Medicaid expansion, redistricting and bees were just some of the topics that came up during State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein’s visit to Waunakee.
Dianne spoke at the Waunakee Rotary Club’s Aug. 15 meeting. Although currently the Legislature is not in session, lawmakers continue to work on bills to present in the next session, she said.
One of those was introduced on the very day she spoke – a call for universal gun background checks. Dianne said while she doesn’t want to take anyone’s guns away, she does want to be sure they aren’t getting into the hands of people who could harm themselves.
Gov. Evers had included Medicaid expansion in his biennial budget but it was removed. Right now, those federal dollars are being sent to states like Ohio and California, Dianne said.
The issue came up later in the meeting, when one Rotarian asked whether Medicaid expansion would saturate health care providers since, because of the low reimbursement rates, some providers have declined to accept Medicaid.
Dianne noted that the budget called for reimbursement rates to medical providers to increase.
Asked why state legislators opted not take to take the expansion, Dianne said the reason was “purely political.”
“At first, quite honestly... it was we don’t trust the federal government that the money is going to stay there. We think we’re going to be on the hook for it,” Dianne said.
But that never happened, she said.
“Legislatures took the money and it was still being provided,” Dianne added.
Many of the Republicans she works with in the state Assembly didn’t want to take federal money.
“They’ll take it for some things,” she said, such as roads, but not others.
Dianne added that the Medicaid expansion dollars could have been used any way the Legislature saw fit.
“You could use this money and do what you want for the health and well being of people in the state of Wisconsin,” she said, adding that the result was frustrating.
Dianne noted that she works for the people in her district, and recently, she received correspondence signed by many Waunakee and Middleton constituents asking her to introduce legislation to protect bees, perhaps by encouraging more pollinator plants.
“I’m still learning about it,” she said, adding she never gave it much thought before.
“But thanks to the people in Waunakee and Middleton for raising the issue with me, I’m working on it,” she said.
Dianne also talked about redistricting. In Iowa, a nonpartisan agency similar to Wisconsin’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau draws a new district map, and then one Democrat and one Republican legislator is tasked with traveling around the state to talk to constituents about it before it is adopted. It costs the state very little, she said, as compared to the expensive price tag in Wisconsin.
Dianne said she is working on a constitutional amendment for state residents to vote on that would change the redistricting process in Wisconsin and hopes to unveil that in about a month.
She noted that DeForest and Windsor have three state representatives and senators.
Guests: Brian Franzen, guest of Randy Guttenberg; Dianne Hesselbein and Alex Joers, speakers.
Corporate Associates: None.
Visiting Rotarians: None.  
Birthdays: Aug. 23, David Rupp.
Anniversaries: Aug. 26, Lori and Peter Derauf; Aug. 26, John and Debbie Cullen; Aug. 27, Danny and Lori Miller; Aug. 28, Connie and Marjorie Blau
Programs: Aug. 22, Update from County Executive Joe Parisi; Aug. 29, Carol Hermann, Rotary medical clinic in Haiti for nursing and vision; Sept. 5, Keith Poulsen, director of UW Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; Sept. 12, Club Assembly and WNC presentation by Lisa Humenik.
Greeters: Aug. 22, Robert Arntz and Joe Baer; Aug. 29, Ken Ballweg and Roberta Baumann; Sept. 5, Ann Becker and Scott Biba; Sept. 12, Connie Blau and Kathy Cefalu.