October Legislative Report

Legislature Convenes for First Fall Session Days

  • Both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature met on September 28 to vote on a variety of matters. After months of delay, the Senate voted to confirm nearly 40 of Governor Tony Evers’ (D) appointments to various state agencies, boards, and commissions, including six agency heads.
  • The Assembly and Senate will be on the floor later this month to take up more “hot-button” bills and are expected to utilize the November floor periods for redistricting.

 Local APRA Funds Information

  • WPRA wants to ensure that our members have information on the federal for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • Local governments received these funds directly from the federal government and there may be an opportunity for the funding to be utilized for recreation investments.
  • Some ARPA funding was released this year, and a second round of funds will be released in 2022. Funds must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.
  • Overall, local governments have a lot of latitude in how to spend ARPA dollars.
  •  A few opportunity areas specifically named by the Treasury Department in their guidance include:
    • Repairs / upkeep on conservation lands / parks that received heavy visitation / use due to COVID
    • Conservation investments that can be tied to public health / wellbeing, especially providing outdoor opportunities for underserved communities. 
    • See p. 11 of the Treasury Department's ARPA FAQ for a detailed discussion on "investments in improving outdoor spaces."
  • The Wisconsin League of Municipalities also has numerous resources on how local APRA funds can be utilized.

 Still No Senate Movement on the 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. WPRA 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 Committee held a public hearing on June 29th. The bill has not received a Senate committee vote yet and has remained in the Senate committee since the public hearing in June.
  • WPRA requested the bill’s Senate author, Sen. Pat Testin (R-Stevens Point), consider an amendment so that the bill would only apply to events at venues with a capacity of 500 or more. Sen. Testin declined to amend the bill.
  • WPRA continues to advocate for the common-sense amendment and discuss with interested legislators.