Madison Office: 122 South, State Capitol  Phone: (608) 266-7745  E-mail: Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov
12/22/2015
Willow State Park-Little Falls Dam
Willow River State Park Dam Project
Public Review and Comment through January 15, 2016
 
The Department of Natural Resources has prepared a draft analysis of options to address the Little Falls dam project at Willow River State Park.  Their options include: remove and replace the dam; permanently remove the dam and restore the Willow River to its original stream bank; repairing the dam; or doing nothing.
 
Public review and comment period is ongoing until January 15, 2016 at the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov. Search Willow River State Park and click on the link for Little Falls Dam information. Or you may click here.
12/18/2015
Support the Salvation Army in the Spirit of the Season
     You may have seen Salvation Army volunteers ringing bells around town again this holiday season. This year's Red Kettle Campaign is going on to support the Salvation Army's good work in northwest Wisconsin, which includes a wide range of important services from Grace Place, to the food pantry, to emergency disaster services, and others. 
     For the 5th year running, Jeremy Lilyquist and Derek Gilbert are ringing for a 30-Hour Marathon at the County Market in Hudson. The goal of the marathon is to raise $75,000 over two days for the Salvation Army of St. Croix County. I was pleased to join Derek and Jeremy for bell ringing on Thursday afternoon, and I continue to be impressed by the generosity of the community in giving to help those in need.
     I encourage you to donate when you see a red kettle to help Salvation Army of St. Croix County reach its goal of $150,000 by January 1. Happy Holidays!
 


12/14/2015
2015 Capitol Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is up in the capitol. The 40-foot tall balsam fir was donated by Brad and Elizabeth Kowieski of Rhinelander. The tree is decorated by ornaments made by Wisconsin school children, with the theme of Wisconsin sports. If you are traveling to Madison, or passing through on your way for a holiday celebration elsewhere, be sure to stop by and see the tree. Capitol tours are also available to all visitors.



 

12/14/2015
Give Blood this Holiday Season
The holiday season encourages service and giving back to one’s community.  As you start preparing gifts for your friends and loved ones, please remember that one of the most important gifts is the act of giving blood.
 
Blood donors are needed all year long, but this is an especially great time to embrace the spirit of the holiday season by donating blood.  Below is a listing of blood drive events taking place this season in the 10 th Senate District.  For more information on these blood drives or on giving blood in general, please visit the Red Cross website at Donate Blood | Find a Local Blood Drive | American Red Cross .
11/24/2015
Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is a special time to give thanks for our many blessings, as well as being with family and friends.  Since many people travel to spend time with loved ones, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation provides reminders for safe travel during this busy holiday weekend.  Please visit the DOT website for transportation news and updates across the state.
 
I wish you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
10/19/2015
Little Falls Dam Public Hearing on October 20th

The Department of Natural Resources will be holding a public information meeting on October 20th at 6:00 PM to provide information on the Little Falls Dam in Willow River State Park.  The meeting will be held at the Hudson Town Hall at 980 County Road A.

 

Due to concerns with the structural integrity of the dam, a drawdown of Little Falls Lake was begun this summer and was recently completed.  The Department will be presenting information on the status of the drawdown and discuss the next steps in the project.  For more information on this project, visit the Department’s website at www.DNR.wi.gov<http://www.DNR.wi.gov  and search for “Willow River State Park.”
10/13/2015
Prescription Drug Take Back Day on October 17th
Easily accessible prescription drugs can be dangerous in their own right, but they also are frequently a gateway for young people into illegal drugs.  One of the most effective ways to remove the potential of misuse and abuse of prescription drugs is through proper disposal.
 
The Wisconsin Department of Justice is coordinating a Prescription Drug Take Back Day throughout Wisconsin this Saturday, October 17th.  Prescription Drug Take Back Days, which typically are held twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, provide a safe, convenient, and responsible way to properly dispose of prescription medications.
 
Those interested in getting rid of unused prescription drugs are encouraged to contact their local police or sheriff’s department to find out about local drop-off sites for the Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  As a reminder, it is important to never flush or pour unused prescription drugs down the drain, as the pharmaceuticals can enter our drinking water supply or affect our lakes and streams.
9/22/2015
Consumer Protection Alert - Beware of Fake Utility Account Calls
The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has issued a consumer alert warning that a number of Wisconsin businesses have received threatening phone calls about their utility accounts.  The Department indicated that scammers are making calls falsely claiming to represent the local utility company and are calling businesses or consumers and threatening them with disconnection of services unless immediate payment is made.  Please note utility companies will contact you by mail if your account is overdue and may follow up with a phone call reminder.  Also, if a caller demands a utility payment by prepaid debit card or wire transfer, it is a scam.  If you are unsure of the status of your accounts, contact your service providers using the numbers provided by your utilities or listed in the phone book.
 
DATCP advises that you should never provide personal or financial information over the phone unless you initiated the call.  Additionally, if you receive a voicemail requesting a call back and the caller does not identify themselves or their business, do not return the call.  Caller ID systems can also be scammed to display a name and number of an individual or business, so end the call and contact the business or entity directly if you have concerns with the legitimacy of a call.  If you think you have been scammed, please visit the Consumer Protection Bureau to file a consumer protection complaint.  The Consumer Protection Bureau may be reached at 1-800-422-7128, datcp.wisconsin.gov, or by email at datcphotline@wisconsin.gov
8/25/2015
Volunteer to ‘Build a Vet a Guitar’ in Hammond
One of the many benefits of music is its ability to offer comfort and healing to those experiencing personal challenges or health issues.   Given the power of music in providing hope and healing to veterans afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Guitars for Vets was created to provide veterans with acoustic guitars and lessons on how to play the instrument.
 
