2017 - 2018 LEGISLATURE
June 15, 2017 - Introduced by Senators Nass,
Feyen, Stroebel, Wanggaard and
Lasee, cosponsored by Representatives Schraa, Born,
R. Brooks, Duchow,
Horlacher, Kessler, Kitchens, Kleefisch, Kolste, Kuglitsch, Loudenbeck,
Murphy, Mursau, Quinn, Shankland, Skowronski, Spiros, Steffen,
Swearingen, Tauchen, Thiesfeldt, Tusler, VanderMeer and Wachs.
Referred to Committee on Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal
1An Act to repeal
69.18 (4) (bm) and 979.10 (3); to renumber
69.18 (4) (a) 1g. to 2
6.; to renumber and amend
69.18 (4) (a) (intro.), 157.02 (1), (2), (3), (4) and 3
(5), 979.01 (1m), 979.01 (4) and 979.10 (1) (a) 1., 2. and 3.; to amend
20.165 (1) 4
(g), 69.01 (12), 69.18 (2) (d) 1., 69.18 (2) (d) 2., 69.18 (2) (d) 3., 69.18 (3) (a), 69.18 5
(3) (b), 69.18 (3) (d), 69.20 (2) (a) 2., 157.03 (1), 157.03 (2), 157.055 (2) (intro.), 6
157.112 (3) (intro.), 157.70 (3) (a), 346.71 (1), 346.71 (2), 440.03 (9) (a) (intro.), 7
440.05 (intro.), 440.78 (1) (b), 979.01 (1r), 979.025 (2), 979.025 (3), 979.09, 8
979.10 (1) (a) (intro.), 979.10 (1) (b), 979.10 (2), 979.10 (4) and 979.22; to repeal
440.05 (intro.); and to create
15.405 (18), 20.165 (1) (hr), 51.30 10
(4) (b) 29., 69.18 (4) (am) (intro.), 69.18 (4) (b), 69.18 (4) (d), 69.18 (4) (e), 69.18 11
(4) (f), 157.02 (1m) (title), 157.02 (2m), 440.03 (9) (bm), 440.03 (13) (b) 38d., 12
440.08 (2) (a) 46t., chapter 465, 979.01 (1m) (b), 979.01 (1p), 979.027, 979.036 13
and 979.10 (1) (a) 1m. and 2m. of the statutes; relating to: creating a
14medicolegal investigation examining board; licensure of medical examiners
1and medicolegal investigation staff members; disposition of bodies; death
2investigations and duties of coroners and medical examiners; extending the
3time limit for emergency rule procedures; providing an exemption from
4emergency rule procedures; granting rule-making authority; making an
5appropriation; and providing criminal penalties.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill 1) prohibits individuals, including medical examiners but not
including coroners, from performing or assisting with a death investigation without
a state-issued license; 2) establishes a Medicolegal Investigation Examining Board
to administer the licensure provisions and provide training and education to
licensees; 3) makes certain changes relating to the duties of coroners and medical
examiners regarding death notifications; 4) creates provisions regarding the
handling of personal property by a coroner or medical examiner at a death scene; 5)
modifies provisions regarding the disposition and disinterment of bodies; and 6)
provides coroners and medical examiners access to mental health treatment records
without informed consent for certain purposes.
Current law overview
Under current law, coroners or medical examiners investigate certain deaths
and have various duties and powers specified by law related to deaths occurring in
this state, including receiving reports of deaths, participating in inquest
proceedings, determining causes of death, ordering autopsies, administering
provisions related to making anatomical gifts, and issuing cremation permits.
Current law provides for the election of coroners for four-year terms by the electors
of each county or of more than one county in certain cases, except that a county with
a population of 500,000 or more must, and a county with a population of less than
500,000 may, abolish the office of coroner and establish a medical examiner system.
Under the medical examiner system, a medical examiner is appointed by the county
board or, in populous counties, by the county executive. Current law does not
otherwise specify any particular requirements that an individual must fulfill in
order to hold the office of coroner or to be appointed as a medical examiner.
Licensure of medical examiners, medicolegal investigators, and others
The bill establishes a prohibition against performing a death investigation or
performing the functions of a medical examiner or a person who assists a coroner or
medical examiner with a death investigation (medicolegal investigation staff
member) without a license in medicolegal investigation issued by the Medicolegal
Investigation Examining Board, except that the bill exempts coroners and certain
accredited medical examiners from this requirement. Any person who violates the
prohibition may be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment of up
to 90 days.
The bill requires the board to issue an initial license in medicolegal
investigation, at no charge, to every individual who is serving as a nonaccredited
medical examiner or medicolegal investigation staff member in this state on the bill's
effective date. The bill also allows an individual who is serving as coroner on the bill's
effective date to elect to receive such a license. The bill requires each such individual
to complete, prior to the next license renewal date, 40 hours of education, except that
the bill allows an individual who holds a credential, in good standing, from a
nationally recognized accreditation organization specializing in death investigation
education to receive a waiver from completing 16 of those 40 hours. The bill requires
the board to provide, at no cost, the required hours of training to these individuals.
The bill also requires the board to issue a license in medicolegal investigation
to any individual who is appointed as a nonaccredited medical examiner or is hired
to serve as a medicolegal investigation staff member after the bill's effective date, if
the individual pays any initial license fee imposed by the board. The bill requires
such an individual to complete a 40-hour death investigation training course within
18 months of initial licensure.
Finally, the bill allows an individual who is not serving as a medical examiner
or medicolegal investigator to obtain a license in medicolegal investigation from the
board if he or she first completes 40 hours of training and pays any licensure fee
established by the board.
