Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

LR background from video soft.jpg
A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
On November 6th we chose a new direction for Wisconsin when we elected Tony Evers and Josh Kaul. However, it would seem that Governor Walker and Republicans in the state legislature did not get that message. Instead, they decided to pass a series of sweeping measure that subverted the will of the people and usurped power from duly elected constitutional officers.
Make no mistake, this extraordinary session is an unprecedented republican power grab. Never before in Wisconsin's 170 year history has an extraordinary session been used as a partisan ambush to hamper the authority and ability of an incoming Governor or Attorney General. 
It is deeply disturbing that out-going Governor Scott Walker and the Republicans that control the State Senate and Assembly would leave this as their lasting legacy in the state of Wisconsin.
What they are failing to recognize is that while they are unwilling to acknowledge the shift in power to a new Governor and Attorney General, these sweeping partisan changes will hamper our state government for years to come. We need a government that can function properly and what legislative Republicans are doing is dangerously short-sighted.
While Assembly Speaker Robin Vos can complain that the media is misrepresenting these bills, the fact remains that these were rushed pieces of legislation, only written after the election, with the intent to usurp the will of the people. To be clear, the drafting notes that were recently released show that Robin Vos only began working on these bills after the election of Tony Evers. 
These bills were released on Friday the 30th at 4:30 PM, passed the time  legislators could talk with state experts about these bills as they do not work over the weekend. Then, as session day dragged on from Tuesday into Wednesday, it became clear the Republicans in the Senate didn't really know all that Assembly Speaker Vos had put into these pieces of legislation.
Republicans have made the cold, calculated decision that if they can’t have the authority of these offices, no one can. It is un-American and violates Wisconsin's tradition of fairness.
               

In Service, 

 Signature.png

Chris Larson 
State Senator
7th District

 

P.S. Please see the "upcoming events" section of this newsletter for a listing of my upcoming town hall events. 

Governor Walker and the GOP did not Respect the Voters of Wisconsin

Tony Evers Scott Walker.png

 The Bills They Passed:

 

Senate Bill - 884This bill allows GOP lawmakers in Madison to replace the Attorney General with their own lawyers in key cases. Essentially, this makes the Republicans that control state government "acting" Attorney General. Legislative Republicans would be able to take any case that challenges the constitutionality of a state statute from the Attorney General's office and hire their own personal lawyers instead. This usurps the authority of the Attorney General, the will of the people, and would cost taxpayers millions of unnecessary tax dollars. This provision is particularly undemocratic and flies in the face of everyone who voted for change.    

Senate Bill - 884 also requires lawmakers to approve or reject court settlements, gives lawmakers (instead of the Attorney General) control over how to spend court settlements, and eliminates the Solicitor General's office that handles high-profile cases from the Attorney General's office.

This bill doesn't stop at just usurping the power of the Attorney General, it also lets Republicans in the legislature pretend to be the Governor. As part of this bill, Governor-elect Evers' power to appoint the chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has been put in "time-out." Claiming distrust for the incoming Governor, Republicans have temporarily taken control of the WEDC board away from Governor-elect Evers by assuring a 10-8 Republican majority on the WEDC board and giving the board the authority to appoint the CEO of WEDC, not Governor-elect Evers.

This time-out is supposed to sunset in September of 2019 and is designed as a stalling tactic to stymie a campaign promise Tony Evers made to disband WEDC and replace it with a more accountable state agency.      

As part of his campaign, as endorsed by the voters on November 6th, Governor-elect Evers pledged to hold Foxconn accountable and reign in the scandal plagued WEDC. Now, because legislative Republicans passed this bill, they have ignored the voice of the people and made it impossible for Governor-elect Evers to fulfill is campaign promises when he takes office. 

Not only that, but this horrible legislation also takes away Governor-elect Evers' administration's rule-making authority and gives that power to lawmakers. This piece seriously inhibits the ability of state agencies to help Wisconsinites who are in need of their services. There is also concern that Tony Evers would have trouble getting agency heads appointed to carry out his agenda within the state agencies because Republicans could essentially veto the nomination of any department head. Voters chose Tony Evers and he should be able to chose whom he likes to head his departments and agencies.  

