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

(608) 266-5780
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Coulee Region Transportation Study: Thursday, March 12
Time: 5 to 7 p.m.
Location: Eagle Bluff Elementary, Onalaska

YMCA Family Fun Expo
Description: This year, the Coulee Parenting Connection will be hosting the Altra/Gunderson Family Fun Expo. The Expo will run from 11am-4pm at the Onalaska Omni Center. The event starts at 11 am with the Y's Color Dash. Following the color dash, head to the expo to refuel and have fun.
Date: Sunday, March 29, 11 AM – 4 p.m.
Location: Onalaska Omni Center


Did you know that each year the Governor of Wisconsin hosts a conference on Tourism? The conference is known as WIGCOT and has been held every year since 1987. The conference has grown to be the largest state tourism conference in the United States.

This year, La Crosse has the honor of hosting the event. It is taking place March 15-17th with sessions at the La Crosse Center. Attendees will also get a chance to tour some of La Crosse's tourism destination "hot-spots" and it’ll bring over 700 people to La Crosse spending money on hotels, food and local shops. This is a great event to boost our local economy.

To find out more about this year's conference visit:



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Friends and Neighbors,

One of the most essential aspects of government is public involvement. After all, legislators are representatives of the people -- and your views are exceptionally important to the work we do. I greatly enjoy hearing from and helping members of my community on various local and state issues.

That is why in the next few weeks I will be holding two public listening sessions on the budget. Details on these events are listed below.

If you have thoughts or questions on the budget, I would encourage you to attend the public hearings I'm holding in La Crosse, or one of the official Joint Finance Committee Public Hearings (details listed below).

Also, this e-newsletter kick off my "State Budget Feature." In this issue and following updates, I will profile an item from the state budget.

As always, if you have questions or concerns on state, local, or community issues of importance to you, do not hesitate to contact me.

Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District



Mark Your Calendars:

La Crosse Listening Session and Public Education Forum


I, along with Senator Jennifer Shilling and Representative Steve Doyle, will be hosting listening sessions on the 2015-2017 Biennial Budget in La Crosse. Information for the listening sessions follows:

La Crosse State Budget Public Hearing with Rep. Billings and Sen. Shilling
Monday, March 16 (4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.)

UW-La Crosse
Hall of Nations, Centennial Hall
1725 State St

Many areas of Western Wisconsin will be directly impacted by these budget proposals, including our workforce, education, roads, healthcare, and environment. This listening session will give our community members a forum to voice their opinions, questions, and concerns about the biennial budget. I believe that La Crosse residents should be well-informed about the issues this budget could create in our community and I look forward to discussing the budget with you.

State Budget Public Education Forum

La Crosse Public Education Hearing
(Joint Listening Session with Sen. Shilling and Rep. Doyle)
Monday, March 30
5:00 p.m – 6:30 p.m.
Logan High School, Weiss Theater
1500 Ranger Dr

This event will be a public education forum featuring Jeff Pertl, senior policy advisor for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and Randy Nelson, La Crosse Superintendent of Schools, and local legislators. Important topics concerning Wisconsin education will be discussed at the forum, including the current state of Wisconsin public schools, the impact of Gov. Walker's proposed budget cuts on La Crosse's public schools, and other foreseeable issues in public education. Time for comment from the public will also be available.

State Budget Public Hearing Locations Announced


Also this month, the Joint Finance Committee will hold public hearings regarding the Governor's 2015-2017 budget proposal. These public hearings will allow for Wisconsin residents to voice their concerns with, and ask questions about, the upcoming budget. If you would like to speak with the legislators who serve on the Joint Finance Committee about the budget and have your comments on the official record, I would highly encourage you to attend a listening session, even though many are far from La Crosse.


However, if the proposed locations are too far from home, remember I will be holding listening sessions in the La Crosse! (explained above)

Dates and locations for JFC public hearings are as follows:

Wednesday, March 18 (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
Brillion High School
Endries Performing Arts Center
W1101 County Road HR Brillion, WI 54110 (MAP)


Friday, March 20 (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
Alverno College
Pitman Theatre
3400 South 43rd Street
Milwaukee, WI 53234 (MAP)


Monday, March 23 (10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
University of Wisconsin-Barron County
Fine Arts Theatre
1800 College Drive
Rice Lake, WI 54868 (MAP)


Thursday, March 26 (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)
Reedsburg High School
CAL Center Auditorium
1100 South Albert Avenue
Reedsburg, WI 53959 (MAP)

Budget Item Feature


In all the following e-updates, I will feature a piece of the state budget. With Spring arriving and bikes coming out of storage, I thought I would feature a concern over cuts to the Complete Streets, TAP program, and Community Sensitive Design.

