Images not loading?
View this e-mail in your web browser.
(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI
New Winning Musical
7:30 p.m. -
Foundation Youth Fishing Derby
9 a.m. -
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Museum of La Crosse
Week Open House
8 a.m. - 2
Municipal Service Center
Historic Trolley Tours 2017
Friday, June 2
La Crosse County Convention
and Visitors' Bureau
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
Friends and Neighbors,
As we near June and the eventual Assembly vote on the state budget proposal, the Joint Committee on
Finance (JFC) has been busy tackling the budget bill piece by piece.
Noteworthy decisions this week included the
committee voting to increase funding for the Department of Children and
Families to provide to counties for child abuse and neglect prevention,
investigation and treatment. As a result,
$460,000 will come from the state general fund and $6.25 million federal dollars will be added. This would be
the first increase since 2009. I was glad to see the committee also
voted to expand services for child victims of trafficking and increase
rates for foster care and kinship care, though disappointed that
Republicans rejected Democrats' motions to increase funding to these
programs. Republicans also deleted a tax credit which would have helped
young adults who have aged out of the foster-care system.
Moreover, in light of May being Mental Health
Awareness month, I would also like to highlight that the committee voted
to give one-time non-general fund money to build a peer-run respite
center in the Milwaukee area. This would be the fourth such center in
Wisconsin. The committee also voted to provide one-time funding to
create a certification program for Youth Crisis Stabilization
Facilities; these facilities provide an alternative to psychiatric
hospitalization for young people dealing with mental health issues.
Unfortunately, Democrats' motions to make the funding ongoing instead of
one-time was defeated on a party-line vote in both of these instances.
Please continue reading for additional budget
updates from the past couple of weeks.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding
this pending legislation or any other issues, feel free to contact my
office by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing 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
Next week will be quite busy with three committees
I serve on scheduled to meet. The Assembly Committee on Transportation,
my first committee of the week, will hold a public hearing next Tuesday
on AB 261, AB 162, and AB 272. Following the hearing, the committee will
be voting on AB 185. You can read more about these four bills below:
designates a route in Milwaukee County upon which "high-wide" motor
vehicles may be operated with a permit. A "high-wide" vehicle
exceeds general state limitations on vehicle size, and is used to
pertains to professional baseball park districts (currently, only
Milwaukee County). Under this bill, such districts will report to
the Department of Transportation whenever they retire their
available bonds for facility development. The remainder of
additional annual fees will be distributed for special professional
baseball license plates (i.e., Brewers plates) to the county where
the vehicle for which the plate is issued is kept.
allows heavy-duty vehicles with idle reduction technology and
vehicles that run on natural gas to operate on public highways
despite exceeding weight limits.
eliminates the prohibition of the purchase and use of school
buses that are more than five years old and were previously titled
and registered in another state.
In addition, the
Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities will be meeting next
week. AB 299 -- a controversial bill that would curtail the freedom of speech
on UW campuses -- is expected to be voted on next Thursday in Colleges
and Universities. Please read below for more details and my position on
AB 299 - Free Speech on Campus?
Last Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Colleges
and Universities convened for a public hearing on AB 299, a bill that
would impose sanctions on students exercising their First Amendment
rights, including the right to free speech and to assemble. This bill
prohibits and threatens to punish student conduct on the basis of vague,
subjective classifications that alarm me, such as 'boisterous' and
'unreasonably loud.' These terms leave too much room for interpretation
and abuse of power to be effective.
