League of Wisconsin Municipalities
 Capitol Buzz 
March 31, 2016
Governor Signs into Law Charge-back, Liquor License Quota Exceptions, and other Municipal Bills 
Yesterday, Governor Walker signed the charge-back bill into law as Act 317, ensuring that counties, school districts, and other taxing jurisdictions always contribute their fair share towards any property tax refunds municipalities are required to pay.  
The League sends a big thank you to Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) for introducing at our request the charge-back bill on February 2. Despite the late date in the session, the authors were able to efficiently guided the bill through the legislative process. 
Liquor License Quota Exceptions Created 

This week the Governor also signed AB 612 into law as Act 286
The League thanks Rep. David Steffen (R-Howard) for introducing this bill after working out a compromise between the League, the Tavern League of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin REALTORS Association.  The Act creates two new options for communities that have no liquor licenses available under the state imposed quota system, but seek to accommodate a new restaurant or bar wanting to locate in the community.  The new options are: 

  • Regional Transfer Option: Allows a municipality to purchase a "Class B" liquor license from a contiguous municipality or a noncontiguous municipality within 2 miles of the community's borders. A municipality may purchase a license from a donor municipality for a minimum of $10,000. This is a one-time fee paid to the donor municipality that may not be refunded or rebated. A municipality may transfer a maximum of three reserve "Class B" liquor licenses in this manner. 

  • PEDD Option: Allows a municipality to establish a Premier Economic Development District (PEDD) and outlines specific requirements and qualifiers for a PEDD (i.e. economic development project must increase valuation in the district by at least $20 million, only one PEDD per municipality, PEDD shall not exceed 40 acres, PEDD property must be contiguous, PEDD boundaries established by 2/3 vote of municipality's governing body and may not include industrial or single family parcels). Upon establishing a PEDD, a municipality may issue up to two Premier "Class B" Reserved liquor licenses within the PEDD at a cost of no less than $30,000 each. These reserved licenses are non-refundable and non-transferable and are above the community's quota.
In exchange for these new quota exceptions, Act 286 makes the following two changes to current law sought by the Tavern League:
  • Specifies that the initial $10,000 fee for a reserve "Class B" liquor license may not be rebated or refunded. 
  •  Modifies the current 300 seat restaurant quota exception by clarifying that the exception only applies to restaurants having an interior permanent seating capacity of 300 or more seats. This change first applies to licenses initially issued after the effective date of this Act. 
Other Bills Recently Signed into Law Affecting Municipalities:

AB 575, Requiring DOR to determine equalized values by August 1. (Act 321) The League supported this bill

AB 576, Making changes to the process by which DOR supervises municipal property tax assessments. (Act 322) The League supported this bill

AB 714, Changing the definition of "tourism entity" under the room tax law. (Act 301) The League supported this bill.

AB 730, Prohibiting municipalities from banning the use of plastic bags. (Act 302The League opposed this bill. 

AB 820, Imposing additional duties on the PSC related to the expansion of broadband access in Wisconsin. The bill also creates a process by which political subdivisions may become certified as Broadband Forward! communities by the PSC. (Act 278) The League negotiated a few changes to this bill and in the end took a neutral position on it.  

SB 581, Conditions under which a volunteer fire fighter can serve on the governing body. Under the bill, an individual may earn $25,000 or less in annual compensation and fringe benefits as a volunteer fire fighter, EMT, or first responder and still serve as an elected official if the city, village, or town has a population of 5,000 or less. If the city, village, or town has a population of more than 5,000, then an individual may earn $15,000 or less in annual compensation and fringe benefits and still serve as an elected official. (Act 341The League was neutral on this bill. 

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