Over the past number of months, I solicited input from you via my 2013 Fall Legislative Survey. The survey asked for your input on legislative issues that may come before the State Senate for a vote over the next couple of months.
In an effort to gather as many perspectives as possible, the survey was widely distributed in several different ways:
• E-Update – The survey was featured for several weeks in my e-update which reaches approximately 10,000 people.
• Local Newspapers – Several local newspapers ran the full survey.
• Social Media – The link to the online survey was circulated via Facebook and Twitter.
• County Fairs – I distributed the survey at all three county fairs.
• Parades – My summer parade hand-outs highlighted the survey and featured the web address.
• Issues & Ice Cream – I distributed and collected surveys at all three of these events.
• Personal Visits – In August and September, I visited homes in numerous neighborhoods across the district and shared the survey at all of these stops.
• Website – The survey was available on my website – www.leibhamsenate.com
for more than 2 months.
The survey results are just one of the tools I use to assess the views of district residents. Overall, I find them to be very helpful in my understanding of how people feel about various issues. I also know they are interesting for all residents of the 9th District to see how others in our area feel about issues of the day.
Following is an overview of the results. In future weeks, I will highlight legislative action on several of these issues.
The survey asked respondents if they supported, opposed or are undecided on the following issue questions:
1. As Wisconsin continues to experience tax revenue surpluses, would you support the following? (Mark all that apply):
Tax Reduction 34%
Spending Increases 9%
Build-up the state's rainy day fund 23%
Responsible combination of all of the above 34%
2. Expanding the amount of retirement plan income that is exempt from state taxation. Under current law, the first $5000 of an individual’s retirement income is exempt from taxation if the individual is 65 years or older and is below a certain income threshold. Proposed legislation would remove the age and income requirements and expand the amount of retirement income exempt from taxation.
3. Providing teachers with a state income tax deduction equal to the amount of their own money that they spend on school supplies. Currently, teachers only have the opportunity to use a federal income tax deduction of up to $250.
4. Allowing individual school districts to choose when they will begin instruction each fall, as long as the school district meets the minimum requirement for number of school days. Current law restricts the ability for Wisconsin public schools to commence classes prior to September 1st.
5. Giving Veterans who are students in the UW System or at a state Technical College priority status when registering for classes. The current class registration process in the UW System does not distinguish between Veterans and non-Veterans.
6. Giving the Department of Justice (DOJ) original jurisdiction to prosecute fraud in public assistance programs. Currently, District Attorneys have to ask the Attorney General for assistance before the DOJ can get involved.
7. Amending the current FoodShare (food stamp) program to clarify that an individual’s Food Share benefits must be spent on healthy food. Under the current FoodShare program, benefits cannot be spent on tobacco, alcohol, nonfood items (grooming materials or cosmetics) or in-store hot meals, but can be used on most other food and beverage items.
8. Providing a tax credit for employers who offer workplace wellness programs. A proposed bill offers a credit equal to 30% of an employer’s expenditures on workplace wellness programs. Wisconsin does not currently offer a tax credit to employers for offer a wellness program to employees.
9. Legalizing the sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk, as long as certain health and safety requirements are met. [Proposed requirements for the milk include: providing a clean and properly labeled container, complying with the DATCP rules for grade A milk concerning appearance and odor, bacterial count, drug residues, somatic cell count (a measure of milk quality), and pesticides and toxic substances, and following DATCP rules concerning the water supply for dairy operations.] Current law does not permit the sale of raw milk.
10. Legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes and requiring a prescription from a doctor. Currently, it is illegal to use marijuana in Wisconsin, regardless of health circumstances.
11. Eliminating the ability to register to vote on Election Day. Current law permits eligible voters to register to vote on the day of an election at their polling location.
12. Raising the number of valid signatures needed on a recall petition in order to trigger a recall election. Current law sets the threshold at 25% of the total votes cast for Governor in the previous election within the specific legislative district.
13. Allowing eligible residents to register to vote online via the Government Accountability Board website. Currently, eligible voters must register to vote by mail or in-person.
14. Creating consistent statewide times when in-person absentee ballots can be cast ("early voting"). Currently, in-person applications for absentee ballots can be cast at any time a local clerk has office hours between the third Monday preceding the election and ending 5 p.m. on the Friday preceding the election.
15. Eliminating the offices of Treasurer and Secretary of State from the Wisconsin Constitution. Over the years, the responsibilities for each of these offices have been assigned to other agencies in an effort to make state government more efficient. The authors of this bill estimate eliminating these two offices would save taxpayers $2 mil annually.
16. Increasing the government mandated minimum wage to $7.60 and indexing future increases to rate of inflation. Current minimum wage is $7.25.
