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January 19, 2018

Following Tuesday’s election results, in a desperate attempt to fire up his base, Gov. Walker called for a Special Session on Welfare Reform. Rather than addressing issues that actually demand urgency, such as our struggling schools, the fourth worst roads in the nation, and a juvenile correctional facility in crisis, Gov. Walker chose to prioritize punishing struggling families. Democrats have serious concerns with these new attacks that risk children’s access to food, especially after Gov. Walker and Republicans prioritized a $4.5 billion corporate welfare package to a foreign corporation.

Senator Frank Lasee (Senate District 1) and Representative Keith Ripp (Assembly District 42) were both appointed to positions in the Walker Administration in December and officially stepped down from their elected roles on January 1st, leaving their seats vacant. After sending a letter to Gov. Walker calling for special elections in SD 1 and AD 42, Democratic Leaders Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) and Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) introduced legislation that would require the Governor to call a special election within 60 days of an open legislative seat. If Gov. Walker does not call for a special election before November’s general election, it would leave the people of these districts without representation for over an entire calendar year, including during the upcoming special session.

The Senate is expected to be in Session next Tuesday and the Governor will give his State of the State Address on Wednesday, January 24th.

Health Care in Wisconsin

Health Care Survey

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped tens of millions of Americans gain access to affordable health care and has saved countless lives. Recent Republican efforts to repeal the ACA would increase the number of uninsured Americans, eliminate patient protections and significantly raise out-of-pocket costs on working families and seniors. Wisconsin Democrats are fighting to maintain and expand healthcare. Please share you health care story and thoughts on the Affordable Care Act. 

Click on the link below to share your thoughts on our health care system:

Wisconsin Democrats Health Care Survey

What Democrats Are Saying

​ Democratic Proposals

LRB5293 & LRB5294 Special Election for Legislative Seats (Sen. Shilling, Rep. Hintz) would change the statutes to specify that a special election must be ordered within 60 days after a vacancy occurs.

LRB5133 Ruffed Grouse as State Small Game Bird (Sen. Bewley, Rep. Meyers) would designate the ruffed grouse as the state small game bird.

LRB2660 The Universal Driver’s Education Act (Rep. Crowley) would require the Department of Instruction to reimburse school districts, operators of independent charter schools, and private schools participating in parental choice programs who choose to provide a driver’s education course to pupils who are at least 16 years of age and have at least a 2.3 grade point average.

LRB2485 The Driver’s License Protection Act (Rep. Crowley) would limit the reasons for which a person’s driving privilege may be suspended by eliminating a circuit court’s authority to suspend a person’s drivers license for a conviction of an offense that is not related to the operation of a motor vehicles or for failure to pay court surcharges.

LRB3940 The Electronic ID Act (Rep. Crowley) would allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to begin issuing electronic copies of operators’ licenses and identification cards.

LRB2971 The Police Data Collection Act (Rep. Crowley) would require that whenever a law enforcement officer accesses, for a purpose related to a motor vehicle stop, an operator’s license, permit, or identification card maintained by the Department of Transportation (DOT), the DOT must record the race, ethnicity, zip code, and gender of the person whose record is accessed.

LRB3206 Prohibiting Hunting in State Parks (Sen. Risser) would prohibit all hunting in state parks.

LRB3207 Prohibiting Trapping Certain Devices in State Parks (Sen. Risser) would prohibit persons from setting, operating, or otherwise using a steel-jawed trap, a body-gripping trap, or a snare to trap an animal in a state park.

LRB3208 Eliminating Depredation Payments for Hunting Dogs Injured by Wolves (Sen. Risser) would eliminate the Department of Natural Resources’ authority under the wolf depredation program to make payments for death or injury caused by wolves to hunting dogs. 

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate did not hold a floor period this week. The Senate will be in session on Tuesday, January 23rd and will be taking up a number of executive appointments, Senate and Assembly Bills. 

