Nov 2009

Wisconsin Update

Advocacy on Health Care Reform Still Timely
The House of Representatives remains poised to act on federal health care legislation with Senate action possible some time in the coming weeks.  There is still time to contact Members of Congress and assert your support for the bishops' message on health care.  Please act now!
Bill to Revamp Sex Education Slowed Until 2010
Assembly Bill 458, which takes control of sex education curriculum from local school boards and advisory committees and mandates that districts which offer education use a comprehensive curriculum, passed the Assembly this week on a vote of 48 to 43.  The WCC testified in opposition to it and its Senate companion bill at a public hearing in October and provided a press release regarding this action.  The WCC also issued a press release responding to Planned Parenthood's criticism of the bill's opponents. 
The Senate is likely to consider the bill in January when the Legislature reconvenes.  The WCC urges readers to contact their Senators to ask them not to advance the bill.  To find contact information for your Wisconsin State Senator, visit the WCC's E-Advocacy webpage and enter your zip code, or call the State Legislative Hotline, 1-800-362-9472.
WCC Backs Parity for Mental Illness and Substance Abuse
On October 28, the WCC testified in support of Assembly Bill 512, which enhances health insurance coverage requirements in Wisconsin for mental illness and substance abuse.  The bill will ensure that those who work for businesses with 50 or fewer employees who suffer from these conditions receive the same care and treatment as those who have physical health issues.
In her testimony before the Assembly Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, WCC Associate Director Kim Wadas noted, "The human person is more than a physical body.  Our human nature blends the physical with the intellectual and spiritual.  The latter two may be harder to quantify, but are no less deserving of our attention.  Further, each of us possesses an innate dignity with which, in the words of the Founders, we are endowed by the Creator.  This human dignity is present even when one is physically, mentally, or emotionally afflicted."
The WCC will offer similar testimony in support of AB 512's Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 362, before the Senate Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue at a public hearing this coming Tuesday.
No Action on Window Legislation This Year
The Legislature adjourned for the year without taking action on Assembly Bill 453 or Senate Bill 319.  Both bills would set aside the statute of limitations for three years to permit people who were sexually abused as children to sue those responsible.  As reported in the last edition of the Update, the WCC opposes both bills and Bishops Callahan and Listecki testified against them at a public hearing in October.
Legislature in Recess Until January
The Legislature yesterday ended its scheduled floor sessions for 2009.  Regular sessions will resume January 19, 2010.  However, legislators may return before the end of the year in special session.  Legislative committees will continue to meet and hold hearings.