Assembly Floor Sessions: October 12 and 17 (Brewers Stadium Financing, Gender Transition Regulation)

The Wisconsin Assembly met twice in October for floor days to vote on bills and resolutions. See this article for coverage of the Senate’s October floor day.

October 12 (floor calendar)

The Assembly passed three bills and five resolutions. The three bills were passed along party lines with all Republicans present voting in favor.

According to the official summary, AB 465 “prohibits health care providers from engaging in, causing the engagement in, or making referrals for, certain medical intervention practices upon an individual under 18 years of age if done for the purpose of changing the minor’s body to correspond to a sex that is discordant with the minor’s biological sex.” The Assembly also passed two bills establishing categories for participation in K-12 and public collegiate athletics based on the participants’ biological sex.

The bill to restrict transition treatments subsequently passed the Senate on October 17 and is ready to be presented to the governor, while the bills regulating sports participation have not yet received a public hearing in the Senate. Gov. Evers has criticized these efforts and stated that he will veto these bills and any similar legislation.

The resolutions recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Cardiomyopathy Awareness Day, condemned Hamas’ recent attack against Israel, recognized the Employment Choice First program for people with disabilities, and honored the life and public service of former Rep. Mike Endsley.

October 17 (floor calendar)

The Assembly passed 16 bills and three resolutions. The resolutions recognized Manufacturing Month, First Responder Appreciation Day, and the 50-year anniversary of volunteer service in the U.S. Armed Forces since the end of the draft.

Perhaps most notably, the Assembly voted to amend and pass legislation to finance improvements to and maintenance of American Family Field. The bill has been the subject of ongoing negotiations and public statements among Gov. Evers, Republican legislative leaders, Milwaukee-area leaders, and the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Recent Associated Press coverage is available here.

AB 438 “directs state grants to and requires local funding of [the Brewers stadium district], directs the district’s use of those funds, and modifies the powers and administration of the district.” AB 439 “provides a total of $411,500,000 in funding from the 2023-24 fiscal year to the 2045-46 fiscal year” for payments to the park district and “separately provides a total of $50,000,000 in funding for short-term loans” to the district. As part of the financing agreement, the Brewers would be required to extend their lease at the stadium through 2050 and to contribute a total of about $100 million over the life of the agreement.

Both bills passed the Assembly 69-27, with 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats voting against, including five of the 11 Democrats that represent parts of the City of Milwaukee.

As the Republican-led Legislature has done in the past with state budget bills, the legislation was divided into two bills in order to deny Gov. Evers the ability to use his powerful partial veto authority, which applies only to bills that appropriate state funds. Gov. Evers included a different financing plan in his 2023-25 budget proposal that would have extended the lease for less time at a lower cost to the state. Republicans removed this proposal.

A key sticking point in negotiations has been the issue of local contributions to funding the agreement. Notably, the legislation as amended lowers the required contributions from the City and County of Milwaukee from $7.5 million to $5 million annually. Gov. Evers and Milwaukee Mayor Johnson have signaled their support for the amended legislation. Milwaukee County Executive Crowley has said he supports the current version of the bill but would also support the addition of county and city appointees to the new stadium district board that would be created as part of the agreement.

The bill does not currently include a ticket tax on non-Brewers game events held at the stadium to help finance the agreement. This concept has been discussed as a way of securing more support in the Senate. Several senators are reportedly hesitant to support the agreement as-is. Some may remember former Sen. George Petak (R-Racine), who lost a recall election in 1996 after voting for the original stadium construction project.

Speaker Vos stated: “I certainly am open to that idea if that’s what it takes to get through the end. I don’t really want to make it more expensive for people to attend an event if we already have a proposal that has strong support, but if there are good ideas that help it get through the Senate, I want to make sure we’re a team player on that, specifically on non-game events.”

The Assembly also passed the following bills, mostly dealing with transportation issues and motor vehicle regulations, all by voice vote or unanimous roll call:

  • AB 364: Adopting federal tax law changes regarding contributions to a health savings account and telehealth services.
  • AB 394: A driver education grant program.
  • AB 406: Adopting changes to the federal Internal Revenue Code for state tax purposes.
  • SB 35: Emergency contact records maintained by the Department of Transportation.
  • SB 60: Fees for certain motor vehicle certificate of title transfers.
  • SB 109: Operation of an all-terrain vehicle or utility terrain vehicle owned by an electric cooperative on a highway.
  • SB 120: The design of health care coverage plans for public safety employees.
  • SB 123: Exemptions from the requirement that an original driver’s license be a probationary license.
  • SB 124: Issuance of temporary motor vehicle operation plates and permits to dealers and providing a penalty.
  • SB 167: Annual reporting to the legislature of sexual harassment and assault that occurs in the Wisconsin National Guard and of changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
  • SB 168: A case management system for tracking misconduct within the Wisconsin national guard.
  • SB 251: Members of the Council on Veterans Programs.
  • SB 290: Third-party food delivery services and providing a penalty.
  • SB 325: The broadband expansion grant program.

The Senate Bills (SB) listed above previously passed the Senate and are ready to be presented to Gov. Evers. The Assembly delayed action on one bill on its calendar, SB 166, a Joint Legislative Council study committee bill relating to sexual misconduct offenses under the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice.

For more information about the 2023-24 legislative session in Wisconsin, see the following articles: