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Update: Legislature's Budget Committee Actions

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So far, during its state budget deliberations Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee approved:

-- Allowing the governor to sell state property such as highways, dorms and power plants, only if the JFC agrees. Sales would not require a competitive bidding process, but rather a cost-benefit analysis and value assessment, and the GOP-controlled committee disallowed the sale of property if federal dollars, gifts or grants paid for at least half of it

-- Ending fees that Great Lakes freighters pay the state for permits to discharge ballast water - water they carry here from other ports that may contain invasive species. The fees would end in 2015

--  Approving the use of $447,000 from the state's Environmental Management Fund to pay the cost of DNR inspections of sand mining operations

-- Permitting public safety workers to bargain over health insurance premiums, but not other plan costs, such as deductibles and co-pays

-- Requiring public workers to wait at least 75 days (instead of 30), before they could be rehired

-- Charging state workers $50/month more for health insurance, if they smoke. If workers are caught lying, they could face a surcharge

-- Creating a high-deductible insurance option for public workers, along with a tax-free health savings account

When the finance committee finishes its work on Gov. Walker's proposed 2013-2015 state budget, the package will move to the state Assembly and Senate.