Assembly passes bills on robot delivery, prison guard abuse, ignition interlock rules

Assembly passes bills on robot delivery, prison guard abuse, ignition interlock rules

The Wisconsin State Assembly is taking up numerous bills on Wednesday addressing a range of issues.

Robot delivery bill unanimously passes

Robot delivery vehicles could soon roll down Wisconsin sidewalks.

The state Legislature has given final approval to a bill that would allow robots to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks.

The robots are essentially high-tech rolling coolers loaded with sensors that can read the environment. People also can operate them remotely. Starship Technologies has been using them to deliver takeout food in Europe, California and Washington, D.C.

The bill approved by the Assembly on Wednesday sets an 80-pound weight limit and a 10-mph speed limit and would require operators to control or monitor the devices.

The Senate passed the measure on a voice vote last week, so it now goes to Gov. Scott Walker for his approval.

Assembly passes bill penalizing school absences

The state Assembly approved a Republican bill that would require children of parents who receive benefits through state work programs to regularly attend school and would impose a fine if they don’t.

The Assembly passed the bill 62-35 Wednesday. Current law requires children only to be enrolled in school.

Rep. Joe Sanfellipo, the bill’s sponsor, says parents would owe $50 a month for each child with five or more unexcused absences in a semester. He says the goal is to get children counseling that keeps them in school.

Democrats say it further disadvantages children from poor families. Republicans shot down Democratic amendments, including one that would also track the attendance of children who attend voucher schools.

The bill would still need to pass the Senate before it goes to Gov. Walker to become law.

Assembly OKs bill tying jobs to housing vouchers

The state Assembly has passed a Republican proposal that authorizes the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to get federal approval for a pilot program that requires housing voucher recipients to satisfy certain work requirement.

The measure passed 61-35 Wednesday, with Republicans supporting the measure and Democrats opposing it.

Rep. Terry Katsma, the bill’s sponsor, says it would require able-bodied program participants to have a job, be in job training or look for a job with the state’s help.

He says the pilot program wouldn’t include Milwaukee County and Dane County, where other housing programs already exist.

Democratic Rep. Lisa Subeck says the measure is dangerous and will cause more people to become homeless.

The bill would still need to pass the Senate before it goes to Gov. Walker to become law.

State Assembly unanimously passes prison guard abuse bill

The state Assembly has unanimously passed a bipartisan bill that would require guards at Wisconsin’s troubled youth prison to report child abuse.

The bill passed Wednesday would make guards at the prison in Irma mandatory child abuse reporters. That would protect them from retaliation for reporting incidents. Workers in nearly 30 other professions are already considered mandatory reporters under Wisconsin law. Rep. Joel Kleefisch, who co-sponsored the measure with Democratic Sen. LaTonya Johnson, says adding prison guards to that list is long overdue.

The FBI is currently investigating allegations of widespread abuse at the prison. No one has been charged yet but the allegations have driven several state prison officials to resign or retire.

The Senate approved the bill in March. The measure will now go to Gov. Scott Walker.

Assembly approves stiffer ignition interlock rule

The state Assembly has approved a bill that would create stiffer ignition interlock rules for drunken drivers.

The bipartisan-supported measure passed Wednesday would prohibit all repeat offenders as well as first-time offenders with a blood alcohol percentage of 0.15 or greater from driving any vehicle without an ignition interlock.

State law already requires all offenders to place an interlock on their vehicles when their license is reinstated. The bill’s supporters worry that offenders will drive someone else’s car before they regain their license, resulting in a ticket for driving without a license but not for violating the interlock requirement.

Republican Rep. Jim Ott, the bill’s sponsor, says the bill closes the “interlock loophole.”

The Assembly approved the measure on a voice vote. The bill now goes to the state Senate.

Assembly passes bill expanding drug screening

The state Assembly passed a Republican proposal that would subject more people in state-run work programs to drug screening.

The Assembly approved 62-35 a bill from Rep. Cody Horlacher that would add a handful of state-run work programs to the list of those that require applicants to undergo screening for drug abuse and get treatment when needed.

Democrats say the idea sounds good politically but is an ineffective way to treat addiction and unfairly targets low-income people.

Horlacher said it wouldn’t affect most people.

The Assembly also passed a bill that would allow people receiving child care subsidies to receive partial subsidies after exceeding 200 percent of the poverty line.

Both bills would need to pass the Senate before they go to Gov. Walker to become law.