28th Assembly District E-Update
End of Session Wrap-Up
The 2011-12 session has come to a close and while we got a lot of things accomplished, there is so much work that still needs to be addressed in the future to ensure Wisconsin stays on the right path. The last two days of session were packed with legislation to be voted on, but I wanted to narrow my focus down to just a few pieces of legislation.
We have all heard about pork-barrel spending and the earmarks that go with it at both the state and the federal level. In order to shed some light on earmarks here at the state level, Wisconsin passed an earmark transparency bill with a bi-partisan 89-4 vote in the Assembly. The bill requires the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) to prepare an earmark transparency report on each biennial budget bill and each amendment to the budget.
The report must contain a list of all earmarks, the cost of each earmark, and the beneficiary of each earmark. The report must also contain the senate and assembly district in which the beneficiary, whether an individual or a private entity, is located. In the case of an amendment to the budget, the report must identify the representative or senator who proposed the earmark. This legislation will bring to light not only earmarks that are in the budget, but also the purpose of those earmarks. I voted in favor of this bill because it will give taxpayers more information as to how their tax dollars are being spent and for what purpose.
Hunting, fishing, and trapping are an important part of Wisconsin’s heritage and it is important that we continue to support and grow these activities. To that end, Wisconsin passed a Sporting Heritage and Recruitment Act aimed at recruiting young sportsmen and women as well as retaining our current sportsmen and women. Some of the provisions of this bill include allowing school boards the ability to award school credit for completion of hunter education courses, providing reduced license fees for people who recruit new hunters, fishers, and trappers, as well as reduced fees for small game, wild turkey, and deer licenses to hunter who have not received those licenses in any of the ten previous years.
Participation in outdoor activities is not only part of Wisconsin’s great heritage, but also is an important part of teaching our children important life lessons. Hunters, fishers, and trappers, are the state’s most ardent monitors of our environment and are an integral part of managing Wisconsin’s natural resources. It is important that we continue to grow and support participation in Sporting activities and I am proud to have supported passage of this legislation.
In order to properly manage our state’s natural resources, it is important that we streamline the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in order to avoid duplicative, costly, and confusing regulations that not only affect businesses, but property owners as well. To achieve this goal, the Legislature passed a DNR Reform Package that will provide clarity to Wisconsin’s regulatory laws.
One of the most important clarifications included in this reform package was setting new standards of regulation for piers and boathouses. Waterfront property owners have been swamped with regulations regarding their piers and boathouses that are vague and confusing. This legislation eliminated pier registration requirements and sets clearly defined rules regarding the size and location of piers. It is important that government work smarter, not harder, and this reform package allows the DNR to be more streamlined and to direct their focus on to larger, more specific projects.
This session may be over, but our work to improve Wisconsin is certainly not. If you have any ideas on how we can continue to move Wisconsin in a new direction, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to continuing to work towards getting people back to work and getting Government out of the way so that the private sector and create jobs.