III,2(3) (3)Providing for absentee voting.
III,2(4) (4) Excluding from the right of suffrage persons:
III,2(4)(a) (a) Convicted of a felony, unless restored to civil rights.
III,2(4)(b) (b) Adjudged by a court to be incompetent or partially incompetent, unless the judgment specifies that the person is capable of understanding the objective of the elective process or the judgment is set aside.
III,2(5) (5)Subject to ratification by the people at a general election, extending the right of suffrage to additional classes. [1983 J.R. 30, 1985 J.R. 14, vote April 1986]
The requirement to present acceptable photo identification comes within the legislature's authority to enact laws providing for the registration of electors under this section because acceptable photo identification is the mode by which election officials verify that a potential voter is the elector listed on the registration list. League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Walker, 2014 WI 97, 357 Wis. 2d 360, 851 N.W.2d 302, 12-0584.
Disenfranchisement of felons does not deny them equal protection. Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24, 94 S. Ct. 2655, 41 L. Ed. 2d 551 (1974).
Even rational restrictions on the right to vote are invidious if they are unrelated to voter qualifications. However evenhanded restrictions that protect the integrity and reliability of the electoral process itself are not invidious. An Indiana statute requiring citizens voting in person on election day, or casting a ballot in person at the office of the circuit court clerk prior to election day, to present photo identification issued by the government did not violate constitutional standards. Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. 181, 128 S. Ct. 1610, 170 L. Ed. 2d 574 (2008).
III,3 Secret ballot. Section 3. [Repealed April 1986; as created April 1986] All votes shall be by secret ballot. [1983 J.R. 30, 1985 J.R. 14, vote April 1986]
III,4 Residence saved. Section 4. [Repealed April 1986; see 1983 J.R. 30, 1985 J.R. 14, vote April 1986.]
III,5 Military stationing does not confer residence. Section 5. [Repealed April 1986; see 1983 J.R. 30, 1985 J.R. 14, vote April 1986.]
III,6 Exclusion from suffrage. Section 6. [Repealed April 1986; see 1983 J.R. 30, 1985 J.R. 14, vote April 1986.]
IV,1 Legislative power. Section 1. The legislative power shall be vested in a senate and assembly.
An act validating existing sewerage districts previously held to be unconstitutionally organized is within the power of the legislature. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage Dist. v. Stein, 47 Wis. 2d 349, 177 N.W.2d 131.
The power given vocational district boards to levy taxes does not violate this section. The manner of appointing board members is constitutional. West Milwaukee v. Area Bd. Vocational, T. & A. Ed., 51 Wis. 2d 356, 187 N.W.2d 387.
One legislature cannot dictate action by a future legislature or a future legislative committee. State ex rel. Warren v. Nusbaum, 59 Wis. 2d 391, 208 N.W.2d 780.
The legislature may constitutionally prescribe a criminal penalty for violation of an administrative rule. State v. Courtney, 74 Wis. 2d 705, 247 N.W.2d 714.
Provisions of s. 144.07 (1m) [now s. 281.34 (1m)], that void a DNR sewerage connection order if electors in the affected town area reject annexation to the city ordered to extend sewerage service, represents a valid legislative balancing and accommodation of 2 statewide concerns: urban development and pollution control. City of Beloit v. Kallas, 76 Wis. 2d 61, 250 N.W.2d 342.
Mediation - arbitration under s. 111.70 (4) (cm) is a constitutional delegation of legislative authority. Milwaukee County v. District Council 48, 109 Wis. 2d 14, 325 N.W.2d 350 (Ct. App. 1982).
The court will invalidate legislation only for constitutional violations. State ex rel. La Follette v. Stitt, 114 Wis. 2d 358, 338 N.W.2d 684 (1983).
