LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER



 

 

November 21, 2013

     

 










 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




 


CONTACT ME


Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

 

Web Site:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below. 
 

 

Festival of Trees and Music
Date: Now through Sun.,  November 24

Location: Milwaukee

Description: This premier event, presented by the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, will feature dozens of live performances by hundreds of popular musicians, area choral singers, and Conservatory students, surrounded by elaborately decorated holiday trees that will be raffled off when the festival closes. The gala festivities will take place at the Conservatory's historic McIntosh-Goodrich Mansion, near downtown Milwaukee. The mansion will be decorated in elegant holiday style with lights, sparkling trees, and other holiday items. Admission is a suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children. Hours for the festival will be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on  weeknights, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays. CLICK HERE or call (414) 276-5760 for more information.

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music McIntosh-Goodrich Mansion (MAP)
1584 N. Prospect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

Danceworks Performance Company: INTERSECT
Date: Now through Sun., November 24

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Danceworks Performance Company kicks off a season of collaboration by crossing paths with some of Milwaukee's most influential musicians and guest choreographers for a concert of innovative premieres. CLICK HERE or call (414) 277-8480 for more information.

Danceworks (MAP)
1661 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
Date: Now through Sun., January

Location: Milwaukee

Description: This six-week festival will spread holiday spirit with animated light displays in Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Park, and Zeidler Union Square, as well as hundreds of events. Marvel at the spectacular sights aboard the convenient Jingle Bus, a Coach U.S.A. bus that takes visitors on a 40-minute tour. For $1 per person, visitors can relish in the holiday spirit while admiring a festive panorama. The tour is narrated by Milwaukee Downtown's Public Service Ambassadors who will acquaint riders with key attractions and landmarks. Tours operate Thursdays through Sundays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from the Shops of Grand Avenue. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

 

Sheridan Park Centennial Raffle

Date: Now through Fri., February 14

Location: Cudahy

Description: Enter the Sheridan Park Centennial Raffle for your chance to win a grand prize that includes a trip to New York, a tour of Central Park, and tickets to a Broadway play. This is a fundraising effort to help improve the park. Raffle tickets will be available beginning Friday, November 8 through Friday, February 14 at Joe's "K" Ranch, the Cudahy Library, City Hall, Cudahy Historical Society, Pulaski Inn, and through members of the Chamber of Commerce and Friends of Sheridan Park. The raffle drawing will take place during a Valentine's Day dinner on February 14 at Pulaski Inn. Tickets for the dinner will be available at Pulaski Inn. Raffle ticket holders do not need to be present in order to win. Support a great cause to improve Sheridan Park and buy your raffle tickets today.

 

Pulaski Inn (MAP)

3900 E. Pulaski Avenue Cudahy, WI 53110

 

 

Les Miserables

Date: Fri., November 22 through Sun., December 29

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Centerpiece to their season, Les Miserables is the show that inspired Skylight to focus on freedom and revolution as a conversation through the entire year. Set in 19th century France in the midst of revolution, this timeless musical follows Jean Valjean on his quest for redemption after being jailed for stealing a loaf of bread, inspector Javert who relentlessly pursues parole violator Valjean, and an abundance of other compelling and entertaining characters. Skylight looks forward to producing this legendary, Tony Award-winning musical in the intimate Cabot Theatre. This epic tale of passion and sacrifice will be a phenomenal way to share live theatre with the family during this holiday season. CLICK HERE or call (414) 291-7811 for more information.

Skylight Music Theatre (MAP)
158 N. Broadway Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 


Heritage Place Tree Lighting
Date: Sat., November 23 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: Stop by this holiday event located at Heritage Park on the northwest corner of 10th and Milwaukee Avenue.  Santa will stop by for a visit and hot cocoa and cider will be available to enjoy. A music performance by South Milwaukee Public Grade Schools will begin at 4:30 p.m. with the tree lighting immediately following performance. Also, the South Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce will offer coupon booklets at the Tree Lighting containing specials from area businesses. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

 

White Christmas
Date: Tues., November 26 through Sun., December 1

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Direct from Broadway, the classic holiday movie "White Christmas" comes to the stage at last. This brand new musical shines with classic Berlin hits like "Blue Skies," "How Deep is the Ocean?" and, of course, the unforgettable title song. Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" tells the story of two buddies putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the process. Full of dancing, laughter, and some of the greatest songs ever written, Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" promises a merry and bright theatrical experience for the whole family. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-7206 for more information.

