2018 Session Preview

If the flurry of activity and committee meetings is any indication, the legislature plans to get a lot done in the next two or three months.  While there may not be a lot of high profile issues left in play, there is still plenty of legislation moving or dying in what will be the busiest time for legislators outside of those on the Joint Finance Committee who work on the budget.

Tension was high after the budget wrapped between the two houses and their grievances were aired publicly.  The rhetoric has calmed since then, but its possible the tension still exists.  Often this won’t affect the higher profile issues, but it could work to kill priorities for various legislators for differing reasons.

The Assembly is set to meet twice in mid/late January while the Senate is in session just once.  Gov. Walker will give his State of the State address on January 24th, his final one before his 2018 re-election bid.  Vos has indicated the Assembly will likely not meet later than February, while the Senate has consistently said they expect to meet into March.

In Vos’s end of year interview he remarked that the Assembly accomplished a lot in 2017, so 2018 will just be “finishing up the loose ends”.  Some of those “non-controversial” loose ends could include legislation related to the opioid epidemic, civil justice/tort reform, PSC reform, OCI reform, and foster care legislation.  There are also some items where there are divisions amongst both legislators and interest groups where legislators appear to be looking for consensus.  These include workers compensation, fetal tissue, alcohol enforcement, civil asset forfeiture, dark stores (Vos in his end-of-year interview said, “I worry about raising taxes on anybody, if they’re a business owner or a homeowner,”) and a handful of health care related issues.  Legislative action related to the latest stories surrounding the ethics board is expected as well as a potential quick response to the governor’s youth prison proposal that was just unveiled yesterday.

Written above is a big list, and it isn’t close to all inclusive.  A tall task, especially for the Assembly who wants to be done in less than 60 days.