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Rob Passes First Co-Authored Bill Through Assembly!


 

Last Tuesday, the Assembly voted in favor of Assembly Bill 160, Fishing for our Future Act, authored by myself and Representative Mary Felzkowski. The bill provides common sense changes to the regulation of Aquaculture and fish farms in the state of Wisconsin while protecting our great waters across the state. It also solidifies Wisconsin’s emerging aquaculture industry as a valid and important part of our state’s agriculture.

This bill promotes rural economic development by allowing the industry to expand and grow in order to compete on the national level. It also allows for better partnerships with the private fish farmers and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to raise fish for stocking programs in our public waters including some that will benefit the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.

The Fishing for our Future Act is a great example of Legislators, Wisconsin DNR, and other stakeholders coming together to produce a piece of legislation that meets the needs of everyone involved. An initial draft of this bill was introduced last session and concerns were brought to the authors by different groups. I sat down with those groups and other legislators involved to address their concerns directly. We worked with the Wisconsin DNR, Trout Unlimited, Wisconsin Aquaculture Association, and private fish farmers to make sure this bill was in its best form for all parties involved.

Wisconsin has a $21 million aquaculture industry with an estimated 2,800 private fish farms throughout the state that support about 500 jobs. Desires for healthy fish products have significantly increased the demand for fish and seafood in the U.S. Currently, 86 percent of U.S. seafood consumption is imported, leading to a seafood trade deficit of $10 billion. This bill provides our state's fish farming industry with the consistency farmers need to grow this valuable trade in Wisconsin.

52nd Annual Governors Fishing Opener

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On Saturday, I attended Governor Walker's 52nd Annual Governors Fishing Opener in Cable, Wisconsin along with many other groups including the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. This event promotes the time-honored tradition of fishing in our state. Not only is fishing a valued past time for many residents, it is also an important activity to our tourism industry in Wisconsin. Fishing generates $2.3 billion annually in economic benefits and supports 22,000 jobs in Wisconsin. Fishing in Wisconsin draws hundreds of thousands of anglers from outside the state every year. Typically, 1.3 million anglers buy a Wisconsin fishing licenses every year. Of those anglers more than 330,000 of them are non-residents, the third most in the country behind Florida and Michigan. 

I am pictured above with the Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett. Wisconsin Indian Head Country in Cable hosted nearly 210 fisherman for the opener. Despite the cold weather, I still managed to get ONE bite!

CESA 11 Meeting

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I attended a meeting at CESA 11 in Turtle Lake to discuss various education topics. About 30 of the area's school district administrators as well as some legislative colleagues talked about important educational issues like the budget, the school funding equation, and increased numbers of students with mental health problems and the challenges that creates in the classroom and for the districts.

CESA 11 is part of the Cooperative Educational Service Agencies (CESAs) that were created by statute to perform a variety of functions that are educational in nature with a focus on staff and student learning. CESA 11 encompasses all or major portions of Barron, Burnett, Dunn, St. Croix, Pepin, Pierce, Polk and Washburn counties as well as portions of Buffalo, Chippewa, Eau Claire, Rusk and Sawyer Counties. CESA 11 offers a wide array of educational services to over 50,000 students and approximately 4,000 teachers in the thirty-nine school districts within its boundaries. Thank you to Jerry Walters from CESA 11 for setting up this great discussion! I learned a lot.

UW-Stout Receives Donation To Establish New Academic Center This Fall

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On May 8th, Chancellor Bob Meyer announced that beginning this fall, there will be a new academic center on campus – The Center for the Study of Institutions and Innovation. The center will be in the Colleges of Arts, Communication, Humanities and Social Science and will be directed by Tim Shiell, a distinguished professor in the college’s English and Philosophy Department.

The University shared that the intent of the center is to facilitate civil and rational debate and research in the state and beyond on important civil liberty issues guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The support for the center was funding entirely by the Charles Koch Foundation. The Charles Koch Foundation supports research and educational programs focused on advancing an understanding of how free societies improve well-being. It provides support at over 300 universities and colleges around the country as well as other organizations that foster this purpose.

I believe this academic center will be a great addition to the already impressive course catalog offered by UW-Stout. I wish them well in the process to come and am looking forward to following the program’s success.

GOP Tax Reform Plan

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Last week, Rep. Dale Kooyenga unveiled a possible transportation budget plan solution. Over the course of the budget process, how to fund our transportation projects has been a reoccurring topic of conversation both in the Capitol as well as when I talk with constituents at my Listening Sessions and other events. It is a large plan and my first opportunity to see it was Thursday so I am still in the early stages of going through it and getting to know all the parts involved in the plan. Please take a look here to read more about the transportation plan. As always, I appreciate any feedback from constituents so please do not hesitate to contact my office with your thoughts, concerns, or questions with this plan.


Church of Felons Screening

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Senator Harsdorf hosted a film screening at the Capitol of “Church of Felons” directed by Polk County resident Jordan Mederich, a documentary that followed the stories of recovery and transformation of four Polk County residents fighting alcohol and substance abuse. The film has been featured in six film festivals around the country Wisconsin leads the country in OWI arrests, underage drinking, and alcohol and substance abuse related arrests. The film was a powerful depiction of the affects these habits have on many lives and the possibility of redemption in a community.   

According to an article in the New Richmond News, “Church of Felons” will be showing at the New Richmond High School Auditorium on Friday, May 12 and Saturday May 13 at 6:30 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. NRPD Chief Craig Yehlik was quoted in the article about how he has seen first-hand the consequences of addiction in our communities. “I went through the movie and found a lot of good in it. There is a lot of talk about second chances and of working together as a community," Yehlik said.

The screening is being hosted by the New Richmond Ministerium and local businesses. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 online at churchoffelons.com/newrichmond or at Champs in New Richmond. Tickets will be sold at the door for $8

More information on the film “Church of Felons” and the official trailer can be found here.

 

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