2019-2020 Legislative Session

Divided Government Begins

As an advocate for the legal rights of all Wisconsin citizens, the Wisconsin Association for Justice works with the legislature and other governmental bodies to preserve our civil justice system and ensure everyone has the ability to seek justice - including preserving the Constitutional right to a civil jury trial.
 

New legislators were installed January 7, 2019. The terms of Governor Evers, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes and Attorney General Josh Kaul began the same day. WAJ will begin lobbying legislators and the administration as legislation begins to circulate in the Capitol.

If you would like to help, please contact your area legislators and make sure they protect the legal rights of Wisconsin consumers.  Here is the link to contact your legislators. Please let us know when you reach out so that we may make the most of the relationships you have in your community.

List of Bills Monitored by WAJ During the 2019-20 Session

This page will be updated with information on WAJ's core legislative priorities. We will strive to include information on bills affecting civil justice as they are introduced and debated. 

As the legislative session progresses, please visit the Wisconsin Ethics Commission's (formerly the GAB) Eye on Lobbying Website to see the full list of bills on which WAJ has taken a position. The website lists all bills on which WAJ has taken a position and on which WAJ has lobbied legislators. 

If you need more information about WAJ's legislative activity, please contact Jim Rogers: jim@wisjustice.org

 

June 20, 2019

Email Service, Notice of Claims, Scooters, and Drunk Driving Bills Approved During Floor Session

The Assembly Floor session scheduled for today features several bills which may of interest to WAJ members. WAJ has taken a position on some of these bills, while others are of general interest to our membership as related to public safety on our roadways and in our communities. 

Email Service and Notice of Claims Against the State Bills Approved

AB-58 Allowing Personal Service for Notice of Claims Against the State - This bill, discussed in part below, allows service of process for claims against the state to be completed by a process server. The bipartisan bill is authored in the Assembly by Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) and in the Senate by Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison). 

AB-59 Allowing Email Service for Certain types of Pleadings. As mentioned below, the bill allows the service of pleadings and other documents by electronic mail, if a party consents to receive documents in this format. Under the bill, service is considered complete upon transmission, except if the sender receives notification or indication that the message was not delivered. 

AB-59 also features a bipartisan list of co-sponsors and was also introduced by Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) and Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison). 

Scooters and eBikes One Step Closer to Being Legal

AB-159/SB-152 This bill creates a regulatory regime allowing for the legalization of electric foot scooters in Wisconsin. The bill will give Wisconsin cities substantial authority to regulate the use of scooters within their jurisdiction. 

AB-132/SB-129 Adopts the nationally prevailing three-class regime for the statewide regulation and recognition of electric bicycles. eBikes, which feature a lightweight battery attached to a conventional bicycle frame (adapted and designed for the purpose) were not contemplated when the existing bicycle and motor vehicle registration regimes were enacted. As a result, though not enforced, ebikes are not legal in Wisconsin and cannot, for example, be operated on state and local bicycle trails. 

Drunk Driving Bills Also Advance 

The Assembly also approved two bills which change the penalties imposed for drunk driving. 

AB-15/SB-7 requires those who are being charged with their first offense OWI to appear in court. Those who do not appear face an additional $300 surcharge, among other conditions. The circuit court or municipal court must also enter a default judgment and impose applicable penalties. See Legislative Council Memo on the bill

AB-17/SB-8 imposes a minimum term of confinement of not less than five years for homicide by intoxicated use. Read the Legislative Council's plain language summary here

 

March 20, 2019

WAJ Submitted Comments on Supreme Court Rule Petition 19-01 - Hearing April 8

After hearing concerns from our membership, WAJ submitted comments regarding Supreme Court Rule Petition 19-01.

Rule petition 19-01 expands the range of options available to Wisconsin courts to meet the requirement that they create and maintain accurate, verbatim records of trial court proceedings. Specifically, the petition takes several steps to amend Wisconsin statutes (court rules) to allow for the expanded use of digital audio recording systems in situations where a live stenographic court reporter is not available.

