Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight
Maintained by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), this page provides an overview of recent and upcoming activities in the Wisconsin Legislature. The LRB revises its content weekly during legislative floorperiods. Links to more detailed information are highlighted in the text.
The legislature will be on the floor from January 15 until January 31, 2008, according to 2007 Senate Joint Resolution 1. After that, the next scheduled general business floorperiod will be February 19 to March 13, the last of the 2007 biennial session.
The governor called a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature for December 11 to take action on campaign finance reform. Pursuant to December 2007 Special Session Senate Joint Resolution 1, the Senate and Assembly adjourned the December 2007 Special Session to January 15, 2008, at 11:00 a.m.
The State Elections Board has reached an agreement with Accenture LLP to terminate its contract to complete a workable statewide voter registration list. Under the agreement, Accenture waives certain payments it is due from the state, and leaves the state with ownership of the program.
On December 21, Governor Doyle signed 2007 Assembly Bill 207, creating 2007 Wisconsin Act 42 with partial vetoes. The act establishes a statewide video franchise, repealing state laws that allow municipalities to grant cable franchises and requiring cable companies to obtain a franchise through the state Department of Financial Institutions.
On January 4, Governor Doyle signed 2007 Assembly Bill 254, developed by the Legislative Council Special Committee on Municipal Annexation, and relating to municipal boundary agreements. It became 2007 Wisconsin Act 43.
2007 Assembly Bill 699, introduced on January 15, would prohibit individuals from making false reports to law enforcement agents. This would be in addition to the current prohibition on making false statements to law enforcement or manipulating physical evidence with the intent to mislead law enforcement.
2007 Assembly Bill 702, introduced on January 17, would prohibit a municipality from enacting or enforcing a resolution or ordinance related to placement in the community of individuals on the state’s sexual offender list.
2007 Senate Bill 397, introduced on January 17, would create a system of registration and regulation to compel manufacturers to assist consumers in recycling certain electronic devices that may contain hazardous materials such as personal computers and video display devices.
2007 Senate Bill 400, introduced on January 17, would require the school board of a district that provides a program of abstinence-only sexual education to notify the parent or guardian of a student of this fact.
Senate Bill 379, introduced on January 9, proposes to create fire safety standards for cigarettes. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Public Health, Senior Issues, Long Term Care and Privacy.
2007 Assembly Bill 672, introduced on January 10, proposes changes in the laws relating to hunting by minors, including the creation of a hunting mentorship program for 10-year-olds.
2007 Assembly Bill 633, relating to reforming the state budget process, was introduced on December 19. The bill would provide a deadline of August 1 of the odd-numbered year for passage of the budget, after which, if no bill has been passed, elected officials would not receive salary installments until passage. The bill would also restrict political contributions during the budget process, and would restrict nonfiscal policy items from being placed in the budget. The bill has been referred to the Joint Committee on Finance.
2007 Assembly Bill 627, introduced December 19, would regulate the convening and conduct of budget conference committees and compel attendance of members at meetings. It has been referred to the Committee on Assembly Organization.
2007 Senate Bill 365, introduced December 19 by the Joint Legislative Council, proposes a series of changes to the school financial system in the state. It includes provisions related to school transportation and declining enrollment districts. A similar proposal, 2007 Assembly Bill 653, was introduced on January 3.
2007 Senate Bill 355, introduced on December 13, proposes restrictions on using electronic text messaging devices while operating a motor vehicle. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Tourism.
On December 11, the Assembly adopted Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to 2007 Assembly Bill 377, relating to requiring hospitals to provide information about and access to emergency contraception. The vote was 56-41. The Assembly refused to suspend the rules to order the bill to its third and final reading.
On December 11, the Assembly passed 2007 Assembly Bill 464, which would prohibit a person operating a vehicle under an instruction permit or certain minors on probationary licenses from using a cell phone while driving, except to report an emergency. The Assembly amended the original proposal to add specific prohibitions on text messaging, electronic mailing, and other forms of electronic communication. The amendment also restricts use of a global positioning system to a device that is installed in or on the vehicle. The vote was 90-7. The bill is now in the Senate Committee on Transportation and Tourism.
2007 Senate Bill 352, introduced on December 10, proposes new disclosure requirements with respect to residential mortgages. It was referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, Biotechnology and Financial Institutions.
2007 Assembly Bill 585, introduced on November 27, revises the start date of fall classes in schools by removing the prohibition on public schools starting fall classes prior to September 1. It was referred to the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Recreation and State Properties.
2007 Senate Bill 309, prohibits local ordinances and policies that prohibit immigration status inquiries and requires reporting to the federal government about the presence of illegal aliens, was introduced on November 2 and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Corrections. It was then withdrawn from that committee on November 6 and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, and Housing. A companion bill, 2007 Assembly Bill 569, was introduced on November 6 and referred to the Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics.
