LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER


Click here to view this Email in your Web browser
 

 

June 5, 2015

     

 

CONTACT ME


Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

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

 

Website:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

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. 




 

Sign up for the GO Pass at senior and community centers 

Date: Various dates throughout May and June

Description: The Milwaukee County Transit System's (MCTS) free transit pass, known as the GO Pass, is available for eligible seniors or persons with disabilities. The pass allows all Milwaukee County residents 65 and older unlimited free rides on MCTS buses. The free pass will also be available for residents with disabilities who meet certain requirements.

 

MCTS will be traveling to senior and community centers to help process GO Pass applications. CLICK HERE for a list of locations, dates, and times.

 

 
Movies in the Garden
Date: Friday June 5, show starts at dusk
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Garden District Neighborhood Association and Ocean Breeze Entertainment present a free movie in the garden. Free popcorn and beverages will be provided. Bring your own chair/blanket. This is an ongoing event throughout the summer.
 

Community garden at 6th & Howard (where the Farmers Market is held).

 

Neighborhood Rummage Sale
Date: Saturday, June 6 at 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: There will be a neighborhood rummage sale held at the farmers market on 6th and Norwich. 66 free 10'x10' spots are available for community members, contact Dawn at 414-379-2450 if you are interested in reserving a spot.

 

Farmers market on 6th St & Norwich

(MAP)

Milwaukee, WI 53207

 

Free Family Fun and Movie Night*
Date: June 6, 6 p.m. to9 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Meet your favorite Brewers Racing Sausages, play games, and create crafts, enjoy complimentary Toppers Pizza and fresh popcorn while you watch Big Hero on the front lawn. Music, (Bring your chairs and blankets). Meet your neighbors and new friends!
*Parent or Adult Chaperon must be present during the movie.
 

St. Mark's Episcopal Church

1314 Rawson Avenue

(MAP)

South Milwaukee, WI

 

Wisconsin Bike Week
Date: June 6 to June 13
Location: Milwaukee
Description: It's time to celebrate all-things bicycling! From family fun rides to commuter stations, and baseball games to overnight camping trips, there is something for everyone during Wisconsin Bike Week.

 

CLICK HERE for a schedule of events.

 


Chill on the Hill 2015
Date: Tuesdays, June through August, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Bay View Neighborhood Association, in partnership with the Milwaukee County Parks, has brought the Humboldt Park Band Chalet to life on Tuesday nights with live music and a gathering of neighbors on the hill under the open sky. The concerts are set in a family friendly atmosphere with ample street and inexpensive lot parking, hillside seating, picnic baskets and blankets, with a focus of bringing the neighbors out to Humboldt Park not just for one night, but for all nights.

 

Humboldt Park

(MAP)
3000 S Howell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 

The state budget process is in its final weeks, and the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is finishing up their modifications to the governor's proposed state budget. While they have not finished this process, most of their changes to the budget have been completed.

 

There are many concerning and even shocking aspects of the JFC version of the budget. I'll try to help demystify and explain what has been made public.

 

Republicans are trying to distract the public from their unpopular, record-setting budget by fast-tracking a bill that places more restrictions on potentially lifesaving women's health care options. 

 

Keep reading for more on these topics.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Less Opportunity for Students in Wisconsin

Republican state lawmakers on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) have finished their work on the K-12 education portion of the state budget. What we are seeing from the Republicans is a Groundhog Day budget for education, which repeats a pattern that shows they don't value quality education for every child in Wisconsin. If we want a prosperous Wisconsin, we need to invest in education.

Instead of addressing the values deficit by funding our public schools at a rate that at least allows them to cover the cost of inflation, they chose to pump more of our money into unaccountable, taxpayer-funded voucher and charter schools. Plus, rather than giving schools that need help, Republicans are beginning to dismantle the largest school district in the state, which could ultimately lead it to bankruptcy. On top of that, they introduced a new type of voucher that actually eliminates rights and protections for children with special needs. We only have one shot at educating our kids properly, there are no do-overs. The actions of JFC Republicans' are dangerous and ultimately jeopardize how successful everyone in Wisconsin is in the future.

