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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 | email@example.com
Saturday, August 26
7 p.m. - 10 p.m.
The Wine Guyz
Friday, September 1 -
Monday, September 4
All rides leave from Cameron Park
Free General Admission
Sunday, September 3
12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Friday, September 8 -
Saturday, September 9
Myrick Park Main Shelter
Friends and Neighbors,
During the past couple of weeks I have heard from many of you about Foxconn, whether at my listening session, over phone and email or as respondents to my survey. Only 10 percent of people surveyed fully support the Foxconn deal, with the top concerns cited being the $3 billion price tag and threat to the environment. Similar concerns came up in constituents' comments at the listening session.
For these reasons -- and on the grounds that the $3 billion giveaway could jeopardize our schools being adequately funded and our roads being fixed -- I voted against the Foxconn bill on the floor of the Assembly last week. You can read more about my concerns in my op-ed on the Foxconn arrangement here.
With a busy few weeks in the Capitol, I look forward to spending more time in La Crosse. I am especially hoping to see many of you at the Labor Day Parade and Labor Fest at Copeland Park. I always enjoy spending Labor Day in La Crosse, celebrating all the hard workers who keep Wisconsin great.
As always, I would love to hear from you on this and any other state matters of interest to you. If you have any questions or concerns regarding pending legislation, the state budget, or any other issue, 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 detailed information on the happenings both in La Crosse and statewide.
95th Assembly District
After the Foxconn bill -- Special Session Bill 1 -- was referred to the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), the committee held a public hearing outside of Racine, one of the likely sites for a future Foxconn facility. Feedback from constituents from the area was mixed, with a number of people expressing concern over the lack of fiscal prudence and an environmental impact statement. A vote has not yet been scheduled for the Foxconn bill.
As of today, passing the budget is 56 days overdue. The governor says he anticipates signing the budget by summer's official end, September 22. However, the JFC co-chairs seem less optimistic, saying this is not yet a done deal due to several major disagreements between the Republican caucuses, namely differences of opinion on repealing the personal property tax and funding transportation. Some Senate Republicans advocate for a full repeal for the personal property tax, including $239 million in the second year of the biennium to backfill lost revenue for local governments.
The JFC met yesterday, August 24. Republicans passed along party lines a motion to eliminate the forestry mill tax, which funds approximately 75 percent of our forestry system and many of Wisconsin's forestry programs. The tax pays for wildfire control and research and habitat work on forest wildlife and endangered species. As one of the first states in the county to invest in our forestry program, Wisconsin has been increasingly falling behind due to Republicans' refusal to adequately fund our natural resources. Eliminating the tax and backfilling it through the general fund will will cost the state $181 million, which is unwise in the face of large outstanding items like the transportation and education budgets.
The committee unanimously voted to increase pay progression funding for Assistant State Public Defenders by five percent in each biennium. JFC also revisited the daily rates that counties pay for juveniles housed at juvenile correctional facilities, setting them at $390 for 2017-18 and $397 for 2018-19.
Republicans of the committee also voted for an additional $1 million per year to increase funding for lottery advertising, rejecting Democrats' motion to use a portion of the funding for responsible gaming public service announcements.
Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care
The Speaker's Foster Care Task Force had its first on-the-road meeting this Wednesday in Wausau, where we heard from foster families and various counties' human services workers on the challenges of out-of-home care. The main focus of the meeting was on community response programs (CRP). These preventative programs provide voluntary support to families who are not receiving services because -- even though they were reported to county child protective services -- the report could not be substantiated and the case was closed without removing the child from the home. CRP work directly with families and help connect them with community resources to address their immediate needs. These needs include parenting support, mental health treatment and child health and development. Workers in these programs are usually involved in case management, home visits, goal setting, performing comprehensive assessments and utilizing flexible funds. Families work with CRP for an average of 16-20 weeks. CPR has proved to be very effective: according to a Kenosha County study, 99 percent of families who utilize this preventative program do receive a substantiated child abuse/neglect referral while in CRP, and 95 percent do not receive one with a year of case closure.
Three CRP testified at the hearing: Marathon County CRP, Kenosha County CRP, and the CRP from Adams, Green Lake, Marquette and Waushara Counties. As members of the task force, we will take the information and recommendations offered at the hearing to brainstorm solutions for reuniting children and families.
The Assembly Transportation Committee, on which I serve, will meet for a public hearing of four bills next Tuesday. This legislation is outlined below:
DNR Update: Lake Sturgeon Hook-and-Line Season Opens
Starting September 2 and continuing until the end of the month, anglers will have an opportunity to try their hand at catching lake sturgeon. For those looking to harvest a sturgeon, a pass can be bought for a single fish larger than 60 inches. Passes are $20 for Wisconsin residents and $50 for nonresidents. The harvest tag must be immediately attached to a legal-size fish being harvested. It must then be taken to the registration station by 6 p.m. the next day.
While a number of people will be looking to harvest one of the sturgeon, many other anglers are also expected to go out just looking for the thrill of catching the releasing the massive fish, which can grow longer than six feet and heavier than 150 pounds. The largest recorded lake sturgeon in the world weighed in at 170 pounds, 10 ounces and was pulled from Yellow Lake right here in Wisconsin!
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