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Smokey the Bear Turns 75

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Smokey was "born" on Aug. 9, 1944 when the US Forest Service and Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be the perfect mascot for their effort to promote forest fire prevention.

It wasn't until three years later, in 1947, that his famous slogan became the familiar, “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires!”

Click here to visit Smokey's official website. 

The Economic Impact of Tourism 

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Wisconsin's charm and natural beauty are exceptional. Each season offers a variety of experiences that attract millions of visitors every year. With tourist populations of that size, it is no surprise just how crucial the tourism industry is for our state's overall economic health.

In order to better understand the significance of this industry, let's take a look at the the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's 2018 Economic Impact Report.  


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In 2018, tourist spending reached a record $13.3 billion. That's an increase of nearly 5% or $625 million over the previous year. In total, tourist spending has increased by nearly $2 billion since 2014. 

Locally, the trends are much the same. Visitor spending increased in Winnebago County by 5.67%, Dodge County by 2.62%, and Fond du Lac County by nearly 2%. That equates to almost $20 million in increased visitor spending in these three counties alone. 

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The two greatest economic impacts created by increased tourist spending are job creation and tax relief. The local economy benefits when tourists spend their money on transportation, entertainment, recreation, retail, dining, and lodging. 

Local businesses can create more jobs with competitive wages, and tax burdens are relieved. This puts more money back into Wisconsinite's pockets. 

Visitor spending helped create an astonishing 199,073 Wisconsin jobs in 2018. In Fond du Lac, Dodge, and Winnebago Counties, that equated to nearly 90 additional jobs; a wage value of about $5.5 million. 

Additionally, tax revenue of $2.8 billion was generated by tourism in 2018. Without this source of revenue, Wisconsinites would need to pay an additional $680 per year to replace taxes paid by visitors.

It's clear that tourism is vital to our economy. Before the summer ends, why not take one last Wisconsin vacation? 

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Nashville Hosts Wisconsin Legislators at the National Convention of State Legislators Annual Summit

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This week, I attended the bi-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures Legislative Summit (NCSL).

NCSL was established in 1975 to serve state legislatures across the United States. Their objective is to "improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures; to promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures; and to ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system." It is from these goals that the agenda of the legislative summit is formed.

The event offered several tracks for legislators to follow throughout the week. Policy experts, fellow legislators, and even celebrities like Dolly Parton hosted seminars. NCSL is a great resource for us as we develop policy throughout the session. 

I am thankful for the opportunity to attend and already look forward to visiting Indianapolis for the next summit.


ncsl summit (2).pngAssembly Speaker Vos gives inaugural speech as President-Elect of NCSL; Wisconsin State Assembly Representatives Schraa, August, Felzkowski, Born and Vorpagel

 Speakers Task Force on Suicide Prevention:
Eau Claire Hosts Upcoming Public Hearing

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2017-18 (Last Session's) Blue Books Available

Bluebook Bonanza

Blue Books are a great way to learn about the state's history and its current legislators.

If you would like a complimentary Blue Book, be sure to claim one by emailing my office at Please include your complete mail address.


PO Box 8953 - Room 107 West - Madison, WI 53708 | Phone: (608) 267-7990 - Toll-free (888) 534-0053