Reps in the News: Jan. 29 – Feb. 4

Rep. Joel Kitchens

Kitchens attended Governor Walker’s State of the State Address to a joint session of the Wisconsin State Legislature and made the following remarks: “I was pleased with what the governor had to say about the state of Wisconsin over the past year and his plans for the future. Unemployment is at its lowest since 2001, we have saved taxpayers hundreds of dollars, and new efforts to help the growing needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia appear promising.

“Much of the governor’s message concentrated on education and painted a hopeful picture for the next few years. Providing financial aid and assisting Wisconsin students pursue successful careers will be a major focus for us the rest of this session and over the next year. It was exciting to have students and administration from the Kewaunee School District present and recognized by the Governor in his speech for their outstanding graduation rate.

“Many bills going through the Assembly were referenced, including my bill creating a pilot program to test and develop career education and work force development in schools. I am proud to say, Wisconsin looks as strong as ever.”

Source: Kitchens press release

Governor Scott Walker

With Michigan’s Republican governor under fire for his administration’s handling of drinking water problems, Walker said his administration continues to respond to drinking water concerns in Kewaunee County that might be related to manure runoff. A recent study found more than one-third of the wells in Kewaunee County to be unsafe for drinking.

Clean water advocates, noting the drinking water problems in Flint, said they want the state Health Department to be more involved in Kewaunee County. Walker said the DNR is already working on a plan. “Is it runoff? Is it other issues? Is it the depth of the wells? Just because of the soil base in both Kewaunee and parts of Door County?” he asked. Walker promises a science-based plan that is appropriate to protect the health and safety of the local residents.

Source: Wisconsin Public Radio

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Baldwin released the following statement after the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works passed the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015 (S. 1024): “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is a critical program for our region, the health of our communities, and the protection of our clean water resource. I am pleased to see that the Environment and Public Works Committee recognizes the importance of the GLRI to the Great Lakes, and I look forward to building on this important step forward by working with stakeholder groups and my colleagues to increase funding levels for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative as the bill moves through the legislative process.”

Baldwin has supported the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative since it was introduced in 2010 as a comprehensive strategy to clean up the Great Lakes. The program is an interagency effort, led by the Environmental Protection Agency, to restore the health of the Great Lakes by combating invasive species, cleaning up polluted sites and restoring water quality.

The Brookings Institute has estimated that fully implementing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would yield between $80-$100 billion in benefits across the Great Lakes states, and as much as $2.3 billion in the Milwaukee metro area alone, from increased property values. Wisconsin projects have worked to reduce beach contamination in Milwaukee and provided fish habitat to restore healthy populations of species, including trout and sturgeon in Door County, Milwaukee and Ozaukee County.

Source: Baldwin press release

Sen. Ron Johnson

Johnson said this about the Senate’s attempt to override President Obama’s veto of Congress’ rejection of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Waters of the U.S.” regulation: “It’s economically harmful for the EPA to expand its jurisdiction to 92 percent of the land in Wisconsin and begin regulating intermittent streams and temporary puddles as if they were navigable waters. Yet that is what the Obama administration does with its ‘Waters of the U.S.’ regulations.

This regulatory overreach is particularly ludicrous in light of the EPA’s complete mishandling of its legitimate regulatory authority over lead contamination in the water supply of Flint, Mich., and their botched clean-up of the Gold King mine that spilled three million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas River in Colorado. We can all agree on reasonable regulations that prevent the pollution of our lakes and rivers. But that is no excuse for the EPA to claim excessive jurisdiction over Wisconsin lands. This regulation is not about clean water. It is an unconscionable power grab by the federal government that could force Wisconsin farmers and other landowners to pay exorbitant permitting fees and potentially subject them to pointless litigation. That is why Congress came together to stop the implementation of this rule and to keep regulations reasonable. President Obama rejected reasonableness with his veto, and the Senate should have overridden that veto.”

Source: Johnson press release

President Barack Obama

The President announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days. The president’s reforms apply broadly to the roughly 10,000 federal inmates serving time in solitary confinement, though there are only a handful of juvenile offenders placed in restrictive housing each year. Between September 2014 and September 2015, federal authorities were notified of just 13 juveniles who were put in solitary in its prisons, officials said. However, federal officials sent adult inmates to solitary for nonviolent offenses 3,800 times in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014, suggesting that policy change will have more sweeping ramifications.

Source: Washington Post

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