Leader of the Pack!

Thank you to Cub Scout Pack 400 for inviting me to speak with you about state government! These future leaders asked great questions and I hope to see them on a ballot someday.

It's been a busy few weeks in the Assembly, including three long floor sessions last week.  I am highlighting a number of high-interest bills in this issue.  If you want to know more about legislation that it not mentioned here, please reach out to my office.


Last week many education-related bills passed the Assembly and Senate, almost all of which are likely to be vetoed by Governor Evers. 

I did my student teaching at an MPS charter school, and I support providing educational options to families. Wisconsin has the largest taxpayer-funded school voucher system in the country, but it has yet to demonstrate significant academic gains over traditional public schools. As currently structured, Wisconsin’s voucher program siphons money away from traditional public schools without requiring the same benchmarks and standards. I believe that before we invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into an expanded voucher program, there must be more accountability and transparency so we know how our education dollars are being spent.

For example, AB 970 would have dramatically expanded vouchers by eliminating most income and participation limits. The fiscal estimate on this bill came in at $577 million dollars – a staggering sum for a program with mixed results that would significantly increase your property taxes. Democrats offered an amendment that would add a line on property tax bills so taxpayers could see where local education dollars were being spent, but Republicans voted against the amendment. The bill passed the Assembly, with all Democrats and one Republican voting against it. I will not support any expansion of the school choice program without increased accountability measures for your taxpayer dollars. 

Another bill, AB 971, would have sunsetted the Achievement Gap Reduction program, allowed parental opt-out of pupils from statewide examinations, issued grants for teacher licensure and established programs to identify and address pupils with dyslexia. However, the bill did not allocate any new funding to carry out its objectives. Despite opposition by almost every single school advocacy organization the bill passed out of the Assembly along party lines. 

I voted in favor of AB 975, a proposal that would help increase the number of substitute teachers available to our schools by allowing students pursuing a teaching degree to work as substitutes. Although this bill does not address Wisconsin’s long-term teacher shortage, it will help address the immediate problem, help prospective teachers gain important classroom experience, and allow these students to earn money working in their chosen career.

Unfortunately, many of the education bills were little more than unfunded mandates for schools and teachers and others would remove or weaken local control – giving Madison, not locally-elected school boards, more say in your children's education. AB 966 would split MPS into four to eight separate school districts, create more bureaucracy, and eliminate economies of scale for district-wide programs. The bill was opposed by MPS but passed along party lines. AB 903 was a bill that appeared to create more gifted and talented programming, which I would support, but it only required reporting on such efforts – it had no funding or substance to help any of these programs succeed. AB 995 would allow parents to opt-out from face covering requirements regardless of the level of COVID-19, and AB 969 would require certain schools to employ armed school resource officers. I voted against all of these bills.

It is frustrating when your state legislative leaders spend time on bills designed more for political messaging than sound public policy. Republicans say they want school choice, yet they continually try to prevent local school boards from choosing what’s best for our communities. I will continue to oppose efforts that create a one-size-fits-all approach to local school policy and put legislators’ political priorities ahead of those of local schools.

Elections and Voting Rights

Another batch of bad bills were election-related and little more than a partisan attempt to sow doubt about our electoral process. One example is SB 940, which would require election officials to compare voter information on the state’s official voter list with information maintained by the Department of Transportation. After several certified recounts and audits, including one by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, we know that the 2020 election was fair, accurate, safe and secure. A better use of DOT information would be to establish automatic voter registration, sometimes called “motor voter” laws. Democrats proposed this idea as an amendment, but Republicans voted it down. Other bills that passed the Assembly would restrict who can return absentee ballots (SB 939), regulate the status of “indefinitely confined” voters (SB 937), and give the Legislature more control over the state’s elections (SB 943). I voted no and will continue to oppose any bill that makes it harder for eligible voters to cast a ballot.

In other election-related news, on Tuesday the Gableman investigation presented its findings to the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections. Unfortunately, the “Second Interim Investigative Report” delivered by Mr. Gableman implied that there would be more work in the future. Taxpayers have already spent $680,000 on this investigation into a certified and fair election, and I will fight any attempt to spend another penny on this partisan fool’s errand. 