There is a lot of rhetoric around the education budget as passed by JFC. Here are the facts:

  • It restricts public school funding to recession-era levels
  • It diverts over $48 million in state funding away from public schools to instead expand the taxpayer-funded, private, and unaccountable voucher program
  • It zeros out the ability for schools to spend more per pupil, and does not provide any additional aid through the school funding formula
  • It allows for a private takeover of certain Milwaukee Public Schools
  • It rolls back requirements for teacher licensure

Denying our schools the tools they need

Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee chose to prioritize their special interest friends over the needs of children by expanding taxpayer-funded, unaccountable statewide voucher schools, creating a special charter school authorizing organizations that will bleed money away from our traditional neighborhood schools. Republican committee members also introduced so-called "special needs" vouchers that actually eliminate a child's right to receive services that meet their special needs, while at the time siphons money out of our public schools. Then, they actually started to dismantle the Milwaukee Public School system by handing over schools in need of help to an unelected, unaccountable "commissioner" who will have the ability to potentially sell-off our kids� schools to the lowest bidder.

Republicans on the JFC have simply failed to substantially improve the situation for our traditional public schools, and in several instances they actually make things much worse. For instance, the GOP-approved K-12 budget:

  • Fails to adequately invest in our schools. While Republicans on the committee restored a minuscule amount of per student investment in the first year of the budget, the difference is not even close to keeping up with inflation. As costs of energy, supplies, food, and other services critical to student achievement go up, schools will still have to choose to cut vital programs in order to cover the cost of inflation.
  • Allows voucher and independent schools to siphon even more money from from traditional neighborhood schools. These private schools are estimated to cost an additional $48 million over the next two years. This leaves public schools with less state support than they had back in 2010.
  • Leaves students with special needs behind, for the eighth consecutive year, by only providing schools with a quarter of what it takes to run a successful special education program. Traditionally, we have promised to help schools with at least 33% of the costs. This lack of investment means that our children may not have the mental health services, speech pathologists, school nurses, or other specialized teachers  they need. A child in a wheel chair, with severe learning disability deserves the same chance to receive a great education as  a child without a disability. This budget simply does nothing to support them, and may actually leave them worse off.
  • Limits options for underserved kids to open enroll into schools they might not otherwise have access to by phasing out Chapter 220 integration aid. This is the state's oldest, and only successful, school choice program, and allows participating schools to receive extra funding for transportation, while receiving the added benefit of desegregating schools and making them more culturally and ethnically diverse. This creates real opportunities and choices for schools. Everyone benefits from a more racially, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse population in schools. It helps us be more culturally aware and socially responsible as adults. Getting rid of Chapter 220 will have a negative impact on our entire community and will further re-segregate our schools.

More concerns with changes to the voucher system in Racine, Milwaukee, and statewide

Republicans on the JFC are continuing to make taxpayers pay for two separate but unequal school districts. This is a sweetheart deal for voucher schools, but is detrimental to children in our traditional schools. Here is what you should know:

1.) It takes resources from traditional public schools and gives them to voucher schools within the Racine and statewide voucher program, by creating an open enrollment system. Under the JFC-approved budget, in just 10 years there will no longer be an enrollment limit on the number of kids who can leave our traditional public schools and instead use our tax dollars to pay tuition at a private, unaccountable voucher school. Under this model, entire school districts could become voucher school districts. These voucher schools still are not accountable to the public and do not have the same standards as our neighborhood schools.

2.) It creates a "special needs" voucher of up to $12,000, per student. Under this proposal the local public school district would be forced to pay for the full cost of the voucher, even though the student would be attending a private school. The public school must also cover the cost of developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) as well as pay for updating the IEP every three years -- unless a parent gives up their child's right to an IEP. While the child will have an IEP developed, voucher schools are not required to have staff who are properly trained or licensed to provide the necessary services the child may need. This creates a major loophole for voucher schools to be able to receive even more money, without actually educating kids properly.
 

