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Contents

  • Capitol Visitors
  • Legislation Update
  • Water Quality Legislation
  • Agricultural Legislation
  • Agency Updates & More

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Capitol Visitors

Eagle School 013020-01.JPGStudents from Eagle School in Richland Center recently stopped by the Capitol!

021120 Assembly Session #348.jpgOn February 12, 2020, the Wisconsin State Assembly honored all of the Desert Storm Veterans in Wisconsin by passing Assembly Joint Resolution 127, which I authored.  

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Alice in Dairyland, Abigail Martin, visited the Wisconsin State Assembly on February 20th before we took up the Agricultural legislative package.

Connor Jartje 201920-01.JPGThis past Tuesday Connor Hartje, April Frelke, and Kent Vang came to the Capitol to advocate on behalf of Wisconsin School Counselors. April was nominated as the 2020 School Counselor of the Year - Congratulations!

Legislation Update

This legislative session I authored numerous individual bills. So far, four of those pieces of legislation have been enacted into law through either the budget or as individuals pieces of legislation. 

This past Thursday, three more bills I authored head to the Governor's desk for signature and to become law. 

Those bills are: 

AB 380/SB 369, Relating to: federal emergency management assistance payments to municipalities. This bill received unanimous support from colleagues in both the State Senate and State Assembly. 

AB 230/SB 205, Relating to: transferring academic credits from military transcripts to University of Wisconsin System schools and technical colleges. I'm happy to report that this bill, too, received unanimous support from colleagues in both legislative bodies, the State Senate and the State Assembly. 

AB 684/SB 537, Relating to: veteran-related tuition grants for certain veterans and dependents enrolled in private nonprofit institutions of higher education. As well, this received unanimous support from colleagues in both legislative bodies. 

Water Quality Task Force Legislation

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Click on the graphic to hear more from members about the Water Quality Task Force Package of Legislation.

Agricultural Legislation

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This past Thursday, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted on and passed numerous bills focused on assisting out farmers. I was very encouraged by the Governor's Special Session focused on Agriculture and especially excited about the January 2020 Special Session Assembly Bill 6, which focused on Dairy Exports. I helped to author a substitute amendment to add meat and crop to the export priorities and to expand the funding from $1 million to $5 million. Click on the above graphic to hear my floor speech. 

Agency Updates

FEDERAL – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

USDA will often send my office updates of grant opportunities available. Below are some of the most recent grant opportunities with nearing deadlines.

Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Bio-based Products Manufacturing Assistance Program
USDA Rural Development provides loan guarantees to help develop, construct, or retrofit commercial-scale biorefineries and to develop renewable chemicals and bio-based product manufacturing facilities. Letter of Intent Deadline: March 2, 2020 | Application Deadline: April 1, 2020

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)
USDA Rural Development provides funding to support agricultural producers and rural small businesses to reduce energy costs and consumption with by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations. Application Deadlines: Grants - March 31, 2020 | Loan Guarantees - Accepted Year-Round

Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant Program
USDA Rural Development provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas. Application Deadline: Ongoing


2020 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs
U.S. Economic Development Administration invites applications for construction, non-construction, planning, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects. Application Deadline: Ongoing

Wisconsin Department of Revenue:

As we move into Tax Season, I would like to alert you to a couple of programs that DOR runs that may help you assist with completing your tax return. The first is VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program and the second is our Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program. Both programs are operated in partnership with the IRS, and the TCE is also operated in conjunction with the AARP Tax-Aide Foundation.

The eligibility guideline for VITA is generally persons with income of $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. The (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly for those that are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS.

You will find the most up-to-date site locations here:

VITA sites locator: https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/

AARP Tax-Aide locator: https://secure.aarp.org/applications/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.action

 

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources:

 Here are some items that may be of interest to you from the DNR.

  • The Department of Natural Resources us looking to partner with landowners for the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) to promote healthy deer and quality deer habitat.
  • The 2019-2029 Black Bear Management Plan proposes new bear management zones to better reflect bear distribution, habitat type and public land access across the state.  As the new zones make their way through the rule-making process, the bear application period for the 2021 bear hunting season will delayed until mid-summer.  Hunters can sign up on the DNR’s website for notification of when the application period for the 2021 season opens.  There are no changes for the 2020 season. 
  • During Flood Insurance Awareness Week, the DNR and the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance are urging Wisconsin residents to protect their homes and businesses from financial loss due to flooding by obtaining flood insurance before the snow melts and spring rainfall begins.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates an increased likelihood of spring flooding throughout Wisconsin in 2020 due to melting snowpack sitting upon already saturated soil.  Typical business and homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage from floods.
  • The latest episodes of the “Wild Wisconsin – Off the Record” podcast series highlight state park love stories, the miraculous comeback of the much-loved bald eagle, the impact of snowmobiling in Wisconsin, and ice fishing.

 Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP):

The Wisconsin Farm Center at the DATCP is hosting a series of one-day workshops for farmers. These workshops will present opportunities for farmers to hear from others in similar situations as well as learn about stress management techniques and resources available to them.

Entitled “Unexpected Tomorrows,” the workshops are designed to help Wisconsin farmers and their families deal with increased stress, depression, anxiety, and family issues brought on by prolonged downturn in the farming economy. These events will be similar to the Farm Couples Weekend Workshops hosted in partnership with UW-Extension, but are designed for individual farmers, not just couples.

Workshops run from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. There is no cost to attend, and breakfast, lunch and snacks will be provided. Registration is required. To register: workshops. Deadline is one week prior to each workshop.

Six Unexpected Tomorrows workshops will be held throughout the state this spring and fall:

  • March 12, Wausau
  • March 26, Green Bay
  • April 9, Beaver Dam
  • April 16, Dodgeville
  • November (dates to be determined), La Crosse and Chippewa Falls

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP):

My office was recently altered to a grant opportunity provided by AARP, the 2020 AARP Challenge Grant.

AARP invites you to submit applications for quick-action projects that can help your community become more livable. Applications are now being accepted for small grants to improve housing, transportation, public space, smart cities, civic engagement and more. Since 2017, over $3 Million in grants have been distributed nationwide with over $100,000+ in Wisconsin alone.  Projects have included public space beautification and accessibility, transportation pilots, and health and wellbeing projects to name just a few.  For more information and to submit an application, please click on the link: www.aarp.org/communitychallenge Applications are due by April 1, 2020, 11:59 p.m. ET. All projects must be completed by November 9, 2020.