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Kitchens' Right to Read Act advances to State Senate

A bill that got started in Door County and aims to help your kids read better took another step in the right direction Wednesday.


The Right to Read Act, which was introduced by Rep. Joel Kitchens of Sturgeon Bay and State Senator Duey Stroebel of Cedarburg earlier this month, passed the Assembly by a bipartisan vote of 67-27. The bill’s origin could be traced back to Door County where Baileys Harbor resident Kari Baumann lobbied not just the Gibraltar School Board but also the Wisconsin Legislature to change their approach to reading as she advocated for her son. Governor Tony Evers vetoed a similar bill last year, citing the lack of funding for the parts of the program. 


Kitchens said earlier this month when the bill was introduced that by transitioning to the technique known as the Science of Reading, which focuses more on the sounds of letters than words, they can start reversing the trend.

The bill also received the endorsement of Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly, who said after the Assembly’s passage of the bill that is a big step in the right direction. It will still need to be passed by the Senate before Governor Evers can potentially sign the bill into law. 


Kitchens also had another bill pass through the Assembly chambers on a bipartisan basis. Assembly Bill 176, which will allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptives, was approved by a vote of 82-11. Kitchens said that with more access to effective birth control, there will be fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer abortions. That bill is also heading to State Senate before it potentially reaches the governor’s desk.

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