2019-20 Legislative Successes

Posted By: Andrew Heidtke ACEC WI News , Advocacy ,

Election season is upon us and I want to encourage you to contribute to the ACEC WI Conduit or PAC either for the first time or make an additional contribution.

The 2019-2020 legislative session concluded and ACEC WI proudly celebrates a successful end to a political giving campaign that proves supporting candidates that support our industry is a win for Wisconsin engineering firms. The sole purpose of the ACEC WisPAC and Conduit is to elect candidates who support policies and legislation favorable to the engineering industry. This session proves why it is more critical than ever to increase your contributions or to start now if you haven’t contributed before.

Priorities Included in 2019-21 Budget

This legislative session began with the inauguration of a new governor, Democrat Tony Evers, and Republicans maintaining control of both the Assembly and Senate. After all elected officials were officially sworn in, the 2019-2021 budget process immediately began. ACEC WI had three budget priorities:

  1. Increase transportation funding.
  2. Increase funding for the state building program.
  3. Increase funding in water infrastructure. 

Many thanks to our members for turning out for our largest Legislative Day ever; we proudly succeeded on all three. Wisconsin passed the largest transportation funding increase in a decade, passed the largest Capital Budget in history and significantly increased water funding from the previous budget. It was definitely our most successful budget. Our 2020 Legislative Day was finally a day to head up to the Capitol and say, “Thank you.” Relish those opportunities – they are hard earned and do not happen often.

Legislative Victories – Advancing & Protecting the Business of Engineering

After the budget, our priorities in the legislature were as they always are – advance and protect the business of engineering. We were unexpectedly required to play defense this session and defend our profession from two bills – the Interior Designer legislation and the Plastic Pipe legislation.

The Interior Designer legislation was an aggressive move, nationally organized, to strengthen the interior designer profession by weakening the profession of architecture and professional engineering, especially MEPs. ACEC WI’s preferred outcome was for the legislation not to pass but our absolute priority was to remove the impact to professional engineering from the legislation if it were to move forward. We successfully amended the legislation to completely remove engineering and improve current statute. Our successful outcome with the Senate author was a solid framework to continue our negotiations in future legislative sessions since the bill stalled at the end of the session because of COVID-19. We thank our supporters in both the Assembly and the Senate for fixing this legislation to be something professional engineers could live with.

The Plastic Pipe legislation once again appeared this session. This session it was aggressively pursued by lobbyists for the plastic industry. It was legislation that mandated the consideration of all materials in water infrastructure., which may appear innocent from a distance, but seeks to legislate technical decisions related to water infrastructure construction and pipe material selection that should be made by licensed engineers. Despite strong national lobbyist support to make Wisconsin the first state in the country to enact this legislation, we successfully stopped even a hearing in either house. We thank the legislators who supported us in both the Assembly and the Senate.

We also worked with the Speakers Task Force on Water Quality to introduce legislation that would remove prioritization of grants in the Municipal Flood Control Grant Program. Currently, property acquisition and removal projects are ranked the highest and our legislation removes those mandated rankings. Our legislation passed one house but unfortunately, because of COVID-19, we ran out of time. As session ended, the Governor introduced legislation that addressed our concerns with the program. We look forward to working with the Governor and Legislature next session on making this a reality.
 

Continue the Momentum - Contribute to Conduit or PAC

A personal check is the best way to contribute. Mail a check to us and use the button below to provide the needed documentation.  It is critical we build off our success this session and work hard to support elected officials who support our industry.