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (MAP)
929 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

A Christmas Carol
Date: Wed., November 27 through Tues., December 24

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Nineteenth century London comes to life when you and your family join Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and, of course, Ebenezer Scrooge on a fantastical journey through Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Enjoy the music, dancing, and timeless message of hope, peace, and love, as the Dickens' classic masterpiece celebrates its 38th year at the Milwaukee Rep. CLICK HERE or call (414) 224-9490 for more information.

Milwaukee Repertory Theater (MAP)
108 E. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

South Milwaukee Christmas Market

Date: Sat., November 30 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee
Description: The indoor version of the Downtown Market returns to South Milwaukee High School with more than 70 vendors selling arts, crafts, baked goods, prepared foods, and more. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
 

South Milwaukee High School (MAP)
801 15th Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172

 

 

Oak Creek's Annual Community Christmas Tree Lighting
Date: Sun., December 1 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Location: Oak Creek
Description: Watch the annual tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall at 5 p.m. You will also be able to catch a glimpse of Santa as he arrives on fire truck. After the ceremony, move into the Community Center for some cookies and milk, a coloring contest for kids, and various entertainment. CLICK HERE for more information.

Oak Creek City Hall and the Community Center (MAP)
8580 S Howell Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154

 


Lions Christmas Parade

Date: Sun., December 1 at 12:30 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Line up at 12th and Milwaukee at noon for the Christmas Parade, which begins at 12:30 p.m. The parade route starts at 12th and Milwaukee Avenues, goes west to 15th Avenue, and then south to the South Milwaukee City Hall. Call (414) 651-2221 for more information.
 


Skai Academy of the Performing Arts presents
The Snow Queen

Date: Tues., December 10 and Wed., December 11

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: After fragments from a magic mirror strike the eye and heart a young boy named Kai, causing him to see only the negative side of life, he is taken away to the icy world of the Snow Queen. Trapped under her power, he cannot leave until his best friend Jamie finds a clever way to break the spell and rescue him. Jamie embarks on a perilous journey, meeting delightful characters on the way that help her to learn the value of kindness, and the true meaning of courage and determination. Using storytelling, music, and dance, this exuberant, heart-warming production will take you on a theatrical adventure of gratitude and friendship, and warns us against cleverness for its own sake, exploring ideas of how our perception of the world is a reflection of our own ideas and beliefs. CLICK HERE for more information.

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (MAP)

901 15th Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172



 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 

While the Legislature was expected to break from session until 2014, it has since been called into a special session to convene in December. This is to allow the Legislature to vote on a bill that would delay Governor Walker's plan to kick 80,000 Wisconsinites off of BadgerCare. Continue reading for more about this and other important issues, such as the rejection of redistricting changes, beginning of deer hunting, and Native American History Month.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Wisconsin Pays More for Less Under Walker

This week, Governor Walker called for a special session to extend the timeline he originally set to kick Wisconsinites off of BadgerCare. While it is laudable that the governor sees the need to expand access to affordable health care, the fact is that people will still be getting kicked off BadgerCare. Governor Walker had the option to make sure nobody would lose their BadgerCare coverage--at no additional cost to taxpayers--for at least the next three years, but he chose to play politics with their health instead.

During the budget debate earlier this year, residents across the state asked Governor Walker to accept federal dollars to strengthen BadgerCare and implement a state-run exchange. This funding--from a pot of money that Wisconsin families already paid into with their federal tax dollars--was a win-win for Wisconsin's working families and taxpayers, and would have insured 100,000 more Wisconsinites. Strengthening BadgerCare was also poised to save Wisconsin taxpayers $120 million, funding that undoubtedly would have been welcome in efforts to provide worker training or small business grants to create jobs. Finally, saying yes to strengthening BadgerCare was estimated to create over 10,000 Wisconsin jobs. At a time when our economy remains sluggish compared to our Midwestern neighbors, an additional 10,000 jobs would be more than welcome. Unfortunately, Governor Walker again put Tea Party politics ahead of the well-being of Wisconsin families, and continues to reject these much needed funds.

