The Sheboygan County Fair is underway! Pictured above are Sheboygan County Fairest of the Fair Elizabeth Widder (right), a recent graduate of Sheboygan Falls High School, and Wisconsin Fairest of the Fairs Deanna Schlies (left), who were on hand last night to kick off a full schedule of entertainment, competition and family fun. I attended for a few hours yesterday, and I am very impressed with the talent, the hard work and the achievements of all the exhibitors. Take a look at the Fair's website for the entire calendar of events and for driving suggestions to avoid road construction in the area. Please make some time to attend and support our local youth!
There is other good news to report as well. The Department of Workforce Development has released new data demonstrating that Wisconsin added nearly 40,000 private-sector jobs between March 2014 and March 2015, of which nearly 6,300 were manufacturing jobs. Better yet, Sheboygan County's preliminary July 2015 unemployment estimate of 3.6 percent is among the lowest in the state, down from 4.6 percent a year ago and significantly lower than national rates which remain above 5 percent. We still have more work ahead to make Wisconsin a more business-friendly and tax-friendly place in which to work and live, but these are encouraging indicators that we are still moving in the right direction.
Watch for more news from Madison soon, as the fall legislative session is quickly approaching. On the agenda this fall are a number of important bills including reforms to "John Doe" investigations that will limit opportunities for this tool to be abused for political purposes; public benefit reforms that promise to save millions of taxpayer dollars by cracking down on fraud; and overhaul of the Government Accountability Board that has repeatedly failed to follow the law and abide by established procedure. Also coming up soon is an Assembly hearing on my bill, which has already passed in the Senate, to give cemeteries (especially the numerous small cemeteries across Sheboygan County) greater financial flexibility to sustain their operations.
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!
Your Government Working for You
The Department of Revenue (DOR) is making it easier to start or grow your business in Wisconsin. Visit DOR's webpage for Starting a Business for all the resources for a new Wisconsin business. Also available is Wisconsin's One-Stop Business Registration Portal, which enables new businesses to register with multiple state agencies (such as the Department of Financial Institutions, the DOR and the Department of Workforce Development) in one convenient step.
It may not feel like it this weekend, but fall is right around the corner. The Fall Color Report is an excellent resource for planning an autumn getaway. Get live updates from all 72 counties; explore suggested driving routes, dining, lodging and attractions; and view and upload photos from your mobile device. With 16 million acres of forests (40 percent of the state), Wisconsin is one of the best places in our nation to experience the fall season! Visit TravelWisconsin.com to access the report and many other tourism resources.
Don't wait; communicate! September is National Preparedness Month, and Wisconsin Emergency Management's ReadyWisconsin campaign says now is a perfect time to talk with your family and friends about being ready for an emergency or disaster. Here are some tips you may want to consider:
Make a plan. Where would you go in an emergency, and how would you communicate? Update your contact list of anyone you might need to reach, and establish alternate methods of communication in case traditional methods are unavailable.
Text messages are an excellent way to communicate because they require less phone system bandwidth than voice service. Texts can often get through busy phone systems when calls cannot.
Calling long-distance may be easier than making local calls. Designate a friend or family member as your out-of-town contact whom you can update during a crisis; that person can help share news with loved ones.
Blue Books Are Available
Every two years, the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau publishes an almanac known as the "Blue Book." The 2015-16 edition is now available and contains nearly 1,000 pages of reference material about Wisconsin's government, economics, demographics, geography and history.
This latest Blue Book is accessible in its entirety online by clicking here. It is also my privilege to be able to offer you a hardcover edition at your request, free of charge. If you would like to receive one, please contact my office or simply reply to this e-mail. First come, first served!