2023-2024 Legislative Session is Over

WI Green Fire, March 13, 2024

By Paul Heinen, WGF Policy Director

Summary of WGF’s Legislative Activities during the 2023-2024 Session

Madison skyline from Lake Mendota. Photo by Michael Cain.

The Wisconsin State Legislature has completed its work for the 2023-2024 session and will not return until early January of 2025. Following the November 2024 elections, the Legislature will have a whole new look while Governor Evers will remain in office until at least 2026.

While there were 20 bills that Wisconsin’s Green Fire worked closely on, either supporting or opposing, here are the top six bill summaries.

Top six summaries from this session include:

  1. The “PFAS Bill,” Senate Bill 312, passed both the Senate and Assembly but was vetoed by Governor Evers. Wisconsin’s Green Fire ended up opposing the bill after the majority party 1) added an amendment that would have taken away the DNR’s ability to enforce clean-ups and 2) they did not allocate the $125 Million for PFAS clean-up that is sitting in a Joint Finance Committee special allocation.
  2. Assembly Bill 1035, a bill to raise all non-resident hunting and fishing licenses, passed the full Assembly unanimously but failed to get a Senate vote. However, it was good to see some GOP support for badly needed fee increases. We will work to get fees increased in the next DNR Budget in 2025.
  3. Senate Bill 139, the bill that would specify that DNR must set a specific numeric wolf population goal passed both Houses and will be vetoed by the Governor. The DNR has just passed a rule that allows them to use adaptive management for wolf management. Setting a specific population number as statute would be a bad idea.
  4. Senate Bill 999, a bill from Senator Felzkowki that Wisconsin’s Green Fire opposed, was severely criticized by landowners and conservationists around the state and was never voted on after it got a hearing. The bill would have required all Managed Forest Law properties enrolled as “open” to allow recreational vehicles 11 months of the year.
  5. After 6 years of negotiating, the Lakebed Grant Bill, Senate Bill 541, passed both Houses and will be signed into law. The bill enacts procedures that local governments can use to redevelop lands that were once developed on the state’s lakebeds 50 or more years ago. The Governor asked us to negotiate a compromise with the state’s municipalities and realtors and we did.
  6. While AB 258, the Community Solar Bill, did not get a hearing this session it was notable in that it was at least introduced and sent to the Assembly Energy Committee after many sessions where the bill did not even get an author. Community solar laws need to be revised for solar energy to be used in all forms from large scale arrays to rooftop panels. Next session it will likely get a fair hearing.

Finally, after being held up by State Senate politics, the Natural Resources Board (NRB) has its statutorily mandated seven members in place and they all will be able to serve for the foreseeable future. Not all of them received a Senate confirmation vote, but they can still serve since the NRB seats that they filled were empty.

 

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