Merry Christmas! First things
first: a big thank you to my new friend Julia for inviting me to work a
shift alongside her at Theo's Pizza in Sheboygan last week. Julia
doesn't let anything hold her back; I'm proud of her achievements and
her hard work. Thanks for showing me around! Thank you also
to everyone who contacted me as the legislature convened last week.
As I tell everyone who shares ideas with me: I genuinely appreciate
receiving your point of view, and I warmly welcome and encourage you to
communicate with me as often as you're able.
Unfortunately, the incoming
administration has made no secret of their intentions to work around the
legislature instead of with us; to undo unilaterally a number of the
reforms that have been instrumental to Wisconsin's recovery over the
past eight years; and to pick and choose which laws they will defend and
enforce. That isn't right. The legislature has rightful,
Constitutional powers too, and despite the hysterics and hyperbole last
week, the reforms that I voted to advance create a more
appropriate balance of powers; they do not diminish our
executive's authority; they improve government transparency and
accountability; and they increase protections for taxpayers.
I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to review the nonpartisan
Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo that accompanied the legislature's
actions last week; it helps tell a side of the story that was largely
drowned out by the bullying.
Also: it is my great honor and
privilege to have been
appointed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to serve the people of
Wisconsin as a member of the Joint Finance Committee during the 2019-20
legislative session. Governor Scott Walker's eight years of
principled leadership put our state on the right track, and I'm eager to
keep building upon these successes.
As always, I encourage you to follow
my updates on
social media or contact
my office directly with your questions. Best wishes on your
weekend... and, again, Merry Christmas!
Finding New Money for School Libraries
thought the legislature takes the summer off, then think again!
Over the past six months, I've been serving as chairman of the
Legislative Council Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the
School Trust Funds. Wisconsin's version of summer study committees
is unique in my experience: ordinary citizens have the opportunity to
serve alongside legislators and work together to research subjects that
merit further attention. It's a great way to collect ideas from
many points of view and produce genuinely bipartisan recommendations.
And let me tell you: the theory works! The many hours invested in
this project by vice-chair Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee, pictured above
in the foreground next to me), our fellow committee members, Legislative
Council staff and a broad range of stakeholders have
In a nutshell: Wisconsin's Board of
Commissioners of Public Lands manages assets worth somewhat north of $1
billion. (Fun fact: most of this money can be traced all the way
back to the creation of the State of Wisconsin in 1848; becoming a state
means, in part, taking title to lands previously "owned" by the federal
government. Another fun fact: every speeding ticket issued in
Wisconsin yields a few new dollars for the fund, too!) Our state
Constitution requires that this money be invested and the proceeds used
to benefit public schools and a state university; state law specifically
directs most proceeds to school libraries. Our summer study
committee considered the ways in which these funds are invested and some
ideas aimed at increasing the amount of money that will be available to
our school libraries in the long term.
The study committee's final report will be
published soon. In the meantime, you may access all of our meeting
minutes, guest presentations, draft ideas and even our main
online; Wisconsin history buffs like me will especially appreciate
background brief that nicely summarizes the issues we explored.
Professional licensure survey. Yes, if your career requires
that you hold a license from the State of Wisconsin, you probably received a
survey from the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS)
recently. No, despite some scary-sounding media reports, I am
certainly not aware of any imminent/secret plot to do away with your
license. The truth is that the legislature and the executive branch
have been studying the broad subject of professional licensure for several
years already and will continue studying it for (at least) several more
years. There are some reasonable questions to be explored as to
which/how many professions really ought to be licensed; how much a license
ought to cost; how hard it ought to be to
obtain a license; what exactly the government adds to public safety that the
private sector cannot; and so forth.
Fast-forward to today:
DSPS is gathering input this month from all kinds of licensed professionals
to learn what you think about some of these questions.
They're asking you now because their homework is nearly due; DSPS is
required by state law to deliver a report with their take on these questions
by the end of calendar year 2018. But somehow, some media reports have
managed to spin this as a secret attempt by the outgoing administration to
destroy Wisconsin's system of professional regulation. Be assured that
I've heard of no such secret plot.
The Department of Natural Resources
is now offering
2019 state park admission stickers and trail passes for sale. (Not
a bad last-minute gift idea, if you ask me! Use your credit card to
place a phone order by Monday, December 16th to receive them in time for the
holidays. The phone number is 888-936-7463.) The annual vehicle
admission sticker costs $28 for Wisconsin residents; $38 for nonresidents;
there are discounts available for seniors and for households registering
multiple vehicles; annual trail passes (for biking, skating, horseback
riding and skiiing, but not required for hiking) are a flat $25.
Sheboygan Falls Chamber-Main Street is again serving as a drop-off site for
the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Big Bundle Up
New or gently used coats, sweaters, hats, mittens and other winter
accessories may be dropped off during business hours at 504 Broadway Street,
Sheboygan Falls; all donated items will be distributed locally!
Finally, it's not too late to enjoy Christmas at the Capitol!
The State Capitol Christmas Tree is a 35-foot high Balsam Fir; it is
decorated by literally thousands of handmade ornaments crafted by
schoolchildren across the state; and it completely fills our Capitol
rotunda. The Capitol is typically
open to the public
from 8:00 AM until 6:00 PM weekdays; weekend and holiday hours are 8:00 AM
until 4:00 PM. The 6th-story museum and observation deck continue to
be open for several hours daily and will remain open until/unless inclement
weather forces a closure. Separately, the
Executive Residence will be open for holiday tours, free of charge, on
two more 2018 dates: Wednesday, December 19th and Thursday, December 20th,
from noon until 2:00 PM each day.