If a statute or rule refers to a live birth or to the circumstance in which an individual is born alive, the statute or rule shall be construed so that whoever undergoes a live birth as the result of an abortion, as defined in s. 253.10 (2) (a)
, has the same legal status and legal rights as a human being at any point after the human being undergoes a live birth as the result of natural or induced labor or a cesarean section.
may not be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract a legal status or legal right that is applicable to a human being at any point before the human being undergoes a live birth.
NOTE: Chapter 89, laws of 1979
, which created sub. (5) (b), contains a prefatory note by the legislative council that includes a discussion on cross-references.
As to sub. (4), see s. 801.15
for exception as to computation of time. Also see s. 985.09 (2)
Unless a statute is so vague and uncertain that it is impossible to execute it or to ascertain the legislative intent with reasonable certainty, it is valid. Forest Home Dodge, Inc. v. Karns, 29 Wis. 2d 78
, 138 N.W.2d 214
When the legislature enacts a statute, which through clerical error, refers to, and by its terms amends, a preexisting statute that had earlier in the same legislative session been renumbered, and there is no issue as to the legislative intent and no doubt that correcting the clerical error in numbering is the only means of having the statute serve the purpose intended, a court is duty bound to rectify the error and substitute the right number for the wrong number used in the statute. State ex rel. Gutbrod v. Wolke, 49 Wis. 2d 736
, 183 N.W.2d 161
The general rule is that a specific penalty prescribed by a special statute for a particular offense takes precedence over a general provision in a penal code. State ex rel. Gutbrod v. Wolke, 49 Wis. 2d 736
, 183 N.W.2d 161
If a statute imposes a punishment for the commission of an act, that is sufficient to make the act a crime. State ex rel. Gutbrod v. Wolke, 49 Wis. 2d 736
, 183 N.W.2d 161
Statutory construction requires that a law be construed so that no word or clause is surplusage. Johnson v. State, 76 Wis. 2d 672
, 251 N.W.2d 834
When a limitation period would otherwise expire on a legal holiday, sub. (4) (b) permits commencement of the action on the next secular day. Cuisinier v. Sattler, 88 Wis. 2d 654
, 277 N.W.2d 776
When a statute is written in objective terms not susceptible to more than one meaning, the subjective intent of lawmakers is not controlling. State v. Derenne, 102 Wis. 2d 38
, 306 N.W.2d 12
Registered mail serves the purpose of certified mail to an even greater degree. Patterson v. Board of Regents, 103 Wis. 2d 358
, 309 N.W.2d 3
(Ct. App. 1981).
When a contemporaneous report or other document from a non-legislative agency or private party forms a vital link in the chain of legislative history of a statute, it may be used to determine legislative intent. Ball v. District No. 4, Area Board, 117 Wis. 2d 529
, 345 N.W.2d 389
A court may consider titles of statutes to resolve doubt as to statutory meaning. In Interest of C.D.M., 125 Wis. 2d 170
, 370 N.W.2d 287
(Ct. App. 1985).
A reference to a general federal law as amended necessarily references current federal law when the act named in the state statute had been repealed and the law rewritten in another act. When a reference is stated as part of a contingency, it does not constitute unlawful delegation of legislative authority to the U.S. Congress. Dane County Hospital & Home v. LIRC, 125 Wis. 2d 308
, 371 N.W.2d 815
(Ct. App. 1985).
An unconstitutional clause was severable under sub. (11). Wis. Wine & Spirit Institute v. Ley, 141 Wis. 2d 958
, 416 N.W.2d 914
(Ct. App. 1987).
