Our Representatives

Representative Joel Kitchens

Kitchens lauded the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) after its memebers voted to adopt two of his budget motions that restored funding to programs of great import in the First Assembly District, as well as JFC’s decision to reject Governor Walker’s proposals that would have significantly altered Wisconsin’s long-term care programs. The first motion restored funding to the Educational Communications Board (ECB), which is responsible for Wisconsin Public Radio and Television, among other duties. Kitchens’ second motion restored funding to county land and water conservation offices, who work with farmers and other landowners to install conservation practices on the land, as well as protect drinking water, lakes and streams.

“I am very pleased with the actions of the JFC,” Kitchens said. “My constituents are avid supporters and listeners of Wisconsin Public Radio and Television. When word got out that the Governor’s budget proposal cut funding to the ECB, my office was inundated with calls and emails explaining how important the nonpartisan, educational programming that the ECB provides is. That is why I made it a priority to see that funding was restored.” The JFC reduced the drastic $5 million proposed cut by about 50 percent to just $2.4 million.

Kitchens’ second budget motion, which was accepted by the JFC, restored $675,000 in annual funding to support county land and water conservation offices. This restoration makes up most of the reductions in staff funding that was contained in the Governor’s budget. “County Conservationists are absolutely crucial in my district,” Kitchens explained. “The work they do with farmers and other property owners is so valuable for protecting our natural resources.”

The restored funding will allow more farmers to work with county Land Conservation Departments to improve nutrient management, stabilize stream and lake shorelines, handle manure safely, and keep our waters clean.

“I would like to thank the JFC for approving my budget motions,” Kitchens said. “More importantly, I would like to thank my constituents who reached out to me to voice their support for these important programs.”

Kitchens also commented on JFC’s decision to reject Walker’s proposals that would have significantly altered Wisconsin’s long-term care programs. “Since the Governor first delivered his budget proposal in early February, I have heard from countless constituents who are deeply concerned that the proposed changes to our long-term care services would have significant, adverse effects on the care they received,” Kitchens said. “For that reason, I am very grateful to the Republican members of the JFC for taking the Governor’s plans out of the budget.”

In removing the Governor’s changes to FamilyCare and IRIS, the JFC’s new proposal gives the Department of Health Services limited authority to negotiate with the federal government on potential changes to FamilyCare to better integrate long term and medical care. The budget is expected to be voted on by the Legislature in June.

Source:  Kitchens press releases

Governor Scott Walker

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to end a state investigation into Walker’s 2012 recall campaign, rejecting an appeal from a conservative group that says its constitutional rights are being violated. That leaves the investigation in the hands of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is considering a separate bid to stop the probe. The criminal investigation, on hold during the court fight, might complicate Walker’s potential campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. A court-appointed special prosecutor, Francis Schmitz, is tasked with investigating whether Walker and his operatives violated state campaign-finance laws by coordinating their efforts with Club for Growth, an advocacy group. The Wisconsin chapter of Club for Growth and its director, Eric O’Keefe, are fighting subpoenas they received from Schmitz seeking financial records. The group and O’Keefe sued in federal court to block the probe, and a federal trial judge said the First Amendment bars the state from trying to learn whether the organization coordinated with the Walker campaign.

Source:  Bloomberg

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Baldwin joined Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to introduce legislation to protect grieving parents from losing their jobs in the event of their child’s death. The Parental Bereavement Act would amend the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to give parents up to 12 weeks of unpaid, but job-protected, time off of work to cope with the death of a child. FMLA currently allows parents to take extended leave for the birth of a child, adoption, and to care for family members with serious health conditions. The Senators’ bill ensures that death of a child is treated like these other life-altering events. “No parent should ever have to face the fear of losing their job after the tragedy of losing a child,” said Baldwin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 3,000 American children between the ages of one and 14 die suddenly each year from accidents.

Source:  Baldwin press release

President Barack Obama

Obama plans to put in place new restrictions on the use of military equipment by police departments, following unrest in U.S. cities over the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. Obama will ban police use of equipment such as explosive-resistant vehicles with tracked wheels like those seen on army tanks, the White House said in a fact sheet. For other types of equipment, such as MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected) vehicles and riot shields, departments will have to provide added justification for their use. The fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August was followed by a string of highly publicized fatal encounters between police and black men, including Walter Scott who was shot by an officer while fleeing the scene of a traffic stop in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Source:  Reuters