Assembly Passes Bills Affecting Municipalities:

On March 18th, the Wisconsin State Assembly passed a number of bills that will affect municipalities. A brief summary of these bills is provided below. A number of additional bills will be addressed at the Assembly's March 20th session.

Alcohol Licenses

2013 Senate Bill 250 relates to Class B alcohol retail beverage licenses. Currently, a Class B licensed premises may not be open for sales unless an agent of the designated corporate licensee, or a person holding an operator's (bartender's) or manager's license is present. The bill creates an exception to this requirement for fair associations only when they are conducting a wine or beer tasting or judging event and the servings are no more than one ounce in volume.

Agricultural Enterprise Areas

2013 Senate Bill 437 increases the area that the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) may designate as agricultural enterprise areas. One of the requirements for a farmland to qualify for the farmland preservation tax credit is that it must be in a farmland preservation zoning district under a certified farmland preservation zoning ordinance or be covered by a farmland preservation agreement between DATCP and the farmer. DATCP may only designate an area as an agricultural enterprise area if it receives a petition from local municipalities and at least five farmers within the area. The bill increases the limit on the combined area that DATCP may designate as agricultural enterprise areas from 1,000,000 acres to 2,000,000 acres.

School Districts

2013 Senate Bill 540 authorizes a school board with an approved long-term capitalimprovement plan lasting for a minimum of 10 years to establish a trust fund for thepurpose of financing the capital improvements included in the long-term plan. Thebill prohibits a school board from spending any money deposited in the trust fund fora period of five years from the date the fund is created. After the initialfive-year period, a school board may spend trust funds only for thepurposes described in the school board's long-term plan. Additionally, a school boardis expressly prohibited from transferring money in the trust fund to any other schooldistrict fund. Finally, the bill specifies that, for purposes of calculating equalization aid, money deposited in a long-term capital improvement trust fund is counted as a shared cost at the time the money is deposited in the trust fund and is not a shared cost at the time the money is paid out of the trust fund. The bill also has a companion bill, 2013 Assembly Bill 696.

2013 Senate Bill 589 loosens the requirements on the number of school days a school district must hold school during a school year. The bill retains the requirements relating to the hours of pupil instruction, but eliminates the requirement that a school district hold school for 180 days each year. If the school district does not comply with the hour requirements, the state superintendent must withhold state aid from the district. The bill also permits a school providing year-round school to receive state aid for pupils enrolled in interim session classes and lab periods if the state superintendent determines that the classes are academically necessary. Finally, the bill allows a school district to receive state aid and include in its revenue limit calculation portions of the summer class and interim session enrollments of seventh grade, eighth grade and high school students who complete online summer courses and meet other certain criteria.

Note: These bills are not yeteffective and remain subject to veto.

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