July 9, 2021

  

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Historic Bipartisan Budget Signed into Law

I'm pleased to share that this week, the state budget has been signed into law as 2021 Wisconsin Act 58 after being passed by both the Assembly and Senate with a historic bipartisan vote. It received 64 votes in the Assembly and 23 in the Senate, marking the most votes in favor of a state budget in a generation. We were able to take the initial proposal from Governor Evers that would have raised taxes on Wisconsinites by more than a billion dollars and were able to turn it into a spending plan that received support from both sides of the aisle. 

We were able to craft a budget that returns $3.4 billion of our surplus directly back to taxpayers instead of raising taxes on folks. Our tax plan that was signed into law with the budget includes a major reduction in income and property taxes, coupled with historic healthcare, transportation and long-term care facility and worker investments. I believe it speaks for itself that the budget we crafted was able to get support from both sides of the aisle, and it shows we've agreed on a reasonable, responsible spending plan for the state that invests in important services we all use each day.

Despite the historic bipartisan support of the budget, Governor Evers did issue more than 50 partial vetoes when he signed it into law. Though I'm disappointed that he vetoed so many measures that both Republicans and Democrats voted for, I still think we have a strong budget. I believe our bipartisan budget shows that even in times as politically divisive as the past few years, we are still able to come together and cooperate for the good of the state.

UTV Weigh Limit & Village Officer as Village Employee Bills Signed into Law 

Along with the state budget, I am glad to announce that Governor Evers also signed two of my bills into law this week, Senate Bill 269 increasing UTV weight limits and Senate Bill 187 allowing village officers to be village employees.

Many states across the country are or already have updated their UTV definitions and regulations to keep up-to-date with the latest technology and models available, and Senate Bill 269 puts Wisconsin back on track. Wisconsin now joins 33 other states that allow UTVs over 2,000 lbs. With the bill signed into law, we have made sure that our outdoor economy and tourism community can remain competitive with other states nationwide and regionally. 

I'm also proud to help our small communities with Senate Bill 187. I'd heard regularly from our communities about issues filling vacant essential positions. Often the most qualified, logical, or even only person available or interested in those positions is a board member. Before this bill, only town board members could be hired by the town, and I'm pleased that with Senate Bill 187, we were able to extend that to village board members as well to make sure vital local positions can be filled. 

Both of these bills had bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly, so I'm proud that we could come together across the aisle to help get them signed into law. 

Question of the Week: 
Adoptee's Original Birth Certificates

For those not familiar with the adoption process, adoptees are issued a new birth certificate after their adoption with their new name and the names of their adoptive parents. Their original, unaltered birth certificate with the biological parents names and the name they gave the child is sealed by the state after the child is relinquished. Currently the only way adult adoptees can get a copy of their own information is once both birth parents are dead, or if both birth parents grant permission. A bill has been proposed that would give all adopted individuals over the age of 18 the right to a copy of their own original, unaltered birth certificate. 

Opponents of the bill argue that the reason birth records were sealed was to protect the confidentiality of birth mothers, particularly those who were unwed and faced the stigma of having a child out of marriage. They say that the birth parents anonymity should be respected as it was a part of their choice in relinquishing the child.

Supporters of the bill argue that adoptees have the right to know their own ethnicity, medical history, family information and culture. They say having access to original birth certificates is a big step towards understanding who they are and where they come from and fills in blanks in their personal narratives. An adult shouldn't have their access prohibited to their own personal records and history. As one adoptee stated, “Do you ever stop to think what it would be like not to know a single person in the whole world you are related to?” 

A number of other states have either already passed similar legislation or are currently considering it. In light of that, 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

Task Force on Broadband Access Report 

Over the last year, I was proud to serve as a member of the Governor's Task Force on Broadband Access, where I joined other legislators, industry professionals and broadband experts in looking at how we can address roadblocks to broadband expansion in Wisconsin. It's been a lot of long discussions and hard work, but after hearing from folks around the state and digging into this issue, the task force has recently released our report. 

While it's quite a long document, it goes into how we looked at the issue, our goals, a summary of current access and top recommendations for how to address key issues hindering expansion. The full report can be found online, and agendas and recordings of the meetings can be found here.

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.