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Thursday, March 20, 2014

 5:43 PM 

Assembly backs asbestos claims bill

The Assembly has concurred in Senate changes to AB 19 on a 55-38 vote -- with a pair -- sending it to the governor's desk.

The bill, which would alter the process for civil claims over asbestos exposure, has drawn the ire of veterans groups, which have argued it would prevent or delay the payment of damages through trusts set up by bankrupt asbestos companies.

Dems, meanwhile, charged that the bill was backed by ALEC and other conservative groups, and reflected a pattern of GOP lawmakers favoring corporations over the public.

“It’s the big guys against the little guys, and the little guys are going to lose,” said Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland.

“I would hate to see the day when veterans bills get partisan, but that day is today,” added Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton.

Supporters of the bill, meanwhile, argue the bill increases transparency in the claims process and prevents “double-dipping” by attorneys.

Rep. Jim Ott, R-Mequon, said the bill aims to put "some control" on funds set up to provide compensation to victims, "which is not an endless pot of money."


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