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WI Senate Bill 52 - 2023-24 Legislative Session
(Updated 3/8/2023) The Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) has reviewed Wisconsin Senate Bill 52. As the trade association representing over 1,500 snow and ice management companies in North America, SIMA is committed to best practices and professional development training for all professionals working in snow and ice management. We are aware of the negative impacts chlorides used for snow and ice melting have on freshwater sources and natural vegetation. Chlorides also are the most readily available and lowest cost option to enable access to important transportation for vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Additionally, chlorides are critically important in assisting in preventing slip and falls and vehicle accidents, which protects the public from harm.
Senate Bill 52 is intended to balance the interests of limiting the amount of chlorides entering freshwater sources while providing liability protection for trained and certified applicators. SIMA is in support of this legislation.
Wisconsin commercial salt applicators should consider the positive aspects of this proposed regulation. It largely replicates the regulation approved and established in New Hampshire in 2013, which offers both virtual education of best practices along with an annual Salt Symposium education program where applicators can renew their training certification. Some specific points in regards to the benefits of this legislation are:
This is a voluntary certification program. This is not mandatory, which gives commercial applicators the option to participate.
Liability protection for commercial applicators. The legislation reads “certified commercial applicator or an owner is not liable for damages arising from a hazard resulting from the accumulation of snow and ice on any real estate maintained by the certified commercial applicator when the hazard is caused solely by snow or ice and the certified commercial applicator used methods for snow and ice removal and deicer application that are taught in a training program approved by the department…” There are exceptions to this which appear reasonable as the language includes “gross negligence or willful or wanton disregard for the safety of entrants”, “intentionally injures”, or “fails to use methods…taught in a training program…”. Liability offered for certified and trained applicators who adhere to best practices is a positive step in reducing frivolous slip-and-fall claims related to snow and ice conditions.
Protection for fresh water. The use of rock salt for snow and ice melting has led to the salinization of surface water and groundwater. Access to fresh water is a critical component of Wisconsin’s economy, tourism, and quality of life. Creating legislation that promotes the best practices in salt application that balances environmental concerns with the need to protect the public makes sense.