Citizen delegates head to Madison with several issues in handSuperior Days delegates plan to highlight a number of issues next week as the grassroots lobbying effort makes plans to meet with legislators and state agencies.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
Superior Days delegates plan to highlight a number of issues next week as the grassroots lobbying effort makes plans to meet with legislators and state agencies.
• Support for northern Wisconsin’s education system, including public schools offering elementary and secondary education, and post-secondary education offered by technical colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Superior. The goal of the effort is not to complain about funding cuts to education, said Janna Stevens, superintendent of the Superior school district, the 23rd largest in the state covering about 549 square miles. She said the goal is to highlight the importance of the educational institutions in northern Wisconsin.
• Citizens are asking legislator to adopt, expeditiously, mining permitting and reclamation legislation that is a compromise between both branches of the state legislature. The goal delegates have is to convince legislators to adopt a bill that recognizes difference between ferrous oxide mining and sulfide mining and develop separate process for permitting each, provide a timeline for the permitting process and ensure tax proceeds are returned to northern Wisconsin for economic development. Lobbyists will also ask the legislation calls for improvements to local infrastructure and protect the environment. Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn stressed the goal is not to take a stand on the mining issued or support any particular bill, but to form a partnership with the state to get compromise legislation through.
• The delegation is again seeking funding to study the conversion of U.S. Highway 2 from a two-lane highway to four lanes. Currently, there is no four-lane highway traversing the state east and west in the northern part of the state, and Highway 2 is not included in the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s 2030 planning document, said Scotty Sandstrom of the Bayfield County Development Corp.
• The lobbying group is also seeking changes in legislation that supports emergency 911 communications, developed in 1987. Delegates are asking legislators to consider increasing the cap to $1 on the 911 surcharge, include cell phones and voice over internet protocol systems in the surcharge, and replace countywide contracts with a state contract to reduce the burden on counties to provide emergency communications. Any one of the measures would reduce the burden on counties, said Mark Abeles-Allison, Bayfield County administrator.
Delegates will also share their appreciation with the Wisconsin Department of Revenue and Legislature for ongoing efforts to restore tax reciprocity between Wisconsin and Minnesota. In 2009, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty nixed the longstanding agreement, which requires residents of both states living in one state and working in the other to file two tax returns annually. Strides were made to restore the 32-year agreement in July, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker paid its $60 million tax debt to Minnesota. The ball is again in Wisconsin’s Court after Minnesota has agreed to pay its share of a $300,000 study of the issue, said Douglas County Board Supervisor Jim Paine.