A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

I hope you had a safe and fun Independence Day. It was great to see many of you at the Bay View and Cudahy parades and around Summerfest's 50th anniversary.

Last week, I joined some of my Democratic colleagues in discussing a new health care proposal that would create more coverage opportunities for our neighbors without an additional state cost. As more of our neighbors are concerned with losing their coverage due to threatened national legislation, Democrats are thinking ahead and looking for opportunities to expand and enhance health care options in Wisconsin.

Keep reading for more about this 'BadgerCare for All' plan.

And no, you didn't miss it -- Wisconsin families and local communities are still waiting for Republicans to pass their state budget, which is now two weeks tardy. Look for the update on this topic later in this edition of the newsletter. 

Enjoy your week!

In Service,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7


Health Care Security for Wisconsin Families

For decades, we've been subject to an increasingly unfair and overpriced health care system. Insurance companies have offered more hollow, overpriced plans and our neighbors have been summarily denied coverage when they need it most. Not only should our neighbors be able to go to the doctor when they need to, but they should be able to afford the care they receive. Likewise, we cannot allow for our family, friends, and neighbors to lose the security of knowing their coverage won't be capped when they have cancer or another serious illness.

Recently, a new Marquette Law School poll was released. The results were telling and gave us clear insight where Wisconsinites think we should be heading, but aren't.

According to the poll results, the number of Wisconsin voters who want to keep and improve the Affordable Care Act was twice as high as the number who want the law stripped away. Similarly, our neighbors voiced their strong opposition to the health care scheme passed by the House Republicans. The results are in, and they are common sense: our friends and family want more health care and financial security, not less. Unfortunately, over and over our neighbors have been betrayed and ignored by Walker and Trump Republicans who are on the wrong side of this issue. Their failure and betrayal comes with a large price tag.

For instance, when Walker decided to play politics with the health of our neighbors by rejecting the opportunity to strengthen BadgerCare, it not only resulted in less of our neighbors having access to affordable coverage, but his scheme is also projected to cost us $678.6 million by the end of the year.

To make matters worse, in both the House and Senate bills, states that rejected the opportunity to expand our Medicaid program, like Wisconsin, stand to lose billions of our dollars to other states. According to a report by the Missouri Hospital Association, Wisconsin would lose $37 billion by 2025 under the Republican House scheme. Learn more about this loss of federal resources under the federal bill, here. 

While the new Marquette poll gives us a new perspective on our neighbors' disapproval of recent federal actions, we've known of the overwhelming public support for strengthening our state's BadgerCare program for years. A poll in March showed a majority of Wisconsin voters want our federal elected officials to keep the ACA. In November 2014, voters in 20 municipalities across the state asked Walker and state Republicans to accept the federal opportunity to expand BadgerCare.

Democrats are Listening to our Neighbors and Sticking to our Shared Values
Wisconsin Democrats have not forgotten our traditional, shared value of taking care of our neighbors. Ensuring coverage for all Wisconsinites by working collaboratively and innovatively is the Wisconsin Way. For these reasons, I was proud to co-sponsor the BadgerCare for All Act and announce details of the plan at a press conference last week.

It is inherent upon leaders to put forward ideas that reflect our values and makes sure people are viewed as our neighbors and not dollar signs. Whereas national Republicans are creating uncertainty around health care access and coverage, Democrats are putting forward bold ideas to ensure health care security for our neighbors. The BadgerCare for All proposal would create a 'public option' for Wisconsinites by allowing people of any income level to purchase BadgerCare coverage.

Specifically, the proposal (LRB 3785) requires the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to request a waiver from the federal government to allow individuals and small businesses to purchase BadgerCare coverage on the health insurance exchange. The bill also requires the Department to request that individuals receiving health insurance through a BadgerCare buy-in program have access to the same premium supports that are available to those who purchase private insurance on the exchange.

This plan would open the door to more high-quality, affordable health care options. It would also help Wisconsin's robust self-employed population, from the rural farmer to the freelance photographer, to Alex Galt of Green Bay who co-owns Kavarna Coffeehouse. Alex wrote to the newspaper after the bill was announced to tell his story and why this bill would be critical for his family. Alex noted that having a BadgerCare for All option would "provide a basic level of security for me and my family." Read more about Alex's story, here.

