VII,10(2) (2) Justices of the supreme court and judges of the courts of record shall receive such compensation as the legislature may authorize by law, but may not receive fees of office. [1909 J.R. 34, 1911 J.R. 24, 1911 c. 665, vote Nov. 1912; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]
Sub. (1) prohibits a circuit judge from holding a nonjudicial office of public trust during the full period of time for which he or she is elected to serve in a judicial position, even if the judge chooses to resign before that term would otherwise expire. The period of time constituting the "term for which elected" is set when a judge or justice is elected, and is thereafter unalterable by means of resignation. Wagner v. Milwaukee County Election Commission, 2003 WI 103, 263 Wis. 2d 709, 666 N.W.2d 816, 02-0375.
An "office of public trust" does not refer only to an elective office. "Judicial office," as used in Article VII, should be construed as referring to an office that is located within the judicial branch of government created by that article. Membership on the government accountability board is an office of public trust but is not a judicial office within the meaning of Art. VII, s. 10, and therefore an individual who has resigned from the office of judge may not serve as a member of the board for the duration of the term to which the individual was elected to serve as a judge. OAG 4-08.
Terms of courts; change of judges. Section 11. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,11 Disciplinary proceedings. Section 11. [As created April 1977] Each justice or judge shall be subject to reprimand, censure, suspension, removal for cause or for disability, by the supreme court pursuant to procedures established by the legislature by law. No justice or judge removed for cause shall be eligible for reappointment or temporary service. This section is alternative to, and cumulative with, the methods of removal provided in sections 1 and 13 of this article and section 12 of article XIII. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]
VII,12 Clerks of circuit and supreme courts. Section 12. [As amended Nov. 1882, April 2005]
VII,12(1) (1) There shall be a clerk of circuit court chosen in each county organized for judicial purposes by the qualified electors thereof, who, except as provided in sub. (2), shall hold office for two years, subject to removal as provided by law.
VII,12(2) (2) Beginning with the first general election at which the governor is elected which occurs after the ratification of this subsection, a clerk of circuit court shall be chosen by the electors of each county, for the term of 4 years, subject to removal as provided by law.
VII,12(3) (3) In case of a vacancy, the judge of the circuit court may appoint a clerk until the vacancy is filled by an election.
VII,12(4) (4) The clerk of circuit court shall give such security as the legislature requires by law.
VII,12(5) (5) The supreme court shall appoint its own clerk, and may appoint a clerk of circuit court to be the clerk of the supreme court. [1881 J.R. 16A, 1882 J.R. 3, 1882 c. 290, vote Nov. 1882; 2003 J.R. 12, 2005 J.R. 2, vote April 2005]
VII,13 Justices and judges: removal by address. Section 13. [As amended April 1974 and April 1977] Any justice or judge may be removed from office by address of both houses of the legislature, if two-thirds of all the members elected to each house concur therein, but no removal shall be made by virtue of this section unless the justice or judge complained of is served with a copy of the charges, as the ground of address, and has had an opportunity of being heard. On the question of removal, the ayes and noes shall be entered on the journals. [1971 J.R. 30, 1973 J.R. 25, vote April 1974; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]
VII,14 Municipal court. Section 14. [As amended April 1977] The legislature by law may authorize each city, village and town to establish a municipal court. All municipal courts shall have uniform jurisdiction limited to actions and proceedings arising under ordinances of the municipality in which established. Judges of municipal courts may receive such compensation as provided by the municipality in which established, but may not receive fees of office. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]
A municipal court has authority to determine the constitutionality of a municipal ordinance. City of Milwaukee v. Wroten, 160 Wis. 2d 207, 466 N.W.2d 861 (1991).
VII,15 Justices of the peace. Section 15. [Amended April 1945; repealed April 1966; see 1943 J.R. 27, 1945 J.R. 2, vote April 1945; 1963 J.R. 48, 1965 J.R. 50, vote April 1966.]
VII,16 Tribunals of conciliation. Section 16. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,17 Style of writs; indictments. Section 17. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,18 Suit tax. Section 18. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,19 Testimony in equity suits; master in chancery. Section 19. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,20 Rights of suitors. Section 20. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.] See Art. I, sec. 21.
VII,21 Publication of laws and decisions. Section 21. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.] See Art. IV, sec. 17.
VII,22 Commissioners to revise code of practice. Section 22. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,23 Court commissioners. Section 23. [Repealed April 1977; see 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977.]