I am opposed to this bill because I believe free
speech is an important, basic right in our democracy. Instead of
dictating free speech to the university, the legislature should be
empowering the UW System to handle these issues. Freedom of
speech and the exchange of ideas on our campuses is enshrined in our
universities' missions, and it is when students are presented with new
perspectives that challenge views that critical thinking and learning
In addition to the funding
decisions on Children and Families and Health Services, the following
were among the provisions passed by the Joint Committee on Finance over
the past couple of weeks:
Removal of a provision which
would have eliminated exam requirements for journeyman electricians,
plumbers, cosmetologists, and barbers if they completed an
End the Private Onsite
Wastewater Treatment System Grant Program by 2021, but maintain
current funding until then. The program provides low and middle
income homeowners and small businesses with a grant to repair or
replace a failing septic system; the vote to remove it was
Eliminate the weatherization
program, which requires either current or future landlords to ensure
that the property complies with certain energy efficiency standards
Support funding for the
County Veterans Service Officers grant program, veterans grant
programs, a crisis intervention services pilot program, and a women
Fund five positions to
complete the additional duties and responsibilities required by
state and federal law for state and local elections; six funded
positions were initially proposed in the budget
Adjust the age at which
volunteer firefighters are vested to receive service awards; cut the
state's maximum match funding for volunteer firefighters form $500
to just $390 annually
Delete the governor's
proposed tuition freeze on Wisconsin technical colleges, as well as
additional funding for these colleges, instead allocating $2.5
million annually to need-based Wisconsin Grants; the technical
colleges originally requested $23 million to eliminate the
Eliminate the governor's
proposal for performance-based funding to technical colleges
Remove provision that would
have reduced the homestead tax credit that helps low-income
homeowners and renters offset their property taxes; however, 11,300
people would be cut off from the credit
Keep local governments at
current funding levels ($753 million) annually; add inflationary
increases to state aid to local governments for computers, cash
registers and fax machines
Unfortunately, a number of
motions made by Democrats failed along party lines, including motions in
favor of nonpartisan redistricting reform and repealing Wisconsin's
voted ID law.
At their next meeting, the JFC
will take up parts of the budget related to: program supplements, the
Office of the State Treasurer, the Department of Administration, Medical
College, Higher Education Aids Board, UW System, and economic support
and child care in the Department of Children and Families. Remember you can
always watch live streams of
all JFC hearings by tuning in to
May is American Stroke Month
This May is
American Stroke Month.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is
the fifth most common cause of death in the U.S. Stroke is also the
leading cause of long-term disability, yet it is largely treatable with
early detection and treatment.
The American Heart Association's "F.A.S.T" model is an easy and
effective way to remember the warning signs -- (F)ace drooping, (A)rm
weakness, (S)peech difficulty, (T)ime to call 9-1-1. Being able to spot
the warning signs and call 9-1-1 immediately could save a life and limit
the risk of long-term disability. The faster the stroke is treated, the
more likely it is that the person will recover.
Eighty percent of strokes can be prevented through detecting the early warning
signs. While strokes can occur in babies, children or adults, it is
important to take necessary health measures to reduce one's risk of
having a stroke. By routinely checking one's blood pressure and taking
steps to keep blood pressure at a healthy level, American adults can
reduce their risk of heart attack or stroke.
DNR Free Fun
On Saturday and Sunday June 3rd and 4th, Wisconsin's Department of
Natural Resources is hosting a statewide Free Fun Weekend, and waiving
otherwise required fishing licenses, state trail pass fees, vehicle
admission sticker fees, and ATV registration and trail pass fees for all
state parks and trails. Typically, fishing license fees are $20
annually, trail pass fees are $5 per day or $25 annually, vehicle
admission fees are $8 per day or $28 annually, and ATV registration fees
for public use are $30. Fishing limits on the size and kind of fish will
still apply, however.
As we are blessed to be surrounded by so much natural beauty in La
Crosse, I urge you to take this opportunity to explore Wisconsin's
natural beauty free of charge, and to explore some of La Crosse's local
majesty. Nearby recreation areas to our beautiful city include (but are
not limited to) Perrot, Merrick, Mill Bluff, and Wildcat Mountain State
Parks, as well as the La Crosse River, Great River, and Elroy-Sparta
For an interactive map of Wisconsin State Parks and rivers,
Meeting with Student Groups
You can tell it's spring again as the Capitol halls fill with young
voices and laughter. Since the beginning of the year, and especially in
the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure to meet with a number of
school groups from La Crosse who are visiting Madison for the day.
Coming to the Capitol -- often one of the last and most memorable field
trips for Wisconsin 4th graders -- is a great opportunity for kids to
learn about state government. I greatly enjoy meeting with our students,
who always have great questions and are so excited to be at the Capitol.
Below are photos from Northside Elementary School's visit.
If you would like to have your name
removed from this email list,
please reply to this message with "Unsubscribe" in the subject line