“Family Values” Republican Michelle Litjens to Divorce

UPDATE: Michelle Litjens will be in office until next January.

Tea Party darling and Michelle Bachmann “wannabe”, Michelle Litjens has been busy reinventing herself this year. First, the freshman Republican announced in February that she would not seek re-election to the state assembly. At the time TMJ reported that she wanted to spend more time with her family. Apparently that sentiment didn’t extend to her soon to be ex-husband because she filed for divorce against her husband on June 8th, as reported on June 17 by Root River Siren.

All this makes me wonder what other changes Michelle is going to make before the year is over. One thing that I’m sure won’t change is how reliably she provides content to lefty bloggers. No matter how slow the news day, we can count on her because she is a never ending supply of “seriously? she just said that?”.

Wisconsin State Rep. Michelle Litjens Not Seeking Re-Election

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! In what could be viewed as the best Valentine’s day present for this wonk, TMJ is reporting that Tea Party and John Birch Society darling Michelle Litjens won’t be seeking re-election. She is one of 3 state-level GOP legislators that have decided to leave political life. The other two GOP legislators not seeking re-election are Richard Spanbauer and Dan Meyer.

According to the article: “Litjens was elected in 2010. She says she has helped turn the state around and now wants to spend more time with her family.” If by turning around she means go backwards, then her statement is accurate, but I prefer moving out state forward.

News of Michelle Litjens not seeking re-election makes me wonder who will run as a Republican in her district. I know of two Democratic candidates running for this seat, Diana Lawrence and Richard Schoenbohm.

Stay tuned folks because this race could get interesting fast.

Wisconsin Bill AB 371 Adds Complications and Felony Penalty to Abortions

Yesterday, February 8, 2012, the Wisconsin Assembly Health Committee convened. One of the items discussed was Assembly Bill 371. This particular bill has long been touted by Rep. Michelle Litjens and “right to life” groups. I wrote about this particular bill before it had been written. My post from last August can be found here. There is just so much wrong with this bill, it’s hard to know where to start. This post won’t go into too many details on so called “web cam” abortions because my previous post covered that topic in detail.

This bill isn’t about safe and accessible health care for women. It seeks to restrict access to abortions and goes directly against standard health care practices. Do our legislators believe they know medicine and psychology better than trained doctors and counselors? Does it make sense for law makers to legislate medical practices? We should leave medical treatment to the professionals.

This bill also implies that woman are unwilling or unable to make good decisions for themselves. I find that idea offensive and condescending. Women can and do make sound decisions for themselves every day. These women will have to live with her decision whether or not she decides to carry the pregnancy to term and need to be aware of all options available to them.

Michelle Litjens says her main concern is for women to have the ability to say “no” to an abortion if they are coerced. There was a lot of talk about “voluntary consent” at the meeting yesterday and proponents wax poetic on how women had abortions because they felt threatened. They feel that if women have a few minutes alone with a doctor they will suddenly feel “safe” and blurt out they feel threatened and don’t want the abortion. I really don’t see that happening. No law can make anyone tell the truth about their situation and doctor’s aren’t mind readers. They can’t tell when a patient lies to them. The law will take away a woman’s support system when she’s feeling the most vulnerable.

I could see this clause as being abused by anti-choice doctors to coerce the woman into not having an abortion. There is no set amount of time allotted for these doctor and patient one on ones. In theory, an anti-choice doctor can keep up a “private session” until the patient states they no longer want the procedure. Many “pro-life” people will stop at nothing to prevent women from having an abortion. This seems to smack of supposed “right to life” groups saying “it’s not coercion if we do it”.

One example that was brought up is a woman felt threatened if the father of the fetus said “I’ll break up with you if you don’t have the abortion”. Think about it for a second. Nothing the law says will change what he will do if she continues the pregnancy.

