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Dear Friends,

Spring has finally arrived in Wisconsin, along with plenty of activity in the Capitol. 

June 10, 2019, marked the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Wisconsin was the first state to ratify the 19th Amendment, which is something we can all be proud of. We recognize those who fought for suffrage, and those who continue to fight for equal voting access and rights. 

Resized Suffrage2.jpgRep. Kolste celebrates the 19th Amendment Ratification Centennial 06/10/19

Legislatively, the Joint Finance Committee has been voting on state budget items, including funding for education, transportation, and health care. You can find a brief breakdown of updates from the committee below. For a full budget update, click here


I’d also like to hear from you! Let me know where you stand on issues of state importance by taking my annual constituent survey.  I look forward to your responses. 

As always, please feel free to contact me regarding any matter before the state legislature.


Debra Kolste
44th Assembly District

Budget Updates 

K-12 Education

Gov. Evers proposed a $606 million increase for special education. Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted to increase special education by only $97 million, taking away $5,817,783 from Janesville school districts. Overall, public education will be funded at $900 million less than the proposal by Gov. Evers. 

Higher Education:

Joint Finance Republicans rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals to increase need-based grants for students at Wisconsin’s colleges, universities and tech schools. The Joint Finance Committee approved a $25 million increase in state funding to the Wisconsin Technical College System. The tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates at the UW System will be extended for two years, but the members voted on party lines to not backfill the lost tuition revenue with an additional $50.4 million in state aid, as Gov. Evers and JFC Democrats proposed.


70% of Wisconsinites are in favor of Medicaid Expansion, which was removed by JFC Republicans from the budget. Expansion would provide healthcare to 82,000 additional Wisconsinites and 2,792 in Rock County. $64 million of federal funds would have been invested in Rock County alone.

Clean Water:

The committee unanimously approved Governor Evers’ budget requests for clean water initiatives within the Environmental Improvement Fund. This includes additional investments of $13.5 million for the clean water fund program and $3.5 million for the safe drinking water loan program. The Joint Finance Committee unfortunately voted on party lines to remove the proposal to replace Wisconsin’s lead pipes. $4 million in borrowing was approved for contaminated sediment removal in Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and their tributaries, rather than the $25 million increase proposed by Gov. Evers.



   Indoor Smoking Ban Expansion

I recently co-authored a bipartisan bill, Senate Bill (SB) 245, expanding the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act. This law was passed in 2009 and made smoking indoors illegal. SB 245 revises the definition of “smoking” in indoor locations to include vapor products, such as e-cigarettes. With the rising use of vapor products, it is important to ensure that Wisconsin’s indoor spaces remain free of any second-hand smoke or vapor that poses harmful health risks to people in public. This bill promotes public health by reducing exposure to potentially harmful byproducts and chemicals.  

Health Committee.jpg     Rep. Kolste at the Assembly Committee on Health hearing April 17

   Putting an End to Surprise Medical Bills

I have co-authored a bill with Sen. Jeff Smith, LRB 2365/1, to ensure that patients are protected from surprise medical bills. Surprise medical bills, also known as balance billing, can occur when someone seeks care at an in-network facility, but receives treatment or services from a provider that is out of network. Balance billing enables these out-of-network providers to bill patients for the amount that their health insurance company will not cover. As of January 2019, 25 states had laws offering some balance billing protection to their residents and Wisconsin should join them in adding this consumer protection.

Resized Purdue Pharma Press Conference.jpg

Rep. Kolste with Attorney General Kaul and Governor Evers at the press conference announcing Wisconsin's lawsuit against Purdue Pharma

Budget Cont'd

Local aid:

JFC Democrats moved to increase county and municipal aid (shared revenue payments) by 2% annually. This proposal was removed by JFC Republicans and no action was taken to increase funding for local or municipal aid.  The expansion of the earned income tax credit was also removed from the budget, which would have saved Wisconsinites $54.6 million over the biennuim.

Public defenders:

The hourly rate for public defenders will increase from $40 to $70 starting Jan. 1, 2020, but will not be indexed for inflation, as proposed by Gov. Evers.

Summer Highlights

June 25: Janesville Town Square Grand   Prix-11:00 AM-8:30 PM     

July 4: Independence Day on the Rock

July 24: Rock County 4-H Fair

August 18: Riverside Music Festival           11:00 AM-6:00 PM

The City of Janesville is hiring!

Learn more






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