Madison Office: 122 South, State Capitol  Phone: (608) 266-7745  E-mail: Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov
12/30/2011
DOR- website available for property tax information
For those of you who have questions regarding your recently received property tax bill, the Department of Revenue’s website has a section exclusively for property taxes.  This section has useful information about tax bills, assessment and equalization, and property tax credits as well as available assistance in response to your concerns.  Please visit http://www.revenue.wi.gov/propertytax/ for more information.
12/29/2011
Executive Order expands child abuse reporting requirements
Governor Walker signed Executive Order #54, which extends the state’s mandatory reporting requirements on child abuse and neglect to employees of the University System.  This will help to strengthen Wisconsin’s laws protecting children, which require the reporting of any witnessed or suspected child abuse to the police.  University System employees will now be added to the list of mandatory reporters which includes health practitioners, social workers, law enforcement officers, child care providers, counselors, and school teachers and staff members.
12/28/2011
Funding for sexual assault victims protected
The Department of Administration was recently directed to keep funding from the Sexual Assault Victims Surcharge (SAVS), as well as the Child Pornography Surcharge, excluded from the budget lapse plans.  By securing funding, this will help to continue to support victims of sexual assault and protect children from sexual predators through Department of Justice and Department of Corrections programs.
12/23/2011
DATCP - tips on making donations
The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) warns consumers to be wary when making donations this holiday season, especially if contacted over the phone or internet.
 
Be sure to ask the caller about the organization, especially what their purpose and services are and if your donation is tax-deductible and if you’ll receive a receipt.  A legitimate charity or organization will be able to mail you information or send you to a website. 
 
Here are some consumer tips from DATCP:
 
·         Do not respond to unsolicited e-mails or texts, and do not give personal information to someone who contacts you via e-mail or text.
·         Donate to well-known charities that are trusted and established. Only make a donation when you initiate contact and know who you are talking to.
·         Do not feel pressured to make an immediate decision over the phone.
·         When online, do not click on pop-ups or links asking for donations.  These often lead to a fraudulent site.
·         Never write out a check or give cash to an individual solicitor. Only write checks out to the organization name or use a credit card.
·         Confirm the organization soliciting donations in Wisconsin is registered with the Department of Safety and Professional Services. These organizations are required to register, and consumers can search for them online at dsps.wi.gov.
Visit the Bureau of Consumer Protection’s website for more information or to file a consumer complaint at datcp.wisconsin.gov or by email at datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call toll free at 1-800-422-7128.
12/22/2011
Give the gift that saves lives
The holiday season is a time that encourages service and giving back to your community and others.  As you start preparing gifts for your friends and loved ones, remember that one of the most important gifts is the act of giving blood.  By volunteering your time to give blood, you can save at least 3 lives in less than an hour. 
 
Blood donors are needed all year long but this is a great time to embrace the spirit and season of giving by donating blood.  To learn about blood donation opportunities near you, visit www.redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
12/20/2011
Deadline coming up for Alice in Dairyland Applications
Alice in Dairyland has been the state’s agricultural ambassador for over sixty years.  The 65th Alice in Dairyland will be chosen in May 2012.  However, in order to be considered for this role, application materials must be submitted to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 13, 2012. 
 
For more information about Alice in Dairyland or the application, go online to datcp.wi.gov/Business/Alice_in_Dairyland.  You may also contact Nicole Breunig, the Alice in Dairyland Program Manager, at nicole.breunig@wisconsin.gov or 608-224-5080. 
12/19/2011
New law increases penalties for unlicensed drivers who badly injure or kill
Legislation was recently signed into law that will increase penalties for unlicensed drivers found guilty of causing great bodily harm or the death of another person.  This applies to drivers who knowingly drive despite the fact that their license has been suspended or revoked. 
 
Under this law, the maximum penalty for someone who causes great bodily harm to another while driving without a license is a Class I Felony, or a $10,000 fine and up to three and a half years in prison.  If someone causes the death of another person while driving without a license, this new law makes it a Class H Felony or a $10,000 fine and up to 6 years in prison.
12/15/2011
DHS seeks extension of federal waiver in effort to maintain SeniorCare
The Department of Health Services (DHS) has requested an extension of the federal waiver for Wisconsin's SeniorCare program.  The waiver is set to expire on December 31st, 2012.
 
The waiver extension would allow Wisconsin to continue the SeniorCare program, which is a prescription drug assistance program that is more comprehensive and cost effective coverage than Medicare Part D.  SeniorCare has a $30 annual enrollment fee with copayments ranging from $5 to $15 with no gaps in coverage. 
 
SeniorCare saves taxpayer money and is less than half the cost of the Medicaid Part D program.  According to DHS, in 2010 the average annual federal cost per SeniorCare member was $509 while individuals enrolled in Medicaid Part D have an average cost of $1,484.
 
Senator Harsdorf has joined several of her legislative colleagues in signing onto a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services urging their extension of the federal waiver. 
12/14/2011
DNR ice fishing site
Ice fishing season is fast approaching!  If you like to ice fish, the Department of Natural Resources has a site up with safety tips, regulation information and ice fishing stories and reports.  Please visit http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/icefishing/ and have a great ice fishing season!
12/13/2011
Assistance Fraud and Abuse Hotline now available
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) recently released a new public assistance fraud hotline.  If you suspect fraudulent activity in public assistance programs, please call the toll-free Fraud Hotline at 1-877-865-3432.  This will help to prevent waste, fraud and abuse and ensure that programs continue to be available for those in need.  The OIG investigates fraud tips for any type of public resources abuses, such as:
 
-Billing Medicaid for services/equipment not provided
-Filing a false application for a DHS-funded assistance program like Medicaid, BadgerCare Plus, WIC or FoodShare
-Trafficking of FoodShare benefits
-Crime/misconduct/mismanagement by a DHS employee/official or contractor
12/9/2011
Governor requests federal disaster assistance for soybean cop losses
Governor Walker has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to designate Burnett and Polk counties as disaster areas due to soybean crop losses as a result of cold and wet weather in September.   After a wet spring that delayed soybean planting by two to three weeks, the growing season ended prematurely after a killing frost hit in mid-September.  As much as 36 percent of the soybean crop was lost.
 
If USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack declares the disaster areas, farmers there and in adjacent counties would be eligible to receive low-interest loans to help them recover from the losses.
12/8/2011
Governor signed SB 28 into law
On Tuesday the Governor was in Wausau to sign Senate Bill 28 (SB 28) into law, which will require the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to include representation from across the state.  This bill will ensure that every Congressional district in Wisconsin would have at least one member on the Board.  SB 28 was co-authored by Senator Harsdorf and Representative Erik Severson.
12/6/2011
PSC winter energy saving tips
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has a list of energy saving tips for this winter.  The PSC wants to remind Wisconsin citizens to let natural sunlight heat your home or office, especially for rooms facing the west and south and to close the drapes and shades in the evening to prevent the heat from escaping.  They also suggest using plastic wind coverings to reduce drafts, closing fireplace dampers when not in use, closing doors and shutting off registers in rooms that aren’t being used as well as caulking and sealing leaky window and door frames.
 
For the complete list of tips, visit http://psc.wi.gov/conservation/winterEnergyTips.htm.
12/2/2011
Beware of health care scam targeting seniors
More senior citizens in northwest Wisconsin are notifying the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) about calls from scammers who pose as a Medicare or insurance company representative.  The scammer requests personal information like bank account numbers or Social Security numbers.  The DATCP offers five consumer tips to protect senior citizens:
 
-Be suspicious of anyone contacting you by phone, mail, or in person saying they are from Medicare. Call Medicare using the number on the back of your card to verify if the representative is legitimate.
 
-If someone says they represent Medicare and asks to verify your Social Security number, bank account number, address, or doctor, do not provide or confirm it. Never provide such information unless you made the initial contact and know whom you are dealing with.
 
-If someone calls asking for your bank account number to deposit a prescription drug refund because you have reached your threshold, do not provide it. Medicare would already have the information needed to send the check.
 
-Know what insurance forms you are signing and what charges you are authorizing. Keep accurate records, and know what services you are being charged for.
 
-Do not carry your Medicare or Medicaid card with you unless you need it for an appointment or trip to the pharmacy. Shred sensitive documents with Medicare or health insurance information after they are no longer useful.
 
 
Please contact the DATCP for more information or if you believe this scam has happened to you.  Their toll-free number is 1-800-422-7128 or you can email datcphotline@wisconsin.gov.
12/1/2011
Capital Christmas Tree Ceremonies Announced
On Friday December 2nd, the Governor will light the Capitol Christmas Tree and dedicate it to Wisconsin Veterans.  The tree will be lit and dedicated at 8:15 with members from all branches of military services and veterans from several conflicts in attendance.  Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Scocos and Major General Dunbar will also be present to dedicate the tree.
 
At noon, the Gift of the Tree Celebration will begin with the High School Chamber Choir from the School District of Maple.  They will be accompanied by Senator Bob Jauch and Representative Nick Milroy.  Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp will give a history of the 36-foot balsam fir, which is a gift to the people of Wisconsin from the Brule River State Forest in northwest Wisconsin.  Secretary Stepp will also give a brief overview of forestry in Wisconsin.
12/1/2011
December 1st Listening Sessions to be Rescheduled
​Senator Harsdorf will be rescheduling her listening sessions set for Thursday, December 1st due to a family emergency.  We apologize for the inconvenience.  Please contact our office at 1-800-862-1092 with any questions. 
11/30/2011
Online DOR services
The Department of Revenue provides many of their forms, instructions and guidelines online.  Property owners can go to the DOR’s website for information about property taxes, assessment and appeals processes, and other useful tips.  The DOR’s Guide for Property Owners can be found at http://www.revenue.wi.gov/pubs/slf/pb060.pdf.
 