Governor Walker is touting his extended timeline as a solution to a mess that he did not make. But if the governor was so confident in his distrust of the federal government to roll-out the Affordable Care Act without incident, then why did he allow them full control of Wisconsin's health exchange? If he truly cared about making sure that every person had quality and affordable health care, and he was concerned that the federal government would not be able to meet Wisconsin's needs, then he should have taken on the responsibility to implement the law himself. Instead, he reveled in watching another administration stumble just so he could say "I told you so." If there is any indication that he put politics ahead of people, this is it. If you did not trust someone to drive your car without crashing it, would you hand them the keys and say "it's all yours?"

Senate Democrats were active in calling for the governor to take the initiative by building a vehicle for a Wisconsin-based health care exchange. We live in a unique state with unique needs and assets and for that reason, building a statewide marketplace to cater directly to our residents would have provided the best coverage for Wisconsin's health care dollar. As the federal marketplace struggles to provide Wisconsinites with options, the governor cannot blame anyone but himself for denying Wisconsin families access to affordable health care. His responsibility should be to the people, not politics.

Now, the governor has proposed to spend even more Wisconsin tax dollars to cover the cost of his health care plan. Under the governor's plan, almost 80,000 Wisconsinites are now poised to be kicked off BadgerCare on March 31, 2014, rather than December 31, 2014. Placing blame anywhere but on himself, Governor Walker is refusing to right his wrong of rejecting funds to strengthen BadgerCare. He is spending Wisconsin's taxpayer dollars to fill in part of the gap rather than laying a new foundation of expanded affordable health care with federal funding.

Wisconsin can do better. We should not let Tea Party politics derail our badger spirit. While big mistakes have already been made costing Wisconsin families expense and coverage, the upcoming special session is an opportunity for Wisconsin to right the ship, better insure our people, and move Wisconsin forward. The Senate and Assembly are poised to take up this issue in special session during the month of December. I will be sure to keep you updated on the status of this proposal.

 

 

Republicans Reject Redistricting Changes

This past Thursday, Assembly Democrats used procedural rules to bring legislation, Assembly Bill 185, which would reform our broken redistricting process, to a vote. The Wisconsin State Legislature is required by Article IV, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution to redraw Senate and Assembly districts every 10 years based upon the results of the federal census to ensure districts provide representational equality for all potential voters.

Wisconsin currently uses a legislative redistricting process, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature, are voted on by the Senate and Assembly, and are then signed by the governor. If the Legislature cannot agree on a redistricting plan, as is usually the case with split houses, the Supreme Court steps in to finalize the new legislative districts. For the past 50 years, Wisconsin's elected officials have had to work together with bipartisan cooperation or leave the task of redistricting up to the courts. This was the first time in 60 years that one political party had complete control over the redistricting process, causing Wisconsin to seriously consider if its current process is best for Wisconsin's democracy.

The bill pulled to the floor for a vote by Assembly Democrats would replace the current process and instead create a nonpartisan commission to draw new legislative and congressional lines after each Census. Unfortunately, despite the maps being criticized for being drawn in secret and to gain a political advantage by newspaper editorials across the state, costing taxpayers $2.1 million to defend them in court, and growing support for a new system, Assembly Republicans rejected the bill. As a result, Republican legislators will continue to have the power to pick their voters in order to save their jobs.

Courts Condemn Secret Process for Drawing Maps
After legislators, advocates, and neighbors voiced concerns over the new legislative district maps drawn and hurriedly passed by Republicans, two former legislators and 13 others filed a legal challenge. The group raised concerns that the partisan boundaries violate the federal Voting Rights Act and the equal-protection clause of the U.S. Constitution because of the way they treat minority communities, break apart neighborhoods, and shift voters from one district to another.

