Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight

The Week of October 5, 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 next floorperiod is scheduled to begin on October 20. Committee work is ongoing.

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

Special Election in 99th District

According to unofficial results, Republican Cindi Duchow of Pewaukee has won the special election for the 99th Assembly District, held on September 29. She was unopposed. Duchow won a four-way primary on September 1. The seat was formerly held by Senator Kapenga of the 33rd Senate District. More information is available at the Government Accountability Board's Web site.

Recently Introduced Proposals

Civil Service System

2015 Senate Bill 285, introduced on October 1, would make changes to the civil service laws, including changes related to hiring, probationary periods, reinstatements and restoration, layoff criteria, just-cause standards, and the appeals process for certain adverse employment actions.  It would also create a discretionary merit award program for classified employees. The Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform has announced that it will hold a hearing on the bill on Tuesday, October 6.

GAAP Standards for State

2015 Senate Joint Resolution 55 and Assembly Joint Resolution 66, both introduced recently, would amend the Constitution to require the state to use generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to account for all funds it receives and expends. It would also authorize the Legislature to establish the basis of accounting used for budget purposes, and would prohibit the Legislature from passing any bill that would cause an increase in the projected deficit of any state fund under GAAP.

Juvenile Justice

2015 Senate Bill 280, introduced on September 30, would raise the age at which a person can be charged and sentenced under the state's Criminal Code from 17 to 18 for certain offenses. Currently, anyone under 17 can be charged under the Juvenile Justice Code for certain offenses, except for certain violent offenses. The bill would allow raise the age from 17 to 18 for civil law and municipal ordinance violations.

OWI Penalties

2015 Assembly Bill 363, introduced on September 25, would change the penalties related to a conviction on a first or second offense of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). The bill would make a first OWI-related offense a Class C misdemeanor, which includes a fine of up $500, imprisonment up to 30 days, or both. In current state law a first OWI-related offense is a civil violation subject to a forfeiture. Also under the bill, increased penalties for a second offense would be implemented regardless of when it happened. Current law does not implement increased penalties on second OWI unless the offense happened within ten years of the original offense or caused bodily harm or death. Additionally, the bill would allow a person convicted of a first-offense OWI to petition the courts to vacate the conviction and have it recorded as a civil violation if the person has not committed another OWI-related offense within five years. 

Other proposals

Introduced on September 25, 2015 Assembly Bill 355 would eliminate the requirement that a consumer use a form provided by the Department of Transportation to report a vehicle problem under the "lemon law". 2015 Senate Bill 274, a companion bill, was introduced on September 30.

Introduced on September 25, 2015 Assembly Bill 360 would allow a probation, extended supervision, or parole agent whose primary duty is to locate individuals who have absconded from those conditions to carry a concealed firearm as well as go armed in a public building and on the premises of a tavern while acting in his or her official capacity. The "absconder agent" would be required to carry credentials and a badge provided by the Department of Corrections. A public hearing on the bill will be held on Thursday, October 8 by the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

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

Committee Activity

In addition to the hearings mentioned above, several legislative committees will hold public and informational hearings this week. These include the Senate Committee on Economic Development and Commerce, which is currently touring the technical colleges, the Speaker's Task Force on Alzheimer's and Dementia, and the Assembly Committee on Ways and Means, among others. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

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

  • Donaldson, Gary. “Prioritizing Capital Improvement Planning.” Government Finance Review 31 no. 4, pages 18-22, August 2015. (352.2 G74 2015 v.31 no.4)

  • Marlowe, Justin. Governing Guide to Financial Literacy: Connecting Money, Policy, and Priorities. Washington, D.C.: Governing Institute, 2014. (336 G74)

  • Marlowe, Justin. Governing Guide to Financial Literacy, volume 2: Managing your Jurisdiction's Financial Health. Washington, D.C.: Governing Institute, 2015. (336 G74a)

  • University of Wisconsin System. UW System 2015-17 Biennial Budget Accountability Measures. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin System, September 2015. 

Recent Publications

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

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Send comments to LRB.Reference@legis.wisconsin.gov

Last revised: October 2, 2015