Providing Health Care Security, While Reducing Costs
According to Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a BadgerCare public option would save our neighbors an average of over 15% compared to existing health insurance options in Dane County and an average of 30% compared to the lowest cost silver plan statewide.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that a BadgerCare "buy-in" model like the one proposed under the BadgerCare for All bill would cost adults $7,224 per year. In contrast, the lowest cost silver plan in Dane County available on the Marketplace would cost a 40-year-old applicant $8,350 per year in premiums and deductibles. That is 15% higher, or $1,117 more, than BadgerCare. Statewide that same private insurance plan would be on average 30% more, or $2,162 more per person per year than the BadgerCare public option.

BadgerCare is a popular, successful, and cost-effective program that allows the state to use its buying power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and services. This means lower out-of-pocket costs and premiums. Further, creating this public option for BadgerCare would not come at an additional cost to the state. More quality, affordable health care choices for our families is a win-win for Wisconsin. 

We are living in uncertain times, particularly when it comes to health care security. I know many of us are worried about being one of the 22 million people projected to have their health care taken away by federal Republicans. Health care security is about more than just having coverage; it's about having coverage that is affordable and protecting families against the discriminatory practices of big insurance corporations. The BadgerCare for All bill is one step towards a proactive approach to protecting the economic and health security of our neighbors, children, and families. Read on for more on how you can help us move this important proposal forward.


Take Action:

The BadgerCare for All bill would open the popular and effective BadgerCare program to anyone, regardless of income, through a buy-in program.

Join the call for expanded access to BadgerCare in Wisconsin! Click below to sign the Citizen Action of Wisconsin petition.


In Case You Missed It
Each week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
  • GOP Two Weeks Tardy on Passing State Budget
    Under Wisconsin law, we do budgets that run for every two years, and it must be enacted by July 1 in odd-numbered years. If you're looking at a calendar, you'll likely notice this means the Republican majority is already two weeks tardy in getting its budget passed.

    This failure to lead has a cascading effect across the state. Right now, local communities and school districts are stuck, waiting to find out how much state aid they'll be allowed to receive and what might be cut so they can balance their own budgets. In particular, it's difficult for each of our local schools to forecast their budget for the upcoming school year, which will determine how many teachers they can afford to keep on.

    After years of 'invite only' town halls and governing, Republicans are at an impasse. It turns out; they're unable to get to a budget that satisfies all the special interests that are clamoring for their piece of a $76 billion pie (the most spending of any budget in state history). The biggest topic is how much more transportation debt to pile on as they kick the can down our crumbling, pothole covered roads.

    Our neighbors deserve to have a budget that works for them, not one that just caters to the big-money special interest groups that have stacked the deck in their favor.

    Democrats, meanwhile, have put forward several ideas to ensure our budget is balanced and supports Wisconsin working families by leveling the playing field, restoring the much-needed funds that have been slashed from our kids' schools the last few years, and by creating common sense paths to economic security.

    For our kids, for our future, and for Wisconsin, we can and must do better than continuing to delay the next budget anymore. Listen to the Senate Democrats' Weekly Radio Address, here.
  • Governor Walker and GOP Out-of-Touch Transportation Budget
    Recently, Governor Walker sent a plea to Republican leadership in the Senate and Assembly begging them to save his political skin over transportation funding in the state budget.

    In his letter, Governor Walker attempts to entice legislative Republicans by offering a small retreat from his massive borrowing scheme, yet again he fails to address the desperate need for infrastructure investment beyond mega-projects lobbied for by his special interest donors.

    This clearly shows that Wisconsin GOP leaders are complacent to create a patchwork of half-measures that dangerously lacks vision and commitment to finding a long-term sustainable funding for our transportation needs and Wisconsin's future. Our citizens have demanded more, yet the GOP continues to ignore the will of the people. Click here to read the letter.

  • Getting Kids Reading Ready 
    As part of my ongoing leadership on education issues, I sit on bipartisan council that is tasked with preparing our young kids with reading readiness. The council met this week to discuss new outreach efforts to parents to help them in preparing their young kids for entering school. This Ready4K model is a text messaging program that is free to school districts and sends out creative learning tools to parents. For example, parents enrolled in the program would receive tips, such as "When you're at the store, go on a letter hunt. Can your child find an 'A' on a sign, box, or food label?" Learn more about the Ready4K program, here.

    This is just one step in a larger effort that must be made in preparing young kids for school readiness. I look forward to continuing to work with my Democratic colleagues on ways the state can further invest in our children, such as broadening access to 4K programs.

  • Thank you, Hunger Task Force!
    The Hunger Task Force is doing great things for our children and community!

