Involvement in advocacy at state level has been at the heart of your Wisconsin Builders Association membership from its inception.  With the formation of an official legislative committee a handful of years after the association’s founding in 1947, the WBA quickly became a leading advocate for housing affordability at the state capitol, ensuring that elected officials in both political parties always consider Wisconsin families in their decision making.

Personally, it has been my pleasure to be on the frontlines protecting Wisconsin housing since 2004, and I am grateful to all members—past and present—who commit their time and money to making the industry better for builders and homeowners alike.  

The table to the left is a summary of milestones in the WBA’s political history, including key pieces of legislation passed (though certainly not all). More importantly, it is a testament to the importance of becoming and staying an advocate for your industry, making our vision statement of “affordable, innovative, and environmentally conscious homes accessible to all” a reality.  When we work together, look at all we can accomplish! Here’s to the next 70 years!

Milestones Throughout the Years

1957 - WBA Legislative Committee forms 
Formal committee to affect legislative change at the state level sets the WBA on a path of growth and influence in the state

1963 - WBA only group to support state laws regulating condominiums
Provides better guidance for those purchasing a condominium

1972 - Adoption of “Keyman” system
Creates successful, organized system of legislative contacts to get WBA priorities in front of house and senate members

1975 - First WBA “Legislative Day”
Also known as Political Education Day, Lobby Day, or Advocacy Day at the Capitol, places WBA in the spotlight of the WI legislature

1980 - Uniform 1- and 2-Family Building Code
Building practices now made statewide and uniform across Wisconsin 

1981 - WBA Caravan Protests High Interest Rates
WBA President James Burkhard and President-Elect Neil Haselwander visit every local association throughout the state over three days, bringing message to members and news media about crippling interest rates – record high of 21.5% reached in 1980, dropped to 11% by 1983

1986 - Governor Tommy Thompson elected
WBA first to endorse - As a pro-housing governor (provided with critical early support by the WBA), assists organization with wins throughout the 80s and 90s

1992 - Uniform Multi-Family Dwelling Code
Lowers design costs for multifamily buildings

1994 - Wisconsin Act 127 – contractor certification bill 
Requires proof of financial responsibility and insurance requirements for contractors pulling single-family building permits

1997-1999 - Ban on county-imposed transportation fees; establishment of DNR deadlines for consideration of permits
Reduces fees on transfer of materials to reduce cost of housing; quicker action on permits streamlines development and construction process

2003 - Home Safety Act – UDC inspections of all new 1- and 2-family dwellings statewide 
Provides for inspections of homes in all areas of the state regardless of population of the municipality 

2005 - Legislation to Reduce Impact Fees
Brings transparency and accountability to the process of enacting impact fees in WI – seen by the NAHB as the “Gold Star” standard 

2006 - Wisconsin Act 200 – Continuing Education Requirement for Contractors
Ensures that WI families investing in the building of a new home are working with contractors up-to-speed on current building codes and practices

2010 - Governor Scott Walker elected – WBA endorsement
Election of pro-housing governor allows WBA to string together several successful legislative sessions—including frozen or reduced property tax rates since 2011

2011-2012 - Elimination of land conversion fee; reformation of prevailing wage laws
Saves families $780/acre; reduces development costs of new housing 

2013-2014 - Elimination of “Building Contractor Registration;” enacted six-year review for UDC; enacted Uniform Commercial Building Code; Reformation of 1- and 2- family wall bracing code
Eliminates meaningless fee; provides more predictability on code updates; wall bracing rules now easier to follow reducing the cost of a home 

2015-2016 - Removal of fire sprinkler mandate by administrative rule; adoption of statewide standard for remodeling projects near bodies of water; federalization of WI lead paint rules
Gives builder and consumer direct voice with their elected officials about costly regulations; remodeling jobs in areas near water now more likely to be approved; easier for remodelers to do business across state lines