Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

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 A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

We are now a few weeks into the new legislative session and are beginning to get back into the swing of things here at the Capitol. As legislation moves forward and committees start to meet, I look forward to providing you with the most up to date information and hearing your feedback on what is happening in your state government. 

In this report, we will be discussing the state of healthcare in Wisconsin Governor Evers' first State of the State address, and marijuana legalization. As a state, we face many pressing issues that the legislature and Governor Evers will have to come together to solve. Of those issues, access to affordable healthcare is one of the most important. Every single person has dealt with the healthcare system, and our job is to make it easier and more cost effective for everyone.

 

In Service, 

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State of Healthcare in Wisconsin
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As you may have heard, Wisconsin Republicans are once again floating a bill (Assembly Bill 1) on pre-existing condition coverage that would leave a lot of people in the cold. The fatal flaw with the Republican proposal is that it would provide less coverage to fewer people than what we currently have in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If the Republican national effort to destroy the ACA is successful, this anemic legislation would have no authority to compel employers that self-fund their insurance plans to cover pre-existing conditions.

The bill offered by Republicans is woefully inadequate and doesn't require coverage of specific prescriptions and benefits. It is of particular concern that under this bill insurance companies could still set lifetime caps on care. That is unacceptable.    

The fact is that without the federal subsidies that allow younger healthier people to afford health coverage through the national marketplace, the costs for a person with a pre-existing condition would sky-rocket. That is why I have opposed Wisconsin's participation in the lawsuit to overturn the ACA and the bill that Republicans passed during the lame duck session preventing Governor Evers and Attorney General Kaul from removing our state from that lawsuit. If Wisconsin Republicans get their way, it will be a recipe for disaster and would take us back to the bad old days when more than 400 medical conditions or diagnoses were used to justify a denial of life-saving coverage. Conditions like:

  1. Cancer
  2. Diabetes
  3. Hepatitis
  4. Mental Disorders
  5. And Pregnancy 

When President Obama was crafting the ACA, Congress conducted an investigation that found four major insurance companies denied health coverage to 651,000 individuals because of pre-existing conditions. These numbers break down to one in seven people who applied for health insurance with those companies.

The easiest solution to this problem would be for Republicans to admit their lawsuit to overturn the ACA is an ill-advised partisan ploy. We should be working towards a BadgerCare for all public option model. In Wisconsin, we take care of our neighbors, and everyone should have access to affordable healthcare. Everyone should be able to buy into BadgerCare.

      

It is Time to Accept the Federal Medicaid Expansion Dollars!
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Wisconsin Republicans have left $1.07 billion of our tax dollars on the table by not taking full advantage of the Affordable Care Act and accepting federal dollars to expand BadgerCare. Wisconsin would see roughly $190 million in savings annually while covering 80,000 more of our neighbors if we were to take the expansion. 

By not accepting the expansion, Wisconsin lags behind all of our neighboring states (states that all took the increase) by covering 5% to 9% fewer new people. We cannot afford to allow blind partisanship to dictate our health policy in Wisconsin. The federal funds are there for us to protect more of our neighbors from financial hardship due to hospital bills and ensure that no one has to deny themselves health coverage because of costs.

Again, the Republican attempts to invalidate the Affordable Care Act without a real plan to prevent people from falling through the cracks is short-sighted and mean-spirited. We can cover more Wisconsinites, save millions of dollars a year, and make sure that we are reclaiming our fair share of the tax dollars we send to Washington every year. 

Governor Evers Shares Powerful Vision in State of the State Address  

 

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In his first State of the State Address, Governor Evers laid out a strong vision for a first term that has a foundation in working together for the benefit of all of our friends and neighbors, not just those who can afford an army of lobbyists. There are hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin families who have been left behind over the last eight years and are struggling to make ends meet. During that same time, some of our wealthiest corporations and citizens have done very well. Whether it is access to healthcare, a reasonable living wage, or funding our public education and infrastructure, Governor Evers recognizes the significant challenges facing our neighbors across Wisconsin.

Governor Evers laid out plans to move Wisconsin forward by addressing some of our most pressing issues. He has once again committed to both pulling Wisconsin out of the lawsuit seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act and he has committed to finally expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin. By following through on these two policy goals, we will cover more people and recoup more of the tax dollars that we send to Washington. 

Under Governor Evers, 2019 will be the year of clean drinking water in Wisconsin. Whether it is contaminated private wells in our rural counties or lingering lead service lines in Milwaukee, our neighbors deserve clean drinking water. Clean water is not an urban problem or a rural problem, it is a Wisconsin problem and, we can solve it. As Governor Evers pointed out in his speech, every dollar we spend on lead abatement is returned 133% in earning potential and positive health outcomes for individuals.   

