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

 9:53 PM 

Title X bill clears Senate

The Republican bill  that would attempt to redirect up to $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants away from Planned Parenthood cleared the Senate.

The body concurred 19-14 on the Assembly version of the bill.

 9:15 PM 

Debate shifts to bill directing federal money away from Planned Parenthood

The amended bill would attempt to redirect as much as $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants away from Planned Parenthood.

The bill, AB 310, would require the state Department of Health Services apply, starting in 2018, for the grant money and distribute it to the Wisconsin Well-Woman Program and local or state health departments or clinics. Public entities can distribute the money to other groups as long as they and their affiliates do not perform abortions.

Dem Sen. Jon Erpenbach is arguing it's ironic the bill is trying to redirect money from Planned Parenthood, but the legislation would force the DHS to do what the organization does in order to get the money.

"This is actually too good," Erpenbach said. "I couldn't come up with something like this."

Sen. Chris Kapenga, author of the Senate bill, said the legislation would give Wisconsin the chance to get millions of dollars to direct toward services such as cervical cancer screening, contraceptives and sexually transmitted disease screening.

"We're going to be able to go and get money," the Delafield Republican said, "for these critical health services."

 8:51 PM 

Civil service bill clears Senate

The Senate concurred 19-14 along party lines on the Assembly's version of the civil service bill.

That version passed passed the Assembly on Oct. 27. It would make multiple changes to the state system, including: giving the state power to fire workers for specific conduct without imposing progressive discipline; replacing the civil service test with a resume-based application process; reducing the threshold for an employee's job to be considered abandoned; allowing layoffs based on performance and other factors rather than just seniority; expediting the hiring process; and eliminating the state's right to ask applicants immediately about previous criminal convictions, except under certain circumstances.

The vote followed multiple Dems speaking in opposition. Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said he expects the quality of state government will go down.

"There will be no more accountability to taxpayers," he said.

 7:43 PM 

Audit amendment to civil service prompts Nass comments

A Dem amendment calling for annual audits of the civil service system led Sen. Steve Nass to say it has been made clear to him any changes to the bill will kill it.

The audit provision was a part of the Senate bill, which was tabled during the session today. That version, for which Nass was a co-sponsor, also would have eliminated the "ban the box" provision in the Assembly version that prohibits asking applicants early in the hiring process about their criminal past.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said he supports the audit.

"Put your money where your mouth is," he said.

Doing so, Nass said, means supporters would lose the entire bill. And that, he said, is frustrating.

"The Assembly has, quite frankly, staked out their position pretty harshly," Nass, R-Whitewater, said, adding it's "bogus" for lawmakers to use time left in the session as a reason for not acting on the bill.

Nass' comments prompted Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, to urge her colleagues to act independently.

"Speaker Vos does not rule the state Senate," she said.

 7:12 PM 

Civil service bill author responds to Dems

After several Senate Dems spoke out against the civil service bill, the legislation's author responded.

Sen. Roger Roth said when he took on the job of writing the bill, his goal was to keep the core of civil service the same and make sure the state can attract more workers. But as for Dem accusations the bill could lead to patronage, Roth said it won't happen.

"Just because you say something, doesn't make it true," he said, noting civil service protections in state law for political affiliations still would be there if his bill passes.

But Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, disagreed. She cited portions of the proposal that explained what could lead to firing state employees, and those, she said, include personal conduct that is inadequate, unsuitable and inferior.

"That ambiguous rule could become a proxy for political retribution," Vinehout said.

 6:18 PM 

Risser cites connection to civil service as debate starts

Sen. Fred Risser is kicking off debate on the Assembly version of the civil service bill, noting it was his grandfather who proposed the original civil service legislation 111 years ago.

And that bill, he pointed out, was signed by a Republican governor.

The Madison Dem said he represents more state employees than anyone in the state, and, he added, the bill isn't good for them. He noted how its provisions, such as eliminating the civil service exam as a part of hiring, will return the state to patronage and favoritism.

"I feel strongly state employees should be hired on what they know," Risser said, "rather than who they know."

 6:03 PM 

Senate concurs on treasurer's office constitutional amendment

A constitutional amendment that would eliminate the office of the state treasurer is another step closer to passage, having cleared both houses of the Legislature this session.

