2022 Legislative Preview

In 2022, the Wisconsin Legislature is expected to continue committee work and floor votes for the first few months of the year and then adjourn at some point in the spring. Here are a few key bills we will be watching:

Assembly Bill (AB) 296/Senate Bill (SB) 309: Defining “telehealth” and “free and charitable clinics”

Authored by Senator Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Representative Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), this bill would incorporate the definitions of “telehealth” and other related terms from the Medical Assistance program into the statutory chapters that pertain to occupational licensing. The bill requires the Department of Safety and Professional Services and any attached examining or affiliated credentialing board to define and use “telehealth” and related terms consistent with this bill in all promulgated rules.

The bill would also define “free and charitable clinics” as health care organizations that use a volunteer and staff model to provide health services to uninsured, underinsured, underserved, economically and socially disadvantaged, and vulnerable populations and that meet criteria specified in the bill.

SB 309 passed the Senate unanimously on November 8, while AB 296 was recommended for passage 13-0 by the Assembly Committee on Health in October. The bill is supported by various groups including providers, insurers, and local governments.

AB 396/SB 394: Licensing advanced practice registered nurses

Authored by Sen. Testin (R-Stevens Point) and Rep. Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton), this bill would create an additional level of nursing licensure called an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). It would also repeal licensure and practice requirements specific to nurse-midwives and the practice of nurse-midwifery, instead listing “certified nurse-midwife” as one of four recognized roles for an APRN. The other roles listed in the bill are “certified registered nurse anesthetist,” “clinical nurse specialist,” and “nurse practitioner.”

Nursing trade groups, health insurers, and associations representing the interests of the elderly have registered in favor of the bill. The Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Medical College, and various associations representing medical doctors and specialties have registered as opposed.

Legislators have introduced a substitute amendment to the bill addressing the concerns of physician groups. The bill received public hearings in each house of the Legislature in July, while the Senate Committee on Health voted 3-2 in December to adopt the substitute amendment to the bill and recommend it for passage as amended.

AB 743/SB 710: The “Inform Act”

Authored by Sen. Roth (R-Appleton) and Rep. Dallman (R-Green Lake), this bill would “establish different requirements related to third-party sellers and online marketplaces through which they sell consumer products,” according to the co-sponsorship memo. Supporters of the bill argue that online marketplaces need additional regulations because they are a common site for the sale of counterfeit goods and merchandise stolen from physical retail stores.

The authors’ memo continues: “Since 2015, theft losses have shot up 60%, according to the National Retail Federation, a trade group and lobbying organization. … According to the trade group, the theft losses from shoplifting, fraud, and employee theft are exceeding about $62 billion annually.”

The bill has been introduced and referred to committees in both houses of the Legislature.

LRB-2074: Regulating consumer lawsuit lending

Authored by Reps. Tusler (R-Harrison) and McGuire (D-Kenosha) and Sens. Wimberger (R-Green Bay) and Roys (D-Madison), this bill would regulate consumer lawsuit lending in Wisconsin. Lawsuit lending is a form of financing provided to a plaintiff or prospective plaintiff in a civil lawsuit. Typically, either the repayment of the loan is derived from the plaintiff’s proceeds, or the loan constitutes the purchase of a contingent right to a share of the plaintiff’s proceeds.

Critics of the practice argue that lawsuit loans can prolong litigation by discouraging plaintiffs from settling. The loans often have very high effective interest rates, meaning that borrowers may be on the hook for several times the original loan amount. According to the co-sponsorship memo from the bill’s authors, the bill would regulate the practice of lawsuit lending in the following ways:

  • Cap the interest rate at no more than 18 percent per year
  • Allow the consumer to repay the loan at any time
  • Limit the term of the loan to no more than 3 years
  • Cap the fees a lender may charge
  • Require the transaction to be in writing
  • Allow the consumer five days to rescind the transaction
  • Prohibit the lender from making any decisions regarding the legal dispute, leaving any decisions regarding the litigation with the consumer and the consumer’s attorney

LRB-2074 is circulating for co-sponsorship and has not yet been formally introduced.