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

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
* 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.