July 2, 2013 – Gov. Scott Walker on Sunday signed the 2013-15 biennial budget, enacted as 2013 Wisconsin Act 20, using his partial veto power to cut 57 words or phrases from the proposed $68 billion state budget bill.
The Governor left intact several provisions relating to the practice of law, including estate recovery and divestment, DNA collection, justice system attorney compensation and court system funding.
Within the over 50 rejected budget proposals, the governor, for the second time since 2011, vetoed a provision allowing for the implementation of a bail bondsmen program. The program would have legalized bounty hunting in five counties over five years with full adoption by the rest of the state automatically at the end of that period.
A number of members of the legal community, including Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, came out against the provision, saying that it would harm victims and the court’s money collection process. Wisconsin has operated without such a system since 1979.
The governor did not veto any other elements of the state budget directly relating to the legal profession, but instead left several provisions that were added to the budget since the entire process began in February.
Katie Stenz is the public affairs coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.
Wisconsin to Collect DNA at Time of Arrest
The governor has approved a budget provision that will allow Wisconsin to join more than two dozen states that allow for the collection of DNA at the time of arrest. The plan allocates $6 million to expand current DNA collection practices to include anyone arrested on a felony charge, and anyone convicted of a crime. Currently, only individuals who are convicted of felonies and certain sex-related misdemeanors are required to submit DNA samples under Wis. Stat. § 973.047.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Maryland v. King that police can routinely take DNA samples from people who are arrested but not yet convicted of a crime, the state must determine how this affects implementation of the budget.
Governor Keeps Assembly’s Estate Recovery, Divestment Language
Now that the governor has approved the budget bill that includes an assembly amendment to estate recovery and divestment provisions, members of the State Bar’s Elder and Family Law Sections will have to determine how it affects their practice going forward.
The sections speculate that the budget will have an impact on marital property, trusts, real estate transfers, estate recovery, divestments and spousal impoverishment.
The Assembly’s technical amendment, which was approved by the governor, states that the Department of Health Services may not implement any of the provisions relating to estate recovery or divestment without approval from Joint Finance.
Court System Faces Lapse, Justice System Attorneys Get Paid
The court will still face a major funding lapse, but other areas of the state’s justice system will see some relief with budget provisions that fill a funding gap for attorneys.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will lose $11.8 million in funding, down from Gov. Walker’s proposed $17 million cut.
On a more positive note for attorneys, assistant district attorneys, deputy district attorneys, assistant attorneys general and public defenders will benefit from a pay progression provision that remained in the budget. Attorneys who work for the private bar will also be reimbursed for work they have completed now that a structural deficit has been fixed.
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