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Legislative Update

Committees are busy meeting to consider bills for the upcoming fall floor period. I am pleased to share that I have three new proposals working their way through the legislative process. 

Floating Treatment Wetlands

As we contemplate new policies to reduce point and non-point source discharges into groundwater and surface water, it is also important to promote the utilization of existing, proven engineered technologies such as floating treatment wetlands (FTW) to remove excess nutrients in surface waters in Wisconsin.

Last week, I circulated a bill to allow non-profit organizations and municipalities to apply for lake and river management grant funds for the strategic placement of FTWs to improve surface water quality under a DNR issued Individual Permit.  

FTWs are not new or untested. They may go by other names such as floating wetland islands, floating treatment islands, floating treatment wetlands or other terms. My bill defines the term “floating treatment wetland” as an artificial, buoyant platform for keeping plants afloat that mimics the function of natural wetlands and allows plants to grow in water that is typically too deep for them and is placed below the ordinary high water mark in a navigable water.

Industry experts have stated that a 250 square foot floating island has a concentrated effect, with a functional value equal to up to one acre of natural wetland surface area. The technology is passive, but the impact is powerful!

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ET3

Today, I testified on a bill I authored, Assembly Bill 427, which makes changes to current law, as requested by the Department of Health Services, so that communities in Wisconsin can apply for a new and innovative federal pilot program from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The pilot program is called ET3 which stands for Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport. ET3 is a voluntary, five-year payment model that will provide greater flexibility to ambulance care teams to address the emergency health care needs of Medicare beneficiaries following a 911 call.

If approved for the pilot, EMS providers, working with a physician in a local emergency room (ER), may determine a patient is better suited to go to urgent care. As we know, ER visits are the most expensive option and, in many cases, are not the right place for the patient to receive the care they need. 

Medicare is estimating the pilot could save between $283 and $560 million—or more—per year, across the nation, all while improving the continuity of patient care. There is no new federal money being added to Medicare’s budget for this pilot program. CMS believes the money saved on ER visits will be substantial and a portion of the savings will be used to reimburse Fire/EMS agencies for treatment on scene with no transport, triaged patients, and transport to alternate destinations.

State Public Defender Pay Progression

On Friday, I circulated for co-sponsorship a bill to fully fund pay progression for the State Public Defenders. Significant progress has been made this legislative session to ensure Wisconsin’s criminal justice system functions efficiently and effectively and that each of the three legs of the criminal justice stool (Courts, Prosecutors, and Public Defenders) are adequately resourced and balanced. 

The 2019-2021 budget (2019 Act 9) authorized 65 additional prosecutor positions and fully funded Assistant District Attorney (ADA) pay progression, raised the private bar rate for State Public Defender (SPD) cases from $40/hour (the lowest in the country) to $70/hour, and provided additional funding for counties to help offset the costs of an increase in the court appointment rate.  Unfortunately, the long-standing practice of linking the pay progression funding for ADAs to the level of pay progression funding for SPD did not continue in the 2019-2021 budget process.

Retaining staff attorneys with knowledge and experience is critical. With skill and experience comes efficiency and the ability to handle a high and complex caseload. LRB-4166/LRB-4338 will help ensure that all citizens, including the indigent and poor, are guaranteed their Constitutional Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel.


WI State Fire Fighters Association Legislator of the Year Award

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I was honored to be recognized by the Wisconsin State Firefighter’s Association for my work during 2017-2018 session when I authored three Fire/EMS bills that passed with bipartisan support and were signed into law.  One bill of particular interest to the Wisconsin State Firefighter’s Association was 2017 Act 336 which expanded the existing Career and Technical Education (CTE) Incentive Grant to include a specialized Public Safety Certification Incentive Grant program for high school students. 2017 Act 336 created a new Public Safety Certification Incentive Grant Completion Award which provides a $500 student award payment upon successful completion of Firefighter I, Firefighter II or EMT Basic. In addition, school districts receive up to $1,000 when these students graduate. If you know of a student or school that would like additional information on this award program please let me know!

Lake Geneva District Day Video

I have the pleasure of sharing the representation of communities around Geneva Lake with Representative Tyler August. We had so much fun touring and visiting with our constituents a few weeks ago. Here's a video highlighting our day- stay tuned for more on each of our stops!  

New Blue Books Coming

My office will be receiving the 2019-2020 Blue Book in the next couple of weeks. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the new blue book, or missed out on the 2017-2018 blue book and would like a copy, email Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov with your name and address and we will send one to you!

You can read more about this year's blue book, the feature story about World War I Veterans, and even take a look inside by clicking here.

ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Beloit Daily News: Floating Wetlands' Island Could Help Riverside Lagoon

 

My capitol office is here to help you with general inquiries as well as questions and concerns regarding legislative matters. Feel free to contact me or my staff. We are always ready to assist you in your needs. Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.

   


Rep. Amy Loudenbeck 
State Capitol, Room 304 East
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll-Free (888) 529-0031 or (608) 266-9967
Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov| |