MADISON, WI — Lawmakers in Wisconsin passed a total of 69 bills into law so far during the 2019-2020 legislative session.
Even though we’re only halfway through the state government’s legislative period, it’s clear that divided government has had a chilling effect on the number of bills that have been passed. For example, during the 2017-2018 legislative session, the Republican-controlled legislature in concert with former Gov. Scott Walker managed to pass a total of 370 bills into law.
Wisconsin’s 69 bills that have passed cover a wide range of topics. They cover everything from children’s lemonade stands to step therapy, new telehealth options, to school choice deadlines.
Chances are, at least one of the 69 bills passed by Wisconsin lawmakers has already had an impact on your life.
Here is a brief description of each bill. For a deeper dive into each one, visit the Wisconsin Legislature’s page.
Act 1: Intellectual Disability Language
Deleted any phrase similar to the phrase “mental retardation,” or “mentally retarded,” from the state’s administrative code. The act replaced these phrases with the term “intellectual disability.”
Act 2: Property Assessments
This bill created an exception to the current requirement that an assessor notify a taxpayer when the taxpayer’s property is assessed at a different total that the prior year.
Act 3: Highway Named
Required the Department of Transportation to designate the interchange of Interstate 41, U.S. Highway 10, and State Highway 441 in Winnebago County as the Michael G. Ellis Memorial Interchange.
Act 4: Suspended Driver’s Licenses
Made two changes to the procedure for revoking or suspending a license. Suspensions or revocations brought before DOT now need to be heard by the DOT. A decision of suspension or revocation is then appeal-able within 30 days. DHA must then hold an appeal hearing and issue a decision within 30 days of receiving the appeal.
Act 5: Parking Problems
Expanded the type of devices that may be used to immobilize either an unregistered motor vehicle or a motor vehicle owned by a habitual parking violator. Now authorities can use either a “boot,” or a device that immobilizes a motor vehicle by being placed upon the front windshield to obstruct the driver’s view through the windshield.
Act 6: Liquor Licenses
Removed a four-liter limit on sales of distilled spirits by “Class B” licensees for off-premises consumption.
Act 7: Business Moving Out Of Wisconsin
Ruled that a business owner may not deduct moving expenses if the business is moved out of state or the country.
Act 8: Lincoln Hills
Delayed the deadlines for closure of Lincoln Hills, transfer of juveniles, and establishment of new Type 1 facilities from Jan. 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021.
Act 9: The Budget
The biennial budget act. It was later vetoed in part by Gov. Tony Evers.
Act 10: Taxes For Online Sellers
Defines a marketplace provider and requires them to pay taxes on sales they host online on behalf of third-party sellers. Supporters say the bill creates a more level playing field between brick and mortar stores and online retailers.
Act 11: Scooters
This bill defined, authorized, and created a framework for the operation of electric scooters on roadways, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and bicycle ways.
Act 12: Step Therapy
Sets specifications on the development and use of, and exceptions to, step therapy protocols for prescription drug coverage. The act required an insurer, pharmacy benefit manager, or utilization review organization to provide a clear, readily accessible, and convenient process to request an exception to a step therapy protocol used when coverage of a prescription drug is restricted by the insurer, pharmacy benefit manager, or utilization review organization.
Act 13: In-Home Dialysis
This bill streamlines the process for in-home dialysis patients to receive their medication by removing an unnecessary regulation that requires in-home dialysis distribution centers to get a pharmacist license.
Act 14: 5G
Creates a statewide regulatory framework for deployment of small
wireless equipment and facilities by wireless services and infrastructure providers. The act enabled wireless providers the ability to deploy 5G or small-cell technology.
Act 15: Business Tax Law
Changes an existing law to allow the Department of Revenue to disclose tax liability to a person who is looking to purchase a business or purchase inventory from a business.
Act 16: Crimes Against Children
Spelled-out sexually explicit conduct against children as: sexual intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sexual sadism or sexual masochistic abuse and Lewd exhibition of intimate parts, each whether actual or simulated.
Act 17: Sign Language Interpreters
Under prior law, sign language interpreters were licensed and regulated by the Department of Safety and Professional Services with the advice of the Sign Language Interpreter Council. Wisconsin Act 17 replaces the Council with the Sign Language Interpreters Advisory Committee.
Act 18: Highway Projects
Required the Department of Transportation to maintain an
inventory of at least five highway projects that could be awarded as design-build projects.
