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January 26, 2018

Over the past few weeks, Governor Walker has made frantic attempts to introduce any proposal that will help his public approval ratings, and his State of the State address was a clear pitch for his re-election.

This election year enlightenment highlights how the Governor has failed to deliver on his empty promises of the past and how his misguided priorities have taken the state in the wrong direction. 

Democrats have listened to Wisconsin families. Families are burdened with student loan debt, sky-rocketing childcare costs, and costly auto repairs from crumbling roads. 

These are the issues that families and seniors have said they want their leaders to focus on. People want to solve these challenges, and tackle the tough issues. Legislative Democrats believe in the Wisconsin Way Forward and the promise of a better tomorrow.

Health Care in Wisconsin

Health Care Survey

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped tens of millions of Americans gain access to affordable health care and has saved countless lives. Recent Republican efforts to repeal the ACA would increase the number of uninsured Americans, eliminate patient protections and significantly raise out-of-pocket costs on working families and seniors. Wisconsin Democrats are fighting to maintain and expand healthcare. Please share you health care story and thoughts on the Affordable Care Act. 

Click on the link below to share your thoughts on our health care system:

Wisconsin Democrats Health Care Survey

What Democrats Are Saying

​ Democratic Proposals

LRB2700 Window Replacement (Rep. Taylor, Sen. Johnson) would allow qualifying homeowners to receive the historic rehabilitation tax credit for replacing lead-contaminated windows.

LRB1891 Lead Testing (Rep. Taylor, Sen. Johnson) would require Dept. of Health Services (DHS) to identify locations that serve children under the age of 6 and constructed before 1978 to have periodic lead inspections. These locations would include foster homes, group homes shelter care facilities, child care providers and centers, nursery schools, kindergartens, and other locations DHS specifically identifies.

LRB0572 Home Lead Testing (Rep. Taylor, Sen. Johnson) would require DHS to update their definition of “lead poisoning or lead exposure” within a year of the Center for Disease Control changing their guidelines. Previously, it has taken years for Wisconsin to comply with new standards, at great risk to the children impacted by lead poisoning.

LRB5013 Earned Income Tax Credit (Rep. Riemer, Sen. Hansen) would allow an individual who is eligible to claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit to claim as a credit against Wisconsin taxes due 34 percent of the amount that the taxpayer may claim under the federal credit.

LRB5313Teacher Appreciation Week (Sens. Bewley, Larson, Johnson, Reps. Pope, Genrich, Considine, Hebl, Bowen, Vruwink) a resolution to recognize May 7 through May 11, 2018, as Teacher Appreciation Week.

LRB4895 Housing Discrimination (Rep. Hebl) would provide that prospective tenants may not be asked about evictions that occurred more than five years prior to their date of application for new housing.

LRB5126 Housing Discrimination (Rep. Hebl) would allow local governments to impose a moratorium on evictions.

LRB4749 Community Lead Abatement Bill (Sens. Larson, Johnson, Taylor, Reps. Sinicki, Brostoff, Bowen, Sargent, Taylor, Crowley) would create a program to provide financial assistance to municipalities for the replacement of public water system service lines containing lead. The bill also creates a nonrefundable state income tax credit and levy limit exception related to the replacement of lead service lines.

LRB4755 Creation of a Southeast RTA (Reps. Barca, Sinicki, Neubauer, Sen. Carpenter) would authorize the creation of a regional transit authority (RTA) in southeastern Wisconsin.

LRB4888 Veteran Outreach and Recovery Program (Rep. Shankland, Sens. Erpenbach, Hansen, Wirch) would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to administer a program to provide outreach, mental health services, and support active or inactive veterans who have a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder.

LRB1720 Wisconsin Technical College Grants (Rep. Shankland, Sen. Hansen) would increase the appropriation for Wisconsin grants for technical college students.

