Health Care - What's Next?

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Obamacare is the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the nation. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
 
The much-maligned Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 will stay in place.
 
Self-employed older Americans and state budget directors breathed a sigh of relief. The Republican plan would have raised rates for older people on Healthcare.gov, shifted taxes away from the well-off, and shifted to states more costs for low-income, disabled and elderly (through Medicaid).
 
But the problems of the ACA – rising premiums, customers left with little choice and insurance companies leaving the marketplace in some states – still remain.
 

Cranberry Creek CAFO Hearing

A hearing was held today about the re-issuance of the WPDES permit for Cranberry Creek Farm. Cranberry Creek is asking to expand from approximately 2000 cows to over 7000. May testified at the hearing today, raising various issues with the state of the permit application, while also questioning the wisdom of a farm fo that scale in an area that is already suffering from groundwater degradation.

This is the second application that has been filed for the farm. The first was contentious because it seemed in many areas to be incomplete or inaccurate, including listing other properties for manure spreading for which no agreement had been made.

We went out and videotaped the testimony today - it is long, but you will find that many of the people testifying were well prepared and convincing.

Cranberry Creek CAFO Hearing 3/28/2017 Full Testimony

Are Waters in Wisconsin Meeting Water Quality Standards?

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing.
 
“[Wisconsin is] adding hundreds of impaired waters every year,” Mr. Meyer added. “It’s because of discharged nitrates and phosphorus.”
 
“Regulations and laws are only as good as enforcement.” Mr. Meyer said. “In the last few years [there has been] a substantial reduction in enforcement actions both in the wildlife area and the environmental area.”
 
Mr. Meyer knows about enforcing laws to protect our natural resources. For eight years, he served as the DNR Secretary under Governor Thompson. His 30-year DNR career also included ten years as head of the department’s enforcement efforts. He now runs Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, a nonpartisan coalition of nearly 200 conservation groups.
 
The Audit Committee was examining the findings of the Legislative Audit Bureau’s review of ten years of permitting, monitoring and enforcement of wastewater discharge. DNR is responsible for monitoring water discharged from about 350 industrial permittees and 650 municipal permittees and about 250 large farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) – mostly dairies.

Paul Ryan - Granny Killer

Paul Ryan

In the new age of Trump politics, you can count on a lot of alternate truth. Much of it comes from the "Wisconsin Miracle" wrought by our governor and the likes of Paul Ryan. We are about to find out if we are going to take the somewhat flawed Obamacare and replace it with the totally nonfunctional Trumpcare. If this happens we by and large have Paul Ryan to blame. 

Where to start? The last time I saw the bill it appeared that the projections of taking 24 million people off of health insurance had prompted Ryan and his cohorts to declare "Only 24 million?  We can do better than that. Hold my beer." Attempts to placate the far-right wing of the GOP have resulted in plans to even more severely cut back on Medicaid. The supposed plan to help out seniors from the huge increases in health care costs they will somehow have to survive has amounted to throwing in an inadequate amount of funding, and throwing the whole mess over the wall for the Senate to figure out. 

In the long term of course the whole problem with this bill is that it is unsustainable. By throwing out mandatory insurance, the plan suffers from not forcing young and healthy adults to buy in to the system, therefore making the entire system unstable. Republicans have long warned about an impending "death spiral" from Obamacare. The replacement bill almost guarantees that the death spiral will happen. 

Broadband Expansion: Rural Wisconsin Needs the Real Deal

Kathleen Vinehout
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“All we seek is help to get the basic broadband services that you all take for granted,” Justin Fortney from Clifton Township in Pierce County wrote to me.  “It has been frustrating for us families to watch the digital revolution pass us by…We often…pack the family into the car and drive to a relative’s house or commercial business to use their Internet.”
 
According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.
 
Both federal and state governments responded with grant programs to expand broadband but there are problems with assuring that residents actually receive the promised services.
 
With much fanfare, Governor Walker recently announced his plan to add money for broadband to schools and rural areas. Later, Senator Marklein released a different bill. The Senator’s bill was voted out of his rural affairs committee and is headed for final passage soon.

Don’t Get Rid of the Treasurer

Kathleen Vinehout
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Early in his term, Treasurer Matt Adamczyk (pronounced eDOMchek), was asked to sign a paper. The paper captured his signature.
 
Mr. Adamczyk recently testified at a Senate committee hearing saying, “My signature and the signature of the Secretary of Administration’s appears on state checks.”
 

Ethics Lawyer Files Complaint Against Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus

In our email this morning:

On Monday, February 26th, Massachusetts ethics attorney J. Whitfield Larrabee
filed a complaint for misconduct against White House Chief of Staff Reince
Priebus with the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation. 

The complaint states
that it is based on “Priebus’ corrupt attempt to influence investigations
by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) into
criminal activity involving associates of Donald J. Trump (“Trump”) and
Russian government officials.” 

Audit Hearing Highlights Problems and Way Forward with Transportation

Kathleen Vinehout
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit Committee hearing on the State Highways Program.
 
As horrifying as the bridge collapse was, the story highlighted problems locals, others and I warned about for some time. Summer storms and floodwaters weakened older roads and bridges. State funds for local construction and maintenance did not kept pace with costs.
 
The recent audit, conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB), shined a light on long-standing problems with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Many lawmakers, including myself, advocated for this audit because an analysis of DOT programs has not been conducted for many years.

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