Individuals, business owners or local governments may also go online to access many of the DOR tax and credit forms.  For those resources, visit http://www.revenue.wi.gov/html/formpub.html . 
11/28/2011
Executive Residence holiday tour schedule released
The Governor’s office recently announced the Executive Residence 2011 holiday tour schedule.  These tours will provide visitors with a history of the residence as well as a view of the first floor rooms.  Governor Walker and First Lady Tonette Walker have partnered with Second Harvest Foodbank and all participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate.  The Second Harvest Foodbank works on behalf of food pantries and several other hunger-relief programs in 16 southwestern counties. 
 
Please take the time to visit and tour the Executive Residence if you’re down in Madison during one of the tour dates.  Admission is free and groups of 20 must make a reservation by calling 608-246-5501 or emailing alicia.bork@wisconsin.gov.  The tour dates and times are below:
 
2011 Holiday Tour Schedule
 
Wednesday, December 7:  Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 8:  Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 10:  Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Wednesday, December 14:  Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Thursday, December 15:  Noon - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, December 17:  Noon - 2:00 p.m.
11/22/2011
Wisconsin to be represented in the White House
A Wisconsin tree from Schroeder’s Forevergreens in Neshkoro, WI will be the official White House Christmas Tree.  It was harvested on Thursday, November 17th and will be presented to First Lady Michelle Obama on November 25th.  It will be displayed in the White House Blue Room for the holiday season. 
 
This is a great honor for Wisconsin, where our state Christmas tree growers produce over 1.8 million trees each year on 36,000 acres.  Be sure to visit the tree if you find yourself in Washington D.C. this holiday season!
11/21/2011
More DMV services available online
The DMV is continuing to add online services to save customers time and increase flexibility.  Interest in online DMV services is growing and in response, DMV recently added several additional online services including:
 
  • Request driver and vehicle records
  • Check to see restricts/incidents against driver records
  • Availability of personalized license plates
  • Expansion of types of vehicles eligible for online registration renewal
For more information about online DMV services, visit the DOT website at http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/drivers/index.htm. 
11/18/2011
Environmental study approved for St. Croix County highway by the Transportation Projects Commission
The members of the Transportation Projects Commission (TPC) approved an environmental study for the six-mile segment of I-94 between US 12 and WIS 65 in St. Croix County.  Approving this study is a necessary and crucial step forward in addressing safety and mobility concerns.  Currently the Average Annual Daily Traffic volume along this corridor is 49,000 and is expected to grow to 71,000 by 2030.
 
This segment of I-94 provides interstate access for Hudson and Roberts and is also an important route for freight transportation for the state and region.    The crash rate here is above the statewide average at 31 crashes annually.
11/17/2011
Don’t forget about DNR Customer Service this hunting season
This is a reminder that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Call Center is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. seven days a week.  Whether you are deer hunting or curious about another DNR issue, feel free to call with any questions or concerns you may have at 1-888-936-7463.  They are also available by email at csweb@wisconsin.gov or by online chat at http://dnr.wi.gov/contact.  Be safe and have a successful hunt!
11/16/2011
Hunters - Be aware of trespassing laws
Deer hunting season is coming up and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is reminding hunters to be mindful of Wisconsin’s trespassing laws.  The state’s trespassing law states that you must have hand written or verbal permission from the landowner to hunt on private land.
 
Inholdings are the only exception to this law.  An inholding is private land that is surrounded by public land.  In this case, the landowner must post a sign to prevent public hunting.  Hunters are also not allowed to trespass to retrieve game they have killed or injured. 
11/14/2011
Legislation signed in time for deer season
The Governor recently signed into law Senate Bill 75 (SB 75), which eliminates the Earn-a-Buck program.  This repeal will be in effect for the fall hunting season.  Now hunters will no longer be required to kill an antlerless dear before killing their first antlered deer.  The bill still allows for the DNR to use an array of tools for herd control while making a practical change in response to hunter concerns.
11/8/2011
Emergency Alert System test to take place on November 9th
The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) will conduct the first-ever national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on November 9th at 1:00 pm CST.  EAS is a public alert and warning system that allows the President of the United States to address the American public during a national emergency.  It also is used by state and local authorities to deliver important information, most commonly used for emergency weather alerts and advisories by the National Weather Service.
 
This test will last for around 30 seconds and will be used to examine the effectiveness and reliability of the federal warning system.  It will be conducted on all TV, radio, cable and satellite systems throughout the United States.  For more information about the test or the EAS, go to http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/services/eas/.
11/7/2011
Wisconsin Army National Guard completes their portion of storm cleanup
The Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 724th Engineer Battalion has completed their work on the storm cleanup project in Burnett and Douglas Counties in northern Wisconsin.  The project, named Operation Blue Ox, was completed by around 50 members of the 724th Engineer Battalion and covered almost 175 miles.  Starting September 6th, they worked to remove tree limbs from roadsides in order to address potential safety and fire hazards.  
 
While the members of the 724th Engineer Battalion have completed their part, cleanup efforts are far from over.  Landowners, state agency employees, local county and utility workers as well as loggers are still working hard to salvage and cleanup timber on their properties as well as address the impact on local roads due to the increase in timber harvest.  For more information about the cleanup efforts, the DNR offers helpful links and resources at http://dnr.wi.gov/forestry/stormRecovery/.
11/4/2011
DNR seeking small business ideas
The Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp announced a new DNR website for collecting small business owners’ thoughts and suggestions for improving business and environmental performance in Wisconsin.  Their goal is to improve the regulatory process for business owners while maintaining environmental standards. 
 
The website has an email address where small business owners can submit their ideas and suggestions as well as a survey aimed at addressing any questions they might have.  Go online to http://dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/summit.html to offer your thoughts. 
11/2/2011
DOT warns drivers to watch out for winter weather
November may not be the official start of winter, but soon Wisconsin drivers will begin to experience winter weather.  Drivers will likely face ice, snow and limited visibility in the coming months as winter weather settles in for the rest of the season.  It is important that motorists remember to slow down as many crashes are caused by driving too fast for the conditions.   Drivers are also reminded to remove frost, snow and ice from their vehicle’s windows in order to improve visibility and safety.   The State Patrol also offers the following safety tips for winter weather driving:
 
·         Always wear your seatbelt, regardless of the distance. 
·         Watch for slippery bridge decks
·         Look farther ahead than you normally do.  Loss of traction and other actions by vehicles ahead of you will alert you sooner to upcoming slippery spots and other hazards
·         Brake early to account for longer stop times in adverse conditions
·         Do not pump anti-lock breaks, the correct braking method is to “stomp and steer”
·         Avoid cutting in front of large trucks
·         Leave plenty of room for snowplows.  By law, you must stay back at least 200 feet from the rear of a snowplow.
10/27/2011
Website highlights reforms and their results
The Governor’s office released a website this week that will document the results from the Administration’s enacted reforms.  The information is collected from media reports and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s estimates on pension savings.  To date, local governments have saved over $450 million due to the reforms passed so far this session. 
 
The savings go beyond employee pension and health care contributions and factor in the ability to design plan changes and shop around for better rates.  The website will be updated as more data and results are reported.  Please visit www.reforms.wi.gov to see how the reforms have impacted local governments and school districts across our state.
10/26/2011
Concealed carry website
The Department of Justice has created a public website with information about the new concealed carry law.  The site links to the rules describing permit and training requirements and applications.  It also provides a list of out-of-state licenses that will be recognized in Wisconsin.  The concealed carry law goes into effect on November 1st.  Make sure you’re informed and prepared by going to http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dles/cib/ConcealedCarry/ConcealedCarry.asp.
10/25/2011
Legislation promotes manufacturing skills training
Senate Bill 40 (SB 40) was approved last week by the State Senate and seeks to provide additional support for advanced manufacturing skills training.  Manufacturers have identified access to skilled workers as one of their top concerns when they try to fill positions.  This program encourages and allows for collaboration between employers and technical colleges to improve workers’ manufacturing skills. 
 
This training partnership between businesses and technical colleges provides valuable employee training and ensures that workers are prepared with the skills to work with the latest technology.  SB 40 had bipartisan support in the Senate and now awaits action the State Assembly.
10/21/2011
Openings on state boards, commissions and councils
If you’re interested in getting more involved in state issues and collaborating with citizens across the state, there are opportunities available on over 200 boards, councils and commissions.  The Governor’s office is looking for interested and enthusiastic candidates who want to serve and provide their input to help with policy-making, regulation and advocacy efforts.
 
This is your opportunity to have a direct effect on state issues that matter to you.  While our area is a long way from Madison, it is important to have geographical representation on these boards, commissions and councils.   If you would like more information or want to apply for a position, go online to: http://walker.wi.gov/category.asp?linkcatid=3564&linkid=1715&locid=177 . 
10/19/2011
“Warden Wire” answers your DNR questions
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently unveiled the ‘Warden Wire’, an information service that provides conservation tips and information.  The service answers the most-asked questions that come through the DNR’s telephone hotline but also provides information about outdoor recreation and law enforcement issues.
 
You can subscribe to this service by visiting http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/es/enforcement/warden_wire.htm.  Just click “Subscribe to DNR Updates” at the top right corner of the page.  If you’d like to call with a question, the DNR’s Call Center number is 1-888-936-7463. 
10/18/2011
Operation Safe Driver program aims to avoid large-truck accidents
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation announced that Wisconsin will participate in Operation Safe Driver the week of October 16th trough the 22nd.  Operation Safe Driver is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.  The mission of this program is to improve commercial motorist behavior and all other motorists’ habits and decision-making through increased traffic enforcement and education.
 
During this week, Wisconsin State Patrol inspectors and law enforcement officers will be tougher on commercial motorists found speeding, following too close, not obeying traffic signals and driving under the influence.  Commercial motor vehicle operators will also be checked for compliance with licensing regulations and requirements. This is Wisconsin’s tenth year participating in this program.  In 2010 the state saw a 36 percent reduction in large truck crashes when compared to 2000, and during that time large-truck crash fatalities fell 50 percent.  If you would like more information on this program, please contact State Patrol Lieutenant Patricia Hansen at 608-266-0094.
10/17/2011
TB test no longer required to import Minnesota cattle
Until recently, anyone importing cattle from Minnesota was required to test them for tuberculosis (TB).  This was a result of a TB-infected herd in 2005 that led the U.S Department of Agriculture to lower Minnesota’s TB status and as a result, Wisconsin began imposing import requirements. 
 
