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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:

[Art]ifact Presentation with Rep. Billings

Friday, February 26

6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Pump House Regional Arts Center

(MAP)

 

4th Annual La Crosse Bike Swap

Saturday, February 27

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

Logan Middle School

(MAP)

 

Family Fest

Saturday, February 28

10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

La Crosse Center

(MAP)

 

South Asian Film Festival

Monday, February 29 through Monday, March 7

6:00 p.m.

Centennial Hall, UW-La Crosse

(MAP)

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,

Last week, the Assembly concluded legislative debate for the 2015-2016 session. With the Assembly adjourning so early in the year, a number of important proposals were left off the calendar and worse, hundreds of proposals were pushed through the legislative process with little consideration.


Many of the proposals passed during last week's session were vitally important for the public to know about. The articles below explain more fully the legislative changes made last week, as well as overall changes made to Wisconsin law this session.


 

Best Wishes,



Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District

 

 

 

 

 

 

Human Trafficking Bill Passes

 

I am excited to announced that AB 737/SB 618 -- a bill which would help our state combat child sex trafficking -- passed the Senate and Assembly last week. When the bill passed, I released the following statement:

Human Trafficking Bill Passes Senate and Assembly

MADISON - Today, both houses of the legislature met to debate, and brought forth bill AB 737/SB 618. As a co-author of the bill and long-time supporter of anti-human trafficking causes, Representative Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) released the following statement on the bill's passage:

"I am pleased that today both legislative houses, in passing this bill, affirmed that we must take action to combat child sex trafficking," said Rep. Billings. "This bill made some important changes to our laws -- categorizing child sex trafficking as abuse, ensuring that Wisconsin enacts strong penalties against those who force children into prostitution, and providing protection and services to child trafficking victims.

The bill will now be referred to the Governor, where it can be signed into law.

"While Iím glad to see this legislation pass, I believe it is only the first step towards protecting our children and communities from trafficking. Our state can, and should do more to combat trafficking and provide for victims -- such as passing a full Safe Harbor law, like many of our Midwestern neighbors have.

Representative Billings along with Representative LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) also introduced Wisconsin's Safe Harbor Bill, AB 267, this session. The bill would eliminate the legal distinction of a "child prostitute," recognizing that children are victims of trafficking and should not be arrested as criminals. The Safe Harbor bill would also provide additional victim services to children forced into trafficking.

"I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of the people who spoke out on and supported progress on this issue -- your help was vitally important, and very much appreciated. With your continued involvement, I am hopeful that we can take further action on trafficking in Wisconsin."


 

 

 

 

Higher Education Bills Continue to Under-serve Wisconsin Students

Additionally, Gov. Walker's anemic "College Affordability Package" passed the Assembly. As you may know from previous newsletters, the plan did very little to address College Affordability in a meaningful way. Here is the statement I released following the bills' passage:

 

Higher Education Bills Continue to Fall Short

"Affordability" package passes the Assembly despite objections

MADISON - During Tuesday's legislative session, the Wisconsin State Assembly debated Governor Walker's "College Affordability Package." When the bills were introduced, opponents noted how their proposals fell short in creating reasonable change for students pursuing their higher education. Rep. Billings (D-La Crosse), who spoke on the bills during their initial hearings in the Committee on Colleges and Universities, released the following statement regarding the billsí passage in the Assembly:

"Throughout debate on these proposals, Republicans have tossed aside our commonsense proposals to make college affordable," Rep. Billings said. "Their bills -- though labeled the 'college affordability' package -- do little to make college more affordable for the nearly 1 million borrowers across our state. Their main provision that purports to alleviate debt burdens would only help 4 percent of borrowers.

During debate, Assembly Democrats offered amendments to make significant change in college affordability. These amendments included proposals to allow students to refinance their loan debts, as we do house and car loans, and to focus on paid over unpaid internships.

"To make matters worse, according to press reports the Senate Majority leader has stated that these proposals will likely be watered down further in the Senate, which is set to hear the bills next. This is a side-effect of Republicansí bad budgeting, and shows these proposals will become even weaker in attempt to address higher education costs.

"For the borrowers in our state addressing the student loan debt crisis is a priority. The existing proposals offer anemic solutions to a growing problem -- one that has amassed $19 billion in personal debt -- and with impending cuts, it will barely make a drop in the bucket towards addressing this crisis.

"These proposals offer crumbs, at best. We can do better, and we must do better to address the crisis facing Wisconsin students."

 


 

 

 

 

Important Legislation on Education, Environment Jammed into 100+ Bill Session

Unless you were watching Assembly debate very closely at nearly midnight on Thursday, you may have missed some of the most harmful legislative changes of the month.


Near midnight SB 651, a bill which changed the funding formula for voucher schools came before the Assembly. The bill originally was meant to address special needs scholarships. Unfortunately, an amendment was added to the bill at the eleventh hour, an amendment that was not germane to the billís purpose.


The amendment allowed the legislature to fund unaccountable, private voucher schools at the expense of our neighborhood public schools.


The process behind including this significant change -- as an amendment with NO public input -- is appalling. However, it is unacceptable that after significant budget cuts to education, that Republican legislators would choose to place another burden on our public schools.


Another bill considered late at night was SB 239, a bill which would eliminate DNR review of high-capacity wells.
Well-managed water levels on our rivers, lakes and streams are vital to fishing, hunting, boating and other outdoor activities, as well as quality tourism, commerce and maintained property values.


If the DNR is not allowed to properly regulate high-capacity wells, it will increase pressure on local governments to pass their own ordinances governing water usage. By prohibiting the DNR from exercising its responsibility to protect our shared resources, SB 239 would violate the public's trust and put our state waters at risk.

 

 
 
 

Rep. Billings Around the State

 

This week I met with members of the La Crosse Area Builders' Association and Mayo Clinic

Members of Western Technical College Student Government stopped by my office last week. I had a great time chatting with you all!

Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scouts gave their report to the state last week. Here I am pictured with Eagle Scout Justin Holten. Congratulations to Justin on his exceptional accomplishment!

This week I headed to Milwaukee to meet with members of the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force. We had a great dialogue on how to spread anti-human trafficking efforts through the state.

 

 

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