There is a chill in the air this week signaling that fall has begun, which means that the legislature is hard at work with a busy agenda. The Assembly met in full session last week (where I voted to redirect approximately $3.5 million in annual federal Title X funding from Big Abortion provider Planned Parenthood to the Wisconsin Well Woman program and other public health programs) and plans to meet several more times over the next few weeks.
In addition to other priorities for this fall that I have described recently (such as reforming the Government Accountability Board and the John Doe investigation processes), there are two new priorities that I want to highlight. The first is a series of recruitment and retention reforms intended to enable the state of Wisconsin, as an employer, to remain competitive in the marketplace for highly qualified employees. Among the ideas proposed are replacing the state's flawed entrance exam requirement with a resume-based system; centralizing the state's human resource functions and hiring processes; implementing annual performance reviews for state employees to prioritize job performance and recognize merit; and making state agencies more responsive to employee complaints. Civil service protections would remain, including specific statutes prohibiting political "cronyism," while enabling the state to find the right employees and hire them in a more timely fashion.
Second, I am coauthoring a bill to update Wisconsin's Medical Assistance Purchase Plan (MAPP). At present, MAPP effectively discourages some disabled employees from working as much as they wish. In the words of one of my constituents, "it makes no sense to try to encourage people to be self-sufficient and then punish them when they start making some gains." The reforms we envision will yield more equitable results in determinations of income, eliminate the marriage penalty and remove disincentives for retirement savings. MAPP will become a more valuable tool to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions. Best wishes on your weekend, and I hope to see you at one of the community listening sessions (detailed below) that I will be co-hosting soon!
Things to Know
Long-term care public hearing. The Department of Health Services is holding a series of public hearings around Wisconsin to receive citizen input on proposed changes to state long-term care programs (Family Care and IRIS). The hearing that is nearest to Sheboygan County will occur on Tuesday, October 6th from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM at the Wilson Park Senior Center, 2601 W. Howard Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53221. But there are many ways for your voice to be heard even if you cannot attend that hearing in person. Click here for instructions to send your comments by e-mail or U.S. mail, participate in the October 6th hearing via webcast, view the slideshow to be presented at the hearing or sign up to receive e-mail updates as the proposal is developed.
Attention families! Camp Y-Koda (W3340 Sunset Road, Sheboygan Falls) invites the public to a day of FREE activities during its Fall Festival on Saturday, October 10th. Activities will run from 11:00 AM until 4:00 PM and include archery, arts and crafts, BB gun, climbing wall, canoeing, kayaking, rowboats, fishing and nature hikes. Food available for purchase will include pork sandwiches, hot dogs (cook your own over the fire!), chips, soda, smores and baked goods. Camp Y-Koda promotes responsible stewardship of the environment through hands-on experiences and proudly serves more than 12,000 youth and families each year. Although the event is free, donations are welcome.
Wisconsin Job Honor Awards. Governor Scott Walker and Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson encourage Wisconsin residents to submit nominations for the first annual Wisconsin Job Honor Awards. The new award program celebrates those who have overcome significant barriers to employment and recognizes the employers who hire them. Common examples of barriers to employment might include disability, lack of transportation, drug addiction, poverty or a need for skills that are in demand. The nomination deadline is October 15th. Top employee honorees will be awarded $500 each, and winners in both employee and employer categories will be recognized with engraved awards at a February 2016 event in Madison.
Listening Sessions Announced
Senator Devin LeMahieu, Representative Tyler Vorpagel and I (who represent nearly all of Sheboygan County) have scheduled fall listening sessions in the community. The public is welcome to come meet us and directly share your ideas for improving state government. I hope to see you at one of these meetings!
Friday, October 16th, 9:15 AM to 10:15 AM (Sen. LeMahieu and Rep. Katsma)
Memorial Library, 330 Buffalo Street, Sheboygan Falls
Friday, October 16th, 10:45 AM to 11:45 AM (Sen. LeMahieu, Rep. Katsma and Rep. Vorpagel)
Mead Public Library, 710 N. 8th Street, Sheboygan