I've promised the people of Wisconsin on many occasions to fight for you against excessive government. It's sometimes tough to agree on "how much government" is the right amount... but this time, there's no question that Sheboygan County has been getting a raw deal from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and we've had enough.
In a nutshell, the EPA uses air quality data from the Kohler-Andrae State Park monitoring site to punish Sheboygan County for other states' air pollution. It is well documented that pollutants generated in Illinois and Indiana create ozone over Lake Michigan that gets detected on Wisconsin's shoreline. Even if Sheboygan County had zero people, zero cars, zero businesses and zero air pollution, we still wouldn't be able to attain the federal clean air standard. That's because the monitor is set up in a place where it catches pollution from other parts of the Midwest (a fact which EPA does not dispute). Another monitor that is properly sited to measure Sheboygan-area point sources has now shown for three consecutive years that our people and our businesses are meeting the federal standard, but EPA has been ignoring that data.
Yesterday, I testified alongside all the Sheboygan-area legislators on Assembly Bill 588, which charts a better path forward. Shown above, testifying alongside me, are Sen. Devin LeMahieu (holding up the map showing the unfair location of the Kohler-Andrae monitor), Rep. Jesse Kremer and Sen. Duey Stroebel; Rep. Tyler Vorpagel is not shown because he is chairing the meeting at the other end of the table. This is a good plan that does not reduce the attention paid to keeping our air safe but also does not allow EPA to keep misusing Kohler-Andrae site data against our communities and our businesses (at outrageous cost to them).
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 Day Set Apart
History buffs might already know that Thanksgiving has a long history indeed in the United States. Maybe you've read about Squanto and the Native Americans who helped the Pilgrims survive a brutal first year in America in 1621. The Continental Congress declared a one-time day of thanksgiving in 1777 after the American battlefield victory at Saratoga, and George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving and prayer in 1789 in honor of our new U.S. Constitution. After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, Congress passed a federal law setting Thanksgiving Day as the fourth Thursday of every November.
But I agree with the historians who consider President Abraham Lincoln the "father" of the annual nationwide Thanksgiving holiday. The United States had a lot to be thankful for in fall 1863; Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg turned the tide of the Civil War, arguably saving the Union entirely, but at unfathomable cost. I found the full text of President Lincoln's proclamation; I hope you'll find the same joy, gratitude and admiration in these words that I find.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
I know, I know: I just explained how Thanksgiving is, first and foremost, a day for being grateful and a day to be with loved ones. Still, this weekend will also be America's biggest shopping weekend of the year. With the economy picking up steam again, Forbes.com is forecasting that consumer spending on this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend may increase by a whopping 47 percent over the same period in 2016. That's because an important nationwide survey is suggesting that Americans will spend an average of $743 shopping this weekend, which is an enormous increase over last year's $505 average. Online shopping will be a big part of the increase: more than 56 percent of consumers in the survey said they plan to shop on Cyber Monday this year, up from about 39 percent a year ago.
E-commerce is definitely a big deal. But there is good news for brick-and-mortar stores, too: another survey out this week says that fully 82 percent of U.S. consumers intend to shop at a small independently-owned retail store this Saturday (recognized nationwide as "Small Business Saturday") or dine at a small independently-owned restaurant. Local businesses are a tremendously important sector of Wisconsin's economy, so I'm thrilled to learn that, even in 2017, consumers understand that shopping locally continues to be a smart way to do business and continues to be really important for our communities. I'll certainly be out this weekend visiting some local shops, and I hope you'll do the same!