The Blueprint: Check with DSPS on Smaller Multifamily Sprinkler Reqs.
ALSO: Main Goal of 2019-2020: No Backsliding on 2011-2018 Reforms • A.G. Schimel Decides Against Recount • WI Supreme Court Race Next Up • Governor-Elect Evers Announces Transition Team and Chief of Staff • NAHB Explains Opportunity Zone Proposed Rule • From NAHB: Not a Lot of Lots, Builders Report
Check with DSPS on Smaller Multifamily Units for Sprinkler Requirements
Recently, it has come to our attention that some members have had issues getting plans approved by the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) for multifamily housing units of 20 or fewer units. The main issue in question deals with a commercial building code issue on means of egress when you are not required to have a sprinkler system.
We continue to talk with DSPS about this issue, and await their formal guidance that addresses the state statute on this matter and how that interacts with the commercial building code provisions on means of egress from a multifamily unit.
Until formal guidance is issued by DSPS on this topic, it is strongly advised that you or the consultants you work with to design smaller multifamily units contact DSPS directly to discuss design issues before you submit plans to the department. The most direct way to get in contact with DSPS on this issue is via email at: DSPSSBBuildingTech@wisconsin.gov.
Main Goal of 2019-2020: No Backsliding on 2011-2018 Reforms
One thing that we will be focusing on once the legislature begins their work in January 2019 is to make sure we protect all of the advocacy wins we have achieved since 2011. With the same majorities in power in both the state senate and the state assembly, we will have strong allies in both houses who helped pass these reforms and will be partners to help us keep those public policy items in place.
There were two significant policy changes that took place over the past two sessions that will help guard against changes to the building code and the passage of a single-family sprinkler mandate.
First, during the 2015-2016 session of the legislature, a provision was added to the state budget and signed by Governor Walker into law that prohibits any department mandating single-family sprinklers in an administrative rule package. This was signed into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 55, and means that any effort to pass a single family sprinkler mandate must be passed as bill and signed into law by the governor.
Just last session, the REINS Act was also signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 57. REINS stands for “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny”. Passage of the REINS Act last session means that any administrative rule package that is introduced by any state agency can be stopped by the Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) and could only be passed if a bill authorizing the promulgation of the rule package is passed by both houses of the legislature and signed into law.
While things will certainly be different next session with split power between the governor and the state assembly and state senate, the above-mentioned state statutes are an additional check on the power of the executive branch on additional regulatory burdens that will increase the cost of housing in 2019-2020.
A.G. Schimel Decides Against Recount
This week, Attorney General Brad Schimel announced that he would not seek a statewide recount of votes in his race against Josh Kaul. Schimel had announced late last week that he would take the week to decide on a recount of votes. Had Schimel decided to request a recount, his campaign would have been responsible for paying for that request per state law.
After the statewide canvas of votes was completed, Kaul led Schimel by 17,000 votes. In a prepared statement on the matter, Schimel stated, “However, I will not be requesting a recount of the narrow November election results. While we did receive 77,000 more votes than four years ago, my team and I believe the 17,000 vote gap is definitive. We could have raised the funds necessary to pay for the recount, but in the end, we felt the odds of finding enough votes were too narrow to justify putting the county clerks, their staff and the public through such an ordeal at this time.”
This decision now clears the way for A.G. Elect-Josh Kaul to start his transition to the office in early January 2019.
Kaul issued a statement concerning Schimel’s concession saying, “"I want to thank Attorney General Brad Schimel for his public service. As Attorney General, I'll work to ensure that Wisconsin is responding to the opioid epidemic like the crisis it is. I'll make sure that all DNA matches that resulted from the testing of the kits in Wisconsin's rape-kit backlog are fully investigated, and I'll work to address the increase in testing times at the state crime labs. I'll advocate for common-sense gun-safety measures. I'll ensure that our environmental and consumer-protection laws are being seriously and evenhandedly enforced. And I look forward to working with Governor-elect Evers to withdraw the State of Wisconsin from the lawsuit that's seeking to invalidate the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions."
WI Supreme Court Race Next Up
While the focus of most people in Wisconsin this week is planning for Thanksgiving dinner and for returning to the woods for the final days of Wisconsin’s deer hunting season, some in Madison are turning the page to the next big political race in Wisconsin. Voters across Wisconsin will go to the polls this spring to choose a candidate for Wisconsin Supreme Court to replace Justice Shirley Abrahamson who announced she is retiring from the seat on the court that she has held since 1976.
This open election for a coveted spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court will take center stage this spring in what will likely be a very competitive and expensive race.
As of today, there are only two announced candidates for this seat and both a current sitting judges.
Judge Lisa Neubauer was the first candidate to announce a run for the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Neubauer has served for the past ten years as an Appeals Court Judge. Judge Neubauer’s husband Jeff served as a member of the state assembly from the Racine area and was the former Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and a member of the Democratic National Committee. State Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) is Judge Neubauer’s daughter.
Another member of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals is the other announced candidate for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Judge Brian Hagedorn. Hagedorn was appointed to the bench in 2015 by Governor Scott Walker, and was elected to an additional six-year term in April 2017. Prior to his appointment, Hagendorn served as the Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Walker for almost five years and also served as an Assistant Attorney General at the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
While races for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice are nonpartisan, it is obvious by the above biographies that there are clear candidates on the right and left of the political spectrum. Election watchers expect a great deal money to be spent on this upcoming races starting sometime after January 1.
Governor-Elect Evers Announces Transition Team & Chief of Staff
Over the past two weeks, Governor-Elect Evers and Lt. Governor-Elect Barnes have been making announcements of those individuals who will be helping them transition into office in early January.
Since their election win, the Evers-Barnes team have announced his transition team co-chairs, campaign manager Maggie Gau as Evers’ Chief of Staff, Carrie Lynch as the communications director for the transition, and have launched their transition website at https://evers.wi.gov.
Finally, late last week additional names were announced of those who were advising the Governor-Elect and the Lt. Governor-Elect, including some former members of Governor Jim Doyle’s administration.
Expect to see announcements of cabinet secretaries after Thanksgiving and before the first of the year.
NAHB Explains Opportunity Zone Proposed Rule
The Treasury Department and IRS recently released the long-awaited proposed regulations for implementing opportunity zones, a new type of economic development incentive created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. NAHB's tax policy experts have prepared an FAQ that explains the proposed opportunity zone rule.
From NAHB: Not a Lot of Lots, Builders Report
In a recent NAHB survey, 65% of builders reported that the overall supply of developed lots in their areas was low to very low. This is up only 1% from June 2017, but significantly higher than the 42% posted in September 2012.
The focus on lots was included in a special survey section in September’s NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The 65% of respondents citing a shortage of lots represents the largest low- supply percentage recorded since NAHB began periodically asking the question in the HMI survey in 1997.
The 65% includes 43% who characterized the supply of lots simply as low and 22% who said the supply of lots was very low. Click here to read full article.