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In late January, Governor Walker called a special session of the Wisconsin Legislature to advance and pass a package of welfare reform bills.  Even though special sessions have a separate timeline, the Assembly is trying to tackle this major package of legislation in the last days of the regular legislative session. The package of 10 bills is being voted on in the Assembly later today and will have a major impact on several public benefit programs and hurt some of our most vulnerable residents.  
January 2018 Special Session (JR8) Assembly Bill 3 alters or institutes new limitations on eligibility for certain public benefit programs based on the ownership of assets. While there is a hardship exemption from these restrictions, there is still the likelihood that low-income families may be prevented from accessing benefits, especially large families who out of necessity have large family vehicles and homes, or families of those with special needs who own more expensive homes and vehicles with costly modifications.
JR8 Assembly Bill 4 institutes drug screening for all public housing authority residents. While the WCC supports helping people escape drug dependency and embrace responsible lifestyles, these kinds of single out those living in poverty and fail to recognize that most of those in drug treatment programs relapse several times before achieving lasting recovery. The bill does not address whether individuals will continue to receive treatment upon relapse. Nor does the bill ensure that there are sufficient drug treatment programs available.
JR8 Assembly Bill 10 creates and requires the use of a photo identification card when making a purchase using the FoodShare program. Families in poverty must depend upon one another to fulfill daily tasks and meet daily needs. This means many members of the household may make food purchases for the home. Limiting such purchases to a FoodShare recipient or their "authorized representative" could drive participants from the program. In addition, increased public scrutiny at the checkout register could deter some eligible individuals from participating in FoodShare.
Please take action TODAY, ahead of the Assembly vote.

Contact your State Representative with the following message:
  1. Oppose JR8 Assembly Bill 3 and seek reforms that recognize the reality of caring for a large family or a vulnerable loved one.
  2. Oppose JR8 Assembly Bill 4 and instead focus on initiatives that provide individuals suffering from addiction with resources and positive incentives to achieve lasting recovery.
  3. Oppose JR8 Assembly Bill 10 because implementing the use of a FoodShare photo ID will increase hunger and stigma.
  4. Major reforms require major input. Take the time to develop welfare reforms with appropriate data, stakeholder insight, deliberation, and resources.    
To contact your State Representative, visit the Wisconsin State Legislature website at http://legis.wisconsin.gov and click on "Find My Legislators," or call the State Legislative Hotline, 1-800-362-9472.
Questions? Read the WCC testimony or contact us at 608-257-0004 or office@wisconsincatholic.org .