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September 29, 2017

With the state budget signed, the legislature is ramping up for the fall legislative session. This session, Wisconsin Democrats continue to offer legislation to address the issues facing our state. To mark National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 26, Senator Hansen and Representatives Genrich and Berceau introduced The Strengthening Democracy Act. This bill would allow states to integrate voter data through the Dept. of Motor Vehicles to increase access for all voters in our state. The electronic voter registration would provide an accountable, secure and modern method to voter registration.

Democrats will continue to offer bold, new ideas for all Wisconsin families. It’s time to invest in our students and schools, our roads and bridges, and the businesses that create jobs and opportunities for all our residents. It's time to put Wisconsin families ahead of wealthy special interests.

What Democrats Are Saying
Democratic Proposals

LRB2137 Annual Report of Force by and Against Law Enforcement Officers (Rep. Taylor, Sen. Johnson) would require the Department of Justice to publish an annual report examining law enforcement use of force incidents, including incidents where there was a shooting, where a firearm was discharged in the direction of a person, and where other serious bodily harm resulted from the incident.

LRB0361 Employee Ownership Act (Sen. Hansen) would require the UW system Board of Regents to establish and maintain a center for employee ownership to provide education and outreach to business owners about the benefits of employee ownership successions.

LRB4289 The Strength Democracy Act (Reps. Genrich & Berceau, Sen. Hansen) would require the Elections Commission to use all feasible means to facilitate the registration of all eligible electors and to maintain the registration of all eligible electors as long as they remain eligible.

LRB0571 Secular Celebrants (Reps. Taylor & Zamarripa) would authorize a civil celebrant to officiate a marriage. The bill defines a “civil celebrant" as an individual who is authorized by a secular organization to solemnize marriages or civil unions.

LRB4363 Increasing Funding Elections Commissions for staff (Reps. Sargent & Genrich) would increase the amount appropriated to the Elections Commission by $304,100 in each year of the 2017-19 biennium in order to increase the number of full time positions authorized to the Elections Commission by five FTE positions.

LRB4256 Hunting and Fishing Licenses for National Guard (Sen. Hansen) would provide free hunting and fishing licenses for members of the National Guard and U.S. Reserve.

LRB2661 Crisis Intervention Team Grants (Rep. Spreitzer, Sen. Ringhand) would increase the amount of money that the Department of Health Services is required to award in grants for mental health crisis intervention team training for law enforcement agencies and correctional officers.

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate did not hold a floor period this week and there currently are no floor sessions scheduled. The floor session calendar can be found here.

Senate Committees

Senate Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations
The committee held an Executive Session to vote on three Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 221 would require a person to have a current and valid operator's license in order to be eligible for a job access loan to repair or purchase a vehicle. Passed, 5-0.

  • Senate Bill 288 would create an Occupational License Review Council to review occupational licenses in the state. The council is politically appointed and would review all professional licensure requirements and recommend repealing certain licenses. These licensed professions include plumbers, electricians, doctors, lawyers, architects and teachers. Passed, 3-2.

  • Senate Bill 296 would require the Department of Safety and Professional Services to establish and maintain an electronic self-certification registry that allows individuals to apply to use the title “state certified” in conjunction with their practice. This registry could allow individuals to work in a field even if they are unlicensed. Passed, 3-2.

Senate Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection
The committee held a Public Hearing on two Assembly Bills and one Senate Bill:

  • Assembly Bill 115 would encourage the departments of administration, health services, children and families, workforce development, and justice to allocate, any federal block grant money that is intended to benefit low-income, indigent, vulnerable, or at-risk populations to go to providing civil legal aid to qualified individuals.

  • Assembly Bill 116 would allow a pharmacist to extend a prescription drug when a refill cannot be obtained and dispense a limited supply of the drug for the patient.

  • Senate Bill 278 would prohibit a commission or board that has not promulgated a rule in ten years or more from taking any actions in regards to rule-making.


The committee also held an Executive Session on Senate Bill 366, which would allow a retailer to sell alcoholic beverages off the retailer's licensed premises if the sale occurs at the Ozaukee County fairgrounds. Passed, 5-0.


