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Thursday, June 6, 2013

 3:58 PM 

Assembly passes venture capital bill

The Assembly voted to pass legislation establishing a $25 million state venture capital fund under the Department of Administration.

The bill passed 91-2; two sets of paired votes will also be tacked onto the bill. Some Dems, however, expressed concerns about the role of DOA and the lack of biotech under the proposal.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, offered an amendment to instead place the fund under the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

Zamarripa said the amendment "will take the politics out of this," calling DOA "Gov. Walker's right hand man."

Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin and the Assembly author, said the most important part of the bill is to oversee an independent manager for the state's funding, making it an appropriate role for DOA.

Prior to the session, Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said the bill ensures the venture capital fund is "firewalled" from politics.

Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, also sought to add bioscience to the measure, which some have speculated was not included in the bill due to the potential role of stem cell research. Bewley said, without the amendment, government would be "picking winners and losers."

Suder said before session that the bill instead sought to target "the sectors that can actually use the money."

Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo and a co-author of the bill, added prior to session that while he supported the biotech sector, the bill also cannot be the "end all, be all." Several lawmakers also expressed concerns about an inadequate level of funding, but Clark said the program could expand further down the road.

"I'm satisfied that this bill is going to get venture capital started here in Wisconsin,” Clark said.


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