A local small business, Vondriska Woodworks of Hammond, has partnered with Guitars for Vets to host Build a Vet a Guitar events to assemble and build acoustic guitars for donation to veterans twice in the past several years.  Vondriska Woodworks will again be hosting a Build a Vet a Guitar event this fall on September 12th and 13th.  Those interested in volunteering to help build a guitar can visit the Facebook page for the Hammond event here .
8/19/2015
Fairmont Santrol Accepted into Green Tier Program
Green Tier is a pioneering approach to environmental management that is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  Green Tier provides interested businesses with the ability to reduce regulatory red tape by implementing innovative environmental quality programs and meeting performance measures.  Many Wisconsin businesses have become Green Tier members and have taken steps to improve their firm’s environmental outcomes.  Green Tier is a collaboration between businesses and government that helps conserve our resources while providing businesses with ideas and approaches that cut unnecessary costs and boost productivity. 
 
Recently, Fairmount Santrol was accepted into the Green Tier program, enrolling its facilities in Menomonie, Hager City, and Maiden Rock.  In approving Fairmont Santrol’s application, the DNR noted that the Fairmount facilities exceeded the Department’s regulatory standards and has worked to achieve superior environmental performance.  By implementing new equipment and processes, Fairmount Santrol decreased its energy consumption by 35% and decreased the amount of waste going into landfills by 86% since 2010.  For more information about the Green Tier program, visit http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/GreenTier/ .
8/14/2015
New Soaring Eagle Design Offered by Wisconsin DOT
Did you know about the many different optional designs that you can choose for your Wisconsin license plate?  Aside from the standard plate that proclaims our state as America’s Dairyland, there are many specialty plates that support a variety of causes and raise awareness for important issues.   The new soaring eagle plate is one of these special designs, supporting endangered resources in Wisconsin.  The cost of this plate includes a $25 donation to the Endangered Resources Fund, which supports conservation efforts in protecting native species and ecosystems.  This plate is available now for pre-order.
 
You may wish to browse the other specialty plates offered in Wisconsin at an additional charge, either to upgrade the standard plate on your vehicle or when you register a new vehicle in the future.  Specialty plates are a great way to show your support for veterans, outdoor groups, or your favorite Wisconsin sports team!  Save yourself the mess of a bumper sticker by choosing to show your pride right on your license plate.  Take a look at the choices on the DMV’s website here .
8/12/2015
I-94 eastbound lane closures planned next week in St. Croix County
The Department of Transportation (DOT) is alerting motorists that crews will be working on the County BB overpass of I-94 in the town of Eau Galle, which will impact traffic next week:
 
• Single lane closure on eastbound I-94 after 6 p.m. on Monday, August 17 ,
• Full closure of all I-94 eastbound lanes, at the County BB overpass, from 12:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 18.  During the closure, eastbound traffic will be detoured via US 63, US 12, and WIS 128, and
• Single lane closure on eastbound I-94 from 6:30 a.m. until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 18.
 
Other impacts include the closure of the County BB bridge from August 17 to August 20.  Motorists are reminded to drive with extra caution in the work zone and should be alert for slower traffic. The schedule is subject to change based on weather conditions and construction status. 
 
For more information regarding traffic impacts and improvement projects in Wisconsin’s northwest region visit http://projects.511wi.gov/region/northwest/  
7/31/2015
Boaters - Protect our Waters from Invasive Species

Some of Wisconsin’s worst aquatic invasive species (AIS), such as zebra mussel larvae or spiny water fleas, can be spread from lake to lake through transported water.  That’s why the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends draining boats and livewells before moving from lake to lake. 

For proper boat care, make sure that all algae and plants are off your boat and that all of your boat’s plugs have been drained.  The DNR recommends allowing your boat to dry for five days or to spray a simple disinfectant mixture (2.5 tablespoons of bleach mixed with 1 gallon of water) to clean your boat. 
 
In addition to proper boat care, the DNR urges boaters and anglers to leave all plant and live animal life at the lake that it was found and to dispose of unwanted bait in the trash.  When bringing fish home, the DNR recommends keeping the fish on ice instead of in a bucket of water. 
 
For more information on invasive plants and animals in Wisconsin waters, and for instruction on proper boat drainage, visit the DNR’s website . 
7/17/2015
Registration for Boats and ATVs Made Easier
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) now offers three ways to register your boat or ATV.  Whether it is online, through licensing agents, or at a DNR office, the Department is seeking to make registering or renewing your boat or ATV simple and convenient. 
 
If you have questions on registering you boat or ATV, feel free to contact DNR customer service at (888) 936-7463.  For more information on registration and titling your boat or ATV, registration and renewal forms, and for special vehicle regulations, please visit the DNR website . 
7/15/2015
“Buy It Where You Burn It”

Camping is one of a number of popular summer activities for families to enjoy in Wisconsin and frequently involves campfires.  In order to prevent the spread of invasive insects, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) strongly urges you to leave your firewood at home. 