The bill also created a new office in the DOT on innovative program delivery to streamline project delivery, promote efficiency, and facilitate design-build project delivery to ensure more cost- and schedule-efficient transportation projects across Wisconsin
Act 19: Fallen Firefighter Insurance
Expanded a provision under current law that requires a city, village, or town that pays the health insurance premiums for its employees who are firefighters to continue to pay the premiums for the surviving spouse and dependent children of a firefighter who dies in the line of duty.
Act 20: 9/11 Memorial Highway Named
Required the Department of Transportation to designate and mark the route of Highway 28, starting at the Interstate 41 and Highway 28
interchange in Dodge County and proceeding east to the intersection with Highway 144 in Washington County as the “Wisconsin 9/11 Memorial Highway.”
Act 21: Tax Incremental Finance District Extensions
This bill extended the lifespans and expenditure periods for two Tax Incremental Financing in the Village of Lake Delton.
Act 22: Shelters
A person 17 years old is now allowed to apply for admission to a shelter facility, defined under the act as a “temporary place of lodging for individuals or families,” or a transitional living program based on a new set of criteria.
Act 23: Highway Named
This bill designates the route of State Highway 33 between the eastern border of the City of Portage and the Columbia County line as the “Staff Sergeant Daniel D. Busch Memorial Highway.”
Act 24: Vaccines For Children
Pharmacists will now be allowed to administer vaccines to children under age six if the vaccine is administered so long as the prescription order is issued within the last 29 days and the pharmacist has successfully completed an approved training course. Prior law prohibited pharmacists and pharmacy students from administering vaccines to children under age six.
Act 25: Emergency Responder Care
Allows emergency responders to provide emergency medical care as delegated by a health care provider, if the actions are within the scope of the health provider’s license and the health care provider is confident in the knowledge and training of the EMS professional.
Act 26: Updating 911 Service
Creates a competitive grant program through the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs to update 9-1-1 service infrastructure. Grant funds can be used for advanced training of telecommunicators, equipment or software expenses, and incentives to consolidate the functions of two or more public safety answering points.
Act 27: Driver’s Education
Lawmakers are now requiring that technical college and DOT-licensed private driver schools offering a commercial motor vehicle driver education course also provide instruction in the recognition and prevention of human trafficking.
Act 28: Miller Park Stadium Tax
This new bill specifies the termination date for collection of the Miller Park Stadium tax as the last day of the fiscal quarter in which the district certifies the end of the tax to the Department of Revenue, or Aug. 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.
Act 29: Filing Claims By Mail
This bill allows a person to serve a notice of claim against a state officer, employee, or agent upon the attorney general at his or her office or at the department of justice, by personal service or by certified mail. Under prior law, a notice had to be served upon the attorney general at his or her office in the State Capitol by certified mail.
Act 30: Court Actions By Mail
A new law passed in 2019 adds delivery via electronic mail to the list of traditional means of service for court actions, so long as the party has consented in writing to receive documents by transmission to his or her primary, or other designated, electronic mail address.
Act 31: Tougher Penalties For Drunk Drivers
This bill says that a person convicted of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle must serve a prison term of at least five years. The act allows a court to impose a term of confinement that is less than five years if the court finds a compelling reason and places its reason on the record.
Act 32: Newspapers As Public Record Publishers
Under state law, a legal notice may be published in a newspaper under certain circumstances. Wisconsin Act 32 defines “newspaper” to include a newspaper published in the Town of Washington in Door County, at least two times each month.
Act 33: Property Damage
Under current law, whoever intentionally causes damage to any physical property of another without the person’s consent is generally guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. However, it is a Class H felony if the property damaged is owned, leased, or operated by an energy provider. Wisconsin Act 33 expands the scope of the increased penalty to include property owned, leased, or operated by public water utilities; cooperative associations producing or furnishing water; and companies that operate a gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, water, or chemical generation, storage transportation, or delivery system.
Act 34: Bicycle Classifications
Lawmakers modified the definition of “motor-bicycle.” The act defines “electric bicycle” as a bicycle with operational pedals capable of propulsion by the rider
and an electric motor of 750 watts or less, and which meets one of the following classifications: Class 1 – a bicycle with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling but that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 miles per hour. Class 2 – a bicycle that may be powered solely by its motor, but where the motor does not provide assistance when the bicycle reaches 20 miles per hour. Class 3 – a bicycle with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling but that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches 28 miles per hour.
Act 35: Student Loan Forgiveness
This act expanded the definition of “minority student” and changed the location in which a loan recipient must be employed in order to qualify for loan forgiveness. Specifically, the act expands the definition of “minority student” to also include: (1) an Alaskan native; (2) any student whose ancestry includes two or more races; and (3) instead of a person admitted to the United States after December 31, 1975, as described above, any student of Asian or Pacific Island origin.
