Bills to Watch: Conservation Congress, Biennial Budgets


Allowing municipalities and counties to adopt a biennial budget

This bill would allow municipalities and counties to adopt a budget that covers two subsequent fiscal years. The Wisconsin state budget operates on a biennial cycle, but under state law, counties and municipalities must create and adopt a new budget every year. According to the memo circulating with the bill proposal, several states have reaped benefits from the longer-term perspective and overall efficiencies of a two-year budgeting arrangement. Adopting a biennial budget would be voluntary, and counties or municipalities could return to the annual budget process later. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until April 16.


Expediting Conservation Congress rules

The Conservation Congress is a locally driven citizen body that serves as a branch of the Natural Resources Board, which adopts natural-resources policy. A 2011 law changed the congress, implementing an 18-step process that can take three years to complete. This bill would expedite the rule-making process by skipping the scope-statement development process, limit the need for economic analyses and allow the legislature to take action later in the legislative session to prevent long delays in the rule-making process. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until April 22.


Water-pollution credit trading

This bill would set up a program in which farmers could implement water-quality practices and earn credits that could then be sold to other parties that need to reduce their own pollution discharge. In the Senate, the bill passed unanimously in the Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, and it is now waiting to be scheduled on the floor. In the Assembly, the bill is still in the Committee on Local Government. For more on the details, go to and search for “Water Pollution Credit.”