2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
December 21, 2017 - Introduced by Senators Cowles, Bewley, Larson, Miller,
Risser and Wirch, cosponsored by Representatives Mursau, Mason,
Anderson, Berceau, E. Brooks, Considine, Crowley, Doyle, Edming, Fields,
Hesselbein, Kitchens, Milroy, Novak, Ohnstad, Petryk, Pope, Riemer, Ripp,
Sargent, Shankland, Sinicki, Spreitzer, Subeck, Vruwink and Zepnick.
Referred to Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.
1An Act to renumber
16.75 (1) (a) 1. and 16.754 (3); to
2repeal and recreate
16.754 (title); and to create
16.24, 16.705 (1b) (e), 16.705 3
(10), 16.754 (2) (b) and 20.505 (4) (kc) of the statutes; relating to: establishing
4a Wisconsin conservation corps program, extending the time limit for
5emergency rule procedures, providing exemptions from emergency rule
6procedures, requiring the exercise of rule-making authority, and making an
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill creates a Wisconsin conservation corps (WCC) program to protect,
enhance, and provide access to Wisconsin's natural heritage and encourage and
enable young people to learn the value of work in a natural setting by providing
employment training and career pathways. The bill directs the Department of
Administration to administer and manage the program or to contract with a
nonprofit corporation, or an institution of higher education, that has demonstrated
experience in grant program administration (manager) to manage and administer
the program. The manager then provides grants to organizations that have
experience in natural resources conservation to engage, train, and supervise work
crews to carry out each project. The bill requires DOA to ensure that projects are
equally distributed across technical college districts to the greatest extent possible,
and to ensure that at least one project is located in each technical college district in
The bill provides that a WCC project must be designed to carry out a specific
goal within a defined period of time, must be focused on the conservation or
enjoyment of natural resources for environmental conservation, and must have a
specific, beneficial, and physical effect. The project must also be eligible for
AmeriCorps education award matching. Environmental conservation projects may
include new trail construction, trail rehabilitation, invasive species management,
bridge and boardwalk construction, reforestation, timber stand improvement,
stream bank stabilization, erosion control, rain garden installation, prairie
restoration, historical site preservation, recreation site maintenance, wild land fire
hazard reduction and fuels management, lake and stream restoration, boundary
marking, fencing, or landscaping.
A project may be sited only on public land in this state. The bill permits local
governments, institutions of higher education, or nonprofit corporations to sponsor
projects. A project application is then submitted to DOA. The application must
identify the proposed project and the sponsor of the project and provide a detailed
plan for the work on the project. In addition, the application must contain an
enumeration of the number of work crews that will work on the project and an
affirmation as to whether the work crew members would be eligible to participate in
a youth corps program administered by the National and Community Service Board
(NCSB), as well as a plan for training the work crew members, providing
transportation to the project work sites, making available individualized
educational opportunities for work crew members suited to the qualifications,
experience, and needs of the members while they are working on the projects; for
assisting work crew members in making full use of all benefits provided under such
a youth corps program if the project qualifies as a youth corps program; and for
visiting a college campus to familiarize the crew members with application and
enrollment procedures, programs, and course offerings.
The bill provides that each work crew member on a WCC project must be
between the ages of 16 and 25, and at least 50 percent of the work crew members on
each project must have no postsecondary education and have a family income of not
more than 200 percent of the federal poverty line on the date of their initial
The bill provides that, if the manager determines that an application is an
appropriate WCC project and that work crew members would be eligible under the
program, the manager must submit the application to NCSB for funding. The
manager must also submit the application to DOA for a grant. DOA may award a
grant for the project if the sponsor provides funding for the project in an amount that
is at least 50 percent of the amount of the grant. The bill also limits the
adminstrative costs associated with the grant to 10 percent of the grant amount.
The bill requires each sponsor of a WCC project to do both of the following: upon
completion of the project, erect a permanent plaque at each work site identifying the
site as a WCC project; and submit a report to DOA identifying the number of work
crew members who enrolled at a postsecondary institution upon completion of the
project and their status on the first anniversary of completion of the project.
