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Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight

Maintained by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), this page provides an overview of recent and upcoming activities in the Wisconsin Legislature. The LRB revises its content weekly during legislative floorperiods. Links to more detailed information are highlighted in the text.

The Week of June 29, 2009

With the signing of the biennial budget on June 29, the most recent legislative floorperiod has concluded. The next floor period will commence on September 15. The schedule of floorperiods for the 2009-2010 Legislative Session was established by 2009 Senate Joint Resolution 1.

Budget Bill – Assembly Bill 75

Budget Signing

The enrolled budget bill was presented to the Governor and signed into law on June 29, marking the first time since 1977 that the biennial budget was enacted before July 1, the date on which the new biennium begins. The signed budget bill became 2009 Wisconsin Act 28, and is available for viewing here. The text of the Governor’s budget address is available here, and the Governor’s veto message can be found here.

Conference Committee

A conference committee convened on June 24 to reach an agreement on the 2009-2010 biennial budget. Conference Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 was offered on June 25, and is available here. The amendment was adopted by the Senate on June 25, and concurred in by the Assembly on June 26. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s Comparative Summary has been updated to include the Conference Amendment, and is available here. Other budget-related publications can be viewed here. For more general information on how the state budget process works, LFB published an Informational Paper on the subject.

Senate Action

The Senate introduced the Joint Committee on Finance version of the budget as Senate Substitute Amendment 1. The Senate adopted SSA-1 as amended by Senate Amendments 1 and 17 on Thursday, June 17, by a vote of 17-16. Legislative Fiscal Bureau summaries of these actions are available.

Senate Joint Resolution 41, requesting a conference committee on the budget was introduced on June 16. However, the Senate's Wednesday June 17 session, which passed the budget, was not adjourned, but stands in recess until Tuesday, June 23. The Senate's concurrence on AB-75 as amended has not been messaged to the Assembly.

Assembly Action

After meeting all week in caucus, introducing and debating amendments, the Assembly met on Friday, June 12, to vote on the budget. The bill passed 50 to 48, as amended by Assembly Amendment 122 to Assembly Substitute Amendment 1.

JCF Action

After a marathon session on May 28 and 29, the Joint Committee on Finance completed work on the 2009-10 budget and passed it by a 12-4 vote. The budget passed by JCF, Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to Assembly Bill 75, includes increased taxes on cigarettes, oil companies, and the state’s highest earners. It also cuts funding for local governments, schools, and state agencies. The state is facing a deficit of $6.6 billion through the next biennium.

Guides to the Budget Process

The LRB Library staff recommend these titles to help readers follow the state budget as it works its way through Wisconsin's legislative process. The Library's own Tap the Power bibliography, Executive Budget Support Documentation summarizes the publications produced by state agencies, the Governor's State Budget Office and the Legislature during the budget process. (The bibliography was issued before AB-75 was introduced and some titles refer to 2007/2009 budget documents but most titles and call numbers remain the same for 2009/2011 budget documents.) The State Budget Process / Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau (2009) (Informational Paper #70) describes how budget bills are introduced and enacted. The first section is a general overview. A detailed Appendix I discusses various exceptional circumstances. Additional appendices offer sample charts and graphs from the previous budget session to describe how appropriations and expenditures are distributed across the state. For a historical perspective on the state budget process, every two years the LRB publishes the Executive Budget Bills Enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature, 1931-2007 (Wisconsin Brief 07-8). This brief contains a chart showing the dates when each stage in the budget process was reached for every biennium since 1931

Other Budget News

On May 11, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that it now believes that general fund tax revenues will be lower than January’s estimates by $408 million in 2008-09, $573 million in 2009-10, and $622 million in 2010-11. The three-year reduction is $1,603 million, or approximately -4.3%.

On May 21, the Doyle administration announced additional proposals for reductions in state spending to offset the projected shortfall:

The above proposals are expected to yield an additional $1.629 billion in savings.

On May 13, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald said that assembly legislative staff will be put on furlough for 16 days over the next two years to match the order by Governor Doyle for executive branch employees. Representatives Sheridan and Fitzgerald also announced they will each return 16 days of their legislative pay to the state treasury, as the governor previously said he would do.

