Special Session on Medical
Assistance and HIRSP Coverage
On December 4th, at the request of the
governor, the Assembly met to address problems with the roll out
of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.
The federal government failed to have a fully
operational website (also called The Exchange), and
have suffered because of that failure. The governor
called a special session to approve a plan for Wisconsin,
which will extend the deadline for people moving to the federal
exchange. The Assembly approved legislation to provide Medicaid
recipients with three extra months to sign up through the
federal exchange for insurance coverage.
We also take care of people who are insured with
the Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP). HIRSP was
scheduled to end in our state on January 1, but now members have
coverage through the end of March 2014.
Our Medicaid reforms
will be fully implemented in April 2014. After that, every person living
in poverty will be covered by BadgerCare. Those who are above
the poverty level will be able to get coverage through the
federal exchange, private companies, or their employer. Everyone
under 100% of the poverty level will be covered.
So many concerns have arisen with the attempted roll-out of the
ACA. It's not affordable for many families, accessibility is
weak, and those who don't want to be insured will pay fines.
This week, we kept our promise to
Wisconsinites who received coverage through BadgerCare so that
they can still have insurance until the national program moves
Every year, Wisconsin sets records on
state spending for Medicaid. In 2011-12, $1.8 billion was spent
on Medicaid. In 2012-13 it was $1.96 billion, and the budget for
2013-14 is $2.3 billion. Wisconsin is the only state not
expanding Medicaid that will have no gap in coverage
starting April 1, 2014.
The expansion of these
entitlements was to be covered by the federal government in the
short run only. Our state cannot afford the long term costs.
Because the federal government is unlikely to be able to honor
this commitment due to rising national debt, we are now in a
better position to fund what we can for the forseeable future.
This week, the Senate voted to pass this measure and today
Governor Walker signed it into law.
Vested Rights Development Bill Becomes Law
My bill to freeze local regulations for a project once a local
government receives the completed application has been signed
into law. Assembly Bill 386/Senate Bill 314 is now
Wisconsin Act 74. This act codifies case law so that
development project rules and ordinances are
grandfathered from the
time the application is accepted through the duration of
Every development and construction job starts
with a permit, and every permit needs certainty. This
bill helps create jobs and reduce litigation, and it
will have a long lasting, positive impact on our state.
While Act 74 locks in project
regulations, it in no way prohibits towns, villages or
cities from creating whatever new ordinances or
regulations they deem necessary. Political subdivisions
are also allowed to set timeframes on application
material submission, so that deadlines can be met.
As the Assembly author,
I was pleased that both Republican and Democrat
representatives cosponsored the bill, and that it passed unanimously in
our house. I was also
thrilled that upon passage, 20 of my colleagues, from both
parties, added their names to the bill. Sen. Frank Lasee and
Sen. Mike Ellis were instrumental in getting this law
passed. The Governor signed it
into law on December 12th.
Bill signing of Senate Bill 314 in Governor Walker's
office. Among others, I am joined by Tom Larson (far left) of
the Wisconsin REALTORS Association, and Rob Kovach of Senator
Lasee's office (next to the Governor). Senator Lasee authored
the Senate version of our bill.
As the time grows close
to celebrate the birth of Christ,
my wife, Lynn, and I and
our whole family wish you a very Merry Christmas and a joyous
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
Remember, anyone can watch the Assembly in session (and
most committee meetings, as well) through
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
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