November 3, 2017


Did you know that several Sheboygan County high schools host exchange students from nations all over the world?  I got to give a group of these international student visitors a tour of our State Capitol this week and tell them all about the history that has happened right here.  When they return home, these young leaders are going to have great news to share about Wisconsin and our United States of America with their families, their friends, their future business partners, their own governments and everyone whom they encounter.  Thank you for sharing your time in Wisconsin with me; it was my honor to meet you!


In last week's newsletter, I encouraged you to participate in the statewide Drug Take-Back Day that was held this past Saturday, October 28th.  In that newsletter, I shared the statistic that Sheboygan County residents had safely disposed of about 600 pounds worth of unused/leftover medications during the most recent drug take-back day held during spring 2017.  But guess what?  We blew that previous record out of the water this past weekend: the ten collection points across Sheboygan County gathered almost 1,200 pounds of leftover medications on Saturday.  That's more than half a ton of drugs that are being disposed of safely and which will never be used irresponsibly.


As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions.  Best wishes on your weekend!


Cracking Down on a Few Bad Actors


For about 18 months, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been investigating a troubling pattern that is already a big problem in Milwaukee and could become a bigger problem in other communities.  Landlord Games is a series of reports digging into properties, owners and tenants who are tangled in crisis.  Basically, a handful of bad actors have figured out how to turn a profit by buying up cheap rental properties more rapidly than the government can enforce payment of back taxes, building code violations, etc.  They're gaming the system, and our neighborhoods and our people are paying the price.


With bipartisan colleagues Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), I released two new ideas this week that we've been working on for many months that we think may help break this cycle.  One bill would require bidders at sheriff sale auctions of foreclosed properties (a venue where the bad actors like to buy up the cheap properties to sustain their business model) to affirm that they are not already delinquent on property taxes or court judgments; if the court learns that a buyer is acting in bad faith, the court would have some options for blocking the sale or imposing new penalties.  The other bill would help counties move these auctions online, a move that we think will enable many more potential homebuyers and investors to participate in the market and drive the bad actors out of business.


It's not often that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and I agree (click here to read Wednesday's Journal Sentinel story on our new ideas), but we legislators have worked hard to gain input and support for some real solutions for our state that are not too burdensome for the vast majority of good actors but will have a positive impact.  These proposals will be debated in legislative committees in the weeks ahead.  Let me know what you think!


Assistance Available for Winter Heating Costs


Regardless of whether you use natural gas, electricity, fuel oil, propane or wood to heat your home, you may be eligible to receive assistance with your energy bills during the winter.  The Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) offers qualifying households several types of financial assistance during the winter months including heating and electric assistance, crisis assistance and even furnace repair/replacement assistance in some emergency situations.


Eligibility is determined by a number of factors, but if (for example) you're a family of four who earns less than $51,000 per year, you may qualify for one or more types of aid.  To apply, you need to visit your local WHEAP agency office; in Sheboygan County, that's the county Health and Human Services office located in the county job center at 3620 Wilgus Ave, Sheboygan.




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Room 208 North, State Capitol ● PO Box 8952 ● Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-0656  ●  ●