AJ Wilson and Greg Hubbard
Hubbard Wilson & Zelenkova Government Relations
The state legislature had its most active period thus far in the 2019-2020 legislative session during the fall months. Several bills of interest were introduced or saw action. Other bills continued to lay dormant.
AB 267/SB 249 creates an additional system of licensure for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), has received no legislative action. WACEP is registered opposed to this bill and there is no expectation it will be moving forward this session.
AB 575/SB 515 changes the relationship between physician and physician assistant to that of collaboration rather than supervision. This bill transfers licensure and regulation of PAs to a newly created Physician Assistant Examining Board and makes changes to licensure requirements. WI Medical Society is working against this bill. The Wisconsin Hospital Association is working for it. WACEP has not taken a position to date.
AB 329/SB 313 addresses the issue of “surprise billing” for patients brought to an out of network ER. This bill does not appear to be moving this session. Insurance interests have registered “undisclosed” but it is widely known that they oppose. WACEP should be sure it agrees with how the bill addresses the issue. Federal action is still a slight possibility.
AB 526/SB 520 requires all continuing medical education to include two hours of instruction on suicide prevention. The bill was amended to require it only once for a physician. The bill passed the Assembly but no action thus far in the Senate. WMS is opposed.
AB 573/SB 540 – “Red Flag Law” – this bill covers two subjects – Extreme Risk Protection Orders and Universal Background Checks for gun purchases. The Governor called a special session to take up such legislation but the Legislature did not move forward. This bill, that was introduced prior to the special session call, is authored by Rep. Sargent and Sen. Taylor. No legislative action is expected.
The Emergency Psych taskforce met with the Attorney General’s office in September and led a break out session at the Attorney General’s Summit on Emergency Detention on Medical Clearance Process Improvements on October 31st. The group (Dr. Repplinger and psychiatrist Dr. Thrasher) also met with WI Sheriffs Association to discuss shared issues and concerns. The Sheriffs Association shared a bill on private transport that has since been circulated for cosponsors (LRB 1247). This bill is authored by Rep. Mark Born (R) has yet to be introduced.
AB 443/SB 405 creates a $15 million grant to an Eau Claire County hospital to fund an expansion of psychiatric bed capacity. This bill provision was included in the budget that passed the legislature but was vetoed by the Governor. Further, legislative republicans attempted to override the governor’s budget veto but failed. If this bill is passed, it will likely be vetoed again.
AB 433/SB 392 requires DHS to award grants totaling $5 million to regional crisis stabilization facilities for adults based on criteria established by DHS established in five regions of the state. While this bill has bipartisan support, it is unlikely to move this session.
We continue to work towards the goal of increased Medicaid reimbursement rates. At present we are scheduling a WACEP meeting with the Division of Medicaid Services that will hopefully take place in December.
A special election will be held for the 7th Congressional District seat vacated by Sean Duffy (R). The seat leans republican and because it will have to be defended again in November 2020, democrats have not made it a priority despite success in recent special elections. The primary will take place on December 30 and the general is scheduled for January 27th. On the Republican side, current State Senator Tom Tiffany, Jason Church, a retired Army captain and current staffer for US Senator Ron Johnson, and Michael Opela, a hobby farmer, will face off. On the Democratic side, Lawrence Dale, a businessman who actually lives in Michigan and Tricia Zunker, the Wausau School Board president and associate justice in the Ho Chunk nation will compete.
In the 5th Congressional District to replace the retiring Jim Sensenbrenner, current Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald appears to have cleared the field in this heavy GOP district. (This is also significant because it pretty much guarantees there will be a new Senate Majority Leader next session.) Fitzgerald at present is expected to face Tom Palzewicz, a Waukesha County democrat.
The most significant political news on the local level at present is that Chris Abele announced he will not run for reelection as Milwaukee County Executive this spring. Several candidates have announced their interest or intention to run including: David Crowley (current state representative), Chris Larson (current state senator), and Theo Lipscomb (Milwaukee Co. Supervisor and Board Chair).