Reference in a statute to a general federal law, as amended, necessarily references the current federal law where the act named in the statute is repealed and the law rewritten in another act. Because reference is stated as part of a contingency, it does not constitute unlawful delegation of legislative authority to U.S. Congress. Dane County Hospital & Home v. LIRC, 125 Wis. 2d 308, 371 N.W.2d 815 (Ct. App. 1985).
The supreme court declined to review the validity of the procedure used to give notice of a joint legislative committee on conference alleged to violate the state open meetings law. The court will not determine whether internal operating rules or procedural statutes have been complied with by the legislature in the course of its enactments and will not intermeddle in what it views, in the absence of constitutional directives to the contrary, to be purely legislative concerns. Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 2011 WI 43, 334 Wis. 2d 70, 798 N.W.2d 436, 11-0613.
When administrative agencies promulgate rules, they are exercising legislative power that the legislature has chosen to delegate to them by statute. Stated otherwise, agencies have no inherent constitutional authority to make rules, and their rule-making powers can be repealed by the legislature. It follows that the legislature may place limitations and conditions on an agency's exercise of rulemaking authority, including establishing the procedures by which agencies may promulgate rules. Koschkee v. Taylor, 2019 WI 76, 387 Wis. 2d 552, 929 N.W.2d 600, 17-2278.
The legislature may enact the laws the executive is duty-bound to execute, but it may not control his knowledge or intentions about those laws. Nor may it mute or modulate the communication of his knowledge or intentions to the public. Because there was no set of facts pursuant to which 2017 Wis. Act 369's restrictions on guidance documents would not impermissibly interfere with the executive's exercise of his core constitutional power, they were in that respect facially unconstitutional. Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1 v. Vos, 2020 WI 67, 393 Wis. 2d 38, 946 N.W.2d 35, 19-0614.
Proposed amendments to bills creating variable obscenity laws that would exempt motion picture films shown at theaters that comply with the film ratings of the motion picture association of America constitute an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power. 58 Atty. Gen. 36.
The one man-one vote principle is inapplicable to legislative committees since that principle applies only to the exercise of legislative powers and such powers cannot constitutionally be delegated to these committees. There has been no such unconstitutional delegation as to the joint committee on finance, the board on government operations, the joint legislative council or the committee to visit state properties. Legislative oversight of administrative rules discussed. 63 Atty. Gen. 173.
IV,2 Legislature, how constituted. Section 2. The number of the members of the assembly shall never be less than fifty-four nor more than one hundred. The senate shall consist of a number not more than one-third nor less than one-fourth of the number of the members of the assembly.
IV,3 Apportionment. Section 3. [As amended Nov. 1910, Nov. 1962, and Nov. 1982] At its first session after each enumeration made by the authority of the United States, the legislature shall apportion and district anew the members of the senate and assembly, according to the number of inhabitants. [1907 J.R. 30, 1909 J.R. 55, 1909 c. 478, vote Nov. 1910; 1959 J.R. 30, 1961 J.R. 32, vote Nov. 1962; 1979 J.R. 36, 1981 J.R. 29, vote Nov. 1982]
The phrase “according to the number of inhabitants" in this section was intended to secure the preexisting right to proportionate representation and apportionment as nearly equal as practicable among the several counties for the election of members of the legislature. This section gives the legislature the duty to enact a redistricting plan after each federal census to prevent one person's vote in an underpopulated district from having more weight than another's in an overly populated district. Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 87, 399 Wis. 2d 623, 967 N.W.2d 469, 21-1450.
Unlike the Wisconsin Constitution's Declaration of Rights, article IV, sections 3, 4, and 5, of the Wisconsin Constitution express a series of discrete requirements governing redistricting. These are the only Wisconsin constitutional limits the supreme court has ever recognized on the legislature's discretion to redistrict. Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 87, 399 Wis. 2d 623, 967 N.W.2d 469, 21-1450.
