April WPRA Legislative Update 

  • Wisconsin’s Legislative Session Adjourned. The 2023-24 legislative session is officially adjourned. While both houses gaveled out several weeks ago, the legislative calendar still had available session days. Now with the legislature adjourned, all bills that were not signed into law are essentially dead and will need to be reintroduced in the next session to begin the process all over. The legislature is expected to announce its summer legislative study committees soon.
  • Dust Settling on New Maps. Almost two months have passed since the Governor signed the new legislative maps. Numerous legislators have reannounced plans to run again while 14 representatives and two Senators, including long-time Senator Rob Cowles, have announced their departure from the legislature. Some for other types of elected office, such as former Senate minority leader Melissa Agard, who is running for Dane County Executive. The new maps paired current legislators from two old districts into one new district, setting up a primary battle. Incumbents and legislative candidates are collecting signatures for their nomination papers, which are due by June 1. After that, there will be a more definitive list of who’s running in each seat.
  • Governor Acts on Bills. WPRA has been monitoring several bills closely this session that have now passed both houses and were sent to the Governor for his review.
    • SIGNED: Wetland Access and In Lieu Fee Subprogram (2023 Wisconsin Act 111): eliminates the requirement that wetlands that benefit from the in lieu fee subprogram administered by the Department of Natural Resources be open to the public.
    • SIGNED: State Park Annual Vehicle Admission Validity Period (2023 Wisconsin Act 113):provides that vehicle admission receipts issued by DNR are valid for approximately one year, rather than only during the calendar year in which they were issued.  
    • SIGNED: CDL Training Grant Program (2023 Wisconsin Act 153):requires the Department of Workforce Development to establish a commercial driver training grant program.
    • SIGNED: Healthy Food Incentive Program (2023 Wisconsin Act 201): requires the Department of Health Services, through a competitive selection process, to contract with one or more nonprofit organizations to administer a healthy food incentive program statewide.
    • VETOED: Sex Designation in School Sports (Senate Bill 378):requires each school board, independent charter school, and private school participating in a parental choice program (educational institution) that operates or sponsors an interscholastic, intramural, or club athletic team or sport to designate the athletic team or sport as falling into one of three categories based on the sex of the participating pupils. The three designations are 1) males, 2) females, and 3) males and females. Prior to this bill reaching his desk, the Governor publicly stated his intention to veto this bill. In his veto message,  the governor stated he was vetoing the bill “because I object to codifying discrimination into state statute and the Wisconsin State Legislature’s ongoing efforts to perpetuate hateful and discriminatory rhetoric and policies targeting LGBTQ Wisconsinites, including our transgender and gender nonconforming kids. LGBTQ kids, including transgender and gender nonconforming kids, deserve our love and respect and support just like any other kid.”
    • VETOED: Local Government Competitive Bidding Threshold (Senate Bill 688):Raises the bidding threshold for local governments to $50,000 continues to advance & also requires Milwaukee Public Schools to competitively bid. As expected, the governor vetoed this bill, stating in his veto message, that he “object[s] to underdermining the local decision of a school board to choose voluntary collaboration with local contractors to build the best value projects to support students.”