July 30, 2021

  

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Getting Wisconsin Back to Work

This Tuesday, July 27, I was in Madison for the Assembly session to override Governor Evers' veto of Assembly Bill 336, the bill that ends the supplemental federal unemployment benefits that folks are receiving in addition to their regular unemployment benefit in Wisconsin. The bill was introduced to help address the workforce shortage Wisconsin is facing, where businesses are competing with government payments to attract employees. I've heard from folks around the 36th Assembly District who've been faced with trying to decide if they can stay in business with limited staffing or if they need to close all together.  

While I understood the necessity of the additional benefits over the past year, I now believe it’s time to discontinue the additional payments and get people back to work.   Unemployment benefits should be focused on helping those who lost their job through no fault of their own, and provide financial assistance as they transition to their next job. It’s a dangerous situation when people are relying on it indefinitely as their source of income. Wherever you go in town or across the country, our small businesses are struggling to compete with the additional unemployment benefit payments currently available to unemployed Wisconsinites. We have programs in place as a state to help people find and apply for jobs and get workforce ready if needed.  In order for our economic recovery to be sustainable we need to get folks back into the steady, reliable jobs currently available around the state. 

Assembly Bill 336 passed both houses of the legislature earlier this session, but the governor vetoed it. On Tuesday, the legislature attempted to override the governor’s veto and I voted in favor of overriding the Governor's veto of this bill. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough votes. To override a veto, it requires a 2/3 vote in support of the override, and sadly only 59 Assembly members voted in favor of the override with 37 voting against it. I think this bill would have been an effective step towards solving the workforce shortage. However, I will continue to work on the workforce shortage issue with my colleagues to come up with other ways we can help address the issue and further help Wisconsin's economic recovery.

Opioid Settlement

Recently, we learned that Wisconsin can receive up to $400 million as a part of a national legal settlement over the opioid crisis. Drug overdoses and opioid dependence has destroyed many lives around Wisconsin, and has torn families apart. In the past years, the legislature has been actively working to fight the opioid epidemic through the HOPE Agenda and other bills and efforts. This settlement will provide added support for these efforts. 

Local government litigants reached a tentative settlement agreement with drug makers. I am pleased that our recent bipartisan legislation, 2021 Wisconsin Act 57, will be facilitating the fast delivery of these settlement funds to our local communities more quickly. This will help our communities on the front lines of the prevention and mitigation efforts be even better equipped to fight the epidemic. It's my hope that the news of this settlement and Act 57 means we are turning a corner in the fight against opioid addiction in Wisconsin. 

Question of the Week: 
Penalties for Exploiting Vulnerable Individuals

Scams and other types of fraud are a serious threat and have been increasing over the years. Unfortunately, seniors are often targeted in many of these scams, which can cost them thousands of dollars in savings at a time. A new bill has been introduced that would increase the penalties for the financial exploitation of a vulnerable person. Under the bill, 'vulnerable person' is defined as people who are elderly, financially incapable, incapacitated, or those with a disability who are susceptible to force, threat, duress, coercion, persuasion, or physical or emotional injury due to a physical or mental impairment. 

The bill would help seniors and other vulnerable people who have been victims of such scams to recoup their losses, and would also act as a disincentive to potential fraudsters. This would be done by creating a civil cause of action for financial exploitation of a vulnerable person. Under the bill, a court must award a person who brings a successful action enhanced damages, attorney fees, and reasonable fees for any necessary services of a conservator or guardian ad litem. The author of the bill modeled it after similar laws already in place in Oregon, California, Arizona and Florida. 

Supporters of the bill say it would help support our vulnerable population and help them recover from scams specifically targeting them. People in these positions are often relying on the money that is lost to the scams, and with them being in particularly vulnerable positions, it's important to make sure that there are financial protections in place. Fraud against the elderly and vulnerable is a serious problem, and this is a necessary step towards protecting these individuals and preventing them from facing economic ruin. 

Opponents are concerned that the bill is only aimed at the vulnerable populations in the state and not at anyone who fell victim to scam artists. They say that anyone can run into financial trouble if they are scammed, and that similar penalties should be in place for all scam victims. 

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:
Social Media Censorship

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.

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.