Legislative Update – January 17

Governor Tony Evers met this week with the joint Republican caucus. Among topics addressed, Republicans say Medicaid expansion is a non-starter, while Evers is holding steady. Evers said he doesn’t plan to make changes to the jobs agency, WEDC, in this budget but will keep a close eye on things.

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Pre-Existing Conditions Bill Passes Committee. AB 1 now moves to a floor vote. There’s no companion bill in the Senate, and Governor Evers said he won’t accept anything less than the protections that are currently in place. Evers and GOP legislative leaders say they will meet to discuss the bill.

Marsy’s Law may be headed for April Ballot. A bill that spells out rights for crime victims is expected to be up for floor votes Tuesday. A constitutional amendment, it cleared the Legislature last session, and needs to get second approval by Tuesday to make the April ballot.

Assembly Dems announce priorities. The Assembly Democrats have announced some of their initial priorities for the first part of the 2019-20 legislative session, including redistricting, campaign finance, restricting the ability to change powers of any branch of state government during lame duck sessions; open meetings; and open records.

Republican Legislators on the Road. Legislative Republicans held six news conferences this week to announce what they dubbed “a major new initiative to help middle class families.” The events were in Green Bay, Sussex, Wausau, La Crosse, Eau Claire and Madison.

Legislative Litigation Will Cost Taxpayers. Media reports this week that Assembly Republicans will pay a Chicago law firm up to $850,000 to protect their gerrymandered election maps, and GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says they will likely intervene in some other cases. What does that mean to taxpayers? More private attorneys at taxpayer expense.

Bills Circulating. Among the bills circulating for co-sponsorship are:

  • Requiring supermajority vote to overturn local government actions. LRB 99/1, from Sen. Tim Carpenter, would prevent the legislature from passing any bill that overturns any local government policy, ordinance, resolution, or regulation unless the bill is approved by two-thirds of those members present and voting.  The bill applies to policies, ordinances, resolutions, and regulations of school districts, counties, cities, villages, and towns.
  • Human Trafficking. A bill that would fight human trafficking through trucker education is circulating for co-sponsorship by Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt. This legislation would establish industry-specific materials on the recognition and prevention of human trafficking for use in the instruction in driver education courses that provide instruction in the operation of commercial motor vehicles. This will affect new drivers only and has had success in Texas.