MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin State Senate is taking up a number of bills Thursday related to topics ranging from early voting to asbestos lawsuits.
Senate passes bill limiting early voting
In-person absentee voting in the two weeks prior to an election would be reduced and barred on the weekends under a bill that has passed the state Senate.
With all but one Republican in support and all Democrats against the measure passed 17-16 on Wednesday. It now heads to the Assembly, which plans to pass it next week.
The bill would limit in-person absentee voting to Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the two weeks before an election. No weekend voting would be allowed and only 45 hours a week of early voting would be permitted.
Democratic opponents say the bill is designed to make voting more difficult.
Republican Sen. Dale Schultz, who is not seeking re-election, joined all 15 Democrats in voting against it.
Senate passes bill limiting parents' liability
Parents of teen drivers who get into accidents would only be liable for up to $300,000 in claims under a bill that has passed the state Senate.
The Senate voted 17-16 to pass the bill on Wednesday, after Democrats used a procedural move Tuesday night to delay final action.
The measure now heads to the Assembly, which plans to take it up Tuesday.
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.
The bill would limit that liability to a total of $300,000. Current law has no limit on a parent's potential liability.
Republican Sen. Dale Schultz joined Democrats in voting against the measure.
Senate passes bill allowing earlier donations
The Republican-controlled state Senate has passed a bill that would allow lobbyists to start giving campaign donations seven weeks earlier than current law allows.
The bill passed Wednesday would allow lobbyists to start making personal donations the day candidates can circulate petitions for office, which is April 15. Under current law they can't make any donations until June 1.
However, state law would continue to bar lobbyists from giving campaign donations to members of the Legislature while it is still in session.
Republican supporters say the change is needed because partisan primaries have been moved up from September to August. But Democratic opponents say it will only feed into the view that politicians are beholden to lobbyists.
The bill passed 17-16, with Republican Sen. Dale Schultz joining Democrats against it.
Senate passes bill to slow asbestos lawsuits
A bill that Democratic opponents say would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits has cleared the Wisconsin state Senate.
The measure passed Wednesday would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after. Trials could not start until six months after that disclosure.
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 bill is designed to slow cases down in the hopes plaintiffs will die and protect corporations from making payouts.
The bill passed 17-16. Republican Sen. Dale Schultz joined with all Democrats in voting against it. It now must go back to the Assembly, where a similar version passed last year.
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