LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER


 

 

September 12, 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. 

 

 

Shooting Stars

Date: Fridays now through September 27 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
Location: Milwaukee

Description: "Shooting Stars" will reveal the mystery behind the dazzling light streaks that shoot across the night sky. This show will explain what shooting stars or meteors really are and talk about the fireball that crashed into Russian soil last February. Guests will be able to learn how and when to see shooting stars. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

UWM Planetarium (MAP)

1900 East Kenwood Blvd.

Milwaukee, WI 53211

 


Oktoberfest Milwaukee
Date: Fridays and Saturdays now through Sat., September 28 

Location: Glendale

Description: The party lasts all month at Old Heidelberg Park. Grab your stein and head over for music, dancing, and great food. There is a big selection of German beers, games for the kids, and parking is free. Do not miss Milwaukee's original and most authentic Oktoberfest. In fact it is one of the best in the country. This event is open on Fridays from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. and Saturdays from 3 p.m. until Midnight. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Heidelberg Park (MAP)

700 W. Lexington Blvd. Glendale, Wisconsin 53217


 

Oktoberfest
Date: Fri., September 20 and Sat., September 21

Location: Milwaukee

Description: The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and Saz's Hospitality Group will be hosting a two-day Oktoberfest celebration on Marcus Center grounds. This event is free and open to the public. It features authentic German beer, food, live music, and the Glockenspiel, a life-size replica of a cuckoo clock. Delectable food and drink will be available for purchase from Saz's Hospitality Group, which will feature a full bar and a concessions menu, including Saz�s Friday night Fish Fry and a Saturday Spanferkel (pig roast). The grounds will be open on Friday, September 20 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, September 21 from Noon to 10 p.m. CLICK HERE for more information, including the line-up of performers.

 

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

 

10th Annual Bay View Bash
Date: Sat., September 21 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Bay View
Description: Milwaukee's largest all-volunteer street festival has come to be a fall tradition in Bay View. Enjoy tasty treats, beautiful art, music on several stages, crafts, and community organizations. I will also have a table set up most of the day in order to make myself available to neighbors for comments, questions, and conversation. This event will take place on Kinnickinnic Avenue between Potter and Clement. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

 

Beach Walk

Date: Sat., September 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: Stroll an illuminated path along the beach of beautiful Lake Michigan. Gaze at the stars with stargazer Greg Gonia and his telescopes. S'mores will be available for purchase at the campfire. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Mill Pond & Oak Creek Watercourse, Inc.
CLICK HERE or call Nancy at (414) 571-1191 for more information.

 

Grant Park Beach (MAP)

100 E. Hawthorne Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172




 

 

 

Dear Friend,

 

This week, we take time out to remember the tragedy that befell our nation 12 years ago on September 11. Continue reading for more information about this and other important issues including the $500,000 sporting grant revocation, Making College Affordable Tour, and release of premium estimates on the health care exchange.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Continuing to Remember 9/11

This week, our nation recognized the 12-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On Wednesday morning, I attended a 9/11 remembrance ceremony along with the mayor, county executive, veterans, and many other dignitaries in the Veterans Courtyard. We should all take a moment to remember the lives lost and also recall the days afterward and how our country stood united in our resolve to not be intimidated by these acts of destruction and cowardice.

Where Were You on 9/11?

I was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee then, and remember hearing the news from a friend when I arrived to campus that morning. Like so many across our nation, we watched in horror as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.

September 11, 2001, took too many U.S. lives and changed all of us. The grief of 9/11 brought us closer together as a nation and in each of our communities. Before this tragedy, I had not been interested in politics or paid much attention to how my community was affected by state and national policies. It was only afterward that I became more aware and decided to get involved. I, along with many others, committed to making a better community and ensuring our greatest days as a country remained ahead. Do you remember where you were on 9/11 and how that day in history affected your life's path?

