Reps in the News: Kitchens Presents Bill to Increase Access to Birth Control

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Kitchens has started circulating a bill for co-sponsorship that is designed to increase access to birth control and reduce unplanned pregnancies, which can have a considerable impact on mothers, their families and society as a whole. LRB-0325 would, under specific conditions, allow a woman to obtain hormonal contraceptive patches and self-administered oral hormonal contraceptives – including common birth-control pills – through a prescription from a pharmacist. Under current law, hormonal birth control is available only with a physician’s prescription.

“By policy, prescription drugs are so deemed because they either have high abuse potential or potentially harmful side effects that require a physician’s oversight,” Kitchens said. “Neither of these conditions apply to the products covered in this bill. While any pharmaceutical can have undesirable side effects in certain individuals, today’s birth-control formulations are as benign as most over-the-counter medications. Because of that, we should not be putting up artificial barriers that prevent women from being able to conveniently obtain birth control.”

Prior years of research and a 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control show that increasing access to and the use of effective contraceptives can reduce unintended pregnancies. According to the latest available statistics, nearly half of all pregnancies in Wisconsin and across the nation are unplanned, with state and federal taxpayers spending $21 billion annually on related medical care. Almost 63 percent of unintended births in Wisconsin are publicly funded and cost taxpayers about $314 million annually.

Under Kitchens’ bill, women who are seeking to obtain birth control from a pharmacy must participate in a self-assessment questionnaire and undergo a blood-pressure screening administered by a pharmacist. If there are any red flags, the pharmacist can then refer the patient to her physician. The legislation applies only to women who are 18 years of age or older.

Source: Kitchens press release

Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Evers sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of Evers’ administration’s goal of providing reliable and affordable broadband service to all Wisconsin citizens. Evers’ budget proposes a historic investment in broadband grant funding, which is to be targeted to those parts of the state that are unserved or underserved by reliable internet access.

The budget proposes a $78 million investment in the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program, which quadruples the amount previously provided for this program that is critical to the economic and educational success of Wisconsin citizens.

“Access to reliable broadband service is critical to the livelihood of our rural economy, education of our youth and access to vital public-safety services,” said PSC Chair Rebecca Valcq. “We will work to access every single dollar to expand broadband in Wisconsin.”

One such opportunity the agencies identified is ensuring that Wisconsin rural residents are poised to be the most qualified applicants for the inaugural round of the USDA’s ReConnect Program funds. Applicants receive 20 additional points if their states have taken actions demonstrating support for broadband service.

Source: Evers press release

Congressman Mike Gallagher

Rep. Gallagher, a member of the House Armed Services Committee; and Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, announced the formal launch of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC).

As established by statute in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the CSC is a bipartisan effort to review the threats facing America in cyberspace and provide strategic guidance and policy recommendations on how to defend ourselves against cyber threats. The CSC – which features a total of 14 commissioners from Congress, federal agencies and relevant civilian professions – seeks to build a consensus on a strategic approach to defending the United States in cyberspace against cyber-attacks of significant consequences as the world enters a new phase of cyberconflict.

A key piece of this agenda will be an effort to develop a comprehensive cyber policy, with specific policy recommendations to implement and prioritize this approach. This work will culminate with a public report and rollout, including hearings with the congressional committees on defense, intelligence and homeland security discussing the CSC’s findings and recommendations.

“Cyberspace is a decisive battlefield in the 21st century,” Gallagher said. “Every day, Americans are on the front line of a new kind of conflict – wittingly or not – and we lack a plan to combat these challenges. It is imperative we take immediate action. Taking a page from President Eisenhower, the commission’s goal is to bring together the country’s best and brightest to develop a comprehensive, strategic approach to counter these growing threats. I’m proud to join Senator King in leading the commission and confident the team will write the playbook to secure our interests in cyberspace for years to come.”

Source: Gallagher press release

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin and every Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies slammed the Department of Defense for its transfer of another $1.5 billion to be used to build part of President Donald Trump’s wall on the southwest border. In a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the senators expressed concern that this reprogramming comes at the expense of the readiness of the armed forces. This is the second time in two months that the Defense Department has used this unilateral process to bypass Congress.

“Once again, the Department of Defense has ignored decades of precedent and cooperation with the Congress in carrying out a transfer of funds without regard to any consultation with the Appropriations Committee,” the senators wrote. “We are dismayed that the department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster-relief needs of our service members, given the finite reprogramming authority available.”

In March, the Defense Department sent Congress a list of more than $10 billion worth of military construction projects that could be delayed or canceled in order to pay for President Trump’s border wall.

Source: Baldwin press release