985.01   Definitions.
985.02   Method of notification.
985.03   Qualifications of newspapers.
985.04   Official state newspaper.
985.05   Official municipal newspapers.
985.06   Official city newspaper.
985.065   Publication and printing; counties with population of 250,000 or more.
985.07   Classes and frequency of legal notices.
985.08   Fees for publishing.
985.09   Computation of time, Sundays, legal holidays.
985.10   Publication on Sunday.
985.11   Fees and work on Sunday.
985.12   Proof of publication.
985.13   Change of name or discontinuance of paper.
985.14   Refusal to publish.
985.15   Forfeiture for refusal to publish.
985.01 985.01 Definitions. As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:
985.01(1g) (1g) “Governing body" has the meaning given in s. 345.05 (1) (b) and includes a long-term care district board under s. 46.2895.
985.01(1m) (1m) “Insertion," when used to indicate the publication of a legal notice more than one time, means once each week for consecutive weeks, the last of which shall be at least one week before the act or event, unless otherwise specified by law.
985.01(2) (2) “Legal notice" means every notice required by law or by order of a court to be published in a newspaper or other publication, except notices required by private and local laws to be published in newspapers, and includes all of the following:
985.01(2)(a) (a) Every publication of laws, ordinances, resolutions, financial statements, budgets and proceedings intended to give notice in an area.
985.01(2)(b) (b) Every notice and certificate of election, facsimile ballot, referenda, notice of public hearing before a governmental body, and notice of meetings of private and public bodies required by law.
985.01(2)(c) (c) Every summons, order, citation, notice of sale or other notice that is intended to inform a person that the person may or shall do an act or exercise a right within a designated period or upon or by a designated date.
985.01(3) (3) “Municipality" has the meaning in s. 345.05 (1) (c) and includes a long-term care district under s. 46.2895.
985.01(4) (4) “Proceedings," when published in newspapers, mean the substance of every official action taken by a local governing body at any meeting, regular or special.
985.01(5) (5) A newspaper is “published" at the place from which its mailing permit is issued, except that if the place where the newspaper has its major concentration of circulation has no primary post office, then at the place it shall designate as its place of publication in the affidavit required by s. 985.03 (2), but no newspaper shall have more than one place of publication during the same period of time.
985.01(6) (6) “Substance" is an intelligible abstract or synopsis of the essential elements of the official action taken by a local governing body, including the subject matter of a motion, the persons making and seconding the motion and the roll call vote on the motion, except that ordinances and resolutions published as required by law need not be republished in proceedings, but a reference to their subject matter shall be sufficient.
985.01(7) (7) “Wisconsin newspapers legal notices Internet site" means an Internet site maintained by Wisconsin newspapers for the purpose of providing and maintaining an electronic version of printed and published legal notices.
985.02 985.02 Method of notification.
985.02(1) (1) Except as otherwise provided by law, a legal notice shall be published in a newspaper likely to give notice in the area or to the person affected. Whenever the law requires publication in a newspaper published in a designated municipality or area and no newspaper is published therein publication shall be made in a newspaper likely to give notice.
985.02(2) (2) If the governing body of a municipality elects to post under s. 985.05 (1) it shall post in the following manner:
985.02(2)(a) (a) The notice must be posted in at least 3 public places likely to give notice to persons affected or must be posted in at least one public place likely to give notice to persons affected and placed electronically on an Internet site maintained by the municipality.
985.02(2)(b) (b) The notice posted before the act or event requiring notice shall be posted and, if applicable, placed electronically, no later than the time specified for the first newspaper publication.
985.02(2)(c) (c) The notice posted after the act or event requiring notice shall be posted and, if applicable, placed electronically, within one week after the act or event. Actions of governing bodies posted after the act or event shall be effective upon posting.
985.02(2)(d) (d) The affidavit of the officer or person posting the legal notice containing the time, place and manner of the posting is presumptive evidence of the facts stated therein.
985.02(3) (3) The newspaper that publishes a legal notice shall, in addition to newspaper publication, place an electronic copy of the legal notice at no additional charge on the Wisconsin newspapers legal notices Internet site.
985.02 History History: 2007 a. 20; 2011 a. 228; 2015 a. 79.
985.02 Annotation A county with a population of less that 250,000 is not required to designate an official newspaper. A county is not required to seek bids for the publication of legal notices. Even if a county does not competitively bid the publication of its own proceedings as provided in sub. (3), it may print its own proceedings or post them on its web site. A county may not, in lieu of publication in a printed newspaper or posting on a physical bulletin board, post its legal notices on its official web site. OAG 2-08.
985.03 985.03 Qualifications of newspapers.