However, this month the USDA approved Minnesota’s application to restore their status as a TB-free state and Wisconsin will no longer require TB testing on cattle coming into our state from Minnesota.  Now the only requirements will be official identification and certificates of veterinary inspection.  Minnesota is one of Wisconsin’s biggest cattle trading partners, with over 69,500 head imported last year. 
10/14/2011
Judges needed for ‘Wisconsin YES!’ contest
Wisconsin Yes! is a statewide business plan contest for middle school and high school students and is molded after the Governor’s Business Plan Contest.  The goal of the Wisconsin Yes! contest is to teach students how to build plausible business plans that reflect the innovation in the fields of science and technology while encouraging entrepreneurship.
 
Judging this contest allows today’s business professionals and entrepreneurs the opportunity to help develop and encourage innovation in future business leaders and entrepreneurs.  Judging takes place online until the final phase and those interested in being a judge must create a judge account online by November 21st.  Students must enter by December 5th.  For more information on the contest or to apply as a student or to be a judge, go online to www.wisconsinyes.comor call  Kari Fischer at the Wisconsin Technology Council at 608-442-7557. 
10/13/2011
Efforts underway to reduce fraud within public assistance programs
The Governor recently announced the creation of a new Office of the Inspector General (OIG) within the Department of Health Services (DHS).  This new office will focus on consolidating DHS public assistance programs and improving integrity and fraud prevention efforts.  The goal is to improve communication and coordination as well as streamline efforts to ensure that taxpayers' money is used appropriately.
 
DHS is responsible for many of the state’s public assistance programs, including FoodShare, SeniorCare and Medicaid.  Every public assistance program has individual integrity and anti-fraud efforts.  The OIG will consolidate these individual efforts under one office and report their findings directly to the DHS Secretary.  The new OIG Director will be Alan White, who served as Director of Wisconsin Bureau of Program Integrity for 13 years.
10/10/2011
Deer Trustee appointed to study Wisconsin's deer policies
Last week, Governor Walker appointed a Whitetail Deer Trustee to independently evaluate and review our state’s deer herd management practices. Dr. James Kroll, a professor at Stephen F. Austin University and a well-known expert in deer herd management, is charged with reviewing Wisconsin’s approach to managing our state’s deer herd. While Dr. Kroll will work with the DNR on this project, he is responsible for providing an independent and scientifically-based report. You can participate in this project by e-mailing your input to Dr. Kroll at deertrustee@wisconsin.gov.
10/7/2011
DHS outlines proposed cost savings
The Department of Health Services (DHS) is working to improve and stabilize Wisconsin’s medical assistance programs, including BadgerCare, SeniorCare, and Family Care, and is seeking your input. DHS recently unveiled a new website that provides detailed information about proposed changes to medical assistance programs. Included on the website is a form you can fill out to share your thoughts, concerns and experiences. The suggested reforms are part of the Department’s effort to address a $500 million deficit in our medical assistance programs.
 
You can submit your thoughts and suggestions through the DHS website or by mail. All submitted comments will be considered by DHS before they formally submit their proposed changes to the federal government. For more information on their plans and reforms and to share your thoughts, go online to www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/MAreform/index.htm.
More information on their plans and reforms
10/7/2011
St. Croix River Crossing bill moves forward in Congress
The federal legislation to allow the construction of a new St. Croix River Crossing was approved by the House Committee on Natural Resources on a 30-14 vote on Wednesday. This legislation, supported by a bipartisan group of federal elected officials from both Wisconsin and Minnesota, now may be taken up for a vote by the full U.S. House of Representatives. Similar legislation in the U.S. Senate has also been proposed and has received a committee hearing.
9/30/2011
State Veterinarian announces expansion of Eastern equine encephalitis
State Veterinarian Dr. Robert Ehlenfeldt recently announced that twenty-five cases of Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) have been confirmed in Wisconsin since the middle of August.  Most of these cases have been reported in north central Wisconsin in Dunn, Price, Lincoln, Taylor, Clark and Marathon Counties. 
 
This disease is carried by mosquitoes and attacks the horse’s central nervous system with a mortality rate of 90 percent or higher.  There are several signs of infection to watch for: drooping eyelids and lower lip, blindness, loss of appetite, depression, aimless wandering and sometimes paralysis.  If your horse shows any of these signs, call your veterinarian for a diagnosis. 
 
If your horse has already been vaccinated for EEE, booster shots are another form of protection.  It may be too late for initial vaccines since it does require several weeks for immunity to build up.  In order to limit horses’ exposure to mosquitoes, owners should eliminate any standing water and keep horses in barns from dusk to dawn. 
 
9/29/2011
Thousands of job listings on Wisconsin’s Jobs Center website
The Job Center of Wisconsin is a great resource for those searching for a job.  This website has thousands of job listings statewide and provides helpful information about upcoming job fairs, unemployment insurance, local job center information, as well as tips and advice to make you a better candidate for the position you are seeking.  It also provides resources for training and education opportunities.
 
This resource is a free service provided by the State of Wisconsin.  Please visit wisconsinjobcenter.org for more information or to begin your job search.
 
Job Center of Wisconsin
9/28/2011
“Back to Work Wisconsin” special session announced
Governor Walker announced today his intention to call the Legislature into a special session in order to continue efforts to encourage economic growth in Wisconsin.  There are 26 bills or proposals on the “Back to Work Wisconsin” special session’s agenda.  Included among the proposals and legislation up for consideration during this special session are bills authored by both Democrats and Republicans.
 
Detailed information about the proposals and legislation for the fall special session,
9/27/2011
Harsdorf bill to require regional representation on the UW Board of Regents moving forward
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents is the governing body for the University of Wisconsin System and oversees UW campuses across our state.  In recent years the Board of Regents has been dominated by membership from Madison and Milwaukee. 
 
Senator Harsdorf has co-authored Senate Bill 28 (SB 28), which would require the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to include representation from every area of the state.  This bill would ensure that every Congressional district in Wisconsin would have at least one member on the Board. 
 
SB 28 is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities this week.  The bill passed the State Senate on May 17th. 
 
 
9/12/2011
US Highway 8 public information meeting September 28th

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation Northwest Regional Office announced that a public hearing has been scheduled to discuss the US Highway 8 study. The purpose of this study is to identify the preferred route for a future four-lane US Highway 8 from 15th Street to the Hay River in Polk and Barron Counties.

This public information meeting will be held September 28th at Turtle Lake High School from 5-7 pm. At 5:30, there will be a brief presentation. Members of the public are encouraged to attend this meeting to provide input and ask questions about the study.

For those who are unable to attend this meeting, they can call 715-838-8391 for more information. More public information meetings will be held as the project progresses.


9/10/2011
America Remembers September 11th
This Sunday, we as Americans commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the tragedy and destruction of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.  This attack on our country is a painful memory that Americans and the families of the many civilians and service workers who died needlessly, remember every day.
 
That day, thousands of fire fighters, police officers, rescue workers and others risked their lives to save the lives of others.  These heroic efforts speak directly to the heart of what we as Americans stand for.  While the terrorist attacks that day tragically took nearly 3,000 lives, they did not succeed in breaking the American spirit. 
 
Our nation embodies a wide-ranging diversity of religions, races, interests and political views.  Americans will continue to stand up to those who inflict terror and threaten our way of life and our liberties and freedoms that men and women have fought to protect.
 
To honor the memory of those who lost their lives, as well as the countless lives that have been touched by this tragedy, Governor Walker signed an Executive Order for all flags to be flown at half-staff on Sunday, September 11th.  The United State’s Flag represents the ideals that we, as Americans stand for, and reminds us of those who have fought, some paying the ultimate sacrifice, to protect our freedoms. 
 
While this tragedy changed our lives forever, America stands stronger today.  Please take a moment to remember those whose lives that were forever changed that day. 
9/8/2011
Rules not yet finalized regarding concealed carry training programs

Senate Bill 93, which allows for the concealed carry of firearms by law-abiding citizens, was passed and signed into law in July as 2011 Wisconsin Act 35. Act 35 requires that a person be trained and receive a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin. However, the law does not go into effect until November 1st and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the state agency in charge of the rule-making process for this bill, has not finalized what the acceptable training requirements will be.

With this in mind, Wisconsin citizens interested in carrying concealed weapons are encouraged to avoid spending money on training courses until the DOJ finalizes the training requirements. The DOJ has provided a useful website with answers to many frequently asked questions and concerns regarding concealed carry. To access this, use the link above.

9/8/2011
Rules not yet finalized regarding concealed carry training programs

Senate Bill 93, which allows for the concealed carry of firearms by law-abiding citizens, was passed and signed into law in July as 2011 Wisconsin Act 35. Act 35 requires that a person be trained and receive a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon in Wisconsin. However, the law does not go into effect until November 1st and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the state agency in charge of the rule-making process for this bill, has not finalized what the acceptable training requirements will be.

With this in mind, Wisconsin citizens interested in carrying concealed weapons are encouraged to avoid spending money on training courses until the DOJ finalizes the training requirements. The DOJ has provided a useful website with answers to many frequently asked questions and concerns regarding concealed carry. To access this, click here.

Department of Justice FAQ: Concealed Carry
9/7/2011
September is National Library Card Sign-up Month

This month is dedicated to reminding families about the many valuable resources your local library provides. Since September is National Library Card Sign-up month, the American Library Association is taking this opportunity to encourage everyone to visit their local library and sign their family up for library cards.

Library cards are your key to unlocking all the possibilities and resources that lie within a public library. Not only is your local library a resource for interesting books and magazines, but it also provides computers, researching tools and the opportunity to attend events and speakers on a variety of issues and topics. There are also book clubs, testing centers and e-book rentals.

