Bills to Watch: Knowles-Nelson Stewardship, Nitrate Testing, Sanctuary Cities


Nitrate testing in private wells

This bill would create a $10 million grant program for private well owners to test their wells for nitrates and install filtration devices or repair an existing well. Recipients would be eligible for up to $2,500. Priority would be given to households with a member who is pregnant, breastfeeding, younger than the age of one, or older than 65. The grant program would be housed in the Department of Health Services. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until March 8.


Volunteer firefighter and emergency responder tax credit

This bill would create a refundable tax credit for volunteer firefighters, emergency medical responders and emergency medical-services practitioners in an effort to improve the recruitment and retention of these emergency-service volunteers. Active volunteers who have served between five and nine years would receive a credit of $300; volunteers who have served for at least 10 years would receive a credit of $600. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until March 19.


Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funding for state parks

This bill would provide $5.2 million in funding from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for water-infrastructure projects in state parks, including replacing toilet and shower facilities at Peninsula State Park. The allocation would represent a $700,000 increase in funding compared to the amount authorized in 2017. The bill would also provide the Department of Natural Resources with a $300,000 increased expenditure authority from the state parks’ segregated fund for operations in high-demand parks. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until March 12.


Eminent domain for recreational trail development

This bill would allow counties and municipalities to use eminent domain to acquire land for the purpose of developing recreational trails and bike lanes, reversing an earlier move by former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration that prohibited the use of condemnation for those purposes. The bill is in the Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs.


Prohibiting “sanctuary cities” in Wisconsin

This bill would prohibit local governments from enacting any ordinances, resolutions or policies that prevent cooperation with federal agencies. The proposal is in response to an announcement by Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas that the county’s law-enforcement personnel will not be communicating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until March 14.