Generally, legislation is presumptively prospective unless statutory language reveals an intent that the statute apply retroactively. Procedural or remedial, rather than substantive, statutes are generally given retroactive effect unless contracts would be impaired or vested rights disturbed. Statutes of limitations are substantive. Betthauser v. Medical Protective Co., 172 Wis. 2d 141
, 493 N.W.2d 40
Sub. (4) (a) and (d) applies to statutes of limitations; the day upon which a cause of action accrues is not included in computing the period of limitation. Pufahl v. Williams, 179 Wis. 2d 104
, 506 N.W.2d 747
It is presumed that the legislature knows the case law in existence at the time it changes a statute. When a legislative act has been construed by an appellate court, the legislature is presumed to know that in the absence of the legislature explicitly changing the law, the court's interpretation will remain unchanged. Blazekovic v. City of Milwaukee, 225 Wis. 2d 837
, 593 N.W.2d 809
(Ct. App.1999), 98-1821
It is impermissible to apply rules of statutory construction to ascertain legislative intent when the legislation is clear on its face. Jones v. State, 226 Wis. 2d 565
, 594 N.W.2d 738
Procedural statutes are to be liberally construed to permit a determination upon the merits of the controversy if possible. DOT v. Peterson, 226 Wis. 2d 623
, 594 N.W.2d 765
When statutory language is ambiguous, the scope, history, context, subject matter, and object of the statute will be examined to determine the intent of the legislature. State v. Reitter, 227 Wis. 2d 213
, 595 N.W.2d 646
When an ambiguity exists regarding the specific party to be served, procedural statutes must be construed liberally to achieve a determination of the merits of the controversy, if such construction is possible. McDonough v. DWD, 227 Wis. 2d 271
, 595 N.W.2d 686
The purpose of legislative interpretation is to discern the intent of the legislature, first considering the language of the statute. If the statute clearly and unambiguously sets forth the legislative intent, the court does not look beyond the statute to find the statute's meaning. In construing a statute, all words and phrases should be construed according to common and approved usage unless a different definition is designated by statute. Resort to a dictionary may be made to ascertain the common and ordinary usage of an undefined term. Resort to a dictionary does not render a term ambiguous. State v. Curiel, 227 Wis. 2d 389
, 597 N.W.2d 697
If the potential for conflict between two statutes exists, they will be read to avoid the conflict if a reasonable construction so permits. Providence Catholic School v. Bristol School District No. 1, 231 Wis. 2d 159
, 605 N.W.2d 238
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-3390
The rule of strict construction of penal statutes does not apply unless a statute is ambiguous, and the rule cannot be used to circumvent the purpose of the statute. The rule is not a rule of general or universal application. Sometimes a strict and sometimes a liberal construction is required, even in respect to a penal law because the purpose of all construction is to carry out the legislative purpose. State v. Kittilstad, 231 Wis. 2d 245
, 603 N.W.2d 732
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-1456
If a statute contains a given provision, the omission of that provision from a similar statute concerning a related subject is significant in showing that a different intention existed. Outagamie County v. Town of Greenville, 2000 WI App 65
, 233 Wis. 2d 566
, 608 N.W.2d 414
Although courts may not look to legislative history to show that an unambiguous statute is ambiguous, there is no rule that the history cannot be used to reinforce that a statute, plain on its face, is unambiguous. Seider v. O'Connell, 2000 WI 76
, 236 Wis. 2d 211
, 612 N.W.2d 659
Although a court will not look beyond a statute's plain meaning, it does consider its parts in relation to the whole statute and related sections. Dubis v. General Motors Acceptance Corp., 2000 WI App 209
, 238 Wis. 2d 608
, 618 N.W.2d 266
Statutes and rules that assist in implementing a chapter's goals must be read in pari materia
, which requires a court to read, apply, and construe together statutes relating to the same subject matter. Perra v. Menomonee Mutual Insurance Co., 2000 WI App 215
, 239 Wis. 2d 26
, 619 N.W.2d 123
The principal of expressio unius est exclusio alterius
provides that the express mention of one matter excludes other similar matters not mentioned. The enumeration of specific alternatives in a statute is evidence of legislative intent that any alternative not enumerated is to be excluded. Perry v. Menomonee Mutual Insurance Co., 2000 WI App 215
, 239 Wis. 2d 26
, 619 N.W.2d 123
When related statutes were not created at the same time, the fact that the older statute specifically lists certain powers does not necessarily mean that the legislature intended a broadly worded, later enacted statute to be thus limited. To be limited by the earlier statute, there must be some evidence that the legislature intended its application. Pritchard v. Madison Metropolitan School District, 2001 WI App 62
, 242 Wis. 2d 301
, 625 N.W.2d 613
By expressing a time requirement in terms of hours rather than days, the legislature manifests its intent that the clock start running immediately rather than the next day, and the “exclude-the-first-day" rule of sub. (4) (a) and (d) does not apply. Matter of the Mental Commitment of Ryan E.M., 2002 WI App 71
