Ballot Initiative and Referendum in Wisconsin-By Legislative Reference Bureau of Wisconsin

here is the PDF file which will be stored on this blog site until the Referendum on Business Highway 51 in Stevens Point is put to rest…

Ballot Initiative and Referendum in Wisconsin 1
Other than candidates for office, anything that appears on a ballot is known as a ballot
measure.1 There are two types of ballot measures—initiatives and referendums. Togeth-
er, ballot initiative and referendum generally refers to the procedure that allows citizens
to circumvent the state legislature through a petition in order to place a proposed state
law or constitutional amendment directly on the ballot for citizens to adopt or reject at a
referendum election. While there is no national initiative and referendum process in the
United States, 24 states have a statewide ballot initiative and referendum process.2
Wisconsin voters cannot introduce initiatives or referendums on a statewide basis,
but voters do have the opportunity to participate in the law-making process in cities and
villages. A statewide initiative and referendum process made it to the ballot for ratification
of the state constitution only once in Wisconsin’s history—over a century ago, in Novem –
ber 1914. Voters rejected this constitutional amendment, with 64 percent voting against
it. At the same general election, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly rejected another con –
stitutional amendment that required the legislature, upon petition by citizens, to submit
constitutional amendments to the people for ratification, with 69 percent voting against it.
This publication provides an overview of ballot measures in Wisconsin. The first sec-
tion describes basic terminology. The second section discusses statewide referendums
and how the Wisconsin Legislature submits them to the Wisconsin electorate. The third
section looks at local ballot initiative and referendum processes available to Wisconsin
citizens. Finally, the fourth section concludes with recent examples of Wisconsin refer –
endums. While there are numerous situations where local voters may vote on actions
in referendum elections, these recent referendums exemplify what a Wisconsin voter is
likely to encounter on a ballot.3
Ballot initiatives—direct and indirect
A ballot initiative is the process by which a specified number of voters may circulate a
petition to invoke a popular vote in a referendum election on proposed laws or constitu –
tional amendments, bypassing the legislative body. Where they are allowed at the state or
local level, ballot initiatives can create, change, or repeal state and local laws; amend state
constitutions; or amend local charters.

2 Wisconsin Elections Project, vol. 1, no. 1
Ballot initiatives may be direct or indirect. Adirect initiative places a proposed mea-
sure directly on the ballot for popular vote in a future election if a sufficient number of
signatures are gathered by petition. In an indirect initiative, after gathering a sufficient
number of signatures, petitioners refer a proposed law or ordinance to a legislative body
that has the power to decide to act on the proposal or not. If the body refuses to enact the
measure within a prescribed time period, the proposed measure typically must qualify
once more by gaining enough signatures to appear on a ballot for voters to decide the
issue in a referendum election.
Referendums—advisory, binding, and petition
The term referendum typically refers to any election in which the people vote to ap-
prove or reject a specific proposal.4 There are three main types of referendums—advisory,
binding, and petition. In an advisory referendum, a legislative body places a proposed
measure on the ballot to gauge the opinion of the electorate. The results of an advisory
referendum are not binding, and governing bodies are not required to act in accordance
with the majority opinion. By contrast, in a binding referendum,5 constitutional or stat-
utory provisions mandate that certain proposed measures be submitted to the electorate
for ratification in order to take effect. The term petition referendum6 has two possible
meanings: it can refer to the referendum election that completes the ballot initiative pro-
cess, or it can refer alternatively to the process by which citizens can force a referendum
election on whether or not a law already passed by a legislative body will remain in effect.
In Wisconsin, a referendum can be placed on the ballot through a number of means.
Most commonly, a referendum election is triggered by the direct or indirect actions of
a governing body or through circulation of a petition by a voter (direct legislation) in a
city or village.
Statewide referendums in Wisconsin
While Wisconsin does not have a state-level initiative process, state law does require a
statewide referendum in three specific instances: constitutional amendments; 7 any au-
thorization of statewide debt in excess of constitutional limits; 8 and the extension of the
right to vote to additional classes of people.9
Constitutional amendments
A proposal to amend the Wisconsin Constitution must be passed by a majority of mem –
bers in both houses as a joint resolution, known as “first consideration,” and then in iden-
tical form by the next session of the legislature, known as “second consideration.” After
this, the legislature submits the proposed constitutional amendment for ratification by a
majority of the electorate in a statewide referendum election.
Since the adoption of the Wisconsin Constitution in 1848, the electorate has voted
145 times, out of 197 opportunities, to amend the constitution.