In September 2011, a federal three-judge panel was assembled to hear the challenge. The panel, two of whom are Republican appointees, included J.P. Stadtmueller of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Diane P. Wood of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Robert M. Dow Jr. of the Northern District of Illinois.

Republicans introduced several motions attempting to keep the process used to craft the maps secret. Not only did the three-judge panel rule against these attempts, but they issued a scathing opinion saying the following:

"Quite frankly, the Legislature and the actions of its counsel give every appearance of flailing wildly in a desperate attempt to hide from both the court and the public the true nature of exactly what transpired in the redistricting process."

The court went on to say that the taxpayers should not have to pay for the sanctions it issued and instead ordered the Legislature's attorneys to cover the $17,000 in costs accrued from that legal challenge because they are "those ultimately responsible for the sandbagging, hide-the-ball trial tactics that continue to be employed."

The Future of Redistricting in Wisconsin
Recent events only help to confirm that our current redistricting process promotes gerrymandering, or manipulating the redrawing of districts to achieve political gain and help ensure the reelection of incumbents, by those in power. The majority of states still use a Legislative Redistricting Model, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature. However, many states are shifting to using bipartisan or nonpartisan commissions to draw up their maps in an effort to decrease partisanship as well as legal fees involved with the process. So far 21 states use some form of a Commission Redistricting Model. Below you will find a list of redistricting models currently used throughout the country:

  • Legislative: Maps are drawn by the majority parties in the Legislature. Once finalized, they are placed in a bill which must be passed by both houses and signed by the governor. This model is used in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and 27 other states.

  • Back-up Commission: Maps are drawn by the majority parties in the Legislature. If the Legislature does not finish by the statutory deadline, a bipartisan commission completes the process. This model is used in Connecticut, Texas, and three other states.

  • Advisory Commission: Maps are drawn by the advisory commission. These can be accepted or rejected by the Legislature. The Legislature must enact their own plan or the commission's, before the statutory deadline. This model is used in Maine and Vermont.

  • Bipartisan Commission: Maps are drawn by a redistricting commission comprised of bipartisan members. The plan must be approved by either the commission or the State Supreme Court. This model is used in Ohio, Washington, and 10 other states.

  • Nonpartisan Commission: Maps are drawn by a redistricting commission comprised of nonpartisan members. If the Legislature rejects all three plans proposed by the commission, the State Supreme Court makes the final decision. This model is used in Iowa.

Last session, I gave neighbors the opportunity to participate in a survey about Wisconsin's redistricting process. Overall, more than 400 people responded with their perspective. The survey found that:

  • 90% of respondents oppose Wisconsin's current redistricting system, which has the Legislature draw the state's Senate and Assembly district maps

  • 84% of respondents believe Wisconsin's current redistricting system increases partisanship and political gridlock in the state

  • 83% of respondents believe Wisconsin should switch to a bipartisan or nonpartisan commission model

No matter which party is in control, we need more accountability and transparency, not less. I will continue doing what I can to promote good government policies, by forwarding legislation aimed at keeping government actions open and accessible to the public.

 

November is Native American History Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time when we celebrate the rich past and present of North America's Indigenous People. Native Americans have a proud history in Wisconsin and in the United States as a whole. From the American Revolution to World War II to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Native Americans have fought valiantly to make our country great. Ho-chunk tribe member, Purple Heart and Medal of Honor recipient Mitchell Red Cloud, Jr. who selflessly gave his life in order to allow the rest of his company to retreat from oncoming forces in the Korean War is evidence of that.

Wisconsin's Native Americans have also played a huge part in keeping our nation financially and morally strong. Menominee tribe member and native of Keshena, Wisconsin Ada Deer served as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Assistant Secretary of the Interior. She also played a key role in protecting humanity across the world by serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Many of the qualities that make Wisconsin great would not be possible without our Native American community members.

We owe much to the Native Peoples of the United States and Wisconsin, and this debt should inform current state policies, from responsible land stewardship to comprehensive diversity protection. Unfortunately, Republican legislators have been fighting to send our state backwards with the passage of open-pit iron mining legislation, proposals that will harm Wisconsin's water quality in our lakes and rivers, and support of discriminatory race-based mascots.

