Hamilton Political Tidbits – February 2, 2018

Political Tidbits - February 2, 2018
Hamilton Consulting Group
 February 2, 2018
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.

With only one or two months left of session, the legislature is in a flurry of hearings and votes. In this Tidbits, Gov. Scott Walker lays out his legislative agenda in the State of the State, the Senate and Assembly meet for floor sessions, and more!
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Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Litigation Reform

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held a hearing on Jan. 30 on a bill that would reform Wisconsin's civil liability statutes to lower litigation costs for Wisconsin businesses and government. SB 645, authored by Sens. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) and David Craig (R-Big Bend) and Reps. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and John Nygren (R-Marinette), would further improve Wisconsin's litigation climate by making changes to discovery and class action statutes, among other reforms.

Bills of Note: Welfare Special Session

The Senate Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations and the Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform held a joint hearing on Jan. 31 on 10 bills as part of the Special Session on Welfare Reform called by Gov. Scott Walker earlier this month.
Democrats on the committee and opponents of the bills said the bills could decrease access and make getting public assistance more difficult. Proponents said the legislation encourages people to return to the workforce and move off of government assistance.  

Gov. Walker Delivers 2018 State of the State Address

Gov. Scott Walker delivered his 2018 State of the State address in the Assembly chambers on Jan. 24. Walker's eighth State of the State focused on "getting positive things done for the people of Wisconsin" and an "Ambitious Agenda" for 2018.

Floor Report: Legislature Passes Lead Pipes, PSC Bills

The Senate and Assembly both met in floor sessions on Jan. 23, 2018. Both houses of the legislature passed bills on a largely bipartisan basis, with a few outstanding exceptions. The Senate plans to meet again on Feb. 20, and the Assembly has indicated they will meet three to four times next month.

Court of Appeals Decision Allows Temporary Employees to Sue Employers Rather Than File Worker's Comp Claim

Earlier this year, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, Dist. III, issued a decision (Ehr v. West Bend Mutual Ins. Co.) that significantly altered the Worker's Compensation Act. The court ruled that the estate of a deceased employee could sue the employee's temporary employer for an action in tort instead of filing a worker's compensation claim under the Act.  As a result of the decision Rep. Cindi Duchow (R-Delafield) introduced AB 884, which would effectively reverse the court's decision.
Gov. Walker Issues Executive Orders on Opioid Crisis

Gov. Scott Walker issued two executive orders on Jan. 19 based on a new report from the Task Force on Opioid Abuse.
Executive Order 273 implements several agency actions based on recommendations from the Task Force's co-chairs Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette). Executive Order 274 creates the Commission on Substance Abuse Treatment and Delivery that will explore the potential implementation of the "hub and spoke model" of care delivery, as recommended by Pew Charitable Trusts. 

3M Legislative Day 2018

3M held their annual legislative day in Madison this week.  With four plants in Wisconsin and as the manufacturer of products the state uses, 3M makes it a priority to have routine communication with legislators and policy makers on issues that are important to the company and the Wisconsin plants.

2018 WACVB Day at the Capitol

On Jan. 30, Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (WACVB) held their annual legislative day at the Capitol. WACVB members met with their legislators to discuss issues including creative economy grants, talent attraction, school start date, and local exposition districts.
Senate Committee Changes

Following the January special election and the departure of Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere) to the Department of Workforce Development, the Senate has made several leadership and committee changes.

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News Clips
Former board members defend now-dissolved elections panel: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, February 2, 2018.

Utilities and Energy
Economic Development
Walker open to gas tax increase to access federal money: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, February 1, 2018.
Legislators propose new money to restart I-94 east-west rebuild: Milwaukee Business Journal, January 31, 2018.

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