Drew Pennington, VP for Chapter Affairs

Watch for Legislative Alerts on proposed bills or regulations affecting the practice of planning in Wisconsin.

Alerts are provided by Chapter VP for Legislative Affairs, Drew Pennington, advised by the Legislative Committee, which is made up of Drew and the Chapter's four District Representatives.






February 18

We had a successful Planner’s Day at the Capitol last Wednesday with 12 planners meeting with 17 different legislators and/or staffers to advocate for building strong communities in WI.  Thank you to those who attended this important event. Many attendees focused their advocacy upon a significant Workforce Housing Bill (Assembly Bill 859/Senate Bill 811) that is moving quickly through the legislature.  There is a public hearing on SB 811 tomorrow, Wednesday (2/19/20) before the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce, and Trade.  The hearing begins at 10 AM in Room 330 Southwest.  If you live and/or work in the Madison area, please consider attending this hearing to advocate in support of SB 811, which will give planners and economic developers some expanded tools to encourage the development and improvement of housing.  It would be huge to get this legislation through this session, which will be ending very soon.  As detailed in the Legislative Alert on 2/5/20, AB 859/SB 811 includes the following provisions:

  1. Allows the reduction or waiver of impact fees for workforce housing.
  2. Creates a statutory definition of workforce housing (cost burden and income-based).
  3. Creates a statutory menu of 11 “housing initiatives” that local governments may implement. This menu includes reducing fees & review times, reducing parking requirements, increasing density, reforming zoning, extending TIDs to fund housing, etc.
  4. Gives priority in the awarding of housing grants from DOA to local governments that have implemented at least 3 housing initiatives by 6/30/21.
  5. Increases the allowed percentage of residential land in mixed use TIDs to 60% if the residential component is workforce housing.
  6. Requires TID project plans to include alternative growth projections.
  7. Increases the TIF extension period to fund affordable and workforce housing from 1 to 3 years.

Please consider contacting your elected officials in support of this important housing bill.  Thanks.


February 5

Greetings WI Planners:

Earlier this week a workforce housing bill known as Assembly Bill 859 was introduced that includes many of the exact reforms included in the recently adopted APA-WI Legislative Priorities.  AB 859 is scheduled for a public hearing at the Capitol on Thursday, 2/6/20 at 11 AM before the Assembly Committee on Housing & Real Estate in Room 415 NW.  AB 859 includes the following provisions:

  • Allows the reduction or waiver of impact fees for workforce housing.
  • Creates a statutory definition of workforce housing (cost burden and income-based).
  • Creates a statutory menu of 11 “housing initiatives” that local governments may implement. This menu includes reducing fees & review times, reducing parking requirements, increasing density, reforming zoning, extending TIDs to fund housing, etc.
  • Gives priority in the awarding of housing grants from WHEDA, WEDC, or DOA to local governments that have implemented at least 3 housing initiatives by 6/30/21.
  • Increases the allowed percentage of residential land in mixed use TIDs to 60% if the residential component is workforce housing.
  • Requires TID project plans to include alternative growth projections.
  • Increases the TIF extension period to fund affordable and workforce housing from 1 to 3 years.

Please consider signing-up for Planner's Day on Wednesday, February 12th in order to discuss housing and any other planning-related issues with your local legislators.  Our early registration numbers are down from last year, and it would be a shame to lose momentum in terms of APA-WI's renewed focus on legislative advocacy.  With most areas of the state facing a housing shortage, a bill like AB 859 is a carrots-over-sticks opportunity to ask your legislator to act before the end of the session.  APA-WI will provide the breakfast, briefing, and optional materials relating to good planning & APA-WI's story to share with your elected officials.  Let me know if you're interested.  Thank you.


February 3

Last Friday the APA-WI Board approved the attached 2020 Legislative Priorities.  Please take a moment to review this document, which will serve as a guide for APA-WI’s direct advocacy efforts and our position on any proposed legislation for the remainder of this session.  I welcome your comments/questions/concerns.  Note that we’ve made a concerted effort to address WI’s significant shortage of workforce housing.


December 28

Greetings WI Planners:

On behalf of the APA-WI Board, I’m pleased to open registration for our second annual Planner’s Day at the Capitol in Madison on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.

For more information and to learn how to register, visit our Planner's Day at the Capitol Page. 


December 2

Greetings WI Planners:

Please see some important updates here, courtesy of the League of WI Municipalities.  There are newly enacted laws relating to building permits, massage therapy licenses, TEA grants, and lemonade stands (seriously).  In addition, you can find information on applying for a waiver from the new Housing Affordability Report requirements, which as a reminder are due by January 1st.  Thank you.


