Here I am pictured with some students from the East
Troy High School. I always enjoy meeting field trips from the district,
and I encourage all of you to come see our state's beautiful Capitol in
person. It is Wisconsin's number one tourist attraction!
Eliminating the Office of the State
This week, the legislature voted to eliminate the antiquated office of the State Treasurer. I voted in favor of this resolution because it not only saves tax dollars, but also streamlines government. The resolution amends the state’s constitution, and after passing two consecutive sessions of the legislature, it will now to go to you, the voters as a statewide referendum on the April 2018 ballot.
Over time, the duties of the State Treasurer have been moved to other departments in government so that those functions can be done more efficiently. For example, most recently the legislature wisely moved the Unclaimed Property Program out of the office of the State Treasurer and into the Department of Revenue (DOR). Prior to this move, the treasurer’s office would waste your tax dollars on trinkets like piggy banks and hand them out at county fairs to raise awareness of the program. However, now the DOR is able to match social security numbers and tax-filer information to automatically return unclaimed property.
The only duty that remains for the state treasurer is to sit on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL), which amounts to two 15 minute phone calls per month. The resolution simply replaces the State Treasurer with the Lieutenant Governor, who is also elected statewide.
In previous years, the office of the State Treasurer had been allocated $1 million in your tax dollars every budget cycle. In fact, the treasurer’s office even had a “Deputy” Treasurer that made over $100,000 in salary and benefits despite having nothing to do, except making those two 15 minute phone calls per month.
Clearly, this is an area of government where we can find efficiencies and save tax dollars. As a co-author of the resolution, I was happy to see it pass.
Right to Try
On Tuesday, I voted in favor of Assembly Bill 69, which will allow terminally ill patients to try potentially life-saving drugs that have not yet passed the full rigor of FDA approval. If the proposal is approved by the Senate and signed by the Governor, Wisconsin will become the 34th state since 2014 to pass such legislation including our Midwest neighbors in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio.
It is important to note that the legislation would only allow patients access to drugs that have passed the FDA’s Phase 1 testing, which tests for toxicity and immediate side effects. Additionally, the bill only allows access to these drugs to patients who have exhausted federally approved options to prolong or save their lives. Right to Try is a compassionate, common-sense reform that may give terminally ill patients a second chance on life. Since Texas became a Right to Try state in 2015, investigational drugs have successfully prolonged the lives of 78 patients. Improving the quality life of ill patients will make this a great success for Wisconsin.
Project Labor Agreement Reform
Thursday, I voted to open up bidding on local government projects to all qualified contractors. Under current law, municipalities can require bidders to have a project labor agreement (PLA), which requires the use of unionized labor. This requirement has driven up the costs of projects around the state by as much as 18% by reducing the number of eligible bidders.
The reform I voted for will prohibit municipalities from requiring bidding contractors to have a project labor agreement. The proposal, if signed into law by Governor Walker, will allow contractors with or without project labor agreements to bid on projects. The proposal has the potential to make all local projects significantly cheaper, including local road projects. Since I first took office, I have worked to find efficiencies at each level of government. If signed into law, this bill will save taxpayer dollars on local projects of all shapes and sizes.
Concealed Carry Licensure
Some of you may have noticed that you’ve been getting less than a full five years on your concealed carry license if you renewed your license before your expiration date. This is because an oversight in Wisconsin’s concealed carry law caused the five year expiration period to begin on the date of your renewal, not the expiration date of your first license. For example, if you applied for and received a concealed carry license on December 1, 2016 your expiration date would have been December 1, 2021. However, if you applied for renewal on June 1, 2016 your new license would expire on June 1, 2021 instead of December 1, 2021. Concealed carry license-holders pay for a full five years, and it is unfair that an error in the original bill has caused this issue.
We will fix this error by passing Assembly Bill 28. It is a simple fix, but it is a way that my colleagues and I can protect each Wisconsinite’s Second Amendment rights.
If you do not wish to continue to receive my e-update, simply send an email to Rep.August@legis.wi.gov, with the subject line "unsubscribe."