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Abele’s control of lakefront parking meters stripped out of Assembly, Senate bills

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

MILWAUKEE — Days after they introduced a bill giving broad new powers to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, four state lawmakers are seeking to strip out one portion of it.

The lawmakers have filed amendments eliminating a provision that would’ve given Abele the ability to install parking meters in county parks and along the lakefront. The original bill would’ve settled a recent dispute between Abele and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors over paid parking.

Abele has said the parking meters are needed to help plug a budget hole, but his plan has drawn community protests The board has tried to limit Abele’s authority over the issue, but has not banned paid parking outright nor said where the county would get an estimated $800,000 in lost revenue if Abele’s plan doesn’t take effect.

Also Monday, state Rep. Rob Hutton announced that his Assembly committee would hold a public hearing on the legislation on Wednesday. A spokesman for state Sen. Duey Stroebel said the Senate committee chaired by Stroebel would also hold a hearing, possibly next week.

Abele is leading the push for the bill, which would allow him to set the pay and benefits for political appointees without county board approval. The board and Abele have clashed over the issue in the past two years.

Most broadly, the bill says that whenever the county board and county executive’s actions contradict one another, the executive’s actions shall prevail. That provision has drawn criticism across the county board from Chairman Theo Lipscomb, a liberal, to Supervisor Deanna Alexander, a conservative.

State Rep. Jason Fields and state Sen. Lena Taylor, both Milwaukee Democrats, authored the bill with two Republicans, state Rep. Dale Kooyenga and state Sen. Van Wanggaard.