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News & Press: Legislative Issues

WPHA-WALHDAB Capitol Report

Monday, February 24, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: WPHA Office
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As the Wisconsin Legislature enters the home stretch of the current legislative session – scheduled to end in April – WPHA and WALHDAB has plenty to be excited about on the policy front.

Earlier this month, the state Assembly unanimously approved WALHDAB and WPHA's top legislative priority – the Healthy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 73). The bill, which was passed by the state Senate on a 33-0 vote in November, creates a workplace wellness grant program for Wisconsin small businesses. Employers who establish an employee wellness program would be eligible for a state grant equal to 30% of their overall costs of implementing the program.

Programs and services that can be offered under eligible wellness programs include chronic disease management, tobacco cessation, fitness training, nutrition education and stress management. Wellness programs would also be required to provide health risk assessments for participating employees.

As numerous studies have shown, workplace wellness programs can help businesses manage health care costs, boost worker productivity and reduce absenteeism. Employers that focus on wellness are also likely to experience fewer workplace injuries and increased employee morale.

The bill, amended by the Assembly to cap funding for the program at $3 million per year for five years, must now be sent back to the Senate for procedural concurrence. It would then be sent to Gov. Scott Walker for final approval.

But good news on the legislative front does not end with the Healthy Jobs Act.

The raw milk bill (Senate Bill 236), which would authorize dairy farms to sell unpasteurized milk to the general public, has failed to gain much momentum in the Capitol. Thanks to a strong lobbying and advocacy effort by WALHDAB, WPHA and our coalition partners in the medical community and agriculture industry, key lawmakers remain opposed to the legislation.

With the legislative session quickly coming to a close, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that the raw milk bill will pass the Legislature. Most legislators understand that raw milk is an inherently dangerous product that puts children, the elderly and other vulnerable citizens at risk for serious illness.

The WALHDAB-WPHA Government Affairs Team has also been lobbying on and tracking a number of other bills that could have an impact of public health in Wisconsin, including legislation that would create a statewide program to review child deaths and a bill that would create a felony for intoxicated co-sleeping with a child if the incident resulted in harm or death to the child.

For a complete overview of legislation being tracked by WPHA-WALHDAB, please review our Legislative Grid.

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