Wisconsin State Senate
|Wisconsin State Senate|
|2015 session start:||January 14, 2014|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Mary Lazich (R)|
|Majority Leader:||Scott Fitzgerald (R)|
|Minority Leader:||Jennifer Shilling (D)|
Democratic Party (14)
Republican Party (19)Vacant (1)
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Art IV, Sec 5, Wisconsin Constitution|
|Salary:||$49,943/year + per diem|
|Last Election:||November 6, 2012 (16 seats)|
|Next election:||November 4, 2014|
|Redistricting:||Wisconsin Legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 Senate committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Senators are elected for four-year terms with no term limits. Half of the senate is up for election every two years. Each member represents an average of 172,333 residents, as of the 2010 Census. After the 2000 Census, each member represented 162,536 residents. In the 2009-2010 session, senators made $49,943. That was up from $47,413 in the 2007-08 session.
As of May 2015, Wisconsin is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.
Article IV of the Wisconsin Constitution contains provisions related to the meeting of the Wisconsin State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part. Section 11 of Article IV states that the times for regular sessions are to be provided by law. Section 11 also states that the Governor of Wisconsin has the power to call the Legislature into special session.
- See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions
In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through June 4.
Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included income tax, public school funding, health care and jobs.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 7 to December 31.
Following the extreme polarization of the last two years, Gov. Scott Walker (R) said he would push for a more moderate agenda in 2013. Alongside the creation of a new budget, main issues will include job creation, workforce development, tax cuts, education reform and transportation infrastructure.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 10 through March 16 with a return for limited business on April 24.
With potential recalls of Governor Scott Walker (R), Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R) and four Republican state senators, debate on major legislation was expected to be limited. Going into the session, Republican leaders said they were focused on passing bills on only four main issues - clearing the way for an ore mine in northern Wisconsin, easing laws regarding development on wetlands, environmental regulation, and creating a venture capital fund to help start-up businesses.
The six recalls dominated the session. Ultimately on June 5, recalls against the Governor, Lt. Governor, and three of the state senators were unsuccessful. The fourth recall, that against Van Wanggaard, went to a recount. Wanggaard was defeated, giving Democrats control of the Senate.
On July 24, 2012, one week after Democrats gained the majority in the state Senate, Tim Cullen (D) quit the Democratic caucus after newly named Majority Leader Mark Miller did not give him chairmanship on a committee with clout. Cullen, who had been 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.
Cullen said the move was "intended to send me a message that I am not welcome and that he can treat me however he wants to and that somehow I am supposed to take it." Cullen's decision did not alter the partisan makeup of the chamber.
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.
- See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions
In 2011, the Senate adjourned a special session at the request of Governor Scott Walker on January 4, 2011. The ongoing special session was called to consider legislation regarding tax credits, tort law, medical savings accounts, other legislation relating to taxation, and the budget repair bill. The regular session began on January 11. An extraordinary session was called by the Legislature from June 13-30, with another extraordinary session called for July 19-29.
- See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions
In the 2009-2010 session:
- 708 bills were introduced.
- 246 bills were enacted into law.
- 459 bills failed (26 because they failed concurrence)
Role in state budget
- See also: Wisconsin state budget
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in June.
- State agencies submit budget requests in September.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Wisconsin State Legislature in January.
- The legislature adopts a budget in June or July. A simple majority is needed to pass a budget.
- The biennial budget cycle begins in July.
The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget. In addition, the legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Wisconsin was one of the 10 states that used cost-benefit analysis more than the rest of the states with respect to determining return on investment regarding state programs. In addition, these states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis with respect to large budget areas and when making policy decisions.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending. According to the report, Wisconsin received a grade of A- and a numerical score of 90, indicating that Wisconsin was "leading" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.
Open States Transparency
The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Wisconsin was given a grade of D in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2014
Elections for 17 seats in the Wisconsin State Senate took place in 2014. A primary election took place on August 12, 2014. The general election was held on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was June 2, 2014.
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2012
The signature filing deadline was July 10, 2012.
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, Wisconsin State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 18||Rick Gudex||0.7%||85,648||Jessica King|
|District 30||Dave Hansen||8.5%||79,204||John Macco|
|District 24||Julie Lassa||13.3%||86,024||Scott Kenneth Noble|
|District 14||Luther Olsen||15.1%||81,941||Margarete Worthington|
|District 12||Tom Tiffany||15.8%||90,994||Susan Sommer|
|District 32||Jennifer Shilling||16.6%||87,769||Bill Feehan|
|District 10||Sheila Harsdorf||18.4%||87,734||Daniel Olson|
|District 28||Mary Lazich||26.9%||96,010||Jim Ward|
|District 20||Glenn Grothman||37.3%||97,460||Tanya Lohr|
|District 22||Robert Wirch||39.3%||73,559||Pam Stevens|
Nine of the 16 senators up for election faced recall elections in 2011.