A number of Wisconsin counties have firewood quarantines due to pests such as emerald ash borers and gypsy moths, which can be harmful to forests, including Wisconsin’s North Woods.  To prevent the spread of such pests, DATCP encourages you to “buy it where you burn it,” which means buying firewood for your campfire when you reach your camping destination.
 
For more information on preserving Wisconsin woods and pests such as emerald ash borers and gypsy moths, please visit DATCP’s website .  Happy Camping!
7/3/2015
Celebrating Independence Day
Our country will be marking its 239th birthday this Fourth of July.  As we recognize the founding of our nation, Independence Day is a great time to reflect upon the freedoms we have as Americans as we celebrate the day with family and friends. 
 
It is a tradition for many Americans to spend Independence Day enjoying the great outdoors and ending the day watching fireworks.  Should you choose to be on a lake with family and friends, the Department of Natural Resources has some useful boating safety tips that can be found on their website .  In addition, the Department of Health Services provides numerous safety tips for those choosing to set off their own fireworks. 
 
I wish you and your family a safe and memorable Fourth of July!
7/1/2015
Staying Safe with Sun Protection
As the warmest months of the year in July and August are here, many of us will be spending countless hours outside to enjoy the summer weather.  While these days provide some of the best weather of the year, the sun can be damaging to your health if you do not take proper precautions. 
 
To ensure healthy skin, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside.  This will help protect your skin against skin cancer and against premature aging.
 
In addition to your skin, the retina of your eye can be damaged by prolonged exposure to the sun.  Protect your vision by wearing proper sunglasses while out and about. 
For more information on skin protection and safety under the sun, click here . 
6/22/2015
Local FFA Chapters Visit the Capitol
Future leaders in agriculture stopped by the Capitol last week and visited with Senator Harsdorf following the 86th Wisconsin State FFA Convention.  FFA’ers and their advisers from Osceola and Spring Valley-Elmwood took time to visit with area legislators and to tour the Capitol, as they were among thousands in Madison to attend the state Convention.  We congratulate two area FFA members who were selected to serve on the 2015-16 Wisconsin FFA Officer Team, Secretary Maddi Colbeth of Clear Lake and Vice President Kaitlin Konder of Glenwood City. 
 
FFA is a great youth leadership organization that fosters interest and opportunities in agriculture and rural issues.  For more information on FFA and how you can support their mission, please visit http://www.wisconsinffa.org/ . 
6/2/2015
Joint Committee on Finance - Budget Action - May 27 and 29
Several significant pieces of the state budget bill were taken up this past week by the Joint Committee on Finance, including long-term care, the University of Wisconsin System, and the Department of Natural Resources.
 
On long-term care, the Committee formally acted upon its plans that were announced in mid-May, which were to remove the Governor’s proposal from the budget bill.  Given the public feedback on the lack of details and input from stakeholders, Senator Harsdorf supported efforts to pull out the proposed changes and to replace them with a proposal that will preserve Family Care and self-directed care while giving those with disabilities a seat at the table in developing potential reforms with the Department of Health Services.  Any changes to long-term care programs DHS proposes must receive approval by the Committee, establishing another opportunity for review and input from clients and families served by our state’s long-term care programs.
 
A motion that Senator Harsdorf co-authored on the University of Wisconsin System was considered by the Committee on Friday, which reduced the funding reduction to the System by $50 million and introduced new flexibilities and accountability measures for our university system.  Senator Harsdorf has long supported providing the UW System with the ability to more nimbly and effectively manage its operations and respond to changes in our economy and workforce needs.  The motion that was approved by the Committee reduces redundant and unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and encourages innovation at our campuses through reforms such as merit pay.  Along with these flexibilities, Harsdorf worked to include a provision that requires the UW System to develop accountability metrics that focus on student outcomes, improved management, and taxpayer value.
 
Another significant part of the budget taken up on Friday was the Department of Natural Resources, particularly in regards to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.  Stewardship has been a valuable program that has protected sensitive lands and provided hunting, fishing, and recreation opportunities.  Harsdorf voted for a motion to partially restore funding for the Stewardship program recognizing the importance of expanding outdoor opportunities in our area and around the state.
 
Other action taken by the Committee included:
            Maintaining the Wisconsin-Minnesota Tuition Reciprocity Program in its current form
            Encouraging tourism by ensuring that room tax revenues are focused on tourism promotion and development
            Providing an additional $5 million, in addition to the $3 million previously approved, for repairing or replacing the Little Falls Dam in Willow River State Park
            Increasing penalties for those engaging in fraud under the unemployment insurance program
            Providing an increase in funding for state reimbursement to nursing homes in providing care for our needy elderly
6/2/2015
Remembering the Sacrifices of Those Serving our Country
Memorial Day is a day for remembrance to honor the brave American soldiers who have given their lives for our freedom.  I was honored to be a part of a special Memorial Day ceremony this year in presenting the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medals to the family of Robert Gordon Warndahl, who received the awards posthumously at a ceremony at VFW United Post 6856 in Milltown.  
 