Senate Committee on Education
The committee held an Executive Session to vote on two Senate Bills and two Assembly Bills:

  • Senate Bill 253 would specify what constitutes an immoral act as it relates to the state superintendent of public instruction being able to revoke a license. Passed, 7-0. 

  • Senate Bill 382 would require a school board to require employees complete a physical examination that includes a screening questionnaire for tuberculosis. Passed, 7-0.

  • Assembly Bill 250 would eliminate the requirement that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) award grants for alternative education programs. Passed, 7-0.

  • Assembly Bill 251 would combine four chapters of the administrative code, each of which pertains to a grant program administered by the Department of Public Instruction into one administrative code chapter. Passed, 7-0.


Senate Workforce Development, Military Affairs and Senior Issues

The committee held an Informational Hearing in Elkhart Lake to hear testimony from the Department of Workforce Development, the UW System, the WI Technical College System, and businesses from across the state on Wisconsin’s current workforce development programs and remaining workforce challenges.

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session

The Assembly was not scheduled for a floor period this week. The scheduled floor periods for the session are available here.


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions
The committee held a public hearing on Assembly Bill 353 which would make changes to the organization and operation of cooperatives and includes provisions applicable to extensions of credit, Assembly Bill 354 which creates a business corporation identified as a benefit corporation, Assembly Bill 357 which would allow business shareholders to participate in meetings remotely, and Assembly Bill 476 which would eliminate the 13-week limit imposed on the garnishment of earnings by certain debtors.


Assembly Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care
The committee held a public hearing at LaCrosse County Administrative Center with testimony from invited speakers and the general public.


Assembly Committee on Health
The committee held an Executive Session on, Assembly Bill 318 which would require dental offices to maintain records for time designated by the board of rules, Assembly Bill 310 which would allow the Department of Health to pay for aid for first responder training and examinations, Assembly Bill 311 which would allow emergency response drivers in rural areas to upgrade their license to the highest level, and Assembly Bill 356 which would require that emergency medical responders renew their licenses every three years as opposed to every two years. The committee also held a public hearing on Assembly Bill 462 which would require the Department of Health to establish rules and policies for access to complex rehabilitation technology, Assembly Bill 305 which would require the Department of Health Services to establish a grant program for language interpretation skills in hospitals and clinics, and Assembly Bill 500 which would enter Wisconsin into the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact.


Assembly Committee on Workforce Development
The committee held a joint information hearing at The Osthoff Resort on workforce training, retention and attraction.

Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government
The committee will hold and Executive Session on Assembly Bill 253, Senate Bill 175 and Senate Bill 345. The committee will also hold a Public Hearing on the appointments of Kristine Cotharn and Joseph Frasch. The committee will also discuss Senate Bill 236, Senate Bill 298 and Senate Bill 391.  


Senate Transportation and Veterans Affairs
The committee will be holding an Executive Session on Senate Bill 98, Assembly Bill 138, Senate Bill 186 and Senate Bill 246. The committee will also be holding a Public Hearing to discuss the appointment of John Townsend to the Board of Veterans affairs, as well as Senate Bill 277, Senate Bill 338, Senate Bill 360, Senate Bill 386, and Senate Bill 392.

Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform
The committee will be holding an Executive Session on Senate Bill 412. The committee will also be holding a Public Hearing on Senate Bill 399, Senate Bill 411, Senate Bill 414 and Senate Bill 420.


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry
The committee will hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 118, Assembly Bill 416, Assembly Bill 484 and Assembly Bill 388.


Assembly Committee on Children and Families
The committee will hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 186 and Assembly Bill 481.


Assembly Committee on Ways and Means
The committee will hold a public hearing on Assembly Bill 265, Assembly Bill 343, and Assembly Bill 420.


To view updated committee notices, visit the legislative website and click on Committee Schedule: Wisconsin State Legislature.

 The State Capitol Update is provided by the Senate and Assembly Democratic Caucuses. For additional information, please send an email toWisconsinDemocrats@legis.wi.gov or call toll free: 1.800.385.3385.