I'm not offering any opinion on the constitutionality of Gov. Walker's proposed bill exempting a parcel of land in Brown County from certain wetlands regulations. But there have been some misstatements in the blogosphere.
Blogging lawyer Mike Plaisted notes what he refers to as the state constitution's prohibition of private and local bills. Mike admits that he's a bit rusty on this. After all, he practices criminal law. But the thing is that there is no such general "prohibition" and certainly not in the provision that he cites. Art. IV, sec. 18 simply states that "[n]o private or local bill which may be passed by the legislature shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title." In other words, you can pass such a law in a single subject properly titled bill. (There is another provision, Art. IV, sec. 31, that does purport to prohibit certain type of special and private bills but it isn't applicable here.) Art. IV, sec. 18 is a procedural requirement, not a substantive prohibition.
Of course, Governors and legislatures have run circles around the requirement of a single subject, properly titled bill for years and it is often done as part of the budget bill. There are perfectly legal ways to do so. Mike seems to think this is a Republican trick. Actually, it's been a trick of whoever has power.
Exempting this project from the normal adminstrative review process reminded me, not of the Court of Appeals case that Mike refers to, but of Tony Earl's effort to place a prison in the Menomonee Valley. In that instance, the legislature exempted the project from normal environmental review and the Supreme Court stopped it, albeit on equal protection grounds.
As for the merits of "destroying wetlands," I can only say this. I am not an environmental lawyer but I have represented enough clients on developments to know that what the DNR thinks is a wetland would not necessarily be recognized as such by the rest of us and that wetlands protection in Wisconsin can approach a fetish as can the desire to protect things like suspected snake habitats. You may notice that large vacant parcels awaiting development are often farmed. There is a reason for that which has nothing to do with the desire to earn a few bucks while waiting for a buyer.