Representative Joel Kitchens
Rep. Kitchens was joined by several of his legislative colleagues last week in Green Bay to announce a plan by Assembly Republicans to help the middle class by cutting income taxes. Using the state’s budget surplus, the proposal would deliver $340 million in tax relief for middle-class families. The tax reductions would affect residents making less than $100,000 and families earning $150,000 or less. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau anticipates that median-income families filing jointly would see a $310 reduction in net taxes.
“I am extremely pleased that responsible budgeting practices by Republicans have allowed us the opportunity to return a significant amount of money back to the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin,” Kitchens said. “What’s even better is our plan does not hurt farmers or local businesses because we are keeping the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit in place, which the University of Wisconsin says helped create 42,000 jobs over a recent three-year period.”
Assembly Republicans are working with the Senate to finalize the tax-cut legislation. Once approved, the tax cut would go into effect in 2020.
Source: Kitchens press release
Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers campaigned on the idea of legalizing medical marijuana in Wisconsin, and he announced he may do it through a statewide referendum. There appears to be strong support among voters in Wisconsin for legalization. In the November midterm election, voters in 16 counties supported nonbinding referendums calling for legalization of medical marijuana. A Marquette University Law School poll in August found 61 percent support for full legalization, with 36 percent opposed.
Congressman Mike Gallagher
Rep. Gallagher introduced the Health Savings Account Expansion Act of 2019, legislation that eliminates restrictions on who qualifies for a health savings account (HSA), how much an individual or family may contribute to its HSA, and what health-care expenses can be paid for with HSA dollars. HSAs are tax-advantaged accounts used to pay for routine, out-of-pocket medical expenses. The legislation increases the contribution limits for HSAs from $3,500 for an individual and $7,000 for a family to $9,000 and $18,000, respectively. It also allows HSA funds to be used for health insurance premiums, over-the-counter medications and direct primary care, which is currently prohibited under the Affordable Care Act.
After introducing the bill, Gallagher said, “By expanding and protecting HSAs, this legislation helps ensure people in Northeast Wisconsin and across the country have access to patient-centered care that best fits their needs and keeps costs low.” He continued, “Health care continues to be one of the most important yet contentious problems facing the country. It’s critical we find ways to work together, and I believe HSA expansion is an area ripe for common-sense cooperation.”
Source: Gallagher press release
Senator Tammy Baldwin
Sen. Baldwin helped reintroduce the bipartisan Community Health Investment, Modernization, and Excellence (CHIME) Act, led by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), to reauthorize community health center funding for five years. Senator Baldwin has been a strong advocate for reauthorizing funding for community health centers.
“Wisconsin families rely on community health centers across our state for quality and affordable health-care services, including preventative care, vision services and low-cost dental care,” Baldwin said. “We need to provide funding for our community health centers so they can continue providing care to thousands of Wisconsinites. This bipartisan legislation will keep these vital community health centers open and serving their communities.”
Funding for the program will expire Sept. 30, 2019. Community health centers provide comprehensive medical, dental, vision and behavioral health services to underserved communities. In addition, the bipartisan bill provides annual funding increases for community health centers beginning in 2020.
Source: Baldwin press release
Senator Ron Johnson
Sen. Johnson was pressed by constituents during a “tele-town hall” meeting last week about why he wasn’t doing more to reopen the federal government. In response, Johnson defended President Donald Trump and restated the need for a border wall.
Speaking by telephone during the meeting, Johnson said Democrats, not the president, have been unwilling to reach a compromise to end the partial federal government shutdown, which has continued for weeks.
“The president’s not getting any positive feedback that the Democrats are willing to negotiate in good faith, so I think we have to maintain some measure of pressure on Democrats to come to the table,” said Johnson. “Sounds to me like the president is willing to negotiate in good faith.”
Johnson said he is at least trying to lessen the financial burden on federal employees by sponsoring a bill that would pay around 420,000 government workers during the shutdown.
“I hate government shutdowns,” he said. “I feel horribly for all the government workers that are either on furlough or those that we force to work, and they’re just not getting paid.”
Johnson said the U.S. is facing a growing crisis along the border, noting that immigration laws need to be reformed.
“If we come up with a solution here, let’s make sure we actually identify the root causes,” he said. “Take a look at not only where we need better barriers, but where are the holes in these laws.”
President Donald Trump
President Trump’s disapproval rating is at an all-time high amid a historically long partial government shutdown and concerns about the president’s relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll.
Nearly 6-in-10 voters – 57 percent – disapprove of Trump’s job performance, compared to the 40 percent that approve. In addition, 54 percent of voters blame Trump and Republicans on Capitol Hill for the government shutdown. Only 35 percent blame congressional Democrats.
There has been no progress on negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders, as well as the president, to end the government shutdown – the longest partial government shutdown in history. Trump has not backed down from his request of $5.7 billion for his border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which Democrats have not agreed to.