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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 |



La Crosse Storytelling Festival

Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12,

12:00 p.m.

Myrick Park (MAP)


PRIDE in the Park
Saturday, September 12 from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Riverside Park (MAP)


Cameron Park Farmer's Market
Saturday, September 12 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Cameron Park (MAP)


2015 Walk to End Alzheimer's
Saturday, September 19 at 9:00 a.m.

Myrick Park (MAP)



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


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

This month the legislature is getting back into gear, with full Assembly debate scheduled for the end of the month. On the heels of debate, a few important issues have come to the forefront of discussion - issues relating to accountability and transparency in government operations.

Democrats in the legislature have continued to advocate for open government, and are continuing that push by introducing nonpartisan redistricting procedures and standing behind the necessary operations of our Government Accountability Board.

Continue reading this week’s newsletter for more information on legislative news, local events and more important state news.

Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District






Last week, I released a column regarding Wisconsin’s struggles in teacher recruitment and retention. The original text of the column is below:

When “A Love Of Teaching,” Isn’t Enough.

Teachers Recount How Value Of Education Slips Away In Wis., Changing Dynamic Of Schools.

For many La Crosse teachers and students, this week marked the start of a new school year. For a parent, sending your kids to school for the first time can be nerve-wracking. You may be wondering: will they make friends? Will they do well in classes? Will they have good teachers? With this new year comes a new set of challenges for schools and educators to overcome.

Last month, I was appointed to the Speaker’s Task Force on Urban Education – a special group of legislators which is meant to examine issues facing our urban schools today. While the issues discussed by the committee ranged from truancy to access to new technologies, one of the most important issues facing La Crosse and Wisconsin is teacher recruitment and retention.

As we’ve all seen, there have been massive changes to state educational policy from the Walker administration. Some moves by the Governor and Republican legislators – including recent budget cuts, changes to teacher licensing, and the Act 10 measures of 2011 – have pushed some educators into early retirement, some out of the field, and deterred others from becoming educators.

With experienced teachers leaving the field and fewer new educators applying, districts across Wisconsin have already begun to see a “teacher shortage.”

The La Crosse Tribune reported that this “teacher shortage” has been especially hard in La Crosse, with the school district facing significant trouble recruiting qualified, specialized teachers. Schools with vacant teaching positions in music, science and mathematics are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit qualified applicants.

According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, La Crosse’s teacher shortage is representative of state trends over the past few years. There are fewer students applying to become teachers, and teachers in Wisconsin overall have less experience than in previous years. In the 2014 school year, only about 4 in 10 Wisconsin school districts had teaching staffs with on average at least 15 years’ experience – down from 6 in 10 in the 2011 school year. A few years ago, schools that were able to get 150 applications for an open position are now seeing 30 to 50 applications instead.

Furthermore, because of the state of education in Wisconsin, fewer students are studying education. For example, Viterbo University of La Crosse saw a drop in education enrollment from 121 students in the spring of 2011 to 60 students in the spring of 2015. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse saw overall enrollment increase from 2011 to 2014, but in the same years education saw a 10 percent drop.


Click here to read the rest of the column.







It was recently announced that the Department of Health Services (DHS) would hold public hearings around the state regarding budget changes to FamilyCare and IRIS programs. Last week, hearing locations were announced to be held in Green Bay and Wausau. This Thursday Madison, Milwaukee and La Crosse were added to the list of hearing locations.

Considering La Crosse’s involvement with the FamilyCare program (it implemented one of the state’s first pilot programs, and has one of the longest-running programs in the state), area legislators requested that DHS hold a public hearing in La Crosse.

To view information on these hearings, visit:

During budget hearings, many of my constituents registered their concerns with changes to FamilyCare and IRIS. Changes to the programs in the budget only made participants’ coverage status even more confusing. Therefore, legislators felt that holding a public hearing in La Crosse would serve the dual purpose of educating residents of western Wisconsin on the changes to FamilyCare and allowing them to voice their opinions on the new program.

Click here to view the letter.






This week, a group of Democratic legislators introduced Assembly Bill 328, which would remove redistricting authority from politicians and assign it to a nonpartisan body.

As you may know, gerrymandering can be used in a state’s redistricting to unfairly divide districts. Oftentimes gerrymandering can be so severe that a state legislature will not represent residents’ votes. For example, in Wisconsin’s 2012 election, Republicans won 60 of 99 seats even though Democratic candidates received 174,000 more votes.

Nationwide, this problem exists regardless of party. The model Wisconsin legislators have proposed has been used successfully in Iowa for the past 30 years.

I am in full support of this bill, which would assign the authority to draw districts to the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau and a to-be-created Redistricting Advisory Commission. These bodies would draw district lines based on the state population, and not partisan concerns.





Have you gotten a chance to see my newly-designed legislative website? The website launched earlier this week, and has a number of helpful tools for constituents of my district, and Wisconsinites across the state.

On my page, you can find helpful in-district information, as well as information on my legislative activities!

View my new website here.

To follow along with my legislative activities, be sure to “follow” me on Twitter and “like” my page on Facebook!







2015-2016 Blue Books are in! If you would like a new blue book, you may contact our office at (608)266-5780 or click here to order a blue book online.

If you would prefer to pick up a blue book in La Crosse, blue books will be available at Senator Jennifer Shilling’s district office starting Monday, September 14. The office is located at 205 5th Ave. S., Suite 312, and is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.







Congrats to UW-L for being named best college in UW-System!

If you didn’t see the news, UW-La Crosse was named the best college in the UW-System and 4th best in the Midwest according to U.S. News and World Report’s 2016 America’s best colleges list.

UW-L is such an important part of our community not only as an economic driver but also by bringing young, engaged adults who add to the vibrancy and richness of our city.

Congrats UW-L!

Click here to read the article in the La Crosse Tribune. 






Travel Wisconsin has released its new “Fall Color Report,” an award-winning resource which you can use to plan your fall getaway!

Using the Fall Color Report, you can:

  • Search all 72 counties for live updates on Wisconsin’s changing colors

  • View the percentage of peak foliage and weeks until full peak in each area, along with special notes about trails and driving routes, nearby dining, lodging and attractions.

  • Upload photos, rate other travelers’ photos and view the report on the go from a smartphone.

Check out the Fall Color Report here:



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