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March 12th, 2021

E-Update: This Week in the Legislature


  • Local Government Hearing
  • Virtual Budget Listening Session
  • Sports Official Bill Introduced
  • Floor Session Next Week
  • District News
  • Upcoming Budget Listening Sessions
  • Daylight Savings Time Reminder

 Local Government Committee Hearing

This week I chaired the first public hearing for the Assembly Committee on Local Government for this session. During this hearing the committee heard testimony from Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) on Assembly Bill 47 (AB 47) relating to qualifications of newspapers to receive compensation for publication of legal notices and requirements relating to publication.

AB 47 makes the following changes:

1. Eliminates a requirement that a publication sell at least 50% or more of its circulation to qualify as a "bona fide paid circulation", while adding inclusions for digital subscribers.

2.Eliminates provisions that papers need to have been published at least two of the past five years to qualify to publish legal notices

3. Adds a requirement that if a newspaper publishes a legal notice, they must place that notice on their website, with a link on their homepage.

4. Alters the criteria for a newspaper to qualify if no other newspapers meet legal requirements to instead require that the paper is circulated at least once each week for at least 50 issues each year for one year prior to the first publication of a notice.

5. Change a provision requiring that, if requested by the governmental entity who produces the notice, the paper provide a tear sheet proof of a multiple insertion notice via mail to allow the tear sheet proof to be delivered via email as an alternative.

The committee also heard testimony from Beth Bennett from the Wisconsin Newspapers Association speaking in favor and David Elliott from the Peninsula Pulse also speaking in favor. 

Virtual Budget Listening Session

This week I joined Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) in holding a virtual listening session. Constituents from our districts took time out of their afternoon to discuss priorities they would like to see included in the biennial budget.

From what we heard during this session, rural broadband expansion, school funding and transportation aid increases are all strong priorities for our constituents.

My fellow southwest Wisconsin Legislators and I are all strong supporters of these issues and look forward to addressing these concerns as we continue to work with our colleagues in crafting the state budget.

Sports Official Bill Re-Introduced

This week introduced Assembly Bill 158 (AB 158) relating to harassment of a sports official and providing a penalty. This bill is a reintroduction of a bill I authored last session at the request of the WIAA.

This bill classifies actions which cause a sports official harm or put them in fear of being harmed under a Class A misdemeanor. Additionally, the bill will make it so that the offending individual, if found guilty, may have to engage in up to 40 hours of community service and/or be required to attend anger management counseling.

My office was notified by the WIAA as well as the National Association of Sports officials and the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference of this issue. They have seen reports of referees who have been followed into their own locker rooms by coaches who were upset with calls, umpires followed to their cars by angry parents, as well as a notable case in which a referee died after being punched by a player.

Nationally, there is a growing shortage of referees for sports games. One of the reasons for this shortage is the fact that abusive behavior by coaches and fans has been allowed to continue. High school and youth sports programs are having difficulty recruiting and retaining referees. That’s why we think that this bill will help to address this problem. 

Currently, over 30 states have laws on the books that protect sports officials. Our neighbors to the northwest and south have laws related to assault on sports officials. I think that it is time Wisconsin have the same.

Floor Session Next Week

Next week the Assembly will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to debate several different proposals. Included among them are bills relating to healthcare. Below are a few highlights:

Assembly Bill 34 would maintain coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions in the event there are changes to federal law. I co-sponsored and voted for a similar bill last session. I am proud to co-sponsor the effort again this legislative session. 

Senate Bill 13 would allow dentists to give Covid-19 and flu vaccines. With vaccine eligible populations expanding it will be critical to make sure we have enough individuals ready and able to administer vaccines. This proposal received bipartisan support in committee.

Assembly Bill 7 will regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). I’ve heard from local pharmacies in the district on this issue. The bill should reduce prescription drug costs paid by consumers and help out our local rural pharmacies as they interact with PBMs. 

Assembly Bill 125 makes changes to the licensure, regulation, and the practice of physician assistants (PAs). Rural areas face access issues when it comes to quality healthcare. This proposal will maximize the contributions of PAs when delivering care to their patients.

District News

 This week the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) announced that Richland County and the Village of Lone Rock were awarded a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for a planned redevelopment project in Lone Rock.

I was very pleased to see the Department of Administration (DOA) award Lone Rock this grant for up to $481,750 to be used for blight elimination and community park developments. Grants like these are valuable resources for small communities like Lone Rock and will go a long way in supporting this project.

Budget Listening Sessions

This March I will be participating in several budget listening sessions with my fellow southwest Wisconsin Legislators. There will be several opportunities throughout our district to come and voice your opinion on the biennial state budget.

Friday, March 19 – Sen. Howard Marklein (17th), Rep. Todd Novak (51st) & Rep. Travis Tranel (49th)
1-2 p.m. - Belmont Community Center - 222 S. Mound Ave., Belmont

 Monday, March 29 - Sen. Howard Marklein (17th) and Rep. Todd Novak (51st)
10-11 a.m. - Community Room, Browntown Fire Department - 107 S Mill St., Browntown

Daylight Savings Reminder

A reminder that Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday. Remember to set your clocks forward 1 hour!

Have a Great Weekend!

As always, please do not hesitate to follow up with any additional questions or concerns you may have. I can be reached at or (608) 237-9151.