The bill provides that the renewal date for any license in medicolegal
investigation is January 1, 2019, and every four years thereafter. In order to renew
a license, a license holder must pay any renewal fee imposed by the board and
complete 24 hours of education, subject to certain exemptions for initial renewals.
Medicolegal Investigation Examining Board; powers and duties
The bill provides for the creation of the 11-member board in the Department
of Safety and Professional Services, to be composed of two individuals who are
coroners, chief deputy coroners, or deputy coroners; two individuals who are
nonaccredited medical examiners or medicolegal investigation staff members; two
accredited medical examiners; a member of the Wisconsin District Attorneys'
Association; members of two specified law enforcement organizations; the attorney
general or his or her designee; and one public member, appointed for six-year terms.
The bill requires the board to do all of the following:
1. Promulgate rules specifying standards and curricula for training and
education requirements for individuals holding a license in medicolegal
investigation issued by the board.
2. Coordinate and provide, on a regional basis, training and education for
holders of licenses issued by the board at no cost to those license holders.
3. Monitor compliance with the licensure requirements created by the bill.
4. Revoke the license of a license holder who fails to complete the required death
5. Provide the required training and education to license holders. The bill
allows the board to impose fees for licenses issued after the bill's effective date and
for license renewals.
The bill also requires the board, if a license is revoked or not renewed for any
reason, to do any of the following that applies to the license holder:
1. If the license holder is a nonaccredited medical examiner, send a statement
to the county board or county executive, if applicable, for any county in which the
license holder serves, recommending dismissal of the nonaccredited medical
examiner because of the revocation or failure to renew the license.
2. If the license holder is a medicolegal investigation staff member, send a
notice to the office in which the individual works notifying the coroner or medical
examiner of the revocation or failure to renew the license.
The bill requires an individual who is appointed as a nonaccredited medical
examiner or is hired to serve as a medicolegal investigation staff member, and who
leaves his or her position as a medical examiner or medicolegal investigation staff
member, to so inform the board.
The bill appropriates to the board all moneys received from licensure fees for
medicolegal investigators licensed by the board.
The bill requires a coroner or medical examiner who receives notice of a death
to notify the deceased's next of kin. The bill provides that a coroner or medical
examiner need not notify the district attorney of certain types of reported deaths if
the district attorney has waived notice in writing.
Handling of personal property
The bill requires a coroner or medical examiner to maintain an inventory of
personal property that the coroner or medical examiner takes from a death scene or
from a deceased. The bill specifies that the coroner or medical examiner must
destroy, in accordance with applicable county evidence retention policies and
standards for disposal of medications, or donate to a drug repository program any
prescription medications that the coroner or medical examiner collects in an
investigation and does not provide to a law enforcement agency.
Disposition of bodies
Authorization to embalm or dispose of a body. The bill requires an authorization
from the coroner or medical examiner to embalm the body of a person whose death
must be reported. The bill specifies certain information that a coroner or medical
examiner must include on an authorization to embalm a body.
Cremation permit. The bill provides that even when a death is caused by a
contagious or infectious disease, the body may not be cremated within 48 hours of the
pronouncement of death unless the body must be cremated immediately to
effectively contain the disease or a public health authority orders the sooner disposal
of the body during a state of emergency that is related to public health. The bill
requires that, if the medical certification of the cause and manner of death on a death
certificate is completed by a physician, the coroner or medical examiner must review
the medical certification before issuing a cremation permit. The bill further requires
that a coroner or medical examiner must specify on a cremation permit the earliest
date and time that cremation may occur.
Authorization to disinter and reinter. The bill clarifies that no person, other
than a cemetery, may disinter a body or human remains without authorization from
the coroner or medical examiner. The bill adds, as a condition for obtaining a
coroner's or medical examiner's authorization for disinterment without a court order,
that the person requesting authorization provide proof of intent to cremate or bury
the disinterred remains.
Disposition of unidentified or unclaimed bodies. This bill provides that, if a
person other than the superintendent of a state, county, or municipal institution has
an unidentified or unclaimed body, the person may notify the coroner or medical
examiner in the county of residence of the deceased, who must bury or cremate the
body. The bill further provides that, if the coroner or medical examiner makes
reasonable efforts to identify a body and notify the deceased's representative of
disposal of the body, the coroner or medical examiner is immune from civil liability
for his or her choice of method for disposing of the body. Under current law, if an
inmate of a state, county, or municipal institution dies, and a relative or friend of the
deceased does not claim the body and a medical or mortuary school does not take the
body, the superintendent of the institution must bury the body.
Mental health treatment records
This bill provides a coroner or medical examiner access to a deceased's mental
health treatment records without informed consent for the purpose of completing a
medical certification on a certificate of death or for conducting a death investigation.
Under current law, a coroner or medical examiner may obtain a deceased's health
care records without informed consent for the purpose of completing a medical
certification on a certificate of death or for conducting a death investigation.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
15.405 (18) of the statutes is created to read:
15.405 (18) Medicolegal investigation examining board.
There is created a 3
medicolegal investigation examining board in the department of safety and 4
professional services that shall consist of the following members appointed for 5
(a) Two individuals, each of whom is a coroner, chief deputy coroner, or deputy 7
(am) Two individuals, each of whom is a nonaccredited medical examiner, as 2
defined in s. 465.01 (4), or a medicolegal investigation staff member, as defined in s. 3
465.01 (3), other than a medicolegal investigation staff member included under par. 4
(b) Two individuals, each of whom is an accredited medical examiner, as defined 6
in s. 465.01 (1g).
(c) One member of the Wisconsin District Attorneys' Association.
(d) One member of the Badger State Sheriffs Association.
(e) One member of the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association.