State Budget: Motion #999

The wrap-up motion, also referred to as Motion #999, is the final omnibus motion introduced by Joint Finance Committee in every budget. The motion is always a grab bag of surprises as it can include nearly anything, and is not released to the public until official introduction to the committee. Most of the provisions described below were included in the final budget bill. However, the legislature removed the contentious open records provision, the changes to the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems and modified the extension of water or sewerage service between municipalities provision.

Open/Public Record Provisions

The biggest and most contentious item included in the wrap up motion were sweeping changes to Wisconsin’s open records laws. After widespread opposition to the provision from the press, legislators on both sides of the aisle, Attorney General Brad Schimel, conservative and liberal think tanks and the public, GOP leadership agreed to drop all public records provisions included in the budget. The governor’s office and other legislative leaders have announced plans to create a study committee to evaluate open records laws in Wisconsin.

Open records reforms included protecting legislative and legislative serving agency documents. All “deliberative materials” would not to be considered a public records for the purpose of the state’s public records law. The motion also provided legislators legal privilege or right to refuse to disclose, and to prevent current or former staff members from disclosing, a long list of communications and related records. These provisions would also direct legislative service agencies to observe the confidential nature of all communications, records, and information that may be subject to these legislative privileges. Additionally, the motion also deletes requirements that LRB maintained drafting records from prior sessions or otherwise provide legislative history services. All of these provisions were removed from the budget.

Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems (#22a)

The motion restructured the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems to be entirely comprised of legislators, opposed to the current make-up of six legislators and four non-legislator positions.

The legislature removed these changes from the budget.

Extension of Water or Sewerage Service Between Municipalities (#66)

The motion would authorize a municipality to request an extension of water or sewer services from another municipality for areas not already having such services. The provision contains various requirements relating to such requests; for example, a requirement that the water or sewer utility approve or disapprove the request in writing within 45 days. Requests cannot be disapproved less the utility has insufficient capacity to serve the subject area or if the request will have a significant adverse effect on utility.

The Senate amendment, adopted into the budget, limited this provision to just Kenosha County.

Limits on Local Authority. (#55)

The motion limits towns or counties from imposing requirements that are expressly preempted by federal or state law as conditions for proving a conditional use permit. However, it appears this provision is a mere restatement of existing law.

This provision also prohibits any town or county from imposing insurance requirements on an operator of an interstate hazardous liquid pipeline if the pipeline company has comprehensive general liability coverage for sudden and accidental pollution.

Lead Paint Liability & Toxic Substance Enforcement (#33)

The motion changes the definition of “lead-bearing paint” and deletes current statutory provisions allowing for administrative rules to supersede this definition. The committee also increase the maximum forfeitures for violations of Chapter 254 provisions relating to lead paint from $1,000 to $5,000 per violation. Knowing violations of these provisions will result in criminal penalties not less than $100 or more than $5,000 per violation.

PSC Provisions (#51-54)

The committee made various changes related to the condemnation authority of oil pipeline companies, modified the regulation of alternative telecommunication utilities, and changed the definition of essential telecommunication services. The motion specifies that the chairperson of the PSC is a distinct appointment, differing from that of a Commissioner, apparently for compensation purposes.

One Day of Rest in Seven (#56)

This provision inserts the language of Assembly Bill 118 into the budget bill. The provision allows employees to voluntarily choose to work without one day of rest in seven. Current law requires every factory or mercantile employer allow each employee 24 hours of rest in every consecutive seven days.

Military Property Program (#16)

The Military Property Program, under a bipartisan motion passed earlier in the budget process, received new processes for state or local law enforcement to participate in the program. These processes are removed in the wrap up motion. The new provisions would have required law enforcement to receive approval from the local government, file reports on the use of equipment obtained, and other oversight policies.

Special Prosecutor Positions for DOJ (#15)

The wrap up motion included a provision which supplemented the allocation to the DOJ in order to allow them to hire more special prosecutors.

Specifically the motion will provide $220,000 GPR annually to provide funding to DOJ for 2.0 assistant attorney general positions. The two assistant attorney general positions would act as special prosecutors in cases related to gun violence and other offenses involving the use of a firearm.

The allocation is contingent upon DOJ submitting a plan to JFC, under Wis. Stat. § 13.10, which would specify how DOJ will use the funds.