Wisconsin State Senate
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (February 2014)|
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2014)|
|Wisconsin State Senate|
|Wisconsin State Legislature|
New session started
|January 8, 2013|
President pro tempore
|Republican Party (18)
Democratic Party (15)
Length of term
|Authority||Article IV, Wisconsin Constitution|
|Salary||$49,943/year + per diem|
|November 6, 2012|
|November 4, 2014
|State Senate Chamber
Wisconsin State Capitol
|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 half 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
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.
2011–2013 recall elections
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.
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
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.
(Shading indicates majority caucus)
|End of previous legislature||16||17||33||0|
|June 16, 2014||17||32||1|
|Latest voting share||51.5%||45.5%|
|President of the Senate||Mike Ellis||Republican|
|President Pro Tempore of the Senate||Joe Leibham||Republican|
|Majority leader||Scott L. Fitzgerald||Republican|
|Assistant Majority Leader||Glenn Grothman||Republican|
|Majority Caucus Chair||Frank Lasee||Republican|
|Majority Caucus Vice Chair||Sheila Harsdorf||Republican|
|Minority Leader||Chris Larson||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|
|Tim Cullen||15||Democratic||70||2010 (1975-1987)||2014|
|John Lehman||21||Democratic||69||2012 (2007-2011)||2014|
Past notable members
- Tom Petri, current U.S. House Representative, 1979 to present.
- Jim Sensenbrenner, current U.S. House Representative, 1979 to present.
- Gwen Moore, current U.S. House Representative, 2005 to present.
- Angus Cameron, former U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, 1875-1885.
- Patrick Marley (March 15, 2012). "State Sen. Galloway to resign, leaving Senate split". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
- Dustin Vrab (March 16, 2012). "Senator Pam Galloway resigns". CBS58. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- Republican Neal Kedzie (District 11) resigned to return to the private sector. Wisconsin Sen. Neal Kedzie announces he's resigning
- Wisconsin State Senate official government website
- State Senate of Wisconsin at Project Vote Smart
- Wisconsin State Senate at Ballotpedia