Established in 1947, the Joint Legislative Council's primary responsibility is to establish study committees to study major issues and problems identified by the Legislature. Study committees do most of their work during the interim in the even-numbered years. 

The members appointed by the Council to serve on a study committee are legislators and citizens who are interested in or knowledgeable about the study topic. Citizens serving on Council study committees not only help in developing public policy, but also learn more about how their state government works. The Legislature benefits from the knowledge and expertise of Wisconsin's citizens. 

Once a study committee completes its work, the chair of the committee submits a report of the committee’s recommendations to the Joint Legislative Council.

The Council reviews the legislation recommended by the study committees and, if a majority of Council members vote for introduction, the Joint Legislative Council sponsors the legislation. Bills introduced by the Joint Legislative Council follow normal legislative processes, beginning with standing committee review.

The Council is composed of 22 legislators, including all of the legislative leadership.