January Legislative Update

Final Months of the 2021-22 Legislative Session

  • The Wisconsin legislative session clock is ticking down! Each house of the Wisconsin Legislature is expected to meet once or twice monthly in January, February, and March, and then adjourn for the remainder of the year. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) has confirmed that the Senate plans to finish its work by March 10, the final day of the Legislature’s planned floor periods.
  • This month, the Assembly is on the floor January 20 and 25. The Senate is expected to January 25 and 26 open for floor session. The Legislature’s calendar set aside February 15-24 and March 8-10 for possible floor periods.
  • After the legislature finishes their floor periods in March, they are not expected to reconvene in session until January 2023.

WPRA Engaging on Boat Launch Legislation - No Movement in the Senate

  • Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R – Fond du Lac) and Sen. Andre Jacque (R – DePere) have authored legislation to waive the boat launch fees for veterans.
  • The bill (SB 324/AB 285) received a committee hearing in the Assembly earlier this year and recently passed out of the Assembly Committee on Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation.
  • In the Assembly Committee, the bill was amended providing that DNR, municipalities, public lake protection and rehabilitation districts, and town sanitary districts may not require a veteran over the age of 65 to pay any fee for the use of a public boat launch owned or operated by the state or any of these local entities.
  • Under the amended bill, a veteran who is over the age of 65 must attests his or her veteran status to either DNR or the local entity that owns or operates the boat launch to have the fees waived.
  • WPRA requested the bill be amended to further clarify that the waiver of the boat launch fees only apply to annual fees, not daily.
  • The legislative author, Rep. Thiesfeldt believes the bill’s language provides the flexibility for local entities to determine how they want to waive the boat launch fee exemption.
  • WPRA will continue to monitor this bill and engage as appropriate.

Still No Senate Movement on the National Anthem Legislation

  • Recall that as currently written, Assembly Bill 226/Senate Bill 244 would require the national anthem be played or sung at any sporting event held in a venue constructed entirely or in part with taxpayer funds. The bill does not include penalties, enforcement mechanisms, or any specifics as to how the anthem must be played or sung at any event.
  • The bill moved very quickly through the Assembly, passing with bipartisan support (74-22) on May 11, less than two weeks after it received a public hearing.
  • WPRA was the only organization to provide written testimony on the bill during that hearing. WPRA expressed concern that the bill would be a burden on the many small, recreational, and children’s sporting events that our members host.
  • The Senate Committee held a public hearing on June 29th. The bill has not received a Senate committee vote yet and has remained in the Senate committee since the public hearing in June.
  • WPRA requested the bill’s Senate author, Sen. Pat Testin (R-Stevens Point), consider an amendment so that the bill would only apply to events at venues with a capacity of 500 or more. Sen. Testin declined to amend the bill.
  • WPRA continues to advocate for the common-sense amendment and discuss with interested legislators.