The Week of September 28, 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 Assembly held a floor session on Thursday, September 24.

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

Action in the Assembly

Title X Funding

On September 24, the Assembly approved 2015 Assembly Bill 310, which requires the Department of Health Services to apply for federal Title X grant money on an ongoing basis. Under the bill, the Department of Health Services would apply before each federal application deadline for the federal grant money and distribute the funds for family planning or preventive services to public entities and the Wisconsin Well Women Program first. After a lengthy debate, the Assembly first adopted a substitute amendment to the bill and then passed the bill by a vote of 60-35. The bill has been messaged to the Senate.

School Board Member Selection

The Assembly also approved 2015 Assembly Bill 325, which would allow the school board president of the Racine Unified School District to appoint a person to fill a vacant school board seat. Other districts would be required to determine a policy for filling a vacancy if the school board does not fill it within 60 days. One substitute amendment was approved.

Voucher Cap Exemption

The Assembly approved 2015 Assembly Bill 332, which would provide an exemption for certain pupils who participate in a parental choice program to continue to attend a private school even if his or her resident school district has exceeded its pupil participation limit. The bill passed on a voice vote.

Adoption Bills

The Assembly also passed a package of bills that came out of the Legislative Council Study Committee on Adoption Disruption and Dissolution. These include 2015 Assembly Bill 39, 40, 41, and 42. All four bills passed on a voice vote and have been sent to the Senate.

Action on Senate Bills

The Assembly approved several bills that have already passed the Senate and will now go to the governor for his signature. These include 2015 Senate Bill 217, which would create an exception for a school board member to act as a volunteer coach or supervisor of an extracurricular activity; SB-153, which would allow a municipality, county, or law enforcement agency to donate an abandoned vehicle to a nonprofit organization; SB-137, which would permit municipalities to publish legal notices in one public place and on its website; and SB-110, which would provide immunity from civil liability for damage or injury caused by buoys in waterways. All were passed on a voice vote.

Recently Introduced Proposals

Public Access to Government Records

On Monday, September 21, several joint resolutions that would affect the state constitution, government records, and legislative meetings were introduced. 2015 Assembly Joint Resolution 62 and Senate Joint Resolution 52 would create section 27 of Article I under the state constitution's "Declaration of Rights," stating that "people have the right to access, inspect, and copy records of governmental bodies, except as the public interest requires." 2015 Assembly Joint Resolution 64 and Senate Joint Resolution 53 would amend the legislature's joint rules to provide that public notice of every assembly, senate, and joint committee must be given at least 24 hours in advance, unless for good cause. 2015 Assembly Joint Resolution 63 and Senate Joint Resolution 54 would amend the constitution to require the legislature to enact laws requiring reasonable notice of and public access to meetings of governmental bodies, including legislative committees.

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

Committee Activity

As of Friday, September 25, the legislative committees that have scheduled public hearings for this week include the Senate Committee on Education, the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform, both on Tuesday, and the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations on Thursday, whose agenda includes 2015 Assembly Joint Resolution 5, which would delete to office of State Treasurer from the state constitution. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

Special Election in September

The governor 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. The primary on September 1 was won by Republican Cindi Duchow of Pewaukee. More information is available at the Government Accountability Board's Web site.

Signed into Law

As of Friday, September 25, 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.

Resources from the LRB Library

Recent Publications

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

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Last revised: September 25, 2015