Door County Legislative Days Agenda Update

Media Release
Released May 29, 2008
Contact Information:
Bill Chaudoir
Door County Economic Development Corporation
(920) 743-3113
bill@doorcountybusiness.com

With the current Wisconsin Legislative session recently coming to a close, the Door County Legislative Days Steering Committee wanted to provide the community with an update on the issues and agenda items that were brought to Madison in May 2007. Door County Legislative Days is a long-term initiative, but enjoyed immediate results with Representative Garey Bies and Senator Alan Lasee introducing legislation to create a statewide registry for propane lines during the Legislative Days trip.

The 2007 Door County legislative agenda that volunteer lobbyists delivered to every member of the State Senate and Assembly, along with the current status of each item, is listed below:

  1. Urging Legislative support of specific items in the 2007 Biennial Budget:
    1. Exempt funding for county-wide ambulance services from state imposed levy limits;
      • The effort was completely successful. The County is able to exempt the entire levy portion of the EMS budget from the State imposed cap. This amounts to about $1.2 Million that is now available for other much needed programs.
    2. Support reauthorization of the State Stewardship Fund;
      • Governor Doyle signed a state budget which reauthorizes the Stewardship Fund at $85 million per year for 10 years with legislative oversight.
    3. Improve state grant programs to better support local efforts to control all invasive species, land and aquatic based.
      • No progress to date at the state level, however the US Congress approved a request for $2 Million in this year’s transportation appropriations bill for research into invasive species and maritime commerce on the Great Lakes. The transportation appropriations bill must still be signed by the President before it becomes law.
  2. Requesting state support of local efforts to protect beach water quality and our unique ecosystems.
    1. Create a state funding source for water quality protection practices to be constructed at public beaches.
      • Ongoing effort as NR 151 and the associated internal DNR policies are currently being revised. Supporting papers were provided to DNR staff as well as discussions intended to advance our position.
    2. Create a statewide program to reduce unnecessary use of phosphorous fertilizer.
      • Rep. Bies also introduced legislation that would place restrictions on when phosphorous fertilizer could be used and how retailers could market it. The legislation had strong, state-wide support from many local organizations, counties, municipalities, resident, and legislators. Unfortunately, it became a victim of political wrangling and the bill died. Rep. Bies hopes to reintroduce the bill in the fall legislative session.
  3. Creation of a statewide program for mandatory registration of underground propane gas lines.
    • The bipartisan legislation prompted by the propane-related Ellison Bay explosions in July 2006 was signed into law by Gov. Doyle on April 1 at the rebuild Pioneer Store in Ellison Bay.
  4. Supporting efforts to reform the state’s school funding formulas.
    • Several of the many individual components of this agenda item, including continuation of the two-thirds funding for public schools under the equalized aid formula and the governor’s transportation aid proposal to increase reimbursement rate for pupil transportation over 12 miles to $220 per pupil, were included in the state budget. Unfortunately, there was no change to create better statutory and financial incentives for districts to merge, nor was the Legislative Council Study Committee on Review of the State School Aid Formula proposal of a $400 per year increase on the low revenue ceiling added to the budget.

Organizers of the 2007 Door County Legislative Days event called the May 2007 trip to Madison a very successful initiative. For the third time in five years, issues of importance to Door County were effectively and expertly delivered to state legislators, members of the Governor’s administration and various state agencies. Credit for the success of the Door County Legislative Days program goes equally to the steering committee, event sponsors and the more than 90 Door County volunteer delegates who made the trip to Madison.

Door County Legislative Days is a biennial trip to the state capital in Madison by Door County residents, elected officials, business owners and other stakeholders, to bring a locally agreed-upon agenda of Door County issues directly to state elected officials and government agency leaders. Door County Legislative Days is a collaborative effort, jointly planned by the Door County Economic Development Corporation, the Door County Visitor Bureau, the DoorCounty office of the University of Wisconsin-Extension program, the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center and other local volunteers.

Plans are already in the works for Door County Legislative Days 2009. For more details – or to suggest agenda items – visit the Door County Legislative Day website at www.DCLegislativeDay.com, or contact Bill Chaudoir at 920-743-3113 x203 or bill@doorcountybusiness.com.