Senate schedules surprise vote on water privatization bill

On Monday, state Senate Republicans added AB 554, the controversial water privatization bill, to the Senate agenda for February 16 for debate and passage, with little notice.

AB 554 would enable municipal water utilities to be sold to private, out-of-state companies. Proponents of the bill claim this would allow struggling municipalities to maintain access to water for their residents, while opponents argue taking the water utilities out of public hands could be disastrous for quality control and create another Flint, Mich. Situation right here in Wisconsin.

No Wisconsin municipality requested the bill; rather, it was introduced at the behest of a private company called Aqua America, looking to move into the Wisconsin market.

The Wisconsin League of Municipalities, which originally supported the bill, withdrew its support last week.