 

 

Click here or on the media player above to watch the debate on race-based mascot legislation.

 

Our Native American neighbors deserve better than to have their community ignored or circumvented by legislative Republicans. That is why all Senate Democrats sent a letter to Governor Walker requesting that he reverse this course by vetoing the recently passed discriminatory race-based mascot bill. I will be sure to keep you updated on the status of our request.

 

 

Ask Chris

I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.

Q: Has the Legislature done anything recently regarding alternative energy?

A: Unfortunately, the Legislature has not taken up much this session with regards to alternative energy. However, an anti-wind energy proposal did receive a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. This bill, Senate Bill 167, would put Wisconsin's wind energy businesses in serious legal and financial jeopardy by greatly expanding the ability to sue for emotional or physical damages, compensation for loss of property value, and other expenses claimed by individuals living near wind farms. The wind energy businesses, if found guilty, would also have to cover attorney fees for both sides. Further, the fact that the wind farm was issued a legal permit by the government to operate in that location is not considered a valid defense should they be sued.

 

While claims of health issues and falling home prices are cited by the bill's authors as a need for change, they have zero factual or scientific data to back up these anecdotes. In fact, a wide range of symptoms, often referred to as "wind turbine syndrome," is not medically recognized. Additionally, research suggests that these symptoms could actually be attributed to a "nocebo effect," or the spread of anecdotal claims that cause others to believe turbines are making them ill, too.

Also, a 2013 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study analyzed 50,000 home sales in nine states in 2012 and found no evidence that wind turbines affect home prices. This study is consistent with a 2003 study that looked at home values near a wind farm in Wisconsin's Kewaunee County.

 

Essentially, this bill is seeking to halt any current or future wind energy projects for fear of being held liable for something that has not even been scientifically proven to exist. Should this bill pass, it could not only cause energy rates to increase, but it could also cost Wisconsin more high-paying jobs. I will be sure to keep you updated on the status of this bill as it moves through the Legislature.
 

 

Did You Know...?

You are probably well aware that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. But did you know that this month, on November 19, we also marked the 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address?

 

Regarded as one of the most important speeches in American history, this two minute speech set the course for a Union victory in the Civil War. Lincoln honored those who gave their lives for the Union in the battle of Gettysburg, reinforced the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and declared "a new birth of freedom." In words that still reign true today, Lincoln stated that "government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
 

Wisconsin has a rich Civil War history, with historical sites all around the state. Some include Camp Randall in Madison, where 91,000 soldiers trained for the Union army in 1861, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison, and the Civil War Museum in Kenosha. Wisconsin's participation in the Battle of Gettysburg is also well-documented, with acts of heroism that echo Lincoln's vision for a united nation. This includes the 6th Wisconsin Infantry, composed mostly of men from Fond du Lac or Milwaukee, who played a key role in the Battle of Gettysburg which took place from July 1, 1861 through July 3, 1861.

 

In fact, had it not been for the Gettysburg Address and Lincoln's efforts to maintain the Union, we may very well not be celebrating Thanksgiving this year as one nation.
 

 

Deer Hunting Season Begins This Week

Wisconsin's 162nd annual deer hunt is set to begin this weekend. A significant portion of Wisconsin's success at conservation and our strong ethic of environmental protection comes directly from our hunters and anglers. This passion for the outdoors has been a driving social and political force in safeguarding a wild Wisconsin for future generations.


A number of neighbors have asked me about recent changes to Wisconsin law that affect deer hunting in our state. As many of these changes directly affect hunting practices in Wisconsin, I would like to share them with you. Notable changes are listed below:

  • The coyote season no longer closes in the northern portion of Wisconsin during the gun deer season

  • There are now expanded opportunities for hunting and trapping in state parks

  • Baiting and feeding deer is no longer allowed in Washington County

  • Rifles will allowed statewide for hunting deer during the nine-day November gun hunt and the four-day December antlerless gun deer season (subject to local ordinances that restrict use of certain firearms)

Click here to visit the DNR's Web site for a complete list of changes.

