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Lawmakers Sound Off On Lakeshore Development Bill

Legislative Committee Hears Public Testimony On Measure To Roll Back Restrictions

State Rep. Cory Mason
Democratic state Rep. Cory Mason said the bill is a boon to special interests. Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin State Legislature

Lawmakers faced off Tuesday on a bill that could lead to increased lakeshore development in Wisconsin.

The Republican-backed measure would remove regulations on private, man-made bodies of water that aren’t connected to natural waterways. It would also limit the types of areas the Department of Natural Resources can classify as protected.

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue argued their cases during a public hearing on the bill at the state Capitol.

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“We can let some of the most valuable land in our state go fallow, or we can use that land and reap the economic benefits that come from that use,” said Rep. Adam Jarchow, who authored the bill.

While Jarchow said the bill makes technical fixes to existing laws, Democratic Rep. Gary Hebl noted that many of the state’s environmental groups say the legislation threatens waterways and wetlands.

“We’ve got every single environmental organization against this bill — doesn’t that say something to you?” Hebl asked his colleagues.

The bill is backed by a number of pro-business groups, including the Wisconsin Realtors Association, Americans For Prosperity and Wisconsin Builders Association. Democratic Rep. Cory Mason said the bill’s language supported those groups.

“They just took the Christmas tree out of the rotunda. For a lot of people, this looks like a special interest Christmas tree where several groups got to put their ornament on the tree,” Mason said.