8 pages have the tag Agriculture

    /news/columns/2014/farmers-ask-where-s-the-train-to-ship-my-grain/
    Summary: “The farmers are coming to me saying ‘we need drivers to get the corn to market. We need barges and trains to get the harvest to market.’” Barb Gronemus recently told me. “Kathleen you need to pay attention to problems with shipping grain.”
    Body: “The farmers are coming to me saying ‘we need drivers to get the corn to market. We need barges and trains to get the harvest to market.’” Barb Gronemus recently told me. “Kathleen you need to pay attention to problems with shipping grain.” Forme...
    /news/columns/2014/enjoy-wisconsins-dairy-breakfasts/
    Summary: June is dairy month. Wisconsin celebrates dairy in a special way: the dairy breakfast. Folks come early for the fresh pancakes, sausage, cheese curds and country air.
    Body: “I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in 18 years,” the woman from Whitehall told me. “I see people at the dairy breakfast I see nowhere else all year,” said another from Independence. Dairy breakfasts bring together folks from all walks of life and...
    /news/columns/2015/farmers-say-budget-damages-farm-research-schools-and-conservation-input/
    Summary: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol.
    Body: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol. Th...
    /news/columns/2016/finding-help-for-flooded-families-and-farms/
    Summary: “It gets overwhelming,” my neighbor told me. We were walking through her flooded barnyard. Floodwaters left silt everywhere: in the house, the garden, the barn, and the farmyard.
    Body: August 24, 2016 Finding Help for Flooded Families and Farms “It gets overwhelming,” my neighbor told me. We were walking through her flooded barnyard. Floodwaters left silt everywhere: in the house, the garden, the barn, and the farmyard. Famil...

    Hemp: Its Time Has Come

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/hemp-its-time-has-come/
    Summary: Farmers in diverse states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine and Minnesota are researching a new crop: industrial hemp. Many states are changing laws to allow growing of hemp.
    Body: Hemp: Its Time Has Come Farmers in diverse states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine and Minnesota are researching a new crop: industrial hemp. Many states are changing laws to allow growing of hemp. Wisconsin is slow to get in the game. Hopefully, th...
    /news/columns/2017/proposal-helps-veterans-become-farmers/
    Summary: “As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.
    Body: Proposal Helps Veterans Become Farmers “As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Touris...
    /news/columns/2017/celebrating-wisconsin-s-dairyland/
    Summary: June is dairy month. A time to celebrate all we love about ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to 1.28 million dairy cows, which is more than one cow for every five Wisconsinites.
    Body: Celebrating Wisconsin’s Dairyland “Do you still milk?” I asked Jim at a recent gathering. “No,” he told me. “My son tells me the most help I can be is to stay out of the way,” he joked. We both agreed that was hard. Dairying gets in your blood....

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/

2 pages have the tag Governing

    /news/columns/2016/the-best-idea-for-a-bill-comes-from-you/
    Summary: December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind the scenes, lawmakers are working on new legislation. In the next few weeks I will be drafting bills to introduce in January. I am looking for your ideas!
    Body: The Best Idea for a Bill Comes from You! “Where do you get ideas for bills?” a woman at a café recently asked me. “The best ideas for bills come from people like you,” I told her. December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind...

    The State of Two States

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/the-state-of-two-states/
    Summary: “… For the third straight year, Politico ranked Minnesota one of the two strongest states in the nation,” touted the Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. Wisconsin ranked 11th moving up from 17th last year in Politico’s ranking.
    Body:  The State of Two States “Yesterday, ahead of President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, Politico released its third annual analysis on ‘The States of the Union.’ For the third straight year, Politico ranked Minnesota one of the two stro...

1 page has the tag Environment

    Art Mirrors our Environment

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/art-mirrors-our-environment/
    Summary: Stockholm is a picturesque Mississippi River town of 66 individuals (not counting the dogs and cats) that swells by many hundreds on art fair day.
    Body: Art Mirrors our Environment “If you came to Stockholm today, you came up or over a river,” musician Julie Patchouli told the folks gathered at the 42nd Annual Art Fair. The musical group, known by Julie’s last name, began a rousing river song a...

2 pages have the tag Elections

    /news/columns/2016/the-voting-window-is-quickly-closing/
    Summary: Spring elections are April 5th. Voters will choose, among others, all county board supervisors, a Supreme Court judge and their preference for President.
    Body: The Voting Window is Quickly Closing “We’ve got to go to the clerk and get your ballot sent to college,” I said to my son. “Aw Mom. Is this election really that important?” he asked. “YES!” I answered. Maybe I added a little too much emphasis....

    Go Vote…Even on Saturday

    Last edited: 10/27/2016

    /news/columns/2016/go-vote-even-on-saturday/
    Summary: On a beautiful October Saturday afternoon, my college-student son and I went to vote. Afterwards, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
    Body:   Go Vote…Even on Saturday On a beautiful October Saturday afternoon, my college-student son and I went to vote. Afterwards, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Just between you and me, I worried about my son voting. Would he come home before Ele...
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4 pages have the tag Sand Mines

    /news/columns/2014/new-studies-sand-mines-place-communities-at-risk/
    Summary: “What new information do we have about the mines?” the Eau Claire reporter asked me.
    Body: “What new information do we have about the mines?” the Eau Claire reporter asked me. The reporter was referring to two sand mine studies recently released; one by a committee under the charge of the Trempealeau County Board and the other by the B...
    /news/columns/2014/sand-mine-bill-strips-local-powers-community-s-ability-to-say-no/
    Summary: Should communities be able to prevent development of sand mines? Can communities set rules if sand mine operations are inadequate to protect nearby residents?
    Body: Should communities be able to prevent development of sand mines? Can communities set rules if sand mine operations are inadequate to protect nearby residents? A new “communities cannot say no to sand mines” bill is making its way through the Legi...

    When “Up” is “Down”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/when-up-is-down/
    Summary: A last-minute budget amendment has folks in Western Wisconsin very worried.
    Body:   When “Up” is “Down” Trying to understand last minute deals taking away local powers A last-minute budget amendment has folks in Western Wisconsin very worried. Locals have spent seven years negotiating with large sand mines to reach agreeme...
    /news/columns/2016/the-next-well-that-goes-bad-may-be-yours/
    Summary: “I feel like the state failed to protect the people,” Stacy told me. “Nobody really cares because it’s not affecting them.”
    Body: “I feel like the state failed to protect the people,” Stacy told me. “Nobody really cares because it’s not affecting them.” Stacy is one of several Lincoln Township residents in Trempealeau County who lived through two years of well problems. An...

4 pages have the tag Budget

    /news/columns/2017/will-wisconsin-s-future-children-receive-an-equal-education/
    Summary: Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack of agreement on public education. They say no progress can happen until they round up necessary votes for the education portion of the budget. Privately, some GOP lawmakers are also angling to spend mone...
    Body: Will Wisconsin’s Future Children Receive an Equal Education? Progress with the state budget is at a standoff in the Capitol. Behind closed doors, leaders are talking details and trying to find votes. Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack o...
    /news/press-releases/2017/citizens-invited-to-state-budget-town-hall-meeting-in-eau-claire/
    Summary: Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Representative Dana Wachs will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Eau Claire on May 20, 2017.
    Body:   Citizens Invited to State Budget Town Hall Meeting Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Representative Dana Wachs will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Eau Claire on May 20, 2017. “This state budget will have s...
    /news/press-releases/2017/citizens-invited-to-state-budget-town-hall-meeting-in-mondovi/
    Summary: Senator Kathleen Vinehout will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Mondovi on May 25, 2017.
    Body: May 12, 2017   Citizens Invited to State Budget Town Hall Meeting Senator Kathleen Vinehout will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Mondovi on May 25, 2017. “This state budget will have significant impact o...

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/
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3 pages have the tag Crime

    /news/columns/2014/identity-theft-new-scam-targets-unemployment-insurance/
    Summary: A woman was the victim of an unemployment insurance scam. “What are you going to do to help me?” she challenged legislators and candidates at a recent forum in Eau Claire. “What are you going to do to prevent this from happening again?”
    Body: A woman was the victim of an unemployment insurance scam. “What are you going to do to help me?” she challenged legislators and candidates at a recent forum in Eau Claire. “What are you going to do to prevent this from happening again?” The scam...
    /news/columns/2016/do-not-click-on-that-email-from-the-irs/
    Summary: Even though tax season is over, scammers are still using official looking emails to lure unsuspecting, honest taxpayers into their evil web.
    Body: Don’t Click on that Email from the IRS! In my inbox was an official looking email from the “Internal Revenue Service”. The subject line was: “Tax return request submitted”. Without thinking, I clicked on the attachment to the email. “Did you...
    /news/columns/2017/card-skimmer-bill-aimed-at-stopping-gas-pump-scam/
    Summary: “Be careful when you fill up,” Linda warned me a few months ago. “There’s a new scam that captures your credit card information when you pay for your gas at the pump.”
    Body: Card Skimmer Bill Aimed at Stopping Gas Pump Scam “Be careful when you fill up,” Linda warned me a few months ago. “There’s a new scam that captures your credit card information when you pay for your gas at the pump.” One more thing to worry abo...

1 page has the tag Jobs and Economy

    /news/columns/2014/improve-the-economy-get-money-in-people-s-pockets/
    Summary: “If there is one thing you could do to help it would be to raise the minimum wage.” A worker told me. She worked the last 8 years for a company that barely paid her $8.00 an hour.
    Body: “If there is one thing you could do to help it would be to raise the minimum wage.” A worker told me. She worked the last 8 years for a company that barely paid her $8.00 an hour. “I’m the only breadwinner in my family. We can’t survive on my sal...

16 pages have the tag Health Care

    /news/columns/2017/confusing-health-coverage-dominates-thanksgiving-conversations/
    Summary: “My family conversations over Thanksgiving were all about health care,” Mary shared with me. “It’s all so confusing.”
    Body: Confusing Health Coverage Dominates Thanksgiving Conversations “My family conversations over Thanksgiving were all about health care,” Mary shared with me. “It’s all so confusing.” Mary’s family is not alone. From recent conversations, I’m betti...
    /news/columns/2014/window-closing-for-health-insurance-sign-up-now/
    Summary: March 31st is the last day to sign up for Marketplace insurance coverage in 2014. If you don’t sign up now, you won’t be able to buy private health insurance for 2014 – even if you need insurance.
    Body: “I was getting the run-around,” the Eau Claire woman told me. She tried to get health insurance through the federal healthcare.gov website and was told she was eligible for Medicaid coverage in her state.  When she went to sign-up for BadgerCare,...
    /news/columns/2014/use-new-federal-money-for-badgercare/
    Summary: “My twin sister lives in La Crosse... I’d love to visit her but when I get all the bills paid, I don’t even have $20 for gas to get me there and back,” Mary said. “And, I don’t have any health insurance. What if something happened to one of us?”
    Body: Help those working hard & help lower others’ premium costs “I’m so glad to see you,” Mary from Eau Claire told me at a recent neighborhood gathering. I asked how she was doing. “It’s hard,” she admitted. “I work 32 hours a week. I make...
    /news/columns/2014/health-advocates-inform-and-challenge-lawmakers/
    Summary: "YOU are the reason why we were so successful…” Eric Borgerding of the Wisconsin Hospital Association told the health advocates. "You are extremely effective in communicating with and educating your legislators on local health care issue...
    Body: "YOU are the reason why we were so successful…” Eric Borgerding of the Wisconsin Hospital Association told the health advocates. "You are extremely effective in communicating with and educating your legislators on local health care issues...
    /news/columns/2014/fair-goers-living-with-health-insurance-changes-asking-for-more/
    Summary: “The Affordable Care Act has been godsend for me,” the middle-aged, single man whispered to me at the Jackson County Fair. “I had paid $336 a month, now I pay $56 and its better insurance.”
    Body: “The Affordable Care Act has been godsend for me,” the middle-aged, single man whispered to me at the Jackson County Fair. “I had paid $336 a month, now I pay $56 and its better insurance.” Health insurance, and what Wisconsin should do about it,...
    /news/columns/2015/state-health-marketplace-needed-to-protect-wisconsinites/
    Summary: Many Wisconsinites are waiting to hear if they will still be able to afford their health insurance bill.
    Body: “Wisconsin has relied heavily on the exchange to expand health insurance coverage,” wrote President Eric Borgerding of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA). In a recent letter to Legislators, he warned a looming Supreme Court decision “could s...

    Save SeniorCare, Again!

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/save-seniorcare-again/
    Summary: “Please do what you can to keep SeniorCare as is. It is critical to those of us on it.” wrote a rural Buffalo County woman.
    Body: “Please do what you can to keep SeniorCare as is. It is critical to those of us on it.” wrote a rural Buffalo County woman. “I will be 70 years old in a couple of months and not on any prescription medicines. SeniorCare is perfect for me as I ver...
    /news/columns/2015/people-speak-out-about-consequences-of-budget-decisions/
    Summary: “This is not my cup of tea,” the farmer said quietly as he moved up to the microphone at the Eau Claire budget hearing.
    Body: “This is not my cup of tea,” the farmer said quietly as he moved up to the microphone at the Eau Claire budget hearing. “I’m a UW grad. I’m a farmer. I’m a tech college grad. My kids went to public school. There’s a lot I could talk about today....
    /news/columns/2015/medicare-and-medicaid-turn-50-born-from-compromise-continuing-in-controversy/
    Summary: Watch: Medicare and Medicaid at 50The Story of Medicare: A Timeline
    Body: View video: Medicare and Medicaid at 50 View video: The Story of Medicare: A Timeline Source: Kaiser Family Foundation   “Whatever you do,” the elderly woman in Gilmanton told me a few years ago, “Keep your government-run hands off my Medicare...
    /news/columns/2015/health-still-a-top-political-issue/
    Summary: “ObamaCare must be repealed immediately,” begins Governor Walker’s health plan for America.
    Body: Health Still a Top Political Issue “ObamaCare must be repealed immediately,” begins Governor Walker’s health plan for America. Recently the governor unveiled his health plan to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He chose Minnesota as the...
    /news/columns/2015/advocacy-gives-voice-to-the-voiceless-families-support-family-care-and-iris/
    Summary: I remember when I first met a man I’ll call ‘Ron’. He came to my office with his caregiver. He couldn’t speak but used a speech synthesizer and an iPad to introduce himself.
    Body: Advocacy Gives Voice to the Voiceless - Families Support Family Care and IRIS I remember when I first met a man I’ll call ‘Ron’. He came to my office with his caregiver. He couldn’t speak but used a speech synthesizer and an iPad to introduce h...
    /news/columns/2016/birth-life-and-death-of-a-bad-idea/
    Summary: “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Care Association in early spring of 2015.
    Body: Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Ca...
    /news/columns/2017/talk-is-all-health-care-at-the-art-fair/
    Summary: “My father-in-law is losing his health insurance,” Pam told me. She stopped to chat as we perused the booths at the Stockholm Art Fair.
    Body: Talk Is All Health Care at the Art Fair “My father-in-law is losing his health insurance,” Pam told me. She stopped to chat as we perused the booths at the Stockholm Art Fair. Stockholm, population 66, has one of the best art fairs in western Wi...
    /news/columns/2017/health-care-steps-toward-the-future/
    Summary: An older man contacted me recently with a problem. A visit to the doctor left him with thousands in unpaid bills. Medicare deemed the tests “routine” and not a “medical necessity.” But the gentleman was told, for his occupation, the tests were abs...
    Body: Health Care: Steps Toward the Future An older man contacted me recently with a problem. A visit to the doctor left him with thousands in unpaid bills. Medicare deemed the tests “routine” and not a “medical necessity.” But the gentleman was told,...

    Healthcare: What’s Next?

    Last edited: 04/19/2017

    /news/columns/2017/healthcare-what-s-next/
    Summary: “Obamacare is the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the nation. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
    Body:   Healthcare: What’s Next? “Obamacare is the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the nation. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” The much-maligned Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 will stay i...

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/

4 pages have the tag Economic Development

    /news/columns/2014/discover-wineries-on-wisconsin-s-beautiful-west-coast/
    Summary: Yes, Wisconsin has wineries – over 70 – and growing.
    Body: “Wisconsin has wineries?” the Chicago woman asked guests at a local bed and breakfast who shared their plans for touring. Yes, Wisconsin has wineries – over 70 – and growing. Many of the state’s wineries are located in the Upper Mississippi Rive...
    /news/columns/2015/time-to-return-to-a-state-department-of-commerce/
    Summary: Not following the law, and not acting in a transparent and accountable way is a frequent criticism of the state’s economic development operations.
    Body: “When do we return the economic development initiative and the checkbook to the control of a state agency?” John Dunn of Mauston asked in a letter to Legislators. “The WEDC has again failed to follow state law and its own policies in awarding ta...
    /news/columns/2015/should-tax-dollars-go-to-companies-just-to-create-jobs/
    Summary: WEDC’s name is misleading – it is not a corporation. It is a state ‘authority’ and is – or should be – accountable to taxpayers for dollars it spends. That’s why the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has been auditing WEDC since its creat...
    Body: Imagine how private firms do business with the State of Wisconsin. The companies provide something of value for taxpayers and, in return, receive state money. This happens all the time in state government: private companies build roads, computer...
    /news/columns/2015/economic-development-grow-public-oversight-shrinks/
    Summary: “I’ve heard about the cuts,” the Buffalo County man said. “But this budget spends more. Who’s getting more money?”
    Body: Economic Development $$$ Grow ~ Public Oversight Shrinks “I’ve heard about the cuts,” the Buffalo County man said. “But this budget spends more. Who’s getting more money?” Folks are concerned about big cuts to the UW; cuts to local schools; sc...

