MADISON - Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) - the combined state chamber, manufacturers' association and safety council - submitted comments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on Monday outlining the agency's lack of statutory authority to impose certain restrictions on high capacity well permit applications.
WMC's comments follow DNR's irregular decision in late April to request a formal opinion from Attorney General Josh Kaul in a matter that is currently being litigated before the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In his response on May 1, Attorney General Kaul rescinded an opinion written by former Attorney General Brad Schimel that rightly stated agencies need explicit - not implied - statutory authority to place conditions on high capacity well permit holders because of 2011 Act 21.
Based on Attorney General Kaul's letter, DNR has produced a guidance document in the form of the "High Capacity Well Application Review Process Website" that surpasses its regulatory authority and circumvents the state's rulemaking process.
"Not only did Attorney General Kaul act unethically by tacitly issuing an opinion while this matter is before the state's highest court, now DNR is hastily forcing farmers, food producers and other employers to follow burdensome regulations that are far outside the scope of its authority," said Scott Manley, WMC Executive Vice President of Government Relations.
In its comments, WMC explains that DNR must have explicit authority to enact regulations. In part, WMC's comments read:
"In between the May 1 letter and the issuance of the Guidance Document, the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed down its decision in a relevant case, Legislature v. Palm upholding the validity of Act 21, which greatly constrains DNR's ability to expand its regulatory authority beyond the plain language of the statutes.
"This decision recognized that the Wisconsin Legislature eliminated the judicial doctrine of 'express and implied' authority that agencies previously used to imply legal authority to regulate outside the language of the statutes. It is now crystal clear that rules can only be promulgated by the agency if the agency has explicit authority to do so."
The comments also explain that DNR's Guidance Document is actually a rule and the Department did not follow proper rulemaking processes.
"Rulemaking is vital in promoting fairness by providing notice, consistency, and opportunity to comment. The rulemaking process gives the regulated community the opportunity to engage with potential regulations and express concerns before it binds them. Rulemaking also provides necessary legislative and gubernatorial oversight. So, even assuming the Supreme Court concludes DNR has broad authorities and discretion in implementing its high capacity well permit program, to do so on the permit-by-permit basis rather than rulemaking would be inconsistent with the fundamental principles behind Wisconsin's Administrative Procedures Act. It would violate Chapter 227."
In addition to submitting formal comments to DNR, WMC released a video two weeks ago on the topic and raised concerns earlier this month in a news release calling on DNR to follow the law.
"In a time when farmers and food producers are struggling, our government should not be making it harder to do business," concluded Manley. "DNR needs to respect the rule of law and work with the regulated community when it looks to make changes that can impact livelihoods."
CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.
The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.
Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.
"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.
Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
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