Act 36: University Research Contracts
This bill adjusted research contract requirements for University of Wisconsin System employees by eliminating the 45-day passive review period for contracts of $250,000 or more, requiring those responsible for managing potential conflicts of interest evaluate and address in a management plan an employee’s interest in the research company, and requiring the Board of Regents to specify the contents of the management plan and changed the definition of “research company” to include entities engaged in nonprofit activity.
Act 37: Tax Reimbursements
Lawmakers passed a bill that now allows municipalities that had a value increment reporting error of more than $50 million in 2018 to transfer excess tax increment collections to the municipality’s general fund to reimburse taxpayers for the higher property tax rates resulting from the error.
Act 38: Building Permits
This act allows a building permit applicant to submit a printed copy of the electronic form or the paper form that the Department of Safety and Professional services makes available.
It also prohibits a municipality from requiring that a one or two-family dwelling building permit applicant must submit the application in both paper and electronic forms.
The act also maintains a municipality’s right to mandate paper applications; and requires the municipality to electronically submit the information on applicants’ paper forms to the Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Act 39: Student Emergency Drills
This new law allows a public or private school to provide a warning to students before a fire, tornado, or school safety incident drill.
Act 40: Property Tax Deadlines
A new law clarifies the deadlines for property tax payments to be considered received on time if they are postmarked on or before the due date; and specifies the five-day grace period concludes the following Friday, if the due date falls on a weekend.
Act 41: Massage Work Licenses
Lawmakers passed a bill that allows a city to make and enforce ordinances prohibiting a person from providing massage or bodywork therapy, designating themselves as a massage or bodywork therapist, or using or assuming any title or designation that represents the person as a massage or bodywork therapist without the appropriate licensure.
Wisconsin Act 42: Budget Procedure For Cities
This bill allows counties or municipalities to adopt and use a biennial budgetary procedure by either adopting a resolution or enacting an ordinance as long as they comply with laws regarding hearings, budget summaries, and public information.
Wisconsin Act 43: Teacher Licensing
This bill makes any teaching licenses based on reciprocity Tier II licenses, and allows them to become Tier III lifetime licenses after the completion of 6 semesters of teaching experience; and allows a teacher to receive a license based on reciprocity if they have successfully taught for 2 semesters under a department-issued license or permit at a public, private, or charter school.
Act 44: More Teacher Licensing
Lawmakers passed a bill which creates an alternative pathway to initial licensure as a special education teacher for individuals who meet all other licensing requirements and successfully complete a course of study that provides rigorous instruction in teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension and fluency, receive feedback and coaching from an expert in reading instruction, and provide a portfolio of work that demonstrates competence in phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, reading comprehension and fluency.
Act 45: Late Utility Payments
This new law provides county and municipal governments with the ability to levy for lost utility aid payments caused by the closure of electric power generating facilities.
Wisconsin Act 46 Increases the number of credits guaranteed to transfer between and within the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System, and institutions participating in the Universal Credit Transfer Agreement from 30 credits to 72 credits.
Act 47: Veterans’ Late Tuition
This law now prohibits any University of Wisconsin System institution or Wisconsin technical college from penalizing attending veterans, military service members, or eligible dependent for late tuition payments by the federal government.
Act 48: New Voting Rights Exception
This law creates an exemption for a voter to state their name and address to an election official before being permitted to vote for individuals who communicate non-verbally and those with developmental or physical disabilities that affect verbal speech, and allows an individual to present their personal information via written document or by the delegating the task to another trusted person.
Act 49: Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
This legislation repealed earlier legislation that set a sunset date of Wisconsin’s participation in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact of Dec. 16, 2019, and repealed related statutes that were impacted by the enactment of Act 116. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is an agreement with over 25 states and provides a voluntary expedited pathway to licensure in multiple states for qualified physicians.
Act 50: New Motorcycle Classifications
eliminates the existing Type 1 and Type 2 motorcycle definitions; establishes a new definition for motorcycles; creates a new classification of motor vehicle called an autocycle; allows anyone with a regular driver’s license to operate an autocycle; and sets the registration fee for an autocycle at $45 annually.
Act 51: Inspections
Lawmakers expanded on 2017 Act 255 by providing additional licensing and inspection powers to local health departments that are granted agent status to issue retail food establishment licenses for micro-markets by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Act 52: Tear Gas Gel
Lawmakers passed a bill that permits the use of non-atomizing CS gel as a personal self-defense device. CS is a key ingredient in tear gas.