Recently Signed Into Law

John Doe Proceedings

Senate Bill 51, signed into law by Governor Doyle as 2009 Wisconsin Act 24 on June 12, relates to John Doe proceedings. The bill passed the Senate on March 23, and was concurred in as amended by the Assembly on April 28. The Senate concurred in the amendments on May 13. The new law affects judicial discretion in John Doe proceedings and offers compensation for legal representation of public employees in John Doe proceedings.

State School Aid

Senate Bill 232, signed into law by Governor Doyle as 2009 Wisconsin Act 23 on June 11, relates to the payment of state school aid in June 2009. The bill passed both houses on June 11 and was immediately presented to the Governor. The passage of the bill allows state aid payments to utilize federal stimulus funds.

Car Doors

Senate Bill 29, signed into law by Governor Doyle as 2009 Wisconsin Act 22 on June 8, places liability on car drivers for opening motor vehicle doors into traffic lanes.

Employment Discrimination

Senate Bill 20, signed into law by Governor Doyle as 2009 Wisconsin Act 20 on June 8, authorizes circuit courts to order a person who engages in discrimination in employment to pay compensatory and punitive damages and a surcharge.

Child Safety Alarms in Child Care Vehicles

On May 29, Governor Doyle signed Senate Bill 141 into law as 2009 Wisconsin Act 19. The law requires certain vehicles that transport children to and from a child care provider to have child safety alarms installed. The alarm system prompts the driver of a child care vehicle to inspect the vehicle for children before exiting. The law was written in response to incidents of children dying after being left alone in child care vehicles.

A list of enacted legislation from the 2009 session can be viewed at:

Bills Passed and Messaged

Hunting Age

Senate Bill 167, introduced on April 14, lowers the minimum hunting age from 12 years of age to 10 years of age for persons who hunt under the hunting mentorship program established in the bill. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 27-6 and was immediately messaged on June 9. The Assembly concurred in the bill as amended by Assembly Amendment 1 on June 18.

Recent Bill Introductions

Several bills from the Legislative Council's Special Committee on Emergency Management and Continuity of Government were introduced recently:

Also introduced recently:

Assembly Bill 321, requiring salary increases for state elected officials to be enacted by law.

Assembly Bill 324, prohibiting impersonation of a fire fighter, an emergency medical technician, or a first responder.

Senate Bill 233, creating an individual income tax checkoff for the Special Olympics in Wisconsin.

Passenger Rail for Wisconsin — News from the LRB Library

The possibility for bringing high-speed rail to Wisconsin is more likely since the Obama administration formally introduced its Vision for High-Speed Rail in America plan. The strategic plan includes a high-speed rail line through Wisconsin from Chicago to the Twin Cities. This plan could complement initiatives for a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) proposed by the Legislative Council Study Committee on Regional Transportation Authority and dovetail plans included in the 2009-11 state budget to study potential passenger rail routes. For further information about other rail options, see also the LRB's Light Rail and Commuter Rail Tap the Power bibliography from September 2007.

Committee Activity

The Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics will meet on June 30 for both a public hearing on Assembly Bill 304, which would prohibit felons from acting as lobbyists, and an executive session on Assembly Bill 245, which would regulate lobbyist activity by former legislators.

See the Schedule of Committee Activities to view the full monthly calendar and details on times and locations of committee meetings.

Recent Publications

The Legislative Reference Bureau recently issued the following publications:

The LRB is on Twitter

You can now access updates from the LRB on Twitter, including information on new LRB publications, new acquisitions by the LRB Library, and general information about the legislature, and the current legislative session. To find the LRB on Twitter, go to:

LRB Podcasts

The LRB has also released a new Podcast about the online library catalog system (LRBCat) and one about Conflict in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Recent Publications by Other Legislative Service Agencies

Blue Book Study Guides

Two Informational Bulletins were also issued by the LRB as companions to the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Blue Book: Informational Bulletin 07-1, “A Study Guide to the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Blue Book,” and Informational Bulletin 07-2, “Inside the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Blue Book.”

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Last revised: November 08, 2012