The Week of August 31, 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, scheduled to last until budget passage, has been adjourned; the extraordinary session convened as of July 7 to take up the budget bill, the Bucks Arena proposal, as well as several other proposals, has also been adjourned. The Legislature is not scheduled to return to the floor until September.

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

Special Election in September

The governor has issued Executive Order #171 declaring a special election in the 99th Assembly District, Senator Kapenga's former seat, to be held on Tuesday, September 29. A primary election will be held on September 1. More information is available at the Government Accountability Board's Web site.

Recently Introduced Proposals

2015 Senate Bill 240, introduced on August 26, would make changes to the laws related to "provider of last resort obligations" by certain telecommunications providers.

2015 Senate Bill 241, introduced on August 26, would prohibit the possession, propagation and sale of exotic dangerous animals, such as lions and tigers.

2015 Senate Bill 243, introduced on August 26, would amend the laws related to wells used for fire protection or to provide water to single- or multiple-family residences on the same property, exempting them from certain DNR regulations related to high-capacity wells.

2015 Assembly Bill 318, introduced on August 26, would delete the one-week waiting period for collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

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

Committee Activity

As of Friday, August 28, five committees have scheduled public hearings for this week. The committees include the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, which will hold hearings on Tuesday. Public hearings on Wednesday are scheduled for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism, the Senate Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection, and the Assembly Committee on Health. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

Recent Legislative Action

John Doe Proceedings

On August 20, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary held an executive session on 2015 Assembly Bill 68, related to John Doe proceedings. Among the changes proposed to current law, the bill would limit the length of such proceedings to six months, generally limit the crimes that may be investigated to certain felonies in the criminal code, limit the application of secrecy orders to the judge, the prosecuting attorney, law enforcement, and court reporters and interpreters, and make records on the costs of John Doe proceedings a matter of public record. The committee voted 5-3 to recommend the bill for passage. Its companion bill, Senate Bill 43, was recommended for passage by a Senate committee in March.

Fetal Tissue

2015 Assembly Bill 305, introduced on August 7, would generally prohibit the sale and use of fetal body parts derived from an induced abortion. A public hearing on the bill was held on August 11 by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and submitted testimony is available from the Legislative Council's website. Archived video of the hearing is available at WisconsinEye.

Recently Signed

Bucks Arena

On August 12, the governor signed 2015 Senate Bill 209 into law as 2015 Wisconsin Act 60. The law creates funding for a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball team. The Assembly approved the bill on July 28 by a 52-34 vote, with 8 votes paired. The Senate approved the bill on July 15, by a vote of 21-10.

As of Friday, August 14, the governor has signed 60 bills into law from the current session.

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

Taskforces Created

On August 4, Assembly Speaker Vos announced the formation of three taskforces with bipartisan membership. These include the Speaker's Taskforce on Alzheimer's and Dementia, the Taskforce on Urban Education and the Taskforce on Youth Workforce Readiness. Each taskforce is assigned a Republican chair and a Democratic vice chair, and has been asked to work with community experts and members affected by each of the taskforce issues. In addition, each taskforce will recommend legislation to the Assembly.

Resources from the LRB Library

The library recommends the following resources:

Recent Publications

For information about legislative service agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.

Spotlight Home

Prior Spotlight issues

Send comments to

Last revised: August 28, 2015