Assembly Speaker: Fetal tissue, "Dark Stores" bills unlikely to pass

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (WBAY file photo)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos isn't giving several bills on hot-button issues much of a chance of passing the Legislature.

Vos told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he doesn't think there's support for divisive measures supported by fellow Republicans.

Vos says bills unlikely to pass include a measure to ban fetal tissue research on University of Wisconsin campuses and another that would allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.

Vos also says a bill opposed by businesses but backed by communities around the state to close the so-called "dark store" property tax loophole is unlikely to pass.

He also says there is no consensus on a bill changing the state's worker's compensation system and he doesn't think it will pass.


Vos says proposals attempting to limit or ban research involving fetal tissue obtained from abortions do not have the votes needed to pass.

Vos said Wednesday that neither of two proposals is likely to clear the Legislature before the session ends in early 2018.

One bill would ban the use of aborted fetal tissue for research or any other purpose. A coalition supporting that proposal includes the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, Wisconsin Family Action, Wisconsin Right to Life and Pro-Life Wisconsin.

Another measure would target only the sale of fetal tissue and regulate certain research. Vos supports that one.

Similar proposals have failed to pass under opposition from the medical and scientific communities. Vos says neither measure has gotten momentum to pass session.


Vos said a Republican-backed bill to allow the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit is likely doomed because "there's not a big hue and cry" to pass it. He says voters are more concerned about other issues, like jobs, economic development and how to pay for roads.

Vos says he hasn't had people ask him in the grocery store "when are we going to get that done?"

The proposal has cleared a Senate committee but has not been taken up by either chamber yet.

Backers say the measure protects the Constitutional right to bear arms, while opponents say taking away licensing requirements makes no sense.


Rep. Vos says a bill designed to force mega-retailers like Menards, Lowe's and ShopKo to pay more in property taxes is unlikely to pass the Legislature.

Vos said Wednesday that he has "serious concerns" with the measure that's won bipartisan support and the backing of communities across the state.

The bill is designed to close the so-called "dark store" loophole and increase how much mega-retailers pay local communities in property taxes.

A string of court rulings in Wisconsin and across the Midwest have helped the retail giants lower the value placed on their stores for levying property taxes. The retailers have successfully challenged their tax assessments by arguing they are overtaxed and should pay the same rate as a store that is closed and vacant.


A bill that would add a fee schedule for medical care to Wisconsin's workers compensation law appears to be dead on arrival in the state Assembly.

Speaker Vos said there is no consensus among Republicans about the measure that was introduced by a Senate committee earlier this week.

Vos says he does not think the measure will pass.

He says, "Until we have some kind of a consensus, or there's an outcry from every day business people, it just seems the issue languishes."

Vos says he hasn't had a single business person tell him that reforming the state's workers compensation system was a priority.

Including a fee schedule has been a divisive issue, pitting the state's business community against health care groups including the Wisconsin Medical Society and Hospital Association.

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