8 pages have the tag WEDC

    /news/columns/2014/wedc-new-audit-raises-more-questions/
    Summary: The big question, did the agency successfully assist businesses in creating jobs, was not addressed in this audit. A companion audit last year reported there was no verification of claims of tens of thousands of jobs created.
    Body: “I’m really uncomfortable with all these questions,” Linda told me. We were discussing the most recent audit of the state’s job creation agency: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). WEDC is a quasi-private entity formed by the gover...
    /news/columns/2015/wedc-leaders-missed-opportunity-to-apologize-and-reform/
    Summary: “Are you going to follow the recommendations in the audit?” I asked the Board Chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). He crossed his arms, sat back and smiled at me.
    Body: “Are you going to follow the recommendations in the audit?” I asked the Board Chair of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). He crossed his arms, sat back and smiled at me. A smile that, to me, said I was annoying him. The clear...
    /news/columns/2015/time-to-return-to-a-state-department-of-commerce/
    Summary: Not following the law, and not acting in a transparent and accountable way is a frequent criticism of the state’s economic development operations.
    Body: “When do we return the economic development initiative and the checkbook to the control of a state agency?” John Dunn of Mauston asked in a letter to Legislators. “The WEDC has again failed to follow state law and its own policies in awarding ta...
    /news/columns/2015/should-tax-dollars-go-to-companies-just-to-create-jobs/
    Summary: WEDC’s name is misleading – it is not a corporation. It is a state ‘authority’ and is – or should be – accountable to taxpayers for dollars it spends. That’s why the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has been auditing WEDC since its creat...
    Body: Imagine how private firms do business with the State of Wisconsin. The companies provide something of value for taxpayers and, in return, receive state money. This happens all the time in state government: private companies build roads, computer...
    /news/columns/2015/economic-development-grow-public-oversight-shrinks/
    Summary: “I’ve heard about the cuts,” the Buffalo County man said. “But this budget spends more. Who’s getting more money?”
    Body: Economic Development $$$ Grow ~ Public Oversight Shrinks “I’ve heard about the cuts,” the Buffalo County man said. “But this budget spends more. Who’s getting more money?” Folks are concerned about big cuts to the UW; cuts to local schools; sc...
    /news/columns/2017/wedc-admits-they-are-not-following-the-law/
    Summary: “We have not been able to verify the jobs,” said Secretary Mark Hogan at a recent public hearing of the Joint Committee on Audit.
    Body: WEDC Admits They Are Not Following the Law “We have not been able to verify the jobs,” said Secretary Mark Hogan at a recent public hearing of the Joint Committee on Audit. In this statement, the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corpor...
    /news/columns/2017/wedcs-history-raises-concerns-about-state-s-ability-to-oversee-foxconn-deal/
    Summary: “Can you find out the nuclear flaw in the Foxconn deal?” a woman asked me. She was referring to words leaked out of secret negotiations between the state and a Taiwanese billionaire.
    Body: WEDC’s History Raises Concerns about State’s Ability to Oversee Foxconn Deal “Can you find out the nuclear flaw in the Foxconn deal?” a woman asked me. She was referring to words leaked out of secret negotiations between the state and a Taiwanese...
    /news/columns/2017/audit-wedc-cannot-be-certain-of-any-jobs-created-or-retained/
    Summary: Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes to job creation.
    Body: AUDIT: WEDC Cannot Be Certain of Any Jobs Created or Retained Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes...
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1 page has the tag Small Business

    /news/columns/2015/changes-for-work-and-workers-in-the-gig-economy/
    Summary: “If my company followed the rules, they couldn’t survive,” my niece Becky told me as we traveled home from our “Small Business Saturday” shopping trip.
    Body: ​Changes for Work and Workers In the "Gig Economy" “If my company followed the rules, they couldn’t survive,” my niece Becky told me as we traveled home from our “Small Business Saturday” shopping trip. Small retail businesses are owned by local...

30 pages have the tag Education

    /news/columns/2017/free-tuition-for-two-year-and-tech-colleges-means-freedom-to-learn/
    Summary: “Every Wisconsinite should have access to education or training past high school… To be pursued at whatever point and pace makes sense for individual workers and industries,” wrote researchers at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) eight years...
    Body: Free Tuition for Two-Year and Tech Colleges Means Freedom to Learn “Every Wisconsinite should have access to education or training past high school… To be pursued at whatever point and pace makes sense for individual workers and industries,” wrot...
    /news/columns/2014/wisconsin-leading-the-way-in-state-cuts-to-schools/
    Summary: A recently released study of state budget cuts to local schools has Wisconsin ranked second only to Alabama in cuts per pupil.
    Body: “Hard to believe we are in competition for last place!” said Pepin Superintendent Bruce Quinton. This is hard to believe indeed. A recently released study of state budget cuts to local schools has Wisconsin ranked second only to Alabama in cuts p...
    /news/columns/2014/recent-school-referenda-pass-voters-show-strong-support-for-local-schools/
    Summary: “I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.”
    Body: “I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.” All across Wisconsin voters chose to raise property ta...

    Our Children’s Future

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/our-children-s-future/
    Summary: I spent the morning sharing my life as state Senator with many intelligent, interested young adults. They were as eager to learn about public service as I was to share. Many of them never thought about a career as an elected official.
    Body: School Visit and Community Forum Raise Questions “Your future awaits,” the Student Council President said as he handed students the schedule for Career Day. He then led me to the computer lab where my first class waited. I spent the morning sh...
    /news/columns/2014/plan-unveiled-to-gradually-privatize-public-schools/
    Summary: “If I was going to write a bill to privatize public schools,” the Senate staffer told our small group, “this is what it would look like.”
    Body: “If I was going to write a bill to privatize public schools,” the Senate staffer told our small group, “this is what it would look like.” We were reviewing a new version of a bill to test students attending private schools using state tax dollars...
    /news/columns/2014/school-bells-ring-local-schools-see-fewer-state-dollars-while-private-voucher-schools-win-big/
    Summary: “How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me.
    Body: “How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me. As a new school...
    /news/columns/2014/legislative-spat-signals-slow-down-for-privatized-public-schools/
    Summary: “There’s ‘no appetite’ for passing a bill this year that imposes sanctions against poorly performing public or private voucher schools” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an Associate Press story.
    Body: “There’s ‘no appetite’ for passing a bill this year that imposes sanctions against poorly performing public or private voucher schools” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an Associate Press story. “No appetite” was code for “we don’t have...
    /news/columns/2014/independent-charter-schools-siphoning-off-public-money-to-private-interests/
    Summary: “Will the Legislature allow statewide expansion of charter schools and how will that affect my local public school?”
    Body: “Will the Legislature allow statewide expansion of charter schools and how will that affect my local public school?” This question is one I hear so often particularly in communities where people are worried about the future of their small local s...
    /news/columns/2015/teacher-shortage-who-will-teach-the-children/
    Summary: “Please sound the alarm,” Superintendent Mary Baier wrote to me. “We are not able to find people to fill positions in Wisconsin.” She needed a special education teacher and only one applicant had applied to her rural Plum City district.
    Body: “Please sound the alarm,” Superintendent Mary Baier wrote to me. “We are not able to find people to fill positions in Wisconsin.” She needed a special education teacher and only one applicant had applied to her rural Plum City district. When the...

    “I Don’t Have A Clue”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/i-don-t-have-a-clue/
    Summary: School Play Mirrors Confusion in Assembly Education Committee.
    Body: School Play Mirrors Confusion in Assembly Education Committee “Edgar: All right, everybody; back to the scene of the crime.“Ella: New clues?“Carol: What clues?“Bob: What’s the next clue?“Carol: I don’t have a clue.“Norman: (At the window box, d...

    “I’m Counting on You”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/i-m-counting-on-you/
    Summary: In late night budget action, after freezing the school revenue limit and allowing no increase in aid, the Republican majority voted to strip away teaching standards.
    Body: Removal of Teaching Standards Fires Up Folks “I’m counting on you,” Tracy from Mondovi wrote me. “The architects of the Joint Finance Committee’s education budget package wrongly assumes that anyone can teach by allowing those with minimal qua...
    /news/columns/2015/i-agree-governor-let-s-make-public-schools-whole/
    Summary: In a recent late night session, …Republicans on the Joint Finance committee opened wide the spigot of state money flowing to private schools.
    Body: “Our number one priority gotta to be make (sic) sure that we make K-12 schools, public education in the state, a priority to make sure they’re held whole,” said Governor Walker on April 23rd, as quoted by Wisconsin Radio Network. I agree, Governo...
    /news/columns/2015/farmers-say-budget-damages-farm-research-schools-and-conservation-input/
    Summary: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol.
    Body: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol. Th...
    /news/columns/2015/details-buried-deep-in-budget-affect-students-and-voters/
    Summary: “I didn’t know that was a part of the state budget,” the parent told me.
    Body: “I didn’t know that was a part of the state budget,” the parent told me. That was the reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota to allow students from across state lines to attend public universities at in-state tuition costs. This ar...
    /news/columns/2016/school-budget-proposal-brings-needed-relief/
    Summary: “Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal.
    Body: School Budget Proposal Brings Needed Relief “Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal. “Around the state...

    School Funding Hits Home

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/school-funding-hits-home/
    Summary: What’s wrong with school funding? Explaining this to voters is difficult. Try explaining it to a ninth grader who is losing a favorite teacher. The teacher is not retiring. At 53 and after teaching for 29 years, he lost his job.
    Body: School Funding Hits Home What’s wrong with school funding? Explaining this to voters is difficult. Try explaining it to a ninth grader who is losing a favorite teacher. The teacher is not retiring. At 53 and after teaching for 29 years, he lost...
    /news/columns/2016/referenda-sustain-schools-during-time-of-decreasing-state-support/
    Summary: “School districts these days more or less live and die by these referendums in terms of their ability to sustain programs and staff,” Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) recently said.
    Body: Referenda Sustain Schools During Time of Decreasing State Support “School districts these days more or less live and die by these referendums in terms of their ability to sustain programs and staff,” Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association...
    /news/columns/2017/school-funding-it-s-about-more-than-money/
    Summary: “Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me.
    Body:   School Funding: It’s about More than Money “Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me....
    /news/columns/2017/school-visit-to-the-arctic-zone-prompts-thinking-anew-about-education/
    Summary: Two six-graders recently showed me around their classrooms. Desks were not in straight rows. Students were not waiting their turn with raised hands. I looked around the room. There actually were no desks at all, but tables and different types of c...
    Body:   School Visit to the “ARCTIC Zone” Prompts Thinking Anew about Education Two six-graders recently showed me around their classrooms. Desks were not in straight rows. Students were not waiting their turn with raised hands. I looked around the ro...
    /news/columns/2017/will-wisconsin-s-future-children-receive-an-equal-education/
    Summary: Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack of agreement on public education. They say no progress can happen until they round up necessary votes for the education portion of the budget. Privately, some GOP lawmakers are also angling to spend mone...
    Body: Will Wisconsin’s Future Children Receive an Equal Education? Progress with the state budget is at a standoff in the Capitol. Behind closed doors, leaders are talking details and trying to find votes. Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack o...
    /news/columns/2017/youth-in-government-day-engages-teens/
    Summary: “Imagine you could make the laws. What would you change about how things are run?” My question to the students spurred a long discussion about change in our world.
    Body:   Youth in Government Day Engages Teens “Imagine you could make the laws. What would you change about how things are run?” My question to the students spurred a long discussion about change in our world. Almost 100 high school students recently...

    2016

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2016/

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/
    /news/press-releases/2016/mr-humphries-long-on-blame-short-on-facts/
    Summary: Recent voucher-convert John Humphries has been busy spending his days writing pieces for Right Wisconsin, retweeting voucher leaders, and creating conspiracy theories that school report cards are rigged. But here is the problem: the report card c...
    Body:   Mr. Humphries - Long on Blame, Short on Facts Recent voucher-convert John Humphries has been busy spending his days writing pieces for Right Wisconsin, retweeting voucher leaders, and creating conspiracy theories that school report cards are r...
    /news/columns/2016/local-referenda-replace-the-lack-of-state-education-funds/
    Summary: From Arrowhead to West Salem, voters across the state are considering the future of their school districts when they go to the polls. Citizens in 46 districts will be asked to approve referenda.
    Body: Local Referenda Replace the Lack of State Education Funds From Arrowhead to West Salem, voters across the state are considering the future of their school districts when they go to the polls. Citizens in 46 districts will be asked to approve refe...
    /news/columns/2016/concerns-about-rising-property-taxes-support-more-state-aid-for-schools/
    Summary: “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me.
    Body: August 3, 2016   Concerns about Rising Property Taxes? Support More State Aid for Schools  “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me. I hesitated. No one in Madison – th...

    Who Will Be My Teacher?

    Last edited: 10/27/2016

    /news/columns/2016/who-will-be-my-teacher/
    Summary: “Who will be my teacher?” my son asked me years ago. For a brief point in time, the teacher was the most important person in his young life.
    Body:   Who Will Be My Teacher? “Who will be my teacher?” my son asked me years ago. For a brief point in time, the teacher was the most important person in his young life. As children head back to school and parents scramble with new schedules, scho...
    /news/columns/2016/residents-question-public-school-money-going-to-private-schools/
    Summary: “I am paying for private schools with my taxes?” the women from Pepin asked following my presentation at a recent Town Hall meeting. “Yes, you are,” I told her.
    Body:   Residents Question Public School Money Going to Private Schools “I am paying for private schools with my taxes?” the women from Pepin asked following my presentation at a recent Town Hall meeting. “Yes, you are,” I told her. Residents were su...
    /news/columns/2016/private-school-subsidy-for-special-education-raises-concerns-about-quality-and-cost/
    Summary: “When you write about tax money going to private schools, please tell people about special education vouchers,” a rural school board member told me. “Because of a change in state law, our school district is paying for special education students to...
    Body:   Private School Subsidy for Special Education Raises ConcernsAbout Quality and Cost “When you write about tax money going to private schools, please tell people about special education vouchers,” a rural school board member told me. “Because of...
    /news/columns/2016/budget-cuts-to-education-cost-all-of-us/
    Summary: Mike told me his department used to have 15 professors. They now have 11 – soon to be 10. They plan to replace the person leaving but it’s getting harder to recruit and retain faculty.
    Body: Budget Cuts to Education Cost All of Us “We hired a great inorganic chemistry professor last year,” Mike, a UW-River Falls chemistry professor, told me. “Unfortunately she’s leaving in May for St. Olaf.” I visited St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnes...
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1 page has the tag Alternative Energy

    Delight in the Sun!

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/delight-in-the-sun/
    Summary: “Don’t you want to sit in the shade?” my sister-in-law asked. “No” I replied. I love the sun. I understand why ancient civilizations worshiped the sun.
    Body: Delight in the Sun “Don’t you want to sit in the shade?” my sister-in-law asked. “No” I replied. I love the sun. I understand why ancient civilizations worshiped the sun. Somehow, I think my in-laws, Cindy and Norm, love the sun too. They jus...
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3 pages have the tag Government: State

    /news/columns/2015/legislative-season-brings-many-capitol-visitors/
    Summary: “I’ve never done this before,” the young woman told me. She came to my Capitol office for the first time to talk about issues important to her and her profession. She was one of about two-dozen groups that recently visited.
    Body: “I’ve never done this before,” the young woman told me.  She came to my Capitol office for the first time to talk about issues important to her and her profession. She was one of about two-dozen groups that recently visited. People imagine a legi...
    /news/columns/2016/how-to-make-heads-or-tails-of-wisconsins-finances/
    Summary: People want to know about the health of Wisconsin’s finances. As I began my research, I spoke with the State Auditor and the chief financial analyst, both of whom work for nonpartisan legislative support agencies.
    Body: How to Make Heads or Tails of Wisconsin's Finances “Is there any news on how the state is positioned for revenue growth?” Mr. Olsen inquired in his letter. “How do our finances compare to other states?” Mrs. Adams asked. People want to know a...

    The State of Two States

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/the-state-of-two-states/
    Summary: “… For the third straight year, Politico ranked Minnesota one of the two strongest states in the nation,” touted the Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. Wisconsin ranked 11th moving up from 17th last year in Politico’s ranking.
    Body:  The State of Two States “Yesterday, ahead of President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, Politico released its third annual analysis on ‘The States of the Union.’ For the third straight year, Politico ranked Minnesota one of the two stro...

1 page has the tag Politics

    /news/columns/2016/joining-hands-and-respecting-differences/
    Summary: “We try very hard to not have political discussions at our family gatherings,” my friend told me over dinner.
    Body: Joining Hands and Respecting Differences “We try very hard to not have political discussions at our family gatherings,” my friend told me over dinner. “How sad,” I replied. This comment – one I’ve heard many times in past months – stood in sharp...
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12 pages have the tag Democracy

    Why I Opposed Senate Bill 44

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/why-i-opposed-senate-bill-44/
    Summary: Much has been said and written about Senate Bill 44 otherwise known as the Right to Work bill. I wanted to share my reason for opposing and voting against passage of this bill.
    Body: Much has been said and written about Senate Bill 44 otherwise known as the Right to Work bill.  I wanted to share my reason for opposing and voting against passage of this bill.   Senate Bill 44 changed the definition of a labor organization, re...
    /news/columns/2015/governor-walker-s-vetoes-remove-legislative-oversight/
    Summary: The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passed by the legislature that provided legislative authority or provided oversight of the executive branch.
    Body: “I object to the infringement on gubernatorial power and duties,” wrote Governor Walker in his veto message. By his budget vetoes he made it clear he did not want legislative oversight. The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passe...

