Madison News

 

State committee approves new 15-mile residency rule

State committee approves new 15-mile residency rule

Only police, fire and emergency workers could be required to live within 15 miles of the city or county where they work under a provision added to the state budget.

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee on Thursday voted to prohibit any more restrictive residency requirements than that.

Governor Scott Walker proposed doing away with any residency requirements statewide.

The change would most dramatically affect Milwaukee. All Milwaukee city and school district employees must live in the city. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others strongly oppose removing that, "This is a freebie that is there because they supported the governor. That's what's going on here and the people of this community have to understand that."

A vote to remove Walker's proposal in the budget failed on an 8-8 vote. A vote to establish the 15-miles radius passed 12-4 with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

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5/9

There is no deal yet on whether to eliminate any requirements that Wisconsin municipal workers live in the cities where they work.

The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee planned to vote on the issue Thursday. But committee co-chair Rep. John Nygren says a deal remains a ``work in progress.''

Gov. Scott Walker proposed eliminating any requirements statewide. But opponents say it was primarily targeting Milwaukee, which requires all city and school district employees to live in the city.

Nygren said Wednesday a deal was being floated to allow employees to live a certain distance outside the city boundaries, but face a penalty if they do.

Budget committee co-chair Sen. Alberta Darling says senators oppose the penalty part, but agree with setting an allowable radius in which workers can live.

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5/8

Mayor Paul Soglin is hoping state legislators don’t go along with Governor Walker’s plan to end residency requirements for local governments.

Soglin was at the Capitol this morning, arguing against the measure, "It'll tremendously undermine our existing residency rules and make it very difficult, particularly in times of crisis, to manage the city."

He says Madison’s ordinance has been in effect for a long time, "In some cases it's absolutist to where they must live or within distance from of the city. In some instances, there are actually longevity incentives to encourage the employees to live in the city. 60% of our employees are Madison residents and obviously our desire is to drive that number up and not see it drop."

Soglin says having employees live in the city makes for a much better response in emergency situations. "Whether its loss of power to a water pumping station, whether it's trees down across roads which prohibit everything from emergency vehicles to private cars, navigating the streets."

The Legislature’s Finance Committee is set to act on the Governor’s proposal today.

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A compromise to Gov. Scott Walker's proposal eliminating a residency requirement for public workers statewide is being discussed in the Legislature.

Rep. John Nygren said Wednesday the deal would require public workers to live within a certain distance from the municipality where they work or face a financial penalty.

He says the allowable distance as well as the level of financial penalty is still being negotiated. Nygren says the deal is a ``work in progress.''

Nygren is co-chair of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee. It is scheduled to vote Thursday on Walker's proposal to eliminate the residency requirement.

The mayors of Milwaukee and Madison along with other local officials spoke out Wednesday at the Capitol in support of keeping the residency requirement.

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:

The mayors from Wisconsin's two largest cities, along with other local officials from around the state, are calling on the Legislature to reject Governor Scott Walker's proposal to remove a residency requirement for public workers.

The Capitol news conference came a day before the Legislature's budget committee planned to vote on Walker's plan removing the residency requirement statewide. More than 100 municipalities in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee and Madison, have some sort of residency requirement.

But Mayor Tom Barrett says the proposal is targeted at Milwaukee and the other affected communities are just "innocent bystanders.''

Barrett says the measure is payback to Milwaukee police and firefighter unions that supported Walker.

 

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