The Assembly Committee on Education held a hearing on Assembly Bill 970 Wednesday. The bill would essentially provide universal school choice here in The Badger State.
WFA has been a vocal proponent of school choice over the years. We were thrilled when Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led state legislature expanded the Parental Choice Program (PCP) to the entire state as the Wisconsin Parental Choice Program. Assembly Bill 970 will further expand educational opportunities for families and promote parental rights.
I testified to the committee in support of this bill, explaining that several studies demonstrate the efficacy of school choice.
With the formation of School Choice Wisconsin and Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty, we
have conducted extensive research showing that students enrolled in one of our PCPs (Milwaukee, Racine, Statewide), on average, do very well, often out-performing their peers in public schools.
In WILL’s most recent Apples to Apples Study (covering 2019 test data), Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program Proficiency rates in math exceeded rates in Milwaukee Public Schools by 3.9% and by 4.6% in English Language Arts on average. The same study revealed that children enrolled in choice programs demonstrated greater proficiency than those in traditional public school by 3.05%.
Further, scholars in the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) applied state-of-the-art matching methods to compare students in the MPCP with students in MPS who were similar in neighborhood, race, and prior achievement. Among the findings from this matching analysis are that students in the MPCP were 4-7 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school. Moreover, students in the MPCP were found to achieve higher scores in reading, though similar scores in math.
Students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program are also more likely to graduate from college. Dr. Will Flanders posits that expanding the Parental Choice Program could lead to substantial economic gains for our state. He estimates that Madison could see $100 million in economic benefits, $75 million for Green Bay, $60 million for Appleton and $24 million for La Crosse.
Other findings from the SCDP, not related to academic achievement, show that students in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program have lower incidences of criminal behavior and extensive economic benefits. These programs save taxpayers money and in general provide a better return on their tax investment.
Right now, our Choice Programs are limited to individuals with certain incomes, in some cases those with certain zip codes, and also by enrollment caps. It’s time to lift all of those limitations, and Assembly Bill 970 does that.
It’s time to give all parents, regardless of income or zip code or number of people in their school district, an opportunity to choose the best school for their child.
Education isn’t just about today; it’s about tomorrow—and expanding the Choice Programs means good things for Wisconsin’s future.
Our state’s Parental Choice Programs have been tried and tested now over many years. Studies continue to show students in these programs are, on average, certainly performing no worse than their public-school counterparts and in many cases, are performing not just better, but significantly better. It’s time to give this opportunity to all parents across our state.
Parents alone are responsible for the education of their children. The more educational options parents have, the better, as they seek what is best for their children.
Use this link to find your state legislators and urge them to pass this bill and support parents and school choice in Wisconsin!
Senate Bill 250 is making some headlines in Wisconsin with some very enthusiastic supporters, but a significant level of caution is warranted for this piece of legislation.
SB 250 (and its Assembly companion AB 244) seeks to radically alter the election process for members of Congress and U.S. Senators in Wisconsin. It would ultimately make it more difficult for conservative candidates to win elections in our state. Additionally, it would shift the focus during elections from issues to money and name recognition, which often results in less qualified candidates taking office. A public hearing for the bill was held just before Christmas, but the Senate Committee on Elections has not yet voted on the bill. The Assembly hasn’t taken any action to date on the proposal.
This bill removes the partisan primaries for Congress and the U.S. Senate and replaces them with an open primary. Currently in Wisconsin, we have partisan primaries, meaning each party gets a chance to select one candidate for the general election. In this new proposed system, however, every candidate running for office would be in the same pool, and the top five vote earners would move on to the general election. That means that multiple Republicans and Democrats could, and certainly would, land on the final ballot in November.
The bill also implements something called “Final Five voting” in the general election. On election day, under this bill, voters would be asked to rank their choices for Congress and U.S. Senate from their first choice to their fifth (but ranking all five is not required). After the votes are counted, if no candidate has over 50% of the vote, whoever has the fewest votes would be removed. Votes that had gone to the eliminated candidate would then go to a given voter’s second choice candidate. If there is still no candidate with more than 50% of the vote, the process is repeated until there is.
The Final Five voting system isn’t necessarily complicated, but it can be confusing because it’s so different from the way we have always conducted elections in Wisconsin. To make matters worse, if passed, this bill would apply to this year’s elections. It’s a tall order to get the whole state on the same page that quickly. In addition, the cost of restructuring the voting system is also of major concern. Maine uses a similar system for a few elected offices, and their taxpayers have to pay nearly another half a million dollars per election to make this system work. Wisconsin has four times the population of Maine; so it stands to reason that our cost would be much higher than Maine’s.
Additionally, this type of election system is ripe for manipulation and election tampering.
Because of the complexity of this system, it would likely take weeks to determine who actually won the election. Beyond that, we’ve already seen how hard it is to keep the ballot safe, secure and properly counted for one night. Imagine the antics that dishonest vote counters could pull if we allow the counting to extend over a period of weeks.
