The State Building Commission, on which I serve, met recently with Governor Scott Walker and formally issued approval for several important construction projects around the state to proceed. These projects were all enumerated by the legislature at some point in the past, typically in a state budget/appropriations law, but the Building Commission is responsible for authorizing projects to actually move forward and for ensuring that taxpayer dollars are actually being used responsibly. At this most recent meeting, I voted, among other things, to authorize construction of a new residence hall at UW-Eau Claire (where many students have had to live off campus in nearby hotels due to a shortage of residence space); to repair the iconic clock tower on the UW-Stout campus in downtown Menomonie; and to replace and upgrade the fire alarm and safety systems on the campus of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King. Even as negotiations continue on the 2017-19 state budget, work continues in the Building Commission and all our state agencies to make responsible use of taxpayers' resources and make our state a better place to live and work.
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!
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, in conjunction with many other organizations across the state, has recently launched a new initiative aimed at improving the health and wellness of Wisconsin's residents. The new Healthy Wisconsin initiative includes a state health assessment and improvement plan that aim to help communities identify strategies to make Wisconsin healthier in five key areas: alcohol, nutrition and physical activity, opioids, suicide and tobacco.
The full report is about 113 pages, but it offers a lot of helpful resources at a glance. (Skip to the bottom and check out the maps!) The report observes that we do many things pretty well in Wisconsin; for example, education is linked to better health outcomes, and Wisconsin has a higher-than-average high school graduation rate. Compared to other states, we have somewhat fewer households who experience food insecurity, poverty or lack of health insurance. In other areas, however, our state could stand improvement. The numbers on alcohol abuse are dreadful (see page 27); our suicide rate is four times our homicide rate; and more than two-thirds of Wisconsin adults are either overweight or obese. The health improvement plan begins on page 77, and I think this report did a great job of setting some realistic goals but also suggesting helpful strategies for our communities to work toward the goals.
On a related but separate note, the Healthy Sheboygan County 2020 Coalition needs your help! If you live in Sheboygan County, your completion of this quick survey will help our local public health officials, health care agencies, schools and others prioritize resources and identify health issues specific to our local communities. Please take a moment to complete the survey!
Summer Fun Ahead!
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, the largest agricultural show in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the nation, takes place just up the lakeshore in Algoma, WI next week Tuesday through Thursday, July 11-13. Even if you're not a farmer, there is something for everybody, including indoor and outdoor free stages, food, music, demonstrations, a country mercantile and MANY vendors. Click here for the full program. Parking is free; admission for kids under 12 is free; and adults will get their money's worth for just $8 at the door.
Wisconsin Farm Technology Days (formerly known as "Farm Progress Days") has occurred every year since 1954 and always attracts tens of thousands of visitors. It's one of those uniquely Wisconsin things that our state is justifiably proud to host every year. It'll be worth the trip!
Capitol's 100th Birthday Celebration
Below is a photo of the bipartisan celebration held this week on the Capitol lawn for the 100th anniversary of the Wisconsin State Capitol. (I'm in the striped shirt, standing center-left; Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Minority Leader Peter Barca are engaged in conversation, standing center-right; many other legislators and staff are in the foreground as well.) July 1, 1917 was the date when construction of the building was officially completed. Wednesday's celebration was centered around the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra's "Concerts on the Square" series that happens every week during summer. This week's concert was enjoyed by more than 30,000 visitors and featured patriotic music, Capitol birthday cake and even a flyover by a pair of F-16 fighter planes. As I've mentioned in previous newsletters, be sure to follow the official Facebook page of the 100th Capitol Commission for many more photos and updates!