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, and the legislature is currently in recess. The next floorperiod is scheduled from June 7 to June 30 or until budget passage. The January special session is ongoing.
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.
On April 26, Governor Walker expanded the January Special Session to include January Special Session Assembly Bill 14 and January Special Session Senate Bill 13, relating to the state’s telecommunications laws.
Sick Leave Preemption. On May 5, Governor Scott Walker signed 2009 Senate Bill 23, into law as Wisconsin Act 16. The law preempts local government ordinances requiring employers to provide sick leave for family, medical, or health reasons.
Concealed Weapons. 2011 Assembly Bill 126 and 2011 Senate Bill 90, identical companion bills related to the issuance of concealed weapon permits, were introduced on May 10. In addition to the provisions related to concealed weapon permits these bills would also make various other changes to weapon possession regulations. 2011 Senate Bill 93 would also allow Wisconsin residents to carry concealed weapons and it would do so without requiring a permit or license from the state. The bill would eliminate the laws that currently prohibit concealed weapons rather than create a new law that would permit residents to carry concealed when licensed.
Voter ID. 2011 Assembly Bill 7, which proposes generally requiring the display of photo identification in order to vote, and makes other changes to elections, passed the Assembly on May 17 and the Senate on May 19.
UW Regents. 2011 Senate Bill 28, which requires the appointment of at least one citizen member from each congressional district to the UW Board of Regents, passed the Senate on May 17.
Synthetic Drugs. 2011 Senate Bill 54, which adds several non-narcotic, hallucinogenic substances, known as synthetic drugs, to Schedule I controlled substances, passed the Senate on May 17.
Deer Hunting. 2011 Senate Bill 75, which prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from establishing certain restrictions, such as the “Earn a Buck” rule, on hunting antlered deer and regulating the establishment of fall open seasons for hunting deer with firearms, passed the Senate on May 17.
Veterans Affairs Governance. 2011 Assembly Bill 96, which alters the membership of the Board of Veterans Affairs, and provides for the appointment of the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs by the governor instead of the board, passed the Assembly on May 17.
Traffic Stops. 2011 Senate Bill 15, which repeals requirements for collection and analysis for motor vehicle traffic stop information (“racial profiling” ), passed the Senate on February 23.
Early Release. 2011 Senate Bill 57, which generally repeals early release from incarceration provisions enacted in 2009 Wisconsin Act 28, passed the Senate on May 11.
School Choice. 2011 Assembly Bill 94, making changes to the Milwaukee Schools Parental Choice private schools voucher program, passed the Assembly on May 10.
Transportation Segregated Funds. 2011 Senate Joint Resolution 23, a constitutional amendment (first consideration) to constitutionally create a Department of Transportation, a transportation fund, and regulate the use of monies deposited into the fund, passed both the Senate and Assembly on May 17. To take effect, it must be passed in identical form by the 2013 Legislature and be ratified in a statewide referendum.
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.
Conference Substitute Amendment 1 to January 2011 Special Session Assembly Bill 11 passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor Walker as Wisconsin Act 10 on March 11, 2011. Unless otherwise specified in a law, Acts generally take effect the day after publication by the Secretary of State, who has 10 working days to do so. The Secretary of State indicated to the media that he intended to wait the full 10 days to publish the bill, which would have occurred on March 25.
On March 18, however, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi issued a temporary restraining order preventing publication of the act. Subsequently, the Legislative Reference Bureau posted the act on the legislature's Web site on March 25. On March 31, Judge Sumi clarified the restraining order to make it clear that it was intended to block implementation of the plan.
For a more complete history of the Budget Repair Bill, see the March 14 Spotlight.
January 2011 Special Session Senate Bill 12 passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor Walker on April 6, 2011, as Wisconsin Act 13. The bill focuses on the fiscal items which were deleted in January Special Session Assembly Bill 11 (Act 10).
The first budget issue papers have also been released.
Governor Scott Walker delivered his 2011-2013 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.
On Thursday, April 21, the co-chairs of the committee announced that a number of policy items will be removed from the bill.
The Joint Committee on Finance continues to hold executive sessions regarding the proposed budgets for various agencies and programs.
Voters in three Assembly districts went to the polls on May 3 to fill seats made vacant by Governor Walker's appointment of three former Republican legislators to executive branch positions. Republican candidates won in two of the districts, and a Democratic candidate won the third seat. Sworn in and taking office on May 17 were:
60th Assembly District (Formerly represented by Mark Gottlieb)
83rd Assembly District (Formerly represented by Scott Gunderson)
94th Assembly District (Formerly represented by Mike Huebsch)
One seat in the Assembly remains vacant. Governor Walker has not yet issued an executive order setting a special election for the District 48 seat vacated when Democrat Joe Parisi resigned to assume the post of elected Dane County Executive.
For more information on the special legislative elections, see the Government Accountability Board.
Nine of the 18 recall committees registered with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) have filed petitions, and claimed to have the required number of signatures required for a recall election.
The senators subject to these potential recalls include six Republicans (Robert Cowles, Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, and Luther Olsen) and three Democrats (Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, and Robert Wirch ). The petitions are currently being reviewed for sufficiency by GAB. The GAB site also shows the recall committees that did not file the necessary signatures by their respective deadlines.
On May 5, GAB alerted local officials of its plan to schedule recall election on July 12, 2011.
For more information on recall petitions and elections refer to the GAB.
Legislative committee activity is available on the Schedule of Committee Activities.
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.
The Legislative Reference Bureau published an Informational Bulletin on Guidelines for Adjusting Municipal Wards Following the 2010 Census. The bulletin provides information on the ward subdistricting process, the statutory requirements and legal deadlines that must be met, and the relationship among state, county, and local governments in establishing and using municipal wards to form election districts.
Assembly Bill 7, which changes voting procedures including an identification requirement, has passed both houses of the legislature and is expected to be signed this week. The LRB Library recommends the following resources on this topic:
For more information about Legislative Service Agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.
Last revised: November 16, 2012