Sen. Jeff Smith: A golden opportunity

By Sen. Jeff Smith
Posted 5/8/24

Study committees are formed during the spring of election years after the legislative session ends to investigate new issues that surface in Wisconsin or to examine old issues that may need a …

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Sen. Jeff Smith: A golden opportunity


Study committees are formed during the spring of election years after the legislative session ends to investigate new issues that surface in Wisconsin or to examine old issues that may need a refreshed look to keep up with current events. This is usually a bipartisan process geared toward enlisting experts and community stakeholders to play a direct role in introducing legislation.

Joint Legislative Committees (JLC) are made up from legislators of both houses. Often, the topics each committee brings up are issues that are difficult to resolve in the regular course of business during the session and they require further investigation. The end goal is to recommend legislation for introduction in the upcoming session. 

This year, the committees, along with their assigned Chair and Vice-Chairs, were just approved, which means they are now looking for individuals from the public to serve on the committees. This is your opportunity to volunteer.

The nomination form for study committee membership applications is now live on Legislative Council’s website, as well as links to each committees. This list links to the committees’ websites, which will be updated with meeting information once the committees start their work. Currently, they list the scope, chair and vice chair, and the JLC staff for the committee.

According to JLC, study committees generally meet from three to six times during the summer and fall and ultimately report their recommendations, in the form of bill drafts, to the full Joint Legislative Council for approval and introduction in the next legislative session. Committee meetings usually begin mid-morning and continue through the entire day.

Here’s a list of the approved committees assembling this year:

  • Study Committee on Emergency Detention and Civil Commitment of Minors
  • Study Committee on the Future of the University of Wisconsin System
  • Study Committee on Recodification of Battery Statutes
  • Study Committee on the Regulation of Artificial Intelligence in Wisconsin
  • Study Committee on Sandhill Cranes
  • Special Committee on State-Tribal Relations

This is a finite list and there are plenty of other issues that people believe are important that didn’t get approved by Republican leaders. I submitted a request to study hospital closure regulations so Wisconsin can be better prepared for a situation similar to what we experienced with HSHS earlier this spring.

While some important topics were not chosen, topics like, “the Future of the University of Wisconsin System” sound very ominous based on the attacks Republicans leveled against the UW System earlier this session.

Joint Legislative Council Study Committees have been the last refuge for bipartisanship in the legislature and I hope these topics do not turn into something other than honest and open dialogue to improve our state rather than tear it down. Either way, these study committees need dedicated and passionate people to serve on them this summer and fall.

This is a golden opportunity for civic engagement. These committees dive deep into issues that matter to everyone in our state, and the result of their work is usually concrete legislation that has more thorough vetting and public input than many of the other 1000-plus bills we see during the course of our two year legislative session calendar. 

Do you feel like you would bring a unique perspective to any one of these committees? If so, please apply today so you may be considered for membership. The deadline to apply is May 17. Feel free to contact my office for more information or if you have specific questions by calling 608-266-8546 or emailing


Sen. Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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