    Friday Night in Madison

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/friday-night-in-madison/
    Summary: Leaders kept details about changes to the bills secret until the last minute. Details we had not seen; the press had not read; no member of the public had an opportunity to provide comment.
    Body: Friday Night in Madison It was Friday night at 5:00 pm. Most people were leaving work and looking forward to the weekend. Maybe they headed to see friends and family at the fish fry or watch the prep football playoffs. At that same hour, Sena...
    /news/columns/2015/citizen-input-provides-important-details-of-conservation-budget-cuts/
    Summary: “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?”
    Body: Citizen Input Provides Important Details of Conservation Budget Cuts “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?” It can be difficult for...
    /news/columns/2015/a-flurry-of-new-policy-slipped-in-by-budget-committee/
    Summary: I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget.
    Body: A Flurry of New Policy Slipped in by Budget Committee I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget. Snuck in the end of the Joint Finance Committee’s work is a law change that could affect the safety of rural residents. I...
    /news/columns/2016/the-best-idea-for-a-bill-comes-from-you/
    Summary: December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind the scenes, lawmakers are working on new legislation. In the next few weeks I will be drafting bills to introduce in January. I am looking for your ideas!
    Body: The Best Idea for a Bill Comes from You! “Where do you get ideas for bills?” a woman at a café recently asked me. “The best ideas for bills come from people like you,” I told her. December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind...
    /news/columns/2016/government-accountability-died-the-end-of-june/
    Summary: “It’s a great step backwards for the state,” Judge Barland said… the undoing the legislative majority’s changes to the GAB would be difficult and would need “the electorate as a whole to come to an understanding that what was done was wrong.”
    Body: Government Accountability Died the End of June Government Accountability passed in a quiet death the last day of June. There was no fanfare, no long speeches – just hard working employees packing up personal items.   I imagined the nonparti...
    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-versus-deliberative-democracy/
    Summary: “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy versus Deliberative Democracy “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator. “Well, aren’t you nice,...
    /news/columns/2017/speed-and-secrecy-leaves-the-public-out-in-the-cold/
    Summary: In the past eleven years, I wrote 64 times about the problems of speed and secrecy in the legislative process. However, I never saw a calendar as broad and deep in controversy as the most recent one before the State Senate.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy Leaves the Public Out in the Cold In the past eleven years, I wrote 64 times about the problems of speed and secrecy in the legislative process. However, I never saw a calendar as broad and deep in controversy as the most recent...
    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-kill-democracy/
    Summary: “How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just before the hearing on that bill.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy Kill Democracy “How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just befo...
    /news/columns/2017/protect-the-constitution-from-a-convention/
    Summary: What do the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society have in common? They all think legislation calling for a federal constitutional convention is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
    Body:   Protect the Constitution from a Convention What do the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society have in common? They all think legislation calling for a federal constitutional convention is a bad id...
    /news/columns/2016/people-make-a-difference-despite-haste-at-capitol/
    Summary: “What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.
    Body: ​People Make a Difference Despite Haste at Capitol “What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.   “I know that...

8 pages have the tag School Funding

    /news/columns/2014/school-bells-ring-local-schools-see-fewer-state-dollars-while-private-voucher-schools-win-big/
    Summary: “How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me.
    Body: “How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me. As a new school...
    /news/columns/2014/the-coming-storm-crisis-in-funding-rural-schools/
    Summary: “It is well recognized by many, including our legislators, that our equalized aid formula which uses property values as the ‘equalizing factor’…is broken,” testified Alma Superintendent Steve Sedlmayr during a Pepin public hearing.
    Body: ​ “It is well recognized by many, including our legislators, that our equalized aid formula which uses property values as the ‘equalizing factor’…is broken,” testified Alma Superintendent Steve Sedlmayr during a Pepin public hearing.   Followin...
    /news/columns/2016/school-budget-proposal-brings-needed-relief/
    Summary: “Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal.
    Body: School Budget Proposal Brings Needed Relief “Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal. “Around the state...

    School Funding Hits Home

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/school-funding-hits-home/
    Summary: What’s wrong with school funding? Explaining this to voters is difficult. Try explaining it to a ninth grader who is losing a favorite teacher. The teacher is not retiring. At 53 and after teaching for 29 years, he lost his job.
    Body: School Funding Hits Home What’s wrong with school funding? Explaining this to voters is difficult. Try explaining it to a ninth grader who is losing a favorite teacher. The teacher is not retiring. At 53 and after teaching for 29 years, he lost...
    /news/columns/2016/referenda-sustain-schools-during-time-of-decreasing-state-support/
    Summary: “School districts these days more or less live and die by these referendums in terms of their ability to sustain programs and staff,” Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) recently said.
    Body: Referenda Sustain Schools During Time of Decreasing State Support “School districts these days more or less live and die by these referendums in terms of their ability to sustain programs and staff,” Dan Rossmiller of the Wisconsin Association...

    2016

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2016/
    /news/columns/2016/local-referenda-replace-the-lack-of-state-education-funds/
    Summary: From Arrowhead to West Salem, voters across the state are considering the future of their school districts when they go to the polls. Citizens in 46 districts will be asked to approve referenda.
    Body: Local Referenda Replace the Lack of State Education Funds From Arrowhead to West Salem, voters across the state are considering the future of their school districts when they go to the polls. Citizens in 46 districts will be asked to approve refe...
    /news/columns/2016/concerns-about-rising-property-taxes-support-more-state-aid-for-schools/
    Summary: “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me.
    Body: August 3, 2016   Concerns about Rising Property Taxes? Support More State Aid for Schools  “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me. I hesitated. No one in Madison – th...

8 pages have the tag Transportation

    /news/columns/2014/a-constitutional-amendment-will-not-solve-transportation-problems/
    Summary: “Tell us about the Transportation Constitutional Amendment,” the Eau Claire man asked.
    Body: “Tell us about the Transportation Constitutional Amendment,” the Eau Claire man asked. On November 4th people have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution. The question, paraphrased, is: should money collected in gas...
    /news/columns/2015/transportation-spending-it-s-time-for-a-comprehensive-audit/
    Summary: “Senate leader on budget deal: ‘I don’t know where we are at’” was the headline of a recent Associated Press story on the budget deal. The story went on to report there’s “no agreement yet on how to pay for transportation projects…”
    Body: “Senate leader on budget deal: ‘I don’t know where we are at’” was the headline of a recent Associated Press story on the budget deal. The story went on to report there’s “no agreement yet on how to pay for transportation projects…” While the Sen...
    /news/columns/2015/four-not-so-easy-ways-to-balance-the-transportation-budget/
    Summary: Budget talks are stalled. Legislators can’t seem to find a way through the labyrinth of interests stalking the Capitol halls. One main sticking point is how to balance the transportation budget.
    Body: Four (Not so Easy) Ways to Balance the Transportation Budget “If it was up to you,” the Chamber of Commerce moderator asked area legislators, “How would you solve the transportation problem?” Budget talks are stalled. Legislators can’t seem to...
    /news/columns/2016/new-transportation-ideas-needed-to-handle-more-intense-storms/
    Summary: Winter came to Buffalo County. The weather turned to snow and then to ice.
    Body: New Transportation Ideas Needed to Handle More Intense Storms Winter came to Buffalo County. The weather turned to snow and then to ice. In our hilly part of the world, rural people are used to finding new ways out of the valleys during bad weat...
    /news/columns/2016/how-to-fund-roads-a-balancing-act/
    Summary: Funding roads is an important job for state leaders. Nine cents of every state budget dollar goes towards transportation. In the vagaries of Wisconsin state budgeting, this includes dollars the feds send Wisconsin (about forty cents of every road...
    Body: September 21, 2016   How to Fund Roads: A Balancing Act Funding roads is an important job for state leaders. Nine cents of every state budget dollar goes towards transportation. In the vagaries of Wisconsin state budgeting, this includes dollar...
    /news/columns/2017/seeking-solutions-for-state-road-budget/
    Summary: A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.”
    Body: Seeking Solutions for State Road Budget A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.” He smiled. T...
    /news/columns/2017/audit-hearing-highlights-problems-and-way-forward-with-transportation/
    Summary: “Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit Committee hearing on the State Highways Program.
    Body:   Audit Hearing Highlights Problems and Way Forward with Transportation “Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit...
    /news/columns/2017/who-has-been-watching-spending-at-dot/
    Summary: “Let me see how much you spent,” my mother said when I returned from the store. As the oldest of five children, I was often sent to the store to buy groceries. When I returned home, my mother checked the grocery bag, the receipt and counted the ch...
    Body:   Who Has Been Watching Spending at DOT? “Let me see how much you spent,” my mother said when I returned from the store. As the oldest of five children, I was often sent to the store to buy groceries. When I returned home, my mother checked the...
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1 page has the tag Constituents

    /news/columns/2016/the-best-idea-for-a-bill-comes-from-you/
    Summary: December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind the scenes, lawmakers are working on new legislation. In the next few weeks I will be drafting bills to introduce in January. I am looking for your ideas!
    Body: The Best Idea for a Bill Comes from You! “Where do you get ideas for bills?” a woman at a café recently asked me. “The best ideas for bills come from people like you,” I told her. December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind...
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2 pages have the tag Future of Agriculture

    Hemp: Its Time Has Come

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/hemp-its-time-has-come/
    Summary: Farmers in diverse states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine and Minnesota are researching a new crop: industrial hemp. Many states are changing laws to allow growing of hemp.
    Body: Hemp: Its Time Has Come Farmers in diverse states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine and Minnesota are researching a new crop: industrial hemp. Many states are changing laws to allow growing of hemp. Wisconsin is slow to get in the game. Hopefully, th...

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/

4 pages have the tag Medicaid

    /news/columns/2015/medicare-and-medicaid-turn-50-born-from-compromise-continuing-in-controversy/
    Summary: Watch: Medicare and Medicaid at 50The Story of Medicare: A Timeline
    Body: View video: Medicare and Medicaid at 50 View video: The Story of Medicare: A Timeline Source: Kaiser Family Foundation   “Whatever you do,” the elderly woman in Gilmanton told me a few years ago, “Keep your government-run hands off my Medicare...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-shows-riders-received-poor-services/
    Summary: “Just how many ‘no shows’ are acceptable?” I asked Medicaid Director Kevin Moore at a recent Audit Committee Hearing. “Is 4,154 people left without a ride too many?”
    Body: Elderly and disabled stranded when company did not deliver rides “Just how many ‘no shows’ are acceptable?” I asked Medicaid Director Kevin Moore at a recent Audit Committee Hearing. “Is 4,154 people left without a ride too many?” Wisconsin ne...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-affirms-complaints-but-also-satisfaction-with-non-emergency-medical-transportation-program/
    Summary: Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs.
    Body: Audit Affirms Complaints but also Satisfaction with Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs....

    Looking for Answers

    Last edited: 10/27/2016

    /news/columns/2016/looking-for-answers/
    Summary: What’s going on with Medicaid spending? Where is the money going? Is health care really costing that much more?
    Body: Looking for Answers Medicaid is the joint federal-state program that pays hospitals, doctors, nursing homes and other health professionals to provide care for low-income families, including frail elderly persons and individuals with disabilities....
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4 pages have the tag County Fairs

    /news/columns/2014/county-fairs-competition-critters-and-community/
    Summary: It’s county fair-time.
    Body: “I haven’t seen you in at least 20 years,” the rural Ettrick women exclaimed as she shook the older man’s hand. “Catching up with friends is a great part of the county fair,” she leaned over and told me.   It’s county fair-time. Walking through...
    /news/columns/2015/county-fairs-time-for-creativity-and-critters-friends-and-family/
    Summary: County fairs have a deep tradition in our state. Thousands of families, FFA members, 4-Hers and other youth poured their time, energy, talent and creativity into projects exhibited at Wisconsin’s many county fairs.
    Body: “We were working on a peach pie at 11:00 pm last night,” a 4-H mom whispered. “We were working on brownies at 2:00 am,” said another mom who overhead the conversation. We were outside the 4-H food judging at the Pepin County Fair. You could have...
    /news/columns/2016/our-county-fair-is-a-celebration-of-how-we-all-work-together/
    Summary: “The Demolition Derby is ON!” a fair organizer told folks in the commercial building. “We have a three or four hour window in the weather and we are going to run the show.” Cars and trucks lined up for two miles waiting to get to the show.
    Body: Our County Fair is a Celebration of How We All Work Together “The Demolition Derby is ON!” a fair organizer told folks in the commercial building. “We have a three or four hour window in the weather and we are going to run the show.” Cars and tru...
    /news/columns/2017/conversations-at-the-county-fairs/
    Summary: I love county fairs. I love the sights, sounds, smells and the tastes of the fair. Moreover, I love all the people. Adorable little kids wander around with snow cones. Grandparents catch up on family news. Hardworking 4-Hers show cattle, cakes and...
    Body: Conversations at the County Fairs I love county fairs. I love the sights, sounds, smells and the tastes of the fair. Moreover, I love all the people. Adorable little kids wander around with snow cones. Grandparents catch up on family news. Hardwo...

1 page has the tag District

    /news/columns/2016/christmas-eve-music-and-fun-from-our-valley-to-your-radio/
    Summary: Looking for a homegrown Holiday treat for Christmas Eve? Look no further than your radio for a special holiday performance from Wisconsin’s beautiful west coast.
    Body: Christmas Eve Music and Fun from Our Valley to Your Radio Looking for a homegrown Holiday treat for Christmas Eve? Look no further than your radio for a special holiday performance from Wisconsin’s beautiful west coast. Big River Radio Wave’s Ch...

4 pages have the tag Taxes

    /news/columns/2015/a-business-owes-nothing-in-taxes-gets-a-state-check/
    Summary: “Why doesn’t the press cover what’s happening with refundable tax credits?” I asked the journalist. We were chatting about what I found in the state budget.
    Body: A Business Owes Nothing in Taxes & Gets a State Check? “Why doesn’t the press cover what’s happening with refundable tax credits?” I asked the journalist. We were chatting about what I found in the state budget. “Because the press doesn’t...

    Is There a “Good” Tax?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/is-there-a-good-tax/
    Summary: “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said ninety years ago.
    Body:   Is There a “Good” Tax? “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society,” Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said ninety years ago. Taxes pay for much of the goods and services we take for granted, such as roads, fire and police protec...
    /news/columns/2016/taking-credit-for-the-sun-coming-up/
    Summary: I explained to the reporter that economic growth depended on many factors. Business needs a skilled workforce. Companies need a functioning infrastructure, including broadband, an efficient transportation system, good schools, a university system...
    Body:   Taking Credit for the Sun Coming Up “Wisconsin lowered taxes and reduced regulation and that increased jobs in the state, right?” A journalist from a national newspaper asked about the state of our economy for a story he was writing. “The ass...
    /news/columns/2016/concerns-about-rising-property-taxes-support-more-state-aid-for-schools/
    Summary: “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me.
    Body: August 3, 2016   Concerns about Rising Property Taxes? Support More State Aid for Schools  “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me. I hesitated. No one in Madison – th...
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2 pages have the tag Affordable Health Care Act

    /news/columns/2014/fair-goers-living-with-health-insurance-changes-asking-for-more/
    Summary: “The Affordable Care Act has been godsend for me,” the middle-aged, single man whispered to me at the Jackson County Fair. “I had paid $336 a month, now I pay $56 and its better insurance.”
    Body: “The Affordable Care Act has been godsend for me,” the middle-aged, single man whispered to me at the Jackson County Fair. “I had paid $336 a month, now I pay $56 and its better insurance.” Health insurance, and what Wisconsin should do about it,...
    /news/columns/2015/health-still-a-top-political-issue/
    Summary: “ObamaCare must be repealed immediately,” begins Governor Walker’s health plan for America.
    Body: Health Still a Top Political Issue “ObamaCare must be repealed immediately,” begins Governor Walker’s health plan for America. Recently the governor unveiled his health plan to eliminate the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He chose Minnesota as the...

5 pages have the tag Government Accountability Board

    /news/columns/2014/don-t-let-government-accountability-reform-mean-return-to-corruption/
    Summary: “I promise you that two years from now, when we are sitting here, the GAB will not be in the current format,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told a crowd at a Madison luncheon as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.
    Body: “I promise you that two years from now, when we are sitting here, the GAB will not be in the current format,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told a crowd at a Madison luncheon as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.  The Government Accountability...
    /news/columns/2015/putting-political-parties-back-in-charge-of-elections-and-ethics/
    Summary: Clean elections and corruption free elected officials are goals most of us share. Yet few states have laws that truly create a nonpartisan watchdog to assure public confidence. Wisconsin is blessed to be a national leader.
    Body: “Wisconsin is the only state with a truly nonpartisan board structure,” wrote Professor Daniel Tokaji in 2013. The Ohio State law professor hailed the Government Accountability Board as “America’s Top Model” of nonpartisan elections. Clean electi...

    Don’t Kill the Referees

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/don-t-kill-the-referees/
    Summary: “Just do the right thing,” my doctor told me. We were discussing politics. We just finished reviewing the x-rays of my new hip replacement. My doctor wanted to offer a little advice to my colleagues in the Senate.
    Body: Don’t Kill the Referees “Just do the right thing,” my doctor told me. We were discussing politics. We just finished reviewing the x-rays of my new hip replacement. My doctor wanted to offer a little advice to my colleagues in the Senate. “Peop...
    /news/columns/2015/let-s-not-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bath-water/
    Summary: GAB Audit Hearing shows path to improved operation.
    Body:   GAB Audit Hearing shows path to improved operation “I’m not a clerk. I’m just a citizen who observed several recounts and recalls,” Bill Wasser of Reedsburg told the Audit Committee. “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s m...
    /news/columns/2016/government-accountability-died-the-end-of-june/
    Summary: “It’s a great step backwards for the state,” Judge Barland said… the undoing the legislative majority’s changes to the GAB would be difficult and would need “the electorate as a whole to come to an understanding that what was done was wrong.”
    Body: Government Accountability Died the End of June Government Accountability passed in a quiet death the last day of June. There was no fanfare, no long speeches – just hard working employees packing up personal items.   I imagined the nonparti...

2 pages have the tag Voter ID

    /news/columns/2014/voting-no-photo-id-required-yet/
    Summary: “I haven’t voted in three years,” a Galesville fairgoer told me this summer. He leaned up against the pole barn at the Trempealeau County Fair and shoved his fingers in his pockets. “I don’t want to show up and be told I can’t vote.”
    Body: “I haven’t voted in three years,” a Galesville fairgoer told me this summer. He leaned up against the pole barn at the Trempealeau County Fair and shoved his fingers in his pockets. “I don’t want to show up and be told I can’t vote.” Changes in v...
    /news/columns/2016/the-voting-window-is-quickly-closing/
    Summary: Spring elections are April 5th. Voters will choose, among others, all county board supervisors, a Supreme Court judge and their preference for President.
    Body: The Voting Window is Quickly Closing “We’ve got to go to the clerk and get your ballot sent to college,” I said to my son. “Aw Mom. Is this election really that important?” he asked. “YES!” I answered. Maybe I added a little too much emphasis....

1 page has the tag Hunting

    Back to the Woods

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/back-to-the-woods/
    Summary: “See that scrape?” Lisa pointed to a large area of bare dirt. “That’s not made by a tractor tire.”
    Body: Back to the Woods “See that scrape?” Lisa pointed to a large area of bare dirt. “That’s not made by a tractor tire.” “And look at the branches above,” she said. “They are all broken. The buck was standing here pawing his hooves and tossing his h...

