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June 18th, 2021


This Week in the Legislature


Contents

  • Budget Update
  • Bills sent to Assembly Floor
  • Criminal Justice Committee 
  • District News: APT Grants
  • Budget Survey
  • Vaccine Information

Budget Update

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has been working through the budget and making decisions on funding for various programs and agencies. While I do not sit directly on the budget writing committee, I have been discussing different budget priorities with my legislative colleagues. Additionally, I submitted several motions (funding requests) for review by JFC.

DA Funding:

I submitted a motion advocating for an additional half time assistant district attorney for Lafayette County ($38,000 per year). The committee adopted my recommendation. I was pleased to see they also included a full time positon for Sauk County to receive an additional assistant district attorney ($76,000 per year). 

Health:

I introduced legislation last session, this session, and submitted a budget motion to JFC to increase funding for free and charitable clinics as well as community health centers which provide healthcare to those that otherwise might not have access. Funding will now be included in the budget to provide $2 million for free and charitable clinics and $2 million for community health centers.

Environmental:

When I first came to the Legislature I advocated for an extension of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. That year I supported and the Legislature passed a program extension and $33 million per year funding. This year I supported efforts to get the program extended through 2026 and provide funding of $85 million per year. This item is now in the budget.  

Last year, I led the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality which culminated in a series of legislative proposals aimed at improving the quality of water around the state. Throughout the budget, I have been advocating to provide funding to address issues identified in the Task Force’s final report. I authored and advanced two budget motions to provide funding for increased well testing and for country conservation staffing. The budget now includes an additional $2 million for well testing and over $4 million for county conservation staffing.

Last session I proposed the creation of the Freshwater Collaborative within the UW System. The Freshwater Collaborative would expand freshwater research opportunities, build capacity, and train our undergraduates wishing to pursue careers in the freshwater economy. The budget authorizes and provides $5 million to get this program started. I am excited to see how this program develops as it has the potential to positively benefit Wisconsin for years to come.      

Foster Youth/Adoption:

Two sessions ago, I authored legislation to provide tuition remissions to foster youth pursuing their education within the UW System or Wisconsin Tech College System. The budget now includes $750,000 to be used by the UW System to provide support for foster youth. Another motion I supported was included in the budget and will provide $300,000 to support adoption services for children with special needs and other hard to place children. I am proud both of these measures were incorporated into the budget. 

Workforce Training:

The Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship (YA) program teaches high school students a variety of skills and prepares them to be competitive when they enter the workforce. I supported a motion that increased funding for this program and increased the allowable award per student from $900 to $1100. The budget now includes the per student funding increase as well as an additional $2 million for the YA program.  

As it stands the budget includes funding for several items that will benefit the 51st Assembly District and the state of Wisconsin as a whole. Last night JFC completed their work on the budget, now it is being sent to both chambers for a floor vote.


Bills sent to Assembly Floor

In last week's e-update I talked about two bill I authored, Assembly 390 (AB 390) and Assembly Bill 391 (AB 391). This week both bills I authored were voted on in Committee and have been scheduled for a vote on the Assembly floor this upcoming Tuesday.

AB 390 which I authored with Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Rep Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) directs the Governor to provide grants from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County in Darlington, for emergency medical services across the state, and for the city of Reedsburg community center.

AB 391 a bill I co-authored with Rep. Tranel directs Governor Evers to use funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to re-open all of Wisconsin’s historic sites.


Criminal Justice Committee

This week the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety held a public hearing. During the hearing we heard testimony on Assembly Bill 357 (AB 357). This bill addresses a loophole in the Wisconsin law relating to manufacturing and delivery of the opiate Fentanyl.

AB 357 seeks to increase penalties for fentanyl and fentanyl analogs. The bill also restructures the penalty for the manufacturing, distributing, or possessing to manufacture, distribute or deliver 10 grams or less a class E felony, 10-50 grams a Class D felony, and more than 50 grams a Class C felony.

The opioid crisis continues to devastate so many members of our communities. This legislation is important in combating this epidemic and ensuring we are able to keep this dangerous drug off of our streets.


District News: APT Grants

This week it was announced that the American Players Theater (APT) in Spring Green is being awarded $10 million in grant money to help the organization as it begins its 2021 summer season.

It is great to see grant money flow to organization like APT, a place that has such a deep and lasting impact on our local economy and performing arts culture.


Spring Surveys

A reminder that my spring surveys have been sent out. These surveys are valuable for me as your state legislator because it gives me your input and feedback to ensure your interests are being met at the state capitol. 

I am encouraging all of my constituents to take the time to fill out the survey and send it back to my office. If you want to save a stamp, you can also fill out the survey online at the link here.


Happy Father's Day!

 I want to take moment to recognize all fathers and wish them a Happy Father's Day weekend! Thank you dad's for everything you do for your children.


Vaccine Information

For all full list of vaccine sites statewide please click the vaccine finder link here.


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 Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 237-9151.

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