The Rule of 49
Here in the legislature we use a lot of uncommon terms to describe our
work. Phrases like “pulling motion,” “quorum,” “first reading,” “second
reading,” and “third reading” are often heard both on the Assembly floor
and off the Assembly floor. New legislators get a glossary with their
orientation packet while veteran legislators will spout sentences so
full of jargon hardly anyone can understand them. All these phrases have
their purpose but no one outside of the Capitol usually pays much
attention to them.
Except the Rule of 49.
The Rule of 49 is an important part of Wisconsin’s ethics laws and was
designed to ensure that no state resources are used for campaign
purposes. From the time a representative or senator can start
circulating nomination papers until the day after the election, they are
not allowed to send out more than 49 pieces of identical mail from their
office. That means no mass mailings, no newsletters, and no email
blasts. Well, only 49 of them.
From a political point of view, the beginning of the Rule of 49
symbolizes the end of the Legislative session and the beginning of the
campaign season. From a practical standpoint, it also takes into account
the fact that over the summer and fall, we don’t exactly have a whole
lot to blast out to our constituents.
The number 49 may seem like something chosen at random, but it is a rule
that everyone takes very seriously.
So why am I telling you all this? Well, the Rule of 49 starts this
Friday so this will be the last e-Newsletter you receive from me until
after the election. I have really enjoyed getting to share with you a
small window into my work down in Madison. From the budget updates to
the monthly columns, I always appreciate receiving feedback from my
constituents. Even though I won’t be sending our e-Newsletters for quite
some time, I hope that you will continue to share your thoughts with me.
40,000 Light bulbs and Counting
My favorite days in Madison are days when school groups come to visit. I
love getting a chance to talk with the kids about what they have learned
in their classroom and what they learned at the Capitol. We talk about
the legislative process and how a bill becomes a law and let me tell you
these kids are smart. They ask me very informed questions and are always
so curious about what we do in the Legislature. It always brings a smile
to my face whenever I get the chance to talk to them.
And, of course, ask them how many light bulbs are in the Capitol. This
is my number 1 piece of trivia about this building. And the answer is
40,000 light bulbs.
After they come visit me, I go visit them to deliver the photos we took
and to give them a pop quiz on everything we talked about when I saw
them last. They always remember everything. Everything.
Especially the 40,000 light bulbs.
Most of the time, I get to visit with 4th graders who are learning about
Wisconsin state government in school right now. But sometimes, like
earlier this week, I got to visit with 5th graders who had come down to
Madison last year and gone through the whole light bulb thing with me.
Before meeting with them, I wondered if any of them would remember my
special question. Guess what, they all did!
It is tour season at the Capitol right now and I am very excited to see
so many of our elementary schools coming to visit. I’ll be meeting with
as many of them as I can and asking them all my very favorite trivia
question. I will also be studying up to make sure I can keep up with
these bright young minds. Who knows, they might ask me how many steps
are in the Capitol!
With summer right around the corner (or so I’ve been told… there was
snow on my grass this weekend), I’ll be out knocking on doors and
visiting with constituents. I hope to see you out there and to get a
chance to talk to you about the legislative issues that matter most to
you. My door is always open, whether it is my office in La Crosse or my
office in Madison.
I always smile when people call me and say something like, “I’ve never
had a reason to call my state legislator before but this time…” You
never need a reason to reach out to me. Whether you are having a problem
with a state agency, concerned about a piece of legislation, or just
have questions about what the heck is going on in Madison, I am always
happy to help.
So if you have any question or concern, please feel free to reach out to
me, via phone, email or letter.
La Crosse Office
1230 Ferry Street
La Crosse, WI
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
Toll-Free: (888) 534-0094
Fax: (608) 282-3694
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