Reality Check: What Was Accomplished In Legislative Session?
Now that the legislative session has wrapped for the year, what exactly did state lawmakers get done?
And did they focus, as they promised, “like a laser beam” on jobs? WISC-TV took a look at the legislation in a “Reality Check.”
A “back to work” special session promised to focus on jobs. The governor put forward a package of 26 bills that he said would all help with job creation.
“While not every one of those bills was passed, we got a good chunk of them passed,” said Gov. Scott Walker on Friday.
Of those bills, 14 passed and are headed to the governor’s desk for a signature. They include a bill allowing cities and villages to work together to create development districts, a number of lawsuit changes, including reducing property owners’ liability for a trespasser’s injury or death, reducing interest rates on civil judgments and capping attorney fees for consumer protection cases.
Five bills passed making it easier to transport goods around the state, and another passed bill lowering the cost to apply for a film tax credit.
What about the other 12 bills, including those aimed at getting small businesses capital or getting tech colleges job training money? Some of them got hearings or votes in committee, or a vote in one house but not the other. But they’ll have to wait until likely next year if they go forward.
But while lawmakers were in “special session,” they were also in regular session and took up plenty of bills on other topics.
On education, both houses passed a bill that would tie test scores to teacher discipline. The state Senate passed a bill that would allow abstinence-only sex education in state schools, and another bill passed the Assembly changing concussion protocols for high school sports.
On the environment, a bill designed to boost participation in hunting and fishing passed the Assembly. On health care, the Senate passed a ban on abortion coverage in federal health care exchanges, which don’t exist yet.
On public safety, a bill passed both houses allowing homeowners to kill intruders without liability, known as the “castle doctrine.”
In all, lawmakers approved more than 60 bills since the special session was called. Whether the work done was focused enough on job creation is for voters to decide.
While Republicans control both houses, 12 of the 14 special session bills passed on bipartisan votes as well as some of the other regular session legislation like the castle doctrine, concussion and hunting bills.