3 pages have the tag Veterans Issues

    /news/columns/2016/audit-to-investigate-king-veterans-home/
    Summary: “There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit. To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just a coffee shop. It was a symbol of comrader...
    Body:   Audit to Investigate King Veterans Home “There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit. To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just...
    /news/columns/2017/audit-committee-focused-on-protecting-veterans-at-king/
    Summary: For 130 years, Wisconsin provided care for our aging veterans. Our state committed resources to build a beautiful campus on the Chain O’ Lakes. Known as the Veterans Home at King, the home gives veterans and their families a picturesque retirement.
    Body: Audit Committee Focused on Protecting Veterans’ Care at King For 130 years, Wisconsin provided care for our aging veterans. Our state committed resources to build a beautiful campus on the Chain O’ Lakes. Known as the Veterans Home at King, the h...
    /news/columns/2017/proposal-helps-veterans-become-farmers/
    Summary: “As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.
    Body: Proposal Helps Veterans Become Farmers “As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Touris...
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2 pages have the tag Natural Resources

    /news/columns/2016/audit-raises-questions-about-clean-water-protection/
    Summary: We all drink water. We expect the water to be clean when it comes out of the facet. We also expect that someone is looking over the safety of our water.
    Body: Audit Raises Questions About Clean Water Protection We all drink water. We expect the water to be clean when it comes out of the facet. We also expect that someone is looking over the safety of our water. Residents in Kewaunee County wonder mo...
    /news/columns/2017/new-dnr-report-who-should-pay-to-protect-and-encourage-fish-and-wildlife/
    Summary: Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up.
    Body:   New DNR Report: Who Should Pay to Protect and Encourage Fish and Wildlife? Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up. A new DNR report noted Wisconsin had the numb...
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4 pages have the tag IRIS

    "You have got to be kidding!"

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/you-have-got-to-be-kidding/
    Summary: “You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company.
    Body: “You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company. Family Care and its fee-for-service sister, IRIS, provide thousands of Medicai...
    /news/columns/2015/people-speak-out-about-consequences-of-budget-decisions/
    Summary: “This is not my cup of tea,” the farmer said quietly as he moved up to the microphone at the Eau Claire budget hearing.
    Body: “This is not my cup of tea,” the farmer said quietly as he moved up to the microphone at the Eau Claire budget hearing. “I’m a UW grad. I’m a farmer. I’m a tech college grad. My kids went to public school. There’s a lot I could talk about today....
    /news/columns/2015/advocacy-gives-voice-to-the-voiceless-families-support-family-care-and-iris/
    Summary: I remember when I first met a man I’ll call ‘Ron’. He came to my office with his caregiver. He couldn’t speak but used a speech synthesizer and an iPad to introduce himself.
    Body: Advocacy Gives Voice to the Voiceless - Families Support Family Care and IRIS I remember when I first met a man I’ll call ‘Ron’. He came to my office with his caregiver. He couldn’t speak but used a speech synthesizer and an iPad to introduce h...
    /news/columns/2016/birth-life-and-death-of-a-bad-idea/
    Summary: “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Care Association in early spring of 2015.
    Body: Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Ca...
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1 page has the tag Great River Road

    /news/columns/2017/two-worlds-apart-the-capitol-and-the-great-river-road/
    Summary: “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the decisions in the massive state budget.
    Body: Two Worlds Apart: The Capitol and the Great River Road “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the dec...

2 pages have the tag Tourism

    /news/columns/2015/canada-and-wisconsin-friends-and-partners/
    Summary: Did you know a third of everything Wisconsin sells to the world we sell to Canada? And more visitors come to Wisconsin from Canada than any other country?
    Body: Canada and Wisconsin Friends and Partners Did you know a third of everything Wisconsin sells to the world we sell to Canada? And more visitors come to Wisconsin from Canada than any other country? Wisconsin recently celebrated Canada Day at th...
    /news/columns/2017/two-worlds-apart-the-capitol-and-the-great-river-road/
    Summary: “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the decisions in the massive state budget.
    Body: Two Worlds Apart: The Capitol and the Great River Road “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the dec...

16 pages have the tag Audit

    Where’s My Ride?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/where-s-my-ride/
    Summary: “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
    Body: “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.” Some time ago residents in Black River Falls shared with me their complaints about non-emergency medica...
    /news/columns/2014/audit-reminds-us-retirement-funds-bear-careful-watching/
    Summary: More than one out of ten Wisconsinites participates in the Wisconsin’s Retirement System either as a current or former state or local government employee.
    Body: “What’s going on with the state retirement system?” the retired woman asked me. She’d started a business but needed retirement income to keep things going. “Wisconsin’s system is the best funded in the country,” I told her. “But we’ve got to caref...
    /news/columns/2014/wedc-new-audit-raises-more-questions/
    Summary: The big question, did the agency successfully assist businesses in creating jobs, was not addressed in this audit. A companion audit last year reported there was no verification of claims of tens of thousands of jobs created.
    Body: “I’m really uncomfortable with all these questions,” Linda told me. We were discussing the most recent audit of the state’s job creation agency: Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). WEDC is a quasi-private entity formed by the gover...
    /news/columns/2014/legislative-committees-play-key-oversight-role-regardless-of-season/
    Summary: “Will you be in Madison? I heard the Legislature went home,” the Buffalo County man asked. “I hope you are still watching over what’s happening down there.”
    Body: “Will you be in Madison? I heard the Legislature went home,” the Buffalo County man asked. “I hope you are still watching over what’s happening down there.” People want their elected officials to oversee state government. Lawmakers play a key sta...
    /news/columns/2015/transportation-spending-it-s-time-for-a-comprehensive-audit/
    Summary: “Senate leader on budget deal: ‘I don’t know where we are at’” was the headline of a recent Associated Press story on the budget deal. The story went on to report there’s “no agreement yet on how to pay for transportation projects…”
    Body: “Senate leader on budget deal: ‘I don’t know where we are at’” was the headline of a recent Associated Press story on the budget deal. The story went on to report there’s “no agreement yet on how to pay for transportation projects…” While the Sen...
    /news/columns/2015/lab-fraud-hotline-working-to-stop-waste-abuse-and-mismanagement/
    Summary: “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
    Body:   “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.” The disabled folks from Black River Falls who called me were on to something. They described probl...
    /news/columns/2015/kicking-controls-out-the-window/
    Summary: No UW oversight by LAB a Recipe for Corruption The motion effectively throws Wisconsin taxpayer controls out the window for a significant portion of the state budget.
    Body: “Suspend current law…requiring the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an annual financial audit of the UW System. Instead, require the UW System to contract with an independent accounting firm,” read the motion introduced by Senator Harsdorf and...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-bureau-turns-50-receives-national-recognition-and-calls-for-its-demise/
    Summary: For fifty years, auditors at the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) have assisted legislators and the people of Wisconsin in answering questions about dollars spent. Questions like, “Did we get our money’s worth out of that program?”
    Body: “Fix the broken programs, get rid of the ones that don’t work and fund those that are working.” There’s not a state candidate around that would disagree with this statement. Yet there are some in the Legislature that would eliminate the very sour...
    /news/columns/2016/audit-to-investigate-king-veterans-home/
    Summary: “There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit. To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just a coffee shop. It was a symbol of comrader...
    Body:   Audit to Investigate King Veterans Home “There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit. To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just...
    /news/columns/2016/legislative-audit-bureau-celebrates-50-years-of-service/
    Summary: “Happy Birthday!” I told eighty auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently celebrated 50 years of service to the people of the State of Wisconsin.
    Body:   September 14, 2016   Legislative Audit Bureau Celebrates 50 Years of Service “Happy Birthday!” I told eighty auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently celebr...
    /news/columns/2016/audit-raises-questions-about-clean-water-protection/
    Summary: We all drink water. We expect the water to be clean when it comes out of the facet. We also expect that someone is looking over the safety of our water.
    Body: Audit Raises Questions About Clean Water Protection We all drink water. We expect the water to be clean when it comes out of the facet. We also expect that someone is looking over the safety of our water. Residents in Kewaunee County wonder mo...
    /news/columns/2016/spending-the-weekend-watching-game-film/
    Summary: Watching the film – or in this case reading the audit – I learned about computer problems so great that the details, according to the LAB, “were too sensitive to communicate publicly.”
    Body: Spending the Weekend Watching Game Film When the game is over the coaches go into the film room to see where the breakdown was in play execution. The best game plan in the world is not any good if the team does not execute it. The “game film”...
    /news/columns/2017/audit-committee-focused-on-protecting-veterans-at-king/
    Summary: For 130 years, Wisconsin provided care for our aging veterans. Our state committed resources to build a beautiful campus on the Chain O’ Lakes. Known as the Veterans Home at King, the home gives veterans and their families a picturesque retirement.
    Body: Audit Committee Focused on Protecting Veterans’ Care at King For 130 years, Wisconsin provided care for our aging veterans. Our state committed resources to build a beautiful campus on the Chain O’ Lakes. Known as the Veterans Home at King, the h...
    /news/columns/2017/audit-wedc-cannot-be-certain-of-any-jobs-created-or-retained/
    Summary: Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes to job creation.
    Body: AUDIT: WEDC Cannot Be Certain of Any Jobs Created or Retained Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes...
    /news/columns/2017/audit-hearing-highlights-problems-and-way-forward-with-transportation/
    Summary: “Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit Committee hearing on the State Highways Program.
    Body:   Audit Hearing Highlights Problems and Way Forward with Transportation “Deputies are trying to figure out what caused a bridge on a rural road west of Arcadia to collapse.” The WEAU-TV story broke the same morning as a recent Legislative Audit...
    /news/columns/2017/audits-raise-cautions-about-pension-fund-management/
    Summary: “GOOD NEWS” read the text with a short article about how our pension funds grew 8.5%. My friend forwarded the article with a cryptic note, “apparently the lies keep working.”
    Body:   Audits Raise Cautions about Pension Fund Management “GOOD NEWS” read the text with a short article about how our pension funds grew 8.5%. My friend forwarded the article with a cryptic note, “apparently the lies keep working.” In what seems t...
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2 pages have the tag Deer Hunting

    /news/columns/2014/deer-hunters-ask-what-about-that-privatepublic-thing/
    Summary: “What happens if I have a public permit because I’m not rich enough to afford a private one?” the deer hunter asked me. “I shoot a deer and it runs across the road. There’s my deer. It’s not dead. But I don’t have a private permit to go get it.”
    Body: “What happens if I have a public permit because I’m not rich enough to afford a private one?” the deer hunter asked me. “I shoot a deer and it runs across the road. There’s my deer. It’s not dead. But I don’t have a private permit to go get it.”...

    Back to the Woods

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/back-to-the-woods/
    Summary: “See that scrape?” Lisa pointed to a large area of bare dirt. “That’s not made by a tractor tire.”
    Body: Back to the Woods “See that scrape?” Lisa pointed to a large area of bare dirt. “That’s not made by a tractor tire.” “And look at the branches above,” she said. “They are all broken. The buck was standing here pawing his hooves and tossing his h...

5 pages have the tag Privatization

    /news/columns/2014/legislative-spat-signals-slow-down-for-privatized-public-schools/
    Summary: “There’s ‘no appetite’ for passing a bill this year that imposes sanctions against poorly performing public or private voucher schools” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an Associate Press story.
    Body: “There’s ‘no appetite’ for passing a bill this year that imposes sanctions against poorly performing public or private voucher schools” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an Associate Press story. “No appetite” was code for “we don’t have...

    "You have got to be kidding!"

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/you-have-got-to-be-kidding/
    Summary: “You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company.
    Body: “You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company. Family Care and its fee-for-service sister, IRIS, provide thousands of Medicai...
    /news/columns/2016/keep-private-water-companies-out-of-wisconsin/
    Summary: Assembly Bill 554 would do away with the mandatory citizen referendum prior to the sale of public water and sewer utilities. It would also eliminate the ban on selling to out-of-state companies.
    Body: Keep Private Water Companies OUT of Wisconsin “Keep private water companies OUT of Wisconsin,” Glory Adams of Eau Claire wrote. She wants to stop a bill that would allow cities to sell water and sewer systems to out-of-state companies without e...
    /news/columns/2016/people-make-a-difference-despite-haste-at-capitol/
    Summary: “What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.
    Body: ​People Make a Difference Despite Haste at Capitol “What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.   “I know that...
    /news/columns/2016/the-latest-attempt-to-privatize-our-waters/
    Summary: ... Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and their legislative allies continue to threaten that resource, pitting one user against another, undermining Wisconsin’s constitution and threatening economic stability.
    Body: The Latest Attempt to Privatize Our Waters Senator Mark Miller and Senator Kathleen Vinehout Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water. Water provides the basis for our economy and way of life. Yet Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce...
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1 page has the tag Charter Schools

    /news/columns/2014/independent-charter-schools-siphoning-off-public-money-to-private-interests/
    Summary: “Will the Legislature allow statewide expansion of charter schools and how will that affect my local public school?”
    Body: “Will the Legislature allow statewide expansion of charter schools and how will that affect my local public school?” This question is one I hear so often particularly in communities where people are worried about the future of their small local s...
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24 pages have the tag State Budget

    /news/columns/2014/wisconsin-leading-the-way-in-state-cuts-to-schools/
    Summary: A recently released study of state budget cuts to local schools has Wisconsin ranked second only to Alabama in cuts per pupil.
    Body: “Hard to believe we are in competition for last place!” said Pepin Superintendent Bruce Quinton. This is hard to believe indeed. A recently released study of state budget cuts to local schools has Wisconsin ranked second only to Alabama in cuts p...
    /news/columns/2014/investing-in-wisconsin-for-our-children-for-our-future/
    Summary: I climbed aboard the tractor-driven wagon at the Pierce County Dairy Breakfast and nodded to two smiling girls clutching brightly colored balloons. Two families down was a little boy with tears in his eyes. His mother comforted him.
    Body: I climbed aboard the tractor-driven wagon at the Pierce County Dairy Breakfast and nodded to two smiling girls clutching brightly colored balloons. Two families down was a little boy with tears in his eyes. His mother comforted him. “Would you li...
    /news/columns/2014/governor-let-s-first-pay-the-bills/
    Summary: Lawmakers are falling over themselves to come up with the best tax give-away. But maybe they should check the pile of past due bills first.
    Body: Imagine you came into a bit of money. Not a lot - less than $500 on your annual salary of $35,000 - but enough to make you happy. This is the pleasant situation state government faces: new revenue estimates predict the state will close its books...
    /news/columns/2014/growing-state-debt-is-unsustainable/
    Summary: “I was wondering how Wisconsin's state debt has been trending over the last several years,” Dave from Durand wrote me. “I'm also curious to know why there has been no talk of paying off the state's debt.”
    Body: “I was wondering how Wisconsin's state debt has been trending over the last several years,” Dave from Durand wrote me. “I'm also curious to know why there has been no talk of paying off the state's debt.” The state’s debt is important. Before any...
    /news/columns/2015/state-budget-take-time-to-learn-and-express-yourself/
    Summary: Recently the Governor made public his proposal for the state’s two-year budget. The day following his speech a Senate page brought around a hand-truck load of budget documents.
    Body: “What people need to understand is that we are seeing this budget for the first time,” the Republican staff member told me. “There are a lot of things that need to change.” Recently the Governor made public his proposal for the state’s two-year b...

    “I’m Counting on You”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/i-m-counting-on-you/
    Summary: In late night budget action, after freezing the school revenue limit and allowing no increase in aid, the Republican majority voted to strip away teaching standards.
    Body: Removal of Teaching Standards Fires Up Folks “I’m counting on you,” Tracy from Mondovi wrote me. “The architects of the Joint Finance Committee’s education budget package wrongly assumes that anyone can teach by allowing those with minimal qua...
    /news/columns/2015/people-speak-out-about-consequences-of-budget-decisions/
    Summary: “This is not my cup of tea,” the farmer said quietly as he moved up to the microphone at the Eau Claire budget hearing.
    Body: “This is not my cup of tea,” the farmer said quietly as he moved up to the microphone at the Eau Claire budget hearing. “I’m a UW grad. I’m a farmer. I’m a tech college grad. My kids went to public school. There’s a lot I could talk about today....
    /news/columns/2015/governor-s-higher-ed-budget-cuts-bad-for-wisconsin-s-future/
    Summary: My son got me thinking about the challenges our students face – competing in a global marketplace, changes in the economy, changes in technology. College has never been so important. Keeping colleges up-to-date costs money.
    Body: Governor’s Higher Ed Budget Cuts Bad for Wisconsin’s Future “I love college, Mom,” my son told me. “There is nowhere else I can hear a conversation in a different language every day.” My son got me thinking about the challenges our students fa...
    /news/columns/2015/details-buried-deep-in-budget-affect-students-and-voters/
    Summary: “I didn’t know that was a part of the state budget,” the parent told me.
    Body: “I didn’t know that was a part of the state budget,” the parent told me. That was the reciprocity agreement between Wisconsin and Minnesota to allow students from across state lines to attend public universities at in-state tuition costs. This ar...
    /news/columns/2015/let-s-debunk-a-few-budget-myths/
    Summary: “I’m okay with the cuts,” the man wrote me. “It’s shameful to pass debt on to our children.” In the man’s message, he implies a common misconception about Wisconsin – there is no state debt.
    Body: Let’s Debunk a Few Budget Myths “I’m okay with the cuts,” the man wrote me. “It’s shameful to pass debt on to our children.” In the man’s message, he implies a common misconception about Wisconsin – there is no state debt. Wisconsin owes a lot...
    /news/columns/2015/citizen-input-provides-important-details-of-conservation-budget-cuts/
    Summary: “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?”
    Body: Citizen Input Provides Important Details of Conservation Budget Cuts “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?” It can be difficult for...
    /news/columns/2015/a-flurry-of-new-policy-slipped-in-by-budget-committee/
    Summary: I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget.
    Body: A Flurry of New Policy Slipped in by Budget Committee I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget. Snuck in the end of the Joint Finance Committee’s work is a law change that could affect the safety of rural residents. I...
    /news/columns/2015/four-not-so-easy-ways-to-balance-the-transportation-budget/
    Summary: Budget talks are stalled. Legislators can’t seem to find a way through the labyrinth of interests stalking the Capitol halls. One main sticking point is how to balance the transportation budget.
    Body: Four (Not so Easy) Ways to Balance the Transportation Budget “If it was up to you,” the Chamber of Commerce moderator asked area legislators, “How would you solve the transportation problem?” Budget talks are stalled. Legislators can’t seem to...
    /news/columns/2016/how-to-fund-roads-a-balancing-act/
    Summary: Funding roads is an important job for state leaders. Nine cents of every state budget dollar goes towards transportation. In the vagaries of Wisconsin state budgeting, this includes dollars the feds send Wisconsin (about forty cents of every road...
    Body: September 21, 2016   How to Fund Roads: A Balancing Act Funding roads is an important job for state leaders. Nine cents of every state budget dollar goes towards transportation. In the vagaries of Wisconsin state budgeting, this includes dollar...
    /news/columns/2016/how-to-make-heads-or-tails-of-wisconsins-finances/
    Summary: People want to know about the health of Wisconsin’s finances. As I began my research, I spoke with the State Auditor and the chief financial analyst, both of whom work for nonpartisan legislative support agencies.
    Body: How to Make Heads or Tails of Wisconsin's Finances “Is there any news on how the state is positioned for revenue growth?” Mr. Olsen inquired in his letter. “How do our finances compare to other states?” Mrs. Adams asked. People want to know a...
    /news/columns/2017/two-worlds-apart-the-capitol-and-the-great-river-road/
    Summary: “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the decisions in the massive state budget.
    Body: Two Worlds Apart: The Capitol and the Great River Road “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the dec...
    /news/columns/2017/problems-left-for-the-next-budget-writers/
    Summary: “Policy is who pays, who doesn’t pay and where the money gets spent,” said the President of the NAACP in a recent speech.
    Body:   Problems Left for the Next Budget Writers “Policy is who pays, who doesn’t pay and where the money gets spent,” said the President of the NAACP in a recent speech. Policy making was center stage at the State Capitol when the long delayed $76...
    /news/columns/2017/seeking-solutions-for-state-road-budget/
    Summary: A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.”
    Body: Seeking Solutions for State Road Budget A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.” He smiled. T...

