August 13, 2021


E-Cycle Program Changes Signed Into Law

Earlier this session, I shared a bit about a bill I'd been working on which made a number of updates to help improve Wisconsin Electronic Recycling (E-Cycle) Program. While the program has been highly successful and has set a standard for other states to follow, there are still too many outdated and unused televisions, computers and phones sitting in people's homes that could be recycled. After reviewing the program, I was able to identify a number of updates that could be made to make it easier for folks, especially those in our rural areas, to properly recycle these items and keep them out of landfills. 

The bill was supported by a number of groups and entities, including those representing local and tribal government interests, independent schools and religious organizations, and environment and resource management interests. The changes made through the bill include: 

  1. Establishing a grant program funded by manufacturer fees for eligible entities to receive assistance that can help to increase access to electronic device collection sites and events in rural areas;
  2. Expanding the types of K-12 schools covered by the program to now allow collections from all public, charter, private and tribal schools to count towards the manufacturer’s recycling targets;
  3. Changing the program year from a state fiscal year to the calendar year with an 18-month transition program year and adjusted fees and targets in this transition year;
  4. Changing the manufacturer’s annual registration fee thresholds set by the number of covered devices sold in a year to exempt more smaller manufacturers from these registration fees;
  5. Changing the manufacturer’s annual reporting requirements to distinguish between whether a collected device was from one of the 39 rural counties or from one of the 33 urban counties, and;
  6. Changing the covered electronic device definitions to clarify language on consumer printers to exclude floor-standing printers, point of sale receipt printers, and other similar printers.

After months of working on this bipartisan bill alongside Senator Cowles and the DNR, I'm pleased to share that it was signed into law this week as 2021 Wisconsin Act 79. This new law will help our state better recycle our old electronics and give them new lives instead of having these sometimes toxic materials end up in our landfills. 

Question of the Week: 
Educational Pelvic Exams on Unconscious Patients

Historically, one method of teaching medical students how to perform pelvic exams has been performing them on unconscious, sedated patients undergoing gynecological medical procedures. However, this practice is done for the sole benefit of the medical student, is not medically necessary, and is often done without the consent of the sedated patient. A recent survey of 101 medical students from seven American medical schools found 92% had performed one of these exams on unconscious female patients, 61% of whom reported not having consent from the patients to do so. This practice is still happening, even in Wisconsin.

A bill has been introduced that would require hospitals have a policy of requiring written and verbal consent before a medical student may perform a pelvic exam on a patient under general anesthesia or otherwise unconscious. Like any other medical procedure, it would require an explicit explanation of what will happen while the patient is under anesthesia, including the presence and practice of pelvic exams by medical students for solely educational purposes. 

Supporters of the bill say it not only reflects the values of patient bodily autonomy, but the values of the anti-sexual violence movement and that it's particularly vital for survivors of sexual violence to prevent further trauma. They say that performing a purely educational pelvic exam on an unconscious patient without informed consent is a violation, and that this bill ensures patients receive care that is respectful of and responsive to their preferences, needs and values. They say that given the invasive nature of a pelvic exam, the bill is necessary and ensures that patients can engage in shared decision making with their health care provider. 

Opponents of the bill, such as the Medical College of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Hospital Association, say that physician faculty are trained to show medical students appropriate informed consent practices and provide students with training opportunities that are related to the patient's condition. They also say that patients can already chose to have students involved in their care or not. They believe that there is not a need for the bill because patients who feel their physicians or medical students acted unprofessionally can file complaints.

The bill has already received a public hearing, and testimony for and against the bill can be found online if you'd like to hear more from either side of the issue. With the importance of ensuring bodily autonomy and informed consent, I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposed bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Kayleigh's Law - Lifetime Restraining Orders

I've heard from many people around the 36th Assembly District in response to last week's question. The chart below represents the responses from constituents to the question as of Thursday afternoon. Because of the overwhelming support shown for this bill, I've added myself as a co-sponsor.

Main Street Bounceback Grant Program Accepting Applications

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) recently announced the Main Street Bounceback Grant program which provides $10,000 to new or existing organizations moving into vacant properties in Wisconsin's downtowns and commercial corridors. With the sad recent trend of many downtown storefronts being left vacant, this grant aims to change that and get businesses back into these locations.

Funds can be used to pay leases or mortgages, operational expenses, and other business costs related to the new location. The funds are available as a part of the federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA), which WEDC is distributing. Applications opened on August 9, and run through June 30, 2022. Businesses and non-profits interested in learning more can go to WEDC's Main Street Bounceback Grant webpage.

Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant
Applications Open

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is currently accepting applications for their Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which includes $980 million in funding for tribal governments and organizations. The funding can be used for broadband deployment on tribal land, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusions. Applications may be submitted online through, via email, or by mail, though is their preferred method. Applications are due no later than September 1, 2021.

Follow the Legislative Action

In order to stay up to date on any legislation, proposals, or your legislator, a free notification service is available through the Wisconsin State Legislature's website. You can sign up for nightly personalized email notifications based on our state's legislative activity. This is a wonderful way to stay informed about state politics and proposals that you are interested in.