Feb 4, 2016

Wisc GOP Scams Public on High-capacity Water Wells

Wisconsin State Rep. Robin Vos
(R-Rochester, Wisconsin)
engineers water give-away
to special interests
Wisconsin Republicans want to give away our public fresh waters to Republican campaign contributors fast and quiet.

Even as Republicans work to appear to respond to constituents in central Wisconsin over proliferating high-capacity water wells, (wells drawing 100,000 gallons of water per day), the Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is working with the Republican Attorney General (and Scott Walker and all Wisconsin GOP legislators), to do an end-run around the Republicans' own bill, AB 477, (Richmond, AP).

This is a legislative scam, engineered by and abetted by all Wisconsin Republican office holders who will fall in line behind the Republican Dog and Pony show.

The Attorney General is expected, many residents fear, to issue an interpretation of the DNR's function under 2011 Act 21 protecting natural resources favorable to private parties obtaining an accelerated number of high-capacity well permits without consideration to the impact to area surface waters and other resources.

Wisconsin State Rep. Robin Vos' (R-Rochester, Wisconsin) letter is reproduced below, along with the objecting response of the Assembly Democratic leadership:


TO: Members of the Committee on Assembly Organization
FROM: Speaker Robin Vos, Chair
DATE: February 1, 2016
SUBJECT: Ballot 15-05 Request formal opinion of Attorney General

[MOTION] It is moved that the Committee on Assembly Organization request a formal opinion of the Attorney General relating to several questions surrounding 2011 Act 21 and the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to apply conditions related to monitoring wells and cumulative impact analyses prior to the grant of a high-capacity well permit. Please reference the attached letter.

I am recommending adoption of this motion. Please review and indicate your approval by circling 'aye" or "no", signing your name, and inserting the date. Thank you.

[If this ballot is not returned to the Speaker's office by Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 2:00 p.m. you will be designated as not voting.]


The Democratic response is reproduced below:


February 1, 2016
Speaker Robin Vos
Room 211 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708


Speaker Vos,

We strongly object to your decision to have the Committee on Assembly Organization vote by paper ballot to approve or deny the motion to ask the Attorney General to issue a formal opinion regarding the Department of Natural Resources' monitoring of high-capacity well permits.

This issue is the perfect example of why the committee should meet in person. The people of Wisconsin deserve to know why you chose not to have an open discussion about the critical issue of monitoring the impact of high-capacity wells in this state.

We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the background related to this request to the Attorney General and the reasons behind asking for this decision. It is our strong opinion that fast-tracking such a controversial request results in limiting public input and debate.

If there truly is confusion in our laws regarding high-capacity well permits, then we ought to be having an open and inclusive discussion to address this issue.

Put simply, choosing to conduct this vote by paper ballot goes against considering other alternatives for addressing this issue and is in contradiction to our Wisconsin values of open, honest and transparent government. We must have serious conversations about preserving clean water and protecting our lakes and streams.

Finally, limiting public input on this critical issue is in direct conflict with the spirit of the memorandum of understanding the leaders of our parties agreed to earlier this session.


Peter W. Barca
Assembly Minority Leader

Katrina Shankland
Asst. Minority Leader

Andy Jorgensen
Minority Caucus Chair

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