Capitol Update

Helpful Wisconsin Links

Visiting Madison?
I would be happy to arrange a capitol tour for you.  Call my office at (608) 266-0703 for more info.
To unsubscribe, please send an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wi.gov with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.


Civil Service Reform: The Best Shall Serve the State
Wisconsin created its civil service system in 1905 with the slogan, “the best shall serve the state.” The reason for creating a civil service system was to protect the taxpayers from cronyism and political pressures, regardless of who controlled state government. For years, the civil service system has achieved this goal.

After 100 years, there have been some updates to the law. The legislature is currently considering updates to the civil service system to continue to serve citizens by creating uniform standards across agencies for its employees. As a member of the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform, I participated in a hearing about Senate Bill (SB) 285 earlier this week. SB 285 was introduced by Senator Roger Roth. It is my understanding that this bill was designed with significant input from many state agencies.

After participating in the hearing and studying the bill, SB 285 seeks to improve the hiring process, create a structure in which agencies may reward positive job performance and standardizes the disciplinary process throughout state government. Following is more detail on each of these proposed changes. Continuing to recruit and retain high-quality employees to provide taxpayers with the best service possible should be a top priority of the state.

However, it is very important to clarify that the proposal does not eliminate civil service protections or repeal the civil service system for state government employees. It is also important to emphasize that protections are still in place to prevent discrimination against a potential candidate on the basis of political preference or beliefs, to prevent cronyism. There are also statutes that require selection criteria to be job-related according to merit and fitness. I want to ensure that the best possible employees serve the taxpayers in this state. This proposal utilizes best practices in both the private and public sectors as a guide for reform. These reforms are common sense updates to a 100-year old system while ensuring that the original goal of the civil service system and protections for civil service employees remains intact.

Again, following is more detail on each of the proposed changes:

The Hiring Process
Currently, agencies can take months to make a hiring decision and often miss out on exemplary candidates who have accepted other positions outside state government due to an unnecessarily long hiring process, including an antiquated civil service exam. The civil service exam does not necessarily point to the best candidate for the job. During one agency’s hiring process, a short-order cook made it to the round of interviews for a position auditing financial institutions. He had no financial experience or an auditing background.

  • Creates 60 day hiring goal across all agencies

  • Requires an open, competitive process to fill vacancies

  • Replaces antiquated civil service exam with a resume-based evaluation

Job Performance
Under the current system, there is no requirement for annual employee evaluations and it varies from agency to agency how often they are conducted.. There is also no uniform requirement for agencies to keep and maintain employee disciplinary records.

  • Requires annual employee evaluation

  • Creates a fund for merit pay to reward outstanding employees

  • Creates a uniform probationary period for employees across state agencies at two years, with an option of the employer to waive the remainder of the probation after one year

  • Requires agencies to maintain and keep updated employee records

A Stable Workplace
Under the current system, in some agencies, the process to discipline an employee can take months and varies from agency to agency. An employee who viewed approximately 4.2 hours of pornographic material per day on his work computer was reinstated with full pay and benefits because it was determined that his termination was “too harsh”. Another employee punched a co-worker following an argument, acknowledged the incident, and only received a five-day suspension.

  • Defines “just cause” as a situation where an employer can take progressive disciplinary action against an employee if the performance or conduct by that employee is inadequate, unsuitable, or inferior.

  • Puts in the statute the reasons by which someone can be immediately fired from an agency:
    o Harassment while on the job
    o Intentionally physically harming someone while at work
    o While working, being intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance
    o While working, being in possession of a controlled substance
    o Falsifying the records of an agency
    o Theft of agency property or services
    o A conviction of an employee, if the conviction makes it impossible for the employee to perform his or her duties
    o Misuse or abuse of agency property, such as viewing pornographic material
    o A serious violation of the code of ethics
    o “No call, no show” for 3 days

  • Requires a uniform standard across state government agencies for disciplinary action

Again, I believe these reforms are common sense updates to a system that has served our state well for many years. The reforms presented in the bill preserve the protections for our workers while insuring that our agencies are able to efficiently respond and recruit the best talent in order to keep our state workforce healthy and responsive to the needs of the people of Wisconsin.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.


Cassville Utility Bill Signed into Law
I’ve mentioned before the work that Representative Travis Tranel and I have done on the Cassville Utility Bill, Senate Bill (SB) 252.