Among the executive appointments up for a vote, the leaders who currently run the elections and ethics commissions may become the center of debate. Legislative Republicans are trying to force Michael Haas and Brian Bell out of their respective posts following information released in Gov. Walker’s John Doe campaign investigation related to the Government Accountability Board, which Republicans disbanded back in 2015. Despite receiving unanimous bipartisan support by the commissioners they lead, Republicans are trying to remove the two from their posts simply because they previously worked for the GAB.

Senate Bill 48, has made its way back to the Senate after the assembly passed an amendment to the bill. SB 48 would let water utilities offer customers grants or low-interest loans to replace water lines for homes that have lead pipe laterals connecting to the municipal water supply. This is a step in the right direction but does not do enough to mitigate the problem with lead in drinking water. Democrats have proposed numerous other bills to combat this public health crisis. 


Senate Committees

Senate Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry
The committee held a Public Hearing on four Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 566 would require a person operating a bicycle or motor bicycle during hours of darkness on certain state trails designated by Dept. of Natural Resources to have a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet.

  • Senate Bill 633 would eliminate the requirement that a person hunting bear or wolf with a dog carry certain tags for the dog. It also provides that a dog is excused from wearing a collar with rabies vaccination tag if the dog is training to hunt.

  • Senate Bill 691 would create a procedure that law enforcement officers and courts must follow to close any portion of a sport shooting range due to an alleged unsafe condition on the premises.

  • Senate Bill 602 would prohibit local and state authorities from investigating illegal killings of wolves. It would also end funding of wolf management in Wisconsin until the wolf is taken off the endangered species list.


Senate Judiciary and Public Safety
The committee held an Executive Session on Tuesday to vote on six Senate Bills and three Assembly Bills:

  • Senate Bill 448 would provide that if both parents are granted periods of physical placement with a child, a parent must obtain a court order before relocating with the child 100 miles or more from the other parent, unless the parents already live 100 miles or more away from each other. (Passed, 5-0)

  • Senate Bill 456 would make changes to the requirements for claims for state compensation by wrongfully imprisoned persons; and provide health care coverage and other assistance for wrongfully imprisoned persons. (Passed, 5-0)

  • Senate Bill 473 would require the Dept. of Justice to allow law enforcement agencies to use the crime alert network for reports of missing veterans or members of the armed forces who are at risk due to a physical or mental health condition that is related to their service. (Passed, 5-0)

  • Senate Bill 474 would authorize a court to approve a stipulation for legal custody or physical placement that are contingent upon the occurrence of a specified future event. (Passed, 4-0)

  • Senate Bill 476 would change the venue requirements for actions growing out of domestic abuse, child abuse, and harassment. (No Action Taken)

  • Senate Bill 574 would replace the reference to “marked police vehicle” with “an authorized emergency vehicle that the operator knows or reasonably should know is being operated by a law enforcement officer.” (Passed, 4-0)

  • Assembly Bill 112 would allow grants that the Department of Justice provides to counties for programs that offer alternatives to prosecution and incarceration for persons who use alcohol or other drugs may also be provided to tribes for the same purpose. (Passed, 4-0)

  • Assembly Bill 114 would add tribal judges, tribal prosecutors, and tribal law enforcement officers to the definitions of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers. Currently, an individual who intentionally causes bodily harm or threatens to cause bodily harm to a current or former judge, prosecutor, or law enforcement officer, or to his or her family member, is guilty of a Class H felony. (Passed, 4-0)

  • Assembly Bill 414 would provide that a person who has sexual intercourse with a child who is between 15 and 18, or sexual contact with a child who is 15, is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor if the person is less than 19 years old. (Passed, 4-0)


The committee also held a Public Hearing on the appointment of Daniel Berkos to the Public Defender Board, as well as seven Senate Bills and one Assembly Bill:

  • Senate Bill 403 would require the Law Enforcement Standards Board to regulate jail and juvenile detention officer training standards, and to regulate recruitment standards for new law enforcement, jail, and juvenile detention officers.