VII,24 Justices and judges: eligibility for office; retirement. Section 24. [As created April 1955 and amended April 1968 and April 1977]
VII,24(1)(1) To be eligible for the office of supreme court justice or judge of any court of record, a person must be an attorney licensed to practice law in this state and have been so licensed for 5 years immediately prior to election or appointment.
VII,24(2) (2) Unless assigned temporary service under subsection (3), no person may serve as a supreme court justice or judge of a court of record beyond the July 31 following the date on which such person attains that age, of not less than 70 years, which the legislature shall prescribe by law.
VII,24(3) (3) A person who has served as a supreme court justice or judge of a court of record may, as provided by law, serve as a judge of any court of record except the supreme court on a temporary basis if assigned by the chief justice of the supreme court. [1953 J.R. 46, 1955 J.R. 14, vote April 1955; 1965 J.R. 101, 1967 J.R. 22 and 56, vote April 1968; 1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]
VIII ARTICLE VIII.
finance
VIII,1 Rule of taxation uniform; income, privilege and occupation taxes. Section 1. [As amended Nov. 1908, April 1927, April 1941, April 1961 and April 1974] The rule of taxation shall be uniform but the legislature may empower cities, villages or towns to collect and return taxes on real estate located therein by optional methods. Taxes shall be levied upon such property with such classifications as to forests and minerals including or separate or severed from the land, as the legislature shall prescribe. Taxation of agricultural land and undeveloped land, both as defined by law, need not be uniform with the taxation of each other nor with the taxation of other real property. Taxation of merchants' stock-in-trade, manufacturers' materials and finished products, and livestock need not be uniform with the taxation of real property and other personal property, but the taxation of all such merchants' stock-in-trade, manufacturers' materials and finished products and livestock shall be uniform, except that the legislature may provide that the value thereof shall be determined on an average basis. Taxes may also be imposed on incomes, privileges and occupations, which taxes may be graduated and progressive, and reasonable exemptions may be provided. [1905 J.R. 12, 1907 J.R. 29, 1907 c. 661, vote Nov. 1908; 1925 J.R. 62, 1927 J.R. 13, vote April 1927; 1939 J.R. 88, 1941 J.R. 18, vote April 1941; 1959 J.R. 78, 1961 J.R. 13, vote April 1961; 1971 J.R. 39, 1973 J.R. 29, vote April 1974]
While a sale establishes value, the assessment still has to be equal to that on comparable property. Sub. (2) (b) requires the assessor to fix a value before classifying the land. It does not prohibit the assessor from considering the zoning of the property when it is used for some other purpose. State ex rel. Hensel v. Town of Wilson, 55 Wis. 2d 101, 197 N.W.2d 794.
The fact that land purchased for industrial development under s. 66.521, Stats. 1969, [now s. 66.1103] and leased to a private person is not subject to a tax lien if taxes are not paid does not violate the uniformity provision. State ex rel. Hammermill Paper Co. v. La Plante, 58 Wis. 2d 32, 205 N.W.2d 784.
The Housing Authority Act, in granting tax exemptions to bonds, does not violate this section. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.
A law requiring a reduction in rent due to property tax relief does not violate the uniformity clause. It is not a tax law. State ex rel. Bldg. Owners v. Adamany, 64 Wis. 2d 280, 219 N.W.2d 274.
The denial of equal protection claimed by the taxpayer, by reason of the exclusion from the "occasional sale" exemption of sellers holding permits was properly held by the trial court to be without merit. Ramrod, Inc. v. Dept. of Revenue, 64 Wis. 2d 499, 219 N.W.2d 604.
The income and property tax exemptions provided in the Solid Waste Recycling Authority Act bear a reasonable relation to a legitimate end of governmental action and therefore do not violate the Wisconsin Constitution, since the exemptions allow for reduction in user charges and in the cost of capital needs, thereby benefiting the state's citizens by promoting use of the Authority's facilities. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 Wis. 2d 464, 235 N.W.2d 648.
Negative-aid provisions of school district financing, as mandated by 121.07 and 121.08, Stats. (1973), are violative of the rule of uniform taxation. Buse v. Smith, 74 Wis. 2d 550, 247 N.W.2d 141.
Improvements tax relief provisions of 79.24 and 79.25, 1977 stats., are unconstitutional as violative of uniformity clause. State ex rel. La Follette v. Torphy, 85 Wis. 2d 94, 270 N.W.2d 187 (1978).
A tax exemption with a reasonable, though remote, relation to a legitimate government purpose was permissible. Madison General Hospital Asso. v. Madison, 92 Wis. 2d 125, 284 N.W.2d 603 (1979).