    What Choices Would You Make?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/what-choices-would-you-make/
    Summary: In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives.
    Body: What Choices Would You Make? In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives. Lawmakers are working off a spending pl...
    /news/columns/2017/searching-for-the-reform-dividend/
    Summary: What is the “Reform Dividend” the Governor spoke about in his budget address? Where is it? How much is it? An inquiring mind wanted to know.
    Body:   Searching for the “Reform Dividend”Locals ask is ‘new’ money real? “Overall, our common-sense reforms brought us here – to the point we have a significantly better budget outlook.” Governor Walker said in his recent Budget Address. “We call th...
    /news/columns/2017/school-funding-it-s-about-more-than-money/
    Summary: “Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me.
    Body:   School Funding: It’s about More than Money “Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me....
    /news/columns/2017/a-few-budget-details-that-didn-t-make-headlines/
    Summary: Governor Walker recently released his two-year state budget. Amid much fanfare, he touted providing much needed money for schools, roads, and the UW. I went digging through budget documents released by the Governor. I knew there was more to the st...
    Body:   A Few Budget Details that Didn’t Make Headlines “Governors are a bit like salesmen,” I recently told a reporter. “They put good news in the headlines and bury bad news in the small print.” Governor Walker recently released his two-year state...
    /news/columns/2017/state-budget-start-with-what-s-real/
    Summary: When it comes to paying the bills you’ve got to deal with what’s real. You can’t spend rhetoric.
    Body:   State Budget: Start with What’s Real When it comes to paying the bills you’ve got to deal with what’s real. You can’t spend rhetoric. Lawmakers are doubling down to deal with the state budget. Public hearings and town hall meetings are schedu...

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/
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1 page has the tag Consumer Protection

    /news/columns/2015/strong-consumer-protections-rely-on-you-and-your-neighbors/
    Summary: “I got a call saying the IRS was taking me to court, but I filed everything on time. What do I do?”
    Body: “I got a call saying the IRS was taking me to court, but I filed everything on time. What do I do?” Linda asked.  We both agreed the phone call sounded fishy, so I reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protecti...
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2 pages have the tag Campaign Finance Reform

    /news/columns/2014/money-in-politics-what-can-a-person-do/
    Summary: “What can I do to stop corporate money from taking over our country?” Betty from Buffalo County asked me. She joined about 20 local people in viewing the film Koch Exposed that focused on the power of a few to manipulate elections.
    Body: “What can I do to stop corporate money from taking over our country?” Betty from Buffalo County asked me. She joined about 20 local people in viewing the film Koch Exposed that focused on the power of a few to manipulate elections. Money in polit...
    /news/columns/2014/lobbyists-and-corporations-2-voters-0/
    Summary: Should it be easier for lobbyists to contribute to campaigns? Should corporations spend more money to ask employees to make campaign contributions? Should Wisconsin limit early voting? Is there a lawmaker who has citizens clamoring for any of the...
    Body: Should it be easier for lobbyists to contribute to campaigns? Should corporations spend more money to ask their employees to make campaign contributions? Should Wisconsin limit early voting? Is there any lawmaker who has citizens clamoring for an...

9 pages have the tag Higher Education

    /news/columns/2017/free-tuition-for-two-year-and-tech-colleges-means-freedom-to-learn/
    Summary: “Every Wisconsinite should have access to education or training past high school… To be pursued at whatever point and pace makes sense for individual workers and industries,” wrote researchers at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (COWS) eight years...
    Body: Free Tuition for Two-Year and Tech Colleges Means Freedom to Learn “Every Wisconsinite should have access to education or training past high school… To be pursued at whatever point and pace makes sense for individual workers and industries,” wrot...
    /news/columns/2014/how-a-state-law-obstructed-reward-for-teen-s-hard-work-and-good-grades/
    Summary: Joel knew from the 8th grade he wanted to be valedictorian of his high school class. His cousin just graduated at the top of his class. Because of this achievement, the cousin received a scholarship.
    Body: Joel knew from the 8th grade he wanted to be valedictorian of his high school class. His cousin just graduated at the top of his class. Because of this achievement, the cousin received a scholarship. Joel (not his real name) talked to his cousin...
    /news/columns/2014/free-2-year-and-tech-college-tuition/
    Summary: “So, what’s the best jobs plan?” The Governor asked his State of the State audience. “Easy answer: education. If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs.”
    Body: “So, what’s the best jobs plan?” The Governor asked his State of the State audience. “Easy answer: education. If we want to have jobs ready for Tennesseans, we have to make sure that Tennesseans are ready for jobs.” With this introduction, Govern...
    /news/columns/2015/kicking-controls-out-the-window/
    Summary: No UW oversight by LAB a Recipe for Corruption The motion effectively throws Wisconsin taxpayer controls out the window for a significant portion of the state budget.
    Body: “Suspend current law…requiring the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an annual financial audit of the UW System. Instead, require the UW System to contract with an independent accounting firm,” read the motion introduced by Senator Harsdorf and...
    /news/columns/2015/governor-s-higher-ed-budget-cuts-bad-for-wisconsin-s-future/
    Summary: My son got me thinking about the challenges our students face – competing in a global marketplace, changes in the economy, changes in technology. College has never been so important. Keeping colleges up-to-date costs money.
    Body: Governor’s Higher Ed Budget Cuts Bad for Wisconsin’s Future “I love college, Mom,” my son told me. “There is nowhere else I can hear a conversation in a different language every day.” My son got me thinking about the challenges our students fa...
    /news/columns/2016/a-flourishing-relationship-worthy-of-investment/
    Summary: ... The entire Chippewa Valley benefits from “the amazing culture of service in our Eau Claire businesses,” said University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt. “This is our culture at UWEC.”
    Body: UWEC and Local Business: A flourishing relationship worthy of investment  “One hundred years ago the Chamber rented a rail car to go down to Madison,” President Bob McCoy of the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce told the gathering of business le...
    /news/columns/2016/big-changes-coming-to-uw-extension/
    Summary: “We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension service that we used to be.”
    Body: Big Changes Coming to UW Extension “We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension ser...

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/
    /news/columns/2016/budget-cuts-to-education-cost-all-of-us/
    Summary: Mike told me his department used to have 15 professors. They now have 11 – soon to be 10. They plan to replace the person leaving but it’s getting harder to recruit and retain faculty.
    Body: Budget Cuts to Education Cost All of Us “We hired a great inorganic chemistry professor last year,” Mike, a UW-River Falls chemistry professor, told me. “Unfortunately she’s leaving in May for St. Olaf.” I visited St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnes...

1 page has the tag Elderly Issues

    Save SeniorCare, Again!

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/save-seniorcare-again/
    Summary: “Please do what you can to keep SeniorCare as is. It is critical to those of us on it.” wrote a rural Buffalo County woman.
    Body: “Please do what you can to keep SeniorCare as is. It is critical to those of us on it.” wrote a rural Buffalo County woman. “I will be 70 years old in a couple of months and not on any prescription medicines. SeniorCare is perfect for me as I ver...

1 page has the tag Joint Finance Committee

    /news/columns/2015/a-flurry-of-new-policy-slipped-in-by-budget-committee/
    Summary: I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget.
    Body: A Flurry of New Policy Slipped in by Budget Committee I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget. Snuck in the end of the Joint Finance Committee’s work is a law change that could affect the safety of rural residents. I...
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1 page has the tag Minimum Wage

    /news/columns/2014/improve-the-economy-get-money-in-people-s-pockets/
    Summary: “If there is one thing you could do to help it would be to raise the minimum wage.” A worker told me. She worked the last 8 years for a company that barely paid her $8.00 an hour.
    Body: “If there is one thing you could do to help it would be to raise the minimum wage.” A worker told me. She worked the last 8 years for a company that barely paid her $8.00 an hour. “I’m the only breadwinner in my family. We can’t survive on my sal...
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1 page has the tag Telecommunications

    /news/columns/2015/seniors-react-don-t-take-my-home-phone-away/
    Summary: “I was furious,” said Cindy from Chippewa Falls. “I wouldn’t have stayed on the phone this long with this dinky cell phone.” She just found out state law allowed phone companies to dump their landline customers.
    Body: “I was furious,” said Cindy from Chippewa Falls. “I wouldn’t have stayed on the phone this long with this dinky cell phone.” She just found out state law allowed phone companies to dump their landline customers. Cindy waited 40 minutes on her “di...

2 pages have the tag Voting

    /news/columns/2016/the-voting-window-is-quickly-closing/
    Summary: Spring elections are April 5th. Voters will choose, among others, all county board supervisors, a Supreme Court judge and their preference for President.
    Body: The Voting Window is Quickly Closing “We’ve got to go to the clerk and get your ballot sent to college,” I said to my son. “Aw Mom. Is this election really that important?” he asked. “YES!” I answered. Maybe I added a little too much emphasis....

    Go Vote…Even on Saturday

    Last edited: 10/27/2016

    /news/columns/2016/go-vote-even-on-saturday/
    Summary: On a beautiful October Saturday afternoon, my college-student son and I went to vote. Afterwards, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.
    Body:   Go Vote…Even on Saturday On a beautiful October Saturday afternoon, my college-student son and I went to vote. Afterwards, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Just between you and me, I worried about my son voting. Would he come home before Ele...
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2 pages have the tag School Voucher Expansion

    /news/columns/2016/residents-question-public-school-money-going-to-private-schools/
    Summary: “I am paying for private schools with my taxes?” the women from Pepin asked following my presentation at a recent Town Hall meeting. “Yes, you are,” I told her.
    Body:   Residents Question Public School Money Going to Private Schools “I am paying for private schools with my taxes?” the women from Pepin asked following my presentation at a recent Town Hall meeting. “Yes, you are,” I told her. Residents were su...
    /news/columns/2016/private-school-subsidy-for-special-education-raises-concerns-about-quality-and-cost/
    Summary: “When you write about tax money going to private schools, please tell people about special education vouchers,” a rural school board member told me. “Because of a change in state law, our school district is paying for special education students to...
    Body:   Private School Subsidy for Special Education Raises ConcernsAbout Quality and Cost “When you write about tax money going to private schools, please tell people about special education vouchers,” a rural school board member told me. “Because of...
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1 page has the tag Redistricting

    /news/columns/2014/let-the-people-speak-on-nonpartisan-redistricting/
    Summary: “Look at this map,” the man directed. “There are lots of squiggly lines in Wisconsin and Illinois but Iowa has real neat boxes.” The maps he showed me were the lines of Congressional Districts in the three states.
    Body: “Look at this map,” the man directed. “There are lots of squiggly lines in Wisconsin and Illinois but Iowa has real neat boxes.” The maps he showed me were the lines of Congressional Districts in the three states. For many years Iowa has used a...

1 page has the tag Dairy Breakfast

    /news/columns/2014/enjoy-wisconsins-dairy-breakfasts/
    Summary: June is dairy month. Wisconsin celebrates dairy in a special way: the dairy breakfast. Folks come early for the fresh pancakes, sausage, cheese curds and country air.
    Body: “I’ve seen people I haven’t seen in 18 years,” the woman from Whitehall told me. “I see people at the dairy breakfast I see nowhere else all year,” said another from Independence. Dairy breakfasts bring together folks from all walks of life and...
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3 pages have the tag Year in Review

    Looking Back on 2014

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/looking-back-on-2014/
    Summary: The close of the year is a good time to reflect on what passed and look forward to what lies ahead. This week I offer my annual review of the opinions and needs of the folks I’m honored to represent.
    Body: The close of the year is a good time to reflect on what passed and look forward to what lies ahead. This week I offer my annual review of the opinions and needs of the folks I’m honored to represent. Communication with constituents is a big part...

    Looking Back on 2015

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/looking-back-on-2015/
    Summary: Happy Holidays! While Santa is making a list of who is naughty and nice, I spent time making a list of what folks cared about enough to call or write.
    Body: Happy Holidays! While Santa is making a list of who is naughty and nice, I spent time making a list of what folks cared about enough to call or write. I am always impressed by how many people take the time to become engaged in their government. “...

    Looking Back on 2016

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2016/looking-back-on-2016/
    Summary: We settled into a deep freeze this past weekend. After a long glorious autumn, the third week of December brought frigid temperatures not usually felt until mid-January.
    Body: Looking Back on 2016 We settled into a deep freeze this past weekend. After a long glorious autumn, the third week of December brought frigid temperatures not usually felt until mid-January. So I took time out from normal senator and farmer duti...

2 pages have the tag Broadband

    /news/columns/2015/lack-of-rural-broadband-frustrates-fairgoers/
    Summary: Internet in rural Wisconsin is closer to Pony Express than “pedal to the metal.”
    Body:   “It’s pedal to the metal on broadband policy—for both consumers and competitors,” said Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler at a recent address to the Brookings Institute as reported on a Brookings website. Internet i...
    /news/columns/2017/broadband-expansion-rural-wisconsin-needs-the-real-deal/
    Summary: According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.
    Body:     Broadband Expansion: Rural Wisconsin Needs the Real Deal “All we seek is help to get the basic broadband services that you all take for granted,” Justin Fortney from Clifton Township in Pierce County wrote to me.  “It has been frustrating f...
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9 pages have the tag Public Schools

    /news/columns/2014/wisconsin-leading-the-way-in-state-cuts-to-schools/
    Summary: A recently released study of state budget cuts to local schools has Wisconsin ranked second only to Alabama in cuts per pupil.
    Body: “Hard to believe we are in competition for last place!” said Pepin Superintendent Bruce Quinton. This is hard to believe indeed. A recently released study of state budget cuts to local schools has Wisconsin ranked second only to Alabama in cuts p...
    /news/columns/2014/recent-school-referenda-pass-voters-show-strong-support-for-local-schools/
    Summary: “I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.”
    Body: “I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.” All across Wisconsin voters chose to raise property ta...

    Our Children’s Future

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/our-children-s-future/
    Summary: I spent the morning sharing my life as state Senator with many intelligent, interested young adults. They were as eager to learn about public service as I was to share. Many of them never thought about a career as an elected official.
    Body: School Visit and Community Forum Raise Questions “Your future awaits,” the Student Council President said as he handed students the schedule for Career Day. He then led me to the computer lab where my first class waited. I spent the morning sh...
    /news/columns/2014/plan-unveiled-to-gradually-privatize-public-schools/
    Summary: “If I was going to write a bill to privatize public schools,” the Senate staffer told our small group, “this is what it would look like.”
    Body: “If I was going to write a bill to privatize public schools,” the Senate staffer told our small group, “this is what it would look like.” We were reviewing a new version of a bill to test students attending private schools using state tax dollars...
    /news/columns/2014/school-bells-ring-local-schools-see-fewer-state-dollars-while-private-voucher-schools-win-big/
    Summary: “How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me.
    Body: “How is it possible that private voucher schools can receive almost four and a half times the state funding per student as our public school district receives in equalized aid,” Pepin School Superintendent Bruce Quinton wrote me. As a new school...
    /news/columns/2014/legislative-spat-signals-slow-down-for-privatized-public-schools/
    Summary: “There’s ‘no appetite’ for passing a bill this year that imposes sanctions against poorly performing public or private voucher schools” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an Associate Press story.
    Body: “There’s ‘no appetite’ for passing a bill this year that imposes sanctions against poorly performing public or private voucher schools” reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an Associate Press story. “No appetite” was code for “we don’t have...

    “I Don’t Have A Clue”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/i-don-t-have-a-clue/
    Summary: School Play Mirrors Confusion in Assembly Education Committee.
    Body: School Play Mirrors Confusion in Assembly Education Committee “Edgar: All right, everybody; back to the scene of the crime.“Ella: New clues?“Carol: What clues?“Bob: What’s the next clue?“Carol: I don’t have a clue.“Norman: (At the window box, d...

