State Senate Votes on Variety of Bills - WBAY

State Senate Votes on Variety of Bills

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Senate passes bill to delay phosphorus rules

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill that would allow for delaying implementation of costly phosphorus reduction rules.

The Republican-sponsored proposal now heads to the Assembly, which plans to vote on it Thursday.

The bill gives communities and the industry more options and time for reducing the pollutant which causes algae.

Municipal treatment plant operators and business groups have been lobbying for changes to current law, saying the regulations are too expensive, difficult to meet and won't work as hoped to cut down on algae growth in public waters.

The state approved phosphorus regulation in late 2010, under then-Gov. Jim Doyle, but current Gov. Scott Walker and Republicans have been looking at scaling them back.

The bill passed on a voice vote.

Wis. rubber duck bill racing to finish line

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The "Ducktona 500" in Sheboygan Falls and the "Lucky Ducky Derby" in Menomonee Falls may soon be able to operate in Wisconsin without fear of breaking the law.

The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill legalizing rubber duck races in the state. It cleared the Assembly last week and now heads to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

Non-profit organizations commonly race the little plastic ducks, with numbers on the bottom, as fundraisers.

But the legality of those races was called into question after the state Justice Department warned the village of Mishicot that its annual rubber duck race amounts to illegal gambling.

The bill would create an exemption for duck races, similar to laws in Minnesota and Michigan.

Wis. Senate votes to expand informed consent

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin state law covering what information doctors are required to tell patients would be expanded under a bill that has passed the Senate.

The Legislature last year changed the law to no longer require doctors to give patients as much information about available alternative treatments. The law was changed from a "reasonable patient standard" to a "reasonable physician standard."

The bill passed Tuesday would expand the "informed consent" law to apply to chiropractors, dentists, podiatrists and optometrists.

The change was made in reaction to a 2012 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that said a doctor's "informed consent" duty includes telling a patient about medical tests and treatments that may be appropriate for a patient's symptoms, even if the doctor doesn't believe the patient has the underlying condition or disease.

Wis. Senate passes aviation sales tax break

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Aviation companies in Wisconsin would be exempt from having to pay sales taxes on aircraft maintenance parts and labor under a bill that has passed the state Senate.

The Senate voted 24-8 on Tuesday to pass the bill.

It would benefit companies like Gulfstream in Appleton and Cessna in Milwaukee. Those companies and others say having to pay the sales tax puts them at a competitive disadvantage because aircraft owners are taking their business to other states that don't charge the tax.

Bill sponsor Sen. Mike Ellis, a Republican from Neenah, says the tax cut would cost about $3 million a year in lost revenue, but it would generate more than twice that much in increased business for the aviation companies.

Wis. Senate passes school accountability bill

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a limited school accountability bill that would not impose sanctions on poor performing public or private voucher schools.

The vote Tuesday comes as the Assembly is reviving another bill that would call for closing poor performing public schools and stopping private schools from accepting students who receive taxpayer subsidized vouchers.

The measure passed by the Senate on a 29-3 vote would require any school that takes taxpayer money to report test scores and other data to be included on report cards starting in the 2015 school year.

Democratic opponents say the bill doesn't go far enough to hold voucher schools accountable. Republican sponsor Sen. Luther Olsen says he doesn't know if there's support in the Senate for the more expansive Assembly bill.

Wis. Senate votes to limit use of drones

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - It would be a crime to deploy an unmanned drone capable of video or audio recording in areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy under a bill that has passed the Wisconsin state Senate.

The bipartisan bill approved Tuesday on a voice vote would also require police to obtain warrants before using drones to collect evidence. Police could use drones freely in certain emergency situations like manhunts or rescue operations.

The bill comes as many states and local governments are considering similar limits in the face of an expanding use of the technology.

The proposal also would make it a felony to sell, possess or operate a weaponized drone.

The measure now heads to the Assembly.

Wis. Senate passes cellphone tracking ban

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Police would be prohibited from tracking cellphone locations without a warrant under a bill headed to Gov. Scott Walker.

The Senate passed the measure on Tuesday on a voice vote. The Assembly approved it last week.

Under the bill, police would have to submit details about their investigation in the application for a warrant to track a cellphone.

That information would include the subject of the investigation, a statement of the crime and a statement of probable cause to believe there is criminal activity. Police would also have to decide how tracking the phone would yield relevant information.

Wis. Senate passes anti-heroin bills

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Wisconsin state Senate has passed four bills designed to combat heroin use and help those who are addicted.

The bills approved Tuesday have all previously passed unanimously in the Assembly. They now head to Gov. Scott Walker for his consideration.

One proposal would permit all emergency responders with training to administer Narcan, a drug that counteracts heroin overdoses.

Another would guarantee a measure of immunity for anyone who calls 911 to report an overdose.

A third bill would allow municipalities to hold prescription drug collection drives.

And a fourth would require identification to obtain prescription drugs containing narcotics.

All four were introduced by Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette, whose daughter has struggled with heroin addiction.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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