Governor Scott Walker is offering some details on the bills he wants lawmakers to take up during a special session on job creation. The draft proposals released Tuesday have a heavy focus on tax deductions and tax credits, but also include lawsuit reforms that are already drawing fire from critics.
Walker says his tort reform proposal is designed to create a more job friendly legal environment, which would also protect retailers from liability for defects caused by manufacturers and distributors. The Governor says Main Street businesses should not be responsible for a problem that was beyond their control.
The proposal would also require plaintiffs to prove a defendant had the intent to cause injury to collect punitive damages, discourage the filing of frivolous claims, and cap non-economic damages on medical malpractice cases.
The Wisconsin Association for Justice called Walker’s plan a “chilling” proposal that “rewards recklessness.” A statement from the group says the bill would let businesses off the hook for making products that kill or maim people, and allow insurance companies to refuse to pay fair claims in a timely manner.
The other proposals released by Walker on Tuesday include a tax deduction for health savings accounts and a tax exemption aimed at attracting businesses back to Wisconsin that have left the state. The Governor also wants to pass legislation that would require a super majority vote in the state Assembly and Senate to pass any bill that raises taxes.
Walker says additional legislation could be released in the coming days. In his inaugural address, Walker asked lawmakers to act on the package of bills before the end of February.