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Rotunda Report
  • Rotunda Report
    August 21, 2023

    Fall Legislative Session Begins with Uncertainties

    As tension hangs over the fall session of Wisconsin's legislature, these are the issues that the State Bar and its practice sections will be monitoring.

    Cale Battles & Lynne Davis

    Downtown Madison in summer

    Aug. 21, 2023 – The legislative process is always a bit complex and the legislative process itself creates conflicts that make it full of twists and turns. With one-third of the 2023-24 session complete after the enactment of the biennial budget in July, there are some unsettled items that will likely be addressed early in the fall session. The largest issue will be budget veto override attempts that are likely to occur, targeting income tax reductions and K-12 school funding changes. Republicans in the Senate currently have the necessary two-thirds majority for a successful override, but the Assembly is still two votes short of a supermajority, meaning that Democratic support would be needed. The last successful vote for a veto override in Wisconsin was in 1985.

    Several other large issues have created a tense legislative environment going into this fall. Legal challenges to the current legislative boundaries are outstanding as well as a continued national focus on Wisconsin as a politically important state for each party to win in the battle for the presidency.

    Among the issues that the State Bar will be following closely are legislative proposals dealing with expungement of criminal records, returning some 17-year-olds to juvenile court jurisdiction, and rural lawyer shortages.

    State Bar Practice Section Issues

    The State Bar’s section lobbying program will also be busy throughout the fall and into next spring. Multiple lobbying sections have proactive legislation that is being studied or drafted.

    The Real Property, Trust and Probate Section (RPPT) continues to be proactive in looking at both real estate changes and estate planning. Members of RPPT are also working on adoption of the Uniform Powers of Appointment Act and trailer legislation on the Uniform Trust Act (2013 Wisconsin Act 92) and Wisconsin’s Digital Property Act (2015 Wisconsin Act 300) that both passed with the section’s support. The section also is reviewing remote notarization changes and witnessing estate planning documents along with the Uniform Partition of Heirs Act.

    The Business Law section is dedicating much of its work this fall to reviewing the Uniform Commercial Code on emerging technologies and virtual currencies. The section is also in the process of reviewing the Uniform Foreign-Country Money Judgments Recognition Act and the Uniform Voidable Transactions Act.

    Cale BattlesCale Battles, is the senior government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached by email, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.

    Cale BattlesLynne Davis, is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached by email, or by phone at (608) 852-3603.

    The Elder Law and Special Needs (ELSN) section continues to support the implementation of a “529A ABLE” savings account program in Wisconsin. Senate Bill 122 has already passed the state Senate on a 30-3 vote and is awaiting action in the Assembly. ELSN continues to monitor legislative efforts on elder abuse issues that have been introduced in previous sessions. Senate Bill 19/Assembly Bill 46 and Senate Bill 20/Assembly Bill 45 were introduced on the topic during the 2021-22 session and ELSN, while supportive of elder abuse prevention, believed these two legislative efforts would give financial institutions too much authority to freeze assets of customers and the power to reject valid power of attorney documents.

    The Family Law Section has nearly finalized drafts of legislation involving divorce by affidavit as well as the income change notification statute. Both proposals have been refined based on feedback from interest groups impacted by the changes and the board intends to seek introduction in the coming months.

    Bankruptcy, Insolvency and Creditor Rights (BICR) continues to review Chapter 128 (Creditors Actions) changes. The Taxation Law section recently voted to support Senate Bill 389 that would adopt federal Internal Revenue Code changes implemented through recent congressional changes for state tax purposes.

    Construction Law continues its efforts to refine language assisting homeowners with clearing dormant liens on their property, while Children and the Law remains active with its communication to and consultation with legislators about adoption and parental rights throughout Wisconsin and means by which the procedures can be improved for all parties.

    Summary of Legislative Bills of Interest Being Considered by Legislature

    Currently there are hundreds of additional proposals moving through the legislative process. The State Bar continues to monitor bills as they are introduced for the State Bar Board of Governor’s supported initiatives or for lobbying section practice interests.

    The legislature’s fall session floor period is sch​eduled from Sept. 12 through Sept. 21, Oct. 10 through Oct. 19, and Nov. 7 through Nov. 16. The legislature will then break until 2024 and return Jan. 16, 2024, for the start of the spring floor period.

    In between floor periods, both Assembly and Senate committees will continue to meet and review legislation, giving the public the opportunity to weigh in on issues. To stay on top of legislation related to the practice areas of the State Bar lobbying sections, we encourage you to review legislation highlighted on their respective section pages.

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