The state Assembly has signed off on a controversial bill that makes changes to the permitting process for construction on Wisconsin’s wetland areas. The bill creates a two-tier permitting system, allowing a closer review for more complex projects and giving developers an option to offset the loss of those areas.
State Representative Brett Hulsey (D-Madison) argued against the changes. He noted “the typical acre of wetlands will store over a million gallons of floodwater,” and filling it in will just result in homes being damaged by floods later on.
Hulsey urged lawmakers to “stop kicking flood victims in the teeth every chance you get.”
Baraboo Democrat Fred Clark argued there’s nothing wrong with the state’s current process for approving construction on wetlands, noting the DNR already approves nearly 93 percent of the permits it receives within a month. He says the bill just sets up the agency to be rushed to approve contracts based on little evidence and with no regard for the public interest.
Despite a contentious debate in the Senate last week, the Assembly passed the measure quickly Tuesday with a voice vote. The bill now heads to Governor Walker, who has said he plans to sign it.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:01)