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Wisconsin Legislative History: Judicial and Legislative Council Notes

Process for Researching and Compiling a Wisconsin Legislative History

Judicial Council Notes

Occasionally sections of the Wisconsin Statutes are established or amended as a result of Supreme Court order (See section 751.12).  In cases such as these, the Supreme Court Order is listed in the history note – in line with other notes (chapters and acts).


The Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations may also include Judicial Council Notes that may prove to be helpful in understanding or finding a specific court order.


For example, the History Note under section 804.05 includes the following:


History: Sup. Ct. Order, 67 Wis. 2d 585, 665 (1975); Sup. Ct. Order, 67 Wis. 2d vii (1975); 1975 c. 218; 1979 c. 110; 1983 a. 189; Sup. Ct. Order, 130 Wis. 2d xi, xix (1986); Sup. Ct. Order, 141 Wis. 2d xiii (1987); Sup. Ct. Order, 158 Wis. 2d xvii (1990); 1991 a. 189; 1993 a. 112; 1997 a. 35, 133, 254; 2005 a. 253; 2007 a. 97; 2009 a. 180.  [Italics added for clarification]


The History Note also includes Judicial Council Notes for 1975, 1986, 1988 and 1990*.  While these notes give some sense of judicial direction, they are not a complete reading of the court orders.  For Notes after 1995, the Rule Order Number can be searched on the Wisconsin Supreme Court Website.  Judicial Council Notes can also be found in the paper Wisconsin Reports


The same section (804.05) in West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated lists the same historical notes, but also includes the effective dates.  The Judicial Council Notes precede the Historical and Statutory Notes.* 


*Take note that there may be differences between the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations and the West's Wisconsin Statutes Annotated as regards the Judicial Council Notes.  One set may be more complete than the other and dates in the Historical Notes may vary between the two sets, therefore it is advisable to look at both versions of the statutes.

Legislative Council Notes

Legislative Council Notes are included in the Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations as “Legislative Council Note” under the history notes.  Legislative Council Notes usually include a reference to the bill from which the note was taken.  In some instances a note will make reference to an act that contains extensive legislative council notes.

For example, section 600.01 includes “Legislative Council Note to (1) (a), 1975”.  At the end of this note is a reference to [Bill 642-S].  The Legislative Council note is derived from 1975 c. 375, even though the history note makes reference to both 1975 c. 375 and 1975 c. 422 s. 163.

In West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated, Legislative Council Notes are indicated as “Comments – L” above the Historical and Statutory Notes and includes a reference to the chapter or act in the Laws of Wisconsin.  So, for the same section (600.01), West’s will have the Historical and Statutory Note preceded by “Comments – L. 1975, c. 375 §30” and the text of the Legislative History Note.

Because of these differences, when one encounters a Legislative History Note, it may be helpful to look at both: Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, as well as West’s Wisconsin Statutes Annotated.

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