Other statewide referendums
Besides constitutional amendments, there are three other instances in which the Wiscon-
sin Legislature may submit questions for the people to approve or reject in a statewide
referendum election: ratifying a law extending the right of suffrage; ratifying an enact –
ed law contingent on voter approval in order for it to go into effect; and gauging voter
preferences on specific issues or general policy through an advisory referendum.11 Since
1848, the Wisconsin Legislature has submitted 54 statewide referendum questions to the
electorate, 37 of which have been approved.
The last time the legislature submitted a proposal that extended the right of suffrage
and was contingent on voter approval occurred in November 2000, when 1999 Wisconsin Act 182 proposed to extend suffrage in federal elections to adult children of U.S. citizens living abroad. The following ballot question was submitted: “Shall sections 68 and 70 of [1999 Wisconsin Act 182], which extend the right to vote in federal elections in this state to the adult children of U.S. citizens who resided in this state prior to establishing residency abroad, become effective on January 1, 2001?”

Local ballot measures in Wisconsin

County boards are permitted to hold a countywide referendum for advisory purposes. 12
There have been dozens of countywide advisory referendums on a wide variety of topics, including marijuana legalization,13 the dark store loophole,14 corporate personhood,15
and nonpartisan redistricting reform.


For example, eight counties and one town in Wisconsin held and passed advisory
referendums that gauged the level of county-
wide support for nonpartisan redistricting
procedures. The question that appeared on
the ballots in these counties asked, “Should
the Wisconsin Legislature create a nonpar –
tisan procedure for the preparation of leg –
islative and congressional district plans and
In addition, county-level binding refer –
endums may be held in order to approve a
county board’s enactment of an ordinance or
adoption of a resolution that is contingent
upon approval in a referendum election. 17
For either binding or advisory referendums,
the county board must adopt a resolution or
seek to enact an ordinance that contains the

question that will appear on the ballot. Then the county board must either call for a
special referendum18 or specify that the referendum will be held at the next succeeding
election (spring primary or election, or partisan primary or election). The board must
then file the ballot measure with the proper official in charge of preparing the ballots for
that election no later than 70 days prior to the election at which the measure appears on
the ballot.19 This “70 days prior to election” requirement applies to all ballot measures
that are to be submitted to a vote of the people.20
There is no statutory authorization for county electors to use a direct legislation process.
However, there are a number of statutory authorizations for Wisconsin county residents
to use the referendum process in specific circumstances. Examples include the following:

• Relocating a county seat.21
• Consolidating counties.22
• Approving salary increases for county board supervisors in counties with a population
of less than 750,000.23
• Changing the number of supervisors.24
• Creating or abolishing the office of county executive in counties with a population of
less than 750,000.25
• Creating the office of county administrator.26
• Approving board action related to conducting a county fair.27
• Approving board action to exceed the levy limits.28
Note that the referendum procedure for counties is exactly the same as the one out –
lined for cities and villages below, except that instead of filing documents with the mu –
nicipal clerk, the county clerk would receive and review the paperwork.

