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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 | rep.billings@legis.wi.gov

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS:

La Crosse Interstate Fair
Wednesday, July 15 through Sunday, July 19
N4985 Co. Road M
West Salem, WI 54669
 

Cameron Park Farmer's Market
Friday, July 17 from 4 - 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 18 from 8:00 a.m. -1:00 p.m.
Cameron Park, on King Street between 4th St. and 5th Ave.
 

Freedom Fest
Saturday, July 18

UW-La Crosse Veterans' Memorial Field Sports Complex
 

CONTACT ME:

State Capitol
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

Phone:

(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095

rep.billings@legis.wi.gov

 

 

 

 

 

Friends and Neighbors,


As you may know, last week in the legislature was pretty hectic! The week started off with the Joint Finance Committeeís final decisions on the budget and the passage of the budget through both legislative houses, and ended with a highly-controversial decision on the Republicans' 20-week ban proposal.


On Sunday, the Governor signed the budget into law. While I was greatly disappointed both with the budget itself and the Assembly dialogue regarding the budget, I am hopeful that with its passage we can move on to constructive legislation for Wisconsinites, and avoid partisan-fueled packages.


Continue reading this week's newsletter for a recap of budget and other legislative debate, and to learn about exciting events going on around the district.

 

 

Best Wishes,



Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District

 

 

 

 

BIENNIAL BUDGET BECOMES LAW

 

On Wednesday of last week, the State Assembly took up the 2015-2017 state budget. The budget had been discussed publicly for months as there were many controversial changes to K-12 public education, University education, Long Term Care, and more that concerned constituents across the state.


On Tuesday, the Senate introduced and passed the budget. Thankfully, due to the efforts from concerned Wisconsinites, Republicans' JFC proposals to change Wisconsin Retirement Systems and dissolve open records law were removed from the budget.


The Assembly debated the budget for approximately 12 hours, and ended up passing the budget without Republicans' due consideration of important amendments that would have equalized K-12 funding, required background checks for employees in taxpayer-funded voucher schools, scaled back the devastating cut to the UW System, restored our environmental conservation programs, and more. The budget passed the Assembly without any amendments, highlighting some legislators' desire to push the budget through without careful consideration.


On Sunday, Governor Walker signed the budget. As part of his budget considerations, Gov. Walker vetoed 104 provisions in the budget. The most notable changes include:

  • veto of provision to allow payday lenders new authority
  • partial veto to give the Governor's administration more leeway in deciding which food stamp recipients to drug test, and fewer responsibilities should they test positive
  • eliminated a total of more than $1 million in grants for groups such as the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Gathering Waters Conservancy, Natural Resources Foundation, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the River Alliance of Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

20-WEEK BAN PASSES ASSEMBLY

On Thursday, immediately following debate on the budget, legislative Republicans rushed the 20-week abortion ban bill through the Assembly. This bill has been the subject of controversy for months, as it goes far beyond traditional abortion restrictions. The 20-week ban proposed in Wisconsin would stand in a motherís way of terminating her pregnancy even in extreme circumstances -- including rape or incest, danger to the life of the mother, or an unviable pregnancy.


Proponents of the bill argued that abortions after 20-weeks involve causing pain to the fetus, and therefore make the procedure inhumane. However, proponents failed to recognize the even-more-severe consequences -- both for the health of the child and the health of the mother -- for unhealthy pregnancies that are not terminated. At the 20-week ultrasound -- which is usually the second ultrasound a woman receives -- doctors have found fatal anomalies that were not present in previous ultrasounds.


By implementing a 20-week ban, a woman would be forced to carry her pregnancy to term even if it is well-known that her child will suffer, she may not survive the delivery, or the fetus will not survive to delivery. In La Crosse, doctors have seen examples of children born with organs outside their bodies, with cracks in their skulls exposing their brains, and so many other heartbreaking stories. I too do not want to expose children to undue pain -- and forcing a child to live in these extreme and painful conditions surely is inhumane.


Ultimately, I believe that this decision is deeply personal, and should be left between a woman, her family, her doctor and her faith. Wisconsinís legislators are not qualified to make medical decisions, and certainly are not qualified to insert themselves in this decision.
 


 

 

 

BUCKS STADIUM UPDATE

This week, the Senate took up the proposal to use public funding for the Milwaukee Bucks Arena deal. Iíve heard from many constituents on this issue, and it continues to be a hotly debated topic for people around the state.


The initial Bucks deal, drafted by Governor Walker, involved the state contributing $250 million in public financing towards a new Milwaukee Bucks Stadium. The team's ownership would make up the remaining $300 million needed to finance the project.


Many critics questioned why taxpayers outside of Milwaukee would have to pay for this project. In the past, public financing for sports complexes was drawn from areas that would be directly impacted by the complex's business. For example, Miller Park was funded by an increase in the sales tax of a five-county area in southeast Wisconsin and Lambeau Field renovations were funded through a Brown County referendum to increase county taxes.


After public financing became a sour point of budget debates owners of the Milwaukee Bucks announced that, should the public financing deal not pass, they would relocate the team to Seattle or Las Vegas.


Proponents of the proposal have noted that the Bucks' relocation would have a negative impact on Milwaukee's economy, as well as the overall tradition of the team. The arena deal is expected to generate $339 million in revenue.


The Senate passed a few amendments to the Bucks deal, including adding a ticket surcharge of $2 and removing a provision for the state to collect Milwaukee County's debt. The profits from the ticket surcharge are expected to be split between the state -- which will receive 25 percent, and the Wisconsin Center district -- which will receive 75 percent.


The Senate's arena bill will likely come before the Assembly in the next few weeks. Much like it has in the Senate, in the Assembly the bill has received mixed support and opposition from both sides of the political aisle.

 

 

 

 

COUNTY FAIR IN WEST SALEM

 

Did you know that the La Crosse County Fair is going on right now? The Interstate Fair, sponsored by the La Crosse County Agricultural Society, is taking place from July 15 through July 19 in West Salem.


The fair features several fun and family-friendly activities, including performances from local musicians, a magic show, go-kart racing, a silent auction and more.

I'll be attending the fair, so make sure to stop by and say hello!


For more about the Interstate Fair, visit http://www.lacrosseinterstatefair.com/home

 

 
 

 

AROUND THE DISTRICT

 

Mayo Big Blue Dragon Boat Races


The Franciscan Healthcare Center for Breast Care will host the Coulee Region's dragon boat festival on Friday and Saturday, July 17-18, 2015. I will be participating with the Habitat for Humanity team this year, and would encourage you all to participate in or attend this wonderful community event!

The Big Blue Dragon Boat Festival is a fresh and exciting event promoting community health and teamwork while also raising awareness of breast cancer. Teams will race head to head on the Black River along Copeland Park.

Schedule of Events:


Friday, July 17
6:00 pm Opening Ceremonies
6:30 pm Exhibition races, kids activities, Music by TUGG
9:45 pm Fireworks

Saturday, July 18
Enjoy games for all ages, activities and inflatables for kids, food vendors, Big Blue - the dancing dragon, 2015 dragon boat memorabilia and free giveaways
8:00 am Racing begins
1:00 pm Breast Cancer Survivor Ceremony
4:00 pm Closing Ceremony

The community's collective paddle power will support the Center for Breast Care at Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare. Area women served by programs on breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and survivorship will benefit from the funds raised.


Rep. Billings built a house with Habitat for Humanity this weekend!


Rep. Billings pictured speaking with an employee from Kwik Trip at Kwik Trip's 50th anniversary celebration in La Crosse.

 

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