Act 53: Auto Insurance For Totaled Cars
This new law establishes a process and a reasonable set of criteria for an insurer to follow to prove ownership of a totaled vehicle, if a policy holder fails to transfer the title within 30 days of receiving notice.
Act 54: Tax Credit Repeals
This bill repealed six refundable income and franchise tax credits that taxpayers may no longer claim due to statutory language that sunset the credits, including the meat processing facility investment credit, the food processing plant and food warehouse investment credit, the film production company investment credit, the film production services credit, the dairy manufacturing facility investment credit, and the beginning farmer and farm asset owner credit.
Act 55: Parental Choice School Deadlines
Lawmakers made technical changes to the application deadline dates for the statewide parental choice program to ensure that the deadline does not fall on a weekend, modifies the statute that specifies accrediting agencies to reflect the name change from AdvancED to Cognia, Inc.; and requires notice, rather than a letter, is required for evidence of accreditation for any school participating in a parental choice program.
Act 56: Telehealth Services
This act requires the Department of Health Services to treat telehealth services the same as in-person services. The bill ensures Medicaid can reimburse for remote patient care and monitoring services and ensure that Medicaid reimburses for the same telehealth services that Medicare covers.
Act 57: Medicaid Liability Insurance
This bill ensures nonprofit agencies, and their volunteer healthcare providers, that provide services to individuals on Medicaid have liability insurance through the state by allowing them to participate in the Volunteer Health Care Provider Program, if the individuals served are primarily individuals experiencing homelessness.
Act 58: Loan Assistants
This Wisconsin law expands eligibility for educational loan assistance programs administered by the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents for physicians, dentists, physician assistants, nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, and dental hygienists who provide care in free or charitable clinics.
Act 59: Wetland Protections
This bill makes several changes to the requirements for wetland mitigation banks, including changes to locational criteria, the schedule for releasing credits, mitigation bank documents and rule-making authority regarding financial assistance requirements for mitigation banks, all of which are currently under administrative rule.
Act 60: Lemonade Stands
A new law allows minors to operate temporary stands, such as a lemonade stand, without licensure from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.
Act 61: Tax Credits For Businesses
Allows out-of-state insurance companies to be eligible for the Qualified New Business Venture program, which provides early-stage seed investment tax credits.
Act 62: WHEDA Loans
This bill makes several changes to the agricultural development loan guarantee program administered by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) by prohibiting the term of a loan guarantee from exceeding ten years for land and buildings, 5 years for inventory, equipment and machinery, and 2 years for permanent working capital and marketing expenses, and prohibiting the closing fee for a loan guarantee from exceeding 1.5 percent.
Act 63: Grant Funding
The Wisconsin State Legislature passed this bill, which allows for the number of jobs retained to be used in determining the total award of a grant through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s transportation facilities economic assistance and development program, in addition to either determinations of 50 percent of the total project cost or $5,000 per job created.
Act 64: Gas Pump Changes
This new law permits gas pumps to dispense, through the same fueling nozzle and hose, gasoline-ethanol fuel blends containing no more than 10 or 15 percent ethanol and gasoline containing no ethanol.
Act 65: Cashier’s Checks
Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill that requires, in the case of a lost, stolen, or destroyed cashier’s check, teller’s check, or a certified check, that the issuing bank must pay the claimant the amount of the check at the time that the claim is asserted or 30 days after the issuance of the check, if all other requirements are satisfied, whichever is later. This act also protects data that financial institutions share with independent data processing servicers with new provisions and requirements.
Act 66: Insurance Protections
This bill makes a variety of technical changes to the administration of insurance, including, among other things, strengthening consumer protections for policyholders of fraternal insurers, implementing changes to the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, amending the corporate governance annual disclosure filing requirement date, and establishing a deadline of March 31 for service contract providers to submit financial statements of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI).
Act 67: Vehicle And Vehicle Parts Suppliers
Under this bill, if a vehicle manufacturer, importer or distributor fails to act in good faith when dealing with a local dealership, they can face license revocation.
Act 68: Hemp
Lawmakers modified the definition of “hemp” in state law to match the definition under federal law, and also requires the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to ensure the hemp program complies with federal law.
Act 69: Supplemental Aid
Made a technical fix an existing law by requiring that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation make supplemental aids payments to towns based on mileage rather than on the share-of-costs formula, freeing the DOT to award $2.5 million in aid to 144 towns across the state.
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