statutes Statutes
what are the statutes What are the Wisconsin Statutes?
The Wisconsin Statutes are a compilation of the general laws of the state of Wisconsin currently in effect that have been given statute section numbers by legislation or supreme court order. The statutes on this web site are regularly updated to include legislation adopted during each legislative session. The Wisconsin Statutes are printed every two years.
what are the statutes What are the Wisconsin Annotations?
The Wisconsin Annotations consist of section histories, cross-references, interpretative notes, and notes relating to court decisions, attorney general's opinions, and published articles that are published following the affected statute.
find a statute How can I find a statute?
You can search the entire Statutes from anywhere in any statutes chapter or from the statutes table of contents by typing a word or phrase in the box to the left of the Search button, then clicking Search. You can also go directly to a specific statute or part of a statute by typing the statute number in the search box to the left of the search button, then clicking Search. Any statutory unit can be located by typing the correct citation as follows. Parentheses and periods are not required. If parentheses are included, spaces are not required. If the citation is placed in quotation marks, the desired statute should always be the first “hit" in the returned list. If quotation marks are not used, the exact cite may not be the first in the list in every case, but will be near the top. For example, a search for 16.61 2 b 2 returns with s. 16.61 (2) (b) (intro.) first and s. 16.61 (2) (b) 2. second.
(Further explanation of the statutory numbering system is below.)
  Chapter: ch. 16 or ch.16 or ch 16 or ch16 or chapter 16 or chapter16
  Section: 16.61
  Subsection: 16.61(2) or 16.61(2) or 16.61 2
  Paragraph: 16.61(2)(b) or 16.61 (2) (b) or 16.61 2 b
  Subdivision: 16.61 (2) (b) 2. or 16.61(2)(b)2. or 16.61 2 b 2
  Subdivision paragraph: 16.61(2)(b)2.b. or 16.61 (2) (b) 2. b. or 16.61 2 b 2 b
You can also locate statutes by searching the Statutes Index or a Subject Heading within the Index. To search the Index in its entirety for a word or phrase, type the word or phrase in the box to the left of the “Search" button, then click “Search." Material in the Index is organized under Subject Headings. To go to a Subject Heading, type the Subject Heading name in the box to the left of the “Search" button, then click “Search." For a list of the Subject Headings, see the Table of Subject Headings. The Subject Headings with the Index can be accessed by linking directly from the Table of Subject Headings.
Statutes can also be located by browsing or searching the Statutes Table of Contents and the individual statute chapter tables of contents. Statute chapters are listed numerically, followed by their titles, which are a general description of the chapter's subject matter. Each statute chapter begins with a numerical table of contents listing the descriptive titles for each statute section in the chapter.
about the statutes About the Statutes and Annotations on this Site
The Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations on this web site are published under s. 35.18 (1) (b), stats., are certified under s. 35.18 (2) (b), stats., and are prima facie evidence that they are the Wisconsin Statutes “as they purport to be" under s. 889.01, stats.
The statues on this web site are regularly updated and contain all general statutes in force as the act number and publication date shown on the Statutes Table of Contents. The annotations on this web site are updated and current as indicated in the Coverage of Annotations table that can be linked to from the Statutes Table of Contents.
There are two different formats available for viewing, HTML and PDF. For more details, see Differences Between HTML and PDF Viewing.
Certain tables and maps that are a part of the printed Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations are only included in the PDF format statutes and not included in the HTML format statutes reproduced on this website. The schedules of appropriations contained in s. 20.005, Wis. Stats., are recreated by the legislature in each biennial budget act and are updated at the end of each legislative session for publication in the printed Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations. Chapter 20, Wis. Stats., as published in the PDF Format version of the statutes on this web site contains the table as adopted in the most recent biennial budget or as updated and published in the most recent edition of the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations and does not reflect interim amendments. The HTML format statutes do not contain the s. 20.005 schedules.
This web site also contains all of the Acts of the Wisconsin Legislature adopted during the current legislative session, an archive containing non-current editions of the statutes and legislative acts adopted in previous legislative sessions, along with other archived materials, and several Statutes-related documents including the Statutes Index, Table of Statute Sections Affected by Wisconsin Acts, Table of Renumbered and Repealed Statutes, and Table of Cross-References in the Statutes. See also: About the statutes index, About the sections affected tables, About repealed and renumbered statutes, and About cross references in the statutes
This web site contains links from annotations to cited court cases. 1995 and newer Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals opinions are linked to on the Wisconsin Court System site and all cited appellate court cases contain links to court cases through Google Scholar. Click on the docket number following the case citation to open a link to the case in PDF format on the Wisconsin Court System website. Click on the case citations to search for that case in Google Scholar. For more on annotations, see Annotations below.