The bill permits DOA to retain its manager and permits other state agencies
to engage a WCC crew on a project without complying with state procurement laws,
including requirements for public notice to and competitive solicitation of
contractors and limitations on the circumstances when contractual services may be
Finally, the bill requires DOA to submit an annual report to the legislature
identifying the projects that were completed in each year or that are in the process
of completion as of the end of that year.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
16.24 of the statutes is created to read:
216.24 Wisconsin conservation corps. (1) Establishment of program. 3
There is established the Wisconsin conservation corps program. The purpose of the 4
program is to protect, enhance, and provide access to Wisconsin's natural heritage 5
and encourage and enable young people to learn the value of work in a natural setting 6
by providing employment training and career pathways.
In this section:
(a) “College campus" means any university, college, and technical college 9
(b) “Local government" has the meaning given for “local governmental unit" in 11
s. 16.97 (7).
(c) “Nonprofit corporation" means a nonstock, nonprofit corporation described 13
under section 501
(c) (3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code that is exempt from the 14
federal income tax under section 501 (a) of that code and organized under the laws 15
of this state.
(d) “Project" means a planned undertaking of the Wisconsin conservation corps 17
for a sponsor to carry out a specific goal within a defined period of time that is focused
on the conservation or enjoyment of natural resources for environmental 2
conservation, that will have a specific, beneficial, and physical effect, and that is 3
eligible for AmeriCorps education award matching.
(e) “Sponsor" means a local government, university, college, technical college, 5
or nonprofit corporation that proposes to undertake a project.
(f) “Youth corps program" has the meaning given in s. 16.22 (1) (dm).
The department is the policy-making body of the 8
Wisconsin conservation corps program. The department shall promulgate rules 9
consistent with this section for the operation of the program.
10(4) Management and services.
The department may administer and manage 11
the Wisconsin conservation corps program or contract with a nonprofit corporation, 12
or an institution of higher education, that has demonstrated experience in grant 13
program administration to administer and manage the Wisconsin conservation 14
corps program. The manager shall submit all project applications to the department 15
for approval and shall facilitate the awarding of grants to applicants. An application 16
is eligible for approval if the applicant has demonstrated experience in natural 17
resources conservation and youth training or employment. An applicant shall retain 18
all work crew members under sub. (7), except that an applicant shall enroll any work 19
crew members who are participants in a youth corps program. The applicant shall 20
also train and supervise all work crews, provide educational programming for work 21
crews, and provide outreach and other communications services in accordance with 22
this section and the rules and directives of the department.
23(5) Project application; approval.
(a) Each project is subject to review and 24
approval by the department prior to commencement of work on the project. The 25
manager may submit an application to the department for approval of a proposed
project. Applications requesting a grant under sub. (8) (c) may be submitted directly 2
to the department. An application shall be in the form prescribed by the department 3
and shall include all of the following:
1. An identification of the project and the sponsor of the project, together with 5
a detailed plan for the work to be performed on the project.
2. An enumeration of the number of work crews that will work on the project, 7
an affirmation as to whether work crew members would be eligible to participate in 8
a youth corps program, and an affirmation that the work crew members will satisfy 9
the requirements under sub. (7).
3. A plan for training the work crew members, providing transportation to each 11
project work site, and making available individualized educational opportunities for 12
work crew members suited to the qualifications, experience, and needs of the 13
members while they are working on the project, and for assisting work crew members 14
who are participating in a youth corps program in making full use of all benefits 15
provided under the program.
4. A plan for the crew members to visit a college campus, at least once every 17
3 months while they are employed or enrolled to work on a project in order to 18
familiarize them with application and enrollment procedures, programs, and course 19
(b) The department shall approve applications for projects that are located in 21
at least one of each of the technical college districts in each year. To the greatest 22
extent practicable, the department shall ensure that projects are equally distributed 23
across technical college districts.
