Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight

The Week of October 12, 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.

Recently Introduced Proposals

GAB Repeal

2015 Assembly Bill 388, introduced on October 9, would eliminate the Government Accountability Board (GAB) and replace it with two commissions, one for ethics, and one for elections. Each commission would consist of six members, most of whom would be appointed by legislative leadership, and some nominated by the governor. Under the bill, each commission would be able to investigate only violations of laws administered by that commission upon the filing of a sworn complaint with the commission, except for violations that result in a payment not exceeding $2,500. The bill also requires the commissions to disclose certain information related to investigations and advisory opinions.

Campaign Finance Reform

2015 Assembly Bill 387 and 2015 Senate Bill 292, both introduced on October 8, would rewrite current state laws related to campaign finance. The proposals would double the current campaign contribution limits for candidates for state and local office and would require those limits to be readjusted every five years in relation to the consumer price index. It would define a political action committee (PAC) and would allow contributions to PACs to be unlimited. It would also define "express advocacy" as related to political ads and would repeal and recreate laws related to registration, reporting and coordination.

Civil Service System

2015 Assembly Bill 373, introduced on October 7, and 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 held a public hearing on SB-285 on October 6. A video archive of the hearing can be found at WisconsinEye. Materials submitted to the committee clerk are found at the Legislative Council's site. The committee will hold an executive session on SB-285 on Tuesday. The Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations will hold a public hearing on AB-373 on Thursday.

Nuclear Power

2015 Senate Bill 288 and 2015 Assembly Bill 384, both introduced last week, would eliminate current additional requirements for approval of the construction of nuclear power plants and would make changes to the state's energy priorities policy to allow for nuclear power as an option.

Office of Inspector General

2015 Assembly Bill 382, introduced on October 8,  would create a legislative Office of Inspector General. Under the bill, 13 inspector generals and staff would be assigned to and housed at state agencies, with the power to examine accounts and financial records, access any related documents for their work, and investigate fraud in state programs, among other duties. The inspector generals would be assisted in their work by the Legislative Audit Bureau upon request.

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

Committee Activity

As of Friday, October 9, committee activity is scheduled for every day this week but Friday. The Senate Committee on Public Benefit and Regulatory Reform will meet on Wednesday. The Senate Committee on Economic Development and Commerce will also hold a public hearing Wednesday on appointments to the Miller Park board and the CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The Assembly Committee on Judiciary will hold a public hearing Thursday on two bills related to drunk driving. Check the committee schedule for updated information throughout the week.

Signed into Law

On October 7, the governor signed 2015 Assembly Bill 252 into law as Wisconsin Act 61. The law extends the phase out of utility aid payments to communities for all types of power plants. Prior law applied only to nuclear and wind production plants.

As of Friday, October 9, the governor has signed 61 bills into law from the current session.

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

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.

Resources from the LRB Library

  • Claxton, Gary, et. al. "Health Benefits In 2015: Stable Trends In The Employer Market.Health Affairs 34, no. 10 (2015): 1779-1788. Full text available on the legislative network.

  • Health Policy Briefs. "Rebalancing Medicaid Long-Term Services And Supports” Health Affairs, September 17, 2015.

  • Joint Study Committee on Civil Service. History of Civil Service Law: Revision of Chapter 16. Madison, WI: Joint Study Committee on Civil Service, 1965-1967. (Legis 1965-1966 Civs h)

    Vol. 1: Minutes and voting records (1966-1967)
    Vol. 2: Correspondence (1966-1972)
    Vol. 3: Staff papers
    Vol. 4: Drafts of proposed legislation (1967-1969)
    Vol. 5: Working drafts and final legislation Chapter 270 (Laws of 1971)

Recent Publications

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

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Last revised: October 9, 2015