The Senate approved the amendment 20-13, with Dems Fred Risser, of Madison, and Tim Carpenter, of Milwaukee, in favor. Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, voted against.

For the constitutional amendment to succeed, the resolution would have to be passed by two successive legislatures and then in a statewide referendum.

Senate Dems argued the resolution would take the state in the wrong direction. Sen. Kathleen Vinehout said the treasurer should be given more responsibility rather than disappearing.

"Instead of getting rid of the treasurer and secretary of state," Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said, "I think we have to give them a real job."

But the vote tonight simply moves the resolution forward in the process, Sen. Richard Gudex said. The Fond du Lac Republican said the final decision will not rest with the Legislature.

"Here's a novel idea: Let's put the question to the people," Gudex said.

Approval of the change would eliminate from the constitution a position now held by Matt Adamczyk, who was elected in fall 2014. During his campaign, he promised to try to eliminate the state treasurer’s position.

 5:46 PM 

Strip search bill passes

The Senate voted 19-14 along party lines to expand the circumstances under which someone in police custody can be strip searched as Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, ripped her colleagues for a move she said would lead to additional abuses of African-American men.

Now, other than those arrested for felonies and some misdemeanors, someone has to be facing detainment of at least 12 hours before police can conduct a strip search. SB 248 would drop the 12-hour requirement.

Taylor, D-Milwaukee, recounted how her 16-year-old son, Isaiah, was stopped, patted down and put in the back of a squad car last month while delivering a turkey to a needy family in their neighborhood. Police have called their actions lawful, but Taylor used it as an example of how African-Americans face different standards than others with law enforcement.

She also said existing strip search policies are already being abused, citing a $5 million settlement the Milwaukee Common Council approved this week with 74 African-American residents who said they were subjected to illegal strip searches and cavity searches. It is part of a settlement covering more than a dozen federal civil rights suits filed against the city over the searches.

“I’m not some angry black woman saying something that’s not true,” said Taylor, who tried to amend the bill to exempt Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. “I’m speaking truth to power, and I know it’s uncomfortable. Whether you realize it, unintended consequences of your legislation is what leads to the disparities.”

But bill author Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, is about making sure law enforcement can conduct a search when there is suspicion there are weapons or drugs. She said the bill also removes "real challenges" and "costly mandates" for county jails.

"It ensures safety," Harsdorf said, "not only of jail staff, but also the other inmates."

Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, the only other black member of the chamber, said her colleagues likely tire of hearing her and Taylor talk about race and color regularly as they bring up issues in Milwaukee. She started to apologize before catching herself.

“I’m tired of apologizing for it,” said Harris Dodd, D-Milwaukee. “I’m African-American, I see these things happening in our community, and it’s happening largely to African-American males.”

 3:53 PM 

Senate approves bill that would raise cost of birth control drugs Planned Parenthood receives through Medicaid

The Senate approved along party lines legislation that would result in raising the costs of birth control drugs Planned Parenthood receives through Medicaid.

Dems decried it as unconstitutional because it would treat Planned Parenthood differently from other groups that dispense the drugs through Medicaid’s 340B program. The bill, approved 18-14, would require groups to bill Medicaid the actual cost, plus a standard dispensing fee, for the drugs. Doing so would cost Planned Parenthood an estimate $4 million annually.

When the bill was introduced, some Republicans feared it would impact local health clinics as well as Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted by the GOP following a series of videos released last year. But the legislation was amended Wednesday to apply on to abortion providers and their affiliates.

“I think we all know that this bill is dealing specifically with an organization called Planned Parenthood,” said co-author Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield. “There isn’t any debate about that.”

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee and an attorney, said there is a constitutional problem with singling out the organization so that it is treated differently under the Medicaid program compared to others. 

“I would argue that it may even be seen as vindictive legislation in a way that would surely not be seen as appropriate for this body,” she said.

Lawmakers spent a good portion of the debate arguing over access to birth control with Dems charging it would restrict access by cutting off money for Planned Parenthood and possibly lead to the closure of clinics. Republicans countered the bill would only require Planned Parenthood to charge the actual cost of dispensing the drug.

The bill was one of two on today’s Senate calendar targeting Planned Parenthood’s funding. The other would cut off as much as $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants the group now receives.