This bill would also cement rules enforcing Wisconsin's restrictive voter ID laws so that they can not be altered administratively and set new unreasonable restrictions to early voting. They did this despite the courts already smacking down a previous attempt by Republicans to restrict early voting. What they have made perfectly clear is that they are truly afraid to allow more people access to voting.

And finally, as part of this sweeping legislation to ignore the voice of the people and insert their own will, legislative Republicans made it impossible for Governor-elect Evers to pull Wisconsin out of the lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Both Tony Evers and Josh Kaul openly campaigned on the promise that they would pull Wisconsin from this lawsuit and the majority of voters endorsed that plan.

By forcing Wisconsin to remain involved with this lawsuit, Wisconsin Republicans have left our friends and neighbors exposed to being kicked off of their insurance for pre-existing conditions. Many of us remember what healthcare was like before the Affordable Care Act. We remember families going broke to pay medical bills, and we know we can not return to that. That is why voters told us on November 6th to remove Wisconsin from this dangerous lawsuit.     

images.png
 

Senate Bill - 886: This bill makes it impossible for Governor-elect Evers to rollback the cruel waivers put in place by Governor Walker that put up unnecessary barriers for our neighbors to receive the assistance programs that they desperately need.

This legislation cements into our laws the draconian idea of drug testing fathers and mothers in order to get food assistance for their families. Governor Walker sought the waiver that allowed for this in Wisconsin and Tony Evers should have the same ability to reverse that decision should he so choose.

Senate Bill - 886 would also make the already powerful, Republican controlled Joint Committee on Finance, even more powerful by giving them unprecedented oversight over the Department of Health Services (DHS). Instead of allowing DHS to do its job, Republicans have decided to require the agency to seek approval from the Joint Committee on Finance before implementing plans and programs through federal departments, if  a $7.5 million threshold is met. Over 30 Wisconsin health organizations came out in staunch opposition to this bill and told Republicans to reject this bill. They did not listen to the stakeholders just like they did not listen to the will of the people who voted on November 6th.     

download (1).png
 

Senate Bill - 883: This bill flips the funding mechanism for road projects in order to not pay the "prevailing wage" to workers. This is another, in a long line, of attacks on worker wages in the state of Wisconsin. Paying the prevailing wage on contracted road projects ensures that we are getting quality workmanship not just the lowest possible bid. Not only that, but everyone deserves to make a family supporting wage. We can not expect to build strong communities by undercutting our friends and neighbors.    

This bill would also allow these road projects to avoid federal environmental protections. We have environmental protections for a reason. Wisconsin Republicans should not be playing fast and loose with our shared environment. We all count on clean water, clean air, and sustainable natural resources.

And just as icing on the cake, this bill also cut taxes for families making over $200,000 a year. Voters told us they wanted change and Republicans responded with more tax cuts for the rich.

81 Walker Appointments Approved in Lame Duck Session:

At the very start of the lame duck session, the Senate Republicans hurriedly approved 81 Walker appointees. This included appointments to the UW Board of Regents and many professional examining boards. What is particularly concerning is that many of these appointments never had public hearings and some of them were missing vital paperwork, like their statements of economic interest.

I joined my democratic colleagues in voting no on these appointments because without following the proper hearing procedures and without the requisite paperwork, I could not do my job in giving advice and consent.

That is added to the fact, that in less than a month, we will swear in a new Governor who should be making many of these appointments.       

 120418 Senate Session #101.jpg

I was proud to stand with my Democratic colleagues in unified opposition to these dangerous bills. Throughout the floor session, my colleagues and I fought these bills with everything we had. Unfortunately, the majority party in the Senate had made up their minds before we even took the floor and all of these bills passed with minimal changes and with near unanimous support from Republicans.         

      


Republicans Failed to Protect those with Pre-existing Conditions

insurance-denied.jpg

Assembly Bill 365While this bill purported to cover people with pre-existing conditions, the fact is it simply would have fallen catastrophically short of what coverage under the Affordable Care Act currently provides.

The only reason this bill was before the Senate is because Governor Walker and Attorney General Schimel are pursuing a federal lawsuit to abolish pre-existing conditions coverage along with the rest of the Affordable Care Act.