The Wisconsin Constitution requires the legislature—a political body—to establish the legislative districts in this state. Just as the laws enacted by the legislature reflect policy choices, so will the maps drawn by that political body. Nothing in the constitution empowers the supreme court to second-guess those policy choices, and nothing in the constitution vests the court with the power of the legislature to enact new maps. Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 87, 399 Wis. 2d 623, 967 N.W.2d 469, 21-1450.
In this state's constitutional order, redistricting remains the legislature's duty. Any remedy the court may impose would be in effect only until such time as the legislature and governor have enacted a valid legislative apportionment plan. Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 87, 399 Wis. 2d 623, 967 N.W.2d 469, 21-1450.
Institutional populations, as well as other populations that may include persons disenfranchised for some reason, may not be disregarded for redistricting purposes. 70 Atty. Gen. 80.
When drawing state and local legislative districts, jurisdictions are permitted to deviate somewhat from perfect population equality to accommodate traditional districting objectives, among them: preserving the integrity of political subdivisions, maintaining communities of interest, and creating geographic compactness. When the maximum population deviation between the largest and smallest district is less than ten percent, a state or local legislative map presumptively complies with the one-person, one-vote rule. The equal protection clause does not mandate use of the voter-eligible population. It is plainly permissible for jurisdictions to measure equalization by the total population of state and local legislative districts. Evenwel v. Abbott, 578 U.S. 54, 136 S. Ct. 1120, 194 L. Ed. 2d 291 (2016).
Those attacking a state-approved plan must show that it is more probable than not that a population deviation from absolute equality of districts of less than 10 percent reflects the predominance of illegitimate reapportionment factors rather than the legitimate considerations. Harris v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, 578 U.S. 253, 136 S. Ct. 1301, 194 L. Ed. 2d 497 (2016).
IV,4 Representatives to the assembly, how chosen. Section 4. [As amended Nov. 1881 and Nov. 1982] The members of the assembly shall be chosen biennially, by single districts, on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday of November in even-numbered years, by the qualified electors of the several districts, such districts to be bounded by county, precinct, town or ward lines, to consist of contiguous territory and be in as compact form as practicable. [1880 J.R. 9S, 1881 J.R. 7A, 1881 c. 262, vote Nov. 1881; 1979 J.R. 36, 1981 J.R. 29, vote Nov. 1982]
Under this section, assembly districts must be bounded by county, precinct, town, or ward lines. Given federal one person, one vote requirements, bounding every assembly district by county, precinct, town, and ward lines may not be possible. However, this section must be given full effect to the extent it does not conflict with federal law. The court is particularly skeptical of town and ward splits because the smaller the political subdivision, the easier it may be to preserve its boundaries. Johnson v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2022 WI 19, 401 Wis. 2d 198, 972 N.W.2d 559, 21-1450.
U.S. Supreme Court decisions requiring almost absolute equality of population among electoral districts render nugatory the state court's construction of art. IV, sec. 4, as prohibiting assembly districts from dividing counties except where a county is entitled to more than one assembly member. 58 Atty. Gen. 88.
IV,5 Senators, how chosen. Section 5. [As amended Nov. 1881 and Nov. 1982] The senators shall be elected by single districts of convenient contiguous territory, at the same time and in the same manner as members of the assembly are required to be chosen; and no assembly district shall be divided in the formation of a senate district. The senate districts shall be numbered in the regular series, and the senators shall be chosen alternately from the odd and even-numbered districts for the term of 4 years. [1880 J.R. 9S, 1881 J.R. 7A, 1881 c. 262, vote Nov. 1881; 1979 J.R. 36, 1981 J.R. 29, vote Nov. 1982]
IV,6 Qualifications of legislators. Section 6. No person shall be eligible to the legislature who shall not have resided one year within the state, and be a qualified elector in the district which he may be chosen to represent.
A candidate for election to Congress need not be a resident of the district at the time he or she files nomination papers and executes the declaration of intent to accept the office if elected. A candidate for congress must be an inhabitant of the state at the time of election. 61 Atty. Gen. 155.
