Governor Walker Includes Tort Reform in Special Session on Jobs

MacIver News Service | January 4, 2011

[Madison, Wisc…] Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants the legislature to pass tort reform legislation within the next 45 days.

The Republican has included a sweeping liability reform proposal as a component of the legislative package to be considered in the emergency Special Session on Jobs.

“We look forward to partnering with the legislature to implement these and other legislation that will open Wisconsin for business,”said Walker.

The liability reform proposal places limits on manufacturers’ liability to products that were manufactured, distributed, sold, or promoted within 25 years before the date the injured party’s cause of action accrues.

The bill also makes several changes to current law regarding civil actions for negligence in long?term care facilities product liability, punitive damage awards, and awards for defending a frivolous lawsuit.

The lawsuit reform bill also discourages plaintiffs from filing frivolous claims, caps non-economic damages for medical malpractice, and protects the confidentiality of best practices peer review information.

“These common sense policies will bring Wisconsin into the mainstream and reduce frivolous lawsuits,” said Bill Smith, President of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council (WCJC) and State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Smith’s comments were echoed by James Buchen, vice president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

“Passage of the lawsuit reforms will send a signal to the business executives that Wisconsin is a safe place to create jobs,” Buchen said.

In addition to the tort reform measures, Walker unveiled four additional pieces of legislation that will be introduced as part of the Special Session.

The bills would:

  • Make health savings accounts more affordable would create a non-refundable tax credit for income deposited in a health savings account
  • Exempt businesses from income and franchise taxes for two years for businesses that have done business in Wisconsin for ten years or more
  • Increase the amount available for economic development tax credits from $75 million to $100 million
  • Require a Super Majority of 60 votes in the Assembly and 20 votes in the Senate to pass any bill that raises taxes

“These five pieces of legislation will create a more stable tax and regulatory environment, so business owners can focus on growing jobs,”said Walker, who indicated additional legislation will be introduced in the coming days.

Walker Special Session Bills





Video: Walker discuses need to eliminate vacant state positions, details special session bills.