Government Law Short Reports

Government Accountability Board Issues Guidance on Reinstatement of Voter ID September 17th, 2014 The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of Judge Lynn Adelman’s permanent injunction of the implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 (the “Act”), the so-called Voter ID law. In light of the Court’s action, the Government Accountability Board has advised that Wisconsin elections officials will be required to enforce the provisions of the law for the upcoming November elections. A Decade After Adoption of Federal DPPA, Treatment of Personal Information Remains Unclear August 14th, 2014 Despite the passage of a decade and a trio of court rulings, a local government’s obligation to disclose certain records containing “personal information” in compliance with the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act (“DPPA”) and Wisconsin’s public records law remains somewhat unclear. Limitations on Security Requirements as Condition of Plat Approval Enacted April 25th, 2014 On April 16, 2014 Governor Walker signed into law 2013 Wisconsin Act 280 (“the Act”), which has statewide impact on the terms an approving authority may impose on a developer as a condition of its approval of preliminary and final plats. The Act applies prospectively to all preliminary and final plats submitted to an approving authority beginning on April 17, 2014. 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. Changes to Municipal Authority to Restrict Bow Hunting December 31st, 2013 2013 Wisconsin Act 71 alters municipal authority to regulate bow hunting as outlined in section 29.038, Wis. Stats. Got Brownfields? The State has grants to help. February 11th, 2013 There are a number of state grant programs in Wisconsin that can assist your municipality with site assessments and preparing the property to be shovel-ready. For example, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has recently funded a number of projects described in this Short Report. Federal Court of Appeals Upholds Act 10 January 21st, 2013 On Friday, January 18, 2013 the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of Act 10 in its entirety. Act 10 Update September 17th, 2012 On Friday, September 14, the long running saga surrounding Acts 10 and 32 took another turn as a Dane County Circuit Court judge ruled that many provisions of the acts are unconstitutional and, therefore, “null and void.” The case will undoubtedly be appealed, so this decision won’t be the last word. The state has also announced that it will attempt to have the decision stayed while it is being appealed. A decision on the stay issue should be forthcoming shortly. Parts of Collective Bargaining Legislation Struck Down April 2nd, 2012 On Friday, March 30, 2012, the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin struck down two key provisions of Wisconsin’s new public sector collective bargaining law. Importantly, however, the Court left in place all of the bargaining restrictions, thus severely limiting what a Union can ask to bargain over. Changes May Be Necessary to Local Zoning Rules Regarding Wireless Facilities March 30th, 2012 As part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, recently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, municipalities are required to approve certain applications for modification of “an existing wireless tower or base station.” WERC Guidance on Budget Bill’s Health Insurance “Plan Design” Collective Bargaining Restrictions February 27th, 2012 In a closely watched case, a divided Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) held that a police association’s attempt to bargain over a health insurance plan’s deductibles was prohibited under language included in the new Budget Bill. New DNR Permits for Application of Pesticides To or Near Waterways December 6th, 2011 On October 31, 2011 the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued general permits covering the application of pesticides to or near waters of the State under the Clean Water Act. Understanding the Impact of the WRS Changes November 25th, 2011 While it’s been only a couple of months since the Budget Repair Bill and the State Budget became law, there is already an important arbitration decision on police contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) and some changes to the WRS employee categories. This short report addresses these issues and ends with a short word on the upcoming union representation elections. The Budget Repair Bill March 10th, 2011 Following yesterday’s dramatic developments in the State Senate, the Legislature appears poised to pass Special Session SB 11/AB 11, commonly referred to as the Budget Repair Bill. As you are all undoubtedly aware, the legislation dramatically impacts public sector labor relations in Wisconsin. Notices Required by the Health Care Reform Act November 18th, 2010 Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, group health plans or issuers of insurance coverage must provide certain notices to health plan participants, and in some cases, to all employees Subdivision Platting Requirements Changed November 15th, 2010 The Wisconsin Legislature made a number of changes to the subdivision platting requirements contained in Chapter 236 of the Wisconsin Statutes, including limiting a municipality’s authority to deviate from time limits and other requirements contained in the statutes. Updating Handbooks to Include Break Time for Nursing Mothers July 22nd, 2010 Most employers are aware that federal law now requires them to provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to a nursing mother to express milk. Many, however, have yet to amend their handbooks to include a policy reflecting the federal law. Low Speed Vehicles on Highways May 18th, 2010 A bill signed into law on March 12, 2010 amends the law governing operation of Low-Speed Vehicles on certain highways, and gives municipalities some authority over this issue. Changes to TID Administrative Procedures May 17th, 2010 A new law signed March 12, 2010 changes several administrative procedures that apply to tax incremental districts, including how the 12 percent test is calculated. Help for Distressed Tax Incremental Districts May 14th, 2010 Legislation was signed into law on May 12, 2010 that allows a municipality to designate a tax incremental district as a distressed or severely distressed district by resolution, thereby extending its receipt of positive increment over a longer lifetime. 2009 Wisconsin Act 173 Creates Consistency and Clarity March 24th, 2010 The recently enacted 2009 Wisconsin Act 173 modifies numerous statutes related to compensation of elected officials, the bidding procedure for public works contracts and restrictions on contracts for police services. COBRA Subsidy Eligibility Extended March 15th, 2010 On March 2, 2010, President Obama signed the Temporary Extension Act of 2010 that extends the COBRA subsidy eligibility period to include individuals who are involuntarily terminated on or before March 31, 2010. COBRA Subsidy Extended January 11th, 2010 On December 19, 2009, President Obama signed legislation extending the COBRA subsidy rights created earlier this year by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Municipalities May Prolong the Use of Positive Environmental Remediation Tax Increment November 25th, 2009 Under a new law, a municipality may donate positive tax increment from an existing environmental remediation tax incremental district (ERTID) to another ERTID created by the same municipality, even after all eligible costs from the donor ERTID have been recovered. FMLA Coverage Expanded for Family Members of Military Service Personnel November 16th, 2009 Employers may need to revise their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) policies to reflect an expansion in coverage to family members of military service personnel. Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act Becomes Effective November 21, 2009 November 10th, 2009 The federal Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) was enacted in 2008 to prevent discrimination in the workplace on the basis of genetic information. However, the effective date of the law was delayed. The workplace discrimination provisions will be effective November 21, 2009. How Municipalities May Apply For Federal Economic Stimulus Funding March 12th, 2009 portion of the funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will go towards job creation and infrastructure projects that are “shovel-ready,” in other words, projects that are already in progress and ready to start construction in the next few months. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Imposes New COBRA Burdens on Employers March 10th, 2009 The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed by President Obama on February 17, 2009, imposes new obligations related to COBRA or Wisconsin’s continuation of coverage law on employers.