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2015-16 Legislature: Printable directory | Leadership rosters | New faces

 5:40 PM 

Jorgensen holds floor

Rep. Andy Jorgensen is making the Dems' case for a resolution that would call on the guv to immediately pay back the state for all travel and security expenses related to his presidential campaign.

Jorgensen said he doesn't believe Walker will be open and transparent with his expenses.

"Call me old-fashioned," the Milton Dem said.

 5:19 PM 

Assembly signs off on voucher cap exemption

An exemption to the cap on the statewide voucher program passed the Assembly on a voice vote.

AB 332 would accommodate about a dozen kids who participated in the program last year, but would otherwise be forced out, according to the office of GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, a co-author. Under the bill, the exception would let students who attended a private school in the previous year stay in the program even if their districts have exceeded the participation limit established in the state budget.

For the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years, that limit was set at 1 percent of a district's membership in the previous school year.

The Assembly bill, written by Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin, cleared an Assembly committee on a unanimous vote.

 5:16 PM 

School board bill survives Assembly vote

Despite Dem opposition, the Assembly passed a bill that would let Racine’s school board president appoint someone to fill a vacancy on the panel cleared the Assembly.

The bill passed on a 57-37 vote.

Under current law, the remaining school board members appoint a person to fill a vacancy.

The bill, though, is designed to solve a specific problem in Racine, where one school board member had to step down in June after it was found she had a felony conviction, according to bill author Rep. Thomas Weatherston’s office. That left eight members on the board, and they have reached a tie vote on appointments 35 times since June, according to the Caledonia Republican’s office. 

Weatherston asked the chamber today why the Legislature has to be "screwing around" with a local school board. Then he answered the question, calling the board "embarrassing." 

"Because it's dysfunctional," he said. "It can't get out of it's own way."

Still, it's a local debate, and the Legislature should stay out of it, said Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine.

"The idea that this body would say that it knows better and is going to pick one of the local factions," he said, "is absurd."

As for other school boards in the state, the bill requires only that they develop a policy for what to do in case of a tie.

The bill passed out of committee on a 9-4 party line vote, with Dems calling for a special election instead of the appointment power.

 4:39 PM 

Planned Parenthood bill passes

After extensive debate, the Assembly has passed a bill that would redirect as much as $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants away from Planned Parenthood.

The bill passed on a 60-35 party-line vote.

AB 310 shifts the federal money to clinics that don't provide abortions or have affiliates that do the procedure. Under Rep. Andre Jacque’s bill, the state Department of Health Services would apply for the grant money and distribute it to the Wisconsin Well-Woman Program and local or state health departments or clinics.

The De Pere Republican made it clear in committee and again on the floor today the intent of the bill is to make sure the money does not go to doctors who perform abortions.

Dems, though, argued shifting the money away from Planned Parenthood and its affiliates would limit access to family-planning services, treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screening and pap smears.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin has said the bill wouldn’t affect the organization until 2018 because the group received its money this year. The Title X program, according to the group, operates on a three-year cycle.

See the vote here.

 4:33 PM 

Jacque defends his Planned Parenthood bill

The author of the bill that would shift federal grant money away from Planned Parenthood called the organization a monopoly.

Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere, said Wisconsin is one of only three states in the country where Planned Parenthood is the only recipient of the Title X money. He said that should change.

"What we're talking about are funds that are sent to Planned Parenthood without competition," he said.

 3:48 PM 

An awkward introduction

Debate on the Planned Parenthood bill paused briefly so Rep. John Spiros could introduce visitors from his district.

Just prior to the pause, debate had centered on the numbers of people in the state who have chlamydia, HIV, gonorrhea and other sexually transmitted diseases.

The Marshfield Republican's visitors? A group of fourth graders, many of whom were leaving the gallery when he made the introduction.

 3:35 PM 

Dems push to kill bill

Dems are attacking AB 310 as a bill that only would hurt access to testing, treatment and family planning in the state.

Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville, called the legislation, which would shift millions in federal grant money away from Planned Parenthood, nothing more than a "thinly veiled political attack" on the organization. But the fallout of that attack, she said, would be women, particularly those in rural areas.

"Women deserve better than this," Kolste said.

Dem Lisa Subeck, of Madison, said the Republican agenda does not match that of the medical community, which has not requested such a change.