Right now is a terrible time to further erode our faith in our electoral system. Wisconsin Family Action firmly opposes Senate Bill 250/Assembly Bill 244.
TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF ASSEMBLY BILLS 299, 303, 309, 316, & 347
ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON CONSTITUTION AND ETHICS
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 2021
JULAINE K. APPLING, PRESIDENT
Read online here.
Thank you, Chairman Wichgers and committee members, for the opportunity to testify on Assembly Bills 299, 303, 309, 316, and 347. Wisconsin Family Action supports these bills that address a critical issue in our state. We are grateful for the authors who have taken the lead on these bills and for the co-sponsors who have stepped up to lend support.
At the outset, I want to be perfectly clear that we take no position on whether or not an individual should take the COVID-19 vaccine or any other vaccine for that matter. We are not in any way dismissive of the virus. Like virtually everyone in our state, we have been affected by its reach in our own families and organization. We are not making any kind of judgment in this testimony as to the efficacy of or the necessity for the vaccine. That is not the point or purpose of these bills.
The bills taken as grouping each do what we believe needs to be done: prohibit any effort by any entity to require any COVID-19 vaccination or to require proof of one having had said vaccine.
One issue we do have with any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine, is whether or not the research and/or testing has involved the use of the cells or tissue or any body part of an aborted baby. And that reality does play into our position on these bills because people should be able to choose not to take a vaccine that in its development violates a person’s core, deep-seated beliefs and convictions. That choice should be protected—and we believe it is—by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and by Article I, Section 18 of our Wisconsin Constitution, which gives unequivocal protection to the right of conscience:
Article I, Section 18, Wisconsin Constitution
Freedom of worship; liberty of conscience; state religion; public funds. SECTION 18. [As amended Nov. 1982] The right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any person be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, without consent; nor shall any control of, or interference with, the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship; nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of religious societies, or religious or theological seminaries. [1979 J.R. 36, 1981 J.R. 29, vote Nov. 1982] [emphasis added]
We believe deciding to take a vaccine is a personal matter, even a matter of conscience. Individuals might also involve a doctor in their decision, but even that choice is up to the individual. No vaccine should ever be forced on people, not even during a declared “emergency.” As you will hear today and as you know, vaccines are potent pharmaceuticals. Every vaccine has a risk-benefit associated with it, and people are entitled to determine for themselves whether they want to assume the risk for any benefit the vaccine may bring.
In a country where the rule of law is supposed to be at the heart of how we do government, we cannot set aside the Constitution, either the US Constitution or our state constitution, even during a health crisis. To the contrary, constitutions are meant to ensure protections even during the worst of times. Giving government officials at any level of government the authority to mandate a vaccine or proof of vaccination threatens the rights of individuals. These bills appropriately restrict that authority and ensure that the rule of law is respected.
When it comes to employers, we firmly believe employees do not forego their constitutional or legal rights when they sign on to work at a given company. Receiving a vaccine or having to provide proof of vaccination should not be a condition of employment. Consider the precedent that would be set if this prohibition does not happen or if such discrimination is permitted. Right now, COVID-19 is the virus we are fighting. Tomorrow it could be something different for which scientists develop a vaccine. We could have situations where a person would need to get multiple vaccines just to have a job. To not prohibit this vaccine mandate and having to provide proof of vaccination would put us on the proverbial slippery slope—which seems to always take us further and take us faster than we ever imagined.
For those who would say that Wisconsin has three vaccine exemption options and that should be sufficient to cover the current vaccine situation, thereby making these bills unnecessary, we respond that we have learned over the last year that once a state or local official declares an “emergency,” safeguards and options we thought were available can be quickly set aside, legally or not. We have no confidence that these exemptions apply in general, say, to an employee or to an individual citizen seeking service at a business, or that if they do apply more generally, that they would be upheld during a declared emergency. Simply put, we need these specific safeguards.
Frankly, our only concern with all of these bills, with the exception of AB 309, is that they are specific to the COVID-19 vaccine. We believe they should be more generally applicable so that we do not have to revisit this issue for any future health crisis we face in the state. AB 309 appropriately makes vaccination status non-specific so that we are not back here next year seeking similar protections from possible vaccination mandates and/or proof of such vaccination regarding another virus or disease.
Individuals and families are being asked to deal with a great deal right now. They should not have to be concerned that they will be violating a law if they decide not to take the COVID-19 vaccine and therefore have no proof of such vaccination, and they should not have to be concerned that their employment would be in jeopardy should they decline the vaccine. Enacting the measures included in these bills would ensure authority would not be abused, would uphold the rule of law, and would help families avoid additional stress. We urge this committee to pass these bills quickly and move them to the full Assembly where we hope they will receive swift passage.
Thank you for your attention and thoughtful consideration of our position on these bills.
