Bills to Watch: PFAS Standards, Dark Stores, State Mandates


Groundwater-quality standards for PFAS

This bill would require the Department of Health Services to develop health-based groundwater-quality standards for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are commonly used in manufacturing, including Teflon and firefighting foam. Tests have found significant contamination in Marinette and Madison. The Environmental Protection Agency released a PFAS action plan on Feb. 14 to work on the problem nationwide. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until Feb. 28.


Closing the “dark store” loophole

The “dark store” loophole in property-tax assessment has struggled to get traction during the past few years, but a proposed bill would close the loophole that has provided a way for big-box retailers to dramatically lower their property-tax burden. It allows active big-box stores to be appraised as vacant buildings, shifting the property-tax burden to homeowners and other businesses. The Sturgeon Bay City Council passed a resolution supporting the closure of this loophole in August 2018, and the Door County Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution in March 2017. This is likely to be one of the most contentious bills in the legislature this year, but it has had support from Gov. Tony Evers in the past.


State mandates

This bill, introduced by Sen. André Jacque in the Senate, will require the state to provide funding for all state mandates given to local governments. A new Joint Committee on State Mandates will determine whether there is a local fiscal effect of a new bill; then the committee will amend the bill to provide funding. Between levy limits imposed on local governments and increasing state mandates, counties and municipalities are having a difficult time meeting state mandates without raising revenue in other ways, such as fees, wheel taxes and increases in sales tax. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until Feb. 27.


Requiring retailers to accept cash

This bill would require retailers to accept cash as payment for goods and services. Rep. Gary Tauchen hopes to balance the growing universality of payment by credit card with an elderly population that is wary of credit fraud. There is technically no federal requirement that retailers must accept cash as payment. This bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until Feb. 28.