There are endless opportunities for children as well. Local libraries host reading programs, story time, and events of interest for children of all ages while also offering online interactive books, programs and learning games. Many libraries also provide daycare, study rooms, homework assistance, homeschooling resources and services for special needs children.

Celebrate National Library Card Sign-up Month with your family. To find your local library and explore what programs it offers, please visit http://www.atyourlibrary.org/ and enter your zip code in the upper right hand corner.

9/7/2011
September is National Library Card Sign-up Month

This month is dedicated to reminding families about the many valuable resources your local library provides. Since September is National Library Card Sign-up month, the American Library Association is taking this opportunity to encourage everyone to visit their local library and sign their family up for library cards.

Library cards are your key to unlocking all the possibilities and resources that lie within a public library. Not only is your local library a resource for interesting books and magazines, but it also provides computers, researching tools and the opportunity to attend events and speakers on a variety of issues and topics. There are also book clubs, testing centers and e-book rentals.

There are endless opportunities for children as well. Local libraries host reading programs, story time, and events of interest for children of all ages while also offering online interactive books, programs and learning games. Many libraries also provide daycare, study rooms, homework assistance, homeschooling resources and services for special needs children.

Celebrate National Library Card Sign-up Month with your family. To find your local library and explore what programs it offers, please visit http://www.atyourlibrary.org/ and enter your zip code in the upper right hand corner.

8/26/2011
John Scocos reappointed as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Governor Walker announced Thursday that he is reappointing John Scocos as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Scocos previously served as the Secretary for the DVA from 2003 to 2009 under the Doyle administration. Scocos is a U.S. Army Reserve colonel and has served two of tours of duty in Iraq. Scocos’ appointment requires confirmation by the State Senate. Scocos indicated he is looking forward to serving veterans and addressing important issues such as unemployment among veterans, financial issues at state veterans homes, and the solvency of the state veterans trust fund.

8/26/2011
Applicants wanted for student representative on the Wisconsin Technical College System Board

The Governor announced Friday that he is looking for applicants interested in serving as a student representative on the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. The student representative would be appointed for a two-year term. Interested applicants must be at least 18 years old, a state resident, enrolled at least part-time, and be in good academic standing.

The Technical College System Board works to establish policies and standards for the education programs provided by the state’s 16 technical college districts. Any students interested in applying must submit an application complete with a cover letter and resume to govappointments @wisconsin.gov or by mail to:

Office of the Governor1310Attention: Eric Esser1310Appointments Director1310115 East, State Capitol1310Madison, WI 53707-7863

The application can be found online at walker.wi.gov and must be submitted by Friday, September 9th. Questions can be directed to Eric Esser by calling 608-266-1212.

8/26/2011
Wisconsin Department of Tourism announces new grant program to help convention and meeting sector of tourism industry

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism announced a new grant program that will assist hotel and convention centers while they bid for national or Midwest regional meetings and conventions. The goal is to generate increased visitor spending through these events and encourage greater hotel occupancy, meeting space rental and food and beverage expenditures.

The funds will be awarded through the Meetings Mean Business grant program. This program also aims to provide more stability for the state’s hospitality industry through potential growth opportunities and developments in meetings and convention infrastructures across the state. In 2010, traveler spending from meetings and conventions accounted for 11 percent of the state’s $12.3 billion in traveler expenditures.

The first deadline to apply for this program is December 1, 2011. More information about this program is available online at travelwisconsin.com.

8/26/2011
Applicants wanted for student representative on the Wisconsin Technical College System Board

The Governor announced Friday that he is looking for applicants interested in serving as a student representative on the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. The student representative would be appointed for a two-year term. Interested applicants must be at least 18 years old, a state resident, enrolled at least part-time, and be in good academic standing.

The Technical College System Board works to establish policies and standards for the education programs provided by the state’s 16 technical college districts. Any students interested in applying must submit an application complete with a cover letter and resume to govappointments @wisconsin.gov or by mail to:

Office of the Governor
Attention: Eric Esser
Appointments Director
115 East, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53707-7863

The application can be found online at walker.wi.gov and must be submitted by Friday, September 9th. Questions can be directed to Eric Esser by calling 608-266-1212.

8/26/2011
John Scocos reappointed as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs

Governor Walker announced Thursday that he is reappointing John Scocos as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). Scocos previously served as the Secretary for the DVA from 2003 to 2009 under the Doyle administration. Scocos is a U.S. Army Reserve colonel and has served two of tours of duty in Iraq. Scocos’ appointment requires confirmation by the State Senate. Scocos indicated he is looking forward to serving veterans and addressing important issues such as unemployment among veterans, financial issues at state veterans homes, and the solvency of the state veterans trust fund.

8/26/2011
Wisconsin Department of Tourism announces new grant program to help convention and meeting sector of tourism industry

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism announced a new grant program that will assist hotel and convention centers while they bid for national or Midwest regional meetings and conventions. The goal is to generate increased visitor spending through these events and encourage greater hotel occupancy, meeting space rental and food and beverage expenditures.

The funds will be awarded through the Meetings Mean Business grant program. This program also aims to provide more stability for the state’s hospitality industry through potential growth opportunities and developments in meetings and convention infrastructures across the state. In 2010, traveler spending from meetings and conventions accounted for 11 percent of the state’s $12.3 billion in traveler expenditures.

The first deadline to apply for this program is December 1, 2011. More information about this program is available online at travelwisconsin.com.

8/24/2011
Patients Compensation Fund Restored

Earlier this week, the state finally paid back the illegal $200 million raid on the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund made in the last two-year budget bill under the Doyle administration. A court ruling found that this raid was illegal and required the state to pay back the $200 million with interest and penalties.

This payment was made possible by the passage of Assembly Bill 148, also known as the “Bill to Pay the Bills”, which authorizes the state to pay $235 million to cover the cost of repaying the raid as well as any interest and penalty payments owed by the state. The State Budget Office estimates that this legislation could save taxpayers up to $70 million by repaying the fund now instead of allowing interest payments to add up.

States without a reliable Patients Compensation Fund have seen their number of doctors practicing in their state dwindle due to less protection against lawsuits, and rural communities lose the most when they are unable to keep doctors. I am pleased that this payment was made and that the Patients Compensation Fund has been restored.

8/24/2011
Patients Compensation Fund Restored

Earlier this week, the state finally paid back the illegal $200 million raid on the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund made in the last two-year budget bill under the Doyle administration. A court ruling found that this raid was illegal and required the state to pay back the $200 million with interest and penalties.

This payment was made possible by the passage of Assembly Bill 148, also known as the “Bill to Pay the Bills”, which authorizes the state to pay $235 million to cover the cost of repaying the raid as well as any interest and penalty payments owed by the state. The State Budget Office estimates that this legislation could save taxpayers up to $70 million by repaying the fund now instead of allowing interest payments to add up.

States without a reliable Patients Compensation Fund have seen their number of doctors practicing in their state dwindle due to less protection against lawsuits, and rural communities lose the most when they are unable to keep doctors. I am pleased that this payment was made and that the Patients Compensation Fund has been restored.

7/11/2011
Coming Together to Help Others

There are many great things that individuals and organizations do to reach out and help others. Recently I learned of one unique opportunity that is happening in our own backyard this upcoming Friday and Saturday where 100 people are expected to come together for an event called Build a Vet a Guitar. George Vondriska, with the Wild Earth School in rural Hudson, hatched the Build a Vet a Guitar event as part of the Guitars for Vets organization.

This is the second annual event where they anticipate completing 20 acoustic guitar kits in two days. These guitars will be donated to Guitars For Vets, which provides injured military veterans with guitars and music instruction. The power of music has been shown to be a powerful tool in healing and rehabilitating veterans who suffer the effects of war, especially the lingering symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Guitars For Vets is a nationwide organization that was started in 2007. They have 4 chapters in Wisconsin located in Green Bay, Tomah, Madison and Milwaukee. If you are interested in getting involved in this weekend’s event, you can contact George Vondriska at 715-749-9011. If you are unable to pitch in this weekend but would like to be involved in future Guitars For Vets events, visit http://guitars4vets.org.

I am always touched and inspired when I learn of events like this one where communities and citizens come together for the benefit of others.

7/11/2011
Coming Together to Help Others

There are many great things that individuals and organizations do to reach out and help others. Recently I learned of one unique opportunity that is happening in our own backyard this upcoming Friday and Saturday where 100 people are expected to come together for an event called Build a Vet a Guitar. George Vondriska, with the Wild Earth School in rural Hudson, hatched the Build a Vet a Guitar event as part of the Guitars for Vets organization.

This is the second annual event where they anticipate completing 20 acoustic guitar kits in two days. These guitars will be donated to Guitars For Vets, which provides injured military veterans with guitars and music instruction. The power of music has been shown to be a powerful tool in healing and rehabilitating veterans who suffer the effects of war, especially the lingering symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Guitars For Vets is a nationwide organization that was started in 2007. They have 4 chapters in Wisconsin located in Green Bay, Tomah, Madison and Milwaukee. If you are interested in getting involved in this weekend’s event, you can contact George Vondriska at 715-749-9011. If you are unable to pitch in this weekend but would like to be involved in future Guitars For Vets events, visit http://guitars4vets.org.

I am always touched and inspired when I learn of events like this one where communities and citizens come together for the benefit of others.

7/8/2011
Schools Across the State Using Budget Repair Bill Reforms to Save Money

School districts are already saving money as a result of the reforms included in 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, the budget repair bill. The Kaukauna School District in the Fox River Valley reported that they were facing a deficit of $400,000 before Act 10 went into effect. Now, the district has announced that they are looking at a $1.5 million surplus thanks to the reforms enacted by the State Legislature.

The district stated that they were able to negotiate with WEA Trust, a health insurance provider run by WEAC, the state’s largest teacher’s union, to reduce health insurance premiums. Additionally, $1.2 million of the school district’s savings came from the increased contributions by employees into their health insurance and pension.

