A bill has been introduced in Madison that would allow easy transfer of municipal water supplies to private corporations or companies. This new legislation has been introduced by our own Senator Frank Lasee and is similar to one passed in New Jersey by Governor Christie. The assembly version, AB 554, has already passed the state assembly and SB 432 (same bill) has been brought to committee and is expected to not be changed. We need to stop this one cold before it reaches the full Senate because this is still another legislation effort to privatize control over municipal water. Similar legislation is being promoted under the auspices of the American Legislation Council (ALEC) in many of these United States to privatize water supplies.
This senate Bill 432 puts a heavy burden on citizens to petition for a referendum, a referendum is currently required before a sale or lease of public water supplies. It also doesn’t require the state Public Service Commission (PSC) determination of costs and conditions of sale or lease to be available for the referendum should citizens get the votes. Current law now requires a PSC determination prior to the mandatory, automatic referendum. This action would allow non-disclosure of the details of the transfer of ownership, bad news for a democratic society.
With all the concern over under-funded infrastructure needs and the need for improvement after years of neglect, the public should still maintain control of their own water supplies and bear the costs of needed improvement. There would be no cost saving to pay a non-public entity (corporation) a profit margin to provide water above the cost of public ownership. Giving corporations a legal short-cut to gain control of our public water supplies is not a viable answer to the municipal water maintenance and the same concerns apply to highway maintenance, and is still another assault on democracy.
We must stop this legislation from destroying time-proven systems of public ownership!
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.