The 2017 State Capitol Christmas Tree is up! This year's tree is 40 feet high and was donated by a family from Emery, Wisconsin. When you stand on the Capitol's second floor, which is actually the building's third level, you're still not quite at eye-level with the star ornament at the top of the tree! Several thousand ornaments, handmade by Wisconsin schoolchildren in honor of the Capitol's centennial celebration this year, decorate the tree (which took several men several days to set up). If you've never seen it, it's worth a trip sometime; let me know when you're coming! And, if you have no plans this weekend, there are several more dates yet when Governor and Mrs. Scott Walker will host holiday open house events at the executive residence.
Take a minute, too, to appreciate these United States and the men and women who have given selflessly in freedom's defense. On this weekend 76 years ago, the forces of evil attacked Americans and our allies in Hawaii, Guam, Hong Kong, Malaya, Singapore and the Philippines (and then declared war on us). Then Adolf Hitler declared Germany's war against us too. It's easy to look back now and wonder what the Japanese and the Germans were thinking attacking us... but our country's survival was far from certain on Christmas 1941. Neither the Germans nor the Japanese had suffered any serious battlefield defeats yet. So I'm thankful for the entire American generation who dropped what they were doing to go fight to make sure freedom prevailed. And I'm thankful for the Americans who are in harm's way today, for the same reason, keeping my family safe. (There are a lot of these quiet professionals. American forces have performed missions in at least 70 percent of the world's countries during this calendar year.)
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; it's looking like we're going to have a white Christmas!
Got Any Ideas?
If you've been following national news, then you already know that Congress is contemplating big changes to the way the federal government taxes Americans. I'm excited about this! There is a lot of good news in that plan for normal folks like you and me who want our taxes to be lower and simpler.
At the state level, I serve on the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, and we too are working on big ideas to make your state-level taxes look like they were designed on purpose. This doesn't have to be as hard as it is.
Got any ideas? Got a story about how your government is taxing you in a way that doesn't make any sense? We mean it; we're starting with a blank sheet of paper and trying to figure out the smartest "ways and means" by which taxes get raised in our state. Drop me a line and tell me what you think!
Stuff Worth Knowing
Outdoorsy stuff. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters that the deadline to apply for 2018 black bear hunting licenses or spring 2018 wild turkey hunting licenses is Sunday, December 10th. Applications are most easily completed online via the new GoWild system but may also be completed at authorized license agents.
Also: when the DNR began conducting detailed aerial surveys in the early 1970s of active bald eagle nests, there were only about 108 active nests in Wisconsin. The latest 2017 survey is now complete; our state is home to at least 1,590 active bald eagle nests, the highest number ever recorded. In fact, in the northern forests (especially Oneida County), the data suggests that the environment is reaching the natural eagle population capacity. The public is invited and welcome to support the aerial survey project directly; click here for details about how you can "adopt" a Wisconsin bald eagle nest.
Scroogy stuff. Regrettably, Christmas shopping season is also primetime for bad actors who are just out to get you. One of the most common ways the bad guys trick folks is with fake shipping alert e-mails. The more clever attack e-mails out there these days can blend right in with the legitimate alerts that you receive from your favorite online vendors. It's worth a few minutes of your time to read through the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's (DATCP's) holiday advice package that explains further and offers suggestions for surviving the latest types of attacks. Remember: never open an attachment in an unsolicited e-mail message!
Cheesy stuff. A new survey of existing health study data suggests that people who eat a little bit of cheese every day are less likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke. I'm certainly not a medical researcher... but I can't say I'm surprised that science confirms that Wisconsin cheese is good for the heart and the mind!