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
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.
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
, 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.
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.
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
." This note shows that the section was affected by Chapter 46, Laws of 1971
and by 1983 Acts 36
. 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.
, 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
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
One East Main Street
Mailing Address P.O. Box 2037
Madison, WI 53701-2037
Phone (608) 266-3561 FAX (608) 264-6948
The references in the Index
are to articles and sections of the Wisconsin Constitution
, to sections (or parts of sections) and chapters of the Statutes
, and to entries in the Appendix in the last volume of the printed statutes. (The appendix is not reproduced at this website, except for the Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules
. Please consult the printed volumes.)
The web version of the index allows the user to search for any word or combination of words used in the index and to find its specific location wherever it appears anywhere in the index. There is also a tree view available, by clicking “Tree view" in the upper bar. The, the left side of the screen contains an alphabetical list of all the index subject heads, which are links to those heads. Clicking on the plus sign next to the head names in the list shows all the entries included under the head, which are also links to the actual entries, which in turn contain links to the actual statute sections referred to. Heads in the list that are not preceded by a plus sign are followed only by cross-references and do not include entries. The terms used here to describe the components of the index are explained below.
How the Statute Index is Organized
The statute index is made up of:
1. SUBJECT HEADS - Broad categories and subjects affected by significant amounts of legislation followed by lines of text directing the user to specific statutory units.
2. ENTRY TERMS - Broad categories and subjects which have not been selected for use as subject heads which are followed by one or more "cross-references".
3. SUBHEADS - Subdivisions by subject matter of subject heads containing large amounts of material.
4. ENTRIES - References to individual statute units under a subject head or subhead
5. SUBENTRIES - References to individual statute units under an entry which has several distinct elements.
6. CROSS-REFERENCES - References from locations in the index where information does not appear to subject heads, subheads and entries where information does appear.
7. SCOPE NOTES - One or more sentences following a subject head or subhead preceded by "NOTE:" explaining the extent of coverage of the subject heading or subhead.
Popular Name Laws - If you are looking for a law which is known by a popular name, e.g., Bridefare, refer to the list under the subject head "Popular Name Laws."
Table of Words and Phrases - The Table of Words and Phrases contains an alphabetical list of terms defined in the statutes together with citations to the statute unit containing the definition of the specified term. This table appears alphabetically in the index under the subject head "Words and Phrases."
Constitution Index - A subject matter index for the Wisconsin Constitution is contained in the general index under the subject head "Constitution, Wisconsin." References to the constitution are also found throughout the remainder of the index according to the subject matter of the particular provision.
These tables show, in the ascending numerical order of affected statute sections (or parts thereof), the changes, by Act number, enacted by the Legislature during its regular and special sessions for the biennial period commencing in the year noted. In addition, the tables contain references to decimal-numbered statute sections affected in prior legislative sessions that have delayed effective dates that have not yet been reached and to decimal-numbered statute sections affected by Wisconsin Supreme Court Orders.
The listings in these tables are compiled by the Legislative Reference Bureau from the enrolled bills and joint resolutions passed by the Legislature. The Legislative Reference Bureau makes a reasonable effort to provide a complete and accurate listing, but assumes no responsibility or liability for possible errors or omissions. The table for the current legislation session is updated continuously throughout the session.
amended and renumbered
Assembly Joint Resolution
Chapter (Wisconsin Acts)
consolidated and renumbered
Controlled Substances Board
effected date changed