May 21, 2021

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I would like to thank all of you for taking the time to read through my newsletter. Each week, I'll include information to keep you up to date with what's happening in Madison and the 1st Assembly District.

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship

In any given week, my office usually receives more than 100 calls and emails from constituents who want to share their feedback on the biennial budget or bills being considered by the state Legislature.

At the present moment, the most popular topic I am hearing about is the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

I would like to reassure everyone that reauthorizing Knowles-Nelson for another 10 years continues to be one of my top priorities as we work on the state budget. 

I believe that extending the program for another decade will show the state that we remain committed to our goal of protecting our invaluable land and water resources and enhancing outdoor recreation activities.

While I am pushing for a 10-year reauthorization, we have not decided on an annual funding level as of yet. There are some lawmakers from other parts of the state who do not share the same passion for this program, so we will have to compromise on a price tag that everyone can get behind.

On a related note, I have also submitted budget motions that would provide a minimum level of school aid for every public school student and allow the city of Sturgeon Bay to implement a premier resort area tax.

I will write about those two budget motions in further detail in next week's e-update.

A Tale of Two Towers

Earlier this week, Sen. André Jacque and I participated in a conference call with the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to discuss the future of the observation tower at Potawatomi State Park.

I am excited to announce that DNR officials are now committing to restore the nearly 90-year-old structure, which is listed on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places. It had previously been slated for demolition.

We have been asked to work with the state Department of Administration to see which steps we need to take to rehabilitate the tower. We will also be looking at options to ensure the tower can be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to being an iconic and beloved attraction that brings many visitors to our area, the tower is historically significant because it helped make tourism an emerging industry in Wisconsin. It was the first purpose-built recreational tower in our state.

I am pleased that the DNR has recognized the importance of the tower and is working with us to make sure it can be enjoyed by generations to come. I would also like to thank the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society for their invaluable work and dedication in fighting for the future of the tower.  

To learn more about the history of the structure and our efforts in preserving it, please click on this link.

Speaking of towers, we are very fortunate that, after a few weeks of delays, the new Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park has been opened to the public.

This project has been a long time coming and I encourage you to visit the structure when you get the opportunity.

For more information on the new Eagle Tower, please click here, here and here.

Committee Hearings

I would like to take a moment to discuss the importance of the public hearing portion of our state's legislative process, which is where the merits of a bill are debated by all interested parties.

While all proposed legislation must receive a public hearing before advancing to the Assembly or Senate floor, not everyone is aware that anyone can testify at these hearings. For some, the thought of testifying at a public hearing can seem daunting, but it is actually much easier than most people realize. All you need to do is contact the office of the committee chair who will be holding the hearing. 

You can find the list of Assembly committees here and Senate committees here. Simply click on the committee that the bill will be heard in and you will find the contact information for the chairperson’s office.

If you would like to receive notifications on any proposed bill as it advances through the Legislature – including when a public hearing is scheduled – you can sign up for the state's notification system by clicking here.

My office is also willing to help you get in touch with the appropriate committee clerk if that ends up being a more convenient option for you.