Friday, July 10 2015

Week in Review



Early Thursday morning, the State Assembly passed the 2015-17 Wisconsin state budget 52-46. To view the votes, click here. The budget now awaits Governor Walker's signature.


I was proud to vote in favor of this budget for many reasons. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you would have already seen some of the reasons why I think this budget is a positive step forward for the state. In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights:


  • No property, income or sales tax increases

  • No gas tax or registration fee increases

  • Lowest borrowing levels in three decades according to the non-partisan, Legislative Fiscal Bureau (Governor's proposed level was 6 percent, Legislature lowered to 3.8 percent)

  • Drug testing requirement for Unemployment Insurance, W-2 and certain other recipients

  • Reduced marriage penalty on married couples filing joint income tax returns

  • Teachers may now deduct up to $250 in taxes every year for classroom supplies

  • Elimination of the prevailing wage law for local government projects, federalized state prevailing wage rates

  • Continuation of Medicaid funding, totaling over $1 billion

  • $500,000 for local government fraud investigation and prevention

  • Charging FoodShare recipients for replacement EBT cards if lost or stolen

  • $6 million into the Broadband Expansion Grants ($1.5 million annually for the next four years)

  • Expansion of Family Care and self directed care

  • IRIS program restoration

  • Maintain SeniorCare funding (rejected Gov. proposal to reduce funding by $94 million over biennium)

  • Eliminated Governor's proposal to require SeniorCare participants to purchase a Medicare Part D plan

  • Continuation of Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program, but with $18 million bonding reduction per year

  • Elimination of vacant positions at the DNR

  • Increased per-pupil funding by $100 over Governor's recommendations for a total of $250 per pupil

  • Expansion of statewide school choice program

  • Creation of special needs voucher beginning in 2016-17 for students that have previously been denied open enrollment

  • Mandatory civics assessment for high school graduation beginning in '16-17.

  • Reduction in UW System cut by $50 million and two year UW tuition freeze

  • $1 million to fund grants at Wisconsin Technical Colleges to develop and expand specialized instructional support services for veterans



                 2015-16  $1,029,700,000

                 2016-17  $1,023,700,000

               TOTAL    $2,053,400,000


Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act

Yesterday afternoon, the Assembly passed SB 179, Wisconsin's Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on a party line vote of 61-34. While I'm disappointed in my Democrat colleagues for voting against a life-saving bill such as this, I am incredibly pleased that Wisconsin law will now reflect the abundant scientific evidence confirming that an unborn child at 20 weeks (5 months) can feel pain. This bill will prohibit abortion procedures in the 5th month of pregnancy (20 weeks postefertilization) when the child is capable of feeling pain. This bill also requires that in a medical emergency, if the doctor must terminate the pregnancy, he must do so in the manner that best allows for both the mother and the unborn child to survive. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 89 innocent unborn children were painfully killed past the 20 week mark in 2013.

To view my press release on the passage of this bill, please click here.


Click the picture above to view my floor speech in support of this bill.


If you are still undecided on this issue, I encourage you to take a serious look at some of the resources I have provided below. I have also included a very thought provoking video of Dr. Anthony Levatino's testimony before the Congressional House Subcommittee on the Constitution on May 17, 2012. Dr. Levatino's testimony is particularly important due to his extensive experience performing abortions as an obstetrician and gynecologist. His description of the procedure commonly used to abort a baby at this stage of pregnancy is chilling, and should cause even the most staunch pro-choice advocate to stop and think of the extreme pain and suffering caused by this procedure.



Please feel free to contact me at my office either by phone or email to discuss this bill. I'd be happy to share why this legislation is so important for Wisconsin. To view my video statement, click the picture below.



Open Records Law


I have received many constituent contacts over the past week on formerly proposed changes to our state's open records law. The changes were included in the "999" motion which the Joint Finance Committee passed in their final late-night session last week. I would like to make very clear that the proposed changes were ultimately removed from consideration by the Senate, and have not, in any way, been included in the final version of the state budget passed yesterday by the Assembly. My statement to a media inquiry is below:


“I understand that we want to protect constituent privacy and there are concerns regarding protecting constituent information, but stuffing open records policy changes into the budget is not the way to properly vet any changes to open records policies.”


Prior to passage of the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the Democrat caucus brought forth a Assembly Resolution 12. AR 12 affirms the Assembly's commitment to open records. Please know that I voted in favor of this resolution, and am staunchly in favor of keeping your government open and transparent.  


Your Feedback is Important!


As always, I hope this information is helpful to you. Please know that I welcome your feedback, questions and concerns. To contact me, you can call my office toll-free at (888) 534-0059, or email me at


I look forward to hearing from you!







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 State Capitol, Room 17 West

P.O. Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
(888) 534-0059