This bill provides two areas where physicians can be imposed penalties. One area is in the “voluntary consent” section and the other area deals with abortion-inducing drugs. A doctor could be fined up to $10,000 for violating the new definition of “voluntary consent”. The penalty for not following the “abortion-inducing” drugs clause of this bill is a class I penalty. The bill states:

253.105 Prescription and use of abortion-inducing drugs. (1) In this 
16section:
17(a) “Abortion” has the meaning given in s. 253.10 (2) (a).
18(b) “Abortion-inducing drug” has the meaning given in s. 253.10 (2) (am).
19(c) “Physician” has the meaning given in s. 448.01 (5).
20(2) No person may give an abortion-inducing drug to a woman unless the 
21physician who prescribed, or otherwise provided, the abortion-inducing drug for the 
22woman:
23(a) Performs a physical exam of the woman before the information is provided 
24under s. 253.10 (3) (c) 1.
25(b) Is physically present in the room when the drug is given to the woman.

1(3) Penalty. Any person who violates sub. (2) is guilty of a Class I felony. No 
2penalty may be assessed against a woman to whom an abortion-inducing drug is 
3given.
This is the part of the bill that would prohibit so called “webcam abortions”. The only state that allows this is Iowa. In a December 13, 2011 Cap Times article,

“But Lisa Subeck, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, said the practice has so far been restricted to Iowa, and has been found to have comparable outcomes to conventional procedures. (Here’s an ABC news story about Iowa’s telemedicine procedure.) And it could be a way to extend needed medical services in a state like Wisconsin, where 94 percent of the counties have no abortion providers.”

So called “webcam abortions” could make it easier women in rural areas to get safe, doctor supervised abortions. The health and well being of the woman should come first. Are we going to make all remote care illegal or does this type of law only apply to abortions? Would we even consider charging a doctor with a felony if let’s say a doctor of neurology was working in conjunction with a local physician via webcam to treat a patient? Health care is only as good as your access to it. We could have the best health care in the world, but that doesn’t mean anything if a majority of people can’t access it. Let’s try to increase access to all forms of treatment.

Physicians will also face civil penalties for a medically approved practice. An item that caught my attention is the father can sue the doctor for civil penalties except if the pregnancy was caused by a sexual assault.

“(4) Civil remedies. (a) Any of the following persons has a claim against a 
5person who intentionally or recklessly violates sub. (2):
103. The father of the unborn child aborted as the result of an abortion-inducing 
11drug given in violation of sub. (2), unless the pregnancy of the person to whom the 
12abortion-inducing drug was given was the result of sexual assault in violation of s. 
13940.225, 944.06, 948.02, 948.025, 948.06, 948.085, or 948.09 and the violation was 
14committed by the father.

First off, most rapes are never reported. Most women are hesitant to report being raped and even less willing to do so when the person who assaulted them is their husband or significant other.

Second, there could be a problem identifying who the “father of the unborn child” is. Many times, paternity is unknown until testing is done. Are we going to have to start doing paternity tests before abortions are performed? Are doctors and/or their malpractice insurers going to start requiring these tests in order to prevent a lawsuit? If that’s the case, then women won’t be allowed to have abortions until they are at least 10 weeks into their pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, paternity tests can be done as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. This could lead to expensive and unnecessary medical procedures being performed.

The bill also requires that the woman has to go back to the same clinic for follow up care.

Section 3. 253.10 (3) (c) 1. hm. of the statutes is created to read:
7253.10 (3) (c) 1. hm. If the abortion is induced by an abortion-inducing drug, 
8that the woman must return to the abortion facility for a follow-up visit 12 to 18 days 
9after the use of an abortion-inducing drug to confirm the termination of the 
10pregnancy and evaluate the woman’s medical condition.

Many women have to travel several hours to get to a clinic that provides abortions. This places an unnecessary burden on her. Follow up care could be provided by a local doctor. This type of thing happens a lot in medicine. Many people go to walk in clinics for non life threatening illnesses and injuries because they need medical help outside of office hours. Follow up care can then be provided by their general practitioner. The main concern should be that the woman receive follow up care, not who performs it. Do we want to mandate which doctors a woman can see for follow up care? Shouldn’t that decision be left to the patient?