Robert Warndahl was a courageous soldier who fought valiantly in World War II, serving as a combat medic in the European Theater of the war in France and Germany.  Like so many of his fellow soldiers, Robert served out of a love of his country and because it was the right thing to do.  He was wounded in action and was held captive as a prisoner of war by the German army.  Robert received several prestigious military awards for his service during his lifetime, including two Bronze Stars and the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon.  The long overdue awarding of the Purple Heart and Prisoner of War Medals to Robert’s family is important as we never forget the sacrifices that have been made by those serving and their families.
 
I was honored to be part of this tribute to Robert Warndahl and in recognizing the sacrifices of the brave men and women in our armed forces who have fought and died for our country.  While we dedicate Memorial Day to our fallen soldiers, let us remember throughout the year all those who continue to fight for our liberties and freedom.
5/22/2015
Celebrate June Dairy Month in Wisconsin!
Thanks to our state’s agricultural heritage, Wisconsin is known for its cheese and dairy products throughout the world.  With more than $26.5 billion in economic activity each year, the dairy industry has a tremendous influence on Wisconsin’s economy.  We celebrate our state’s dairy industry in the month of June every year to acknowledge and promote all those who help make Wisconsin dairy products so special.  Please visit http://www.dairydaysofsummer.com/ to discover excellent dairy breakfasts and other June Dairy Month events in your area.   
5/22/2015
Joint Committee on Finance - Budget Action - May 19 and 21
Two significant pieces of the state budget bill, education funding and SeniorCare, were taken up this week by the Joint Committee on Finance as it met on May 19th and 21st.  Following this week’s action, it is anticipated that the Committee will finish its work on the budget bill in the coming days.
 
On education funding, the Committee acted to increase education funding by nearly $200 million over the current budget proposal.  This increase will restore the funding reduction proposed in the first year and provide an increase in per pupil aid in the second year.  In addition to the per pupil funding, the Committee also increased funding for sparsity aid and transportation aid, as well as creating a new $5 million appropriation for a new high cost special education aid program.
 
The Committee also acted to preserve SeniorCare and removed the Governor’s proposed changes to this program from the budget bill.  SeniorCare is a valued program for many seniors in western Wisconsin and across the state and provides access to affordable prescription medications.  SeniorCare has proven to be a cost-effective program that saves dollars for both seniors and taxpayers.
 
In other action taken this week the Committee:
·         Created a dental pilot program, which will include Polk County, to expand access to dental services to low-income residents
·         Approved increased payments to hospitals that serve high numbers of low-income individuals
·         Eliminated the proposed mergers of state agencies given implementation concerns
·         Established drug testing requirements for participation in certain public assistance programs
·         Maintained oversight and consumer protection of for-profit colleges to prevent fraud and abuse
 
5/15/2015
Joint Committee on Finance - Budget Action - May 12 and 14
The Joint Committee on Finance met again this week on May 12th and May 14th to continue making modifications to the Governor’s budget proposal.  There were two significant highlights in the Committee’s work this week. 
 
First, the Committee announced that it would not be approving the Governor’s proposed changes to Wisconsin’s long term care programs, Family Care and IRIS.  Instead, the Committee will be directing the Department of Health Services (DHS) to work with stakeholders to consider potential reforms.  Once the Department has developed a plan, it will be required to receive approval from the Committee before submitting a waiver application to the federal government to receive approval for any proposed changes.   The Committee announced it would also be maintaining the role of local Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). 
 
The Governor’s proposed changes to long term care have generated significant attention from our aging and disabled residents that receive support through the Family Care and IRIS programs.  Family Care and IRIS are focused on keeping individuals in their homes and living independently in their communities.  These programs have not only benefitted seniors and those with disabilities remain independent, but also provide cost savings to taxpayers as compared to providing nursing home or institutional care. 
 
Second, a number of changes that I helped author will restore funding for water quality improvement efforts in our state.  Several local initiatives have developed in recent years to respond to water quality issues that are affecting recreational users and property owners along our state’s waterways.  Additionally, agricultural producers have been establishing farmer-led projects to reduce runoff into our watersheds. 
 
Along with Representative Amy Loudenbeck, Senator Harsdorf worked to restore funding to support the efforts of UW Extension and county conservation staff.  These positions are essential to furthering the work of producers and other stakeholders in developing solutions to prevent algae blooms and improve water quality.  The Committee also approved the Governor’s proposal to create a grant program to support further farmer-led initiatives around the state.
 
Other highlights of the Committee’s action this week include:
·       Increased funding for services for victims of domestic abuse by $5 million
·       Provided additional resources to improve the employability of adults through literacy programs, another motion brought forward by Senator Harsdorf
·       Increased funding for adoptive families through post-adoption resource centers
·       Partially restored funding for public broadcasting that will ensure continued operation of the emergency notification system and Amber Alerts
·       Created a community-based program that allows for temporary host families for children as an alternative to foster care
5/14/2015
Include Clean Sweep in your Spring Cleaning Plans
Clean Sweep events are great opportunities for residents to properly dispose of hazardous household and agricultural chemicals or prescription drugs, keeping them out of the trash and helping protect our environment.  The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has a complete listing of all of the Clean Sweep events and dates throughout the state, but it is highly recommended to double check with each county’s event coordinator to confirm Clean Sweep dates and locations. 
 