Cities and villages

Both the Wisconsin Constitution and state statutes grant cities and villages home rule
power,29 which allows the governing bodies of cities and villages to conduct advisory and
binding referendums for the same purposes as the county board. In addition, state law
provides that local ordinances can be established or amended by direct initiative. 30 This
section discusses the local ballot initiative process in cities and villages and the ballot
initiative procedure.
Wisconsin’s “Direct Legislation” statute, Wis. Stat. § 9.20, provides the procedure for
residents of Wisconsin cities and villages to submit petitions proposing legislation.31 For
the legislation to become effective, it must either be passed verbatim by the municipality’s
governing body or submitted to a referendum and approved by the majority of voters.
City or village legislation adopted via initiative cannot be vetoed by the mayor or village
president. However, laws adopted by initiative may be repealed or amended by another
initiative action.32
A series of decisions by the Wisconsin Supreme Court have dealt with Wis. Stat. § 9.20
and set limits on its use. The court has ruled that direct legislation must relate to new legis-
lation and cannot be designed to amend or repeal existing legislation that has been properly
enacted; in addition, direct legislation is restricted to legislative-type actions—ordinances
and resolutions—and is not applicable to executive, administrative, or judicial activities.33
The ballot initiative process begins with the circulation of a petition. Once propo –
nents of a legislative proposal begin the petition process, they have 60 days to gather a
number of valid signatures of qualified city or village electors34 equal to at least 15 percent
of the votes cast in the city or village for governor in the last election. The petition’s form
and preparation is governed by Wis. Stat. § 8.40. If enough signatures are gathered in the
60-day period, the petitions are filed with the municipal clerk. The time frame for the
clerk to review the petition and rule on its validity, including verifying that the correct
number of signatures has been obtained and determining whether the proposal is prop
erly worded is provided by Wis. Stat. § 9.20 (3). The role of the common council or village
board in dealing with a clerk-certified petition and the time frames that trigger certain
events are outlined under Wis. Stat. § 9.20 (4).
The city council or village board has 30 days from the receipt of the petition to either
pass the proposal in unaltered form or put it to a referendum vote at the next spring or
general election, if the election is scheduled more than 70 days after the expiration of the
30-day period. If the next election is within 70 days, the referendum must be delayed un-
til the following spring or general election, unless the council or board agrees by a three-
fourths vote of the entire elected membership of the body to order a special election for
the purpose of voting on the proposal.35
It is not necessary that the full wording of the proposed ordinance be printed on the
ballot, but if it is not, the ballot must include a concise printed statement of the nature
of the proposal. 36 The wording of the ballot question must permit the voter to clearly
indicate approval or rejection by a straightforward “yes” or “no” vote. 37 If the majority
of those voting in the referendum favor the ordinance, it takes effect on the date of its
publication, which must occur within 10 days after the election.38
City councils or village boards in Wisconsin may enact, amend, or repeal by ordi –
nance the city or village charter. If the local governing body adopts a charter ordinance,
the proposed charter ordinance is subject to the 60-day waiting period required by Wis.
Stat. § 66.0101 (5). During that period, if electors are opposed to the measure, they can
seek to prevent the proposed charter ordinance from taking effect by filing a petition
requiring the charter ordinance to be submitted to the electors for a vote. The petition
must be signed by a number of voters equal to not less than 7 percent of the votes cast in
the city or village for governor in the last election. The referendum is held at the spring
election or at a different time permitted underWis. Stat. § 9.20 (4).39 If a majority of those
voting in a referendum reject it, the ordinance is nullified.


Towns are not authorized to act under Wis. Stat. § 9.20, and there is no generalized stat –
utory authority relating to town referendums. 40 In addition, there are few statutory ref –
erences that specifically authorize residents of towns to use the initiative procedure for
specific circumstances.

