Fitzgerald uses procedural move to block last chance for CBD bill vote

{Updated 2016-03-16 6:59:17 PM} WisPolitics.com, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Racine Journal Times and other sources are reporting more details along with reaction to last night’s actions by Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to block a vote on the CBD bill during the final meeting of 2015-2016 legislative session. Senate Democrats had made a motion to pull the CBD bill, AB228/SB221 from the Committee on Senate Organization to the Senate floor for vote.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) responded by scheduling a public hearing for March 16. Under Senate rules, a bill cannot be pulled from committee if a public hearing is scheduled. This move killed chances for a vote before adjournment. A hearing notice went out this morning only to be followed by a notice of cancellation.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Fitzgerald said that three Republicans, Senate President Mary Lazich of New Berlin and Sens. Duey Stroebel of Cedarburg and Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa, had adamantly opposed the bill out of concerns it could lead to the legalization of marijuana in Wisconsin.

“I understand why people would be frustrated because, from the outside looking in, it probably doesn’t make much sense,” Fitzgerald said.

(snip)

GOP opponents of the proposal worry that it could be used by supporters of marijuana legalization such as certain tribal governments to force that outcome in federal court. Supporters of the bill say it won’t increase the already slim chances of that happening.

From WisPolitics.com:

After the Senate finished its calendar, Sen. Bob Wirch, D-Kenosha, moved to pull the bill from committee so the chamber could vote on it. The legislation has already cleared the Assembly, but will not pass this session without Senate action.

Earlier in the night, Fitzgerald referred the bill to Senate Org. He then scheduled a public hearing on the bill, which prevents the bill from being pulled to the floor.

Fitzgerald said he scheduled the hearing specifically to prevent a pulling motion, saying it would “put some senators in a very difficult position, and I don’t think it would be a real valid position for them.”

Dems proposed suspending the rules to take up the bill despite Fitzgerald’s move. But Republicans could adjourn the session rather than holding the vote, and Dems were trying to prevent that.

Racine Journal Times:

The measure was ultimately held up in large part by the objections of state Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield. Her office declined an interview request, but she said in a written statement to The Journal Times that “good policy is driven by facts and not emotion. We don’t have the facts yet.”

“It’s unfortunate that some legislators are selling this bill as a solution. It’s not,” said Vukmir, who is a registered nurse. “Regardless of what we do in Wisconsin, it remains illegal at the federal level.”

The federal government treats CBD the same as marijuana, making it illegal to transport across state lines, though few expect federal authorities to come down on families with the oil.

Vukmir’s opposition brought heavy criticism including from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who wrote on his Facebook page: “I hope Senator Vukmir explains to Wisconsin citizens why she is standing in the way of this life saving treatment that many other states (both GOP and Dem) have already legalized.”

The Capital Times:

“I would rather deal with an uncomfortable senator than deal with an uncomfortable family,” said Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee. “I think we can navigate procedural motions here so the people who are suffering out there can get the medicine we promised them two years ago.”

Two Senators who had sent a letter to the members of the Committee on Senate Organization on March 10 requesting a vote, Van H. Wanggaard (R-Racine)Senator Van Wanggaard a Senator Bob Wirch (D – Somers) issued statements:

Statement on Failure of CBD Bill to Pass: “I am disappointed and angry. Despite opponents ‘ intentional misinformation and fearmongering, CBD Oil is legal and problem – free in 21 other states and should be here. They should use actual facts to explain why they are blocking the will and hope of parents statewide. ” This is why people hate politics and why politicians have a bad name. It is, literally, tragic.” — Senator Van H. Wanggaard (R-Racine)

Wirch Statement on Republican Block of CBD Bill: “Children suffering from seizure disorders and their parents were collateral damage tonight in an act of pure partisan politics by the Republican majority.  What Sen. Fitzgerald, Sen. Vukmir and their colleagues did tonight was cowardly; the fact that not one Republican would speak in favor of the bill, which they claimed to support, was shameful. This is why so many people hate politics.” — Senator Bob Wirch (D – Somers)

WDJT Channel58 Milwaukee reported on the reaction of a state CBD advocate Sally Schaeffer, whose late daughter was a seizure patient:

The mother of a young girl who died without receiving access to a controversial cannabis oil is devastated that the state senate ended its session without voting on the bill known as “Lydia’s Law.”

Sally Schaeffer, Lydia’s mother, fought for the legalization of CBD oil to treat seizure disorders in her daughter and other children. Lydia died in 2014 at the age of seven.

“We fought and we researched and we did everything we could while she was alive to figure out how to treat this seizure disorder,” Schaeffer said after the bill wasn’t heard at the end of the session on Tuesday.

“I brought the same emotion and mentality to this effort,” she said. “I don’t ever want to lose hope.

I don’t ever want to not believe in our political system — and that our politicians and legislators are going to do whats right for the people of Wisconsin.”

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