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

(608) 266-5780
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American Southwest Exhibition
Description: On his explorations across the American Southwest, photographer Chris Hood captured the beauty of locations in Utah and Arizona from angles that would be typically unseen by most human eyes.
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 25 - Sunday, April 4.
Location: The Pump House Regional Art Center

La Crosse Bike Swap
Description: Come to the swap to re-home your dusty bikes, parts, and accessories. Any bikes unsold at 2 p.m. must be picked up  or they  will be donated to Logan Bike Works.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Logan Middle School

Aldo Leopold Day
Description: The Friday evening event will include readings from Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac, a showing of "Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time," and a time for conversation with the weekend's speakers. The Saturday afternoon program from 2-4 p.m. at the Myrick Center will include talks by Curt Meine, Leopold biographer; Bob Clarke of the Friends of the Central Sands; and Erin O'Brien, policy director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association -- all on the topic of Wisconsin water issues.
Date: Friday, February 27 (7:00 p.m.) and Saturday, February 28 (9:00 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.)
Location: Myrick-Hixon Eco Park



Do you know why Wisconsin is named the Badger State?

Surprisingly, it's not just because badgers are native to our state! Back in Wisconsin's history, all the way back to the 1800s, miners dug tunnels into hillsides as they searched for lead and then lived in them during the winter months to keep warm. The tunnels miners lived in reminded people of similar habitats of badgers, and Wisconsin became known as the badger state.



Friends and Neighbors,

This week, Wisconsin faced a number of proposals that could make or break Wisconsin's economic future. "Right to Work" and Medicare expansion have been prominent national issues for a number of months, sparking a great deal of discussion in Wisconsin. Wisconsin-based proposals of each issue were introduced in our legislature earlier this week. Read on to learn about the impacts of these legislative moves, in addition to news on other state and community issues.

Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District



Harmful Right to Work Proposal Being Fast-Tracked in Wisconsin


This week, Republicans held an emergency session for the purpose of introducing Right to Work (RTW) legislation. Despite Gov. Walker's having called RTW a "distraction" earlier in the year, he has suddenly turned about-face, and is ready to sign legislation should it reach his desk.

But the distraction is not why I oppose this legislation. I oppose it because of the real negative impacts it will have on La Crosse families and individuals. On a large scale, it will lead to lower wages across private and public sectors. Lower wages would affect our economy as a whole, significantly decreasing household contributions to our local businesses, and damaging the Wisconsin economy. On a personal level, however, Right to Work can have just as damaging of effects. Right to Work eliminates employees' abilities to negotiate for workplace safety. In Right to Work states, workplace fatalities increase by 51 percent. In Wisconsin this could mean that, for example, nurses would be unable to negotiate their maximum work hours. This could cause a significant issue for both workers and patients - as overworked employees create a grave health concern.

RTW legislation unnecessarily inserts government into private business negotiations. Negotiations between employers and employees are necessary for profitable business. Unions ensure high-quality workers as well as a safe work environment. Without their contributions, profitability of both private and public business would suffer.

Statistics from the Wisconsin Contractor Coalition estimate that, if RTW were implemented in Wisconsin, both state income and revenue would decline. Each year the state could experience a net income loss of between $5.84 and $7.23 billion, and a revenue loss of $289 million.

The most telling effects of RTW can be taken from Oklahoma, as its law has been in effect for enough time to measure a difference. Proponents of RTW say that it is needed for one core reason: that adopting RTW will bring business to the state. This was the argument made for passage in Oklahoma, and yet did not prove accurate. After RTW was implemented, the number of new firms relocating to Oklahoma went down by one-third. Additionally, Oklahoma lost nearly 50,000 manufacturing jobs and its unemployment rate shot up by 3 percent.

The Senate introduced RTW on Monday, held a public hearing and executive session on Tuesday, and rushed to pass RTW on Wednesday. RTW passed the Senate by a vote of 17-15.

Next week the Assembly will take up the legislation.  A public hearing will be held on Monday, and will be considered by the full Assembly on Thursday.



 BadgerCare Funding Proposal Would Save State $241 Million


This week I signed on as a co-author to a bill that would save Wisconsin $241 million. Representative Daniel Riemer and Senator Jon Erpenbach have introduced a bill that would adopt a modified version of federal BadgerCare expansion, modeled after Medicaid expansion in Iowa. This bill would leverage the federal dollars available to save Wisconsin $241 million over the next two years and provide access to healthcare for more than 80,000 Wisconsinites.


For over a year, Wisconsinites have urged Gov. Walker to accept federal funding dollars for BadgerCare. In the Nov. 4 election, La Crosse County voters answered a referendum question regarding accepting federal Medicaid dollars. 70 percent of the community supported this measure, yet Gov. Walker continues to refuse these dollars.


We need to find a way to leverage these federal dollars to help relieve Wisconsin's budget deficit. Currently, our tax dollars are going to the federal government and being distributed to other states because Gov. Walker refuses to compromise. We want our tax dollars back in our state.


That is why I continue to support taking back our tax dollars and why myself along with Rep. Steve Doyle, Rep. Chris Danou, and Rep. Daniel Riemer spoke on the importance of accepting federal BadgerCare funding in Wisconsin [pictured].


Budget Update


Since Gov. Walker's budget address on February 3, the Joint Finance Committee has poring over and analyzing the economic and social impacts of budget proposals.


This week, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released their analysis of the budget. This analysis details fiscal impacts that budget cuts and expenditures will have on Wisconsin agencies.


Click here to view the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's budget analysis.


Next week, the Joint Finance Committee will start hearing agency testimony on individual agency budgets. Hearings are held in Room 412 East in the State Capitol. The agency hearing schedule is as follows:


Monday, March 2 (1:00 pm)

  • Department of Administration

  • Department of Corrections

  • Supreme Court

  • Department of Justice

Tuesday, March 3 (9:00 am)

  • Department of Natural Resources

  • Department of Workforce Development

  • University of Wisconsin System

  • Department of Public Instruction

  • Department of Health Services

Wednesday, March 4 (9:00 am)

  • Department of Transportation

  • Department of Revenue (including Lottery and Shared Revenue)

  • Department of Children and Families

  • Department of Financial Institutions

  • Department of Safety and Professional Services

  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

  • Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

Look for additional updates on the budget process in future newsletters.



February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Teen dating violence is a problem affecting youth in every community across the nation. One in three young people are affected by physical, sexual, or verbal dating violence. Unfortunately, this often goes undetected as only 33 percent

of teens who are in an abusive relationship ever report abuse.

Representatives Melissa Sargent and Samantha Kerkman have put forth legislation to bring awareness to this important issue. Dating violence has led to violent crimes across the country, including communities in Wisconsin.

This year, Teen Dating Violence Awareness advocates urge Americans to "Break the Cycle," and encourage open discussion between parents and teens about healthy relationships.

To find resources for youth, adults, and communities to raise awareness to this issue, CLICK HERE.


Sign the Save SeniorCare Petition!



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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