Other Bills of Interest

Civil Liability for Firearms

Few industries enjoy more protection than the firearms industry, which has gone largely unregulated for decades. Despite having even more protection than companies that make cars or tobacco, SB 570 would have provided Wisconsin firearms manufacturers with additional immunity from lawsuits. I spoke out against the measure on the floor of the Assembly, but it passed along party lines and will be taken up by the Senate next week.


EV Charging Stations

I own a Chevy Bolt and use solar on my roof to help charge our electric car. So as a member of the Energy and Utilities Committee, I was excited for the introduction of AB 588, a bill to promote the development of charging stations in Wisconsin. But I was frustrated to discover the bill restricts municipalities from owning and operating charging stations and also restricts selling electricity not produced by the local utility – which excludes power produced by non-utility owned solar/battery charging stations. I spoke out against this “power grab” by utility companies and these shortsighted provisions that run counter to free market principles. I hope the Governor will veto this plan so we can develop a charging network driven by public demand, not utility company decisions.


Third Party Delivery Services

I co-sponsored AB 901, a bipartisan bill which will bring regulation and transparency to the third-party food delivery industry.  The bill will ensure that restaurants know when orders are being placed through third-party services. I heard testimony on this bill in the Small Business Committee and voted to advance this bill to the full Assembly where it passed on a voice vote last week. I hope the Senate will pass the bill and forward it to the Governor before the end of the session.

Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs Knowles-Nelson Grant

Because of the overwhelming success of the Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve and the desire for more public lake access in our area, the development of the Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs natural area has enjoyed broad popular support. Unfortunately, years of planning and community investment are threatened because of an “anonymous objector” on the Joint Finance Committee. I wrote about the efforts to save the park, and the larger threats to the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program, in the News-Graphic last week. A project years in the making, and with broad local support, should not be held hostage to the whims of anonymous lawmakers. The public deserves a say in how public money is spent – or not.  I continue to fight for this project, and I encourage you to contact your other elected officials with your support too.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services supports the new Centers for Disease Control (CDC) metrics used to determine the severity of COVID-19 in communities. With widespread access to vaccines and testing, available treatment options, and high levels of population immunity, a new approach to monitoring and preventing COVID-19 is necessary. On February 25, 2022, the CDC released new COVID-19 Community Levels to help communities and individuals make decisions about prevention strategies and behaviors that more accurately reflect the goals of this new approach. COVID-19 Community Levels are determined using three key metrics:  

  1. The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population in the past 7 days. 
  2. New COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population in the past 7 days.  
  3. The average percent of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients in the past 7 days. 

Regardless of where you live, the CDC and DHS recommend that everyone stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccines. It is also recommended that everyone continue to wear a mask around others and get tested for COVID-19 if they are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. We urge all Wisconsinites to continue using a combination of COVID-19 prevention strategies that will allow us to continue with our daily lives while keeping community members safe and healthy.  

I-43 Reconstruction Update

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is reconstructing 1.5 miles of I-43 between Capitol Drive and north of Hampton Avenue as part of the I-43 URT (Union Refrigerator Transit Company) bridge project.

The following long-term lane and ramp closures are scheduled to begin the weekend of March 4:

  • I-43, between Silver Spring Drive and Capitol Drive, is scheduled to be reduced to two lanes, in each direction, through late 2022
  • Fiebrantz Avenue entrance ramp to I-43 North is scheduled to close through late 2022
  • I-43 South exit ramp to Green Bay Avenue is scheduled to close through late 2022

I-43 Alternate Route:

  • Motorists are encouraged to use Green Bay Avenue and  Silver Spring Drive to get around the lane closures

Fiebrantz Avenue Entrance Ramp Detour Route:

  • Motorists are encouraged to use Green Bay Avenue north to  Silver Spring Drive, east to Port Washington Road, south to  I-43 North entrance ramp to get around the closure

Green Bay Avenue Exit Ramp Detour Route:

Motorists are encouraged to use I-43 South exit to  Silver Spring Drive, west to Green Bay Avenue, south to Capitol Drive to get around the closure

For the latest updates, visit the DOT website.

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 4th at the Friendship Café in Fox Point
  • March 11th at the Grafton Arts Mill Coffee Roastery
  • March 18th at Fiddleheads Coffee in Thiensville

Contact Our Office

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Call our office at (608) 266-0486

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