Senate Bill 281/Assembly Bill 353 attempts to fundamentally change cooperative organization in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin State Legislature is scheduled to vote on Senate Bill 281/Assembly Bill 353 tomorrow. These bills call for fundamental changes to the laws governing cooperatives in the state. In particular, the change in cooperative law will allow 20% of the seats on a cooperative board to be turned over to non-members, and will allow cooperatives to award voting power based on patronage, rather than the current one-member/one-vote rule. Cooperative boards would be able to be taken over by a small number of members in the cooperative rather than being run by the democratic model that has long ruled cooperatives in the state. 

Additionally the law change allows cooperatives to refuse member review of finances after three years, and allows co-ops to give more than an 8% return to capital investors. Co-ops are successful partly because they believe in retaining capital for growth and financial stability. It is partly the financial constraints on the cooperative model that have made cooperatives in the state successful. This bill is a wedge aimed at making co-ops more like other businesses - many of us in the co-op world would like to keep cooperatives functioning and prospering as they do now.

A flyer on these bills from the Wisconsin Farmer's Union is attached.  Please consider contacting your legislators on these bills.

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Published on

November 6, 2017

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