WI Senate Panel Set To Hear Worker’s Compensation Reform Package

The WI Senate Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee has scheduled a public hearing on Senate Bill 665, the agreed-bill from the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council that contains a medical fee schedule for worker’s compensation injuries . The hearing is set for February 14 at 10:00 a.m. in room 411 South of the state capitol.

MWFPA supports the measure.  MWFPA is also a participant in the Worker’s Compensation Employers Coalition which includes 56 employer associations ranging from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities to the Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association.   The coalition is actively working toward passage of the bill.

The Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, a board comprised of five labor and five management representatives, unanimously supported a reform package last fall.

Worker’s compensation is a government mandated program that guarantees injured workers get the treatment they need for workplace injuries. In forty-four states, medical prices for worker’s compensation treatment are governed by medical fee schedules.

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House Approves Budget Deal Ending Short Shutdown

The House approved a sweeping budget deal early this morning that would fund the government through March 23, sending legislation to President Trump that would end a brief shutdown of the government that began at midnight.  The Senate had earlier passed the measure 71-28.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has started the procedural hurdles to begin an open Senate debate next week on immigration. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., pledged on the House floor early this morning that he also intended to address immigration.

House Passes Bill To Change Nutrition Rules

The House voted 266-157 to ease the menu labeling requirements that the FDA was mandated to implement under the Affordable Care Act. The regulations are set to take effect May 7.

The Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act would, among other things, delay the menu labeling requirements. Similar legislation passed the House in 2016 but failed to gain traction in the Senate.

Rauner Calls For Bipartisanship In IL State of State Address

IL Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner delivered his fourth State of the State address in Springfield on Wednesday, issuing a call for bipartisanship among lawmakers to improve the state’s financial standing through economic growth. He did not provide any specific proposals for achieving economic development.

He also said expressed a desire to roll back income taxes. He has previously said he wants to reverse the income tax increase the Legislature approved last summer.

It was his first such address since the end of the budget impasse last July, ending a two-year stalemate.

Rauner attempted to set an optimistic tone while also speaking to voters’ frustrations about the state’s economic and political climate.

EPA Delays WOTUS Rule Implementation

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are formally acting to delay the effective date of the Obama-era “waters of the U.S.” rule by two years to give the Trump administration time to implement a replacement.

The Supreme Court essentially forced the administration to delay the effective date by ruling that the appeals court that originally put a hold on the rule lacked the jurisdiction to do so.

The agencies plan to propose a new WOTUS rule early this year, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a Senate committee Tuesday that he hoped to finalize the new rule by the end of 2018.

WI Gov. Walker Delivers State Of State Address

WI Gov. Scott Walker gave his eighth State of the State Address Wednesday.

In addition to playing up the state’s successes, he urged lawmakers to overhaul welfare rules and approve both a child tax credit and a proposal to make health care affordable to all.

The cost of the child care credits is expected to be $122 million annually.   Walker looks to use a projected budget surplus expected to top $480 million to fund new credits. Under the proposal, WI families would receive $100 for every child, under 18 and living at home.

A few hours prior to his speech, Walker proposed a new $50 million annual investment in rural economic development projects.  The initiative would include low-interest loans for dairy businesses, more money for state marketing efforts, and a new college scholarship program for students to take agriculture classes at state colleges.

View Gov. Walker’s address here:  https://youtu.be/Lu8hJ-AzJ1Q