Wednesday, December 14, 2011, the Assembly and Senate Natural Resource
Committees will both meet to consider AB421 and SB326, respectively.
These identical bills were originally introduced in the Special Session,
recently adjourned, as AB24 and SB24, and while they've garnered any
number of names, we've been calling them the DNR Permitting bill.
both bills were reintroduced into the regular session in the same form
as originally introduced, their sponsors, Rep. Jeffrey Mursau
(R-Crivitz) in the Assembly and Sen. Neil Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) in the
Senate, have introduced an amendment that removes some of the provisions
to which Wisconsin Lakes objected in the original bill. Still, much,
including default or "presumptive" permitting remains, and Wisconsin
Lakes does not support the amended bills. Here's a statement we released
on the bills' reintroduction and amendment:
October 26th, a public hearing took place for Special Session SB/AB 24 –
largely related to navigable waters and other permitting processes at
the Department of Natural Resources. At that hearing and afterward, we
at Wisconsin Lakes expressed our overall opposition to the bills along
with reservations with a number of the bills’ specific provisions, the
short time period between introduction of the bills and the public
hearing, and with the lack of explanation of why many of the bills’
provisions were needed in the first place – in other words, what
systemic problems were the bills meant to address.
thank the committee chairs for not rushing the special session bills
through to an executive session. They listened to our concerns and the
concerns of many others in the intervening weeks, and have now
introduced revised language – through SB 326 and AB 421 and Substitute
Amendment 1 to both bills.
number of troubling provisions have been removed from the bills,
including: language related to the placement of fill on bulkhead lines,
exemptions or general permits for the dredging of material from
lakebeds, and presumptive approval for permits for high-capacity wells,
prospecting, and oil and gas exploration licenses.
are also provisions in the bills which we wholeheartedly support,
including the increased certainty for landowners created by the web
publication of ordinary high water marks and the creation of a web-based
system for permit application and public hearing notification (not to
replace notice in newspapers, but in addition to it).
Wisconsin Lakes must remain opposed to these bills as a number of
problems remain. Most importantly, the bills would introduce to
Wisconsin for the first time a highly flawed process for the review and
approval or disapproval of many permits related to navigable waters
through what is called presumptive permitting.
If Department of Natural
Resources staff do not complete their review of a permit application
within a specified time frame, despite the complexity or uniqueness of
the proposed project, the development would be allowed to move forward.
we again return to the basic threshold question of need.
There has been
no evidence presented since the introduction of the original bills
which shows a systemic problem with permitting processes at the
Department of Natural Resources.
In fact, the opposite has been shown
with the Department currently reviewing and rendering a decision in 26
days for 97 percent of permit applications.
our view, SB 326/AB 421 Substitute Amendment 1 are better bills than
the originals, but that still does not make the bills worth voting for.
you agree that even as amended, these bills still need to be defeated,
contact your legislators, the chairs of the Assembly and Senate Natural
Resource Committees and Governor Walker and let them know.
hearings do not include a period for public comment, and will be
running at the same time as the public hearing on the Assembly Mining
Bill in Milwaukee (the Assembly meets at 9:30 and the Senate at 10:00 -
see the links to the respective hearing announcements in the left
was because of the public outcry after the introduction of these bills
into the special session that improvements were made, if not enough to
garner our full support. Your voice makes a difference - let your
opinion be heard!
As always, thanks for "speaking for lakes!"
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