Senate and Assembly Voting, Cabinet Confirmations, & Special Election Problem

Senate and Assembly Back in Session

The State Senate and State Assembly were on the floor voting on a wide range of legislation this week. The activity marked the first floor days after the summer break. Both houses worked diligently throughout August and September in the committee process to prepare much of the legislation voted on this week. In total, the two houses took up over eighty bills and resolutions.

The State Senate was in session on Tuesday, October 8. Debate was generally uneventful with much of the legislation passing on bipartisan voice votes or unanimously. Among the highlights was a bill from Republican Senator Patrick Testin regarding industrial farming of hemp. Specifically, Senate Bill 188, aims to take the state’s current hemp cultivation pilot program to a permanent program. The bill’s authors cited the 2019 numbers that show over 1,400 growers and 700 hemp processors applied for permits from the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection. The bill passed 30-2 with Republicans Steve Nass and Duey Stroebel voting in opposition.

The Senate also took up a piece of legislation known as the Lemonade Stand Bill, which seeks to legalize minors being able to sell certain non-hazardous foods. The legislation was introduced following some stories in Wisconsin and other states about children being cited by local law enforcement for operating food stands without permits. The bill, Senate Bill 170, passed on a unanimous voice vote.

Rep. Anderson
Rep. Anderson

The State Assembly convened on Thursday, October 10. Like much of the Senate calendar, many bills passed on simple bipartisan voice votes. However, the calendar included a somewhat controversial resolution that sought to change Assembly rules. The controversy stemmed from events last year in which Representative Jimmy Anderson (D – Fitchburg) sought changes to Assembly rules which would allow him to call into committee meetings. Anderson, a paraplegic, sought the rule change in order to participate in committee meetings while also tending issues related to his disability.

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Congressional Bids & Medical Marijuana Bill in WI

Congressional bids for two open seats and a new medical marijuana bill are top September headlines in Wisconsin politics. State Senators Announce Congressional Bids Earlier this month, Congressman James Sensenbrenner announced he is not seeking reelection the the U.S. House of Representatives in 2020. A few weeks prior, Congressman Sean Duffy announced he would be … Read more

Legislature Passes 2019-2021 State Budget

This week, the State Legislature finished its deliberations on the state budget. On June 25, the State Assembly passed the comprehensive spending bill on a 60 to 39 vote with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in opposition. Debate on the bill lasted over 10 hours. The State Senate passed the bill yesterday, June 26, … Read more

Joint Committee on Finance Concludes Budget Work

Joint Committee on Finance Concludes Budget Work This afternoon, the Joint Committee on Finance completed its work on the 2019-2021 biennial state budget. The committee’s budget work began over three months following Governor Tony Evers’ budget address on February 28. The Joint Committee on Finance began its work in March by receiving testimony from state … Read more

Lawsuit, Budget Battle & Surplus Revenue

State Files Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma

On May 16, Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul announced the state has filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and its former president and chairman Richard Sackler. The state is alleging Purdue Pharma and Sackler purposefully misled the public about the dangers of its opioid products by downplaying the negative addictive nature of those products. Wisconsin joined Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, and West Virginia in filing lawsuits against Purdue and Sackler last week.

The lawsuit is in reaction to the statewide opioid epidemic, which the state is alleging is at least in part the result of Purdue Pharma’s false advertising. According to the filed suit, 7,500 Wisconsin citizens died due to opioid overdoses from 2000 to 2017, and the cost of combating the state’s opioid epidemic has been “enormous” according to Kaul.

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Joint Committee on Finance & Lame Duck Legislative Battle Updates

Joint Committee on Finance to Remove Medicaid Expansion from Budget Proposal

On May 1, Senator Alberta Darling (R – River Hills) and Representative John Nygren (R – Marinette), co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance, released a memo explaining the committee’s voting process. According to the memo, the Joint Committee on Finance will begin voting on May 9. The committee will begin by considering some of the smaller agencies and divisions.

However, its first item of business will be to vote on removing over 70 provisions that have been identified as policy items. Every budget cycle, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau scrutinizes the governor’s budget proposal to identify which items are considered non-fiscal policy rather than strictly budgetary and funding proposals.

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