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 Wisconsin Legislature stands adjourned at the conclusion of the 2011-12 legislative session's final general business floorperiod which ended on March 15. Enrolled bills (those passed by both houses) not already called for by the governor were to be sent on April 5 for gubernatorial action. A limited-business floorperiod is scheduled for April 24 through May 3.
Governor Walker signed 100 acts last week. A selected list follows.
On April 5, the governor signed 2011 Senate Bill 306, creating 2011 Wisconsin Act 217, which relates to information provided to a woman seeking an abortion, and restricts the use of abortion-inducing drugs. It also repeals certain criminal provisions related to abortion. He also signed 2011 Senate Bill 92 to create Act 218, which prohibits the coverage of abortions by health insurance plans sold through a health benefit exchange.
Also on April 5, the governor signed 2011 Senate Bill 202, creating Act 219, which eliminates the awarding of compensatory and punitive damages to persons who have been discriminated against in employment or subjected to unfair honesty or genetic testing. The Department of Workforce Development may still award to such a person back pay, costs, and attorney fees.
Act 216, created with the signing of 2011 Senate Bill 237 on April 5, allows a school district to include abstinence-centered human growth and development instruction in its curriculum. The law also repeals provisions related to required instructional topics.
On Monday, April 2, the governor signed 2011 Senate Bill 395, creating Act 200, which significantly modifies standards for the production and use of homemade wine and beer. The bill passed nearly unanimously in both houses during the March floor session.
Also signed on April 2 was 2011 Senate Bill 185, creating Act 197, which regulates text messages for the purposes of the state No-Call List. Under the law, text messages are included in the definition of a telephone solicitation and may not be sent to those telephone customers on the No-Call List.
2011 Senate Bill 326 was also signed on April 2, creating Act 167, related to changes in the issuance and exemption of permits by the DNR for areas in or near navigable waters. The law sets new time limits on the DNR for receiving public comments and issuing final decisions on permit applications. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 20-13 on March 7, and the Assembly, 54-29, on March 15.
The governor signed four bills into law on April 4 related to the professions of veterans and service members. Acts 209 and 210 make changes to fees and renewal requirements for certain professional and occupational licenses issued to service members and veterans. Act 211 expands the noncompetitive appointment program for disabled veterans in the state civil service system. Act 212 creates an income and franchise tax credit for hiring disabled veterans.
As of April 6, 265 acts have been signed into law during the 2011-12 legislative session. They can be found under the acts section of the Legislative Documents site.
With the end of the final general business floorperiod, a large number of bills await action by the governor. They can be found under the enrolled bills section of the Legislative Documents site.
Roger Breske, a former state senator from Eland, died April 2 at the age of 73. Breske represented the 12th Senate District in Northern Wisconsin from the 1989 through 2007 sessions. He also served as the Commissioner of Railroads from 2008 to 2011.
Representative Mark Radcliffe announced last week that he will not be seeking reelection in the newly created 91st Assembly District. Radcliffe was first elected to the Assembly's 92nd District in 2008.
According to the Associated Press and local news sources, Mitt Romney is the Republican winner of Wisconsin's Presidential Primary Election held on April 3. A graphic at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website shows a map of county results, and has Romney winning with 44% of the vote. Rick Santorum is listed as second with 37%, and Ron Paul took 11% of the Republican vote. Official results have not been released by the Government Accountability Board. The Associated Press has also reported that statewide voter turnout was 25%.
On March 12, Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Niess ruled that the photo identification requirements in 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 are unconstitutional "to the extent they serve as a condition for voting at the polls." The Wisconsin Constitution allows the government to exclude otherwise qualified electors from voting for only two reasons - that a person has been convicted of a felony and has not had civil rights restored, or that a person has been judged by a court to be incompetent. 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, the ruling stated, would create an additional exclusion for otherwise qualified electors who do not display identification that meets the particular requirements of the act. The ruling permanently enjoined the defendants "from any further implementation or enforcement of those provisions."
The March 12 ruling follows a temporary injunction on March 6, in which Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan enjoined several provisions of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, requiring photo identification in order to vote. Judge Flanagan ordered the Government Accountability Board to “cease immediately any effort to enforce or implement the photo identification requirements of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, pending trial of this case and further order of the court”. The GAB has produced a memorandum outlining which provisions of Act 23 are affected.
Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen has appealed the two rulings, and the appellate courts have recommended the appeals be taken up directly by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The Government Accountability Board voted on March 30 to certify recall elections against Governor Scott Walker, Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, and Senators Scott Fitzgerald, Van Wanggaard, Terry Moulton, and Pam Galloway.
Recall elections will be held on May 8 and June 5, 2012. The May 8 election will be a primary if necessary for the particular office, with the general election on June 5. If no political party has more than one candidate qualifying for the ballot in a particular recall election, the May 8 election will be the general election date for that office.
A three-judge federal panel ruled on March 22 that two assembly districts in Milwaukee violate the federal Voting Rights Act and must be redrawn. The two districts on Milwaukee's south side, Assembly Districts 8 and 9, which contain substantial Latino populations, must be quickly redrawn as the elections process leading to the November 6 general election is fast approaching. However, the panel ruled that the other 97 assembly districts, as set by 2011 Wisconsin Act 43, may not be changed. The ruling may be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The The following resources are recommended to learn more about recent acts:
The Legislature has RSS feeds for both recently introduced legislation and recent session activity. You can also view a listing of recently introduced bills. Our Facebook page also has links to recently introduced bills.
For details of upcoming committee meetings, see the Schedule of Committee Activities.
For more information about Legislative Service Agency publications, see the left panel of the Spotlight index page.
Last revised: November 19, 2012