WEDA Capitol Update

While the halls of the State Capitol are relatively quiet this time of year, that is about to change very quickly, as the 2023-24 legislative session kicks-off on Jan. 3. But Inauguration Day will just be the start of a two-year session that will see WEDA actively engage policymakers on legislative and regulatory issues to help create a strong economic development environment in Wisconsin and to ensure WEDA members have access to the necessary program and policy tools to grow their local economies.

In fact, WEDA has developed our 2023-24 Legislative Agenda, which lays out our legislative priorities for the upcoming session and will be used to guide our advocacy efforts over the next two years. Thank you to the WEDA Legislative Committee, which was instrumental in the development our Legislative Agenda.

Please contact WEDA V.P. of Legislative Affairs Michael Welsh at with any questions.

Republican Legislative Leaders Announce Committee Assignments for 2023-24 Legislative Session

Republican legislative leaders in both the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate recently announced standing committee assignments for the 2023-24 legislative session. Please find below the GOP make-up of committees of interest to WEDA:


  • Jobs, Economy, and Small Business Development
    • Rep. Rick Gundrum, Chair
    • Rep. David Armstrong
    • Rep.-elect Amy Binsfeld
    • Rep. Dan Knodl
    • Rep. John Macco
    • Rep. Adam Neylon
    • Rep.-elect Jerry O’Connor
    • Rep. Donna Rozar

  • Rural Development
    • Rep. David Armstrong, Chair
    • Rep.-elect Peter Schmidt
    • Rep. James Edming
    • Rep.-elect Chanz Green
    • Rep.-elect Karen Hurd
    • Rep. Clint Moses
    • Rep. Todd Novak
    • Rep. Nancy VanderMeer

  • Workforce Development and Economic Opportunities
    • Rep. Warren Petryk, Chair
    • Rep.-elect Tom Michalski
    • Rep. David Armstrong
    • Rep. Rick Gundrum
    • Rep.-elect Amanda Nedweski
    • Rep.-elect Jerry O’Connor
    • Rep.-elect Nik Rettinger
    • Rep. Donna Rozar
    • Rep.-elect Angie Sapik
    • Rep. Pat Snyder

Full Assembly committee membership list:


  • Economic Development & Technical Colleges
    • Senator Dan Feyen, Chair
    • Senator Rob Stafsholt, Vice-chair
    • Senator Rob Cowles, Member

  • Insurance and Small Business
    • Senator Mary Felzkowski, Chair
    • Senator Rob Hutton, Vice-chair
    • Senator John Jagler, Member

  • Housing, Rural Issues & Forestry
    • Senator Romaine Quinn, Chair
    • Senator John Jagler, Vice-chair
    • Senator Rob Stafsholt, Member

Full Senate committee membership list:

It is also important to point out that appointments to the 16-member Joint Finance Committee (JFC) were also announced. The Republican-controlled committee, which is comprised of equal members from both the Assembly and Senate, is among the most important committees in the Legislature, as it is charged with writing the two-year state budget bill. Please find below the JFC roster for the 2023-24 legislative session:

Assembly Members

  • Republicans:
    • Mark Born, Co-Chair
    • Terry Katsma, Vice-Chair
    • Shannon Zimmerman
    • Tony Kurtz
    • Jessie Rodriguez
    • Alex Dallman
  • Democrats
    • Evan Goyke
    • Tip McGuire

Senate Members

  • Republicans
    • Howard Marklein, Co-Chair
    • Duey Stroebel, Vice-Chair
    • Mary Felzkowski
    • Joan Ballweg
    • Pat Testin
    • Eric Wimberger
  • Democrats
    • LaTonya Johnson
    • Kelda Roys

Field Grows Crowded for Open State Senate Seat Race to Replace Former Senator Darling

As was announced in last month’s WAO Advocacy Newsletter, State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) steeped down from office on Dec. 1 after serving in the Legislature for 32 years.

The 8th Senate District, which Darling vacated, covers portions of Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Washington Counties, including the municipalities of Mequon, Cedarburg, Germantown, and Menomonee Falls. The district leans Republican, but the special election could be competitive, and several candidates – from both sides of the aisle – have announced they will seek the open seat next year.

The GOP primary will be crowded, as Republican State Representatives Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) and Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), whose Assembly districts lie within the 8th Senate District, have announced their candidacy. Other Republicans planning to run include Village of Thiensville President Van Mobley; Brown Deer college student Robert Albrightson; and former State Senator Randy Hopper.

On the Democratic side, Whitefish Bay attorney Jodi Habush Sinykin is the only announced candidate.

Gov. Tony Evers has ordered a special election for April 2023, which coincides with the state’s 2023 spring election. If necessary – which currently appears to be the case on the GOP side – a primary will be held on February 21. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of Darling’s term, which ends in January 2025.

Political Quick Notes:

  • Evers recently announced he will give his 2023 State of the State Address on Tuesday, January 24. His 2023-25 Biennial Budget Address will take place on Wednesday, February 15. He will give both addresses at 7:00 P.M. before a joint session of the Legislature.

  • The Wisconsin Department of Administration recently reported the state anticipates a record-high budget surplus of nearly $6.6 billion for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2023. Previous estimates set the surplus at just over $5 billion. In addition to the expected $6.6 billion surplus, the state also has $1.7 billion in its rainy-day fund.

  • The state Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) recently announced that employers will be able to track the status of occupational license applications of current and future employees on the agency’s “LicensE” website. Employers will need the applicant’s 10 digit “PAR” number to look up the status of a particular occupational license application. The status look-up tool may be found here: