As session comes to an end, I’m proud of the work done on behalf of the 76th Assembly District! I’m looking forward to seeing you in the district this spring and summer at my office hours, the Farmer’s Market, and the many festivals Madison had to offer!
Republicans Attempt to Subvert Democracy Once Again
In a theme that is becoming all too familiar, Wisconsin Republicans once again attempted to circumvent democracy by avoiding calling special elections in two districts that have been vacant since last December. This would have meant that over 200,000 Wisconsinites would have gone unrepresented for over a year!
Dane County Judge Josann Reynolds called Governor Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel’s interpretation of “the most basic constitutional guarantees” and a “simply worded statute” regarding special elections “absurd,” and ruled that failing to hold the special elections infringed on the voting rights of people living in the two districts vacated. After losing in court three times in a matter of days, Governor Walker finally relented and has called for the special elections to occur.
On top of Republicans lawmakers rigging the system with partisan gerrymandering and an inundation of secret corporate cash in our elections, they now think they can just outright refuse to call elections. They truly will break any rule to stay in power!
This session brought a lot of disappointment, both in the harmful policies that my GOP colleagues passed and legislation that nibbled around the edges rather than addressing the actual problem.
One example of this is Assembly Bill 128, which prohibits the Group Insurance Board from providing public employees with health insurance plans that cover abortion services. State law already limits state health plans to covering only medically necessary abortions, and this bill further inserts politicians into the physician patient relationship.
It truly is another cruel, cruel bill that will leave women and families going through a terrible time more devastated. During debate on this bill, I heard disturbing things from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, including that women lie about being raped, that birth control is an abortion, and that women should be forced to give birth to grow our labor force.
Here’s my floor speech on the bill.
Additionally, I was deeply disappointed that our special session on school safety did not address any common sense gun safety legislation. My GOP colleagues just do not seem to understand that you can’t begin to effectively and adequately address the issue of school safety, or community safety, without a comprehensive approach that addresses the root cause of gun violence – individuals who wish to do harm to themselves or others and have easy access to deadly firearms.
Here’s my floor speech about the special session.
Two Bills Signed into Law
Despite my disappointment with the priorities pushed this session, two bipartisan bills that I worked on were signed into law this month.
Assembly Bill 865, signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 144, makes changes to Wisconsin’s address confidentiality program. The Safe at Home Program helps victims of domestic abuse, stalking or human trafficking protect their address and make sure it remains unknown to their abuser by creating an address confidentiality program within the Department of Justice. In the program’s first six month, over 203 participants enrolled. AB 865 made some much-needed tweaks to the program, including redacting every part of a participant’s address, which is important in rural Wisconsin, and making the intentional disclosure of a participant’s address a misdemeanor.
Assembly Bill 848, signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 204, creates a process by which a minor may receive outpatient mental health treatment without parental consent in emergency situations. Under the bill, a mental health treatment provider may provide treatment to the minor for 30 days. By allowing needed mental healthcare to begin without delay, we can provide needed relief for youth struggling with a mental health crisis. This new process is especially important for unaccompanied homeless youth, who may not have a present legal guardian.
Here are some of my upcoming office hours in the community – I hope to see you there!
Friday, April 27th
1336 Drake St, Madison, WI 53715
Friday, May 4th
Rule of 50
As we get closer to election season, I want to remind you of a longstanding legislative rule that ensures legislators don’t use taxpayer resources to campaign for public office. As of April 15th, which is the first day we can circulate nomination papers for re-election, legislators are prohibited from distributing state materials in quantities of 50 or more, including legislative emails. This will therefore be the last email newsletter I am legally able to send until after the November elections. Please feel free, however, to connect with me on Facebook or Twitter, and my office door is always open!
It has been an honor representing you in the State Assembly. I have attempted to be the best advocate for you and our community as possible. I want to thank you for all of the support, incredible policy ideas, and your commitment to participating in our democracy. I believe government can only work when the people are truly in charge.
Have a happy, health and safe spring and summer, and I’ll see you in the neighborhood!