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March Eggs and Issues – Legislative Breakfast

Eggs and Issues - Legislative Breakfast


Panel members from left to right: Representative Karen Hurd (R-Fall Creek, Dist. 68), Representative Jodi Emerson(D-Eau Claire, Dist. 91), Representative David Armstrong(R-Rice Lake, Dist. 75), Moderator Scott Rogers and Jennifer McHugh, Senator Jeff Smith(D-town of Brunswick, Dist. 31), and Senator Jesse James (R-Altoona, Dist. 23).

March 15th, 2024
The March edition of Eggs & Issues featured local state Legislators. These state legislators were present March 15th, 7:00 a.m. at CVTC to answer questions about the finale of the floor session. 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), David Armstrong (R-Rice Lake, Dist. 75), and Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire, Dist. 91). The legislators discussed what they believed were the most rewarding outcomes that are valuable to the Chippewa Valley and what they wished was resolved.

People attending the event got a chance to hear the legislators talk about successes in the community and what else still needs to be done. The moderators, the Chamber's Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Scott Rogers, and Jennifer McHugh asked panel members a series of questions involving what they are doing in the community and how it is impacting others. We also want to thank Jennifer McHugh for the past 5 years as being the chair of the Governmental Affairs committee. We thank her for her services and all of her work she has done for the committee. 

Representative Karen Hurd started off with identifying a positive accomplishment for the Chippewa Valley was the shared revenue package. This package was able to get rid of personal property tax, increase the amount of money the state gives to municipalities and counties, funding for EMS, fire and police and Governor Evers signed an increase for the childcare tax credit to help child care services throughout the state.

Representative Jodi Emerson spoke about how there were a lot of positive outcomes that came out of this session. One of the most exciting outcomes she talked about was the different maps going into the next election. Although the districts get very different, she says “we don't have the big gerrymandered maps.” She feels as if these maps will make citizens a lot more responsive to their constituents since some citizens were not able to get responses. Emerson also is excited to see what the Legislature looks like next year/next session. Emerson finishes off her response by adding that it is going to be “most transformational for our state.”

Representative Dave Armstrong thinks one of the most positive outcomes was the housing initiatives. Armstrong mentions around $500 million worth of initiatives were passed. Another positive outcome was the business tax credit bill for WDC. WDC is focused on getting employers to expand, relocate, and help assist employers to expand into the state of Wisconsin. Rep. Armstrong also mentioned one of the hardest parts about passing bills is getting people to fully understand what is in them. He says once you walk them through what is in it, people are more likely to agree with it and pass it.

Senator Jeff Smith mentions the “Rule of 17”. The “Rule of 17” is the majority party needs 17 votes to pass a bill in their own caucus to get to the floor. Smith mentions this past session, the minority party got 3 major bills passed. Smith talks about Bipartisan and both parties working together to pass the bills. The 3 bills that were passed were; Shared Revenue, the Brewer’s Package, and the Alcohol Package. He says it is encouraging and exciting to see both parties work together and is excited to see what happens in the future.

Senator Jesse James talks about how his office worked on 88 bills. 32 of the 88 bills have gotten to the Governor's desk. One of the successes is increased penalties for passing the red arm on a school bus. Senator James says his primary focus is getting things done that are going to positively effect our community and the children of our community. He wants to make a better life for kids and "give them a better path to move forward and succeed in." James also talks about how is passion is kid-focused bills. He also says "the educational system is an area where we can make some strides in." 


Top Priorities For Next Session
Senator James starts off by mentioning one of his top priorities coming into the next session is the maps. James mentions he loves a good competition but the general public does not know what is happening. He mentions that he was able to represent his district for 14 months before "everything flipped" with the new maps. James says that the new maps that were drawn don't draw him into his same district. He claims he would have to move 15-20 miles to represent the same district he was supposed to be elected to before the maps were drawn. James also spoke about the HSHS crisis and that the $15 million involved will be released. He says this crisis has "consumed his life." James also mentions that communication is happening with DHS and that they need to find the number one priority for the $15 million because it will only go so far. Senator James finishes his concerns with mentioning that they are trying to find the best place for these resources to go to best benefit the Chippewa Valley.

Senator Smith mentions his biggest disappointment is all things left on the table. "Monday counts" was the idea that clerks would be able to open up absentee ballots on Monday, before Tuesday to get the counts started. Right of First Refusal (ROFR) would allow in-state utilities to have the first chance at projects of our power services that come into Wisconsin. It would also prevent out-of-state companies from purchasing powers that come into our state. Expungement was also another bill along with childcare. Smith mentions yes, there are childcare credits, but if you cannot find childcare or find the space in the deserts/shortage of staff, "what will these credits do for anybody?" Smith says there is still a serious problem in childcare.

Representative Armstrong discussed some of the things that didn't get done that he would've liked to see is also childcare tax credits. Armstrong talks about making space available for childcare to prevent them from having to deal with liabilities. Armstrong also talks about one of the problems he noticed in Wisconsin is that the state government does not like tax credits. His solution to this would be in the upcoming session to break this issue into different bills so it is more "digestible." Representative Armstrong also mentions that the $15 million needs to be used to allow the communities to ask for more money in the future. Mayo Clinic and Marshfield are moving at lightning speed to get a plan put together to get the money used.

Representative Emerson canvased some of her ideas for next session included sending out surveys to constituents to help figure out plans. Her Highway Safety Bill, also known as the Girl Scouts Bill never got to the assembly floor which was a disappointment to her. Another disappointment was hearing that the Joint Finance Committee will not release the HSHS $15 million because they do not agree with Governor Evers vetos'. Emerson believes that State Legislators should work with the State Departments to assist the bills to their full potential.

Representative Hurd expressed some of her biggest disappointments. One included the "Next of Kin" bill that did not get through. This bill would help those individuals who are stuck in hospital beds due to legal issue get moved into care facilities which would then free up beds. Hurd also spoke about meeting with Wisconsin Hospital Association. She says that these hospital closures were "canary in the mine" and we cannot let this happen again. Another issue is the PFA's. This issue only began to scratch the surface and we need to be more aware and equipped to do more work ahead of time. The last issue Hurd mentioned was maps. She spoke on the subject and says they are "always gerrymandered to the party who didn't make them" and they are doing the "very best they can" since the district changes. She also mentions that everyone in Legislature, no matter the party, are working for the people.


More Information

Local State Legislators Speak on Political maps, state grant money for hospital closures  (Leader-Telegram $)  

Posted by Leah Brawdy, Governmental Affairs Intern

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