Rebuilding in Progress

Our nation is still in the process of rebuilding the landmark World Trade Center buildings that lay in ruins 11 years ago. The project aims to combine modern, safe, and sustainable commercial space, convenient transportation, and a destination cultural center. The National September 11 Memorial Museum will also be housed in the World Trade Center bearing solemn witness to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993. The Museum will honor the nearly 3,000 victims of these attacks and all those who risked their lives to save others. It will further recognize the thousands who survived and all who demonstrated extraordinary compassion in the aftermath. The museum is expected to open in 2014 prior to the next 9/11 anniversary.

 

Click here for more information about the National September 11 Memorial Museum.


Click here for more information about the World Trade Center reconstruction project.
 

 

$500,000 Sweetheart Deal Revoked

When legislators serving on the Joint Committee on Finance unanimously supported a provision in the 2013-2015 Budget that would create a $500,000 biennial sporting heritage grant they thought they were supporting Wisconsin's valued hunting and angling tradition. Little did they know that this carefully drawn provision was written in such a way that only one group would be able to apply. It just so happens that this one group, United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Foundation Inc., has ties to the Republican Assembly Majority Leader, who has since left office to take a political appointment. These recent revelations have left the public and legislators upset that this great opportunity for sporting groups now has the appearance of being nothing more than a sweetheart deal for a political supporter.
 

The purpose of the grant was to provide funds to a conservation or sporting group allowing them to reach out to Wisconsin's youth to increase their interest in hunting and angling. Unfortunately, the language prevented most established groups, such as the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Pheasants Forever, National Wild Turkey Federation, and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, from applying for the grant. This left only United Sportsmen able to apply with zero competition.
 

Although after closer examination, it appears that even the sole qualifying sporting group, may not have qualified after all. In fact, here are some of the problems with the group awarded the grant that have since become public:

  • Lied, either intentionally or unintentionally, about their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status having been approved when that was not the case, a requirement to receive the grant.

  • Have no history of doing the type of training for which the grant provides funding.

  • Admitted that the funds would almost solely fund staff salaries and consultants.

  • Their president was cited, convicted, and fined for a hunting violation. The violation involves state fish and game law that the group would have been receiving taxpayer money to teach to new hunters and anglers as part of the grant.

Fortunately, the concerns of taxpayers, legislators, and other sporting groups were heeded when the governor surrendered to public pressure and canceled the controversial grant to United Sportsmen. This action was followed up with a letter from the Department of Natural Resources informing the group of their cancelled grant. We have yet to hear what will happen to the $500,000 in taxpayer dollars following the cancellation. It is my hope that the grant process will be reopened and modified in light of recent events. I will be sure to keep you updated on this important issue.
 

 

Health Care Premium Numbers...Cooked?

A recently released study from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation has found that premium prices for the Health Insurance Marketplace are coming in below initial estimates, which is a positive and reassuring sign for consumers. The study looked at 17 states and the District of Columbia and found that 15 of these 18 regions had average premium prices below what was previously projected. This is also leading most to assume that the remaining states, which have yet to provide their premium numbers, will likely follow suit offering more affordable options than predicted, and in-turn prove the "rate shock" political scare tactic to be invalid.

 

Click here to visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's Web site for more information about the study.

 

While Wisconsin's Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) was poised to release its rates around the same time as these other states, they unnecessarily delayed the release by weeks. This has left Wisconsinites, including myself, concerned that the governor--who has been outspoken in his opposition of the Affordable Care Act even rejecting federal dollars to create jobs and cover thousands--and his OCI appointees delayed the release of important information in order to work on manipulating the numbers to scare people into thinking that their rates will go up.

 

 

In fact, the numbers they released did just that. These cooked up numbers showed an average premium increase in eight large cities for certain populations. However, what the governor and OCI are forgetting to tell you is that these estimates are based on the current individual insurance market, which only makes up 3%of the total insurance market in Wisconsin. It differs greatly from the makeup of the pool of individuals who will be covered by the exchange. These rates also have no relationship to the actual rates insurers will charge for plans on the exchange. Further, these rates do not take into account federal subsidies, which will reduce rates for as many as half of those buying insurance online. Through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, everyone who is uninsured in Wisconsin, currently 10% of the population, will be provided access to quality affordable coverage, rather than just those healthy enough to be considered a good risk for insurance companies.
 

Click here if you have question about the exchange or want to learn more about the plans for which you might qualify.