The tax Increment Law, s.66.46 [now s. 66.1105] does not violate the uniformity rule. Sigma Tau Gamma Fraternity House v. Menomonie, 93 Wis. 2d 392, 288 N.W.2d 85 (1980).
A contract by which a landowner agreed to petition for annexation to a city, not to develop land, and to grant water rights to the city in exchange for reimbursement of all property taxes violated the uniformity rule. Cornwell v. City of Stevens Point, 159 Wis. 2d 136, 464 N.W.2d 33 (Ct. App. 1990).
For purposes of the uniformity clause, there is only one class of property, property that is taxable, and the burden of taxation must be borne as nearly as practicable among all property, based on value. Noah's Ark Family Park v. Village of Lake Delton, 210 Wis. 2d 301, 565 N.W.2d 230 (Ct. App. 1997). Affirmed 216 Wis. 2d 387, 573 N.W.2d 852 (1998), 96-1074.
To prove a statute unconstitutional due to a violation of the uniformity clause, a taxpayer must initially prove that his property has been overvalued while other property has been undervalued. Norquist v. Zeuske, 211 Wis. 2d 241, 564 N.W.2d 748 (1997), 96-1812.
Sections 70.47 (13), 70.85, and 74.37 provide the exclusive method to challenge a municipality's bases for assessment of individual parcels. All require appeal to the board of review prior to court action. There is no alternative procedure to challenge an assessment's compliance with the uniformity clause. Hermann v. Town of Delavan, 215 Wis. 2d 370, 572 N.W.2d 855 (1998), 96-0171.
The uniformity clause is limited to property taxes, recurring ad valorem taxes on property, as opposed to transactional taxes such as those imposed on income or sales. Telemark Development, Inc. v. DOR, 218 Wis. 2d 809, 581 N.W.2d 585 (Ct. App. 1998), 97-3133.
The supreme court has rejected challenges alleging violations of the rule of uniformity when the claim was based on comparing one taxpayer's appraised value to the value assigned to an inadequate number of other properties in the assessment district. A lack of uniformity must be established by showing general undervaluation on a district-wide basis if the subject property has been assessed at full market value. Allright Properties, Inc. v. City of Milwaukee, 2009 WI App 46, 317 Wis. 2d 228, 767 N.W.2d 567, 08-0510.
Comparing the value attributed to only one component of the real property in a uniformity challenge is an analytical method without support in statutes or relevant case law. Taxes are levied on the value of the real property; not separately on the components of land, or improvements, or other rights or limitations of ownership. Allright Properties, Inc. v. City of Milwaukee, 2009 WI App 46, 317 Wis. 2d 228, 767 N.W.2d 567, 08-0510.
Reassessing one property at a significantly higher rate than comparable properties using a different methodology and then declining to reassess the comparable properties by that methodology violates the uniformity clause. U.S. Oil Co., Inc. v. City of Milwaukee, 2011 WI App 4, 331 Wis. 2d 407, 794 N.W.2d 904, 09-2260.
Comparing a taxpayer's appraised value to lower values assigned to a relatively small number of other properties has long been rejected as a claimed violation of the uniformity clause. Lack of uniformity must be established by showing a general undervaluation of properties within a district when the subject property has been assessed at full market value. Great Lakes Quick Lube, LP v. City of Milwaukee, 2011 WI App 7, 331 Wis. 2d 137, 794 N.W.2d 510, 09-2775.
A partial exemption from property taxation, proposed for land conveyed to The National Audubon Society, Inc., probably is unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment and the rule of uniformity. 61 Atty. Gen. 173.
Competitive bidding for the issuance of a liquor license violates this section. 61 Atty. Gen. 180.
A bill providing for a tax on all known commercially feasible low-grade iron ore reserve deposits in Wisconsin, would appear to violate the uniformity of taxation provisions of sec. 1. 63 Atty. Gen. 3.
A law providing that improvements to real property would be assessed as of the date of completion of the improvements would be unconstitutional. 81 Atty. Gen. 94.
VIII,2 Appropriations; limitation. Section 2. [As amended Nov. 1877] No money shall be paid out of the treasury except in pursuance of an appropriation by law. No appropriation shall be made for the payment of any claim against the state except claims of the United States and judgments, unless filed within six years after the claim accrued. [1876 J.R. 7, 1877 J.R. 4, 1877 c. 158, vote Nov. 1877]
The creation of a continuing appropriation by one legislature does not restrict a subsequent legislature from reallocating the unexpended, unencumbered public funds subject to the original appropriation. Flynn v. Department of Administration, 216 Wis. 2d 521, 576 N.W.2d 245 (1998), 96-3266.