This bill has left me with more questions than answers and this post doesn’t go into all of the possible negative impacts if this bill becomes a law. Do we want to penalize doctors for doing their jobs? Why would we outlaw a medical procedure that isn’t even being performed here? Do we need a law stating where a woman can receive follow up care after an abortion? Common sense tells doctors they need to look for symptoms of abuse. You can encourage an abused person to seek help, but you can’t force them to take it and you can never force someone to tell the truth. No amount of legislation will make an abused person even admit to the abuse, much less get out of their abusive situation. Let’s not try to legislate the unnecessary or impossible. On a final note, wouldn’t it be great if these “right to life” people put as much time,energy and passion into helping the children already born as they put into their anti-choice agenda?

Diana Lawrence Announces Candidacy for WI’s 56th Assembly District

Good news is coming out the Fox River Valley. Not one, but two Democratic candidates have declared they are running against 56th District Assembly woman Michelle Lijens. They are Richard Schoenbohm and Diana Lawrence. All this excitement is almost too much for this wonk to bear.

Last night Diana had her candidacy kick off and fund raising party at Cheyenne’s in Appleton, WI. I learned of this event from a Facebook event page. The evening included soda, snacks, friends and family. Most importantly, the event included words from the candidate herself. I was given the honor of recording her words for posterity.

For those that don’t know, Diana is a current participant in the Emerge Wisconsin program. According to the web site “Emerge Wisconsin is part of a national movement to address the under-representation of women in elected office at the local, state, and federal level.” One of Diana’s classmate’s, Joanne Staudacher, was on hand to celebrate the occasion.

Diana’s campaign site can be found here. Check back frequently as it’s a work in progress.

I look forward to seeing and hearing more about Diana in the next few months. Watch this blog for updates of both candidates. FORWARD!!!!!!!!

Here are some pictures from the event.

More photos from the event can be found here.

Litjens Wants to Make it Less Expensive for Employers to Discriminate

Michelle Litjens is at it again with another one of her business friendly bills. This time she’s introduced a bill that will eliminate compensatory and punitive damages against companies that discriminate against their employees because of genetic testing, lie detector tests, age, race, gender, religion, marital status, conviction records or national origin. This law and its accompanying punitive damages were put in place for a reason. Let’s leave it the way it is. The middle class is weakened each and every time a worker protection is taken away.

With everything going on in the news it’s easy to overlook Assembly Bill 289. Text for this bill can be found here. The only way to punish a company is to hit them where it “hurts” and that’s in the bank account because as far as I know, no one has been able to figure out how to imprison or execute a corporation.

Steven Elbow from the Capital Times says the following:

“Genetic testing has become an issue because of concerns that employers might try to screen out employees who might be susceptible to cancer or some other disease that might interfere with productivity or incur costs. And lie-detector tests are allowed in Wisconsin in cases of theft or injury, but employers can’t discriminate against an employee for not taking one or for objecting to its use.”

Really guys? Companies could run genetic tests on their employees and potentially fire people if they have genetic markers that say they might get sick in the future? People can’t control their genetic make up and shouldn’t be punished for having a family history of illness. Employees could quickly find themselves unemployable if every company did this. How is this good for Wisconsin or its workers?

Also from the Capital Times article:

“Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, pushed hard against the measure, urging the Legislature to reject it.
“By allowing compensatory and punitive damages for violations of the (Wisconsin Fair Employment Act), judicial process using unclear standards, this legislation would have a strong negative impact on the Wisconsin business climate,” the group said in a memo released at the time. “Further, these proposed changes would come at a time when the Wisconsin economy and many businesses face unprecedented economic challenges.””

So, the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is saying that companies shouldn’t be punished for discrimination because the economy is bad? I say companies should be punished for discriminating against their employees, no matter what the business climate is like. It seems to me there is a prevailing train of thought that wants to punish individuals whenever possible while letting companies do whatever they feel like doing. This isn’t right. We shouldn’t let punishments be removed because companies are facing a tough business climate.

