Organizers of the 2015 Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days event recently called the spring trip to Madison a very successful initiative. Issues of importance to Door and Kewaunee Counties 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 Kewaunee Legislative Days program goes equally to the steering committee, event sponsors and the more than 100 Door County volunteer delegates who made the trip to Madison.
“We ask a lot of our delegates and I’m so happy and proud of them,” said Legislative Days Steering Committee Chairman Bill Chaudoir. “We had 90 adult delegates and 40 student delegates in Madison. That’s a huge commitment and we are very, very appreciative of that effort. Legislators and their staff warmly received our delegates.”
First District Representative Joel Kitchens commented: “I heard several reports from my colleagues in the capital how impressed both legislators and state agencies were in the presentation of the materials and the agenda, saying our delegates are some of the most effective that come down to Madison from any community in the state.”
The Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days steering committee is very pleased with the immediate impact this year’s event has had on several key issues, especially the Kewaunee Seawall project, the restoration of the Harbor Assistance Program funding and the reinstatement of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program. “These are very good results,” said Chaudoir. “The next state legislative session begins on September 15 and the steering committee will continue to promote and track the progress of our Legislative Days agenda items.”
The 2015 Door Kewaunee Legislative Days agenda is listed below, with a status update and score on each item:
1. Protect the Public’s Drinking Water in At-Risk Karst Geo-Region
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: Develop and advance legislation revising WI Statutes 281.16 and WI Administrative Code NR 151 to authorize the development of agricultural nonpoint water quality standards and prohibitions unique to the Karst Geo-Region natural resource potential and limitations, to protect groundwater quality in areas of Door and Kewaunee Counties.
- UPDATE – Legislative Days helped to increase issue awareness in Madison. Rep. Kitchens has been meeting with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR); DNR is creating statewide workgroups on the issue. On July 28, there is a CAFO hearing in Green Bay for a Kewaunee County farm. On August 5, DNR Water Division Administrator Russ Rasmussen is meeting with the Kewaunee Water Taskforce. There is discussion and interest in creation of low-interest loans for homeowners to address water quality issues. Score: B
2. Establish a Steady Funding Source for Beach Water Testing by County Health Departments
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: Take the lead in establishing a steady and secure funding source for counties to use for beach water testing and monitoring.
- UPDATE – With additional funding, beach water quality testing volume was able to increase this year. The funding level increased from $41,000 in 2014 to $60,000 for 2015; additional funds were allocated for qPCR testing (which is DNA testing for real time results). The federal funding is passed through the DNR and then on to the County Health department. Score: B+
3. Restoration of the Kewaunee Harbor Seawall
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: Support the City of Kewaunee which is currently in discussions with a variety of state agencies and legislators to identify funding sources to repair the city’s harbor sea wall. We ask legislators to support an eventual proposal that will be introduced to fund the repair of this critical part of the Kewaunee infrastructure.
- UPDATE – The Kewaunee seawall repair project received $4.2 Million and was fully funded in the 2015-17 state budget. The expectation is that this project will provide a kickstart to downtown revitalization for the City of Kewaunee and the entire county. Score: A+
4. Restoration of Harbor Assistance Program Funding
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: Restore full funding as requested in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s proposed budget for the Harbor Assistance Program.
- UPDATE – The HAP program was fully funded in the 2015-17 state budget at $13 Million. Bay Shipbuilding Company has a grant application currently pending with the DOT. Score: A+
5. Support the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: To enable the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to continue assisting and local governments, land trusts, and nonprofits to purchase and protect land.
- UPDATE – The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance voted to preserve the Stewardship Program, reversing a proposed 13-year moratorium in the governor’s budget and funding the program at $33 million annually. Score: A+
6. Technology Needs for Public Schools
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: Allow school districts to fund technology needs outside the revenue limits (or provide additional categorical aid for technology.)
- UPDATE – Rep. Kitchen was appointed to a legislative school funding workgroup, working to draft potential legislation for the fall session. Score: Incomplete
7. Winery Regulatory Reform
The citizens of Door and Kewaunee Counties request that the State of Wisconsin: Redefine a “small winery” as one producing less than 3.1 million gallons per year (the same threshold for defining small breweries) and allow small wineries to sell wholesale direct. This redefinition will place small wineries on a level playing field with small breweries, which are allowed to sell wholesale direct. This is a matter of fairness to Door and Kewaunee County wineries.
- UPDATE – There has been some discussions with the Distributors Lobbyist and we are hopeful that new legislation is possible that will allow for the creation of an additional co-op distributor for small wineries in Door and Kewaunee County. Score: Incomplete
The purpose of Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days is to educate state officials about Door and Kewaunee Counties, and to lobby for state action to help address local issues and concerns. This year’s events are building directly on the success of prior Legislative Days events, which brought the specific concerns of the community directly to elected representatives and influential government appointees.