The Kaukauna School District also reported that they anticipate smaller class sizes, from 31 to 26 students in high school and 26 to 23 students in elementary school, as well as the possibility of more one on one time with teachers.

Other school districts are using these cost-saving tools to save taxpayer money and be more efficient as well. The Menomonee Falls School Board recently announced that they approved new contracts last month that saved $2.4 million by switching to a new health insurance provider. The Hartland-Lakeside district also reported that they switched their health insurance provider from WEA Trust to United Healthcare, saving their district $690,000.

7/8/2011
Schools Across the State Using Budget Repair Bill Reforms to Save Money

School districts are already saving money as a result of the reforms included in 2011 Wisconsin Act 10, the budget repair bill. The Kaukauna School District in the Fox River Valley reported that they were facing a deficit of $400,000 before Act 10 went into effect. Now, the district has announced that they are looking at a $1.5 million surplus thanks to the reforms enacted by the State Legislature.

The district stated that they were able to negotiate with WEA Trust, a health insurance provider run by WEAC, the state’s largest teacher’s union, to reduce health insurance premiums. Additionally, $1.2 million of the school district’s savings came from the increased contributions by employees into their health insurance and pension.

The Kaukauna School District also reported that they anticipate smaller class sizes, from 31 to 26 students in high school and 26 to 23 students in elementary school, as well as the possibility of more one on one time with teachers.

Other school districts are using these cost-saving tools to save taxpayer money and be more efficient as well. The Menomonee Falls School Board recently announced that they approved new contracts last month that saved $2.4 million by switching to a new health insurance provider. The Hartland-Lakeside district also reported that they switched their health insurance provider from WEA Trust to United Healthcare, saving their district $690,000.

7/5/2011
Celebrating America

Thank you to everyone who took time this weekend to celebrate our country's Independence Day and the many freedoms we enjoy in America. As I attended a number of community celebrations around the district, it was wonderful to see so many out celebrating with their family and friends. We are fortunate for the amazing country we live in, for the courage our forefathers showed in providing us the many freedoms we enjoy and for the generations of brave men and women who have fought for and continue to protect those freedoms.

I hope you and your family had a happy and safe 4th of July!

7/5/2011
Celebrating America

Thank you to everyone who took time this weekend to celebrate our country's Independence Day and the many freedoms we enjoy in America. As I attended a number of community celebrations around the district, it was wonderful to see so many out celebrating with their family and friends. We are fortunate for the amazing country we live in, for the courage our forefathers showed in providing us the many freedoms we enjoy and for the generations of brave men and women who have fought for and continue to protect those freedoms.

I hope you and your family had a happy and safe 4th of July!

7/1/2011
Minnesota Government Shutdown

While Wisconsin successfully passed its budget on time, political strife has led to an unfortunate government shutdown across the river. Minnesota state government officially shut down on July 1 due to a bitter impasse between Democratic Governor Dayton and the Republican Legislature.

The government shutdown means only critical functions will be funded until a compromise can be reached. Over 20,000 non-essential Minnesota state employees will be laid off for an unknown length of time. While it is Minnesota state government that is shut down, the impact will be felt by Wisconsinites as well. Wisconsin residents working for the State of Minnesota or using Minnesota services may be affected. Fortunately, due to a court ruling, the Stillwater Bridge will remain open. Earlier, the Minnesota Department of Transportation had indicated that the bridge would remain in the lift position to allow for boat passage, requiring motorists to travel down to the Hudson Bridge to cross the river.

The Minnesota DOT has a notice on their website that most of their state government services will be closed to the public and all but two of the state's rest stops will be shut down as well. State parks and camp grounds will also be closed. Unfortunately, this interruption in services and programs will inconvenience Wisconsin citizens who work across the river or had plans to visit a Minnesota state park or campground.

Below are some websites that provide information about what services are closed or still available during the shutdown.

https://www.bereadymn.com/

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/

7/1/2011
Minnesota Government Shutdown

While Wisconsin successfully passed its budget on time, political strife has led to an unfortunate government shutdown across the river. Minnesota state government officially shut down on July 1 due to a bitter impasse between Democratic Governor Dayton and the Republican Legislature.

The government shutdown means only critical functions will be funded until a compromise can be reached. Over 20,000 non-essential Minnesota state employees will be laid off for an unknown length of time. While it is Minnesota state government that is shut down, the impact will be felt by Wisconsinites as well. Wisconsin residents working for the State of Minnesota or using Minnesota services may be affected. Fortunately, due to a court ruling, the Stillwater Bridge will remain open. Earlier, the Minnesota Department of Transportation had indicated that the bridge would remain in the lift position to allow for boat passage, requiring motorists to travel down to the Hudson Bridge to cross the river.

The Minnesota DOT has a notice on their website that most of their state government services will be closed to the public and all but two of the state's rest stops will be shut down as well. State parks and camp grounds will also be closed. Unfortunately, this interruption in services and programs will inconvenience Wisconsin citizens who work across the river or had plans to visit a Minnesota state park or campground.

Below are some websites that provide information about what services are closed or still available during the shutdown.

https://www.bereadymn.com/

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/

6/27/2011
Ban on Synthetic Marijuana Signed into Law

In response to concerns raised by law enforcement in Western Wisconsin, legislation to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana and other potent stimulants in our state was introduced. These chemicals mimic the effect of marijuana and cocaine when ingested and currently can be purchased across the counter by consumers of any age. Often times, the chemicals are much more potent than the drugs they imitate and are produced without any regard to safety. The sale and use of synthetic marijuana has led to numerous cases of teens and young adults being hospitalized.

Current law prohibits the manufacture, distribution, delivery, or possession of substances included in the schedule of controlled substances. These substances are categorized into 5 different schedules depending on the nature of the substance. Schedule I substances are those that have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use, and are not accepted as safe for use in treatment under medical supervision. Senate Bill 54 identifies several non-narcotic, hallucinogenic substances known as synthetic cannabinoids and stimulants, such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts, and classifies them as Schedule I controlled substances.

A first offense for possession of a synthetic cannabinoid may a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. A second offense constitutes a Class I felony, increasing the penalty to up to $10,000 and up to 3.5 years in prison. A person guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or delivering a synthetic cannabinoid commits a Class H felony and is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to 6 years.

I am pleased to have authored SB 54 which helps create a safer environment for consumers of all ages by outlawing the sale and use of dangerous synthetic substances, removing them from the market, and providing law enforcement with the tools to address their growing use. The bill was signed into law today by the Governor.

6/27/2011
Ban on Synthetic Marijuana Signed into Law

In response to concerns raised by law enforcement in Western Wisconsin, legislation to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana and other potent stimulants in our state was introduced. These chemicals mimic the effect of marijuana and cocaine when ingested and currently can be purchased across the counter by consumers of any age. Often times, the chemicals are much more potent than the drugs they imitate and are produced without any regard to safety. The sale and use of synthetic marijuana has led to numerous cases of teens and young adults being hospitalized.

Current law prohibits the manufacture, distribution, delivery, or possession of substances included in the schedule of controlled substances. These substances are categorized into 5 different schedules depending on the nature of the substance. Schedule I substances are those that have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use, and are not accepted as safe for use in treatment under medical supervision. Senate Bill 54 identifies several non-narcotic, hallucinogenic substances known as synthetic cannabinoids and stimulants, such as synthetic marijuana and bath salts, and classifies them as Schedule I controlled substances.

A first offense for possession of a synthetic cannabinoid may a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. A second offense constitutes a Class I felony, increasing the penalty to up to $10,000 and up to 3.5 years in prison. A person guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or delivering a synthetic cannabinoid commits a Class H felony and is subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to 6 years.

I am pleased to have authored SB 54 which helps create a safer environment for consumers of all ages by outlawing the sale and use of dangerous synthetic substances, removing them from the market, and providing law enforcement with the tools to address their growing use. The bill was signed into law today by the Governor.

5/6/2011
Supporting Crex Meadows Wildlife Area

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area is a beautiful and unique natural area that attracts area residents as well as visitors from across the country and around the world. Known for its bird watching, it’s estimated that more than a 100,000 people visit Crex every year.

Crex Meadows is generously supported by a 700 member strong organization known as the Friends of Crex. Friends of Crex were instrumental in building a visitors' center and have been staffing the center with a part-time natural resources educator who is on hand to provide insight and information to the thousands of visitors. In order to address a high turnover of individuals they have had in this position and create more stability, the Friends of Crex are interested in funding a full-time position.

I am pleased that the Joint Committee on Finance approved a motion that I brought forward at the request of the Friends of Crex that will enable them to fund a full-time position.

This provision will be part of the two year budget bill which the Joint Finance Committee is expected to complete their work on by the end of May. The budget bill will then be acted on by both the State Assembly and State Senate before heading to the Governor for final approval.

5/6/2011
Supporting Crex Meadows Wildlife Area

Crex Meadows Wildlife Area is a beautiful and unique natural area that attracts area residents as well as visitors from across the country and around the world. Known for its bird watching, it’s estimated that more than a 100,000 people visit Crex every year.

Crex Meadows is generously supported by a 700 member strong organization known as the Friends of Crex. Friends of Crex were instrumental in building a visitors' center and have been staffing the center with a part-time natural resources educator who is on hand to provide insight and information to the thousands of visitors. In order to address a high turnover of individuals they have had in this position and create more stability, the Friends of Crex are interested in funding a full-time position.

I am pleased that the Joint Committee on Finance approved a motion that I brought forward at the request of the Friends of Crex that will enable them to fund a full-time position.

This provision will be part of the two year budget bill which the Joint Finance Committee is expected to complete their work on by the end of May. The budget bill will then be acted on by both the State Assembly and State Senate before heading to the Governor for final approval.

3/25/2011
Efforts underway to repeal law that limits schools ability to treat common ailments

On March 1st, changes in the law governing how medicine is given to children at school went into effect. These changes make it more difficult for parents and school districts to make sure kids have access to non-prescription medications during the school day, for simply things for such things as a stomachache, headache, or a sore throat. Under the new law, all non-prescription medication given to children at school must now be provided by the parent/guardian and be in the original packaging. These include ordinary over-the-counter items like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, and cough drops.

