Gov. Scott Walker signs three bills into law

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MADISON (WITI) — Governor Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 15, and Senate Bills 55 and 67, into law at the Wisconsin State Capitol Friday, May 17th.

Assembly Bill 15 allows employers, pending certification from the Department of Workforce Development, to create work-share programs.  Work-Share programs give employers flexibility during tough economic times to reduce employees’ hours instead of laying them off.  Under the bill, employees who have their hours reduced may receive unemployment insurance benefits for hours lost.

An employer must also maintain retirement plans and health insurance coverage under the work-share program.  The Department of Workforce Development estimates work-share programs will save the unemployment reserve fund $4.9 million.

“Wisconsin now joins 24 other states with work-share programs,” Governor Walker said.  “Instead of getting a pink slip during an economic downturn, workers now have an opportunity to stay on the job and receive unemployment benefits for the hours they lose.  I thank Representative Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg) and Senator Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) for their work on this bill.”

The bill passed the Assembly on a vote of 74 – 22 and was concurred in the Senate on a vote of 18 – 15.

Senate Bill 55 relates to the costs of replacement or relocation of certain municipal utility facilities required by the construction of a freeway and eligibility for the safe drinking water loan program.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources estimates reduced costs to municipalities within a water authority, as well as minimal cost savings for the department due to reduced workload.  The Department of Transportation also estimates a total reimbursement of $900,000 for costs associated to a relocation of water lines due to highway improvements.

“This bill streamlines the regulatory process for Wisconsin’s municipalities and ensures joint local water authorities’ eligibility for the safe drinking water loan program,” Governor Walker said.  “I thank Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Representative Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) for their work on this legislation.”

The bill passed the Senate on a voice vote and the Assembly concurred, also on a voice vote.

Senate Bill 67 will allow amphibious motor vehicles used for sightseeing purposes to be operated on a highway for up to five miles, increased from two miles under current law.  As area development expands, longer on-road trips are required.

“I’m pleased to sign a bill which modernizes the law for a part of Wisconsin’s tourism industry,” Governor Walker said.  “I thank Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) for their work on this bill.”

The bill passed the Senate on a voice vote and the Assembly concurred, also on a voice vote.