Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 18, 2024

Political Tidbits - March 18, 2024

March 18, 2024

Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.

Articles in this edition of Political Tidbits:

Other updates in this edition:

If you have any questions, please contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting team.

Bits & Pieces

End of Session

The Assembly voted to adjourn for the 2023-24 session at the conclusion of its last scheduled floor day, February 22. 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.

Notable Bills

Although the Legislature appears to have completed its business for the year, about 150 bills that passed both houses have not yet been formally presented to Gov. Evers for his review. Any bills that are not presented to the governor by April 4 will be automatically forwarded on that date. Here is the status of some notable pieces of legislation:

  • Governor Expected to Sign: EV Charging Infrastructure Grants (SBs 791 and 792)
  • Governor Expected to Veto: PFAS Remediation and Grant Programs (SB 312)
  • Passed Both Houses: Law Enforcement Video Redaction Costs (SB 789)
  • Did Not Pass Senate: “Right of First Refusal” for Transmission Projects (AB 470)
  • Vetoed: Republican Income Tax Cut Package (ABs 1020, 1021, 1022)

Evers Names PSC Appointee; DOC’s Carr Has Retired

Last week, Gov. Evers announced his appointment of Marcus Hawkins to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), effective April 8. Hawkins was appointed to replace former Commissioner Tyler Huebner, whose appointment was rejected by the Wisconsin Senate in January.

Once Hawkins takes office, the three-member utility commission will be back to full strength, with recently confirmed Chairperson Summer Strand and recently appointed Commissioner Kristy Nieto.

Currently, Hawkins is the executive director of the Organization of MISO States, an association of state and local utility regulators in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region. Hawkins attended UW-Madison and had previously worked at the PSC as a senior engineer.

Also since the last edition of Tidbits, Gov. Evers announced the retirement of Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr, who was one of Gov. Evers’ original cabinet appointees in 2019.

2024 Election Updates


New Maps Bringing Big Changes

As we reported previously, Gov. Evers signed into law his own redistricting proposal (Act 94) after the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature adopted it. Late last year, the liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the previous state legislative maps were unconstitutional. Under the governor’s maps, more than 40 incumbent legislators, mostly Republicans, are paired with one another, meaning they now find themselves residing within the same legislative district. 


Some incumbents will move because of the redrawn district lines, some will square off in primary elections, and some will not seek reelection. News about incumbent legislators’ plans continues to trickle out in the media. Republicans appear poised to return in 2025 with much slimmer majorities than they currently hold, and control of the Assembly could be in play if Democrats have a good election cycle. The official maps prepared by legislative service staff are available here; WisPolitics also offers a comparison of the old and new districts.


Petition to Recall Speaker Vos Filed; Challenges to Signatures Underway

March 11, a recall petition was filed against Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). Though nearly 11,000 signatures were filed, state elections officials are questioning whether enough valid signatures were filed to trigger a recall election. The recall petition appears to be 900 signatures short of the number needed to force a recall election in the Speaker’s district. However, it’s not clear under the law which boundary lines should be used for the recall (the map that current legislators were elected under, or the new map drafted by Gov. Evers).


We anticipate the Wisconsin Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether enough signatures were filed and whether the old map or the new map would be the basis for a recall election. Recall petitioners have argued Speaker Vos didn’t do enough to challenge the 2020 presidential election results in Wisconsin and didn’t work to impeach the state elections administrator. News coverage is available here, here, and here.


Supreme Court Takes Up Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes Again

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has accepted a petition to bypass the court of appeals and review the supreme court’s previous decision on the legality of local election officials offering unattended drop boxes for the return of absentee ballots. This case will be heard on an expedited basis, with initial and response briefs due in April and oral argument scheduled for May 13. In 2022, with a 4-3 majority of judicial conservatives, the supreme court upheld a lower court ruling that the use of unstaffed absentee ballot drop boxes is not authorized under state law. News coverage here and here.

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. Still, about 150 bills that passed both houses have not yet been presented to Gov. Evers.

Continue reading this article

Senate Floor Session: March 12, 2024

The Wisconsin Senate met March 12. We anticipate that this was the Senate’s final day of floor votes for the 2023-24 legislative session. The Senate approved 44 executive appointments, rejected eight others, passed 61 bills, and adopted three resolutions.

Continue reading this article

ICYMI: Hamilton Political Tidbits - February 26, 2024

A flurry of legislative activity occurred in February as legislators pressed to wrap up their work for the 2023-24 session. We covered at all in the previous edition of Hamilton Political Tidbits.

Continue reading this article

News Clips


Wisconsin vote still up for grabs, Biden visits suggest

The Capital Times, March 13, 2024

Senate ends session by firing Evers appointees, approving constitutional amendments

Wisconsin Examiner, March 13, 2024

Elections review shows recall targeting GOP leader falls short of signatures needed

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 12, 2024

Robin Vos recall petitions start to falter under scrutiny

The Capital Times, March 12, 2024

Milwaukee receives $800,000 election grant

Urban Milwaukee, March 11, 2024

Ahead of State of the Union, Biden officials highlight ‘kitchen table issues’ for Wisconsin. Are voters listening?