Kapenga said the bills don’t fix what he sees as the problem with the organization, but advances the cause.

“This is a consistent stance, consistent stance with where I have always been, where many others have always been,” Kapenga said. “We are going to protect life. There is a fundamental disagreement on where that begins. I bel that begins at conception, and I believe one of the cornerstones of the Declaration of Independence and what our Constitution is drafted around is the protection of life.”

 1:33 PM 

And there's the bell

Roll call is underway.

One programming note. The southeast gallery is closed today after a water pipe burst. That forced the temporary relocation of Sen. Tom Tiffany’s office and means that gallery will be off limits this week as things dry out.

UPDATE: Senate President Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, announced there will be an overflow room in 300SE because the gallery is closed.

 12:02 PM 

Nass: Senate will take up Assembly version of civil service bill with ban-the-box provision

Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said he is dropping an effort to remove a ban-the-box provision from the civil service bill on today’s Senate calendar because any changes to what passed the Assembly would kill the legislation this session.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, co-author of the civil service bill, has been adamant that he wants to keep the provision, which would prohibit an administration from asking a job applicant during the initial screening if they have a criminal background.

Nass wants to strip that provision from the bill. But he said the message he received is the Assembly will not take up any changes to the legislation it already passed. 

“If I put amendments on the bill, everything is dead,” Nass said. “The assembly is not going to take that up. They’re very adamant about that.”

Steineke, R-Kaukauna, did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone. 

Both versions of the civil service bill are on today’s Senate calendar, including the one that cleared Nass’ committee. That version would still allow administrations to ask applicants about their criminal history up front. 

Nass said he will likely vote for the Assembly version when it comes up on the floor today because he supports most other provisions in the bill. Still, he continued to rail against the ban-the-box provision.

“The day is going to come, sooner rather than later, where there’s a mother calling a legislator saying, ‘There’s a rapist working right next to my daughter. What are you going to do about it?’, and all they’re going to say is, ‘Well, we got rid of the box,’” Nass said.

 10:45 AM 

Senate not coming in until 1:30 p.m. now

Senate Chief Clerk Jeff Renk just announced the Senate now won't be in until 1:30 p.m.

The chamber had been scheduled to come in at 11 a.m. But Senate leaders didn't release the calendar until late yesterday afternoon, and it includes a series of controversial bills. That includes the overhaul to the state's civil service system and legislation aimed at funding for Planned Parenthood.

See the calendar.

 3:12 PM 

Dems call again for Gannon apology

Dems are again seeking an apology from Rep. Bob Gannon for comments he made in a press release about Milwaukee murder rates and unemployment in certain city neighborhoods.

The Slinger Republican did not comment on the floor today.

Dems framed their request for an apology by proposing the creation of a Combating Racial Intolerance Committee. Dems then sought the apology, saying Gannon's only apology was to Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, for flipping him off on the floor.

But Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, said Gannon must do more.

"He did not apologize to African-American Wisconsinites," she said. "He did not apologize to Milwaukee."

 2:43 PM 

Dems trying to pull bills to floor

Dems are trying, and failing to pull various bills to the floor.

Among the bills Dems are trying to pull is one dealing with funding for public schools and another with expanding Medicaid. Dems also attempted to pull their Higher Ed/Lower Debt bill, which would allow for refinancing of student debt.

"It's time that we do something and not nothing about the student loan debt crisis," said bill author Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine.

 2:23 PM 

Novak gives maiden floor speech

Rep. Todd Novak drew a round of applause from the floor after speaking on behalf of his bill, which would change state law to allow more access to information about birth parents and children.

"I firmly believe every child should have a loving home," the Dodgeville Republican said while explaining the benefits of the bill. He said it's important, for instance, that adopted children have access to health information about their birth parents.

 2:14 PM 

Child-support bill draws first roll call

A bill that would make various changes to laws governing, among other things, child support, home visitation and medical assistance passed 96-0.

AB 440, by Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, passed the Assembly's Children and Families Committee unanimously.

 1:51 PM 

Assembly zipping through calendar

The Assembly is marching through the today's calendar, passing by voice vote multiple Law Revision Committee bills as well as those dealing with children and families.

One of those bills, AB 218, would prohibit parents from inheriting a child’s estate if they have abandoned the child. The bill by Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, defines abandonment as having failed to communicate with, care for and support the child for at least a year prior to death.

