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Conflict of interest charges in environmental bill before Assembly

RACINE - A state lawmaker is getting complaints about his bill to make Wisconsin government buildings use environmentally-friendly cleaning products and procedures.

Bill Folk, head of the Racine County Republican Party, said Assembly Democrat Cory Mason got help in writing the bill by a former Democratic lawmaker who now owns a company that would benefit from the law. Jeff Neubauer of Racine owns Kranz Incorporated, which distributes the green cleaning items Mason wants to require in state-and-local government halls and schools.

Folk says it's wrong for a lobbyist to write a bill that would benefit his business. But Neubauer says the bill would not give his firm an undue advantage over others. And Mason said he was just looking for help in drafting a bill he says would make public buildings healthier - and is good public policy. Mason said he also had another cleaning products firm, Johnson Diversey of Racine, help him write the bill.

Illinois and several other states also require government buildings to use environmentally friendly cleaning methods. Mason says he's re-working his bill after others raised concerns. He says it would give schools more flexibility - and some could opt-out if the change is more expensive.