Dear Friend,

For those keeping track of this year’s budget process at home, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) wrapped up their public hearings on Governor Walker’s 2017-19 state budget last week. While they are scheduled to begin voting on changes to his budget next week, the rest of the Legislature has been chugging along over the last several weeks with regular committee meetings.

Introducing the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety

This week, along with my colleagues Rep. Lisa Subeck, Rep. Melissa Sargent, Rep. Terese Berceau, and allies for the health care, law enforcement, faith, mental health, domestic violence, women’s health and anti-violence communities, we introduced the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety (WCGS). This statewide coalition will focus on reducing gun violence through community engagement, legislative action, policy reform and collaboration.

This statewide coalition is incredibly important because we know that gun violence happens in rural, urban, and suburban areas and in Democrat and Republican districts. Studies have shown that in states with stronger gun safety laws, there are less suicides, less law enforcement officers killed on the jobs, and less women killed in domestic violence situations.

WCGS also revealed its first legislative priority, Assembly Bill 65, which will institute universal background checks on all firearm sales. Currently, person-to-person sales, such as those at gun shows or via the Internet, do not require a federal license and are exempt from the background check requirement. A comprehensive background check before purchasing any gun is a common sense and simple way to prevent people who should not have guns from being able to purchase one. 85 percent of voters in Wisconsin – including 84 percent of gun owners – support universal background checks.

I’m proud that representatives from so many different disciplines joined the Coalition in support of common-sense gun safety legislation, and we’re working to further expand the organizations in the Coalition.

For more information, see WCGS’ press release. Please contact my office if you would like to join this coalition or are a member of an organization who would like to participate!

Lead Safety Measures to Protect Wisconsin’s Children

Last week, I joined Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the physician who revealed the Flint, Michigan lead poisoning crisis, and local physician, Dr. Elizabeth Neary, in calling for more rigorous lead safety standards to protect Wisconsin children.

In many parts of Wisconsin, child lead poisoning rates exceed those in Flint, Michigan at the height of the lead poisoning crisis experienced in that community. After learning of the Flint crisis, I started pouring over Wisconsin’s own policies and discovered that our lead poisoning standards were dangerously out-of-date – double the recommended national standards. After months of correspondence with the Department of Health Services (DHS), Governor Walker included these updated standards in his 2017-19 state budget.

Lead poisoning affects rural, urban and suburban communities alike – it does not matter if you are represented by a Democrat or a Republican. We are currently working to put together a strong bipartisan lead prevention and treatment program that includes the following proposals:

• Updating outdated lead poisoning standards and including water testing in environmental assessments when a child is lead-poisoned, triggering lead investigations and remediation.
• Requiring DHS to promulgate rules directing facilities serving children under 6, including schools and daycares, to test for lead and share results with parents.
• Directing DHS and DNR to apply for federal lead remediation funding.
• Making replacing lead-contaminated windows and lead services lines eligible for the historic rehabilitation tax credit.

To read more on these proposals: HERE and HERE.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Continues Down Road of Corruption

Last week, the conservative wing of the Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a rule change proposed by over 50 retired judges that would have created a bright line for recusal when campaign donors appear before the judges they helped elect.

I am deeply disappointed, though not surprised, that the biggest beneficiaries of the influx of dark money into Wisconsin Supreme Court elections voted to keep the current, lax recusal standard. This decision further damages the public’s trust in Wisconsin’s highest court and jeopardizes the integrity of the entire institution. In light of the recent destruction of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws, this is even more alarming, and opens the door wide to corruption and impropriety. The scales of justice have clearly tipped in favor of the wealthy special interests and against the public.

I am a co-sponsor of legislation that would require judges to recuse themselves from a case if they benefited from campaign contributions totaling $1,000 or more over a four year period, from one of the interested parties. This week the Assembly Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing on a bill that would require parties to disclose their campaign contributions to the judge and the other party during a pending case.

What do YOU think? Join me at Office Hours or a Budget Listening Session!

Earlier this month, Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) and I announced that we would be co-hosting three budget listening sessions across the 76th Assembly District. With the first two listening sessions under our belt, we have one remaining listening sessions on the Governor’s budget.

May 3, 7:00 – 8:30 PM, Goodman Community Center
149 Waubesa St, Madison, WI 53704

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 29

Have any old or expired prescriptions hanging around your medicine cabinet? Unfortunately, this is all too frequent in too many Wisconsin households. With the growing opioid epidemic, we need to be doing everything we can to get unused and unneeded medications out of our homes.

This Saturday, April 29, is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. There are drop-off locations across Madison, including one in the heart of the 76th Assembly District.

Risser Justice Center
17 W Main St
Madison, WI 53703

The following items may be safely disposed at a drop-off location: controlled and uncontrolled substances, over-the-counter medications, ointments, patches, creams, non-aerosol sprays, vials and pet medications.

As always, if you have questions or concerns on any state legislative issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 608-266-5342 or via email at