been an important legislative priority of mine this session.
I introduced Assembly Bill 465, the intoxicated co-sleeping bill. This bill not only encourages responsible parenting by enforcing legal ramifications for intoxicated co-sleeping, but also requires new parents and teens to receive educational materials on the risks of intoxicated co-sleeping. As the number of deaths associated with impaired co-sleeping continues to climb, advocating for the passage of this bill is increasingly imperative and will remain amongst my top priorities this session.
Rep. Kerkman at the bill signing for Act 46
at the Rice family farm in Burlington.
Rep. Kerkman and Senator Darling
at the signing of the Foodstamp Bill.
One of my legislative priorities this session has been creating greater transparency in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Wisconsin FoodShare. The examination of FoodShare programs has been an ongoing process aimed at ensuring that each dollar appropriated to this program is being spent as intended. The process began with an audit of FoodShare in 2011, which revealed the necessity for additional legislation to penalize the fraudulent activity and use of FoodShare benefits. I introduced Assembly Bill 82, the Foodstamp Bill, which was passed into law and became Act 42.
This piece of legislation delineates wrongful use of this assistance by defining the trafficking of SNAP benefits and allowing for the penalization of such activity. Examples of punishable activities include the buying, selling, or stealing of SNAP benefits for cash, using benefits to purchase items for the sole purpose of returning the items for cash refund, and the reselling of food purchased using SNAP benefits for cash. Penalizing the trafficking of SNAP benefits creates greater accountability within FoodShare and promotes the proper operation of this program.
Governor Walker called for a Special Session in October to address legislation authored by Senator Fitzgerald and Speaker Vos which allowed for $100 million in property tax relief to Wisconsin residents. Our state began seeing regular budget surpluses after the budgetary reforms enacted during the previous biennium. These surpluses coupled with continued business growth, perhaps most notably the much anticipated Amazon distribution center in Kenosha, made the $100 million cut possible. Within a week the bill was passed and became Act 46. $100 million will be appropriated to the department of public instruction in two pieces over the 2013-2014 biennium. In turn, through use of the equalized aide formula, $100 million property tax relief was created. What this means for Wisconsin homeowners is an estimated savings of $680 over a four year period. I was a proud supporter of this legislation, and its passage was a true win for Wisconsin residents. Act 46 serves as an excellent example of the benefits associated with responsible state spending. Seeing our surplus go back into Wisconsin residents’ pockets and in turn Wisconsin’s economy, is certainly promising news for this biennium.
Former Kenosha County District Attorney Robert Zapf contacted me in regards to current law governing the issue of co-sleeping while intoxicated. Current law requires the element of intent when prosecuting cases of harm or death while co-sleeping. However, in the case of intoxication, requiring the element of strict liability rather than intent would give current law teeth and allow for injuries or deaths associated with intoxicated co-sleeping to be more successfully prosecuted. As a member of the Children and Families committee, this issue is of particular importance to me. As such, creating legislation aimed at creating a specific statute prohibiting impaired co-sleeping has
Southeastern Wisconsin has attracted several new businesses to the area; this means more jobs and a growing economy in our region.
Kenall Manufacturing Company moved its headquarters to Kenosha, bringing 400 jobs with it. Several other businesses including EMCO Chemical Distributors, Hanna Cylinders and Meijer Inc. have also moved to the area. Shaping Wisconsin into a business friendly state is a chief task this session. Future developments, including the Amazon distribution center, will continue to combat unemployment. Further, I am a strong supporter of the Kenosha Hard Rock casino project and the 8,400 jobs it will bring with it. My hopes are that Governor Walker will approve of the project and keep more jobs coming to the region.
The Tri-County Contractors Association gave an update on the
Kenosha Casino project status and explained a recent survey that demonstrates growing statewide support for the proposed casino.
Rep. Kerkman testifies on AB 465 regarding intoxicated co-sleeping.