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Battle waged over bill to slow asbestos exposure lawsuits

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Veterans groups are staging a last-ditch effort to stop a bill from being signed into law -- and they're getting help from State Senate Democrats. They're hoping to convince Gov. Scott Walker to veto a bill they say would slow down asbestos exposure lawsuits.

The bill in question is Assembly Bill 19. Opponents say it would delay and deny justice to victims of asbestos poisoning. But those who support the bill say it is designed to stop trial lawyers from hiding multiple claims in the hope of maximizing awards.

With Republicans supporting the bill, it passed 55-38 along party lines. The only thing that can stop it now is a veto from Gov. Walker.

Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson hopes to get that veto. He created an online petition asking the governor to kill the bill. In a statement, Larson said:

"Wisconsin has veterans currently dying from cancer caused by materials they handled while serving. The last thing politicians should be doing is limiting our veterans` access to their equal share of financial relief."

FOX6 News asked the governor's office for his plans on the bill and received this response:

"The Governor will review the bill. However, it is important to note this bill is about ensuring transparency in the lawsuit process to stop trial lawyers from double dipping. Preventing double dipping will help make sure there will be resources available for the truly injured down the road."

Veterans say the bill impacts not only current, but future asbestos poisoning victims.

There is no timetable as to when Gov. Walker will make a decision on this bill.