Supreme Court Justice David Prosser Announces Retirement

Yesterday, Justice David Prosser announced that he would be retiring from the Wisconsin Supreme Court effective July 31, 2016. Justice Prosser was appointed to state’s highest court in 1998 by Governor Tommy Thompson following the retirement of Justice Janine Geske. He was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2001 and re-elected to a second ten-year term in 2011.

Justice Prosser’s decision to retire before the end of his term sets up a rather unique situation. Under Wisconsin’s Constitution, the Governor has the authority to appoint an interim Justice to the seven-member court, but his appointee must stand for election in the first year where no other justice’s term expires. That’s because the state’s Constitution also specifies only one justice may be elected in any year.

In each of the next three years, there will be a member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court up for re-election – Justice Annette Ziegler in 2017, Justice Michael Gableman in 2018 and Justice Shirley Abrahamson in 2019. Therefore, the Governor’s appointee will stand for election in 2020.

State Lawmakers Continue to Reform Wisconsin’s UI Program

During the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, state lawmakers enacted 24 separate amendments to Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) law. A majority of these changes are beneficial to WIB members and small businesses in general.

A plain language summary of the modifications to Wisconsin’s UI law has been published by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. We encourage members to review this document.

If you have further questions or need additional information, please contact our Legislative Director, Brian Dake at 1-800-362-9644 (toll-free) or via e-mail at bdake@wibiz.org.

State Legislature Shifts to “Committee Work” Mode

During the summer and fall of each even-numbered year, the Legislature’s Joint Legislative Council selects a number of subjects for further study. Generally speaking, these Committees focus on:

a) public policy problems that are expected to confront a future Legislature;
b) controversial subjects that were unresolved by the previous Legislature;
c) major updates or revisions to existing state law; or
d) methods of improving the operation and effectiveness of state agencies.

Study committees are comprised of legislators and public members with expertise or interest in the issue. Study committees generally meet from three to six times and ultimately report their recommendations, in the form of legislation, to the full Legislative Council for approval and introduction in the next legislative session.

The Joint Legislative Council recently approved seven Study Committees. They are:

1. Access to Civil Legal Services – the Study Committee is directed to review the funding and delivery of legal services for the indigent in civil cases.

2. Preservation of Burial Sites – the Study Committee is directed to review Wisconsin’s Burial Site law and determine whether it adequately balances the
interests of scientists, landowners, developers and others with an interest in a burial site.

3. Publication of Government Documents and Legal Notices – the Study Committee is directed to update and amend existing states laws related to the
publication and distribution of government documents and legal notices, to reflect technological advances and remove obsolete provisions.

4. Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment – the Study Committee is directed to review effective strategies and best
practices to reduce recidivism.

5. Rural Broadband – the Study Committee is directed to review the Wisconsin Broadband Expansion Grant program and the extent to which it has encouraged
construction of broadband infrastructure in underserved areas of the state.

6. School Data – the Study Committee is directed to review all student data gathered by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the data security
measures that protect student privacy.

7. Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Shortages – the Study Committee is directed to examine issues related to the shortage of volunteer
firefighters and Emergency Medical Technicians in the state and propose measures to address the shortages.

Of particular interest to WIB is the Rural Broadband Study Committee. In 2013, we backed the creation of the Broadband Expansion Grant program and last year we successfully lobbied for additional funding for Broadband Expansion grants. Now that we have some experience with this program, it is appropriate to determine whether this program has, in fact, expanded broadband service in underserved areas of the states and consider alternative methods for encouraging construction of broadband infrastructure.

We sincerely hope you find this e-publication to be a valuable member service. Let us know what you think and how we can make it better by contacting the editor, Brian Dake, at bdake@wibiz.org.

Sincerely,
John Gard
Wisconsin Independent Businesses