Committees Handling High-Cap Well Bill Got $220K+ from Ag Interests

March 14, 2017

Water Pipes

Members of two legislative committees scheduled to hear testimony Wednesday on proposals to loosen regulations involving controversial high-capacity wells have received about $223,000 in contributions from the agriculture industry, which backs the bills.

The measures, Assembly Bill 105 and Senate Bill 76, would eliminate state reviews of existing permits for any high-capacity wells when they are repaired, replaced, or sold in a real estate transaction. High-capacity wells allow users, which include large farms, food processors, and frac-sand operations, to pump up to 100,000 gallons of water a day for irrigation and other needs.

Environmentalists and others say the high-capacity wells have caused some rivers, lakes, and streams around the state to shrink or even dry up during the summer, damaging fish, wildlife, and their habitat.

These measures follow similar bills last year that failed to pass the legislature.

The latest bills are also backed by numerous influential business and agriculture groups – see here and here – including the Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.

The committees scheduled to hear testimony at 9 a.m. at the State Capitol on the bills, the committee members, and the contributions they received from agricultural interests between January 2012 and December 2016 are:

Assembly Agriculture Committee

GOP Rep. Lee Nerison, of Westby, (chairman), $10,750

GOP Rep. Keith Ripp, of Lodi, $30,849

GOP Rep. Todd Novak, of Dodgeville, $28,601

GOP Rep. Ed Brooks, of Reedsburg, $28,313

GOP Rep. Travis Tranel, of Cuba City, $24,800

GOP Rep. Gary Tauchen, of Bonduel, $19,750

GOP Rep. Nancy VanderMeer, of Tomah, $16,895

GOP Rep. Joel Kitchens, of Sturgeon Bay, $12,450

GOP Rep. Jeffrey Mursau, of Crivitz, $4,750

GOP Rep. James Edming, Glen Flora, $3,890

GOP Rep. Cody Horlacher, of Muwonago, $1,700

Democratic Rep. Dave Considine, of Baraboo, $1,100

Democratic Rep. Mark Spreitzer, of Beloit, $1,100

Democratic Rep. Jason Fields, of Milwaukee, $950

Democratic Rep. Fred Kessler, of Milwaukee, $0

Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee

GOP Sen. Stephen Nass, of Whitewater, (chairman) $6,050

GOP Sen. Van Wanggaard, of Racine, $15,800

GOP Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, $12,325

Democratic Sen. Janis Ringhand, of Evansville, $2,250

Democratic Sen. Bob Wirch, of Kenosha, $750