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


Monday Night at the Movies

Mondays, 6:00-8:00 p.m. 

La Crosse Public Library

Moon Tunes

Thursdays until September 5th, 5:30-8:00 p.m. 

Riverside Park

How Time Flies - Celebrating a Century of Aviation

Friday, July 26th - Sunday, July 28th, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

2906 Fanta Reed Road

La Crosse Concert Band

Wednesday, July 31st, 7:30 p.m.

Riverside Park

Conductor: Ryan Waldhart

Theme: "By Land, By Air, & By Sea"


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

(608) 266-5780

Toll Free:
(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

The middle of the summer has been a relatively quiet period in the capitol. However, as you may have seen on my Facebook page, my office closed for the day last Friday due a downtown Madison fire and subsequent power outage.

Earlier this week, I attended the Council of State Government’s Midwestern Legislative Conference in Chicago. I was recently appointed to the Health and Human Services Board. I had the opportunity to collaborate with legislators from around the region, and learn about their policy solutions for important topics like education and healthcare.

I also enjoyed hearing our very own local former senator Brian Rude speak at the 25th anniversary luncheon for the Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership. I was fortunate to have been selected as a BILLD Fellow, which provides a great learning experience where legislators from around the Midwest come together to discuss bipartisan issues and hone their leadership skills. I am looking forward to applying some of what I learned to La Crosse County’s unique policy challenges and opportunities.

Please continue reading for articles on childcare access, storm chasers, the invasive wild parsnip plant, and the dark store loophole. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns. You can always contact my office by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing me at Rep.Billings@legis.wi.gov.


Best Wishes, 

Jill Billings
State Representative 
95th Assembly District

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Wild Parsnip: A Dangerous Invasive Weed

July in Wisconsin means the peak of summer blooms, but not all blooms are safe. This is especially important to note in the case of wild parsnip, an invasive species that usually blooms in early July. Last week, a briefing was held in the capitol to educate legislators on safety measures and removal efforts for this invasive plant.


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As a young plant, wild parsnip can be identified by its similarities to a celery plant. It matures to produce a single, deeply grooved, and greenish-yellow stem which can grow up to five feet tall. Its flat-topped clusters of yellow flowers from two to six inches wide bloom from late spring to mid-summer. The color changes from yellow-green to tan as seeds form in late July.

This invasive species is harmful to humans, as it causes a condition called phytophotodermatitis: if bare skin is exposed to the sap of the plant as well as sunlight, a rash or severe blistering occurs. Wild parsnip has been found in all 72 counties of Wisconsin, including La Crosse County, so use caution in roadside ditches and other transitional areas where wild parsnip flourishes. If exposed to the plant, wash the area off with soap and water, then stay out of the sunlight for at least eight hours to avoid a chemical burn.

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If you find this plant on your property, do not touch it with your bare hands. The best way to manage it is to mow it down, remove it by cutting its roots two inches underground, or apply pesticides. La Crosse is already doing a great job of mapping where wild parsnip is located, so that it can be treated and removed. You can participate in the mapping effort by downloading and using this app. Together, we can work to keep the native plants of Wisconsin and each other safe.


The Wisconsin Infant Toddler Policy Project

One issue I hear about regularly from both families and providers is the high cost of child care in our area. Data from La Crosse County shows that on average, families with one child in a full time licensed child care facility spends over $150 a week. In 2016, Wisconsin Public Radio reported that Wisconsin child care is the 13th most expensive in the nation, with an average cost higher than in-state college tuition. To work on combating this issue, Wisconsin was awarded a grant to make high-quality child care more available in the state. The action plan, The Wisconsin Infant Toddler Policy Project (WITPP), has a goal of expanding Wisconsin’s quality child care impact by 25% by 2023. In order to achieve this goal, a survey on care needs has been created to collect data about the experiences of Wisconsin parents.  If you are the parent or guardian of a child under the age of ten, please take the survey and be part of this exciting initiative.  

Survey English

Survey Spanish

Survey Hmong


Dark Store Loophole

In the original budget that Governor Evers proposed, he included a provision that would have closed the ‘dark store’ loophole. This refers to a tax loophole that allows big-box stores to reduce their property taxes by assessing their stores as if they were vacant or ‘dark’ stores, thus lowering their tax bills. As a result, in order to make up for the lost revenue, local governments have been forced to raise property taxes on homeowners and locally-owned small businesses. This tax burden should not be shifted to homeowners and small businesses, who are currently paying more in property taxes to subsidize large national retail chains like Walmart.

Wisconsin voters have made it clear that they do not support the dark store loophole: in a mid-term referendum on the ‘dark store’ loophole, 78% of voters supported the closure of this unfair tax loophole. I was extremely disappointed when the provision that would have closed the dark store loophole was removed by Republicans before the final version got to Governor Evers’ desk. I am currently co-sponsoring a bill that would amend the statutes to finally close this loophole. The bill has been referred to the Committee on State Affairs and awaits a public hearing.


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Beware of 'Storm Chasers'

As severe storms have recently caused property damage to homes and businesses throughout La Crosse County, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks affected property owners to be wary of ‘storm chasers’ that come to damage-stricken areas after storms with aggressive sales tactics. Instead, seek trusted contractors for repairs, or ask neighbors, friends, local home builder associations, or your insurance company for references. You can also contact DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline (800-422-7128) to check on complaints against a business.

I recommend visiting the Consumer Protection Bureau’s website for additional information or to file a complaint.


Rep. Billings in La Crosse and Chicago


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Recently I attended Lights for Liberty, a rally to end U.S. human detention camps, where I spoke about the trauma faced by children in detention facilities.


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One of the speakers at Lights for Liberty, pictured above, had relatives detained in concentration camps during WWII. 

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 At the Council of State Government’s Midwestern Legislative Conference in Chicago, I was able to learn from fellow legislators and listen to Brian Rude speak.