Dismantling Milwaukee Public Schools

As I mentioned earlier, there were also several provisions included in the state budget that will harm Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) by continuing to strip resources away from them and allowing for private schools to takeover our traditional neighborhood schools.


This moves us further towards profiteer principles and privatizing schools in Milwaukee, by letting an unelected commissioner take them over. This unelected commissioner will have complete discretion to fire all of the current staff in a takeover school.

The budget bill also mandates the state superintendent provide the commissioner with a list of public schools that have received the lowest ranking on school the accountability report. They must also identify schools that are vacant or have "underutilized" buildings. Additionally, the MPS school board must provide the commissioner an inventory of all school buildings in the district within 30 days of the effective date of the bill, and annually thereafter. These schools could then be sold off to profit seeking voucher schools. However, the funding for takeover school students would come out of MPS equalization aid ($8,075/per pupil). While the commissioner could charge the takeover schools a fee of up to 3% per pupil, beginning in 2017/18, the total amount of this fee revenue could not exceed $750,000 per year.

This is a systematic approach to dismantling public education in Milwaukee that will hurt all of our kids. The answer to addressing the problems of struggling schools in Milwaukee is not to create more of what we already know doesn't work. We have known for 25 years that voucher and most independent charter schools don't perform any better than most MPS schools.

If Republicans are serious about helping public schools, they should give back basic tools schools need that have been stripped away from them over the past several years. They would also invest in programs that are proven to work, such as the SAGE program, which keeps classroom sizes small and provides kids with more one-on-one time with teachers. This MPS takeover plan is the exact opposite of what needs to be done in Milwaukee
 

Lowering Standards for Teaching Grades 6-12

One of the provisions that has received a lot of attention in the media, and has parents and advocates concerned about the future of our children, is the dramatic changes to teacher licensure.

This GOP-approved plan forces DPI to create a teacher licensure system for technical subject areas. The license would not require a bachelor's degree or even a high school diploma. It also grants presumptive approval and to people -- allowing them to begin teaching -- if DPI doesn't approve or deny an application with 15 business days.

In order to teach core subjects, like math or English, an individual would no longer need a bachelor's degree in education. Rather, if a governing body of a school district, independent charter school, or voucher school arbitrarily declares an individual as "proficient" to teach a subject, and the individual has bachelor's degree in any subject, DPI must issue a teaching license.

I have yet to hear from one parent, teacher, community leader, or school administrator who thinks this plan is a good idea. Not only are many educators offended by such a proposal that undermines their profession, but parents are also enraged that Republicans would do something that is so potentially damaging to our kids' education.

Fighting for the future prosperity of our children

As you can see, Legislative Republicans are continuing a trend of devaluing our traditional schools while throwing more at a system that doesn't work. The impacts of this budget on our childrens' education will be dramatic and put Wisconsin in a race to the economic and educational bottom.

It is the intention of legislative Democrats to fight these changes on the floor of both the Assembly and Senate. We will put forth amendments that invest in education and opportunity for all of our kids, and represent what used to be part of Wisconsin's traditional values: supporting a best-in-the-nation public education system.

 

Jeopardizing a Wisconsin Tradition

As you know, the governor received a lot of criticism and backlash for his irresponsible disinvestment of one of our state's biggest economic drivers: the UW System. Unfortunately, the Republicans stood with the governor's anti-education approach by voting to cut $250 million from the System. UWM alone is slated to take a $40 million dollar cut, not to mention the cuts to the UW System's 25 other institutions (12 four-year and 13 two-year), which serve about 180,000 students.

