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Waukesha Water Diversion First Major Test of Great Lakes Compact PDF Print E-mail
News - Articles for State & Local
Written by Abby Kuranz, WiscCIC   
Friday, 08 January 2016 09:25

greatlakesEight Great Lakes governors and two Canadian premiers ask Great Lakes citizens to chime in.

Last Updated on Friday, 08 January 2016 12:04
Corrections Reform Measures Proposed To Improve Public Safety PDF Print E-mail
News - Articles for State & Local
Written by GBP Staff   
Wednesday, 06 January 2016 11:50

boy-in-docA high-profile investigation into claims of child abuse at the Lincoln Hills Juvenile Detention Center and serious assaults on correctional officers this year at Green Bay, Racine, Columbia and other correctional facilities across Wisconsin have prompted Democratic legislators to take action.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 January 2016 12:43
Hansen Joins Call for Corrections Reform PDF Print E-mail
News - Articles for State & Local
Written by GBP Staff   
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 20:50

wisstatereformatory-allouezPopular local Senator will join Sen. Erpenbach at Green Bay area press conference on Thursday to announce new Corrections legislation.

MADISON - State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) joined calls for reforming the Department of Corrections today and to announce his support for legislation that will address staffing and safety issues at Wisconsin Correctional Institutions.

dave-hansen“Safety within our corrections institutions should be a top priority in light of the growing number of incidents we have seen take place, in large part due to the inability of Corrections officials to recruit, properly train and retain staff,” said Hansen, noting that 500 positions are currently unfilled in the department putting public safety at risk. “As a result we are asking fewer officers to take on more shifts and more responsibility to the point that it is putting their safety at risk.”

jon-erpenbachHansen also announced that he will join State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and corrections officers at a press conference at the Brown County Courthouse at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 7th to discuss the growing crisis in Corrections and to announce his support for a package of bills being introduced by Sen. Erpenbach.

Included in the reform package are bills aimed at improving community safety, increasing officer and staff training, limiting consecutive overtime shifts, requiring public access to incident reports, making workplace safety a subject of collective bargaining, and prohibiting DOC from enacting policies that are detrimental to staff recruitment, retention and safety.

“We can no longer afford to ignore the growing crisis inside the Department of Corrections. Reforming the department should be a top priority for both parties before the end of the current legislative session. These bills represent an effort to begin the discussion about how best to address the issues that have resulted from the growing staff shortage at Corrections. Ultimately, however, this is not a partisan issue, but one that we can and should work together to address.”

The proposals include four weeks of on the job training for new recruits, training for officers that dispense medicine, requiring first responder units to be fully staffed at every shift for back up, requiring at least one guard tower and one perimeter be staffed during every shift, making workplace safety a subject of collective bargaining, limiting the number of consecutive shifts of overtime allowed to two and making incident reports public.


Legislative staffer Jay Wadd contributed to this story.

Madison Legislators Leap into 2016 with Assault on Natural Resources PDF Print E-mail
News - Articles for State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Conservation Voters, Jonah Hermann   
Tuesday, 05 January 2016 10:48

sand-mining-wiSeven Bills Rolling Back Natural Resource Protections to be heard on Tuesday and Wednesday.

MADISON - The Legislature is holding hearings on at least seven bills that roll back protections for air, land, and water and gut local government authority – and that’s just in the first few days after the holidays.

Kerry Schumann, Executive Director of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, said, “From developing on lake beds to filling in wetlands to taking away local governments’ authority to protect the health of their communities, the Legislature is starting 2016 off with a pretty loud message to Wisconsinites: that they are putting the wishes of big developers, factory farms, frac sand mining companies, and other polluting interests above the needs of their constituents.”

Of the bills being taken up early this week, the most concerning are the Polluter Grab Bag, AB 600/SB 459, and the Developer Grab Bag, AB 582/SB 464.

Lowlights of The Polluter Grab Bag, AB 600/SB 459, include:

  • Not only does the bill allow developers to build on lake beds – but they could also get that public land for free and restrict the public’s access to the lake.
  • The Polluter Grab Bag would lead to more development in wetlands by removing protections for the 20% of wetlands that aren’t federally protected and creating incentives for companies or individuals to develop on properties that contain wetlands.
  • ​The bill allows each person who owns property on a lake to dredge up to three dump truck loads of lakebed sediment every year.

Lowlights of The Developer Grab Bag, AB 582/SB 464, are:

  • The Developer Grab Bag bans counties from placing moratoriums on new development, a tool often used to give a local government time to determine policies and procedures before an industry has moved in and it’s too late.
  • The bill takes away local governments’ ability to create new zoning requirements to deal with new industries or projects if a company has simply “expressed interest” in locating there.
  • The bill provides financial incentives to develop land that is held in conservation easements or is deliberately undeveloped.
  • The bill increases the tax burden on residential property owners by exempting rich developers from paying their fair share of taxes for their land.
  • ​The bill allows developers to “shop” for the judge they want if there is a challenge to their development permit.

According to Schumann, “The Polluter and Developer Grab Bags open the floodgates for developers, frac sand mining companies, factory farms, and other special interests to make our water dirtier, fill in our wetlands, and run roughshod over local communities and private citizens.”

The full list of anti-conservation bills being taken up Tuesday and Wednesday include:

  • AB 600: Polluter Grab Bag - Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry on Tuesday
  • SB 464: Developer Grab Bag - Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, and Trade on Tuesday
  • SB 479: Undermining Dane County Zoning - Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, and Trade on Tuesday
  • SB 434: Undercutting Natural Resource Protections in State Forests - Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry on Tuesday
  • SB 288: Nuking Wisconsin’s Energy Priorities Law - Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy on Tuesday
  • AB 603: Further Meddling in Shoreland Zoning - Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage on Wednesday
  • SB 432: Privatizing Wisconsin’s Water - Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works, and Military Affairs on Tuesday

“We are stunned that the Legislature would schedule all of these attacks on natural resources just days after the holidays, when citizens have little warning and no time to make arrangements to come to Madison. We know that these bills – especially the Polluter and Developer Grab Bags – don’t reflect Wisconsinites love of the places where we live, work, and play,” concluded Schumann.

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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:

Whose Property Rights Are Most Important? PDF Print E-mail
News - Articles for State & Local
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Monday, 04 January 2016 16:14

sand-mining-wiWhen does your neighbor’s property right limit your own rights? What if your neighbor built a fireworks factory next door? Or a large hog operation? Or an industrial sand mine? A new bill introduced in Madison just before Christmas could take away local control over land use ordinances and zoning rules that protect our communities and the individual rights of neighbors to protect themselves.

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