The St. Croix County Clean Sweep will take place on May 15th and 16th at the Town of Hudson Highway Shop, 666 E Hwy 12, Hudson.  Businesses can drop off their waste on Friday morning (9am-noon) by making an appointment and completing a preregistration form.  Households can stop by Friday afternoon (1pm-5pm) and Saturday morning (9am-1pm) without an appointment or preregistration.  Visit DATCP’s website to find out more about the Clean Sweep program.
5/8/2015
Honoring Those that Protect and Serve
The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial (WLEM) is a statewide organization that strives to honor and remember Wisconsin law enforcement officers that have been killed in the line of duty.  Today, WLEM held their annual memorial at the State Capitol to recognize the brave men and women in our state that endanger their lives every day in order to provide safety for everyone.  Additionally, memorial events have been held locally to honor fallen officers in our area. 
 
As we take time to pay tribute to the individuals that have given the ultimate sacrifice to protect and defend our safety, please consider thanking your local law enforcement for the work that they do.  To learn more about the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial please visit http://www.wlem.com/ .
5/7/2015
Joint Committee on Finance – Budget Action – May 5 and 7
The Joint Committee on Finance continued its action on the state budget bill this week, meeting on both Tuesday, May 5th and Thursday, May 7th.  In addition to the Committee’s action, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its updated revenue forecast based upon the most recent revenue collections. 
 
The Fiscal Bureau found that its revenue estimates are holding, with expected growth in revenues of 3.7% in the current fiscal year.  While further revenue growth is not anticipated at this time due to slower growth in the national economy, Committee members, other legislators, and the Governor committed their support for finding alternative ways to provide additional resources for local school aids.
 
As part of the Committee’s deliberations, two budget amendments proposed by Senator Harsdorf were adopted by the Committee.  The budget bill transfers consumer protection functions currently administered by the Department of Health Services (DHS) to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).  Small businesses affected by this transfer include restaurants, lodging establishments, and some recreational establishments.  DATCP currently oversees consumer protections relating to other food-related entities, such as grocery stores and dairy farms.  At the request of small business owners, Senator Harsdorf’s motion would freeze fees for two years while the transition occurs to provide certainty to these employers.
 
A second motion brought forth by Senator Harsdorf was brought to her attention by an architectural firm in our area.  Currently the federal government allows for a tax deduction to architects, engineers, or contractors that develop energy efficient building designs for state and local governments and school districts.  However, the state agency responsible for state building projects has chosen not to provide the necessary form to these businesses.  Senator Harsdorf’s motion would require the state agency to provide the necessary documentation to allow these businesses the ability to claim this federal tax deduction in an effort to encourage energy efficient buildings and create savings in energy costs for taxpayers.
 
Other highlights of the Committee’s action this week:
·         Fully funded state parks through a modest increase in user fees for state parks and trails
·         Provided $20,000 in grant funding for advanced life support training to medical professionals that work in rural hospitals and clinics in Wisconsin.  This motion was also brought forward by Senator Harsdorf
·         Increased funding by $100,000 for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, which provides cancer screenings to low income women without insurance coverage
·         Ensured quality and efficient circuit court operations by providing a 2% salary adjustment for assistant district attorneys and assistant state public defenders to improve retention of qualified and experienced attorneys
·         Restored the private on-site water treatment system grant program that was proposed to be repealed.  This program provides low-income homeowners with grant funding to replace or repair failing septic systems to preserve groundwater quality
·         Retained the current Youth Apprenticeship grant program that funds valuable school-to-work opportunities, which was proposed to be folded into a new program.  Youth Apprenticeship connects local businesses with high school students to provide an introduction to professional occupations in a workplace setting
5/4/2015
Enjoy Wisconsin's Great Outdoors this Spring and Summer
As our weather continues to warm up and countryside begins to green, spring in Wisconsin brings a multitude of outdoor activities.  Whether it’s hiking on Wisconsin’s bluffs, bird watching, biking one of our many bike trails, or camping in pristine Wisconsin forests, our state boasts many enjoyable outdoor activities.  Be sure to save some time to enjoy great outdoor activities in the coming months!
 
For more ideas on taking advantage of Wisconsin’s great outdoors, visit http://www.travelwisconsin.com/things-to-do/outdoor-fun
5/1/2015
Online Camping Reservations - Make Enjoying Wisconsin’s Outdoors Easier
One of the best ways to enjoy Wisconsin is to spend a weekend camping.  As the summer months approach, camping becomes a popular activity for all ages and is a great way to take a break and enjoy the outdoors. 
 
The Department of Natural Resources has created a very easy and quick way to reserve a campsite.  Simply go to the DNR’s website and click on “Reserve a campsite.”  The website will prompt you to enter your campsite preferences, including which type of campsite you would like to reserve, what features are available, and which dates you would like to reserve the site.  From there, you can either reserve the camping site online or by phone.  Happy Camping!
4/23/2015
Joint Committee on Finance – Budget Action – April 22

The Joint Committee on Finance met on April 22nd to consider budget provisions relating to a number of agencies, including the Department of Natural Resources, Department of Tourism, and Department of Transportation.  Given the size of large agencies such as the DNR and DOT, the Committee will be taking up these agencies again in future meetings to consider other parts of their budgets.

