Legislative Days Deemed Success by Year’s End

Proving that voices from small, rural communities can make a difference, legislative action and rule changes are underway on more than five initiatives that will have a significant impact for life on the Door Peninsula. These changes were advocated for and championed by more than 130 volunteer delegates during the bi-annual 2017 Door/Kewaunee Legislative Days, organized and hosted by the Door County Economic Development Corporation (DCEDC).

“We ask a lot of our delegates, and I’m grateful and proud of their efforts and work,” said Caleb Frostman, executive director of the Door County Economic Development Corporation and Legislative Days Steering Committee Co-Chair. “More than 130 residents made the trip to Madison, including 30 high school students, which is a serious commitment and we are very appreciative of that effort. We heard from legislators about how impressed they were with the presentation of our materials and our agenda, saying our delegates are some of the most effective that come to Madison from any community in the state.”

Of the five issues delegates lobbied for, all of them found some level of success in the biennial state budget, legislative channels or through state agency rule making.

Protecting water quality of Door and Kewaunee rivers

Joint Finance Committee approved a request for funding for a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) study for the rivers of Door, Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties and the streams that lie in, and between, the Ahnapee River watershed and the Sauk Creek watershed. The TMDL Study will take place over four years and be run by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). After the study is completed, farmers and businesses in the area could use the results for planning and management of their lands and water resources. Study results will also qualify farmers for federal grants in addressing this problem.

Protecting the public’s drinking water

The DNR released the proposed targeted performance standards in summer of 2017. Next steps in the process include WDNR bringing the proposed targeted performance standards to the Natural Resources Board for adoption, approval by the Governor, and Legislative review/hearings in the winter of 2018. Changes are specific to manure applications in targeted areas, where 20 feet or less of soil overlies Silurian bedrock.

Governor Scott Walker also signed the Clean Water Access Bill authored by Rep. Joel Kitchens. The bill increases the grant amount that may be awarded under an existing state program for rehabilitating or replacing contaminated wells. The legislation also gives local governments the authority to provide low-interest or interest-free loans to the owners of contaminated wells or failing septic systems.

Oppose repeal of statewide school start date

The school start date was retained to Sept. 1 or after. Door and Kewaunee counties helped ensure overall economic development and sustainable economic growth through crucial tourism dollars, via a young labor force that is crucial during a time of employee shortages.

Support proposed funding for rural broadband

The budget for the grant program for the next biennium is currently set at $14 million, with a legislative minimum of $2 million per biennium thereafter.

Applications for the Broadband Expansion Grants are due at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin by Jan. 25, 2018. Encourage your local broadband provider to apply and improve broadband speed and availability for Door and Kewaunee counties.

Consistent and adequate funding for the Harbor Assistance Program

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding has secured a 2018 budget appropriation of $3.2 million from the state Harbor Assistance Program (HAP) fund for south dock wall improvements.

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