Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Day Left in Wiscosnin Legislative Session

This is the final floor period week for the Wisconsin State Assembly and Wisconsin State Senate.  Both bodies will again meet on April 22nd.  They are rapidly passing and considering hundreds of Bills in this short period.  Here are several updates we bring to your attention:

Assembly Resolution 21 (AR-21) – Introduced 4/8/10 - authorize the Attorney General to file or join a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare, the Govt takeover of healthcare (Efforts to give the Attorney General such authorization have failed)

AJR-123 – Introduced 4/8/10 by Reps. Kessler and Pasch requesting that the Attorney General join in defending Obamacare.  (Final action still pending)

SJR-62 – Healthcare Freedom Amendment – A proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit requiring a person to obtain or maintain health insurance coverage or participate in any health care system or plan (Final action still pending)

AJR-109 & SJR 61 – A constitutional amendment that places major restrictions on the use of partial vetoes by the Governor in appropriations bills, saying if he strikes any part of a section of the bill, he must strike the whole section.  (SJR-61 passed the Senate on April 13th 21-12 vote / SJR-61 passed the Assembly April 20th on a 50-48 vote.  Because this is a proposed constitutional amendment, it will have to be passed again next session by both houses and then forwarded to the voters to be decided by a referendum)

AB-480, AB-481, SB-337 & SB-344 – Expanding hate crimes in Wisconsin to include gender and giving extra penalty enhancers (AB-480 & AB-481 has already passed Assembly just waiting for final action in the Senate)

SB-460 & AB-653 – Expedited Partner Therapy (The Senate passed SB-460 on a 17- 15 party line.  SB-460 is scheduled to be voted on in the Assembly on Thursday, April 22nd)

AB-649 & SB-450 – Global Warming Bill
            State Rep. Jim Ott states, “Mandating that Wisconsin produce 25% of our electricity from expensive renewables by 2025 is an outrage.  We are only at 5% today, and utilities will struggle to reach our current mandate of 10% of 2015.  The claim of the bill’s authors that it will reduce costs for consumers is pure fiction.  In Iowa and Minnesota utilities have already requested rate increases of 14% and 19% respectively, following the recent adoption of renewable standards.  Setting a goal that Wisconsin reduces its overall electricity consumption by 2% annually by 2015 sends a message that job growth and commerce are not welcome in Wisconsin. Knowing the negative impact this will have on business many of the municipal chambers of commerce are in opposition to the legislation as is the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, the Wisconsin Paper Council and Wisconsin Retail Council. (The Assembly delayed action on AB-649 until Thursday, April 22nd, the last day of the legislative floor period)

AB-751 & SB-549 – Electing President by National Popular Vote
            Surrendering our Electoral Votes to whoever wins the national popular vote (action still pending)

AB-440 & SB-115 – Licensing of Dieticians – opponents have said this is a dangerously restrictive bill and will jeopardize your access to a wide variety of nutritional healthcare practitioners.  They state this will destroy the practices of nutritionists who are not dieticians licensed by the state.  Health food stores would only be allowed to give general nutritional information, but for others, one must be a dietician or medical practitioner to be able to recommend any nutritional care therapy.  Greatly opposed by the Wisconsin Health Freedom Coalition.  It essence it limits who can discuss and teach about nutrition and limits what can be said (Final action still pending)

SB-279 & AB 408 – A new ethanol mandate for Wisconsin (original bill 31 pages with multiple amendments.  SB-279 passed Senate 25-8 and was passed by the Assembly 67-31 on April 20th.  The bill now goes to the govern for his signature)

SB-295 – Allow kids to perform in taverns and nightclubs (Final action still pending)

SB-368 & AB-554 – The legalization for marijuana use for medical purposes (On Tuesday, April 20th the author of the legislation, Mark Pocan told his supporters the legislature would not be able to act on this legislation this session)

SB-585 & AB-831 – Prohibits discrimination against an employee who declines to attend an employer-sponsored meeting or to participate in any communication with the employer or his representative in which the primary purpose is to communicate opinions about religious or political matters.  We are told that a Christian bookstore that is not a part of a church would not be exempt from this law. (SB-585 was passed by the Senate on 4/15/10, it is scheduled to be voted on in the Assembly on April 22nd)

SB-640 & AB-895 – Change Election laws in Wisconsin – allowing on-line registration, changes to how electors are challenged, allowing municipalities to set up satellite absentee ballot stations for early voting.  Senator Grothman said these stations apparently could be done in college dorms, outside of bars or other inappropriate locals.  Automatic motor-voter registration of everyone who gets a driver’s license, yet to require someone have to show the photo from a driver’s license to vote is against the law  Further Senator Grothman indicated this bill will force local municipalities to hire speakers of a foreign language if at least 5% of the adults in their district are not English proficient.  Some have also dubbed this the ACORN Assistance Act due to a last minute amendment given by Senator Lena Taylor that would give a nationally focused non profit community organizing group access to the entire Dept. of Transportation database to help people register to vote. This database used to belong only to the State of Wisconsin, but now would be open to groups in the entire country.  Rep. Roth asked the attorney present if this meant such an organization could include the Democratic Party, or ACORN and its subsidiaries and the attorney admitted those types of groups would apply the way the amendment is worded.
(No action was taken on AB-895 by the Assembly.  Election laws issue still pending)

AB-828 Of concern to many comes under a section entitled, “Health Care” (Page 2). In this section it says:
“The bill allows an advanced practice nurse prescriber to examine, diagnose, and treat a minor with a sexually transmitted disease without obtaining the parent’s or guardian’s consent and relieves the advanced practice nurse prescriber from civil liability for not having that consent.”  (Bolded emphasis added)

While parents give written consent for a school to give Tylenol to their children, the above would allow an advanced practice nurse (even in schools) to examine and treat a child with a STD without the parents even knowing and then removing them from any civil liability for that treatment.
Amendment 1 was drafted to eliminate this section of the Bill.  (On April 20th AB- 828 was passed including the amendment to strike the offensive language above from the legislation.  AB-828 along with the passed amendment now goes to the Senate).

AB-193 – Privilege of Self Defense – (Passed Assembly on April 15th by a vote of 68-29, AB-193 is yet pending in the Senate)


AB-578 – Requires the Dept. of Health Services to set up rules to specify what cleaning products and equipment can be used in cleaning public buildings and schools including private schools.  The products include restroom cleaners, general purpose cleaners, hand soap, vacuum cleaners and carpet extractors.  (AB-578 was tabled by the Assembly on April 20th)

AB-279 – Registration of Livestock Premises – Current law generally requires a person who keeps livestock to register that location with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.  That person must also provide information about the type of livestock kept and the type of livestock operation being conducted at each location.  The DATCP assign a premise identification code to each location that is registered.  This Bill, AB-279 makes the livestock premises registration program voluntary.  (A Public Hearing on AB-279 is was held Monday, April 19th however no action was taken.  The chair of the Agriculture Committee is Amy Sue Vruwink.  Her number is 1-888-534-0070.)

High speed rail – the Joint Finance Committee approved spending $810 million of federal stimulus money for high speed rail between Milwaukee and the Madison airport.  The state will need an additional 7.6 million in operating expenses each year to cover the cost of the project (AB-282 for the creation of Regional Transit Authorities is still pending)

To contact your legislators on any of these issues you may use the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472.  You may also follow this link: http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx

To learn more you may also check out these websites:

www.wicapitolwatch.com  and click on 2009-2010 Bills of interest

To read any of these bills, follow this link and type the bill number into the designated area: