October 10, 2013
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neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost
importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and
your family are listed below.
Shrek: The Musical
"Once upon a time, there was a little ogre named Shrek..." And thus begins
the fairy tale of an unlikely hero who finds himself on a life-changing
journey alongside a wisecracking Donkey, a feisty princess who resists
her rescue, and a cast of banished fairy tale misfits. This musical
brings a story of adventure, friendship, and ogre love that is bringing
ugly back. This musical is best for children ages 6 and up.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Pioneer Farm Days
Stop by this Fall Harvest celebration and old-time farm show. See
antique tractors, engines, and machinery on display and at work. Watch a
sawmill cutting logs into lumber or a thresher separating wheat from its
straw. There will also be a flea market, farmers' market, farm toy show,
and events for the kids. Admission is $4 for adults and free for kids 12
CLICK HERE for more information.
American Legion Park (MAP)
9145 S. Shepard Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154
2nd National Hmong Human Rights Conference
Date: Fri., October 18 and Sat., October 19
The Hmong Human Rights committee of the Hmong Student Association at the
University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee invites you to attend its 2nd
National Hmong Human Rights Conference. This conference aims to address
contemporary social issues in the Hmong community.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 229-1122 for more information including a
list of confirmed presenters.
21st Annual Dia de los Muertos Exhibition
Date: Fri., October 18 through Sat., November 16
This October marks 21 years of the Walker's Point Center of the Arts
celebrating Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a rich Mexican
tradition. Curated by local art historian Juan Lopez, this traditional
celebration will include a touch of contemporary flavor with ofrendas
(altars/offerings) created by local artists of various backgrounds in
addition to sculpture and 2-D work related to the holiday. Dia de los
Muertos recognizes death as a celebration of life. It reminds one to
reflect on what they value through the commemoration of loved ones and
their lives, while at the same time generating enthusiasm for the
friends and family around us. As the celebration progresses, this
dynamic gathering of people transforms itself into a festivity of life.
Informational tours and culturally relevant crafts for kids are
available during the course of this exhibition. The opening reception
will be held on Friday, October 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
CLICK HERE for more information.
As neighboring states in the Midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota have more in common than they do differences. Yet the two states took opposing approaches to implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, and have achieved very different results. This week's newsletter will compare these two states with regards to federal health care implementation. It also features articles on legislation that penalizes asbestos victims, a bill to provide chemotherapy parity, and a letter signed by 18 legislators in support of United Sportsmen.
Obamacare Comparison: WI vs. MN
As neighboring states in the Midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota have more in common than they do differences. Yet the two states took very different approaches to implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, and have achieved very different results.
Paying More to Cover Fewer People
A key component of the ACA is the
opportunity to receive additional funding from the federal government to
strengthen our safety net program, BadgerCare, by filling the gaps in
coverage. In fact, the federal government offered 100% of the funding
needed to fill the coverage gap for the first three years and at least
90% in subsequent years. In February, our governor announced he would
reject the ACA's recommended path to pursue his own Medicaid plan, which
will cost the state more taxpayer money to cover fewer Wisconsinites.
Minnesota, on the other hand, opted to accept additional federal funding for their Medicaid program. The adoption of these funds was done through passage of legislation that was signed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in February 2013. As a result, Minnesota was able to expand health care coverage to 35,000 additional childless, low-income adults without having to utilize additional tax dollars from the state for at least the next three years.
Forgoing a Personalized, State-Based Exchange
Implementing the new changes outlined in the Affordable Care Act required states to either create their own state-based health care exchange, opt to follow the standards and guidelines set forth by the federal government, or adopt a hybrid of the two.
Wisconsin has unique health care needs. Such specialized needs required creating an exchange tailored to meet the needs of Wisconsinites. Unfortunately, this is not the path Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans selected.
In contrast, neighboring Minnesota opted to keep the exchange local by creating their own online marketplace, called MNSure. The path our Republican leaders chose have likely had a negative impact on the premium costs in Wisconsin compared to those in Minnesota. In Minnesota, the average monthly premium across all age groups will be $192. The next lowest average is in Tennessee at $245. And the national average is $328. Unfortunately for Wisconsinites, we will see average monthly premiums of $361. That is 88% higher than the average premium in Minnesota. It is important to mention that the average premium rates cited do not include possible premium discounts, which could further lower premiums for lower- and middle-income individuals.
The End Result Favors Minnesota
Penalizing Asbestos Victims
This week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor took up legislation--Senate Bill 13 and its companion, Assembly Bill 19--intended to limit the rights of victims to pursue legal action against personal trusts, such as lawsuits related to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is a group of naturally occurring minerals that are resistant to heat and many chemicals, and do not conduct electricity. As a result, asbestos had previously been used as an insulating material, until it was discovered to have negative health effects. Asbestos was used to insulate factories, schools, homes, and ships, and to make automobile brake and clutch parts, roofing shingles, ceiling and floor tiles, cement, textiles, and hundreds of other products. Therefore, war veterans and workers in the manufacturing, mining, or construction industries are particularly at risk of overexposure to potentially deadly asbestos.
During the public hearing on these
bills, veterans groups, like the Wisconsin VFW and the Wisconsin
Military of the Purple Heart, publicly expressed great concerns over two
bills. According to the Wisconsin Asbestos Victims Network, Asbestos
kills at least 10,000 Americans every year, and Wisconsin has the 14th
highest rate of asbestos deaths in the nation. Tragically, while
military veterans represent 8% of the nation's population, they comprise
an astonishing 30% of all known mesothelioma deaths that have occurred
in this country.
