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February 16, 2018


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Scenic Rivers Energy Co-op

Jack Larson, resident of Lafayette County and member of the Scenic Rivers Energy Co-op, visited my office representing Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association. Our meeting included a conversation about legislation to create a sales tax exemption for services provided in times of emergency. Thanks for visiting, Jack!

Protecting our Wetlands

On Thursday, The Wisconsin Assembly voted in favor of Assembly Bill 547 which changes the way Wisconsin handles the permitting and mitigation of non-federal wetlands. Joined by three other Republicans, I decided to cast my vote against this piece of legislation.

While I applaud the authors for taking my concerns into account and making various changes to this bill, I did not feel comfortable voting for passage. In the weeks leading up to this vote, I heard from a significant number of constituents in my district who opposed this legislation. Wisconsin's natural wetlands play an important role in the quality of our groundwater and the overall health of our environment. I am concerned that this legislation may lead to an overall decrease in the number of natural wetlands in our state as they are replaced by less effective, mitigated wetlands.

Assembly Bill 547 passed with a vote of 58-39.

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Welfare Reform

As Wisconsin's economy improves and our unemployment rate continues to fall, it is crucial that everyone who can work participates in the workforce.  This week, during a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature, I was proud to vote in favor of a package of bills that reform Wisconsin's welfare system.

Led by Governor Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin became a national model for welfare reform. Keeping in mind our four basic goals of promoting accountability, encouraging personal responsibility, preventing fraud and abuse, and getting people off of government assistance and into the workforce, I believe this legislative package builds on our reputation as a welfare reform leader.

These bills will now head to the Senate for consideration.

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Stabilizing the Health Insurance Marketplace

Data shows that over 200,000 or about 5% of Wisconsin residents purchase health insurance through the individual marketplace. These consumers are often self-employed or do not receive coverage through their employer. Seeing losses of over $400 million in the last three years, insurers are leaving Wisconsin resulting in little choice and skyrocketing premiums. These premium increases are not insignificant. In 2018, the average premium increase for silver plans, the second lowest cost plan, was 50%. Some parts of the state saw increases of over 100%.

To help control costs for those in the individual marketplace, Representative Petersen and I have introduced legislation to create a reinsurance program in Wisconsin. Assembly Bill 885 stabilizes the market by using a combination of state and federal dollars to subsidize large insurance claims. Other states have implemented similar programs resulting in premium reductions of 20%.

Representative Petersen and I presented testimony in front of the Joint Committee on Finance on Monday. The bill received a bi-partisan vote out of the committee.