Mark Miller (Wisconsin)

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Mark Miller
Wisconsin State Senate District 16
In office
2005 - Present
Term ends
January 2, 2017
Years in position 10
Senate Majority Leader
July 17, 2012 – 2013
Base salary$49,943/year
Per diem$88/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First elected2004
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Assembly Member, Wisconsin State Assembly
1999 - 2003
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison, 1973
Date of birth02/01/1943
Place of birthBoston, MA
Office website
Campaign website
Mark Miller (b. February 1, 1943) is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate, representing District 16. He was first elected to the chamber in 2004. He served as Senate Majority Leader from July 17, 2012 to 2013, and as Senate Minority Leader.[1]

Miller served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 1998 to 2004.


Miller earned his B.S. from University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated from Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BUILLD) and graduated from Flemming Fellows Leadership Institute.

Miller's professional experience includes lieutenant colonel in the Wisconsin Air National Guard, an officer and manager of Flagship, Incorporated, and a real estate property manager.

From 1996 to 2000, Miller was also on the Board of Supervisors of Dane County for District 24.[2]

Committee assignments


At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Miller served on the following committees:

Wisconsin Committee Assignments, 2013
Elections and Urban Affairs
Energy, Consumer Protection, and Government Reform
Natural Resources
Joint Legislative Council


In the 2011-2012 legislative session, Miller served on the following committees:


In the 2009-2010 legislative session, Miller served on the following committees:


Legislative walkout

Miller and the 13 other Democratic senators participated in a legislative walkout on February 17, 2011, in opposition to Assembly Bill 11 - a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees.[3] The Democratic departure left the Senate one vote shy of a quorum. Reports confirmed the senators fled to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois.[4] State police were dispatched by Governor Scott Walker (R) to retrieve the senators, but were unable to cross state lines. [5] The 14 state senators who left the state were described as the "Badger 14" or "Fab 14."[6][7]

On February 22, speaking from the basement of an Illinois hotel, Senate Minority Leader Miller provided the minority response to Gov. Scott Walker, saying, "The governor has the tools at his disposal to put this issue to an end. As soon as he is willing to take a compromise, we will go back to work in an instant." Miller stated that the legislators payed for the trip themselves, and that no taxpayer money was spent.[8]

Walker called on the Democratic senators to return to the state by March 1 in order to vote to restructure the state's debt. If they did not, he stated he may have to start cutting state jobs, saying:
"It’s not just a number, it’s not just a budget, it’s ultimately a real person with a real family, so I’m going to push that back as far as I can. We’ve got to have real numbers to balance the budget to avoid layoffs. My hope is those 14 state senators … realize that in the end, it’s much better off to avoid those cuts, it’s much better off to avoid the most dire consequences that will come if we don’t pass this bill."[9]
The Democratic senators said they would not return until the governor was willing to compromise on the budget-repair bill.

Democrats threatened with arrest

Republicans unanimously passed a resolution on March 3 finding the missing legislators in contempt and threatening them with arrest. It gave them until 4 p.m. to return or the sergeant-at-arms was ordered to take "any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without the assistance of law enforcement, by warrant or other legal process, as he may deem necessary in order to bring that senator to the Senate chambers."[10]

The constitutionality of that resolution was unclear, however, as the Wisconsin Constitution only allows for the arrest of legislators while in session if they are suspected of committing a felony, treason, or breach of the peace. Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said the resolution was an "unreasonable abuse of police power."[11]

Sen. Jon Erpenbach provided the Democratic response, stating, "All 14 of us remain in Illinois, very strong in our convictions. Issuing arrest warrants at 4 p.m. isn't going to solve the problem. This is a debate about protection of the middle class in Wisconsin; that is what the Republicans should be focusing on."[10]

The move by Republicans came the day after they issued fines of $100 a day for not showing up at the Capitol, along with taking away parking spaces.[12] The week before Republicans also passed a rule suspending direct-deposit of paychecks. Sen. Erpenbach found a way around this by granting power of attorney to two of his aides, giving them power to, among other things, pick up his paycheck. Eventually, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald mailed the check to Erpenbaach.[13]

Meeting/possible compromises

On March 7, Democratic leader Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to the governor and senate majority leader asking for a meeting near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to restart talks on the collective bargaining issue.[14] Gov. Walker responded at a press conference, calling the letter "ridiculous," and saying that several meetings between the two sides have taken place, but that Miller has stood in the way of a compromise.[15]

Sen. Chris Larson said, "Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans."[16]

On March 8, the Governor's office released an email exchange dated March 6 between Eric Schutt, Walker's deputy chief of staff, and Democratic Senators Cullen and Jauch. The exchange discusses possible compromises on the bill, including allowing unions to bargain for wages beyond inflation rates, permitting collective-bargaining on certain economic issues, allowing public workers to collectively bargain workplace safety issues, and limiting collective bargaining agreements to 2 years or less.[17]

