The Week of December 7, 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 ended on Thursday, November 5, and the Senate and Assembly called themselves into extraordinary session to finish work on their fall agenda.

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

Signed into Law

Lambeau Field Tax Revenue

On Monday, November 30, the governor signed 2015 Senate Bill 233 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 114. The law will return excess revenue collected from the Lambeau Field Stadium District tax. The money will be distributed to Brown County and its municipalities.

As of Thursday, December 3, the governor has signed 114 bills into law from the current session.

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

Sen. Gudex Not Seeking Reelection

Senator Richard Gudex (R- Fond du Lac) of the 18th District has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2016. Senator Gudex was elected in 2012 and currently serves as President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

Campaign Finance and the GAB

GAB Reorganization

On November 16, the Assembly met to concur in Senate amendments to 2015 Assembly Bill 388, which replaces the Government Accountability Board (GAB) with an ethics commission and an elections commission. Senate Amendment 2 replaces the proposed members who would have been county or municipal clerks with two members who formerly served as judges. The more extensive Senate Amendment 1 makes changes related to how the chairperson and the administrator of the commissions are chosen. It also provides that the members appointed by legislative leadership and the governor can serve in a nonvoting capacity beginning on February 2016. The amendment also allows members of the relevant Senate and Assembly standing committees to call employees of the current GAB before them to ascertain the progress of the transition. The Assembly concurred in SA-1 on a vote of 58-37. Senate Amendment 2 was concurred in on a vote of 56-37. Five Assembly amendments were tabled during debate. The bill will now go to the governor for enactment.

Campaign Finance

The Assembly also concurred in a Senate amendment to 2015 Assembly Bill 387 on November 16, which rewrites the current laws on campaign finance. Senate Amendment 1 makes several changes. It lowers the threshold for triggering the registration of a Political Action Committee (PAC) or Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC) from $5,000 to $2,500. It also changes the ongoing reporting by such committees from quarterly to twice-yearly. In addition, SA-1 deletes a requirement that contribution limits be modified to adjust for changes to the Consumer Price Index. Segregated funds may not be used by a political party or legislative campaign committee for express advocacy or contributions to a candidate committee. It also modifies the coordination restrictions in the bill, applying them only to PACs, IECs, and other entities required to report express advocacy. It also makes changes to what constitutes coordination under the bill. SA-1 was concurred in by a vote of 59-0. Members who recused themselves from voting on October 21 were not permitted to vote, according to a ruling by the presiding officer. This bill will also go to the governor for enactment.

Committee Activity

Upcoming Activity

As of Thursday, December 3, one Senate committee and five Assembly committees have scheduled public hearings for this week. The Assembly Committee on Family Law and the Committee on Mental Health Reform will meet on December 8. The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage will hold a public hearing on bills related to hunting on December 9. The Assembly Committee on Children and Families will also hold a hearing on December 9. The Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate will hold a public hearing on December 10 on several bills related to adverse possession. The Assembly Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs will also meet December 10. The Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform will meet on December 10 to discuss bills related to creating a Legislative Office of Inspector General, creating a private retirement security plan, and continuing education requirements for electricians. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

Recently Introduced Proposals

2015 Assembly Bill 559 eliminates the restriction on leasing managed forest land.

2015 Assembly Bill 555 requires state facilities and school district buildings to provide feminine hygiene products in women's restrooms at no charge.

2015 Assembly Bill 552 requires railroad corporations to have an emergency preparedness plan related to the discharge of hazardous materials being transported on railways.

2015 Assembly Bill 550 authorizes the City of Mauston to erect welcome signs on certain highways.

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

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Last revised: December 4, 2015