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The Price of Compliance is Freedom

My husband, Brad, and I moved from Dane County to Waukesha County last June.  We moved to the Madison area for employment 30 years ago and are so glad to be back home near family and friends.  We’re having a lot of fun building a new home, something we never expected to be doing at our age.  Brad’s passion is building classic cars and he spends about 8 hours a day working on his latest project.  I can think of no better way for a soon-to-be 76-year-old retiree to spend his time.  It challenges the mind, requires a lot of “know how”, and produces endless hours of enjoyment.  He’s having a lot of fun creating a workspace that is exactly what he wants. 


Imagine our surprise when he was told by the HVAC specialist who is installing his heater that the thermostat cannot go above 50 degrees in his workshop.  My disbelieving husband had to confirm what he just heard and asked, “Are you telling me that if it’s 10 below zero in Wisconsin and I want to work in my garage, it can be no warmer than 50 degrees?”  Yes, he had heard that correctly.


This sent us in search of the Wisconsin Statute responsible for imposing this restriction.  We found it in the Administrative Rules of the Department of Safety and Professional Services (SPS) chapter entitled “Energy Conservation”.

In addition to the 14-page chapter, the SPS produced a 26 page “Commentary”, intended to explain the chapter.  It says, “The standards attempt to satisfy the human comfort needs of proper temperature, air movement and humidity as well as economical and building-preserving construction and operation.”  The chapter and the commentary are mostly incomprehensible to anyone who does not have extensive knowledge of HVAC.


If we ignore the greater lessons of our chance encounter with temperature restrictions in Wisconsin garages, we do so at our own peril.  In this one small example we catch our government at work unnecessarily interfering with our lives.

  • Many career employees at all levels of government spend their time generating countless regulations that someone thinks are good for us. The deep state at work.

  • It’s a safe bet many of the politicians who pass these laws have no idea what’s in them and don’t understand the unintended consequences of complying with them.

  • The cost of excessive regulation impacts businesses and individuals in the form of tangible material and operating costs as well as burdensome reporting requirements. Small businesses can lose their ability to turn a profit and large businesses pass along added cost to the consumer.  The chapter that contains the 50-degree limit is loaded with regulations for one and two-family homes.  It would be very illuminating to know how much these regulations have added to the cost of building a home.


Many elected officials have a tremendous appetite for controlling our lives.  The liberal “government knows what’s best for you” agenda has been gaining ground in recent years. Reasonable concern for safety too often gives way to a political agenda about how we ought to live.  Across the country we witness politicians attempting to dictate more about how we live from the things we can say, to the appliances we are allowed to use, to the cars we drive. Here at home, it should be obvious that no one would pay to heat a garage without a reason.  Building cars, woodworking, metal sculpting, pottery making, taxidermy, and endless other interests might lead a Wisconsin resident to heat a garage space in the bitter cold of winter. It’s none of the government’s business and outrageous that this is illegal.


Complying with unnecessary regulation costs Wisconsin’s citizens a lot more than money.  The price of compliance is freedom.

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