The Week of December 14, 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

Expanding Use of Heroin Overdose Drug

On Tuesday, December 8, the governor signed 2015 Assembly Bill 427 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 115. The law will make it easier to obtain Narcan, a drug that counteracts heroin overdoses.

As of Thursday, December 10, the governor has signed 115 bills into law from the current session.

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

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 10, one Senate committee and six Assembly committees have scheduled public hearings for this week. The Assembly Committee on Workforce Development and the Committee on Environment and Forestry will meet on December 15, as well as the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs, which will discuss recycling grants, positions of town elective officeholders, building permits, and immigration. The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety will hold a public hearing on December 16 to discuss bills on the invasion of privacy, residency requirements of sexually violent persons, wrongful imprisonment and more. The Assembly Committees on Health, State Affairs and Government Operations, and Colleges and Universities will also be meeting on December 16. Prior to the public hearing, the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities will hold an informational hearing. Ray Cross, President of the University of Wisconsin System, will be providing an overview of the University of Wisconsin System. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

Recently Introduced Proposals

2015 Assembly Bill 582 relating to government actions affecting rights to real property; the regulation of shoreland zoning; the substitution of hearing examiners in contested cases; and the property tax treatment of unoccupied property.

2015 Assembly Bill 576 relating to the special supervision of property tax assessments.

2015 Assembly Bill 568 relating to landlord/tenant relationships and limiting the authority of political subdivisions.

2015 Senate Bill 440 relating to tax administration technical changes.

2015 Senate Bill 439 creates a Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission.

2015 Senate Bill 424 relating to leave from employment for the purpose of serving as an organ donor.

2015 Senate Bill 423 relating to the employment by a former member of the legislature as a lobbyist.

2015 Senate Joint Resolution 75 amending the Wisconsin Constitution to limit the number of terms permitted for members of the state legislature and the governor and lieutenant governor (first consideration).

2015 Senate Joint Resolution 74 amending the Wisconsin Constitution to prohibit official action on proposals that financially benefit a legislator's campaign organization (first consideration).

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

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Last revised: December 10, 2015