The Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight provides an overview of recent and upcoming activities in the Wisconsin Legislature. The Legislative Reference Bureau revises its content weekly. Links to more detailed information are highlighted in the text.

The Week of August 24, 2015

The Wisconsin Legislature's 2015-2016 legislative session began on January 5, 2015. The schedule of floorperiods is established by Senate Joint Resolution 1. The most recent regular floorperiod, scheduled to last until budget passage, has been adjourned; the extraordinary session convened as of July 7 to take up the budget bill, the Bucks Arena proposal, as well as several other proposals, has also been adjourned. The Legislature is not scheduled to return to the floor until September.

For daily updates on Wisconsin politics in the news, please see our Capitol Headlines page.

Recent Legislative Action

John Doe Investigations

On August 20, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary held an executive session on 2015 Assembly Bill 68, related to John Doe proceedings. Among the changes proposed to current law, the bill would limit the length of such proceedings to six months, generally limit the crimes that may be investigated to certain felonies in the criminal code, limit the application of secrecy orders to the judge, the prosecuting attorney, law enforcement, and court reporters and interpreters, and make records on the costs of John Doe proceedings a matter of public record. The committee voted 5-3 to recommend the bill for passage. Its companion bill, Senate Bill 43, was recommended for passage by a Senate committee in March.

Judicial Council Criminal Code Revisions

Also on August 20, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held a joint public hearing on companion bills,  2015 Assembly Bill 90 and Senate Bill 82, introduced at the request of the Judicial Council that would reorganize and revise the criminal procedure code, which comprises Chapters 967 through 979 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The Judicial Council began studying the revisions in May of 1992.

Fetal Tissue

2015 Assembly Bill 305, introduced on August 7, would generally prohibit the sale and use of fetal body parts derived from an induced abortion. A public hearing on the bill was held on August 11 by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and submitted testimony is available from the Legislative Council's website. Archived video of the hearing is available at WisconsinEye.

Recently Signed

Bucks Arena

On August 12, the governor signed 2015 Senate Bill 209 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 60. The law creates funding for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team. The Assembly approved the bill on July 28 by a 52-34 vote, with 8 votes paired. The Senate approved the bill on July 15, by a vote of 21-10.

As of Friday, August 14, the governor has signed 60 bills into law from the current session.

A list of enrolled bills that are ready to be sent to the governor is updated regularly.

Taskforces Created

On August 4, Assembly Speaker Vos announced the formation of three taskforces with bipartisan membership. These include the Speaker's Taskforce on Alzheimer's and Dementia, the Taskforce on Urban Education and the Taskforce on Youth Workforce Readiness. Each taskforce is assigned a Republican chair and a Democratic vice chair, and has been asked to work with community experts and members affected by each of the taskforce issues. In addition, each taskforce will recommend legislation to the Assembly.

Recently Introduced Proposals

2015 Senate Joint Resolution 47, introduced on August 20, calls for an advisory referendum as to whether the Legislature should adopt a nonpartisan system for redistricting. The referendum would be held at the 2016 general election.

2015 Senate Bill 231, introduced on August 20, relates to conveying interests in local government land for construction of natural gas lines.

A list of recently introduced proposals is available at the Legislature's 2015 documents site.

Special Election in September

The governor has issued Executive Order #171 declaring a special election in the 99th Assembly District, Senator Kapenga's former seat, to be held on Tuesday, September 29. A primary election will be held on September 1. More information is available at the Government Accountability Board's Web site.

Committee Activity

As of Friday, August 21, the committees that have scheduled public hearings for this week include the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, which will hold a hearing on Tuesday, as well as the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

Resources from the LRB Library

The library recommends the following resources:

  • “Evidence-Based Decision Making.” Wisconsin Counties 78, no. 8 (August 2015): 22-32. (352.9 W75 2015 v.79 no.8)
  • National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2014: With Special Feature on Adults Aged 55-64. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics, 2015. (614 X1)
  • Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. MunicipalFacts 15: Finances and Demography in 244 Wisconsin Cities & Villages. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, 2015. (Ref. 352.2 W751c, previous years also available)

Recent Publications

For information about legislative service agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.

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Last revised: August 28, 2015