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Regional transit, renewable energy on deck for lawmakers

Regional transit, like the one shown above in the Chicago area, will be debated Tuesday in Madison. (AP Photo/Denis Paquin)

Regional transit, like the one shown above in the Chicago area, will be debated Tuesday in Madison. (AP Photo/Denis Paquin)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — State lawmakers will be busy today debating the clean energy bill, as well as regional transit.

Milwaukee County could levy up to a half-cent sales tax to help pay for commuter rail and bus service under a bill set to pass the state Assembly.

Even if the measure passes on Tuesday, it still must clear the Senate on Thursday and be signed by the governor before becoming law.

The bill would create interim regional transit authorities in Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties.

Another bill before the Assembly would allow for a regional transit system in the Fox Cities in the northeastern part of the state.

Much of the conflict over establishing the co-called RTAs has come over how they would be organized and operated, although Republicans have opposed the tax increase.

Renewable energy

After months of drafting and intense lobbying, the state Assembly is scheduled to vote on a renewable energy measure when members come to the floor.

The bill would mandate a quarter of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025. Environmentalists say the bill will create thousands of jobs, result in cleaner air and save the state millions as dependency on oil and coal wanes.

Some in the business industry counter the bill will drive up utility rates and cost thousands of jobs.

The Assembly vote may not matter, though. Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, a Weston Democrat, said he doesn’t support the proposal because it would raise electric bills.

One comment

  1. The public keeps telling the legislators that the RTA is both needed and wanted. As proof:
    ================
    POLL: How would you vote on the proposed advisory transit referendum?
    Journal Times staff | Posted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010 6:00 am
    Should any new tax to support transit or rail services, such as a sales tax or local vehicle registration fee, be permitted in any part of Racine County?
    Yes 59% (339 votes)
    No 41% (238 votes)
    Total Votes: 577
    ===========
    Daily Reporter SURVEY:

    Do you welcome rail projects to Wisconsin?
    Yes 59% (158 votes)

    No 31% (84 votes)

    High speed, but not regional 4% (10 votes)

    Regional, but not high speed 6% (16 votes)

    Total Votes: 268

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