The seven senators who faced re-election in 2012 but did not face recall in 2011 were:
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2010
The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was July 13, 2010. The primary Election Day was September 14, 2010.
In 2010, the candidates for state senate raised a total of $4,251,736 in campaign contributions. The top 10 donors were:
|2010 Donors, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Galloway, Pamela G||$45,131|
|Hutchison, David E||$17,699|
|Cmte to Elect a Republican Senate||$17,226|
|Northwestern Mutual Life||$16,000|
|State Senate Democratic Cmte of Wisconsin||$15,767|
|Deutsch, Dane A||$11,657|
|United Transportation Union||$11,000|
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2008
Elections for the office of Wisconsin State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 9, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.
During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $4,912,818. The top 10 contributors were:
|2008 Donors, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Friends Of Sheldon Wasserman||$200,000|
|Wasserman, Sheldon A||$50,000|
|State Senate Democratic Cmte||$38,175|
|Page, Alison H||$13,810|
|Wisconsin Credit Union League||$12,100|
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2006
Elections for the office of Wisconsin State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2006, and a general election on November 7, 2006.
During the 2006 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $4,536,726. The top 10 contributors were:
|2006 Donors, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Riley, Donovan W||$85,993|
|Simonson, John C||$54,631|
|State Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte Of Wisconsin||$53,654|
|Charles R Most Jr GST Trust||$20,000|
|Wisconsin Dental Association||$14,320|
|Wisconsin Credit Union League||$11,750|
|Association Of Wisconsin School Administrators||$10,000|
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2004
Elections for the office of Wisconsin State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 14, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.
During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $4,324,018. The top 10 contributors were:
|2004 Donors, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Hebl, Thomas Lee||$86,023|
|Priebus, Reince R||$34,940|
|Taylor, Lena C||$31,986|
|Bakke, Gary L||$23,821|
|Grothman, Glenn S||$22,941|
|Wisconsin Realtors Association||$22,000|
|Peterson, Eric P||$21,459|
|State Senate Democratic Campaign Cmte Of Wisconsin||$14,749|
|Wisconsin Credit Union League||$14,250|
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2002
Elections for the office of Wisconsin State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 10, 2002, and a general election on November 5, 2002.
During the 2002 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $3,014,637. The top 10 contributors were:
|2002 Donors, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Wisconsin Republican Party||$30,991|
|Baumgart, James (Jim)||$21,682|
|Kanavas, Theodore J||$20,800|
|Panzer, Mary E||$18,350|
|Black, Gregory A||$13,274|
- See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2000
Elections for the office of Wisconsin State Senate consisted of a primary election on September 12, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.
During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $3,869,105. The top 10 contributors were:
|2000 Donors, Wisconsin State Senate|
|Cmte To Elect A Republican Senate Of Wisconsin||$25,000|
|Wisconsin Republican Party||$24,273|
|Friends Of Rod Moen||$13,000|
|Wisconsin Bankers Association||$11,150|
|Wisconsin Realtors Association||$9,200|
|Plumbers & Gasfitters Local 75||$8,400|
|Wisconsin Association Of Insurance & Financial Advisors||$8,000|
|Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance||$7,900|
Section 6 of Article 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution states, "No person shall be eligible to the legislature who shall not have resided one year within the state, and be a qualified elector in the district which he may be chosen to represent."
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
In the event of a vacancy in the senate, the Governor must call for a special election when allowed by law. Special elections to fill legislative vacancies cannot be held after February 1st preceding a spring election or September 1st preceding a fall election. If the vacancy happens before May 15th, the Governor must fill the vacancy as soon as possible.
- See also: Redistricting in Wisconsin
Redistricting in Wisconsin is under the control of the state legislature. If the state legislature fails to reach an agreement, the maps are drawn by either state or federal courts. The State Senate and State Assembly draft maps for the new state legislative districts and the U.S. Congressional districts. Both chambers must pass the new map, and the governor can sign or veto the map for any reason.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Wisconsin's population increased from 5.36 million to 5.69 million between 2000 and 2010. This population growth was large enough to allow the state to retain its eight Congressional seats.
The Republican leadership dismissed the Democratic-hired firm that was going to aid with redistricting and instead brought in an outside group to aid the process. This new firm's leader had donated to Republican candidates in the past. The redistricting process was accelerated by the summer 2011 recall elections, and Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that gave the legislature the power to redistrict state boundaries before the localities finished their redistricting processes. The state Republicans unveiled their plan on July 8, 2011. Democrats criticized the plan as gerrymandering, but Republicans defended their map. The maps passed the legislature on July 19, 2011, and were signed into law by Governor Walker on August 9, 2011.
Several lawsuits were filed as a result of the new maps. The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board identified errors in the maps, likely due to the creation of the state boundaries before the localities finished drawing their boundaries. A court also determined that two Milwaukee-area districts needed to be redrawn to better represent minority-area populations.
