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Wisconsin Senate Passes Bill Requiring Detailed Highway Costs

Senate Also Sends Bill On Teen Work Permits To Governor's Desk

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Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television

The state would have to consider factors such as inflation when estimating the cost of new highway projects under a bill that passed the Wisconsin Senate on Wednesday.

An audit of the state Department of Transportation released earlier this year found the cost of 16 ongoing highway projects had more than doubled from the time they were approved, a cost-overrun of $3.1 billion.

Auditors found the DOT was not considering inflation in the cost estimates they presented to lawmakers. Under a bill that passed the Senate on a voice vote Wednesday, the state would have to calculate inflation up front.

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“There are other things that we need to do to tighten up our overall highway situation,” said Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, the co-chair of the Legislature’s audit committee. “But if we don’t do this, how in the world will we ever get a handle on the cost of our overall highway projects?”

The bill would also require the DOT’s estimates to consider other project costs, such as design engineering and environmental studies.

In other action Wednesday, senators:

  • Sent a bill to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk that would let 16- and 17-year-olds apply for jobs without first getting a work permit signed by their parents. Backers say it will let teenagers whose parents aren’t involved in their lives get jobs to help support themselves. Opponents say it removes a layer of protection in Wisconsin’s child labor laws.
  • Passed a bill that would let people under age 21 attend festivals on private property where alcohol is served. While that’s currently allowed, supporters say they’ve been threatening to enforce a law that bans minors from attending such events without a parent or guardian present.
  • Concurred with another Assembly bill that would loosen regulations at fish farms.
  • Delayed a vote on a bill that would expand broadband access in rural areas. The Senate passed a similar bill earlier this year, but it was amended to include broad internet privacy protections. The version that had been up for a vote Wednesday in the Senate would have taken those privacy protections back out.
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