 

Visiting a College Near You

With university and colleges resuming classes, my colleagues and I thought it would be the perfect time to visit various higher education institutions this September to discuss important issues facing Wisconsin's next generation of workers. This will include addressing the cost of higher education, access to affordable health care, and Wisconsin's prospects for economic recovery. We want to hear from students, parents, recent graduates, and educators as they have been affected most by the astronomical costs of higher education.

Students striving to better themselves through higher education are facing a number of obstacles in today's troubled economy. We simply want to ensure that students, their parents, and educators have an opportunity to voice their comments and concerns to local legislators so we can work together on moving Wisconsin forward for all.
 

I have already visited the UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee campuses. Details for remaining events that are a part of the Making College Affordable Tour are provided below. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions regarding these events.

 

September 16 at 12:30 p.m.

UW-Marathon County Terrace Room

518 S. 7th Avenue

Wausau, WI 54401

September 23 at Noon

UW-Green Bay Student Union, Phoenix Room A

420 Nicolet Drive
Green Bay, WI 54311

 

September 23 at 2:30 p.m.

Harmony Cafe by Lawrence University

233 E. College Avenue

Appleton, Wisconsin 54911
 

September 24 at 11: 30 a.m.

UW-Eau Claire Davies Student Center, Council Oak Room

105 Garfield Avenue

Eau Claire, WI 54702
 

September 25

UW-Platteville

*Time and location TBD

 

September 26 at Noon

UW-La Crosse Cartwright Center, Port O' Call Room

1725 State Street

La Crosse, WI 54601

 

If you do not have time to attend one of the Make College Affordable Tour stops, feel free to share your thoughts by taking my brief online survey about higher education affordability. I created this survey to learn more about you and your perspective. Please take the time to fill it out. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Click here to take the 2013 Higher Education Affordability Survey.

 

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: I've heard there is a bill out there seeking to close public lands is that true? If so, which areas would be affected?

A: In Wisconsin, we currently have a managed forest law in place. This generous tax relief program was created in 1985 to encourage timber production and provide more recreation space for outdoor enthusiasts. Under the program, land owners receive a tax break if they agree to follow a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved forest management plan and keep the property open to the public. There are approximately 30,000 Wisconsin landowners who participate in the program and play by the rules.

 

Recently, Republican senators introduced legislation that would allow the open-pit iron mining company drilling in Northern Wisconsin to be exempted from some requirements of this program. Under the bill, property owners be allowed to close public access to up to 4,000 acres of managed forest land indefinitely. This sweetheart deal is excessive, unjustified, and unfair not only to taxpayers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts, but also to the other 30,000 Wisconsin landowners participating in the managed forest program. It also treads on our stewardship tradition and shared Wisconsin values.

 

Forty acres might be modest but 4,000 acres by any rationale and reasonable standard is excessive. Therefore, in contrast to this partisan proposal, Senators Cullen, Jauch, and Schultz have introduced an alternative that would provide additional protections to mine workers, while still allowing the public to utilize these lands. This bipartisan solution would create a defensible public safety zone around bulk sampling and drilling locations to protect workers and the public. It would require football field separation from the five bulk sampling sites and a 50-foot safety zone away from a drill site. If explosives would be used a separate safety zone could be determined by the permitting agencies.

 

It is important to remember that this company is no better nor is it more important than the other 30,000 property owners who respect and follow the law, as well as Wisconsinites who use the land. Therefore, I encourage the adoption of this bipartisan solution, which is a win-win for both community members and the company, rather than just the mining company alone.
 

 

Did You Know...?

You may know that as Wisconsinites we commonly refer to drinking fountains as bubblers, but did you know that our colloquialism has even reached Portland, Oregon?

 

The city of Portland currently boasts 52 Benson Bubblers, which have become iconic drinking fountains that span the city limits. The founder of these creations, Simon Benson, was a business owner and philanthropist that brought this idea with him when he moved from Wisconsin to Portland. The drinking water in these routinely cleaned bubblers is fresh and bubbles, or flows, continuously from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily unless the weather is excessively cold or windy.
 

 

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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