The omnibus motion Republicans added Thursday night to the proposed state budget contained more than just a radical rewrite of the state’s open records law. The 24-page document is a grab bag of pet projects, many of them policy items with no fiscal impact, all of them added anonymously. Burying such items in the budget is a common practice as lawmakers close in on adopting a final spending plan. Among the other new provisions:
Officer-involved deaths: Requires independent investigators of officer-involved deaths to delete information from reports released to the public that they believe should not be disclosed because the harm outweighs the public’s right to know.
Public unions: Requires that state and local employee unions seeking initial recognition receive at least 51 percent of the votes of all the employees in the bargaining unit. Currently, a union must win just a majority of the votes cast to be initially recognized.
Seven-day workweek: Allows employees to specify in writing that they choose to work seven days in a row without a day of rest. Currently, factory or mercantile employees must be granted 24 hours of rest in every seven consecutive days of work.
Living wage: Replaces all references in state law to a “living wage” — defined as the level of pay needed to provide “minimum comfort, decency, physical and moral well-being” — with “minimum wage.” Repeals provisions in state law allowing the state Department of Workforce Development to investigate complaints that an employee is not being paid a living wage.
Payday lenders: Expands the types of products and services payday lending companies may provide to include the sale of insurance, annuities or any other financial service allowed in the state.
School athletics: Limits the expansion of participation in athletic and extra-curricular programs at public schools to home-schooled pupils only. An earlier draft would have also allowed private and online charter students to participate in such activities. Parents would have to provide information showing their students are eligible, and school boards “could not question the accuracy or validity of the statement or request additional information.”
Military surplus: Removes an earlier provision requiring local governments that participate in the military surplus equipment program to develop policies and report on the use of such weapons or equipment.
Real estate sales: Prohibits local governments from requiring property owners to take any action before they can sell their properties, such as removing junk or debris, mowing, or performing maintenance or property upgrades. (Local governments can still require property owners to take specific actions not connected to the sale of a property.)
Chiropractic coverage: Establishes rules for resolving disputes with insurers over chiropractic coverage. Requires anyone seeking an independent resolution to first exhaust the insurer’s internal grievance procedure.
Lead paint: Changes the definition of lead paint from paint containing more than 0.06 percent lead by weight in liquid paint or more than 0.7 milligrams of lead per square centimeter of applied paint to more than 0.06 percent by weight in liquid paint, more than 0.5 percent by weight in dried paint, or 1.0 milligram of lead per square centimeter in dried paint.
Medical transport: Requires the state to modify its existing contract with Medical Transportation Management, faulted in a state audit for failing to comply with requirements to adequately provide transportation to doctors’ appointments for medical assistance beneficiaries. Orders the state to exclude Jefferson, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties from the contract and make alternative arrangements.
Electrician license exemption: Establishes that a person installing, repairing or maintaining a wastewater treatment system need not be a licensed electrician if the only work being done is “installing or modifying a conductor going from the system’s junction, pull, or device box to the nearest disconnecting point and the conductor is buried with the system.”