Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District
banner photo on the top of this E-Newsletter was taken
in the Navarino Wildlife Area earlier this Spring.
County produces more sauerkraut than any other county in
the United States.
It's June Dairy Month!
In America's Dairyland, we
don't just celebrate National Dairy Month in June; we
celebrate year-round! Dairy in Wisconsin is a larger
portion of our economy than citrus in Florida or
potatoes in Idaho.
In Northeast Wisconsin, dairy farms make up the largest
portion of our enormous agriculture industry. I've
pulled together some facts to illustrate just how
important the dairy industry and agriculture in general
are to the four counties I represent.
For June Dairy Month, I volunteered in the serving line
Breakfast on the Farm last Sunday. The event was held
at Voight Acres Farm in Shiocton. Check out
this story from WLUK on the breakfast.
Progress Seen on Two Bills I've Authored
On May 16th, I testified before the Assembly
Committee on Environment and Forestry on two bills. The
first was Assembly Bill 179, which is designed to
better utilize brownfield sites with the goal of
reducing or even eliminating blight in our communities.
Brownfield sites are areas that are contaminated from a
current or previous occupant, but arenít an area of
concern for environmental cleanup and donít pose any
imminent health or safety risks. An example of a
possible brownfield would be an out-of-business factory
areas often appear abandoned and distraught, and not
only are a waste of valuable land, but may lower
surrounding property values. Redeveloping brownfields
helps strengthen our economy, and this bill helps to
alleviate hurdles that are preventing more sites from
being redeveloped. This bill stems from recommendations
by the DNRís Brownfields Study Group, and is supported
by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities and Wisconsin
Also on May 16th, I testified in the Assembly
Committee regarding Assembly Bill 226, which provides
homeowners greater assistance in replacing contaminated
wells or failing septic tanks. I testified on the Senate
companion to this bill on June 6th before
the Senate Natural Resources
Committee, which I chair. The next day, the bill was
approved unanimously during an executive session, and
the Assembly Committee is scheduled to vote on this bill
on Wednesday, June 14th. A
story from last week detailed how nearly 30% of
wells in Kewaunee County are polluted by human waste. If
this bill is passed, it will help homeowners replace one
of the sources of groundwater contamination these
residents regularly face. I hope to see
continued progress on both of these pieces of common-sense
Enacting Fiscal Prudence on State Leases
One of my
responsibilities as a state Senator is to find financial
savings in government. In April, State Treasurer
Matt Adamczyk discussed potential government waste in
this article stating that a deal from 2010 could
cost taxpayers up to $45 million more compared to a
newly constructed state building. Our government
has little accountability in the leasing process, and
this potential for waste is the reason I am a co-author
Senate Bill 145.
This bill would require the Department of Administration
to conduct a cost-benefit analysis comparing the
proposed lease to the purchase of a suitable space. It
also requires that it must evaluate comparable lease
options to ensure that the proposed lease rates do not
exceed rates on comparable properties. In addition, if a
proposed lease involves an annual rent of more than
$500,000, the Department must get approval from the
Joint Finance Committee.
On Tuesday, June 6th, the Senate Committee on
Government Operations, Technology and Consumer
Protection voted unanimously to recommend the billís
passage. While this bill may seem complex or even
boring, it is an important step towards strengthening
fiscal prudence in our bureaucracy.
Audit of the Umemployment Reserve Fund Released
Last week, the Legislative Audit Bureau released their
financial review of the
Unemployment Reserve Fund, which is managed by the
Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The Fund
became the first such program in the United States when
it was created in 1932 by the state legislature.
Co-Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, I
am pleased to see the fiscal stability the
audit has shown. Since June 2014, the fund has increased
its net position by $905 million, totaling $1.2 billion
as of June 30, 2016. This stability is the result of the
historically low unemployment rates Wisconsin is
experiencing, and will assist in lowering the tax rate
on businesses during this calendar year.
As a result of the increased net position of the Fund,
DWD has not had to borrow from the federal government
for this Fund since July 2014. I'm glad to see this
progress in the Fund, and I hope the reserves continue
to grow to ensure long-term viability. To read the audit,
Audit Bureau's website.
Legislative Tool to Combat Skimmers Moves
On June 1st, the Assembly Committee on
Criminal Justice and Public Safety voted to recommend
the passage of Assembly Bill 196 which helps to
combat credit card skimmers in Wisconsin. This
compliments the unanimous decision of the Senate
Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety during a
meeting on May 12, 2017 to recommend the passage of the
Senate companion (SB 133).
working with numerous stakeholders,
including law enforcement, prosecutors, and banks and gas
station owners, we created a solution to one
of the largest threats to consumers.
With the help of my Assembly Co-Author Representative
Summerfield (R-Bloomer), our colleagues in both houses of the
Legislature recognized the problem and the ability of
this bill to address the problem. Over 25 communities
and hundreds of consumers have already been harmed by a
credit card skimmer on a gas pump or ATM. We must give
law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to
fight against identity thieves. I hope that leadership
in both houses will schedule Senate Bill 133 and
Assembly Bill 196 for a vote on the floor.
Thanks for Having Me
It has been a busy end of May and start of June between
my time in Madison and the district. Over the past few
weeks, I've attended dozens of functions and
met hundreds of constituents. Here is a highlight of
some of the events I've recently attended:
On My 25th, the Green
Bay Packers held a meeting of their Mentor
which is designed for experienced leaders in
business and industry to share their expertise with the leaders of new
budding companies. You can
read more about this program on the
Green Bay Press-Gazette's website.
For Memorial Day, I
posted a list of events throughout the district on
my website and on social media. I personally
attended a few events, including a chapter meeting
of the Disabled American Veterans the week before
Memorial Day, Heritage Hill's A Soldiers Remembrance
and Celebrate De Pere's Memorial Day Ceremony. Thank you to all veterans and families
of veterans, especially those who have sacrificed in
defending our freedom.
On June 8th, I attended
the 28th Annual Greater Green Bay Chamber of
Commerce Business Recognition Luncheon. From small
to large, businesses throughout Northeast Wisconsin
are accomplishing great things, and are contributing
to the betterment of the community through employment, taxes, and
charitable work. Read more about that event by
How Water Has Shaped Wisconsin Activity Guide
If your child is home for summer, you can
keep them busy with this educational student activity
guide from the Historical Society on how water has
shaped Wisconsin. In this guide, students will have the
opportunity to learn about our major waterways, the basics of the water cycle, how water was pivotal in historical travel, and more! To
access the guide, click on
Congratulations to New Graduates!
2nd Senate District became smarter over the past few
weeks with hundreds of local students graduating from
high school or college. Congratulations to everyone who
graduated, and best of luck in your future endeavors!
Thanks for Reading!
Feel free to
contact my office with any questions or concerns you may
and be sure
website and connect with me on
Senator Robert Cowles