XII,1 Constitutional amendments. Section 1. Any amendment or amendments to this constitution may be proposed in either house of the legislature, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members elected to each of the two houses, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on their journals, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the legislature to be chosen at the next general election, and shall be published for three months previous to the time of holding such election; and if, in the legislature so next chosen, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house, then it shall be the duty of the legislature to submit such proposed amendment or amendments to the people in such manner and at such time as the legislature shall prescribe; and if the people shall approve and ratify such amendment or amendments by a majority of the electors voting thereon, such amendment or amendments shall become part of the constitution; provided, that if more than one amendment be submitted, they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against such amendments separately.
It is within the discretion of the legislature to submit several distinct propositions to the electorate as one constitutional amendment if they relate to the same subject matter and are designed to accomplish one general purpose. Milwaukee Alliance v. Elections Board, 106 Wis. 2d 593, 317 N.W.2d 420 (1982).
Unless a constitutional amendment provides otherwise, the amendment takes effect upon the certification of a statewide canvass of the votes as provided in s. 7.70 (3) (h). The legislature has the authority under Art. XII, s. 1 to adopt reasonable election laws to provide that state constitutional amendments are effective after canvass and certification. State v. Gonzales, 2002 WI 59, 253 Wis. 2d 134, 645 N.W.2d 264, 01-0224.
In order to constitute more than one amendment in violation of this section, the propositions submitted must relate to more than one subject, and have at least two distinct and separate purposes not dependent upon or connected with each other. The constitution grants the legislature considerable discretion in the manner in which amendments are drafted and submitted to the people. An otherwise valid amendment will be construed as more than one amendment only in exceedingly rare circumstances. The propositions need only relate to the same subject and tend to effect or carry out one general purpose. The general purpose of an amendment may be deduced from the text of the amendment itself and from the historical context in which the amendment was adopted. McConkey v. Van Hollen, 2010 WI 57, 326 Wis. 2d 1; 783 N.W.2d 855, 08-1868.
The two propositions contained in the amendment creating Article XIII, section 13, plainly relate to the subject of marriage. The general purpose of the marriage amendment is to preserve the legal status of marriage as between only one man and one woman. Both propositions in the marriage amendment relate to and are connected with this purpose. Therefore, the marriage amendment does not violate the separate amendment rule of Article XII, Section 1. McConkey v. Van Hollen, 2010 WI 57, 326 Wis. 2d 1; 783 N.W.2d 855, 08-1868.
The taking of yea and nay votes and the entry on the journals of the senate and assembly can be complied with by recording the total aye vote together with a listing of the names of those legislators who voted no, were absent or not voting or were paired on the question. Art. V, sec. 10; Art. VIII, sec. 8; Art. XII, sec. 1 are discussed. 63 Atty. Gen. 346.
The legislature must resubmit a proposed amendment to the people when the previous referendum was voided by court order, notwithstanding an appeal therefrom. 65 Atty. Gen. 42.
Symposium: Is the Wisconsin Constitution Obsolete? 90 MLR (Spring 2007 whole volume).
XII,2 Constitutional conventions. Section 2. If at any time a majority of the senate and assembly shall deem it necessary to call a convention to revise or change this constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote for or against a convention at the next election for members of the legislature. And if it shall appear that a majority of the electors voting thereon have voted for a convention, the legislature shall, at its next session, provide for calling such convention.