In the years since this dangerous
substance was discovered to have cancer causing properties,
manufacturing and mining companies have compiled billion dollar trusts
to compensate victims for their illnesses as a stipulation of filing for
bankruptcy. These bills could limit victims' rights to pursue a personal
injury case against these trusts. The restrictive measures in this bill
will adversely impact all personal injury cases, and will especially
hinder asbestos litigation.
Chemotherapy Parity Bill Gets Hearing
Typically, intravenous chemotherapy
medications are covered under a health plan's medical benefit. Oral
chemotherapy medications, on the other hand, are generally covered under
a health plan's pharmacy benefits, which usually results in higher
out-of-pocket costs for the chemotherapy patient.
Senate Bill 300, legislation similar to last session chemotherapy parity bill, was reintroduced this session and received a public hearing in the Senate's Housing and Insurance Committee this week. Our family, friends, and neighbors fighting against cancer should never be forced to forgo treatment as a result of health care coverage discrepancies that have impeded access to the vital lifesaving medications they need. Therefore, I will support Senate Bill 300 should it reach the Senate floor for a vote this session.
I often have neighbors contact me
looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very
much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion
of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open
dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.
"As you consider the applications for the grant, we would like to offer our support for the United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation (USWF). The mission of the USWF is consistent with that of Wisconsin Act 168, The Sporting Heritage Act.
"The USWF has a strong partnership with sporting conservation and shooting organizations. USWF works towards sound conservation practices of game and habitat to ensure increased participation and protection of hunters, fisherman, trappers, and gun owners across Wisconsin. The budget language provides an opportunity to implement the goals of Wisconsin Act 168 and build on its legislative successes. We believe that USWF not only meets but will exceed the criteria outlined in the budget for grant approval and we urge your concurrence."
This letter proclaiming support for United Sportsmen was signed by the following legislators: Senators Tom Tiffany, Frank Lasee, and Glenn Grothman, and Representatives Scott Suder, Rob Swearingen, Mary Czaja, Chris Kapenga, Mike Kuglitsch, John Jagler, John Spires, Paul Farrow, Jim Steineke, Mary Williams, Tyler August, Bill Kramer, Scott Krug, Warren Petryk, and Joel Kleefisch.
As many of us know, stories about the $500,000 sweetheart deal for a group with ties to Republican legislators and organizations have flooded Wisconsin newspapers for the past month. Below are some of the shocking facts that have come to light regarding the recently rescinded sporting grant:
Although after closer examination, and contrary to the letter signed by 18 legislative Republicans, it appears that even the sole qualifying sporting group, may not have qualified after all. In fact, here are some of the problems with the group awarded the grant that have since become public:
Democrats have called for bipartisan
support and have drafted legislation to move forward with a new,
accountable, and transparent grant program to ensure our hunting and
angling tradition stays alive in Wisconsin. Representative Milroy, the
bill's author, has taken the unusual step of delaying sending this
proposal around to the full Legislature so that he can work with
Republicans first before circulating it for co-sponsorship. Moving
forward with conserving our outdoor traditions is more important than
politics, so it is my hope that Republicans will join us in our common
sense efforts to reopen and modify the grant program in light of this
scandal. I will continue updating you on this important issue as new
Did You Know...?
You may know that Wisconsin is a prominent maple syrup producer, but did you know that our state's maple syrup production hit a 20-year high in 2013, increasing five-fold from the previous year?
According to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, state farmers in Wisconsin produced 265,000 gallons of
syrup in 2013, compared to 50,000 gallons in 2012 and 155,000 gallons in
2011. This amount was the most since the agency began tracking maple
syrup production in 1992. The key to this year's production boost was
cool weather that extended late into spring. Vermont is currently the
nation's top syrup producer, followed by New York, Maine, and Wisconsin.
|New Survey Available on K-12 Education|
A quality education is a shared Wisconsin value that many of us highly treasure. Our next generation of workers are in our Wisconsin schools right now, and their success or failure will likely dictate whether Wisconsin will succeed or fail in the years to come.
As a result, the statewide expansion of the private voucher program and the reduction of state aid to the majority of our local public schools for the 2013-2014 school year have become increasingly hot topics. Therefore, I would like to hear your thoughts on K-12 education in Wisconsin. I have created an online survey to learn more about you and your perspective. Please take the time to fill it out. I look forward to hearing back from you on the important issue of K-12 education in Wisconsin.
Fire Prevention Week is Here
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Day. It has since developed into an entire week in the month of October as a way to educate people on how to prevent fires in the home. Each year has its own theme and this year's theme is "Prevent Kitchen Fires." According to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA), cooking is the top cause of home fires and home fire injuries. In honor of this year's theme, the NFPA has released a number of kitchen safety tips, which are listed below:
September and October are also peak
months for fires in college housing. According to the NFPA, roughly 70%
of fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and barracks begin in
the kitchen or cooking area. It is important to remember to never leave
any cooking unattended. Cooking equipment is involved in roughly 150,000
home fires nationwide each year.
No matter where you live, there are important steps you can take to be ready in case of a fire. First and foremost, make sure you have smoke alarms and they are set up properly. The NFPA reports that roughly two-thirds of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Working smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in home fires in half. All smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month and be replaced every 10 years. Another essential precautionary measure is to make and practice an escape plan out of your house. If possible, know at least two ways out of every room in your home. Additional precautions to prevent home fires are listed below:
Important Notice Regarding the Larson Report
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Take the 2013-2014 Neighborhood Survey
I created a survey for the 2013-2014
Legislative Session asking about various issues that are important to
our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly
appreciated. My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many
surveys door to door as possible before winter arrives. In addition, I
have also made this survey available online.
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