Gov. Doyle: Signs Legislation to Help Communities Recover from Natural Disasters

Contact: Anne Lupardus, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

New Funding Will Help Communities That are Denied Federal Aid, Including Those Affected By the August 2005 Tornadoes in Dane, Richland, and Vernon Counties

PLEASANT SPRINGS – Governor Jim Doyle today signed Assembly Bill 1028, which provides an additional source of relief to communities that have experienced natural disasters, and who have been denied funding by the federal government.

The bill would help communities like those in Dane, Vernon, and Richland counties, where 27 tornadoes struck on August 18, 2005, killing one person, injuring 23 people, damaging more than 400 homes, and destroying 67 homes. FEMA denied Wisconsin’s request for assistance, citing the “damage was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state and affected local governments.” Governor Doyle appealed the decision, but FEMA again denied the appeal.

“I understand that FEMA’s resources were strained by Hurricane Katrina,” Governor Doyle said. “But this country – with all of its resources – should never be in the position of having to choose between victims of one disaster and victims of another. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. We can’t control what Washington does, but we can control how we respond in Wisconsin. And so today, I am signing important legislation that will allow Wisconsin to step in when Washington fails.”

Governor Doyle provided two large grants through the Department of Commerce to help with the recovery efforts. The Village of Viola received a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) – Emergency Assistance to help with the costs to the infrastructure and Richland and Vernon Counties shared another $821,800 in CDBG-Emergency Assistance Grant to help low and moderate income residents repair or replace homes damaged by the August 18 tornadoes.

Assembly Bill 1028 expands what assistance the state can provide. The bill allows the state’s Adjutant General, who oversees the Wisconsin National Guard and acts as a Homeland Security Advisor, to allocate payments to local units of government for damages and costs incurred by a major catastrophe if the Governor’s request for a presidential disaster declaration is denied, or if the disaster doesn’t meet FEMA criteria.

The bill provides $3 million in each year of the current biennium to be allocated, which is available for qualifying events that happened after January 1, 2005. This funding would otherwise not be available to help these local communities.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Lee Nerison and Gary Hebl, as well as Senators Dan Kapanke, Mark Miller, and Bob Jauch for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle also signed Senate Bill 405, which provides regulatory flexibility for pharmacists to address public health emergencies.

“In the event of a natural disaster or a public health emergency, our pharmacists should have every ability to quickly and efficiently serve the public,” Governor Doyle said. “This bill gives them the flexibility to change the location or means by which prescriptions are administered in order to get people the life-saving medicines they need.”

Senate Bill 405 allows the Pharmacy Examining Board to give pharmacists relief from statutory requirements for up to 90 days if the board deems it necessary to protect public health, recognizing that a public health crisis may not be solved in a relatively short amount of time.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Luther Olsen and Carol Roessler, as well as Representatives J.A. Hines and Terese Berceau for their work on the bill.

Governor Doyle also signed the following bills earlier today:

Assembly Bill 48 furthers the state’s campaign to stop the use and manufacture of methamphetamine. The bill increases the penalty for those eighteen years or older who use the drug, possess it and intend to use it, or have methamphetamine-related paraphernalia in the presence of children fourteen years old or younger. The new law is another step to protect children from this extremely dangerous drug and its harmful effects.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Mark Pettis and Scott Suder, as well as Senators Sheila Harsdorf and Carol Roessler for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 479 establishes a new drivers license plate supporting and promoting golf in the state of Wisconsin. This bill calls for a $25 additional annual fee to be paid by owners of a golf license plate, with excess revenue to be split between an appropriation for the promotion of golf in Wisconsin and the WPGA Junior Foundation.

Governor Doyle thanked Representative Bob Ziegelbauer and Speaker John Gard, as well as Senator Joe Leibham for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 485 improves the regulation of funeral home directors and operations. This bill offers flexibility to the funeral home industry while also assuring continued safe and reputable operation of funeral homes.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Phil Montgomery and Karl Van Roy, as well as Senators Alan Lasee and Julie Lassa for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 619, allows for the carry-out of partially consumed but unfinished bottles of wine purchased as part of a meal at a restaurant. Current law prohibits the removal of unfinished bottles of wine from restaurants. This bill could help reduce drunk driving by eliminating any pressure to finish a bottle of wine merely for fear of “wasting” the remainder.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Don Pridemore and Karl Van Roy, as well as Senator Alan Lasee for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 785 makes significant changes to Chapter 55 of state statutes. The bill will align state law with current practices pertaining to protective placements, protective services and the administration of involuntary psychotropic medication.

Assembly Bill 805 authorizes the President of the Wisconsin Technical College System to offer resident tuition fees to needy and worthy out-of-state student victims of Hurricane Katrina. This authorization has been extended through the 2007-2008 academic year and continues Wisconsin’s commitment to helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Sue Jeskewitz and Tamara Grigsby, as well as Senators Sheila Harsdorf and Bob Wirch for their work on the bill.

Assembly Bill 1014 protects personal telephone records from fraudulent solicitation or sale without consent. This bill will not inhibit law enforcement agencies from performing official duties but protect personal safety, financial security and privacy.

Governor Doyle thanked Representatives Phil Montgomery and Bob Ziegelbauer, as well as Senators Ted Kanavas and Jon Erpenbach for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 370 expands the list of eligible programs for the Academic Excellence Scholarships, now including approved two-year, full-time vocational diploma programs in addition to current associate and baccalaureate programs. This bill provides additional educational and career choices for recipients of the Academic Excellence Scholarships and applies to scholarships awarded for the 2005-2006 academic year.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Ron Brown and Luther Olsen, as well as Representatives Thomas Lothian and Judy Krawczyk for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 529 aligns Wisconsin’s special education statues with the federal Individual with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 2004, and represents a consensus of school administrators, school boards, teachers, parents and advocacy groups.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Luther Olsen and Jeff Plale, as well as Representatives Debi Towns and Bobby Gronemus for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 602 makes insurers eligible for an existing development zone credit for the license fees paid by certain insurers.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Dale Schultz and Jeff Plale, as well as Representatives Ann Nischke and John Richards for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 652 pertains to the acquisition or possession pseudoephedrine. The bill states that records relating to the sale of pseudoephedrine products are not patient health records, and also expands law enforcement officers’ access to records detailing the purchase of the drug. The bill also outlines new procedures for the acquisition of pseudoephedrine.

Governor Doyle thanked Senator Sheila Harsdorf and Representatives Kitty Rhodes and Gary Sherman for their work on the bill.