Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District
banner photo (on the top of the page) was taken in the
Wittenberg (Western Shawano County). This is just one of
many pieces of art that make up the Walls of Wittenberg,
which is a series of murals that cover the walls
of many downtown buildings. Be sure to subscribe to the
Updates from the State Senate E-Newsletter and see what
part of the district the banner features next.
The first recorded sale of land in what is now Wisconsin
occurred in Kaukauna in 1793. Dominique DuCharme
obtained a deed for 1,282 acres from local Native
Americans. His price was two barrels of rum.
If you would like to unsubscribe from Senator Cowles'
Transparency Earns a Victory in the State Budget
budget cycle, the Governor's proposed budget includes
non-fiscal policy hidden within the thousand page
document. This is not unique to our current
administration, but instead is a frequent occurrence
from both sides of the isle. In my career as a state
Senator, I have been very vocal against non-fiscal
policy in the budget. In fact, during the last budget
cycle in 2015, I even voted against the budget, in large
part because of non-fiscal policy that was tucked away
in the budget.
budget cycle is no different. On Thursday, April 6th,
the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a
83 non-fiscal policy items in the budget. While I
may support some of these proposals, passing them in the
budget removes the ability of me and my colleagues to
judge the idea by itself, and it removes much of the
transparency for the public. But during this budget
cycle, on the same day the list of non-fiscal policy
items in the budget was released, transparency scored a
I strongly applaud the move made by the Joint Finance
Committee Co-Chairs to remove all of the non-fiscal
policy items from the state budget. I have long been an
opponent of non-fiscal policy items in the state budget.
I have said for several budgets that these items should
all be stripped out and discussed through the committee
process with public input, as separate legislation. I
commend my colleagues on the finance committee for this
move and I too, wholeheartedly, agree that the state
budget is no place for policy items. I look ahead to
working with my colleagues on a much cleaner budget.
Saying Goodbye to Mike Aubinger
I was terribly saddened to learn about the death of
Ashwaubenon Village President Mike Aubinger. The Village
of Ashwaubenon was fortunate to have Mike serve them as Village President and
as a strong community advocate. His quick wit and humor
will be missed by everyone who had the pleasure to know him. Please keep Mikeís family in your thoughts and prayers.
H.O.P.E. Agenda Moves Forward
Earlier this month, the H.O.P.E. Agenda, which was established
with the goal of tackling Wisconsinís opioid crisis,
made some forward progress. Seven on the bills were
unanimously approved by the Joint Finance Committee.
More progress came last week when the Assembly approved nine of the bills
in the H.O.P.E. Agenda with bipartisan support. The
bills are now available to be voted on by the Senate.
I am a Co-Author on several of these bills, including:
January 2017 Special Session Bill AB 2 / SB 2:
Establishing and expanding treatment and diversion
January 2017 Special Session Bill AB 7 / SB 7:
Establishing and expanding graduate training in an
addiction specialty and providing training grants
January 2017 Special Session Bill AB 9 / SB 9: Creating
an addiction medicine consultation program
January 2017 Special Session Bill AB 11 / SB 11: Creating
a mental health training program
The opioid crisis in Wisconsin is a widespread problem.
Thousands of Wisconsinites are impacted every day by
their addictions, and countless more are impacted by
their friends or family memberís dependence. The H.O.P.E.
Agenda is Wisconsinís plan to tackle this crisis by
working with afflicted persons instead punishing them.
More forward progress with these bills is still needed,
but the approval of these seven bills last week is a
For more information
on the H.O.P.E. Agenda, click on the image above.
Working to Protect Wisconsin's Children
Wisconsin prosecutors sometimes find themselves with
their hands tied in cases where children are in danger.
from the Racine Journal Times points out, in order for a
prosecutor to meet their burden of proof in felony child
neglect cases, actual physical harm on the child must be
proven. I am working once again to change
these laws and better protect Wisconsinís children.
My proposed changes, which are in development, are looking to make an adult guardian
guilty of a Class I felony if he or she knows, or should
know, that his or her action creates an unreasonable and
substantial risk of bodily harm. The burden of proof to
meet that standard would still rest on a prosecutor, and
the accused would have a chance to pled their case, but
this change would allow Wisconsinís prosecutors a
greater opportunity to protect children from dangerous
situations and harm.
