• WisPolitics


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

 10:41 AM 

Kind expecting large crowds for health care events

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind has moved two of his four planned health care town hall sessions to larger venues to accommodate expected large crowds.

Kind, D-La Crosse, has moved his Aug. 20 session from the Tomah City Hall council chamber to Tomah High School, and the Aug. 21 session has been moved to Whitehall High School after originally being planned for that town's Tri-County Memorial Hospital.

"We've had a number of calls coming from people who were concerned about capacity," said Kind spokeswoman Leah Hunter.

U.S. Rep Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac, has also moved one of his town hall meetings on health care to accommodate the anticipated crowd.

Thursday's event in Watertown was originally scheduled for City Hall's Council Chambers. It has been moved to the Watertown Senior Center's Terrace Room. The meeting is schedueld from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"Given the interest in health care, the City Hall Council Chambers would be too small to accommodate the large numbers of people who have been coming out to meet with me at earlier town meetings," Petri said. "I want everybody to get in and have their say."

Health care town halls across the country have been inundated with protesters concerned by what they see as a turn to socialized medicine in President Obama's health care reform proposal. The meetings, including one in Green Bay with U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, have occasionally turned into unruly affairs as reform opponents shout down the congressmen and other citizens.

Kind also has listening sessions scheduled for Aug. 18 at the County Courthouse in Richland Center and Aug. 25 at Darlington Memorial Hospital. Hunter said other venues are also being considered for those two sessions.

U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, drew national headlines over a contentious health care forum in Green Bay last week. Among other members of the Wisconsin delegation, U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is planning four telephone town halls later this month, with the focus on health care. Each call will reach out to about 50,000 contacts. Baldwin is also scheduling several media appearances, including shows where listeners can call in with questions.

GOP U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Janesville is scheduled to hold more than a dozen town hall meetings in his district during the August recess -- and like his Democratic colleagues, they'll focus primarily on health care. On the docket are events in Eagle, North Prairie, Sharon, Genoa City, Paddock Lake, Kenosha, Williams Bay, Fontana, Walworth, Darien, Janesville, Rochester, Sturtevant, Racine, Big Bend, New Berlin and Greendale.

In addition, both Wisconsin senators are planning a series of town hall meetings and listening sessions this month. Feingold has yet to release a schedule of his events, but his office confirmed this week they're in the planning stages. Kohl already has constituent events planned for Madison, Rhinelander, Green Bay, Wausau, Ashland, Superior, La Crosse, Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Marinette, Janesville and the Fox Valley.

See more in the Aug. 7 WisPolitics REPORT.

- Greg Bump, David Drucker


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