76, which gives high capacity well owners priority over all other users of Wisconsin waters including shoreline property owners, anglers, boaters, tourist businesses, small farmers, and rural households.

MONONA, WI - The waters of Wisconsin belong to the people of Wisconsin. This provision is enshrined in our state constitution as a Public Trust. Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled State Senate recently passed a bill, Senate Bill 76, privatizing Wisconsin waters for the benefit of high-capacity well owners.

SB76 gives high capacity well owners permanent rights to withdraw water regardless of the impact on other water users. In spite of court decisions that require the DNR to manage the waters of Wisconsin for the mutual benefit of all users in accordance with the state constitution, DNR Secretary Stepp chooses not to do so. Instead she relies on a non-binding opinion by Republican Attorney General Schimel rather than following the constitution, the courts, and the broad statutory authority granted her department by the state legislature.

mark-millerI am baffled and hugely disappointed that current Republicans who control state government would so openly fail their oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin. Their failure now completely seals the deal to give high capacity well owners priority over all other users including shoreline property owners, anglers, boaters, tourist businesses, small farmers, and rural households, all of whom are entitled to reasonable use of Wisconsin’s water…..OUR water. These other users now face the certain prospect of lower lake levels, reduced stream flows, and dry or contaminated wells with passage of SB76.

A high capacity well permit is issued to wells that can withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day. It is the only environmental individual permit that is issued in perpetuity. These permits are FOREVER! With passage of SB76 there can never be any reconsideration of whether the withdrawal meets constitutional requirements to assure reasonable use for all.

Passage of SB 76 means that once again citizens will have to go to court to affirm and regain their constitutional right to their reasonable use of the waters of the state. They have had to do this before. Every time the courts have upheld that right. Republicans ignore it. Instead, they give preference to high capacity well owners, over all others, to use public water for private profit.

The people should not have to sue their government in order to protect their water rights. They should expect their elected representatives to honor their oath to uphold the state constitution. Some potato and vegetable growers in the Central Sands region where water use is most contentious recognize that their use is unsustainable and hurting their neighbors. They are a minority, but they could be the start of a responsible discussion on water management policies that assures sustainable use for all. Any such discussion has to acknowledge that high capacity well permits must be for a fixed duration like every other environmental permit. Ten years is a reasonable standard.

As of this writing, the State Assembly had not taken up SB76. If they adopt the bill and it is signed by the governor, high capacity wells will be permanent without any opportunity for review. Citizen outrage last session stopped a similar bill. Citizen outrage may still be able to stop SB76 in spite of the bill’s strong support by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Dairy Business Association. Hopefully the people will prevail again.

State Budget: Start with What’s Real PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Tuesday, 18 April 2017 11:19

hearingWhile much of our attention has been on transportation, health care and education spending decisions, Sen. Vinehout also discusses the importance of our modest revenue estimates and lesser known budget realities.

Manafort Pushes Chinese Steel, Trump Feigns Buy America Support PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Brandon Weathersby   
Monday, 17 April 2017 14:25

trump-buy-americanWhile Trump provides lip-service to a 'Buy American, Hire American' policy, his former campaign Chairman is advising Chinese tycoons on how to secure contracts to build America's infrastructure with Chinese steel.

MADISON - President Donald Trump will be at Snap On Tool in Kenosha Tuesday, a Wisconsin born and built manufacturer. Notably, but not surprisingly absent will be the district’s congressman, Speaker Paul Ryan. While Trump has promised a “Buy American, Hire American” policy, he and Speaker Ryan have repeatedly done the opposite.

Last session, Speaker Ryan pulled Buy American language from a water infrastructure bill, a provision inserted by Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin. Water infrastructure is famously built by Wisconsin’s own Neenah Foundry and a commitment to buying American, rather than Chinese or Russian steel would have been a boon for the company. Instead, Ryan chose billionaires over jobs for Wisconsinites and as President Trump continues to talk about putting American workers first, he is yet to hold the Speaker accountable for his actions.

And just today, first reported by The Financial Times, Trump’s former campaign chairman, was revealed to be advising a Chinese tycoon on the best ways to win Chinese steel contracts for Trump’s $1 billion American infrastructure plan. One can only imagine why Trump kept his mouth shut when the opportunity to truly support Buy America arose.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, on the other hand, continues to stand by Wisconsin workers by fighting for real Buy American provisions that help Wisconsin manufacturers and grow our local economies.

Democratic Party of Wisconsin Communications Director Brandon Weathersby said, "The blatant contradictions between what Trump says in public and does behind closed doors has been a hallmark of the Trump Presidency so far. While Trump provides lip-service to a 'Buy American, Hire American' policy, his former campaign Chairman is advising Chinese tycoons on how to secure contracts to build America's infrastructure with Chinese steel. The fact is that we simply can't trust the President to do what's best for American workers. Whether it's not supporting Buy American provisions, reneging on promises to build pipelines with American Steel, or former campaign Chairman advising Chinese Tycoons on building America's infrastructure with Chinese steel, it’s clear that President Trump does not support ‘Buy American’ or ‘Hire American.’”

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