Any qualified town elector, however, may vote at an annual or special town meeting.
These include
• Division and dissolution of towns generally.41
• Town withdrawal from county zoning.42
• Appointment of a person to fill a town office position.43
• Zoning authority if exercising village powers.44
• Method of selection of town sanitary district commissioners.45
• Consolidation of town sanitary district boundaries.46

School district referendums

School districts may initiate two types of referendums to increase funding. First, a district
may need to hold a referendum to issue debt for a specified purpose. 47 These are often
referred to as “capital referenda,” because the funds are typically (but not always) for con-
struction and other large capital projects. That process begins when a school board or the
electors at a regularly called school district meeting adopt a resolution to raise money by
issuing bonds.48 If the board did not call for a referendum along with the resolution to
issue bonds, the school board must then hold a public hearing at least 10 days after the
initial resolution is adopted. The board must choose whether that hearing will be purely
informational or whether the attendees will be allowed to vote on whether to hold a ref –
erendum at the meeting. If an informational hearing is held, then a petition signed by the
lesser of 7,500 electors or 20 percent of all electors in the district can initiate a referendum
on the initial resolution. The school district clerk must then submit the referendum to
voters at the next primary or general election, as long as at least 70 days pass between the
resolution’s adoption and the election.49
These debt referendums must follow the general procedure for municipal bond referendums outlined in Wis. Stat. § 67.05 (1), (3), and (7) to (15). As with referendums on
municipal legislation, the text of the actual referendum question is a “concise statement”
of the question.50
Second, a district may initiate a referendum to exceed its revenue limit without is –
suing new debt.51 This process starts when a school board adopts a resolution to exceed
the limit. The permission to exceed the revenue limit can be for either recurring or
nonrecurring purposes, i.e., can continue indefinitely or be only for a set period. The
school district clerk must then submit the referendum to voters at the next primary or
Districts may not conduct referendums to exceed the revenue limit or issue debt
more than twice per year.52
Tangentially related to raising funding, school boards may also use referendums to
give teachers raises. A school board that wishes to raise the base wages of teachers in
the district is limited to an increase equal to an increase in the Consumer Price Index, a
measure of inflation.53 However, it can exceed that limit by conducting a referendum in
its district.54 No additional revenue or debt is raised by this type of referendum.

Not all school district referendums relate directly to money. Chapter 117 of the Wiscon –
sin Statutes sets out the processes for the reorganization of school districts, and many of
these processes require referendums. A referendum may be required or requested when
a school district is created, is dissolved, or attaches or detaches large amounts of territory,
or when two or more districts are consolidated.
Consolidation. A binding referendum may be held when two or more school dis –
tricts initiate the process to consolidate. A referendum on consolidation occurs if any
of the school boards involved order the holding of a referendum or if 10 percent of the
electors in any affected district sign a petition asking for a referendum; the petition is
filed in the district with the greatest land value. 55 If a referendum is called, it takes place
in each school district that would be affected by the consolidation. The referendum must
obtain a majority in each of the affected school districts. If the referendum fails in any of
the affected districts, the consolidation does not occur.56
Dissolution. An advisory referendum may be held when a school district initiates
the process to dissolve itself. Following the adoption of an order to dissolve, an advisory
referendum must be held if either the school board orders an advisory referendum at the
time of adopting the resolution or 10 percent of the electors in the dissolving district sign
a petition to hold a referendum.57 In any referendum, the electors are the residents of the
school district where the dissolution is proposed. The referendum is purely advisory; the
final decision to dissolve is made by the School District Boundary Appeal Board (SDBAB),
but the outcome of the referendum must be considered when that decision is made.58
Change in territory. The attempted transfer of a large territory 59 from one school
district to another may result in a binding referendum. The detachment/attachment pro-
cess is initiated when either a majority of the electors in that territory or the owners of a
majority of the territory’s value file a petition for a detachment with the school district
where the territory is located. 60 A referendum on the transfer is held only if either of
the school boards of the affected districts orders one or if 10 percent of the electors in
either affected district sign a petition asking for a referendum. 61 If held, a detachment
referendum occurs during the fall general election and must obtain a majority in each
of the affected school districts. If the referendum fails in any of the affected districts, the
transfer does not occur.62
Creation. The creation of a school district from the territory of an existing district
must be ratified by voters. There are two types of district creation referendums. The first
is initiated if
• The school boards of all the affected districts approve the reorganization and there is no
review by the SDBAB;63
• The school boards of all the affected districts approve the reorganization, there is a re –
view by the SDBAB, and SDBAB grants the reorganization;64 or
• The school boards of one or more of the affected districts deny the reorganization, there
is a review by the SDBAB, and SDBAB grants the reorganization.65
In this type of referendum, the electors are the residents of the proposed new dis –
The second type of referendum usually occurs after the first, but only when
• The school boards of one or more of the affected districts deny the reorganization, there
is a review by the SDBAB, and SDBAB grants the reorganization; and67
• A petition requesting a referendum, signed by 20 percent of the electors in the affected
school districts, is filed in the affected school district with the greatest land value.68
In the second referendum, the electors are the residents of all affected districts, regardless of whether they reside in the proposed new district.69
If any of the referendums in the creation process fail, the proposed district is not

