Excerpt from Chapter 4

Wisconsin's legislative process can seem difficult to understand but there are simple ways you can impact it during each step.

You can begin your grassroots advocacy even before a bill is officially introduced. From urging your legislator to cosponsor a bill to testifying at hearings to writing the Governor, there are practical ways for you to be involved and have your voice heard on issues of importance to you, your hospital and the community you serve.

Bill Drafting

An idea begins its legislative journey when a legislator asks the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB) to draft an idea into bill form. It is important to remember that simply because an idea has been drafted, it is not officially a bill yet. In fact, some ideas are actually drafted and then are never officially introduced. It is up to the individual legislator to determine whether or not the idea is something he or she wants to put his or her name on by officially introducing itů.

The Committee Process

The committee process is one of the most important aspects of the legislative process and probably one of the least understood. A good deal of the work on bills goes on during the committee process.

After a bill is introduced and given its first reading, it is immediately referred to a standing committee in its chamber of origin. That means that an Assembly bill will be referred to an Assembly committee and a Senate bill to a Senate committee (or joint committee). Once a bill is referred to committee, basically one of three things will happen:

  1. the bill will see no action; or

  2. the bill will be scheduled for a public hearing; or

  3. the bill will be scheduled for an executive sessionů.