58 New Laws: Gov. Evers’ Signatures and Vetoes in March

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) has signed 58 bills into law since our early March update on gubernatorial actions. Although the Wisconsin Legislature has adjourned for the remainder of the year, there are still dozens of bills that passed both houses but have yet to be formally presented to Gov. Evers. Once Senate or Assembly leaders present a bill to the governor, he has six days (excluding Sunday) to either sign or veto the bill, or else it becomes law without his approval. On April 14, per the Legislature’s schedule, any outstanding bills will be automatically sent to the governor’s desk.

On March 11, Gov. Evers announced that he had signed 19 bills into law as Acts 160 through 178, including seven transportation-related measures. Notably, 2021 Wisconsin Act 163 requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to replace all motor vehicle registration plates on a rolling ten-year basis. The new plates are required to have a high-visibility coating and embedded security features. The law raises the plate replacement fee from $2 to $4 per plate. Introduced as Senate Bill 429, the Senate passed the bill 30-2 on February 15, with Senate President Kapenga (R-Delafield) and Sen. Bradley (R-Franklin) voting against. The bill cleared the Assembly 95-1 on February 23, with only Rep. Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) voting against.

Among the other new laws signed by Gov. Evers was Act 164, which allows a local government to post ATV and UTV-specific speed limits on a highway under its jurisdiction. The governor also signed new laws requiring DOT to publish and report information pertaining to the transportation infrastructure loan program (Act 170), adding new routes to the list of highway segments for which DOT may issue oversize or overweight permits (Act 171), and requiring a disclosure of mileage to obtain a title for any car less than 20 years old (Act 172). Act 178 establishes and modifies the requirements for registering a fleet of vehicles.

Then, at a ceremony held in La Crosse on March 16, Gov. Evers announced that he had signed three laws intended to address the abuse of methamphetamine and opioids, including fentanyl:

  • Act 179, according to the governor, “creates a graduated penalty structure for manufacturing, distributing, or delivering fentanyl (or fentanyl analogs) or possessing it with intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver it.”
  • Act 180 exempts fentanyl testing materials from the definition of drug paraphernalia under the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act. This change is intended to prevent overdoses by allowing individuals to test their drugs for the presence of fentanyl, and to enable first responders to quickly determine whether an overdose victim consumed fentanyl.
  • Act 181 directs a team of state agencies to develop, establish, and maintain a statewide opioid and methamphetamine data system including data about drug use and overdoses from a variety of sources.

The following day, Gov. Evers signed ten bills that, according to a press release, are intended “to promote public safety and support crime victims, survivors, and their families.” Notable among the new laws, numbered as Acts 182 through 191:

  • Act 183 requires the Department of Justice (DOJ) to submit an annual report to the Legislature with information about the use of no-knock entry in the execution of search warrants by law enforcement agencies.
  • Act 184 expands an existing grant program, administered by the Department of Health Services, that supports crisis programs serving rural areas.
  • Act 185 creates and funds a grant program, administered by DOJ, for law enforcement agencies to purchase body-worn cameras for patrol officers.

On March 31, Gov. Evers announced that he had acted on 13 bills, signing six into law (Acts 212 through 217) and vetoing seven others. Five of the six new laws affected pieces of K-12 education such as school accountability data, special observance days, and the online early learning pilot program. Act 216 entitles the owner of a tax delinquent property to receive the proceeds from sale if the property is acquired and sold by the county.

Gov. Evers vetoed several bills related to law enforcement, including one making changes to the police and fire commissions in Madison and Milwaukee and another to create a new legal definition of and criminal penalties for rioting. The governor also vetoed a bill to ease the state’s certification requirements for emergency medical responders as well as a proposal to allow private choice schools to establish an early admission policy for kindergarten and first grade students. The three other vetoed bills were related to hunting ranches and the stocking of pheasant and trout by DNR.

Gov. Evers signed bills on four other dates in March:

March 18: Gov. Evers signed 15 new laws, Acts 192 through 206, mostly regulating specific or minor subjects such as real estate appraisers (194), interior designers (195), electric fences (197), homeowners associations (199), and pawnbrokers (203), as well as two laws affecting agreements and review procedures in family actions (204 and 205). Press release

March 22: Gov. Evers signed Act 207, which allows the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to spend about $880,000 from an existing, unused appropriation to promote Wisconsin’s dairy exports. Press release

March 23: Gov. Evers signed two healthcare-related bills, including Act 208, which removes the end date on a provision allowing hospitals to provide services to a patient in a home setting. The change was implemented due to the pandemic and expired at the beginning of 2022; Act 208 makes it permanent. Meanwhile Act 209, generally makes it a felony to batter or threaten to batter to a healthcare provider, a healthcare facility staff member, or a family member of those individuals. Previously, except for emergency department workers and nurses, this generally was a misdemeanor. Press release

March 29: Gov. Evers signed Act 210, which “requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to work with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) and two pediatric cardiologists to develop and distribute information on the nature and risks of sudden cardiac arrest at school athletic events,” according to the governor’s press release on the bill. He also signed Act 211 to designate an overpass in Wood County as the Deputy LaVonne Zenner Memorial Bridge. Press release

For more coverage of recent legislative and gubernatorial actions in Wisconsin, see the following articles: