The 2017-18 Wisconsin legislative session
has come to a close. But in contrast to the paralysis that seems
to never end in Washington, in the past 15 months, your state government
273 new reforms (plus several dozen more set to be signed into law
next week) that make our state an even better place to live.
More money is invested today in public
education than ever before, and new money is headed their way to
help keep them safe. More of our people are working than ever
before; just 2.9 percent are unemployed. We inked the deal of
the century; construction is underway at technology giant Foxconn, which
is now expected to
increase our state's GDP by $52 billion over the next 15 years.
Since 2010, your taxes are fully $8 billion lower than they were on
track to be; just this year, we entirely deleted three state-level
taxes. You don't pay any state-level property tax at all anymore!
We're taking care of our people, too.
Governor Scott Walker just signed into law this week the 29th and 30th
new laws to address the opioid crisis that has been ripping apart our
families; at long last, we are seeing signs of improvement, as opioid
dropped by 20 percent. Our comprehensive welfare reform
package is already helping people move off of assistance and toward the
dignity of independence; there is news just this week that the federal
government is already borrowing our ideas to reform federal programs
also. College tuition is frozen again so that higher education
continues to be within reach. We passed 11 new bills to improve
our foster care system and give our young people the best possible
chance to achieve. We've taken a number of steps to help keep
health insurance accessible and affordable despite Obamacare's
disastrous cost increases in so many markets.
As these photos reminded me, we've come a
long way in just the past year. We've taken many steps forward.
I deeply appreciate the trust you've placed in me to be your voice.
And there's more yet to do!
Although the legislative session is over and the law prohibits me from
sending any more e-newsletters (because it's an election year), my staff and I are still here
to assist you; we're already working on new ideas for the future, and
we're always looking for new ideas from you. I encourage you to follow
my updates on
social media or contact
my office directly as often as we can be helpful to you. Best wishes on your weekend
-- and on the summer that can't arrive soon enough!
Session in Pictures
Literally the first order of business that
your state government took up this session -- it was Assembly Bill 1, and it
was signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 1 -- was a bill that I authored
with Senator Devin LeMahieu to pave the way (pardon the pun) for Masters
Gallery to expand its operations in Sheboygan County. This project
alone brought 120 new jobs to our area in the short term; the company
envisions another 200 jobs coming in the future. Lieutenant Governor
Rebecca Kleefisch (standing second from left) joined us at the
groundbreaking last spring!
The people of Sheboygan County have waited
far too long for the State Highway 23 expansion project to come to fruition.
It can't be overstated how critical this project is for our drivers' safety
and for our growing economy! Senator LeMahieu, Representative Tyler
Vorpagel and I persuaded our legislative colleagues and the Governor to do
something highly unusual last year: we required the Department of
Transportation (DOT) to set aside $19 million so that some work may continue
while we regain the necessary federal permits. Here, DOT explains to
residents how federal Judge Lynn Adelman blocked the project in 2015 and how
Wisconsin is cooperating with federal counterparts to restore the permits as
promptly as possible.
Due in part to the nationwide opioid abuse
crisis, Wisconsin's foster care system faces new challenges every day.
I had the honor of serving on the bipartisan Speaker's Task Force on Foster
Care last fall. We traveled across the whole state to learn about what
works and what doesn't. Ultimately, 11 of our ideas to improve
outcomes for children became law in spring 2018.
Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) and I
worked for almost a year and a half on a package of bills to crack down on a
small number of delinquent landlords in Wisconsin. The bad actors buy
up rental properties (sometimes by the hundreds) at sheriff sale foreclosure
auctions but refuse to keep up with property taxes and safety codes; their
victims are our neighborhoods and our most vulnerable classes of tenants.
Our bills force the bad actors to change how they do business: a person will
no longer be allowed to buy sheriff sale properties if he or she is 120+
days delinquent on property taxes already, and counties will be able to host
the auctions online if they choose so that more potential buyers can
participate in the real estate market more readily.
During this session, I served on the new
Assembly Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations. We traveled
to Washington last spring to discuss issues such as Medicaid, transportation
and tax reform that require federal and state cooperation. Among our
stops was a visit to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); later, our
committee would advance the legislation -- which Governor Walker recently
signed into law -- that puts a stop to the EPA unreasonably punishing
Sheboygan County with ozone nonattainment status due to other states'
Although House Speaker Paul Ryan isn't
pictured here, we met with him that day; this photo was taken on the
Speaker's Balcony of the U.S. Capitol. Congressman Ryan announced this
week that he won't seek reelection. Thank you for your 20 years of
service on behalf of our state, Speaker Ryan; you are a man of honor, and I
wish you well!