Yesterday, Wisconsin Family Action’s Legislative Team, Julaine Appling and Micah Pearce, spent the day attending 3 different hearings in the capitol. Julaine provided testimony on four different bills in those hearings.
AB 195/SB 323 and AB 196/SB 322: These bills are the Protect Women’s Sports bills. The bills stop biological males from participating in girls’/women’s sports. AB 195/SB 323 prohibits this at the UW System schools and the technical training schools, both publicly funded institutions of higher learning. AB 196/SB322 does the same thing in Wisconsin’s public K-12 schools and private schools participating in a parental choice program. AB 195 was heard in the Assembly Committee on Colleges & Universities, and AB 196 was heard in the Assembly Education Committee. The Senate bills were heard in the Senate Committee on Human Services, Children and Families.
SB 260: This bill would close loopholes in the law to make it clear that the UW Madison and the UW Medical School cannot have any kind of funding relationship with Planned Parenthood to train residents to do abortions or to provide UW doctors to Planned Parenthood to do abortions.
SB 261: This bill would add additional information that would need to be tracked and reported after an induced abortion is performed. The additional information includes reporting the sex of the baby if that can be visually determined and if there is any fetal anomaly. The bill would also require reporting the identity of the facility where the induced abortion takes place. The author of the bill, Senator Jacque, offered an amendment on Tuesday with a number of additional points of information that would need to be determined and reported.
The above two pro-life bills were heard in the Senate Committee on Human Resources, Children and Families.
You can view recordings of two of the three hearings HERE. Wiseye will require you to have an account to see these archived recordings, but the account is FREE. We would urge you to have a Wiseye account because this is the stat\ government’s official partner for the video transmission of press conferences, legislative floor periods, committee meetings, State Supreme Court hearings and administrative meetings, and more.
Recordings of the hearings yesterday are available for AB 196 and SB 260, SB 261, SB 322, and SB 323 (these 4 bills were all heard in the same hearing). No recording is available for AB 195. Julaine speaks in the Assembly Education hearing on AB 195 at 2:14:40. She speaks in the Senate hearing on SB 260 at 3:07 and on SB 261, SB 322, and SB 323 at 3:59.
All of these bills are important to help protect our families here in Wisconsin. Watch for an email with information on contacting your elected officials on these bills! We’ll use our new action center for that communication.
Read testimony on AB 195 HERE.
Read Testimony on AB 196 HERE.
Read Testimony on SB 260 HERE.
Read Testimony on SB 261 HERE.
Read Testimony on SB 322 & SB 323 HERE.
The US Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing today, March 17, 2021 at 9am CT on the so-called Equality Act. This bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal civil rights law. It has no religious exemption and in fact poses a real threat to religious freedom. The bill would give special rights and protections to those in the LGBTQ plus communities and put in the crosshairs those who believe in Biblical marriage and family and God’s creative distinctly binary order of male and female. The bill passed earlier this month in the U.S. House.
Now is the time for citizens to tell Wisconsin US Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin to vote AGAINST this proposal. Contact information for the senators is below or you can go to senate.gov. Being good stewards of the government God has given us includes letting elected officials know our opinion on important issues.
NOTE: Go to our new Action Center to shoot off an email now!
Here are some TALKING POINTS from Heritage Foundation:
- This legislation does not create equality. Equality cannot be created for one group by taking rights away from another. This bill targets people of religious faith, erodes protections for women, and would take children away from parents who refuse radical hormone therapies.
- The Equality Act endangers women and girls. By recognizing an individuals “chosen gender” instead of his or her “biological sex,” this legislation would force more women and girls to share bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and sleeping facilities with biological males who choose to identify as female.
- The Equality Act would allow biological males who identify as female to compete in and likely dominate women’s sports. Not only does this undercut the sport, but it hurts women who depend on college sports and scholarships to obtain educational and career aspirations.
- Parents’ would lose the right to decide the best medical care for a child suffering with gender dysphoria and would be stripped of custody of their children. Already, courts have sided with transgender clinics against parents who refused radical hormone therapies for their children.
- This legislation makes it harder for organizations and charities with faith-based values to operate and exist. This negatively impacts all underserved communities, including children, minorities, the unemployed, and the homeless.
- The 100,000+ American children in need of adoption each year would be hurt by H.R. 5. The numerous faith-based adoption agencies that serve these vulnerable children would be forced to either close down or violate sincerely held religious beliefs.
- Employers and businesses would face more regulation and lawsuits. Businesses with 15 or more employees would be forced to provide medical insurance for “gender transitions”, use preferred pronouns or face litigation, and open any single-sex space to both sexes including bathrooms and locker rooms.
- Free speech must be protected and preserved. H.R. 5 would silence thought and debate on important issues facing our nation, such as gender, marriage, and faith.
- Provides legal support for a radical school curriculum, teaching sexual preferences and transgender theory to elementary and pre-K children. In states where this curriculum is currently being taught, it is integrated into all subjects, and parents cannot opt their children out.
