Vol. 75, No. 9, September
Budget Reform Legislation Enacted
Several provisions of the budget reform
legislation have an impact on the courts and public.
by Jenny Boese
On July 26, Gov. McCallum signed into law legislation to fix
Wisconsin's $1.1 billion fiscal shortfall. His signature on the budget
reform legislation (2001 WI Act 109) brought closure to an arduous
six-month process on the bill. The final act included hundreds of
provisions, many of interest to lawyers and the State Bar of Wisconsin.
The State Bar thanks the many members of the legislature and the
governor for their efforts on provisions intended to improve the
effective and efficient administration of justice.
State Public Defender Funding
A unanimous, bipartisan compromise early in the legislative process
of Act 109 resulted in an increase of approximately $9.7 million in
funding for the Office of the State Public Defender. The $9.7 million
will shore up the private bar line of the SPD's budget. This legislative
agenda item has been a priority for the State Bar of Wisconsin and its
Criminal Law Section.
Medical Records Photocopy Fees
Act 109 included language supported by the State Bar of Wisconsin and
its Litigation Section to require the Wisconsin Department of Health and
Family Services (DHFS) to promulgate a new rule on the fees that can be
charged for obtaining photocopies of medical records, regardless of
whether an action has been commenced.
In essence, the enacted language requires the DHFS to create a new
rule for fees based on an "approximation of actual costs," sets the
ground rules for what the DHFS may consider in determining fees, and
creates an advisory committee "composed of members who represent a
balance of persons who maintain patient health care records and persons
who request patient health care records." The advisory committee will
assist the DHFS in determining the level at which fees will be set under
the new rule.
Court Filing Fee Increases
Act 109 increases filing fees under Wis. Stat. chapter 814 for a
variety of filings, as shown in Figure
1. The fees are projected to raise $8 million in revenue that will
be deposited in the state's general fund but not earmarked for the court
The State Bar of Wisconsin opposes filing fee increases, especially
when those fees do not go to fund the court system itself, because
higher fees place the courts out of the reach of the individuals of
Truth in Sentencing
Act 109 includes provisions that substantially track the original
recommendations of the Criminal Penalties Study Committee, chaired by
Judge Thomas Barland, to implement the Truth in Sentencing law
Gov. McCallum exercised his veto pen on several provisions, including
funding for support staff for the Sentencing Commission; standards of
review on appeal (allowing the appellate court to reverse a sentencing
decision under certain circumstances); and a sentence calculation
provision that would have required offenders to serve extended
supervision prior to parole when multiple sentences are imposed to run
The language as enacted allows for limited sentence modification
after 75-85 percent of incarceration time with ability of the district
attorney and victims of certain crimes to object, which then results in
the denial of the petition. The Criminal Law Section supported the
version of the TIS language that was forwarded to the governor.
Additional issues in which the State Bar and its sections were
involved are shown in Figure
Act 109 can be accessed online at www.legis.state.wi.us/2001/data/acts/01Act109.pdf.
Jenny Boese , State Bar
of Wisconsin senior government relations coordinator, can be reached at
(800) 444-9404, ext. 6045, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.