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WMC Behind New Anti-Regulation Bill

State’s top business group pushed lame duck bill giving Republicans control of state rules.

By - Dec 7th, 2018 04:21 pm
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Photo by Riley Vetterkind / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. Photo by Riley Vetterkind / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

Business interests led by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) backed a lame-duck session bill that would give the GOP-controlled legislature more control over state rules and laws.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 1070, would place six-month deadlines on state agencies to develop new standards in manuals and handbooks. The so-called guidance manuals are used to run programs and implement laws governing everything from hunting, fishing and other recreational activities to state environmental, air, and water pollution regulations.

Environmental groups and other critics say many programs and laws would be jeopardized because agencies would not be able to meet all of the requirements and deadlines in the bill.

“This bill would automatically rescind guidance documents that do not comply with these new requirements. Such action creates uncertainty and wastes many thousands of hours of agency staff time already put into existing guidance documents. Because it would be unclear which guidance documents would be automatically rescinded under this provision, it would also create uncertainty for the agency, the regulated community, and the public,” Midwest Environmental Advocates said in testimony on the bill.

WMC is the biggest lobbyist in the state and a huge election-time backer of Republicans and conservatives for legislative and statewide offices. Since January 2010, WMC has spent an estimated $25.2 million on outside electioneering activities.

AB1070 is part of a package of lame-duck session bills that was passed by the GOP-controlled legislature this week in order to restrict the power of incoming Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul and increase the authority of the legislature.

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