 

While the number of hunting-related injuries and fatalities decreased last year, Wisconsin still saw seven shooting-related incidents reported, including one fatality. Therefore, I encourage all of our hunters, especially those that are new to the sport, to brush up on hunter's safety to prevent such accidents from happening in the future. The DNR recommends taking to heart four basic firearm safety tips, which include:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded

  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction

  • Be certain of your target and what is beyond it

  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot

  • Always unload your firearm while climbing into a tree stand and use a full-body harness while in the stand

  • During ascent to or descent from a tree stand, maintain three points of contact--two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.

Click here for more information about hunting safely.

 

For those interested in pursuing additional deer hunting opportunities, I encourage you to find out more about Wisconsin's late deer hunting seasons. This includes the muzzleloader season, the late archery season, the statewide antlerless hunt, and a holiday hunt in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) zones of south central Wisconsin.

 

Remember to follow the rules and stay safe as you partake in this exciting Wisconsin tradition. Happy hunting!

 

 

Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

Since 1983, the Alzheimer's Association has marked November as Alzheimer's Awareness Month to reach out to caregivers, and increase public awareness of the disease and other deteriorating forms of dementia.
 

Alzheimer's disease is a form of dementia that affects the brain's ability to recall and do basic cognitive tasks. Within the brain, the development of plaque between nerve cells hinders the brain's ability to correctly function and process information. While some plaque builds up with normal aging, Alzheimer's plaque develops more rapidly as well as in systematic patterns.
 

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in three seniors will die from Alzheimer's or related dementia complications. In the United States, more than 5 million Americans have the disease and this number could triple by 2050. Currently, Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Furthermore, the disease's mortality rate continues to rise while the rate for the other top 10 causes of death, including heart disease, breast cancer, and stroke, are declining. Alzheimer's disease is affecting our communities in Wisconsin, as well. Since 2000, the number of people in Wisconsin over the age of 65 with the disease has increased by 30%.

 

Click here if you would like more information about Alzheimer's courtesy of the Alzheimer's Association.

 

The biggest risk factor in dealing with Alzheimer's is age. Most individuals living with the disease are age 65 or older. The chance of developing the disease doubles every five years after age 65. After age 85, the increased risk rises dramatically, to nearly 50%. Also, those with a family history of the disease are more likely to get it. Further, minorities are at a greater risk since Alzheimer's appears to be linked with various types of vascular disease.
 

The symptoms and warning signs for Alzheimer's mostly involve regression of intellectual abilities. Indicators of the disease include difficulty remembering new information, increased disorientation, behavior changes, and serious memory loss as well as trouble speaking and walking.
 

Although there is no current cure for Alzheimer's disease, there have been some breakthroughs to combat the symptoms. Currently, five-FDA approved drugs help mitigate memory and thinking complications in roughly half of the people taking them. There are also many new drugs in development aimed to curtail the disease's progression. Medical researchers believe in the future there will be a variety of treatments to battle this disease. However, these medications may not necessarily stop the underlying causes of Alzheimer's.
 

While medical research continues to look for a cure, maintaining a healthy lifestyle appears to be the best bet against the disease. Eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and adequate sleep are lifestyle choices that may help brain health and prevent Alzheimer's. Also, it may be useful to do mentally challenging actives such word puzzles or reading books. Many healthy lifestyle practices have shown to lower the risk of other diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, which are often tied to Alzheimer's.

 

Click here if you would like more information about Alzheimer's and dementia resources  courtesy of the Department of Health Services.

 

 

Attention High School Juniors and Seniors: Apply to Senate Scholars Today

The Senate Scholars Program is an intensive week-long education program offered by the Wisconsin State Senate. This is a wonderful opportunity for Wisconsin youth to view the role of the Legislature in democracy first hand and gain experience in the areas of policy development, constituent relations and processing legislation. Senate Scholars will also have the chance to work closely with senators, legislative staff, and University of Wisconsin faculty. Admission to the program is highly competitive and limited to 33 academically exceptional high school juniors and seniors from across the state. Applications are due on Friday, January 3, 2014. Applicants will then be notified of their acceptance on or shortly after January 17, 2014.

