" With the completion of the state budget in September and the recent passage of the Homeowners Bill of Rights, we have already accomplished a great deal this session. "
In November 2011, the legislature approved bipartisan-supported legislation that, once signed into law by Governor Walker, changed the dates of the fall primary election from September to the second Tuesday in August. 2011 Wisconsin Act 75 also established April 15th as the date that those running for office in the fall of even numbered years, most notably for the state assembly and state senate, could begin circulating nomination papers to get on the ballot for the primary election. Those running for office have from April 15th to June 1st to acquire the needed signatures to be certified as a candidate.

The domino effect of the change to the primary date (moving it back one month) and the time when legislators can circulate nomination papers has been substantial. It seems now that every two years both houses of the legislature want to complete their work earlier and not extend their session into March or April which, prior to 2011, had been the norm in Wisconsin. This year it seems very likely that the state assembly will conclude their work in February with the state senate coming back for only one day in March to concur with bills passed by the state assembly before going to Governor Walker.

The compressed timeframe leads to a very busy start to the new year, with groups like the Wisconsin Builders Association working hard to get as much as possible done in February 2018 before legislators turn their attention to reelection efforts in the spring. Enclosed is a summary of some of the top priorities we are still working on and hope to get signed into law this session.

A package of changes supported by the WBA to help reduce the cost of housing by streamlining the development process is our top legislative priority to close out the session. This bill is authored by Representative Rob Brooks and, if passed, it would provide clarity to the state statute that allows for bonding on the surety provided by a developer on infrastructure that is dedicated to a municipality, allowing greater transparency for establishing parks in the same process that is used for other impact fees, and making sure that developer agreements cannot mandate code provisions on homes that exceed those in the Uniform Dwelling Code.

Streamlining the ability to develop land that contains small, state-regulated artificial wetlands is another item we are hoping to address this winter. The legislation, authored by Representative Jim Steineke and Senator Roger Roth, has been narrowed since it was first introduced, but would still be a significant step in the right direction if passed. The legislation would allow for the filling of small, state-regulated wetlands and would increase the time a delineation would be valid for from 5 to 15 years.

Finally, Representative Mark Born and Senator Tom Tiffany have introduced legislation to shorten the statute of repose (as it relates to a claim against a contractor for a defect related to new home construction or a remodeling project) so it is similar to the time period for claims against an insurance policy (1 year) or breach of contract (6 years). If passed, this legislation would shorten the statute of repose in these cases from 10 to 6 years with the ability to extend the timeframe by 3 years if damages are sustained in years 4 through 6. This bill was introduced in late December and is likely the most challenging one to get through the legislative process to close out the session.

Hopefully the next time you receive a copy of the Badger Builder we will have good news to report back to you on the passage of some or all the items mentioned.