WEDA Government Affairs Update 

Legislature Passes Environmental Remediation and Redevelopment Act 

While the New Year ushered in another few months of cold weather, the it also saw legislative activity heat up in the State Capitol. And as usual, WEDA is in the mix as we pursue our legislative priorities before the session ends this coming spring.

Speaking of WEDA legislative priorities, earlier this week, the state Assembly passed the Environmental Remediation and Redevelopment Act (SB 518) on a unanimous vote. The legislation, which WEDA has been working on for over a year, was passed by the state Senate in October 2021 on a bipartisan 29-2 vote.

The bill, authored by Rep. Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake) and Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay), The legislation, which is a top priority for WEDA, will allow local communities to more effectively utilize Environmental Remediation Tax Incremental Districts (ERTIDs) to revitalize contaminated properties and spur exciting redevelopment projects.

Under current law, Wisconsin communities use an ERTID to fund environmental remediation projects to clean-up contaminated sites and pave the way for new  development. However, ERTIDs cannot currently be used to raze or redevelop an existing structure that is contaminated with hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, and other heavy metals, even those these contaminants often create an insurmountable barrier to redevelopment.

SB 518 modifies the definition of “environmental pollution” under state TIF law to include harmful substances found inside of existing structures, which  qualifies the redevelopment of these buildings as an eligible ERTID project cost. This important legislation will provide communities with a narrow, yet effective tool to encourage the redevelopment of blighted sites and spur new development. CLICK HERE to read WEDA’s public hearing testimony on SB 518.

The bill is now headed to Governor Tony Evers for his review before he hopefully signs it into law.

Key Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Talent Attraction Bill

Earlier this week, the Senate Economic and Workforce Development Committee held a public hearing on Senate Bill 843, legislation that aims to address Wisconsin’s growing workforce shortage crisis, which is the biggest challenge facing businesses across the state and is threatening future economic growth.

More specifically, the legislation would provide $10 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) for the purpose of marketing Wisconsin as a great place to live and work for U.S. service members and their families who are transitioning to civilian life. Almost 200,000 service members leave the military each year, and these new veterans often have the skills, training, and leadership qualities needed to help address Wisconsin’s talent gap and provide our businesses with an expanded employee pool.

Please CLICK HERE to read WEDA’s testimony on SB 843.

A hearing on the Assembly version of the bill (AB 888) is likely to be scheduled for a public hearing next week.