Right to Try Passes Hurdle in the Assembly
you've ever known a person suffering with a life
threatening illness, you'll know that they would try
anything that could help them. Unfortunately, current
state law says they can't. In March, the Assembly
overwhelmingly passed a 2017 Assembly Bill 69 which
would allow terminally ill patients to try non-FDA
approved drugs in an effort to help find a cure or at
least alleviate some of their pain. The bill now moves
to the state Senate, and if this bill, nicknamed the
'Right to Try' bill, passes the Senate, then the only
remaining step is the Governors signature before
Wisconsin may join the 33 other states who have already
enacted similar legislation.
proud to co-sponsor the Right to Try bill, and look
forward to a vote on the Senate floor. To read the bill
or follow the bills progress, visit the
Meeting Our Future Leaders
In March, I visited the Boys
and Girls Club of Green Bay with some of my legislative
colleagues from the Assembly Committee on Urban
Revitalization. It was great to meet all these students.
On Tuesday, April 4th, a group of Education
students and faculty from St. Norbert College visited
the Capitol, and I had the pleasure of meeting them. Two
of my staff members (also in the photo below) are St.
Norbert grads, so they had fun chatting with the
students and faculty, and sharing their favorite
memories from the St. Norbert campus.
On Saturday, April 8th, I joined 500
community members for the Northeast Wisconsin Donate
Life Walk at Bay View Middle School in Howard. If you
weren't already aware, April has been proclaimed as
Donate Life Month in Wisconsin by a Senate Joint
Resolution I signed onto. My family has seen the impact
an organ donation can have. I encourage
everyone to register to be an organ donor. The process
is easy, and can even be
Budget Listening Sessions
The Joint Committee on Finance is traveling the state to
hold budget listening sessions. If you have comments
about items in the Governorís proposed budget, you may want to
attend a session to give your input.
The closest remaining session to my Senate District is in
Friday, April 21st from 10 am to 5 pm in the
Marinette High School Auditorium, but there are also two
other sessions this week in Spooner and Ellsworth.
For more information on this session or other
Learning More About Wisconsin's History
I recently read this column on an interesting time in
Wisconsinís History that we marked the anniversary of at
the end of last month. Enjoy.
This week (Monday through Friday) marks the anniversary
of a remarkable period in Wisconsin history: within five
days, from March 20th, 1856 to March 25th, 1856, three
different people served as the Governor of the State of
At the end of the infamous gubernatorial election of
1855, William Barstow was declared the election-night
winner by a mere 157 votes. Coles Bashford, his
opponent, claimed that the election was fraudulent Ė
Barstow supporters had reported to the state vote totals
from precincts that did not actually exist.
Due to delays in election reviews at the time, on
January 7th, William Barstow was inaugurated as Governor
of Wisconsin. Alternatively, the Chief Justice of the WI
Supreme Court swore Barstowís opponent Coles Bashford
into office as Governor in private ceremony.
Despite the criticisms, Barstow claimed that he would
never ďgive up the office alive." However, his opponent
Bashford brought the election results before civil
courts, eventually leading to a decision by the state
Before that decision could be officially finalized,
Barstow relented in the face of overwhelming public
opposition. On March 21st, he vacated his office,
leaving his Lt. Governor, Arthur MacArthur (an awesome
name) as the Acting Governor. On March 25th, with his
supporters behind him and the Court's final order
declaring him Governor in his hand, Coles Bashford
walked to the State Capitol, knocked on the door, and
told then-Governor MacArthur to leave peacefully, or
force would be used to remove him. MacArthur chose to
And so it was that on March 20th, William Barstow was
Governor. On March 21st, Arthur MacArthur was Governor.
And on March 25th, Coles Bashford was Governor.
This would be a much happier ending if Coles Bashford
didn't flee the state two years later, having been
caught taking bribes from the La Crosse & Milwaukee
Railroad Co. to give the company favorable treatment in
getting major land grants.
On the other hand, William Barstow went on to be
brigadier general of the Union Army in the Civil War.
Most fascinatingly, Arthur MacArthur, the least tainted
by the scandal, became a federal judge for the U.S.
District Court in Washington D.C. His son became a
general with the United States military. And his
grandson? He was General Douglas MacArthur.
Feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns you may
and be sure to connect with
Senator Robert Cowles