A terrible new bill that threatens the safety and affordability of our drinking water is making its way through the Wisconsin legislature.
The Fast Path to Water Privatization Bill, Assembly Bill 554/Senate Bill 432, would allow for out-of-state, for-profit, private conglomerates to gobble up Wisconsin’s municipal public water systems without citizen input. Currently, by law, local citizens must vote to okay the sale of public water system. The Republican-backed bill making its way through the Wisconsin legislature would thwart the democratic process and allow for sales of water services without a vote of public support.
The safety of our water system is of huge importance to each and every Wisconsin resident, young, old and in-between. We don’t want another Flint, Michigan water crisis in Wisconsin. Private water companies buy water systems in the hopes of profiting big from what should be a public good and basic human right.
With little time left in the legislative session, this bill is rocketing through the legislature with distressing speed. AB 554 was introduced on December 1, 2015, and referred to Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities. It was voted out of committee on December 15, 2015. It was voted out of the full Assembly on a voice vote on January 12, 2016. SB 432 was introduced on December 3, 2015 and referred to the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works, and Military Affairs. It had a public hearing on January 5, 2016 and was voted out of Senate Committee on January 28, 2016.
The Senate and Governor still have to take action on this bill that paves the way to privatize our water without citizen support. The Senate is currently scheduled to meet for a floor session on February 9, 2016 and could take up the Fast Path to Water Privatization Bill then.
We know how important it is to have public employees, many of who are AFSCME members, working on the front-lines to ensure safe drinking water.