Thank you to everyone who has corresponded with my office over the last several months! State law prohibits our legislative offices from sending out mass communications to our constituents during campaign season, thus we suspended our e-update in April. But we are back and busily preparing for the 2017-19 legislative session!
Now more than ever, we must commit ourselves towards developing an agenda that creates opportunities for all, including an economy that works for everyone – not just those at the top. I promise to continue serving ALL Wisconsinites and together we can rebuild our state that will reflect our strong, progressive values.
Safe Communities Campaign
The 76th District has experienced 3 officer-involved shootings in the last 4 years. In response, my office has spent hundreds of hours researching common-sense law enforcement reforms. I’ve met with every major law enforcement group in the state, the police union, individual law enforcement officers, police chiefs, civilian activists, community groups, civil rights experts, law enforcements scholars, the religious community, and the families and friends impacted by these tragedies.
In addition to establishing independent investigations when there is an officer-involved death and looking at body camera standards, I’ve been focusing on the use-of-force standards law enforcement agencies are statutorily required to have in writing. Law enforcement agencies around the country, including the U.S. Department of Justice, have clarified their use-of-force standards and have had quantitative success in reducing lethality in law enforcement encounters. The goal is to create an environment where individuals, communities, and law enforcement officials are safer. Wisconsin can do a better job of articulating clear, meaningful use-of-force standards. Without clear, direct policies on the use-of-force, which are reflective of the basic standards of our communities and state, change is very difficult, if not impossible. Some principles that have been implemented by police departments around the country are to use lethal force only as a last resort, to include de-escalation as a tactic to be utilized unless impossible and to balance the use-of-force with the nature of the threat posed.
I presented my findings to the City of Madison Common Council’s Subcommittee on Police & Community Relations and I’ll be hosting two community meetings on the specific use-of-force policies I’m proposing. The first one will be at the Wil-Mar Community Center in the youth room on Thursday, January 5th at 7pm. I hope to see you there!
The Group Health Insurance Program (GHIP) consists of 17 health plans and serves more than 250,000 state and local government employees, retirees, UW employees and their dependents. Approximately 100,000 of these residents live in Dane County alone. Under GHIP, the State of Wisconsin funds state employee health insurance through premiums to an outside third party that covers costs and liabilities of all claims. Our current model allows insurers to work with both local providers and the state to establish service areas that keep costs down and ensure high quality care. With one of the most competitive health insurance markets in the country, our premium increases have remained well below the national average and the current format of GHIP has saved $283 million over the last nine years, despite efforts by legislative Republicans to shift more healthcare costs on employees.
The Group Insurance Board (GIB), composed of unelected, unaccountable Walker political appointees, is currently considering two proposals that would dramatically overhaul health care coverage for Wisconsin state employees. First, Wisconsin would begin to self-insure the GHIP which means instead of funding our health insurance through premiums to an outside third party, the state assumes all financial obligations and legal liabilities. The GIB is also considering splitting up the state into four regions for delivery of the GHIP. This would require insurers to establish new, perhaps costlier, agreements with providers for communities they currently do not serve while also requiring some providers to stop providing care to communities they currently do serve.
To move forward with either of these proposals at this time would be reckless and irresponsible. This scheme could end up costing the State more money at a time when the GOP have inadequately defunded our public education and transportation systems. The Trump regime has made it clear that the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in jeopardy although, unsurprisingly, the details of what this actually means is unknown. The majority of “cost savings” from a switch to self-insurance stem from the Administration evading ACA fees and taxes. Furthermore, the end result of both regionalization and self-insurance means a disruption in choosing your own health care providers and will cost us jobs at a time when private sector job growth has been flat. Given this uncertainty and the strength of our existing health care program, I am vehemently opposed to both the self-insurance and regionalization proposals.
The GIB was presented with voting options on both of these proposals at their December 13 meeting. They took no action at this meeting and instead directed ETF and Segal Consulting to continue collecting data for when they reconvene in January.
See my column posted on the Capital Times website HERE.
Campus Concealed Carry Legislation Rears its’ Ugly Head Again
Once again, it appears as though legislative Republicans will be pushing legislation allowing concealed carry on our college campuses. As many of you will recall, there was significant pushback to this bill from students, faculty and staff alike. When it was attempted last session, all UW System Police Chiefs signed a letter of opposition to the bill.
I could not be more proud of our student activists on campus at UW-Madison that are already organizing and focusing their attention on stopping this incredibly dangerous proposal. They have started an online petition, which I encourage everyone to sign. It can be found HERE. I will join their efforts to oppose this harmful bill and will again introduce my own bill to ban lethal weapons on campus.
In November, a U.S. District Court three-judge panel ruled that Act 43, the redistricting scheme rammed through by legislative Republicans was an “unconstitutional political gerrymander.” This scheme, marred by vote packing and signed “secrecy oaths” was embroiled with controversy from the get-go.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In 2011, Republicans redrew legislative boundaries behind closed doors and pushed their plan through the legislature without any outside input. Twelve Democratic voters brought the lawsuit because the scheme treats voter unequally, causing votes to lose their value. For example, in 2012, 1.4 million Democrats voted in State Assembly races compared to 1.2 million Republicans, yet the GOP came away with a staggering 60-39 majority.
Attorney Gerry Hebert, the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center, said “Wisconsin is the most extreme partisan gerrymander in the United States in the post-2010 cycle. It’s about as far out from what you would consider to be fair as you can imagine.” The judges ruled 2-1 that the scheme was unconstitutional under the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause because the maps were “intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters…by impeding their ability to translate their vote into legislative seats.”
But this gerrymandering isn’t the first time we’ve seen the GOP attempt to skew election results. Under Republican ruled for the last six years, there has been a deliberate and concerted effort to rig Wisconsin’s elections. They made it harder for students to register to cote, deliberately disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin voters with an unnecessary Voter ID law, eliminated Wisconsin’s non-partisan elections watchdog and now it is confirmed, they drew Wisconsin’s legislative districts so that regardless of the votes cast, Republicans would maintain legislative control. This ruling is a victory for all voters in Wisconsin. No matter where you live or what your political beliefs are – every Wisconsinite’s vote should be valued, protected and treated equally and fairly under the law.
As I write this, I am putting together my progressive, proactive agenda. Some highlights include corporate accountability – no successful corporation should pay zero in Wisconsin taxes. I will once again introduce my fair share tax proposal that repeals the largest corporate tax giveaway in Wisconsin history, which will cost nearly $600 million over the biennium. I will also work to restore a progressive income tax structure generating needed state revenue to invest in our community and state.
Corporations should never be allowed to buy elections. My Clean Elections Act will restore Wisconsin’s long tradition of requiring donor disclosure, in addition to common sense limitations on so-called “issue ads.” Investing in our children is also crucial to protecting them against lead poisoning by adopting more rigorous standards, universal 4K and ending the barbaric practice of juvenile solitary confinement. Finally, responsible Legislatures should not only pass policies that protect individuals most basic rights, but enhance these rights. My Wisconsin Bill of Rights does just that, including amending the Wisconsin constitution to specifically recognize the right to vote.
I want to hear your ideas! If you have a policy idea, please let me know, as so many of my bills come from my constituents!
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office with any legislative questions or concerns.
Rep. Chris Taylor
76th Assembly District