17. Making the ‘Do Not Call Registry’ permanent. The bill also covers automated calls, including automated calls that have a political purpose. Under this proposal, one could sign-up for the ‘Do Not Call Registry’ and be exempt from receiving political ‘robocalls’. Current law requires re-subscription to the ‘Do Not Call Registry’ every two years. In addition, automated calls with political content are currently not prohibited.
18. Repealing the current $.75 monthly police and fire protection fee on telephone bills. The fee is supposed to fund county 911 dispatch equipment. However, the money was rerouted in Gov. Doyle’s 09-11 Biennial Budget and is currently directed to a general fund.
19. Giving local units of government greater authority to control the siting of wind energy systems. Currently, there is a statewide standard that governs the siting of wind energy systems.
20. Creating a crossbow license and allowing a new crossbow season to run concurrent to the archery season. Under current law, the Department of Natural Resources only grants crossbow licenses to individuals over 65 years old or those with a qualifying disability.
21. Revising the snowmobile registration process. A proposal calls for one-time registration process along with a $35 annual trail pass ($20 of which can be credited towards a Snowmobile club membership fee). Presently, snowmobile trails are voluntarily maintained by clubs and this bill would provide additional money from users to keep trails in good condition.
22. Allowing an individual to show an electronic version of a Wisconsin hunting, fishing, other gaming license, or requisite safety certificate if he or she is asked to show it and is not carrying the physical copy. Current law requires an individual to present a physical copy of any of these forms if asked by a law enforcement officer.
23. Creating a formal committee to recruit and host large scale sporting and tourism events in Wisconsin. Currently, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism offers some grants to organizations that hold large conventions in the state, but some say that a formalized process for recruiting large scale sporting events to take place in Wisconsin could be helpful.
24. Allowing an employer to fire or not hire an individual based on his or her felony conviction record. Current law only allows an employer to consider a felony record of an applicant if the conviction substantially relates to the job for which he or she is applying.
25. Providing a civil penalty against doctors who knowingly perform a sex-selective abortion. The proposal defines a sex-selective abortion as an abortion that is performed on the basis of preferring one gender of a child over another. Current law does not penalize doctors who perform sex-selective abortions.
26. Which of the following options is the best way to reduce Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) occurrences? (Mark all that apply.)
Increase penalties on repeat offenders 20%
Make 3rd offense OWI a felony 18%
Increase penalties on first time offenders with high blood alcohol content (BAC) 12%
Mandatory ignition interlock for certain offenders 17%
Seize vehicle after multiple offenses 17%
Allow law enforcement agencies to conduct sobriety checkpoints 10%
Do Nothing 1%
Thank you to everyone who responded. Your input will be helpful to me as I consider my vote on each of these legislative proposals if they come before the Senate over the next couple of months.
As always, it has been a pleasure communicating with you. Please remember to communicate with me and share your input by calling 888-295-8750, writing to me at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882, or by e-mailing me at Sen.Leibham@legis.wisconsin.gov
. You can also log on to the 9th Senate District on-line office at www.leibhamsenate.com
It is an honor representing the residents of the 9th District in the State Senate!
Senate Bill 375: The Use of an Epinephrine Auto-Injector on School Premises or at a School-Sponsored Activity
Under current law, certain school personnel who are authorized to do so by the school administrator, may administer an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) to a pupil who appears to be experiencing a severe allergic reaction if the person who does so reports the allergic reaction dialing 911 as soon as practicable.
This bill eliminates this provision. Under the bill, school administrations may adopt a plan for the management of pupils attending the school who have life-threatening allergies. The plan must be approved by a physician. If the governing body adopts a plan, it may authorize a school nurse, or designated school personnel who have received training specified in the school's plan, to do any of the following on a school premises or at a school-sponsored activity.
1. Provide an epinephrine auto-injector to a pupil to self-administer the auto-injector in accordance with a prescription specific to the pupil that is on file with the school nurse.
2. Administer an epinephrine auto-injector to a pupil in accordance with a prescription specific to the pupil that is on file with the school nurse.
3. Administer an epinephrine auto-injector to a pupil or other person who the school nurse or designated personnel believes is experiencing anaphylaxis, regardless of whether the pupil or other person has a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector.
The bill also grants immunity from civil liability for a school and specified school personnel for injuries resulting from the administration or self-administration of epinephrine auto-injectors. The bill requires each school that has adopted a plan described above to report to the Department of Public Instruction each incident on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity that involved a severe allergic reaction or the administration of an epinephrine auto-injector.
Holiday Parades – My family and I enjoyed walking in the Manitowoc, Plymouth, Oostburg and Sheboygan holiday parades. Great crowds, lights and excitement!
Hmong New Year Celebration – I was honored to be a part of the annual Hmong New Year Celebration at North High School. Thank you to the organizers who work very hard to put on this event each year.
WHBL – On Monday, I enjoyed my regular visit on WHBL to give a brief legislative update and to discuss some upcoming legislative topics on the radio.