News – March 24th, 2010

GAB Lifts Corporate, Union Ad Restrictions

3/24/10 – Wisconsin will no longer enforce its 105-year-old law against labor unions and companies using their general funds for political ads. The Government Accountability Board unanimously voted Tuesday to stop enforcing the ban, after the U-S Supreme Court threw out a similar ban in January. Board staffers said the ruling in Washington effectively nullified the Wisconsin law. Madison attorney Mike Wittenwyler, who helps special interest groups put out political ads, said the board had no choice but to suspend its enforcement. Board member Gerald Nichol said he didn’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision – but he has to accept reality.

Mega-Farm Public Hearings Begin

3/23/10 – Public hearings begin this week on a proposal to issue general state permits for so-called “mega-farms.” Right now, the D-N-R considers each individual case before granting a farm permit with over a-thousand animal units – which is equal to about 700 dairy cows. The new proposal would grant general permits for farms with a-thousand to 57-hundred animal units. Those with as few as 300 units might need permits if they have pollution problems that have not been corrected. The D-N-R says the new system would speed up the paperwork process – and it would let inspectors spend more of their time in the field. The first hearing on the measure is set for Friday in Wausau. Other hearings continue until about mid-April.