Kleefisch said before the floor period the legislation would support "caring parents" over dead-beats.

The bill cleared committee 11-1, with Rep. David Heaton, R-Wausau, voting against.

 1:41 PM 

Fetal tissue bill uncertainty remains

A bill that would prohibit the sale of, or experimentation on, fetal tissue from abortions still is at a standstill, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said today.

The Rochester Republican said he's still waiting to hear about potential compromises from the bill authors. He wouldn't say if he expects a compromise before the end of the session.

"It depends on how they work together," Vos said of the authors and those who have concerns about the bill.

 1:36 PM 

Dems plan to push agenda on floor today

Rep. Katrina Shankland said today Assembly Dems will push elements of their "Bring back the middle class" agenda during the floor period.

That agenda, the Stevens Point Dem said, includes legislation on refinancing student loans, making child care more affordable through tax credits and ensuring everyone has access to sick days.

None of the bills are on the agenda for the session today.

 1:32 PM 

Vos wants Walker to discuss successes during State of the State

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he wants Gov. Scott Walker during his State of the State speech tonight to discuss the successes of bills that have passed.

The Rochester Republican said those successes sometimes get lost in the shuffle of constantly looking forward. It's important, he said, to let people know that while there still is much to do, the Legislature has done good work.

But, looking forward, Vos said, he expects Walker to discuss more money for broadband in rural areas as well as his college affordability plan. Vos said he supports the plan.

"Hopefully, it will be passed before we leave in the spring," he said.

Vos also criticized Dems' counter-proposal that would, among other things, let people refinance their college debts. He said there really is no evidence there would be lower interest rates.

Dems, though, said before the floor session today the contrast between the two parties couldn't be stronger than it is right now. Rep. Peter Barca said he wants Walker tonight to propose ideas to improve roads, solve student debt problems and strengthen the middle class.

"Unfortunately," the Kenosha Dem said, "from what we've heard so far, what the governor is going to put forward is anemic at best."

 1:13 PM 

Barca not sure Walker wants third term

Rep. Peter Barca said today he's "not so sure" Gov. Scott Walker will seek a third term.

The Kenosha Dem, speaking before the Assembly's floor session, said it's clear to him Walker has hinted at running for a third term to at least avoid becoming a lame duck.

"He wants to put forward that image because he wants to raise money right now," Barca said.

The Assembly minority leader sidestepped responding to a question about which Dem might run for guv. But he said he's "very optimistic" about Dems' chances in the upcoming elections, adding he expects fewer Assembly Republicans than in the past will run unopposed.

"I think you're going to see a much broader cast," Barca said.

 3:28 PM 

Tempers flare on floor; Gannon flips off Barca

A floor debate over a news release Rep. Bob Gannon recently put out about murder rates in Milwaukee escalated to the point of the Slinger Republican giving Rep. Peter Barca the middle finger.

"It's totally inappropriate to give someone the finger, for God's sake, on the floor of the Assembly," Barca, D-Kenosha, said. Barca called for Gannon to be reprimanded and called for an apology.

Gannon, R-Slinger, apologized.

"In the heat of the battle, I made a gesture that was inappropriate," Gannon said, adding later, "I do apologize for the gesture."

The exchange followed Dem Rep. Mandela Barnes, of Milwaukee, and others asking Gannon for an apology for comments in the news release.

"We've continued to hear very irresponsible rhetoric from this gentleman," Barnes said.

Gannon in the news release drew a comparison between murder and unemployment rates in Milwaukee. In the release, Gannon noted unemployment in Milwaukee among black people is 20 percent, which he said was four times as high as the "white unemployment rate" in the city and state.

Gannon also said in the release Milwaukee leads in "murder and mayhem" per capita, and much of that crime occurs in black neighborhoods that have high unemployment.

Gannon would not apologize for those comments and accused Barnes and others of attacking his character. He said it is "racist" to ignore "that it's predominantly blacks that are dying."

"Put your focus where it belongs," Gannon said, "and stop worrying about me."

Gannon then made the gesture toward Barca when he responded, again calling for an apology.

 2:45 PM 

Utility bill wins approval

The Assembly has passed via voice vote a bill that would change the process for selling or leasing municipal water or sewer utilities to investor-owned companies.

