Senate Floor Session: October 17 (Special Session Bill, Executive Appointments, Other Legislation)

The Wisconsin Senate met once in October for a floor day to vote on bills, resolutions, and executive appointments. See this article for coverage of the Assembly’s October floor days. Also see the regular and special session floor calendars for the day.

Special Session Bill and Budget Veto Override

Perhaps most notably, the Senate voted on the governor’s special session workforce package. As we noted here, between the Republican-led Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers (D), both sides were dissatisfied with aspects of the 2023-25 state budget and are seeking legislation to address those issues.

Gov. Evers called a special session of the Legislature for September 20 and announced a roughly $1 billion proposal including about $340 million to continue the Child Care Counts program, $243 million to create a paid family and medical leave program, and $250 million for the UW System and a new engineering building at UW-Madison (a complete explanation of the governor’s proposal is available here).

Legislative leaders did not act on the special session on September 20, but also did not immediately gavel out of the session like they have done previously. On October 13, Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) introduced a substitute amendment replacing the language proposed by Gov. Evers with a Republican-drafted workforce and child care package (a complete explanation of the amendment is available here).

Sen. LeMahieu’s amendment includes the following provisions:

  • Cutting Wisconsin’s third income tax bracket from 5.3% to 4.4% for individuals earning between $27,630 and $304,000 and married joint filers earning between $36,840 and $405,000.
  • Raising the state child and dependent care tax credit that an individual may claim by increasing the employment-related expense limitation to $10,000 for one qualifying dependent and $20,000 for two or more qualifying dependents.
  • Increasing the private school tuition deduction to a maximum of $5,070 for an elementary school pupil and $12,660 for a secondary school pupil.
  • Ratifying the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact, PA Licensure Compact, Social Work Licensure Compact, and Counseling Compact.
  • Creating state grant programs of up to $1,500 for technical and tribal college students who have gone through an apprenticeship program along with their course of instruction at the technical or tribal college.
  • Requiring the state to establish a commercial driver training grant program.

The Senate adopted the LeMahieu substitute amendment and passed the bill along party lines. Gov. Evers’ office called the plan a “completely unserious proposal from Republicans who are wholly out of touch with the challenges and needs of our state.” The governor is all but certain to veto the bill if it passes the Assembly in its current form.

Gov. Evers announced on October 16 that he was directing $170 million in federal funding to continue the Child Care Counts program at current levels through June 2025. The funding was drawn from reimbursed and underspent federal aid related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senate also voted 22-10, with all Republicans in favor, to override a partial veto issued by Gov. Evers to SB 70, the 2023-25 state budget bill. Gov. Evers had vetoed a provision to create a revolving loan fund for housing rehabilitation projects, stating that he objected “to the Legislature providing funding for housing rehabilitation only through a revolving loan program rather than as a grant or a forgivable loan program.” Last month, the Senate voted to override another partial veto from the state budget and the veto of a standalone bill. The Assembly has not yet voted on any of the Senate’s veto override attempts.

Executive Appointments

The Senate considered 66 of Gov. Evers’ appointees to various state boards and commissions and voted unanimously to confirm 58 of them. Senate Republicans voted to reject eight appointees, including the governor’s four most recent appointments to the Natural Resources Board (NRB), which oversees the Department of Natural Resources. Sen. Cowles (R-Green Bay) did not join his GOP colleagues in rejecting the NRB and Elections Commission appointments.

  • Adams, Sharon: NRB Southern Area Representative, term ending May 1, 2027. Rejected, 21-11.
  • Baldauff, Melissa: Domestic Abuse Knowledge Representative on the Council on Domestic Abuse, term ending July 1, 2025. Rejected, 22-10.
  • Czarnezki, Joseph: Legislative Joint Appointment on the Wisconsin Elections Commission, term ending May 1, 2026. Rejected, 21-11.
  • Halverson, Jerry: Member on the Livestock Facility Siting Review Board, term ending May 1, 2026. Rejected, 22-10.
  • Jennings, Dylan: NRB Northern Area Representative, term ending May 1, 2029. Rejected, 21-11.
  • Naas, Sandra Dee: NRB Northern Area Representative, term ending May 1, 2027 Rejected, 21-11.
  • Vandenbrook, Jim: NRB Southern Area Representative on the Natural Resources Board, term ending May 1, 2029. Rejected, 21-11.
  • Wasserman, Sheldon: Medical Doctor Representative on the Medical Examining Board, term ending July 1, 2027. Rejected, 22-10.

Generally, gubernatorial appointees can serve immediately upon appointment and without being formally confirmed by the Senate, but are immediately removed from office if the Senate votes to reject their appointment. Gov. Evers immediately appointed replacements for all these positions; more information is available here.

