June 2021 Legislative Update

Finance Committee Votes to Reauthorize Stewardship for Four Years, Increase Funding for Local Assistance Grants

  • On June 10, JFC approved along party lines an omnibus budget motion for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).
  • The motion included a reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for a four-year period at $32 million per year.
  • Thanks to the hard work and outreach of WPRA members, the committee agreed to provide $8 million for grants to local units of government, a $2 million increase over the program’s previous authorization.
  • The Republicans’ motion provides slightly less funding than the program’s current authorization but funded a bit differently. Currently, the program is funded entirely by bonding, while the new reauthorization would use $8 million in Conservation Fund monies to fund DNR land acquisitions and county forest grants, with the rest of the program funded by $24 million in bonding. The governor’s budget proposed reauthorizing the program for 10 years funded with $70 million in bonding annually.
  • On June 17, JFC held its final executive session to vote on the budget with a “clean-up” motion that included an additional $1.25 million for LUG under Stewardship. This brings the total allocation for LUG to $9.25 million annually.
  • It will take about a week for staff to draft the revised budget bill. Then, the budget faces a vote of the full Legislature. 


WPRA Working to Amend National Anthem Legislation

  • Recall that as currently written, Assembly Bill 226/Senate Bill 244 would require the national anthem be played or sung at any sporting event held in a venue constructed entirely or in part with taxpayer funds. The bill does not include penalties, enforcement mechanisms, or any specifics as to how the anthem must be played or sung at any event.
  • The bill moved very quickly through the Assembly, passing with bipartisan support (74-22) on May 11, less than two weeks after it received a public hearing. WPRA was the only organization to provide written testimony on the bill during that hearing. We expressed concern that the bill would be a burden on the many small, recreational, and children’s sporting events that our members host.
  • The Senate has not yet held a public hearing on the bill. WPRA requested the bill’s Senate author, Sen. Pat Testin (R-Stevens Point), to consider an amendment so that the bill would only apply to events at venues with a capacity of 500 or more.