LRB4531 Restoring Wisconsin’s Heat & Eat Program (Rep. Bowen, Sen. Vinehout) would restore federal funding to Wisconsin’s Heat & Eat program by modifying the amount Wisconsin allocates for low-income energy assistance.

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate held a floor session on Tuesday, January 23rd to take up executive appointments as well as Senate and Assembly Bills. 

Among the executive appointments up for a vote, confirmation of the leaders who currently run the elections and ethics commissions were fervently debated. Legislative Republicans voted to force Michael Haas and Brian Bell out of their respective posts, skipping the procedural public hearing. Despite receiving unanimous bipartisan support from their commissioners, Republicans voted against confirmation, removing them from their posts.

Senate Bill 48, made its way back to the Senate after the Assembly amended the bill. As amended, SB 48 would let water utilities offer customers grants or low-interest loans covering up to half the cost to replace water lines for homes that have lead pipe laterals connecting to the municipal water supply. This is a step in the right direction, but does not do enough to mitigate the problem with lead in drinking water. Democrats have proposed numerous other bills to combat this public health crisis.


Senate Committees

Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government
The committee held a Public Hearing and Executive Session on two Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 671 would change the requirements that apply to research contracts involving the University of Wisconsin System. (Passed, 7-0)

  • Senate Bill 679 would direct the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to spend $6.8 million on an advertising campaign to lure millennials to move back to the state by promoting outdoor activities and shorter commutes, despite GOP policies causing Wisconsin to lose its status as a leader in conservation and having the 4th worst roads in the nation. (Passed, 4-3)

The committee also held an Executive Session on the appointment of John Wenum and Kristine O’Meara to the Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board, as well as two Senate Bills and one Assembly Bill:

  • Assembly Bill 120 would allow a municipality the option to publish a summary of a legal notice, instead of publishing any full-text content that is required under current law. (Passed, 6-0)

  • Senate Bill 578 would eliminate the requirement to submit a certified copy of the decedent's death certificate to the register of deeds. (Passed, 6-0)

  • Senate Bill 582 would allow an appointing authority to remove county officers from office at pleasure. Currently, certain county officers may be removed from office by their appointing authority only for cause. (Passed, 4-2)


Senate Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection

The committee held a Public Hearing on three Senate Bills and two Assembly companion bills:

  • Senate Bill 680 would repeal a provision created in 2015 Wisconsin Act 60 that requires Milwaukee County to transfer, unencumbered, the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts to the Wisconsin Center District (WCD).

  • Senate Bill 554 / Assembly Bill 675 would allow the Building Commission to authorize money from the state building trust fund to be available for any project costing $1,000,000 or less. The Building Commission may also authorize the design and construction of any building, the acquisition of land, or the repair or improvement of any building, structure, or facility that costs more than $1,000,000 only if the project is enumerated in the state building program.

  • Senate Bill 535 / Assembly Bill 638 would establish a council in the Department of Health Services to advise the department on research, diagnosis, treatment, and education relating to pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, commonly referred to as PANDAS, and pediatric acute-onset. 


Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism
The committee held an Executive Session on three Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 572 would add counties, based on their need for dental services, to be included in the to the dental reimbursement pilot project in the Medical Assistance program.

  • Senate Bill 667 would provide additional funding for administration of the livestock premises registration program.

  • Senate Bill 599 would make several changes to the Agricultural Producer Security Program (APSP), a state fund that protects agriculture producers from losing money when their buyers default on their financial obligations:

    • Provide an exemption on filing financial statements for processors that spend less than $15,000/year on vegetables.

    • Allow milk buyers and producers to agree on deferred payment schedules (up to 5 months).

    • Consolidate two grain-related funds within the program.

    • Exempt grain dealers’ deferred payment contracts from the financial reporting requirements in the program.

    • Require producers to file a claim against defaulters with all available federal and state proceedings before filing a claim with DATCP.

    • Eliminate requirement for a notarized statement with a license application.

