Reps in the News: Feb. 28- March 6

Representative Joel Kitchens

The Wisconsin State Assembly has passed six bills authored by Rep. Joel Kitchens, including:

• AB-113: Reduces the amount of contaminants in waterways by creating a system for buying and selling pollution credits through a third-party central clearinghouse.

• AB-487: Modernizes the state’s psychology laws by removing barriers that make it challenging for health-care organizations to hire psychologists, psychologists to enter the workplace, and residents to receive mental-health services.

• AB-797: Prohibits the sale and use of coal tar-based sealants that contain high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). 

• AB-683: Ensures that municipalities receive the amount of room taxes to which they are entitled by requiring lodging marketplaces to remit those taxes quarterly.

• AB-796: Establishes a nitrogen-optimization pilot program through which the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection will award grants to farmers and producer-led watershed groups in targeted areas to implement projects that limit nitrogen loading.

• AB-685: Helps to facilitate a conversation between condominium associations and unit owners through a direct negotiation conference.

Source: Kitchens e-newsletter

Senator Tammy Baldwin

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed bipartisan legislation authored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to support the health and wellbeing of family caregivers. The Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019 now awaits consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill would authorize $10 million annually for the Lifespan Respite Care Program from fiscal year 2020 through fiscal year 2024. 

Such programs provide coordinated systems of accessible, community-based respite-care services for family caregivers of children and adults of all ages who have special needs. They reduce duplication of effort and help to develop respite-care infrastructures at the state and local levels. By protecting the health of caregivers, respite care decreases the need for professional long-term care and allows individuals who require care to remain at home. 

To date, 37 states have received funding through the Lifespan Respite Care Program. It provides competitive grants to states to establish or enhance statewide respite resources that help to ensure that quality respite is accessible to all family caregivers.

“Every day, family caregivers in Wisconsin and across our country tend to the needs of their loved ones,” Baldwin said. “Although this work can be very rewarding, it can also be emotionally and physically challenging. I’m proud to see my bipartisan legislation with Sen. Collins win approval from the full Senate. Together, we’re going to help ensure continued funding for the Lifespan Respite Care Program so that our family caregivers can access the support and relief they need.”

Governor Tony Evers

Republicans in both houses of the state Legislature have passed a GOP-backed tax cut over the objections of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, but the governor has yet to say definitively whether he will sign or veto the plan.

State senators convened at 7:30 am Feb. 20 to pass the proposal on a party-line vote after Democrats in that chamber blocked a final vote on the plan Feb. 19. The state Assembly passed it later in the morning of Feb. 20 with two Democrats – Rep. Nick Milroy (D-South Range) and Rep. Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska) – joining all Republicans to support it.

The bill would cost the state $392 million in the next budget. Of that, about $248 million would go toward an ongoing income-tax cut, and about $45 million would offset a new personal property-tax cut for manufacturing businesses. Another $100 million would go toward a one-time payment on state debt.

Evers has said he wants to use the surplus money on school funding. He  introduced a bill earlier this month that would spend roughly $250 million on schools, with $130 million of that aimed at reducing property taxes through the state’s school-aid formula. The governor’s plan would also restore the state’s commitment to funding two-thirds of the cost of education.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio