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Redistricting Bill Moves Forward
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Pictured to the left is the current 63rd Assembly District, which I represent.  The picture to the right is the proposed map for the new 63rd Assembly District. 
 
This week, state lawmakers held an extraordinary session to advance legislation that's mandated by our state constitution.  We're required to reapportion the legislative and congressional districts every ten years after the census.  Since 2000, Wisconsin has gained more than 323,000 residents.  Some areas have grown in population and some have seen reductions.  We needed to approve the new maps to reflect the changing demographics of our state.  I believe the maps that we passed are fair and follow the goal of having compact and contiguous districts.  The bills are now heading to the governor's desk for his signature. 
 
Here's a link to the state website for a look at the statewide maps.
 
Repeal of Early Release
 
Some great news to pass along to you this week.  Governor Walker signed the repeal of early release Tuesday.  The horrible legislation from former Governor Doyle allowed the release of violent felons out of our prisons and on to our streets in order to supposedly save a few bucks.  This program let nearly 600 felons out of jail before their term was fully served. I have always been extremely opposed to the early release program since it was inserted in the last biennial budget and have been very vocal about my opposition.  There are ways to save the state money but the safety of our citizens should never be compromised, and this program never actually saved any money. 
 
 
Open Government
 
There have been numerous efforts to promote transparency in government, but I think there's one item contained in the new state budget that will open the door to more honest and open government.  Soon there will be a website where you can go to see how your government spends your hard-earned tax dollars.  I authored the motion that went through the Joint Finance Committee, which I co-chair.  The legislation requires every state entity to report any expenditure of $100 or more.  This will allow you to check out the state's checkbook whenever you see fit.
 
The state is already is moving forward on implementing the new website starting with state agency expenditures on www.doa.wi.gov.  Department of Administration officials say they're looking to develop the most cost-effective way to give citizens the level of detail of state spending that they would want. 
 
You can already track federal spending on-line.  The website usaspending.gov gives you a plethora of information from a government search engine on spending to tracking trends and the latest news.
 
 
Unclaimed Property
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Did you know that millions of dollars are just waiting to be claimed in Wisconsin?  Sounds like the lottery, but actually it's the state's Unclaimed Property Database.  In fact, the state has nearly $400 million in unclaimed financial assets. If an account has had no activity by its owner for one year or more, it goes into the state's Unclaimed Property Database.  In just the first six months of the year, the Treasurer's Office returned $17 million to Wisconsin residents and others who realized they had forgotten the money and claimed it. Click on the link above to see if the state is holding any of your unclaimed property.