Legislative Session Off to a Slow Start

10/19/11 – Wisconsin’s special legislative session on job creation got off to a slow start yesterday. The Assembly passed several bills, including one to ease restrictions on the sale of lawn fertilizers with phosphorus – and one to end the controversial Earn-a-Buck program for deer hunters. That drew more criticism from minority Democrats, who said the measures fell short of Governor Scott Walker’s demand for a “laser-like focus on jobs.” G-O-P leaders said the bills they approved – including the expansion of a tax credit for new job creation – will help the economy. And they noted that committees approved 10-of-11 bills with support from both parties. But the most controversial bills have not had hearings yet. Those include Walker’s newest legal reform measures, with limits on legal fees in consumer cases – and the bill to give immunity from civil suits to the makers of drugs and medical devices whose products have been approved by the F-D-A. Also, the two biggest economic measures promised for this fall are not part of the special jobs session. Those are the bills that would speed up the state’s process of approving new mines – and the bill to devote millions of tax dollars as venture capital to new high-tech firms. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says a mining package could be ready this fall, but the venture capital plan might not be set until early next year. Meanwhile, the Republican Walker received a standing ovation yesterday from hundreds of business leaders at a forum in Madison. He defended the current special session, saying the bills are “bread-and-butter issues” that will create a better environment for job creation.