- Associated Press - Thursday, June 15, 2017

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on Wisconsin Legislature’s budget committee action (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

The Legislature’s budget committee has voted to eliminate a same-sex domestic partner registry established in 2009.

The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee voted along party lines to end the registry after six months for anyone not already on it.

The committee also eliminated a domestic partner registry available for state employees who are same-sex or opposite sex partners.



Republican backers say neither is needed because all the benefits provided under the registries are now available to anyone who gets married. Same-sex marriage was not permitted at the time the registries were created, but it is legal now.

Republican Rep. Dale Kooyenga says, “This isn’t personal. It’s simply an equity issue, a fairness issue.”

Democratic Rep. Gordon Hintz cautioned that there could be unintended consequences in eliminating the registries.

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5:15 p.m.

Eight additional guards at the troubled Lincoln Hills youth prison would be hired under a vote by the Legislature’s budget committee.

The Joint Finance Committee voted Thursday to approve the hiring as Gov. Scott Walker recommended.

The additional staff would be used to help the prison in Irma come closer to being in compliance with staff-to-juvenile ratios mandated by the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Federal law requires a ratio of 1-to-8 during waking hours and 1-to-16 during sleeping hours. Walker’s plan would reduce the average ratios to 1-to-13 during waking hours and 1-to-29 during sleeping hours.

Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor argues that not hiring enough guards to come into compliance is irresponsible.

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3 p.m.

Domestic partners of state and local Wisconsin government workers would no longer have state health coverage and other benefits under a vote by the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has said it was making the change since all couples, including same-sex, can now legally marry.

There are nearly 4,400 partnerships in the registry. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reports that 78 percent of them are opposite sex, suggesting that the benefits offered have a value to workers separate and distinct from what they’d get if they were married.

Walker’s proposal approved Thursday by the Joint Finance Committee would result in the domestic partner registry ending in 2018.

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2:35 p.m.

Wisconsin state workers and University of Wisconsin employees would get a 2 percent pay increase in each of the next two years under votes by the Legislature’s budget committee.

The Joint Finance Committee voted unanimously Thursday to go along with Gov. Scott Walker’s recommendation to pay for the salary increases.

The committee is voting on making changes to Walker’s budget before the full Assembly and Senate takes action.

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2:10 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed switch to a self-insurance plan for state workers has been rejected in a rare bipartisan vote by the Wisconsin Legislature’s budget-writing committee.

The vote Thursday is a defeat for Walker after heavy lobbying by him to make the change.

The Joint Finance Committee voted 16-0 to reject proposed self-insurance contracts in its first meeting in two weeks as budget talks have stalled amid disagreements over K-12 school funding, roads and taxes. The panel wasn’t taking up any of those issues Thursday.

Under self-insurance, state workers and their families are insured by the state rather than purchasing coverage through private HMOs. The state would assume the risk for medical claims that exceed premiums.

Sen. Alberta Darling says “This is the wrong time for us to make major shifts in the marketplace.”

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1:50 p.m.

Health insurance premiums for state workers and their families could increase as much as 10 percent under action the Legislature’s budget-writing committee is set to take.

Republican co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee said Thursday the panel will reject Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to move to self-insurance for state workers. As part of that, lawmakers say the panel will dictate that total insurance costs under the plan, including premiums, increase no more than 10 percent.

Walker has been lobbying for his self-insurance proposal, under which 250,000 state workers and their families are insured by the state rather than purchasing coverage through private HMOs. The state would assume the risk for medical claims that exceed premiums.

But Republican Sen. Alberta Darling says now is not the time to make the change.

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12:05 a.m.

Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed switch to a self-insurance plan for state workers is expected to be rejected by the Legislature’s budget-writing committee.

The Thursday vote on self-insurance by the Joint Finance Committee comes in its first meeting in two weeks. Budget talks have stalled amid disagreements over K-12 school funding, roads and taxes.

The panel wasn’t taking up any of those issues Thursday, but in addition to self-insurance the committee did plan to vote on prison-related issues, including hiring more guards at the troubled Lincoln Hills youth facility.

Walker has been lobbying for his self-insurance proposal, under which 250,000 state workers and their families are insured by the state rather than purchasing coverage through private HMOs. The state would assume the risk for medical claims that exceed premiums.

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