The Overpass Light Brigade held a protest rally on Bradford Beach at Milwaukee’s Lakefront on January 26, to bring visibility to the latest controversial legislation under debate in Madison.

Assembly Bill 554 allows any Wisconsin municipality to sell its local water and sewer utility without requiring a public vote. The Bill would essentially privatize public water supplies. The only provision for review is if local citizens file a complicated petition.

A vote on Bill 554 was accelerated to an earlier date, because of growing political fall-out. In its call for a protest, the Overpass Light Brigade stated, “Rather than listen to constituents, these legislators are trying to ram it through as soon as possible, with as little notice as possible.”

Senator Chris Larson also started a petition to collect public support against the measure that is rapidly working its way through the Wisconsin State Legislature.

“I am opposed to Senate Bill 432 and any efforts that threaten our water. We’ve seen what can happen when we turn over public goods for private profit. It seldom turns out well for us in the public,” said Senator Larson in a statement.

Assembly Bill 554 (AB554) has already passed through the State Assembly, having cleared the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities with only three of the five Democrats voting against it. All of the Republican representatives have endorsed the Bill. It now goes through the Senate Workforce Development Committee as Senate Bill 432 (SB432).

“These Bills make it easier for non-Wisconsin water barons and corporations to buy our water, while making it harder for the public to oppose. Stripping away local water control led to the tragedies in Flint, Michigan. We have a right to clean and safe drinking water,” said Lane Hall in a public statement.