MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin lawmakers have just a few days left to pass legislation before they are done for the year, and many hit the campaign trail. That means several bills that have been debated for months were put to a vote Tuesday.
Some lawmakers call it the silly season, those frantic few days to get something done before the break. One bill that has stalled out for now would make it less expensive for some people to get cancer treatment.
The bill, which would give cancer patients access to chemotherapy in pill form, passed the senate today 30 to 2. But the Assembly Speaker decided not to put it up for a vote until Thursday and there is talk it could be amended and sent back to the Senate.
Democrat Jill Billings would like to see the bill passed the way it is. "Really what we should do is accept this bill as it came out of the Senate," says Billings, "it's a good bill, to at this point so late in the game try to amend it and then send it back to the senate would be problematic."
Meanwhile, Democrats say they'll spend their last two days of the session pushing for a higher minimum wage in the state. They would like to see a state-mandated minimum wage jump almost $3 to $10.10 an hour.
Conservatives say the increase would cost thousands of jobs in the state, but democrats think a three dollar an hour raise makes sense. "Really if you work a 40-hour-a-week job and work hard," said Billings, "you should be able to provide for yourself without depending on extra government programs to survive."
Also Tuesday the Senate passed a bill aimed at getting more treatment for Heroin addicts. That bill already passed the Assembly and is headed to the Governor for his signature.
The Assembly passed Governor Walker's $504 million tax cut plan, which passed the Senate last month. The Governor wants to use a portion of the state's projected $977 million surplus to fund property and income tax cuts.
Finally, drunken drivers who injure someone would have to spend at least 30 days in jail under a bill that passed the senate Tuesday. The bill would also make clear that anyone convicted of drunken driving for a seventh, eight, or ninth time must spend at least three years in prison.
The assembly has one more day in session, that will be on Thursday and it will be busy. They've adopted an agenda with nearly 70 bills and resolutions.
The senate has one more day in session, that will be April first. The Assembly speaker has left open the possibility of coming back to deal with any bills the Senate might amend and send back for final passage.
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