In continuing the attack on public education, here is a general outline of the damage the Republicans inflicted to the UW System in JFC:
 

  • Cut $250 million from UW schools, forcing layoffs across the state
  • Cut the Wisconsin Bioenergy Initiative, the Wisconsin environmental education board and grants, solid waste research funding, and extension recycling education funding
  • Deleted tenure from state statutes and changing the shared governance roles of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Allowed for increased tuition on out-of-state students
     

Click here to see a graphic of what one year of the cut to the UW System would look like. Now double all those numbers to cover the two year budget cycle. How do the Republicans expect $50 million to mitigate these cuts?

This disinvestment to our UW System will hurt everyone in Wisconsin. UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, and the other UW schools are among Wisconsin's greatest assets. These schools provide the young men and women of our state with a world-class education. UW-Madison alone has a $15 billion annual economic impact on the state, and it generates more than $847.5 million in state and local taxes.

Campuses across the state, including UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Green Bay, and others have already begun to issue layoff notices in anticipation of the cuts. There is also fear that students may take longer to graduate because required courses won't be offered, or won't be able to enroll the same amount of students. This delay in graduation time is concerning as it may then cause students to take on even more in student debt. Before these announced cuts, one of the biggest problems the UW System faced was holding onto quality researchers and professors that bring grant money and attract high-quality students. If these cuts go through, it will be even tougher to keep the best and brightest professors, and we're sure to see our national rankings continue to fall. Essentially, it will decrease the perceived value of our UW System's diplomas.

For months now, Republicans have been repeating a lie to themselves and the public that the UW System fund reserves could cover the cost of the cuts. That has been widely reported as false and misleading by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, PolitiFact, and other media outlets. System President Cross has consistently made clear that this is not a liable option because part of the reserves are restricted by federal law, and campuses have committed much of the rest toward specific needs. The reserve is not a single pot of money, but rather is spread over thousands of accounts accumulated across campuses over years, with much of the money already designated to specific purposes.

To quote President Cross, who was selected by Governor Walker's Board of Regents, "To suggest that $1.3 billion, an aggregate number taken at a point in time, is available -- when large portions of those funds have legal limitations on their expenditure -- is misleading."

Budgets are about our values and priorities, and Governor Walker has made it clear time and time again he does not value public education -- in any form -- in Wisconsin. The proposed budget cut to our university system is simply too damaging. In fact, recent polls have shown that 70% of Wisconsinites don't support the cut.

In typical Republican fashion, they threaten a really huge cut, then give us a pretty huge cut, and expect a standing ovation because they say, "Hey, it could have been worse." But in truth, the GOP has still made the largest cut to the UW System in more than 10 years and it will likely be the largest cut to higher education in the entire country. This is not something to be proud of and definitely does not reflect the values and investment Wisconsinites expect to see in our university system. These cuts will have a serious and negative impact on everyone in Wisconsin.

I hope the people of Wisconsin will remember that this is an unnecessary choice forced on us by the Republicans in this state. It doesn't have to be this way, and I hope Republicans in the full Senate and Assembly will join Democrats in supporting the UW System when the budget goes before the full Legislature for approval.

 

 

Public Lands and Waters Endangered

"Environmental Disaster" is an accurate description of this Republican budget. When Governor Walker introduced the most anti-conservation budget in recent history, it sent a shockwave throughout Wisconsin. Hunters, anglers, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts of every political inclination were stunned at the deceptive betrayal of our rich history and tradition of a strong land and water conservation ethic.

Walker's betrayal of Wisconsin's commitment to our shared lands and waters ignited a firestorm of calls, letters, and emails from every corner of our state. This outpouring is a powerful reminder that we value access to healthy public lands as well as water that is safe for fishing, swimming, and drinking. Republican legislators on the Joint Finance Committee reluctantly abandoned some of the worst attacks on our lands and waters. But make no mistake, while they may not have poured the second bucket of poison down the Wisconsin conservation well, they are gleefully pouring the first.

Wisconsin's world renowned Stewardship Fund was not completely eliminated as initially pushed, but legislative Republicans are quietly strangling these Stewardship investments with a significant reduction to the fund.

