February 7, 2016

New legislator lives in brother’s basement

A soon to be sworn in state lawmaker is living in his brother’s basement. State Representative-elect Joe Knilans is defending against allegations he doesn’t live in the 44th Assembly District he’ll represent. The Republican’s family lives in the 45th Assembly District on the east side of Janesville, so he’s leasing space in his brother’s basement on the other side of town. “That will be my legal residence until I can find something else, or we can sell our house and them my whole family can move into the district,” said Knilans.

Former Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, defeated by Knilans in the November election, faced criticism that he lived outside the district during his divorce. By state law, a representative needs to live in their district for ten days before being sworn-in. “It’s the law, and unfortunately we have not been able to sell our house yet,” said Knilans. “Some people may make a big deal out of it . . . I’ve done legally what I’m supposed to do.”

State law requires representatives to live in their district for ten days before being sworn in. Government Accountability Board spokesman Reid Magney said he’s spoken with Assembly leaders regarding Knilans’ residency and they don’t seem concerned about the situation. Magney said Knilans doesn’t qualify for an exemption, and doesn’t need one, since he’s leasing space within the district. Knilans said he wants to focus on “more important things” while in Madison, like bringing more jobs to Rock County.


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