  • Senate Bill 446 would allow, if a court determines that supervised release is appropriate for a sexually violent person, the court to order the person's county of residence to prepare a report that identifies one appropriate residence for the person.

  • Senate Bill 611 would require the Dept. of Justice to collect from law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, and courts specific information on crimes committed with a firearm, the manufacture, distribution, or delivery of marijuana, and the theft of motor vehicles.

  • Senate Bill 612 would require the Director of State Courts to ensure that the CCAP website provides the required information in a searchable format for all crimes.

  • Senate Bill 615 would create the Council on Offender Employment, which may issue a certificate of qualification for employment (CQE) that grants relief to the person from ineligibility for or disadvantage related to employment, occupational licensing, or occupational certification.

  • Senate Bill 623 would subject a defendant to a domestic abuse surcharge if the defendant committed a domestic abuse crime to his or her current or former spouse. This surcharge would increase maximum term of imprisonment.

  • Senate Bill 626 would make various changes to the fair employment law with respect to the ability of state and local governmental agencies to deny a license to an individual based on the individual's arrest or conviction record.

  • Assembly Bill 566 would allow service of certain pleadings and other papers to be served by e-mail.


On Thursday the committee held a final Executive Session on Senate Bill 476, which would change the venue requirements for actions growing out of domestic abuse, child abuse, and harassment.

Senate Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior Issues
The committee held a Public Hearing on five Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 614 would require the Higher Educational Aids Board to make student loan reimbursement payments on behalf of certain individuals who move to in rural counties.

  • Senate Bill 689 would require the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop a program to provide coaching for the hiring of individuals with disabilities.

  • Senate Bill 628 would allow a high school senior to begin an apprenticeship program during the student's senior year of high school.

  • Senate Bill 517 would require a law enforcement agency that has issued an alert for a missing adult at risk, commonly known as a “Silver Alert," to refer the person making the report and any guardian of the missing person to a local aging and disability resource center.

  • Senate Bill 644 would make changes relating to the responsibilities of colleges to National Guard members and other service members who withdraw from school because they are called into active military service. 


Senate Natural Resources and Energy
The committee held a Public Hearing on the appointment of Daniel Meyer as the Secretary of the Dept. of Natural Resources and Senate Bill 687, which would update the real estate disclosure report forms and changes the requirements for a report submitted to a client by a registered home inspector.

The committee also held an Executive Session on two Senate Bills and one Assembly Bill:

  • Senate Bill 646 would exempt pyrolysis and gasification facilities from the definition under current law of “solid waste facility.” Pyrolysis and gasification facilities are facilities that convert plastics into to fuel or other materials. (Passed, 3-2)

  • Senate Bill 648 would create a Wisconsin conservation corps (WCC) program to provide young adults employment training and career pathways to work in Wisconsin's outdoors. (Passed, 5-0)

  • Assembly Bill 118 would require the state historical director to consider whether evidence of remains exists before cataloguing a site and establishes a process for challenging decisions and removing sites from the list. The Legislative Council Study Committee on Burial Sites was formed to examine Wisconsin Burial Law and this bill is the final product of that study. Native American historical artifacts still remain hidden underground. This bill would offer some protection of sacred sites that these important historical artifacts are found in. (Passed, 5-0


Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform
The committee held a Public Hearing on Senate Bill 564, which would provide that in the case that a public safety employee suffers a mental injury that arises out of his or her employment and results in a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, the employee is not required to show that the mental injury was caused by unusual stress of greater dimensions than the day-to-day emotional strain and tension experienced by similarly situated employees in order for the injury to be compensable under the worker's compensation law.