For the third consecutive session, Republican legislators have introduced a bill to completely eliminate the waiting period after a divorce before a remarriage. Currently, the waiting period after a divorce in our state is six months—and that’s for good reason. It’s not capricious or arbitrary. It’s prudent, especially when minor children are concerned.
Even the best divorces, whatever that may mean, take their toll on the man and woman and certainly on children as the confused and conflicted innocent victims. Some time between the dissolution of one marriage before another allows for cooling off and healing, for sorting through important details, for serious premarital counseling, and certainly for helping minor children adjust to yet another living arrangement.
Read the rest of this week’s Wisconsin Family Connection radio commentary regarding this issue HERE.
WFA president, Julaine Appling, testified on your behalf against this bill.
Photo credit: Micah Pearce
On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, Julaine participated in a press conference to announce the introduction of a bill that would stop biological males from being able to participate in women’s/girls’ athletic teams or events. This Protect Women’s Sports bill is authored by Rep. Barb Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc, Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Rep. Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R-Appleton), Rep. Donna Rozar (R-Marshfield) and Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls). The bill is currently circulating for co-sponsors. (Appling speaks at 6 minutes into the conference.)
This week it has been “all hands on deck” as conservatives across the nation rallied AGAINST the so-called Equality Act (we call it the UNEquality Act) in a virtual event on Tuesday and opened the email (and snail mail) floodgates to elected officials’ offices with strong opposition to this bill. Since the US House of Representatives is expected to take a vote on this dangerous act TODAY, we are getting this information out to you early enough to get one last email sent off to your legislator through our easy-as-1-2-3 Action Center. CLICK HERE NOW to send your email off in less than 15 seconds!
We don’t have time to waste (we know you don’t, either) so here is the slimmed-down version of the “Equality Act” and a link to the action you can quickly take this morning before the vote is taken in the House. CLICK HERE NOW to ensure your legislator gets your email THIS MORNING before the vote!
What is the “Equality Act?”
“On Wednesday March 13 (2019), Nancy Pelosi introduced the so-called Equality Act, a bill that would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes under federal civil rights law.
How could Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) laws affect you? GREAT question and we have an answer! CLICK HERE for a comprehensive look at the danger of this bill.
WHAT YOU CAN DO RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE ⇒ CLICK HERE and shoot a preformatted email (that you can completely change and personalize–and we encourage you to do that!) off to your member of Congress asking him/her to vote AGAINST the “Equality Act.”That’s it! Just as we promised, this Action Alert is quick and to the point! Thank you for weighing in on this critical issue that could put America’s children, businesses, families, adoption centers and so much more in danger.
Click HERE to watch yesterday’s virtual rally.
Wisconsin Family Action testifies against SB286 “Pill Bill”: Not about so-called women’s health care
This testimony may be viewed on WisEye HERE starting at 3:22:00.
TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO SENATE BILL 30
SENATE COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2021
JULAINE K. APPLING, PRESIDENT
Thank you, Chairman Testin and committee members, for the opportunity to testify on Senate Bill 286. Wisconsin Family Action opposes this bill. We acknowledge the stated intent of the authors, but we believe the problems that come with this proposal far outweigh the good intentions.
First, let me clarify our organizational position on contraceptives in general. We do not take a position on whether or not a married couple should use contraception, unless a contraceptive method can result in the destruction of the fertilized egg, which generally happens because a contraceptive drug or device often prevents a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. We have never promoted contraception for unmarried persons because that position is inconsistent with our belief that what is in the best interest of unmarried individuals is to remain sexually abstinent until marriage and faithful to their spouse when they do marry.
Allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense contraception, at least to some degree, promotes unmarried individuals engaging in sexual activity. The argument that these individuals will get contraceptives somewhere, and it may as well be from a pharmacist who can’t perform an abortion, rings hollow. Pharmacies often are much more convenient in location and hours than are other places where contraceptives might be obtained, increasing the likelihood that more women will turn to pharmacists for their prescriptions. Should the contraception fail, and studies show it surely does at times, and a woman becomes pregnant, that the woman received the contraception from a pharmacist rather than from an organization that performs abortions will not deter the woman from having an abortion if that is what she is determined to do.
I think it is also important to note that this proposed change in the scope of practice for pharmacists is not about health-care. Contraception is not health care. Contraception is about the personal choices and decisions of individual women, typically made under the advice and guidance of a doctor because of the potency of the pharmaceuticals involved. To talk in terms of this being about women’s health care is, at a minimum, disingenuous.
In addition, some contraceptives are known to cause a pre-implantation chemical abortion, as I referenced earlier. Scientifically, we know life begins at conception. Contraceptives that make it impossible for this newly conceived human being to implant in the uterine wall destroy the human being in the earliest stages of development.
