Wisconsin's growing hemp industry to get boost under bill

October 9, 2019

MADISON Wisconsin's hemp industry would remain under state control as it enters its second year under a bill the state Senate has approved.

The bipartisan measure is designed to help farmers, hemp processors, retailers and consumers as the industry in Wisconsin explodes. It makes a variety of changes to align Wisconsin's hemp program with the 2018 federal farm bill's regulations.

In the first year of the program, Wisconsin issued 250 hemp growing licenses but applications have increased more than 10-fold this year.

Hemp and marijuana are both forms of cannabis, but hemp lacks enough of the active ingredient THC to get people high.

Democrats support legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, but Republicans have not advanced bills to do that.

The Senate passed the bill 30-2 on Tuesday. It goes next to the state Assembly.

Wisconsin Senate passes sexual assault kit protocols

MADISON The Wisconsin Senate has overwhelmingly approved two bills that would establish protocols for handling sexual assault evidence kits.

A backlog of untested kits has been an issue in Wisconsin and across the country for years.

The proposals have broad bipartisan support. The measures were developed by lawmakers, victims' rights advocates, law enforcement representatives and others.

Under one bill , if a victim wants to report an assault to police, nurses must notify officers within 24 hours of collecting the kit. Police must send the kit to the state crime lab within 14 days. If the victim doesn't want to report it, the kit still goes to the lab within 72 hours for storage.

The other bill would require the state Justice Department to track kits.

The Senate passed the first bill on a voice vote and the second 33-0 on Tuesday. The measures go next to the Assembly.

Senate OKs bill allowing kids to run lemonade stands

MADISON Children in Wisconsin could legally operate lemonade stands under a bill the state Senate has passed.

But they'd have to hold the egg salad.

The measure would permit anyone under 18 to operate lemonade stands on private property without a permit and without fear of getting in trouble as has happened in some states. They couldn't sell more than $2,000 of lemonade a year, or 8,000 cups at 25 cents a pop.

The young entrepreneurs would also be barred from selling any potentially hazardous food, like raw meat and egg salad. That was added to address concerns of public health officials.

The measure has bipartisan support. The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote Tuesday with no debate. The measure goes next to the state Assembly.

Wisconsin Senate confirms 5 of Evers Cabinet secretaries

MADISON Five of Gov. Tony Evers' Cabinet secretaries won unanimous confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate on Tuesday, while the majority of the Democratic governor's selections remain in limbo nearly a year after they began work.

The Senate confirmation votes were the first for any of Evers' agency secretaries since he took office in January. The 11 other secretaries can remain on the job leading their respective state agencies unless the Senate votes to reject their confirmation.

Those confirmed on Tuesday were Revenue Secretary Peter Barca, a former Democratic state Assembly member and congressman; Financial Institutions Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld; Administration Secretary Joel Brennan; Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr; and Veterans Affairs Secretary Mary Kolar.

There was no debate.

Republicans have raised concerns with several of those who have yet to be confirmed. That fight has largely played out in the back halls of the Capitol, giving Republicans a way to foil the will of the Democratic governor by stalling Senate confirmation.

One of those awaiting a vote is Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson. Some Republicans have questioned the propriety of him leading the department given his past work as a lobbyist for the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association, a group that advocated for road builders and others who supported investing in infrastructure.

Thompson is well-known and liked by many lawmakers and his confirmation was unanimously recommended by a Senate committee on a bipartisan vote.

Brad Pfaff, secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, angered some Republicans in July after he criticized the Legislature's budget committee for not releasing funding for a farmer mental health program. That funding has since been released, but Pfaff's confirmation remains stalled.

Also awaiting confirmation is Dawn Crim as head of the department that licenses and regulates a variety of professional occupations. She faced questions from Republicans about her qualifications and a 2005 felony child abuse charge after jabbing her 5-year-old son's hand with a pen. The charge was later dismissed.

Evers has stood by Crim and all of his appointees.



Associated Press