IV,7 Organization of legislature; quorum; compulsory attendance. Section 7. Each house shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members; and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner and under such penalties as each house may provide.
IV,8 Rules; contempts; expulsion. Section 8. Each house may determine the rules of its own proceedings, punish for contempt and disorderly behavior, and with the concurrence of two-thirds of all the members elected, expel a member; but no member shall be expelled a second time for the same cause.
Courts have no jurisdiction to review legislative rules of proceeding, which are those rules having “to do with the process the legislature uses to propose or pass legislation or how it determines the qualifications of its members." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. DOA, 2009 WI 79, 319 Wis. 2d 439, 768 N.W.2d 700, 07-1160.
The Wisconsin Constitution affords the legislature absolute discretion to determine the rules of its own proceedings. League of Women Voters v. Evers, 2019 WI 75, 387 Wis. 2d 511, 929 N.W.2d 209, 19-0559.
The legislature cannot sentence a person to confinement for contempt without notice and without giving an opportunity to respond to the charge. Groppi v. Leslie, 404 U.S. 496.
IV,9 Officers. Section 9. [As amended April 1979 and Nov. 2014]
IV,9(1)(1)Each house shall choose its presiding officers from its own members.
IV,9(2) (2) The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of a department of transportation and a transportation fund. [1977 J.R. 32, 1979 J.R. 3, vote April 1979; 2011 J.R. 4, 2013 J.R. 1, vote Nov. 2014]
IV,10 Journals; open doors; adjournments. Section 10. Each house shall keep a journal of its proceedings and publish the same, except such parts as require secrecy. The doors of each house shall be kept open except when the public welfare shall require secrecy. Neither house shall, without consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days.
IV,11 Meeting of legislature. Section 11. [ As amended Nov. 1881 and April 1968] The legislature shall meet at the seat of government at such time as shall be provided by law, unless convened by the governor in special session, and when so convened no business shall be transacted except as shall be necessary to accomplish the special purposes for which it was convened. [1880 J.R. 9S, 1881 J.R. 7A, 1881 c. 262, vote Nov. 1881; 1965 J.R. 57, 1967 J.R. 48, vote April 1968]
How the legislature meets, when it meets, and what descriptive titles the legislature assigns to those meetings or their operating procedures constitute parts of the legislative process with which the judicial branch has no jurisdiction or right to interfere. League of Women Voters v. Evers, 2019 WI 75, 387 Wis. 2d 511, 929 N.W.2d 209, 19-0559.
Section 13.02 (3) satisfies the Wisconsin Constitution by authorizing the legislature's own committee to set its work schedule. League of Women Voters v. Evers, 2019 WI 75, 387 Wis. 2d 511, 929 N.W.2d 209, 19-0559.
IV,12 Ineligibility of legislators to office. Section 12. No member of the legislature shall, during the term for which he was elected, be appointed or elected to any civil office in the state, which shall have been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased, during the term for which he was elected.
A legislator may be elected to a constitutional or statutory state elective office even though the emoluments of the office were raised during his or her legislative term. If so elected, the legislator is limited by 13.04 (1) to the emoluments of the office prior to the increase. A legislator is not eligible, however, for appointment to an office created during his or her term or to an office the emoluments of which appointive office were raised during his or her legislative term. 63 Atty. Gen. 127.
IV,13 Ineligibility of federal officers. Section 13. [As amended April 1966] No person being a member of congress, or holding any military or civil office under the United States, shall be eligible to a seat in the legislature; and if any person shall, after his election as a member of the legislature, be elected to congress, or be appointed to any office, civil or military, under the government of the United States, his acceptance thereof shall vacate his seat. This restriction shall not prohibit a legislator from accepting short periods of active duty as a member of the reserve or from serving in the armed forces during any emergency declared by the executive. [1963 J.R. 34, 1965 J.R. 14, vote April 1966]
IV,14 Filling vacancies. Section 14. The governor shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies as may occur in either house of the legislature.
