• Banning the R-word
  • Protecting Access to Health Insurance
  • State of the State

Banning the R-Word

In 2012 we deleted the phrases “mentally retarded” and "mental retardation" from state statutes and replaced them with "intellectual disability." This was a good start, however we can do more to ensure these offensive words are eradicated entirely from state government.

Having a daughter with Down syndrome, I know how hurtful the R-word can be. For her sake and others with intellectual disabilities, I released a bill along with Sen. Scott Fitzgerald for co-sponsorship this week which instructs the Dept. of Health Services, Dept. of Children and Families, Public Service Commission, Dept. of Safety and Professional Services, and the Dept. of Workforce Development to replace “mentally retarded” and similar phrases found in their rules with the phrase “intellectual disability.” 

The R-word was once used by psychiatrists to describe certain medical conditions, unfortunately it has now morphed into a pejorative. Our administrative code shouldn’t contain terms that would make others not feel included or make them feel like they are not as valuable as their neighbors. Updating the terminology in our rules will go a long way into making our state government more respectful of its citizens with disabilities.  


Protecting Access to Health Insurance

Close to one out of every six people living in our state live with a pre-existing condition. This past Tuesday, the Assembly voted to pass legislation(AB1) which prevents insurance companies from denying or charging more for coverage to those who they deem have pre-existing medical conditions. The bill also prevents insurers from denying services needed to treat the condition. The legislation will only apply if provisions of the Affordable Care Act(ACA) are no longer enforceable.

Ensuring access to quality health insurance will help those living with pre-existing conditions to go about living their lives rather than live with the fear of whether or not they will keep, or be able to get insurance coverage if the need arises. 

According to estimates, 852,000 Wisconsinites would be at risk of losing access to coverage if federal law is changed. With this bill, we are providing certainty to our citizens as well as to the insurance companies who operate in Wisconsin. Taking a proactive measure like we did will keep our insurance and healthcare systems running smoothly if change does happen. 


AB1 has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

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State of the State


This week Governor Tony Evers delivered his first State of the State address of his term in office. While the Assembly will be open to hearing his ideas and working with him to build a better WI, we will not be open to compromising our values. We will not turn our back on the reforms and success we've had over the last 8 years. Gov. Evers speech painted a picture of a Wisconsin on the precipice of disaster.


The facts paint a different picture:



Census: Wisconsin incomes up, poverty down; digital divide yawns


New businesses are up 6.9% over last year


Tourism up nearly 40% from $14.8 billion in 2011


Exports in the first half of 2018 increased by 3.2 percent over the same period in 2017


As you can see, the condition of our state is not the disaster one would think it is after hearing Gov. Evers' speech. The reforms we made while governing with common sense over the last 8 years have benefited all Wisconsin residents. The new governor has a great opportunity to build upon our success so long as he doesn't work to take us back to the failed policies of the past. 


It is my hope we can find common ground despite having different political ideologies. The issues he touched on during his speech such as increasing internet access, K-12 education, transportation debt and preventing homelessness are issues that affect all of us. I believe solutions can be found if we work together.