At a public hearing today before the Wisconsin Senate’s Committee on Elections and Local Government, Near West Side Partners, along with representatives of its anchor institutions, offered its support for SB528, legislation that will help save taxpayer resources, reduce crime and promote economic development in Milwaukee.
“On behalf of Near West Side Partners, we thank Senator Alberta Darling, and Representative Evan Goyke and the other co-sponsors for introducing this important legislation,” said Keith Stanley, Executive Director of Near West Side Partners, Inc. “We greatly appreciated the opportunity to testify before the Committee on Elections and Local Government and share our support for this legislation, which will meet a critical need in Milwaukee’s Near West Side and many other neighborhoods around the City.”
One of the biggest impediments to economic development in the Near West Side has been several chronic nuisance properties that have served as magnets for criminal activity. One of the biggest offenders has been tobacco retail shops that hide behind a loophole in the law to remain in business, despite creating significant negative impacts on their neighborhood, promoting criminal activity and consuming tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of taxpayer resources.
“Under current law, poorly managed retail businesses have been able to hide behind their tobacco license to keep the business afloat – despite becoming a drain on police resources and contributing to crime and disorder in the community,” said Stanley. “SB528 will close this loophole, saving police resources, improving safety and promoting economic development in our neighborhoods.”
Modeled after the law governing alcohol licenses, SB528 would provide local control for the City of Milwaukee to suspend, revoke or refuse to renew the license of a tobacco products retailer if the business is knowingly permitting criminal behavior, facilitating drug sales and or permitting or promoting other specified public nuisances on its property. The proposed legislation does not limit the number of tobacco licenses.
“We believe SB528 is sensible, pro-business legislation that levels the playing field for responsible operators,” said Stanley.
Stanley was joined by representatives from each of the five anchor institutions in the Near West Side – Aurora Health Care, Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, Miller Coors and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation – who all voiced their support for the legislation.