Governor Signs 24 New Laws, Vetoes GOP Tax Cut Bills

Since our last update in late February, Gov. Tony Evers (D) has signed 24 bills into law and vetoed three others. The Assembly’s last scheduled floor session was February 22, while the Senate held what we anticipate will be its final day of floor votes on March 12. The Legislature is not expected to reconvene until January 2025.

Still, about 150 bills that passed both houses have not yet been presented to Gov. Evers. Once a bill has been formally presented to the governor by legislative leadership, he has six days (excluding Sunday) to sign or veto the bill before it becomes law automatically. Per the session calendar, any bills that are not presented to Gov. Evers by legislative leaders by April 4 will be automatically forwarded to the governor on that date.

The following bills were recently signed into law by Gov. Evers:

  • Act 97 re-appropriates $15 million in one-time grant funding for hospital services, intended to be used for healthcare services in western Wisconsin after two health systems announced they would close of all of their locations in the area. Gov. Evers issued a partial veto of the bill to remove language limiting the grants to “emergency department” hospital services.
  • Act 98 modifies the Badger Fund of Funds, an investment program operated by the Department of Administration that invests in Wisconsin venture capital funds that will invest in new Wisconsin-based business ventures.
  • Act 99 increases the fee for a nonresident archery or crossbow hunting license from $162.25 to $197.25.
  • Act 100 modifies the appropriation for an early literacy program created during the 2023-25 state budget Gov. Evers issued partial vetoes removing most of the content of the bill, effectively giving more flexibility to the Department of Public Instruction to implement the program. The governor’s press release highlighted his veto of a provision benefiting private choice and independent charter schools.
  • Act 101 expands the income tax credit for child and dependent care from 50 percent of the federal credit to 100 percent, and increases the maximum qualifying expenses that may be claimed.
  • Act 102 enumerates several additional building projects for the University of Wisconsin System (UW System) that were not included in the 2023-25 state budget, most notably the construction of a new engineering building at UW-Madison.
  • Act 103 modifies appropriation language to implement Act 104 and allows the UW System to retain any net revenue earned from Minnesota students participating in the tuition reciprocity program.
  • Act 104 authorizes the UW System to administer and negotiate changes to the Wisconsin-Minnesota tuition reciprocity agreement (prior to this law, the agreement was administered by the Higher Educational Aids Board).
  • Act 105 makes modifications to the so-called “50-piece rule,” which prohibits state and local elected officials who are also a candidate for any federal, state, or local office from using public funds to distribute a large volume of communications during an election season.
  • Act 106 makes infiltration and inflow (I/I) projects eligible for funding under the Clean Water Fund Program.
  • Act 107 provides an alternative method for a municipality to establish a solid waste facility’s proof of financial responsibility requirement.
  • Act 108 makes several changes to the electronic waste recycling program related to manufacturer target recycling weights, manufacturer reporting, eligible electronic devices, good faith progress toward a target recycling weight, and manufacturer fees.
  • Act 109 requires the DNR to designate the full weekend prior to the third Monday in January as a weekend when license and fee requirements to fish in the state are waived.
  • Act 110 increases the cap on county supplemental snowmobile trail maintenance aid from the current limit of no more than three times the per mile maximum to no more than five times the per mile maximum.
  • Act 111 eliminates the requirement that wetlands that benefit from the in lieu fee program be open to the public and ensures that, to the extent practicable, there is no net loss of public access to wetlands.
  • Act 112 allows a person to transport a dressed or filleted game fish from inland or outlying waters if they provide a physical or digital photograph upon request that proves the time and date of the photograph and physical evidence of the fish’s length prior to the head and tail being removed.
  • Act 113 changes the expiration date of annual vehicle admission receipts issued by the DNR from the last day of the calendar year for which they were issued to the final day of the 12th month following the month of issuance, effective Jan. 1, 2025.
  • Act 114 adds identification cards issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to the list of evidence that can be provided to validate domiciliary intent for the purposes of verifying an individual as a resident of the state for DNR online license approvals.
  • Act 115 allows for a person to hunt a wild animal with an airgun in a season open to hunting that animal with a firearm and defines “airgun” to mean a weapon originally manufactured to expel one or more metal projectiles by the expansion of compressed air.
  • Act 116 statutorily defines muzzle-loading firearm as it applies to hunting to mean a firearm that shoots a projectile loaded exclusively from the muzzle.
  • Act 117 makes changes to the tuition grant program for National Guard members to make the program less burdensome by providing upfront tuition payments rather than reimbursements.
  • Act 118 allows the required six hours of in-person preadoption training to be completed through a live videoconference.
  • Act 119 expands the definition of those eligible to be kinship caregivers to include adults with a “like-kin” relationship with the child, as well as first cousins once removed.
  • Act 120 implements a number of recommendations from the Wisconsin Ethics Commission regarding the operations of the commission and the laws that it administers.

Gov. Evers issued the following press releases announcing these bill signings:

March 1, Gov. Evers announced his veto of three bills intended to reduce the state income tax burden for middle class taxpayers and retirees:

  • AB 1020 significantly raises the income limits for the second-lowest state income tax bracket, effectively lowering the tax rate for a broad range of “middle class” households and individuals.
  • AB 1021 increases and expands the income tax subtraction for income from qualified retirement plans and individual retirement accounts.
  • AB 1022 increases the maximum income tax credit for married persons filing a joint tax return from $480 to $870.

With a significant state budget surplus, income tax relief has been a priority for Republican legislative leadership this session, and several tax reform proposals were attempted during and following the 2023-25 state budget process. As noted above, Act 101, originally AB 1023, expands the income tax credit for child and dependent care. This is the only bill from the final Republican tax cut package that was signed by Gov. Evers.

In his State of the State address this year, Gov. Evers argued that the surplus funds should be used for “three things [that] are key to addressing our state’s workforce challenges: first, we must find a long-term solution to our state’s looming child care crisis; second, we must expand paid family leave; and third, we must invest in public education at every level, from early childhood to our technical colleges and universities.”

Providing state funding for an investment in child care through the extension of the pandemic-era Child Care Counts program has been one of the governor’s top priorities this session, a program that has found little support among Republican legislators. Last fall, Gov. Evers announced the program will be extended using leftover federal APRA funds through June 2025.

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