Bills of Note: Air Pollution, Legal Notices on the Internet, Ignition Interlock, and Signed Firearms Bills

Air Pollution Rule Repeal

Senate Bill 144, introduced in May by Senator Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), eliminates a rule promulgated by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), relating to construction permit requirements for stationary sources that emit greenhouses gases, which is no longer valid under the Supreme Court’s decision in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the 2014 decision, the Supreme Court largely upheld the right of the EPA to regulate emission, but limited its authority in regulating smaller stationary sources. In writing the court’s opinion, Justice Scalia stated the EPA overstepped its authority when regulating smaller stationary sources like shopping centers, apartment buildings and schools. SB 144 would eliminate the DNR construction permit requirements for those qualifying stationary sources.

The bill passed the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy 5-0 and passed the Senate on a voice vote. The bill was concurred in by the Assembly and will now go to Governor Walker’s desk.

Legal Notices on the Internet

In late April, Sen. Howard Markelin (R-Spring Green) introduced Senate Bill 137, which would change the way local municipalities are allowed to post public notices. Under current law, a municipality must post the notice in at least three public places likely to give notice to those affected. AB 137 would change these requirements so that instead of posting the notice in three public places, the notice could be posted in one public place and also on the municipality’s internet site.

The bill passed the Senate Committee on Elections in Government 3-2 in June and passed the Senate on a voice vote. The companion bill, AB 199 is currently in the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs.

Ignition Interlock

Last week, Rep. David Heaton (R- Wausau) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R- Racine) introduced AB 266, which would create an Ignition Interlock Restricted License (IIRL). The IIRL is an option, in addition to the occupational license, for a person who commits a first OWI offense while their alcohol level is below .15 and a person who either fails a chemical test or refuses a test. Under the bill, the ignition interlock device (IID) would not have time of day or route restrictions but is mandated to be in any vehicle operated by a person with an IIRL. IIRL holders would be required to show proof of installation on one or more cars they will operate and proof of insurance before the IIRL is issued.

The bill has received bipartisan support from legislators and has received endorsement from all state law enforcement groups and driver safety organizations. The bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on Transportation.

Signed into Law: Off-duty and Retired Law Enforcement Carry on School Grounds

On June 24, Governor Walker signed SB 70 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 23. Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) introduced the bill with its companion AB 46, which was laid on the table after the Senate’s passage of SB 70. Under the new law, off-duty and retired law enforcement officers will be able to carry their firearm on school grounds. The Wisconsin Sheriffs & Deputy Sheriffs Association, along with a coalition of other law enforcement organizations, provided testimony at both the Assembly and Senate committee hearings on this piece of legislation.

Signed into Law: 48 hour waiting period

SB 35, which was signed into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 22 by Governor Walker on Tuesday removed a 48-hour waiting period required for those who purchase a firearm. The bill was originally introduced by Sen. Wanggaard and Rep. Quinn. Prior to the new statute’s enactment, a firearms dealer was required to wait 48 hours after receiving notice the Department of Justice had requested a background check, before transferring the handgun to the buyer. Proponents of the bill stated the 48-hour waiting period was irrelevant as instant background checks of buyers are possible with today’s technology. Opponents believed the wait time offered a safety net for malicious individuals to “cool-off” in case a firearm is being purchased to harm another person.