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. Links to more detailed information are highlighted in the text.
The 2011-2012 legislative session began when the new legislature was sworn in on January 3, 2011. The schedule of floorperiods for the new session was established by Senate Joint Resolution 1. The January special session is ongoing. The regular session has adjourned pursuant to SJR-1; the next scheduled floorperiod begins on April 5.
Governor Walker called the legislature into special session on January 4 to consider legislation on a variety of topics, including tax credits, tort law, medical savings accounts, other legislation relating to taxation, and the budget repair bill.
Conference Substitute Amendment 1 to January 2011 Special Session Assembly Bill 11 passed both houses and was signed by Governor Walker on March 11, 2011. The bill was signed into law as Wisconsin Act 10. The Act will take effect the day after it is published by the Secretary of State, who has 10 working days to do so. The Secretary has indicated to the media that he intends to wait the full 10 days to publish the bill, which would occur on Friday, March 25, making the bill effective on Monday, March 28.
On March 9, the Senate requested a Committee of Conference and appointed Senators Fitzgerald, Ellis, and Miller as conferees. The Assembly agreed to the Committee of Conference and appointed Representatives Fitzgerald, Suder, and Barca as conferees. The committee offered Conference Substitute Amendment 1, containing all non-fiscal provisions of the budget adjustment bill. The Senate voted, 18-1, in favor of the Conference Substitute Amendment on March 10. The Assembly passed the conference report the following day, 53-42.
Critics of the legislation have contended that the conference committee met in violation of open meetings law. An open meetings complaint was filed by Representative Barca on March 10. Wisconsin’s open meetings law can be found in Subchapter V of Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 19. Senate Rule 93 and Assembly Rule 93 provide modified notification procedures for times when the legislature is in special session. Article IV, Section 8 of the Wisconsin Constitution gives each house the authority to determine the rules of its proceedings. For more information on this topic, see our Informational Bulletin 98-1 on Special and Extraordinary Sessions of the Wisconsin Legislature.
A copy of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s summary of provisions of the Conference Committee Substitute Amendment can be accessed here.
On February 14, 2011, January Special Session Senate Bill 11 was introduced by the Joint Committee on Finance, at the request of Governor Scott Walker, to address the budget deficit for the current fiscal year. The Joint Committee on Finance held a public hearing on February 16 and voted for passage (as amended by Senate Amendment 1) 12-4 on February 17. Action on the bill was delayed due to the lack of the required quorum in the Senate. On February 17, 14 Democratic senators left the state, effectively preventing a vote from being taken. Around 1:00 a.m. February 25, the Assembly passed January Special Session Assembly Bill 11, its version of the budget repair bill, 51-17, after a 60-hour floor session during which over 100 amendments to the bill were offered.
January Special Session AB-11 was taken up by the Senate on February 25 with all 14 Democratic senators still absent. The bill was debated and given its second and third readings. While both versions of the bill, SB-11 and AB-11, were ready for a vote on final passage in the Senate, they did not have the 3/5 quorum required for passage of fiscal bills.
In light of the Senate Democrats’ absences, the following measures were taken:
January 2011 Special Session Senate Resolution 1, relating to “compelling attendance of senators without leave,” was introduced and passed on March 3.
2011 Senate Resolutions 4 through 17, relating to: “imposing penalties and costs” on the 14 senators for “being absent without leave” were introduced on March 3, and were adopted on March 9.
On March 4, Governor Walker issued layoff notices to the statewide bargaining units notifying them of possible layoffs in early April. However, with the signing of 2011 Act 10 on March 11, Governor Walker directed that the notices of layoff be rescinded.
Governor Scott Walker delivered his 2011-2012 Budget Message to a joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday, March 1. A link to the video is available on the Office of the Governor's Web site.
The Legislative Reference Bureau has compiled documents related to the creation of the executive budget here.
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. Be sure to select "Jan 2011 Special Session" as the session to be able to view Special Session bills.
60th Assembly District (Formerly represented by Mark Gottlieb)
83rd Assembly District (Formerly represented by Scott Gunderson)
94th Assembly District (Formerly represented by Mike Huebsch)
The Census Bureau has released detailed census data from the 2010 census. Wisconsin’s population on April 1, 2010 was 5,686,986. The ideal population of a senate district in a senate of 33 members will be 172,333. The ideal population of an assembly district in an assembly of 99 members will be 57,444. The largest senate district in terms of the 2010 population is the 27th senate district, with a population of 197,815, an increase of 35,452 since 2000. The smallest is the 6th senate district, with a population of 152,758, a decrease of 9,931 since 2000. The largest assembly district is the 79th assembly district, with a population of 76,116, an increase of 21,554 since 2000. The smallest assembly district is the 18th assembly district, with a population of 48,387, a decrease of 5,749 since 2000.
See the Schedule of Committee Activities for further information about locations and times of committee hearings held by standing or special committees.
For more information about Legislative Service Agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.
Last revised: November 16, 2012