Spring Update


April 6, 2016

Contact Me

State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

PH: (608) 266-0631
TF: (888) 534-0094
FAX: (608) 282-3694

District/Law Office
1230 Ferry Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
(608) 785-1886

On the Web: http://doyle.assembly.wi.gov


In The District


In The Legislature

Legislative Committees

Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions - Ranking Member

Assembly Committee on Insurance - Ranking Member

Assembly Committee on Tourism

Assembly Committee on
Small Business Development

Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties





This legislative session ended a bit differently from previous ones – namely, it ended early. The Assembly and Senate leadership decided to close up shop in February and March, respectively. Over the first three months of the year, there was a mad rush to cram as many bills through as possible. Sometimes bills were written so quickly that they needed to be amended and corrected multiple times before we could vote on them. Other days, we had floor calendars with over a hundred bills for us to vote on. It was like cramming for final exams all over again, only this time, the stakes were much higher.



If you are thinking to yourself that this doesn’t sound like the best way to run our state then you are right. The chaotic rush to reach an arbitrary deadline created friction between the political parties and within them. It was common to see votes on bills split all over the place, with D’s and R’s crisscrossing the aisle in ways we haven’t seen in a long time. On a few bills, we were able to come together for the good of Wisconsin. But on a lot of them, my colleagues just made a bigger mess of things.




Here are some of the more recent issues:


• This bill would allow existing high-capacity well owners to rebuild or replace their wells without a new permit.
• Current law requires approval from the DNR before any changes to a high-cap well can be made.
• It would also transfer that ability to rebuild or replace without a permit to future owners.
• It passed the Assembly along party lines.


• A 2006 law created a number of issues of Western Wisconsinites being unable to access public land along the Mississippi River because they were unable to cross the train tracks.
• This new legislation would reinstate the old rule that allowed pedestrians to walk directly across railroad tracks.
• It passed the Assembly on a bipartisan vote.


• This package of bills is part of a larger effort to curtail substance abuse problems in Wisconsin, including prevention of prescription painkiller and heroin use, equipping medical professionals and our law enforcement with the tools they need to fight this epidemic, and strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.


• This year, the Speaker’s Taskforce on Alzheimer’s and Dementia put together a package of bills aimed at funding research, training specialists and equipping resource centers.
• The 10 bills passed the Assembly with wide bipartisan margins.

And that was just the Assembly side of things. As you know, in order for a bill to become law, an identical version must be passed by both the Assembly and the Senate before it can be signed into law by the Governor. If one house adds an amendment at the last minute, the other house must pass the amendment as well. If they don’t, the bill effectively dies. What we saw this spring was a game of legislative chicken between both houses of the Legislature. The Assembly finished their business first, with the Speaker vowing that we would not be back in session until next year. So all of our bills were sent over to the Senate where some of them were passed and some of them were not. But some of them were amended.




The Senators argued that their amendments made those bills better – but from a practical standpoint, they also knew the Assembly was done. If they added an amendment, it would kill the bill. In some cases, that is exactly what they decided to do. In others, they simply refused to take up the bill at all.


• The Senate amendment removed a provision that would allow someone who was harmed by someone else’s withdrawal of water to file a nuisance action against that person.


• Despite passing the Assembly on a bipartisan vote, the Senate chose not to even take up the bill for a vote.


• The Senate chose to only take up three of the ten bills.

And lest you think that all of this was one house’s fault or the other, here are some bills that neither house chose to deal with:

• Creating nonpartisan redistricting
• Putting more money back into our public schools
• Allowing college students to refinance their student loans, just like homeowners
• Reporting fraud against WEDC

Even though my colleagues have called it quits, I’m still hard at work. My door is always open if you ever have any questions about legislative issues or are facing any problems with state government. And even though everyone is saying we are done for the year, there is always a chance that the Legislature will be called in for a special session.



One good thing to come out of all this was that a bill of mine passed the Assembly. My colleague Sen. Bewley and I introduced a bill designed to close a loophole regarding gun threats made to schools. It didn’t get a vote in the Senate but I am hopeful that we will be able to bring the bill up again next session.



Here is some background. In Wisconsin, if you call in a bomb threat to a school, the District Attorney can charge you with a felony. But, if you call in a gun threat to a school, the DA can only charge you with disorderly conduct, the lowest misdemeanor, nothing more. That didn’t make sense to me and it didn’t make sense to DA’s, police, and school districts around the state. Under our bill, DA’s would have the option to charge someone who threatens to bring a firearm to a school to shoot people with a felony.

Another interesting thing about this bill was that the idea for it came directly from a constituent. They found the loophole and they contacted their state representatives with the suggestion of how to close it. We were then able to shepherd the bill through the Assembly hearing process and eventually on to the floor.

While we didn’t reach the desired outcome of getting this bill signed into law, I hope this story inspires you to write to me with your suggestions for legislation. The best bill ideas come from the people and it allows me to do what you elected me to do – namely, represent you.




State Representative

94th Assembly District


Click Here to Take My Legislative Survey




If you would like to have your name removed from this email list, please reply to this message with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line