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February 11th, 2022

This Week in the Legislature

Contents

  • Listening Sessions
  • Constituent Meetings
  • Committee Hearings
  • COVID-19 Information

Listening Sessions

This week, Senator Howard Marklein (Spring Green) and I hosted a series of listening sessions throughout the 51st Assembly District. We held sessions in Rewey, Shullsburg and Browntown.
Senator Marklein and I truly value the importance of these listening sessions as they provided us the opportunity to learn more about the issues that matter most to our constituents. This allows us to better serve you as your state elected officials.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend the listening sessions or contact us directly with your concerns.
Capitol Meetings
This week, I had the opportunity to meet with constituent Sarah Kyrie a librarian from Argyle and Vicki Teal-Lovely from the South Central Library System. During our meeting we discussed current concerns facing the public library system.

As a proud supporter of our public libraries, I want to thank Sarah and Vicki for taking time out of their busy schedules to come to the Capitol to update me on our local libraries!
I also had the opportunity to meet with area business leaders from several different industries for an update on their talent development and workforce development initiatives as well as hear their thoughts and concerns on current legislation impacting the Wisconsin small business community.

During the meeting we highlighted the challenges the rural workforce continues to face including access to broadband, worker attraction and housing concerns. We also discussed several current legislative proposals that the group believes will aid our rural businesses struggling with these challenges.

Pictured above from left to right are Nicholas Faber (Simplicity Credit Union), Ann Boson (Delta Dental), Steve Schneider (Bug Tussel Wireless), Gautam Malik (Gamber Johnson) and Joe Schuchardt (Findorff).
Student members of the Wisconsin Career and Technical Education Organization (CTSO) met with me this week to provide an update on ways they are working with local high schools and tech colleges to build quality career and technical education programs that support and enhance school-based and work-based learning. CTSO programs provide additional opportunities for students to gain hands-on learning experience to help prepare them for trade schools and the workforce.

Programs like CTSO are a major benefit for our students and help strengthen the classroom-to-workforce pipeline, something that is critical as we continue to face labor shortages.

I want to thank the CTSO student leadership team that took time out of their day to meet with me, including Mia Hillebrand (pictured top left), a River Valley High School graduate and current student at Southwest Tech. 
Committee Meetings
This week, I chaired the meeting for the Assembly Committee on Local Government to recommend passage of five bills. Those bills will now be eligible for consideration before the full Assembly.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend floor passage of five bills including  AB 874 a bill that would change the state’s Medical Assistance program in order to secure increased federal funding to support supplemental payments for ambulance service providers. 

The referral of new bills to committees has begun to slow and the emphasis will now shift toward final passage of bills on the Assembly floor.   
The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee met for a public hearing and executive session. The committee heard testimony on several bills including Assembly Bill 409 which strengthens the penalties for battery or threat to a public officer. Individuals who choose careers in public service should not be threatened or injured because of their line of work. It is important that we are able to attract and retain quality public servants dedicated to serving the needs of the public.

This bill will help ensure their safety and the safety of their family and allow them to work without fear of physical harm.
I also attended the public hearing for the Assembly Committee on Mental Health. The committee heard testimony on two bills. Assembly Bill 952 authored by Representative Jim Steineke (Kaukauna) and Senator Alberta Darling (River Hills). This bill address the mental health provider shortage Wisconsin continues to face by appropriating additional state funds to create a comprehensive Mental Health Consultation Program to provide additional resources and expand access to mental health care to underserved areas of our state.

The committee also heard testimony on Assembly Bill 668 authored by Representative Rachael Cabral-Guevara (Appleton) and Senator Andre Jacque (DePere). AB 668 funds a new program administered through the state Department of Justice to offer crisis intervention and counseling services for law enforcement officers.

The focus of this program is to provide robust services with the purpose of reducing anxiety, stress, critical incidents and suicides among our law enforcement officers.
The Assembly committee on Agriculture also met this week for a public hearing on Assembly Bill 948. This bill authored by Senator Joan Ballweg (Markesan) and Representative John Macco (Green Bay) simplifies the transfer of assets on family farms following a death.

Currently the transfer of farm implements after death involves a lengthy legal process of probate which can lead to significant delay in the transfer of assets causing additional stress for family farms.

This bill alleviates the stress of succession planning and allows beneficiaries an expedited process to transfer farm equipment so that family farms may continue operating without the added concern of probate.

COVID-19 Information

I am continuing to urge all of my constituents to talk to their doctor, and if they choose, get the COVID-19 vaccine and the booster shot. I have included more informational resources below.

  1. For a full list of COVID-19 vaccine sites statewide please click the vaccine finder link here.
  2. For booster eligibility and general COVID-19 vaccine information please click the link here.
  3. For insurance provider testing reimbursement information please click the link here.
  4. For testing site information please click the link here.

Have a Great Weekend!

As always, please do not hesitate to follow up with any additional questions or concerns you may have. I can be reached at Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 237-9151.

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