Bills to Watch: Well Testing, County Jailers, Ruffed Grouse


Coverage of pre-existing conditions

This bill would provide health-care-access protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It passed the Assembly on Jan. 22 but faces an uncertain future in the Senate and with Gov. Tony Evers.


County jailers as protected employees

This bill would place all county jailers in a protected status under the Wisconsin Retirement System. In 2011, Act 10 overhauled the protections and benefits for state workers, exempting public-safety employees. County jailers were not considered public-safety employees, and as of August 2018, only 10 Wisconsin counties kept the protected status of their jailers. In October, Door County voted 17-4 to keep its jailers under protected status against the recommendation of County Administrator Ken Pabich. The bill was in circulation for co-sponsorship until Jan. 15, but it has not been introduced to the legislature yet.


Testing of private wells

This bill would create a $1 million program providing grants to local governments to offset the cost of testing private well water for residents. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends private well owners test their water once a year. The bill would also expand eligibility for the DNR’s Well Compensation Grant Program, which assists in the cost of treating a well or constructing a new well in the case of contamination. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until Jan. 28.


Designating the ruffed grouse as the state small game bird

If it passes, the bill would do little more than increase awareness of the bird through publication in the Wisconsin Blue Book, but more awareness might be good: the ruffed grouse population is declining, possibly due to West Nile virus. The bill is circulating for co-sponsorship until Jan. 25.