Door County Legislative Day is a biennial trip to the state capital in Madison by Door County residents, elected officials, business owners and other stakeholders, to bring a locally agreed-upon agenda of Door County issues directly to state elected officials and government agency leaders.
Door County Legislative Days 2009, held May 12-13 in Madison, was yet again another resounding success, with 105 Door (and Kewaunee) County delegates visiting with all members of the Wisconsin Legislature to communicate an agenda of issues of importance to peninsula residents. The first item on the agenda was thanking the Legislature and the Governor for the recent passage and signing of the Phosphorus Fertilizer Control Bill. This bill was a major topic on the 2007 Legislative Days agenda and will help protect water quality by curbing the runoff of phosphorous into surface waters.
The rest of the 2009 Legislative Days agenda included the following items:
Maintain the Wisconsin Fund
The Wisconsin Fund provides financial assistance for rural home owners to replace failing septic systems. We urged the legislature to continue financial support at the $3 Million level. This is an especially important fund for Door County. Since 2004 Door County has used the Wisconsin Fund to help 155 homeowners with a total of $633, 372 in financial assistance.
Protect Drinking Water in At-Risk Karst Geology Areas
To prevent the contamination of groundwater and drinking water in at-risk areas of northeastern Wisconsin, we asked legislators to create a special management zone for areas of Kewaunee, Door, Calumet, Manitowoc and Brown counties where shallow soils over fractured bedrock and karst geology put our ground water at risk of contamination by the application of wastes, such as liquid manure and other industrial wastes, to the land. The management zone would put in place the organizational structure to consider and establish appropriate management standards.
Oppose Prevailing Wage Provision in 2009-2011 State Budget
Under current law, prevailing wage requirements only apply to multiple trade public works projects over $234,000 and single trade public works projects over $48,000. We asked that the proposal in the Governor’s state budget bill reducing the threshold to $2,000 and extending prevailing wage to private projects that receive some public funding be eliminated. The Joint Finance Committee has made a counter proposal to the budget bill, but we remain opposed to any change in the application of the current statutes.
Film Tax Credits
We voiced our support for the Joint Finance Committee’s change to the budget bill that preserves film production tax credits. This tax credit allows a film, video or television production to claim a 25% credit on certain salary, wages and production costs. In its first year the tax incentives lured eight feature films, sixteen television shows and three national television commercial productions to Wisconsin. The independent feature film “Feed the Fish” was filmed in Door County in early 2009.
Improve the Wisconsin DNR process for permitting of docks, piers and dredging
We asked that the DNR clarify guidelines and foster more communication between the agency, communities and private contractors in the permitting process for piers, docks and dredging activities, and support the allocation of additional resources as needed to ensure DNR capacity to process permits.
K – 12 and Tech College Funding
Three of Door County’s five school districts receive minimal school aids; two do not receive any equalized aid, but are dependent upon the local school levy for more than 90% of their annual budgets. Our communities and school districts need state legislators to expand their efforts at finding legislative resolution for problems that extend beyond local jurisdiction. The technical school system provides a valuable service to the State. Unfortunately, state funding for these institutions has dropped by 8% since 1997, and that burden has been shifted to the property tax.
Retain Wisconsin’s Uniform School Starting Date
We asked the legislature to consider the negative economic impacts of repealing Wisconsin’s uniform school starting date. A consistent school start date is in the best interests of our tourism industry and brings tax revenues into communities from tourism and traveler spending. In Door County, many teens are employed in tourism related jobs, and the demand for their labor extends through the last half of August. Additionally, many Wisconsin families travel throughout the state in late August.
Preserve the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
The proposed 2009 – 2011 state budget bill would have transferred the Coastal Management Program from the Dept. of Administration to the DNR and eliminate all CMP staff positions. Happily, by the time we reached Madison, this provision had already been eliminated from the state budget.
To view the agendas and accomplishments of Legislative Days 2003, 2005 or 2007, click here.