"This bill is motivated by the Republican desire to defund Planned Parenthood at any cost," she said, "And it will come at a cost."

 3:15 PM 

Dems push bill amendments

Calling Dem amendments "bogus," Rep. Andre Jacque said no part of his Planned Parenthood bill would restrict birth-control distribution or cancer screening.

The provision in the amended bill Dems went after would let an employee at a clinic cite personal beliefs for not providing a service. But, under the bill, someone else at the clinic still would need to provide that service.

"This has nothing to do with denial of cancer screening," the De Pere Republican. "This whole debate so far has been preposterous."

Two amendments would have prevented a clinic employee from citing personal beliefs in refusing to perform a cancer screening or distribute birth control. Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, strongly urged members vote for the cancer screening amendment.

"It is unconscionable to me that any of you would vote to table this amendment," he said.

Both amendments were tabled.

 2:42 PM 

Debate starts on Planned Parenthood bill

The Assembly has started floor debate on a bill that would redirect as much as $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants away from Planned Parenthood.

The Assembly's Rules Committee has set aside 2 1/2 hours for debate on the bill, written by Rep. Andre Jacque, R-De Pere.

AB 310 shifts the federal money to clinics that don't provide abortions or have affiliates that conduct the procedure. Under the bill, the state Department of Health Services would apply for the grant money and distribute it to the Wisconsin Well-Woman Program and local or state health departments or clinics.

 2:29 PM 

Bill creating exception for school board members clears Assembly

A bill that would let a school board member act as a volunteer coach or as
a supervisor for an extracurricular activity now awaits Gov. Scott Walker’s signature.

The bill cleared the Assembly on concurrence. It passed the Senate with a 29-2 vote.

SB 217 is bipartisan, with authors Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer, R-Tomah.

It creates an exception to the common law doctrine of incompatibility, which prohibits a person from holding two or more public positions when the duties of each position might conflict, or when one position might be seen as superior to the other.

The exception under the bill comes with caveats. The school board member cannot receive compensation when taking on the second role, cannot vote on topics related to the coaching or supervisory position, and must submit to a criminal background check.

 2:26 PM 

Vehicle donation bill headed to Walker

A bill that would let municipalities and counties donate abandoned vehicles to nonprofit organizations is headed to the guv.

The Assembly concurred on the bill .

SB 153 allows for donating the vehicles as an alternative to junking, selling or using them for official use.

 2:24 PM 

Assembly concurs on legal notice legislation

The Assembly concurred on a bill that would let municipalities post legal notices on their websites and in one public place.

SB 137 now goes to the guv’s desk.

Under current law, municipalities generally publish in a newspaper a legal notice likely to be viewed by those affected, and the municipalities must meet certain requirements regarding timing and placement of the notices. They also must post the notice in at least three public places.

Under the bill, they could post the notice in one public place and publish the notice on the municipality's website.

 2:23 PM 

Buoy bill clears Assembly

A bill creating immunity from civil lawsuits for those who place buoys or other markers in waterways is headed to the guv’s desk.

The Assembly concurred on SB 110.

The bill would shield those who hold a permit from the DNR to place buoys or markers to mark hazards in a waterway. The protection extends to those who act under the permit-holder’s direction.

That immunity would not extend to someone who acted intentionally to cause the damage or injury.

 2:16 PM 

Assembly passes series of adoption bills

The Assembly has passed on voice votes a package of bills from the Legislative Council Study Committee on Adoption Disruption and Dissolution.

The four bills — AB 39, AB 40, AB 41, AB 42 — cover: jurisdiction for adoption proceedings; preadoption requirements and post-adoption referrals; re-adoption of a child by a state resident under the order of a foreign jurisdiction; and circumstances requiring a statement as to whether a child has been adopted.

All four bills cleared committee on unanimous votes.

 2:08 PM 

'Tastes great, less filling'

The Assembly just passed a joint resolution commemorating the 160th anniversary of Miller Brewing Co. in Wisconsin, with Republicans in favor saying "tastes great" and Dems saying "less filling."

 1:32 PM 

Vos says no special session needed for transportation

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he does not agree with Congressman Mark Pocan's call for a special session to determine spending on state transportation projects.

At least two projects, the I-90 expansion near Janesville and the Verona Road expansion in Madison, are facing expected two-year delays.

