Last week, Governor Evers' Biennial Budget Bill proposals were introduced by the Legislature's Joint Committee on Finance via companion bills in the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate. (2021 AB 68 and 2021 SB 111). The LRB summary of the budget bill is 193 pages long and the bill itself is another nearly 1,000 pages of bill text. Although the action now shifts to JFC, a few notables in the ag/environmental space are:
- Directs DATCP to develop a "nitrogen optimization pilot program" to reduce nitrogen loading to groundwater;
- Provides grants for assessing the feasibility of a state-wide carbon market and for agricultural producers adopting carbon sequestration and "regenerative agricultural practices";
- Provides grants for rural economic development initiatives and food waste reduction pilots;
- Imposes a $3,270 application fee for CAFOs seeking their first WPDES permit;
- Provides planning grants for the development of regional digesters;
- Allows up to $1,000,000 annually in DATCP provided producer-led watershed protection grants;
- Provides appropriations, grants and directives to DNR concerning the regulation of PFAS compounds or so-called "forever chemicals";
- Expands the state well compensation program and prioritizes nitrate contaminated drinking water wells;
- Includes a multitude of provisions addressing climate change across state and local government
- Although still a federal crime, allows the recreational use of marijuana and permits the growth, processing and sale of recreational marijuana via permits issued by either DOR or DATCP.
Under the bill, if a local governmental unit prepares a comprehensive plan, a community health plan, or a disaster mitigation plan, it must consider the effects of climate change when preparing the plan.