Legislature passes bill allowing utilities to fill wetlands

Legislature passes bill allowing utilities to fill wetlands

The state Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would allow farmers to grow hemp.

The chamber approved the proposal 33-0 Tuesday afternoon. The bill goes next to the state Assembly.

The bill would set up state licenses for farmers looking to grow industrial hemp. People with drug convictions wouldn’t be eligible for the licenses.

The bill originally said the plants couldn’t contain more than 1 percent THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The Senate amended the measure to set a maximum THC level of 0.3 percent.

At least 30 states have passed legislation allowing hemp farms. Supporters of the Wisconsin bill say hemp has a wide range of uses and Wisconsin farmers should have the option of growing another profitable crop.

Bill tightening recounts in Wisconsin set for approval

Election recounts would be more limited in Wisconsin under a bill that has cleared the Legislature.

The measure comes in response to Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s 2016 recount request even though she finished fourth in Wisconsin.

Under the Republican bill, only candidates who trail the winner by 1 percentage point or less in statewide elections could seek a recount. Democrat Hillary Clinton lost to Republican Donald Trump by less than that margin in Wisconsin, but Stein — not Clinton — requested the recount.

Democrats have argued that if a candidate wants to pay for a recount, there’s no reason to stop them.

The Senate passed the bill 20-13 Tuesday. The Assembly passed it in June. It goes next to Gov. Scott Walker, who supports the measure.

Legislature to pass bill allowing utilities to fill wetlands

The Wisconsin Legislature has passed a bill that would loosen wetland restoration requirements for public utilities.

The Assembly passed the measure Tuesday on a voice vote. The Senate followed with its own voice vote later in the day, sending the bill to Gov. Scott Walker.

Current state law requires anyone looking to fill a wetland to obtain a permit from the Department of Natural Resources. The agency must require the restoration, enhancement, creation or preservation of other wetlands as a permit condition.

-The Republican bill would allow the DNR to exempt public utilities and power cooperatives from mitigation if the utilities and co-ops fill no more than 10,000-sqaure-feet of wetlands.

Wisconsin Senate set to lift mining moratorium

The state Senate is poised to lift Wisconsin’s nearly 20-year ban on gold and silver mining.

Lawmakers passed statutes in 1998 that require sulfide mining applicants to show a similar mine has operated in North American for 10 years without polluting and a similar mine has been closed for 10 years without polluting.

State environmental officials have never made a final determination that any applicants ever met those standards, leading critics to brand the requirements a moratorium.

The Senate is set to vote on a Republican bill Tuesday that would eliminate the requirements and loosen mining companies’ financial liability for environmental damage as well as sampling regulations.

The Assembly passed the bill last week. Senate approval would send the measure on to Gov. Scott Walker.