February 12, 2021 – There has never been an easier time for attorneys to follow along with the Legislature and get involved in the lawmaking process. State Bar members and citizens can access information in real time and track any legislative action. The State Bar’s “Advocacy Network” action center highlights top legislative priorities and makes communicating with representatives a quick and simple task. For State Bar practice Sections, an online bill tracking system allows members to track current legislation of interest to their area of the law.
Below is a helpful guide with links on how members can research and follow state government, stay informed, and get involved in the legislative process so that lawmakers can listen and understand the needs and opinions of the legal community.
Wisconsin Legislative Homepage
The state Legislature’s Home Page contains a wealth of information on current and previous session legislative action. The Assembly and Senate post session calendars and committee schedules. The site also allows citizens to search any legislative proposal or topic introduced.
The Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service is also located on the home page. This service allows anyone the ability to track a specific bill, topic, administrative code, committee action or legislation introduced by an elected official. Users can request weekly or daily email notifications when any legislative action occurs.
Legislative Notification Service - https://notify.legis.wisconsin.gov/login
Legislature Home Page - http://legis.wisconsin.gov/
Find a Proposal (Legislative Document Search) - https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021
Legislative RSS Feeds - http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/feed
2021-2022 Session Schedule - https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/related/session_calendar/floor_period_calendar.pdf
Watch the Legislature in Action
WisconsinEye is a television and internet broadcasting service airing video from legislative floor sessions, committee public hearings and news interviews. The site livestreams many legislative happenings from its website, and archives previous broadcast footage, all searchable by committee or date. The Newsmakers and Daily Morning Minute highlight pressing current political issues or topics of statewide interest. For Capitol watchers who want to learn more about lobbying and the lobbying efforts of interest groups, the Wisconsin Ethics Commission (WEC) has created the Wisconsin Eye on Lobbying website. Lobbying principals and registered lobbyists must report any lobbying activities that they have conducted on legislation, budget matters or administrative rule, which is then posted on the WEC’s lobbying website in real time. Lobbying principles and registered lobbyists also must submit reports every six months as to the time and cost of these efforts.
Two sites that are a daily must-visit for politicians and lobbyists are the Wheeler Report and Wispolitics.com. Both focus on aggregating state political news, but also post news releases, events and daily Capitol schedules.
WisconsinEye - http://www.wiseye.org/
WEC’s Eye on Lobbying - https://lobbying.wi.gov/Home/Welcome
WisPolitics - http://wispolitics.com/
The Wheeler Report - http://thewheelerreport.com/
State Bar Advocacy Network
The Advocacy Network is the name for the State Bar of Wisconsin’s grassroots advocacy program, which aims to educate, engage, and coordinate attorney members with their respective lawmakers to help advocate on issues important to the practice of law and access to justice for all.
The Advocacy Network maintains an online action center which tracks priority bills of interest for the State Bar and includes “action alerts” that members can use to send a message to their lawmakers on specific issues and pending legislation. These alerts include background information on the issue and proposed legislation to address it, and will automatically find an individual’s elected officials by inputting their home address. Once target lawmakers are found, each alert includes a pre-written example email message that members can personalize and send to their representatives, making grassroots advocacy as simple as writing a few sentences and clicks of the mouse. The alerts also include options to place a phone call or tweet at elected officials, to increase the visibility and effectiveness of each contact.
State Bar Advocacy Network Action Center – www.wisbar.org/GovRelations
State Bar Government Relations Information
The State Bar’s Advocacy and Access to Justice Department will continue to offer up-to-date information on legislative and court developments through the 2021-22 session.
The best way for members to stay up-to-date on legislative developments is to subscribe to Rotunda Report, an e-newsletter with timely updates from the Capitol. The State Bar’s InsideTrack newsletter also frequently features articles on legislative issues and in-depth articles from members on the impact of recent law changes.
The Government Relations site also includes information on policy positions taken by the State Bar.
SBW Government Relations - www.wisbar.org/GovRelations
Rotunda Report - www.wisbar.org/NewsPublications/RotundaReport
SBW Policy Positions - www.wisbar.org/aboutus/governmentrelations/pages/policy-positions
InsideTrack - www.wisbar.org/NewsPublications/InsideTrack
For more information regarding State Bar lobbying or legislative issues please feel free to contact State Bar lobbyists Cale Battles or Lynne Davis, or Grassroots Outreach Coordinator Devin Martin.