    “I’m Counting on You”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/i-m-counting-on-you/
    Summary: In late night budget action, after freezing the school revenue limit and allowing no increase in aid, the Republican majority voted to strip away teaching standards.
    Body: Removal of Teaching Standards Fires Up Folks “I’m counting on you,” Tracy from Mondovi wrote me. “The architects of the Joint Finance Committee’s education budget package wrongly assumes that anyone can teach by allowing those with minimal qua...
    /news/columns/2015/i-agree-governor-let-s-make-public-schools-whole/
    Summary: In a recent late night session, …Republicans on the Joint Finance committee opened wide the spigot of state money flowing to private schools.
    Body: “Our number one priority gotta to be make (sic) sure that we make K-12 schools, public education in the state, a priority to make sure they’re held whole,” said Governor Walker on April 23rd, as quoted by Wisconsin Radio Network. I agree, Governo...
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1 page has the tag Flooding

    /news/columns/2016/finding-help-for-flooded-families-and-farms/
    Summary: “It gets overwhelming,” my neighbor told me. We were walking through her flooded barnyard. Floodwaters left silt everywhere: in the house, the garden, the barn, and the farmyard.
    Body: August 24, 2016 Finding Help for Flooded Families and Farms “It gets overwhelming,” my neighbor told me. We were walking through her flooded barnyard. Floodwaters left silt everywhere: in the house, the garden, the barn, and the farmyard. Famil...
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1 page has the tag SeniorCare

    Save SeniorCare, Again!

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/save-seniorcare-again/
    Summary: “Please do what you can to keep SeniorCare as is. It is critical to those of us on it.” wrote a rural Buffalo County woman.
    Body: “Please do what you can to keep SeniorCare as is. It is critical to those of us on it.” wrote a rural Buffalo County woman. “I will be 70 years old in a couple of months and not on any prescription medicines. SeniorCare is perfect for me as I ver...
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2 pages have the tag Family Care

    "You have got to be kidding!"

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/you-have-got-to-be-kidding/
    Summary: “You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company.
    Body: “You have got to be kidding!” a Chippewa Valley advocate responded when I told her about a plan to potentially turn Family Care over to a for-profit insurance company. Family Care and its fee-for-service sister, IRIS, provide thousands of Medicai...
    /news/columns/2016/birth-life-and-death-of-a-bad-idea/
    Summary: “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Care Association in early spring of 2015.
    Body: Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Ca...
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4 pages have the tag BadgerCare

    /news/columns/2014/window-closing-for-health-insurance-sign-up-now/
    Summary: March 31st is the last day to sign up for Marketplace insurance coverage in 2014. If you don’t sign up now, you won’t be able to buy private health insurance for 2014 – even if you need insurance.
    Body: “I was getting the run-around,” the Eau Claire woman told me. She tried to get health insurance through the federal healthcare.gov website and was told she was eligible for Medicaid coverage in her state.  When she went to sign-up for BadgerCare,...
    /news/columns/2014/use-new-federal-money-for-badgercare/
    Summary: “My twin sister lives in La Crosse... I’d love to visit her but when I get all the bills paid, I don’t even have $20 for gas to get me there and back,” Mary said. “And, I don’t have any health insurance. What if something happened to one of us?”
    Body: Help those working hard & help lower others’ premium costs “I’m so glad to see you,” Mary from Eau Claire told me at a recent neighborhood gathering. I asked how she was doing. “It’s hard,” she admitted. “I work 32 hours a week. I make...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-shows-riders-received-poor-services/
    Summary: “Just how many ‘no shows’ are acceptable?” I asked Medicaid Director Kevin Moore at a recent Audit Committee Hearing. “Is 4,154 people left without a ride too many?”
    Body: Elderly and disabled stranded when company did not deliver rides “Just how many ‘no shows’ are acceptable?” I asked Medicaid Director Kevin Moore at a recent Audit Committee Hearing. “Is 4,154 people left without a ride too many?” Wisconsin ne...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-affirms-complaints-but-also-satisfaction-with-non-emergency-medical-transportation-program/
    Summary: Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs.
    Body: Audit Affirms Complaints but also Satisfaction with Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs....
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2 pages have the tag Budget Cuts

    /news/columns/2016/big-changes-coming-to-uw-extension/
    Summary: “We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension service that we used to be.”
    Body: Big Changes Coming to UW Extension “We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension ser...
    /news/columns/2016/budget-cuts-to-education-cost-all-of-us/
    Summary: Mike told me his department used to have 15 professors. They now have 11 – soon to be 10. They plan to replace the person leaving but it’s getting harder to recruit and retain faculty.
    Body: Budget Cuts to Education Cost All of Us “We hired a great inorganic chemistry professor last year,” Mike, a UW-River Falls chemistry professor, told me. “Unfortunately she’s leaving in May for St. Olaf.” I visited St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnes...
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2 pages have the tag UW System

    /news/columns/2014/state-should-heed-lessons-from-uw-computer-problems/
    Summary: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend four sharpening the axe,” said Abe Lincoln. He knew the importance of planning.
    Body: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend four sharpening the axe,” said Abe Lincoln. He knew the importance of planning. Recent audits detail troubles with a University of Wisconsin payroll computer system.  More time should have b...
    /news/columns/2015/kicking-controls-out-the-window/
    Summary: No UW oversight by LAB a Recipe for Corruption The motion effectively throws Wisconsin taxpayer controls out the window for a significant portion of the state budget.
    Body: “Suspend current law…requiring the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an annual financial audit of the UW System. Instead, require the UW System to contract with an independent accounting firm,” read the motion introduced by Senator Harsdorf and...

2 pages have the tag Civil Service

    /news/columns/2015/how-dismantling-civil-service-is-happening-in-wisconsin-one-step-at-a-time/
    Summary: “Please do what you can to stop the dismantling of the civil service system,” Mary from Trempealeau County asked me.
    Body: How Dismantling Civil Service is happening in Wisconsin One Step at a Time “Please do what you can to stop the dismantling of the civil service system,” Mary from Trempealeau County asked me. Mary is a retired social worker. Her call is one of...
    /news/columns/2016/dismantling-civil-service-passes-senate-despite-disturbing-debate/
    Summary: One by one Senators… told of secret meetings held with state workers. Supervisors had forbid employees to talk with their elected representatives. Employees felt intimidated. They wanted to improve state services but were afraid of losing their jobs…
    Body: Dismantling Civil Service Passes Senate Despite Disturbing Debate LAB Hotline Valuable Option in Times of Intimidation One by one Senators stood on the Senate floor and told of secret meetings held with state workers. Supervisors had forbid...
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2 pages have the tag Mississippi River Access

    /news/columns/2016/locals-raise-questions-about-railroad-police/
    Summary: It was no wonder the Legislative committee chairperson did not want to hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 734, a bill that would return railroad trespassing law to pre-2006, which allowed crossing.
    Body: It was no wonder the Legislative committee chairperson did not want to hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 734, a bill that would return railroad trespassing law to pre-2006, which allowed crossing. Madison lobbyists lined up against the bill to...
    /news/columns/2016/this-land-is-our-land-or-it-used-to-be/
    Summary: One of the best spots to ice fish is south of Alma just down the dugway from Carrol Iberg’s rural home.
    Body: “This Land is Our Land” Or it used to be… Mississippi backwaters cut off to locals by railroad “police” One of the best spots to ice fish is south of Alma just down the dugway from Carrol Iberg’s rural home. Down there “ice fishing is reall...
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1 page has the tag Property Rights

    /news/columns/2016/whose-property-rights-are-most-important/
    Summary: “My neighbor likes to expand his lot,” Kelly told me. “First he put up a stone fence on our property and then he built a jungle gym for his kids on his other neighbor’s property.” The fence stayed but the jungle gym came down.
    Body: Whose Property Rights Are Most Important? “My neighbor likes to expand his lot,” Kelly told me. “First he put up a stone fence on our property and then he built a jungle gym for his kids on his other neighbor’s property.” The fence stayed but t...
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1 page has the tag UW Extension

    /news/columns/2016/big-changes-coming-to-uw-extension/
    Summary: “We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension service that we used to be.”
    Body: Big Changes Coming to UW Extension “We can’t do more with less,” UW Extension Regional Director Julie Keown-Bomar told people gathered at a recent Menomonie meeting. “We have to do less with less. We cannot be the same cooperative extension ser...

2 pages have the tag School Referenda

    /news/columns/2014/recent-school-referenda-pass-voters-show-strong-support-for-local-schools/
    Summary: “I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.”
    Body: “I voted for the referendum,” the Mondovi woman told me. “I don’t have kids. I know it’s going to raise my property taxes. I don’t want to pay more, but I think we need to keep good schools.” All across Wisconsin voters chose to raise property ta...
    /news/columns/2016/school-budget-proposal-brings-needed-relief/
    Summary: “Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal.
    Body: School Budget Proposal Brings Needed Relief “Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal. “Around the state...

1 page has the tag Mississippi River

    /news/columns/2016/mississippi-river-is-a-great-american-treasure/
    Summary: “A single drop of water falling into the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota would travel the river for 90 days to reach the Gulf of Mexico.” Gayle Harper, author/photographer, read this detail on the National Park Service website.
    Body: Mississippi River is One of America’s Greatest Treasures  “A single drop of water falling into the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota would travel the river for 90 days to reach the Gulf of Mexico.” Gayle Harper, author/photographer, re...

4 pages have the tag Addiction

    /news/columns/2017/faces-of-addiction-and-recovery-came-to-the-capitol/
    Summary: The day was busy. Filled with bills voted on by Senators. Bills that, someday, will change people’s lives for better or worse. Senators do not often see the faces of those whose lives changed.
    Body: “Faces of Addiction and Recovery” Came to the Capitol The day was busy. Filled with bills voted on by Senators. Bills that, someday, will change people’s lives for better or worse. Senators do not often see the faces of those whose lives changed....
    /news/columns/2016/recovery-court-celebrates-ten-years-of-changing-lives/
    Summary: Addiction may begin in a very private way. But, healing from addiction can take a village and can be very public.
    Body: Recovery Court Celebrates Ten Years of Changing Lives Addiction may begin in a very private way. But, healing from addiction can take a village and can be very public. “This is a big challenge,” Taavi McMahon, the Trempealeau County District A...
    /news/columns/2017/loving-us-pow-wow-encourages-recovery/
    Summary: “I lost my granddaughter to heroin addiction,” Anita told me. “We’ve lost so many people,” Tena added.
    Body: “Loving Us” Pow Wow Encourages Recovery “I lost my granddaughter to heroin addiction,” Anita told me. “We’ve lost so many people,” Tena added. Recently, former Marine Tena Quackenbush and her friends, including Quincy Garvin, Jasime Funmaker, Lo...

    2017

    Last edited: 01/04/2017

    /news/columns/2017/
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1 page has the tag Recovery Court

    /news/columns/2016/recovery-court-celebrates-ten-years-of-changing-lives/
    Summary: Addiction may begin in a very private way. But, healing from addiction can take a village and can be very public.
    Body: Recovery Court Celebrates Ten Years of Changing Lives Addiction may begin in a very private way. But, healing from addiction can take a village and can be very public. “This is a big challenge,” Taavi McMahon, the Trempealeau County District A...
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1 page has the tag Water Quality

    /news/columns/2016/the-latest-attempt-to-privatize-our-waters/
    Summary: ... Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and their legislative allies continue to threaten that resource, pitting one user against another, undermining Wisconsin’s constitution and threatening economic stability.
    Body: The Latest Attempt to Privatize Our Waters Senator Mark Miller and Senator Kathleen Vinehout Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water. Water provides the basis for our economy and way of life. Yet Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce...

5 pages have the tag Government Accountability

    /news/columns/2014/don-t-let-government-accountability-reform-mean-return-to-corruption/
    Summary: “I promise you that two years from now, when we are sitting here, the GAB will not be in the current format,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told a crowd at a Madison luncheon as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.
    Body: “I promise you that two years from now, when we are sitting here, the GAB will not be in the current format,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told a crowd at a Madison luncheon as reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.  The Government Accountability...
    /news/columns/2015/putting-political-parties-back-in-charge-of-elections-and-ethics/
    Summary: Clean elections and corruption free elected officials are goals most of us share. Yet few states have laws that truly create a nonpartisan watchdog to assure public confidence. Wisconsin is blessed to be a national leader.
    Body: “Wisconsin is the only state with a truly nonpartisan board structure,” wrote Professor Daniel Tokaji in 2013. The Ohio State law professor hailed the Government Accountability Board as “America’s Top Model” of nonpartisan elections. Clean electi...

    Don’t Kill the Referees

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/don-t-kill-the-referees/
    Summary: “Just do the right thing,” my doctor told me. We were discussing politics. We just finished reviewing the x-rays of my new hip replacement. My doctor wanted to offer a little advice to my colleagues in the Senate.
    Body: Don’t Kill the Referees “Just do the right thing,” my doctor told me. We were discussing politics. We just finished reviewing the x-rays of my new hip replacement. My doctor wanted to offer a little advice to my colleagues in the Senate. “Peop...
    /news/columns/2015/let-s-not-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bath-water/
    Summary: GAB Audit Hearing shows path to improved operation.
    Body:   GAB Audit Hearing shows path to improved operation “I’m not a clerk. I’m just a citizen who observed several recounts and recalls,” Bill Wasser of Reedsburg told the Audit Committee. “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Let’s m...
    /news/columns/2016/government-accountability-died-the-end-of-june/
    Summary: “It’s a great step backwards for the state,” Judge Barland said… the undoing the legislative majority’s changes to the GAB would be difficult and would need “the electorate as a whole to come to an understanding that what was done was wrong.”
    Body: Government Accountability Died the End of June Government Accountability passed in a quiet death the last day of June. There was no fanfare, no long speeches – just hard working employees packing up personal items.   I imagined the nonparti...

1 page has the tag UW Eau Claire

    /news/columns/2016/a-flourishing-relationship-worthy-of-investment/
    Summary: ... The entire Chippewa Valley benefits from “the amazing culture of service in our Eau Claire businesses,” said University of Wisconsin Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt. “This is our culture at UWEC.”
    Body: UWEC and Local Business: A flourishing relationship worthy of investment  “One hundred years ago the Chamber rented a rail car to go down to Madison,” President Bob McCoy of the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce told the gathering of business le...
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1 page has the tag Property Taxes

    /news/columns/2016/concerns-about-rising-property-taxes-support-more-state-aid-for-schools/
    Summary: “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me.
    Body: August 3, 2016   Concerns about Rising Property Taxes? Support More State Aid for Schools  “Is the strategy in the state to move all funding for schools to the local level?” a local school official asked me. I hesitated. No one in Madison – th...

1 page has the tag Business Tax Credit

    /news/columns/2016/where-did-all-that-money-go/
    Summary: Dennis is one of many constituents who ask where the money for schools and roads is as our state recovers from the recession. Economic recovery means more money and more money should equal more resources for the public. Instead, state funds are ve...
    Body: August 17, 2016 Where Did All that Money Go? Business Tax Credit Costs Pile Up “Where did all that money go?” Dennis asked me during a recent visit to the Jackson County Fair. Dennis is one of many constituents who ask where the money for schoo...
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1 page has the tag Special Education

    /news/columns/2016/private-school-subsidy-for-special-education-raises-concerns-about-quality-and-cost/
    Summary: “When you write about tax money going to private schools, please tell people about special education vouchers,” a rural school board member told me. “Because of a change in state law, our school district is paying for special education students to...
    Body:   Private School Subsidy for Special Education Raises ConcernsAbout Quality and Cost “When you write about tax money going to private schools, please tell people about special education vouchers,” a rural school board member told me. “Because of...

1 page has the tag King Veterans Home

    /news/columns/2016/audit-to-investigate-king-veterans-home/
    Summary: “There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit. To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just a coffee shop. It was a symbol of comrader...
    Body:   Audit to Investigate King Veterans Home “There used to be a real nice coffee shop. But they turned it into vending machines,” David Wedde told the Joint Committee on Audit. To many it might seem like an insignificant thing but it was not just...

2 pages have the tag Rural School Districts

    /news/columns/2014/the-coming-storm-crisis-in-funding-rural-schools/
    Summary: “It is well recognized by many, including our legislators, that our equalized aid formula which uses property values as the ‘equalizing factor’…is broken,” testified Alma Superintendent Steve Sedlmayr during a Pepin public hearing.
    Body: ​ “It is well recognized by many, including our legislators, that our equalized aid formula which uses property values as the ‘equalizing factor’…is broken,” testified Alma Superintendent Steve Sedlmayr during a Pepin public hearing.   Followin...

    Who Will Be My Teacher?

    Last edited: 10/27/2016

    /news/columns/2016/who-will-be-my-teacher/
    Summary: “Who will be my teacher?” my son asked me years ago. For a brief point in time, the teacher was the most important person in his young life.
    Body:   Who Will Be My Teacher? “Who will be my teacher?” my son asked me years ago. For a brief point in time, the teacher was the most important person in his young life. As children head back to school and parents scramble with new schedules, scho...

4 pages have the tag Rural Broadband

    /news/columns/2015/lack-of-rural-broadband-frustrates-fairgoers/
    Summary: Internet in rural Wisconsin is closer to Pony Express than “pedal to the metal.”
    Body:   “It’s pedal to the metal on broadband policy—for both consumers and competitors,” said Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler at a recent address to the Brookings Institute as reported on a Brookings website. Internet i...
    /news/columns/2016/will-broadband-show-up-in-rural-neighborhoods/
    Summary: “I don’t want to promise you fiber where fiber is not going to come,” Kent Disch, AT&T Wisconsin External Affairs Director, told Ellsworth community leaders.
    Body: Will Broadband Show Up in Rural Neighborhoods “I don’t want to promise you fiber where fiber is not going to come,” Kent Disch, AT&T Wisconsin External Affairs Director, told Ellsworth community leaders. Pierce County business leaders and...
    /news/columns/2017/broadband-expansion-rural-wisconsin-needs-the-real-deal/
    Summary: According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.
    Body:     Broadband Expansion: Rural Wisconsin Needs the Real Deal “All we seek is help to get the basic broadband services that you all take for granted,” Justin Fortney from Clifton Township in Pierce County wrote to me.  “It has been frustrating f...
    /news/columns/2016/have-an-opinion-about-your-internet-connection/
    Summary: Do you have a great Internet connection? Less than what you’d prefer? Makes it impossible for you to do your work or your children’s homework? No service at all? Make your opinion known!
    Body: August 10, 2016   Have an Opinion about Your Internet Connection?Let Your Voice be Heard! Do you have a great Internet connection? Less than what you’d prefer? Makes it impossible for you to do your work or your children’s homework? No service...

