The Wisconsin State Legislature continued its push this week toward the end of its regular business for the 2015-2016 biennium with both the State Assembly and State Senate meeting Tuesday on more than 150 bills. The Assembly is in session as of this writing for its final day of regular session; it is expected that the State Senate will continue its work until mid-March.
The following bills are among many of interest to the Wisconsin Medical Society (Society):
The latest round of bills from State Assembly Rep. John Nygren’s Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda received unanimous support in the Assembly on Tuesday and is headed to the State Senate. These bills include:
- Assembly Bill 657 – Relating to Treatment and Diversion Programs. This bill adds $2 million per year to programs designed to break the cycle of addicts committing crimes.
- Assembly Bill 658 – Relating to masking agents. This bill criminalizes use of a masking agent in an attempt to avoid an adverse result to a legally ordered drug test.
- Assembly Bill 659 – Relating to opioid treatment programs. This bill harmonizes certain federal and state requirements for opioid treatment programs.
- Assembly Bill 660 – Relating to Medical Examining Board (MEB) authority. This bill allows regulatory boards, including the MEB, to post opioid prescribing guidelines. The bill also will restore the MEB’s ability to examine license applicants in person.
- Assembly Bill 766 – Relating to Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) reporting requirements. This bill requires the PDMP to collect certain data and report quarterly to the Controlled Substances Board to help determine the efficacy of the program and the satisfaction of those required to use the PDMP.
It is almost certain that the State Senate will approve the bills and send them to the Governor for his final action.
Other public health bills
- Assembly Bill 400 – Relating to child safety restraint systems. This bill from Rep. Amy Loudenbeck updates the state statutes with the latest recommendation for when children should use rear-facing child seats in motor vehicles.
- Assembly Bill 408/Senate Bill 293 – Relating to behavioral health care coordination pilot. Rep. Mary Czaja and Sen. Leah Vukmir led the effort to create behavioral health care coordination pilot projects, including a Medicaid-focused psychiatric consultation reimbursement pilot and another making it easier to find available inpatient psychiatric beds.
- Senate Bill 517 – Relating to organ donor employment leave. Sen. Alberta Darling authored this effort to make it easier for those wishing to donate an organ or bone marrow to receive leave from work.
The Society supports all four of these bills.
Drunk driving bills
- Assembly Bill 352 – Relating to in-court appearance for OWI. Rep. Jim Ott has been a leader in attempts to strengthen Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws. This bill requires an in-person appearance in court for a first-time offender who drives while intoxicated.
- Senate Bill 455 – Relating to OWI penalties. Sen.Darling and Rep. Ott cosponsored a bill increasing penalties for fourth and subsequent drunk driving offenses.
The Society supports both measures.
The State Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved this session’s Worker’s Compensation “agreed-to” bill. Assembly Bill 724 makes various changes to the state’s worker’s compensation program, but does not include implementation of a physician fee schedule or alteration of the “free choice” provision injured workers currently utilize to select their own worker’s comp-related health care. Last session’s legislation
The Assembly took up Assembly Bill 549 late Thursday afternoon and passed it by voice vote. This bill allows physical therapists to independently diagnose and order x-rays for patients. The Society has joined with many other physician organizations opposing the proposal and will partner on efforts to have the State Senate either amend the bill or stop it from moving forward. Your calls to your state senator would be helpful; you can confirm your senator’s contact information here.
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