Stand up for the facts!
Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.
I would like to contribute
If Your Time is short
A nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau memo shows 179 of 2,091 bills Katrina Shankland’s name is on have been signed into law.
Of those bills, she authored or co-authored 104, and the rest were bills she’s co-sponsored.
Bill authors typically play more of a role in the legislation, but there are exceptions.
The Democratic primary field to challenge U.S. Rep. Derrick Van Orden in 2024 grew to four when state Rep. Katrina Shankland joined in October.
Shankland, who represents Stevens Point and has served in the Wisconsin Assembly since 2012, faces three other Democratic competitors for the 3rd Congressional District in the western part of the state.
Those include La Crosse County Board Chair Tara Johnson, who has picked up endorsements from prominent Democrats, including the outgoing party leader in the Senate.
Others vying in the primary include Eau Claire small-business owner Rebecca Cooke, who lost last year's primary, and Aaron Nytes, a Harvard Law School student.
Shankland has already highlighted her experience as the only state lawmaker in the field, including in a post on her campaign’s account on X, formerly Twitter.
"I have been a state legislator for 11 years, passing over 170 bills into law and delivering for Wisconsin families — I get things done," the Nov. 15 post read.
Her claim caught our attention, as Shankland is likely to continue promoting her record in the statehouse as she campaigns for higher office.
And, it seemed like a high number for a Democrat who has served in a Republican-controlled Legislature.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
When PolitiFact Wisconsin reached out to Shankland’s campaign for backup, consultant Melissa Baldauff said Shankland’s legislative office had a memo showing the bills.
She also clarified that the number referred to bills that Shankland has authored or co-sponsored that were signed into law, rather than bills she’s voted for as a lawmaker.
Shankland’s chief of staff, Jacob Burbach, provided the memo from the Legislative Reference Bureau that shows the bills her name is on that were enacted by the governor.
The bureau is a nonpartisan agency that provides research to lawmakers and their staff.
Burbach first shared a memo prepared by an LRB analyst that found that 173 of the 1,928 bills she authored or co-sponsored were signed into law, as of Sept. 14.
Two updated memos prepared by LRB brought the number up to 174 out of 2,091 as of Dec. 5, then 179 out of 2,107 as of Dec. 7.
So initially, that math appears to add up.
But in the legislative process, authoring bills is different than co-authoring or co-sponsoring them, which signals a different level of involvement. Legislators who introduce bills are known as authors.
If lawmakers want to sign onto a bill to show their support, they are known as co-authors if they’re in the same chamber, or co-sponsors if they’re in the other chamber, according to the Legislature’s glossary.
Out of the 179 measures cited by Shankland, LRB found 104 bills that she authored. That number could also include some co-authored bills, based on LRB’s classification.
So far, in the 2023-24 session, 15 bills Shankland has authored or co-sponsored have been enacted. She was listed as introducing seven of those, including new loan programs for affordable housing.
Among the bills she co-sponsored include a measure that expanded how schools and businesses can deliver epinephrine to people having allergic emergencies.
Baldauff noted that co-sponsors still play a role in shepherding legislation through, such as getting stakeholders or other lawmakers on board.
And sometimes legislators who start drafting measures don’t ultimately get their names put first on a bill, an indicator the LRB tracks. That was the case with a first responder protection bill Shankland started.
Although those examples provide context for the tally, authoring a bill usually signals more involvement than co-authoring or co-sponsoring the legislation.
Democratic Rep. Katrina Shankland, who is running for Congress, said she has been "a state legislator for 11 years, passing over 170 bills into law and delivering for Wisconsin families."
Although the nonpartisan agency’s research does show Shankland has been involved with 179 bills that have been put into law, potential voters may get the impression that she led each of those.
Instead, the memo shows she’s authored 104 of that number. Some in that tally include bills she co-authored, similar to co-sponsoring, though she might have been more involved with some of those proposals.
Our definition of Mostly True is "the statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information."
That fits here.
Email exchange and phone call, Melissa Baldauff, Katrina Shankland for Congress campaign consultant, Dec. 4, 5 and 7
About the Legislature, Glossary
Email exchange and phone call, Jacob Burbach, chief-of-staff for Rep. Katrina Shankland, Dec. 5, 6 and 7
Legislative Reference Bureau, Enacted bills authored or cosponsored by Representative Shankland, Sept. 14, 2023
Legislative Reference Bureau, Enacted bills authored or cosponsored by Representative Shankland, Dec. 5, 2023
Legislative Reference Bureau, Enacted bills authored or cosponsored by Representative Shankland, Dec. 7, 2023
Wisconsin Act 115, Amherst Fire District
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.