Spring 2017 constituent surveys have hit the streets! I'm eager to hear from you about the decisions facing the legislature in the ongoing conversation about the 2017-19 state budget. If you didn't receive a survey questionnaire from me in the mail, or if you prefer to save a stamp, you can also access and submit the questionnaire online at www.repkatsma.com. (Click on "Survey" in the top-right corner of my website's homepage.)
April is Financial Literacy Month, and as a member of the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy, I want to give a loud shout-out this week to the Wisconsin Bankers Association for their work on a variety of new tools and ideas for consumers. I think my favorite is the new website www.MyMazuma.com, which is sort of a one-stop-shop for financial education resources, tax preparation help and many other topics. Some of its features resemble other popular websites such as Yelp and Pinterest. MyMazuma.com should be fully operational later this month, but many features are already up and running.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions. Best wishes on the BEAUTIFUL weekend ahead!
More New HOPE
More people die in Wisconsin from overdoses than from car crashes. Substance abuse of all stripes, especially of opiate-based substances, continues to plague our state and our nation, but we are taking new steps to combat the epidemic.
Just this week, a change enacted last year went into full effect that requires Wisconsin doctors to use the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program before writing new prescriptions for certain drugs. It's basically a database that helps reduce the possibility of patients hopping from doctor to doctor to get prescriptions and sustain abusive behaviors. In a special legislative session this past Tuesday, the Assembly also passed a series of new steps that will, among other things, fight harder against drug trafficking, provide more drug abuse treatment resources in underserved areas of the state and help resolve Wisconsin's acute shortage of addiction medicine specialists. We're doing practically everything we can think of to help our families fight back against the challenges of substance abuse!
Consumer Alert: Don't Be a Victim
Unfortunately, tax season can be a time when criminals prey on the fears of unsuspecting, innocent folks. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is investigating a recent series of reported scam attempts that you should watch out for (and report).
In one common scam, the criminal either calls you on the phone or sends you an e-mail and claims to be contacting you on behalf of the federal IRS, the U.S. Treasury Department, etc. The criminal tries to scare you into believing that you are about to be arrested, lose your driver's license or maybe even be deported. Then the criminal tries to convince you to pay your alleged debt immediately or perhaps hand over some confidential/personal information that will allow him or her to steal from you.
One bad guy tried this scam a few weeks ago but didn't know that the victim he phoned is an Eau Claire police officer. You can click here to watch the video of the police officer's conversation with the thief; notice some of the questions that the police officer asked that helped him identify the caller as a fraudster.
Remember: the IRS never just calls people out of the blue. They never demand immediate payment over the phone or by e-mail. They never suggest that you pay a debt by sending them a gift card, a prepaid debit card, a wire transfer, etc. The real IRS, like the real Wisconsin Department of Revenue, communicates with taxpayers via U.S. mail. If you receive communication that claims to be from a government agency, you are always encouraged to contact that agency directly to confirm that what you have received is genuine. DATCP has a lot of helpful resources on its consumer protection website, or you may reach the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 422-7128 for assistance or to report suspected fraud.