Hello Lake-Linkers, Paul Smith here at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Happy to report the efforts to restore the public's legal right to cross railroad tracks have had success in the Assembly. The Assembly passed AB 876 in the wee hours by a 59-43 vote.
Now it moves to the Senate, which has not held a hearing on its version of the bill, SB 734. It's been assigned to Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, chaired by Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and co-chaired by Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield). The other members of the committee are Senators Frank Lasee (R-De Pere), Fred Risser )D-Madison) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
Send these folks an email, especially Wanggaard and Vukmir, and urge them to hold a hearing on the bill.
The vote in the Assembly showed some bipartisan support and hopefully enough Legislators are aware of the good that this bill does, basically resetting state law the way it used to be and allowing better access to public property without compromising public safety.
At this point, there are four main steps left for the bill to get passed: Have a hearing in the Senate committee, get approved by the Senate committee, get approved by the full Senate and get signed into law by the governor.
Thanks and good fishing to you.
For your information, listed below is a press release sent out early this morning from the office of bill author Rep. Lee Nerison (R-Westby):
Railroad Crossing Bill Moves Ahead MADISON – Representative Lee Nerison, R-Westby, is pleased to report that the Wisconsin State Assembly passed on a bipartisan 59-34 vote his bill which allows pedestrians to walk directly across a clear stretch of railroad track or a railroad right-of-way without facing a fine for trespassing. Nerison authored Assembly Bill 876 in response to citizen concerns that strict enforcement of railroad trespass laws by BNSF would put hundreds of miles of Mississippi River shoreline off limits to hunters, anglers, trappers, and outdoor enthusiasts. In addition, Nerison points out that over 100 DNR properties are crossed by railroad tracks, effectively restricting access to public recreational areas throughout our state. He is concerned about a loss of tourism dollars and the discouragement of successive generations of outdoor enthusiasts if they must own land in order to develop their passion. “Wisconsin is fortunate to have significant, unique natural areas and public properties. For over 150 years, it was legal to cross a railroad track to enjoy them. That action became illegal in 2005 and it’s time to change the law back to what it was,” Nerison said. Now that the bill has passed the State Assembly, it moves to the State Senate for consideration. Should it pass the Senate, Governor Walker must sign the bill for it to become law. “I know that taking on the railroad companies is an uphill battle. But we’ve moved down the tracks, so to speak, in getting this through the Assembly. I thank everyone for the hard work and support and it’s time to focus on the Senate and Governor to get this sensible bill to become law,” Nerison said.