Further, we are concerned about the well-being of the individual woman seeking the contraception. The bill provides that the person must complete “a self-assessment questionnaire and undergo a blood pressure screening.” Based on this very limited information, most of which is self-reporting, the pharmacist must determine whether it is safe to prescribe a contraceptive for a given individual. The presumption is, of course, that the individual is accurately reporting his/her medical situation historically and currently. Inaccurate medical information could be dangerous, even in some instances fatal.
This same law is in effect in Colorado, and the self-assessment questionnaire that state uses is available online, as is the Summary Chart of U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (copy attached). That chart makes it clear a significant number of medical conditions pose a “theoretical or proven risk” or even an “unacceptable health risk” for contraceptives. If the individual has an undisclosed condition that dictates that contraceptives should not be used and the pharmacist, in good faith, prescribes and dispenses some form of contraception, the individual’s health is at a minimum compromised.
Should this burden rest on a pharmacist who is severely limited in what he or she can learn about the real health of the individual seeking the contraception? Blood pressure is only one measure of one’s health; it is certainly not something physicians typically rely on in isolation (or even in conjunction with a self-administered assessment) to determine one’s overall health or the appropriateness of a certain prescription. Pharmacists cannot do further diagnostic testing or assessments.
Additionally, what is to prevent a woman who has a severe reaction to the prescribed and dispensed contraception from suing the pharmacist and/or the pharmacy? The language of the bill does not address the liability of the pharmacist or the pharmacy, which presumably would have some culpability since the pharmacist is acting in his/her official capacity as an employee of the pharmacy. Last session during a public hearing, a committee member asked a testifying pharmacist about liability. The pharmacist speaking in support of the proposal said, “We don’t know about liability.” When I followed up with my testimony and addressed this issue, a committee member responded to me by saying, “You know we frequently pass bills where we don’t know who is liable.” I suggested that perhaps this is not the wisest course of action for the state legislature, particularly in this instance and especially in the ultra-litigious society in which we live.
We also oppose this bill because it puts pharmacists who may have religious or conscience objections to prescribing contraception in general and in particular contraception that is known to be abortifacient, in a difficult position. We currently have no specific statutory protection for the religious or conscience rights of pharmacists. While the bill does not force any pharmacy to take part in this prescription-writing authority, it’s safe to say many will. Imagine a pharmacist working for a pharmacy that decides to do this and thereby requires its pharmacists to either write prescriptions for contraception or face disciplinary action, which could even involve dismissal.
For these reasons, we urge this committee to oppose this bill that is not in the best interest of those seeking contraception or in the best interest of the pharmacists.
Thank you for your attention and thoughtful consideration of our position on this proposal.
Rep. Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay and Sen. Mary Felzkowski of Irma and Sen. Kathy Bernier of Chippewa Falls have once again introduced a bill that would allow Wisconsin pharmacists to write prescriptions for certain contraceptives.
Currently, pharmacists in Wisconsin cannot write prescriptions. However, if these authors and the other Republican state legislators who are cosponsoring this bill have their way, that would change. If this bill, Senate Bill 30, passes, pharmacists would be able to write prescriptions for certain contraceptive drugs and patches for women eighteen and over who have filled out a self-assessment questionnaire and have undergone a blood pressure screening provided by the pharmacist. After the prescription is issued, the pharmacist would be required to report the prescription to the patient’s primary care practitioner.
This is the second time Republicans have rushed to sponsor this bill. Last session the Assembly passed the proposal, but it died in the Senate. Supporters argue women need more access to contraception. Opponents allege access isn’t a problem. What concerns them, however, is the well-being of the woman with no doctor involved prior to the prescription being written and issued. Wisconsin Family Action opposes the bill.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Call your legislator and weigh in on this issue as soon as possible. Find your legislator and his/her contact information HERE.
Share this information with your family, friends and neighbors and ask them to do the same.
Commit to praying for your legislators on a regular basis.
Last week, a public hearing was held in the Senate’s Committee on Human Services, Children and Families for the following bills:
Senate Bill 4 – Deals with prohibiting certain state and/or local officials from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine
Senate Bill 5 – Deals with prohibiting employers from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment
Senate Bill 7 – Deals with prohibiting local health officers from closing or prohibiting gatherings in places of worship during the coronavirus crisis
Wisconsin Family Action president Julaine Appling testified in support of all three bills. Appling’s testimony on the vaccine-related bills focused on the right of individuals to determine for themselves whether they take the vaccine or not and reminded legislators that the state constitution clearly protects the right of conscience. On the bill related to closing churches, Appling noted that the law requires that churches be treated the same as other essential services, which some local officials had not done. The bills are scheduled to be voted on in the full Senate today.
Julaine Appling gave an update after lending her testimony at this public hearing. Watch the video HERE. For a full update on these bills and related legislative matters, listen to yesterday’s Home Front program HERE.
