New Study Shows Bipartisan Session Agreements Make a Positive Impact

November 20, 2017 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is pleased with a new study recently published in the Journal of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries that shows that bipartisan agreements on Assembly operations have made a positive impact on the institution and democracy as a whole.  The study, “Organizing the Wisconsin State Assembly: The Role of Memoranda of Understanding,” found the previous two sessions with MOUs had more active floor days that rarely adjourned after 9 p.m.

“Our goal was to have a more robust debate that was easier to follow,” said Speaker Vos. “We wanted to have a more transparent process that allows for greater public participation in the legislative process.”

Within the MOUs, the Majority and Minority leaders agree to the time of debate for each bill and the entire session day. Every effort will also be made to minimize the number of contentious bills on any session day and objections will be made to breaking for caucus except under extenuating circumstances. In addition, the agreements limit the number of floor amendments to those provided to the leadership by the start of session.

There is currently a Memorandum of Understanding for the 2017-2018 legislative session.  Like the others, it states, “the beneficiaries of this memorandum are the people of Wisconsin.”

“I want to thank Rep. Peter Barca and his leadership teams over the past few sessions for participating in the process to make the institution better for the people who we represent,” said Speaker Vos. “I also appreciate that Majority Leader Jim Steineke puts in the time to negotiate the MOU and the parameters for each session day.”

The study was conducted by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau Chief and General Counsel Rick Champagne, Emma Gradian and Madeline Kasper.