Action taken by the Committee included requiring the DNR to work with stakeholders, including sportsmen and conservationists, to develop a plan to address the imbalance in the fish and wildlife account.  Currently, the revenues coming into the fish and wildlife account are less than the needs of the programs that rely on this account for funding.  The plan may include recommendations on program reductions or hunting and fishing license fee increases.
 
In another DNR related provision, the Committee provided funding in the budget to continue removing car-killed deer from state highways.  This funding had been eliminated as part of the Governor’s budget.  This provision also requires the DNR to develop recommendations on how to improve this program in the future.
 
The Committee will likely meet next during the week of May 4th.  It is anticipated that updated revenue estimates will be available that week, which will help guide the Committee’s work.
4/22/2015
Conservation Congress Spring Hearing Results Now Available

On April 13th the Wisconsin Conservation Congress’ Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings were held around the state with more than 4,600 residents, sportsmen, and conservationists taking part.  These meetings are held every year in each county to provide citizens with an opportunity to provide their input to state policymakers on fish and wildlife management issues. 

The meeting results and written comments are used by the Natural Resources Board as they consider changes.  Examples of resolutions supported by attendees this year include a proposal to increase possession limit for small game and to allow the opening day of pheasant season to begin at 9 a.m.

The statewide hearing results are now available on the DNR website at dnr.wi.gov by searching for the keywords " spring hearings ."
4/20/2015
Joint Committee on Finance - Budget Action – April 17

The Joint Committee on Finance continued its work on the budget bill on April 17th.  The Wisconsin Technical College System, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Health Services were among the state agencies taken up by the Committee.  

The highlight of the Committee’s executive session was providing funding for veterans services at our state’s technical colleges.  As we continue to work with our veterans to provide educational and workforce opportunities following their service to our country, campuses have found that support services tailored to the needs of veterans are effective in helping transition into postsecondary education.  The Committee’s action set aside $1 million to develop and expand these services for our deserving veterans.
 
In other action on Friday, the Committee voted to continue the implementation of performance based funding for technical colleges, which is scheduled to increase to 30% for the 2016-17 year and thereafter.  Performance based funding takes into account the outcomes of each technical college and incentivizes those that are using effective techniques in education and workforce training.  The Committee also increased fraud prevention efforts and investigation activities into the abuse of public assistance programs.
 
The next Committee executive session will be held on Wednesday, April 22nd.
4/17/2015
Detours Ahead as St. Croix River Crossing Progresses
At the end of April, Wisconsin approach work on the St. Croix River Crossing will begin to impact traffic around Houlton.  Wisconsin approach work in 2015 will include grading from County Road E to WIS 64, constructing an interchange structure on County Road E, and constructing roundabouts at WIS 35 and County Road E. 
 
Beginning the week of April 27th, existing WIS 35/64 will have single-lane traffic in both directions at the north end of the project’s limits.  On May 4th, the southern access to Anderson Scout Camp Road from WIS 35/64 is anticipated to be closed until September 2015.  The detour for Anderson Scout Camp will be to take its northern access at the County V interchange.
 
For more information on the project and road closings visit http://projects.511wi.gov/stcroixcrossing/ and a detour map .
4/16/2015
Joint Committee on Finance - Budget Action - April 15
The State Legislature’s budget writing committee, the Joint Committee on Finance, began its work to make changes to the Governor’s budget proposal on April 15th.  Following agency briefings and statewide public hearings on the Governor’s proposals, the Committee is now working to make modifications to the bill based upon the input we have received. 
 
Before the Committee’s first executive session, the co-chairs announced that a number of non-fiscal policy items would be removed from the budget bill.  Although these issues could be revisited later during the legislative process, at this time the provisions identified by the co-chairs are no longer part of the budget bill.  The policy items removed included the proposals to shift responsibility for property assessments from town, village, and city governments to county governments and to change the roles of the Natural Resources Board and DATCP Board to advisory councils. 
 
In other action, the Committee acted to:
  • Provide additional grant funding for broadband expansion in underserved areas of the state,
  • Require the Public Service Commission to conduct a review of studies relating to the health effects of those living near wind turbines,
  • Restore the Judicial Council, which is an advisory panel charged with bringing forward suggestions on improving Wisconsin’s court system, and
  • Maintain the current independence of the Judicial Commission, which is responsible for determining the discipline of judges, rather than moving the Commission under the Supreme Court.
 
4/2/2015
Caution! Be Aware and Informed of Scams
The benefits and convenience of technology continues to improve our quality of life and ease our everyday tasks.  However, it is important to take measures to secure your sensitive information and look out for potential scams when online or using a smartphone or tablet.  Scammers intentionally disguise phone, e-mail, and text messages to look like legitimate correspondence from your trusted banks, businesses, or even government agencies.  It seems as though every week there is another story about someone falling victim to identity theft, hacking, or other scams.
 
Using good sense and taking simple precautions can help keep your information secure and reduce the likelihood that you will become a victim.  One important resource is DATCP, Wisconsin’s consumer protection agency, which can be found online .  This site has a host of important resources to help you protect yourself, including tips for creating strong online passwords, safe social networking tips, what to do if you suspect you have received a scam solicitation, and ways to file a complaint with law enforcement.
 