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session

This last week, Governor Walker delivered his State of the State Address. Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Gordon Hintz responded with his concerns with the Governor’s so called solutions to the issues facing the people of Wisconsin. The reality is that the Governor has failed to address that Wisconsin has the 2nd worst roads in the United States according to US News and World Report. Walker talked about investing in Wisconsin’s kids, but has yet to pay back his debt to Wisconsin public school children. The Governor paid lip service to healthcare in his address but we know that he has endorsed limiting coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. 


Assembly Committees

Assembly Subcommittee on Excise Taxes and Fees
The committee held an informational hearing and took testimony from Bob Lang and Richard G. Chandler.


Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and Sporting Heritage
The committee held a public hearing on AB850 regarding the transfer of hunting and fishing licenses for persons with a disability.


Assembly Committee on Small Business Development
The committee held a public hearing on AB798 allows a health care provider and an individual patient or employer to enter into a direct primary care agreement and requires the Department of Health Services to establish and implement a direct primary care program for Medical Assistance recipients.


Assembly Subcommittee on Local Government Taxes and Funding
The committee held a meeting relating to local government taxes and funding.


Assembly Committee on State Affairs
The committee held an executive session on AB718 which expands the number of individuals required to get a background check to state contracted employees. AB667 makes changes relating to the Wisconsin Commission on Uniform State Laws. AB821 which makes an exception to the lowest bidder contract rule when an improvement is constructed by a private person and donated to the local governmental unit after the completion of construction and AB576 which allows an individual to use an identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe in this state as proof of residence for voter registration purposes.


Assembly Committee on Ways and Means
The committee held an executive session on AB793 which raises the limit on the amount of tax credits that may be certified by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation under the historic rehabilitation tax credit from $500,000 to $3,500,000.

The committee held a public hearing on AB822 which makes a number of changes to banks and credit unions regulations.

Assembly Committee on Education
The committee held a public hearing on AB835 which increases revenue limit ceilings for school districts to $9,400 in the 2018-19 school year (sparsity aid). AB810 this bill expressly authorizes school boards to offer courses that include activities or course work that generate a profit for the school district (profit-generating courses). AB830 creates an educational savings account program for gifted and talented pupils.


Assembly Committee on Health
The committee held a public hearing on AB766 which exempts physicians licensed in other states who are practicing at certain sporting events or facilities from being required to be licensed in this state as a physician or as another type of health care provider. AB680 which eliminates any patient age restriction for the administration of a vaccine by a pharmacist if the vaccine is administered pursuant to the prescription order of a physician. AB749 establishes a certification program for expanded function dental auxiliaries administered by the Dentistry Examining Board. AB781 which defines “dental care” for the purpose of a legal custodian providing ordinary medical and dental care for a child. AB870 which would allow licensed physicians out of state to practice and AB871 which would require the Department of Health Services to create a program to reimburse hospitals and health care systems for intensive care coordination services provided to Medical Assistance recipients.


Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy
The committee held an executive session on AB811 directs the WEDC to collaborate with state agencies to develop and implement initiatives for the attraction of talent to and retention of talent in Wisconsin. AB40 authorizes the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to award an entrepreneurial assistance grant of up to $3,000 to a new business for expenses related to hiring, as a paid intern, and AB589 which replaces the current licensure program for sign language interpreters licensed by the Department of Safety and Professional Services with a licensure program administered by the Sign Language Interpreters Examining Board.


Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety
The committee held an executive session on AB660 which raises the age from 17 to 18 for a person who is alleged to have violated a criminal law subject to the procedures specified in the Criminal Procedure Code. AB678 expands the definition of police vehicles to include unmarked vehicles in regards to fleeing traffic stops.  AB737 changes rules regarding maximum sentences in relation to domestic violence cases and AB650  changes the information that the Department of Justice must include in its report to the Department of Administration and the Joint Committee on Finance regarding restitution received by crime victim.


