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Propane loans, asbestos lawsuits on legislative agenda

Published On: Mar 11 2014 07:29:33 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 11 2014 09:12:28 PM CDT

MADISON, Wis. -

The Wisconsin State Senate is in session Tuesday and taking up issues like asbestos lawsuits and propane loans.

Senate to vote on bill affecting asbestos lawsuits

The Wisconsin state Senate plans to vote on a bill opponents say would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits.

The measure up for a vote Tuesday would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after. Republican supporters say such a move would prevent lawyers from hiding multiple claims in hopes of maximizing awards.

But opponents, including veterans exposed to asbestos during their service, say the measure is designed to slow cases down in the hopes plaintiffs will die and protect corporations from making payouts.

The Assembly passed the bill last year. If it clears the Senate, it would then head to Gov. Scott Walker for his consideration.

Senate passes propane loan program

The Wisconsin Senate has passed a bill that would create a new loan program to offset high propane prices.

Under the bill passed Tuesday, the state would guarantee up to $2,500 in loans to purchase propane or other heating supplies and pay down interest. The borrower's household income could not be higher than double the county median household income, however.

The Assembly overwhelmingly approved the bill last month. The Senate's unanimous vote passing it now sends the measure to Gov. Scott Walker for his signature.

Wisconsin and other Midwestern states have been grappling with a propane shortage spurred by the cold winter, a temporary pipeline closure and heavy propane demand for drying grain last fall.

Wisconsin Senate debates driver liability bill

The Wisconsin Senate has moved close to passing a bill that would limit parents' liability for young drivers.

Currently children under 18 need a parent or other adult sponsor to sign and verify their driver's license application. That makes the parents or sponsors liable for the driver's negligence or willful misconduct.

Republican Sen. Glenn Grothman's bill debated Tuesday would limit that liability to a total of $300,000. Current law has no limit on a parent's potential liability.

But Democratic Sen. Fred Risser objected, saying if liability is going to be capped the parent should be required to have at least that much insurance.

Democrats used a procedural move to block a vote on final passage until Wednesday.

Senate votes to change Milwaukee mental health

The Wisconsin state Senate has approved a bill that would take control of the troubled Milwaukee mental health complex away from the county board and give it to a group of medical professionals, patients and family members.

The bipartisan proposal passed unanimously Tuesday comes after six patients died at the facility in 2012.

Opponents to the bill, including the union that represents nurses and workers at the complex, say control should not be taken away from elected local officials on the Milwaukee County Board.

In addition to creating the new board to run the facility, the bill would also require an extensive audit be done by Dec. 1 that would consider whether the state should take over operations.

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