In an equal betrayal of our land and water ethic, Republican legislators chose to turn a deaf ear to the unified public support for maintaining scientific staff that protect our land and water from pollution. Already during summer hot spells Wisconsin parents and grandparents who grew-up swimming in our waters can no longer take their children to the same beach or swimming hole for fear of pollution, toxic algae, or dangerous bacteria. Morally, we should be investing in rejuvenating our waters, not firing the scientists responsible for alerting us of pollution. This budget is not just a moral failure, it is a tragic betrayal.

Here are a few of the environmental low points in the Republican budget proposal:

  • It cuts $30 million from the Stewardship Fund that assists in land conservation efforts
  • It shifts away from research-based conservation policies by eliminating almost 30 science and education positions at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and allows the DNR Secretary to dissolve the Bureau of Science Services
  • It eliminates public funding for the state park system, increases visitor fees, and allows the DNR to sell corporate naming rights for state parks
  • It weakens local control and rolls back community-specific shoreland zoning standards
  • It prohibits Dane County from Advising the DNR on area water quality management plans
  • It cuts funding for local county conservation staff and reduces grants to prevent runoff pollution

While Governor Walker and his legislative Republican allies have failed to keep the promise to protecting Wisconsin's vital lands, there is good news. A nationwide plan is being rolled out this summer to control an alarming public health concern and the most prevalent unregulated toxin we produce: Carbon. I'm hopeful that we can put away partisan politics and work together on Carbon pollution, a growing threat to our health and prosperity.

If you are interested in getting the facts on this new and game changing initiative, click here.
 

 

Leaving Families Uncertain About their Health Care Options

From changing our long-term care system, to pushing seniors off of an affordable, lifesaving program to get their medicine, a lot has been at stake for the most vulnerable populations in our community. Read on for more about the major health care provisions included in the JFC version of the state budget.

Changing long-term care as we know it

Wisconsin's long-term care programs, like Family Care and IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) are nationally recognized models that have been successful in allowing individuals to remain autonomous while keeping them inside their homes -- rather than costly nursing homes. Importantly, I have heard from many across the state who have loved ones that benefit from these programs.

When the governor released his state budget, there was an immediate response and strong pushback from many disability advocacy groups in our state. In speaking with some of these stakeholders, it was clear that they were not aware the governor was going to propose such changes to long-term care in Wisconsin.

Further, participants in these programs are worried about the negative impacts these sweeping changes could have on their daily lives. Some of the questions I have been asked are: "Will I be able to keep my current doctors?" and "Will I know and trust my caregivers?"

After months of uncertainty, families were met with even more questions after the Joint Finance Committee took up this portion of the state budget last week. Instead of listening to our neighbors who depend on the Family Care and IRIS programs, Republicans on the Committee decided to side with special interests.

The GOP members of the Committee voted to still dramatically chance our long-term care system. While there is still a lot of uncertainty on what these programs will look like, there are a couple major concerns with the new budget provision:

1.) It does not protect IRIS as a separate Medicaid program. The reason IRIS has been successful for its 12,000 members is because it is separate from the managed care organization model of Family Care. The program works, and is cost-effective.

2.) It lets big, profit-motivated insurance companies come in and run our long-term care programs. There would be no limit on how much these companies can profit off of our neighbors with disabilities or frail elders.

Shortly after the JFC approved the long-term care budget, I received a phone call from someone whose son is autistic and in the IRIS program. She explained, "Legislators do not know my son. I know my son. My son's caregivers know him. We know that changes to his daily routine cause stress and ultimately diminishes his ability to do basic tasks, like bath or dress himself. It also results in self-harm, which creates a ripple effect -- straining the entire family. Changing a program that works for families like mine can cause their loved ones to regress and is morally wrong."

During the budget public hearings, thousands of people came to voice their opposition to the governor's changes, for reason much like those described above. Now, advocates and families are left feeling like their hard work did not matter and their voices were not heard.

Changing these vital programs that have worked so well for families, even earning Wisconsin a national ranking of being the 8th best long-term care system, is unjust. As the budget process continues, Senate Democrats will continue to push for what families and individuals want: to keep Family Care and IRIS as-is!
 

