Spotlight, Capitol Dome

Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight

This page, maintained by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, provides an overview of recent and upcoming activities in the Wisconsin Legislature. Its content is revised weekly during legislative floorperiods and less often when the legislature is not in session. Links to more detailed information are highlighted in the text. Related links, including links to earlier issues of the Spotlight, are listed at the end of this feature.

September 17, 2004

New Senate Majority Leader

Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) was elected Senate Majority Leader on September 17. He replaces Senator Mary Panzer (R-West Bend) who resigned the position after losing in the Republican primary on Tuesday.

General Election Notes

All 99 members of the assembly and 16 of 33 state senators — those from even-numbered districts — are up for election this fall. The general election will be November 2, 2004.

Representative Gregory Huber (D-Wausau) has been elected a Circuit Court Judge and resigned from the assembly on May 31. Representative Dan Schooff (D-Beloit) resigned on July 2, 2004. Both seats will be filled at the fall elections. Their resignations leave the Republicans in control of the assembly 59-38.

Senators Chuck Chvala (D-Madison) and Mark Meyer (D-La Crosse) and Representatives Larry Balow (D-Eau Claire), Steven Foti (R-Oconomowoc), DuWayne Johnsrud (R-Eastman), Shirley Krug (D-Milwaukee), Bonnie Ladwig (R-Mt. Pleasant), Mike Powers (R-Albany), Lorraine Seratti (R-Florence), and Wayne Wood (D-Janesville) are not candidates for reelection this fall. Senator Gwendolynne Moore (D-Milwaukee), and Representatives Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), Mark Miller (D-Monona), Luther Olsen (R-Berlin), and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) are running for other offices. Senator Robert Welch (R-Redgranite), and Representatives Tom Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) and Johnnie Morris (D-Milwaukee) lost primaries for other offices. Senator Mary Panzer (R-West Bend) and Representative Michael Lehman (R-Hartford) lost primary challenges for their seats.

Legislative Committees

The standing committees of both houses continue to meet even though the legislature will not, barring special or extraordinary sessions, be on the floor until the 2005 session convenes on January 3, 2005. Committees are meeting to review new administrative rules and to consider matters which may be before the legislature next session. The Weekly Hearing Schedule provides information about the ongoing committee work of both houses as well as Legislative Council Study Committees.

2004 Legislative Council Study Committees

Every two years in the period between legislative sessions, study committees are established by the Joint Legislative Council to examine major issues and problems identified by the legislature. The study committees are made up of legislators and citizens who are interested in or knowledgeable about the study topic. A list of the 2004 study committees and information on their tasks, meeting dates, and other documents is available on the Council's site.

The 2005 Legislative Session

The 2005 legislative session begins on January 3, 2005. No bills carry over from one two-year session to the next. If a bill is reintroduced, it receives a new number in the new session. The schedule for the 2005-2006 session will not be set until the legislature meets in January. In recent sessions, the new schedule has usually been similar to that of the previous session. The 2003-2004 session schedule is still available.


There are no scheduled floorperiods remaining this year. The governor has signed or vetoed all bills passed by the legislature this session. All bills which have not become law are dead.

The last regular floorperiod ended on March 11, 2004. This was the last general business floorperiod of the 2003-2004 legislative session. The legislature ended an extraordinary session on May 20.

The legislature may call itself into extraordinary session again or the governor may call a special session at any time before the new legislative session begins in January 2005.

Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service

The legislature has unveiled the Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service. Citizens using the system will receive daily or weekly emails when specified legislative activity occurs. For example, users may choose to be notified about every action affecting a specific proposal, bills introduced by a particular legislator, activities of a specific committee, or introductions relating to a particular topic. This service is designed to make it much easier for citizens to follow the activity of the legislature.

2003-2004 Wisconsin Blue Book Available

The 2003-2004 Wisconsin Blue Book, the official almanac of Wisconsin State Government, is now available both in print and on the Internet. The Blue Book, which is compiled by the Legislative Reference Bureau each odd-numbered year, contains nearly 1,000 pages of information about Wisconsin and its state government. The new edition contains a feature article entitled "Wisconsin's People: A Portrait of Wisconsin's Population on the Threshold of the 21st Century," which is a treasure trove of information about what the 2000 Census of Population reveals about the people and communities of Wisconsin. Members of the Wisconsin Legislature are provided with a limited number of Blue Books for distribution to constituents. Copies of the Blue Book may also be purchased from the Department of Administration Document Sales Unit (608-264-9419 or 800-362-7253).

More information on obtaining a copy of the 2003-2004 Wisconsin Blue Book.

Internet Broadcast of Floor Debate

Citizens can listen to live floor debate in both houses using the Legislature's InSession service: Senate and Assembly. Broadcasts are live only. If one house or the other is not in session, there is no audio available. The assembly offers live video as well, with links from the InSession page. The InSession pages also provide the day's calendar with links from the calendar to bills before the house and to roll call votes as they occur.

Legislative Council Legislative Research Center

The Legislative Council's Research Center provides overviews of topics of interest to the legislature as well as links to Council publications related to the topic.

Related Links

2003-2004 Wisconsin Blue Book

2003-2004 Legislative Session Schedule

Weekly Hearing Schedule

Previous Legislative Spotlights

Final Report of the Criminal Penalties Study Committee

Madison: A Capital Idea

Wisconsin Electronic Reader: A digital imaging project of the UW-Madison Libraries and the State Historical Society, reproducing letters and other items from Wisconsin's history.

State Capitol photographs and tour information

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Last revised: September 17, 2004