Reps in the News: Gov. Evers Highlights Legislative Agenda

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Kitchens released the following statement in response to inauguration ceremonies for the Wisconsin State Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers: “Inauguration Day is a special and symbolic day for me because it represents a chance for new beginnings and brings strong feelings of hope and optimism,” Kitchens said. “I am extremely excited about what we have planned for this legislation session, but I also recognize we will be presented with many unique challenges the next two years due to having a split government for the first time in nearly a decade.

“I will always stand up for what I believe is best for the constituents of the 1st Assembly District, and I will never sacrifice my principles. However, with a divided government, it’s vital for us to understand that, without compromise, we will accomplish absolutely nothing. There are too many issues in Wisconsin that still need to be resolved, and I know that allowing ‘partisan politics’ to stand in the way would be unacceptable for myself, my constituents and all residents of the state.

“I wish Gov. Tony Evers well in his new role, and I pledge to work with him and his administration to find common ground wherever and whenever possible. I have enjoyed a good working relationship with the governor in the past and have a proven track record of reaching across the aisle, and I fully expect that to continue this session. I am certain that’s what my constituents want.

“I hope to sit down with Gov. Evers in the very near future to discuss the final recommendations of the bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding. As co-chairman of the commission, I am confident the governor will support some of our proposals that are aimed at adjusting the state’s complex school-funding formula and improving educational opportunities across the state.”

Rep. Kitchens has also rescheduled his area listening sessions to Feb. 1:  Kewaunee City Hall, Conference Room, 9-10:30 am; Door County Public Library, Jane Greene Room, noon-1:30 pm; Egg Harbor Library, 4-5:30 pm.

Source:  Kitchens press release

Governor Tony Evers

A week after taking office, Gov. Evers is highlighting policy issues where he hopes to see action, including criminal-justice reform, transportation and economic development. During a luncheon Monday with business leaders of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, Evers spoke about his recent visit to the state’s troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison. He said he watched the boys play basketball in the gym, and what struck him was that despite their crimes, many were just kids.

Evers, a longtime educator and the state’s school superintendent for 10 years before being elected governor in November, said his budget proposal will include programs for Wisconsin’s youngest residents, oldest residents and those who have been incarcerated.

“When people commit crimes that are less serious and nonviolent, they shouldn’t be in prison. They should be getting mental-health care or job creation,” Evers said. “Many of those young people I talked to at Lincoln Hills, if they had gotten some sort of intervention, we would be in a much better place.”

Evers also reinforced a campaign promise to improve the state’s transportation infrastructure, even if it means an increase in the gas tax. The current tax is 32.9 cents per gallon. He said he would prefer not to increase the tax but said the state cannot continue to borrow money.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson will be forming a committee to look at “all options,” Evers said.

“I wish the train money was still available to the state of Wisconsin. It is not,” Evers said, adding that he met with President Donald Trump, and he is confident there will be federal money available for transportation.

“I know, for some people, a regional transit approach is toxic,” Evers said. “It’s not toxic in my world.”

Source:  WPR

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin joined Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) in reintroducing legislation to unleash the bargaining power of seniors for a better deal on prescription drug costs. The Empowering Medicare Seniors to Negotiate Drug Prices Act would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs to cut costs for nearly 43 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law allows for bargaining only by pharmaceutical companies and prohibits Medicare from doing so.

“We have a broken system in Washington that prohibits the federal government from negotiating lower prescription drug prices for older Wisconsinites,” Baldwin said. “I have long championed efforts to allow the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical corporations to get better prices on life-saving medicines instead of increasing drug company profits. President Trump campaigned in 2016 on lowering the cost of prescription drugs, including by allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. It’s time for the president to work with Congress to pass this common-sense reform that will help lower out-of-pocket costs for seniors. This legislation is a critical reform that would help safeguard the Medicare program and keep our promises to seniors and taxpayers.”  

Source:  Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Johnson is supporting the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, a bill introduced by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). This legislation would allow Wisconsin concealed-carry permit holders to exercise those rights in any other state with concealed-carry laws while abiding by that state’s laws.

“This bill protects states’ rights while allowing law-abiding citizens to safely exercise their Second Amendment rights away from home. Our laws need to be efficient and effective while allowing as much freedom as possible,” Johnson said. “I hope this bill will get the broad support it deserves.”

Source:  Johnson press release

President Donald Trump

By the time you read this, the partial government shutdown will be at least 27 days old – six days longer than any previous shutdown. The Trump administration now estimates the cost of the shutdown will be twice as steep as originally forecast. The original estimate that the partial shutdown would subtract 0.1 percentage point from growth every two weeks has now been doubled to a 0.1 percentage point subtraction every week, according to an official who asked not to be named.

The administration had initially counted just the impact from the 800,000 federal workers not receiving their paychecks, but it now believes the impact doubles, due to greater losses by private contractors who are also out of work and other government spending and functions that won’t occur. If the shutdown lasts the rest of this month, it could subtract a sizable half a percentage point from gross domestic product, the official said. The subtraction from growth would add to the troubles of an economy already thought to be slowing from the waning effects of the tax stimulus, trade tensions and gathering global weakness.