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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 Week of July 7, 2008

Legislative Session

Pursuant to 2007 Senate Joint Resolution 1, the last general business floorperiod of the 2007 biennial session concluded on March 13, and the last veto review period ended on May 29. The 2007 Legislature is not scheduled to meet again in regular session for the remainder of 2008.

Flood Assistance

Like much of the Midwest, Wisconsin has been hit hard by summer storms and many areas are dealing with flood conditions. The LRB Library has prepared a list of flood-related resources available at the LRB. These noteworthy titles on flooding, along with other topics, are also listed on the library’s main page.

On June 9, the Governor declared a state of emergency for 29 Wisconsin counties due to the flooding, and on June 10, he requested FEMA assistance for the state. On June 14, FEMA declared parts of the state disaster areas. As of July 2, 27 counties are eligible for federal disaster assistance.

Information on the flooding, and on flood assistance, is available through the Wisconsin Emergency Management Web site.

Department of Children and Families Launched

The new Department of Children and Families began operating on July 1. The department will be Wisconsin’s first cabinet agency focused exclusively on promoting the safety, economic and social well-being of kids and families of the state. It will bring together 30 services currently split between the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). More information can be viewed on their Web site.

No-call List Expands to Cell Phones

As of June 5, cell phone users are able to add their phone numbers to the state’s do-not-call list. The addition of cell phones to the no-call list was a provision in the budget repair bill, 2007 Wisconsin Act 226, signed on May 16. The provision allows for residential customers to request to be included in a nonsolicitation directory for commercial mobile service in addition to basic local exchange service. For more information on signing up for the state’s no-call list, see the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s no-call list Web site.

Special Sessions Wrap-up

Three special sessions were adjourned as of May 15: the December 2007 Special Session on campaign finance reform, the March 2008 Special Session on the budget deficit, and the April 2008 Special Session on the Great Lakes Water Compact.

Great Lakes Water Compact

On April 9, the Governor Doyle issued Executive Order #246, calling for a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature beginning on April 17 to address the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The session was called after the legislature reached an agreement on the multistate compact, which attempts to preserve and protect the waters of the Great Lakes. April 2008 Special Session Senate Bill 1 was introduced on May 12. On May 14, it passed in the Senate by a vote of 32-1 and in the Assembly by a vote of 96-1. The governor signed it on May 27 as Act 227. With that action, Wisconsin joins Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and New York in approving the compact. Legislation passed in Ohio is awaiting action by the governor while bills are still pending in Michigan and Pennsylvania. The compact is subject to Congressional approval. For more information, see the Legislative Council and Council of Great Lakes Governors Web sites, and the LRB’s Wisconsin Brief 08-8, “Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact.”

Budget Deficit

On March 5, the governor issued Executive Order #241 calling a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature beginning on March 13 to address a budget shortfall for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2009. March 2008 Special Session Assembly Bill 1 was introduced on March 12. The Assembly and Senate each passed its own amended version of the bill. A committee of conference introduced Conference Substitute Amendment 1 on May 12. The Senate adopted the conference committee version on May 13 by a vote of 17-16 and the Assembly concurred in the bill by a vote of 51-46 on May 14. Governor Doyle issued his partial vetoes for 2007 Wisconsin Act 226 on May 16. The Assembly's veto override attempts are discussed above.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) published a comparative summary of the governor’s, Assembly’s, and Senate’s versions of the bill on March 26, and a summary of the conference amendment on May 12. LFB published a summary of the governor’s partial vetoes on May 19. Other LFB publications on the budget adjustment are also available online.

Legislators Not Running for Reelection

Senator Roger Breske, who has represented the 12th Senate District since 1990, resigned from the Senate effective June 4. Breske’s appointment as Commissioner of Railroads was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 30-0 on May 28.

On June 18, Governor Doyle appointed Senator Carol Roessler as the administrator for the Division of State and Local Finance in the Department of Revenue. Roessler will begin this position on July 7.

In addition to Senators Breske and Roessler, several other members have announced that they do not intend to run for reelection. Among them are Representatives Sheryl Albers, Frank Boyle, Barbara Gronemus, Eugene Hahn, Suzanne Jeskewitz, Jim Kreuser, Terry Musser, Carol Owens, David Travis, Sheldon Wasserman, and Steve Wieckert. Exit interviews of Representatives Boyle, Gronemus, Jeskewitz, Musser, Travis, and Wieckert and Senator Roessler can be viewed on WisconsinEye.

Committee Activity

Because the final general business floorperiod of the 2007-2008 session has concluded, committees are no longer meeting to consider proposed legislation. They will, however, continue to hold occasional meetings and public hearings on various matters such as appointments to boards and commissions, state contracts, and administrative rules.

Please see the Schedule of Committee Activities to view the full monthly calendar and to obtain details regarding times and locations of committee meetings.

Recent Publications

The Legislative Reference Bureau recently issued Wisconsin Brief 08-8, “Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact,” Research Bulletin 08-1, “Summary of the 2007-2008 Wisconsin Legislative Session,” and Wisconsin Brief 08-7, “State Agencies, Boards, Commissions, or Councils Created, Repealed, or Revised by the 2007 Legislature.”

The Legislative Audit Bureau has recently released two letter reports: one on the state’s Unclaimed Property Program, and the other on Overtime in State Agencies.

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has recently issued its Comparative Summary of Budget Adjustment Provisions, and preliminary information on 2007-08 Property Taxes in Wisconsin.

Recent publications from the Legislative Council can be found here.

Blue Book Study Guides

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.”

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Last revised: November 05, 2012