What’s Left This Session?

With the Wisconsin Assembly likely adjourned for the 2019-20 legislative session, there are a few items left on the table for the Senate to act on when it meets for the last time at the end of the month.

Some notable items that the Senate could take up:

  • DNC hours. AB 869 would extend bar hours during the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee this summer. Concerns about public safety have been raised in the Senate. An amendment added by the Assembly attempted to address those concerns by limiting the extended hours to 14 counties in the Milwaukee area, adding a $25 surcharge on drunk driving arrests, and allowing municipalities to opt-in to the extended hours.
  • Water quality task force bills. Thirteen bills from the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality passed the Assembly on Feb. 18, most with bipartisan support. The bills have a $10 million dollar price tag, and it is unclear whether the Senate will take them up at the end of March.
  • As an amendmenttacked on to SB 559 (an unrelated bill), the Assembly passed on a party line vote language that directs the UW System to perform a study and report to the Legislature on PFAS effects; directs DNR to test private wells and municipal water systems for PFOA and PFOS in places around the state that have detected PFAS, investigate PFAS in those areas, and provide clean drinking water to residents affected; directs DNR to recoup payments from responsible parties who have used firefighting foam containing PFAS; and directs DNR to set lab certification standards. It is unclear if the Senate in March will take up the bill as amended. Read more about recent PFAS legislation and regulation.
  • Physician assistants. The Senate will likely vote to pass and send to Gov. Evers the bipartisan Collaboration and Rural Expansion of Services (CARES) Act(AB 575), which would update Wisconsin statutes related to physician assistants.
  • AB 114, passed by the Assembly on Feb. 18, would regulate pharmacy benefit managers in Wisconsin. Health insurance and business groups, including the Alliance of Health Insurers, America’s Health Insurance Plans, Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce opposed the bill as originally drafted as it would jeopardize cost-cutting strategies pharmacy benefit managers and insurers use to manage the costs of prescription drugs. Some of the provisions that would increase overall costs for Wisconsin consumers and employers were removed from the legislation in a substitute amendment. With these changes, the bill could pass the Senate when they convene in March.
  • Room taxes. AB 683 would streamline municipal collection of room taxes from marketplaces providers (e.g. short-term rentals).
  • Tobacco age. AB 422 would raise the legal age for sale of tobacco to 21, in accordance with new federal law.
  • Worker’s compensation. The Senate passed SB 511 in January; however, the Assembly adopted a substitute amendment on the floor in February, sending the bill back to the Senate. The legislation provides worker’s compensation coverage for law enforcement and full-time fire fighters for a diagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Assembly substitute amendment added additional parameters to the allowable coverage, capping the benefits so it can be received only three times in one’s lifetime – regardless of if the individual is in a different position or different employer. The Assembly amendment also contains general worker’s compensation provisions from the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council’s agreed-upon bill (SB 673), which failed to pass this session. Those provisions include clarifying when and how employers pay into the work injury supplemental benefit fund, requiring health care providers to provide worker’s comp insurers with a complete billing statement for treatment, addressing employee leasing companies, and clarifying the applicability of the worker’s compensation statute of limitations.

 Stay tuned to Hamilton Political Tidbits for updates when the Senate convenes in late March.


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