With the Wisconsin Legislature in session, there are a number of proposed bills that may affect municipalities in a variety of ways, including:

Proposed Bill Clarifies Meaning of Final Orders for Appeal of Municipal Matters.

A bill proposed by State Representative Ott would clarify when a matter is considered “final” for purposes of pursuing an appeal to the court of appeals. Currently, the definition of final judgment or final order includes a determination “[r]ecorded in docket entries in traffic regulation cases prosecuted in circuit court if a person convicted of a violation may be ordered to pay a forfeiture,” or “[r]ecorded in docket entries in municipal ordinance violation cases prosecution cases prosecuted in circuit court.” Wis. Stat. § 808.03(1)(c)-(d). The proposed bill, 2015 Assembly Bill 3, would amend each of these definitions to include “or following a decision in a municipal court, appealed to” circuit court. This amendment follows more specifically with the process a municipal matter would often follow, first being heard before a municipal court, then if, appealed being decided in circuit court (whether by review or de novo). The proposed amendment makes clear that once cases are addressed by the circuit court, they are considered final orders or final judgments for purposes of proceeding to the court of appeals. While this proposed amendment, consistent with the recent decision in Village of McFarland v. Zetzman, is not a particularly substantial change, it does provide a much clearer definition of final order to those considering such an appeal.

Bill Proposes to Extend Smoking Ban to Include E-Cigarettes.

A potential bill would revise the current smoking ban in Wisconsin to include electronic cigarettes or “vaping” which has recently been on the rise nationwide. State Representative Kolte is seeking a co-sponsor for a bill that would amend section 101.123(1), the statewide smoking ban, to include a prohibition on “inhaling or exhaling vapor or a vaporized solution from an electronic device.” The co-sponsorship memo indicates that electronic smoking devices should be included in the ban because they contain various toxins that pose a second-hand smoke risk to the public. The memo argues that allowing e-cigarettes undermines the purpose and effect of the smoking ban currently in place. Given the relative novelty of e-cigarettes, it will be interesting to see whether any legislators join Representative Kolte in sponsoring this bill, and if so, how it is received.

Stafford Rosenbaum will continue to monitor and provide updates regarding these and other bills affecting municipalities throughout the legislative session.

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