This is the very same lawsuit that Tony Evers and Josh Kaul pledged to remove Wisconsin from. They will now be prevented from doing because of the desperate, partisan provisions just passed in SB-884.    

If the Republican led lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act is successful and the state required health insurers to cover people with pre-existing health conditions and not charge them higher rates, health plans sold directly to families would consequently skyrocket.

My democratic colleagues and I have been prepared to tackle this issue since we introduced our own bill to cover pre-existing conditions back in 2017. And, we offered an amendment to the bill on the floor that would have, among other things, expanded Medicare under the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, this amendment was voted down on a party line vote with every Republican voting against it. 

By accepting the federal money to expand Medicare and cover more of our friends and neighbors in Wisconsin, we would've grown our own risk pool and been able to keep premiums low while continuing to provide coverage to those who need it the most.

Frankly, the bill the Republicans offered in the Senate early Wednesday morning only paid lip-service to covering those who suffer with pre-existing conditions and provided no real solutions to the many problems that will be inflicted on our state should they be successful in their attempt to overturn the Affordable Care Act. That is why a coalition of both Republicans and Democrats could not vote for this legislation and it failed.

I will continue to fight to make sure healthcare is affordable and accessible in Wisconsin.  

Take Action

TAKE ACTION.png

The fight is not over quite yet. Governor Walker can still do the right thing and let Governor-elect Evers work with the same power that he himself has used over the last eight years. Governor Walker can, and should, veto all of these incredibly damaging bills. The people of Wisconsin voted for Tony Evers to be the next Governor and they did so under the assumption that he would be able to govern with the same power Scott Walker had. 

 

Call Governor Walker at 608-266-1212 and tell him to respect the will of the people and VETO the power-grab. If the phone lines are busy use this contact form.

In Case You Missed It.png

The Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to you. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and around the country. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighbors and friends across the nation. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks.

There is a New Climate Report Out and It's Bad

According to a new report on climate change from the U.S. Government, the average global temperature is much higher and rising more rapidly than previously expected. According to David Easterling, one of the authors of a new U.S. government report, the temperature is rising more rapidly  than "anything modern civilization has experienced." While President Trump may be in denial about the devastating effect that global warming will have on our society, we can not afford continued inaction on this issue. Below is a list of takeaways from the report:

  • Crop production will decline: The quality and quantity of crops will decline across the United States due to higher temperatures, drought and flooding. In parts of the Midwest, farms will be able to produce only about 75% of the corn they produce today, and the southern part of the region could lose more than 25% of its soybeans.
  • Food sources from the sea will decline: Due to ocean acidification, there won't be as many oysters, shrimp, or crab. The report predicts a $230 million loss for that industry by the end of the century.
  • It will be hard to breathe: The pollen season will intensify and lengthen in parts of the United States due to warmer temperatures.
    Oak pollen in the Midwest will send more people to the emergency room for asthma, costing up to $170,000 annually, according to the report.
  •  Floods will be more frequent: Under the worst-case scenario, rising sea levels and storm surges in the Southeast could cost the region up to $60 billion each year by 2050 and up to $99 billion by 2090.
  •  Wildfires will increase: Wildfire season will continue to be longer and more destructive. The report predicts that wildfire could burn up to six times more forest acreage annually by 2050. 

Global climate change is something I take very seriously. I was very happy to add my name, alongside many other legislators, to a letter demanding 100% clean energy and phasing out fossil fuels by 2050. I believe that we need bold leadership on climate change in order to protect our public health and preserve our environment for future generations.   

Humanitarian Crisis at the US-Mexico Border

Our nation has always been a nation of immigrants. What is happening in our name at the US - Mexico border is shameful and cruel.

Families with children, some still in diapers, are being tear gassed while attempting to legally apply for asylum in our country. These people are fleeing terrible conditions back home and the Trump administration is denying them even the chance to make their case for a better life.

Slamming the door on the American dream is wrong. Immigrants have greatly enriched our nation and we know that diverse communities are strong communities. Trump’s actions and rhetoric are dangerously short sighted.

 

Events in the Community