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Republicans trump Evers’ charging-station plan

By TODD RICHMOND Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Assembly Republicans worked on Monday to trump Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to put $10 million in the state budget toward electric-vehicle charging stations, announcing their own bill to set up the stations.

Republicans and Evers have been stealing each other’s ideas for months in a battle to rob the other side of headlines and campaign talking points.

Republicans in February overtook Evers’ own middle-class tax cut proposal with their own bill. The only difference between the plans was that GOP lawmakers wanted to cover their proposed reduction using the state’s surplus, whereas Evers wanted to pay for it by capping tax credits for manufacturers.

Evers ultimately vetoed the GOP proposal. Evers, for his part, issued an executive order in March calling for state agencies to remove the term “mental retardation” from their regulations after he had learned Republicans were working on a bill that would accomplish the same goal.

Rep. Adam Neylon, a Republican, held a news conference on Monday to announce a package of legislation centered on renewable energy. One of the bills calls for offering grants to build charging stations along Wisconsin interstates. Neylon said the proposal would use $10 million from Wisconsin’s share of a $2.9 billion national settlement that Volkswagen agreed to pay in 2016 for selling vehicles equipped with software designed to cheat federal emission tests.

Evers proposed using his budget to set aside $10 million from the settlement for charging stations.

Neylon didn’t immediately return a follow-up message left at his Capitol office by The Associated Press seeking comment on why the bill duplicates Evers’ proposal. The actual bill hasn’t been released yet, but Neylon’s aide Joe Zapf said the language will be more specific than Evers’ plan, which doesn’t lay out where the charging stations should be built.

Evers’ spokeswoman, Melissa Baldauff, didn’t immediately respond to an email from the AP.

Another bill in the package would subsidize 50% of residential customers’ renewable-energy costs. Neylon estimated the subsidies would cost $7 million to $8 million over the first year. He said the money would come out of Focus on Energy, a program in which more than 100 utilities pay into a fund that offsets the cost of energy-technology work that promises to improve efficiency.

The third bill would set out $500,000 worth of grants to reimburse employers for training workers in solar and wind-energy systems. The money would come from the state Department of Workforce Development’s Fast Forward program, which supplies money for worker training grants.

The last bill calls for expanding electronics-recycling programs. Neylon did not have any dollar estimates for that proposal.

The bills’ prospects are unclear. Kit Beyer and Julie Lund, both aides to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, attended the news conference and handed out news releases summarizing the package, suggesting Vos is a supporter..

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Senate Republicans have yet to discuss the bills in caucus.

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