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 final general business floorperiod of the 2009-2010 legislative session concluded on April 22. A limited business floorperiod will begin on May 4 and end on May 6, and a veto review floorperiod is scheduled for May 25 and 26. The schedule for the current legislative session was established by 2009 Senate Joint Resolution 1.
2009 Senate Bill 530, which proposes to regulate the pay day loan industry, was passed Thursday night, April 22, by the Assembly on a 72-55 vote. The Assembly approved the bill with an amendment from the Senate, which had passed the bill earlier that afternoon. The senate amendment deleted language that banned auto title loans, but the bill still provides for the regulation and restriction of those loans.
On Thursday, April 22, the Senate concurred in Assembly amendments to 2009 Senate Bill 484, which creates a basic health benefit plan for Wisconsin residents. The BadgerCare Plus Basic Plan would cover those on the waiting list for the BadgerCare Plus Core Plan. The bill was amended and passed by the Assembly on April 20.
The Assembly concurred in 2009 Senate Bill 434, which would allow sales of raw (unpasteurized) dairy products, by a vote of 60-35 on Friday morning.
On Thursday evening, the Assembly voted 50-47 to pass 2009 Senate Bill 437, which would reorganize the Milwaukee Public School System and creates a commission headed by the state superintendent to redistrict and implement new districts in the system.
Rep. Jeff Wood was officially censured by the Assembly on April 20. The Assembly amended 2009 Assembly Resolution 14, which originally proposed that Wood be expelled from the body. The censure comes one day after Wood pleaded no contest to an OWI charge in Columbia County, one of three he had been charged with. Wood was sentenced to 45 days in jail and a $1,500 fine; his license was revoked for 27 months. Wood is scheduled to begin his sentence on April 26.
The Senate concurred in the passage of 2009 Assembly Bill 333 on April 20, which provides journalists with protection for their confidential sources of information. Under the bill, only a court would be able to issue a subpoena to compel a journalist to testify about a confidential source under specified conditions.
On April 20, the Assembly concurred in the passage of 2009 Senate Bill 25, related to race-based mascots used by schools, by a vote of 53-45. Under the bill, a school district resident may object to use of a race-based mascot by filing a complaint with the state superintendent. Generally, the proposal would require the superintendent make a ruling after gathering information and conducting a hearing on the complaint.
Both the Senate and the Assembly passed 2009 Senate Bill 651, popularly known as the "Green to Gold" bill, on April 20. The bill would authorize loans through the Department of Commerce that would be granted to manufacturing businesses for implementing energy efficient measures, retooling to manufacture products that support a green economy, expanding or establishing clean energy processes, and hiring or retraining workers to take part in the above activities. The bill was adopted by a vote of 28-5 in the Senate and 78-20 in the Assembly.
On April 20, the Assembly concurred in the passage of 2009 Senate Joint Resolution 61, which would amend the state constitution to prohibit the partial veto of parts of bill sections. This was the resolution's first consideration. Under the resolution, the governor would not be able to veto a part of a bill section without vetoing that entire section. The Assembly vote was 50-48. To amend the constitution, an identically-worded resolution must be passed by the next legislature and then be voted on in a statewide referendum.
2009 Assembly Bill 496, which would prohibit electronic text messaging while driving, was amended by the Senate and passed on April 13. The Senate amendment was concurred in by the Assembly on April 15, and the bill will now go to the governor for enactment or veto.
The Legislature has declined to take a vote on a resolution to authorize the Attorney General to file a lawsuit against the federal government over health care reform. The Assembly rejected a procedural move to pull 2009 Assembly Resolution 21 from committee early on Friday morning. On April 20, the Senate rejected an attempt to schedule a vote on 2009 Senate Resolution 11.
With the adjournment of the Senate on Thursday afternoon, 2009 Senate Bill 450, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), will most likely expire with the legislative session. The bill was never scheduled for a vote in the senate chamber.
The Assembly has adjourned without taking a final vote on 2009 Assembly Bill 282, which would have allowed political subdivisions to create regional transit authorities (RTAs). Several amendments to the bill were introduced on April 20, but the bill did not get passed its second reading.
An election reform package bill, 2009 Assembly Bill 895, will expire with the session. The Assembly adjourned Thursday without scheduling a second or third reading of the bill. The bill would make changes to facilitate voter registration, change procedures for absentee voting, and address deceptive election practices.
A bill introduced in November by Rep. Pocan and Sen. Erpenbach related to the use of medical marijuana did not make it to the Assembly floor for a vote this session. 2009 Assembly Bill 554 would have established a medical necessity defense to marijuana-related prosecutions, and established a registry of medical marijuana users.
The Senate has adjourned without taking action on 2009 Assembly Bill 696, which relates to changes in telecommunications regulation and the Public Service Commission's authority.
The Senate adjourned without taking action on 2009 Assembly Bill 556, which would have established a state microbe.
As of April 22, 978 Assembly bills and 708 Senate bills have been introduced. All introduced legislation can be found on the Legislature's Searchable Infobases site, or by using the Request text and history of legislative proposals function on the home page.
On April 19, Governor Doyle signed 2009 Assembly Bill 770, relating to critical access hospitals, creating 2009 Wisconsin Act 190. The act imposes an assessment on critical access hospitals to help establish medical residencies and rotations at rural hospitals.
On April 21, the governor signed 24 recently passed bills into law. A summary of those bills can be found at the governor's web site.
Former state legislator and lieutenant governor Russell Olson died on April 14 at the age of 86. Olson represented the Kenosha area in the state assembly during the 1960s and 1970s. He was also the last lieutenant governor to serve as president of the state senate. Olson's biography from the 1979 Wisconsin Blue Book can be viewed here.
April 22, 2010, marked the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, initiated by former U.S. Senator and Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson. The LRB Library recommends the following resources for more information on Earth Day and Governor Nelson:
For more information about Legislative Service Agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.
Last revised: November 13, 2012