Gov. Doyle: Governor Signs Legislation to Expand Wisconsin's Harbor Assistance Program
Jessica Erickson, Governor's Office, 608-261-2156
Measure Will Improve Access to Wisconsin Waterways and Grow the Economy by Enabling Private Businesses to Improve Their Port Facilities
SHEBOYGAN - At a bill signing ceremony at the DeLand Community Center in Sheboygan today, Governor Jim Doyle signed into law a "Grow Wisconsin" initiative that expands eligibility to the state's Harbor Assistance Program (HAP) to improve access to Wisconsin waterways for commerce and recreation.
While the majority of docks in the state are privately owned, HAP currently limits grant funding to publicly owned ports and docks. Assembly Bill 791 expands the program to privately owned ports and docks, facilitating economic development in the state by allowing private businesses to improve their port facilities.
"There is no doubt that Wisconsin harbors play a major role in our state's economy, and the Harbor Assistance program has helped many communities improve their commercial ports," Governor Doyle said. "This legislation will help us grow our economy by allowing private businesses - which otherwise would not have sufficient funding - to improve their port facilities. It will also enable companies to invest in their future and create new business opportunities."
Since 1979, HAP has helped harbor communities along the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River preserve and improve commercial ports. The program provides grants to help cover harbor improvement costs, like the repair, maintenance, and construction of dock walls.
AB 791 will also ensure public access to Wisconsin waterways, Governor Doyle said. Under the bill, facilities that receive harbor assistance grants must be held open for public use for at least 10 years after the improvements are made.
Each year, about 40 million tons of goods worth over $7 billion pass through Wisconsin's commercial ports. It's estimated that Wisconsin ports support some 11,400 jobs, and annually generate over $1.3 billion.
The Governor thanked the bill's lead authors - Representatives Terry Van Akkeren and Jeff Stone and Senators Bob Welch, Joe Leibham, and Jeff Plale - for working together across party lines to invest in the economy.
The Governor also signed 13 other bills:
* Assembly Bill 15, authored by Representatives Eugene Hahn and Barbara Gronemus and Senators Bob Welch and Roger Breske, allows law enforcement to act upon a violation of railroad crossing laws witnessed by railroad employees.
* * Assembly Bill 274, authored by Representative Steve Freese and Senator Dave Zien, allows varying types of trailers to be used to haul personal recreational vehicles.
* * Assembly Bill 436, authored by Representatives John Ainsworth and John Lehman and Senators Dave Zien and Roger Breske, expedites the Department of Transportation's process of selling surplus property no longer needed for transportation purposes.
* * Assembly Bill 495, authored by Representative John Ainsworth and Senators Roger Breske and Alan Lasee, allows counties to sell surplus land at fair market value by private sale or public sale to an owner of adjacent property.
* * Assembly Bill 501, authored by Representative Samantha Kerkman and Senator Dave Zien, modifies the size limits for motor homes or recreational vehicles that may be driven on Wisconsin highways without a permit.
* * Assembly Bill 678, introduced by the Joint Legislative Council, reorganizes, updates, and removes unnecessary sections from Chapters 80 and 81 of Wisconsin State Statutes.
* * Assembly Bill 777, authored by Representative John Ainsworth and Senator Joe Leibham, modifies penalties associated with the regulation of motor vehicle dealers, salespersons, and sales financing companies to improve enforcement of regulations.
* * Assembly Bill 821, authored by Representative Steve Freese and Senator Joe Leibham, improves regulation of individuals who may purchase motor vehicles at an auction.
* * Assembly Bill 893, authored by Representative Suzanne Jeskewitz and Senator Carol Roessler, adds several oversight requirements to better manage the Major Highway and State Highway Rehabilitation Programs.
* * Senate Bill 46, authored by Senator Dave Zien and Representatives Karl Van Roy and Bob Turner, allows for certain highways and bridges to be designated in honor of citizen soldiers, law enforcement, fire fighters, and EMT responders, if interested parties pay for the markers.
* * Senate Bill 410, authored by Senator Ron Brown and Representatives Mary Williams and John Lehman, provides greater flexibility in making grants to municipalities under the Department of Commerce's fire dues program.
* * Senate Bill 436, authored by Senator Joe Leibham and Representatives Samantha Kerkman and Terry Van Akkeren, promotes cost savings in the vehicle emissions inspection program by extending the timeframe under which new cars must first be inspected.
* * Senate Bill 448, authored by Senators Joe Leibham and Julie Lassa and Representative John Ainsworth, saves state resources by eliminating a requirement that the Department of Transportation must return out-of-state licenses when an individual becomes licensed in Wisconsin.