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 schedule of floorperiods for the 2009-2010 Legislative Session was established by 2009 Senate Joint Resolution 1. The next legislative floorperiod will commence on Tuesday, February 24.
On February 19, Governor Doyle signed the Budget Adjustment Bill (2009 Senate Bill 62), creating 2009 Wisconsin Act 2. The bill passed swiftly through the Senate and Assembly (18-15 and 51-48, respectively). Items of interest in the bill include a provision for combined reporting for corporations, an increase in the hospital assessment for FY 2008-09, and the introduction of the streamlined sales tax which will require sales and use taxes to be collected on purchases of specified digital goods like music downloads. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a summary of the bill's provisions.
After Governor Doyle delivered his Budget Message (video) to the Legislature on February 17, the Joint Committee on Finance introduced the Biennial Budget Bill, 2009 Assembly Bill 75. The Department of Administration has issued its guide to the bill, the Budget in Brief. Items of interest in the budget bill include:
Governor Doyle's introduction of the Biennial Budget was delayed so that his office could review the federal economic stimulus package, which was signed by President Obama on February 17. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was passed by Congress on February 13. The governor has announced that Wisconsin will receive more than $3.7 billion in federal stimulus funds. The newly created Wisconsin Office of Recovery and Reinvestment has released a list which estimates how much the state will receive by federal program.
For a historic comparison of how federal economic stimulus packages have impacted the state, the LRB library has dozens of the original reports documenting the economic stimulus and work relief projects funded during the 1930s through federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) spending and state funds. The reports, including such titles as A Half Billion Dollars for Public Welfare in Wisconsin, 1931-1936 and Review of Work Relief Activities, April 1934-Aug. 1935, are listed in LRBCAT under the keyword search terms “Wisconsin Public Welfare Dept.” and “Wisconsin Emergency Relief Administration.”
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue reports that it expects Wisconsin to follow the national recession in further decline during 2009, with recovery not expected to begin until late 2010. The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau also reports that general tax collections will be $342.4 million less than it reported in its November 20 report to the Joint Committee on Finance. The bureau projects tax collections to be $267.1 million lower in 2008-09, $60.1 million lower in 2009-10, and $15.2 million lower in 2010-11.
On February 19, the Joint Committee on Legislative Audit unanimously agreed to have the Legislative Audit Bureau conduct a full audit of Wisconsin Shares, the state child-care program. The audit was prompted by an investigative report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived audio of the committee's meeting is available.
The State of the Tribes address is scheduled for February 24 before a joint session of the state legislature.
Governor Doyle has directed his 16 cabinet secretaries to refuse their 2% salary increase, which was scheduled for June, in response to the state’s economic downturn and budget deficit. The cabinet secretaries last received a raise in July 2008, when their salary was increased by 1%.
The minimum markup requirement on motor vehicle fuel sales, contained in Wisconsin’s Unfair Sales Act (§100.30), has been found unconstitutional in federal district court. The law requires retailers to sell fuel at a price that is 6% above their actual cost, or 9.18% above the “average terminal” or wholesale price. The court found that the Wisconsin statute conflicts with federal antitrust law prohibiting illegal restraints of trade, so it violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
2009 Wisconsin Act 1, relating to extending unemployment compensation benefits, was signed by Governor Doyle on January 29, 2009. Introduced as 2009 Assembly Bill 5, it passed the Assembly on January 28 by a vote of 98 to 1 and was concurred in by the Senate on January 28 by a vote of 33 to 0.
The text and history of other legislation introduced in the 2009 Legislative Session may be accessed on the Legislature's Web site. Click on "Text of Introduced Proposals" in the Legislative Documents Search.
Please see the Schedule of Committee Activities to view the full monthly calendar and details on times and locations of committee meetings.
The Legislative Reference Bureau recently issued the following publications for the start of the new session:
Recent publications by other legislative service agencies:
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.”
Last revised: November 07, 2012