Ask the L.R.B. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. Biennial.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.3:IB/2008/4
The Services for Attorneys and Legal Researchers and Services for All Patrons sections, pp.
3-4, describe research services and sources available at the LRB. Part III, Legal Services,
which sets forth the bill drafting services available to legislators, provides insights into the
drafting process. (For more detail, see Wisconsin Bill Drafting Manual, infra.).
Authority and Functions of the Wisconsin Legislature. Madison: Wisconsin
Legislative Reference Bureau, 1978. 115 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.3:RB/1978-4
"...contains an index to, and actual text of, every provision of the U.S. Constitution, the
Wisconsin Constitution, and the 1977 Wisconsin Statutes, which addresses itself to the authority
and functions of the Wisconsin Legislature."--From the Foreward. Somewhat outdated but a still
Dealing with Statutes. By James Willard Hurst . New York: Columbia University
Press, 1982. vi, 140 p.
Location: Reserve Collection and Stacks KF/425/H87
Essays derived from the James Carpenter Lectures delivered at Columbia University Law School.
Professor Hurst taught a popular legislation course at the University of Wisconsin Law School
for many years. In Chapter, 2, "The Interpretation of Statutes," Professor Hurst discusses the
willingness of courts to look outside statute books for evidence of legislative intent and the
weight given to various kinds of materials and actions.
The Ground Rules of a Special Session. Prepared by Clark G. Radatz and Daniel
F. Ritsche. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 1996. 21 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.3:IB/1996/8
Gives an overview of the organization and procedures currently used in special sessions of the Wisconsin Legislature.
"How a Bill Becomes a Law," State of Wisconsin 2011-2012 Blue Book 248-252.
Compiled by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative
Reference Bureau, 2011. x, 971 p.
Location: Reference & Reserve Collections JK/6074/A35/2011/2012
A concise explanation of the process. The "Legislative Branch" section contains a listing of
officers, committees, and legislative service agencies. Published biennially in odd numbered
How a Bill Becomes Law: The Wisconsin Legislature. Madison: Wisconsin
Legislature, Assembly Chief Clerk. Revised periodically.
Location: Wis. Doc. Z.6/4: date
Explains the steps involved in passing a law using the student I.D. privacy bill, A.B. 227 (1997-
98) as an example.
Interpreting Statutes: Finding and Understanding Legislative History, by Russ
Whitesel and Suzanne Hagopian. 1 1990 State Bar of Wisconsin Midwinter
Convention [Program materials] 543-560.
Location: 2nd floor, east wing, stack 23
Gives examples of material inside and outside the LRB drafting file that have been referenced in
Wisconsin appellate court decisions. Concludes with a case history of a law with documentary
Judicial Interpretation of Legislative Intent and Legislative History Documents,
by N. Patrick Crooks. 2 1997 State Bar of Wisconsin Midwinter Convention
[Program materials] 481-488.
Location: 2nd floor, east wing, stack 23
An outline of Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Crooks's presentation at a State Bar program.
Part IV, pages 486-488, covers statutory interpretation, including citations to relevant case law.
Laws Not Printed in the Statutes. By Mark C. Patronsky. Madison: Wisconsin
Legislative Council, 1978. 11 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG.3:IM/1978/38
How to find special, private, and local laws not printed in the statutes. Includes a discussion of how bill drafters decide to include a law in the statutes or only publish it as a session law.
Legal Research in Wisconsin. By Theodore A. Potter, General Editor; Jane
Colwin...[et al.]. 2nd ed. Buffalo, N.Y.: William S. Hein & Co., 2008. xi, 162 p.
Location: Reference & Reserve KFW/2475/L44/2008
Chapter 4, "Legislative History," pp. 61-71.
Legislative History: The Philosophies of Justices Scalia and Breyer and the Use
of Legislative History by the Wisconsin State Courts, by Kenneth R. Dortzbach.
80 Marquette Law Review 161-225 (1996-1997).
After an in-depth examination of Wisconsin Court of Appeals and Supreme Court opinons,
mostly from the previous decade, the author concludes: While the use of legislative history is
still commonly accepted in Wisconsin, state judges are increasingly resisting the temptation to
make long and winding ventures into legislative history, or they are at least more wary of the
pitfalls of such ventures. p. 218.
The Legislative Process in Wisconsin. By Richard L. Roe...[et. al.]. Madison:
Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, [1993?] 98 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. A. 1A:1994
A detailed description reprinted from the 1993-1994 Wisconsin Blue Book. Highly
Legislative Session Fiscal Estimate Manual. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative
Reference Bureau, [1978- Biennial
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.6/2:F57/2011
May be used in conjunction with the Bill Drafting Manual (infra.) for details about the bill
drafting process and the preparation of fiscal estimates, which must accompany bills that affect
the finances of Wisconsin state or local government.