Statutes Overview
The Wisconsin Statutes consist of the Statutes of 1898, as affected by all subsequent acts of the legislature and certain orders of the supreme court. Joint Legislative Rule 53 (1) provides that when an act, or part of an act, creates a statute section number, there is a legislative intent to make the section a part of the Wisconsin Statutes, and that provision is published as a statute in the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations. Conversely, if an act treats a provision that does not have a statute section number, the provision is not published in the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, even though it is a general law. The omission of a general law from the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations has no effect upon its validity.
Annotations Overview
Section 35.18 (4), stats., directs the LRB to prepare annotations to keep the volume known as Wisconsin Annotations, last published in 1970, up to date and to include those annotations in the published Wisconsin Statutes. The annotations consist of section histories, cross-references, interpretative notes, and notes relating to court decisions, attorney general opinions, and published articles related to the statute section with which the annotation is published. The annotations are a compilation, beginning with those published in the Wisconsin Statutes 1971-72, that has been edited regularly to maintain currency and relevance. Not every statute section has an annotation. For annotations created prior to 1971, consult the volumes entitled Wisconsin Annotations, available at http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/1971/statutes/annotations.
Case annotations are provided to assist readers in locating relevant case law; they are not definitive statements of law nor are they meant to provide a substitute for reading the cited cases. A statute cited in a court decision included in an annotation may have changed since the cited opinion was issued. The continued validity of any statement in an annotation is depends on the effect of subsequent changes to the applicable statute and to subsequent case law.
A table showing the coverage of the decisions, opinions, and articles included in the annotations, as well as notes regarding errors and omissions and notes to decisions compiled after an affected statute section went to press, appears in Additions and Corrections located at the end of volume 6.
Revision System
Section 13.92 (1) (bm) 1., stats., directs the LRB to order, classify, arrange, and publish the statutes and to prepare and present bills to the law revision committee of the joint legislative council.
A. Publication
The Wisconsin system of statutory revision uses continuous revision, biennial printing, and regular electronic updating of the Wisconsin Statutes. Acts of the legislature that make changes to the statutes, together with rules promulgated by the supreme court that are included in the statutes under the authority of s. 751.12, stats., are incorporated into the existing body of the statutes, and the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations are republished in their entirety with each publication. The LRB incorporates each act into the statutes and publishes the updated Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations on the Internet as soon after publication of the act as is possible.
B. Errors and omissions
Section 35.17, stats., authorizes the LRB to correct obvious nonsubstantive errors. The LRB incorporates these changes into the published text of the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations and adds an entry to the history note for the corrected section indicating a “correction under s. 35.17" has been made. These changes are confirmed in corrective legislation.
When the LRB finds other errors, omissions, or material in need of revision, the correction of which will not affect the substance of the affected statute, the LRB prepares corrective legislation for submission to the legislature and often publishes the affected statute with corrective language in brackets [ ] followed by an explanatory note. The language contained in brackets is not the enacted law. In addition, language that is erroneously enacted appears in brackets, followed by an explanatory note. When a statute contains errors that require language to be inserted and language to be removed, both square brackets [ ] and curly brackets { } may be used to indicate the proposed changes.
C. Multiple acts affecting the same statute
The legislature sometimes passes two or more acts in the same legislative session that treat the same statutory unit but do not take each other into account. Under s. 13.92 (2) (i), stats., if the LRB finds that there is no inconsistency in the changes made by the acts, the LRB immediately incorporates the language of both acts into the text of the affected statutory unit and inserts a note following the affected unit stating that the statutory unit is published as amended by both acts and as merged by the LRB under s. 13.92 (2) (i), stats. When a correction bill validating the merger is enacted, the explanatory note is replaced by the act number of the correction bill.
If the LRB determines that the amendment of the same statutory unit by separate acts is inconsistent or that it would be impossible to incorporate both without rewriting the text, the LRB publishes the statute as amended by the last enacted act and calls attention to the earlier treatment by inserting a note after the affected statutory unit. Case law indicates that if the same statutory unit is amended by separate acts, and the amendments are inconsistent, the last act governs. See Application of Bentine, 181 Wis. 579 (1923).
