Wisconsin State Senate

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Wisconsin State Senate
Wisconsin State Legislature
Coat of arms or logo
Term limits
New session started
January 8, 2013
Mary Lazich (R)
since January 5, 2015
President pro tempore
Rick Gudex (R)
since January 5, 2015
Majority Leader
Scott L. Fitzgerald (R)
since January 8, 2013
Minority Leader
Jennifer Shilling (D)
since January 5, 2015
Seats 33
Senate diagram 2014 State of Wisconsin.svg
Political groups

Governing party

Opposition parties

Length of term
4 years
Authority Article IV, Wisconsin Constitution
Salary $49,943/year + per diem
Last election
November 4, 2014
(17 seats)
Next election
November 1, 2016
Meeting place
Wisconsin State Senate Chairs and Podium.jpg
State Senate Chamber
Wisconsin State Capitol
Madison, Wisconsin
Wisconsin State Senate

The Wisconsin Senate, the powers of which are modeled after those of the U.S. Senate, is the upper house of the Wisconsin State Legislature, smaller than the Wisconsin State Assembly. Together, they constitute the legislative branch of the state of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Constitution ties the size of the State Senate to that of the Assembly, by limiting its size to no less than 1/4, nor more than 1/3, of the size of the Assembly. Currently, Wisconsin is divided into 33 Senate Districts (1/3 of the current Assembly membership of 99) apportioned throughout the state based on population as determined by the decennial census, for a total of 33 senators. A Senate district is formed by combining three Assembly districts. Similar to the U.S. Senate, in addition to its duty of reviewing and voting on all legislation passed through the legislature, the State Senate has the exclusive responsibility of confirming certain gubernatorial appointments, particularly cabinet secretaries (as part of the system of checks and balances) and members of boards and commissions. Senators are elected for four-year terms, staggered so that approximately half of the Senate is up for election every two years. If a vacancy occurs in a Senate seat between elections, it may be filled only by a special election. The Senate chamber is in the south wing of the Wisconsin State Capitol, in Madison.

Salary and benefits[edit]

Senators elected or re-elected in the fall of 2008 will receive an annual salary of $49,943. In addition to their salaries, senators outside Dane County may receive a per diem up to $88 to cover living expenses while they are in Dane County on state business. Members of the Madison delegation may receive a per diem up to $44 to cover expenses. Each senator also receives $75 per month in "out-of-session" pay when the Legislature is in session for three days or less. Over two years, each senator is allotted $66,008 to cover general office expenses, printing, postage and district mailings.[citation needed]

2011–2013 recall elections[edit]

Following the 2011 Wisconsin protests and the passage of Act 10, two separate recall elections targeted both Democrats and Republicans in 2011 and 2012. Two Republicans: Dan Kapanke and Randy Hopper, lost their recall elections to their Democratic opponents, Jennifer Shilling and Jessica King, respectively, on August 9, 2011. In response to these recall efforts, three Democratic senators also faced recall. Democratic Senator Dave Hansen defeated his challenger in his recall election on July 19, 2011. This election occurred without a primary because one of the would-be Republican challengers, John Nygren, failed to obtain enough signatures to appear on the ballot. Two Democratic senators, Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin, won recall elections on August 16, 2011. Republican Senator Pam Galloway, who faced a 2012 recall election, resigned on March 16, 2012 citing "significant challenges" related to her family; thereby leaving the Senate evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. The Galloway recall election went forward after her resignation, and she was replaced on the ballot.[1][2]

The official results of the 2012 recall gave the Democrats a one seat pickup so they achieved a 17–16 majority. Senator John Lehman was sworn in on July 16 and the Senate met on Tuesday July 17 to reorganize with a Democratic majority and elected Fred Risser President of the Senate and Tim Carpenter President Pro Tempore of the Senate. On July 19, 2012, Senator Rich Zipperer announced he would resign his Senate seat to join the staff of Governor Walker.

