March 3, 2011


Hello! Thank you for reading my first e-newsletter.

It has been two busy months since I took office on January 3. The state legislature took up many issues under Governor Scott Walker’s special session on jobs. As I told you on the campaign trail, fostering an environment that allows the private sector to create jobs is my top priority.


I hit the ground running, offering my own bill for the special session. I authored Special Session Assembly Bill 8, also known as the Administrative Rules Bill that holds the Governor accountable to the voters for his agencies. Once a bill is passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor, it is then up to the agencies to administer the law. Most of these rules fit with the letter and intent of the laws, but some overreach.

One example of overreaching is NR 115, the revised Shoreland Zoning Rule, promulgated by the Department of Natural Resources. It was signed into law in 1968 and remained relatively unchanged until recently. Over the past several years, the DNR made changes that took away some local zoning control. As any Northwood’s outdoor enthusiast can tell you, finding one rule that should apply to all the shoreland in the state is difficult, to say the least. Simply trying to understand the new law has cost countless hours of taxpayer time. In turn, that confusion has stopped development in the area by businesses that are afraid they will violate the new rules. Lost development means lost jobs. We can’t afford to lose jobs.

Significant reforms to the administrative rules process are necessary to loosen the stranglehold rules such as NR 115 currently have on Wisconsin’s businesses and citizens. One way of doing this is to make elected officials take accountability for the process.

The Administrative Rules bill I authored did just that. Now, when a rule comes out of an agency, the Governor must approve the rule. We are making the Governor take responsibility for his agencies. No more passing the buck on administrative rules.

The bill makes other important changes. One is that any agency proposing a rule will have to prepare an economic analysis that takes into account the impact the rule may have on affected local governments and individuals.

There is also a lawsuit venue change. Currently, plaintiffs challenging the validity of a rule can only bring a lawsuit in Dane county. The bill permits the action to be brought in the county where the plaintiff resides.

Special Session Assembly Bill 8 is a significant first step in reforming the administrative rules process. It is a necessary piece of the puzzle to allow businesses to flourish in Wisconsin. It has passed the Assembly and the Senate. After the Assembly concurs with the Senate’s amendments, the bill will be sent to the Governor.


 Last week, I made the decision to vote for the Governor’s Budget Repair bill. It was a difficult decision, as no one likes to see cuts. However, I believe it is what is best for Wisconsin.

We are facing a $3.6 billion deficit over the next biennium. With lost jobs and revenue, the pie is shrinking. There is simply less to go around. At times like these, we all must make sacrifices. That is why I approved of state employees (including myself) contributing 5.8% of their salary to their pensions and paying roughing 12% of their health insurance costs.

I understand that in these tough times, even modest concessions can be difficult. The only other option to these concessions, however, was layoffs. I found this to be an unacceptable alternative.

The issue of collective bargaining was the source of much debate. The Budget Repair Bill limits collective bargaining for state employee unions to limited wage increases, with the option for higher wage increases by referendum. This mean state employee unions cannot bargain with benefits anymore.

Heavy cuts are coming in the new budget, and by limiting collective bargaining, we are providing the tools that local governments need to balance their budgets. Local governmental units will have much greater flexibility with their work force when this repair bill passes. I want local governments to be able to choose between employee concessions and layoffs, just as the state government will have that choice.

One local school official has run the numbers and found if this bill passes, his school district can save at least $5,000 per staff member. This school district is currently paying $21,000 per staff member in health insurance costs. If these numbers remain the same, the school district will have no choice but to lay off staff, which is not the better option.



This week the Governor published his 2011-2013 budget. It is a large piece of legislation and I am working my way through it. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau plans to have its analysis completed by the end of March, which will also be helpful.

Here’s what we know so far: there are deep cuts. We also know that this budget is not set in stone. Now that it has been introduced, it goes to the Joint Finance Committee, where is will be debated and amended. I will be watching the process closely.

As it is now, this budget delivers on promises made by many Republicans in the last election. I said I did not want to raise taxes and instead would seek to balance the budget by cutting spending. Although there are changes to be made to this budget, I will be fighting to hold true to my campaign promises.

If this budget passed right now, it would reduce Wisconsin’s structural deficit by an unprecedented 90%. It will also give greater control to local governments regarding their funding, as it gets rid of unfunded state mandates. This budget stops kicking the can down the road. And if we act on our budget crisis now, we will have to make fewer painful cuts in the future.

If you read the budget and have questions or concerns, please pass them along to our office. I am always interested in constituent feedback.



Since my election in November, I have been encouraging Governor Walker to support Lincoln Hills School in Irma, the best juvenile detention facility for boys in the state. This week, the Governor announced that Ethan Allen, another juvenile detention facility outside of Wales, will be downsized, while Lincoln Hills will expand its staff and open a school for girls.

I applaud the Governor’s support of Lincoln Hills. The people who manage and operate the facility have made it the best of its type in Wisconsin. With Ethan Allen downsizing, now is the right time for the state to invest the necessary resources to ensure that Lincoln Hills can carry out its mission.

The Governor had been considering closing Lincoln Hills due to the state budget crisis. Instead, 167 boys may be transferred from Ethan Allen after the downsizing. Additionally, Copper Lake School for girls will open. The expansion will create more than 100 jobs. Some of those jobs are being transferred from Ethan Allen while others will come from filling currently vacant positions at Lincoln Hills.

The expansion of Lincoln Hills will bring in badly needed, good jobs to the area. Local officials, including Mayors Bialecki and Lee and county board chair Lussow have done a great service to the area by lobbying for Lincoln Hills.


On a final note, my office has received an unprecedented amount of communication over the past several weeks. We have been working diligently to read and listen to all communications. All contacts with constituents have been recorded and reviewed. I have not had the opportunity to reply to each of these contacts, and I do apologize. Please know we are doing our best.


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) 266-7694