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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, Jan. 26
7:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Pump House Regional Arts Center
Saturday, Jan. 27
Saturday, Feb. 3
Moose Family Center
Sunday, Feb. 4
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Children's Museum of La Crosse
Friends and Neighbors,
It is hard to believe that the legislative session is ending relatively soon given how busy the Capitol has been. Committees are meeting almost every day and bills are still being introduced, heard and voted on. I am continuing to work hard to promote my various pieces of legislation. In the last issue of my newsletter, I encouraged you to put pressure on Sen. Van Wanggaard hear AB 186, the Sexually Exploited Children Protection Act. Today, I am happy to announce that the Senate version of this bill -- SB 344 -- has been scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety next Tuesday. I would like to thank all of you who have called, emailed or otherwise advocated on behalf of this important piece of legislation.
I am also working hard on my other pieces of legislation, including the Water Pollution Notification Act continues to received positive bipartisan support. I will continue to fight to get this bill through the Assembly before the end of the session. If it does not pass this year, I fully intend to re-introduce it. I also recently introduced the Rail Safety Act. Scroll down to read more about this bill.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns about these or any other pieces of 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 locally and statewide.
95th Assembly District
Third Package of Opioid Bills Introduced
I am a co-sponsor of the third package of Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) bills. This package emerged as a result of the findings of a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study, which yielded seven recommendations spread across four different issue areas: workforce, women's health, data and justice-involved individuals. The bills focus on treatment and recovery, as well as on expanding prevention efforts.
The first of the two bills addresses law enforcement and public safety by creating a medically assisted treatment pilot program for former inmates at risk for death from drug overdose. Additionally, it provides for the statewide expansion of family drug treatment courts, which provide support and accountability to families in recovery, including coaching on improved parenting skills and making a safe and permanent home for children. The bill also adds two full-time drug prosecutor positions to assist District Attorneys in Wausau and Appleton, as well as provides $1 million in grants for law enforcement to improve targeting high level drug traffickers.
The second bill in the package, which focuses on healthcare and workforce needs, expands substance abuse counseling and includes funding to better train county social workers on tackling opioid related child welfare cases. In addition, the bill also provides money to the UW School of Nursing to expand training for psychiatric mental health nurses and target increasing access to buprenorphine, a medication used to treat people struggling with opioid abuse.
Rep. Billings Introduces Railroad Safety Act
Last Friday, I introduced legislation aimed at increasing safety measures related to the transportation of hazardous materials. Although these materials most often arrive safely, we all know that unfortunate tragedies can devastate surrounding areas. This proposal would increase preventative measures in order to ensure safety of railroads in Wisconsin, as well as prepare local first responders for the unfortunate event of a derailment or crash. Additionally, this legislation would require accurate post-accident reviews to occur and be reported to the appropriate people. I reached out to local stakeholders in the drafting of this bill and plan to continue to work with our community to address this important issue. I firmly believe that having additional safety precautions, more prepared first responders, and improved reporting after the fact all will contribute to less tragedy and increased safety for Wisconsin. I introduced a similar proposal last session, and although it did not reach the floor for a vote, I am committed to fight for good reforms for Wisconsin because I believe we need more legislation that improves safety for our friends, family, and neighbors.
Simplifying Dental Care for Children in Foster Care
Thousands of Wisconsin's children are served by our state's foster care system. In total, there were more than 7,000 children needing homes in 2016, and, if projections are correct, Wisconsin will have more than 10,000 children involved in the foster care system by 2023. As a member of the Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care, I have had the opportunity to talk to stakeholders from around the state over the past several months in order to work on improving our foster care system. After hearing from so many people affected by the system and the obstacles it can cause, I introduced AB 781. This proposal aims to more clearly define "dental care," since the existing Wisconsin statues contain vague words, leaving "ordinary dental care" up to interpretation.
AB 781 is one of 13 proposal the Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care release as a result of hearing from parents, children, and services involved with foster care throughout the state. I am proud to serve on this task force as an advocate for Wisconsin's youth.
Rep. Billings testifying on AB 781
Constituents in the Capitol
Over the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to meet with local representatives of the Wisconsin Credit Union, the Wisconsin Bankers Association, the Wisconsin Dental Association, the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the Petroleum Marketers. Below are a few photos I was able to take with some of these groups.
I always appreciate when local folks make the trip to meet with me in Madison and talk with me about the issues they are championing. I always make an effort to get the perspective of local stakeholders whenever I have a question on a bill or policy. If any of you or the groups you are a part of would ever like to meet with me either at the Capitol or in La Crosse, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Representatives from credit unions in La Crosse came to advocate for financial literacy education
I also met with Bankers from La Crosse and the surrounding area
La Crosse area dentists and dental students came to visit me in the Capitol
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