County Board passes resolution to take over taxicab regulation, despite state laws prohibiting county from doing so

Apparently state laws are inconsequential to the those members of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors who passed a resolution that would give Milwaukee County the authority to regulate taxicabs in the county.

The board approved a resolution that calls for the county to “negotiate” but essentially dictate its takeover of regulating cabs from the city. A bemused Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele vetoed the measure, stating that the  “clear, plain language of the state statutes vests the authority to regulate and license taxicabs with cities, villages and towns.” Undaunted, the board voted 14-4 to override Abele’s veto.

The board did not seek a legal opinion from the county corporation counsel on this issue, but instead went by the opinion of the measure’s key supporter, Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan Jr., who assured his colleagues that the provision would encounter no legal problems.

Last week, City Attorney Grant Langley issued an legal opinion echoing Abele and concluding that “such an agreement would not be legal or enforceable.” Wisconsin Statutes 349.24 “provides only that cities, villages and towns in the State of Wisconsin may regulate and license taxicabs and taxicab operators.”

Nor can the city “bargain away” its power to regulate taxis. Langley cites a 1964 court case, City of Milwaukee v. Milwaukee Amusement, Inc., which concluded that once such power is given to a municipal or other public corporation, it “cannot in any manner be contracted away or otherwise granted, delegated, diminished, divided or limited by the corporation.”

As noted by Bruce Murphy, Sup. Weishan’s response to Grant Langley’s opinion that Milwaukee County cannot take over taxicab regulation was to say that County Executive Chris Abele should now lobby the Legislature to change the law.

Putting the cart way ahead of the horse? Yep, the Milwaukee County Board of supervisors is good at that!


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1 thought on “County Board passes resolution to take over taxicab regulation, despite state laws prohibiting county from doing so

  1. …and after that legal opinion was issued, they brought a brand new resolution to committee asking to grant an extension of time for the City Council to have until June 2014 to negotiate with the County. When I asked if this resolution was written before or after Langley opined for the city, they said “after.” It passed committee 6-1 and goes to the full board in early February.

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