Assembly Passes Nine Special Session Bills

The Wisconsin State Assembly convened in special session last week to debate and vote on nine special session bills as part of the Heroin, Opiate, Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda. Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) introduced a total of 11 special session bills in late February, and committee hearings took place in March before the bills moved to the Assembly floor on April 4. Nine out of the 11 bills were on the schedule Tuesday April 4 in the Assembly. All but one of the nine special session bills passed either unanimously or by voice vote; Special Session Assembly Bill 6 passed 95-2. The nine bills were messaged to the Senate for approval.

Throughout the floor debate, Democrats debated what they saw as inadequate funding for many of the bills’ proposed programs. Assembly Democrats also proposed amendments that would have ensured Wisconsin would accept Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act; however, no such amendments passed.

The Assembly did adopt several amendments to Special Session Assembly Bill 6, which would create a recovery charter school. These amendments, which were previously recommended by the Joint Finance Committee, included a technical amendment  that would clarify health plans would only be required to cover the treatment or services provided at a recovery school when the treatment or services are already covered by the plan. The Assembly also adopted Amendment 4, which would require the recovery charter school to provide various notifications to health plans.

Also of note, the Assembly passed Special Session Assembly Bill 4, which would prohibit the sale of certain schedule V controlled substances from being dispensed without a prescription.

The Assembly also voted to pass Special Session Assembly Bills 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. (For more information on these bills, see previous coverage.)

On the Senate side, eight of the 11 special session bills have been recommended for passage by Senate committees and are ready for floor action. Special Session Bill 5, relating to drug dependence services, is still waiting on committee votes in both chambers. The Senate Committee on Education is also waiting to vote on Special Session Bills 6 (Recovery Charter School) and 11 (Mental Health Training).

Both the Senate and Assembly are expected to have a floor session on May 2 and possibly May 9, and could act on the remaining special session bills.