April 11, 2022 – Over the past three months, Rotunda Report has focused on the final few weeks of the 2021-22 session. This focus had good reasons as hundreds of bills have been introduced, had public hearings, committee votes and final votes in the Assembly and Senate. Now that the legislature has officially adjourned, attention moves to the Governor’s office for final action on a number of proposals supported by State Bar’s lobbying sections.
State Bar Lobbying Section Proposals Signed Into Law
In February, two articles were published that went into detail about State Bar section-supported proposals that were nearing the finish line. A number of those proposals have been enacted after being signed by Governor Tony Evers, including the following:
2021 Wisconsin Act 169 (Senate Bill 603) – Simplifies the process for legal separations. Supported by Family Law Section.
2021 Wisconsin Act 174 (Senate Bill 682) – Creates an exception to the 40-year recording requirement for certain recorded access easements. Supported by Real Property, Probate and Trust Section.
2021 Wisconsin Act 183 (Assembly Bill 329) – Reporting on the use of no-knock warrants. Supported by State Bar of Wisconsin.
2021 Wisconsin Act 184 (Assembly Bill 335) – Crisis response training for law enforcement. Supported by State Bar of Wisconsin.
2021 Wisconsin Act 185 (Assembly Bill 333 – Providing grants for body cameras. Supported by State Bar of Wisconsin.
2021 Wisconsin Act 205 (Assembly Bill 723) – Creates a uniform de novo process in family court. Supported by Family Law Section.
2021 Wisconsin Act 204 (Assembly Bill 722) – Codifies case law allowing stipulated agreements to be made final upon approval by a judge. Supported by Family Law Section.
A couple State Bar lobbying section supported bills still awaiting action by the Governor include
Senate Bill 566, which is the product of years of review of two uniform laws to streamline, modernize, and bring into uniformity five chapters of business entity law, and
Senate Bill 604, which clarifies the financial exchange process in maintenance and child support actions. Action on those bills is expected in April.
Governor Evers Announces $8 Million in Civil Legal Needs Funding
Using federal COVID-19 relief money, Governor Evers announced an $8 million grant to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation Inc (WisTAF) to support low-income residents who need legal assistance as they recover from the pandemic. The grant will assist in the creation of a new Wisconsin Law Help website and will provide additional funds statewide to civil legal aid providers.
Cale Battles, is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached by
email, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.
The Governor in his
press release wrote the following:
“The grant announced today will allow WisTAF
and its partner organizations to furnish civil legal aid interventions to Wisconsinites who face foreclosure, eviction, and other housing-related problems due to COVID-19; need legal assistance to access unemployment benefits, workforce opportunities, or health coverage; or still struggle with other economic hardships related to the pandemic.”
The State Bar has long supported additional and increased funding for civil legal need services. Investment in civil legal aid is a wise investment for Wisconsin: for every $1 invested, Wisconsin’s civil legal aid providers obtain $10 for their low-income clients in the form of child support, security deposits, jobs obtained, and more. Beyond that is savings in the court system where courts can operate more efficiently or issues can be resolved without court intervention. Wisconsin currently provides little funding in state aid for civil legal needs, using only $500,000 annually of federal money from the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.
Looking Ahead to Fall Elections
Future editions of Rotunda Report will shift from legislative action to previewing legislative fall elections, legislative retirements and more. The Government Affairs and Grassroots program will be on the road later this spring/summer as well. If you are interested in attending or hosting a local meeting with the State Bar’s Government Affairs and Grassroots program or with your local state representatives, please contact Devin Martin at
What You Can Do: State Bar of Wisconsin Advocacy Network
State Bar members are encouraged to send a message to their lawmakers expressing support on legislative topics which positively affect the legal system using the
Advocacy Network. Choose "compose your own," and write a message to suit your own thoughts and opinions that will help to demonstrate the breadth of support for policies that prioritize access to justice.
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