A State Senate committee is being asked to approve a bill that would end sick leave benefits for state lawmakers. The legislation would end a practice where lawmakers can use unclaimed sick leave to help pay for retirement health benefits.

State Senator John Lehman (D-Racine) says it's a benefit lawmakers shouldn't have, especially when so many members of the public are struggling with healthcare issues of their own. Lehman is among the four Democrat freshmen in the Senate who introduced the bill.

The Assembly already approved a similar version of the measure, but it ended the benefit for all elected officials. During a hearing on the bill Monday, Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan) questioned why a new version was needed, when lawmakers could have easily made changes to an already existing bill.

Senate President Fred Risser (D-Madison) says he allowed a hearing on the new version first because it was “clean” version of the proposal. Senator Pat Kreitlow (D-Chippewa Falls) added that the new version allows them to “focus on their own house first” before debating whether prosecutors or judges should also lose the benefit.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (MP3 1:05)

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