The practical effect of these new regulations means that each child’s parent or guardian needs to supply their own bottle of over-the-counter medication to the school. This leads to schools storing and organizing hundreds of bottles or containers of the same medicine. Some have chosen not to do this because it is an administrative nightmare. This means kids may have no access to simple medications for common ailments during the school day.

I am co-sponsoring legislation that would repeal these regulations and return to previous policies for how schools administer non-prescription medication to students. To ensure proper administration of medicine, safeguards would continue to be in place requiring written consent by the parent or guardian as well as documentation of the administration of each dose.

Please let me know what you think about this legislation or other topics of concern you have by visiting HarsdorfSenate.com, or by visiting my facebook page at facebook.com/harsdorf.sheila.

3/25/2011
Efforts underway to repeal law that limits schools ability to treat common ailments

On March 1st, changes in the law governing how medicine is given to children at school went into effect. These changes make it more difficult for parents and school districts to make sure kids have access to non-prescription medications during the school day, for simply things for such things as a stomachache, headache, or a sore throat. Under the new law, all non-prescription medication given to children at school must now be provided by the parent/guardian and be in the original packaging. These include ordinary over-the-counter items like ibuprofen, Tylenol, Benadryl, and cough drops.

The practical effect of these new regulations means that each child’s parent or guardian needs to supply their own bottle of over-the-counter medication to the school. This leads to schools storing and organizing hundreds of bottles or containers of the same medicine. Some have chosen not to do this because it is an administrative nightmare. This means kids may have no access to simple medications for common ailments during the school day.

I am co-sponsoring legislation that would repeal these regulations and return to previous policies for how schools administer non-prescription medication to students. To ensure proper administration of medicine, safeguards would continue to be in place requiring written consent by the parent or guardian as well as documentation of the administration of each dose.

Please let me know what you think about this legislation or other topics of concern you have by visiting HarsdorfSenate.com, or by visiting my facebook page at facebook.com/harsdorf.sheila.

2/9/2011
Be Wary of Instant Tax Refund Services

Getting an instant tax refund can sound like a good opportunity, but the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is warning that these services are often actually very expensive loans. These loans generally carry annual percentage interest rates ranging anywhere from 70% to over 700%, which is a high price to pay to borrow money that belongs to you.

If you do decide to use one of these services, you should ask the following questions:

1. What is the interest rate?13102. What fees are you being charged?13103. What happens if your tax refund is less than you thought it would be?

To get more information, click on the link above.

2/9/2011
Be Wary of Instant Tax Refund Services

Getting an instant tax refund can sound like a good opportunity, but the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is warning that these services are often actually very expensive loans. These loans generally carry annual percentage interest rates ranging anywhere from 70% to over 700%, which is a high price to pay to borrow money that belongs to you.

If you do decide to use one of these services, you should ask the following questions:

1. What is the interest rate?

2. What fees are you being charged?13103. What happens if your tax refund is less than you thought it would be?

To get more information, click on the link provided.

Click here for more information
2/7/2011
Report Government Waste with New Web Site

As we work to pass a fiscally responsible 2011-2013 state budget in the face of a $3 billion budget deficit, it is imperative that we do everything we can to cut wasteful government spending. Governor Walker has asked for help from citizens in identifying and reporting instances of government waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Some common instances of fraud include:

• Dishonest or inaccurate unemployment insurance claims

• Falsified child care logs submitted for compensation under the Wisconsin Shares child care program

• False overtime wage claims by State employees

If you witness instances or waste, fraud, or abuse, or have suggestions on how a government program can be run in a more fiscally responsible manner, I encourage you to provide feedback through the Governor's Web site by clicking the link above.

2/7/2011
Report Government Waste with New Web Site

As we work to pass a fiscally responsible 2011-2013 state budget in the face of a $3 billion budget deficit, it is imperative that we do everything we can to cut wasteful government spending. Governor Walker has asked for help from citizens in identifying and reporting instances of government waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

Some common instances of fraud include:

• Dishonest or inaccurate unemployment insurance claims

• Falsified child care logs submitted for compensation under the Wisconsin Shares child care program

• False overtime wage claims by State employees

If you witness instances or waste, fraud, or abuse, or have suggestions on how a government program can be run in a more fiscally responsible manner, I encourage you to provide feedback through the Governor's Web site by clicking here.

Click here to report waste
2/4/2011
3M Celebrates Milestone in Menomonie

I am excited to be on hand today Friday, February 4th as 3M celebrates laying the 1,000th mile of their new high-voltage overhead electricity conductor. The cable, which has been recognized by R&D Magazine with an R&D 100 Award as a technologically significant product, is manufactured at 3M’s facility in Menomonie. The plant employs over 640 workers.

The new cable enables the upgrade of lines in areas with environmental or aesthetic barriers, including lines over bodies of water, on public lands, and in heavily populated urban areas. The new lines have up to two or more times the current-carrying capacity than standard conductors.

The innovation being celebrated by this local business is a great example of what fuels our state’s economy, and keeps Wisconsin working.

2/4/2011
3M Celebrates Milestone in Menomonie

I am excited to be on hand today Friday, February 4th as 3M celebrates laying the 1,000th mile of their new high-voltage overhead electricity conductor. The cable, which has been recognized by R&D Magazine with an R&D 100 Award as a technologically significant product, is manufactured at 3M’s facility in Menomonie. The plant employs over 640 workers.

The new cable enables the upgrade of lines in areas with environmental or aesthetic barriers, including lines over bodies of water, on public lands, and in heavily populated urban areas. The new lines have up to two or more times the current-carrying capacity than standard conductors.

The innovation being celebrated by this local business is a great example of what fuels our state’s economy, and keeps Wisconsin working.

2/3/2011
Serve Wisconsin Products at Super Bowl Party to Ensure Wisconsin Wins!

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is encouraging Packer fans to make local Wisconsin products a part of their Super Bowl celebrations on Sunday. Whether you are hosting the get-together or coming as a guest, offering up Wisconsin meats, cheeses, and other specialty products is sure to win you extra points. Click on the link above to search for Wisconsin-made products available near you.

2/2/2011
Tax Credits for Job Creators Signed into Law

Companies relocating to Wisconsin will be exempt from paying income or franchise taxes for the first two years they do business in Wisconsin after the Governor signed new legislation into law this week. Additionally in other legislation signed into law, the amount available for economic development tax credits, which are directly tied to job creation, employee training, or capital investment, was increased by $25 million.

The bills were passed as part of the legislature’s special session focused on spurring job growth. By providing incentives for companies to bring jobs to Wisconsin and rewarding businesses for job creation we take an important step towards encouraging economic recovery and putting people back to work.

2/2/2011
Tax Credits for Job Creators Signed into Law

Companies relocating to Wisconsin will be exempt from paying income or franchise taxes for the first two years they do business in Wisconsin after the Governor signed new legislation into law this week. Additionally in other legislation signed into law, the amount available for economic development tax credits, which are directly tied to job creation, employee training, or capital investment, was increased by $25 million.

The bills were passed as part of the legislature’s special session focused on spurring job growth. By providing incentives for companies to bring jobs to Wisconsin and rewarding businesses for job creation we take an important step towards encouraging economic recovery and putting people back to work.

1/28/2011
Be Wary of Fake Super Bowl Tickets

In anticipation of the excitement surrounding the Packers’ 2011 Super Bowl appearance, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is warning citizens of Super Bowl ticket scams. The NFL reports that in recent years, between 100 and 250 fans have arrived at the Super Bowl only to find out their tickets were phony.

The Department offers the following tips to avoid being victimized:

• Ask the seller to e-mail or fax you a copy of the actual tickets before making a payment. Make sure the ticket information includes the correct date, time, location and seating details.

• Do not give out your credit card number, online or over the phone, unless you are sure the seller is legitime.

• Use a credit card rather than cash, check or debit card to purchase tickets since it may provide some protection if you do not receive the tickets.

• Try to deal with 34official34 sources for tickets such as those endorsed by the team or those that are members of the National Association of Ticket Brokers. These businesses carefully screen ticket offers and take care of other measures to protect consumers from ticket fraud.

If you experience a problem with fake tickets, you can file a consumer complaint through DATCP by clicking the link above.

1/27/2011
Traveling Smithsonian Exhibit Comes to River Falls

“Key Ingredients,” a traveling exhibition on the history and culture of food in America, will open Friday, January 28th at the River Falls Public Library. I am looking forward to joining community members in welcoming the exhibit to our area at a kick-off celebration at the library on Friday at 1:00pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the evolution of food production and consumption throughout the history of America and also discover how food has impacted our culture right here in Western Wisconsin. Special events will include cooking demonstrations, film screenings for adults and children, etiquette classes, and off-site activities including fitness level assessments, food samplings, and a brewery tour. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, visitors will be encouraged to participate in a recipe exchange by submitting a favorite family or local recipe and taking home a new favorite.

The exhibit is being brought to Wisconsin by “Museum on Main Street,” a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils. River Falls will host the exhibit January 28 - March 11, 2011 before it travels to Westfield, WI.

Click the link above to see the full “menu” of special events surrounding the exhibit.

1/27/2011
Traveling Smithsonian Exhibit Comes to River Falls

“Key Ingredients,” a traveling exhibition on the history and culture of food in America, will open Friday, January 28th at the River Falls Public Library. I am looking forward to joining community members in welcoming the exhibit to our area at a kick-off celebration at the library on Friday at 1:00pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the evolution of food production and consumption throughout the history of America and also discover how food has impacted our culture right here in Western Wisconsin. Special events will include cooking demonstrations, film screenings for adults and children, etiquette classes, and off-site activities including fitness level assessments, food samplings, and a brewery tour. Throughout the duration of the exhibition, visitors will be encouraged to participate in a recipe exchange by submitting a favorite family or local recipe and taking home a new favorite.

