Capitol Report - Thursday - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Capitol Report - Thursday

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(WQOW) -- Wisconsin lawmakers voted on a number of bills Thursday. Here is a rundown of the proposals from the Associated Press: 
 



Water skiing without spotters passes Wisconsin Legislature

 MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Water skiing without a spotter would be legal in Wisconsin under a bill sent to Gov. Scott Walker.

The bill passed Thursday would allow for a pilot to operate a boat pulling someone on water skis without a second person, or spotter, on board. The boat would have to be equipped with a mirror that gives the pilot a wide field of vision so they can keep an eye on the person skiing.

The change is supported by the state's tourism industry. But the Badger State Sheriff's Association and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association oppose it for safety reasons.

The Assembly passed the measure Thursday despite objections from Democrats who say it won't be safe to water ski without a spotter. The measure previously cleared the Senate.
 



Regulating Beauty Parlors

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Legislature has approved a proposal to eliminate continuing education requirements for cosmetologists and barbers in Wisconsin.

The bill sent to Gov. Scott Walker on Thursday would also make it easier for people licensed in other states to work in Wisconsin. The Assembly passed the measure on a voice vote.

It would do away with the continuing education requirement for cosmetologists, barbers and manicurists. The measure would also remove a current requirement that an applicant for a license in Wisconsin have 4,000 hours of experience. Instead, they would have to only take a one-hour course educating them on Wisconsin laws and rules.

Opponents say the regulations being targeted are needed to ensure barbers and cosmetologists are properly qualified to work in the state.
 


Solicitation of nude or sexually explicit photos from children

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would make it a crime to solicit nude or sexually explicit photos from a child.

It's currently illegal to possess such a photo, but not to ask a minor for it.

Under the bill, adults who try to coax children into supplying them with nude or sexually explicit photos would be guilty of a felony punishable by up to three-and-a-half years in prison.

Adults between the ages of 18 and 21 who solicit such photos from children no more than three years younger than them would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months in jail.

The bill has bipartisan support.

The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday. Approval would send the measure to the Senate.
 


Police body camera footage

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) --    The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill that would restrict public access to police body camera footage.

The Assembly passed the bill Thursday on a voice vote. It now heads to the Senate, which could take it up in January.

Democratic opponents say the bill goes too far in restricting who has access to the video and audio captured on police body cameras. Supporters include police departments who say they need guidelines to protect the privacy of people captured on the videos.

The bill puts in place new requirements before footage can be released that's taken in places where people expect to have privacy, such as their home.  Critics say the limits could even result in footage police may want to be made public from getting released.
 


Social hosting loophole

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Adults who let teenagers drink in their homes would be breaking Wisconsin law under a proposal up for approval in the state Assembly.
   The bill up for a vote Thursday addresses the so-called "social host" loophole in current state law that was exposed by an appeals court ruling last year.
   The court addressed a law that prohibits people who are old enough to drink from allowing people who aren't 21 to drink alcohol in "premises" they control.
   An appeals court last year narrowly interpreted "premises" to refer only to licensed establishments such as liquor stores or bars.
   The bill would make clear that the law includes adults who allow underage drinking in their own homes.
   People who break the law could face fines up to $500 for a first offense.
 


Crime victims amendment to constitution

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly is getting ready to vote on an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution that would provide crime victims with a host of rights.
   The Wisconsin Constitution and laws already provide victims extensive rights. The amendment largely duplicates the existing language but goes further in several areas.
   In addition to privacy, victims would have the right to be heard at plea, parole and revocation proceedings, the right to refuse defense attorneys' interview, deposition or discovery requests and the right to attend all proceedings in their cases.
   The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday after the Senate approved it Tuesday.
   The amendment would have to clear the Legislature again next session, and be approved by voters, before being added to the constitution.
 


State's burial sites catalog

     MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly is set to approve a bill that would require the state historical director to consider evidence for adding land to the state's burial sites catalog.
   Developers need permits to excavate on land listed in the catalog. Republicans introduced a bill two years ago that would have allowed quarry owners to excavate Ho-Chunk Nation burial grounds to prove human remains are buried there.
   That bill went nowhere but spurred a legislative study committee to craft a new proposal. It requires the director to consider whether evidence of remains exists before cataloging a site and establishes a process for challenging decisions and removing sites from the list.
   The Assembly was set to vote on the bill Thursday. Approval would send the measure to the state Senate.
 


