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What is a special session?

Posted at 9:05 PM, Nov 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-07 22:05:41-05

Earlier Thursday, Governor Evers sent a letter to Senator Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. It reads in part: "You are once again denying the will of the people, circumventing the democratic process, and refusing to do your jobs as elected officials."

Special sessions are as old as the state of Wisconsin. But what are they and why do they happen?

First a little history.

Special sessions have been around since Wisconsin became a state in 1848.

There have been 94 special sessions, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau.

They have tackled issues like Civil War Powers (1861) War Economy (1918) and Veterans Housing (1948) during the state's early years.

To Property Tax Relief (2001) and the Opioid Crisis (2017) in the last 20 years.

They can last one day or multiple days, the longest was 267 days in 2011 that included several issues including the budget ballot over what is known as Act 10.

Special sessions allow a governor to call on lawmakers to deal with a specific issue that needs to be addressed now and separate from other legislative business.

The governor gets to set the day, time and issue but that's it. The rest is up to lawmakers.

In this case, Governor Evers asked lawmakers to convene today at 2pm to address two gun control bills.