On April 5, 2012, I was honored to join Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and Mike Lanser, President of Lakeshore Technical College (LTC), at the Sheboygan-based JL French Company for the announcement of $164,122 in state-supported training grants for three local companies. Dutchland Plastics of Oostburg, Dairy Farmers of America of Plymouth and JL French of Sheboygan were awarded Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) grants to utilize LTC in training their workers in the coming months. Dutchland Plastics will be working toward lean manufacturing practices and safety training, Dairy Farmers of America is training supervisors for continuous improvement and JL French is working on lean manufacturing and OSHA safety.
The WAT grant program is a matching grant program in which the state partners with local businesses by investing in training an existing workforce to increase productivity, safety and profitability. Growing skills, finding efficiencies and developing new proficiencies are essential ways that companies can use state funding to help strengthen their workforce and grow our local economy.
LTC, which represents about 3% of the 16-college Wisconsin Technical College System, has obtained more than 10% of all WAT grant funds in our state! Since this program began in 2005, over $1.5 million in WAT grants have been secured by LTC for local businesses. This proactive effort demonstrates the college’s commitment to our local economy.
As a resident, taxpayer and Senator, I look forward to the local impact from this investment. Several hundred local people will receive education that will allow them to develop new skills, become more productive, and support the continued growth of local companies.
Each of the businesses receiving the grants pledged that they want to grow in Wisconsin and appreciate the support as they work through a struggling economy and a time of changing technology.
Bills Become Law
Over the last several weeks, I have enjoyed providing information on numerous bills that were voted on by the State Senate during our winter voting session. Over the next couple of weeks, I will provide updates on which of those bills have been signed by Governor Scott Walker and are now law in Wisconsin.
Today, I am pleased to report that seven bills that I authored have been signed into law by the Governor over the past couple of days.
My job as a lawmaker is to gather ideas from constituents, evaluate them, draft the ideas into bills and then lead the bills through the detailed legislative process. While my main focuses have been on improving the climate in our state for private sector job creation and restoring fiscal responsibility to our state government, the proposals detailed below address numerous issues. Following are summaries of the various bills that have been signed into law.
Senate Bill (SB) 459: Supporting Small Business Jobs - The goal of this legislation is to expand an already successful job creation program that is administered by the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) by opening the program to more businesses and modernizing the program for 2012.
SB 463: Angel/Seed Investments & Tax Credits – This legislation will make important updates to the successful Early Stage Business Investment program. The program has been in place since 2003 and has helped over 190 small start-up businesses get off the ground and employ people here in Wisconsin.
Based on my focus of creating more private sector jobs in our state and my belief that small businesses are the key to our overall economic success, I was pleased to lead both of these bills through the legislature and believe the measures will help facilitate more private sector jobs in our state.
SB 547: Safety Mirrors for School Buses – This legislation will allow school bus businesses in Wisconsin to attach a supplemental safety mirror system to their buses. A Sheboygan-based company manufactures this type of product, but learned that state law needed to be changed so that these devices could be installed on school buses in Wisconsin. This is not a mandate that these devices be installed; the bill simply allows this type of device to be attached to a school bus if a school bus company located in Wisconsin decides to purchase them.
I was pleased to author this bill at the request of the local business, which plans to create new jobs because of this effort, and because I believe this innovative safety product option should be allowed to be used in Wisconsin.
Assembly Bill (AB) 506: Organizing Elections for New Cities & Villages – This legislation requires the County Clerk to organize and oversee the first election of officers for any newly incorporated city or village. Existing law requires the Clerk of Courts to manage this responsibility. County Clerks oversee all other elections and are better suited to manage these initial elections. While somewhat technical, this bill will help save money and better manage our government personnel.
SB 354: ATV/UTV Ridership in Wisconsin – This legislation creates laws relating to the use and registration of Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) in Wisconsin. I enjoyed working with a local constituent, Randy Harden, who is also the President of the Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association to develop this proposal. ATV/UTV riding is enjoyed by over 1 million citizens statewide and this activity provides an annual economic impact of over $300 million. The goal of this bill is to make ATV/UTV ridership and even bigger part of our state’s economy.
SB 453: Making State Agencies More Efficient & Friendly – This legislation streamlines many of the duties of the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). The DSPS regulates many professional and technical occupations throughout the state and issues licenses/credentials to individuals in these trades. This legislation will make this process much more user friendly by removing many vague, confusing and redundant requirements from DSPS statues. This bill will streamline our government processes and save taxpayer money in the operation of this agency.
AB 548: Updating Technical Aspects of Legal Notices – This legislation will standardize the typeface used by newspapers for the publication of legal notices. Now, all notices will be published in Arial 6-point font. The bill also requires that newspapers get certified annually instead of every two years and that rates paid to newspapers for publishing legal notices be adjusted annually instead of every two years.
These common sense changes will bring about consistency and eliminate confusion for newspapers as well as Department of Administration (DOA) staff.
Each of these proposals, now signed into law, was passed by the legislature with strong bi-partisan support. In fact, over the past two-year session, 96% of the bills signed into law by Governor Scott Walker were approved with bi-partisan votes. While the media and opponents like to focus on the few areas where there was disagreement, the facts demonstrate that we have all worked together and almost all of the legislation signed into law was supported by Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
I am proud of these efforts and look forward to providing additional updates in the coming weeks on the bills that have now become law.
As always, it has been a pleasure communicating with you. Please remember to communicate with me and share your input by calling 888-295-8750, writing to me at PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882, or by e-mailing me at Sen.Leibham@legis.wi.gov
. You can also log on to the 9th Senate District on-line office at www.leibhamsenate.com
It is an honor to work for and represent the residents of the 9th District in the State Senate.