Senate Revenue, Financial Institutions and Rural Issues
The committee held an Executive Session on three Senate Bills and one Assembly companion bill:

  • Senate Bill 668 would increase the limit on the amount of tax credits that may be certified under the historic rehabilitation tax credit from $500,000 to $3,500,000. (Passed, 5-0

  • Senate Bill 603 would allow certain foreign corporations acting in a fiduciary capacity to establish or maintain places of business or branch offices in this state. (Passed, 5-0

  • Senate Bill 659 / Assembly Bill 356 would require that first responders, emergency medical technicians, and ambulance service providers renew their certifications or licenses every three years instead of every two years. (Passed, 5-0

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session

The assembly held a floor session on Tuesday. The scheduled floor periods for the session are available here.  


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Workforce Development
The committee held an executive session on AB 625, which relates to the competitive integrated employment of persons with a disability. AB 745 regarding participation in an apprenticeship program by a high school senior. AB 734, which relates to creating individual and corporate income and franchise tax deductions for tuition paid for apprenticeship programs. AB 124 relating to the marketing of employment and training opportunities to former University of Wisconsin System students and AB 617 relating to the Supervised Business Initiatives Program.


Assembly Committee on Children and Families
The committee held a public hearing on AB 776, which provides continuity of care when a foster care agency loses its license.  AB 779, which requires DHS to award grants to nonprofit organizations for statewide community based referral systems. AB 783, which requires DCF to create a committee to study and report on recommended caseload standards for child welfare workers. AB 785, which directs $500,000 of TANF funding each fiscal year to be used for grants to counties, nonprofit organizations, or tribes to fund child abuse and neglect prevention services, and AB 787 which provides $400,000 in funding to DCF for grants to counties, tribes, and nonprofits to support foster parents and provide normalcy for children in out-of-home care.


Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight
The committee held a public hearing on AB 804 which requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System to award merit-based $5,000 annual scholarships to students enrolled in two-year or four-year UW schools who have graduated from an in-state high school and AB 553 which prohibits government bodies from adopting a rule which boycotts Israel.


Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions
The committee held an executive session on AB 552 which modifies the membership requirements for a Red Arrow Club.


The committee also held a public hearing on AB 663, which allows guaranteed asset protection (gap) waivers to be offered and sold in connection with the credit sale or lease of a vehicle and that gap waivers are not insurance.

Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities
The committee held an executive session on AB 583 which creates sales and use tax exemption for services provided by an electric cooperative to another electric cooperative and AB 774, which requires that when the Public Service Commission investigates a complaint regarding Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) charges, rules, or practices, the PSC must make its determination without deference to MMSD.


Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight
The committee held a meeting on committee legislation requiring an outside audit.


Assembly Committee on Science and Technology
The committee held a public hearing on AB 563, AB 564, and AB 661.


Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry
The committee held a public hearing on AB 649, regarding hunting with a high-powered air rifle or an airbow and AB 789, which exempts certain facilities from solid waste facility regulations.


Assembly Committee on Local Government
The Committee held an executive session on AB 636, which allows an appointing authority to remove certain county officers from their role. AB 618, regarding audits performed by the Legislative Audit Bureau. AB 664, regarding obtaining evidence of the termination of certain property interests of a decedent. AB 752, relating to applications for alcohol beverage licenses and permits and for cigarette and tobacco products retailer licenses as well as appointment of corporate agents of alcohol beverage licensees and permittees. AB 690, relating to authorizing counties to conduct foreclosure sales using an Internet-based auction and AB 691 regarding eligible bidders at foreclosure sales and eligible purchasers of foreclosed property.


The committee held a public hearing on AB 606 which makes changes that affect the fire and police departments of first class cities.

The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage
The committee held an executive session on AB 712 which changes the laws regulating wolf hunting and the laws authorizing funding for wolf management activities and AB 820 which creates a procedure that law enforcement officers and courts must follow to temporarily or permanently close any portion of a sport shooting range due to an alleged unsafe condition on the premises.