Ensuring Access to Life-saving Medicine for Seniors

As you may know, one of the damaging provisions included in the initial budget proposals was the attack on the SeniorCare program.

SeniorCare is a vital state health care program that provides life-saving medicine to seniors at a price they can afford. SeniorCare first went into effect in 2002, and currently serves around 85,000 of our neighbors. SeniorCare is often a better option for our seniors, compared to the federal Medicare Part D, because it is easier to apply for and understand, provides reliable coverage at a lower cost, and costs taxpayers less than what Medicare Part D does. Unlike Part D, SeniorCare has a simple enrollment process, a $30 annual enrollment fee, income-based deductibles, and co-payments of just $5 for generic medications and $15 for name brand medications. 

The budget proposed cutting SeniorCare funding by $15 million. It would have also forced all SeniorCare participants to sign up for Medicare Part D -- a move which would reduce patient coverage and increase costs. According to the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network, under the initial budget plan, an enrollee's out-of-pocket costs would increase by an average of $732 per year. It's no surprise that this was one of the most unpopular proposals included in the state budget.

After over 14,000 neighbors joined Senate and Assembly Democrats, the Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee were forced to preserve SeniorCare.

Leaving $360 Million on the Table

Wisconsin was a leader in the health care arena, until recent years. We have traditionally valued the well-being and health of our neighbors, understanding that expanding preventive, basic health care was not only just but moral.

Democratic members of the Joint Committee on Finance once again called on Republicans to do the right thing and accept federal funds to strengthen our BadgerCare program. Approving this plan would save the state around $360 million, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. These savings could have been invested in our neighborhood public schools or our renowned UW System. Unfortunately, the Republican's on the Committee rejected this proposal and missed an opportunity to strengthen our economy, create jobs, and provide Wisconsin families with affordable health care coverage. Unbelievably, Republican members on the Committee even voted to increase the costs and create extra barriers for people to receive health care coverage. 

As you may know, the state budget still needs approval from the full Senate and Assembly. As the budget process continues, I will keeping advocating for the moral option of accepting the federal Medicaid money.
 

 

Walker's Culture of Corruption

Recent audits done by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau have proven that the quasi-state agency, WEDC, has lost track of millions of dollars in loans and broken both state laws and their own agency rules when giving away tax dollars to corporations.

Most recently, it has come to light that there are hints of a pay-to-play aspect with a Walker campaign donor, who received $500,000 in tax subsidies. Walker -- who currently sits as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of WEDC -- said he didn't know about the loan to his donor. However, it was revealed that Walker was notified, and there is documentation and evidence disproving his lie.

Recently, Democrats and members of the WEDC Board have called for a federal investigation into Walker's pay-to-play politics. If Walker wants to audition to be a Fox News anchor or run for the Republican nomination, that's one thing, but here in Wisconsin we don't take kindly to betrayals of the public trust. A betrayal like funneling our tax dollars to pay-off campaign contributors. I don't know what Republicans call it but Democrats call that corruption, plain and simple.

Due to all of the controversy and Democrats consistent calls for reform, the Joint Finance Committee made significant changes to the governor's proposed budget when it came to state agencies that work on economic development, including:

  • Removing the proposed Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) merger, in light of recent pay-to-play allegations
  • Deleting the $55 million revolving loan program under WEDC, as the program has been the cause of much controversy and is where most of the missing loans have come from
  • Firing the governor from the WEDC Board of Directors

While Walker claimed that he asked to be removed as Chairman of the Board at WEDC, it is clear that even legislative Republicans understood that they had to make some sort of changes to the agency because of the blatant corruption and continued mismanagement of public funds.