IV,15 Exemption from arrest and civil process. Section 15. Members of the legislature shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest; nor shall they be subject to any civil process, during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement and after the termination of each session.
The privilege under this section can be invoked by a legislator only if the legislator is subpoenaed, not if an aide is subpoenaed. State v. Beno, 116 Wis. 2d 122, 341 N.W.2d 668 (1984).
The members of the Wisconsin Constitutional Convention did not intend to create a legislative privilege from criminal arrest and prosecution when they included article IV, section 15 in the Wisconsin Constitution. The phrase “treason, felony and breach of the peace" in that section was intended to mean all crimes. State v. Burke, 2002 WI App 291, 258 Wis. 2d 832, 653 N.W.2d 922, 02-2161.
IV,16 Privilege in debate. Section 16. No member of the legislature shall be liable in any civil action, or criminal prosecution whatever, for words spoken in debate.
The sphere of legislative action protected under this section is broader than floor deliberations. A legislator may invoke the privilege under this section to immunize an aide from a subpoena to testify as to an investigation conducted by the aide at the legislator's request. State v. Beno, 116 Wis. 2d 122, 341 N.W.2d 668 (1984).
Not all activities of a legislator are protected by this section insofar as that activity is not an integral part of the deliberative and communicative processes. While legislative acts are protected by the speech and debate clause, political acts are not. Hiring, directing, and managing legislative caucus staff to oversee political campaigns is not protected. By its very nature, engaging in campaign activity is political. State v. Chvala, 2004 WI App 53, 271 Wis. 2d 115, 678 N.W.2d 880, 03-0442.
This section provides only immunity from prosecution based on use of communications, and not secrecy for communications of government officials and employees. Legislative Technical Services Bureau Custodian of Records v. State, 2004 WI 65, 272 Wis. 2d 208, 680 N.W.2d 792, 02-3063.
In a federal criminal prosecution against a state legislator there is no legislative privilege barring introduction of evidence of the legislator's legislative acts. United States v. Gillock, 445 U.S. 360 (1980).
IV,17 Enactment of laws. Section 17. [As amended April 1977]
IV,17(1)(1) The style of all laws of the state shall be “The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:".
IV,17(2) (2) No law shall be enacted except by bill. No law shall be in force until published.
IV,17(3) (3) The legislature shall provide by law for the speedy publication of all laws. [1975 J.R. 13, 1977 J.R. 7, vote April 1977]
The enacting clause is not required for each particular statute. According to legislative rule, when an act, or part of an act, creates a statute section number, that action indicates a legislative intent to make the section a part of the Wisconsin Statutes. Hence, because the legislature can intend that only a part of an act creates a statute, it does not follow that each statute must contain all the constituent parts of an act, namely, the enabling clause. State v. Weidman, 2007 WI App 258, 306 Wis. 2d 723, 743 N.W.2d 854, 06-2168.
In order for the legislature to create a law, the proposed law must be enacted by bill. Mere enactment of a bill to ratify a collective bargaining agreement and publication of it as an act was not sufficient to cause a provision of the collective bargaining agreement to become a law enacted under this section to create an exception to the public records law, s. 19.35. The act did not reference s. 19.35 or the contract provision that purportedly modified that law, did not purport to amend any published statutes, and did not contain any language that might give notice that the statute was being amended. As a result, the contract provision was not enacted by bill and remained a contractual provision and was not a “law" that is an exception to s. 19.35. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. DOA, 2009 WI 79, 319 Wis. 2d 439, 768 N.W.2d 700, 07-1160.
Under certain circumstances, incorporation by reference in a bill may be effective to work a change in the law. Cases recognizing incorporation by reference have generally dealt with incorporating the provisions of other published statutes and with the establishment of standards by reference, not incorporation of sources being given the force of law. The source being incorporated cannot be a law itself without having been enacted in a manner sufficient to satisfy this section. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. DOA, 2009 WI 79, 319 Wis. 2d 439, 768 N.W.2d 700, 07-1160.