Tour of Wisconsin State Capitol
- See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries
As of 2013, members of the Wisconsin Legislature are paid $49,943/year. Legislators receive a maximum of $88/day per diem, set by the compensation commission. Based on the maximum, the leadership of each house determines what amount to authorize for each session.
When sworn in
Wisconsin legislators assume office the first Monday in January following the election.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of May 2015|
|Wisconsin State Senate|
|**In the 1993, 1995, and 1997 Legislatures, majority control of the senate shifted during the session. On 4/20/93, vacancies were filled resulting in a total of 16 Democrats and 17 Republicans; on 6/16/96, there were 17 Democrats and 16 Republicans; and on 4/19/98, there were 16 Democrats and 17 Republicans.|
The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Wisconsin State Senate from 1992-2013.
List of current members
The Wisconsin State Senate has the following standing committees:
- Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism
- Economic Development and Local Government
- Elections and Urban Affairs
- Energy, Consumer Protection, and Government Reform
- Financial Institutions and Rural Issues
- Government Operations, Public Works, and Telecommunications
- Health and Human Services
- Insurance and Housing
- Judiciary and Labor
- Natural Resources
- Senate Organization
- State and Federal Relations
- Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs
- Universities and Technical Colleges
- Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the Wisconsin State Senate for 11 years while the Republicans were the majority for 11 years. The final three years of the study depicted a shift in the Wisconsin Senate with all three years being Republican trifectas.
Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Wisconsin state government and the state's State Quality of Life Ranking (SQLI) ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the course of the study, Wisconsin experienced both Democratic and Republican trifectas as well as divided governments. The state's SQLI rankings were higher earlier in the study, with its highest ranking, finishing 7th, occurring in 1992, 1995 and 1998 during both Republican trifectas and a divided government. Its lowest ranking, finishing 30th, occurred in 2007 during a divided government. The state's rankings began to improve during the most recent years of the study, finishing 13th in 2012 during a Republican trifecta.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 21.00
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 10.00
- SQLI average with divided government: 17.27
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001. Accessed February 13, 2014
- Wisconsin Blue Book 2009-10, "Wisconsin Legislators"
- Wisconsin Blue Book 2007-08, "Wisconsin Legislators"
- Wisconsin Realtors Association, "2014 Election Themes Take Shape," accessed January 14, 2014
- Wisconsin State Journal, "With state bitterly divided, Walker promises more moderate agenda," January 7, 2013
- Governor Journal, "Recalls Make for Quiet Session," January 16, 2012
- Appleton Post Crescent, "Wisconsin legislative agenda influenced by negative effects of recalls," January 16, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cullen quits Senate Democratic caucus," July 24, 2012
- NBC 15, "Sen. Cullen Leaves Democratic Caucus," July 24, 2012
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Cullen rejoins Democratic caucus after getting committee chairmanships," July 27, 2012
- Wisconsin.gov, State of Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, accessed 7 March 2011
- Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight, accessed July 1, 2011
- 2010 session dates for Wisconsin legislature
- Explanation of Wisconsin legislative floor-periods
- Session statistics of the 2009-2010 session of the Wisconsin State Senate
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money: "Wisconsin Senate 2010 Campaign Contributions"
- Follow the Money, "Wisconsin 2008 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Wisconsin 2006 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Wisconsin 2004 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Wisconsin 2002 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Follow the Money, "Wisconsin 2000 Candidates," accessed August 14, 2013
- Wisconsin Legislature, "Wisconsin Election Law," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 17.19 (1), Wisconsin Statutes)
- Wisconsin Legislature, "Wisconsin Election Law," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 8.50, Wisconsin Statutes)
- Wisconsin Legislature, "Wisconsin Election Law," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 8.50(4)-(d), Wisconsin Statutes)
- Wisconsin Legislature, "Wisconsin Redistricting Profile"
- U.S. Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Wisconsin Profile," 2011
- Northland's News Center, "Minnesota and Wisconsin Both to Keep Eight Seats in House," December 21, 2010
- Chicago Tribune, "Democrats cry foul over GOP hiring law firms" 5 Jan. 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker allows new legislative mapping, doesn't OK actual maps yet," July 25, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Parties joust over Wisconsin redistricting plan," July 13, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker signs legislation to redraw district boundaries," August 9, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's redistricting trial goes to judges," February 24, 2012
- Wisconsin State Journal, "Court strikes down GOP redistricting, orders just 2 districts redrawn," March 22, 2012
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
- Wisconsin Blue Book, "2011," accessed August 9, 2014
- Wisconsin State Senate Rules
- 2009-2010 Wisconsin State Senate Officers
State of Wisconsin
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Public Instruction | Commissioner of Insurance | Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection| Secretary of Natural Resources | Secretary of Workforce Development | Public Service Commission |