Floor Report: November Senate & Assembly Floor Periods
The Wisconsin Senate and Assembly met this month for what is expected to be the last floor sessions of 2019. The Senate met on Nov. 5, and the Assembly met on Nov. 7 and 12. Both chambers also met very briefly in accordance with Gov. Tony Evers's call for a special session on gun reform on Nov. 7.
After November, indications are each house will only meet three to four times in 2020 before adjourning in March (if not earlier).
On Nov. 12, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) held a preliminary public hearing on three scope statements seeking to regulate PFAS chemicals in Wisconsin.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are man-made chemicals that are found in many everyday products, including nonstick pans, cleaning products, paints, and firefighting foam. The most extensively studied PFAS compounds are PFOA and PFOS, which have been phased out of domestic manufacturing over the past decade. Competing studies debate whether or not these chemicals have negative health effects and, if they do, at what level they are harmful.
Wisconsin legislators have introduced a bill (SB 522/AB 582) that would ban use of wireless communication devices while driving, except for hands-free use. The bill would put Wisconsin in line with nearly 20 states that ban handheld cell phone use while driving, including neighboring state Minnesota, which recently passed a similar law.
Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and various co-authors have circulated a new package of bills to address substance use disorder. Nygren has led the legislative effort to combat Wisconsin's opioid epidemic with his Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) agenda starting in the 2013-14 session and continuing through 2018.
New CMS Rule Changes How PAs May Work with Physicians
The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently finalized its 2020 Physician Fee Schedule Rule, which changed Medicare supervision requirements for physician assistants (PAs) by largely deferring to state law on how PAs practice with physicians.
Recently, 11 states have replaced the outdated term "supervision" with other terms, such as collaboration, to better reflect current PA practice. Wisconsin PAs are seeking a similar update to the laws regulating their practice in the CARES Act (SB 515/AB 575).
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