DATCP regularly posts updated information on their Facebook page , to help consumers be aware of new scams.
3/31/2015
Three Walleye Limit Proposed for 2015 Season on Northern Lakes
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced a proposal for a daily bag limit of three walleye for the season on most waters in northern Wisconsin.  The proposal, which affects only walleye, will be considered by the Natural Resources Board at its next meeting on April 8.  If it is approved by the DNR Board, it will still be subject to a public hearing and comment process.
 
The three walleye decision was reached to manage the population of sport fish in northern waters in the Ceded Territory and establish certainty for anglers.  DNR officials considered the number of fish that will be harvested by recreational anglers and by spearfishing in the Ceded Territory.  In recent years, tribal spearfishing has resulted in fewer fish harvested than predicted, which has caused DNR to adjust bag limits for other anglers at different points throughout the fishing season.  This has caused confusion and uncertainty.  The new three walleye daily limit for the 2015 season will be a consistent number that anglers can count on as they go out on the water.
 
Detailed information about fishing guidelines on all lakes can be easily found through the DNR’s official Fish and Wildlife Guide mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android.
3/16/2015
Harsdorf Bill Encourages Growth of Paint and Sip Studios
Paint and sip studios are a new type of business that provide a unique entertainment venue where friends and family can get together and enjoy food and beverages while learning to paint.  These studios are looking to expand in Wisconsin, but current laws are making it difficult to do so in some communities.  In an effort to clarify our state’s laws and help encourage the establishment and expansion of these small businesses in Wisconsin, Senator Harsdorf has introduced Senate Bill 37.
 
Senate Bill 37 has two main provisions.  First, it will allow minors to be present at paint and sip studios without their parent present, allowing friends of any age to get together to paint at the studios, including for birthday parties and other special events held there. The bill will also clarify that these studios are eligible to obtain a liquor license, so they will be able to serve drinks to patrons of drinking age. The bill has been approved by committees in both houses of the Legislature and is scheduled for a vote on the floor of the State Senate this week.
 
There are already a few paint and sip studios in Wisconsin, including Cheers Pablo which recently opened in Hudson. The passage of this bill will help these popular businesses grow and be successful in our state.
3/5/2015
Legislators Establish Sportsmen's Caucus
Members of the legislature recently formed the Wisconsin Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus, a new chapter under the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses.
 
Some of the goals of the Caucus include ensuring that Wisconsin sportsmen and women have reasonable access to public lands, supporting efforts to enhance multiple use habitat management for wildlife and fisheries, and recognizing the importance of outdoor industries and activities to our state’s economy and heritage.
 
As an avid hunter, angler, and outdoors enthusiast, Senator Harsdorf is proud to be a member of this group.  Members of the Caucus will be working together to protect sporting heritage in Wisconsin and support professional wildlife management.  The first meeting of the Sportsmen’s Caucus was held last week.
2/27/2015
Order Seedlings Now for Spring 2015 Planting
Although snow still covers the ground, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is encouraging landowners to begin thinking about tree planting for the spring.  The spring 2015 Tree and Shrub Ordering Form, which includes information about tree and shrub species and how to order, is still available from the Wisconsin DNR State Reforestation Program.  Seedlings can be purchased through the DNR state nurseries for reforestation, wildlife habitat, and windbreak and erosion control purposes.  A list of available species can be found on the DNR website .
 
For more information, please click here , or call Griffith State Nursery in Wisconsin Rapids at 715-424-3700 or Wilson State Nursery in Boscobel at 608-375-4123.
2/18/2015
DNR Hosting Meeting February 24th on Willow River State Park Dam
The Department of Natural Resources will be holding a public information meeting regarding the repair of the dam in Willow River State Park.  The meeting will be held Tuesday February 24th beginning at 6 p.m. in the Hudson Town Hall at 980 County Road A.  During the meeting DNR officials plan to share information regarding the recent inspection of Willow River State Park’s Little Falls Dam.  Dam repair activities and the drawdown of Little Falls Flowage will be the primary discussion.
2/10/2015
No Call List Made Easier

As we all know from experience, incessant phone calls can be a nuisance and cause needless interruptions.   The Wisconsin No Call List has long been a way for individuals to reduce unwanted sales calls and texts by making it illegal for companies to call or text registered phone numbers for sales purposes.   Legislation passed last session means the state’s No Call List is now being partnered with the Federal Trade Commission’s list, making it easier for citizens by only having to register on one list and not having to renew every two years.

Visit http://www.privacy.wi.gov/ or call 1-888-382-1222 to register your telephone number today.   Companies have 31 days after the date of registration to remove registered numbers from their advertising lists before it is considered illegal to call.   If a sales call is received after 31 days of registration, complaints can be filed online or by calling 1-888-382-1222.     
    

 
    
2/4/2015
Road Construction Resumes on Wisconsin Approach to St. Croix Crossing

Construction on the Wisconsin approach to the new St. Croix Crossing at Houlton resumed this week.  Although construction has started again, traffic should not be affected until late April when Anderson Scout Camp Road will be closed until October.  A detour will be provided for traffic seeking to use this road.  From late July to September a portion of County E will be detoured and from  September to November the new WIS 35/WIS 64 westbound lanes will be opened, as well as the old highway opened as a frontage road.