The bill by Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, cleared an Assembly committee 12-3, with two Dems in favor and three against.

 2:36 PM 

Trespass bill passes

A bill that establishes criminal penalties for intentionally damaging or trespassing on property owned by an energy company cleared the Assembly on a voice vote.

The bill by Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, would make such actions a Class H felony, which carries a maximum six years in prison and $10,000 fine.

The bill passed the Assembly’s Energy and Utilities Committee 14-1. Republican Rep. Adam Jarchow, of Balsam Lake, voted against.

 2:34 PM 

Nuclear bill passes Assembly

A bill that would lift what amounts to Wisconsin’s moratorium on nuclear power plant construction has cleared the Assembly on a voice vote.

Rep. Kevin Petersen’s bill would loosen regulations the state enacted in 1983 that essentially halted construction of nuclear power plants. Under current law, the Public Service Commission can’t approve a nuclear plant unless an analysis shows ratepayers will save money and there is a storage operation with enough capacity to hold all of the spent fuel in the state.

The Waupaca Republican’s proposal would eliminate both requirements.

AB 384 also would add nuclear to the list of PSC priorities for energy generation. The order of priorities under current law is: energy conservation and efficiency; noncombustible renewable energy; combustible renewable energy; and nonrenewable combustible energy.

The bill would slot nuclear after combustible renewable, a point Petersen emphasized when responding to bill critics on the Assembly floor.

"We're not taking away renewable sources," he said.

 2:21 PM 

Nuclear power plant bill up for debate

The Assembly is kicking off debate on a nuclear power plant bill.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, started the debate by speaking against the bill. She said she's happy the state is considering alternatives to coal but doesn't think nuclear should be an option.

"We need to invest in our best energy options," Taylor said, "and nuclear is not our best option."

 2:08 PM 

Nygren's HOPE bills clear Assembly

The four most recent bills in Rep. John Nygren's Heroin, Opiate, Prevention, and Education agenda have passed the Assembly on voice votes.

The Marinette Republican's AB 364 would make several changes to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, which helps the Controlled Substances Board track prescriptions of monitored drugs. Among its proposed changes, the bill would require a practitioner review a patient’s PDMP record before prescribing monitored drugs. It also would establish who, under certain circumstances, has access to PDMP records.

AB 365 would establish guidelines for law enforcement when encountering a potential controlled-substance violation or opioid-related overdose or death. Under the bill, law enforcement in those cases would be required to gather information such as the prescribing practitioner and prescription number and then share it with the state’s PDMP.

The third bill, AB 366, would require pain clinics be certified by the state Department of Health Services. The bill also would establish certification criteria, such as requirements not to accept cash payments or to directly administer certain monitored drugs.

The final bill, AB 367, would establish guidelines for methadone clinics in the state. Those clinics, under the bill, would have to annually report to the DHS information such as the number of people in treatment programs.

 1:59 PM 

Corpse bill headed to guv

A bill that ups the penalty for illegally hiding or burying a corpse is on its way to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.

Under current law, hiding a corpse illegally is a Class G penalty. The bill by Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, R-River Falls, would make it a Class F penalty, which carries a maximum $25,000 fine and 12 ½ years in prison.

The bill passed both houses on voice votes.

 1:27 PM 

Speaker comments on rallies outside Capitol

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos offered his take on two rallies taking place at opposite ends of the Capitol today.

The Ho-Chunk Nation held a "Save the Mounds" rally in protest of a proposal that would give property owners the right to test burial mounds they own for evidence of human remains. Under the proposal, if there is no evidence, they would be removed from the state's burial mound catalog.

Vos said he supports the rights of property owners but also respects the perspective of Native American.

"I think it's unlikely that this bill will come up this spring," he said.

The Rochester Republican was less certain about bills at the heart of a "Rally for Life" held by anti-abortion groups. Pro-Life Wisconsin, Wisconsin Family Action and Wisconsin Right to Life are urging legislative action on bills related to: fetal tissue; cutting off as much as $3.5 million annually in federal Title X grants for Planned Parenthood; and forcing the organization and other family planning clinics to bill Medicaid the actual cost, plus a standard dispensing fee, for drugs acquired through the Medicaid 340B program.