The Partial Veto in Wisconsin. Prepared by Clark G. Radatz. Madison: Wisconsin
Legislative Reference Bureau, 2004. 19 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.3:IB/2004/1
Examines the partial veto in terms of its legislative development, its use by Wisconsin governors,
and subsequent judicial interpretation.
Recent Judicial Uses of LRB Legal Section Material. By Jack O. Stark. Madison:
Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 1984. (Updated October 24, 1990)
(Legal Section Memorandum #84-1) 9 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.3:L43/1984/1/1990
Discusses and provides citations to Wisconsin appellate decisions in which the courts, as an aid
in statutory interpretation, used material produced or utilized in bill drafting by the LRB.
Researching Legislative History in Wisconsin. Prepared by Michael J. Keane.
Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, 2006.
Location: Wis.Doc. LEG 2.3:B/2006/10
The most useful and up-to-date guide available. Written by a veteran LRB research analyst.
Researching Legislative Intent: Documentation Available Through the Wisconsin
Legislative Council Staff, by Ronald L. Sklansky. 2 1997 State Bar of Wisconsin
Midwinter Convention [Program materials] 459-479.
Location: 3rd floor, east wing, stack 23
Explains the services of the Legislative Council Staff to the Wisconsin Joint Legislative Council
and other legislative committees and the variety of documentation produced thereby.
"Researching Legislative Intent in Wisconsin: A Suggested Procedure," by David H. Nispel. 56 Wisconsin Bar Bulletin 10-12, 59-60 (April 1983).
Identifies four general categories of legislative intent assignments and then proceeds into a
detailed, step-by-step example. The author served as a research analyst for the Wisconsin
Legislative Reference Bureau.
Special and Extraordinary Sessions of the Wisconsin Legislature. Prepared by
Clark G. Radatz and Daniel F. Ritsche. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative
Reference Bureau, 1998.
Location: Wis.Doc. LEG 2.3:IB/1998/1
Provides an overview of the rules pertaining to special and extraordinary sessions of the
Wisconsin Legislature and documents those types of sessions since statehood.
State Budget Process. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 1979-
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 3.6/2:P7/1979-
Helpful for understanding the complex budget process with its omnibus bill approach, which
makes legislative history research even more complicated than usual.
State ex. rel. Kalal v. Circuit Court for Dane County, 2004 WI 58, 271 Wis.2d
633, 681 N.W.2d 110 (2004).
This opinion, especially Chief Justice Abrahamson's concurrence, addresses the uses of extrinsic sources, including legislative history, in statutory interpretation of Wisconsin law.
Statements of Legislative Intent, Purpose or Finding. Madison, Wisconsin
Legislative Reference Bureau, 1992. (Legal Section Memorandum #92-1) 21 p.
Location: Wis. Doc. LEG 2.3:L43/1992/2
This memorandum sets forth the reasons why drafters do not, as a general rule, draft statements
of intent, purpose or findings, the exceptional circumstances in which such statements may be
appropriate and the precepts that drafters should bear in mind when drafting statements in those
circumstances. p. 2.
"Statutory Construction--Legislative Intent--Use of Extrinsic Aids in Wisconsin,"
1966 Wisconsin Law Review 600-670 (Student authored Comment by Brad A.
Reviews the Wisconsin Supreme Court's acceptance of (or refusal to accept) various
publications, statements, and administrative policy actions as evidence in statutory construction.
Updates the "Comment" in 1940 Wisconsin Law Review 453, infra.
"Statutory Construction--Use of Extrinsic Aids in Wisconsin, 1940 Wisconsin
Law Review 453-461 (Student authored Comment by Conrad J. Shearer).
An earlier examination of the Wisconsin Supreme Court's use of extrinsic aids that should be
read along with the 1966 Wisconsin Law Review 600, supra.
Statutory Interpretation and Legislative Intent, by Nathan S. Heffernan. 1 1990
State Bar of Wisconsin Midwinter Convention [Program Materials] 535-541.
The former Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court outlines his take on the subject in a presentation at a State Bar program. Most useful is the reprinting of Materials bearing on legislative intent page from Wisconsin Appellate Practice Procedure, which he co-authored along with George R. Currie.
Wisconsin Bill Drafting Manual. Madison: Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. Revised biennially. Location: Reference Collection KFW/2821.5/B5/A85/yrs.
(Older editions: Wis. Doc. LEG.2.6/2:D7/yrs.)
Provides detailed, illustrated instructions. Although intended for the use of the Legislative
Reference Bureau's staff, this manual may aid the legislative history researcher in understanding
bill drafting standards, procedures, and records.
Wisconsin Legislator Briefing Book. Prepared for members of the Wisconsin
Legislature by staff of the Wisconsin Legislative Council. Madison, WI:
Wisconsin Legislative Council, - Biennial.
Location: Wis.Doc. LEG.6/2:L44/2011/2012
Contains sections on Legislative Documents and Procedure and the State Budget Process.
Wisconsin Supreme Court and Legislative History, by Patricia A. Cervenka. 30
Legal Reference Services Quarterly 141-147 (2011)
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