Although there is no specific clause in the constitution establishing the public purpose doctrine, the doctrine is firmly accepted as a basic tenet of the constitution, mandating that public appropriations may not be used for other than public purposes. Courts are to give great weight and afford very wide discretion to legislative declarations of public purpose, but are not bound by such legislative expressions. It is the duty of the court to determine whether a public purpose can be conceived that might reasonably justify the basis of the duty. Town of Beloit v. County of Rock, 2003 WI 8, 259 Wis. 2d 37, 657 N.W.2d 344, 00-1231.
Funds may not be used to construct a project that has not been provided for in either the long-range building program or specifically described in the session laws. 61 Atty. Gen. 298.
The constitution does not preclude grants of state money to private parties for the purpose of affording disaster relief under the Disaster Relief Act of 1974. An appropriation by the legislature is required, however, to provide the state funding contemplated by the Act. Federal advances under the Act are limited by Art. VIII, sec. 6. 64 Atty. Gen. 39.
VIII,3 Credit of state. Section 3. [As amended April 1975] Except as provided in s. 7
VIII,3(2)(a)(a), the credit of the state shall never be given, or loaned, in aid of any individual, association or corporation. [1973 J.R. 38, 1975 J.R. 3, vote April 1975]
VIII,4 Contracting state debts. Section 4. The state shall never contract any public debt except in the cases and manner herein provided.
The Housing Authority Act does not create a state debt even though it calls for legislative appropriations in future years to service payment of notes and bonds. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.
An authority's power to issue notes and bonds does not constitute the creation of a state debt or a pledge of the state's credit in violation of art. VIII, since the creating act specifically prohibited the authority from incurring state debt or pledging state credit, and the provision of the act recognizing a moral obligation on the part of the legislature to make up deficits does not create an obligation legally enforceable against the state. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 Wis. 2d 464, 235 N.W.2d 648.
This section restricts the state from levying taxes to create a surplus having no public purpose. Although the constitutional provision does not apply directly to municipalities, the same limitation applies to school districts because the state cannot delegate more power than it has. Barth v. Monroe Board of Education, 108 Wis. 2d 511, 514-15, 322 N.W.2d 694 (Ct. App. 1982).
Because operating notes are to be paid from money in the process of collection, notes are not public debt. State ex rel. La Follette v. Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d 358, 338 N.W.2d 684 (1983).
An agreement to pay rent under a long-term lease would amount to contracting a debt unless the lease is made subject to the availability of future funds. 60 Atty. Gen. 408.
Borrowing money from federal government to replenish Wisconsin's unemployment compensation fund does not contravene either art. VIII, sec. 3 or 4. 71 Atty. Gen. 95.
VIII,5 Annual tax levy to equal expenses. Section 5. The legislature shall provide for an annual tax sufficient to defray the estimated expenses of the state for each year; and whenever the expenses of any year shall exceed the income, the legislature shall provide for levying a tax for the ensuing year, sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency as well as the estimated expenses of such ensuing year.
Deficit reported in financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles would not violate this section. 74 Atty. Gen. 202.
VIII,6 Public debt for extraordinary expense; taxation. Section 6. For the purpose of defraying extraordinary expenditures the state may contract public debts (but such debts shall never in the aggregate exceed one hundred thousand dollars). Every such debt shall be authorized by law, for some purpose or purposes to be distinctly specified therein; and the vote of a majority of all the members elected to each house, to be taken by yeas and nays, shall be necessary to the passage of such law; and every such law shall provide for levying an annual tax sufficient to pay the annual interest of such debt and the principal within five years from the passage of such law, and shall specially appropriate the proceeds of such taxes to the payment of such principal and interest; and such appropriation shall not be repealed, nor the taxes be postponed or diminished, until the principal and interest of such debt shall have been wholly paid.
The constitution does not preclude grants of state money to private parties for the purpose of affording disaster relief under the federal Disaster Relief Act of 1974;. An appropriation by the legislature is required, however, to provide the state funding contemplated by the Act. Federal advances under the Act are limited by Art. VIII, sec. 6. 64 Atty. Gen. 39.
VIII,7 Public debt for public defense; bonding for public purposes. Section 7. [As amended April 1969, April 1975 and April 1992]
VIII,7(1)(1) The legislature may also borrow money to repel invasion, suppress insurrection, or defend the state in time of war; but the money thus raised shall be applied exclusively to the object for which the loan was authorized, or to the repayment of the debt thereby created.
