Legal precedents? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

"State's Y2K Bills Died In Senate Some Say Other Laws Enough" Source: The Capital Times

"If the Y2K bug bites, Wisconsin residents won't have any new state laws to turn to for assistance. Legislators made sure of that when they adjourned for the year without taking a Senate vote on three bills that were passed by the Assembly last January to help protect consumers and businesses from Y2K havoc."

"We were trying to warn people in the final week of this legislative session that the Senate's failure to act could leave us less protected than we want to be on Jan. 1," said Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen."

"I don't know what's going to happen on New Year's Eve and no one does, but I think it made sense to be prepared," he said."

"While the bills lost their chance of becoming laws before the millennium, lawyers said there are already state and federal laws in place that achieve the same end."

"The year 2000 computer bug threatens computer programs that read dates using only the last two digits of the year. If computers read the year 00 as 1900 rather than 2000, they could spit out inaccurate data."

"In worst-case scenarios, it's a problem that could shut down airline reservation systems, cause power outages, short-circuit bank transactions and cause telephone networks to crash."

"That is not expected to happen in Wisconsin. A state panel issued a report in September that said Wisconsin's public and private sectors are well prepared for Jan. 1."

"One of the bills passed by the Assembly would have helped limit frivolous lawsuits by requiring that people who sue a company for giving bad information about how to fix the Y2K bug would have to prove the firm did it knowingly in order to collect damages."

"However, Congress passed a law in July that would have a similar impact, and federal laws take precedence over competing state laws, said Mark Foley, a lawyer on the Governor's Blue Ribbon Commission on Year 2000 Preparedness."

"Under another Assembly-passed bill, companies that lied to customers about how Y2K-ready their computers and other electronic products were could have been fined up to $10,000."

"It also would have allowed at least $500 in damages to those who successfully sued a company for giving them false Y2K information about its products."

"That bill would have created a blanket provision that does not now exist for all businesses, although current law allows the state to impose fines for many industries that are dishonest or fraudulent about their products."

"Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, chairman of the Joint Information Policy Committee, said people can now retrieve damages for many malfunctioning products under the state's consumer protection laws."

"Wisconsin has very good pro-consumer legislation," he said. In addition, most products that were manufactured this year are already Y2K compliant, Jauch said."

"I believe that most appliances are going to work," he said. "There's no evidence that automobiles and VCRs and computers that were purchased in the last year will have any Y2K problems."

"A final Y2K bill passed by the Assembly would have given Gov. Tommy Thompson more flexibility to call out the National Guard if the state was expecting computer problems during the rollover."

"Without the legislation, Thompson still has the ability to call out the National Guard in response to a state emergency."

"Wisconsin residents should not worry because no Y2K laws passed this year, Jauch said."

"I think that some of these proposals were a little bit of an overreaction," he said. "A law isn't going to help someone fix their computer systems or replace their microchips."

"Foley agreed that it was more important to make sure companies were encouraged to share information and fully prepare their computers for the Year 2000 rather than passing state laws."

"I think the consensus was that there really wasn't any legislation that was necessary at the state level," he said."

-- Deb M. (, November 19, 1999

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