Republicans pass bill

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

In a surprise maneuver, Senate Republicans on March 9 passed controversial reforms to the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. In a process that took just over two hours, Republicans passed the bill by a vote of 18-1, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R) casting the only no vote.[18]

Republicans skirted the need for a quorum by removing the sections of the bill that had to do with appropriating funds. With these removed, the bill only needed to be passed by a simple majority -- rather than requiring a quorum of 20 senators. At 4 p.m. on March 9 a conference committee on the budget-repair bill was convened. Two hours later the committee met and advanced the new measure without debate. Immediately following that, the Senate met and passed the new version, also without debate. It was then sent to the Assembly.[19]

The only Democrat present at the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D), attempted to stop the proceedings, stating that the committee was in violation of the state's open meeting law. According to the law, most public bodies are required to give 24 hours notice before a meeting. The two hours notice that the committee provided led Barca to declare, "Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law! This is not just a rule — this is the law."[18] Ignoring Barca, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) ordered the vote taken as shouts of protest rang from the galleries.

The bill was given a stay by Dane County Court Judge Maryann Sumi. On May 26, 2011, Sumi struck down the legislative actions leading to the bill eliminating public employee collective bargaining on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law. The state Departments of Justice and Department of Administration appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. [20][21] On June 14 the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled the district court decision, stating it "exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers...and erred in enjoining the publication and further implementation of the act."[22]

Recall campaigns

In the wake of events surrounding the bill, both Democratic and Republican senators were targeted by active recall campaigns in 2011. Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting six Republican state senators and three Democratic state senators. Challenges were filed in all nine of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8. Democrats held onto the 30th District seat on July 19. Republicans lost two seats in the August 9 recalls, but held onto four. Two incumbent Democrats successfully retained their seats on August 16.

Open records lawsuit

As Senate Minority Leader, Miller approved Senator Jon Erpenbach's use of private law firm Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek instead the Wisconsin Department of Justice for his taxpayer-funded legal defense against a lawsuit from the John K. MacIver Institute, a conservative Wisconsin think tank. On February 9, 2012, The MacIver Institute sued to force Erpenbach to release unredacted copies of all correspondence he had received related to Act 10 (the changes to public employee bargaining laws passed in 2011) from January 1 to March 23, 2011, after Erpenbach had responded to the Institute's initial March 24, 2011, Open Records Law request by releasing thousands of pieces of correspondence with their senders' names and other personal information removed. The MacIver Institute wanted to examine these records to determine whether any state employees violated government policies by sending communications from their government email accounts or on state time. Defending his use of a private law firm, Erpenbach cited disagreements about the case with Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen (R) and claimed that Van Hollen only upholds laws he agrees with, a claim disputed by a DOJ spokesperson. From March through October 31, 2012, the Wisconsin State Senate paid Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek $57,272, in addition to $2,194 paid to University of Wisconsin-Madison professor David Canon for research related to the case. The Senate may also be required to pay the legal expenses of the MacIver Institute if Erpenbach loses. On February 5, 2013, Grant County Circuit Judge Robert Van De Hey ruled that he would examine unredacted copies of the emails to decide if the MacIver Institute should be given access to them.[23][24]

Legislation sponsored or co-sponsored by Sen. Miller includes:[25][26]

  • A resolution to purchase American products and services with federal economic recovery money[27]
  • A bill prohibiting mandatory overtime hours for health care workers[28]
  • A bill relating to invasive species and aquatic plants and animals[29]

Campaign themes


Miller's website highlighted the following campaign themes:[30]

  • Health care reform
He wants to make health care affordable and accessible. He also wants it to be a requirement for Wisconsin residents.
  • Environmental conservation
His environmental goals include preventing contaminated drinking water, reducing runoff into Wisconsin rivers and lakes, and making Wisconsin more self-sufficient and less dependent on imported energy.



Miller won re-election in the 2012 election for the Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 seat. He ran unopposed in the primary election and the general election which was November 6, 2012.[31]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 16, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngMark Miller Incumbent 98.7% 72,298
     - Scattering 1.3% 933
Total Votes 73,231

2011 recall

See also: Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011)

A local group organized to mount a recall campaign against Miller, but did not meet the required signature threshold when the group declined to merge their signatures with a Utah-based group whose integrity they questioned.[32][33][34]


On November 4, 2008, Mark Miller won re-election to the Wisconsin State Senate, District 16. He ran unopposed.[35]

Mark Miller raised $67,735 for his campaign.[36]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Mark Miller (D) 73,672

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Miller is available dating back to 1998. Based on available campaign finance records, Miller raised a total of $330,990 during that time period. This information was last updated on June 4, 2013.[37]

Mark Miller's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 Won $80,465
2010 Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 Not up for election $5,952
2008 Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 Won $67,735
2006 Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 Not up for election $9,265
2004 Wisconsin State Senate, District 16 Won $143,851
2002 Wisconsin State Assembly, District 48 Won $3,800
2000 Wisconsin State Assembly, District 48 Won $7,806
1998 Wisconsin State Assembly, District 48 Won $12,116
Grand Total Raised $330,990


Miller won re-election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2012. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $80,465.


