Wisconsin begins a new fiscal year on July 1st, just a few days from now, and it's no secret that my colleagues and I had hoped to finish negotiating the 2015-17 state budget already. Fortunately, unlike the federal government, Wisconsin's government does not shut down in the event that no agreement is reached by the deadline; the state simply keeps operating under its existing budget until we agree on new terms.
Although a small part of me is frustrated to be behind schedule, our system is not broken. In fact, I suggest exactly the opposite: your state government is working just the way it was intended. Careful deliberation among representatives from every region is the only way to make the big decisions we face. America's Founding Fathers and Wisconsin's early leaders understood this as they crafted our federal and state republics, cautiously separating powers among legislative, executive and judicial branches of government to foster open debate and safeguard liberty. I am encouraged that serious debate is happening in Madison every day among capable men and women who recognize their duty to their constituents and their entire state to create the best possible budget.
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!
Happening Behind the Scenes
Even as debate continues on the state budget, I am pleased to report progress on several other fronts as well.
Red Tape Review. Building on the "Right the Rules" campaign of previous legislative sessions, I am chairing a subcommittee of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee that is tasked with finding obsolete or outdated administrative rules relating primarily to state income taxes. We will be looking for ways to simplify and modernize Wisconsin's tax procedures throughout the summer months (and beyond).
Bill signings. This week, Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 35 into law (which I coauthored and strongly supported), fully repealing Wisconsin's antiquated law that required a 48-hour waiting period on handgun purchases. Please click here for my recent statement on this and several other firearms-related bills. In addition, I have learned that Governor Walker plans to sign Assembly Bill 24 into law soon (the first bill I authored as a state representative), helping to level the playing field for Wisconsin consumers who are shopping for a variable-rate home loan.
Transportation. In my most recent newsletter, I shared the latest news with you about the status of the Highway 23 expansion project and the high priority that Sheboygan County residents place on improving our state's roads. I couldn't agree more with your sentiment. This week, I was among several dozen representatives who wrote to the legislature's Joint Finance Committee urging them to ensure that road construction projects across the entirety of Wisconsin are recognized as high priorities (not just the "megaprojects" in the southeast such as Milwaukee's Zoo Interchange project). I will keep fighting to make sure that my colleagues understand how important the Highway 23 expansion project is for Sheboygan County!
New Department of Transportation Website
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has fully redesigned its website to be more user-friendly and provide better access to the features used most frequently by visitors. WisconsinDOT.gov is intended to work smoothly on mobile devices and make it easier for people to access online services provided by the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
Many services that used to require in-person visits to DMV service centers can now be performed online. These include license plate renewals, changing your address, obtaining duplicate driver's licenses and many more. Click here for the entire list!