Legislative Update – August 1, 2017

The budget debate faded into the background last week as Governor Walker called a special session and lawmakers began to consider the Foxconn legislation. Some lawmakers are hopeful the Foxconn deal will move the budget process along. It could force compromises on transportation. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette), co-chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee, has resisted borrowing efforts but said he might be willing to accept it as part of the Foxconn legislation.  Gov. Walker is looking for the highest match possible in federal funds to help pay for the I-94 north-south corridor in Racine County.

Special Session:  Proposed Foxconn Legislation modifies TIF and bidding laws, adds dollars for I-94 north-south expansion, and loosens environmental impact requirements and wetlands protection.

Last Friday, Governor Walker called a Special Session of the Legislature to consider legislation that would entice Foxconn, the world’s largest electronics manufacturing services provider, to build a plant in Wisconsin.

Governor Walker’s executive order requires the Legislature to commence the Special Session at 11 a.m. on August 1.

The bill proposes a huge state income tax credit package as well as $150 million sales tax “holiday.” This bill authorizes the state to contract up to $252,400,000 in general obligation public debt for the I-94 north-south corridor project in Racine County.

TIF Law changes.  The bill creates a number of exceptions to TIF law for TIDs created in an area that includes an electronics and information technology manufacturing zone, as created by the special legislation.

Grants to Local Governments.  The bill authorizes the Department of Administration to make grants to local governments for costs associated with development in an electronics and information technology manufacturing zone, including costs related to infrastructure and public safety.  DOA may require a local government to match a grant in whole or part.

Design-Build Construction.  The bill authorizes a city or village in which an electronics and information technology zone is located to contract for the acquisition of water and sewer systems, and wastewater treatment facilities, using the design build system without following the ordinary competitive bidding process.

Environmental impact statements. Under current law, all state agencies are required to prepare environmental impact statements for every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.  Under the bill, a determination regarding the issuance of any permit or approval for a new manufacturing facility within an electronics and information technology manufacturing zone is not a major action for the purpose of the environmental impact statement requirement.

Wetlands and Waterways Permits.  Under current state law, subject to exceptions, no person may discharge dredged material or fill material into a federal or nonfederal wetland unless the discharge is authorized by a wetland general permit or individual permit, or the discharge is exempt from permitting requirements. Under this bill, a person may, without a permit, discharge dredged material or fill material into a nonfederal wetland that is located in an electronics and information technology manufacturing zone if the discharge is related to the construction, access, or operation of a new manufacturing facility that is also located in the zone.

Read the full proposal – https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/WIGOV/2017/07/28/file_attachments/854498/Bill_Draft.pdf