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



Pearl Street Brewery Winter Ball

Friday, February 12 and Saturday, February 13.

Pearl Street Brewery



YMCA Valentine's 5K

Saturday, February 13, 8:00 a.m.

YMCA- North, Onalaska



La Crosse Bike Swap

Saturday, February 27

10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Logan Middle School



[Art]ifact Exhibit: Where History Meets Art

Thursday, February 25 - Sunday, April 17

Pump House Regional Arts Center



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


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095






Friends and Neighbors,

This week in the legislature was a busy one! With two days of debate and votes in Assembly session, press conferences on important issues, UW-L campus listening sessions on public health and student debt, and meetings in my Capitol office with La Crosse-area constituents, the week was jam-packed with activity.

Continue reading this week's newsletter for updates on important legislation, and upcoming policy issues facing our community and state.


Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District







Session Week Highlights


The Wisconsin Assembly was in session twice this week, to discuss dozens of new proposals before the end of this year's session.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Assembly met to debate a full calendar of legislation. The bills on the schedule included several proposals to limit local control and open the door for environmental damage to Wisconsin's clean lakes, air and natural resources.

After debate on the bills concluded -- and they passed -- I released the following statement:

"In La Crosse and throughout Wisconsin, our pristine lakes, clean air and forests continue to highlight our state's tradition of environmental conservation," said Rep. Billings. "La Crosse is lucky to have our marsh, our bluffs, and to be right on the beautiful Mississippi River. Today, Republican legislators supported legislation that threatens the natural resources that make our state so great.

Bills brought forward today that would limit environmental protection include AB 600, which has been referred to as the "polluter grab bag" by environmental groups, as it allows property owners to dredge from lake beds and limits DNR oversight; and AB 603, which makes worse the elimination of shoreland zoning laws by ignoring minimum standards in place to protect waters, wetlands and shorelines.

"Republicans specifically introduced legislation to limit review and protection of our waterways. Clean water is so vitally important, not only in adding to scenic offerings of an area, but for daily consumption. By deregulating our waterways, we are putting our drinking water supply in danger. We don't want La Crosse -- or anywhere else in the state -- to be the next Flint, Michigan.

In addition to rolling back environmental protections, Republicans brought forth a number of bills to usurp local control.

"Our cities and towns are successful when our neighbors and families are able to voice their opinions, and make a change in their local government. Despite labeling themselves the 'party of local control' over the past four years, Republicans have been slashing local government decision-making abilities, pushing more than 100 changes to state law that restrict the authority of local government.

"As part of the most beautiful corner of the state, La Crosse should be allowed to manage its own local affairs. Without this local control, our environment would be negatively impacted -- causing a ripple effect into our tourism industry, our growing silent sports reputation and our economy as a whole.

"Throughout this session, Republican legislators have pushed legislation and political agendas that Wisconsinites never asked for. People in my area surely didn't ask for fewer environmental protections, polluted drinking water, or diminished local economies -- but Republican legislators have chosen to focus on creating those issues today, instead of addressing the real problems in our state."


On Thursday, only 11 bills came before the Assembly. One in particular had devastating consequences for our state.
AB 311/SB 238 came before the Assembly, and passed along party lines. The bill drastically reduces the public health drug pricing under federal programs, and was so narrowly tailored by Republicans that is would only affect Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. The bill is a thinly-veiled political attack to further restrict access to women's health services.

While I understand that abortion can be a contentious issue for many of us, and is a complicated decision for a woman and her family, we can all agree that preventing unintended pregnancies and the spread of infectious disease that threaten fertility is critical to our public health.

The true intent of this bill is to take public health dollars away from Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides healthcare for 50,000 men and women across Wisconsin. If Planned Parenthood is defunded, and unable to provide these services, Wisconsinites will be left without health care.

Throughout this session, Republican leadership has been focused on taking rights away from Wisconsinites: taking health care from women, taking away worker's rights, taking away citizens' rights to an open government -- few of the bills passed this session were introduced to help middle-class Wisconsinites get back on their feet.

With likely just one week of legislative debate left until the end of this year's session, I am floored that Republican leaders have refused to bring forth substantive, helpful legislation to support our neighbors and families.




La Crosse Press Event on Student Debt

Senator Shilling , Representative Doyle and I held a press conference and listening session in La Crosse to discuss the issue of student debt. As you may have read in previous newsletters, student loan debt has reached dangerous levels in Wisconsin -- with near 1 million borrowers facing $19 billion in debt.

In our press conference, area legislators and I spoke on sustainable proposals that Democrats have brought forth to lessen the burden of student loan debt: the Higher Ed, Lower Debt proposal.

The average student loan borrower graduates with $23,000 in debt from a four-year education. Unfortunately, this level of debt stops graduates from making normal, post-graduate purchases like cars, homes and other higher-priced goods.
Though the Higher Ed, Lower Debt proposal was introduced several months ago, no proposals have been brought to debate by Republican leadership to alleviate the burden of student loan debt.

For the many Wisconsinites facing student loan burdens, we can surely do better.




Human Trafficking Bill Moves to the Floor


This week, the Committee on Children and Families pushed through AB 737, my human trafficking bill cosponsored by Representatives La Tonya Johnson and Amy Loudenbeck!

As you may know, human trafficking is defined by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Trafficking is a global issue, with 20.9 million people estimated to be trafficked worldwide. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year -- and that figure doesn’t even begin to account for the number of people trafficked within the United States.

The bill has been placed on the Assembly calendar for next week. I am still working to encourage all of my legislative colleagues to vote in favor of the bill, and make Wisconsin a safer place for our children and loved ones, and provide protection and services for children who are forced or coerced into human trafficking.

I've been so appreciative of our local media -- radio, newspapers and TV stations -- who have showed concern and a great deal of effort to inform the public about this important issue.

Furthermore, our local anti-human trafficking task force, especially Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, has been integral in working on this issue on a local level as well as advocating in the capitol.

Thank you all for your efforts on this issue!




Rep. Billings Around the State!

Western Wisconsin members of Xcel Energy and the "Doctor Day" group stopped by my office this week. It was a pleasure chatting with you all!

Last week, members of the UW-L political science and public administration program stopped by the Capitol.

I took part in the ribbon cutting and dedication for the new La Crosse Regional airport terminal last week. With this new improvement, I'm looking forward to air travel in La Crosse really "taking off!"



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