March 20, 2014

Working for you!

This week in the Assembly

Oral Chemotherapy Bill (SB 300)

Many of you contacted me about the oral chemotherapy bill, and overwhelmingly you were in favor of this proposal. The Assembly passed this bill during Thursday's floor session.

For some people who have cancer, taking an oral chemotherapy pill at home might be a better option than checking into a hospital to get intravenous (IV) chemotherapy (depending on their treatment plan and advice of their physician.) SB 300 would prohibit health insurance policies and self-insured governmental and school district health plans that already cover injected or IV chemotherapy from requiring that the patient pay a higher copayment for this type of oral treatment.

Before we passed SB 300, the Assembly made some changes. The bill now mirrors what the last few states have done with parity and co-payments. Insurance companies now have an "either/or" choice. They can choose parity (treating IV, injected, and oral treatments the same way) for chemotherapy coverage, or choose to cap the patient's out-of-pocket costs to no more than $100 for a 30 day supply. For high-deductible plans, the deductible must be satisfied before the cap begins. The effective date of this legislation is January 1, 2015.

Note: This bill doesn't impact those without insurance or those who use the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, or have self-insured plans. The Affordable Care Act (a federal program) does not cover oral chemotherapy drugs.

Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment for seizure disorder (AB 726)

I also heard from many of you on this issue. AB 726 would allow CBD oil, which is a non-psychoactive substance, to be prescribed by a physician or pharmacist as a treatment for seizure disorders. It would also allow the Federal Drug Administration approved investigations in to our state on this drug. Parents of some children with seizure disorders have seen remarkable results after their children were treated with cannabidiol in the form known as CBD Oil Extract. This material has no hallucinogenic properties, and scientists believe it quiets the electrical and chemical activities that cause some potentially fatal brain seizures.

This bill addresses a very narrow circumstance, and does not support forms of medical marijuana you may have read or heard about. As I said in an interview with The Washington Post on this topic, "I am not in support of legalizing marijuana and have not supported medical marijuana up to this point, but common sense tells me this is not remotely the same thing as that." (Online article published March 2 by Ariana Eunjung Cha)

I added my name as a cosponsor to AB 726 on February 12th, and this bill passed the Assembly (as amended) on Tuesday. Now, hopefully, the Senate will take action on it.

Election Reform

This week we approved several pieces of election reform the Senate had already passed:

  • SB 20 Expands the residency eligibility for election inspectors so that they can be residents of the county to serve in this role, not just residents of their municipality or ward.

  • SB 324 Standardizes in-person absentee voting hours for statewide elections and allows municipalities to hire people to assist with in-person absentee voting.

  • SB 377 Provides more information about same-day registrations by requiring the Government Accountability Board (GAB) to publish the results of the election day voter registration audit on its website.

  • SB 548 Transfers the four-year maintenance responsibilities for the Statewide Voter Registration System from municipal clerks to the GAB.

I strongly believe that it should be easy to vote and hard to commit fraud. Step by step, I hope our reforms strike the right balance between voter access and costs to local government. Voting is not only a right, it's a responsibility, and updating our process to accommodate both of those components is important. Passing laws that assure election integrity is as big a priority as making laws to assure order and consistency across our state when it comes to voting.

Murphy Legislation

Mobile Dentistry (SB573 / AB 763): Senator Ellis and I worked on this bill together. Mobile dentistry is the practice of bringing dentists and hygienists to schools and other mobile settings for dental care. While dentists and hygienists must be licensed in our state, currently the those who own or operate the mobile dentistry programs don't have to be registered. We want to know who these folks are so that if there is a problem, we can find the business or person.

Our bill gives the Dentistry Examining Board (DEB) the explicit authority to regulate the practice of mobile dentistry, allowing the DEB to ensure that those delivering this type of care are held to a similar standard of care provided in permanent dental clinics. We are putting in place a structure to prevent abuse before it becomes a major problem. Neighboring states have passed similar laws.

Annual Event: UW Posters in the Rotunda

On March 12th, the University of Wisconsin held its annual Posters in the Rotunda event, which features students and their projects from all over Wisconsin. This event celebrates the power of undergraduate research in our state, and is a great way for legislators and the public to learn what up-and-coming great minds are working on today.

I visited the following booths and projects:

  • UW Fox Valley booth (pictured below left) featuring Adam Kositzke of Greenville and his project, Treatment of Bedding to Reduce Mastitis in Dairy Cows

  • UW Green Bay booth featuring Jordan Grapentine and Alex Wilson of Appleton and their project, Gateways to First-Year Success: Navigating College by Building Relationships

  • UW Madison booth featuring Sam Grow (pictured below right) of Appleton and his team's project, Active Student Emergency Response Teams

  • UW Platteville booth featuring Ross Johnson of Appleton and his project, Fabrication of Thin Film Organic Light-Emitting Devices

  • UW Stevens Point booth featuring Dillon Huth of Appleton and his project, The Effect of VO2 Max on Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness.


My Madison Office

2013-2014 BLUE BOOKS are still available for a few more weeks! The Wisconsin Blue Book is published in odd years, and details the current members of the legislature, our federal representatives, the governor, the Wisconsin Constitution, courts, and all state agencies, councils and boards. The Blue Book is available online at: 2011-2012 Wisconsin Blue Book Home Page. Please contact my office if you'd like a hard copy at no charge.

I live in Greenville, but have an office at the State Capitol in Madison. If you are in downtown Madison, please feel free to stop by and say hello! Just go to the information desk in the rotunda, and they can direct you on how to find my office, 304 North. At the bottom of each e-news, you'll see my office contact information.

If your school or group plans to tour the Capitol building, please let me know. I'd love to visit with you for a few minutes and take a group photo.

Remember, anyone can watch the Assembly in session (and most committee meetings, as well) through WisconsinEye.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.

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