In early November, the new tax bill was released by House Republicans with the buzz of the bill being around the idea that this new tax bill would help the middle class. A new tax plan geared toward lifting the middle and lower class would certainly be beneficial to many Wisconsinites. Unfortunately for Wisconsinites, an old saying rings true here, “If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.” While the bill does appeal to middle class families in terms of tax cuts, the problem is that the proposal is simply a ticking time bomb that will expire in just 5 years. That means that middle class families in Wisconsin will be stuck watching their taxes increase in 5 years while the richest among us enjoy disproportionately large tax cuts.
Critics of this new plan point to the fact that the GOP could have chosen to overhaul the tax code in a way that benefited middle class working Americans, but instead chose to give the more impactful cuts to higher-income earners. The structure of the plan is that everyone gets a cut now, which is great, but what has lead articles to call this plan a “con-job” on the middle class is that the good news will only continue for the top 1%. The plan is a bubble waiting to burst, and the middle class will suffer.
Another issue hidden within the plan is that it eliminates the ability for individuals to deduct qualified medical expenses. While the IRS currently allows medical expense deductions to be used on a multitude of medical issues including preventative care, surgeries, and even long-term care expenses for those that are chronically ill, the ability to use this tool will be gone. The burden of these costs will fall not only on the patient, but also on the families that help pay for this type of care.
The new plan also provides new obstacles that disproportionately affect women. The lack of deduction on qualified medical expenses lowers the availability of preventative care, deductions and credits that make it possible to afford a child have been taken out, and the overall lack of emphasis on the middle and working classes will severely cripple the ability of single mothers.
Last week, Republicans in the House passed this tax plan and the Senate is expected to have their turn after their Thanksgiving recess. Now is the time to contact our Senators and ask them to reject the dangerous tax reform plan.
At the end of October, the Wisconsin Alliance for Women's Heath joined dozens of other organizations* to speak out against a new proposal that would eliminate some of the protections and benefits that the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act (WI FMLA) provides to employees who are employed by a business that is covered by both the state and federal FMLA’s.
In 1988, Wisconsin became one of the first states to pass a state-level Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Congress followed Wisconsin’s lead and passed a federal FMLA in 1993. Both the state and federal FMLA allow employees who meet certain criteria to take unpaid time off of work if they become ill, have a child, or need to care for a sick family member. This advancement in employment policy has been of great benefit to workers, our communities, and the overall health of our state.
The Wisconsin FMLA and federal FMLA are not identical. In general, the Wisconsin FMLA covers more employees and provides more flexible leave benefits than the federal FMLA. Wisconsin employers who are covered by both the state and federal FMLA must comply with any provisions of the state FMLA law that provide greater family or medical leave rights than the rights established by the federal FMLA and vice versa.
This new bill - SB 490 - is an attempt to “federalize” the Wisconsin FMLA, which would reduce access to family and medical leave and reduce the quality of leave for many Wisconsin workers. If passed, this bill would remove the following protections and benefits that workers who have dual state and federal FMLA eligibility current receive:
Now is not the time to scale back Wisconsinites’ hard-won access to family and medical leave. If anything, Wisconsin should be working to expand job protections to more of its citizens to ensure that they can take time off of work in order to take care of themselves, a sick family member, or a new child. Because this attempt to “federalize” the Wisconsin FMLA would weaken some of the very important protections listed above, Wisconsin state legislators need to oppose Senate Bill 490.
*Organizations that jointly oppose SB 490:
On October 2nd, two new bills were introduced to the Senate concerning fetal tissue donations and the disposition of remains after a stillbirth or miscarriage. These bills are being supported by the “Heal Without Harm Coalition,” which is comprised of groups that largely oppose access to abortion.
The first of these bills is Senate Bill 423, a ban on fetal tissue donations for scientific research if the tissue was acquired after January 1, 2017. The language of the bill prohibits acquiring, providing, receiving, and using fetal body parts regardless of whether or not permission from the family has been provided. Along with a ban on the donation and use of fetal tissue, the bill also proposes a provision that requires all fetal body parts that are obtained as a result of an induced abortion to be entombed, inurned or interned. The responsibility of final disposition would become the responsibility of the facility providing the induced abortion.
Senate Bill 423 would largely impact the scientific community that uses fetal tissue to perform research. Members of the “Heal Without Harm Coalition” that support this proposal include Pro-Life Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, and Wisconsin Right to Life. Groups such as Bio Forward, Medical College of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Board have registered against it. Click here to see who has registered for and against the bill.
The second bill in the “Heal Without Harm Coalition” package addresses the disposition of remains resulting from a stillbirth or miscarriage. The bill defines a stillbirth as a spontaneous or accidental death of an unborn child and does not include remains of an unborn child as a result of an induced abortion. The bill proposes several changes to the current Wisconsin system of dealing with remains from a stillbirth or miscarriage. The first change is that the medical facility where the stillbirth or miscarriage occurred would be responsible for the final disposition of the remains. The second change is that the facility must now in all circumstances notify the parents about their ability to obtain a certificate of birth resulting in a stillbirth, regardless of the age or physical development of the fetus. Under current law, a fetus must either meet a minimum weight or age retirement in order to be eligible for a certificate of birth. The bill also adds new informed consent rules that mandate parents be informed that they can choose to donate remains as an anatomical gift for research, organ donation, or other purposes. The facility would be required to provide the parents with informed consent language in writing regardless of gestation period or weight. Finally, the bill calls for a Department of Health Services study to look into the feasibility of a fetal tissue and cord blood bank for use in research.
Senate Bill 424, has not had any groups register against it yet, but several “Heal Without Harm Coalition” groups have registered in favor of it.
During a recent Assembly floor debate on AB 128 - a bill to deny coverage for abortions for state employees - Republican State Representative Scott Allen of Waukesha suggested that women reproduce for the sake of our labor market.
In case you'd like to share your feedback with Rep. Allen, here's some ways to contact him:
Phone (608) 266-8580
Cecely Castillo, Policy Director