The exhibit is being brought to Wisconsin by “Museum on Main Street,” a partnership of the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils. River Falls will host the exhibit January 28 - March 11, 2011 before it travels to Westfield, WI.

Click here to see the "menu" of exhibit events
1/26/2011
Public Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Section of WIS 35 in Somerset

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials will hold a public information meeting to discuss the proposed controlled access project on WIS 35 in the Town of Somerset in St. Croix County.

The project would designate the segment of WIS 35 between 200th Avenue in Somerset and the north county line as a “Controlled Access Highway.” This would give the Department of Transportation the authority to exercise special controls over traffic on the highway. The Department would also have authority to execute any construction projects on the highway they deem necessary to ensure public safety.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, from 5-7 p.m. at the Somerset Town Hall, 748 Highway 35, Somerset.

1/26/2011
Public Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Section of WIS 35 in Somerset

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials will hold a public information meeting to discuss the proposed controlled access project on WIS 35 in the Town of Somerset in St. Croix County.

The project would designate the segment of WIS 35 between 200th Avenue in Somerset and the north county line as a “Controlled Access Highway.” This would give the Department of Transportation the authority to exercise special controls over traffic on the highway. The Department would also have authority to execute any construction projects on the highway they deem necessary to ensure public safety.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011, from 5-7 p.m. at the Somerset Town Hall, 748 Highway 35, Somerset.

1/25/2011
Public Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Proposed Roundabout in Siren

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials plan to hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed change to the intersection of WIS 35 and WIS 70 in Burnett County. The project would include building a roundabout at the intersection of WIS 35 and WIS 70 to address safety problems and improve traffic flow. Construction is currently scheduled to start in 2013.

Citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting, learn more about the proposed project, and provide input. The meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 from 5- 6:30 p.m. in room 165 of the Burnett County Government Center, 7410 County Road K, Siren. Officials will provide a brief project overview presentation starting at 5:30 p.m.

1/25/2011
Public Meeting Scheduled to Discuss Proposed Roundabout in Siren

Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials plan to hold a public meeting to discuss the proposed change to the intersection of WIS 35 and WIS 70 in Burnett County. The project would include building a roundabout at the intersection of WIS 35 and WIS 70 to address safety problems and improve traffic flow. Construction is currently scheduled to start in 2013.

Citizens are encouraged to attend the meeting, learn more about the proposed project, and provide input. The meeting is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011 from 5- 6:30 p.m. in room 165 of the Burnett County Government Center, 7410 County Road K, Siren. Officials will provide a brief project overview presentation starting at 5:30 p.m.

1/24/2011
Health Savings Account Deduction will be Signed into Law

Governor Walker will sign a bill into law today creating a state income tax deduction for contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The bill was passed by the Legislature as part of the special session on economic recovery.

HSA contributions are already exempt from federal taxation. Wisconsin has been one of only a handful of states to still tax contributions.

HSAs are savings accounts owned by an individual that can be used for minor medical expenses, such as office visits and regular preventative care. A growing number of employers choose to make HSAs available to employees, and they are also popular among the self-employed. A high-deductible health insurance plan is used in conjunction with an HSA to cover major medical expenses.

HSAs allow individuals to take control of their medical decisions. Using the money from their HSA, an individual health care consumer can pay for the medical treatments they deem necessary, with the provider they prefer, without having a gatekeeper tell them what care they can or cannot receive and what doctor they must see. Unlike health insurance offered by an employer, HSAs are portable, remaining with an individual from job to job or if they leave the workforce.

1/24/2011
Health Savings Account Deduction will be Signed into Law

Governor Walker will sign a bill into law today creating a state income tax deduction for contributions to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). The bill was passed by the Legislature as part of the special session on economic recovery.

HSA contributions are already exempt from federal taxation. Wisconsin has been one of only a handful of states to still tax contributions.

HSAs are savings accounts owned by an individual that can be used for minor medical expenses, such as office visits and regular preventative care. A growing number of employers choose to make HSAs available to employees, and they are also popular among the self-employed. A high-deductible health insurance plan is used in conjunction with an HSA to cover major medical expenses.

HSAs allow individuals to take control of their medical decisions. Using the money from their HSA, an individual health care consumer can pay for the medical treatments they deem necessary, with the provider they prefer, without having a gatekeeper tell them what care they can or cannot receive and what doctor they must see. Unlike health insurance offered by an employer, HSAs are portable, remaining with an individual from job to job or if they leave the workforce.

1/20/2011
“Move Over Law” Protects our Officers

During our snowy season, it is especially important that we ensure the safety of law enforcement, emergency and maintenance vehicles on our roads. Wisconsin’s “Move Over” law requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down in order to provide a 34safety zone34 for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road. Although not required by law, it is also advised that drivers also move over for any other stopped vehicle that may be experiencing mechanical difficulties.1310Drivers have two options for creating a safety zone:

1. If the road has more than one directional lane, like the Interstate, and it is possible to switch lanes safely, you must move over to the lane farthest from the stopped vehicle.

2 . If the road has a single directional lane or you can't safely move over, you must significantly reduce your speed and maintain extra vigilance.

Moving over and slowing down are easy ways to keep our officers and other public servants safe while they’re in the line of duty.

1/20/2011
“Move Over Law” Protects our Officers

During our snowy season, it is especially important that we ensure the safety of law enforcement, emergency and maintenance vehicles on our roads. Wisconsin’s “Move Over” law requires drivers to shift lanes or slow down in order to provide a 34safety zone34 for a squad car, ambulance, fire truck, tow truck or highway maintenance vehicle that is stopped on the side of a road. Although not required by law, it is also advised that drivers also move over for any other stopped vehicle that may be experiencing mechanical difficulties.1310Drivers have two options for creating a safety zone:

1. If the road has more than one directional lane, like the Interstate, and it is possible to switch lanes safely, you must move over to the lane farthest from the stopped vehicle.

2 . If the road has a single directional lane or you can't safely move over, you must significantly reduce your speed and maintain extra vigilance.

Moving over and slowing down are easy ways to keep our officers and other public servants safe while they’re in the line of duty.

1/19/2011
Carbon Monoxide Detectors Mandatory Beginning February 1

All Wisconsin homes will be required to have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors starting February 1, 2011. The requirement was passed last year based on findings by the American Medical Association that CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States.

While new homes built after the rule goes into effect will require more sophisticated systems, existing homes may use battery-powered, stand-alone alarms. The alarms may be purchased at most home-improvement or hardware stores and can be found online. The units must be installed in the basement and on each floor level except the attic or garage. The law applies to all dwellings that contain CO sources, which includes most Wisconsin homes. Examples of CO sources include heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances, vehicles left running in enclosed spaces, or cooking sources using coal, wood, or petroleum products.

Click on the link above to see the full rules.

1/19/2011
Carbon Monoxide Detectors Mandatory Beginning February 1

All Wisconsin homes will be required to have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors starting February 1, 2011. The requirement was passed last year based on findings by the American Medical Association that CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States.

While new homes built after the rule goes into effect will require more sophisticated systems, existing homes may use battery-powered, stand-alone alarms. The alarms may be purchased at most home-improvement or hardware stores and can be found online. The units must be installed in the basement and on each floor level except the attic or garage. The law applies to all dwellings that contain CO sources, which includes most Wisconsin homes. Examples of CO sources include heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances, vehicles left running in enclosed spaces, or cooking sources using coal, wood, or petroleum products.

Click on the link above to see the full rules.

Click here to see the full rules
1/18/2011
Governor Walker Visits Hudson Today

Governor Walker will be in Hudson today, unveiling a new border sign reinforcing his message that “Wisconsin is Open for Business.” The sign is one of several that will go up at border crossings throughout the state in an effort to encourage businesses to bring jobs to Wisconsin.

The signs are going up after the Governors of Illinois and Minnesota proposed to balance budget deficits with significant tax increases. In contrast, Governor Walker called a special session on job creation on his first day in office. He has introduced several proposals currently being considered by the Legislature that are aimed at making Wisconsin more job-friendly, saying “in these challenging economic times while [other states are] raising taxes, we are lowering them.”

Today’s sign unveiling will begin at 1:45pm at the Hudson Welcome Center, 2221 Service Road. Members of the public are welcome.

1/18/2011
Governor Walker Visits Hudson Today

Governor Walker will be in Hudson today, unveiling a new border sign reinforcing his message that “Wisconsin is Open for Business.” The sign is one of several that will go up at border crossings throughout the state in an effort to encourage businesses to bring jobs to Wisconsin.

The signs are going up after the Governors of Illinois and Minnesota proposed to balance budget deficits with significant tax increases. In contrast, Governor Walker called a special session on job creation on his first day in office. He has introduced several proposals currently being considered by the Legislature that are aimed at making Wisconsin more job-friendly, saying “in these challenging economic times while [other states are] raising taxes, we are lowering them.”

Today’s sign unveiling will begin at 1:45pm at the Hudson Welcome Center, 2221 Service Road. Members of the public are welcome.

1/13/2011
Special Legislative Session Aims to Spur Job Creation

Last week, Governor Walker called a special legislative session to promote job growth in Wisconsin. This week, the Legislature is actively considering several proposals put forward by the Governor in an effort to change the way our state government approaches job creation. Below is a snapshot of each proposal and how it relates to creating and retaining jobs for Wisconsin workers. Legislative committees are currently holding public hearings, considering amendments and voting on these proposals.

Re-Organization the Department of Commerce: This proposal would turn our current Department of Commerce into a public/private partnership called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation or WEDC. The WEDC’s exclusive purpose would be to help create jobs for Wisconsin workers. This proposal intends to encourage companies to bring jobs to Wisconsin by promoting a positive relationship between the state and businesses.

Tax Credits for Health Savings Accounts: Under this proposal, individuals would receive a state tax credit for contributions made to a Health Savings Account (HSA). By encouraging the use of HSAs, the proposal aims to assist businesses in providing affordable health care to their employees.