Assembly Committee on Corrections
The committee held an executive session on AB676 expands the definition of protective occupation participants to include county jailers.


Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety
The committee held a public hearing on AB666 which makes a criminal penalty for sexual contact with an animal. AB697 which prohibits a person from operating on a highway any animal-drawn 
vehicle that is drawn by an animal wearing horseshoes that will injure the highway. AB823 which increases the felony classification for breaking and entering with intent to commit battery. AB855 prohibits the operation of a drone in certain manners and prohibits a political subdivision from regulating the ownership or operation of a drone. AB865 which makes changes to the address confidentiality program administered by the Department of Justice and AB604 which would require that the Department of Justice publish an annual report on sexual assault offenses and domestic abuse cases reported in the state of Wisconsin.  

Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

Senate Transportation and Veterans Affairs
The committee will hold a Public Hearing on four Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 547 would make changes so that Dept. of Transportation and Human Service Vehicles operators may make Americans with Disability Act compliant accommodations by allowing passengers to stand if they possess a doctor's certification that they have a medical condition that prevents sitting. Currently, no person other than a personal care worker may stand while a human service vehicle is in motion.

  • Senate Bill 605 would provide that a manufacturer who manufactures only motor vehicles that are propelled solely by electric power may engage in the business of a motor vehicle dealer.

  • Senate Bill 695 would allow a group of  motor vehicles weighting over 10,000 pounds that are travelling in a unified manner to follow each other closer than 500 feet. 

  • Senate Bill 705 would change the procedures for denials and suspensions of certain drivers licenses issued to manufacturers, importers, distributors, or dealers.


The committee will hold a second Public Hearing on the executive appointments of Paul Chamberlain, Leigh Neville-Neil and Alan Richards to serve on the Board of Veterans Affairs. The committee will also discuss several Senate and Assembly Bills:

  • Senate Bill 415 / Assembly Bill 517 would allow an applicant for a motor vehicle operator's license or identification card issued by the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) to indicate whether he or she has a disability that may not be immediately apparent to another. Debate exists whether this will help police officers respond more appropriately to people with disabilities or if it will create further discrimination. Others argue it will not have an impact because negative experiences will likely happen prior to a person showing their identification.

  • Senate Bill 447 would direct the DOT to designate the bridge between the city of Superior and the city of Duluth in the state of Minnesota as the “Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge.”

  • Senate Bill 598 / Assembly Bill 699 would designate and mark the bridge across the Oconto River in the city of Oconto as the "PFC Valentine T. Warrichaiet Memorial Bridge."

  • Senate Bill 630 would allow the fee for a transfer of a vehicle’s certificate of title to be waived when a vehicle is transferred upon a person's death to his or her spouse.

  • Senate Bill 638 would eliminate a special vehicle weight provision that applies on portions of STH 13 in Ashland County and STH 70 in Vilas County and adds these highway routes for which the Department of Transportation may issue Michigan border permits.

  • Senate Bill 666 would require the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to administer a pilot program to provide outreach, mental health services, and support active and inactive veterans who have a mental health condition or substance abuse disorder.

 

Finally, the committee will be holding an Executive Session on three Senate Bills and two Assembly companions:

  • Senate Bill 480 / Assembly Bill 381 provides a $10 dollar donation to the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial Fund and National Law Enforcement Fund from the proceeds of the law enforcement memorial fund specialty plate program. 

  • Senate Bill 437 / Assembly Bill 442 would make changes to the requirements for signs placed to mark all-terrain vehicle (ATV) routes.

  • Senate Bill 537 would make several changes related to motor vehicle manufacturers and the compensation of motor vehicle dealers for certain service work.

 
Senate Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations
The committee will hold an Executive Session on four Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 478 would increase the annual license fee for a retail food establishment that is a micro market. A micro market is an indoor, unstaffed, self-checkout kiosk that sells food and beverages to a limited group of people, such as employees.

