Child Advocacy Center Visit

On March 7th I toured the Lakeshore Child Advocacy Center with Executive Director Amanda Didier. Ozaukee County is fortunate to have this safe, welcoming, family-friendly space for children who are victims of or witnesses to a crime. The center brings together a multidisciplinary team to collaboratively investigate abuse. After a traumatic event, law enforcement, human services, advocacy, mental health professionals and prosecutors may need information. With specially-trained facilitators and the ability to record statements from children and vulnerable adults, Lakeshore's work can help prevent the need for victims to relive their traumatic experiences over and over again under questioning or in court. I am proud to support centers like Lakeshore and the child advocacy motto: "where a child's words are always heard."

Andraca Sponsored Bills Become Law!

Governor Evers recently signed three bills into law that I co-sponsored.  One will benefit restaurant owners as they continue to rebound from the pandemic, the second will make it easier for military medical personnel to work in the healthcare field upon leaving the service, and the third decriminalizes an important tool in fighting opioid abuse.

Assembly Bill 717, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 156:

• Creates an exemption under the Wisconsin individual income tax for grants received from the Restaurant Revitalization Fund established under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021; and
• Provides that expenses paid for by the proceeds of the grants are deductible if they would otherwise be ordinarily deductible, conforming to the tax treatment adopted for Paycheck Protection Program forgiven loans and other assistance programs created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assembly Bill 720, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 158:

Provides a pathway for military medical personnel to temporarily practice, utilizing their military medical skills and training, at community-based residential facilities, residential care apartment complexes, and inpatient and outpatient healthcare facilities without having to first obtain a license.

Senate Bill 600, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 180:

Decriminalizes the use of testing strips that confirm that a substance contains fentanyl. Currently, fentanyl testing strips are classified as drug paraphernalia, but the new law will enable their use as a tool for curbing opioid abuse.

For more information about these new laws or any other legislation, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Teen Leadership Board Visits the Capitol

We were delighted to welcome the Teen Leadership Board of Friendship Circle of Wisconsin to the Capitol last week. Friendship Circle operates the Friendship Café in Fox Point which is one of the places we hold our Friday Office Hours.

Each of the teens received the President's Volunteer Service Award, and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes was on-hand to present their certificates and medals. These current and future leaders attended a panel discussion with legislators, met Justice Rebecca Frank Dallet, watched the opening of a Wisconsin Supreme Court hearing and toured the Capitol. 

Please let us know if you will be bringing a group to the Capitol--we would love to welcome you!

Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Update

I continue to urge action and more transparency regarding the Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs project, led by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust.  As I noted in the last newsletter, because of an anonymous objection the powerful Joint Finance Committee refuses to schedule a hearing on the Knowles-Nelson grant. Last week I sent a letter to the co-chairs of the committee urging them to hold a public hearing and resolve any objection to the project. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is -- or is not -- being spent, and an "anonymous objector" should not be able to derail a project that has the support of all of our local elected officials without explanation.

Public Safety Updates

Incidents of gun violence are up all across our area. I have co-sponsored several bills to close loopholes that allow felons to avoid a background check, provide more funding for local law enforcement, and invest in proven crime-reduction programs to keep our communities safe. On February 28th I joined a bi-partisan group of legislators to observe Milwaukee County’s gun court, which is a special court run by Judge David Feiss for non-fatal crimes involving firearms. The courtroom observation was followed by a meeting with Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and County Executive David Crowley. 

According to the City of Milwaukee Police Department, crimes committed with firearms are up significantly from 2019:

  • Firearm-related violent crime increased 58% 
  • Firearm-related homicide increased 128%
  • Guns stolen from motor vehicles increased 166%
  • Arrests of felons possessing firearms is up 31%

Having a dedicated court for gun-related crimes can help move these cases through the judicial process, but the backlog is still significant. This week Governor Evers announced a $50 million investment in community safety, as well as funding to help alleviate the pandemic-related backlog of criminal cases and evidence-based initiatives to reduce crime and keep communities safe.

The increase in crime is not only limited to the City of Milwaukee. After a resident was robbed at gunpoint, the Whitefish Bay Police Department held Coffee with a Cop, offering tours of the police station and sharing best practices for crime reduction. The officers urged residents to know their neighbors, spoke about neighborhood crime watches, and urged every resident “if you see something, say something.”

Bipartisan Trails Caucus

On March 9th, I attended a hearing as a member of the bipartisan Trails Caucus to hear testimony from several people about the preservation and expansion of Wisconsin’s outdoor trails system. The hearing also included trail funding, maintenance, and further accommodation for ATVs/UTVs and skiing. Invited speakers at the hearing included:

  • Randy Harden: the Wisconsin ATV/UTV Association
  • Ben Popp: Executive Director of the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation
  • Yuriy Gusev: Executive Director of the Central Cross Country Skiing – US Ski and Snowboard
  • Michael McFadzen: founding member of the Northern Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club, Co-Chairman of the Kettle Moraine State Forest 10-Year Master Plan, and Chairman of the Northern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest
  • Dave Newman: President of the Association of WI Snowmobile Clubs

Members of the caucus will be sending a letter to DNR requesting an update to the 2003 Wisconsin Trails Network plan, which identifies a series of potential trail corridors across the state. I look forward to working with my colleagues to help develop and improve state trails for all kinds of outdoor recreation.

On March 14, 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Health Service (DHS) announced the "Thank You Tour: Moving Forward Together” to thank communities for their COVID-19 response efforts. DHS is also launching a new webpage that allows Wisconsinites to post an online note of appreciation to thank someone for their service and leadership in support of the COVID-19 response. 

As part of the Thank You Tour, DHS officials will be traveling across Wisconsin from March through May to see and hear directly from those who have been serving on the COVID-19 frontlines. Stops include local health departments and tribal health clinics, aging and disability resource centers, COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites, health care facilities, vaccination community outreach grant awardees, schools, and health care industry events. The Thank You Tour recognizes that Wisconsin is in a better place today to respond to the virus due to the support and sacrifices of those who stepped up to protect their communities. 

Meeting with constituents is the best and most important part of my job! These sessions are opportunities for you to meet your state representative, and for us to learn what matters most to you, your businesses and your families. Office hours are held at small businesses throughout the 23rd District. Click here to reserve your appointment on Friday mornings between 9:00 am--12:00 pm. If you prefer, we can also schedule a phone call or Zoom at a time that works for you.

We look forward to hearing from you!

  • March 18th at Fiddleheads Coffee in Thiensville
  • April 1st at The City Market Café in Whitefish Bay
  • April 8th at Fiddleheads Coffee in Mequon

Contact Our Office

There are several convenient ways to share your thoughts and concerns with us:

Call our office at (608) 266-0486

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Visit our website to learn more about constituent services, legislative priorities and to share your comments or concerns.