D. Renumbering statutes created with the same numbers
Section 13.92 (1) (bm) 2., stats., authorizes the LRB to renumber statute sections and to correct references to the renumbered sections. The legislature occasionally creates two statutes with the same statute number. For example, 2015 Acts 262 and 263 each created sections numbered 51.4223. The LRB renumbered the section created by Act 263 to be 51.4224. If the LRB renumbers a statutory unit under authority of s. 13.92 (1) (bm) 2., the renumbering takes effect immediately. If statutes contain cross-references to statutes renumbered under s. 13.92 (1) (bm) 2., those cross-references are also corrected to correspond to the renumbering. The LRB inserts a note explaining the renumbering or cross-reference correction following the affected statutory unit. When a correction bill validating the renumbering or cross-reference correction is enacted, the explanatory note is replaced by the act number of the correction bill.
E. Replacing certain text
When phrases such as “this act" or “the effective date of this act" are used in acts, the LRB, acting under s. 13.92 (1) (bm) 3., stats., substitutes the act number or actual effective date in publishing the affected statute. These changes to the text of the act are not cited in the history notes or included in correction bills.
F. Drafting style changes
From time to time, the LRB implements changes in drafting style. For example, the LRB now uses the serial comma in legislation, e.g., “city, village, or town" rather than “city, village or town." Statutory language created after this style change includes the serial comma. No substantive effect is intended by the use or non-use of the serial comma. Occasionally, a correction bill is enacted to make minor changes to terminology wherever it may occur in the statutes. For mass terminology replacements, the changes are not noted in the history notes for the affected statute sections.
Numbering System
The principal unit of the Wisconsin Statutes is the statute section. Related statute sections are organized into chapters, some of which are subdivided into subchapters. There are approximately 450 chapters numbered between 1 and 995.
Each statute section is given a mixed decimal section number that consists of the chapter number to the left of the decimal point and the section's location within the chapter to the right of the decimal point. In a decimal system, 48.10 is the same as 48.100, and 48.100 follows 48.09, not 48.99. The decimal system allows the insertion of new sections in any location. For example, if it is necessary to add a new section between 48.10 and 48.11, the new section can be numbered 48.105, and if subsequently it is necessary to add a new section between 48.105 and 48.106, the new section can be numbered 48.1055.
Statute sections may be subdivided into subsections, which may be further subdivided. Subsections are indicated by numbers within parentheses: (1), (2), (3). Subsections are subdivided into paragraphs, which are indicated by letters within parentheses: (a), (b), (c). Subdivisions of paragraphs are indicated by numbers without parentheses followed by a period. Subdivisions can be further divided into paragraphs indicated by letters without parentheses followed by a period. Sections 60.61 and 66.0113, stats., illustrate the use of subdivisions and the further division of subdivisions into lettered paragraphs.
If it is necessary to insert a new statute subunit between two consecutively numbered subunits, it is done by introducing a letter suffix: (1e), (am), 1p., bg. Note the distinction between (3) (m), which is paragraph (m) of subsection (3), and (3m), which is subsection (3m), and which may, in turn, be subdivided into lettered paragraphs including (3m) (m). When subunits are repealed or renumbered, subsequent subunits are not renumbered to maintain sequential order. That subsection (1) may be followed by subsection (3) does not indicate an error.
The following abbreviations are used in the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations when citing the various statute units:
Chapter, chapters   ch., chs.
Subchapter, subchapters   subch., subchs.
Section, sections   s., ss.
Subsection, subsections   sub., subs.
Paragraph, paragraphs   par., pars.
Subdivision, subdivisions   subd., subds.
Paragraphs of subdivisions are cited by the subdivision number followed by the paragraph letter designation, as follows: subd. 1. a.
Explanatory Notes
All changes to statutes that are effective after the date shown on the Statutes Table of Contents, are indicated by explanatory notes. If a statutory unit is amended or repealed and recreated, both the version of the unit that is in effect before the effective date and the version in effect after that date are published along with a note indicating the date and identifying each version. One of these versions is shown in regular text and the other in smaller bold text. The notes and superseded text are removed from the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations after the effective date has been reached.
Notes prepared by the Judicial Council or the Joint Legislative Council that are published as a part of a Wisconsin act and comments or notes that are included in supreme court orders that affect statutes may be published in full in the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations or referred to in notes following the affected statute section directing the user to see the original act or order.