2014 Senate Scholar Sessions:
February 9-14
February 16-21

March 9-14

If you have additional questions about the program or the application process, I encourage you to call Cyrus Anderson or Erin Allers by phone at (608) 266-2610 or via email at senatescholar@legis.wi.gov.

 

Click here to visit the Senate Scholar Program's Web site for more information.

 

Sign the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Petition

Exponential increases in tuition and fees coupled with challenging economic times over the years have made it nearly impossible for students to work their way through school, as was commonplace in the past. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans now hold over $1.2 trillion in student loan debt nationally.
 

Wisconsin's Student Debt Crisis
Unfortunately, Wisconsin currently ranks 10th in the nation for number of college students with debt, with 67% of graduates from four-year schools having loans to repay. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve System there are 753,000 Wisconsin residents with federal student loan debt (this does not include those with private student loan debt). Further, college tuition costs have doubled over the last 12 years and Wisconsin's student loan borrowers have an average debt of $22,400. It is estimated that Wisconsin residents paying student loans from obtaining a bachelor's degree are currently paying an average of $388 per month for about 18.7 years.

Student debt is the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, and is now the second largest consumer debt in our country, more than credit cards or auto loans. Having this money tied up in debt is a huge drain on our already struggling Wisconsin economy as the money spent on student loans could instead be spent on cars, new homes, and at local businesses in our communities.

 

Some issues related to student loans can only be dealt with at the federal level. Unfortunately, Congress' current partisan gridlock leaves little hope for real relief for student loan borrowers in the near future. We cannot wait for Congress to act. It is time for innovative, common sense solutions that will provide real relief for Wisconsin's student loan borrowers.

Therefore, I am asking that the Wisconsin State Legislature passes the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill, authored by Senator Dave Hansen and Representative Cory Mason, which would do the following:

  • Allow Wisconsin's student loan borrowers to deduct their student loan payments from their income tax, resulting in annual tax savings of approximately $172 for the typical borrower or as much as $392.

  • Enable Wisconsin's student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates, putting potentially hundreds of dollars back in their pockets and into Wisconsin's economy annually. For example, a borrower with an interest rate of 6.8% and the average University of Wisconsin graduate's loan debt of $27,000 who could lower their interest rate to 4% could save over $40 per month. That would put nearly $500 back in their family's pocket over the course of a year.

  • Provide students and parents with detailed information about student loans, the best and worst private lenders, and ensure that students receive loan counseling so that Wisconsin's student loan borrowers can make informed financial decisions about student loans.

  • Ensure data is collected and tracked about student loan debt in Wisconsin to help policymakers and the public better understand the depth and breadth of the debt crisis in our state.

As you can see, this legislation offers common sense solutions for real savings on behalf of Wisconsinites managing student loan debt. I hope legislative Republicans will see the economic value of moving forward with such a proposal. Therefore, I encourage them to join me in supporting the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill. Wisconsinites cannot afford to wait any longer for more affordable college education and decreasing their debt burden.

 

Sign the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Petition

If you would like to see the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill become law, I encourage you to sign onto the Higher Ed, Lower Debt petition. The petition states the following:

I support the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill authored by Sen. Hansen and Rep. Mason. It is a positive step forward in making higher education more affordable in Wisconsin and frees up money for Wisconsinites to spend in local communities and our state.
 

Click here if you would like join me in supporting the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill by signing on to the petition to encourage the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass the bill.


I also encourage you to tell your family, friends, and neighbors to join you in taking action. The more Wisconsinites that advocate for the bill, the more likely it is to pass.
 

 

Take the 2013-2014 Neighborhood Survey

I created a survey for the 2013-2014 Legislative Session asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly appreciated. My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door to door as possible before winter arrives. In addition, I have also made this survey available online.

Click here to download and print a copy of this survey, which you can return to my office via mail, email, or fax upon completion.

Click here to save a stamp and take the survey online.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!

 

 

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