Monday March 27, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

State and Local
Taylor Begins Testimony on Legislation to Get The Lead Out PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats, Courtney Beyer   
Friday, 10 March 2017 12:36

baby-leadLead poisoning has affected citizens across the state. Nearly twice the percentage of children in Milwaukee had levels known to lead to significant health problems as children in Flint, Michigan.

MADISON –  At the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) testified Wednesday on Senate Bill 48 which would allow municipalities to authorize water utility services to fund the replacement of both private and public sections of lead service lines, not just the lines that the city owns. The Senator offered the following testimony:

lena-taylor“Chairman Cowles, Members of the Committee, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify on Senate Bill 48, and thank you especially to Sen. Cowles for reaching across the aisle and joining with me to author this important legislation to address this statewide public health crisis.

No one on this committee needs to be told that lead is toxic and should not be in our drinking water. But what you might not know is how long-lasting and wide-ranging the effects of lead poisoning are. Even low levels of lead in children can cause lifetime issues such as lowered IQ, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. An increase in blood lead levels in children of only 10 μg/dL can cause a permanent drop in IQ as high as 7 points. Increased lead exposure has also been linked to increases in ADHD, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and criminal activity. Additionally, more than 90% of lead accumulates in the bones. It can then be released into the blood, which exposes organ systems to lead long after the original exposure. This is why long-term lead exposure has irreversible and lasting damages, cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure, decreased kidney function, and reproductive problems in adults.

Lead poisoning has affected citizens across the state, specifically children. According to current CDC guidelines there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. However in 2015, a statewide test showed lead contamination levels over 5 μg/dL in 1.9% of children under one, 4% in one-year olds, 5.6% in two year olds, and 4.6% in three to five year old tested. While these percentages may not seem high, this adds up to thousands of kids whose health is being put in danger by lead contamination. In 2014, Milwaukee specifically accounted for 60% of the 4,000 children who tested positive for elevated lead. Additionally, 8.6% of children in Milwaukee had levels above which children were known to suffer significant health problems, compared to 4.9% of children at this level in Flint, Michigan.

These are scary numbers, but the good news is that these problems are preventable if we replace the lead services lines that deliver our water. There are around 200,000 lead service lines in the state, and 70,000 residential lines are in Milwaukee alone. The only way to protect completely from lead contamination is to remove and replace all lead service lines. The challenge that many municipalities have faced in replacing these pipes is that the last section of pipe leading into the home is owned and controlled by the homeowner, not the city. If the city replaced only the lead service lines they own, that would actually make the lead problem worse, by causing more lead to leach into the water at the joints where the lead and non-lead pipes connect. In other words, in order to replace any lead service lines, we have to replace every lead service line. However, under current law, water utilities can only use rate-payer revenue to replace publicly owned service lines. SB 48 addresses this issue by allowing municipalities to authorize their water utility to fund the replacement of both the private and public sections of the lead service lines.

Thank you again for hearing this bill, I look forward to continuing to work with this committee to help get the lead out.”

A full pdf of the Senator’s testimony can be found here.

What ever happened to the Gold Standard? PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
Friday, 10 March 2017 12:14

walker-signs-budget-2015Wisconsin GOP denies reality on job losses while defending lavish tax break to the top 1%.

MADISON, WI - Republican politicians continue to display their lack of private sector experience by relying on outdated political talking points to defend their lavish giveaways to wealthy special interests. Despite the loss of 4,000 manufacturing jobs over 12 months, Wisconsin families are being forced to pay for hundreds of millions in tax giveaways targeted to some of the wealthiest individuals in the state.

jennifer-shilling“It's time to put Wisconsin families first and eliminate Republican tax breaks to companies that outsource jobs,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “The fact that we’ve trailed the nation in job creation for 21 consecutive quarters proves we need to take a new approach. We need to hold politicians accountable for these disappointing results and be honest with voters who are sick and tired of watching our tax dollars wasted on ineffective, special interest giveaways.”

After new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistic Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) showed a sharp drop in manufacturing jobs, Gov. Walker instead tried to cite estimates he’d previously disregarded. Gov. Walker has vigorously defended the QCEW as the most accurate source for job numbers and called it the “gold standard” in measuring job creation.

janet-bewley“Wisconsin workers deserve the gold standard, not a shameless giveaway that has seen the state lose manufacturing jobs,” said Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Janet Bewley (D-Delta). “This handout takes hundreds of millions directly out of working taxpayers’ pockets. Workers shouldn’t be forced to bankroll this giveaway to insiders who simply aren’t creating jobs.”

The Democratic leaders pointed out that accurate figures from the census of private sector employers showed Wisconsin losing more than 15% of the manufacturing jobs lost nationally despite the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, which began phasing in during 2013 and took full effect in 2016.

Legislative Oversight Needed Now More than Ever for Veterans Care Fund PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
Friday, 10 March 2017 11:34

veterans-home-kingPast decisions to divert funds from the veterans nursing homes to the Veterans Fund and the “banking” of $35 million in revenue reserves has led to the deterioration of facilities and care. Erpenbach wants to reestablish Legislative oversight of all funding.

Citizens’ Water Coalition Calls GOP High Capacity Well Bills “Death by 1,000 Straws” PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Citizens Water Coalition of Wisconsin, Criste Greening   
Thursday, 09 March 2017 16:48

lake-michigan-shoreNewly proposed Wisconsin Senate SB76 and Assembly AB105 are Republican sponsored bills both relating to replacement, reconstruction, and transfer of an approved high capacity well, recommendation of special groundwater measures by the DNR, and metering requirements and grants for certain high capacity wells.

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