By State Senator Julie Lassa
It’s been a great honor and privilege serving you in the State Legislature. As I think back over the years I spent in both the Assembly and Senate, I am proud of the accomplishments I was able to achieve on behalf of my constituents.
Because I know the importance of a strong economy to the well-being of families, I worked hard to advocate for policies that promote small business growth and help create the family-supporting jobs Wisconsin’s middle class needs. One of the highlights was the passage of the Wisconsin C.O.R.E. Jobs Act in 2010 to help retain and grow existing businesses and aid entrepreneurs in building new small businesses to create good-paying jobs right here in Wisconsin. That same year I authored the Green to Gold Fund to help small and mid-sized businesses improve their energy efficiency and create new products and services to meet the growing demand for green energy technologies. Recognizing the importance of agriculture to Wisconsin and the need to provide consumers and school children with healthy fresh foods, I was particularly proud to pass the laws that created the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin and Farm to School programs. To fight unemployment among disabled veterans, I passed a tax credit to encourage businesses to hire them. And I tried to address Wisconsin’s looming workforce shortage by introducing legislation to help train workers for today’s in-demand jobs.
Another passion of mine has been preserving Wisconsin’s clean, open and efficient government. I wrote the law to create the Fraud, Waste and Mismanagement Hotline to identify and eliminate wasteful spending. To require greater transparency and accountability in government, I passed legislation to require regular audits of government agencies. And I fought hard against efforts to hide the activities of state government from its citizens, to shield the political class from special investigations, and to make it harder for Wisconsinites to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Perhaps the issues that have been closest to my heart have been my work on promoting the safety and health of our children. I passed a law to help identify and correct hearing impairments in children by requiring health insurance companies to cover hearing aids and cochlear implants so they can hear their parents’ voices for the first time. I also got a provision passed into law that enables children to receive dental care at school through the Seal-A-Smile program with a financial match from Delta Dental. I’m especially proud of the BPA-Free Kids Act that bans this toxic chemical from baby bottles and sippy cups sold in Wisconsin, and the Prevent Violence Against Children Act, which protects infants from Shaken Baby Syndrome by educating parents and caregivers about its dangers. To address new threats to children in the age of social media, I strengthened the ability of law enforcement to arrest and prosecute online predators. This past session, I also worked across the aisle to create the first Wisconsin Legislative Children’s Caucus to advance evidence-based public policy to help all Wisconsin’s children live more successful lives.
My greatest accomplishment as a legislator, however, may not be what I did, but how I did it. I worked hard to maintain good communications and cordial relationships with legislators of both parties, so that we could work together to make progress on the issues facing Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, as government becomes more dysfunctionally partisan at all levels, the willingness of elected officials to put people over party seems to be becoming a thing of the past. As I leave the Legislature and begin the next chapter of my life, my hope is that elected leaders at all levels will understand that Wisconsin can only move forward through consensus, collaboration and compromise. That’s the kind of government the people of the Badger State want, and it’s the kind they deserve.