No Shoreland Action – Fall Legislative Session

The report below is excerpted from the Wisconsin Lakes “The Lakes Lake Policy Report”
November 24, 2015

Fall legislative session ends with no action on shoreland zoning or groundwater.

The Wisconsin Legislature closed its fall 2015 session in early November, taking no action on either legislation dealing with groundwater management or a reversal of the weakening of shoreland zoning law passed in the state budget (“the Act 55 changes”).

Two groundwater bills, SB239, introduced by Sen. Richard Gudex (R-Fond du Lac), and SB291, introduced by Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), received public hearings but were not voted out of committee, while a bill introduced by Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Cory Mason (D-Racine) did not receive a hearing.

Meanwhile, a rumored Republican backed version of a bill presenting at least a partial fix to the Act 55 shoreland zoning changes has yet to appear. Wisconsin Lakes believes that such an effort may still be forthcoming and could make significant strides to repair the damage to our shoreland zoning laws, but we do not comment on legislation that we have yet to see. A bill providing a full repeal of the changes (SB307, introduced by Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland)) has yet to receive a hearing.

The legislative session technically runs into April. But with leadership from both houses giving indications that floor periods for voting on new legislation will be extremely limited, it gets much more difficult for bills that have not already made significant movement through the committee process to be passed. That may be good news for groundwater, where Wisconsin Lakes is opposed to both Republican efforts (though we hold out hope that SB291’s problems could be solved). But for shoreland zoning, where a viable bill may be on the horizon but hasn’t even been introduced, much work remains to be done.