The Assembly is going to be back in session again twice in the next two weeks -- our first two sessions of the new year -- to debate and advance new solutions to the challenges you sent us to Madison to resolve! More than 90 percent of the bills that advance to the Assembly floor receive bipartisan support; I expect that the next couple weeks will be no exception.
I hope you'll take a moment to scroll all the way through this week's newsletter. There is a lot of news because there are a lot of important conversations happening in the legislature as we keep building a brighter future for Wisconsin!
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!
A Bold Vision
Every Wisconsin resident deserves the opportunity to succeed. The American Dream to have a top-notch education, a fulfilling and family-supporting career and a safe place to live should be something that everyone in our little part of the world can reach. And there are a whole lot of new ideas working their way through the state legislature right now that keep us moving in the right direction!
Senate Bill (SB) 690: Don't let anyone fool you: Wisconsin's K-12 public schools are receiving an all-time record high level of funding -- even though federal funding has decreased. But for a number of reasons, there is disparity among school districts; some districts spend comparatively much more than others. SB 690 provides a way forward that begins to even out some of the gaps (and will benefit several of the school districts in our part of the state who have done a good job keeping costs under control) while still protecting taxpayers. I'm a cosponsor of this bill; it has been formally introduced and will receive committee consideration in both the Assembly and Senate soon.
Assembly Bill (AB) 812: Have you bought or sold a house lately? Did you find any of the paperwork a little confusing and a little outdated? I'm a coauthor of a bill that would update the disclosure paperwork. The questions would be reworded more clearly; we would clarify what a "defect" is so that, hopefully, buyers and sellers can use this term more meaningfully; and we would add a few required disclosures so that buyers will be aware of any known methamphetamine production, burial sites, deed restrictions and easements up front. Ideally the entire exercise should become a little more user-friendly! AB 812 received a public hearing earlier this week.
LRB-4425: The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) is a state constitutional agency that manages investments totaling about $1 billion. In 2016, these funds earned about $37 million (a 3.6 percent return), most of which was sent to the Common School Fund to fund public school libraries. But the investments managed by the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB -- the investment experts who manage the state retirement system) average nearly 8 percent annual returns. One reason why the BCPL money earns such a comparatively low return each year is because the BCPL uses the money to make very-low-interest loans to local governments -- effectively competing against private industry at taxpayer expense! I'm a coauthor of LRB-4425, and although the bill hasn't yet been formally introduced, I think this is a big opportunity to get government out of what ought to be private business... and potentially earn the taxpayers a much better profit!
Something for Everyone!
Here are a few newsworthy nuggets that you might not have heard anywhere else!
Apply now for 4-H scholarships. The Wisconsin 4-H Foundation will award more than $10,000 in scholarships to Wisconsin students in 2018. If you're a 4-H member and plan to attend a university, college or tech school in 2018-19, then it might be worth your while to click here for details and application instructions. I'm a big believer in the 4-H program (which stands for Head, Heart, Hands and Health) that provides so many opportunities for our next generation to learn, serve and grow into leaders!
2018 landscape registry. Through a tool provided by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), you may sign up to request that commercial lawn care companies notify you before they apply pesticides to lawns, trees and shrubs on the block where you live. To receive such notifications during 2018, you must sign up (click here) prior to February 1st; once you sign up, commercial pesticide application businesses who intend to apply pesticides near your address must notify you at least 12 hours in advance.
Free fishing weekend coming soon! January 20th-21st will be a free fishing weekend across Wisconsin! No fishing license will be required on these dates for Wisconsin residents or visitors; many locations statewide will host free ice fishing clinics; and more than 20 Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sites will have free loaner equipment available. Be sure to read the details; most other fishing-related regulations will still apply.
2018 Public Access Lands Atlas. Wisconsin has a wealth of public lands available for everyone to enjoy. Use this website as your starting point for searching for things to do or launching the interactive mapping tool to explore specific locations. If you're like me and you sometimes prefer holding a full-color printed book in your hands, the 465-page 2018 Public Access Lands Atlas is now available for purchase as well!