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A Note from Rep. Edming

Welcome to my second e-update of the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. It has been a busy first couple of weeks in Madison with Inauguration, committee meetings, Assembly and Senate floor sessions, and the State of the State address from the Governor. I’m already hard at work preparing legislation to introduce for consideration by the legislature this session. Some of the ideas I’m working on came from suggestions from folks in the 87th Assembly District. As the new session gets underway, please feel free to reach out to me with any ideas you may have. Most often the best ideas for legislation come from constituents just like you.

My View on the State of the State

On Tuesday, Governor Tony Evers delivered his 2021 State of the State Address. This annual address is an important opportunity for the governor to share with the legislature and the people of Wisconsin his plans for the year ahead. A lot has changed since the governor’s address last year with COVID-19 forcing all of us to face issues that we never imagined having to grapple with at this time last year.

I am pleased to hear that Governor Evers plans to make investments in broadband expansion a priority in the upcoming state budget. I was proud to support the conservative state budget last session that allocated $46.2 million toward broadband, which is more funding than ever before. During my time in the legislature, improving access to reliable high-speed internet has been an important goal of mine. High-speed internet is a necessity in today’s society and the pandemic has made this need even more evident than ever. The lack of high-speed internet hurts economic growth, limits educational opportunities, and diminishes the quality of life. I look forward to continuing to advocate for this important 87th District priority during budget discussions in the coming months.

Governor Evers also touched on the need to fix the problems with our state’s unemployment insurance (UI) system. While I am glad that the governor sees the need to reform our state’s UI system that has failed far too many Wisconsinites over the past several months, I am disappointed that Governor Evers continues to place blame on others. As I mentioned in an earlier e-update, audits by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau confirm that mismanagement at DWD is to blame for much of the backlog in processing UI claims, not an old computer system as the governor’s administration claims. In fact, a new memo from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau states that the governor’s administration has the authority to initiate these IT upgrades on its own. My legislative colleagues and I continue to receive calls and emails from constituents who are still waiting for the issues with their UI claims to be resolved.

I’m also concerned about something that was not a part of the governor’s speech, information about the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. A recent report showed Wisconsin ranked 10th out of 12 Midwest states for vaccine distribution. Governor Evers still hasn’t shared a comprehensive rollout plan to provide the vaccine for those who would like to get it. In addition, the committee in the governor’s administration that is deciding on who to should get the vaccine next recently decided that prisoners should be one of the next in line, ahead of our seniors and other at-risk members of our population.

Moving forward, there are still more challenges ahead. I will continue to work with my legislative colleagues to help our state recover from this pandemic and move our state forward.

Having a Conversation on Wolf Hunting

On Wednesday I participated in a joint informational hearing of the Assembly Committee on Sporting Heritage and the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Small Business, and Rural Issues on reinstating the wolf harvesting season.

2011 Act 169 requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish an annual wolf harvesting season if the wolf is removed from the United States and Wisconsin lists of endangered and threatened species. Wisconsin had wolf harvesting seasons from 2012-2014, but there has not been one since due to the wolf being returned to the endangered species list. However, toward the end of last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the gray wolf would be removed from the endangered species list and this change took effect on January 4th. Under Act 169 the DNR is required to once again establish a wolf hunting season.

My colleagues and I on these two committees heard testimony from a number of interested stakeholders, but unfortunately, the DNR notified committee chairs just prior to the hearing that they would not be in attendance, and would only be providing written testimony. This was disappointing as members of the committee and the public wanted to hear from the department on why they decided against a hunting season this winter. As many of you know, agriculture is an important part of the economy of the 87th District. During my time in office, I have heard from numerous farmers like Ryan from Taylor County who have shared their stories with me about the damage wolves are doing to their livestock and how it is impacting their livelihoods. From these conversations, it is clear to me that we need a hunting season to keep our state’s wolf population at a reasonable level. While the DNR did not attend it was still great to hear from the other presenters from around Wisconsin. As this was an informational hearing only, no formal legislation was discussed. I will keep you all updated on the potential wolf hunting season as information is provided.

If you would like to check out the hearing, you can click here to watch it Wisconsin Eye

Tax Burden Continues to Head in the Right Direction

Earlier this week the state received some good news from the Wisconsin Policy Forum. Thanks to the hard work of the State Legislature and the many conservative policies implemented, the tax burden on Wisconsinites is at its lowest level since 1970. Since 2013, we have reduced taxes on Wisconsinites by more than $13 billion.

The Wisconsin Policy Forum also found that because the state and local tax burden dropped to 10.2% of income, Wisconsin's tax ranking in the U.S. improved from the top ten worst states for its tax burden in 2011, to now being 23rd in just 10 years. Taxes come from the hard-working citizens of Wisconsin, and it is our duty to use those tax dollars wisely, efficiently, and responsibly.

If you would like to read the full report, click here.

Stay Up to Date

One of the best ways to stay up to date with what is going on in Madison is to sign up for the legislature's notification tracking service. This service allows you to follow legislative activity in Madison. Once you create a free account you can sign up to receive notifications about specific bills or committees as well as legislative activity pertaining to a subject area (i.e. agriculture, veterans). You can sign up for this service at notify.legis.wisconsin.gov.

If you subscribed to this service over the past couple of years you will need to resubscribe to proposals, committees, and authors for the new legislative session.