    When school lets out each summer, some families find themselves without the access to healthy meals each day. For 12 years, the Hunger Task Force has worked tirelessly to provide a solution to this problem, and they have had an amazing impact. There are now 138 Summer Food Service Program locations around the city that offer free meals to all kids under the age of 18!

    A huge thank you to the Hunger Task Force and their partner organizations for their devotion to ensuring a healthy community! Click here to learn more about this program.

  • Congratulations, UWM Zilber School of Public Health!
    Congratulations to UW-Milwaukee for receiving accreditation for the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, UW-Milwaukee, which is now the first Wisconsin public health school to receive accreditation.

    This accreditation is another example of the hard work, dedication, and talent within the UW System and why we need to continue to invest in all levels of education. Click here to learn more about this accomplishment!

  • Bees and Pollinators in Danger
    Did you know that in 1977, the honey bee was declared Wisconsin's state insect? Besides producing millions of pounds of honey each year and helping boost our state economy, bees also play a vital role in the balance of nature. Countless flowering plants are pollinated by honey bees, including fruits and vegetables like broccoli, squash, apples, and cherries.

    Unfortunately, honey bees and other pollinators are in grave danger.

    Neonicotinoids are a category of insecticide used in many agricultural practices, but they have many negative effects on the environment. A new study published in the journal Science links neonicotinoid usage with fewer queen bees as well as colonies having greater trouble surviving the winter.

    States have taken several approaches to protect pollinators, including habitat restoration, funding for pollinator protection, education and study, and pesticide restrictions. At least 17 states have bills to increase pollinator protection and awareness in the 2017 session. Do you think Wisconsin should do more to protect our state's pollinators? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this Facebook post.

Events in our Community 

Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.

Bastille Days
Thursday, July 13 and Friday, July 14 from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.,
Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 16, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Milwaukee's popular French festival, and one of the nation's largest French-themed celebrations, returns to the downtown area. The free, 4-day bash attracts over 250,000 visitors who can enjoy live music, an international marketplace, chef and wine demos, French and Cajun cuisine, a 5k run, and a signature 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica offering hourly light shows.


South Shore Frolics
Friday, July 14, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, July 15, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Experience one of the oldest festivals in Milwaukee - 2017 marks its 68th year! Formerly known as the South Shore Water Frolic, the festival includes children's games, fish fry, bands, art and vehicle exhibitions, and the festival's signature Atomic Fireworks display. Join in on the fun at South Shore Park.


Dog Day at Drexel
Saturday, July 15, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dog Day at Drexel features Pier Pups, a unique dock diving venture that caters to all dogs, from novice to pro jumpers. This family-friendly event also features dog-related vendors, business, and door prizes.

Festa Italiana
Friday, July 21, 3 p.m. to Midnight, Saturday, July 22, 11:30 a.m. to Midnight, and Sunday, July 23, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Festa Italiana celebrates its 40th year in 2017! The festival is held at the Henry W. Maier Festival Park, and stands as the largest Italian event of its kind in America today. It carries on time-honored traditions including the celebration of Sunday Mass and Procession, cultural exhibits, bocce, gondolas, photos of the historic Third Ward and Italians in Milwaukee, delicious food, entertainment, and fireworks!


Film on the Hill
Saturday, July 22, shortly after sunset
Enjoy a family-friendly movie in Humboldt Park. La La Land marks the second film of the summer in the Bay View Neighborhood Association's three-film summer series. The film will be played at the Humboldt Park Bandshell.

FUEL Summer Splash Boat Cruise

Thursday, July 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
FUEL Milwaukee, a community engagement organization for young professionals and those new to the neighborhood, is sponsoring a summer boat cruise along the Lake Michigan waterfront. This relaxing evening of networking, relaxing, and skyline views departs from 101 West Michigan Street at Milwaukee Boat Line's Primary Dock.

South Milwaukee Heritage Days

Monday, July 24 to Sunday, July 30, 2017
Take part in this annual tradition that celebrates the history and vibrant community of South Milwaukee! Events include the 16th Annual D.A.R.E. Golf Outing, organized by the South Milwaukee Police Department's D.A.R.E. program, an Ice Cream Social and Band Concert, Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner with accordion musician Val Sigal, and more. Of course, don't forget to join me and 100 local groups to finish off Heritage Days on Saturday, July 29, 11 a.m. at the the Heritage Days Parade. The parade will begin at the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and 8th Avenue, continue westward on Milwaukee to 16th Avenue, and turn north to end at the South Milwaukee Lionsfest.




Wisconsin State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

(608) 266 7505
(800) 361-5487

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