Reps in the News: SCHOOL Acts Address Lead in Drinking Water

Representative Joel Kitchens

Representatives Joel Kitchens and Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) and Senators Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) issued the following joint statement after releasing two bills for co-sponsorship. LRBs 19-3539 and 19-3566 are collectively known as the Supporting Children’s Health by Ousting Outdated Lead Acts, or SCHOOL Acts for short:

“2019 might be the Year of Clean Drinking Water, but we’re proud to have extended our focus on clean water well before the year began. Last session’s nation-leading effort[, legislation] we authored resulted in the passage of the Leading on Lead Act (2017 Wisconsin Act 137), which provided communities with the local control they need to tackle lead in residential water supplies. Along the way, we were joined by a team of bipartisan supporters and advocates that were crucial in the Leading on Lead Act becoming law. Building on this bipartisan success, we’re introducing the SCHOOL Acts to help protect children from lead poisoning when they leave their home.”

LRB 19-3539 addresses lead in school drinking water by requiring testing and, if necessary, requiring that contaminated water sources be taken offline and replaced with clean water sources while encouraging long-term remediation by buying down the interest rate of Board of Commissioners of Public Lands loans. 

The second bill, LRB 19-3566, tackles lead in the drinking water of day-care centers, group homes and summer camps by requiring testing as a component of licensure and, if necessary, ensuring that contaminated water sources be taken offline and replaced with clean water sources.  

The bills are being circulated for co-sponsorship until Aug. 20.

Source: Cowles press release

Governor Tony Evers

In the wake of dual mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Gov. Tony Evers called on Republicans to take up new gun-control legislation imposing universal background checks and a so-called red-flag law. 

Evers joined Attorney General Josh Kaul in offering support for so-called red-flag laws, which permit police or family members to petition state courts to order the temporary removal of firearms from people who present a danger to others or themselves. He also called for background checks that would cover “every sale” of a weapon. Wisconsin currently does not require private sellers to conduct a background check when transferring a firearm. Handgun dealers must contact the Wisconsin Department of Justice to conduct a background check to sell a handgun. 

As the governor himself admitted, any gun-related measures are almost certain to face stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate. 


Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin and her Senate colleagues are urging Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to abandon the department’s current destructive approach to ongoing negotiations with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Despite VA and AFGE’s history of engaging in good-faith negotiations that benefit employees, veterans and the department, the current negotiating tactics undercut the VA’s mission and threaten the quality of the services it is entrusted to provide to the nation’s veterans. 

“These extreme tactics are not in the interest of VA’s federal employees, nor are they in the interests of the veterans these employees serve,” the senators write. “We urge VA to return to the bargaining table with AFGE immediately to negotiate in good faith, and we look forward to reviewing your response to our concerns and specific questions.” 

Source: Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, stated the following after two mass shootings occurred over the weekend: “For years, we have experienced a coarsening of our culture, and have been witnessing what Sen. Patrick Moynihan accurately termed ‘defining deviancy down.’ Although there are no quick fixes guaranteed to prevent future tragedies, I believe there are effective, bipartisan actions that can be taken. For example, multiple commissions formed in the aftermath of school shootings have issued widely agreed-upon recommendations that can be applied both in schools and in other public spaces to prevent and mitigate mass violence. We also need to seriously reevaluate how our society treats mental illness to keep firearms out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves and their communities. But the long-term solution lies in renewed faith, strengthened families, less virtual socialization and more genuine, human-to-human interaction in real communities.”


President Donald Trump

A former white supremacist turned anti-hate activist is calling on the Trump administration to stop using fear to motivate people following a pair of mass shootings that shocked the nation, saying the rhetoric is similar to that used among white nationalists.

“What’s really important for the government to do, first of all, is to stop espousing rhetoric that strikes chords with people who are afraid of immigrants,” Arno Michaelis said.

“It’s a really bad policy to use fear to motivate people, to try to get policy passed,” Michaelis continued. “I don’t think we want to be a society that’s driven by fear, and when there’s constant talk of our country being ‘invaded’ – and even the word ‘infested’ has been used – those are word for word what [was] in the manifesto of this El Paso shooter. There has to be some responsibility in that regard.”

Michaelis said the government also needs to start taking firearms more seriously, saying there needs to be some federal laws in place to “stop people who are unbalanced from obtaining assault rifles.” 

More than 30 people have died as a result of this weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.