Wisconsin Legislature


In 2020, Wisconsin was thrust into the political spotlight. Serving as a key swing state for the presidential election, playing virtual host to the Democratic National Convention and taking on the national conversation around police reform all put eyes on Wisconsin.

But UW-Milwaukee political science professor Paru Shah says much of Wisconsin politics was characterized by inaction.


Wisconsin Republicans moved ahead Tuesday with a fast-tracked coronavirus response bill that is opposed by Democrats and appears likely to be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

Andy Manis/Getty Images

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans are backing a $100 million coronavirus relief package, about a fifth of what Democratic Gov. Tony Evers wants to spend on fighting the virus.

The Legislature has not met since April, even as virus numbers have spiked in Wisconsin. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Assembly Republicans announced their COVID-19 package Tuesday.

Among other measures, the package would double the number of local public health staff who address COVID-19, prohibit COVID-19 test co-payments and establish legislative oversight of the vaccine distribution plan.


A powerful Republican lawmaker in the Wisconsin Legislature known for his efforts to combat the opioid abuse crisis announced Tuesday that he was resigning to pursue unspecified opportunities in the private sector, causing a surprising shakeup to the leadership of the panel that writes the state budget.


Gov. Tony Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos described their Friday meeting to discuss coronavirus relief measures as productive.

Daderot / Wikimedia

Late last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced its decisions on key cases concerning the power of the state’s executive branch. The rulings effectively limit the power of Wisconsin’s attorney general and overruled several of Gov. Tony Evers' vetoes from the 2019 state budget.

Emily Files / WUWM

There are still a lot of unknowns about how Wisconsin’s K-12 schools will reopen in the fall.

Public and private school leaders testified to the Assembly Education Committee for seven hours Wednesday about the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

>>MPS Considers How To Safely Bring Students Back

Screenshot / WisconsinEye

Wisconsin governors have the most sweeping veto powers in the nation when it comes to spending measures, allowing them to use the veto pen to tweak language approved by lawmakers. But a conservative organization is looking to scale those powers back.

Courtesy of WisEye

Updated at 1:10 p.m. CT  

The Wisconsin Senate passed a legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. The state Assembly easily passed the package Tuesday, which includes more than 50 provisions related to health care and the economy. But as is typical in the Wisconsin Legislature, there are some controversial items. 

Emily Hamer/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' plan to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw Wisconsin's electoral maps may put pressure on the Republicans who control the Legislature to consider an alternative plan, but it won't force them to do anything differently next year and GOP leaders made clear they won't change course.

Fitzgerald Says Senate Will Quickly End Gun Special Session

Oct 21, 2019
STARKYTANG / stock.adobe.com

Updated on Oct. 22 at 12:40 p.m. CT

The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate said Tuesday he plans to convene and then immediately adjourn a special session Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called on a pair of gun control measures, without debating or voting on the proposals.

Emily Files / WUWM

In most Wisconsin school districts, 4-year-olds can attend kindergarten. But the programs are usually for just part of the day. State legislators are now considering two bills that could expand full-day kindergarten options for children under 5.

Emily Files

Legislation aimed at helping dyslexic students in Wisconsin cleared a major hurdle last month when it was approved by the State Assembly. The bill is now in the Senate’s hands. From there, it would go to Gov. Tony Evers, and potentially become Wisconsin’s first dyslexia-specific law. 

But the debate over how to support struggling readers is far from over.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Wisconsin lawmakers have approved a plan to fund road repairs. The Republican-controlled Joint Finance committee Thursday night scrapped Gov. Tony Evers proposal for an 8-cent per gallon gas tax – and instead passed a measure to raise title and vehicle registration fees. The vote was 11-5, along party lines.

Justin W. Kern

The two votes fell along party lines, with majority Republicans prevailing. Their overhaul of Wisconsin's century-old civil service system would, among other changes, eliminate hiring exams for applicants and protections for more experienced workers, create merit bonuses and centralize hiring decisions within the governor's Dept. of Administration.

Supporters insist Wisconsin must have more flexibility to quickly hire, promote and fire public workers. Opponents claim the change will open the door to cronyism.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

There were unpleasant moments on the Assembly floor Tuesday, when a Republican representative made an obscene gesture at Democratic leader Peter Barca. The initial irritant was a news release GOP Assemblyman Bob Gannon of Slinger issued last week, complaining about Milwaukee’s homicide rate and black unemployment. Democrats demanded an apology. Gannon apologized, but only for making what he called, an improper gesture in the heat of battle. Earlier in the day, members of both parties came together on several issues including four bills aimed at preventing heroin addiction.

Republican Rep. Scott Allen of Waukesha used state equipment to produce and post a Christmas video that cites Bible verses and invites non-believers to become Christians, according to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

In the video, Allen says, "For those who may watch this and are not Christians, I invite you to consider the hope offered by the Prince of Peace."

Flickr - Althouse

UPDATE: The Assembly has voted to change Wisconsin's campaign finance laws and to scrap the Government Accountability Board.

Justin Kern

An overflow crowd spilled into a hallway Wednesday at the state capitol.

Rep. LaTonya Johnson, Facebook

Rep. LaTonya Johnson wished Gov. Walker had mentioned challenges the state faces - gun violence, black male unemployment and expensive health care.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says the two new standing committees reflect Republican priorities for the legislative session that begins January 5.

2015 Wisconsin Senate Begins Taking Shape

Nov 6, 2014

GOP senators have elected New Berlin's Mary Lazich as president of the state Senate - the first woman to hold the position.

Marti Mikkelson

Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman plans to challenge fellow GOP member and long-time Congressman Tom Petri, this fall.


The state Senate voted 30 to 2 Tuesday, to advance bill making a chemotherapy pill less expensive, despite earlier tactics to block a vote.

After several women accused Waukesha Rep. Bill Kramer of sexual harassment, his GOP colleagues unanimously ousted him Tuesday as majority leader.

The only Wisconsin Republican to vote against Act 10 and the new state mining law will retire after serving 31 years in the Legislature.

Wisconsin to Get Tougher on Pot Possession

Jan 21, 2014

Nearly half of America’s states have eased up on the use of marijuana, but Wisconsin is moving toward further criminalization of the drug.

Justin W. Kern

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald doubts his colleagues will pass several pieces of high-profile legislation, in early 2014.

There could be quite a few new faces in the Wisconsin Senate following the 2014 elections.


The state Assembly is scheduled to vote Tuesday on three bills that crack down on drunken driving. 

One measure would bring Wisconsin in line with other states -- by criminalizing the first offense.  Currently, Wisconsin gives traffic tickets to first time drunken drivers and orders them to pay a fine.

Supporters say the change is long overdue -- Wisconsin is the only state that does not make the first offense a crime.

Opponents say they're concerned about additional costs the state may incur, if it sends more people through the criminal justice system.