  • Senate Bill 616 would waive the fees for initial occupational credentials.

  • Senate Bill 542 would expand the violations of unemployment insurance law and increase penalties making it even harder for workers to collect their payment.

  • Senate Bill 670 would allow a health care provider and an individual patient or employer to enter into a direct primary care agreement. A direct primary care agreement is a contract between a primary care provider and an individual patient in which the health care provider agrees to provide primary care services for an agreed-upon fee and period of time. Proponents of the bill argue the ability for individuals and employers to enter into these contracts could see health care savings on routine insurance expenses. 


The committee will also hold a Public Hearing on five Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 533 would allow a person acting under a pharmacist, as well as a pharmacy student who has completed at least two years of pharmacy school, to engage in remote dispensing of prescribed drugs.

  • Senate Bill 632 would provide that alcohol beverage license and permit application forms may not require more than one signature on behalf of the applicant and are not required to be sworn to or notarized.

  • Senate Bill 653 would allow for the continuity of foster care when the license of a child welfare agency or foster home is revoked, suspended, or surrendered.

  • Senate Bill 724 would make various changes to laws regarding funeral director apprentices.

  • Senate Bill 529 would reduce the waiting period of obtaining a marriage license. This bill also requires the clerk to accept a U.S. driver’s license as a satisfactory documentary proof in leiu of birth certificate. 


Senate Judiciary and Public Safety
The committee will hold a Public Hearing on eight Senate Bills and two Assembly Bills:

  • Senate Bill 344 would prohibit a person who is under the age of 18 from being prosecuted for committing an act of prostitution.

  • Senate Bill 402 would create two exceptions to the general requirement that a school board must suspend and expel a pupil if they possess a firearm at school. The first exception is for a firearm that is lawfully stored inside a locked vehicle on school property. The second exception applies to the possession of a firearm for an activity approved and authorized by the school board.

  • Senate Bill 538 would change the information that the Dept. of Justice must include in its report to the Dept. of Administration regarding restitution received by crime victims.

  • Senate Bill 645 would make certain changes to the discovery of information in court proceedings; procedural requirements relating to class actions; consumer lawsuit lending; the statute of limitations for certain civil actions; agreements by to allow third-party audits of unclaimed property and interest rates for overdue insurance claims.

  • Senate Bill 652 would change the grounds for an involuntary termination of parental rights based on a child's continuing need of protection or services.

  • Senate Bill 654 would make changes to the appellate procedures applicable in proceedings related to the termination of parental rights.

  • Senate Bill 657 would remove the prohibition on assigning counsel to a parent in a child in need of protection or services proceeding, and creates a five-county pilot program that creates a right to counsel for such a parent.

  • Senate Bill 660 would transfer licensing authority for a secured residential care center for children and youth from the Dept. of Corrections to the Dept. of Children and Families.

  • Assembly Bill 351 would create requirements for law enforcement agencies that use body cameras on law enforcement officers.

  • Assembly Bill 496 would revise the standards governing the treatment of outdoor advertising signs that do not conform to local ordinances.

 

The committee will also hold an Executive Session on the executive appointment of Daniel Berkos to the Public Defender Board and several Senate Bills:

  • Senate Bill 403 would require the Law Enforcement Standards Board to regulate jail and juvenile detention officer training standards, and to regulate recruitment standards for new law enforcement, jail, and juvenile detention officers.

  • Senate Bill 446 would allow, if a court determines that supervised release is appropriate for a sexually violent person, the court to order the person's county of residence to prepare a report that identifies one appropriate residence for the person.

  • Senate Bill 615 would create the Council on Offender Employment, which may issue a certificate of qualification for employment (CQE) that grants relief to the person from ineligibility for or disadvantage related to employment, occupational licensing, or occupational certification.

  • Senate Bill 623 would subject a defendant to a domestic abuse surcharge if the defendant committed a domestic abuse crime to his or her current or former spouse. This bill would also increase maximum term of imprisonment if the person is a repeat offender.