This week, Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 252, the Cassville Utility Bill into law. I was pleased to see such swift action on Senate Bill 252, which helps alleviate some reductions in state aid payments to Cassville and Grant County due to the closing of the two plants in the village.

Senate Bill 252 was signed into law by Governor Walker on Wednesday, October 6, 2015.

 Grant County and Village of Cassville officials joined me for Governor Walker’s signing of the Utility Aid legislation.


Senator Marklein’s 2015 Fall Legislative Survey
If you haven’t already, please take my 2015 Fall Legislative Survey. Below you will find a link to a 10 question survey seeking your thoughts on a number of relevant legislative issues and concepts that we will be discussing in the coming months.

This survey is available online at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein or please feel free to print out a copy from the link below and return it to me at PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53703 or via fax at 608-282-3557. Please submit your survey by October 30, 2015.

For a PDF version of the survey, click here.

2015-16 Blue Books
The 2015-16 Blue Books have arrived at the Capitol! If you would like one, please let me know, I would be happy to make sure you receive a blue book.


In the District


Youth Deer Hunt
This weekend is the youth deer hunt in Wisconsin and I wanted to make sure you had all the information you needed if you were planning on taking part in the hunt.

The youth hunt is open to all hunters who are ages 10-15. Hunters 10-15 years of age, with or without hunter education certification, are eligible to participate in the youth gun deer hunt with a mentor. Youth hunters are authorized to hunt with a gun in all deer management units, except for state parks. It is important to note, a deer license is required.

Also important to note, when and where a firearm deer season is in progress, including the youth deer hunt, no person may hunt any game, except waterfowl, unless at least 50% of their outer clothing above the waist is colored blaze orange.

Best of luck to everyone who will be out hunting this weekend!

2015 Aging and Disability Resource Center Health and Wellness Expo
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to stop by the 2015 Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) Health and Wellness Expo in Dodgeville. After all the work we did in the budget to keep ADRCs local, it was great to stop in for a visit and show my support.

 Mary Mezera - Regional Manager for the ADRC of Southwest Wisconsin (serving Grant, Green, Iowa, and Lafayette counties), Whitney Thompson - Dementia Care Specialist for the ADRC of Southwest Wisconsin, Micki Hill -Nurse Consultant with the Wisconsin DHS Division of Long Term Care and Senator Howard Marklein


Helpful Information


Motor Fuel Consumption in Wisconsin
The Department of Transportation tracks yearly fuel consumption in Wisconsin. This has been useful to track economic growth as well as how much gas tax is being paid into the transportation fund. The more fuel used in Wisconsin, the more gas tax is paid toward roads and infrastructure. The table below has total motor fuel consumed from 1998 to an estimate of this year.

Motor Fuel Consumption in Wisconsin

Millions of Gallons

Fiscal Year Motor Fuel Gallons % Change
1998-99 3,120.7  
1999-00 3,111.2 -0.3
2000-01 3,092.3 -0.6
2001-02 3,150.0 1.9
2002-03 3,204.6 1.7
2003-04 3,273.2 2.1
2004-05 3,269.9 -0.1
2005-06 3,195.6 -2.3
2006-07 3,259.8 2.0
2007-08 3,244.7 -0.5
2008-09 3,146.6 -3.0
2009-10 3,144.5 -0.1
2010-11 3,212.1 2.1
2011-12 3,197.1 -0.5
2012-13 3,141.5 -1.7
2013-14 3,221.7 2.6
2014-15* 3,278.5 1.8

*Estimated Amount

Source: Department of Transportation


We are just now, this year, projected to use more fuel than in 2003-04. Increasing vehicle mileage and fewer miles traveled have suppressed fuel use over the past ten years. With gas use and gas taxes down over the past decade, this has had a negative impact on the transportation budget.


*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State Senate District. Please feel free to share this update with other interested citizens and taxpayers. You are receiving this update because you have either subscribed or contacted Senator Marklein directly.

Please Note: If you have contacted the Senator with specific input or questions, a personal response is forthcoming.

UNSUBSCRIBE: If you would like to remove your e-mail address from my E-update mailing list, please reply to this message with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line.



State Capitol - Room 8 South - Post Office Box 7882 - Madison, Wisconsin 53707 - Phone: (608) 266-0703