The following options are available for more information, questions, and comments - visit the project website , receive weekly email updates , or call the information hotline at 1-855-GO-CROIX (462-7649).
2/3/2015
Report Fraud, Waste and Mismanagement of State Resources
While the State Legislature has passed a number of reforms in recent years to reduce waste, fraud, and mismanagement of state resources, we continue to look at ways to protect and conserve state resources.  The Legislative Audit Bureau is tasked with investigating allegations of fraud and improper acts by state agencies, officials, employees and contractors.
 
The Legislative Audit Bureau encourages people to report any fraud, waste, and mismanagement of state resources.  If you have any concerns about state resources being used in an inappropriate manner, click here to fill out an online form or call the Fraud, Waste and Mismanagement Hotline at 1-877-FRAUD-17 (1-877-372-8317).
 
1/29/2015
Helping Others by Giving Blood
Did you know that one pint of blood can save three lives?  Donating blood through the Red Cross can be a simple thing to do but it can change many lives, as someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds.  You can change someone’s life by donating blood at a location near you!
 
Blood donors are needed all year long and there are a number of blood drive events taking place in our region in the coming weeks.  For more information on these blood drives or on giving blood in general, please visit the Red Cross website at  www.redcrossblood.org .
1/28/2015
Receive Personalized Updates on Wisconsin's Legislative Activity
The Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service provides a great way to stay informed on the actions of the State Legislature with their nightly e-mail updates.  Receive notifications on any legislative activity from committee hearings to specific legislative proposals.   Simply visit their website here and sign up for personalized e-mails for information on topics that matter most to you.
1/26/2015
Getting Involved in State Government!
There are many ways for Wisconsinites to become involved in their state government with over two-hundred professional boards, commissions, councils and taskforces that seek citizen participation.  I encourage you to get involved by applying for open positions of interest to you. These boards, commissions, councils and taskforces allow state residents to be involved in policy making, advisory roles, and advocacy efforts.  They also provide a wide variety of topics for citizens to choose from ranging from the Council on Autism to the Board of Veterans Affairs. 
 
While it is often logistically challenging for individuals in our region of the state to participate in these boards and councils, it is vitally important that citizens from all parts of the state participate and bring the perspective of their area or region to the table.  I would encourage interested individuals from our area to check out the opportunities and help ensure geographic representation.  To see a full list of the available organizations, boards, and councils, please visit the Governor’s website here .
1/23/2015
January is National Human Trafficking Awareness and Prevention Month
Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world.  Wisconsin is not exempt from its global reach, with domestic and foreign victims being identified in both urban and rural communities in our state.
 
The Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) is a membership agency working towards ending sexual violence in Wisconsin.  This organization supports victims in Wisconsin who are trafficked by force, fraud or coercion for the purposes of labor or sexual exploitation.  WCASA encourages people to report any human trafficking activities by calling the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.  To learn more about National Human Trafficking Awareness & Prevention Month, please visit the WCASA website by clicking here .
 
1/21/2015
Enjoy Our Great Outdoors!
The days are getting longer but opportunities to enjoy our great winter outdoors still abound!  When you are planning your next fun weekend in Wisconsin’s widespread winter wonderland, check out the Department of Tourism’s Wisconsin Snow Report.  Whether you are skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, or snowmobiling, the Wisconsin Snow Report keeps you informed on trail conditions across the state.  You can also easily find events, dining, and lodging nearby.  Access the website here and get the most out of your weekend in the Wisconsin Great Outdoors. 
1/16/2015
Keeping the Tradition Alive!
Although the recent deer hunting season is over, it is not too early to start thinking about future hunts.  The Wisconsin hunting tradition has been a prominent part of our state heritage for many generations but the number of active hunters has been declining over the years.  Now more than ever, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Recourses’ (DNR) mentored hunter program is making it easier to introduce more young Wisconsinites to the sport of hunting.
 
The mentored hunter program allows people starting at the age of 10 to hunt without the completion of a hunter safety course provided they are accompanied by an eligible mentor.  If you are over 18 and have a passion for hunting and conservation, it is likely you would be a great mentor for a new hunter during the next game season.  For a complete list of mentor and hunter qualification requirements, visit the DNR’s website here .  Keep the tradition alive!
1/12/2015
Escape Cabin Fever Enjoy Free Fishing Weekend
To once again celebrate Wisconsin’s outdoor heritage, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be holding a Free Fishing Weekend on January 17th-18th, 2015.  Residents and nonresidents alike can fish without a license or trout stamp during this weekend.  In St. Croix County, community organizations will be holding a “Kids Fishing Derby” on Saturday, January 17th from 2:00 to 4:00 at Willow River State Park.
 
To learn more about Free Fishing Weekend, as well as all the rules that apply, please visit the DNR website or click here .
1/9/2015
UW System Promoting Excellent Veteran Education Services
University of Wisconsin System institutions have been setting an example for the nation by providing veterans and their families with supportive services to ensure a successful transition from military service to campus life.  To ensure continuity of services to veterans across all UW campuses, the UW System is creating the UW Veterans Education and Transition Success (VETS) Certification. This November the goals for UW VETS Certification will be determined by the U.S. Department of Education’s 8 Keys for Veteran Success, along with the members of the UW VETS Certifying Panel.  For more information on this initiative click here.