Gov. Walker's budget proposal eliminates the Complete Streets program, the Transportation Alternatives Program, and Community Sensitive Design funding -- programs which are essential to implementing efficient travel alternatives.

Complete Streets law, adopted in 2009, mandates that all roadways be design with consideration for all users -- including bicyclists, pedestrians, public transportation, and motorists. Complete Streets workshops have been hold across the state to ensure that our roadways are accommodating to viable, energy efficient, and healthy travel alternatives.

Along with repealing the Complete Streets program, Governor Walker also proposed eliminating state support for the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). Authorized in 2012, TAP promoted enhancements for non-traditional transportation, funding 27 projects in 2014 alone. Projects funded by TAP included The La Crosse County Safe Routes to School Non-Infrastructure Program and VIP Trail Expansion/Extension.

Community Sensitive Design (CSD) is also on the chopping block in Gov. Walker's suggested cuts. CSD is a community-based approach to creating efficient motorist traffic patterns, while keeping in mind the surrounding community. CSD projects in Wisconsin created I-94 corridor landscaping, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and the architectural design of the bridges, retaining walls and noise barriers along 34 miles of mainline roadway.

All three programs would be eliminated under the Governor's proposed budget, making transportation alternatives much less accessible.

Coulee Region Transportation Study


This week the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Southwest Region office in La Crosse began a series of public involvement meetings to discuss the Coulee Region Transportation Study. The study is meant to identify and evaluate a range of transportation strategies to address regional safety and mobility.

The WisDOT study process, called Planning and Environmental Linkages, considers environmental, community and economic goals early-on during the transportation planning process. This particular study will examine transportation throughout the Coulee region.

To find out more about the project or process visit the Coulee Region transportation study website.

I know this study is of great importance to all of us in La Crosse and the region, and I hope to keep you up-to-date on the process as it moves forward over the next year.


 Federal Representatives Send Letter Requesting Oil Train Safety


On March 5, an oil train crash in Galena, Illinois caused a fiery wreck, lasting for several days. This accident, coupled with past train derailments, has caused much concern throughout the La Crosse region.

This crash also led our federal legislators to take further action on questioning standards in rail safety. Wisconsin's Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Ron Kind sent a letter to President Obama urging immediate action to increase oil train safety. Oil train accidents have been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years as a result of increased oil production.

In the letter, Baldwin and Kind noted the dangers for Wisconsin communities located near rail lines. In fact, more than 40 oil trains pass through Wisconsin cities and towns every week. This year, Congress approved additional funding to study safer tank cars, hire more track inspectors, and repair rail infrastructure. Baldwin and Kind urged the President to take action with this additional funding to increase rail safety.

Specific suggestions outlined in the letter include stabilization of oil, updated tank car standards, improved operational controls, and increased transparency.

To view a copy of the original letter, CLICK HERE.

I appreciate Sen. Baldwin and Rep. Kind's work on the federal level on this issue, and I will continue to work with Sen. Shilling and local partners to improve safety at the state level.

Gogebic Taconite Drops Plan to Construct Mine in Penokee Hills


Last session, one of the issues I heard most about from constituents was SB 1 (2013 Wisconsin Act 1), which loosened environmental policies in the state, to allowing Gogebic Taconite to construct an iron mine in the Penokee Hills. I even toured the potential site of the mine with my Republican colleagues. This proposal was met with a great deal of criticism and is considered one of the biggest environmental fights in Wisconsin history

Last week, Gogebic Taconite Mining Company reversed plans to construct an iron ore mine in the Penokee Hills of Ashland and Iron counties. According to Gogebic Taconite, the expanse of wetlands in the region made iron mine construction unfeasible. Now that Gogebic Taconite has dropped plans to construct the iron mine, Wisconsin is left without the 700 additional jobs promised, and with weakened environmental regulations.


There is Still Time to Sign the Save SeniorCare Petition!



To date, we have received a number of positive responses to the Save SeniorCare petition -- add your name and voice to this important issue!


Our SeniorCare is under attack, and we need Wisconsinites like you to stand up for our seniors' rights! The SeniorCare petition is still open, and I encourage all to sign on and support our seniors.


Over the past few months, you may have heard about Governor Walker's rejection of federal Medicaid dollars, which would have saved Wisconsin an estimated $206 million over the next two years. Throughout the state budget, and especially in health care, we can see the effects of healthcare funding rejection. Under this proposal, SeniorCare would be cut by $15 million -- a 40 percent cut. Additionally, seniors would be forced to apply for Medicare part D, which would cause them to pay more out of pocket expenses on prescription drug costs.

SeniorCare in Wisconsin is once again at risk.

Sign the petition!



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