Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

March 11, 2022


Session Day Summary

Senate takes final floor action for 2022.

The State Senate met for our last floor session day on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. We took action on a wide variety of bills. Most of this legislation had already passed the State Assembly and the Senate concurred to send it to the Governor for signature.
This is the last official session day of the 2021-22 Legislative Session. I did not have any legislation on the calendar this week, but there were a lot of important bills that we moved through the legislative process. Following are some highlights:
Constitutional Amendment – federal funds: The Senate concurred with the Assembly on a constitutional amendment to give the legislature oversight of federal funds that are sent to Wisconsin. This constitutional amendment will need to return for a vote in the next legislative session before it will be considered by all voters in Wisconsin on a future ballot.
Juvenile Corrections: We also approved bonding for a new Juvenile Corrections Facility to replace Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. Last winter, I met a number of staff from Lincoln Hills at the Spring Budget Hearing in Rhinelander. They told me that the conditions at Lincoln Hills were reaching a boiling point and something needed to change. This issue has been circling for years and we needed to take action.
Battery and Threats to Health Care Workers: There is no doubt that health care providers in Wisconsin have been through a lot over the last two years. Unfortunately, a terrible side-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is an increase in battery and threats being made to health care workers.
Under current law, the crime of battery is defined as intentionally causing another person bodily harm and is a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the battery is a special circumstance battery—for example, the battery is committed by a prisoner or against certain individuals because of the individual's professional status—the penalty is increased. It is currently a Class H felony to commit a battery against a nurse, an emergency medical care provider, or a person who is working in an emergency department.
This bill expands the universe of health care providers for whom it would be a Class H felony to commit battery or threaten.  It includes a person who is a health care provider, a staff member of a health care facility, or a family member of a health care provider or staff member if the battery or threat is in response to an action taken by the health care provider in his or her official capacity, or in response to something that happened at the health care facility.  We must protect all of our health care workers.

Discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccination status: We passed a bill that prohibits the government from discriminating against someone related to their COVID-19 vaccination status. We are in new territory and we must protect all of our citizens.
This is just a small sample of the bills we passed on our final floor session day. Over the next several weeks, I will be recapping my work for you and I will touch base on additional legislation that may be of interest.
Now that our official floor sessions are ended, the legislature may send bills to the Governor or the Governor may request bills to sign or veto.  Any bills that are not proactively sent to, or requested by, the Governor will automatically be sent to him on April 14, 2022. There are a number of bills passed this spring that the Governor has not signed or vetoed yet. I will keep you posted.
Again, I am proud of our work this legislative session and I am anxious to spend more time in my Senate District. I look forward to continuing to serve you in the State Senate.
As always, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance.  Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703.