New Secretary of State:Doug La Follette surprised the state by resigning less than three months into his latest term. La Follette was the longest-serving active statewide elected official in the country, having held the office of secretary of state for over 44 years. He narrowly won re-election against Republican challenger Amy Loudenbeck last November. Gov. Evers quickly appointed former State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to replace La Follette. Senate Majority LeaderLeMahieucriticized the governor for filling the vacancy by appointment rather than calling a special election.
Agency Budget Briefings: The Joint Finance Committee began holding agency budget briefings this week. On Tuesday, DOC Secretary Carr (remarks) and WisDOT Secretary Thompson (remarks) appeared before the committee. Yesterday, the committee heard from DOA Secretary Blumenfeld and DSPS Secretary Hereth.
March 22 Floor Sessions: Both houses of the Legislature held floor sessions on March 22. The Assembly passed a series of bills related to law enforcement and criminal justice, including a bill to update state law to implement the constitutional amendment on bail and pre-conviction release that will be decided by voters next week. In addition to approving the bail bill and other criminal justice measures, the Senate confirmed dozens of Gov. Evers’ appointees, including several agency heads, and approved a series of resolutions, including recognizing American Red Cross Month in Wisconsin. Notably, the Senate also concurred in AB 28 to allow county jail officers to receive “protective occupation” benefits. That bill has now passed both houses unanimously. See this article for more information about the Legislature’s March floor dates.
April 4 Spring Election: Supreme Court, SD8, Ballot Measures
Wisconsin’s spring election will take place next week, April 4. The race for an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has broken the national spending record for a state judicial election. Former Justice Daniel Kelly, a judicial conservative, and Milwaukee County Judge Janet Protasiewicz, a judicial liberal, are facing off to succeed Justice Patience Roggensack, a judicial conservative, on Wisconsin’s elected supreme court, where judicial conservatives currently enjoy a 4-3 majority.
Also on April 4, Republican Rep. Dan Knodl will face Democratic candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin in a special election for the 8th Senate District. The seat is currently vacant after Sen. Alberta Darling retired in December in the middle of her eighth term.
Voters will also consider two ballot measures next week. One is a proposed constitutional amendment to change the conditions of bail and pre-conviction release for people accused of a crime. The other asks voters whether able-bodied, childless adults should be required to look for work to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits. This latter referendum is strictly advisory, and its outcome will have no effect on state law.
For more information about the upcoming elections, see the following articles:
State Building Commission Deadlocks on Gov. Evers’ Capital Budget
The State Building Commission met March 23 to review Gov. Evers’ 2023-25 capital budget recommendations. At the beginning of the meeting, Republican members moved to forward the governor’s capital budget to the Joint Committee on Finance without any recommendations; this motion failed on a 4-4 vote. The commission then voted on Gov. Evers’ recommendations on an agency-by-agency basis.
Tracking the Senate Confirmation Process for the Evers Administration Cabinet
In a January interview, Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu said that the Senate would work to hold confirmation hearings on department secretaries and other agency heads appointed by Gov. Evers. During Gov. Evers’ first term, the Senate chose not to take confirmation votes on about 185 of the governor’s appointments, including many cabinet positions.
Op-Ed: High Health Care Costs Are Hurting Wisconsin's Economic Competitiveness
Wisconsin health care costs are some of the highest in the nation, placing a growing burden on our local businesses’ ability to thrive. In fact, Wisconsin has the 10th highest health care costs in the country. Hospitals and other providers often claim the high prices are due to the high quality of care they are providing. Unfortunately, the same report shows Wisconsin has slipped to 15th for health care outcomes – down six spots from just four years ago.
The Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) recently released its 2023 Guide to the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Judicial Evaluation. This fifth edition of the Judicial Evaluation reviews the most important decisions issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court that affect the Wisconsin business community. The 2023 Judicial Evaluation covers the 2019-20, 2020-21, and 2021-22 terms of the court. The Judicial Evaluation scores the justices on the percentage of reviewed cases in which their positions aligned with WCJC’s positions.
Video: Wisconsin Legislature Recognizes March 2023 as American Red Cross Month
The Legislature recently voted to recognize March 2023 as American Red Cross Month in Wisconsin. The resolution, authored by Rep. Donna Rozar and Sen. Joan Ballweg, was adopted by the Assembly on March 14 and the Senate on March 22. A video of the Legislature's proceedings is available here.
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