Regulatory Reform: This proposal would create a tighter system of checks and balances on the agency rule-making process and would require the Governor to approve all new agency rules. This proposal is an effort to ensure that elected representatives have appropriate oversight over the rules that affect job creation in this state.

Creating a More Job-Friendly Legal Environment: Commonly referred to as “tort reform,” this proposal creates a balance between protecting consumers and protecting the businesses that employ Wisconsin workers.

Tax Relief for Small Businesses: The Governor proposed that small businesses with gross annual receipts of $500,000 or less per year would receive a tax credit. The Legislature is considering modifications that would instead provide a tax credit based on actual jobs created.

Tax Relief for Businesses Relocating to Wisconsin: This proposal would create a tax credit for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin in an effort to persuade companies to bring jobs to our state.

Increasing the Amount Available for Economic Development Tax Credits: This proposal would increase the amount of tax credits available to companies creating jobs in Wisconsin by $25 million.

More Accountability for Increasing Taxes: This proposal would require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature in order to increase taxes in an effort to ensure that the potential impact of a tax increase on job creation is taken into full consideration.

1/13/2011
Special Legislative Session Aims to Spur Job Creation

Last week, Governor Walker called a special legislative session to promote job growth in Wisconsin. This week, the Legislature is actively considering several proposals put forward by the Governor in an effort to change the way our state government approaches job creation. Below is a snapshot of each proposal and how it relates to creating and retaining jobs for Wisconsin workers. Legislative committees are currently holding public hearings, considering amendments and voting on these proposals.

Re-Organization the Department of Commerce: This proposal would turn our current Department of Commerce into a public/private partnership called the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation or WEDC. The WEDC’s exclusive purpose would be to help create jobs for Wisconsin workers. This proposal intends to encourage companies to bring jobs to Wisconsin by promoting a positive relationship between the state and businesses.

Tax Credits for Health Savings Accounts: Under this proposal, individuals would receive a state tax credit for contributions made to a Health Savings Account (HSA). By encouraging the use of HSAs, the proposal aims to assist businesses in providing affordable health care to their employees.

Regulatory Reform: This proposal would create a tighter system of checks and balances on the agency rule-making process and would require the Governor to approve all new agency rules. This proposal is an effort to ensure that elected representatives have appropriate oversight over the rules that affect job creation in this state.

Creating a More Job-Friendly Legal Environment: Commonly referred to as “tort reform,” this proposal creates a balance between protecting consumers and protecting the businesses that employ Wisconsin workers.

Tax Relief for Small Businesses: The Governor proposed that small businesses with gross annual receipts of $500,000 or less per year would receive a tax credit. The Legislature is considering modifications that would instead provide a tax credit based on actual jobs created.

Tax Relief for Businesses Relocating to Wisconsin: This proposal would create a tax credit for businesses that relocate to Wisconsin in an effort to persuade companies to bring jobs to our state.

Increasing the Amount Available for Economic Development Tax Credits: This proposal would increase the amount of tax credits available to companies creating jobs in Wisconsin by $25 million.

More Accountability for Increasing Taxes: This proposal would require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature in order to increase taxes in an effort to ensure that the potential impact of a tax increase on job creation is taken into full consideration.

1/11/2011
State Reaches Settlement with DirecTV

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced recently that Wisconsin has reached settlement with DirecTV regarding allegations that the company engaged in deceptive advertising. As part of the settlement, DirecTV has agreed to provide restitution for injured Wisconsin customers; pay the state $185,000 in penalties; and change its marketing practices. Wisconsinites affected since January 1, 2007 who have been enrolled or reenrolled in programming packages without their consent; did not receive promised cash-back incentives; or were not adequately informed about the availability of pricing promotions are among those eligible for restitution under the settlement. Affected customers should try to resolve disputes with DirecTV first, which is required to resolve consumer complaints under the settlement, and if unsuccessful, can file a complaint by June 9, 2011 with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-422-7128. For more information about the settlement and those eligible for restitution, click the link above.

1/11/2011
State Reaches Settlement with DirecTV

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced recently that Wisconsin has reached settlement with DirecTV regarding allegations that the company engaged in deceptive advertising. As part of the settlement, DirecTV has agreed to provide restitution for injured Wisconsin customers; pay the state $185,000 in penalties; and change its marketing practices. Wisconsinites affected since January 1, 2007 who have been enrolled or reenrolled in programming packages without their consent; did not receive promised cash-back incentives; or were not adequately informed about the availability of pricing promotions are among those eligible for restitution under the settlement. Affected customers should try to resolve disputes with DirecTV first, which is required to resolve consumer complaints under the settlement, and if unsuccessful, can file a complaint by June 9, 2011 with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-422-7128. For more information about the settlement and those eligible for restitution, click the link above.

Click here for information on the settlement
1/10/2011
Highway 35 Freeway Conversion Meeting (St. Croix County)

The Department of Transportation has announced a public hearing on the location, design, and environmental aspects for local roads for the planned conversion of Highway 35 to a freeway between Radio Road and Coulee Trail in St. Croix County. The proposed freeway conversion includes the construction of on and off ramps and interchange reconstructions at several points. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 20, 2011 from 5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. at the Troy Town Hall located at 654 Glover Road. The public is invited to attend the hearing and to present written and oral testimony concerning the planned freeway conversion. The DOT will present a summary of the project at 6:00 P.M. Environmental Assessment information is available prior to the meeting at the River Falls and Hudson Public Libraries and the Troy Town Hall.

1/10/2011
Highway 35 Freeway Conversion Meeting (St. Croix County)

The Department of Transportation has announced a public hearing on the location, design, and environmental aspects for local roads for the planned conversion of Highway 35 to a freeway between Radio Road and Coulee Trail in St. Croix County. The proposed freeway conversion includes the construction of on and off ramps and interchange reconstructions at several points. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 20, 2011 from 5:30 P.M. – 8:30 P.M. at the Troy Town Hall located at 654 Glover Road. The public is invited to attend the hearing and to present written and oral testimony concerning the planned freeway conversion. The DOT will present a summary of the project at 6:00 P.M. Environmental Assessment information is available prior to the meeting at the River Falls and Hudson Public Libraries and the Troy Town Hall.

1/6/2011
Lions Foundation License Plates Now Available

Members and non-members of Lions and Lioness Clubs alike are now able to support the work of the Wisconsin Lions Foundation (WLF), Inc. by purchasing a specialty license plate. WLF annually runs a free one-week summer camp for children and adults with disabilities; collects and distributes used eyeglasses and hearing aids to those in need; and promotes diabetes awareness, among other activities. The specialty plate requires an annual $25 donation to support the WLF and an initial $15 fee in addition to the regular annual registration fee. For more information on the WLF plate and other specialty plate programs, click the link above.

1/6/2011
511 Road Conditions

Now that the snowy season is upon us, motorists are reminded that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s 511 service is available to provide information on road conditions throughout the state. Dialing 511 provides automated real-time road conditions information for free. Callers to 511’s phone service can find traffic conditions by highway, municipality name, or county. Additionally, 511 provides a website, linked above, which allows users to visually see road conditions across the state.

1/6/2011
Lions Foundation License Plates Now Available

Members and non-members of Lions and Lioness Clubs alike are now able to support the work of the Wisconsin Lions Foundation (WLF), Inc. by purchasing a specialty license plate. WLF annually runs a free one-week summer camp for children and adults with disabilities; collects and distributes used eyeglasses and hearing aids to those in need; and promotes diabetes awareness, among other activities. The specialty plate requires an annual $25 donation to support the WLF and an initial $15 fee in addition to the regular annual registration fee. For more information on the WLF plate and other specialty plate programs, click the link above.

1/5/2011
511 Road Conditions

Now that the snowy season is upon us, motorists are reminded that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s 511 service is available to provide information on road conditions throughout the state. Dialing 511 provides automated real-time road conditions information for free. Callers to 511’s phone service can find traffic conditions by highway, municipality name, or county. Additionally, 511 provides a website, linked above, which allows users to visually see road conditions across the state.

1/4/2011
Oil Filter and Absorbent Recycling Took Effect January 1, 2011

2009 Wisconsin Act 86 took effect on New Year’s Day and created a recycling requirement for used oil filters and oil absorbents. Those who change their own oil or clean up after a non-routine spill are exempt from this requirement. Recycling oil filters and absorbents increases protection of groundwater and reduces the need for crude oil. The DNR released the following facts that the recycling of oil filters and absorbents will affect:1310• Each year, Wisconsinites throw away an estimated 187,000 gallons of oil in used oil filters and 1.6 million gallons of oil in oil absorbents. 1310• Recycling the approximately 9 million oil filters that now go to Wisconsin landfills would return over 4.5 million pounds of steel to the marketplace annually. 1310• It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of used oil to produce 2.5 quarts of new, high-quality lubricating oil. 1310• A single gallon of used oil, if improperly managed, has the potential to contaminate up to one million gallons of drinking water. 1310For more information about the new recycling requirement, click the link above.

1/4/2011
Oil Filter and Absorbent Recycling Took Effect January 1, 2011

2009 Wisconsin Act 86 took effect on New Year’s Day and created a recycling requirement for used oil filters and oil absorbents. Those who change their own oil or clean up after a non-routine spill are exempt from this requirement. Recycling oil filters and absorbents increases protection of groundwater and reduces the need for crude oil. The DNR released the following facts that the recycling of oil filters and absorbents will affect:

 • Each year, Wisconsinites throw away an estimated 187,000 gallons of oil in used oil filters and 1.6 million gallons of oil in oil absorbents.

• Recycling the approximately 9 million oil filters that now go to Wisconsin landfills would return over 4.5 million pounds of steel to the marketplace annually.

• It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of used oil to produce 2.5 quarts of new, high-quality lubricating oil.

• A single gallon of used oil, if improperly managed, has the potential to contaminate up to one million gallons of drinking water.

For more information about the new recycling requirement, click the link provided.

Click here for info on oil filter recycling