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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

The Wisconsin blueberry is a superfood

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The most confusing tax issue?

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Newspaper editorializes against government health care


I have blogged extensively about my opposition to government run health care. The state Legislature was successful in keeping the Senate Democrats’ $15.2 billion government health care plan out of the 2007-09 state budget. Senate Democrats promise they will re-introduce the proposal in the next legislative session, despite its exorbitant cost.

The Green Bay Press Gazette editorializes against government health care, citing the high cost of popular programs, and the inefficiencies for veterans’ care.

The newspaper writes, “We know that participants in such government programs as Medicare and BadgerCare are generally satisfied with the care they receive through those programs. But we also know that the costs for both taxpayers and participants is enormous. And we know that the nation's Veterans Affairs health care system is not all that it could be or should be”

The editorial reaches the following conclusion:

“Our instincts tell us the answer lies more in the direction of competition and the innovation of free enterprise, not in the direction of government control and centralization. We urge healthy skepticism toward politicians who advocate a government-run single-payer system.”

Here’s the entire editorial.

Update on economic stimulus checks

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The
Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) is reporting that according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), over 77,000 Wisconsin residents will not get their economic stimulus check from the federal government because they have not filed the appropriate paperwork. The IRS says 68 percent of those who haven’t filed yet are over age 65 and 84 percent are over age 50.

The DOR has launched a summer campaign to attempt to reach Wisconsinites who are still eligible for an economic stimulus check. Here are the details. 

To be eligible, you must file a 2007 income tax return, have a valid Social Security Number (SSN), can't be claimed as a dependent on a tax return and have either an income tax liability or "qualifying income" of at least $3,000. The economic stimulus payment is not taxable, and it will not reduce your 2007 or 2008 refund or increase the amount you owe when you file your 2008 return.

However, individuals with at least $3,000 in qualifying income who don’t normally file a tax return must fill out other paperwork with the IRS to get an economic stimulus check.

The deadline to file in order to receive a check is October 15, 2008.

Here are complete details on the economic stimulus payments from the IRS. 

Be aware of one of the biggest tax scams of the year according to the Internal Revenue Service.

From irs.gov:


Scams Related to the Economic Stimulus Payment

Some scam artists are trying to trick individuals into revealing personal financial information that can be used to access their financial accounts by making promises relating to the economic stimulus payment, often called a “rebate.”  To obtain the payment, eligible individuals in most cases will not have to do anything more than file a 2007 federal tax return.   But some criminals posing as IRS representatives are trying to trick taxpayers into revealing their personal financial information by falsely telling them they must provide information to get a payment.  For instance, a potential victim is told by phone or e-mail that he or she is eligible for a rebate but must provide a bank account number (or similar information) to get the payment.   If the target is unwilling, the victim is then told that he cannot receive the rebate unless the information is provided.   Individuals should remember that the only way to get a stimulus payment is to file a 2007 tax return.  The IRS urges taxpayers to be extra-vigilant.   The IRS will not contact taxpayers by phone or e-mail about their stimulus payment.  

1-800-QUIT-NOW

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Since 2001, more than 80,000 people have called 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line. The assistance they have received has helped reduce their risk of premature death and has saved the state millions of dollars in health care-related costs.

Services at the Tobacco Quit Line expanded on January 1, 2008. Dr. Michael Fiore, Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention has informed me that the hotline continues to be successful with more people taking advantage of its lifesaving services than ever before. Dr. Fiore writes:

In the first six months of this expansion (1/1/08 - 7/1/08), more than 21,000 state residents contacted the Quit Line. It provides confidential, personalized and free coaching and medication for those who want to break their tobacco dependence. It also helps smokers locate quitting resources and programs in their own communities.

2008 Quit Line service rates shatter all previous records. In a typical year, the Wisconsin quit line helps about 9,000 state residents. By and large, this unprecedented interest is a response to the increased cigarette state excise tax, which went into effect on Jan. 1 combined with the expanded Quit Line services. Here is a more detailed breakdown of Quit Line callers:  

      90 percent are tobacco users. The remaining 10 percent are healthcare providers, and people concerned about friends and family.

      90 percent have requested further assistance from the Quit Line, including science-based coaching to help them quit.  More than 12,300 two-week starter kits of nicotine medications have been mailed out. 

      Among those who requested these starter kits, 62 percent chose to receive stop-smoking nicotine patches. The remaining 38 percent chose either nicotine gum or lozenges.

      40 percent have identified themselves as Medicaid enrollees or uninsured.

The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and administered by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. It was established in 2001. 


Wisconsin Researchers Lead National Effort to Establish New Federal Guidelines on Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence

As the chair of a federal panel convened by the U.S. Public Health Service, I was proud to participate in a May event to release an updated guideline of care for clinicians and healthcare systems to address tobacco dependence and treatment. The event culminated two years worth of work that examined more than 8,700 scientific studies. It was hosted by the American Medical Association and featured Dr. C. Everett Koop as a speaker. More than 58 national and international organizations have endorsed the guideline, representing more than 1.2 million clinicians.

The guideline recommends a combination of coaching, counseling and medication to more successfully treat what is a chronic disease - tobacco dependence. We are now working with state and national partners to ensure that every Wisconsin smoker visiting a healthcare setting receives evidence-based assistance in quitting.

Wisconsin Researchers Break the Kid-Smoking Genetic Code

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI), along with colleagues at the University of Utah published findings that pinpoint the genetic risk of nicotine dependence in children. That risk is mitigated if children dont smoke on a daily basis prior to age 17. If they do smoke daily prior to turning 17, their risk of addiction increases and its likely to be an even more severe addiction than for those who dont have the genetic predisposition.

This groundbreaking finding is based on a study of 398 participants who came to UW-CTRI clinics in Milwaukee and Madison. Participants from Utah and an extensive national study rounded out the sample.

In Wisconsin, 19.9 percent of high school students and 5.8 percent of middle school students are tobacco users. This new genetic research emphasizes the importance of prevention programs, and specifically prevention programs aimed at youth who are genetically at risk for nicotine dependence.


Here is the website for the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line, information on what to expect when you call, and testimonials from callers about their experience with the hotline

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