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Letter to the Editor - Bies Responds To Criticism About Tobacco Legislation

A recent Letter to the Editor called into question my work on a bill that closed a loophole in state law in providing tobacco products to minors.  Its unfortunate the letter would lead a reader to question my support and efforts to make this important change in law to protect Wisconsin youth.  I appreciate this opportunity to explain the legislative process and my work on this specific bill.

As is the case with most legislative offices, my policy is requests for legislation need to be submitted in writing along with suggestions for possible wording of the legislation.  The legislative process can take several months, so I never want to waste time misinterpreting the objective of the requester.  Submissions should be as specific as possible and include relevant details and background so that I can clearly articulate to a drafting attorney the intent of the legislation.  Once the attorney has all the information in front of them, they can advise on whether a change in law is necessary or even constitutional. 

With regards to this bill, the truth is I submitted the drafting request within days of my re-election to the State Assembly in November of 2010 - despite the fact the legislature wouldn’t be sworn in until January 2011 and couldn’t begin voting on bills until a few weeks after that.  Once sworn in I immediately began conversations with members of the State Senate to find a lead author in that house and I sent out a memo to the entire legislature for cosponsors.  Coinciding with when I introduced the bill was the Governor’s budget proposal, which I’m sure we all remember became the focus for most of the legislature and the state as a whole.   Nevertheless, I continued to work hard on this bill through the entire session and I am proud it received unanimous approval from the legislature and was signed into law by the Governor.

I’ve recently been recognized for my work on this legislation, including by the American Heart Association.  In the press release that was sent to local press regarding these honors (and posted on my legislative website), I noted that I introduced this legislation after I was contacted by an Assistant District Attorney from my district.  As is sometimes the case, some newspapers ran a shortened and edited version of my release and didn’t include my attempt to give credit where credit was due.  I am thankful that Officer Chris Neuville, along with the Door County District Attorney’s office, brought the discrepancy in state law to my attention and because of our combined efforts Wisconsin youth are safer.

Garey Bies
State Representative


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