Monday, March 04, 2013

E-update From Rep. Jeff Mursau

Assembly Passes Jobs, Clean Water Bills
AB14 (Wisconsin Fast Forward)
 
AB 14 will provide Wisconsin’s workforce with access to job training resources to prepare them for the jobs of today and tomorrow. State employers have jobs available; however there are not enough skilled workers to fill the positions in these fields. Wisconsin Fast Forward will allow the Department of Workforce Development to award grants for education. As a condition, the DWD may also require matching funds so the grant is an investment rather than a handout of free money.
 
AB 37/38 (WEDC Funding to Trade Organizations)
 
AB 37/38 will direct WEDC to conduct in-state trade or marketing forums to bring together manufacturers. WEDC will also be required to award a grant to an association that represents Wisconsin manufacturers to establish a marketing assistance program.
 
AB 35 (Electrician Licensing and Registration Requirements)
 
This bill pushes back statutory provisions that would have become law by one year. This pushback gives the legislature an opportunity to address issues that have arisen with the original electrician licensing bill.
 
SB 10 (Clean Water Fund Program)
 
Under Senate Bill 10, the Clean Water Fund Program will protect state waters by updating outdated and inflexible rules. The old rules would have prevented essential projects from moving forward because they would not have been eligible for federal funding. In addition, the bill authorizes the Departments of Natural Resources and Administration to provide funding under the Clean Water Fund Program for pilot projects that are consistent with the federal water pollution control program, at no cost to the state.
 
JFC, Senate Pass Mining Bill
 
On Monday, the mining bill passed through the Joint Finance Committee on a 12-4 vote.
 
On Wednesday, the State Senate passed Senate Bill 1 on a 17-16 vote with the only Republican voting against the bill being Sen. Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) who crossed party lines as he did last year. Republicans now have a wider, 18-15 majority in the Senate and were still able to pass the “Mining for Jobs” bill that will go to the Assembly floor next week.
 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP Mining Bill Passes Key Committee
 
 
Assembly Takes Up Mining Wed
 
A bill to streamline the mining permitting process passed the Senate 17-16 on Wednesday night and will now head to the Assembly for debate. Deliberations are planned to begin at 9:00 am on Thursday, March 7. If interested, you can watch/listen to this debate on Wisconsin Eye @ www.wiseye.org.
 
 
Sequestration Begins
 
The federal sequester cuts, which hit defense hardest but also take a part of discretionary spending including foreign aid and the budget of most federal agencies, add up to $85 billion when pro-rated over a full year. But since the government operates on a fiscal year, actual spending will only fall by $44 billion this year, according to the Congressional Budget.
Washington Times: Sequestration Process Begins
 
 
Interesting Reads of the Week
Charles Krauthammer: Hail Armageddon
 
 
DNR Seeks Public Input on Internal Policy Rules
From DNR:
In an effort to improve transparency and provide more opportunities for the public to give input on key natural resources decisions, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is developing a new process to standardize how the agency develops guidance for complying with state and federal rules and requirements.
 
 
“For several months now we’ve heard concerns about a lack of transparency and participation in some of the department’s decision-making,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We’ve developed a new process aimed at alleviating those concerns, a way to develop internal program guidance that includes an opportunity for public comment.”
 
Programs in the agency develop guidance documents that direct staff on how to approach making decisions when there are not specific details in a law or code. Guidance often informs decisions on permits intended to protect air or water quality and the implementation of fish and wildlife programs.
 
Stepp said the concerns voiced by agency stakeholders relates to the DNR setting guidance that directly impact various customers without those individuals or businesses either being notified or being able to provide input into the process.
 
 
“This new initiative is a major change and promotes participation and transparency,” said Stepp. “While many agency programs involve stakeholders in making decisions, currently there is no consistent formal process that provides an opportunity for all interested parties to participate in developing program guidance. With this initiative, any member of the public will now be able provide input.”
 
Under the proposed process, new draft guidance documents will be available on the DNR website. There would then be a period during which the affected businesses, municipalities and general public would be able to submit comments on the proposed guidance.
 
Information on the new guidance development process is available by going to the DNR website and typing in the keywords “program guidance.” An example of program guidance is also posted on that Web page.
 
 
The public can comment on the new proposed guidance process until March 22, 2013. After considering all comments, the agency plans to present the new process to the Natural Resources Board in May for approval.

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