Bipartisan Wisconsin Medical Cannabis Bill Referred to Senate Committee Chaired by Opponent

received a senate bill number, SB507 and was referred to the senate committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection. The referral to a committee other than the Senate Health committee, where previous bills were assigned, marks a departure from normal procedures." data-share-imageurl="http://cannabadger.com/sites/default/files/field/image/p1060613-senate-hemp-bill-vote11-7-cb_0.jpg">
Posted: October 18, 2019 by Gary Storck
Category: Medical

Bipartisan medical cannabis legislation authored by Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D- West Point), Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) today received a senate bill number, SB507 and was referred to the senate committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection. The referral to a committee other than the Senate Health committee, where previous bills were assigned, marks a departure from normal procedures.

The reason seems to be to prevent SB507 from receiving a public hearing, something that was highly likely had it been assigned to senate health, which is chaired by Testin. The senate committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection, is by chaired none other than by arch-cannabigot Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Saukville), who has long opposed any loosening of Wisconsin's harsh and outdated cannabis laws. Cannabadger reported that when Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald named Testin chair of Senate Health in Dec. 2018, it raised the potential of a public hearing in the senate. But Fitzgerald, who has repeatedly rejected even discussing medical cannabis in the senate, apparently had other ideas. And it should be noted the previous medical bills Fitzgerald referred to sent to senate health were when longtime cannabis opponent former Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) chaired the committee. Vukmir was defeated by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin last November.

SB507 is sponsored by 13 senators, 12 Democrats along with Sen. Testin. The 12 Democrats represent all but 2 members of the 14 member (of 33 senators) Democratic caucus. The two Dems who did not cosponsor are from opposite ends of the state, Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Somers) and Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason). This is the first medical cannabis legislation Sen. Risser has signed onto since 1979.

In the assembly, 24 representatives have signed on, 22 Democrats and two Republicans, both first time cosponsors, Reps. Todd Novak, (R-Dodgeville) and Joel Kitchens, (R-Sturgeon Bay). It is heartening to see assembly Republicans signing on to medical cannabis legislation for the first time since the mid-2000s.

Meanwhile, WJJQ reported on Oct. 16 that Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) who had been part of the coalition including Sens. Jon Erpenbach, Patrick Testin and Rep. Chris Taylor that wrote SB507 but dropped out to write her own bill, met with the Lincoln County Board. WJJQ noted the bulk of the time was dedicated to discussing redistricting and medical cannabis, two issues that have been addressed through advisory referendums in Lincoln County in Nov. 2018. Lincoln County was one of 16 counties passing cannabis advisory referenda and county voters easily passed the November medical cannabis advisory referendum on county ballots. While Felzkowski was not supportive of efforts to address gerrymandered legislative districts through redistricting, she said she anticipates that a medical marijuana bill she authored will be taken up this fall by the assembly.