A rundown of bills passed by the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday
By Drik Lorenzsonn
Wisconsin Public Radio
Lawmakers in Madison had a busy day on Tuesday, with the full state Assembly and Senate convening to consider policy itesm ranging from an increase in interstate speed limits to a ban on plastic beads in cosmetic products.
Here's a rundown of some notable bills that the chambers approved:
Possible Increase In Rural Interstate Speed Limits
During the last legislative session, a bill that would have increased the state's rural interstate speed limits to 70 mph failed to pass. On Tuesday, lawmakers in the Assembly approved a similar bill — but this time, there's no mandate for a speed limit increase. Rather, the legislation gives the Department of Transportation the authority to make the change. The Senate will hear the bill next.
Ban On Microbeads In Personal Care Products
Certain kinds of soaps, toothpastes, and other cosmetic products sold in Wisconsin contain small plastic particles known as microbeads. Out of concern that these particles are polluting the state's waterways, the Senate has passed a bill that would ban the sale and manufacturing of such products by 2019. The legislation now heads to the Assembly.
Legalization Of Hard Liquor Samples At Grocery Stores
A bill that would allow grocery stores and liquor stores to offer samples of hard alcohol in mini-shot glasses to customers has been passed by the Senate, and now awaits Gov. Scott Walker's signature. Similar bills had failed to pass in 2012 and 2014.
Delay Of Assessments Based On Badger Exams
K-12 students in public schools have taken a standardized test called the Badger Exam this year, which is based on Common Core standards. The Senate approved a measure that would delay the publication of school report cards based on those exam results. The bill, which will now be taken up by the Assembly, comes as Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker have expressed interest in scrapping the Badger Exam altogether.
New School Lunchroom Food Safety Rules
The Assembly also passed a bill that that would mandate certain school lunchrooms to pass a food safety test administered by the state — specifically, lunchrooms that provide their own food to students (as opposed to working with a third-party vendor) and that are enrolled in the National School Lunch Program. The bill now heads to the state Senate.
Tracking System For College-Bound Students In Need Of Remedial Classes
Another Assembly bill that lawmakers passed on Tuesday would require the University of Wisconsin to track in-state high school students who are in need of remedial courses when they get to college. The UW would have to report to lawmakers and the state Department of Public Instruction when six or more such students come from a single high school. The bill has yet to be taken up by the Senate.
Authorization Of Municipal Courts To Handle Cyberstalking
The Senate approved on a voice vote a bill that allows restraining orders to be filed in Wisconsin courts against harrasers who live out-of-state — essentially expanding the jurisdiction of municipal courts. The bill passed in the Assembly in February, and now heads to Gov. Scott Walker's desk for his signature.
Creation Of License For Home Medical Oxygen Providers
Currently, only people licensed as a pharmacist can dispense medical oxygen to patients for home use. A bill that was approved by the Senate and Assembly Tuesday changes that by creating an entirely separate license for distributing medical oxygen to patients for home use — meaning such providers wouldn't necessarily need to be pharmacists. The bill awaits the governor's signature.
Allowance For Painting Studios To Serve Alcohol
Both the Senate and Assembly approved an exemption to liquor licensing rules to allow for "paint and sip" studios — in other words, art studios that could serve alcohol to customers while they work. Such studios are currently prohibited under a state law declaring that any location that engages in business besides the sale of alcohol can't have a liquor license, with some exceptions. The bill now heads to Gov. Scott Walker's desk to await his signature.
Legalization Of Rubber Duck Races
Nonprofits and other groups have occasionally used rubber duck races as a substitute for traditional raffles to raise funds. However, the state Department of Justice recently warned that such races amount to illegal gambling. Now, following a voice vote on Tuesday in the Senate, the Legislature has approved a bill that legalizing the practice that now awaits Gov. Scott Walker's signature.
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