The Wisconsin Assembly is expected to begin debating the state’s budget Wednesday, and along with billions of dollars in increased taxes and fees are very non-budgetary provisions that would encourage litigation against businesses. Governor Jim Doyle wants to rewrite the state’s handling of liability, in the process invigorating the lawyers’ pursuits of deep pockets.
As Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce puts it, the budget would expand liability by returning to joint and several liability that allows a defendant found to bear 1 percent of fault to pay 100 percent of the damages.
How’s that for a competitive selling point around the country: Deep pockets? Come to Wisconsin! We’ll sue the hell out of you!
Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce — the NAM’s ally in Wisconsin — has been leading a petition campaign against the budget. From a news release, “Wisconsin Business Community United Against State Budget“:
MADISON – In a massive outpouring of opposition, more than 2,100 business executives signed petitions urging the Legislature to reject a state budget with $3 billion in higher taxes and expanded liability, WMC announced Tuesday.
“The business community is united in urging the Legislature to reject the $3 billion in higher taxes and joint and several liability,” said James S. Haney, WMC president. “The budget under consideration will hamper job creation in our state and prolong the recession.”
Last Wednesday, WMC emailed petitions to businesses throughout the state asking executives to announce their opposition to the $3 billion tax hikes, joint and several liability and other anti-growth measures.
Here’s the WMC’s web alert on the issue: “State Budget – Eliminating Joint & Several Liability Changes and Jury Instructions.”
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