Small cell legislation (Senate Bill 239) passed the state Senate, 27-5, earlier this month and is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly this week. While the bill was in committee, MEUW worked to secure an amendment that added “One representative of a municipal electric utility appointed jointly by the speaker of the assembly and the senate majority leader” to a right-of-way study committee being created in the bill. The amendment also addresses concerns with local government’s ability to regulate the placement of small cell facilities in rights-of-way. As amended, certain regulations can be imposed so long as they are authorized by other statutes under current law, rather than being limited only to situations where they are specifically required by state or federal law. The amended bill is expected to pass both houses and be signed into law by Gov. Evers.
The Joint Finance Committee recently concluded their work on the state budget bill. Items of interest adopted by the committee include an increase in intervenor compensation funding by $100,000 annually (compared to the $300,000 bump proposed by Evers), and approval of $1 million annually for the Washington Island Electric Cooperative to fix a damaged underwater electrical cable.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers rejected a number of items proposed by Gov. Evers, including:
- Creation of an Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy
- The transfer of administration of high-voltage transmission line fees
- A provision allowing the Public Service Commission to increase the Focus on Energy utility assessment;
- Establishment of a statutory goal that all electricity produced within the state should be 100% carbon-free by 2050;
- A measure that would make it easier for municipalities to construct and operate broadband facilities; and
- Various employment-related policy provisions including reinstituting prevailing wage and right-to-work requirements, various local employment regulations, and project labor agreements.
The Assembly plans to take-up the budget on June 25, while the Senate is looking at June 26 or 27 as possible session days. Once a budget is passed and delivered to the Governor, he has six business days to complete action. Gov. Evers has not indicated whether he’ll veto the entire document or use his expansive partial-veto authority to strike portions of the bill he disagrees with.