1 page has the tag Email Scams

    /news/columns/2016/do-not-click-on-that-email-from-the-irs/
    Summary: Even though tax season is over, scammers are still using official looking emails to lure unsuspecting, honest taxpayers into their evil web.
    Body: Don’t Click on that Email from the IRS! In my inbox was an official looking email from the “Internal Revenue Service”. The subject line was: “Tax return request submitted”. Without thinking, I clicked on the attachment to the email. “Did you...

1 page has the tag Health Services

    /news/columns/2016/birth-life-and-death-of-a-bad-idea/
    Summary: “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Care Association in early spring of 2015.
    Body: Birth, Life and Death of a Bad Idea “No one had any inkling this was happening,” Michael Blumenfeld told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We are just scratching our heads. Why would you do this?” Mr. Blumenfeld spoke for the Wisconsin Family Ca...

4 pages have the tag Clean Water Protection

    /news/columns/2016/audit-raises-questions-about-clean-water-protection/
    Summary: We all drink water. We expect the water to be clean when it comes out of the facet. We also expect that someone is looking over the safety of our water.
    Body: Audit Raises Questions About Clean Water Protection We all drink water. We expect the water to be clean when it comes out of the facet. We also expect that someone is looking over the safety of our water. Residents in Kewaunee County wonder mo...
    /news/columns/2016/farmers-seek-action-and-answers-at-the-capitol/
    Summary: “Just get it done!” The farmer was referring to a bill to change rules on high capacity wells. I listened. The chances of passing the bill are dim. Solving groundwater problems in Wisconsin is complex.
    Body: “Just get it done!” The farmer was referring to a bill to change rules on high capacity wells. I listened. The chances of passing the bill are dim. Solving groundwater problems in Wisconsin is complex. Farmers from all over our Senate District re...
    /news/columns/2016/the-latest-attempt-to-privatize-our-waters/
    Summary: ... Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and their legislative allies continue to threaten that resource, pitting one user against another, undermining Wisconsin’s constitution and threatening economic stability.
    Body: The Latest Attempt to Privatize Our Waters Senator Mark Miller and Senator Kathleen Vinehout Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water. Water provides the basis for our economy and way of life. Yet Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce...
    /news/columns/2016/the-next-well-that-goes-bad-may-be-yours/
    Summary: “I feel like the state failed to protect the people,” Stacy told me. “Nobody really cares because it’s not affecting them.”
    Body: “I feel like the state failed to protect the people,” Stacy told me. “Nobody really cares because it’s not affecting them.” Stacy is one of several Lincoln Township residents in Trempealeau County who lived through two years of well problems. An...

1 page has the tag State Finances

    /news/columns/2016/how-to-make-heads-or-tails-of-wisconsins-finances/
    Summary: People want to know about the health of Wisconsin’s finances. As I began my research, I spoke with the State Auditor and the chief financial analyst, both of whom work for nonpartisan legislative support agencies.
    Body: How to Make Heads or Tails of Wisconsin's Finances “Is there any news on how the state is positioned for revenue growth?” Mr. Olsen inquired in his letter. “How do our finances compare to other states?” Mrs. Adams asked. People want to know a...

1 page has the tag Black River

    /news/columns/2016/playing-nice-in-the-sandbox-and-the-river/
    Summary: Friends of the Black River gathered to talk with boat owners about river use. Some felt big boats had taken over the river.
    Body: Playing Nice in the Sandbox and the River “People are being driven off the river,” Sue told Black River area residents. “My kids can’t dive off the dock with the big boats. … It didn’t used to be this way. We could all get along - kayakers, can...

1 page has the tag Recreational Use Issues

    /news/columns/2016/playing-nice-in-the-sandbox-and-the-river/
    Summary: Friends of the Black River gathered to talk with boat owners about river use. Some felt big boats had taken over the river.
    Body: Playing Nice in the Sandbox and the River “People are being driven off the river,” Sue told Black River area residents. “My kids can’t dive off the dock with the big boats. … It didn’t used to be this way. We could all get along - kayakers, can...

7 pages have the tag Legislative Audit Bureau

    /news/columns/2014/the-fraud-and-mismanagement-hotline/
    Summary: “Workers and inmates were required to remove asbestos with no protection,” the woman told me.
    Body: ​ Who to call when bad things happen in state government “Workers and inmates were required to remove asbestos with no protection,” the woman told me. Her colleague agreed. “Since we lost union protections, bad things are happening at the Depart...
    /news/columns/2014/legislative-committees-play-key-oversight-role-regardless-of-season/
    Summary: “Will you be in Madison? I heard the Legislature went home,” the Buffalo County man asked. “I hope you are still watching over what’s happening down there.”
    Body: “Will you be in Madison? I heard the Legislature went home,” the Buffalo County man asked. “I hope you are still watching over what’s happening down there.” People want their elected officials to oversee state government. Lawmakers play a key sta...
    /news/columns/2015/lab-fraud-hotline-working-to-stop-waste-abuse-and-mismanagement/
    Summary: “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
    Body:   “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.” The disabled folks from Black River Falls who called me were on to something. They described probl...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-bureau-turns-50-receives-national-recognition-and-calls-for-its-demise/
    Summary: For fifty years, auditors at the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) have assisted legislators and the people of Wisconsin in answering questions about dollars spent. Questions like, “Did we get our money’s worth out of that program?”
    Body: “Fix the broken programs, get rid of the ones that don’t work and fund those that are working.” There’s not a state candidate around that would disagree with this statement. Yet there are some in the Legislature that would eliminate the very sour...
    /news/columns/2016/legislative-audit-bureau-celebrates-50-years-of-service/
    Summary: “Happy Birthday!” I told eighty auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently celebrated 50 years of service to the people of the State of Wisconsin.
    Body:   September 14, 2016   Legislative Audit Bureau Celebrates 50 Years of Service “Happy Birthday!” I told eighty auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) recently celebr...
    /news/columns/2016/spending-the-weekend-watching-game-film/
    Summary: Watching the film – or in this case reading the audit – I learned about computer problems so great that the details, according to the LAB, “were too sensitive to communicate publicly.”
    Body: Spending the Weekend Watching Game Film When the game is over the coaches go into the film room to see where the breakdown was in play execution. The best game plan in the world is not any good if the team does not execute it. The “game film”...
    /news/columns/2016/dismantling-civil-service-passes-senate-despite-disturbing-debate/
    Summary: One by one Senators… told of secret meetings held with state workers. Supervisors had forbid employees to talk with their elected representatives. Employees felt intimidated. They wanted to improve state services but were afraid of losing their jobs…
    Body: Dismantling Civil Service Passes Senate Despite Disturbing Debate LAB Hotline Valuable Option in Times of Intimidation One by one Senators stood on the Senate floor and told of secret meetings held with state workers. Supervisors had forbid...

1 page has the tag Railroad Issues

    /news/columns/2016/locals-raise-questions-about-railroad-police/
    Summary: It was no wonder the Legislative committee chairperson did not want to hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 734, a bill that would return railroad trespassing law to pre-2006, which allowed crossing.
    Body: It was no wonder the Legislative committee chairperson did not want to hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 734, a bill that would return railroad trespassing law to pre-2006, which allowed crossing. Madison lobbyists lined up against the bill to...

7 pages have the tag Circumventing Democracy

    Why I Opposed Senate Bill 44

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/why-i-opposed-senate-bill-44/
    Summary: Much has been said and written about Senate Bill 44 otherwise known as the Right to Work bill. I wanted to share my reason for opposing and voting against passage of this bill.
    Body: Much has been said and written about Senate Bill 44 otherwise known as the Right to Work bill.  I wanted to share my reason for opposing and voting against passage of this bill.   Senate Bill 44 changed the definition of a labor organization, re...
    /news/columns/2015/governor-walker-s-vetoes-remove-legislative-oversight/
    Summary: The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passed by the legislature that provided legislative authority or provided oversight of the executive branch.
    Body: “I object to the infringement on gubernatorial power and duties,” wrote Governor Walker in his veto message. By his budget vetoes he made it clear he did not want legislative oversight. The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passe...

    Friday Night in Madison

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/friday-night-in-madison/
    Summary: Leaders kept details about changes to the bills secret until the last minute. Details we had not seen; the press had not read; no member of the public had an opportunity to provide comment.
    Body: Friday Night in Madison It was Friday night at 5:00 pm. Most people were leaving work and looking forward to the weekend. Maybe they headed to see friends and family at the fish fry or watch the prep football playoffs. At that same hour, Sena...
    /news/columns/2015/a-flurry-of-new-policy-slipped-in-by-budget-committee/
    Summary: I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget.
    Body: A Flurry of New Policy Slipped in by Budget Committee I didn’t expect to look up telephone laws reading the state budget. Snuck in the end of the Joint Finance Committee’s work is a law change that could affect the safety of rural residents. I...
    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-versus-deliberative-democracy/
    Summary: “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy versus Deliberative Democracy “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator. “Well, aren’t you nice,...
    /news/columns/2017/speed-and-secrecy-leaves-the-public-out-in-the-cold/
    Summary: In the past eleven years, I wrote 64 times about the problems of speed and secrecy in the legislative process. However, I never saw a calendar as broad and deep in controversy as the most recent one before the State Senate.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy Leaves the Public Out in the Cold In the past eleven years, I wrote 64 times about the problems of speed and secrecy in the legislative process. However, I never saw a calendar as broad and deep in controversy as the most recent...
    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-kill-democracy/
    Summary: “How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just before the hearing on that bill.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy Kill Democracy “How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just befo...

4 pages have the tag High Capacity Wells

    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-versus-deliberative-democracy/
    Summary: “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy versus Deliberative Democracy “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator. “Well, aren’t you nice,...
    /news/columns/2017/high-capacity-well-proposal-makes-water-problems-worse/
    Summary: What if you woke up one morning turned on the faucet to wash your face and saw brown water coming out of your tap?
    Body: High Capacity Well Proposal Makes Water Problems Worse What if you woke up one morning turned on the faucet to wash your face and saw brown water coming out of your tap? Stacy Sylla of rural Lincoln Township in Trempealeau County texted me just...
    /news/columns/2017/are-waters-in-wisconsin-meeting-water-quality-standards/
    Summary: “The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing.
    Body:     Are Waters in Wisconsin Meeting Water Quality Standards? “The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing. “[Wisconsin is] adding hundreds of impaired waters every...
    /news/columns/2016/farmers-seek-action-and-answers-at-the-capitol/
    Summary: “Just get it done!” The farmer was referring to a bill to change rules on high capacity wells. I listened. The chances of passing the bill are dim. Solving groundwater problems in Wisconsin is complex.
    Body: “Just get it done!” The farmer was referring to a bill to change rules on high capacity wells. I listened. The chances of passing the bill are dim. Solving groundwater problems in Wisconsin is complex. Farmers from all over our Senate District re...

3 pages have the tag Public Water Systems

    /news/columns/2016/keep-private-water-companies-out-of-wisconsin/
    Summary: Assembly Bill 554 would do away with the mandatory citizen referendum prior to the sale of public water and sewer utilities. It would also eliminate the ban on selling to out-of-state companies.
    Body: Keep Private Water Companies OUT of Wisconsin “Keep private water companies OUT of Wisconsin,” Glory Adams of Eau Claire wrote. She wants to stop a bill that would allow cities to sell water and sewer systems to out-of-state companies without e...
    /news/columns/2016/people-make-a-difference-despite-haste-at-capitol/
    Summary: “What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.
    Body: ​People Make a Difference Despite Haste at Capitol “What can we, as ordinary citizens, do to keep the legislature and the governor from passing/signing house bill 554? It scares the heck out of me,” wrote Claudia from Eau Claire.   “I know that...
    /news/columns/2016/the-latest-attempt-to-privatize-our-waters/
    Summary: ... Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and their legislative allies continue to threaten that resource, pitting one user against another, undermining Wisconsin’s constitution and threatening economic stability.
    Body: The Latest Attempt to Privatize Our Waters Senator Mark Miller and Senator Kathleen Vinehout Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of water. Water provides the basis for our economy and way of life. Yet Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce...

1 page has the tag Drug Addiction

    /news/columns/2017/meth-addiction-the-growing-epidemic-in-our-neighborhood/
    Summary: “We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.”
    Body: Meth Addiction: the Growing Epidemic in our Neighborhood “We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.” “...

1 page has the tag Meth

    /news/columns/2017/meth-addiction-the-growing-epidemic-in-our-neighborhood/
    Summary: “We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.”
    Body: Meth Addiction: the Growing Epidemic in our Neighborhood “We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.” “...

2 pages have the tag Town Hall Meeting

    /news/press-releases/2017/citizens-invited-to-state-budget-town-hall-meeting-in-eau-claire/
    Summary: Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Representative Dana Wachs will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Eau Claire on May 20, 2017.
    Body:   Citizens Invited to State Budget Town Hall Meeting Senator Kathleen Vinehout and Representative Dana Wachs will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Eau Claire on May 20, 2017. “This state budget will have s...
    /news/press-releases/2017/citizens-invited-to-state-budget-town-hall-meeting-in-mondovi/
    Summary: Senator Kathleen Vinehout will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Mondovi on May 25, 2017.
    Body: May 12, 2017   Citizens Invited to State Budget Town Hall Meeting Senator Kathleen Vinehout will host a Town Hall Meeting regarding the proposed 2017-19 State Budget in Mondovi on May 25, 2017. “This state budget will have significant impact o...

4 pages have the tag Legislative Process

    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-versus-deliberative-democracy/
    Summary: “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy versus Deliberative Democracy “All your work has made a real difference,” Linda, my staffer, told Mrs. Gifford. She and her husband traveled to Madison to personally deliver letters to every Senator. “Well, aren’t you nice,...
    /news/columns/2017/speed-and-secrecy-leaves-the-public-out-in-the-cold/
    Summary: In the past eleven years, I wrote 64 times about the problems of speed and secrecy in the legislative process. However, I never saw a calendar as broad and deep in controversy as the most recent one before the State Senate.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy Leaves the Public Out in the Cold In the past eleven years, I wrote 64 times about the problems of speed and secrecy in the legislative process. However, I never saw a calendar as broad and deep in controversy as the most recent...
    /news/columns/2016/speed-and-secrecy-kill-democracy/
    Summary: “How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just before the hearing on that bill.
    Body: Speed and Secrecy Kill Democracy “How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just befo...
    /news/columns/2017/two-worlds-apart-the-capitol-and-the-great-river-road/
    Summary: “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the decisions in the massive state budget.
    Body: Two Worlds Apart: The Capitol and the Great River Road “Oh, my gosh,” I said to the Senate page. “I need that book.” The ‘book’ was a 744-page binder written by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) detailing, in plain language, the dec...

1 page has the tag Fish and Wildlife

    /news/columns/2017/new-dnr-report-who-should-pay-to-protect-and-encourage-fish-and-wildlife/
    Summary: Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up.
    Body:   New DNR Report: Who Should Pay to Protect and Encourage Fish and Wildlife? Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up. A new DNR report noted Wisconsin had the numb...

2 pages have the tag State Pension Funds

    /news/columns/2014/audit-reminds-us-retirement-funds-bear-careful-watching/
    Summary: More than one out of ten Wisconsinites participates in the Wisconsin’s Retirement System either as a current or former state or local government employee.
    Body: “What’s going on with the state retirement system?” the retired woman asked me. She’d started a business but needed retirement income to keep things going. “Wisconsin’s system is the best funded in the country,” I told her. “But we’ve got to caref...
    /news/columns/2017/audits-raise-cautions-about-pension-fund-management/
    Summary: “GOOD NEWS” read the text with a short article about how our pension funds grew 8.5%. My friend forwarded the article with a cryptic note, “apparently the lies keep working.”
    Body:   Audits Raise Cautions about Pension Fund Management “GOOD NEWS” read the text with a short article about how our pension funds grew 8.5%. My friend forwarded the article with a cryptic note, “apparently the lies keep working.” In what seems t...

1 page has the tag State Treasurer

    /news/columns/2017/don-t-get-rid-of-the-treasurer/
    Summary: A resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to eliminate the role of state treasurer is likely to be finalized by the time you read this column. I will be voting “no” on the proposal to eliminate the office of state of treasurer and here’s...
    Body: Don’t Get Rid of the Treasurer Early in his term, Treasurer Matt Adamczyk (pronounced eDOMchek), was asked to sign a paper. The paper captured his signature. Mr. Adamczyk recently testified at a Senate committee hearing saying, “My signature and...

1 page has the tag Constitution

    /news/columns/2017/protect-the-constitution-from-a-convention/
    Summary: What do the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society have in common? They all think legislation calling for a federal constitutional convention is a bad idea. A very bad idea.
    Body:   Protect the Constitution from a Convention What do the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society have in common? They all think legislation calling for a federal constitutional convention is a bad id...

1 page has the tag REINS Act

    /news/columns/2017/reins-act-new-power-for-leaders-to-stop-public-protections/
    Summary: “This is the broadest, most dangerous bill you’ve never heard of.” I told my colleagues during a recent Senate debate. “It’s an obscure way to shut down government from doing something that the Legislature intended to do.”
    Body: “REINS Act” – New Power for Leaders to Stop Public Protections “This is the broadest, most dangerous bill you’ve never heard of.” I told my colleagues during a recent Senate debate. “It’s an obscure way to shut down government from doing somethin...

1 page has the tag Card Skimmer Bill

    /news/columns/2017/card-skimmer-bill-aimed-at-stopping-gas-pump-scam/
    Summary: “Be careful when you fill up,” Linda warned me a few months ago. “There’s a new scam that captures your credit card information when you pay for your gas at the pump.”
    Body: Card Skimmer Bill Aimed at Stopping Gas Pump Scam “Be careful when you fill up,” Linda warned me a few months ago. “There’s a new scam that captures your credit card information when you pay for your gas at the pump.” One more thing to worry abo...

