February 21, 2014

Working for you!

This week in the Assembly

Fighting National Debt

I am a cosponsor of two pieces of legislation to address our skyrocketing national debt. These both passed the Assembly this week. One allows a convention of states to discuss and draft amendments to the US Constitution, and the other creates a delegate selection process for the convention.   Article V of the United States Constitution includes a framework for potential future changes. When amendments have been added in the past, they were approved by a supermajority (at least two-thirds) of Congress and three-fourths of the states.

Assembly Joint Resolution 81 (AJR 81), would use a lesser-known component of Article V, allowing two-thirds of state legislatures to call for a convention of states to draft amendments. Then, three-fourths of the states would need to vote to ratify the amendment. We think this is the best option to combat national debt since the federal government has been unable to pass meaningful debt reduction legislation. The states have a way to keep the federal government in check, and the founding fathers gave us this tool.

If AJR 81 is adopted, Wisconsin would become one of 20 other states calling for this type of convention on a balanced budget amendment.

Assembly Bill 635 (AB 635), creates a process to select delegates who would serve at an Article V Convention. This bill includes the following provisions:

The Legislature and the Governor appoint five delegates to attend the convention as follows:

  • The Speaker of the Assembly appoints two members of the Assembly
  • The President of the Senate appoints two members of the Senate
  • The Governor appoints one member of either the Assembly or the Senate

A majority vote of a state's five delegates represents the state's position on a matter.

We must take steps to address our national debt. It's important that future generations not be held back by massive debt that they didn't take part in accumulating. Most of us want a balanced budget, but it still hasn't happened. This resolution is a big step in helping us get real control over our national debt and start a better, more fiscally responsible future for generations to come.

SAFE Act is another step to saving lives

On Tuesday, the State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 464, the SAFE Act (Stopping Abuse Fatalities through Enforcement), and I hope it passes the Senate quickly. If enacted, this bill will implement model court procedures to ensure that convicted abusers who have been ordered to surrender their firearms actually do it. It is already the law that those with a domestic abuse or child abuse injunction must surrender any firearms they possess. However, there's no standard procedure to make sure this happens. If you would like to read more detail about this legislation, click here.

Emergency Heating Assistance Bill Passes Assembly

Recently, the price per gallon of propane has risen due to inadequate supply to meet a soaring demand. In response, Governor Walker expanded eligibility for low income energy assistance and established a $4 million loan guarantee program, which helped propane dealers with financing so they can purchase and distribute their product to those who need it. Those in the middle class or who are seniors are still paying high prices for propane, so we passed Assembly Bill 770. AB 770 targets those who don't qualify for the low income assistance and offers a loan guarantee program.

Homeowners can acquire low-interest loans to get propane and heating supplies approved by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), in a way that's similar to drought assistance. The loans cannot exceed $2,500 and the borrower's household income can't exceed 200 percent of the median family income in their county. The bill now goes to the Senate for attention.

Murphy Legislation

Library Reimbursement Bill (AB 288): My bill to protect the Outagamie Waupaca Library System (OWLS) from a loophole allowing Brown county to bill us for their patrons' use of our materials, but didn't let us bill them back, has passed the Assembly and the Senate. This saves our taxpayers money, because our library system can now recoup costs for which they previously couldn't bill. This law goes into effect in the next few weeks.

Common Core

Many of you have contacted me about Common Core. Thank you so much for letting me know your concerns, questions, and stories on this topic. Your input is helpful, especially on an issue like this, when about half of you support Common Core as is, and the other half want some public input and legislative oversight.

Please know that I can relate to your concerns, regardless of your position on this. I have many of the same concerns. I've always been interested in this topic, and as it moved to the forefront last fall with public hearings and informational meetings, I've looked into it even more.

I believe Common Core can be a basis going forward to create Wisconsin-based standards for the future. I am a cosponsor of Senate Bill 619, because I think a Wisconsin standard will be able to speak specific and unique issues our students may have, and allow us to more effectively tap into the expertise of our own university system and our educational establishment.

SB 619 has not yet had a committee hearing or a vote in the Senate. Assembly Bill 617 had a hearing in the Assembly, but an amendment has now been offered on it, so the new version was not voted on in committee Thursday in order to give more time for input. Neither bill is currently scheduled for any action before the full Assembly or Senate.

As you study Common Core, I encourage you to consider the following: the intent of this legislation is to make sure there's a process in place so that when experts gather to write academic standards for Wisconsin, they do that only after hearing from the public and legislature. The exclusive writers of academic standards will be the experts and the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). With the Superintendent of DPI as co-chair of the board, I would sincerely hope it's not politicized by him or anyone else.

As this discussion continues, I welcome your comments.

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors-Wisconsin Day at the Capitol

On February 12th, I was happy to welcome to my office several insurance professionals who were visiting Madison for their annual legislative Day on the Hill. Chris Hanson (pictured with me below), Harry Dorman, Jeffrey Miles and Don Schleicher and I discussed issues affecting the insurance industry and other state issues of interest to them. Thanks for visiting!

Appointment to the East Central Regional Planning Commission

Last week, I was able to congratulate Mike Thomas again on his appointment to the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, and learn how things are going. I had written a letter of support to the governor on Mike's behalf, and he's doing a terrific job. Thanks, Mike!

My Madison Office

2013-2014 BLUE BOOKS are still available! 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.


Rep.Murphy@legis.wisconsin.gov State Capitol Room 304 North - PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 537088 Toll Free: (888) 534-0056 or (608) 266-7500