It’s been a whirlwind of decisions coming out of the US Supreme Court in the last few weeks. Last Thursday, the high court released its last round of opinions for this term, wrapping up months of dealing with numerous high-profile decisions that impact immediately or will impact in the future millions of Americans. Religious freedom was the crux of three recent decisions—and in all three cases the high court ruled in favor of respecting the First Amendment’s clear intent to give Americans the right to freely exercise their religion and conscience.
Our founders called religious freedom our “First freedom” because it is the underpinning of all of our other freedoms. In light of that, these decisions are encouraging. However, one other case the court decided this session that wrongly redefined the word sex to include sexual orientation and gender identity puts religious freedom and so-called civil rights on a collision course. We must remain vigilant.
Last week the state senate gave the needed final vote on a bill, SB 28, that helps families control their health care. The direct primary care bill, authored by Republicans Representative Joe Sanfelippo and Senator Chris Kapenga, exempts direct primary care agreements from the state’s insurance laws. Direct primary care agreements are contracts signed between a health-care provider and an individual in which the health-care provider agrees to provide primary care services to the individual for an agreed-upon fee and period of time. Governor Evers vetoed the bill last Friday.
“Direct primary care agreements offer families more flexibility and very often more affordability in their health care,” says Julaine Appling, WFA president. “It’s part of how we keep or help families become self-sufficient and independent. Getting insurance companies out of these agreements assures more control by the people directly giving and receiving the health care. Apparently Governor Evers isn’t interested in truly helping Wisconsin’s best natural resource–her families.”
Thank you, Chairman Sanfelippo and committee members, for the opportunity to testify on Assembly Joint Resolution 130.
Wisconsin Family Action strongly supports this joint resolution.
Currently, Article I, Section 1, of the Wisconsin Constitution provides that only those who are “born” are afforded certain “inherent rights,” including the right to life.
Joint Resolution 130 proposes to amend the language of Article 1, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution to reflect that, as applied to the right to life, the term “persons” applies to every human being in any stage of development, born or unborn.
We support this change for five main reasons:
(Click below on official document to read the entire testimony. Feel free to download and share.)
[googlepdf url=”https://wifamilyaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/AJR-130_Personhood_021320.pdf” download=”Download” width=”600″ height=”800″]
2020 | February 9 Wisconsin Family Action Lobbying Against Marijuana Reform
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 286 this Wednesday, November 20, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 411 South of the State Capitol. Senate Bill (SB) 286, authored by Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls), is the companion bill to Assembly Bill (AB) 304, legislation permitting pharmacists to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptive patches (the Patch) and self-administered oral hormonal contraceptives to persons 18 years of age and older. Currently, these contraceptives may only be prescribed by a physician.
- Please ATTEND the public hearing and testify or register against SB 286.
- If you are unable to attend the public hearing, please CALL or EMAIL your state senator TODAY and urge him/her to “Oppose AB 304 & SB 286.”
- Don’t know your state senator? Go to legis.wisconsin.gov and type in your home address under “Who Are My Legislators” or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-362-9472.
WISCONSIN FAMILY ACTION LEGISLATIVE ISSUES
2019-2020 Wisconsin Legislative Session
Current as of December 16, 2019
(To view as a pdf, click HERE.)
AB 41/SB 49 – Decriminalization of child prostitution. (WFA opposes)
Despite intentions and motives of those authoring and co-sponsoring this bill Wisconsin Family Action believes this proposal is ill-advised because it takes a tool away from law enforcement who are trying to get minors engaged in prostitution off the streets, assumes all minors involved in this activity are being coerced and gives an advantage to the Johns and the pimps to recruit more minors into their nefarious work, including sex trafficking. A substitute amendment was offered by author Republican Senator Alberta Darling. This amendment improved the bill. The Senate passed the bill on November 5, 2019, and sent it to the Assembly where it is currently in the Rules committee ready to be scheduled for a floor vote. The Assembly committee has already recommended the bill for passage.
AB 71/SB 68 – Possession of child pornography (WFA supports)
This bill tightens up the definition of child pornography making it easier to bring charges against someone who is engaged in this activity. The bill passed in both the Senate and the Assembly. Governor Evers signed it into law in July as 2019 Wisconsin Act 16.
AB 111/SB 107 – Prohibiting so-called “conversion therapy” for minors (WFA opposes)
This bill prohibits certain mental health workers from actually providing real hope and real help for minors dealing with unwanted same-sex attraction and/or gender confusion. It makes it clear that the only advice these mental health workers can give is that which affirms, normalizes and encourages minors to continue with these beliefs and behaviors. The bill trounces on religious freedom of mental health workers and on the rights of parents regarding counseling for their children. This bill is in committee in both the Assembly and the Senate; no further action to date.
AB 201/SB 191 – Creating a nonrefundable tax credit for adoption expenses (WFA supports)
The intent of this bill is to encourage Wisconsin families to adopt children. This $5,000 tax credit piggybacks on the federal adoption tax credit and helps parents offset some of the costs related to adoption, which today can be very expensive. These bills are in committee in both the Assembly and the Senate. No further action to date.