4 pages have the tag Foxconn

    /news/columns/2017/wedc-admits-they-are-not-following-the-law/
    Summary: “We have not been able to verify the jobs,” said Secretary Mark Hogan at a recent public hearing of the Joint Committee on Audit.
    Body: WEDC Admits They Are Not Following the Law “We have not been able to verify the jobs,” said Secretary Mark Hogan at a recent public hearing of the Joint Committee on Audit. In this statement, the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corpor...
    /news/columns/2017/wedcs-history-raises-concerns-about-state-s-ability-to-oversee-foxconn-deal/
    Summary: “Can you find out the nuclear flaw in the Foxconn deal?” a woman asked me. She was referring to words leaked out of secret negotiations between the state and a Taiwanese billionaire.
    Body: WEDC’s History Raises Concerns about State’s Ability to Oversee Foxconn Deal “Can you find out the nuclear flaw in the Foxconn deal?” a woman asked me. She was referring to words leaked out of secret negotiations between the state and a Taiwanese...
    /news/columns/2017/thank-you-wisconsin-for-the-beautiful-gift/
    Summary: “Friends in the Wisconsin Legislature, we beg you: Sign that bad deal with Foxconn,” recently wrote the Chicago Sun Times editorial board. “It’s the neighborly thing to do.”
    Body: “Thank you, Wisconsin, for the Beautiful Gift” “Friends in the Wisconsin Legislature, we beg you: Sign that bad deal with Foxconn,” recently wrote the Chicago Sun Times editorial board. “It’s the neighborly thing to do.” The Wisconsin Assembly o...
    /news/columns/2017/foxconn-the-hype-and-the-small-print/
    Summary: ...as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here’s the Rest of the Story.”
    Body:   Foxconn: The Hype and the Small Print Great News! A big tech company called Foxconn is coming to southeast Wisconsin and bringing with it a lot of new jobs. The new company will build a big factory and make flat screens for computers. The Gov...

2 pages have the tag De-licensing Plan

    /news/columns/2017/proposal-to-de-license-occupations-gains-steam-in-senate/
    Summary: Imagine you are with your loved one who is in the hospital. Night comes. You prepare to leave, gently kissing your loved one “good night”.
    Body: Proposal to De-license Occupations Gains Steam in Senate Imagine you are with your loved one who is in the hospital. Night comes. You prepare to leave, gently kissing your loved one “good night”. As you walk down the corridor and into the hospit...

    Where Are the People?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/where-are-the-people/
    Summary: “This bill does not allow for public debate...is the public even aware? You’re not allowing the public to have adequate input into this issue,” testified Stephanie Bloomingdale.
    Body:   Where Are the People?Ideological groups push de-licensing plan “This bill does not allow for public debate...is the public even aware? You’re not allowing the public to have adequate input into this issue,” testified Stephanie Bloomingdale. M...

2 pages have the tag Licensed Professions

    /news/columns/2017/proposal-to-de-license-occupations-gains-steam-in-senate/
    Summary: Imagine you are with your loved one who is in the hospital. Night comes. You prepare to leave, gently kissing your loved one “good night”.
    Body: Proposal to De-license Occupations Gains Steam in Senate Imagine you are with your loved one who is in the hospital. Night comes. You prepare to leave, gently kissing your loved one “good night”. As you walk down the corridor and into the hospit...

    Where Are the People?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/where-are-the-people/
    Summary: “This bill does not allow for public debate...is the public even aware? You’re not allowing the public to have adequate input into this issue,” testified Stephanie Bloomingdale.
    Body:   Where Are the People?Ideological groups push de-licensing plan “This bill does not allow for public debate...is the public even aware? You’re not allowing the public to have adequate input into this issue,” testified Stephanie Bloomingdale. M...

1 page has the tag Living Wage

    /news/columns/2017/wisconsin-s-long-journey-toward-a-living-wage/
    Summary: “For an adult with a family who has to pay for food, clothing, and a place to live, and be able to pay for a car, the minimum wage is clearly not high enough,” wrote Bethany of Eleva-Strum High School.
    Body: Wisconsin’s Long Journey toward a Living Wage “For an adult with a family who has to pay for food, clothing, and a place to live, and be able to pay for a car, the minimum wage is clearly not high enough,” wrote Bethany of Eleva-Strum High School...

3 pages have the tag Local Control

    /news/columns/2014/sand-mine-bill-strips-local-powers-community-s-ability-to-say-no/
    Summary: Should communities be able to prevent development of sand mines? Can communities set rules if sand mine operations are inadequate to protect nearby residents?
    Body: Should communities be able to prevent development of sand mines? Can communities set rules if sand mine operations are inadequate to protect nearby residents? A new “communities cannot say no to sand mines” bill is making its way through the Legi...
    /news/columns/2015/uber-vs-taxi-cabs-is-a-statewide-preemption-of-local-laws-a-good-idea/
    Summary: Could a ride-sharing company known as Uber be in your future? Testimony from company lobbyists suggests we may soon see the San Francisco based app-driven ride-sharing company in rural Wisconsin.
    Body: Could a ride-sharing company known as Uber be in your future? Testimony from company lobbyists suggests we may soon see the San Francisco based app-driven ride-sharing company in rural Wisconsin. That is if state lawmakers pass new legislation to...

    When “Up” is “Down”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/when-up-is-down/
    Summary: A last-minute budget amendment has folks in Western Wisconsin very worried.
    Body:   When “Up” is “Down” Trying to understand last minute deals taking away local powers A last-minute budget amendment has folks in Western Wisconsin very worried. Locals have spent seven years negotiating with large sand mines to reach agreeme...

1 page has the tag Hemp

    Hemp: Its Time Has Come

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2017/hemp-its-time-has-come/
    Summary: Farmers in diverse states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine and Minnesota are researching a new crop: industrial hemp. Many states are changing laws to allow growing of hemp.
    Body: Hemp: Its Time Has Come Farmers in diverse states like Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine and Minnesota are researching a new crop: industrial hemp. Many states are changing laws to allow growing of hemp. Wisconsin is slow to get in the game. Hopefully, th...

1 page has the tag Refundable Tax Credits

    /news/columns/2015/a-business-owes-nothing-in-taxes-gets-a-state-check/
    Summary: “Why doesn’t the press cover what’s happening with refundable tax credits?” I asked the journalist. We were chatting about what I found in the state budget.
    Body: A Business Owes Nothing in Taxes & Gets a State Check? “Why doesn’t the press cover what’s happening with refundable tax credits?” I asked the journalist. We were chatting about what I found in the state budget. “Because the press doesn’t...

2 pages have the tag Art

    Why Art?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/why-art/
    Summary: “Art has the power to fill spaces in our souls that nothing else can,” said Alan Nugent, owner of Abode Art Gallery in Stockholm. I recently had an opportunity to learn about art and its impact on Wisconsin.
    Body: “Art has the power to fill spaces in our souls that nothing else can,” said Alan Nugent, owner of Abode Art Gallery in Stockholm. I recently had an opportunity to learn about art and its impact on Wisconsin. “Art has the power to transport, trans...

    Art Mirrors our Environment

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/art-mirrors-our-environment/
    Summary: Stockholm is a picturesque Mississippi River town of 66 individuals (not counting the dogs and cats) that swells by many hundreds on art fair day.
    Body: Art Mirrors our Environment “If you came to Stockholm today, you came up or over a river,” musician Julie Patchouli told the folks gathered at the 42nd Annual Art Fair. The musical group, known by Julie’s last name, began a rousing river song a...

3 pages have the tag Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program

    Where’s My Ride?

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/where-s-my-ride/
    Summary: “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.”
    Body: “We waited and the ride never came,” said one disabled man. “I was so cold” another woman said. “They said the heater in the van didn’t work.” Some time ago residents in Black River Falls shared with me their complaints about non-emergency medica...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-shows-riders-received-poor-services/
    Summary: “Just how many ‘no shows’ are acceptable?” I asked Medicaid Director Kevin Moore at a recent Audit Committee Hearing. “Is 4,154 people left without a ride too many?”
    Body: Elderly and disabled stranded when company did not deliver rides “Just how many ‘no shows’ are acceptable?” I asked Medicaid Director Kevin Moore at a recent Audit Committee Hearing. “Is 4,154 people left without a ride too many?” Wisconsin ne...
    /news/columns/2015/audit-affirms-complaints-but-also-satisfaction-with-non-emergency-medical-transportation-program/
    Summary: Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs.
    Body: Audit Affirms Complaints but also Satisfaction with Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program Last April I wrote about many complaints I received concerning rides to medical appointments for folks in BadgerCare and other Medicaid programs....

1 page has the tag Canada

    /news/columns/2015/canada-and-wisconsin-friends-and-partners/
    Summary: Did you know a third of everything Wisconsin sells to the world we sell to Canada? And more visitors come to Wisconsin from Canada than any other country?
    Body: Canada and Wisconsin Friends and Partners Did you know a third of everything Wisconsin sells to the world we sell to Canada? And more visitors come to Wisconsin from Canada than any other country? Wisconsin recently celebrated Canada Day at th...

1 page has the tag Exports

    /news/columns/2015/canada-and-wisconsin-friends-and-partners/
    Summary: Did you know a third of everything Wisconsin sells to the world we sell to Canada? And more visitors come to Wisconsin from Canada than any other country?
    Body: Canada and Wisconsin Friends and Partners Did you know a third of everything Wisconsin sells to the world we sell to Canada? And more visitors come to Wisconsin from Canada than any other country? Wisconsin recently celebrated Canada Day at th...

1 page has the tag Gig Economy

    /news/columns/2015/changes-for-work-and-workers-in-the-gig-economy/
    Summary: “If my company followed the rules, they couldn’t survive,” my niece Becky told me as we traveled home from our “Small Business Saturday” shopping trip.
    Body: ​Changes for Work and Workers In the "Gig Economy" “If my company followed the rules, they couldn’t survive,” my niece Becky told me as we traveled home from our “Small Business Saturday” shopping trip. Small retail businesses are owned by local...

3 pages have the tag Citizen Input

    /news/columns/2015/legislative-season-brings-many-capitol-visitors/
    Summary: “I’ve never done this before,” the young woman told me. She came to my Capitol office for the first time to talk about issues important to her and her profession. She was one of about two-dozen groups that recently visited.
    Body: “I’ve never done this before,” the young woman told me.  She came to my Capitol office for the first time to talk about issues important to her and her profession. She was one of about two-dozen groups that recently visited. People imagine a legi...
    /news/columns/2015/farmers-say-budget-damages-farm-research-schools-and-conservation-input/
    Summary: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol.
    Body: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol. Th...
    /news/columns/2015/citizen-input-provides-important-details-of-conservation-budget-cuts/
    Summary: “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?”
    Body: Citizen Input Provides Important Details of Conservation Budget Cuts “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?” It can be difficult for...

1 page has the tag Conservation Budget

    /news/columns/2015/citizen-input-provides-important-details-of-conservation-budget-cuts/
    Summary: “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?”
    Body: Citizen Input Provides Important Details of Conservation Budget Cuts “Why is it I keep hearing more about what’s in the governor’s budget?” the woman asked me. “Don’t you see it all at once and then decide what to do?” It can be difficult for...

1 page has the tag Accountability

    /news/columns/2015/economic-development-grow-public-oversight-shrinks/
    Summary: “I’ve heard about the cuts,” the Buffalo County man said. “But this budget spends more. Who’s getting more money?”
    Body: Economic Development $$$ Grow ~ Public Oversight Shrinks “I’ve heard about the cuts,” the Buffalo County man said. “But this budget spends more. Who’s getting more money?” Folks are concerned about big cuts to the UW; cuts to local schools; sc...

1 page has the tag Thanksgtiving

    /news/columns/2015/enjoying-thanksgiving-on-the-farm/
    Summary: Tundra Swans arrived Friday. These magnificent birds spend a brief time in Buffalo County on their way from the tundra of Canada and Alaska to their wintering grounds on the East Coast.
    Body: Enjoying Thanksgiving on the Farm Tundra Swans arrived Friday.   These magnificent birds spend a brief time in Buffalo County on their way from the tundra of Canada and Alaska to their wintering grounds on the East Coast.   The brilliant, w...

1 page has the tag Farm Research

    /news/columns/2015/farmers-say-budget-damages-farm-research-schools-and-conservation-input/
    Summary: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol.
    Body: “It’s very important that we are here today,” the farmer from Independence told me. “In fact, it’s more important that we be here than anywhere else.” Here was in my Capitol office. Local farmers were visiting as part of Ag Day at the Capitol. Th...

1 page has the tag Medicare

    /news/columns/2015/medicare-and-medicaid-turn-50-born-from-compromise-continuing-in-controversy/
    Summary: Watch: Medicare and Medicaid at 50The Story of Medicare: A Timeline
    Body: View video: Medicare and Medicaid at 50 View video: The Story of Medicare: A Timeline Source: Kaiser Family Foundation   “Whatever you do,” the elderly woman in Gilmanton told me a few years ago, “Keep your government-run hands off my Medicare...

1 page has the tag Teaching Standards

    “I’m Counting on You”

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2015/i-m-counting-on-you/
    Summary: In late night budget action, after freezing the school revenue limit and allowing no increase in aid, the Republican majority voted to strip away teaching standards.
    Body: Removal of Teaching Standards Fires Up Folks “I’m counting on you,” Tracy from Mondovi wrote me. “The architects of the Joint Finance Committee’s education budget package wrongly assumes that anyone can teach by allowing those with minimal qua...

1 page has the tag Rural Issues

    /news/columns/2015/seniors-react-don-t-take-my-home-phone-away/
    Summary: “I was furious,” said Cindy from Chippewa Falls. “I wouldn’t have stayed on the phone this long with this dinky cell phone.” She just found out state law allowed phone companies to dump their landline customers.
    Body: “I was furious,” said Cindy from Chippewa Falls. “I wouldn’t have stayed on the phone this long with this dinky cell phone.” She just found out state law allowed phone companies to dump their landline customers. Cindy waited 40 minutes on her “di...

1 page has the tag State Health Marketplace

    /news/columns/2015/state-health-marketplace-needed-to-protect-wisconsinites/
    Summary: Many Wisconsinites are waiting to hear if they will still be able to afford their health insurance bill.
    Body: “Wisconsin has relied heavily on the exchange to expand health insurance coverage,” wrote President Eric Borgerding of the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA). In a recent letter to Legislators, he warned a looming Supreme Court decision “could s...

1 page has the tag Government Oversight

    /news/columns/2015/governor-walker-s-vetoes-remove-legislative-oversight/
    Summary: The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passed by the legislature that provided legislative authority or provided oversight of the executive branch.
    Body: “I object to the infringement on gubernatorial power and duties,” wrote Governor Walker in his veto message. By his budget vetoes he made it clear he did not want legislative oversight. The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passe...

1 page has the tag Gubernatorial Oversight

    /news/columns/2015/governor-walker-s-vetoes-remove-legislative-oversight/
    Summary: The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passed by the legislature that provided legislative authority or provided oversight of the executive branch.
    Body: “I object to the infringement on gubernatorial power and duties,” wrote Governor Walker in his veto message. By his budget vetoes he made it clear he did not want legislative oversight. The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passe...

1 page has the tag Vetoes

    /news/columns/2015/governor-walker-s-vetoes-remove-legislative-oversight/
    Summary: The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passed by the legislature that provided legislative authority or provided oversight of the executive branch.
    Body: “I object to the infringement on gubernatorial power and duties,” wrote Governor Walker in his veto message. By his budget vetoes he made it clear he did not want legislative oversight. The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passe...

3 pages have the tag Campaign Finance

    /news/columns/2014/money-in-politics-what-can-a-person-do/
    Summary: “What can I do to stop corporate money from taking over our country?” Betty from Buffalo County asked me. She joined about 20 local people in viewing the film Koch Exposed that focused on the power of a few to manipulate elections.
    Body: “What can I do to stop corporate money from taking over our country?” Betty from Buffalo County asked me. She joined about 20 local people in viewing the film Koch Exposed that focused on the power of a few to manipulate elections. Money in polit...
    /news/columns/2014/lobbyists-and-corporations-2-voters-0/
    Summary: Should it be easier for lobbyists to contribute to campaigns? Should corporations spend more money to ask employees to make campaign contributions? Should Wisconsin limit early voting? Is there a lawmaker who has citizens clamoring for any of the...
    Body: Should it be easier for lobbyists to contribute to campaigns? Should corporations spend more money to ask their employees to make campaign contributions? Should Wisconsin limit early voting? Is there any lawmaker who has citizens clamoring for an...
    /news/columns/2015/vos-bill-opens-the-door-on-dark-money-in-campaigns/
    Summary: The bill opens the door to…“dark money” or contributions not reported by who wrote the check. Loopholes… make it unclear which political action committees (PAC) or independent expenditure groups must report donors and campaign spending.
    Body: “This bill strengthens democracy because it allows more citizens to participate,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Wisconsin State Journal. Vos is the lead author of a bill to overhaul the state’s campaign finance law. Wisconsin was an early l...

2 pages have the tag No Call List

    Do Not Call!

    Last edited: 11/08/2017

    /news/columns/2014/do-not-call/
    Summary: Beginning this month, the state Do Not Call list was consolidated with the Federal Do Not Call List maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The list also became permanent.
    Body: Stopping those Pesky Direct Marketing Calls A gentleman called my office on behalf of his sister.  She was receiving calls from salespeople even though she registered her phone with the Do Not Call List.  His sister was feeling harassed by a pa...
    /news/columns/2015/what-to-do-about-those-pesky-unwanted-calls/
    Summary: The No Call List protects people from unwanted calls and texts. Frequently these calls come from telemarketing companies. Sometimes the calls are scammers trying to collect personal information to take advantage of the unwary.
    Body: “I’ve been getting a lot of calls from blocked and private numbers,” Pat from rural Hixton told me. “We called the phone company and asked them to stop those calls, but I’m not sure what else we can do”. Pat told me many of the calls asked her to...

1 page has the tag Public Education

    /news/columns/2015/teacher-shortage-who-will-teach-the-children/
    Summary: “Please sound the alarm,” Superintendent Mary Baier wrote to me. “We are not able to find people to fill positions in Wisconsin.” She needed a special education teacher and only one applicant had applied to her rural Plum City district.
    Body: “Please sound the alarm,” Superintendent Mary Baier wrote to me. “We are not able to find people to fill positions in Wisconsin.” She needed a special education teacher and only one applicant had applied to her rural Plum City district. When the...

1 page has the tag Teacher Shortage