Do you know what is moving its way through our Wisconsin legislature that may or may not end up on the Governor desk? What I have found over the years is that people are unaware of how much our Wisconsin Government puts online as public record. It’s a lot more than most people realize and far less than you think once you start really digging into the information out there. Much of this depends on what you’re looking for and how quickly you would like to receive it. First and formost, we have a robust Open Records law here that compliments the Federal Freedom of Information Act well.
https://wicourts.gov/casesearch.htm – This is famously known as “CCAP” here in Wisconsin. It has been updated and improvements made, it also encompasses from the Circuit Court all the way up to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. There is also a content search on this site for legal research, although not as intuitive as I would prefer.
https://legis.wisconsin.gov/ – This is the MAIN Page to the Wisconsin legislature, both Assembly and Senate. This main landing page is only the surface of what is out there for you to look at. Again not as intuitive as I would prefer.
What I do not appreciate is the fact that the media and reporting agencies give pet names to the legislation that is created, never revealing the Bill number for either the Senate or the Assembly. Many times you have to do a large amount of reading before you can figure out which bill they are referring to. The reason this is so important is because they ‘add-on’ to bills that are for something else that have things that directly affect us, a good example of this was Act 10 that effectively killed collective bargaining by state employees, but there were a lot of other things that got axed by that law that were not advertised and protested like the union busting part of the law. A clear example of the underhanded way our government does business.
Another example of this is “Marcy’s Law” which isn’t named that on the Wisconsin legislature site, yet there will be a line item on our April 2020 ballot for this ‘law’. You’ll hear all kinds of names for bills as they are presented to the public to garner their support, because Bill 123 isn’t nearly as motivating as “Marcy’s Law” which named after a child that it wouldn’t have helped even if it had been in place at the time.
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lrb/blue-book/ – This is the Wisconsin Bluebook, it is also still printed for those that don’t want to look at it online. This is a comprehensive book about how Wisconsin government works, how a bill becomes law and how bills are presented in both the Assembly and the Senate. It is close to how the US government does it but there are some differences. You can request a hard copy of this book from your local assemblyman FOR FREE. If they try to charge you, then they are lying and scamming you. This book is free to all Wisconsin citizens.
https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/misc/lfb/informational_papers – Now here is the mother-load. You want to know how and where the money is being spent, this is how you begin to figure it out, then you can start asking for Open Records Requests, once you have the ammunition that you can find here. They are grouped by category and listed under headings on this page.
If you wanted to receive information and updates on bills that are working their way through our Wisconsin Government here is the link to signup for and receive daily emails letting you know what is happening. https://notify.legis.wisconsin.gov/login?ReturnUrl=%2f
I’d put the link to the registry on here, but I do not want to help their cause by providing a click through link to a site and registry that I will not endorse. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t want to get a copy of it from the SORP office here in Wisconsin. I have found that the easiest way to get an excel copy of the registry is by request to this email address: mailto:DOCBOPADMIN@wisconsin.gov
Those are the basics of navigating the websites of Wisconsin Government, it is far from comprehensive, but it is a broad overview of what Wisconsin is all about.