Assembly Committee on Mental Health
The committee held a public hearing on AB 782 which allows a health care provider to disclose to an out-of-home care provider and child welfare agency a portion of the mental health treatment record of a child and AB 815 which  requires DHS to allow law enforcement to transport individuals to be detained for emergency detention or involuntary commitment to the most convenient mental health institute.

The committee held an executive session on AB 782 which allows a health care provider to disclose to an out-of-home care provider and child welfare agency a portion of the mental health treatment record of a child.

Assembly Committee on State Affairs
The committee held a public hearing on AB688 which creates a Wisconsin conservation corps (WCC) program to protect, enhance, and provide access to Wisconsin's natural heritage, AB718 which would allow background checks on certain civil service positions, AB667 which makes changes relating to the Wisconsin Commission on Uniform State Laws and AB821 which makes an exception to the lowest bidder contract rule when an improvement is constructed by a private person and donated to the local governmental unit after the completion of construction.


Assembly Committee on Transportation
The committee held an executive session on AB443/SB360, which exempts special group plates for fire fighters, rescue squad members, emergency medical technicians, and first responders (EMTs) from special registration plate fees and AB716, which authorizes a municipality to erect and maintain a municipal welcome sign.


Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate
The committee held an executive session on AB809, which makes several changes to WHEDA governance. AB812 updates the real estate disclosure report forms and changes the requirements for a report submitted to a client by a registered home inspector. AB187, which provides an exemption from building code requirements for buildings historically used for farming. AB768 regulates which properties of a local housing authority are tax exempt. AB770, regarding workforce housing development tax incremental districts, local fees and charges, local levy limits, subdivision approval conditions, plat approval conditions, expiration of certain project approvals, division of land by certified survey map, erosion control and storm water management, limiting certain local regulatory authority, relocation benefits in condemnation proceedings, and zoning ordinance amendment and AB771, which regulates fees imposed by a political subdivision, certain levy limit reductions, certain procedural changes in eviction actions, information available on the consolidated court automated internet site, discrimination in housing against individuals who keep certain animals, falsely claiming an animal to be a service animal, municipal administrative procedure, enforcement of the rental unit energy efficiency program, and providing penalties.


Assembly Committee on Regulatory Licensing Reform
The committee held a public hearing on AB670, which creates exemptions from licenses for architects and other professionals. AB834, which lowers the required score for chiropractors. AB733, which waives the fees for initial occupational credentials granted for DSPS for a person whose family income does not exceed 180 percent of the federal poverty line. AB483 which eliminates the Building Inspector Review Board and the Contractor Certification Council and transfers their duties to the Uniform Dwelling Code. AB584, which authorizes the governor to waive any fee required by the state for the replacement of a permit, license, approval, or other authorization for a person who resides or is headquartered in the area covered by the state of emergency. AB837 ,which makes various changes to laws regarding funeral director apprentices and AB829 ,which makes various changes to the fair employment law with respect to the ability of state and local governmental agencies to deny a license to an individual based on the individual's arrest or conviction record.


Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities
The committee held an executive session on SB 407, which eliminates the statute of limitations for second degree sexual assault. AB 567, which directs the Public Defender Board to establish a student loan payment pilot program for private bar attorneys who accept public defender appointments and AB 701, which requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System to establish a crime victims legal clinic at the UW Law School. 


The committee held a public hearing on AB 777, which requires the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and technical college system district boards to grant tuition remissions to students who were in foster care or other placements out of their parent's home.  AB 805, which excludes certain college-level courses offered to high school pupils enrolled in a public school from the Early College Credit Program, and AB 808 creates a grant program under which the Technical College System Board may award grants of up to $1,000 to technical college students who have undertaken an apprenticeship training program.

Assembly Subcommittee on Personal and Corporate Income Taxes
The Subcommittee heard from invited speakers only on the topics of personal and corporate income taxes.