Miller was not up for election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2010. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $5,952.


Miller won re-election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2008. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $67,735.


Miller was not up for election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2006. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $9,265.


Miller won election to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2004. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $143,851.


Miller won re-election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2002. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $3,800.


Miller won re-election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2000. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $7,806.


Miller won election to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1998. During that election cycle, Miller raised a total of $12,116.


Miller and his wife, Jo, have three children; Chandra, Keiko, and Sterling.[2]


Cullen leaves Democratic Caucus

On July 24, 2012, one week after Democrats gained the majority in the state Senate and Miller became Majority Leader, Tim Cullen quit the Democratic caucus because Miller did not give him chairmanship on a committee with clout. Cullen, who Miller had offered chair of the Committee on Small Business Development and Tourism called it "an insult to my district" and said he might leave the party altogether to become an independent.[38]

In a statement, Miller said, “I am disappointed in Senator Cullen and the decision he made today. Senator Cullen turned down the chairmanship of the Committee on Small Business Development and Tourism. He told me that if that was the committee offered to him, he would rather chair no committee at all. It was an important committee as small business is the economic engine for Wisconsin.”[39]

Three days later Cullen rejoined the caucus, receiving the chairmanship of two new committees and a leadership position on two others. Miller said he could have handled the situation better but welcomed Cullen back to the caucus.[40]

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External links


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  1. Wisconsin Radio Network, "Senate leadership transferred to Democrats," July 17, 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 Project Vote Smart - Senator Miller
  3., ASSEMBLY BILL 11, accessed 17 Feb. 2011
  4. Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill, 17 Feb. 2011
  5. Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state, 17 Feb. 2011
  6. The Badger 14
  7. Fab 14 Facebook page
  8. WISN, "State Sen. Minority Leader Responds to Walker," February 22, 2010
  9. Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin governor to missing senators: Come back or I'll lay off 1,500," February 28, 2011
  10. 10.0 10.1 Wall Street Journal, "Pressure Mounts on Absent Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana," March 3, 2011
  11. Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate orders arrest of missing Democrats," March 3, 2011
  12. My Fox Chicago, "Wisconsin GOP Slaps Missing Dems With $100 Daily Fines," March 2, 2011
  13. Talking Points Memo, "AWOL Wisconsin Dem Beats The System, Gets His Paycheck Mailed To Him," March 3, 2011
  14. New York Times, "Wisconsin Democrats Urge New Talks on Labor Bill," March 7, 2011
  15. CNN, "Wisconsin gov: Democratic senator's border meeting idea 'ridiculous'," March 7, 2011
  16. Talking Points Memo, "Wisconsin Dems Deny WSJ Report Of Imminent Return," March 6, 2011
  17. CNN, "E-mails: Wisconsin governor offers concessions on budget bill," March 8, 2011
  18. 18.0 18.1 Miami-Herald, "Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats on union bill," March 9, 2011
  19. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senate advances collective bargaining changes; Democrats to return after Assembly vote," March 9, 2011
  20. Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law, case moves to state Supreme Court", May 26, 2011
  21. Wisconsin Reporter, "Judge: Collective bargaining bill violated open meetings law", May 26, 2011
  22. Shorewood Patch, "UPDATE: Unions Sue to Block Supreme Court's Reinstatement of Controversial Budget Repair Bill," June 14, 2011
  23. Mary Spicuzza, Wisconsin State Journal, "Taxpayers foot bill for Erpenbach's legal costs in open records case," Februar 5, 2013
  24. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, February 5, 2013
  25. Legislation by Sen. Miller
  26. Legislation by Sen. Miller on State Surge
  27. Bill 35
  28. Bill 108, State Surge
  29. Bill 123, State Surge
  30. Miller's Campaign Website, Biography/Issues
  31. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "2012 Candidate List
  32. "Recall Mark Miller" website
  33. AOL News, "Wisconsin Election Recall Reality Check", February 23, 2011
  34. Wisconsin State Journal, "Merged signatures plan dropped, so recall effort against Sen. Miller ends," April 29, 2011
  35. Wisconsin State Election Results
  36. Follow the Money 2008
  37., "Miller, Mark," accessed June 4, 2013
  38. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cullen quits Senate Democratic caucus," July 24, 2012
  39. NBC 15, "Sen. Cullen Leaves Democratic Caucus," July 24, 2012
  40. Wisconsin State Journal, "Cullen rejoins Democratic caucus after getting committee chairmanships," July 27, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Wisconsin State Senate District 16
Succeeded by