Notes indicating cross-references to sections of the Wisconsin Administrative Code that are authorized by or interpret the statute are included in or after many statute sections.
History Notes
The legislative history of every statute section affected by legislative or supreme court action after 1970 appears in a history note following the section. For example, “History: 1971 c. 46; 1983 a. 36, 386." This note shows that the section was affected by Chapter 46, Laws of 1971 and by 1983 Acts 36 and 386. Prior to the 1983 session, legislative enactments were entitled “chapters"; they are shown in the history notes as “c." Starting with the 1983 session, legislative enactments are entitled “acts"; they are shown in the history notes as “a." Sections that have not been affected after the 1969 session have no history notes. The history of legislation affecting statute sections before 1971 may be found in Wisconsin Annotations 1970. History notes do not indicate the specific treatment of the statute section, such as whether the section was amended or created by an act.
If an act renumbers a statutory unit, the history note of the renumbered statute will specify the section number of the act (as distinguished from the statute section number) that renumbered the statutory unit. This reference is intended to direct the reader to the place in the act where the statutory unit was renumbered. To further assist the reader, the history note for the statute to which the statutory unit is renumbered will also contain the numbers of all of the other sections of the act that affect that statute. For examples, see item 6, below.
Section 751.12, stats., authorizes the supreme court to make rules modifying or suspending statutes relating to pleading, practice, and procedure. The legislative history for a statute section affected by such a rule contains a reference to the supreme court's order that promulgated the rule, in the following form: “Sup. Ct. Order No. 14-01, 2015 WI 21, filed 3-2-15, eff. 7-1-15." The reference contains the supreme court order number (14-01), which indicates the sequential order and year of the proposal of the order, the public domain citation number (2015 WI 21), which is a number assigned by the court by which the order can be officially cited, the date of the issuance of the order, and the effective date of the order. History note references to orders issued prior to 2012 are in the following form: “Sup. Ct. Order No. 00-02, 2001 WI 39, 240 Wis. 2d vi." The final number (240 Wis. 2d vi) indicates the volume and page of the Wisconsin Reports in which the order was published.
Finding Annotations for Renumbered Statute Sections
To find the legislative history or other annotations for a statute section that has been renumbered, it may be necessary to find the annotations under a former section number. Section 29.974, stats., provides an example. The history note to that section indicates the section was renumbered to s. 29.995 by ch. 365, section 46, Laws of 1975 and to s. 29.974 by 1997 Act 248, section 723. The section number prior to 1975 c. 365 can be found in section 46 of Chapter 365 in the 1975 Laws of Wisconsin or in the entry for s. 29.995 in the table of sections affected, found in the back of 1975 Laws of Wisconsin. Both sources show that s. 29.995 was renumbered from s. 29.635. Annotations for s. 29.635 created prior to the 1970 legislative session are found in Wisconsin Annotations 1970.
A statute section number that does not appear in this edition of the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations may appear in the table of “Renumbered or Repealed Decimal-numbered Sections" printed in the appendix in volume 6, which lists whole sections that have been renumbered or repealed.
Constitutions, Appendix, and Supreme Court Rules
In addition to directing the LRB to print all general statutes in force, s. 35.18 (1), stats., directs the LRB to print “all important joint resolutions adopted since the last preceding general session, an alphabetical index, and such other matter as the bureau deems desirable and practicable." This material is printed in volume 6 and consists of the following:
1. The United States Constitution.
2. The Wisconsin Constitution, with annotations.
3. Wisconsin Constitution Index.
4. Constitutional Joint Resolutions.
5. Appendix, consisting of the following:
Table of Special, Private, or Local Laws in Force.
Table of Legislative Acts Repealed.
Table of Renumbered or Repealed Decimal-Numbered
Statute Sections.
Active Interstate Compacts.
6. Supreme Court Rules and Internal Operating Procedures.
The Wisconsin Statutes consist of the Statutes of 1898 with the additions and amendments and less the repeals made by the legislature and supreme court thereafter and annotations updated under s. 35.23. Acts of the legislature are effective on passage, approval, and publication under s. 35.095 (3), unless otherwise specified in the act. Changes to the statutes that are effective after publication are indicated by notes.
Contacting the Legislative Reference Bureau
Contact information for reporting errors, making suggestions, and asking questions regarding the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations is as follows:
Legislative Reference Bureau
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