Senate passes tougher cost estimate requirements for roads

Senate passes tougher cost estimate requirements for roads
Wisconsin State Senate

The Wisconsin State Senate is taking up bills Tuesday on numerous topics.

Senate passes tougher cost estimate requirements for roads

The state Senate has passed a bill setting up stricter cost reporting requirements for road projects.

The bill comes after a state audit in January revealed the state Department of Transportation underestimated ongoing project costs by more than $3 billion.

The Legislature’s audit committee drafted a bill that calls for DOT to supply a full project cost estimate to the Transportation Projects Commission that includes costs before the project is approved, the effects of inflation and unexpected costs.

DOT would have to include more information in its semiannual report to the commission, including an explanation of any difference between cost estimates and actual current costs. DOT would have to send the report to legislators as well as the commission.

The Senate passed the bill Wednesday on a voice vote.

Senate approves looser fish farm regulations

The state Senate has approved a bill that would loosen fish farm regulations.

Under the Republican proposal, fish farms wouldn’t need permits to discharge material into a wetland if the wetland was created for fish farming. Natural water bodies could serve as fish farms and farms wouldn’t need permits to construct or enlarge artificial water bodies connected to a navigable waterway.

New permit conditions would be prohibited unless needed to meet water quality standards. The bill also would require a review of rules on viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a deadly fish disease.

The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote Wednesday. The Assembly passed the bill last week. It now goes to Gov. Scott Walker. Asked if he would sign it, his spokesman said only that Walker would review it.

Senate OKs bill allowing minors at Wisconsin festivals

People under age 21 would be allowed to attend festivals on private property where alcohol is served under a bill the state Senate has passed.

Supporters say the bill is necessary because state officials told festival organizers they were going to enforce a state law that prohibits minors from attending such events without a parent or guardian.

Under the bill, minors could attend festivals where alcohol is served on private property where attendance is expected to exceed 2,500 people. The same rules are already in place for festivals on public property like Milwaukee’s Summerfest.

The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote Wednesday. The Assembly passed it last week. Gov. Scott Walker’s spokesman, Tom Evenson, says the governor will review the bill when it reaches his desk.

Senate OKs bill eliminating child labor permits

The state Senate has approved a bill that would eliminate requirements that 16- and 17-year-olds get parental permission to work.

The Republican-authored measure would eliminate the requirement that children 16 and older obtain work permits. The permits cost $10 and require a parent’s written consent.

Republicans argue the bill would make it easier for children without parents to work. Democrats maintain the bill would remove parental protection, set children up for exploitation and decrease state and local revenues by $730,000.

The Senate approved the bill 20-12 Wednesday. The Assembly passed it last week. It goes next to Gov. Scott Walker. Asked if Walker would sign the measure, his spokesman, Tom Evenson, said only that Walker would review the bill.

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