For only the fourth time in history and first since 2010, the legislature convened in the lame duck period – the period between the election and inauguration day. Traditionally in Wisconsin, no legislation is considered during this time. In 2010 after losing the Governor’s office and legislature, Democrats considered passing new legislative maps and union contracts to hamstring Governor-elect Scott Walker before he entered office.
Democrats got Representative Jeff Wood (I) busted out from jail for a DUI to vote in favor of the contracts where they passed the Assembly by 1 vote. They ultimately failed in the State Senate after the majority leader flipped his vote at the last minute.
Depending on what talking points you listen to, Republicans were either balancing power to have a more equal footing with the Governor-elect Tony Evers or were stripping his power. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle. Here’s a brief summary of the bills that were passed. They have yet to be signed by Governor Scott Walker.
2017 Senate Bill 883
This bill requires any revenue generated from internet sales tax be directed to an individual income tax cut.
It also allows S corporations, partnerships, and LLCs (pass-through entities, or “PTE”) to elect to be taxed at the entity level. This bill would clarify that it is intended that for a PTE electing to be taxed at the entity level that its shareholders, partners, and members may not include in their Wisconsin adjusted gross income their proportionate share of all items of income, gain, loss, or deduction of the PTE.
The bill also makes various changes to transportation funding programs.
2017 Senate Bill 884
Among other changes, SB 884 limits early voting to begin no earlier than the third Saturday before the election. Previously a federal judge had struck down a limit that was set to the third Monday before the election.
Additionally, it allows the legislature to intervene on cases relating to the constitutionality of statutes. Originally the bill would have allowed the legislature to hire attorneys to replace the Attorney General. This bill does not replace the AG, but requires joint signoff on any settlement from the case.
The bill also modifies the structure of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Board. Under current law, WEDC has a 14-member Board, of which 12 are voting members. The Board includes six members nominated by the Governor who are appointed with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Board also includes three members appointed by the Assembly Speaker and three members appointed by the Senate Majority Leader. The bill changes the structure to give the Leader and Speaker four appointments. The Board would then appoint the WEDC CEO rather than the Governor.
All WEDC provisions expire on Sept. 1, 201, when the Governor could then appoint his own CEO and the Board would go back down to 16 voting members, with essentially 8 GOP and 8 Dem appointees.
2017 Senate Bill 886
This bill relates to the power of the Joint Finance Committee on use of federal funds. Essentially it gives JFC passive review over any funds appropriated in an amount over $7.5 million. It also requires legislative authorization for federal waivers, pilot programs, and demonstration projects.
It also enshrines into law a program authorized by the federal government to drug test welfare recipients and the implementation of the Wisconsin Health Stability Plan.
Full summaries can be found here.