Wisconsin Legislature moves to protect access to gas-powered vehicles

FILE PHOTO - Gas pump.
FILE PHOTO - Gas pump.(MGN)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 7:59 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:49 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Senate gave final approval to bills Wednesday that would protect access to gas-powered vehicles, snow blowers, lawnmowers and other machines.

The Republican-controlled Assembly passed the measures in April, with all Democrats objecting, and the Senate also passed them along party lines on Wednesday. It is now up to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to sign the bills into law or veto them. He said in April that he didn’t believe a ban on gas engines was necessary for the state to slowly transition to electric vehicles, suggesting he may not consider prohibiting such bans necessary either.

The bills seek to outlaw measures similar to a California statute passed last year that requires all new cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state run on electricity or hydrogen by 2035. Democrats have said they had no plans to pursue a gas-engine ban in Wisconsin and accused the bill sponsors of fear-mongering.

The Senate also passed a bill Wednesday that would prohibit state and local governments from restricting utility service based on the energy source, such as natural gas. The 22-11 vote along party lines sends the bill to the Assembly.

Republican proponents and other backers, including the state chamber of commerce and energy companies, said the measure was needed to prevent any type of ban in Wisconsin like those discussed in other states. The state of New York will begin prohibiting natural gas stoves and furnaces in most new buildings starting in 2026.

The environmental group Wisconsin Conservation Voters told lawmakers last month that the measure “is at best a solution in search of a problem” given that no community in Wisconsin or the state itself is attempting to ban any type of fuel.