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LEGAL RESEARCH - WISCONSIN

Statutory Law

Tracking the Progress of Statutory Law:

  1. Wisconsin Legislative Documents Search Electronically Track the Progress of Statutory Law from 1995 to the present
    • To track the history of each bill and resolution from its inception, select Bill Rule and Appointment Histories. History includes memos, acts, fiscal estimates and roll calls with each bill and resolution.
    • Current Year's Acts, Bills and Resolutions
  2. Understanding the legislative process:

Statutory law is law enacted by the legislature and embodied in the statutes. The Wisconsin legislature is biennial; each session begins on the first Tuesday after January 8 in the odd-numbered year. Legislative bills and laws are identified with the session during which they were introduced or enacted; e.g. Assembly Bills 2012 (the 2012-2013 session).

Assembly Bills/Senate Bills: Statutory law begins life as a bill introduced in the legislature. All bills are numbered, either as AB-xx (Assembly Bill), SB-xx (Senate Bill), AJR or SJR (Joint Resolution). As these bills move through the legislative process, they may attract amendments, fiscal notes or other addenda.

Assembly/Senate Journals: Each house of the legislature publishes, overnight, a journal of its actions for each day it is in session. These journals typically record house elections, committee appointments, measures introduced, measures referred to committee, amendments, motions, votes taken, attendance, and the dates when bills are sent to the governor's office. The Wisconsin Legislative site also has an index to these journals.

  • Wisconsin State Journal By Wisconsin's constitution, "No law shall be in force until published" (Sec. 17 (2) of Art. IV). Every new law is published in the Wisconsin State Journal , a newspaper. Unless otherwise specified, each law takes effect on the day after such publication. Full text back files of the Wisconsin State Journal from 1992 to present are available via Lexis Nexis: Academic [1991-present] Stout Users Only [Select Sources tab in upper left of main screen, then News , then Newspapers.  The Library also keeps the latest paper issues and older issues from 1985- in microfilm format in the Periodical Collection.
  • Wisconsin Acts and Proposals  

The Laws created during a legislative session are often called "session" laws. Each is assisgnd a unique "act" ("chapter" numbrs before 1983) number as is referred to as an act or chapter of the session laws.

The state issues a revised edition of the Statutes after each biennial session, incorporating all the general laws then in force and deleting those that have been repealed. Like session laws, they are dated by the most recent legislature to act on them; thus Wisconsin Statutes 2012 is current through the 2012-2013 session. The Statutes are organized into "chapters." UNLIKE session laws, statute chapters include many laws on a common topic. The Statutes also contain several court directories, list of acts repealed, interstate compacts, legislative resolutions, and the constitution.

  • Lexis Nexis: Academic /Legal/US Federal Statutes and Regulations; /Legal/State Statutes and Regulations
  • Updated Wisconsin School Laws REF KFW2790 .W57x