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WI: 5 things to look for in the next 5 months

By   /   December 31, 2012  /   No Comments

By Wisconsin Reporter

As the world wraps up 2012 and heads into 2013, Wisconsin Reporter compiled a series of “5 things” to think about. Here’s one.

Five things to watch for in the next five months:

The U.S. Supreme Court largely upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act earlier this year, leaving a lot of “now what?” questions to be answered in 2013.

5. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid coverage for low-income Americans, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2012 decision on the legislation, dubbed “Obamacare” by critics, said the federal government cannot withhold other Medicaid funding from states that decline to expand Medicaid coverage for their residents. Gov. Scott Walker already has said Wisconsin will not pursue a state-run health care exchange — essentially, an online marketplace for health insurance. But he’s thus far been mum on whether Wisconsin will expand Medicaid coverage.

4. It’s a good thing Wisconsin is so high on voting. Just when we’re moving on from one election, the next one comes along. Case in point? Candidates for state Supreme Court must submit 2,000 signatures in support of their run no later than Jan. 2. A primary would be held Feb. 19. The election, for the seat held by Patience Roggensack, a member of the court’s conservative majority, will be held in April.

3. In siding with Democrats last session on mining-regulation legislation, state Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, essentially killed the bill. But the November elections padded the GOP’s Senate majority, meaning Schultz might not be a significant factor when legislators return to session in January. Walker has said he wants a mining bill on his desk as soon as possible. If that happens, look to see if Gogebic Taconite LLC opts to pursue a mine in Iron and Ashland counties after all. After mining regulatory reform failed to pass last session, the company announced this spring that it was dropping plans for the project.

2. Is Wisconsin next on the right-to-work list? After Michigan Republicans pushed through right-to-work legislation in early December, union members and Democrats here in Wisconsin are wondering if the Badger State is next. Walker and Wisconsin Republicans, of course, already have made substantial changes to unionized public employees’ ability to collectively bargain. Will GOP lawmakers pursue legislation barring workers from being forced to join or pay dues to a union? Walker and legislative leadership have insisted that the issue isn’t on their agenda — but that’s at least a step shy of saying that they won’t push for right-to-work if another lawmaker proposes a bill.

1. As President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner continue to finesse a deal on the so-called “fiscal cliff,” there remain more questions than answers. Those discussions may have significant impact on small businesses, retirees, taxpayers and the economy as a whole, depending on what, if any, deal Democrats and Republicans can reach. Americans, in the meantime, can do little more than watch and wait. But it’s a game well worth watching.

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