Hamilton Political Tidbits – March 21, 2014

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 Mar. 21, 2014  

Just before 5 a.m. this morning, the Wisconsin State Assembly adjourned for the last regular session in the 2013-2014 term. This year saw many controversial and bi-partisan bills go through the legislature, resulting in more economic development opportunities for small and large businesses and manufacturers, sweeping mental health care reform for the state of Wisconsin, and large property tax cuts for taxpayers.


Last night was no different, as the Assembly debated voting reform bills, co-pays for oral chemotherapy, and trust fund transparency legislation. Get the full update on what happened last night in this week's special edition of The Hamilton Consulting Group's Political Tidbits.

If you require additional information about a topic addressed in Tidbits, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting Team.
Assembly Passes Asbestos Trust Fund
Transparency Bill

The Wisconsin Senate on Wednesday, March 12 passed asbestos trust fund transparency legislation (AB 19). The bill passed on a party-line vote (17-16). The bill was amended and was passed by the Assembly late this week. This is a significant victory for Wisconsin businesses.

This legislation forces plaintiff attorneys filing asbestos lawsuits in Wisconsin courts to disclose all evidence of claims filed with the trust funds.

AB 19 is about transparency and ensuring that a plaintiff and his or her attorney do not receive compensation twice (or three or four times) for the same claim, thereby safeguarding resources for future victims.  


Read more...  


Patent Troll Legislation Passes Assembly; Not All Businesses Support the Legislation

Despite last minute efforts to exempt manufacturers, the Assembly on Thursday, March 20, passed  SB 498.

The bill addresses so-called "patent trolls," which are individuals or companies that attempt to enforce patent rights against accused infringers in order to collect licensing fees, but does not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question.


Read more..   


Oral Chemotherapy Bill Passes Assembly with Amendment

After passing the Senate earlier this week, discussion on a bill (SB 300) took place in the Assembly that would require insurers to treat oral chemotherapy the same as intravenous treatments.


On Thursday, the Assembly passed the bill with an amendment proposing co-pay or parity for oral chemo treatments. Specifically, the amendment includes:

  • Limit co-pays to $100 for 30-day supply and indexes to the consumer price index starting in 2016;
  • Addresses concern over high deductible health plans;
  • Changes the applicability date to January 1, 2015.

The bill without the amendment would have required insurance companies to treat a pharmaceutical benefit as a medical benefit, which is technically infeasible.


The new version of the bill goes back to the Senate for a final vote.  

Training for Law Enforcement Changes in Domestic Abuse

A new bill changing the training standards for law enforcement officers regarding domestic abuse incidents and complaints was passed the final hurdle of passage, and now goes to Governor Walker's desk for signature.


Read more...  


Increased Funding for Highway Rehabilitation 

On February 11th, the State Assembly passed AB 704 on a unanimous 99-0 vote and sent the bill to the Senate. The bill, and companion Senate Bill 539, was introduced by Legislative leadership at the request of Governor Scott Walker.


The legislation would increase funding for the state highway rehabilitation program by $43,025,700 this year and would expedite work on 11 projects, moving other projects up in line.


Read more...  


Senate Passes Limit for Liability for Parents of Minor Drivers

On Wednesday, March 12, the Wisconsin Senate passed SB 592 (Sen. Grothman/Rep. Jim Ott) that would place a $300,000 limit on liability for parents of minor drivers. Wisconsin is currently one of roughly 12 states that imposes unlimited liability on parents of drivers ages 16 to 18.


Unexpectedly, Rep. Jim Ott, the Assembly Judiciary Chairperson and author of the bill, removed his support for the bill and had it removed from the Assembly calendar.


SB 592 imposes liability for parents up to $300,000, and the minor driver would still be on the hook for all damages. Moreover, most states do not impute any liability to parents. Even in California, where parents are liable for damages caused by their minor driver, the cap is $30,000 (the cap in SB 592 is 10 times higher than California's cap). 



Assembly Action on Other Bills

In the last official day of session for the Wisconsin State Assembly until January 2015, the Assembly sped through a slew of bills and also spent time debating many controversial bills.


Several other bills in addition to those reported on in Tidbits received action in the Assembly, including:


Assembly Bill 74 works to increase the crime victim and witness assistance surcharge, dedicating funds for crime prevention organizations, and creating local crime prevention funding boards. The bill was passed by the Assembly (77-16), and now heads to the Senate for a vote.


Senate Bill 509 relates to the operation of agricultural vehicles on highways. The Assembly passed the bill with a number of amendments late last night. The new, amended version of the bill will go back to the Senate for a vote.  


Senate Bill 348 passed the Assembly unanimously, which provides a tax exemption for aircraft parts, maintenance, and labor. The bill now heads to the Governor's desk for a signature.


Assembly Bill 733 adds the construction of a nursing facility at the Veterans Home at King. The bill passed the Assembly and now awaits passage in the Senate.


Hamilton Consulting: Your Government Relations Easy Button


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News Clips 


GOP-led Wisconsin Senate denying veterans legal rights in asbestos-caused cancer cases, Democratic Leader Chris Larson says: PolitiFact.com, Mar. 20, 2014. 

Marathon session begins as Assembly takes up chemo, early-voting bills: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mar. 20, 2014.

Assembly GOP to pass scaled-back chemotherapy bill: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mar. 20, 2014.

Assembly passes tax break for aircraft maintenance, repairs: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mar. 20, 2014.

Burke defends Ad PolitiFact deemed 'Pants on fire': WPR, Mar. 17, 2014.

Congressmen Ribble and Pocan discuss congressional issues at Marquette Law forum: Wisconsin Election Watch, Mar. 17, 2014.

Rasmussen poll says Scott Walker, Mary Burke are tied in 2014 race: Racine Journal Times, Mar. 13, 2014.

Senate Approves Bills On Early Voting, Election Observers: WPR.org, Mar. 12, 2014.

Did Russ Feingold just end a war?: Politico, March 11, 2014.


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