To best understand these changes, all members should read the rule petition, it’s supporting memo, the final report of the Making the Record Committee, as well as the comments from WAJ (also available on the homepage for the petition), Judges, and professional court reporters.

Based on feedback from members, it is clear that the overwhelming preference is to maintain the character of the system we have today. That sentiment is backed even by some who have written the Court in favor of the petition.

It it’s comment WAJ urged the Supreme Court to continue taking a deliberate approach to the adoption technology designed to replace live court reporters.

You can read WAJ’s submission to the court here.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a public rules hearing on this petition on April 8.

 

March 14, 2019

Hearing Held on AB-58 and AB-59

On March 14, the Assembly Judiciary Committee heard testimony in favor of AB-58 and AB-59 by bill author Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison).

Representative Tusler spoke briefly in favor of his legislation. There was no testimony or appearances against either bill.

Written testimony submitted in favor of AB-58 is available here.

Written testimony submitted in favor of AB-59 is available here.

WAJ registered in favor of both bills at the hearing.

Video footage of the hearing is available here.

 

March 11, 2019

Assembly Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on Bill Allowing Service by Email (Opt-In) and Bill allowing Personal Service for Notice of Claims Against the State.

On Thursday, March 14, the Assembly Judiciary Committee will hear two bills of interest to WAJ members.

The first, AB-58, changes the requirements for serving the Attorney General with a notice of a claim against the state under Wis. Stat. § 893.82. Under current law, parties must strictly comply with the statute and are required to serve the Attorney General by certified mail to their office at the Capitol.

In 2016, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held in Sorenson v. Batchelder, 2016 WI 34, 368 Wis. 2d 140, 885 N.W.2d 362 certified mail was the only acceptable form of service based on the language in the statute. This bill will allow a party to serve the state with notice of a claim either by personal service or by certified mail to the Attorney General at their office in the Capitol or at the Department of Justice.

AB-58 has bipartisan support and was introduced by Representative Ron Tusler (R-Harrison). The State Bar of Wisconsin also supports this bill.

The second bill, AB-59, allows the service of pleadings and other documents by electronic mail, if a party consents to receive documents in this format. Under the bill, service is considered complete upon transmission, except if the sender receives notification or indication that the message was not delivered. 

AB-59 also features a bipartisan list of co-sponsors and was also introduced by Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison).

WAJ supports both bills.

 

February 22, 2019

Two Pending Supreme Court Rule Petitions May Impact Your Practice.

Petition 19-02 creates a pilot program to move to 100% electronic filing for the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

Homepage for petition 19-02.

View the petition text here.

View the supporting memorandum here.

Interim rule for Appellate e-filing under pilot program.

Based on the rule and supporting documentation, the Court plans to identify a list of frequent users of the system, focused on entities like the DOJ, the State Public Defender’s office, and some large law firms to serve as the population for this test run.

Written comments are due by March 20. Those who wish to have individual input may submit comments to the Court by following the directions contained in the rule and the supporting memorandum.

A public hearing on this rule change is slated for April 8 in the Supreme Court chamber.

 

Petition 19-01, is of importance to the everyday function and practice in our circuit courts.

Homepage for petition 19-01.

View the petition text here.

Amendment to petition text, dated February 22.

View the supporting memorandum here.

The proposed rule, in this case prepared at the behest of the Director of State Courts, seeks to get ahead of a current and continuing shortage in available court reporters by altering the statutes (rules) that govern how circuit courts make and maintain the record of court proceedings.

The biggest change is that it allows audio recording in lieu of a court reporter. As with court reporters, the new rules would not necessarily order a written transcript unless required or requested. Without taking a position on the proposal, changes of this magnitude introduce new variables and the potential for technical error as well as increasing the frequency of disputes between parties as to the accuracy of transcripts produced from audio recordings.

Written comments are due by March 20. Those who wish to have individual input may submit comments to the Court by following the directions contained in the rule and the supporting memorandum.

 


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