VIII,7(2) (2) Any other provision of this constitution to the contrary notwithstanding:
VIII,7(2)(a) (a) The state may contract public debt and pledges to the payment thereof its full faith, credit and taxing power:
VIII,7(2)(a)1. 1. To acquire, construct, develop, extend, enlarge or improve land, waters, property, highways, railways, buildings, equipment or facilities for public purposes.
VIII,7(2)(a)2. 2. To make funds available for veterans' housing loans.
VIII,7(2)(b) (b) The aggregate public debt contracted by the state in any calendar year pursuant to paragraph (a) shall not exceed an amount equal to the lesser of:
VIII,7(2)(b)1. 1. Three-fourths of one per centum of the aggregate value of all taxable property in the state; or
VIII,7(2)(b)2. 2. Five per centum of the aggregate value of all taxable property in the state less the sum of: a. the aggregate public debt of the state contracted pursuant to this section outstanding as of January 1 of such calendar year after subtracting therefrom the amount of sinking funds on hand on January 1 of such calendar year which are applicable exclusively to repayment of such outstanding public debt and, b. the outstanding indebtedness as of January 1 of such calendar year of any entity of the type described in paragraph (d) to the extent that such indebtedness is supported by or payable from payments out of the treasury of the state.
VIII,7(2)(c) (c) The state may contract public debt, without limit, to fund or refund the whole or any part of any public debt contracted pursuant to paragraph (a), including any premium payable with respect thereto and any interest to accrue thereon, or to fund or refund the whole or any part of any indebtedness incurred prior to January 1, 1972, by any entity of the type described in paragraph (d), including any premium payable with respect thereto and any interest to accrue thereon.
VIII,7(2)(d) (d) No money shall be paid out of the treasury, with respect to any lease, sublease or other agreement entered into after January 1, 1971, to the Wisconsin State Agencies Building Corporation, Wisconsin State Colleges Building Corporation, Wisconsin State Public Building Corporation, Wisconsin University Building Corporation or any similar entity existing or operating for similar purposes pursuant to which such nonprofit corporation or such other entity undertakes to finance or provide a facility for use or occupancy by the state or an agency, department or instrumentality thereof.
VIII,7(2)(e) (e) The legislature shall prescribe all matters relating to the contracting of public debt pursuant to paragraph (a), including: the public purposes for which public debt may be contracted; by vote of a majority of the members elected to each of the 2 houses of the legislature, the amount of public debt which may be contracted for any class of such purposes; the public debt or other indebtedness which may be funded or refunded; the kinds of notes, bonds or other evidence of public debt which may be issued by the state; and the manner in which the aggregate value of all taxable property in the state shall be determined.
VIII,7(2)(f) (f) The full faith, credit and taxing power of the state are pledged to the payment of all public debt created on behalf of the state pursuant to this section and the legislature shall provide by appropriation for the payment of the interest upon and instalments of principal of all such public debt as the same falls due, but, in any event, suit may be brought against the state to compel such payment.
VIII,7(2)(g) (g) At any time after January 1, 1972, by vote of a majority of the members elected to each of the 2 houses of the legislature, the legislature may declare that an emergency exists and submit to the people a proposal to authorize the state to contract a specific amount of public debt for a purpose specified in such proposal, without regard to the limit provided in paragraph (b). Any such authorization shall be effective if approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon. Public debt contracted pursuant to such authorization shall thereafter be deemed to have been contracted pursuant to paragraph (a), but neither such public debt nor any public debt contracted to fund or refund such public debt shall be considered in computing the debt limit provided in paragraph (b). Not more than one such authorization shall be thus made in any 2-year period. [1967 J.R. 58, 1969 J.R. 3, vote April 1969; 1973 J.R. 38, 1975 J.R. 3, vote April 1975; J.R. 9, vote April 1992]
The Housing Authority Act does not violate sub. (2) (d) because housing constructed is not for state use. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.
An authority's power to issue notes and bonds does not constitute the creation of a state debt or a pledge of the state's credit in violation of art. VIII, since the creating act specifically prohibited the authority from incurring state debt or pledging state credit, and the provision of the act recognizing a moral obligation on the part of the legislature to make up deficits does not create an obligation legally enforceable against the state. Wisconsin Solid Waste Recycling Auth. v. Earl, 70 Wis. 2d 464, 235 N.W.2d 648.
The debt limitations imposed are annual limitations but nevertheless have the effect of establishing an aggregate state debt limitation of 5% of the total value of all taxable property in the state plus the amount of debt sinking fund reserves on hand. 58 Atty. Gen. 1.
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Wisconsin Constitution updated by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Published Sept. 3, 2014. Click for the Coverage of Annotations for the Annotated Constitution. Report errors at (608) 266-3561, FAX 264-6948.