The only time compensatory and punitive damages are paid out if when work place discrimination is proven and proving it is very difficult. I would guess only the most obvious cases of discrimination against employees makes it to the court room. How many employees walk away from blatant discrimination in the work place because they either don’t know their rights under the law or don’t feel it’s worth their time to file suit against the discriminating company? How many companies don’t discriminate now because it would be hurt their “bottom line”?

If this bill passes, victims of employee discrimination can only get back pay, court courts and attorney fees. Laws have punitive damages put in place to prevent them from being broken. Imagine what driving would be like if people didn’t have to pay fines for speeding. Companies need to face consequences for their actions and Wisconsin workers need to be protected against discrimination.

“Women’s Protection Act” Protects Women From What?

State Assemblywoman Michelle Litjens WI and State Senator Mary Lazich have teamed up to coauthor the “Women’s Protection Act”. It’s creating quite a stir, even before it’s been introduced. I have not found the actual text of the document, but did find information about the bill at both theWisconsin Right to Life web site and at the web site for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Baraboo, WI.

Here’s what proponents say the act will do:
“The Woman’s Protection Act will save the lives of babies and protect the health of women. Sponsored by Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) and Representative Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh), the Woman’s Protection Act will do the following:
Require abortionists to tell a woman seeking abortion that no one can coerce her to abort and assist pregnant women in abusive situations to find help.
Prohibit web-cam RU-486 chemical abortions.
Require that a woman seeking an abortion be shown an ultrasound of her unborn child.
Require abortion clinics to be regulated; Currently, abortion clinics are unregulated”

The first bullet point says all doctors who perform abortions will be required to “tell a woman seeking abortion that no one can coerce her to abort and assist pregnant women in abusive situations to find help”.
First off, I have a couple of questions. Does anyone really believe it’s mainly abused women who seek abortions? Is requesting an abortion going to become part of a checklist that health care agencies must follow when reporting suspected abuse? Outside forces play a role her decision, but the ultimate decision is her own.

“Voluntary consent” is a current requirement before obtaining abortion services and is defined as follows: Consent under this section to an abortion is voluntary only if the consent is given freely and without coercion by any person.”

I believe women need to be reminded that no one can coerce them into doing anything they don’t want to do. This includes coercing a woman to carry any pregnancy to term that she doesn’t want. While there are no bad times to tell a woman it’s alright to leave an abusive relationship, simply having a woman request an abortion is not an indicator of abuse.

Second bullet point is “Prohibit web-cam RU-486 chemical abortions”. There are a limited number of medical centers that perform abortions. Some women have to travel great lengths to get access to abortion services. These same women frequently have a family planning clinic that is closer. This would be the clinic she goes to for her normal family planning needs. Rural areas in particular are sorely lacking medical options that are close to home. Something like this could open doors for women to get more accessible health care. Some women may be unable to get to a distant abortion clinic for a number of reasons, including not having transportation or not being able to get the time off of work.

Planned Parenthood in Ohio has started using a method called “telemedicine”. From the ABC news article:

“A woman seeking an abortion via telemedicine has an ultrasound performed by a trained technician, receives information about medical abortion and signs a standard informed consent for the abortion.
Once that is complete, a physician steps in via teleconference. The doctor reviews the woman’s medical history and ultrasound images, and once it is determined that she is eligible — up to nine weeks pregnant and not an ectopic pregnancy — she has time to ask questions.
Then, the doctor enters a computer passcode to remotely open a drawer at the clinic containing two pills. She then swallows the mifepristone, under the doctor’s supervision, and then is instructed to take four additional tablets of misoprostol within the next 24 to 48 hours. The actual abortion happens at home.”
Opponents of this procedure claim women aren’t getting the health care and after care they need. Again from the article.
“Generally, during the actual expulsion, it’s like a miscarriage,” said Grossman. “It can be painful, but it can be easily controlled with oral pain medications. Women come back for a follow-up a week or two later to have an ultrasound to confirm that the abortion is complete.”

