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



Pearl Street Banjo Band

Saturday, June 3

7 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Huck Finn's on the Water



DNR Fun Free Weekend

Saturday, June 3 - Sunday, June 4

Wisconsin State Parks



Artspire 2017

Friday, June 9 - Saturday, June 10

All day

Pump House Regional Arts Center



La Crosse Symphony Orchestra: From Paris to New York

Saturday, June 10

7:30 p.m.

Viterbo University Fine Arts Center



Digital Cameras with Jack Socha

Tuesday, June 13

6 p.m. - 8 p.m.

La Crosse Public Library Auditorium





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


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095




Friends and Neighbors,


I hope everyone had a pleasant and safe Memorial Day weekend. I enjoyed attending the annual parade and memorial service. It was great to see so many community members come out to remember and honor our fallen military members.


Following the weekend, I headed back to Madison for several important votes including a committee vote on the passage AB 299 relating to limiting freedom of speech on UW campuses. Please continue reading for my statement on this legislation.


The Assembly will convene two Wednesdays from now, on June 14, for what will likely be the only non-budgetary session of the month. Although the budget has not been scheduled for a vote yet, it may come toward the end of June. To this end, the Joint Committee on Finance has been busy deciding the budgets of a number of state agencies each week. I have included budget highlights from the last couple of weeks further down.


As always, 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


Please continue reading for more information on the happenings both in

La Crosse and statewide.


Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District



AB 299 Passes Out of Committee

This Tuesday, the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities took up AB 299, which would sanction free speech on University of Wisconsin System campuses. The bill passed along party lines, with all Democrats voting against it.

Free speech is of the utmost importance in our democracy. This bill needlessly restricts this basic constitutional right and will likely end up in the courts. Assembly Bill 299 is legislation drafted to address an extremely rare situation that is best handled by University of Wisconsin System campuses.

Our state is facing true economic problems that affect Wisconsinites' daily lives, from the largest manufacturing job loss since 2011, to being ranked dead last in start-up companies, to the stranglehold a billion dollars of student loan debt has on our state's future economic growth. I'd rather work with the university and students to develop legislation on programs to address these key, real issues we face in Wisconsin.


Budget Update

The Joint Committee on Finance met last week to vote on the proposed 2017-19 budgets of several more state agencies. On May 23, 2017, the committee voted on the Higher Educational Aids Board (HEAB), the Department on Children and Families, and the Department of Administration. Below are highlights from that executive session:

  • The JFC passed the governor's proposal to allocate $1.88 million in new funding for need-based Wisconsin Grants; this was far less than the $18 million needed to to eliminate the waiting list for need-based aid. While the Democrats introduced ways to expand grant funding opportunities and increase affordability, the Republicans struck down these proposals on party-line votes. The Republicans also struck down the Democratic "Higher Ed, Lower Debt" proposal that would offer relief for student loan borrowers and their families.

  • The committee voted 12-4 to expand drug screening and testing in Wisconsin Works, a set of programs focusing on finding jobs for low-income people. Similarly, without Democratic support, Republicans passed a proposal to reduce public benefits for families with children who skip class.

  • GOP committee members voted to transfer nearly 400 administrative jobs from various state agencies to the Department of Administration. Democrats voiced their concerns that these changes could compromise oversight.

On May 25, 2017, the committee voted on the UW System and Department of Health Services (DHS) budgets.

  • Democrats proposed a plan to restore $500 million worth in cuts over the past three budgets back to the UW System. Under this plan, Democrats sought to reinvest in the UW System, increase affordability, and expand access to higher education. The Republicans struck down this proposal, and passed several changes -- a $26 million allocation for performance-based funding, a tuition freeze without funding (costing the UW System $50 million over the biennium), $10,000 to "review and revise policies related to academic freedom," and $1.5 million annually for the creation of the Tommy Thompson Center on Public Leadership. I have heard from our local UW-La Crosse administrators who are greatly concerned over passing the tuition freeze without back-filling it.

  • Republicans approved the governor's proposal that able-bodied adults meet work requirements in order to remain eligible for FoodShare, although the definition of "able-bodied" is not always concrete. Republican committee members also approved estimates predicting $95.6 million less going toward Medicaid, and $9.3 million less going into SeniorCare. Additionally, Republican members passed the governor's provision to make Wisconsin the first state to require drug testing to qualify for Medicaid. This plan runs counter to Democrat-backed proposals to expand Medicaid, increase reimbursements, and protect Wisconsinites from possible cuts under the AHCA.

JFC's most recent meeting was this Wednesday, May 31. Please see the session highlights below.

  • I have heard from a number of constituents who expressed concerns over the governor's proposal to eliminate the DNR magazine. Fortunately, the JFC did not approve the proposal, voting instead to restore funding for the magazine in the state budget. However, Republicans passed a motion to reduce printing to four times per year from the usual six. The JFC also voted to increase daily state park admission by $5 and overnight  camping fees by $10, in addition to: restoring grant funding for ATV safety programs, increasing funding for snowmobile upkeep, eliminating the cap on wolf depredation payments, and eliminating deer and wild turkey carcass tags.

  • Members of the JFC defeated the governor's proposal to eliminate the Parole Commission entirely, but, despite Democrat opposition, Republicans voted to reduce the number of commissioners in half (from eight to four) and cut three administrative positions.

  • The governor's proposal to raise Assistant District Attorneys' salaries was approved. The biennium will also see a 4% adjustment in judges' salaries. In addition, JFC members unanimously agreed to create a State Prosecutor Board, which will oversee policies, ethics, and other prosecutor-related issues.

You can always watch live streams of all the hearings by tuning in to Wisconsin Eye.




Workforce Development

Creating good-paying jobs for the people in Wisconsin is of a high priority to me. In order to promote a healthy job market, I believe we need to invest in training highly-skilled workers for in-demand positions, as well as create quality job opportunities Wisconsinites can turn into gainful careers. Unfortunately, the Gov. Scott Walker's policies have not supported these goals.

Last week, the governor tried to bury news that shows his policies have not created the jobs he promised, and that wages are decreasing across Wisconsin. In 2016, the state lost nearly 4,000 manufacturing jobs, despite the fact Walker said his massive tax giveaways would create manufacturing jobs. Wisconsin is also dead-last in the country in start-up activity.

Clearly, the governor's tax breaks did not translate into more quality jobs, and his policies don't work for Wisconsin families. When wages go down, it means that hardworking Wisconsinites will work all day at a job but still not be able to afford to take care of their family. I believe we can do better for our communities and will continue to fight for our hard-working Wisconsin families.



Jill In the District

I was glad to be back in La Crosse for the annual Memorial Day parade and service. Thank you to everyone who gives their time to organize the parade and ceremony so that we can all honor our fallen military members. Additionally, a special thank you to the Logan High School Marching Band, who played at this year's gathering, and the Veterans Color Guard, who gave the traditional 21-gun salute and a very moving "Taps" - what a wonderful tribute to fallen soldiers and their families.

As a strong supporter of La Crosse's small businesses, I always appreciate the chance to meet with owners and tour their facilities. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a great North Side business, D n A Vintners, La Crosse's only winery. The winery unveiled their new "Trompe L'Oeil" three-dimensional painting by area artist Sarah Pederson, pictured below.

I also visited with Deb Lash -- a recent Chamber of Commerce honoree and owner of The Wedding Tree and The Court Above Main -- and toured her wonderful downtown businesses. Congratulations to both hard-working, successful women business owners!



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