Vos said he doesn't send letters to Congress telling members what to do and doesn't think it's necessary seek the special session in Wisconsin, as the Madison-area U.S. rep has requested.

He said the first order of business is for Joint Finance to meet.

"I think we have plenty of time to do it in the regular session," Vos said.

 1:27 PM 

Jacque clarifies sub amendment

Rep. Andre Jacque has clarified a sub amendment to his Title X funding bill, saying the changes are mostly housekeeping.

The bill would direct the Department of Health Services to apply for the federal grants and would prevent any clinics that perform abortions, or have affiliates that do the procedures, from receiving the money. The sub removes the prohibition against clinics that do referrals for the procedure, the De Pere Republican said.

Jacque said Dem comments about health care providers being able to refuse to provide certain types of treatment are in reference to a provision already in the bill, not in the amendment.

The bill would direct at least $3.5 million annually from Planned Parenthood.

 1:09 PM 

Dems ready for fight over Planned Parenthood bill

Speaking before the floor session, Assembly Dems today foreshadowed a fight over a bill that would redirect from Planned Parenthood about $3.5 million annually in Title X federal grants.

The bill will hurt women who need access to family-planning services, said Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville.

"The bill today shows how an ideological agenda causes collateral damage," she said.

The Dems described a sub amendment to the bill that would let health care providers refuse to provide such services as birth control, STD treatment, and cervical and cancer screening.

"We're going to do our best to take out some of the most devastating parts of this bill," said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison.

 12:58 PM 

Dems to propose Walker pay travel, security expenses

Assembly Dems plan to introduce a resolution on the floor today calling on Gov. Scott Walker to immediately pay back to the state the travel and security costs related to his presidential campaign.

"The bill is on the table," Rep. Andy Jorgensen, D-Milton, said. "He needs to pay it."

Jorgensen said it will be up to Assembly Republicans to decide if they will continue to stand with Walker or if they will seek money for taxpayers.

"After today's vote," Jorgensen said, "we'll see who's who in the zoo."

 1:02 PM 

Senate signs off on bill to return excess Lambeau Field sales tax dollars

The Senate has unanimously signed off on legislation that would return excess sales tax revenue collected for the Lambeau Field renovations to Brown County municipalities.

The stadium district certified earlier this year it had paid off the bonds for the project, which expanded capacity and added the atrium, and built up a required reserve fund to pay for maintenance and operating costs. But there is a lag before the half-cent sales tax can be removed.

That is scheduled to happen Sept. 30. By then, approximately $17.6 million will have built up, and the bill would send a quarter of that to Brown County with the rest returned to other municipalities in the county according to population.

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, proposed an amendment to instead send the money back to taxpayers through a rebate check of $70 per individual of $135 per household.

“I think this would be a better way to respond to the over taxation by giving it back to the people,” Hansen said.

But Sen. Rob Cowles, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, moved tabling, and his GOP colleagues shot down the idea.

“We think that’s the best way to do this and the most proficient way to do this,” Cowles, R-Green Bay, said of sending the money to the county and municipalities.

 12:21 PM 

Senate honors former Rep. Lothian

The Senate approved via voice vote an Assembly joint resolution honoring the life of former GOP state Rep. Tom Lothian, who passed away in May at the age of 86.

Sen. Steve Nass, who served in the Assembly alongside Lothian, said his former colleague was "born into this world with a special opportunity, and that was the opportunity to make a difference.

"Thomas Archer Lothian was never just marking time," said Nass, R-Whitewater. "He spent his entire life making a difference."

 11:40 AM 

And we have a recess

The Senate is adjourning to the parlor for a short reception in honor of its newest member.

The body is expected back at noon.

 11:31 AM 

And we have Republicans

The Senate GOP has shown up, there's the bell and away we go.

New Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, is here to be formally sworn in after winning a special election this summer to fill the seat of former Sen. Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee.

Kapenga's addition puts the GOP majority back at 19-14.

 11:24 AM 

No signs of Senate Republicans yet; Vukmir elected assistant majority leader

Still no signs of Senate Republicans yet, though a number of their Dem colleagues have made it to their seats.

The GOP caucused this morning and elected Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, assistant majority leader.

Vukmir replaces Paul Farrow, R-Pewaukee, who resigned his seat to focus full-time on being Waukesha County exec.

“I am honored my peers have placed their confidence in me to help accomplish our goals,” Vukmir said.

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