Governor Scott Walker’s bill signing hand was busy today.
The governor signed more than 90 legislative items into law. Many make technical changes to existing laws, but others hit closer to home for many in Wisconsin.
One of those is a new law that prohibits local governments from enacting their own labor ordinances.
The new law bars cities and counties from making their own ordinances related to hours, overtime and benefits if those measures go beyond state laws.
It also prevents state or local governments from requiring people to accept certain collective bargaining provisions.
Assembly author of the bill Representative Rob Hutton said at a public hearing on the bill that it prevents patchwork employment laws around the state.
He says that will save business owners the time and hassle of navigating different labor standards.
“This establishes certainty for employees so that they know that they may receive the same treatment from the business and the government no matter where they are located.”
Democratic state Senator Kathleen Vinehout doesn’t think that patchwork of different labor standards is a problem.
She says often, counties have particular industries that require different standards, especially counties with tourism-driven economies. On the Senate floor where the bill passed last month, Vinehout said, “I just for the life of me can’t figure out what problem this bill is solving. The county’s association which is of course is opposed to taking away their local powers are concerned that they’re not going to be able to regulate employee hours or overtime, benefits, discrimination in any particular industry in their county.”
The law also bans cities and counties from setting a minimum wage that’s higher than the state’s minimum wage for its own employees and those it contracts with.
A previous version of the bill would have prevented local governments from enacting ordinances that put in place discrimination protections that go beyond the state’s. The Legislature amended the bill to take that provision out, though.
Among the other bills Walker signed today is one that legalizes the practice of noodling, or catching a catfish with your bare hands. Another bill authorizes almost $7,000,000 for a marketing campaign to lure millennials to Wisconsin.
Nina Kravinsky reported the story for WORT News.