November 15

Greetings WI Planners:

Last month I had the pleasure of representing both the City of Beloit and APA-Wisconsin before the Assembly's Committee on Community Development.  We had an excellent discussion on WI's workforce housing dilemma, and I offered a planner's view along with some recommended reforms to state-level policies, incentives, and statutes that will help communities and developers work together to create more housing for all.  Thank you to Chairman Scott Allen (R-Waukesha) for inviting planners to the table!  In case you are interested, below is a link to the hearing, with APA-WI’s testimony beginning at the 1:44 mark.

Follow this link to the hearing video

There are several bills of interest to planners that are related to housing and currently before the Legislature, including the following:

AB318/SB339:  Creating a First-Time Homebuyer Savings Account Tax Credit

·         Enables first-time homebuyers to claim an income tax credit for up to $5K (individually) or $10K (filing jointly) for savings placed in a segregated bank account for the purposes of down payment and closing costs.

·         First-time homebuyer is defined as someone who has not owned a home in the preceding 3 years.

AB544/SB484:  Creating a New WHEDA Tax Credit Program for Rural Workforce Housing

·         Creates a nonrefundable tax credit for lenders, builders, or employer sponsors of workforce housing developments in rural counties.

·         Must be “gap” financing and must provide housing where there is a need for additional manufacturing workers.

·         Occupants of the eligible housing must have household incomes that would qualify for WHEDA loan programs.

In other news, there is a Workforce TID bill circulating for sponsors (LRB-4317) that includes some of the items that APA-WI is arguing for, including enabling Workforce TID’s and increasing the levy limit exemption for communities approving affordable single-family homes.  In addition, there is a controversial proposal to limit TIF-funded cash grants to developers to 20% of the total project costs.  Some of our members were very concerned by this when it first appeared in the budget bill, and there is a broad coalition of lobbyists fighting this bill to prevent it from being introduced.


October 9th

Greetings WI Planners:

Thank you to those who attended the Upper Midwest Planning conference in beautiful downtown Eau Claire last week.  One of the hot topics during the conference was housing – an issue that is heating-up in the Capitol as well.  As many of you know all too well, the supply of new and affordable housing is not keeping-up with demand, resulting in housing availability and affordability concerns throughout the state with disproportionate impacts.  This issue has become one of the top concerns of the business community as well, as the lack of housing has become a barrier to employee recruitment in numerous industries.

Workforce Housing Report

I would encourage everyone to check-out the “Falling Behind” report on WI’s workforce housing shortage prepared by UW-Madison Urban Planning Professor Kurt Paulson, which was recently published by the WI Realtors Association:  https://www.wra.org/PressRelease/FallingBehind/.  The report’s findings and recommendations have already been presented to committees in the Assembly and Senate.  Many of the recommendations are of interest to planners, and include “reforming and updating zoning and subdivision codes, removing regulatory barriers, providing financing, and helping to educate their community to overcome NIMBY opposition to new housing.”  Some of the recommendations may be controversial, and nudge planners into what I’m referring to as the pre-emption paradox.  For good reason, planners are weary of more unfunded state mandates and pre-emption legislation, so how do we feel about pre-emption aimed at encouraging the development of more affordable housing?  For example, page 31 of the report includes discussion of state pre-emption of development review timelines, mandating missing middle-type housing and multifamily as permitted by-right, mandating ADU’s as permitted by-right, and establishing maximum minimum lot sizes in sewer service areas.  The report also recommends a menu of financing solutions that many planners may support, and note that the first-time homebuyer tax credit bill referenced in the report has been introduced as Assembly Bill 318/Senate Bill 339.

What Do Planners Want?

Thanks to our increased role in advocacy, APA-WI has been invited to speak to these issues before the Assembly’s Community Development Committee, chaired by Rep. Scott Allen (R-Waukesha).  The informational hearing is at 10 AM on Wednesday, October 23rd at the CapitolTherefore, I am asking APA-WI members to share with me the top actions that the state should take to encourage the development of workforce housing throughout the state of WI.  How do you feel about the pre-emption paradox?  How should state incentives and/or financing be structured for best results?  I already have a working list based upon our discussion at the conference, but please consider sending me your thoughts on this topic and consider attending the hearing to share your thoughts in person.  I will assemble a list of common themes on the “planner’s wish list” and share them with the Committee.  Thank you.


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