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Wisconsin Senate OKs Several Bills, Including New Fentanyl Regulations

Senate Also Approves Woodchuck Season; Easing Child Labor Requirements; Lead Pipe Replacement Bill

Wisconsin state Capitol
DMichael Burns (CC-BY)

The Wisconsin Senate passed several bills Tuesday, including a bill cracking down on deadly opioids known as fentanyl analogs.

The potent drug is being added to heroin, leading to spikes in overdoses across the state. Republican Rep. John Nygren’s daughter, Cassandra Nygren, was charged this month with allegedly providing the fentanyl that killed a pregnant woman.

The Republican-authored bill would add fentanyl analogs to the synthetic opiates category of controlled substances, making it easier for prosecutors to go after manufacturers. Possessing, manufacturing or dealing a fentanyl analog would be a felony.

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The Senate approved the bill on a voice vote. The Assembly passed it in June but the Senate amended it to include more analog forms. That means the bill must go back to the Assembly.

The chamber also passed a Republican bill on a voice vote that would further loosen child labor restrictions.

The bill would allow minors to work in businesses owned in whole or in part by their parents or guardians without a child work permit. The bill doesn’t change current limitations on when minors can work or how long, minimum wage requirements or restrictions on hazardous employment.

The Wisconsin Grocers Association supports the measure. No other groups have registered a position on the bill. The measure now goes to the Assembly.

Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill in June that eliminated work permits for 16- and 17-year-olds, ending a century-old requirement that teenagers obtain a parent’s signature and permit to work.

Also on Tuesday, the state Senate declared open season on groundhogs. The Senate approved a bill on a voice vote that would remove groundhogs from the state’s protected species list and establish a year-round hunting and trapping season with no bag limits.

Supporters argue groundhogs, also known as woodchucks or whistle pigs, are plentiful and their burrowing destroys gardens and undermines building foundations, sidewalks and roads. The Alliance for Animals, the Humane Society of the United States and Midwest Environmental Advocates all have registered in opposition.

The Assembly passed the bill on a voice vote in June. The measure now goes to Walker for his signature.

In other news, the Senate passed a bill on a unanimous vote that would make it easier to replace lead pipes. The measure now heads to the state Assembly.