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On Wednesday, April 8 Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Assembly Bill 11, repealing an outdated requirement that has been troublesome for newspaper publishers.
The law eliminates the newspaper recycling fee, as well as the minimum percentage requirement of post-consumer waste content in newsprint, which has become a burden to Wisconsin publishers due to the fact that recycled newsprint is either incredibly expensive or simply unavailable.
The removal of this requirement allows newsprint to be utilized to produce more valuable items, such as cereal boxes and cellulose insulation.
“AB 11 is a common sense law that will protect Wisconsin-based, small town publishers and ensure they can continue their work for the community without burdensome restrictions.” said Rep. Mary Czaja (R-Irma), who authored the bill along with Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls).
“Complying with the recycled newsprint content mandate has proven costly and challenging as technology and recycling practices have advanced to provide more effective markets for recycled newsprint,” Harsdorf said. “I am pleased that the State Legislature and Governor have acted to eliminate this obsolete requirement and unnecessary burden on Wisconsin-based newspaper publishers.”
Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) was a co-sponsor of the bill. Novak was elected to the position last year after spending 25 years as government and assistant editor of the Dodgeville Chronicle. It was his first bill signed into law since being elected.
“It put icing on the cake to the end of a long newspaper career,” Novak said. “I’m glad to help the industry, I understand the industry and I’ll always be a friend of the industry. I’m here if they need anything.”
The bill was passed by the Assembly on a voice vote Feb. 12 and concurred on by the Senate via a voice vote March 17. The bill is Act 7.
The legislation was initiated by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association on behalf of its members.
“Many thanks go to the bill’s lead sponsors, Rep. Mary Czaja and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf for taking on this effort on behalf of the Wisconsin newspaper industry,” said Beth Bennett, executive director of the WNA. “Thanks also to our members for their support of WNA’s efforts to repeal the recycling reporting/fee statute, as well as co-sponsors Reps. Novak, Ballweg, Bernier, Jarchow, Kleefisch, Knodl, Knudson, Macco, Mursau, Murtha, A. Ott, Sanfelippo, Skowronski, Steffen, Thiesfeldt and Zepnick and Sens. Gudex, LeMahieu, Tiffany, Marklein, Lasee, Olsen, Bewley and L. Taylor.”
WNA’s membership includes 31 daily and 191 weekly newspapers. The WNA was established in 1853 and is among the oldest press associations in the world. Created by and for Wisconsin’s newspapers, WNA exists to strengthen the newspaper industry, enhance public understanding of the role of newspapers, and protect basic freedoms of press, speech and the free flow of information.