Recent referendums

Statewide referendums

In the past decade, three constitutional amendments have been placed on ballots for consideration by the Wisconsin electorate. The first, which required revenues generated from
the use of the state’s transportation system to be placed in the state transportation fund,
passed in November 2014 with 80 percent of the votes.70 The second, which allowed the
chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court to be elected by the justices rather than determined by seniority, passed in April 2015 with 53 percent in favor of it.71 The third,
which eliminated the office of state treasurer, failed in November 2018 with only 38 percent of the votes.72
Following the passage of 2017 Senate Joint Resolution 53and 2019
Senate Joint Resolution 2, a vote on a new constitutional amendment will take place on April 7, 2020. That amendment, popularly known as “Marsy’s Law,” would define “victims” of crimes and codify several rights for victims.
The last statewide advisory referendum election occurred in 2006 and asked Wisconsinites about the death penalty, which has been prohibited in Wisconsin since 1853.73 The following ballot question was submitted: “Should the death penalty be enacted in the state of Wisconsin for cases involving a person who is convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, if the conviction is supported by DNA evidence?” The outcome of the referendum was 55 percent in favor and 45 percent against it.

School finance referendums

The number of financing referendums increased throughout the 2010s, and the amount of
money those referendums intended to raise reached new all-ime highs even when adjusting for inflation.74 In 2018 and 2019, districts proposed raising, respectively, $2.18 billion and
$1.21 billion via referendum. Since the imposition of school district revenue limits by 1993
Wisconsin Act 16, 40 percent of school referendums were dedicated to exceeding that limit.
The proportion of successful referendums has also increased recently. The success
rate for referendums was 76 percent from 2015 to 2019, compared to 62 percent for all
referendums since 1991.
As seen in figure 8, funding referendums are used by all types of school districts.


School districts use this funding for a variety of reasons, from rural districts seeking to
maintain funding as the proportion of children in their area shrinks, to urban districts
building schools in order to manage growth.75
Since 2010, there have been only two major district reorganization referendums. The
school districts of Chetek and Weyerhaeuser consolidated on July 1, 2010, following a suc-
cessful referendum.76 The school district of Palmyra-Eagle held an advisory referendum to dissolve the district in November 2019. The referendum was successful; 77 however, the disillusion was rejected by the SDBAB in January 2020.78


Unlike a number of other states, Wisconsin does not have any statewide initiative process that would allow electors to propose new state laws or constitutional amendments through a petition and to compel a referendum vote. However, residents of Wisconsin do have the ballot initiative process at their disposal at the local level to compel a referendum vote via a petition.


