Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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State Assembly debates bills relating to child care

The Assembly saw heated debate Tuesday over a bill that would prohibit certain criminals from associating with child care providers.

The bill, which would prohibit certain individuals charged or convicted with particular felonies from participating in child care agencies or from living in a residence where child care is provided, was sent back to the Committee on Children and Families.

According to Rep. Michael Huebsch, R-West Salem, the call for the bill to undergo further review was due to its late addition to the day’s schedule, leaving many uninformed and unprepared for discussion.

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“To for one moment presume that seven hours is enough for us to be able to consume, read and review legislation of this magnitude is ridiculous,” Huebsch said.

Some Democrats conceded to send the bill back for further negotiations, with Assembly Speaker Rep. Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, saying there were mistakes made on both sides as far as how the situation was handled.

Among those who pushed for a vote on the bill Tuesday was Chair of the Committee on Children and Families Rep. Tamara Grigsby, D-Milwaukee.

“It is disingenuous, it is completely disingenuous, to imply that we have not reached out and worked with people on the other side of the aisle,” Grigsby said.

According to Grigsby, the call for further review of the bill was nothing more than an attempt to stall an already strong bill.

“The games have to end, and while you might want to play games with the children in the state of Wisconsin, I’m not going to do it,” Grigsby said.

However, despite the heated debate, many, including Rep. Steve Kestell, R-Elkhart Lake, dismissed the allegations of partisanship and asked the Legislature to “take a step back” and calm down.

Kestell added the primary focus of the Legislature should be to make the bill the best legislation for Wisconsin families.

The Assembly did pass another child care-related bill that would punish current and previously existing businesses that committed fraud against the Wisconsin Shares Program, a program overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.

The Wisconsin Shares Program came under fire recently after scandals involving day care providers who defrauded the program of millions of dollars by submitting false information concerning their day cares.

Under the new bill, individual officers, child care providers and employees would be held more accountable for submitting falsified requests to the program.

“We’re doing our best right now to try and reform the Wisconsin Shares Program and this bill is a measure towards fixing it,” Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, said.

A child safety bill was also passed by the Assembly Tuesday and requires public disclosure for cases of child abuse, neglect and death in foster homes.

The inspiration for the bill passed came from the case of Christopher Thomas, a 13-month-old who was beaten to death by his foster mother last November, according to Grigsby.

“This bill is important because we cannot allow to let one more child lose their life while in the custody of the state of Wisconsin,” Grigsby said.

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