Housing Reform and Protecting the Unborn

Talking about Assembly Bill 609 at pre-session media briefing, October 26

The Assembly met on October 26 and October 27 to take up two major legislative packages.  Tuesday's focus was the "Fixing Foundations" housing proposals, while Wednesday's focus was pro-life legislation.

As I've mentioned in previous E-Updates, the "Fixing Foundations" package is intended to address Wisconsin's housing shortage.  According to a 2019 study, new construction isn't keeping up with population growth, so home prices and rents are going up in many places around the state, and many low-to-average-income people are being priced out of the market.  The housing bills the Assembly passed on Tuesday attempt to address this issue from a number of angles, including a “shovel-ready” workforce housing program (Assembly Bill 603), a sales tax exemption for building materials used for workforce housing (Assembly Bill 606), a workforce housing rehabilitation loan program (Assembly Bill 607), and workforce housing regulatory reform (Assembly Bill 608).  The package also includes Assembly Bill 609, the bipartisan proposal I introduced that allows municipalities to establish local housing investment funds, self-sustaining sources of revenue to be used to encourage the development of affordable workforce housing.  The package will now go to the Senate for further consideration.

On Wednesday, the Assembly concurred in a number of pro-life proposals that the Senate had previously passed, including:

  • Senate Bill 16, which requires healthcare providers present at an attempted abortion in which the child is born alive to provide the same degree of care given to children born under normal circumstances.
  • Senate Bill 591, which requires a physician to inform a woman considering using a two-step abortion-inducing drug regimen that it is possible stop the abortion process after the first dose if she chooses to do so.
  • Senate Bill 592, which requires physicians who perform pre- or postnatal tests for congenital conditions with positive test results to provide the parents with evidence-based educational resources and supportive information about the conditions.
  • Senate Bill 593, which prohibits abortions that are based solely on the unborn child’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or congenital disability.

The pro-life bills will now go to Governor Evers.  I sincerely hope that he will take this opportunity to support the most vulnerable members of our society.  The unborn can’t speak for themselves, so it is our responsibility to protect them.

The Assembly also concurred in Senate Bill 538, which generally prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities for the purposes of receiving organ transplants.  Several months ago, I had met with a resident of the 75th Assembly District who had a child with a disability, and she had serious concerns that her child could be passed over for an organ transplant if she ever needed one.  I began looking into the issue for a possible legislative fix, and when I learned that the proposal that became SB 538 was already in the works, I eagerly asked to cosponsor it.  SB 538 will also go to Governor Evers for his approval.

Also this week, the Assembly honored first responders from around the state in anticipation of October 28 being First Responders Appreciation Day.  Although my office received no nominations on behalf of first responders from the 75th District to participate in Tuesday's recognition ceremony, I know that our communities are blessed with devoted, hardworking public servants who are out there helping others every day.

Election Audit Update

Last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau released its report on elections administration in Wisconsin.  The LAB has identified a number of areas in which Wisconsin can do better, and it provided an extensive list of recommendations for improvements, some of which the Wisconsin Elections Commission can carry out on its own, and others which would require action by the Legislature

Just yesterday, the Racine County Sheriff announced that his office has uncovered evidence of eight ballots fraudulently cast at a Racine-area nursing home after the Elections Commission illegally suspended the requirement that special voting deputies be present when residents of nursing homes and other care facilities complete their absentee ballots.  I can't believe that the fraudulent manipulation of vulnerable voters was limited to a single nursing home, so I call on Attorney General Josh Kaul to conduct a statewide investigation into the effects of the Commission's decision and hold wrongdoers accountable.

In the wake of the LAB report, Senate leadership announced an investigation into some of the more concerning WEC shortcomings the report mentioned.  On the Assembly side, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman continues his own investigation into the 2020 election, and I have reached out a number of times to State Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly elections committee, to get a better understanding of the scope and status of her committee's investigation, as well. 

I have heard from many constituents who are interested in the results of these audits and investigations, and I also look forward to reviewing the findings of these investigations so that the Legislature can take any necessary steps to ensure the security of Wisconsin elections so that voters can be confident that their voices will be heard at the ballot box.

Blue Books Available

The 2021-2022 edition of the Wisconsin Blue Book is now available.  You may view the content online, or you may request a hard copy from my office (please include your name and mailing address).  Depending on the volume of requests, delivery may take a few weeks.

Legislative Website

If you are interested in learning more about bills that I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted on, please click here.  This link will take you directly to my Wisconsin State Legislative page.  Also, if you are interested in viewing my office website, click here.