Legislature Passes Bipartisan Bills as Session Concludes

The 2013-14 legislative session concluded this past week with the State Legislature giving final approval to a number of bills addressing important issues ranging from the heroin epidemic, coverage of oral chemotherapy, and updating agricultural implement regulations.

Building on legislation passed earlier this session that focused on saving lives and discouraging the use of heroin, the State Senate gave final approval to a bill that will allow for the creation of regional comprehensive opioid programs. These programs will provide additional treatment options in rural and underserved areas for those in need of treatment.

Another bill that passed with bipartisan support mirrors a program that is seeing tremendous results in other states as it recognizes drug addiction as a public health and correctional issue. The “rapid response” legislation focuses on individuals who are convicted of a drug offense and during probation violate the conditions of supervision, such as abusing drugs again. The Department of Corrections will design a program that will create immediate, short-term sanctions for individuals who violate the terms of their supervision, as research has shown that drug use and reoffending is less likely when consequences are immediately imposed.

The State Senate also gave final approval to the oral chemotherapy bill, which will help establish parity between oral chemotherapy and intravenous chemotherapy under health insurance policies. As a cosponsor of this legislation, I am pleased that this bill was signed into law by the Governor last week and will help ensure cancer patients have access to the treatment that is most effective in fighting their particular cancer. Oral chemotherapy is a more convenient treatment option for those not in close proximity to a treatment facility and provides an alternative that can help improve a patient’s quality of life as they undergo the treatment they need.

Final approval was also given to legislation that modifies the weight and width allowances for agricultural implements in an effort to update regulations with current farming practices. As one of our state’s top industries, agriculture plays a vital role in our economy and this legislation will enable our farmers to continue to be productive and efficient.

These bills and other legislation given final approval by the Legislature are now before the Governor for his consideration. With the end of the legislative session, any bills that have not been acted on will need to be reintroduced in the next session in order to be considered.

What issues would you like to see the State Legislature take up next session? Please stay in touch by calling my office at 1-800-862-1092 or sending me an e-mail at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov.

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