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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 6, 2009

With the signing of the biennial budget on June 29, the most recent legislative floorperiod has concluded. The next floor period will commence on September 15. The schedule of floorperiods for the 2009-2010 Legislative Session was established by 2009 Senate Joint Resolution 1.

Budget Bill – Assembly Bill 75

Budget Signing

The enrolled budget bill was presented to the Governor and signed into law on June 29, marking the first time since 1977 that the biennial budget was enacted before July 1, the date on which the new biennium begins. The signed budget bill became 2009 Wisconsin Act 28, and is available for viewing here. The text of the Governor’s budget address is available here, and the Governor’s veto message can be found here.

Guides to the Budget Process

The LRB Library staff recommend these titles to help readers follow the state budget as it works its way through Wisconsin's legislative process. The Library's own Tap the Power bibliography, Executive Budget Support Documentation summarizes the publications produced by state agencies, the Governor's State Budget Office and the Legislature during the budget process. (The bibliography was issued before AB-75 was introduced and some titles refer to 2007/2009 budget documents but most titles and call numbers remain the same for 2009/2011 budget documents.) The State Budget Process / Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau (2009) (Informational Paper #70) describes how budget bills are introduced and enacted. The first section is a general overview. A detailed Appendix I discusses various exceptional circumstances. Additional appendices offer sample charts and graphs from the previous budget session to describe how appropriations and expenditures are distributed across the state. For a historical perspective on the state budget process, every two years the LRB publishes the Executive Budget Bills Enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature, 1931-2007 (Wisconsin Brief 07-8). This brief contains a chart showing the dates when each stage in the budget process was reached for every biennium since 1931

Other Budget News

On May 11, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that it now believes that general fund tax revenues will be lower than January’s estimates by $408 million in 2008-09, $573 million in 2009-10, and $622 million in 2010-11. The three-year reduction is $1,603 million, or approximately -4.3%.

On May 21, the Doyle administration announced additional proposals for reductions in state spending to offset the projected shortfall:

The above proposals are expected to yield an additional $1.629 billion in savings.

On May 13, Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan and Assembly Minority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald said that assembly legislative staff will be put on furlough for 16 days over the next two years to match the order by Governor Doyle for executive branch employees. Representatives Sheridan and Fitzgerald also announced they will each return 16 days of their legislative pay to the state treasury, as the governor previously said he would do.

State Employment Situation

The Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) has issued a new issue of Wisconsin Job Watch which shows a continuing decline in Wisconsin job numbers, although the rate of job losses has slowed. The press release issued by COWS states that key statistics include:

Recently Signed Into Law

John Doe Proceedings

2009 Wisconsin Act 24, introduced as Senate Bill 51, was signed into law by Governor Doyle on June 12. The new law affects judicial discretion in John Doe proceedings and offers compensation for legal representation of public employees in John Doe proceedings.

State School Aid

2009 Wisconsin Act 23, introduced as Senate Bill 232, was signed into law by Governor Doyle on June 11. It relates to the payment of state school aid in June 2009 and allows state aid payments to utilize federal stimulus funds.

Bicycle Safety

2009 Wisconsin Act 22, introduced as Senate Bill 29, was signed into law by Governor Doyle on June 8. It places liability on car drivers for opening motor vehicle doors into traffic lanes.

Employment Discrimination

2009 Wisconsin Act 20, introduced as Senate Bill 20, was signed into law by Governor Doyle on June 8. It authorizes circuit courts to order a person who engages in discrimination in employment to pay compensatory and punitive damages and a surcharge.

Child Safety Alarms in Child Care Vehicles

2009 Wisconsin Act 19, introduced as Senate Bill 141, was signed into law by Governor Doyle on May 29. The law requires certain vehicles that transport children to and from a child care provider to have child safety alarms installed. The alarm system prompts the driver of a child care vehicle to inspect the vehicle for children before exiting. The law was written in response to incidents of children dying after being left alone in child care vehicles.

A list of enacted legislation from the 2009 session can be viewed at:

Bill Activity

Hunting Age

Senate Bill 167, introduced on April 14, lowers the minimum hunting age from 12 years of age to 10 years of age for persons who hunt under the hunting mentorship program established in the bill. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 27-6 and was immediately messaged on June 9. The Assembly concurred in the bill as amended by Assembly Amendment 1 on June 18.

Breastfeeding in Public – Committee Action

The Assembly Committee on Public Health held an executive session on June 30 to discuss Assembly Bill 57. The bill permits a mother to breast-feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be. Several states have addressed the rights of women to breastfeed in public in recent years. For a fifty state survey of such legislation see the La Leche League International: Breastfeeding and the Law site. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a policy page outlining the federal government's efforts to promote breastfeeding and listing the policy positions of several medical organizations with regard to breastfeeding.

Recent Bill Introductions

Several bills from the Legislative Council's Special Committee on Emergency Management and Continuity of Government were introduced recently:

Also introduced recently:

Assembly Bill 321, requiring salary increases for state elected officials to be enacted by law.

Assembly Bill 324, prohibiting impersonation of a fire fighter, an emergency medical technician, or a first responder.

Assembly Bill 330, changing the requirements for electors who vote by absentee ballot.

Assembly Bill 332, authorizing the use of airguns and crossbows under certain hunting licenses.

Assembly Bill 333 and Senate Bill 235, relating to freedom of the press and the privilege of a member of the news media from being required to reveal confidential news sources except under court order.

Assembly Bill 334 and Senate Bill 233, creating an individual income tax checkoff for the Special Olympics Wisconsin, Inc.

Assembly Bill 335 and Senate Bill 234, creating another exception to the rule relating to the consumption of alcohol beverages in public places, by including certain events held on the campuses of private colleges.

Assembly Bill 336, providing immunity from liability for a health care provider who reports certain violations of the law or medial standards that poses a risk to public health or safety.

Passenger Rail for Wisconsin — News from the LRB Library

The possibility for bringing high-speed rail to Wisconsin is more likely since the Obama administration formally introduced its Vision for High-Speed Rail in America plan. The strategic plan includes a high-speed rail line through Wisconsin from Chicago to the Twin Cities. This plan could complement initiatives for a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) proposed by the Legislative Council Study Committee on Regional Transportation Authority and dovetail plans included in the 2009-11 state budget to study potential passenger rail routes. For further information about other rail options, see also the LRB's Light Rail and Commuter Rail Tap the Power bibliography from September 2007.

Committee Activity

The Assembly Committee on Judiciary and Ethics will meet on June 30 for both a public hearing on Assembly Bill 304, which would prohibit felons from acting as lobbyists, and an executive session on Assembly Bill 245, which would regulate lobbyist activity by former legislators.

See the Schedule of Committee Activities to view the full monthly calendar and details on times and locations of committee meetings.

Recent Publications

The Legislative Reference Bureau recently issued the following publications:

The LRB is on Twitter

You can now access updates from the LRB on Twitter, including information on new LRB publications, new acquisitions by the LRB Library, and general information about the legislature, and the current legislative session. To find the LRB on Twitter, go to:

LRB Podcasts

The LRB has also released a new Podcast about the online library catalog system (LRBCat) and one about Conflict in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Recent Publications by Other Legislative Service Agencies

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 08, 2012