Growing industrial hemp

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly is poised to pass a bill that would allow farmers to grow industrial hemp.
   The Republican proposal would set up state licenses for farmers looking to grow industrial hemp. People with drug convictions wouldn't be eligible for the licenses. The plants couldn't contain more than 0.3 percent THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
   At least 30 states have passed legislation allowing hemp farms. Supporters of the Wisconsin bill say hemp has a wide range of uses and Wisconsin farmers should have the option of growing another profitable crop.
   The Assembly is set to vote on the bill Thursday. The Senate passed the bill unanimously Tuesday. Assembly approval would send the bill to Gov. Scott Walker.
 


Replacing lead pipes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill designed to help Wisconsin homeowners pay for replacing lead pipes has cleared the state Assembly, but it now must go back to the Senate for another vote after Republicans lowered the benefit available.
 
The measure passed Thursday would allow public water utilities and local governments to provide grants, loans or both to property owners to help them replace portions of water pipes going from the house to street containing lead.

The Senate version allowed for up to two-thirds of the cost to be covered. The Assembly version lowered that to one half. Democratic critics say weakening the bill put people's health at risk by making it more difficult to pay for replacing lead pipes. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Jesse Kremer says he anticipates the Senate will pass the bill next year.
 


Marriage waiting period

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Couples who get divorced would no longer have to wait six months before remarrying under a bill the Wisconsin Assembly is set to pass.
   Under state current law, a person who was a party to a divorce action in Wisconsin or any other state must wait six months after the divorce is granted before remarrying. The bipartisan bill would do away with the waiting period.
   The bill's author, Republican Rep. Cindi Duchow, says the waiting period penalizes people who get divorced when they've broken no laws.
   The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the bill Thursday. Approval would send the measure to the state Senate. It would have to pass there and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before becoming law.
 


Water skiing spotters

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Spotters in a boat keeping an eye on water skiers would no longer be required in Wisconsin under a bill set to pass the Legislature.
   The bill up for an Assembly vote Thursday would allow for a pilot to operate a boat pulling someone on water skis without a second person, or spotter, on board. The boat would have to be equipped with a mirror that gives the pilot a wide field of vision so they can keep an eye on the person skiing.
   The change is supported by the state's tourism industry. But the Badger State Sheriff's Association and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association oppose it.
   The bill passed the Senate earlier this spring and once it clears the Assembly would head to Gov. Scott Walker for his consideration.
 


State-mandated testing opt-out

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Students in all grades subject to state-mandated testing could opt out of taking them under a bill up for a vote in the Wisconsin Assembly.
   The measure up Thursday expands current law which allows parents to opt their children out of taking tests in grades 4, 8 and 9-11. The bill would expand the opt-out option to grades 3-11.
   The opt-out provision in state law was never expanded after state testing expanded to additional grades.
   Another bill up Thursday would require school districts to inform parents every year of all state or federally mandated tests to be given.
   Both bills would also have to pass the Senate and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before becoming law.
 


State administrative rules

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Conservative groups are pushing a bill before the Wisconsin Assembly that would require all state administrative rules to expire every nine years unless renewed.
   Democrats and a broad array of other opponents fear such a move would make it easier to undo consumer, workplace and environmental protections and a host of other regulations. They have branded the measure up for an Assembly vote Thursday as a special interest giveaway.
   Republicans supporters say the measure will ensure that state regulations stay current and relevant.
   Americans for Prosperity and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce are among the supporters, arguing the change will protect people from undue regulatory burdens.
   The proposal is the latest in a series of moves by the Legislature to rework the rule-making process.
 


Education requirements for cosmetologists and barbers

   MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Legislature is set to pass a bill that would eliminate continuing education requirements for cosmetologists and barbers in Wisconsin, and make it easier for people licensed in other states to work in Wisconsin.
   The bill is up for final approval Thursday in the Assembly after previously passing the Senate.
   It would do away with the continuing education requirement for cosmetologists, barbers and manicurists. The measure would also remove a current requirement that an applicant for a license in Wisconsin have 4,000 hours of experience. Instead, they would have to only take a one-hour course educating them on Wisconsin laws and rules.
   Opponents say the regulations being targeted are needed to ensure barbers and cosmetologists are properly qualified to work in the state.

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