Significant Legislation Passed This Session

The Wisconsin Legislature passed over 200 bills and a number of resolutions during the 2011-12 legislative session. As of March 20, 123 of those bills had been signed into law. Some of the most important bills impacting Hamilton clients include:

Regulatory Reforms

  • Prohibits DNR from requiring air pollution control permits for indirect sources. – SB 1112011 Wisconsin Act 121
  • DNR navigable waters permitting reform. – SB 326
  • Makes changes to current law regarding permits for discharges into wetlands; wetland mitigation; wetland mapping and delineation; fees for permits and other authorizations or determinations by the Department of Natural Resources relating to structures, deposits, and other activities in or near navigable waters. – SB 3682011 Wisconsin Act 118
  • Subject to a number of limitations and conditions, this bill authorizes a municipality to enact a development moratorium ordinance if the municipality has enacted, is in the process of enacting or amending, or is exempt from having to enact, a comprehensive plan. – SB 504
  • Modifies the administrative rule-making process – Special Session SB 8/AB 82011 Wisconsin Act 21
  • A gasoline station the construction of which begins after the bill takes effect is not required to have a gasoline vapor recovery system. – SB 518

Healthcare Related Legislation

  • Prohibits DHS from disclosing or retaining information concerning account holders who are not MA applicants, recipients, or other individuals; prohibits employees, agents, officers, and directors of financial institutions from disclosing or retaining information concerning MA applicants, recipients, or other individuals; and prohibits both DHS and financial institutions from using any information received under the program for any purpose not related to the program or administering MA. – SB 474
  • Makes modifications to the third parties that are required to provide information to DHS and from which DHS may recover payments for health care services provided to recipients. – SB 487
  • Accessible instructional materials for students with disabilities enrolled in the University of Wisconsin System or the Technical College System. – AB 322

Civil Justice Reforms

  • Tort Reforms – Special Session SB 1/AB 1 – 2011 Wisconsin Act 2.

    • Making changes to Wisconsin’s product liability statutes;

    • Eliminating the flawed “risk contribution” theory adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Thomas v. Mallett involving liability of lead-based paint manufacturers;

    • Getting rid of junk science in courtrooms by adopting sound science principles known as Daubert standards;

    • Placing caps on punitive and compensatory damages at $200,000 or two times compensatory damages, whichever is greater; and

    • Imposing sanctions on frivolous lawsuits.

  • Creating criteria for setting attorney fees in fee-shifting cases, and creating rebuttable presumption that attorney fees shall be no more than three times compensatory. – Special Session SB 12/AB 122011 Wisconsin Act 92
  • Resetting pre- and post-judgment interest rates from 12 percent to the Federal Reserve Prime Rate plus one percent. – Special Session SB 14/AB 142011 Wisconsin Act 69
  • Protecting land possessors from courts adopting the new Restatement of Torts by codifying the current law as it relates to the duty of care owed to trespassers by a possessor of land. – Special Session SB 22/AB 222011 Wisconsin Act 93
  • Eliminating Punitive and Compensatory Damages under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act – SB 202


  • The Budget Repair Bill sparked massive protests and was the impetus for recall elections against various senators, Lt. Gov. Kleefisch and Gov. Walker. – 2011 Wisconsin Act 10
  • Wisconsin’s Voter ID law, which requires that a person wishing to vote present proof of identification before they are given a ballot, is currently being challenged in the courts. – 2011 Wisconsin Act 23
  • Creating a process for Wisconsin residents to obtain concealed carry licenses. – 2011 Wisconsin Act 35

Hamilton Consulting encourages our clients look at their individual tracking reports to see the status of bills of interest to them. Contact a Hamilton Consulting Group lobbyist if your organization is interested in having a personalized tracking report for future legislative sessions.