  1. Ballot measures are also known as “ballot propositions” or “ballot questions.”
  2. Of these 24 states, some allow citizens to propose statutes, some allow citizens to propose constitutional amendments,
    and some allow both. Additionally, some states give the people the right to approve or reject an act of the legislature at a referendum election, which is sometimes referred to as the “citizen’s veto.”
  3. Statutory references in Wisconsin law to particular referendums are numerous and situationally specific; therefore, this publication will not cover every single instance.
    . Wis. Stat. § 5.02 (16s) defines referendum as “an election at which an advisory, validating, or ratifying question is submitted to the electorate.”
  4. A “binding referendum” is also referred to as a “contingent referendum.”
  5. A “petition referendum” is also referred to as a “citizen’s referendum” or “protest referendum.”
  6. Wis. Const. art. XII, § 1.
  7. Wis. Const. art. VIII, §§ 6 and 7 (2) (g).
  8. Wis. Const. art. III, § 2 (5). The Wisconsin Constitution did include an additional statewide referendum requiring final
  9. approval by the electorate for all laws that affected banking under art. XI, § 5; however, this section was repealed in 1902.
  10. Todd Milewski, “Wisconsin Sees Sharp Decline in Number of Constitutional Amendment Questions on the Ballot,” The
  11. Capital Times, Oct 31, 2014,
  12. For statewide advisory referendums on specific questions, the legislature follows the procedure set out under Wis. Stat. §§ 8.37 and 13.175

12. Wis. Stat. § 59.52 (25).
13. Don Behm, “ Pro Pot: Voters Support All Marijuana Advisory Referendums on Tuesday’s Ballots ,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 7, 2018,
14. Alison Dirr, “Wisconsin Election: Voters Favor Closing ‘Dark Stores’ Property Tax Loophole ,” Appleton Post-Crescent,
November 7, 2018,
15. Laurel White, “ 11 Wisconsin Communities Pass Anti-Citizens United Referendums ,” Wisconsin Public Radio, April 8, 2016,
16. Hope Kirwan, “ Voters in La Crosse, Vernon Counties Support Nonpartisan Redistricting Referendums ,” Wisconsin Public Radio, April 4, 2019, Kirwan also mentions that the town of Newbold, WI, in Oneida County has held an advisory referendum to seek voter preferences on the topic of nonpartisan redistricting reform. Sixty-nine percent
voted in favor of the reform.
17. Wis. Stat. § 59.52 (25)
18. Wis. Stat. § 8.55.
19. Wis. Stat. § 8.37.
20. Pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 8.37, the requirement applies to the official filing of referendum petitions or questions unless
otherwise required by law.
21. Wis. Stat. § 59.05 relates to the relocation. Wis. Const. art. XIII, § 8 states that no county seat may be moved unless a
majority of those voting in a countywide referendum favor its removal to a specified point.
22. Wis. Stat. § 59.08; Wis. Stat. § 59.08 (5).
23. Wis. Stat. § 59.10 (2) (c) 3.
24. Wis. Stat. § 59.10 (3) (cm).
25. Wis. Stat. § 59.17 (1) (b).
26. Wis. Stat. § 59.18 (1).
27. Wis. Stat. § 59.56 (14) (e).
28. Wis. Stat. § 59.605 (3).
29. Wis. Const. art. XI § 3; Wis. Stat. § 61.34 (1) for villages and § 62.11 (5) for cities.6 Wisconsin Elections Project, vol. 1, no. 1
30. The most familiar examples are two related to school district finances: Wis. Stat. § 67.05 (6a) , which relates to school
district bonds, and Wis. Stat. § 121.91 (3), which relates to school district revenue limits.
31. Although Wis. Stat. § 9.20 is titled “Direct Legislation,” the fact that the proposal must first receive municipal legislative
consideration places this mechanism in the “indirect initiative” category, because supporters of a proposal cannot move the
measure directly from the petition phase to placement on the ballot.
32. Wis. Stat. § 9.20 (8).
33. In particular, Landt v. Wisconsin Dells, 30 Wis. 2d 470 (1966); Heider v. Wauwatosa, 37 Wis. 2d 466 (1967); and State ex rel. Althouse v. Madison, 79 Wis. 2d 97 (1977) have set limits on the use of this procedure.
34. Legal residents of voting age who are U.S. citizens.