24(6) Scope of projects.
(a) Environmental conservation projects may include 25
new trail construction, trail rehabilitation, invasive species management, bridge
and boardwalk construction, reforestation, timber stand improvement, stream bank 2
stabilization, erosion control, rain garden installation, prairie restoration, historical 3
site preservation, recreation site maintenance, wild land fire hazard reduction and 4
fuels management, lake and stream restoration, boundary marking, fencing, or 5
(b) Each project shall be sited on land that is located in this state and owned 7
by the federal or state government or a local government.
8(7) Work crews.
The work crew members on a project shall constitute the 9
Wisconsin conservation corps. Each work crew shall have a crew leader. The 10
applicant shall determine the size of work crews. Each work crew member on a 11
project shall be between the ages of 16 and 25. At least 50 percent of the work crew 12
members on each project shall have no postsecondary education and shall have a 13
family income of not more than 200 percent of the poverty line, as defined in s. 49.001 14
(5), on the date of initial employment or enrollment.
15(8) Funding of projects.
(a) If the manager determines that a project proposed 16
in an application submitted under sub. (5) (a) is an appropriate project and that work 17
crew members on the project would be eligible to participate in a youth corps program 18
and satisfy the requirements under sub. (7), the manager shall submit the 19
application to the national and community service board for a grant under s. 16.22 20
(b) If an application for a grant is approved by the national and community 22
service board under s. 16.22 (2) (h), the manager shall accept the grant and shall use 23
the grant to assist the applicant and the sponsor in training the work crews.
(c) In addition to submitting the application to the national and community 25
service board under par. (a), the manager shall also submit the application to the
department for a grant from the appropriation account under s. 20.505 (1) (ch). The 2
department may award a grant for a proposed project in an amount that is no less 3
than $25,000 and no more than $75,000, if the sponsor provides funding for the 4
project in an amount that is at least 50 percent of the amount of the grant. The 5
cumulative amount of adminstrative costs charged by the department, the manager, 6
and the sponsor in connection with a grant awarded under this paragraph may not 7
exceed 10 percent of the amount of the grant.
8(9) Intergovernmental cooperation.
The department may, on behalf of the 9
manager, an applicant, or a sponsor, enter into a cooperative purchasing agreement 10
under s. 16.73 (1). The department may request cooperative assistance from other 11
state agencies in carrying out its program responsibilities as provided in s. 20.901 12
(1) (a). The department may enter into an intergovernmental service agreement 13
under s. 66.0301 on behalf of itself, the manager, an applicant, or a sponsor.
14(10) Responsibilities of sponsor.
Each sponsor of a Wisconsin conservation 15
corps project approved under this section shall do all of the following:
(a) Upon completion of the project, erect a permanent plaque at each project 17
work site identifying the site as a Wisconsin conservation corps project.
(b) Submit a report to the department identifying the number of work crew 19
members who enrolled at a technical college, a college campus of the University of 20
Wisconsin System, or any other postsecondary educational institution upon 21
completion of a project in which they were engaged and the status of each such work 22
crew member as of the first anniversary after completion of each project, including 23
whether the crew member has graduated from high school, has received a 24
declaration of equivalency of high school graduation, or is employed and if employed, 25
in what capacity.
1(11) Annual report.
Annually, no later than March 31, the department shall 2
submit a report to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature for distribution to 3
the legislature under s. 13.172 (2), identifying Wisconsin conservation corps projects 4
that were completed in the preceding year or that are in the process of completion 5
at the end of that year.
16.705 (1b) (e) of the statutes is created to read:
(e) The Wisconsin conservation corps program under s. 16.24 (4).
16.705 (10) of the statutes is created to read:
Subsections (2) to (9) do not apply to procurements by an agency 10
for contractual services to be performed by crew members as a part of a Wisconsin 11
conservation corps project.
16.75 (1) (a) 1. of the statutes is amended to read: