As 2019 draws to a close, a significant portion of the legislature's work for the 2019-2020 session has been completed, but a few months still remain for us to finish consideration of the numerous bills that have been introduced to date.
As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, my biggest responsibility involves consideration of the biennial budget. The entire budget process consumed half of 2019 and included hearings across the state as well as multiple executive sessions in Madison where the committee voted on individual pieces of the budget.
After months of deliberation, the Republican legislature passed, and Democrat Governor Evers signed, a balanced budget. Arguably, it spent too much for some and not enough for others, which happens in divided government. But the budget was on time, relatively short (511 pages), and passed without much fanfare or drama. It also included significant investments in priority items such as transportation, health care, and education.
As far as regular legislative business goes, 689 bills have been introduced in the Assembly, and a similar number has been introduced in the Senate. Governor Evers signed a total of 69 bills in 2019 and vetoed 11.
The numbers above are pretty typical as the vast majority of legislative proposals never become law. That is why I am pleased to report I am the Assembly lead author of six of the sixty-nine bills that were signed into law, the most of any member of the state Assembly.
This is a great track record and shows my ideas are relevant, have broad statewide support, and don't cost a lot of money. In fact, none of my six bills that were signed into law included a spending appropriation.
Ideas for bills are plentiful, so I try to be prudent in deciding what to focus on. I don't limit myself to just a few policy areas, and I try to keep an open mind. Many of the bills I author are inspired by conversations with individuals in the 31st Assembly District, others are developed in consultation with advocates from stakeholder groups, and some reflect my own ideas for addressing challenges facing our district and our state.
My six bills that have already been signed into law include providing shelter options for homeless and unaccompanied youth (2019 Act 22), closing the achievement gap (2019 Act 35), improving public safety response and emergency medical services (2019 Act 25 and 2019 Act 26), protecting small businesses (2019 Act 15), and increasing access to telehealth (2019 Act 56).
I still have several bills working their way through the legislative process and I hope they all pass before we adjourn. If enacted, these outstanding bills will improve surface water quality, provide flexibility for faculty at UW-Extension, fund pay progression for public defenders, and allow communities to form Joint EMS Districts.
As we welcome 2020, please remember my office is a resource for constituents in the 31st Assembly District. My staff and I are here to help if you have a concern with a state agency, a question about current legislation or just want to share your views.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this update. Have a safe, happy and healthy New Year!
Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) represents the 31st Assembly District consisting of eastern Rock and western Walworth counties and can be reached at (608) 266-9967 or email@example.com.