Gov. Scott Walker signed 46 bills on Monday, including a ban on county executives serving concurrently in the Legislature.
The bill was drafted by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, who said the candidacy of Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris for a state Senate seat raised questions about whether a public employee earning six figures should also receive a legislator’s salary.
Democrats and other critics of the bill say it is a blatant attempt to target Harris — a Democratic candidate for the open Senate seat in Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, currently held by retiring Republican Rick Gudex, that’s expected to be hotly contested in the November election.
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, has called the bill “the height of hypocrisy,” noting Republicans didn’t raise the issue when Republican Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow served concurrently in the Senate for three months last year.
Walker also signed a bill allowing towns in Dane County to opt out of county zoning laws. The bill, authored by Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, was introduced after the Dane County Towns Association pushed for a way for towns to gain more autonomy over developments in rural areas, and to grow tax bases to pay for services.
But officials from Dane County, its cities and villages and a group of towns say town governments lack the financial and staff resources to responsibly administer their own zoning codes, and that allowing an opt-out could unleash irresponsible rural development.
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Another bill signed into law permits libraries to report borrowers who owe late fees to collections agencies, or in some cases, to law enforcement.
It allows a library to report delinquent accounts to a law enforcement agency if the delinquency is at least $50. Information that may be disclosed is the individual’s name, contact information and the amount owed.
The governor signed a bill allowing farmers, food processors, frac sand mine operators and other operators of high-capacity wells to replace them without a state review of how the wells are affecting groundwater, lakes and streams.
The law requires flow meters on wells and mandates study of certain areas affected by high-capacity wells.
It waives permit requirements for lake associations that want to install high-capacity wells to pump water into lakes as part of a hydrological study.
A bill that bolsters private property rights while loosening protections on thousands of bodies of water in Wisconsin also was signed into law.
The law limits local powers over shoreline construction, allowing construction of boathouses, fishing rafts, utility facilities, water towers, rail systems and other kinds of construction to be built closer to bodies of water.