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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 | email@example.com
Now - Saturday, April 8
Gallery open 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
UW-L Center for the Arts
Saturday, March 25
8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
La Crosse Center
Saturday, March 25
9 a.m. - 10 a.m.
Days Inn Hotel & Conference Center
Saturday, April 1, 7p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Pearl Street Brewery
Friends and Neighbors,
In the coming weeks, I am planning several events in the district including a Legislative Forum at UW-La Crosse to discuss the governor's budget proposal and potential other legislation before the Wisconsin State Assembly. The forum will be held Friday, March 31 at 3:30 p.m. in the Hall of Nations at UW-L's Centennial Hall. In addition, members of the Joint Finance Committee will be holding budget listening sessions throughout the state. Keep reading for more information on exact dates and locations.
I know many of you have already contacted me regarding the state budget, which I greatly appreciate. As budget listening sessions get underway, I would encourage anyone who has questions or concerns to attend one of them and/or to contact my office by calling (608) 266-5780 or e-mailing me at Rep.Billings@legis.wi.gov.
Please continue reading for more information on the happenings both in La Crosse and statewide.
95th Assembly District
Budget Listening Sessions
the co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance have released the
schedules for the state agency budget briefings, as well as for the budget's public hearings around the state,
both listed below. Both the state agency
briefings and the public hearings are open to the public; however, the
public will only be permitted to testify at the public hearings, which all
Wisconsinites are encouraged to do so. The briefings can also be watched
live or as recordings on
Democratic Agenda Rollout
On Thursday, March 16, Wisconsin's legislative Democrats rolled out the official 2017-18 democratic agenda. Prioritizing Wisconsin families and communities, the agenda highlights the importance of establishing an economy that works for all Wisconsinites as opposed to just the wealthy few. This includes investing in education and infrastructure that can benefits everyone, and keeping citizens informed and engaged in governmental processes and actions. To this end, we underscore three key values that will serve as our guiding principles this legislative session: fairness, opportunity and community. This agenda is meant to serve as a broad values statement, with the understanding that a more specific outline of programs is forthcoming.
"Repeal & Replace" of ACA to hit hard in Western WI
With 220,000 Wisconsin residents in
danger of losing their healthcare coverage if the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
is repealed, State Assembly and Senate Democrats wrote a
Wisconsin's congressional delegation, urging them to oppose Congressman
Paul Ryan's replacement plan. The letter, which was signed by all
members of the Assembly and Senate Democratic caucuses, voiced our
concerns that hundreds of thousands of people in Wisconsin would lose
their coverage altogether, while another 3.2 million could expect an
increase in out-of-pocket costs.
World Water Day
I was honored to have the opportunity to speak at a World Water Day event in La Crosse this Wednesday, March 23. The event was meant to raise awareness for issues related to water access both worldwide and in our community. There, I was joined by UW-L Geography and Earth Sciences Professor Colin Belby, UW-L Chemistry and Biochemistry Professor Kris Rolfhus, La Crosse farmer and Youth Educator Ana Skemp, and Sister Lucy Slinger, who is an ecological advocate for the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and an adjunct professor at Viterbo University. I was glad to be able to share the stage with these water advocates and I learned a lot from each of their talks.
I focused my part of the presentation on my concern that runoff manure from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) pollutes our groundwater, and does so at alarming rates. In fact, one third of the well water in Kewaunee is not safe to drink. Even more shocking is that a higher percent of the child population of Milwaukee County has detectable lead in their blood than do children in Flint, Michigan. This is simply unacceptable and it is time we think critically about protecting our state's water resources.
I also expressed my opposition to SB 76/AB 105, a piece of proposed legislation that would eliminate the requirement for high-capacity well owners to get any well renovations, reconstructions or transfers approved by the DNR. This approval process is currently the only opportunity the DNR has to review that a well in not over-pumping and causing water scarcity. I believe this bill would lead to a violation of the public's trust and put our state waters at risk.
Mississippi River Parkway Commission Appointment
I am honored to be appointed to the Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commission, a group that works hard to leverage funds for highways and byways, bike and walking trails, scenic overlooks, and historic preservation along the Mississippi River.
For many years, I have been a strong advocate for the Mississippi River Corridor, as well as for the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway, which is why I am thrilled to be a part of this group. As the ranking member on the Assembly Committee on Tourism, it is especially fitting and exciting to get involved with the MRPC, the members of which do so much good work to strengthen the areas along the Mississippi River.
The commission's next meeting is set to be in La Crosse on May 5, 2017 at 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Headquarters on 3550 Mormon Coulee Road.
Children's Caucus Wrap-Up
The statewide tour of the Legislative Children's Caucus finished this Friday in Rice Lake. By traveling to various communities in the state, one of the main recognitions my co-chairs and I came away with is that struggling families are often isolated and that to overcome this, we, as communities, need to band together to strengthen families and protect children. The reality is that many families rely on local community providers to receive crucial services. These providers -- both on the municipal and county levels -- do a lot of great work, but it is important to realize that not all parts of the state have the resources necessary to properly meet the needs of the people living there. This is why the state should invest in human services. Unfortunately, there has been no new funding for human services departments since the turn of the century although case loads have continued to grow. These departments, which were stretched thin as it was, have experienced an additional pull for resources recently as a result of Wisconsin's opioid abuse epidemic. This is why we must commit to funding human services departments across the state and raising awareness for the help they provide.
I was very pleased that all of the Children's Caucus sessions were well attended by legislators and the public. In La Crosse, we were lucky to hear from a wide array of knowledgeable speakers from the area, including Amanda Jalensky from the Family and Children's Center of La Crosse, Jodi Widuch and Kristi Strelow from The Parenting Place of La Crosse, and Dr. Ann Budzak, a pediatrician at Gundersen Health System. In the afternoon, we heard from Tanya Evanson from the Parenting Place of Monroe County and Lori Stellflue and Desiree Gearing-Lancaster, who work for Children and Family Services for the Ho-Chunk Nation. Our other wonderful speakers included Jason Witt and Tracy Puent from the Family and Children's Section of the La Crosse County Human Services Department, Isaac Hoffman from the La Crosse Area Family Collaborative, Neighborhood Resource Officer Daniel Ulrich from the La Crosse Police Department, and Laura Huber, who serves as principal at Northside Elementary School. I am very grateful for these speakers for sharing their time and expertise and, as always, am so proud to be a co-chair of this bi-partisan effort to advocate for all of Wisconsin's children.
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