2012 general election[edit]

Podium in the Senate

The Wisconsin State Senate reverted to a Republican majority in January 2013 for several reasons. Democrat Jim Holperin, who survived two recall attempts during his time in office, announced he would not seek re-election after his district was made significantly more Republican than its predecessor. Republican Assemblyman Tom Tiffany defeated Democrat Susan Sommer, 56% to 40%, in the race to succeed Holperin. Senator Jessica King, who defeated Republican Randy Hopper in the August 2011 recall elections, lost her own bid for a full term of her own to Republican Rick Gudex by 590 votes. The Senate has 18 Republicans and 15 Democrats.

Current Session[edit]


16 2 15
Republican Vacant Democratic
Affiliation Party
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
Republican Democratic Vacant
End of previous legislature 16 17 33 0
Begin 18 15 33 0
June 16, 2014[3] 17 15 32 1
December 1, 2014[4] 16 15 31 2
Latest voting share 51.6% 48.4% 100% 0%
Start of Next Session 19 14 33 0

Senate Officers[edit]

Position Name Party
  President of the Senate Mary Lazich Republican
  President Pro Tempore of the Senate Rick Gudex Republican
  Majority leader Scott L. Fitzgerald Republican
  Assistant Majority Leader Paul Farrow Republican
  Majority Caucus Chair Sheila Harsdorf Republican
  Majority Caucus Vice Chair Van Wanggaard Republican
  Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling Democratic
  Assistant Minority Leader Dave Hansen Democratic
  Minority Caucus Chair Julie Lassa Democratic
  Minority Caucus Vice Chair Kathleen Vinehout Democratic
Chief Clerk Jeffrey Renk


Senator District Party Current Age First elected Seat up
Frank Lasee 01 Republican 53 2010 2018
Robert Cowles 02 Republican 64 1987 2016
Tim Carpenter 03 Democratic 54 2002 2018
Lena Taylor 04 Democratic 48 2004 2016
Leah Vukmir 05 Republican 56 2010 2018
Nikiya Harris Dodd 06 Democratic 39 2012 2016
Chris Larson 07 Democratic 34 2010 2018
Alberta Darling 08 Republican 70 1992 2016
Vacant 09 2018
Sheila Harsdorf 10 Republican 58 2000 2016
Vacant 11 2018
Tom Tiffany 12 Republican 56 2012 2016
Scott Fitzgerald 13 Republican 51 1994 2018
Luther Olsen 14 Republican 63 2004 2016
Tim Cullen 15 Democratic 70 2010 (1975-1987) 2018
Mark Miller 16 Democratic 71 2004 2016
Dale Schultz 17 Republican 61 1991 2018
Rick Gudex 18 Republican 46 2012 2016
Michael Ellis 19 Republican 73 1982 2018
Glenn Grothman 20 Republican 59 2004 2016
John Lehman 21 Democratic 69 2012 (2007-2011) 2018
Robert Wirch 22 Democratic 71 1996 2016
Terry Moulton 23 Republican 68 2010 2018
Julie Lassa 24 Democratic 44 2003 2016
Robert Jauch 25 Democratic 69 1986 2018
Fred Risser 26 Democratic 87 1962 2016
Jon Erpenbach 27 Democratic 53 1998 2018
Mary Lazich 28 Republican 62 1998 2016
Jerry Petrowski 29 Republican 64 2012 2018
Dave Hansen 30 Democratic 67 2000 2016
Kathleen Vinehout 31 Democratic 56 2006 2018
Jennifer Shilling 32 Democratic 45 2011 2016
Paul Farrow 33 Republican 50 2012 2018

Past notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Patrick Marley (March 15, 2012). "State Sen. Galloway to resign, leaving Senate split". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ Dustin Vrab (March 16, 2012). "Senator Pam Galloway resigns". CBS58. Retrieved March 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ Republican Neal Kedzie (District 11) resigned to return to the private sector. Wisconsin Sen. Neal Kedzie announces he's resigning
  4. ^ Republican Joe Leibham (District 9) resigned ahead of leaving office to become a lobbyist. Former senator Leibham to head lobbying arm of Foley & Lardner

External links[edit]