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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 | email@example.com
Saturday, Jan. 13
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 15
Viterbo Fine Arts Center
Saturday, Jan. 20
5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Copeland Park Ice Rink
Saturday, Jan. 27
9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
English Lutheran Chuch
Friends and Neighbors,
Happy 2018 -- I hope everyone had a great holiday season! As the session nears its end, committees are still hearing and voting on legislation. The full Assembly is scheduled to meet on the floor next week, January 16, as well as on January 23.
I am energized to finish the session strong and am working on passing legislation that will benefit the people of La Crosse and throughout the state. I recently introduced the Water Pollution Notification Act, which would require the DNR to alert any residents and counties that may be affected by elevated pollutants in the water. The notification would need to occur within 30 days of detecting the contaminant exceedance unless there is an immediate public health risk, in which case the notification will need to occur within 24 hours. This bill rose out of concern that the DNR is not currently required to contact potentially affected residents even when monitoring wells are showing elevated pollutant levels. This bill was written with input from the La Crosse County Health Department and has already received bipartisan support from legislators from all corners of the state. I believe this is an incredibly important step in protecting our communities.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the Water Pollution Notification Act or any other legislation. You can 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
Human Trafficking Awareness Month
January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and January 11 marked National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Day. Human Trafficking Awareness Day seeks to inform people on ending this modern-day form of slavery, returning rights to individuals and making the world safer for everyone. Human trafficking is a problem statewide, nationwide and worldwide. The U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 individuals are trafficked, of whom 80 percent are women and 50 percent are children.
As many of you know, combating human trafficking is an issue that is very important to me, and I have been fighting to ensure that child victims of trafficking are given immunity from criminal trial. At the beginning of this session, I introduced Assembly Bill 186, which seeks to protect minors who have been trafficked from being prosecuted as criminals.
AB 186 has gained bipartisan support and passed the Assembly Committee on Children and Families on a unanimous vote, and it is awaiting a hearing in the Senate. Many of you have asked me what you can do to help move the bill forward. To this end, here are a couple of action items:
Many of you have contacted me in opposition to Assembly Bill 547, which creates a loophole in the permitting process for wetlands, therefore making it easier to destroy this important part of our environment. I am resolutely opposed to this threat to our environment, and I do not believe this bill is the answer for Wisconsin. I intend to vote against this legislation should it come before me, as well as against any bill that irresponsibly strips away environmental protections.
Threats to our wetlands was one of the many reasons I was resolutely opposed to the Foxconn bill Gov. Walker and Republicans pushed through the legislature. Since Foxconn is not required by law to avoid or minimize harmful effects to our environment, the 42 wetlands surrounding its construction site are endangered and the company has already began to fill them in. This is the sort of irresponsible conduct I was opposed to when I voted against the Foxconn bill. I will continue to fight and be an advocate for our environment whenever possible.
Bethany Lutheran Homes/Inclusa
I know many of you have expressed concern over a letter residents at Bethany Lutheran Homes received at the beginning of the year alerting them that they will need to relocate due to differences between BLH and Inclusa, a managed care organization that contracts with long-term care facilities. This rose out of Inclusa and BLH not being able to agree upon a reimbursement rate due to changes in Inclusa's reimbursement structure; Inclusa recently moved to an acuity-based model, which resulted in lower reimbursement rates for BLH. Our legislative delegation met with the Department of Health Services regarding this issue, and they are closely tracking its development.
This conflict has caused many BLH families and residents to worry that they will need to find a new long-term care facility in a short amount of time. However, BLH and Inclusa have returned to the table to negotiate a new contract, which is expected to be signed shortly. Hopefully, this should result in no residents having to move.
While some details are still outstanding, I wanted to shed light on this situation as I know it has many community members concerned. Please feel free to reach out to me if I can be of any assistance regarding this issue.
Lincoln Hills Juvenile Prison Could Close
On January 4, 2018 Governor Walker introduced a proposal under which the Lincoln Hills correctional facility would be reformatted and refinanced in the next budget. Governor Walker's proposal, strikingly similar to reforms proposed by Representative Evan Goyke late last year, includes repurposing the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities for a medium-security adult correctional facility and creating five smaller regional facilities for juvenile corrections.
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