Floor Report: April 4 – April 6

Last week, the Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate were in session to take up a variety of bills. The floor session was originally scheduled for just Tuesday, April 4, but due to delays, the Senate reconvened on Wednesday, April 5 and the Assembly on Thursday, April 6.

In the Senate, SB 76, the high capacity wells bill, was held up after Democrats rejected to a third reading of the bill on Tuesday. The bill, authored by Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), would eliminate the need for the Department of Natural Resources to provide additional approval for an owner of an already approved high capacity well to repair, replace, reconstruct or transfer the well. The bill eventually did pass the Senate on Wednesday, April 5 along party lines, 19-13.

Despite the hold up on SB 76, the Senate moved through the rest of their agenda on Tuesday, April 4, including unanimously passing a bill (SB 49) to change the criteria for broadband expansion grants and allocate $18.5 million in additional resources.

The Assembly had a full schedule on Tuesday, April 4, including convening into Special Session to consider nine bills to address opioid abuse and addiction. Outside of the special session agenda, the Assembly took up other legislation, including AB 146, a bill to expand the settings in which dental hygienists could practice without a dentist’s supervision or prescription. The bill, authored by Sen. Harsdorf (R-River Falls) and Rep. Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) received significant bipartisan support, and passed by voice vote. The bill then moved to the Senate, where the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services held a public hearing on AB 146 on Thursday, April 6.

Another bipartisan bill that sailed through the Assembly was AB 151. The bill, authored by Rep. Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and Sen. Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls), allows for Emergency Medical Services to provide treatment in non-emergency settings under the direction of a medical physician. The bill passed by voice vote and was messaged to the Assembly after an amendment recommended by the Assembly Committee on Health was adopted. The Senate has not held a public hearing on the bill, or its companion, SB 149, yet.

Although it was originally on the schedule, the Assembly ended up not taking up another bipartisan bill, AB 125. The bill, authored by Rep. Kolste (D-Janesville) and Rep. Sen. Vukmir (R-Brookfield), allows for a pharmacist to extend a prescription drug order under certain circumstances when authorization for a refill cannot be obtained from a prescribing doctor.

Assembly Democrats delayed the vote on Tuesday, April 4 on AB 109, which allows towns to withdraw from Dane County zoning rules. Despite the initial delay, the Assembly reconvened on Thursday, April 6 to take up the bill. Assembly Democrats had sought to allow eight towns the ability to vote on their withdrawal on April 18 before the bill potentially takes effect. In Thursday’s session, the bill passed 57 to 34 and was messaged to the Senate. Both the Senate and Assembly plan to be on the floor in early May.