Government

As the weather becomes warmer, many of us will enjoy the use of Wisconsin’s navigable waters. Wisconsin has approximately 15,000 lakes and 33,000 miles of rivers and streams.1 Wisconsin’s Public Trust Doctrine applies to surface waters of the state. The doctrine is expressed in the Wisconsin Constitution, Article IX, section 1, yet is more clearly summarized in the Wisconsin Supreme Court case Illinois Steel Co. v. Bilot:2 The title to the beds of all lakes and ponds, and of rivers navigable in fact as well, up to the line of ordinary high-water mark, within the boundaries of the…
The Supreme Court of Wisconsin recently denied a petition submitted by former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (“WILL”), proposing new procedural rules limited solely to legal challenges to new legislative districts, including requiring such challenges to be brought solely to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Stafford Rosenbaum Attorneys Doug Poland, Jeff Mandell, and Rick Manthe submitted an extensive written comment arguing against the proposed rule on behalf of non-partisan, non-profit Law Forward. The genesis of Jensen’s effort to convince the Court to adopt rules governing redistricting litigation reaches back to the…
On May 18, Public Health of Madison and Dane County (“PHMDC”) announced the next steps in response to COVID, largely in light of the CDC’s recent update on May 13 that fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks or physical distance in any setting (see here for more information from the CDC). As we discussed in a recent KEW Tip, Dane County is currently subject to Emergency Order #16, which will be effective until June 2.   PHMDC stated on May 18 that, come June 2, it will lift all Dane County Orders. This applies to any…
Whether an individual worker can or should be classified as an employee or independent contractor is a crucial question that every employer needs to answer before bringing on a worker. This article is focused on issues facing Wisconsin employers. This article is broken down into two sections: FAQs Tests which include both Wisconsin and Federal As an initial matter, note that this article uses the word “worker” when referring to an individual who could be either an employee or an independent contractor, for the purpose of working through the relevant tests.  All employees are workers, but not all workers are…
The core benefit of Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – tax-free forgiveness after 120 qualifying payments with a qualifying employer – is well and widely known. Because of the tax-free forgiveness, PSLF borrowers are incentivized to maximize the amount of their forgiveness by minimizing the dollar amount of their qualifying monthly payments. In other words, because PSLF is tax-free, the borrower is not penalized by a loan balance that grows each month.1 One of the ways a borrower can lower their monthly payment is reducing their adjusted gross income (AGI) by making contributions to their retirement plan.2 Enrollment…
Public Health Madison & Dane County (“PHMDC”) has issued Emergency Order #16 to replace Order #15 (our analysis of Order #15 can be found here), which expires at midnight on May 5. The new order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on May 5 and will be effective until June 2. PHMDC notes that, as it gradually reopens Dane County, that the 7-day case average is down from 78 on April 7 to 64 on April 26, but the 7-day hospitalization average is up from 23 to 32 on those same dates. PHMDC further notes that the hospitalization level…
In a straightforward interpretation and application of the Wisconsin Statutes and procedural standards governing writs of mandamus, on April 9, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in State of Wis. Ex rel. Timothy Zignego v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, 2021 WI 32, that the Wisconsin Elections Commission (“WEC”) was not obligated by Wisconsin Statutes Section 6.50(3) to conduct a massive deactivation of the registrations of nearly 230,000 Wisconsin voters, as three Wisconsin voters had alleged. Writing for the majority, Justice Brian Hagedorn characterized the plaintiffs’ interpretation of the relevant statutes as “plainly incorrect,” adding that the rationale they presented to…
On March 25, 2021, Senators Sanders, Gillibrand, Reed, Van Hollen, and Whitehouse released a bill to the Senate that, if signed into law, will cause substantial changes to the Internal Revenue Code that pertain, among other things, to estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer taxes.. A similar bill was read into the House by Representative Gomez. The bill, commonly known as “For the 99.5% Act” (the “Act”), was drafted with an effective date of January 1, 2022, but may be effective earlier if included as part of the Senate’s Budget Reconciliation Process before the end of this year. We understand that…
On April 2, 2021, Public Health Madison & Dane County (“PHMDC”) issued a new emergency order, to go into effect on April 7. Order #15 notes that on March 10, when Emergency Order #14 came out, the 7-day case average was 55 and 7-day hospitalization average was 23. As of April 1, the case average was 51 and the hospitalization average was 23. Further, more than 89% of adults aged 65 or older in Dane County had received at least one does of the vaccine as of April 1. Noting that case rates and hospitalization rates have remained consistent while…
On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. The mask mandate previously applied to all enclosed spaces open to the public within Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court said, however, that Governor Evers overstepped his authority by extending the public health emergency without legislative approval, thus making the statewide mask mandate invalid. While the statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect, employers should continue to monitor their local requirements as the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision does not affect local municipalities’ ability to institute their own mask mandates. Dane County, Rock County,…
On March 31, 2021, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin issued its ruling in Fabick v. Evers, finding that Governor Evers exceeding his authority in issuing multiple Executive Orders declaring states of emergency due to the COVID-19 Pandemic under Wis. Stat. § 323.10. In ruling that Governor Evers surpassed his statutory authority, the court terminated the existing state of emergency and, with it, the statewide mask mandate. Background Wis. Stat. § 323.10 allows a Governor to declare a state of emergency for a period of 60 days in the event of a public health emergency. Governor Evers first declared a state…
Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, held that the Governor is prohibited from declaring successive states of emergency in regards to the same enabling condition without legislative approval. This means that Democratic Governor Tony Evers is prohibited from issuing any new public health emergency orders as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic without the approval of the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature. The Court struck down Executive Order 105, and as a result, the statewide mask mandate has been eliminated. However, local mask mandates remain in place in counties, municipalities, on university properties, and on tribal lands…
Earlier this month, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case involving allegations that a candidate for public office orchestrated a plan to put two other candidates on the ballot to split voters and ensure a victory. The case, Gonzales v. Madigan, No. 20-1874, 2021 WL 857476 (7th Cir. Mar. 8, 2021), could have many implications for challenges to tactics used during an election. The litigation involved a 2016 primary election in which Michael Madigan, a state representative who had served as an elected official since 1971 and as the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives for all…
In welcome news for renters across the country, the Centers for Disease Control have extended the current Eviction Moratorium, which was set to expire on Wednesday, until June 30th. Under the extended order, residential tenants cannot be evicted from their homes solely for non-payment of rent, provided they give their Landlords (or Landlord’s agent) a signed copy of the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration Form (link below). (Note also that tenants who previously provided their Landlords with the Declaration do not need to provide a second copy of the Declaration to take advantage of the “extended” Moratorium). According to some estimates…
The CDC’s eviction moratorium, first put in place by the Trump Administration in September of 2020, has been extended until June 30, 2021. The new Director of the CDC signed the extension order on March 28.   What do residential landlords absolutely need to know? The existing moratorium has been extended until June 30, 2021. That means that, generally speaking, a landlord may not evict a tenant for failure to pay rent if the tenant provides the landlord with a signed CDC Declaration. Landlords should keep in mind, however, that the CDC has said that nothing in the moratorium order…
March 31, 2021, brings the end of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium – which means that rental assistance will be more important than ever to keeping tenant housing secure from eviction.1 Here’s how you can help your clients who need rental assistance. Tips on Rental Assistance Tenants should be prepared to provide details about themselves and their situation. It can be jarring for those new to assistance programs to have to provide personal information, such as household and income details, as well as documentation to prove those details. Frequently, the state or federal government is…