The third item the proposed bill will “Require that a woman seeking an abortion be shown an ultrasound of her unborn child.” Why should they be forced to look at an ultrasound image if they don’t want to? Having an ultrasound image available is part of “informed consent” as per Wisconsin statute 253.10 which states:

“That fetal ultrasound imaging and auscultation of fetal heart tone services are available that enable a pregnant woman to view the image or hear the heartbeat of her unborn child. In so informing the woman and describing these services, the physician shall advise the woman as to how she may obtain these services if she desires to do so.”

The last bullet point states “Require abortion clinics to be regulated; Currently, abortion clinics are unregulated”. Medical centers are regulated and abortion services are highly regulated. There are many requirements that have to be met before a woman can have an abortion. I won’t go into them all because it’s too lengthy for this post. Go here to look at the current hoops women and the clinics that provide abortions must go through before an abortion may legally be performed.

I hope the actual text of this proposed “Women’s Protection Act” is released to the public soon. There are too many details that need to be filled in. Just saying we’re going to regulate abortion clinics because they’re not regulated now doesn’t really mean anything. What specifically needs to be regulated? Medical clinics are already regulated. A lot of information to the patient is covered by “informed and voluntary consent”. If a woman doesn’t know exactly what she’s consenting to by the time they finish the checklist, she’s not paying attention.

Pro-life people believe in choice as long as the option chosen is continuing a pregnancy. Fully functioning, adult women chose to end their pregnancies every day because of a variety of reasons. Ultimately it’s the woman’s decision to either have a child or not. This choice is hers and hers alone and no one should take that choice from her.

Litjens Wants to Socialize the Losses and Privatize the Profits of her Rental Properties

By Appleton Wonk

Tea Party and John Birch favorite Michelle Litjens has stirred up quite a bit of controversy since taking office this year. Michelle Litjens is a freshman representative in the 56th Assembly District of Wisconsin. Her district covers part of Appleton and the surrounding area. Michelle and her husband Tony own and manage 24 apartment buildings in Oshkosh for a total of 133 rental units. They have been involved in the housing industry for the past 15 years. Now that she’s introduced Assembly Bill 182, she’s not just a legislator, she’s another lobbyist making the public pay for her industry’s problems.

 

Assembly Bill 182 will shift the burden of unpaid utility bills from landlords to the community at large. It can be found here. Under current law if a tenant doesn’t pay their utility bill by November 15, the amount due is added to the landlord’s property tax bill. Under AB 182, this will no longer be allowed by law. City Manager Mark Rohloff told the Oshkosh Northwestern in an article found here that Assembly Bill 182 is “patently unfair to rate-payers who pay their bills every month” and they would face higher rates because others had not paid their utility bills. Utilities would have to put more time and resources into bill collecting. This extra cost would be passed onto their paying customers.

 

Two quotes from Litjens in the Northwestern article caught my attention. “The state’s Ethics Board has said when you don’t have a direct benefit, there is no ethical violation.” and “If my tenants all paid their water bills, it wouldn’t affect me at all”. How can she guarantee that all her tenants will pay their water bills in a timely fashion? If she can guarantee they will all pay their utility bills in a timely fashion, why is this bill necessary?

 

There is a certain amount of risk that comes with every business enterprise, being a landlord carries many risks. With every tenant there is a risk of them not paying their bills or doing considerable property damage to the unit, but with risk comes reward. In this case, there is a potentially large financial gain to be made from owning and operating rental units.

 

Free market advocates say small business owners deserve all the monetary rewards they receive because of the many risks they take on a day to day basis. This bill will remove one of the risks of being a landlord and socialize the losses and privatize the profits.

 
Just can’t get enough of Rep. Litjens? Perhaps you’ll enjoy this interview of Litjens and Rep. Steineke in which they discuss not only AB182 but ALSO Wisconsin Act 10, conceal carry, and inspections Litjens wants for Wisconsin abortion clinics.

Watch live streaming video from postcrescent at livestream.com