We only get one planet. It's time we started treating it better. I was proud to co-sponsor the Forward on Climate package, a comprehensive set of bills introduced by legislative Democrats in response to the Governor's Climate Task Force. It was a true team effort spearheaded by State Representative Greta Neubauer, who is the leader of our Climate Caucus. In addition to the Forward on Climate package, I am proud to have authored other bills to help tackle our state's environmental challenges, which are also listed below.
Relating to: prohibiting food and beverages from being served in foam polystyrene packaging and providing a penalty
Styrofoam containers are toxic for wildlife, potentially dangerous for humans, and non-biodegradable. As we transition away from single-use beverage containers and reducing food waste more broadly, the least we can do is ensure our food is not served in these Styrofoam containers when other, better alternatives are widely available.
Relating to: registration surcharges for electric vehicles and vehicles over 4,500 pounds
This bill would repeal the backward hybrid and electric vehicle tax Wisconsin has now, and replace it with a surcharge based on the weight of the vehicle being registered. Heavier vehicles cause greater wear-and-tear on our roads, so it only makes sense that they should pay more to use them. As vehicles become more fuel efficient, we will need to pursue alternatives to the gas tax to fully fund our roads, but that shouldn't come at the expense of those who choose more environmentally friendly vehicles.
Relating to: refundable income tax credit for bicycle purchases and making an appropriation
Bicycles aren't just a lot of fun and a great source of exercise, for many people they are also a viable option for their daily commute. Using bikes instead of cars is great for our environment, and this tax credit makes purchasing a good bike a little more palatable for the average consumer.
Relating to: Focus on Energy inclusion of programs promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy measures for low-income households
This bill would ensure that the state's popular Focus on Energy program prioritize low-income households in its energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. As we transition to a green economy, we cannot allow lower-income families to be left behind.
Relating to: funding of the Focus on Energy program
This bill would increase funding for our state's Focus on Energy program, a national model for encouraging businesses and residential customers to conserve energy - while saving money in the process.
Relating to: evaluating the social cost of carbon emissions
Carbon emissions, and the climate change that results from them, have disproportionate impacts on low-income families and communities of color. This bill would ensure we understand the full cost of pollution, who is most affected, and how deeply, so we can make more accurate cost-benefit analyses of potential solutions, and we can ensure those solutions are as equitable as possible.
Relating to: model academic standards related to climate change; grants to develop climate change curriculum resources; funding for the University of Wisconsin System and special education; and making an appropriation
This bill would allow the state, in partnership with DPI and the UW system, to develop climate change curricula, and have the necessary funding to do it.
Relating to: county conservation staff for climate change resiliency purposes and making an appropriation
This bill would expressly allow for county-level conservation staff to be specialized in climate change prevention and resiliency, and provide funding to do so.
Relating to: creating the Wisconsin Climate Corps program, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation
This bill would serve two very important purposes - tapping into local talent to fill workforce gaps while tackling climate change across Wisconsin.
Relating to: testing for PFAS in schools and daycares and making an appropriation
This bill helps ensure our children are not poisoned by “forever chemicals” in the drinking water they receive at school. This is particularly true in light of the lack of groundwater standards in Wisconsin, as well as the recently-approved drinking water standards being over three times the amount recommended by health experts.