The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill which allows lawsuits against the state to be filed in any of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Dane County Democrat John Erpenbach says the bill will mean nearly every suit against the state will end up being heard either in Madison, or in Waukesha, depending upon the party affiliation of the complainant. “We’re all friends here so I think we can be frank,” said Erpenbach. “There are certain Republicans who do not like Dane County, period. Lawsuits are going to be filed either in Waukesha County or in Dane County depending on whether Democrats are taking the state to court, or Republicans are taking the state to court. We know that.”
AUDIO: Senator Jon Erpenbach (4:45)
But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau defended the bill. “This is telling your constituent outstate that you don’t have to drive to Madison to file a suit,” said Fitzgerald. “That local lawyer on Main Street can do it in that county or any county you want to do it. You’re not going to drive to Waukesha County to file some suit, when the issue may be local.” The legislation from Wauwatosa Republican Leah Vukmir picked up one Democratic vote in passing 18-15 and now heads to the Assembly.
AUDIO: Senator Scott Fitzgerald (4:05)
In other action, the Senate passed legislation which would add text messaging to the state’s no-call list. The bill’s author, Racine Republican Van Wanggaard, said such “junk texts” can cost consumers as much as thirty cents per text. The bill now goes to the Assembly. The chamber also passed a bill which provides tougher sanctions for private school operators who have been banned from Milwaukee’s school choice program. They would be barred for seven years under the terms of the bill which now also goes to the Assembly.