State Lawmakers to Take up Proposal on Workforce Housing, Lead Removal

Both the Wisconsin Senate and Assembly plan to meet in floor sessions on Tuesday — one of only a handful of days the state Legislature is expected to be in session in 2020.

Several bills before the Senate and Assembly could lead to work for contractors. Among them are proposals to encourage the construction of affordable housing in Wisconsin, rid child-care centers of lead and let architects keep their professional credentials after retirement.

One proposal before the state Assembly would set aside $10 million to encourage the construction of affordable housing in rural areas.

So-called workforce housing is one source of construction demand that’s still struggling to recover from the recession more than a decade ago. The lack of these sorts of developments has caused frustration for employers in rural places and been blamed for the fact that rent prices have risen at a faster pace than wages in recent years.

The legislation, Assembly Bill 544, would direct the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to establish a $10 million fund to support affordable housing projects in rural Wisconsin.

The state Senate will separately take up legislation passed out of committee earlier this month to require child-care centers to rid themselves of water sources tainted with lead.

It’s part of a pair of bills called the SCHOOL Acts — an acronym standing for  Supporting Children’s Health Ousting Outdated Lead. The proposals would require school districts and private child-care centers to identify and remove lead pipes and similar infrastructure. The bills come after lawmakers have been grappling for months with how to deal with widespread lead contamination.