As I’ve spoken with constituents in the last several weeks, many of them are confused about why the State Legislature is not in session currently. The short answer is that the Legislature meets in a biennial session starting in January of an odd year and then adjourns in March or April of the even year. This has been the practice of the Wisconsin Legislature for many years.
For example, the most recent session started January 7, 2019 and the Assembly and Senate both met for the last regular floor day in February. The State Senate planned to meet again in March, but did not due to COVID-19. Since then, the Assembly and Senate met in April to vote on an emergency COVID-19 response bill as a part of an extraordinary session.
Coming in for an additional extraordinary session or special session right now is not necessary. In my opinion, The Governor and local governments have sufficient powers to manage the current situation. Those asking the Legislature to convene usually just disagree with the action, or inaction, of the executive entity or local government decision. The Legislature doesn’t exist as an appellate body to resolve difficult local decisions or allow local decisions makers to pass the buck.
On November 3, we will hold elections for half of the State Senate Districts and all of the State Assembly Districts. Before those elections, there will be primary elections on August 11. It is impractical to come into session in the midst of a campaign season. During election season, the ability of legislators to contact constituents directly is restricted by state law, limiting our ability to communicate and solicit feedback.
My staff and I have continued to work throughout this time as we do each session. Even as other offices closed or shifted to remote work, my office never closed on account of COVID-19 to ensure our phone calls would be answered and constituent issues were addressed. Over the last several months, we have continued our normal work while also working with hundreds of constituents trying to navigate COVID-19, the unemployment process at the Department of Workforce Development and a variety of other issues.
At this time, I am unable to send mass email updates, but you are always welcome to contact my office by phone, (608) 266-7513 or by email, Sen.Stroebel@legis.wisconsin.gov if you have an issue we can assist you with.
If you are not already receiving my email updates, I encourage you to sign up for them moving forward using this form. They are a great way to stay informed on the current activity in my office and the district.