Other Bills and Resolutions

The Senate passed over 50 other bills, listed below:

  • SB 34 Free Fishing Weekend Modifying the designation of a free fishing weekend in January.
  • SB 54 Bingo Account Withdrawals The amount of allowable cash withdrawal from a bingo account for the purpose of paying cash prizes.
  • SB 83 Estimated Interest on Bonds Including with a referendum question for issuing bonds a statement of the estimated interest accruing on the amount of the bonds. Passed, 22-10.
  • SB 85 Lake District Email Notices Authorizing email for notice of public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district board business.
  • SB 93 Tech College Grants Grants to technical college and tribal college students for apprenticeship expenses and making an appropriation.Passed, 30-0.
  • SB 109 ATV’s on Highway Operation of an all-terrain vehicle or utility terrain vehicle owned by an electric cooperative on a highway.
  • SB 111 Strip Searches The definition of “strip search” for the purpose of the prohibition against strip-searching a pupil.
  • SB 119 Informant Records Public records identifying confidential law enforcement informants.
  • SB 127 Pelvic Exam Consent Requiring informed consent before performing a pelvic examination on a patient who is under general anesthesia or unconscious.
  • SB 136 Snowmobile Trail Aid Modifying administrative rules related to supplemental aid for snowmobile trail maintenance and granting rule-making authority.
  • SB 139 Wolf Population Establishing a statewide wolf population goal. Passed, 21-9.
  • SB 145 Advanced Practice Nurses Advanced practice registered nurses, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority. Passed, 23-9.
  • SB 196 Counseling Compact Ratification of the Counseling Compact.
  • SB 197 Audiology Compact Ratification of the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority.
  • SB 216 ATV Whip Lights Whip lights on all-terrain and utility terrain vehicles.
  • SB 217 ATV Passengers Passenger restrictions on all-terrain vehicles. Passed, 21-11.
  • SB 224 Legislator Sick Leave Sick leave for state legislators. Passed, 21-11.
  • SB 248 Care Management Organizations County of residence for care management organization facility placements.
  • SB 259 Payday Loans Payday loans.
  • SB 269 Wild Parsnip Grants Grants to map, control, eradicate, monitor, and minimize the spread of wild parsnip; funding for the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation; granting rule-making authority; and making an appropriation. Passed, 31-1.
  • SB 278 Special Election Costs Aids to counties and municipalities for certain special election costs and making an appropriation. Passed, 31-1.
  • SB 283 Election Broadcasts Broadcasting election night proceedings.
  • SB 290 Food Delivery Third-party food delivery services and providing a penalty.
  • SB 291 Election Official Records An election official’s personal information, battery against election officials, whistleblower protection for municipal clerks, county clerks, and election officials who witness and report election fraud or irregularities, and providing a penalty.
  • SB 303 School Safety Plans Defining critical mapping data for school safety plans.
  • SB 310 DOT Records Access Access to Department of Transportation records to establish residency for approvals issued by the Department of Natural Resources.
  • SB 318 Anatomical Gifts Receipt of anatomical gifts by search and rescue organizations for human remains detection canines.
  • SB 324 Refrigerants Restrictions on use of certain refrigerants.
  • SB 325 Broadband Grants The broadband expansion grant program.
  • SB 331 Pen Registers Pen registers and trap and trace devices. Passed, 20-12.
  • SB 343 Abortion Definition The definition of abortion. Passed, 22-10.
  • SB 345 Choose Life Grants Grants to Choose Life Wisconsin and making an appropriation. Passed, 22-10.
  • SB 346 Adoption Grants A grant program for financial assistance for adoption and making an appropriation. Passed, 24-8.
  • SB 355 Utility Warning Lights Warning lights on public utility, telecommunications carrier, or cooperative vehicles.
  • SB 362 Electronic Communications Permitted electronic transmissions under employer-sponsored health insurance policies and plans.
  • SB 369 Infant Safety Devices Newborn infant safety devices under the safe haven law.
  • SB 371 Next Gen 911 Grants for incumbent local exchange carriers for costs associated with Next Generation 911 and making an appropriation. Passed, 30-2.
  • SB 373 Hearing Aids Selling and fitting over-the-counter hearing aids.
  • SB 391 Social Work Licensure Compact Ratification of the Social Work Licensure Compact.
  • SB 395 School Revenue Ceiling Restrictions on the revenue ceiling for school districts. Passed, 31-1.
  • SB 400 PA Licensure Ratification of the PA Licensure Compact.
  • SB 402 Battery to Jurors Battery or threat to jurors and providing a penalty.
  • SB 416 Veterans Services Grants Grants to counties for veterans services.
  • SB 419 Hearing Aids Practice of fitting and dealing in hearing aids, certification of hearing instrument specialists to engage in cerumen management, and granting rule-making authority.
  • SB 433 Absentee Ballots Timeline for sending or transmitting presidential preference primary absentee ballots.
  • SB 434 Medical Assistance Repair of complex rehabilitation technology under the Medical Assistance program.
  • SB 436 Work Permits Permits authorizing the employment of minors. Passed, 21-11.
  • SB 440 Cremation Permit Creation of a cremation permit application form.
  • AB 49 Disabled Parking Disabled parking privileges on University of Wisconsin System campuses.
  • AB 146 Guaranteed Income Programs Local guaranteed income programs. Passed, 22-10.
  • AB 364 HSA Contributions Adopting federal tax law changes regarding contributions to a health savings account and telehealth services. Passed, 32-0.
  • AB 406 Adopting IRS Changes Adopting changes to the federal Internal Revenue Code for state tax purposes. Passed, 32-0.
  • AB 465 Gender Transition Prohibiting gender transition medical intervention for individuals under 18 years of age. Passed, 22-10.

The above bills passed by voice vote unless otherwise noted. The five Assembly Bills (AB) listed above previously passed the Senate and are ready to be presented to Gov. Evers.

Finally, the Senate adopted nine resolutions, including statements recognizing Manufacturing Month, First Responder Appreciation Day, breast cancer awareness, India Day, the 50-year anniversary of volunteer service in the U.S. Armed Forces since the end of the draft, and the Employment Choice First program for people with disabilities. The Senate also adopted resolutions “condemning Hamas’ barbaric attack against Israel” and “supporting the people of Iran in their quest for a democratic government.”

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