Assemblyman Joel Kitchens
Rep. Kitchens had already been meeting with conservation groups and the Department of Natural Resources for direction going forward in his newly appointed position as chair of the Assembly Committee on Environment for the 2019-20 legislative session: “I couldn’t be happier to be selected as the chair of the Assembly Environment Committee. I cannot think of many issues – if any – that are more important to the 1st Assembly District and Wisconsin than protecting the environment. There’s no area in the state that is more reliant on clean water.
“While the 1st Assembly District is the most beautiful region in Wisconsin, it’s also one of the most delicate, with its 300 miles of shoreline and thin soils overlaying dolomite bedrock. We are blessed with an abundance of natural resources, and our local economy heavily depends on those resources. I want to focus on solutions that preserve the environment while also bolstering both tourism and our robust agricultural economy.
“I would like to thank Speaker Vos and Assembly leadership for entrusting me to serve as the chairman of the vitally important Environment Committee. I look forward to working with the Department of Natural Resources and the newly-elected administration to do what we can to protect the environment across the state. I will also continue to bring the agriculture and conservation communities together to work toward our common goal of safeguarding our ground and surface water.”
Source: Kitchens press release
Governor Scott Walker
Gov. Walker is being considered to replace outgoing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, according to a Bloomberg report. The embattled Zinke is leaving the Trump administration at the end of the year. The Interior Secretary is responsible for the management and conservation of most federal lands and natural resources. Bloomberg reports the list of eight contenders includes former members of Congress, attorneys general and others who lost their election or re-election bids in November, including Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Walker said he has received multiple job offers from out of state, but that he wants to stay in Wisconsin.
Congressman Mike Gallagher
Last week U.S. Representatives Gallagher, Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA), three of the co-chairs of the Congressional Reformers Caucus, introduced a bipartisan bill to increase disclosure and accountability of political spending. The Political Accountability and Transparency Act, H.R. 7267, would strengthen coordination rules between super PACs and individual campaigns to ensure that super PACs operate independently from candidates, require political advertisements to disclose the top donors to the organization paying for the advertisements, and would apply the “personal use” restriction on campaign funds to all political committees, including leadership PACs.
“The American people deserve to know who is spending hundreds of millions of dollars every election cycle to influence their vote and muddy our politics,” Gallagher said.
One of the several goals of H.R. 7267 is to provide voters with additional information on who pays for political ads. The bill would require ads to display the three largest donors to the organization paying for the advertisement. This would apply to super PACs, 501(c) nonprofits, and other corporate entities.
Source: Gallagher press release
Senator Tammy Baldwin
Last week Sen. Baldwin wrote to the CEO of Pfizer, calling on them to provide an explanation after the pharmaceutical company announced they intended to increase the costs of 41 prescription drugs starting in January. Major drug companies have drastically raised prices for top-selling drugs the past five years, in some cases more than doubling prices. This is despite increased sales and company profits.
“I am disappointed that your company has decided to continue playing political games and to raise prices once again in January instead of making a commitment to permanently reduce prescription drug prices for millions of families struggling to afford needed medications,” Baldwin wrote.
Last December, President Trump signed partisan tax legislation passed by Congressional Republicans that gave permanent tax breaks to corporations such as Pfizer. Since then, Pfizer has received almost $11 billion in tax benefits and announced more than $10 billion in stock buybacks, largely benefitting top executives and wealthy shareholders as prescription drug prices continue to rise for American families.
Pfizer and many other companies instituted price hikes on prescription drugs after the corporate tax cut became law. In January of this year, Pfizer instituted 116 price hikes. Then on July 1, Pfizer increased prices for the second time on many prescription drugs by nearly 10 percent. Days later, Pfizer issued a puzzling statement that they would return the prices of more than 40 prescription drugs “to their pre-July 1 levels as soon as technically possible” but only until the end of the year or until the President’s prescription drug “Blueprint” is implemented. Baldwin then called on Pfizer to make those price reductions permanent. Instead, Pfizer is increasing prices again rather than lowering costs for Wisconsin consumers.
In 2017, Baldwin and Sen. John McCain introduced the bipartisan FAIR Drug Pricing Act, which would begin to address high prescription drug prices and hold pharmaceutical companies accountable by requiring transparency for drug companies that plan to increase drug prices. The bill would not prohibit manufacturers from increasing prices, but it would, for the first time, give taxpayers notice of price increases and bring basic transparency to the market for prescription drugs.
Source: Baldwin press release
President Donald Trump
President Trump has ordered a rapid withdrawal of all 2,000 United States ground troops from Syria within 30 days, declaring the four-year American-led war against the Islamic State as largely won, officials said Wednesday.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” the president said in a Twitter post. He offered no details on his plans for the military mission, nor a larger strategy, in Syria.
Source: The New York Times