June 11 – JFC Takes Up CAFOs, Building Projects & More in Second-To-Last Exec

Under the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Democrats moved to adopt the governor’s proposals, including providing five positions to regulate CAFOs and increasing Wisconsin pollution discharge elimination system permit fees for CAFOs by over $300. However, the committee instead voted 12-4 along party lines to convert four vacant Department of Natural Resources (DNR) positions to CAFO regulators, specifically an engineer, hydrogeologist, permit intake position, and complex permit reviewer. The DATCP motion (Motion #143) kept the CAFO fee the same as under current law but moved the proceeds from GPR to program revenue for CAFO regulation.

Also under DATCP, JFC adopted the governor’s proposal for three new positions in the industrial hemp program. However, JFC funded the positions through PR instead of GPR.

Next, JFC took up the remaining parts of the DNR budget. In the omnibus motion (Motion #144), the committee approved Gov. Evers’s recommendation to extend the state’s stewardship program through 2022 and gave the department an additional $42.6 million in bonding authority for the program. The motion also includes funding for state park staff, new law enforcement radios, certain state trail repairs, and chronic wasting disease research.

In another omnibus motion (Motion #147), JFC approved nearly $1.9 billion in bonding for building projects. The motion funded projects including:

  • $1 billion of UW System projects.
  • $15 million for a northern Wisconsin regional crisis center. The proposal adds 22 new mental health beds for juveniles and adults at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.
  • $5 million for initial work to replace Green Bay Correctional Institution.
  • $25 million for energy conservation in all agencies.

The committee also took up several provisions that had not yet been addressed from previous executive session papers. Under the Public Service Commission, the committee approved a motion to delete the three-year contract limit for the sale of wholesale electricity from a plant with financial interest in a utility to that utility. PSC would still have to approve and regulate these types of wholesale merchant plants.

Under Budget Management and Compensation Reserves, JFC approved a motion that would allow the legislature to pass bills causing estimated general fund expenditures to exceed estimated revenues in the second year of the 2019-21 biennium. Current law (Wis. Stat. § 20.003(4m) prohibits passing a bill causing expenditures to exceed revenues in the second year of the biennium.

Also on June 11, the committee took up:

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands
Juvenile Corrections
Veterans Affairs

Although taxes were on the original agenda for June 11, the committee pushed the vote on taxes to their June 13 executive session.