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Dane County adopted its 2019-2021 legislative agenda. 

Supporting a $30 million boost to the Alliant Energy Center, environmental initiatives and funding for at-risk youth are all issues that Dane County plans to encourage the state Legislature to tackle over the next two years.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors last week approved its 2019-21 legislative agenda, which includes county priorities for state action. Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said as the second largest county in Wisconsin, it is important for Dane County to communicate with state policy makers.

“Fundamentally, we’re looking at how can we help people in our community succeed better and what role can the county play in that,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan said the county is looking at ways the state can make changes that better enable the county to carry out that fundamental mission, whether it relates to clean water, maintaining public safety or funding crisis support services.

“We’re hoping to see great improvements for Dane County and for the state as a whole,” Corrigan said.

State funding is critical for the major project that would re-envision the 164-acre Alliant Energy Center campus on Madison’s south side.

The expansion would help transition the facility to a “full-service convention center for all of Wisconsin and the upper Midwest,” Gov. Tony Evers said March 6. He added that the project is expected to create 644 new jobs generating $670,000 per year in income taxes.

In addition to supporting state funding for capital projects on the Alliant Energy Center Campus, Dane County supports authorizing the creation of a taxing authority to repay bonds for the construction, maintenance and operations of campus facilities.

Dane County is supporting a number of environmental initiatives, including increasing funding for the state Department of Natural Resources to help farmers reduce runoff from livestock operations, and supporting renewable energy sources and climate change efforts.

Further, the county supports adopting a statewide standard for so-called PFAS, unregulated chemical compounds that are linked to an array of health problems. The city of Madison closed a well on East Washington Avenue, citing PFAS contamination, in March.

Dane County’s agenda urges continued improvements to the juvenile corrections system to ensure Dane County can successfully operate a secured residential care center for children and youth.

Last year, the Senate and Assembly unanimously voted to close the troubled Lincoln Hills youth prison by 2021 and send most youth offenders to county facilities throughout the state, including Dane County.

The county also supports a measure in Evers’ budget that would raise the age to charge juvenile offenders as adults from 17 to 18.

Wisconsin is one of five states that treats 17-year-old offenders as adults, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Evers’ budget would treat 17-year-olds as juvenile offenders for acts committed on or after Jan. 1, 2021.

Dane County is also supporting continued funding for early intervention and intensive treatment programs for at-risk youth.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.

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