, 252 Wis. 2d 490
, 642 N.W.2d 592
Words appearing multiple times in the same statute are given the same meaning unless the context clearly requires a different meaning. Donaldson v. Board of Commissioners of Rock-Koshkonong Lake District, 2003 WI App 26
, 260 Wis. 2d 238
, 659 N.W.2d 66
Generally, legislative enactments are entitled to a presumption of constitutionality. The purpose of the presumption of constitutionality does not appear to have any relation to whether the statute predates or postdates the constitutional provision. State v. Cole, 2003 WI 112
, 264 Wis. 2d 520
, 665 N.W.2d 328
Chapter 35 codifies the rules of publishing and interpreting public documents, including the statutes. Section 35.18 (3) explains how the numbers and sections of statutory provisions are designated. Storm v. Legion Insurance Company, 2003 WI 120
, 265 Wis. 2d 169
, 665 N.W.2d 353
Scope, context, and purpose are perfectly relevant to a plain-meaning interpretation of an unambiguous statute as long as the scope, context, and purpose are ascertainable from the text and structure of the statute itself, rather than extrinsic sources, such as legislative history. Many words have multiple dictionary definitions; the applicable definition depends upon the context in which the word is used. Kalal v. Dane County, 2004 WI 58
, 271 Wis. 2d 633
, 681 N.W.2d 110
It is a basic rule of construction to attribute the same definition to a word each time it is used in the same statute or administrative rule. DaimlerChrysler v. LIRC, 2007 WI 15
, 299 Wis. 2d 1
, 727 N.W.2d 311
Previous cases construing a statute become a part of the understanding of a statute's plain meaning. Once a construction has been given to a statute, the construction becomes a part of the statute. Meyers v. Bayer AG, 2007 WI 99
, 303 Wis. 2d 295
, 735 N.W.2d 448
The statutes contain thousands upon thousands of nouns, very few of which are preceded by the word “real" because “real" is implied in the general understanding of most nouns. State v. Van Buren, 2008 WI App 26
, 307 Wis. 2d 447
, 746 N.W.2d 545
While terms of a statute are to be interpreted to avoid superfluousness if possible, the rule is not absolute. If the legislature has created redundancies, it is not up to the court to create functions for such parts. The legislature sometimes uses more words than necessary without intending to add meaning. Wisconsin Realtors Ass'n v. Town of West Point, 2008 WI App 40
, 309 Wis. 2d 199
, 747 N.W.2d 681
Sub. (6) provides that a title to a statute is not part of the statute. A title may not be used to alter the meaning of a statute or create an ambiguity where no ambiguity existed. Noffke v. Bakke, 2009 WI 10
, 315 Wis. 2d 350
, 760 N.W.2d 156
The legislature has a history of using “and" when the context shows it means “or." “And" in statutes is not always interpreted as a conjunctive term. It is a familiar rule of construction that the words “or" and “and" are often used incorrectly, and that when a strict reading would render the sense dubious one may be read in place of the other, in deference to the meaning of the context. State v. Freer, 2010 WI App 9
, 323 Wis. 2d 29
, 779 N.W.2d 12
The Legislative Reference Bureau's analysis of a bill is printed with and displayed on the bill when it is introduced in the legislature; as such, it is indicative of legislative intent. State v. Freer, 2010 WI App 9
, 323 Wis. 2d 29
, 779 N.W.2d 12
Whenever the application of a common law doctrine or rule would undermine the manifest purposes of a statutory cause of action, the conflict between the statute's manifest purpose and the common law defense “leaves no doubt of the legislature's intent." In a case of such apparent incompatibility, the legislature necessarily intended that the common law defense would not be applied to bar claims under the statute. MBS-Certified Public Accountants, LLC v. Wisconsin Bell Inc., 2012 WI 15
, 338 Wis. 2d 647
, 809 N.W.2d 857
The Saturday extension rule in sub. (4) (c) applies to the listed acts, including service on a government entity, regardless whether the act is accomplished in person, by mail, or by some other means. The statutory language does condition the Saturday extension rule on whether service can be accomplished on a Saturday. Madison Metropolitan School District v. Evers, 2014 WI App 109
, 357 Wis. 2d 550
, 855 N.W.2d 458
, statutory interpretation begins with the language of the statute. If the meaning of the statute is plain, the court ordinarily stops the inquiry. However, if the supreme court has addressed the interpretation of a statute or predecessor statute, that controlling authority must be followed or distinguished. Hart v. Artisan & Truckers Casualty Co., 2017 WI App 45
, 377 Wis. 2d 177
, 900 N.W.2d 610
The general rule is that the word “shall” is presumed mandatory when it appears in a statute. This presumption, however, is subject to rebuttal. Occasionally, the court has construed shall as a directive, rather than a mandate. State v. Cox, 2018 WI 67
, 382 Wis. 2d 338
, 913 N.W.2d 780
The use of the definite article “the" in front of the second use of a phrase makes clear that it is referencing the antecedent phase already mentioned. Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors of Great Lakes Quick Lube LP v. Theisen, 2018 WI App 70
, 384 Wis. 2d 580
, 920 N.W.2d 356
A required tax payment may be made on the next secular day when July 31 is on Saturday and office hours are unofficial. 60 Atty. Gen. 411.