Separate to the WEDC-WHEDA merger, the Joint Finance Committee also decided against merging the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) with the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). This merger was also proposed as stand-alone legislation that was making its way through the committee process. It became clear that during the public hearings in the Assembly and the Senate that both agencies operated efficiently and there is no reason to replicate the WEDC disaster. Why would Walker look to seek to find and fix a problem that doesn�t exist? In the end, most people suspect Walker was simply combining agencies to boost his smaller government conservative credentials. This is a sad indication that Wisconsin could be cynically betrayed for his own personal political ambitions.
 

 

 

Ask Chris
 

I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.


Q: I heard there is another bill before the legislation that seeks to restrict women's health care services. Could you provide an update on this?


A: Not every pregnancy ends as a woman and her family hopes, and when situations involving severe fetal abnormalities or serious risks to the woman are discovered (usually at the 20 week ultrasound) it is important for women to have the freedom to make private, personal decisions with her family and doctor about how to handle a complex, even dangerous, pregnancy. When these rare -- but serious -- situations occur, every available medical option is crucial, and imposing medically unnecessary restrictions will have detrimental consequences to the woman and families impacted.

 

The bill you are referring to would ban access to an abortion after 20 weeks of "probable postfertilization" and was introduced by Senator Mary Lazich, who has been the author of previous anti-women's health bills brought before the Legislature over the past few legislative sessions.

 

According the Senator Lazich, when debating a previous anti-women's health legislation, abortions "...became popular in the '60s. It was almost the thing to do. You needed to get one of them to be a woman."

 

Notably, Roe v. Wade didn't go into effect until a decade later. However, when introducing  legislation, apparently accurate accounts of history and real medical terminology don't matter, as this new bill even uses a nonmedical definition to describe "probable postfertilization."

 

Given the bill's dangerous inaccuracies, it is not surprising that doctors and leading medical groups like the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose this ban because abortion later in pregnancy is often the result of tragic complications that threaten a woman's life or health, or the viability of her pregnancy. Interfering with medical experts and their obligation to protect their patient is wrong and will have a chilling effect on the medical community.

Further, nearly 99% of abortions in Wisconsin occur before 20 weeks' gestation. In 2013, less than 100 abortions in Wisconsin occurred after 20 weeks. These are often very wanted pregnancies that have gone tragically wrong.

A pregnant woman experiencing complications that threaten her life or health or the viability of her pregnancy should be able to consider all medical options. This bill would take away the opportunity for a woman who is facing a medically complex pregnancy to make private medical decisions without government interference, and would also take away a woman's freedom to decide what is best for her family.

 

Women and families who will be impacted by this bill are already going through a tragic experience, maybe one of the saddest in their lives. It is not our place as politicians to increase the pain that a family is already enduring.

 

Despite the serious impact this bill will have on women and families, the chairs of the Senate and Assembly health committees rapidly scheduled a joint pubic hearing on the bill, which took place on June 2. The committees voted on bill just two days later, and Republican leaders have indicated the full Senate will pass this damaging health care restriction on Tuesday, June 9. Something that will have such a profound impact on our friends, family, and neighbors ought to be treated sensitively and seriously rather than rammed through the process.
 

 

It's CPR Awareness Week!
National CPR Awareness Week is June 1-7 and highlights that learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save lives. The American Heart Association is calling on all Americans to learn how to use Hands-Only CPR, which is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. Conventional CPR can more than double or triple a person's chance of survival, and Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be just as effective.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death, and occurs when the heart's electrical system malfunctions and causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. Nearly 400,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States, with 80 percent happening in private or residential settings. Unfortunately, 70 percent of Americans feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they do not know how to administer CPR or they are afraid of hurting the victim.

Hands-Only CPR contains two easy steps. First, call 9-1-1. Second, push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the disco song "Stayin' Alive." Knowing these simple steps can mean all the difference. Learning CPR is a simple way to become equipped to save lives in critical situations.

Click here or on the video above to visit the American Heart Association's Web site to watch a 60-second demo video or find a CPR class near you.

 

 

 

To Subscribe to the weekly Larson Report, CLICK HERE.

To Unsubscribe from the weekly Larson Report Newsletter, please reply to this email with the word "Unsubscribe."