2007 Senate Bill 245, introduced on July 25, and 2007 Assembly Bill 471, introduced on July 26, would regulate gift cards and certificates to remove most expiration dates and require that a valid gift card be honored by a retailer. Two other bills, 2007 Assembly Bill 360 and 2007 Senate Bill 191, would continue to allow expiration dates and service charges, but would require conspicuous disclosure of such terms. Public hearings have been held on SB-245, SB-191, and AB-360.
2007 Assembly Bill 504, introduced on September 13, would provide that the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources would be appointed by the Natural Resources Board, rather than the governor. A hearing was held on the bill on October 10 by the Assembly Committee on Natural Resources. On December 19, the committee recommended passage of the bill as amended, 13-1.
A public hearing on a proposal to expand the state's "no-call list" to cell phones was held April 25 by the Senate Committee on Small Business, Emergency Preparedness, Workforce Development, Technical Colleges and Consumer Protection. 2007 Senate Bill 99 would also allow small businesses to be included on the list and would increase the monetary penalties for violating the law. At an executive session held on May 3, the committee offered amendments to the bill and recommended passage as amended, 3-2. On October 29, the bill was referred to the Joint Committee on Finance.
A proposal to ban smoking in taverns, restaurants, and other workplaces currently exempted from statewide smoking prohibitions was introduced April 18 as 2007 Senate Bill 150. Senators Risser and Roessler are the primary sponsors. The Senate Committee on Public Health, Senior Issues, Long Term Care and Privacy voted to pass the bill out of committee on January 11 and it will now go to the full Senate.
Three joint resolutions to amend the Wisconsin Constitution were adopted on first consideration by the 2005 Wisconsin Legislature and are eligible for second consideration by the 2007 Legislature. They relate to: 1) requiring a photographic identification to vote, or to register to vote at the polls on election day; 2) prohibiting partial vetoes from creating new sentences; and 3) prohibiting vetoes of individual words in sentences.
On January 15, the Assembly passed Senate Joint Resolution 5, a proposed constitutional amendment on second consideration to prohibit item vetoes from effectively creating new sentences (so-called "Frankenstein" vetoes). The vote was 94-1. Senate Amendment 1 provides that the measure will be on the April 2008 statewide ballot.
Assembly Joint Resolution 17, proposing a second consideration related to requiring photographic identification to vote or register to vote on election day, was introduced on February 15. The resolution was given a second reading and debated in the Assembly on March 1. The Assembly voted 54-43 to pass this resolution. The resolution was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs on April 19.
On October 24, the Assembly passed 2007 Assembly Joint Resolution 39, related to property taxes and exceptions to the uniformity clause of the Wisconsin Constitution, by a vote of 96-0. The Assembly also adopted Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 before passage. The resolution has been received by the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Tax Fairness and Family Prosperity. This is first consideration for the proposal.
2007 Assembly Joint Resolution 63, introduced August 28, would amend the state constitution to change the procedure for redistricting the state legislature. The proposal would create a state redistricting board composed of four state constitutional officers and a member appointed by the state supreme court. It is currently in the Assembly Committee on Elections and Constitutional Law.
2007 Assembly Joint Resolution 81, introduced on December 6, proposes eliminating the spring election cycle, and requiring candidates for those offices to run on a separate, nonpartisan ballot in the November general election cycle. This constitutional amendment was referred to the Assembly Committee on Elections and Constitutional Law.
Legislators have proposed constitutional amendments on first consideration on taxation, term limits, equal rights, the Supreme Court, and state segregated funds. See the Legislature's Web site for more information by searching for "constitutional amendments" (with the quotation marks).
Several Assembly and Senate committees will be meeting on Tuesday through Thursday, January 22-24. Please see the Schedule of Committee Activities to view the monthly calendar.
On January 2, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau issued a publication describing the state tax and fee modifications created by Act 20, the budget act for 2007-09. In December, the LFB released its Summary of Budget Provisions.
The Legislative Audit Bureau has released opinions on reports on the Department of Employee Trust Funds 2005 financial statements and the State of Wisconsin's annual financial statements. The bureau has released audits on the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board Television Network, Radio Network, and the Wisconsin Public Broadcasting Foundation Inc.
The Legislative Reference Bureau has released its Annual Report. The LRB has also issued one new Wisconsin Brief and one Budget Brief, Wisconsin Brief 08-1, "Low-Income Energy Assistance Fee," and Budget Brief 07-2, "Transfer from the Medical Malpractice Fund." Other recent LRB publications include Wisconsin Brief 07-8, "Executive Budget Bills Enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature, 1931-2007," Wisconsin Brief 07-9,"Executive Partial Veto of Senate Bill 40," and Wisconsin Brief 07-10, "2008 Wisconsin Presidential Preference Primary."
Two Informational Bulletins were also issued by the LRB as companions to the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Blue Book: Informational Bulletin 07-1, "A Study Guide to the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Blue Book" and Informational Bulletin 07-2, "Inside the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Blue Book". LRB's Theobald Library published an annotated bibliography on Climate Change / Global Warming.
On January 16, the Legislative Council released its report to the legislature by the Special Committee on Strengthening Wisconsin Families.
Last revised: October 24, 2012