Wisconsin Department of Commerce Newsletter
July 2004
Public Hearing Held On Comm 14.02

The Department protects public health, safety, and welfare by promulgating rules for and administering fire inspection and prevention programs. Those programs include a Fire Dues program which is funded by fees from insurance companies, and which provides annual grants to city, village, and town fire departments for performing fire inspection and prevention services. Under sections 101.573 (5) and 101.574 (4) (a) 1. of the statutes, as established in 2003 Wisconsin Act 219, the Department is required to promulgate rules that:

(1) define its "administrative expenses" in the Fire Dues program, and
(2) define the "substantial compliance" that the Department looks for in determining whether a local unit is eligible for a grant from the Fire Dues program. The complete rules can be found under sections 101.14, 101.141, 101.573, and 101.575 of the Wisconsin statutes,

On July 28, 2004, the Department held a public Hearing on proposed definitions of these two terms, in section Comm 14.02. The proposed definitions would:

(1) codify the Department's current designation of which of its expenses are administrative expenses and
(2) extend the Department's current practice of looking for "substantial compliance," to also apply to determinations of whether local units annually inspect enough public buildings and places of employment, for fire prevention purposes. This extension would not reduce the current duty of local units to annually inspect 100 percent of public buildings and places of employment, but would provide more flexibility in determining whether that duty has been met, so as to establish eligibility for a Fire Dues grant.

The Hearing comments have been summarized for discussion with the Department's Comm 14 Advisory Committee, at a meeting in late August.

The next formal step in promulgating these rule changes is to forward a final draft of the rules and a summary of the Hearing comments to standing committees in the Senate and Assembly, which is expected to occur by September 1.

The proposed rules are currently projected to take effect on or before February 1, 2005.

-- Sam Rockweiler

The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.

Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.

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