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    Legislature Races to Finish the 2017-2018 Session

    Cale Battles

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     Wisconsin Capitol Building

    Feb. 16, 2018 – The 2017-18 legislative session is quickly coming to a close. There are currently hundreds of legislative proposals still circulating, and legislative sponsors, lobbyists, and constituents are working diligently to get their bills passed before the session's scheduled conclusion in March.

    A number of issues of interest to the State Bar are on track for passage yet this session. They include:

             Assembly Bill 93/Senate Bill 53, by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R–New Berlin) and Sen. Leah Vukmir (R–Brookfield), permits the expungement of criminal records and has passed the state Senate and is awaiting action in the Assembly.

             AB 629/SB 518, adopting the uniform adult guardianship jurisdiction act and supported by the Elder Law Section, is on track for legislative consideration in the Assembly next week and passed unanimously out of a Senate committee last week.

             AB 586/SB 474, supported by the Family Law Section, would allow modifications to legal custody or physical placement contingent upon a future event. The Assembly passed AB 586/SB 474 on a voice vote and the Senate should take up the legislation during their remaining floor periods.

             AB551/SB 448, dealing with relocation of a child, has already passed both houses and is awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law. The Real Property, Probate and Trust Section supports.

             AB 607/SB 507, making changes to Transfer by Affidavit and Transfer on Death, has also passed the Assembly and awaits a vote in the Senate.

    Other State Bar issues that are still pending, but face more significant hurdles to becoming law include:

             AB 231/SB 155, which would create a prosecutor board and a state prosecutor office, is scheduled for Assembly floor action next week. Governor Walker vetoed a similar provision that was included last fall in the state’s biennial budget and the Senate has yet to hold a public hearing or indicate a vote in the closing days.

             AB 331, by State Rep. David Steffen (R–Green Bay) and State Rep. Evan Goyke (D–Milwaukee), is also still pending. Both proposals eliminate the requirement of judges to grant expungement at the time of sentencing, but diverge on the number of times a person can request expungement and the cost to make those requests. Assembly Bill 331 was passed out of the Assembly Committee, but lacks a companion Senate Bill and sponsor.

             AB 660/SB 550 passed out of an Assembly Committee and will likely need to come back in the 2019-20 budget due to the fiscal cost. The bills, known as Second Chance legislation, would move 17-year olds into the juvenile justice system. The State Bar continues to work on this issue, supported by the State Bar and a coalition of juvenile justice advocates. Wisconsin is one of a handful of states that treat 17–year olds as adults in the justice system.

             AB 567/SB 467, sponsored by State Sen. Patrick Testin (R–Stevens Point) and State Rep. Ron Tusler (R–Harrison), received public hearings and positive committee votes in both houses. The legislation would create a pilot program allowing private bar attorneys to receive tuition relief by taking 50 or more assigned counsel cases in a county with a population of 25,000 or less. Similar to the Second Chance legislation, AB 567/SB 467, does have a small fiscal cost to the state, which might impact the chances of passage this session.

    A full legislative wrap–up article on final bill updates will be posted once the legislature officially adjourns the 2018–19 session next month. Assembly leaders indicate they will likely adjourn their session floor period the week of Feb. 19. The Senate expects to conclude their work in March.

    For questions or more information on pending legislation please feel free to contact State Bar Government Relations Coordinators, Lynne Davis (org ldavis wisbar wisbar ldavis org) or Cale Battles (org cbattles wisbar wisbar cbattles org). To stay up to date with current state government issues please subscribe to the Rotunda Report.

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