The rules committee introduced a bill in January to block the rule from taking effect. The Senate voted 20-12 to place it in committee. All of the chamber’s Democrats voted against the move.
Sen. Tim Carpenter, an openly gay Democrat from Milwaukee, railed against the bill, saying it will allow therapists to torture gay and transgender youth. He likened the therapy to burning witches.
“It doesn’t work. It’s a sham. It’s a political talking point to make some people feel good, like Rush Limbaugh,” Carpenter said, referring to the late conservative radio host. “How long do we have to wait to say conversion therapy is wrong?”
Mike Mikalsen, an aide to Sen. Steve Nass, co-chairman of the rules committee, told The Associated Press on Monday that the bill isn’t about the merits of conversion therapy. He said the DSPS therapy board lacked the authority to ban conversion therapy because the Legislature hasn’t prohibited it in statute.
“(The committee) was not dealing with the pluses and minuses of conversion therapy,” Mikalsen said. “The issue is until the Legislature adds that as a prohibited practice (in statute), someone should not lose their license for doing that.”
The Assembly approved placing the bill in committee with no debate.
Senate Republicans also placed in committee a bill blocking a Department of Natural Resources rule designed to fight pollution from PFAS, so-called “forever” chemicals that have entered the environment through products such as Teflon and firefighting foam. Research suggests PFAS can cause health problems.