October 30, 2015

A Note from Rep. Rohrkaste

Hi, Mike Rohrkaste here with a video e-update for the 2015-16 legislative session.

The fall session has been going by fast and could be done as early as next Tuesday. In addition to evaluating a number of key legislative changes mentioned in the email update, I have been working on several pieces of legislation which I hope will enhance workforce opportunities in Wisconsin and the Fox Cities.

The first, Assembly Bill 417, which I co-authored with Senator Sheila Harsdorf will allow for face-to-face sales of certain homemade baked and canned foods without a licensing requirement and as long as the person receives less than $7500 per year from sales. Currently, this bill is in the Assembly Committee on Small Business Development. If passed, this bill will help provide more small business opportunities in Wisconsin and will bring us in line with our neighboring states.

The second bill, co-sponsored with Senator Roger Roth establishes a statewide Dietetic Internship Program, funded by federal dollars, which will train additional Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, (jobs that pay from $45,000 to $55,000 per year), and provide wellness and nutrition services to people in need throughout the state. There is currently a shortage of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in Wisconsin and the bill will address this specific skills gap issue.

In early November the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia will continue a series of public hearings throughout the state. The next one will be held in the Fox Valley at the Valley VNA in Neenah on November 10th. We will hear recommendations to help the growing needs of the over 120,000 residents in Wisconsin who suffer from dementia, and the thousands more who act as formal and informal caregivers every day. My office will be sending out more information about the location and time next week.  Please stop by if you can.

Thank you for taking the time to view this video and have a great Wisconsin fall weekend.

Rep. Rohrkaste Supports Reform of Wisconsin’s Civil Service Law

Earlier this week, I voted in favor of legislation that updates Wisconsin’s civil service law so the state can attract and retain the best employees possible.  Recruiting, hiring, and maintaining a successful workforce is extremely important when it comes to providing high quality services to the people of Wisconsin.  This legislation will take a system based on a 19th century concept into the 21st century.

Right now, our state cannot keep up with the private sector when it comes to hiring and retaining employees.  We need to update Wisconsin’s civil service laws by streamlining the process and ensuring that we are consistent and fair across all state agencies.

Wisconsin’s state workforce is aging rapidly, and the current hiring process has greater challenges than ever. This legislation will replace the civil service exam requirement with a resume-based system, allowing departments to continue using tests as needed. It will also put into effect an annual performance review that will be standardized across agencies. This will maximize the effectiveness of employees while also rewarding good work with a merit-based funding pool of $6 million.

This legislation modernizes the state’s approach to hiring and retaining employees and creates more certainty for both the state and its workforce.  It is time we update this antiquated system and replace it with something that works for the state of Wisconsin.

Assembly Bill 373 was passed and will now be taken up by the state Senate.

Canada Week in Wisconsin!

Consul General Norton in front of the Canada Visitors Table

I joined my colleagues in welcoming Canadian Consul General Roy Norton to the state Capitol on Tuesday. Consul General Norton is visiting the state this week as part of Canada Week in Wisconsin.

While in Madison, Consul General Norton was on hand as the state Assembly passed Assembly Joint Resolution 76, proclaiming October 26 to 30, 2015, as Canada Week in Wisconsin, and Tuesday, October 27, 2015, as Canada Day at the state Capitol.

The Consul General had the following to say about his visit:

“Our welcome in the state Capitol today could not have been warmer. This underscores the tremendous relationship between Canada and Wisconsin. We are one another's best customers with more than $12.4 billion in annual trade between us. I look forward to visiting again and to further grow this mutually beneficial relationship."

Wisconsin sells more goods to Canada than the next six largest foreign markets combined.  In addition to the strong trade relations, the US hosts more tourists from Canada than any other country. Wisconsin welcomes 320,700 Canadian visitors every year, putting $65 million into our tourism industry.

The Consul General has been traveling around Wisconsin all week, ending his trip in Madison on Saturday.

Thanks for Visiting the State Capitol!

Badger Elementary

Spring Survey Results

If you would like to view the results for my 2015 Spring Legislative Survey, please click here.  The survey was sent out to over 1,300 residents of the 55th Assembly District and asked questions pertaining to the budget as well as several other issues.


As always, if you have any comments or thoughts regarding the subject of this
E-Update, please feel free to contact me.

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State Capitol Room 208 North - PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-5719
Email: Rep.Rohrkaste@legis.wisconsin.gov