Madison Office: 122 South, State Capitol  Phone: (608) 266-7745  E-mail: Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov

December 19, 2007

 

A Column of Personal Opinion
By State Senator Sheila Harsdorf

 

Legislature’s Top Ten of 2007

 

 

With the close of 2007, it is good to take a look back at what happened in the Wisconsin State Legislature in the past year.   Here is a sampling:

Extending SeniorCare: A broad bipartisan appeal succeeded as the federal government allowed for Wisconsin’s continuation of SeniorCare.

Enacting BadgerCare Plus:  Streamlining the state’s health care programs into BadgerCare Plus will provide access to health care for all children in Wisconsin. 

Banning the Frankenstein Veto:  The partial veto was never intended to enable a governor to cobble together bits of sentences to create new laws no legislator voted upon, as I labeled such actions the “Frankenstein Veto.”  Voters in April 2008 will have a chance to amend the constitution to prohibit this abuse, thanks to a sweeping 33-0 vote in the State Senate.

Ending State Crime Lab backlog:  The backlog prevented timely prosecution of criminals, increased law enforcement costs, and endangered public safety.

Regional law enforcement resources increased:  St. Croix and Polk County were targeted as counties that received state resources to help add a county judge and prosecutors, as growth demanded more resources to fight crime.

Reauthorization of the Stewardship Program:  Expansion of the state’s land conservation program was extended to 2020.

Health Care Co-ops go statewide:  Model legislation to enable the creation of health care cooperatives which leverage consumer purchasing power for lower health care costs and expanded benefits resulted in the first statewide health care cooperative.

Veteran Benefits: The Wisconsin GI Bill was preserved.  In addition, the Veterans and Surviving Spouses Property Tax Credit was expanded. 

Ethics and Election Reform:  The biggest ethics overhaul in thirty years will establish a Government Accountability Board.  It will hold Wisconsin officials to the most stringent ethics law in the nation.

MN – WI Tuition Reciprocity Extension:  After years of threats by Minnesota to curtail our states’ tuition reciprocity agreement, we were able to strike a deal that preserves each state’s values and interests.

As important to the things that were done, are the things that were stopped.  Over $18 billion in tax increases were proposed in the Senate Democratic budget bill, including new taxes on home sales, gas, and take-home pay.  During the budget deliberations, most of these tax increases were defeated. 

What should the state legislature be focused on for 2009?  Call me at 1-800-862-1892 or send me an email at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wisconsin.gov.  Happy New Year!