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 7, 2024

Wisconsin Supreme Court could face big decision on pollution cleanup

The Capital Times, March 6, 2024

Evers signs bill allowing new UW-Madison engineering building to move forward

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 6, 2024

How new maps in Wisconsin will affect Madison-area voters

The Capital Times, March 5, 2024

US Supreme Court restores Trump to ballot, rejecting state attempts to ban him

Associated Press, March 5, 2024

With Mike Gallagher exiting the scene, Democrats vow to mount a challenge for his seat

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 2024

Wisconsin congressional districts will stay as justices decline case

The Capital Times, March 1, 2024

Republicans release $32M for UW as part of deal limiting DEI programs

Wisconsin Public Radio, February 29, 2024

Utilities & Energy

Bill creating virtual construction monopoly for transmission projects dies in Senate

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 13, 2024

Allowing more juice to flow through power lines could hasten clean energy projects

Stateline, March 8, 2024

Conservation groups sue to stop a transmission line from crossing Mississippi River

Associated Press, March 7, 2024

Republican lawmaker wants local voice on wind, solar projects

The Center Square, March 5, 2024

How wind and solar energy are being restricted across the US

USA Today, March 4, 2024

We Energies plans $335 million to power to Microsoft's Mount Pleasant data centers

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 4, 2024

Why not harvest the sun in community solar gardens? Policy is why.

The Capital Times, March 3, 2024


Conservation, timber groups debate alleged logging violations in national forest

Wisconsin Examiner, March 8, 2024

Anti-conservation group works to influence land use policy in northern Wisconsin counties

Wisconsin Examiner, March 7, 2024

Wisconsin appeals court says regulators must develop PFAS restrictions before mandating clean-up

Associated Press, March 6, 2024

Rothschild seeks approval for $7.6M facility to remove PFAS from drinking water

Wausau Daily Herald, March 6, 2024

New bill would start banning products with PFAS in 2028

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 1, 2024

PFAS trust fund remains unspent as Republicans, Democrats argue over legislation

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 1, 2024


Wisconsin Supreme Court case could set up do-over of 2022 ruling banning drop boxes

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 14, 2024

Ballot drop boxes are back in court. What could happen?

The Capital Times, March 14, 2024

Wisconsin AG hints at broader abortion lawsuit if supreme court agrees to hear case

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 14, 2024

State appeals court upholds ruling that DNR lacks broad authority to regulate PFAS

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 6, 2024

Wisconsin Supreme Court changes procedures again to speed up cases

Wisconsin Watch, March 1, 2024

Wisconsin Supreme Court rejects Democrats’ congressional redistricting challenge

Associated Press, March 1, 2024

Employer & Consumer

Wisconsin health care staffing vacancies remain high as baby boomers retire

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 12, 2024

Appeals Court sides with business group against the DNR on environmental enforcement

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 6, 2024

USDA: Farm income forecast to drop 25 percent

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 5, 2024

Evers signs bill to expand Wisconsin’s child care tax credit

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 4, 2024

State officials hear from industry, labor on embracing AI without leaving workers behind

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 5, 2024

Evers vetoes Republican-backed bills slashing the income tax, cutting taxes on retirees

Associated Press, March 1, 2024

Transportation & Infrastructure

Wisconsin gets set to install more EV chargers with federal help

The Capital Times, March 13, 2024

I-94 expansion project to cost $1.74 billion; may include AmFam Field parking structure

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 13, 2024

Biden administration recommends $118 million for city's north-south BRT route

Wisconsin State Journal, March 12, 2024

Milwaukee wins $36 million federal grant to rebuild 6th Street

Urban Milwaukee, March 12, 2024

Automakers are sharing consumers’ driving behavior with insurance companies

The New York Times, March 11, 2024

12 years after being built, Wisconsin’s Talgo trains enter service in Nigeria

Urban Milwaukee, March 5, 2024


Less than 2 weeks until 2 western Wisconsin hospitals close their doors

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 11, 2024

Nearly 10% of hospital jobs in Wisconsin vacant, report says

Wisconsin State Journal, March 11, 2024

Wisconsin pharmacists unsure of demand for new over-the-counter birth control pill

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 6, 2024

Absence of AI hospital rules worries nurses

Stateline, March 5, 2024


MMAC beefing up opposition to MPS referendum

Milwaukee Business News, March 13, 2024

Class rankings, increasingly on the wane, now required for Wisconsin high schools

Wisconsin State Journal, March 12, 2024

Republican legislators reject DPI recommendations for new Wisconsin reading curriculum

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 11, 2024

UW-Milwaukee closing Waukesha campus, citing enrollment, financial pressures

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 11, 2024

More published research should be debunked and retracted, watchdogs say

Wisconsin Public Radio, March 8, 2024

UW-Madison is getting its new engineering building. What happens now?

Wisconsin State Journal, March 7, 2024

Conservative law firm challenges UW race-based programs after Supreme Court ruling

Wisconsin State Journal, March 1, 2024

Click here for more news clips

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