How our leadership and influence shaped the most recent legislative session.

The recently completed legislative session is a huge win for more affordable housing for Wisconsin families. We made it our mission to inform legislators on both sides of the aisle of the importance of creating more affordable housing in Wisconsin, and are proud to provide the following snapshot of the most recent successes

  1. Reduced building or remodeling claim exposure period
  2. Streamlined wetlands housing development regulations
  3. Advocated for park fees to be assessed only as an impact fee
  4. Clarified bond usage for municipal infrastructure
  5. Prohibited building codes from exceeding statewide uniform standards (UDC)
  6. Eliminated Forestry Mill Tax/state property tax and personal property tax
  7. Revised electrical codes that balance cost with safety

Continue reading for a more comprehensive view of our actions and their impact on Wisconsin home builders and homebuyers.

1. Reduced building or remodeling claim exposure period (April 2018)

One of the recent legislative successes includes reducing the exposure period for a building or remodeling claim from ten to seven years.

This reduction will:

  • Decrease burdens and costs associated with investigating factual allegations from the distant past
     
  •  Promote fairness to builders who must defend themselves from such claims
     
  • Protect property owners by providing ample time to bring an action against a builder

Working in conjunction with the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC), we advocated for this common-sense change to improve the legal climate and promote affordable housing in Wisconsin.


2. Streamlined wetlands housing development regulation (March 2018)

Developing in areas that contain low quality, state-regulated wetlands has been a big challenge for property owners since 2001. Many times, property owners have no flexibility to build or expand on their land because of the overregulation.

We worked to streamline the process for housing development in wetland areas that will ultimately:

  • Drive down development expenses
     
  • Increase flexibility to build or expand
     
  • Reduce housing costs

We worked with the authors of this legislation, State Senator Roger Roth, a WBA builder member, and State Representative Jim Steineke on this bill starting in mid-2017. Our efforts also called on members to contact their state representatives and state senators to pass these money- and hassle-saving reforms.


3. Advocated for park fees to be assessed only as an impact fee (April 2018)

Developers across the state noticed that park fees were mentioned in two different areas of state law – once in the impact fee section and again in the plat approval section.


We advocated to have park fees assessed only as an impact fee to allow for:

  • Greater transparency to the public
     
  • Assurance of park accessibility to families
     
  • Lower development fees and housing costs

As a result of our work with State Representative Rob Brooks and other groups representing realtors and apartment buildings, the passed bill contains this and the following two provisions below that will help make housing even more affordable for Wisconsin families.


4. Clarified bond usage for municipal infrastructure (April 2018)

In 2014, we advocated for changes that allow greater flexibility for developers to use bonds to provide surety to local municipalities for infrastructure, such as sidewalks, roads, and sewers at no cost to property taxpayers. Since its passage, we heard from members that some communities were not following this law.

Thanks to our collaboration once again with State Representative Rob Brooks and other groups, the new provisions offer greater clarity so developers can effectively use bonds for infrastructure as initially proposed – all in the name of creating more affordable housing in Wisconsin.


5. Prohibited building codes from exceeding statewide uniform standards (April 2018)

Wisconsin’s one- and two-family building code, the Uniform Dwelling Code (UDC), applies equally to everyone. In some areas of the state, however, municipalities were requiring homes to be built above the UDC at the request of community planners.

We continued our work alongside State Representative Rob Brooks and other groups to clarify the current law to prevent municipalities from requiring codes that exceed UDC. And if a provision of a signed development agreement includes such requirements, it can be voided to help keep housing costs down.


6. Eliminated Forestry Mill Tax/state property tax and personal property tax (Fall 2017)

When we see an opportunity to lower the tax burden for Wisconsin families, we take that fight to the state capitol, just like we did to eliminate:

  • Forestry Mill Tax/state property tax - WBA members lobbied in favor of Governor Scott Walker’s provision as part of our annual “Advocacy Day at the Capitol” in early 2017.
     
  • Personal property tax - We worked with a diverse coalition of business groups as an addition to the state budget in the spring of 2017.

The total elimination of these taxes will give homeowners and small business owners more money in their pockets to spend on major home improvements or building a new home.


7. Revised electrical codes that balance cost with safety (November 2017)

Moving to a 6-year electrical code review for one- and two-family homes will go into effect on January 1, 2020 and could stay in effect until 2026. It rids the code of electrical manufacturer influence that drives up the cost of housing.

With a stable balance between cost and safety, this recent law change was championed by State Representative Adam JarchowState Senator Tom Tiffany, and WBA members. It will be reflected in the “Homeowners Bill of Rights,” a package that makes housing more affordable to Wisconsin families.
 

Our dedication to creating and sustaining affordable housing for Wisconsin families continues to drive our actions every day. As always, you can learn everything you need to know about our advocacy efforts here.