A bi-partisan measure that would give nineteen cities and villages, including Beloit, Janesville, Whitewater and Fort Atkinson the option to adopt a residency requirement for their city or village manager has been unanimously approved by a Senate Committee.
Senate Bill 335, authored by Senators Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) and Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and co-authored by Representative Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) would allow local government who utilize the manager form of government to decide if they if they wish to establish a residency requirement.
“We want to give the cities and villages that hire a city manager the flexibility to decide for themselves if they want to establish a residency requirement,” said Senator Ringhand said. “I believe that local governments understand what’s best for their community rather than a one size fits all mandate.”
“Throughout my time in the State Assembly, I have been a strong advocate for local control,” Rep. Spreitzer said. “SB 345 is about restoring control to local governments and allowing communities to decide for themselves if residency of their city manager is important and what works best.”
The bill is permissive and would only apply the hiring of a city manager. No city or village would be required to adopt residency requirements under the bill. It would not apply to a city administrator, police, fire or other government employees.
A public hearing on the bill was held by the committee on August 10 with the City of Beloit and the Wisconsin League of Municipalities testifying in favor. The bill has bi-partisan co-sponsorship in both houses of the legislature.
The bill was unanimously endorsed by the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government and is now available for final passage in the State Senate. A companion to SB 345, Assembly Bill 421 has been introduced and referred to the Assembly Committee on State Affairs.