985.03(1) (1)
985.03(1)(a)(a) No publisher of any newspaper in this state shall be awarded or be entitled to any compensation or fee for the publishing of any legal notice unless, for at least 2 of the 5 years immediately before the date of the notice publication, the newspaper has been published regularly and continuously in the city, village or town where published, and has had a bona fide paid circulation:
985.03(1)(a)1. 1. That has constituted 50 percent or more of its circulation; and,
985.03(1)(a)2. 2. That has had actual subscribers at each publication of not less than 1,000 copies in 1st and 2nd class cities, or 300 copies if in 3rd and 4th class cities, villages or towns.
985.03(1)(b) (b) Suspension of publication resulting from the mobilization of troops being called to active duty with the armed forces, strike, lockout or damage, or destruction due to war, fire or act of God, shall not count as an interval in publication.
985.03(1)(bm) (bm) A period of disqualification not to exceed 2 years due only to the place of publication shall not count as an interval in publication.
985.03(1)(c) (c) A newspaper, under this chapter, is a publication that is published at regular intervals and at least once a week, containing reports of happenings of recent occurrence of a varied character, such as political, social, moral and religious subjects, designed to inform the general reader. The definition includes a daily newspaper published in a county having a population of 500,000 or more, devoted principally to business news and publishing of records, which has been designated by the courts of record of the county for publication of legal notices for a period of 6 months or more.
985.03(2) (2) Any person charged with the duty of causing legal notices to be published, and who causes any legal notice, to be published in any newspaper not eligible to so publish under the requirements of sub. (1), or who fails to cause such legal notice to be published in any newspaper eligible under this section, may be fined not to exceed $100 for each offense. Each day in which a legal notice should have been but was not published as required by law shall constitute a separate offense hereunder. A newspaper in order to be eligible under this section shall also file a certificate with the county clerk stating that it qualifies under this section and stating its place of publication.
985.03 History History: 1975 c. 341; 1989 a. 31; 2011 a. 228.
985.03 Annotation This section does not violate equal protection. The term “paid circulation," as a requirement under sub. (1) (a), is discussed. Community Newspapers v. West Allis, 156 Wis. 2d 350, 456 N.W.2d 646 (Ct. App. 1990).
985.03 Annotation A municipality may not expend funds to publish legal notice in a “shopper" that does not meet the qualifications in s. 985.03 (1) (a). 71 Atty. Gen. 177.
985.04 985.04 Official state newspaper. The joint committee on legislative organization shall recommend to the legislature to designate some newspaper published in Wisconsin to be the official state newspaper, which shall publish all legal notices required to be published therein. Any such publication from any of the state agencies shall be deemed official. The joint committee may invite bids from all newspapers which meet the requirements of s. 985.03, but if it does so, it is not required to recommend the lowest bidder as the official state newspaper. The joint committee shall introduce its recommendation in the legislature in the form of a joint resolution. No designation takes effect until the joint resolution is adopted. A newspaper which is designated the official state newspaper shall continue as such until the legislature designates another newspaper to be the official state newspaper.
985.04 History History: 1977 c. 29; 1979 c. 34; 1981 c. 372 ss. 12, 13.
985.04 Annotation Article VII, sec. 21 [Art. IV, s. 17] requires full text publication of all general laws, and publication of an abstract or synopsis of such laws would not be sufficient. Methods other than newspaper publication, under s. 985.04, may be utilized to give public notice of our general laws. 63 Atty. Gen. 346. See also s. 14.38 (10).
985.05 985.05 Official municipal newspapers.
985.05(1) (1) The governing body of every municipality not required to have an official newspaper may designate a newspaper published or having general circulation in the municipality and eligible under s. 985.03 as its official newspaper or utilize the same for specific notices. The governing body of such municipality may, in lieu of newspaper publication, direct other form of publication or posting under s. 985.02 (2). Other publication or posting, however, shall not be substituted for newspaper publication in proceedings relating to: tax redemptions or sales of land acquired by the county or city authorized to act under s. 74.87 for delinquent taxes, charges or assessments; civil annexations, detachments, consolidations or incorporations under chs. 59 to 66; or legal notices directed to specific individuals. Posting may not be substituted for publication in school board elections conducted under s. 120.06 or publication under s. 60.80 (2) of town ordinances imposing forfeitures. If an eligible newspaper is published in the municipality, other publication or posting shall not be substituted for newspaper publication under s. 61.32 or 61.50.
2015-16 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2017 Wis. Act 141 and all Supreme Court and Controlled Substances Board Orders effective on or before March 14, 2018. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after March 14, 2018 are designated by NOTES. (Published 3-14-18)