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Treasurer eliminate

Matt Adamczyk was elected state treasurer in 2014 on a pledge to help eliminate the position.

M.P. KING -- State Journal

The state Assembly on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to allow possession, with a doctor’s approval, of CBD oil, a marijuana extract used to treat seizures that does not produce a high.

The vote sends the bill, which already passed the Senate, to Gov. Scott Walker, who said this month that he supports it.

“I share ... the hopes of thousands across Wisconsin that Gov. Walker will sign the bill quickly,” said the bill’s Senate sponsor, Van Wanggaard, R-Racine.

Also Tuesday, the Senate voted largely on party lines to eliminate the elected office of state treasurer. That tees up a final Assembly vote later this week that could place the proposed constitutional amendment before voters next year.

The Senate also passed a bill requiring juvenile corrections officers to report child abuse.

The Assembly also voted on a bipartisan basis to pass a so-called “right to try” bill giving certain terminally ill people who exhausted other treatment options access to certain drugs not yet approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The CBD oil measure passed on a 98-0 vote, despite concerns from some Democrats who said it doesn’t do enough to ensure families who need CBD oil can obtain it. Some doctors contend the oil is successful in treating severe epilepsy and other seizure disorders, especially in children.

Lawmakers passed “Lydia’s Law,” a measure meant to give access to the oil, in 2014. But Wanggaard said that law didn’t do enough — in part because the oil, like marijuana, remains classified under federal law as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Some Democrats said the state should create dispensaries to enable families to safely obtain the oil.

But the bill’s Assembly sponsor, Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said families in other states that legalized the oil have not had problems getting it, despite the federal prohibition.

Mandatory reporting

of abuse

The Senate also passed a bill that would force guards at Wisconsin’s troubled Lincoln Hills youth prison to report child abuse.

The Senate approved the measure on a voice vote Tuesday. Bill sponsor Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, calls the proposal a first step to fix what she says is a “broken juvenile justice system.” It’s the first action the Legislature has taken to address problems at the state’s juvenile prisons.

The FBI is investigating allegations of widespread abuse of juveniles at the prison near Irma in north central Wisconsin. Inmates have filed two federal lawsuits challenging conditions at the prison and demanding improvements.

The bill would make guards at juvenile prisons mandatory child abuse reporters, a move that would protect them from being fired for reporting incidents.

Workers in nearly 30 professions are mandatory reporters under Wisconsin law.

Treasurer’s office

The Senate voted 18-15 to approve a resolution to amend the state Constitution to eliminate the treasurer’s office.

If the Assembly OKs the measure on its scheduled vote Thursday, it would send the measure to a statewide vote in April 2018.

Republican supporters of the measure, such as its Senate sponsor, Dan Feyen, R-Fond du Lac, say it eliminates an office that no longer has any real duties.

Democrats said it would eliminate independent oversight of state finances and give Walker’s administration greater control of the state public lands board, on which the treasurer currently serves. The measure approved by the Senate would instead place the lieutenant governor on that board.

The current state treasurer, Republican Matt Adamczyk, ran for the position in 2014 on a platform of eliminating it.

Right to try

The Assembly also voted 85-13 in favor of the “right to try” bill, sending it to the Senate. Drugs eligible for use under the law would have to have successfully completed a phase one FDA clinical trial and be under investigation — or pending approval — by the FDA.

Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, spoke on behalf of the bill by speaking about his father-in-law’s battle with pancreatic cancer, which ultimately claimed his life.

“For someone who is dying, there is no such thing as false hope,” Kleefisch said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Mark Sommerhauser covers state government and politics for the Wisconsin State Journal.