Unfinished business remains as Wis. lawmakers wrap up legislative session

MADISON – The state Assembly is likely done for the year, and the Senate only has one more planned meeting.

Several bills, from limits on drone use to an expanded school grading system, are on the governor’s desk. He’s expected to sign those bills, but the fates of some other measures remain uncertain.

The Senate and Assembly have each passed a bill that limits early voting, but Governor Walker hasn’t said if he will sign it into law.

The legislation, written by Walker’s own party, would stop people from casting in-person absentee ballots after 7 p.m. and on weekends.

During a marathon session Thursday night, the Assembly approved the measure on a partisan vote. All Democrats opposed the bill.

They say it’s an unconstitutional attempt to make it more difficult for minorities in Wisconsin’s largest cities of Milwaukee and Madison to vote.

“Limiting the time for voting by absentee voting in person. That just tells it all. We should not be limiting time for voting. We should be encouraging people to vote,” said State Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber, D-Appleton.

Assembly Republicans say a limit on early voting is needed. They say it’s not fair large cities can offer it while voters living in rural voters often don’t get the opportunity.

State Rep. Kathy Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls, also cited state law which says absentee ballots are a privilege that should be carefully regulated.

“I want everyone and anyone who is willing and wanting to cast a vote by mail, in person or on election day to do so, but we shan’t go against this law,” said Bernier.

Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to return for one more floor session on April 1 before lawmakers head out on the campaign trail.

Senators will likely take up the Assembly’s version of a bill designed to make chemotherapy drugs more affordable for cancer patients.

There are some bills the Assembly has passed that the Senate likely won’t take up. A Senate spokesperson says the chamber likely won’t vote on a bill that would raise the speed limit on some state highways.

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