35. No more than one such special election may be held in any six-month period.

36. Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Inc. v. City of Milwaukee, 2011 WI App 45, 332 Wis. 2d 459, 798
N.W.2d 287, 09-1874.

37. These rules also apply to statewide and countywide referendums.

38. Wis. Stat. § 9.20 (7) . Prior to every referendum, Wis. Stat. § 10.01 (2) (c) requires that the county or municipal clerk publish at least one notice about the election in the appropriate newspapers. The notice must include the following: the date of the referendum, the entire text of the question and the proposed enactment, if any, and an explanatory statement that describes, in plain language, the effect of the proposed law if enacted. The explanatory statement is prepared by the chief legal officer of the jurisdiction.

39. Wis. Stat. § 66.0101 (7) and (8).

40. Wis. Stat. § 60.10 (1) provides a list for the powers of a town meeting.

41. Wis. Stat. § 60.03.

42. Wis. Stat. § 60.23 (34) (b) 3.8 Wisconsin Elections Project, vol. 1, no. 1
43. Wis. Stat. § 60.30 (1e).
44. Wis. Stat. § 60.62 (2).
45. Wis. Stat. § 60.74 (5) (b) and (5m) (b).
46. Wis. Stat. § 60.785 (2).
47. Wis. Stat. § 67.05 (6a).
48. A bond is a certificate, provided to an individual or entity that lends money to a government or business for a set period,
with the promise that the government or business will repay that money plus interest.
49. A referendum can be held outside the normal election schedule if it is in the six-month period after a natural disaster.
50. Wis. Stat. § 5.64 (2).
51. Wis. Stat. § 121.91 (3).Ballot Initiative and Referendum in Wisconsin 9
general election, as long as at least 70 days pass between the resolution’s adoption and
the election.
52. Wis. Stat. § 67.05 (6a) (a) 2. a.
53. Wis. Stat. § 111.70 (4) (mb) 2. a.
54. Wis. Stat. § 118.245.
55. Wis. Stat. §§ 117.08 (3) (a) 1. and 2 . and 117.09 (3) (a) 1. and 2 . In the case of a consolidation of high school and ele –
mentary districts, filing and the referendum itself are held in the high school district.
56. Wis. Stat §§ 117.08 (4) and 117.09 (4).
57. Wis. Stat. § 117.10 (3) (a) 1. and 2.
58. Wis. Stat. §§ 117.10 (4) and 117.15 (7).10 Wisconsin Elections Project, vol. 1, no. 1
59. Seven percent of the enrollment or the equalized valuation of the district for the land requesting detachment.
60. Wis. Stat. § 117.11 (2).
61. Wis. Stat. § 117.11 (4) (a) 1. and 2.
62. Wis. Stat. §§ 117.11 (4) (b) and 117.20 (1) (a).
63. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3) (a) 1.
64. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3) (a) 2.
65. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3) (c).
66. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3) (b).
67. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3) (c).
68. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3) (c).
69. Wis. Stat. § 117.105 (3)

  1. 2013 Wis. AJR 2.
  2. 2015 Wis. SJR 2.
  3. 2017 Wis. SJR 3.
  4. Chapter 103, Laws of 1853.
  5. Adjusted using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers,”
  6. State aid and school revenue limits are tied to the number of students in a district, so the declining enrollment in many rural areas is creating pressures on schools. Sarah Kemp, “Shifts in Student Numbers Help Drive School Referendums Across Wisconsin,” Wiscontext, Oct. 25, 2018,
  7. Christa Pugh, “School District Reorganization,” Informational Paper 30 (Madison, WI: Legislative Fiscal Bureau, 2019),77. Bob Dohr, “Residents Vote in Favor of Dissolving the Palmyra-Eagle School District in an Advisory Referendum,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Nov. 5, 2019),
  8. Bob Dohr, “ The Cash-Strapped Palmyra-Eagle Area School District Will Not Dissolve, State Panel Rules ,” Milwaukee
  9. Journal Sentinel, (Jan. 9, 2020),