Freshmen members of the State Senate have introduced legislation to eliminate lawmakers' sick leave benefits. State Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) is among the four first-term Democrats who want to stop lawmakers from using unclaimed sick leave to help pay for retirement health benefits.
The Assembly has already passed its own version of the bill, which impacts all elected offices. The version from Senate Democrats would only affect state lawmakers. Kreitlow says lawmakers don't need to claim the benefit, but positions such as judges and district attorneys should still be able to.
Senate Republicans have attempted to bring the Assembly bill to the floor three times this session, but Democrats have blocked those efforts so far. State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) has been leading the GOP's efforts to pass the bill. The River Hills Republican says she's open to amending the Assembly version of the bill so it matches the proposal from Senate Democrats. Darling says she just wants to see the issue resolved.
The legislation was sparked by a newspaper investigation showing very few lawmakers ever claim sick leave. As a result, many can claim over $100,000 in health benefits when they retire.