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Senator wants all drivers to have insurance

A Wisconsin senator says he might try again to make all Wisconsin drivers have insurance.

Sen. John Lehman, D-Racine, is bringing back the idea, after Gov. Jim Doyle's budget proposed higher minimum coverages for those buy auto policies. Those minimums have not changed for years.

The governor and insurance lawyers say it's resulted in more people not being able to afford the cost of their injuries in crashes.

When nobody else pays those bills, taxpayers get stuck with them as a part of Medicaid. Doyle's people say it's why the higher coverage mandates are in the budget.

But the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance says Doyle's plan would raise premiums by 33 percent and those who can't afford it will simply drive without insurance.

Lehman says driving is a responsibility, and part of that responsibility is being covered. Wisconsin and New Hampshire are the only states that don't require it.

That's just fine with Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette. He's an insurance agent, and he's against both Doyle's and Lehman's proposals.

Nygren says Wisconsin has some of the lowest auto insurance rates in the nation and he can't see why Madison wants to change that.

Rep. David Cullen, D-Milwaukee, who chairs the Assembly Insurance Committee, says the issue should be thoroughly debated and he might want to remove it from the budget and make it a separate bill.

It would be up to the Joint Finance Committee to do that. Co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, says he's waiting for a fiscal analysis of the budget before deciding which non-spending items should be taken out.