Aug. 28, 2013 – As children return to school, leaves begin to change and the football season kicks off, the Wisconsin Legislature will also return to work with a heavy agenda to close out the 2013 session. The fall session will span over three months and will include floor periods in September, October and November.
Assembly Leadership Changes
The State Assembly will experience a leadership transition to begin the session. Current Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford) will resign from the Legislature on Sept. 3 and take a position at the Public Service Commission. Two legislators, Bill Kramer (R-Waukesha) and Dean Knudson (R-Hudson), are seeking the now vacant Majority Leader post. If Rep. Kramer, a graduate of Duke Law School, is successful in winning the Assembly Caucus vote, it would trigger another election to fill his leadership position as Speaker Pro Tem. Conversely, if Knudson wins, it would open a seat on the powerful Joint Finance Committee.
State Bar Sections to be Deeply Involved in Multiple Legislative Proposals
The lobbying sections of the State Bar have begun work on introducing several proactive pieces of legislation. A number of these projects have been studied and worked on by the sections for several years.
The Business Law section has two legislative proposals that will be introduced this fall. The section has been working on codifying two proposed uniform laws on Limited Liability Companies and the Revised Business Partnership Act. Both of these acts will foster uniformity with other states and update current laws to assist in creating and growing current Wisconsin businesses.
The Uniform Trust Code, a study project from the Real Property and Trust section with assistance from the Elder Law section, will soon be completed and introduced in the Legislature. The study committee has involved multiple stakeholders and has diligently worked with the proposed uniform law to modernize it to Wisconsin current statutes.
The Elder Law and Children and the Law sections continue to work on guardianship reform. Children and the Law has worked to remove juvenile guardianship provisions from Chapters 54 and 55, in order to add them to the children’s code in Chapter 48. The Elder Law section is also actively working to improve Chapter 54 and 55. Both sections have been working for several years on legislation to update these chapters.
Cale Battles is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached at org cbattles wisbar wisbar cbattles org, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.
Legislature will be Active with Criminal Legislative Proposals
The fall session will see a number of legislative changes that the State Bar and lobbying sections will continue to monitor. One major piece of legislation that will be introduced this fall is a project by the Judicial Council that will overhaul the criminal procedure code. The Criminal Law Section is closely monitoring this major rewrite. In addition to the criminal procedure code legislation, the Criminal Law section will also monitor the progress of the OWI proposals currently pending.
A few other initiatives that will be watched by the State Bar this fall include a bill to increase the private bar rate, changes to child placement in divorce proceedings, medical apology legislation and a proposed change to allow crowdfunding for Wisconsin businesses.
The legislation that has received the most attention this fall is a recent proposal to increase the speed limit on rural interstate highways to 70 miles per hour. While the Assembly seems eager to pass the proposal, the leader of the State Senate has said he doesn’t anticipate bringing the issue up any time soon.
The fall session will conclude on Nov. 14, and the Legislature will adjourn until January 2014.