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Friday, March 16, 2012

 1:18 PM 

Assembly passes DNR omnibus bill

The Assembly has passed a bill that would make it easier for piers and wharves to be erected on navigable waterways. The bill passed 54-29, with Rep. Peggy Krusick, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Amy Vruwink, D-Milladore, joining Republicans to vote for the bill.

The bill was originally intended to be included in the special session. The authors argued the bill would remove unnecessary roadblocks to development near the waterways and create certainty by imposing a timeline for the permit process.

Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, argued the bill could violate the federal Clean Water Act and the "Public Trust Doctrine" of the Wisconsin Constitution. He also said the bill was needless, but the DNR grants the vast majority of the permits in less than 30 days.

"You sort of ask yourself what exactly the polluters want," Hulsey said.

Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, R-Crivitz, said nearly three-quarters of the concerns brought up in the bill were taken care of through amendments in the committee process. During that time, the bill was amended to remove similar permitting changes to high-capacity wells, oil and natural gas production and prospecting. Conservationists had used those provisions to argue that the bill was secretly "the" mining bill.

Mursau also said the bill was simply doing what it could to remove impediments to residents who wanted to erect piers and wharves to "enjoy their waterfront property."


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