April 27, 2016 – The Wisconsin Joint Legislative Council has recently established their special study committees for 2016. These study committees provide a unique opportunity for legislators and members of the public to collaborate on complex issues, with intentions of providing guidance and solutions to the Legislature.
As attorneys, we invite you to participate by volunteering to serve on one of these study committees. The contribution of your knowledge and expertise would be extremely valuable to the various committees.
The special study committee topics and scopes for 2016 are:
•Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services – The Study Committee is directed to review the funding and delivery of legal services for the indigent in civil cases. The committee shall: (1) review the need for legal services by indigent civil litigants; (2) identify additional non-GPR sources of revenue to provide civil legal services for the indigent; and (3) review current operations.
•Study Committee on the Preservation of Burial Sites – The Study Committee is directed to review s. 157.70, Stats., to determine whether the statute adequately balances the interests of scientists, landowners, developers and others with an interest in a burial site, including those with a kinship interest and those with a general cultural, tribal or religious affiliation with the burial site. The Study Committee shall consider whether modifications to these procedures are necessary to protect all interests related to any human burial site encountered during archaeological excavation, metallic or nonmetallic mining, construction, agricultural activities, environmental impact assessments or other ground-disturbing activities, without causing avoidable or undue delay or hardship to any person who has an interest in using the land on which the burial site is located.
•Study Committee on Publication of Governmental Documents and Legal Notices – The Study Committee is directed to update and recodify chs. 35 and 985, Stats., relating to the publication and distribution of government documents and legal notices, to reflect technological advances and remove obsolete provisions. The committee shall also study whether, and in what circumstances, current law regarding the publication and distribution of government documents and legal notices, including qualifications for official newspapers, should be modified to allow for information to be made available only electronically or through nontraditional media outlets, and the committee shall recommend legislation regarding any such modifications.
•Study Committee on Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment – The Study Committee is directed to review effective strategies and best practices for reducing recidivism. The committee shall: (a) consider evidence-based strategies to decrease recidivism that have achieved success in Wisconsin r in other states for possible expansion or implementation; (b) investigate systems of earned-time credits for possible implementation as part of a recidivism reduction program; and (c) explore existing impediments to reacclimating to society, including continuity of medication, impediments to occupational licensure and professional credentials, and other collateral consequences of conviction.
•Study Committee on Rural Broadband – The Study Committee is directed to review the Wisconsin Broadband Expansion Grant Program and the extent to which it has encouraged construction of broadband infrastructure in areas of the state with few broadband service providers. The committee shall discuss the criteria used to evaluate applications and award grants, consider alternatives for determining eligibility and prioritizing proposed projects, consider alternative methods for encouraging construction of broadband infrastructure, and identify options to recommend.
•Study Committee on School Data – The Study Committee is directed to review all student data gathered by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the data security measures that protect student privacy. The committee will study whether the data is required by federal law, state statute, or administrative rule and the purposes for which the data is utilized, and consider developing legislation to limit the types of student data collected by DPI and to improve the security of that data.
•Study Committee on Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Shortages – The Study Committee is directed to examine issues related to the shortage of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in the state, particularly in rural areas, and propose measures to address the shortage. Specifically, the Study Committee shall study all of the following: (a) the magnitude of volunteer shortages, the areas of the state most affected, and the potential impact of shortages on public health and safety and economic development; (b) whether current training and continuing education requirements contribute to the shortage; (c) relationships between full-time and volunteer emergency response departments and the impact that the shortage of volunteers has on nonvolunteer departments in neighboring communities; and (d) whether the creation of organizations, particularly in rural areas, may help address the shortage. The committee shall develop legislative options to meet the needs of full time and volunteer fire departments, including proposals designed to increase the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters throughout the state.
•State-Tribal Relations – The committee is directed to study issues relating to American Indians and the American Indian tribes and bands in this state and develop specific recommendations and legislative proposals relating to these issues.
For more information contact Brittney Weiland, public affairs coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at org bweiland wisbar wisbar bweiland org, or by phone at (608) 250-6145.
The study committees typically meet in Madison at or near the State Capitol. Once the committee chairs and members have had the opportunity to discuss the charge of the study committee, a more detailed meeting schedule will be established. As a general rule, beginning in late spring/early summer, the committees generally try to meet at least once a month in daylong meetings with the goal of concluding their work by the fall.
For more information on the various committees, visit the state Legislature's website.
We encourage members of the legal community with expertise in these topic areas to consider volunteering to serve on one of these study committees. If you wish to submit your name for consideration for membership on one of these committees, please follow the application instructions here.
The deadline to apply is Wednesday, May 18. With questions, please contact State Bar Public Affairs Coordinator Brittney Weiland at firstname.lastname@example.org.