Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection
I hope everyone’s week is cranking along well! Let’s dig into what last week at the Capitol looked like. To start, last Wednesday, I testified in the Senate on a bill I wrote with Rep. Ortiz-Velez (D) and Senator Taylor (D). This bill is SB 366, which seeks to protect people’s right to vote by creating a more accountable system when a municipality seeks to close a polling location.
Under this legislation, a municipality may close no more than 50% of its polling locations unless voted on by its legislative body more than 30 days prior to an election and after a public hearing on the proposed discontinuation. Within 30 days before an election, a polling location may only close with the approval of both the head of the municipality’s legislative body and the municipal clerk. If any closures occur, the municipality is required to provide proper notice to the public in accordance with the public notice law.
Committee on Sporting Heritage Public Hearing
Last Wednesday, the Committee on Sporting Heritage met and held a public hearing on six pieces of legislation. All six passed the executive session that took place shortly after.
AB 34 proposes amending current statutes to restrict baiting deer in counties with confirmed positive tests for CWD or bovine TB in free-roaming animals only.
AB 35 would change the language of current statute. In 2011, we passed legislation establishing two free fishing weekends in Wisconsin. One in January and the other in June. When the bill was originally drafted, the intent was to have the weekend in January coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend. Unfortunately, the language in statute says, “3rd full weekend in January”. In some years, including in 2023 and 2024, the third full weekend in January is after MLK weekend.
AB 137 requires that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources include an exact number for the wolf population goal in their wolf management plan.
AB 216 provides that certain current restrictions do not apply to an ATV with one passenger in a second-seated position.
AB 217 authorizes equipping all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) with whip lights.
AB 430 makes it so fillets do not have to meet minimum size limits. Instead, a fisherman would be able to transport a dressed or filleted fish if they could provide a photo that bears a time stamp and shows the fish’s length against a ruler before the head or tail was removed. Keeping the fish carcass would not be required.
AJR 76 makes a clarification within the Wisconsin Constitution. It currently states that every U.S. citizen age 18 or older is considered a qualified elector. However, it does not state that only U.S. citizens age 18 or older are considered qualified electors. This constitutional amendment has passed both chambers twice and will be on the November 2024 ballot for the people to vote on.
AJR 77 prohibits state and local governments from using privately sourced money or equipment in connection with the conduct of elections and specifies who may perform tasks related to the conduct of an election. This constitutional amendment has passed both chambers twice and will be on the April 2024 ballot for the people to vote on.
AJR 78 would preserve voter identification in the state’s constitution and requires adoption by two successive legislatures and ratification by the people before it can become effective. Since this was its first consideration before the Assembly, we will need it to pass both chambers again before it goes for a vote.
AB 38 establishes an optional text messaging service that absentee voters can enroll in by providing their mobile phone number with their absentee ballot application.
AB 93 requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) access to personal information in order to verify the citizenship status of individuals on the voter rolls and confirm U.S. citizenship when an individual registers to vote.
AB 243 directs the DOT to designate and mark the entire route of STH 80 as the
“Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial Highway.”
AB 282 (SB 283) is a bill I worked on with Rep. Ortiz-Velez (D) that states that if a municipality broadcasts canvassing proceedings live in any election, including by live stream on the Internet, the municipality must record the broadcast, and the municipal clerk must retain the recording for 22 months. This allows the public to have another mechanism to verify that a part of our election process was conducted fairly. We made a minor change to this bill to address the governor’s concerns.
AB 298 is a bill I worked on with Rep. Ortiz-Velez that seeks to protect people’s right to vote by creating a more accountable system when a municipality seeks to close a polling location.
To hear my full thoughts on AB 298, click here or on the photo above.
AB 330 is a bill I worked on with Rep. Ortiz-Velez that was created in response to a situation where a 2023 school board candidate was removed from the ballot because 400 valid signatures were not found within the first 800 provided, and the additional supplemental signatures that remained were not counted. Although this individual would have had over 400 valid signatures had the additional signatures been counted, those were considered invalid and therefore unusable. Those involved in this debacle cited that state law and administrative code are gray on the issue. To clear things up, we introduced this bill to provide the clarification needed for local clerks on how to count all valid signatures required for ballot placement.
AB 335 is a bill I worked on with Rep. Ortiz-Velez that serves two primary goals: to maintain accountability and avoid any future misuse of campaign funds by public office candidates, and to redistribute donations back to individuals. Once someone is adjudicated guilty of certain campaign finance laws, this bill would require the court to order the person’s campaign account to be dissolved and to appoint a new treasurer who will only be allowed to return the campaign funds to donors or donate the funds to the common school fund in accordance with the dissolution order.
AB 396 will allow a person to obtain a copy of the voter registration list for no more than $250. The minimum is currently $30, and the maximum for a complete list is $12,500.
AB 441 (SB 433) requires that a municipal clerk send or transmit an absentee ballot for the presidential preference primary to electors other than military and overseas electors no later than the 21st day before the presidential preference primary.
AB 476 introduces a vital change to the protocol for addressing vacancies in elective state executive branch positions in Wisconsin.
AB 493 prohibits the practice of a candidate losing a partisan primary only to run as an official write-in candidate in the general election.
AB 494 makes several changes to the indefinitely confined voter (ICV) statute.
AB 543 changes the distance of observation areas for elections and recounts to no more than three feet from the ballots, applications, and other election-related materials.
AB 552 sets the maximum age of a supreme court justice or judge for a court of record. The justice or judge cannot turn 75 years of age prior to the election or appointment to the respective court the individual would serve.
AB 567 would make several changes to the canvassing of absentee ballots in an election and would also assure greater information about voters who have been determined to be incompetent or otherwise ineligible to vote.
AB 570 considers the Legislative Audit Bureau’s items for legislative consideration to address key issues while using recommendations from the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.
AB 571 codifies many of the recommendations proposed by the Legislative Audit Bureau after the 2020 general election.
AB 572 will improve the difficult process of declaring someone incompetent, make sure they and their guardian know their rights, give clerks the information they need to enforce court orders, and make sure family members are looped in when voting happens in a care facility.
AB 577 provides safeguards and protections for election workers.
SB 166 was originally scheduled to be heard on the floor in October but was put on the delayed calendar until it was taken up today. This legislation makes a variety of changes to the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice. Some of the changes are fairly technical, but others include important substantive updates based on recent changes to the federal uniform code of military justice.
I voted no on this bill. I had concerns with this legislation when it was introduced in committee back in May, and unfortunately, I feel as if my concerns were not addressed and fixed for me to vote in favor.
Saturday, November 18th, will be the BSA Eagle Scout Project Fundraiser Dinner at the St. Isidore The Farmer Parish Hall (18424 Tisch Mills Rd, Denmark) from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 25th, will be the Redbird Holly Craft Faire at East De Pere High School (1700 Chicago St., De Pere) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Saturday, November 25th, will be the Two Rivers Christmas Parade of Lights in Downtown Two Rivers at 5:30 p.m.
Friday, December 1st, will be the Village Tree Lighting Ceremony in the Village of Wrightstown (104 High Court) from 6 to 7 p.m.
Saturday, December 2nd, will be Christmas in the Village of Mishicot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Saturday, December 2nd, will be De Pere’s Holly Day from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Downtown De Pere (117 N Wisconsin St.)
Saturday, December 2nd, will be the Christmas Parade in the Village of Wrightstown. This event starts at 4:30 p.m., and the route will follow Fair to HWY 96.