AB 248/SB 262 – Removing “personal conviction” exemption from vaccination requirements (WFA opposes)
Wisconsin currently has three options for parents seeking to exempt their children from vaccinations: health, religious and personal conviction. This bill would remove “personal conviction,” which would make it harder for parents choosing to not vaccinate their children. These bills are in committee in both the Assembly and the Senate. No further action to date.
AB 439/SB 398 –Eliminating waiting period after a divorce is finalized before a re-marriage (WFA opposes)
Wisconsin law currently requires that after a divorce is finalized that an individual must wait six months before entering into another marriage, whether that marriage is in Wisconsin or another state or country. This waiting period is both reasonable and responsible, especially if minor children are involved. The state has a valid interest in the well-being of the next generation. Parents rushing into another marriage immediately after a divorce is not in the adults’ best interest and certainly not in the best interest of minor children who are already dealing with much uncertainty and loss as a result of their parents’ divorce. The bill is authored by Republicans with substantial Republican support as co-sponsors, along with some Democrats. Both the Senate and the Assembly committees have held public hearings on the bill. The Senate Committee has passed it, but the Assembly Committee has not yet voted on the bill.
EDUCATION (subheading of Marriage/Family)
AB 108/no senate version yet – Requiring parental choice program schools and charter schools to provide instruction in American Indian history, culture, and tribal sovereignty. (WFA opposes)
WFA does not support more requirements for voucher schools. We do not believe this curricular mandate does anything to increase the educational value in any given school. It simply takes away from time that could be better spent. We believe most schools cover this topic already in the course of implementing their curriculum across the grades. This bill is in committee; no further action to date.
AB 129/SB 111 – Allowing voucher schools to provide pupil instruction virtually (WFA supports)
This bill levels the playing field with public schools by allowing voucher schools to offer direct pupil instruction virtually—to make up for missed time due to extreme weather closings and also as a part of the regular program of the school. These bills are in committee in both the Assembly and the Senate. No further action to date.
AB 149/SB 138 – Funding character education in public schools (WFA opposes)
Character education under this bill is not defined—and there is too much room for “character” to be stretched beyond its typical meaning and understanding. The bill authorizes DPI to award grants to schools to pay teachers to receive “professional development trainings in character education.” The Senate Education Committee held a public hearing and voted to move the bill to the full Senate. As of this update, the bill has not been scheduled for a Senate floor vote. There has been no public hearing on the Assembly version.
AB 128/SB 114 – Creating a tax credit for parents who experience a stillbirth (WFA supports)
This bill seeks to compensate parents who have had a stillbirth for some of the costs related to this heart-rending situation (up to $2,000). These bills are in committee in both the Assembly and the Senate. No further action to date.
AB 179/SB 175 – Born Alive bill (WFA supports with one concern).
This bill requires any health care provider present at the time an abortion or attempted abortion results in a child born alive to exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care provider would render to any other child born alive. The bill makes intentionally causing the death of a child born alive as a result of an abortion or attempted abortion a felony with a penalty of life imprisonment. WFA’s concern is that the bill has an express exemption for a woman who intentionally kills her baby that has managed to survive an abortion or an attempted abortion. Passed in Assembly & Senate. Governor vetoed.
AB 180/SB 174 – Requiring that women taking RU-486 be told there is a reversal to the abortion-causing drug (WFA supports).
This bill requires certain information regarding an abortion-inducing drug regimen to be given to a woman who is planning to have an abortion induced by this abortion-inducing drug regimen. This is primarily about RU-486. Essentially the bill requires that the woman be told that the first drug in the regimen may not result in an immediate abortion and that if she acts quickly, she can reverse the effects of the first drug and perhaps save her baby. This information would be added to the Woman’s Right to Know publication. The bill also requires that any place an abortion takes place, including a hospital, certain information must be collected and reported. The bill adds to what the law already requires abortionists to report. Passed in Assembly & Senate. Governor vetoed.
AB 181/SB 199 – Stopping taxpayer funded Medicaid payments from going to most abortion providers (WFA supports).
This bill generally prohibits an entity that does abortions from receiving Medicaid payments. This bill is effectively dead with the legislature having voted on AB 183/SB 187.
AB 182/SB 173 – Prohibiting abortions based on sex, race, nationality, ethnicity or disability (WFA supports with one concern).
Our concern is that the bill has an exception related to disability. That exception deals with a situation where medical professionals determine an unborn baby has a disability that is deemed “fatal,” meaning the child is unlikely to survive outside the womb and the condition is not treatable. We believe this is an unnecessary exception. Passed in Assembly & Senate. Governor vetoed.
AB 183/SB 187 – Stopping taxpayer funded Medicaid payments from going to most abortion providers (WFA supports).
