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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 December 21, 2009

Special Session on December 16

Governor Jim Doyle, in Executive Order #305, has called the legislature to meet in special session beginning on Wednesday, December 16. He directs the legislature to consider bills to address the needs of the students of the Milwaukee Public Schools, specifically Senate Bill 405 and Assembly Bill 534.

Extraordinary Session Met December 16

The Senate and Assembly met in extraordinary session on December 16, concurrent with the special session called by the governor. On the agenda is Senate Bill 66, a bill to revise OWI laws and penalties. The Assembly amended the bill and concurred in it as amended by a vote of 93-1, and the Senate concurred in the amendment unanimously, 33-0. The bill was enrolled on December 17 and will be available for the governor's consideration.

The next scheduled floorperiod for the Wisconsin Legislature is January 19 to 28, 2010. The schedule of floorperiods for the 2009-2010 Legislative Session was established by 2009 Senate Joint Resolution 1.

Recently Enacted Laws

Housing Discrimination Because of Domestic Abuse Status Prohibited

On Friday, December 11, Governor Doyle signed 2009 Senate Bill 204 into law as 2009 Wisconsin Act 95. The act prohibits discrimination in housing because of domestic abuse victim status.

U-Turns and Passing on Shoulders

On Friday, December 11, Governor Doyle signed 2009 Senate Bill 278 into law as 2009 Wisconsin Act 97. The act removes the general limitation on U-turns at intersections controlled by traffic control signals. It also prohibits making U-turns on a curve or near the crest of a grade on an undivided highway where visibility is limited, and making U-turns when unsafe or when the U-turn would interfere with traffic.

Act 97 also reverses the Wisconsin Court of Appeals decision in Kaufman v. Postle, 2001 WI App 86, 26 N.W. 2d 10, in which the court determined that the statutes prohibited a motorist from passing a left-turning vehicle on the right by use of a paved shoulder. This bill reverses that decision by specifically allowing a motorist to pass a left-turning vehicle on the right by use of either the roadway or a paved shoulder.

Teaching Labor History in Schools

On Friday, December 11, Governor Doyle signed 2009 Assembly Bill 172 into law as 2009 Wisconsin Act 99. The act requires instruction in the public schools on the history of organized labor in America and the collective bargaining process.

"Impartial Justice" Bill

On Tuesday, December 1, Governor Doyle signed 2009 Senate Bill 40 into law as 2009 Wisconsin Act 89 with a partial veto. The bill relates to public financing of campaigns for the office of supreme court justice. The bill establishes public financing by creating a financing option and two supplemental grants for a candidate. In his veto message, Governor Doyle stated that he believed his veto of section 17 of the act aligned the bill with its original intent.

Puppy Mill Bill

The governor also signed 2009 Assembly Bill 250 on December 1, creating 2009 Wisconsin Act 90. It requires certain dog breeders (generally, those who sell 25 or more dogs a year) and animal shelters to be licensed by the state. The bill passed both houses unanimously. Licensing laws will take effect in 18 months.

Child Welfare

2009 Wisconsin Act 81 relates to the placement of children and Act 82 relates to child abuse prevention grants.

2009 Wisconsin Act 92 (SB-349) permits a minor 12 years of age or older to be employed without a work permit by a nonprofit organization in and around the home of an elderly person or a person with a disability to perform snow shoveling, lawn mowing, leaf raking, or other similar work.

2009 Wisconsin Act 94, signed by Governor Doyle on December 8, conforms Wisconsin law with the Federal Indian Child Welfare Act in areas such as Indian child custody proceedings and legal actions regarding children in need of protection or services (CHIPS). The original bill, SB-288, sponsored by Senators Jauch and Holperin, was passed by both houses in October.

As of December 11, Governor Doyle has signed 99 bills into law. There are 2 enrolled bills awaiting gubernatorial action. On December 10, all enrolled bills not yet called for by the governor were sent to him by the chief clerks pursuant to the 2009 session schedule.

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

Other enrolled bills may be viewed by using the Enrolled Bills database in the "Searchable Infobase" section of the Wisconsin Legislature Web site.

Recent Bill Introductions

Committee Activity

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Coverage

On December 22, the Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue will consider 2009 Senate Bill 362 relating to health insurance coverage of nervous and mental disorders, alcoholism, and other drug abuse problems.

Medical Marijuana

On December 15, the Assembly Public Health Committee and Senate Health Committee conducted a combined public hearing on 2009 Senate Bill 368 and 2009 Assembly Bill 554, relating to the medical use of marijuana and the regulation of marijuana distribution organizations.

State Symbols

The Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Homeland Security conducted a public hearing on 2009 Assembly Bill 596, relating to designating the Harley-Davidson as the state motorcycle. Also under consideration is a related bill in the Senate, 2009 Senate Bill 394. In addition, 2009 Assembly Bill 556 would designate a state bacterium.

Through the years, the Wisconsin Legislature has designated 21 state symbols. Current Wisconsin state symbols can be viewed in the 2009-2010 Wisconsin Blue Book. Click to see the symbols gallery.

Previous editions of the Wisconsin Blue Book specifically featured symbols. Within an article in the 1942 Blue Book, "Your State--Wisconsin", pages 224-229 featured information about and images of "State Emblems" at that period of time. "Go to page 224."

Within the 1958 Blue Book feature article, "Wisconsin in 1958", a section on "Wisconsin Symbols" (pages 73-77) describes: the name Wisconsin, State flag, State seal, Motto, Nickname, State tree, State flower, State bird, State fish, and State animal. Information is also provided about the song, "On Wisconsin", as well as about holidays and other observances which were recognized in 1958. "Go to page 73."

For times and locations of public hearings this week, see the Schedule of Committee Activities.

News from the LRB Library

Climate Change Resources

As world leaders meet in Copenhagen, the LRB library posted a Noteworthy Titles list on "Climate Change and the States."

Hmong Resettlement in Wisconsin

2009 Senate Bill 359 would require school boards to provide instruction about the recent history of Hmong people. The library recommends the following titles related to this subject.

Hmong Resettlement / Legislative Reference Bureau, June 2004 (updated December 2009). (Tap the Power bibliography)

Wisconsin's Hmong Resettlement Task Force Report to Governor Doyle / Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, 2005.

Sample curriculum materials on Hmong in Wisconsin available in the LRB Library:

2009-2010 Wisconsin Blue Book

The 2009-2010 Wisconsin Blue Book has been published. The Blue Book is available online and is available for purchase from Department of Administration Document Sales for $8.75 plus sales tax if picked up in person; for mail orders, add $3 to the total to cover shipping. The authors of the Blue Book feature article, "Wisconsin at the Frontiers of Astronomy: A History of Innovation and Exploration," were interviewed on Wisconsin Public Radio on November 11.

Recent Publications

For more information about Legislative Service Agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.

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Last revised: November 13, 2012