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WMC Hails Legislature for Passage of Common Sense Legal Reforms

MADISONWisconsin’s largest business group Friday hailed the Wisconsin Legislature for swift final passage of common sense legal reforms that will improve the state’s business climate. We look forward to Governor Scott Walker signing his reforms into law.

“The swift, decisive action on common sense legal reforms is sending a message from Platteville to Wall Street that Wisconsin is open for business,” said James A. Buchen, WMC vice president of government relations. “With other states raising taxes, and passing other anti-business legislation, Wisconsin can stand apart and encourage businesses to create jobs.”

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce represents 3,500 companies that have 500,000 employees. The Wisconsin Senate passed the legal reforms earlier this week.

“Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald deserve tremendous credit for rallying their houses to pass these legal reforms,” Buchen said. “Wisconsin businesses need to know that we have a legal system that is fair, and balanced and predictable. These reforms provide those changes and will encourage businesses to create jobs here.”

The lawsuit reforms have been proposed by Gov. Walker and lawmakers as part of a series of initiatives aimed at improving the state’s business climate. Walker called the Legislature into special session earlier this month to pass the bills.

In other action, the Assembly approved making health savings accounts (HSAs) tax deductible. Wisconsin was one of only a four states that taxed HSAs. “This is another tool to help make health care affordable,” Buchen said.

The legal reform bill approved by both houses includes:

  • Adoption of various changes to product liability law to bring Wisconsin in line with other states and assist Wisconsin manufacturers and small businesses.
  • Requiring expert witnesses to base their opinions on sound science and well-established theories.
  • Elimination of the “risk contribution” theory in manufacturing lawsuits. The Wisconsin Supreme Court created the standard allowing plaintiffs to sue any lead paint manufacturer that sold paint in the state without proving which product caused the harm.
  • A cap on punitive damage awards.

“Wisconsin is headed in the right direction,” Buchen said. “The business community will continue to work with Governor Walker and the Legislature to cut red tape and cut taxes, too. We need to be the most competitive state in the nation.”

James A. Buchen, (608) 258-3400





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