Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

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 A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

On Friday, September 20th, millions took to the streets in what was likely the largest climate rally ever.

Young people, including Greta Thunberg and Isra Hirsi and thousands here in Wisconsin, condemned the world's inaction on climate change and demanded action - now: "Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis."


I hear you loud and clear, Greta. We cannot afford to wait, and I share your vision for halting climate change. From getting the lead out of our water to celebrating National Clean Energy Week by committing Wisconsin to a clean energy future, this Larson Report will focus on the efforts to bring our state into a sustainable energy future and how we can work toward policies that create jobs and protect our environment.

In Service, 

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Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes: Moving Wisconsin into a Sustainable Energy Future
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Climate Strike in Madison, 9/19/2019

In August, Governor Evers signed an Executive Order for the Department of Administration to create the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy,  which will work with state agencies and utilities to achieve carbon-free energy within the state by 2050. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is overseeing the effort. This was first proposed in Gov. Evers' budget, but was stripped out by the Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee.

Climate change is the driving force behind an increasing number of severe weather events across the globe and right here in Wisconsin in recent years, including historic flooding. According to the National Resource Defense Counsel, "renewable energy is one of the most effective tools we have in the fight against climate change."


Until recent Gubernatorial administrations, Wisconsin's tradition of conservation was strongly reflected in our policies and laws. With the last election, we renewed our commitment to this tradition and ethic:  


I strongly support their efforts. Wisconsin should be leading in this area, but instead we are behind. 
Minnesota, for example, has 5x more wind power and 16x more solar than Wisconsin. The City of Milwaukee has also committed to have net zero gas emissions by 2050 and aims to reduce racial and income inequality by creating a new market of green jobs. It's time the state steps up to do our part. 


Moving Wisconsin to a sustainable energy future is a win-win to protect the environment and improve our economic security, supporting 76,000 local jobs. Closing fossil fuel operations and replacing them with renewable energy could save $78 billion here in the U.S.

I've proudly co-sponsored LRB 4404/1, which requires the creation of a joint task force on clean and renewable energy and will further the efforts being made by Milwaukee and our Governor and Lt. Governor in the legislature.


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Photo from Gov. Evers' Facebook page

Wisconsin's Lead Crisis 

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Milwaukee's rate of lead poisoning is four times higher than Flint's and 4,348 Wisconsin children were found to be lead poisoned in 2016.  It affects a child in every county in our state. Lead poisoning creates behavior problems, brain damage, kidney damage, muscle and joint pain, and more. Our children deserve better than the inaction by the Republican leaders in the legislature, who have refused to substantially address this environment and health crisis.


In the words of Greta Thunberg, "You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes." I will not stand by and let our children's future be stolen from them.


Last session, under the previous administration, we passed Senate Bill 48, a proposal to help fund lead remediation. While helpful, this law isn't up to the urgent need we face. Gov. Evers declared 2019 the "Year of Clean Water" and his proposed budget would have invested $52 million to address lead in water; the budget Republicans allowed to be passed cut that number down to $14.2 million. In July, Gov. Evers created a new position within the Department of Health Services to coordinate the state's efforts in combating lead in drinking water.

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I've co-sponsored LRB-0892/1 and LRB-1502. LRB-0892/1 would remove some of the barriers property owners face by creating a non-refundable income tax credit to eliminate a lead hazard in a dwelling.  LRB-1502 would require child care center license seekers and those seeking child care provider certifications to test drinking water for lead contamination.

In addition, I've proudly signed onto the "Supporting Children's Health by Ousting Outdated Lead" or SCHOOL Acts, which includes two bills. The first, LRB19-3539, addresses lead in school drinking water by requiring testing and, if necessary, requiring that contaminated water sources be taken offline and replaced with clean water sources while incentivizing long-term remediation by buying down the interest rate of BCPL loans.  The second bill, LRB19-3566, tackles lead in the drinking water of daycares, group homes, and summer camps by requiring testing as a component of licensure.

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Call the legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472 and ask for your state representatives. Tell them you support taking action on climate change - now. 

Here is the current legislation I have sponsored to protect our environment:

SB253, Wisconsin Renewable Energy Development Authority: similar to the state’s housing authority, this would provide energy-related loans and grants, as well as implementing other energy-related programs. 

AB409 and its companion SB370Tax Credit to Get the Lead Out: creates a nonrefundable tax credit for costs paid to eliminate exposure to a lead hazard in a dwelling.

SB423Loans to Get the Lead Out: provides loans for lead remediation in schools and testing of potable water source sin certain schools.

SB424, Testing to Get the Lead Out: requires testing for lead in drinking water in recreational and educational camps and child care.

AB399Bonding to Get the Lead Out: granting authority for bonding of lead service line replacement.

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