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Toepel, M. G.; Theobald, H. Rupert (ed.) / The Wisconsin Blue Book, 1962
(1962)

Legislative branch,   pp. [343]-370 PDF (7.8 MB)


Page 347


                   WISCONSIN LEGISLATURE                       347
  Members of the Wisconsin Legislature are elected on a partisan
basis and a partisan organization is an integral part of the legis-
lative machinery. Over the long pull, most Wisconsin legislators
have been members of the Democratic Party or the Republican
Party. The strongest representation of other parties was between
1911 and 1937 when there were one or more Socialists in the Leg-
islature and between 1933 and 1947 when the Progressives main-
tained an independent party. In fact, in 1937 the Progressive Party
had a plurality in both houses. Since 1949 all legislators have been
affiliated with one of the 2 major political parties.
  Party Caucus. In the Legislature, party organization is main-
tained through the party caucus. In each house, the members of
the political party combine to form that party's caucus; occasion-
ally, the caucuses of both houses will meet in joint caucus. A party
caucus is organized largely for the purpose of determining and
putting into effect a unified attitude toward a particular measure
or group of measures under consideration. Caucus meetings may
be held at regular intervals, such as weekly, or when the caucus
is convened by the party leaders. Usually a caucus meeting is
held prior to the opening of the session to select candidates for
the house offices.
  Legislative Officers. Each house elects its own officers, except
that the Lieutenant Governor, under the Constitution, is the Presi-
dent of the Senate with power to cast a vote in case of a tie. The
corresponding officer in the Assembly is the Speaker, who is an
Assemblyman chosen by the members. The Senators elect one of
their number President pro tem; in the Assembly, the corresponding
officer is the Speaker pro tem. The other officers are a Chief Clerk
and a Sergeant at Arms in each house, elected by the members
from outside the membership.
   Both parties normally nominate candidates for President pro
tem of the Senate, Speaker and Speaker pro tem of the Assembly,
and for Chief Clerk and Sergeant at Arms of both houses. The
positions are usually held by the nominees of the majority party.
   In each house, each party has a floor leader and assistant floor
leader. To a varying degree, these party officers direct the activ-
ities of the party members during the daily sessions. No effort is
made to direct the action on every measure under consideration.
It is highly doubtful that the individualistic legislators of Wiscon-
sin might ever submit to the very stringent party controls exercised
in some states.
   Salary and Compensation. Each member of the Legislature re-
ceives a salary of $300 a month for the duration of his term. The
salary of the Chief Clerks of the 2 houses is $600 per month for
the first 6 months and $150 per month for the remaining 18
months of the 2-year term of the Legislature, plus a per diem of
$30 for each day the Legislature is in session beyond the first 6-
month period, or for each day of any special session. Similarly, the


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