Assembly Committee on Rural Development and Mining
The committee held an executive session on AB 731, which modifies the criteria by which a newspaper may receive compensation for the publication of a legal notice and AB 730, which requires the Higher Educational Aids Board to make student loan reimbursement payments on behalf of certain individuals who establish domiciles in rural counties.


Assembly Committee on Rules
The committee met in Executive Session to schedule the Calendar for Tuesday, January 23.

Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government
The committee will hold a Public Hearing on two Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 671 would change the requirements that apply to research contracts involving the University of Wisconsin System.

  • Senate Bill 679 would direct the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to collaborate with state agencies to develop and implement initiatives for the attraction of talent to and retention of talent in Wisconsin, including by leveraging the existing programs of state agencies for those purposes. 

The committee will also hold an Executive Session on the appointment of John Wenum and Kristine O’Meara to the Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board, as well as two Senate Bills and one Assembly Bill:

  • Assembly Bill 120 would allow a municipality the option to publish a summary of a legal notice, instead of publishing any full-text content that is required under current law.

  • Senate Bill 578 would eliminate the requirement to submit a certified copy of the decedent's death certificate to the register of deeds.

  • Senate Bill 582 would allow an appointing authority to remove county officers from office at pleasure. Currently, certain county officers may be removed from office by their appointing authority only for cause. 


Senate Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection
The committee will hold a Public Hearing on three Senate Bills and two Assembly companion bills:

  • Senate Bill 680 would repeal a provision created in 2015 Wisconsin Act 60 that requires Milwaukee County to transfer, unencumbered, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts to the Wisconsin Center District (WCD).
  • Senate Bill 554 / Assembly Bill 675 would allow the Building Commission to authorize money from the state building trust fund to be available for any project costing $1,000,000 or less. The Building Commission may also authorize the design and construction of any building, the acquisition of land, or the repair or improvement of any building, structure, or facility that costs more than $1,000,000 only if the project is enumerated in the state building program.
  • Senate Bill 535 / Assembly Bill 638 would establish a council in the Department of Health Services to advise the department on research, diagnosis, treatment, and education relating to pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, commonly referred to as PANDAS, and pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, commonly referred to as PANS.


Senate Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior Issues
The committee will hold an Executive Session to vote on nine Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 514 would establish a number of requirements for certain state agencies to promote competitive integrated employment.

  • Senate Bill 689 would require the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop a program to provide coaching for the hiring of individuals with disabilities.

  • Senate Bill 628 would allow a high school senior to begin an apprenticeship program during the student's senior year of high school.

  • Senate Bill 517 would require a law enforcement agency that has issued an alert for a missing adult at risk, commonly known as a “Silver Alert," to refer the person making the report and any guardian of the missing person to a local aging and disability resource center.

  • Senate Bill 644 would make changes relating to the responsibilities of colleges to National Guard members and other service members who withdraw from school because they are called into active military service.

  • Senate Bill 552 would allow an adult with a functional impairment to create a supported decision making agreement to allow another person, referred to as a "supporter," to assist the adult with certain decision-making.

  • Senate Bill 527 would require the Dept. of Health Services (DHS) to award up to $500k in grants to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in rural and underserved urban areas.

  • Senate Bill 518 would addresses court jurisdiction for guardianship of adults and allows Wisconsin courts to communicate with other courts when a jurisdictional issue arises. 

  • Senate Bill 461 would expand the definition of members eligible to join Red Arrow Clubs.


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform
The committee will hold a public hearing on AB 702, which would require DHS to submit a proposal to USDA regarding a photo ID for food share recipients. AB 710, would significantly raise the fines for making a false statement or representation to obtain any unemployment insurance benefit payments and Clearinghouse Rule 17-005 relating to drug testing for participants in the FoodShare Employment and Training Program who are able-bodied adults.

The committee will hold an executive session on AB 263, which would create optional incentive programs to counties and tribes who identify fraud in certain public assistance programs. 

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