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Freshman Dems introduce watered-down measure to eliminate perk

Four freshman Democrats in the state Senate have introduced a watered-down bill to end a controversial retirement perk for lawmakers.

In March, the GOP-controlled Assembly voted to end the practice of awarding free health insurance for unused sick leave.

That's because legislators, constitutional officer, and others built up thousands in benefits by never calling in sick, even when a couple lawmakers were in the hospital.

The new bill from Sens. Pat Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls; Jim Sullivan, D-Wauwatosa; John Lehman, D-Racine; and Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma; would only apply to future legislators.

The Assembly bill would end the benefit for all state elected officials once their replacements take office. In the last couple months, majority Senate Democrats have avoided GOP calls to act on the bill. They even cut off sessions early a couple times.

Now, Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, says the Democrats are just trying to save face.