March 2021 Legislative Update

The legislature is gearing up for lots of action on the 2021-23 state budget  and therefore advocacy efforts to reauthorize and fund Stewardship are in full swing. WPRA is working closely with those organizations that are a part of #TeamKnowlesNelson coalition to ensure legislators appreciate the value of the program and understand the impact of LUG projects in their district.

Here are some updates regarding Stewardship:

  • The WPRA Public Policy Committee (PPC) is reaching out to members in key legislative districts – specifically Joint Finance Committee (JFC) members to organize individual virtual meetings on Stewardship.
  • WPRA has learned that legislators are contemplating several policy changes, including modifications on sources of matching funds.
  • WPRA has also requested legislators consider a policy change to incorporate a timeline for JFC’s review process after an objection is made.
  • So far, it seems that there is some general agreement on the 10-year reauthorization, but the two evolving factors are what policy changes will be needed for that reauthorization to occur and what funding level will be determined.
  • While not surprisingly, WPRA has been told by legislators that it is unlikely that the governor’s proposal of $70 million annually will remain in the budget – at this point our focus is sustainable funding.

What is next?
JFC will hold public hearing around the state in April:

  • Friday, April 9, 2021 - UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI
  • Wednesday, April 21, 2021 - The Hodag Dome, Rhinelander, WI
  • Thursday, April 22, 2021 - UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI
  • Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - Virtual

Each hearing will begin at 10 AM and conclude at 5 PM. Individuals who wish to testify at the virtual hearing are required to register in advance. Written comments on the budget can be emailed to the following address: [email protected].

These are great opportunities for WPRA members to testify about the value of Stewardship – specifically the LUG program. If you are interested in testifying, please notify PPC Chair, Chad Dallman ([email protected]) or the WPRA lobbyist, Caty McDermott ([email protected]). WPRA is here to assist you with testimony tips and prep!

After the agency and public hearings, JFC begins meeting several days each week through the end of May to take votes on various aspects of the bill. At the end of the JFC budget process, all JFC modifications to the governor’s bill are incorporated in a substitute amendment and sent to the full legislature for floor votes in each house.

The legislature generally takes the bill up in June and sends their final product to the governor by the end of the month. The governor completes veto review within 30 days of receiving the bill, and then signs it into law.