December 15, 2023
December's Eggs & Issues was the popular Holiday Legislative Breakfast. Local state legislators were present December 15th, 7:00 a.m. at CVTC to answer questions about policies impacting the state and Chippewa Valley region. In attendance were Senators Jesse James (R-Altoona, Dist. 23) and Jeff Smith (D-town of Brunswick, Dist. 31) and Representatives Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek, Dist. 68), Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer, Dist. 67), and Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire, Dist. 91). The legislators discussed compromises, childcare, and the recent UW regents vote.
Personal Top Priorities
Senator James said his number one priority is the safe harbor legislation. He discussed how it is still a work in progress and he is continuing to educate people to the best of his ability. He is also working to get NARCAN in public high schools.
“Last year alone, I know personally, six stories of high school students that overdosed in our schools,” James said.
Senator Smith hopes to see more movement on his final five bill.
“The more we can educate people about how that works, the more excited, I think, people will be,” Senator Smith said.
Senator Smith is also excited about another bill he recently handed over to his republican colleagues. The bill is the code talkers highway bill which would honor the indigenous people who were code talkers during WWII.
Finally, Senator Smith would like to see his bill that would get AED and defibrillators in schools moved through the Legislature.
Representative Summerfield is working on a bill that would allow part-time CNAs in nursing homes to start working right away after the class but before they get the certification, which would match the policy for full-time CNAs.
Representative Hurd has two big priorities she is working on, the IMD exclusion bill and childhood obesity.
The IMD exclusion bill would require the Wisconsin DHS to apply for a waiver to help fund and allow more beds in psychiatric hospitals and institutions.
Representative Emerson is focused on human trafficking and the safe harbor bill. She is also working on the girl scout bill and a bill about time in runaway youth shelters.
The girl scout bill would extend state protections that cover road workers to volunteer road workers.
Currently, the law says children in runaway youth shelters can only be there for twelve hours, but the bill would change this timeline to 72 hours, matching federal law.
Bipartisanship & Compromise
Legislators discussed the recent brewer bill and alchol bill that both passed with bipartisan support. They also discussed the amount of bills in general that have been passed with bipartisian support throughout this session. Finally, the legislators discussed the importance of representives from the Chippewa Valley region collaborating on issues that affect the communities.
Senator Smith discussed his final five bill, which he also discussed at the previous legislative breakfast.
“This session, I think, has been the session where I have seen the most bipartisanship,” Senator James said.
Representative Emerson said even more important than compromise is collaboration and working on issues together from the start.
UW Board of Regents Deal
Representative Summerfield said he was proud of the guaranteed admission to UW schools which will hopefully incentivize students to stay in the region.
“What happened in this past week is an absolute shame on Wisconsin,” Senator Smith said.
“There are a lot of better ways to do things than to threaten,” he went on to say.
Senator James said although he did not agree that the raises should have been withheld, he applauds Speaker Vos’ ability to use his leadership role to accomplish his goal
“Was something accomplished? Yes. Was everybody happy? No. Was there negotiation and compromise because they wanted to get something done? Yes,” he went on to say.
Representive Emerson discussed her concerns with the deal and the affects it could have on the UW system.
“What is happening is people are saying ‘I’ve had it, I’m going to go work in Minnesota at the campuses where I am respected and appreciated,” she said.
Representative Hurd discussed the six bills that have recently passed the assembly.
“They are targeted to begin to fix the broken childcare model… the childcare industry model is a model that does not work and we have to address the foundational problem so we can fix the problem long term,” Representative Hurd said.
“It is a broken model but we need to figure out how to fix it without letting it collapse,” Representative Emerson said.
Emerson said some government support, like credits for the parents or business credits, is necessary to help fix the problem.
Posted by Mallory Williams, Governmental Affairs Intern