Computing time in tort statutes of limitation. Ghiardi. 64 MLR 575 (1981).
Legislative History: The Philosophies of Justices Scalia and Breyer and the Use of Legislative History by the Wisconsin State Courts. Dortzbach. 80 MLR 161 (1997).
Interpreting Wisconsin Statutes. Suhr. 100 MLR 969 (2017).
Researching legislative intent in Wisconsin: A suggested procedure. Nispel. WBB Apr. 1983.
Computing Time in Statutes of Limitation. Ghiardi. Wis. Law. Mar. 1993.
Construction of laws; words and phrases.
In the construction of Wisconsin laws the words and phrases which follow shall be construed as indicated unless such construction would produce a result inconsistent with the manifest intent of the legislature:
All words and phrases shall be construed according to common and approved usage; but technical words and phrases and others that have a peculiar meaning in the law shall be construed according to such meaning.
“Acquire," when used in connection with a grant of power to any person, includes the acquisition by purchase, grant, gift or bequest. It includes the power to condemn only in the cases specified in s. 32.02
and subject to the limitations under s. 32.015
“Adult" means a person who has attained the age of 18 years, except that for purposes of investigating or prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated any state or federal criminal law or any civil law or municipal ordinance, “adult" means a person who has attained the age of 17 years.
Bequest and bequeath.
“Bequest" includes a devise; “bequeath" includes devise.
“Chiropractor" means a person holding a license issued by the chiropractic examining board.
“Communicable disease" means any disease that the department of health services determines, by rule, to be communicable in fact.
Controlled access highway.
“Controlled access highway" means a highway on which abutting property owners have no right or only a limited right of direct access and on which the type and location of all access connections are determined and controlled by the highway authorities.
“County board" means the county board of supervisors.
Express highway or expressway.
An express highway or expressway is a divided arterial highway for through traffic with “full" or “partial" control of access and generally with grade separations at intersections. “Full" control of access means that the authority to control access is exercised to give preference to through traffic by providing access connections with selected public roads only and by prohibiting crossings at grade or direct private driveway connections. “Partial" control of access means that the authority to control access is exercised to give preference to through traffic to a degree that, in addition to access connections with selected public roads, there may be some crossings at grade and some private driveway connections.
“Folio" means 100 words or figures. Any fraction of a folio shall be paid for as a full folio.
“Following," when used by way of reference to any statute section, means the section next following that in which the reference is made.
“Freeway" means a highway with full control of access and with all crossroads separated in grade from the pavements for through traffic.
Grantor and grantee.
“Grantor" includes every person from or by whom any freehold estate or interest passes in or by any deed; and “grantee" includes every person to whom any such estate or interest passes in like manner.
Heretofore and hereafter.
“Heretofore" means any time previous to the day on which the statute containing it takes effect; “hereafter" means the time after the statute containing such word takes effect.
“Highway" includes all public ways and thoroughfares and all bridges upon the same.
The word “homestead" means the dwelling and so much of the land surrounding it as is reasonably necessary for use of the dwelling as a home, but not less than one-fourth acre, if available, and not exceeding 40 acres.
Any amendment of a homestead statute shall not affect liens of creditors attaching nor rights of devisees or heirs of persons dying prior to the effective date of the amendment.
“Exempt homestead" means the dwelling, including a building, condominium, mobile home, manufactured home, house trailer or cooperative or an unincorporated cooperative association, and so much of the land surrounding it as is reasonably necessary for its use as a home, but not less than 0.25 acre, if available, and not exceeding 40 acres, within the limitation as to value under s. 815.20
, except as to liens attaching or rights of devisees or heirs of persons dying before the effective date of any increase of that limitation as to value.
“Inhabitant" means a resident.
“Issue," as applied to descent of estate, includes all the lawful descendants of the ancestor.
“Judge" does not include a municipal judge, except as provided in ch. 755
“Land" includes lands, tenements and hereditaments and all rights thereto and interests therein.