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Joint Finance Committee considers where public workers can live and workSubmitted: 05/09/2013

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


MADISON - Republicans often brand themselves as the party fighting for local control.

But Governor Walker proposed taking away some of the control for cities and towns.

And now, some Republicans are pushing back.

In February, the governor released his budget proposal.

Part of it proposed taking away residency requirements for government workers.

But many cities require police and firefighters to live close to town so they can get to emergencies faster.

The move to take away that right has Democrats and even some fellow Republicans upset.

"We do need responders. We need responders to live within a district or an area that they can respond timely. That's my biggest concern," says Marshfield Republican Rep. John Spiros.

"I think it's a bad idea. I think it infringes on local control, and I think we should leave it up to our local communities to assess the needs of their community and address them as they see fit," says Wausau Democratic Rep. Mandy Wright.

Just about every city in the Northwoods has some type of residency requirement.

Some only apply to emergency workers, while others are for a broader range of city employees.

Thursday, the state's Joint Finance Committee approved Walker's proposal, but with a twist.

It also passed an amendment by Representative John Nygren which would still allow counties, cities and towns to require emergency workers, like police and firefighters, to live within 15 miles of the borders.

The proposal now would still need to go before the state Senate, assembly and back to the Governor before it becomes law.

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