The WI Legislative Session Ended on April 1 with a Number of Bills that will Impact Municipalities

April 2nd, 2014

The 2013-2014 legislative session ended on April 1, 2014.  At the end of the session there were a number of bills that will have impacts on municipalities.  Of note are the changes to the Tax Incremental Districts, elections laws, special assessment/ levy limits and plat approval.  Below is a brief summary of these changes.  For a more in depth analysis, see Stafford Rosenbaum’s Municipal Law Blog at:  http://www.staffordlaw.com/blogs/municipal-law/

Tax Incremental Districts (TID)

  • Certain towns may have the same powers as a city or village to create a tax incremental district if the town meets certain requirements.  (2013 Senate Bill 338).
  • A city or village can require the Department of Revenue to redetermine a TID’s tax incremental base by completing a financial analysis, amending the project plan and adopting a resolution. (2013 Senate Bill 252)
  • The definition of “project costs” of constructing or expanding a facility is modified to exclude parking structures supporting redevelopment activities if the city generally finances similar facilities only with utility user fees. (2013 Assembly Bill 769)

Elections

  • The residency requirements for those serving as election officials at a polling place is relaxed, with exceptions, requiring only that the individual be an elector of the county where the official being elected serves.  (2013 Wis. Act 147)
  • Limitations on the time of day a person may apply to the municipal clerk in person to vote using an absentee ballot for a statewide election have been established.  (2013 Wis. Act 146)
  • Expansion of the reporting obligations of municipal clerks after each election in which a state or national office is filled or a statewide referendum is held.  (2013 Wis. Act 148)  
  • Municipal clerks or board of election commissioners are required to dispatch two special voting deputies not only to nursing homes, as previously required, but also to any community-based residential facility, adult family home or residential care apartment complex within the municipality to conduct absentee voting.  (2013 Wis. Act 159)
  • Responsibility for reviewing the voter registration list and mailing voter notices to those electors who have not voted in four years has been transferred from local clerks to the state’s Government Accountability Board.  (2013 Wis. Act 149)
  • Method for appointment of election inspectors is modified.  (2013 Senate Bill 265)
  • Requirements for election returns are modified for municipalities with a population of 35,000 or more.  (2013 Wis. Act 155)
  • The number of electors’ signatures required on nomination papers for an alderperson not elected from an aldermanic district in a second or third class city to not less than 100 nor more than 200.  (2013 Wis. Act 174)

Special Assessments/ Levy Limits

  • The method for charging interest on special assessments when installation payments are allowed is revised.  The bill provides that installation payments will be structured by the governmental unit’s governing body, which will also set the interest rate.  The bill also establishes an additional exception to the levy limits for the amount a political subdivision levies to make up revenue shortfall for the debt service on a special assessment B bond, issued to fund a public improvement.  (2013 Assembly Bill 598)

Plat Approval

  • The security an approving authority may require as a condition of plat approval is limited.  The bill provides the subdivider the option to decide whether to provide the security in the form of a performance bond or letter of credit.  Upon substantial completion of the public improvements, the bill prohibits the approving authority from requiring a subdivider to maintain security in an amount more than the total cost of completion for any incomplete public improvements plus ten percent of the total cost of the completed public improvements.  Additionally, the approving authority may not require the subdivider to maintain the security for more than 12 months after the public improvements are substantially completed.  Substantial completion is defined in the bill as when the binder coat is installed on roads to be dedicated or when there are no dedicated roads, when 90 percent of the public improvements, by cost, are completed.  (2013 Assembly Bill 835)

Summaries of legislation that have bill numbers have been passed by both houses and are awaiting signature by the Governor.  These bills are still subject to veto by the Governor.  Those summaries that have an act number have been signed by the Governor and are in effect or will soon be in effect.  Additionally, there are a number of other bills covering recertification in food protection practices, aerial approach ordinances, agricultural vehicle operation, agricultural enterprise areas, alcohol licenses, licensed manufactured home communities that are legal nonconforming uses, school districts, authorized emergency vehicle escorts and obligations of county clerks and appointment of assistants.  Stafford’s municipal law blog has summaries of these bills as well.  

Filed Under: Government Law

Note: The SR Short Report is published by Stafford Rosenbaum. The SR Short Report is provided for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. The legal issues raised by a particular situation may differ from those addressed in the publication. We encourage you to contact one of the Stafford Rosenbaum attorneys before making a legal decision.