  • Senate Bill 626 would make various changes to the fair employment law and would prohibit state and local governmental agencies from denying an occupational license to an individual based on the individual's arrest or conviction record. This bill will help people with criminal records get a fresh start, find work and help rebuild their lives. 

  • Assembly Bill 566 would allow service of certain pleadings and other papers to be served by e-mail.


Assembly Committees

Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform
The committee will hold an executive session on AB263 which creates optional incentive programs for counties and tribes to receive reward payments for identifying fraudulent activity in certain public assistance programs.

Assembly Committee on Public Benefit Reform
The committee will hold a public hearing on AB710 which changes the penalties for making a false claim to receive unemployment insurance and Clearinghouse Rule 17-005 regarding drug testing for participants in the FoodShare Employment and Training Program who are able-bodied adults.

Assembly Committee on Mental Health
The committee will hold a public hearing on AB848 allows a treatment director to provide outpatient mental health treatment to children for 30 days without first obtaining informed consent in certain situations.

Assembly Committee on Transportation
The committee will hold a public hearing on AB651 which would allow passengers in a human services vehicle to stand if certain medical conditions require it. AB717 regulates dealer licenses for electric vehicles. AB824 which creates exceptions to following distance rules for platoons of trucks and AB852 which changes the procedures for denials and suspensions and revocations of certain licenses issued to manufacturers, importers, distributors, or dealers of motor vehicles.

Assembly Committee on Judiciary
The committee will hold a public hearing on AB784 which removes the prohibition on assigning counsel to a parent in a child in need of protection or services (CHIPS) proceeding, and creates a five-county pilot program that creates a right to counsel for such a parent and AB778 which makes changes to the appellate procedures applicable in proceedings related to the termination of parental rights.

Assembly Committee on Workforce Development
The committee will hold a public hearing on AB819 which requires the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop a program to provide coaching for the hiring of individuals with disabilities and AB872 which creates an incentive grant program for school districts that provide training for certain public safety occupations and provides completion awards for students who complete those programs.

Assembly Committee on Children and Families
The committee will hold an executive session on AB776, which provides continuity of care when a foster care agency loses its license.  AB779, which requires DHS to award grants to nonprofit organizations for statewide community based referral systems. AB783, which requires DCF to create a committee to study and report on recommended caseload standards for child welfare workers. AB785, which directs $500,000 of TANF funding each fiscal year to be used for grants to counties, nonprofit organizations, or tribes to fund child abuse and neglect prevention services, and AB787 which provides $400,000 in funding to DCF for grants to counties, tribes, and nonprofits to support foster parents and provide normalcy for children in out-of-home care.

The committee will hold an informational hearing on the Summary Reports for Child Death, Serious Injury or Egregious Abuse or Neglect Incidents, the Quarterly & Annual Reports of Sexual Abuse of Children in Out-of-Home Care Placement and the Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect Report.

Assembly Committee on Financial Institutions
The committee will hold an executive session on AB663 which allows guaranteed asset protection (gap) waivers to be offered and sold in connection with the credit sale or lease of a vehicle and that gap waivers are not insurance.

The committee will hold a public hearing on AB692 which modifies requirements for certain securities transactions to be exempt from registration with the Division of Securities in the Department of Financial Institutions and AB715 which allows certain foreign corporations acting in a fiduciary capacity to establish or maintain places of business or branch offices in this state.

Assembly Committee on Judiciary
The committee will hold an executive session on AB784 which removes the prohibition on assigning counsel to a parent in a child in need of protection or services (CHIPS) proceeding, and creates a five-county pilot program that creates a right to counsel for such a parent and AB778.


Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding
The Blue Ribbon Commission will hear testimony from invited speakers including representatives from the following: Milwaukee Public Schools, Southeast Wisconsin Schools Alliance and School Choice Wisconsin.

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