One of our cherished Wisconsin values is that we care about our neighbors. Governor Evers wants to restore that value and make sure that everyone in Wisconsin has the same access to opportunity.

   

Marijuana Legalization in Wisconsin: It's Time

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Throughout America, marijuana legalization is becoming more and more normalized, and Wisconsin is being left behind. According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized. In my district, of the 728 neighbors who responded to my recent survey, a strong 68% support marijuana legalization.

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Marijuana legalization is an idea that's time has come and Republican opposition runs counter to the will of a majority of our neighbors. Public sentiment isn't the only reason that we should be seriously considering legalizing marijuana in Wisconsin, it also makes solid sense from a public policy perspective. The benefits to legalization run the gamut from healthcare and job creation to taxable income and fixing selective enforcement. 

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It is time to have an honest discussion on marijuana in Wisconsin. In a time with an ever-widening opioid crisis, we owe it to ourselves to not continue to blindly prohibit a substance that has been proven safe, non-addictive, and beneficial to so many. 

I am committed to again signing on to legislation that would fully legalize recreational marijuana in Wisconsin. We must be smart about how we bring marijuana out of the shadows and craft legislation that will protect local entrepreneurs from the big corporate actors like Phillip-Morris. 

That is why as part of the legalization effort there would be a five-year moratorium on out of state businesses getting permits to produce or sell marijuana in Wisconsin. This provision in the law would give our local farmers and business people a headstart and every opportunity to succeed and thrive in this new market.   

 
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The Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to you. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and around the country. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighbors and friends across the nation. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks. 

U.S House Overwhelmingly Votes to Condemn White Nationalism

In the continuing fallout of Republican U.S Representative Steve King's (R-Iowa) disgusting remarks on white nationalism and white supremacy, the U.S House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to condemn white nationalism. King has also been stripped of his committees and a bipartisan coalition in the house is calling for him to resign. 

Representative King has had a reputation for racist rhetoric and proposals for as long as he has served in public office. It is disappointing that it took this long for his Republican colleagues to begin calling him out on his dangerous rhetoric. This is a good first step to calling out others that use similar tactics to cling to power.

 

Good Samaritan Finds Jayme Closs Who'd Been Missing Since October

Earlier this month, Jamyee Closs, a 13-year-old Baron County girl, who'd been missing for over 80 days was found alive. Jayme was found by Jeanne Nutter after escaping her kidnapper.

A big thank you is owed to Jeanne, Wisconsin law enforcement, and the volunteers who spent countless hours searching for Jayme while she was missing. 

 A Milwaukee Bus Driver Goes Above and Beyond 

When Irena Ivic saw toddler wandering on a cold day without shoes, she made an unscheduled stop to help out. Our homegrown good Samaritan's efforts were all caught on camera, and the story was featured nationally on CNN. The child went missing after her mother had suffered a mental health crisis and was returned to her father later that day. 

Thank you, Irena Ivic, for representing the spirit of Milwaukee and for stepping up to help a child in need. 

 

 TAKE ACTION.pngThe Trump shutdown is now the longest running partial government shutdown in U.S history. The effects of the shutdown are beginning to trickle down through the states and are having a real impact on our friends and neighbors. The shutdown affects a wide variety of government functions and services. For example, Milwaukee is a brewing city and some of our local beer producers cannot get federal label approval for new products that are to be shipped across state lines because of this shutdown. Also, due to a suspension in funding caused by the shutdown the Small Business Administration is inactive until further notice. This means the small business loans it oversees that benefit our local entrepreneurs have been suspended. According to reporting by Wisconsin Public Radio, this could hurt 10-15 small businesses per month in Wisconsin alone. 
Trump's shutdown has already resulted in the furloughing of roughly 800,000 federal employees including those responsible for issuing tax refundsIf Trump continues, the furloughs will affect millions of Wisconsin taxpayers who count on those returns to make ends meet.
It is time for this shutdown to end and for Republicans in the U.S Senate to re-pass the bill that previously passed 100-0 to reopen our country's government.
Call U.S Senator Ron Johnson at (414) 276-7282 and tell him to end the shutdown and reopen our government.  

 

 December 25, 2018 11 a.m. - 2_30 p.m. Doors open at 10_30 a.m. Wisconsin Center 400 W Wisconsin Ave Milwaukee, WI 53203 Hosted by The Salvation Army, (1).png