Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Majority of Recommendations from the Special Committee on Infant Mortality Do Not Move Forward

Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Council met to hear the recommendations of a number of special committees. As we discussed in Tuesday’s blog post, the Special Committee on Infant Mortality put forth particularly important legislative recommendations, which we strongly support.  Unfortunately, the majority of these proposals were not recommended for introduction in the Legislature; only three of the eleven were approved by the Legislative Council.

The three recommendations of the Special Committee that moved forward were:

• WLC: 0072/2: Requiring informed consent of the woman prior to an elective caesarian section or elective procedure to induce pregnancy before 39 weeks of gestation.

• WLC: 0074/2: Requiring birth certificates to include race or ethnicity, as reported by the mother.

• WLC: 0090/1: Requiring home visiting programs to be evidence based and collaborative between DCF and DHS.

Representative Cory Mason, who spoke on behalf of the Special Committee, made clear that the recommended bills were to be seen as a package of reforms that together would help combat the infant mortality crisis in Wisconsin. There are no silver bullets to solve this public health crisis, so it is particularly disappointing that the Joint Committee did not follow the recommendation of the Special Committee and address the problem from all the angles that their expertise dictated with these recommendations.

Passage through the Joint Legislative Council would not have ensured final passage and enactment of these bills – passage simply introduces the bills to the full legislature, where they would be heard in standing committees and subject to the full legislative process.  Howevr, study committee bills typically have good track records, because they are developed in a bipartisan process and are fully vetted through outside experts and the Wisconsin Legislative Council.

The Governor and members of the legislature have been speaking recently about the need for moderation and cooperation in the Wisconsin capitol.  However, if yesterday's debate on these Legislative Council bills is any indication of the potential for bridging the partisan divide, we may be sorely disappointed.

Sara Eskrich

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