Bills of Note: Changing the Rules

In this week’s edition of Bills of Note, we provide an update on the ride-sharing bill, a description of major reforms being circulated to change Wisconsin administrating rule-making processes, and a bill that would increase funding for law enforcement grants.

Ride-Sharing Bill

A bill we introduced in Bills of Note in mid-April has quickly gone through the legislative process and is already signed into law. Governor Walker signed 2015 Wisconsin Act 16 into law on May 1, which will allow companies like Uber and Lyft to legally operate in Wisconsin.

Introduced by Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), the law will pre-empt local ordinances in places such as Madison and Milwaukee that are already regulating the ridesharing companies. The law would require companies purchase a $5,000 license, maintain at least $1 million in liability insurance, and drivers would have to undergo background checks.

Administrative Rule-Making Reforms Circulated for Introduction

Rep. Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) and Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) have circulated for introduction major reforms relating to the administrative rule promulgation process in Wisconsin and have introduced this bill at the request of Governor Scott Walker.

Among other provisions, the bill would:

  • Increase Transparency in Rulemaking: The bill adds a requirement for a preliminary public hearing and comment period for all rules in place of the current 10 day waiting period. This is in addition to the public hearing required after the rule draft is complete.
  • Provide for Accurate Information Regarding the Costs of Compliance: Currently, all rules require an Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) in order to gage the costs to the industry of complying with the new regulation. This bill gives the Secretary of Revenue the authority to approve all EIAs to ensure that agencies are conducting proper outreach to individuals and businesses that are impacted by a rule in order to paint a true picture of the impact on the economy. It positions the Secretary of Revenue to give testimony on the economic impact of rules to the legislature when requested. It also gives the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) and the Secretary of Revenue the ability to request an independent economic analysis if they choose. The bill also requires that the EIA consider the impact on regulated persons and entities, in addition to local government units, public utility ratepayers, businesses and the state’s economy as a whole.
  • Create a $10 Million Cap: This bill requires authorizing legislation for all rules that may have an economic impact of $10 million or more in implementation or compliance costs over a two-year period. Currently there is no requirement for legislative authorization.
  • Allow for Extended Emergency Rules: This bill authorizes the JCRAR to, during the last 30 days of the general session, extend an emergency rule until March of the following year if it so chooses. Currently the maximum extension is 120 days, which can make it difficult to maintain consistent regulations during periods that the legislature is not in session.
  • Ensure Government Only Regulates Where Authorized: The governor’s budget adds two positions to the Office of Business Development (OBD), including one attorney and one program and policy analyst. This bill gives the OBD attorney the authority to review all rules for proper legal authority.
  • Promote Increased Outreach: The OBD, in conjunction with the Small Business Regulatory Review Board, will work with agencies to ensure proper outreach to small businesses and suggest rule changes that ease the burden of compliance on businesses

Law Enforcement Grants

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) is circulating a bill to increase funding for law enforcement grants from $2 million to $16 million. Currently, the Department of Justice administers the program, which is limited to cities that have a population of $25,000 or more and limits the grant awards to $150,000. Rep. Sanfelippo’s bill will eliminate the $150,000 cap for each grant, allows counties to apply for a grant, allows a city or county to use grant funds to employ additional beat patrol officers or other specialized law enforcement officers and includes an annual application. The bill includes provisions that would require an applying city or county to identify how funds will be used to reduce crime or achieve another goal related to public safety and provide data that could be used in measurement of progress toward the identified goals.

In order to support this funding increase and program expansion, the bill draft has suggested reallocating funding from the following programs:

  • Diesel Truck Idling Reduction Grants: $1,081,000 SEG per year
  • Tourism Joint Marketing: $250,000 GPR over the biennium
  • Buy Local Grants: $200,000 GPR per year
  • Tobacco Use Control: $$2,657,500 per year
  • Minimum Markup Law: $250,000 SEG
  • GAB Investigations Budget: $250,000 GPR per year
  • Wisconsin Arts Board: Up to $757,000 GPR per year
  • Parole Commission: $300,000 GPR per year
  • DATCP Ventral Administration Services: $832,000 GPR over the biennium
  • DNR General Program Operations: $576,900 GPR per year
  • Walleye Production Contracts: $500,000 GPR per year