Mark Born, the three-term incumbent in the state Assembly’s 39th District, is running for two more years at the statehouse.
Born, a Republican from Beaver Dam, received more than 67 percent of the vote in the 2016. He is running against Democrat Elisha Barudin.
“The campaign’s going well,” he said. “I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback.”
Born said he has been attending events throughout the year, knocking on doors and interacting with constituents whenever possible, not just as part of the election cycle.
Born said one of the major issues he’s been hearing people talk about is the state’s investment in education and pointed to increased funding for K-12 education in the budget every year he’s been a legislator.
“A lot of folks only hear some of the rhetoric or see some of the headlines and don’t always hear the whole story,” he said. “It sometimes doesn’t fit the rhetoric of the other side. I want folks to understand that they think education is important and so do I and I have a record that reflects that. That’s been good to set the record straight on that.”
Locally and nationally, another substantial issue in the midterm election is health care, particularly the cost of insurance and Republican attempts to alter or repeal the federal Affordable Care Act, including its protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
Born voted in favor of a bill to require protections for pre-existing conditions in Wisconsin, regardless of what happens at the federal level with the Affordable Care Act. The bill did not pass the state Senate, so it did not have a chance to make it to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk.
“I already voted for it. I’ll vote for it again. Obviously I support it,” Born said.
Born also noted he supported the state’s reinsurance program, which will add $200 million to the individual market in 2019 to try to lower premiums. He has also talked about work to let businesses pool together for insurance and a “gym membership-style” system for people to receive care on top of catastrophic insurance.
Born said he would like to continue efforts for workforce training, development and recruitment, saying that he has heard from businesses that they are having trouble finding workers to fill spots in a time of low unemployment.
The Beaver Dam Common Council recently passed a resolution calling upon state legislators to close the so-called “dark store loophole,” under which businesses are taxed as if they were vacant buildings. The issue is centered on big box stores with the legal muster to reduce their tax assessments in court.
Born supports working to fix the issue, but said that municipalities forced state legislators’ hands.
“The municipalities have some of the responsibility here,” he said. “This shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”
He said the businesses, by the municipalities considering the value of the business itself and not the building, were being overassessed under Wisconsin law. He compared it to a house being assessed for higher property value and taxes because it had a larger TV. Born also wondered how small businesses could be impacted by any changes.
“We don’t know how to keep the status quo when some cities have overassessed certain types of businesses,” he said. “If the fix is some bad medicine in other areas, maybe we’ll have to do that.”
A study committee in the Legislature is working on the issue.
Born has joined Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and local officials who are responding to concerns about Dodge County’s three strip clubs. He said legislative staff is beginning to work on allowing local governments more power over liquor licenses through the state’s Department of Revenue.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court sent a case about Wisconsin’s legislative district lines back to the lower courts, with the plaintiffs alleging that Republican legislators drew the lines to keep Republicans in the majority, no matter the statewide vote.
Born said he is open to the idea of moving toward a system like the one in Iowa, where an independent commission draws the lines for final legislative approval. He said he would still want elected legislators to have oversight in the end.
Beyond that, Born said he’d like to keep going down the current path while keeping an ear open for what constituents might bring him to work on.