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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

 11:13 AM 

Dems call for passage of minimum wage, oral chemo bills

Legislative Democrats today accused Republicans of hostility toward workers ahead of efforts to pull a bill to the floor that would increase the minimum wage.

“If you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, you should not have to suffer … the indignity of standing in a food stamp line,” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, in a press conference ahead of today’s floor sessions.

Assembly Dems had previously announced plans to bring up legislation to gradually increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and index it thereafter. Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, said the current rate of $7.25 per hour “is a wage that keeps people in poverty.”

Dem senators also said they could offer a similar motion during their floor session. A pulling motion on the bill was shot down along party lines last week.

“It’s time that the Senate take up legislation to finally do some good for Wisconsin,” said Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, also said he would be willing to reconsider a series of amendments designed to bring up debate on legislation requiring coverage of oral chemotherapy drugs.

The bill was stalled in a procedural move last week, and Erpenbach said he intended to offer an amendment to every bill on today’s agenda that would require such coverage. Amid reports that the bill would be offered today without amendments, however, Erpenbach said an agreement among Senate leadership wouldn’t require his amendments.

Still, Dems called for a clean vote on the bill, calling a potential amendment from Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, a “bailout” for insurance companies.

Assembly Dems, meanwhile, said they'd keep their eye on the vote in the Senate. Barca speculated, however, that a majority of the Assembly GOP caucus is also on board with the chemo bill.

"Republicans need to do the right thing by the people of Wisconsin and leave behind the special interests," Barca said.


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