This bill generally prohibits an entity that does abortions from receiving Medicaid payments. Passed in Assembly & Senate. Governor vetoed.
AB 590/SB 524 –Prohibits the sale and use of the body parts of aborted babies, requires reporting of the sex and any fetal anomaly of an aborted baby, and requires proper final disposition of an aborted baby (WFA supports)
This bill has been introduced in prior legislative sessions. Even with a Republican governor and strong Republican majorities in the Senate and the Assembly, the bill has never received a floor vote. Current Republican leadership does not seem inclined to move these bills at all. The bills are currently in committee in both the Senate and the Assembly; no public hearing has been scheduled.
AB 185/SB 197 – Changing how WI’s electoral votes are allocated (WFA opposes)
This bill erodes the Electoral College. Instead of awarding WI’s 10 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the popular vote in our state, those 10 votes would go to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. These bills are in committee in both the Assembly and the Senate. No further action to date.
SB 577/no Assembly version to date – Decriminalizing 28 grams or less of marijuana (WFA opposes).
This bill makes a number of changes in the current law as it relates to bringing charges against a person who possesses, attempts to possess, possesses with the intent to manufacture, distribute, or deliver marijuana. WFA believes marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to using other harder drugs and that marijuana use in and of itself can significantly impair judgment and alter behavior. Twenty-eight grams of marijuana is the equivalent of over 80 “joints.” The bill is currently in committee; no further action to date.
AJR 106/SJR 75 – Renaming the decorated tree in the capitol rotunda during the Christmas holiday season as the Wisconsin State Christmas Tree (WFA supports).
These joint resolutions reflect the long-standing tradition of referring to the tree in the capitol rotunda during Christmas as a Christmas tree, not a holiday tree as Governor Evers refers to it. The Assembly passed the resolution in November on a bi-partisan vote; the resolution is waiting for action in the Senate.
AJR 108/SJR 59 – Prohibiting the governor from using the partial veto to increase state expenditures (first consideration) (WFA supports).
This resolution would amend the Wisconsin constitution to prevent the governor from using his/her partial veto power in an appropriations bill (like the state budget) to increase state expenditures for any purpose other than what is provided in the bill that is presented to him/her for signing. A proposed constitutional amendment requires adoption by two successive legislatures and then ratification by the people in a statewide referendum before it becomes law. If this resolution passes both the Assembly and the Senate this session (which concludes December 31, 2020), then it would need to be reintroduced and passed again sometime between January 2021 and December 2022 before it could be put on a statewide referendum. The Senate passed the resolution in November; the Assembly has not held a public hearing yet on the proposal.
Today the U.S. Senate Will Vote on S. 2311, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Call Senator Ron Johnson at 202-224-5323 and Senator Tammy Baldwin at 202-224-5653 to ask them to support S. 2311. We must protect unborn babies from painful, late-term abortions.
This bill will protect the lives of the unborn, especially when substantial medical evidence indicates that the child is capable of feeling pain during an abortion procedure. By 20 weeks gestation, an unborn child has pain receptors all over his or her body.
As Congressman Chris Smith said, “Abortionists all over America decapitate, dismember, and chemically poison babies each and every day.” He called this bill a “modest but necessary attempt to at least protect babies who are 20 weeks old.”
CALL NOW! Vote is said to be scheduled for approximately 4:30 p.m. CST.
Your legislators need to hear from you!
The Heal Without Harm (HWH) Legislative Initiative – SB 423/AB 549 and SB 424/AB 550 (Sen. Terry Moulton, R-Chippewa Falls and Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc) – would ban the sale and use of aborted fetal body parts and instead encourage the donation of tissue from children who are stillborn or miscarried for use in research.
Currently, SB 423 and SB 424 have received public hearings, but Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Chair Van Wanggaard has indicated he will not advance the bills out of committee unless Senators make their support for these bills known. AB 550 has received a public hearing and will be voted out of committee thanks to the quick action of Assembly Health Committee Chair Joe Sanfelipppo. AB 549 has been separated from AB 550 and was sent to the Assembly Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee chaired by Representative John Spiros and has yet to receive a public hearing.
Please call your State Senator ASAP and urge him/her to do the following:
Support SB 423 and SB 424 and make that support known by contacting Sen. Van Wanggaard.
Ask Sen. Waggaard to hold an executive session on SB 423 and SB 424 and vote to advance these bills out of committee ASAP.
Please call your State Representative ASAP and urge him/her to do the following:
Ask Rep. John Spiros to hold a public hearing and executive session on AB 549 ASAP.
Don’t know your State Senator and State Representative? Go to legis.wisconsin.gov and type in your home address under “Find My Legislators” or call the Legislative Hotline: 1-800-362-9472. After you call your Senator, contact the HWH Coalition with any feedback you received.
Questions? Take some time to visit our HWH Q&A to learn more about this critical issue.
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