Vos said the fetal tissue bill, in particular, will require some members of his caucus deciding to "look at what we can get" rather than opting for an all-or-nothing approach.

 1:16 PM 

Vos: Future caucus retirements 'definitely possible'

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said today it's "definitely possible" more members of his caucus will choose to retire before the fall elections.

The Rochester Republican, though, disagreed with Rep. Peter Barca's explanation for why those retirements are taking place. Barca, D-Kenosha, said before the floor session today the retirements could be connected to Republicans not liking what they see in polls.

"They know their agenda is very unpopular," Barca said, emphasizing what he said has been an agenda that has hurt the state's middle class.

But Vos said Barca is uninformed.

"I know how many are retiring," he said. That number, he said, will be "substantially less" than is typical during a presidential cycle.

So far, Assembly Republicans David Heaton, of Wausau, and Dean Knudson, of Hudson, have announced they will not seek re-election in fall. Heaton's seat, in particular, will be a strong target for Dems, Barca said.

As for Dem retirements, Barca said he doesn't expect much.

"I think, by and large, you'll see everybody running again, perhaps everybody," he said.

 11:58 AM 

Senate adjourns

The Senate has adjourned.

The plan is to be back again Jan. 20, according to the majority leader's office.

 11:49 AM 

Senate approves bill to give out fewer Blue Books, state maps

There could be fewer Blue Books and free state maps to pass out under legislation that cleared the Senate today.

Now, each member of the Assembly receives 350 Blue Books and each senator 600. The bill would require the Legislative Reference Bureau to ask lawmakers if they want to reduce the number distributed to their office.

It would also eliminate the requirement that the Blue Book be distributed to constitutional officers, legislative service agencies, state agencies, libraries and educational institutions.

The LRB said it paid $320,217 to print 64,500 copies of the latest Blue Book, or $4.96 per book. In addition, the agency paid $36,100 to the Department of Administration for handling, storage and shipping.

The books given to lawmakers account for 54,450 of the total printed.

The bill also would allow lawmakers to reduce the number of free highway maps they receive from the Department of Transportation. They now get 50 laminated highway service maps at $1.33 each and 500 folded maps at 15 cents apiece. DOT says the current costs for the maps is $18,678 for the full Legislature.

The bill also would eliminate the 300 folded maps now sent to the legislative bureau and 1,000 folded maps sent to state officers for a savings of $195, according to DOT.

 11:46 AM 

Senate approves to bills from 'Justice for Children' package

The Senate signed off via voice vote on two bills that Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, has been working on with the AG’s office as part of a “Justice for Children” package.

SB 323 grants victims of sexual assault, human trafficking or child abuse the right to be accompanied by a victim advocate while present at some hearings, law enforcement interviews and examinations at hospitals as a result of the alleged violation.

“If you have a victim advocate with you, someone that’s standing with you and answering questions in a very traumatic situation, studies have shown the outcomes are better,” Cowles said.

SB 325 creates the crime of repeated physical abuse of the same child. A jury would have to find an individual committed at least three acts of physical abuse of the same child within a specific period to meet the proposed standard. The crime would vary from a class E felony to a class A felony depending on the harm to the child.

 11:38 AM 

Senate votes to ban sale of novelty lighters to minors

The Senate voted via voice vote to ban the sale of novelty lighters to minors and prohibit their display for resale in an area of a store that’s accessible to the general public.

Sen. Julie Lassa, D-Stevens Point, said the bill was the idea of three Pittsville elementary students in 2008 after a fellow second grader was killed in a house fire that was started by a lighter.

She said there wasn’t enough left of the lighter to tell what type it was. But the girls included one who was the granddaughter of the Pittsville Fire chief and said, “You know, grandpa, there ought to be a law.”

As Lassa spoke, she help up lighters that looked like a rifle, a guitar, a hand grenade and a cow. Though President Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, reminded Lassa there were no visual aids allowed in the chamber, Lassa said they illustrated that many of the novelty lighters are indistinguishable from children’s toys.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

 9:22 AM 

Walker's State of the State address set for Jan. 19

Gov. Scott Walker's State of the State address will be Jan. 19.

Walker sent legislative leaders a letter yesterday requesting a joint session Jan. 19 for the address. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the request has been granted.

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