In order for the legislature to create a law, the proposed law must be enacted by bill and be published. For some action to be sufficient to constitute publication, that action must be evaluated in light of the purpose publication seeks to achieve, i.e., was the public provided with sufficient notice of the law that is being enacted or amended. The publication requirement is meant to avoid the situation where the people have their rights sacrificed by the operation of laws that they are bound to know, but have no means of knowing. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel v. DOA, 2009 WI 79, 319 Wis. 2d 439, 768 N.W.2d 700, 07-1160.
This section vests the legislature with the constitutional power to “provide by law" for publication. The legislature has set the requirements for publication. If a court can intervene and prohibit the publication of an act, the court determines what shall be law and not the legislature. If the court does that, it does not in terms legislate but it invades the constitutional power of the legislature to declare what shall become law. This a court may not do. Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, 2011 WI 43, 334 Wis. 2d 70, 798 N.W.2d 436, 11-0613.
The state legislature cannot constitutionally adopt prospective federal legislation by reference. 63 Atty. Gen. 229.
Article VII, sec. 21 [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 985.04, may be utilized to give public notice of general laws. 63 Atty. Gen. 346. See also s. 14.38 (10).
IV,18 Title of private bills. Section 18. No private or local bill which may be passed by the legislature shall embrace more than one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title.
Chapter 418, laws of 1977, s. 923 (48) (a) is a private or local bill enacted unconstitutionally. Soo Line R. Co. v. Transportation Dept., 101 Wis. 2d 64, 303 N.W.2d 626 (1981).
A specific prison siting provision in a budget act did not violate this section. The test for distinguishing a private or local law is established. Milwaukee Brewers v. DHSS, 130 Wis. 2d 79, 387 N.W.2d 254 (1986).
Challenged legislation, although general on its face, violated this section because the classification employed was not based on any substantial distinction between classes employed nor was it germane to purposes of the legislation. Brookfield v. Milwaukee Sewerage District, 144 Wis. 2d 896, 426 N.W.2d 591 (1988).
A bill has a single subject if all of its provisions are related to the same general purpose and are incident to that purpose. A title is insufficient only if it fails to reasonably suggest the purpose of the act or if a reading of the act with the full scope of the title in mind discloses a provision clearly outside the title. Brookfield v. Milwaukee Sewerage District, 171 Wis. 2d 400, 491 N.W.2d 484 (1992).
A 2-prong analysis for determining violations of this section is discussed. City of Oak Creek v. DNR, 185 Wis. 2d 424, 518 N.W.2d 276 (Ct. App. 1994).
Courts will not afford legislation challenged under this section a presumption of constitutionality unless the record shows that the legislature adequately considered the legislation in question. When a majority of the members of the Assembly co-sponsored a single-subject bill exempting YMCAs from property taxation before the measure was added to the budget bill and a majority of senators either co-sponsored the stand-alone bill or considered and voted for the proposal as members of the Joint Finance Committee, there was a presumption that the legislators who sponsored the bill or voted for it in committee adequately considered the proposal. Lake Country Racquet and Athletic Club, Inc. v. Morgan, 2006 WI App 25, 289 Wis. 2d 498, 710 N.W.2d 701, 04-3061.
IV,19 Origin of bills. Section 19. Any bill may originate in either house of the legislature, and a bill passed by one house may be amended by the other.
IV,20 Yeas and nays. Section 20. The yeas and nays of the members of either house on any question shall, at the request of one-sixth of those present, be entered on the journal.
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. Discussing article V, section 10; article VIII, section 8; and article XII, section 1. 63 Atty. Gen. 346.
Wisconsin Constitution updated by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Published October 4, 2023. Click for the Coverage of Annotations for the Annotated Constitution. Report errors at 608.504.5801 or lrb.legal@legis.wisconsin.gov.