March 15, 2018
Navigating the Final Days of the 2017-18 Legislative Session
With the assembly adjourned for the 2017-2018 session, attention now turns to the Senate's plans for their last floor session before their anticipated adjournment March 20.
March 16, 2018 – Predicting the legislature’s actions in these waning days of session is nearly as impossible as picking a perfect bracket during March Madness.
With the assembly adjourned for the 2017-2018 session, attention has now turned toward the Senate’s plans for their last floor session before their anticipated adjournment March 20. With the clock ticking, legislators and lobbyists are scrambling to get their initiatives the necessary hearings or votes, while keeping the issues they oppose out of committee and off the floor calendar.
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s lobbying team is still working and keeping a close eye on several key bills:
SB 54 Filed at the start of the 2017-2018 session, the underlying bill required the revocation of parole, probation, or extended supervision if a person is charged with a crime. It passed the Assembly last fall, but was significantly amended, calling its concurrence in the Senate into question. The amendment retains the underlying bill, while also funding the $350 million construction of a new adult prison. It also adds 53.75 additional ADA positions to be distributed to over 40 counties that are considered to be some of the most understaffed in the state. If further changes are made to the bill, it will likely not move forward. If no changes are made, it could be voted on by the full Senate during next week’s floor period.
AB 773, dealing with tort reform, was introduced in late 2017, and received a great deal of interest from both proponents and opponents when it was introduced. The State Bar’s Litigation section testified for informational purposes before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. Due to the significant opposition to the bill from several interest groups, bill sponsors and proponents worked to amend the bill and the legislation passed the Assembly in February. The legislation now resides in the Senate, where it could be called for a floor vote.
SB 53 Expungement has been a hot topic this legislative session, with two competing bills working their way through the legislature. While one bill, AB 331, did not move far in the process the other, SB 53, could receive a Senate vote next week. The bill, which was amended in the Assembly, allows someone who successfully completed his or her sentence to petition for expungement upon release. Currently, a court must decide at the time of sentencing whether or not a person is eligible for expungement, but proponents of the legislation have long argued that this practice is not logical or practical. The legislation also gives the person two opportunities throughout his or her lifetime to seek the expungement, but stipulates that the ex–offender must wait at least one year after successfully completing their sentence to make the initial request.
AB 586, dealing with custody modifications, passed the assembly in January, and received unanimous support in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. The Family Law section is hopeful that this initiative will receive the same unanimous support in a full Senate vote that it’s other initiative, AB 551, involving parent relocation, received two months ago. That legislation awaits Gov. Walker’s signature.
These are just a few of the bills that the State Bar Government Relations team is watching over the next several days, but there are many others of interest to our members. As with the NCAA tournament, stay tuned to see what kind of unexpected upsets and victories occur before session concludes.