August 27, 2021


Two State Tribal Relations Bills Advance

As you may have been aware, I was once again honored to serve as the chair of the Special Committee on State Tribal Relations. The special committee is directed to study issues relating to American Indians, tribes and bands in Wisconsin to develop specific recommendations and proposals related to issues of importance. Unlike the regular Committees that only have legislators as members, the Special Committee is made up of a mix of legislators and tribal officials and delegates to help provide more direct insight into the needs, issues and priorities of Wisconsin's tribal communities. 

Two bills in particular came out of the Special Committee this session. The first is Assembly Bill (AB) 426, which deals with notifying tribal chairs and law enforcement agencies when sexually violent people are being placed on supervised release in a county where a tribe is located. While local law enforcement and chairs are normally notified when such offenders are placed in a county, tribal chairs and tribal law enforcement aren't included at this time. This bill ensures that all communities received proper notification of placements, and it improves communication, inclusivity and equity for tribal communities, particularly in challenging situations like these placements. 

The second bill is Assembly Bill (AB) 427, which expands enhanced criminal penalties for causing or threatening harm to a court officer or their family to also cover tribal court proceedings and tribal court officers. Right now, people who threaten or cause bodily harm to a person or family member of a court official due to action taken by the officer in their official capacity are subject to heightened criminal penalties. However, that doesn't extend to officers in tribal court proceedings. This bill would make it so regardless of whether it is a tribal or non-tribal court official, the penalties would be the same. This provides equal protection under the law for judicial officials in the state. 

I'm pleased to say that both bills received unanimous support in the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice & Public Safety's recent executive session vote. Now the next step is for them to be scheduled for a full Assembly vote, which I hope to see in the coming months. 

Lakewood Community Appreciation Event &
State Grant Champion Award

Last week, I traveled to Lakewood for the NorthLakes Community Clinic's Community Appreciation Event. Each year, the clinic gathers the community members together to let them know they are appreciated for the support they've given the clinic. It was a great way to both say thanks to those working tirelessly at the clinic caring for residents, and for the community in their support of the clinic's efforts. 

I was also honored to receive a State Grant Champion Award from the clinic at the event in recognition of the work we did on this budget for healthcare. In particular, in the budget we secured $1 million annually in added funding for Community Health Centers through the Community Health Center State Grant. The grant had remained flat for a number of years, leading to difficult decisions for local health centers.

With the vital work being done by these centers in our communities, I'm thankful that the legislature and governor were able to agree to increase their grant funding. This past year and a half has definitely shown us where we still need to make investments and I will continue to work on bridging those gaps in care and access.

Left to Right: Reba Rice (CEO), Stephanie Bishop (Advocacy & Administration Manager) & Rep. Mursau

Kwik Trip Ribbon Cutting

This week, I was invited to attend the ribbon cutting for a new Kwik Trip in the district. It was great to see a new business opening up in the area and I had a good time chatting with folks at the event. Congratulations!

Question of the Week: 
Organ Transplant Discrimination

Organ donation can be the difference between life and death for many folks both in Wisconsin and around the world. However, despite the advances that have been made in transplant technology over the years, the supply of healthy available organs continues to be far less than the demand, with more than 100,000 people on the waiting list nationwide. In fact, the average wait time can be three to five years for some organs, meaning physicians often have to make decisions about which patients are likely to benefit most. Because of this, doctors, health advocates and legislators have been looking for ways to help fix the problem facing patients. 

One hurdle some patients with mental or physical disabilities have faced in trying to get a transplant is that loopholes and vague language in Wisconsin's law allow for them to be denied organ transplantation. For example, medical professionals can still legally deny organ transplantation for an individual with a disability if they believe the individual can’t comply with post-operative care, even if the individual has the necessary family support system to comply. Because of this loophole, the decision can be made to deny a transplant only based on the person's disability. 

A new bill has been introduced that mirrors legislation in over half the states in the nation by prohibiting doctors from denying organ transplants solely on the basis of the individual's mental or physical disability. Under the bill, a person's ability to comply with post-transplant medical requirements is not considered medically significant as long as they have the necessary support system to help them comply with post-transplant requirements. 

Supporters of the bill say that this removes a major hurdle for folks with physical and mental disabilities, allowing them to access an equal quality of and access to healthcare as those without disabilities. They also say that it takes a more realistic approach to the situation by allowing support systems to be considered when making these life-saving decisions. Supporters and advocates feel that it prevents medical discrimination based on disability and would prevent people with disabilities from being denied their transplant. 

Opponents say that it restricts doctors ability to evaluate their patients and could lead to organs going to individuals less able to personally do the after-care treatment, regardless of their support systems. Since surgeons need to maximize the limited supply of organs available, some also feel they need to prioritize those with the highest chance, and they feel that those with disabilities won't see their quality of life improve post-transplant as much as someone without a disability would. 

Discrimination is a serious issue, and with the potential medical impacts of this issue, I'd like to hear your thoughts on this bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Serious Felons Owning Vicious Dogs

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. 

Upcoming District Events

The following are just a few of events that will be occurring soon around or near the 36th Assembly District. Please let me know if you have an event you would like to have considered for inclusion on this list. As always, remember to take proper precautions when at events for COVID-19 and check their webpages for any updates or cancellations.

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.